WWE: Punk's Ride to Glory, a Ballad for Every Aspiring Pro Wrestler
Every hero has a story
Professional wrestling has the mystique of being able to get lost in the magic taking place in front of you. Not many sports and entertainment industries allow that to happen. There is however, more to it than meets the eye.
CM Punk, who is the current World Wrestling Entertainment Champion, has the ability to get the fans lost in his matches. His work ethic is second to none and that got him to the place he rightfully deserves to be. No shortcuts, no help, just plain ol' hard work.
In this industry, it is about as hard to reach the top as it is to become a professional athlete in every other sport. You must contain natural talent, an emphatic work ethic, the right head on your shoulders and above all else, the heart to persist after adversity rears it's ugly head.
Many men and women before Punk have gone through the trials and tribulations to become a legend. The Undertaker, Edge, Eddie Guerrero, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels have all succeeded, but as the list continues to grow larger, it is still a rather short group of people.
I would only be repeating what a lot of writers have already stated about becoming a success in professional wrestling. About 1 percent actually reach the destination first pursued.
Then again, what is a satisfied destination? Some claim one can never be satisfied, or maximum potential could not be reached. That is where dreams come in. The deliverance of the spirit overtakes his/her heart and throws it into "overdrive" and success stories are capitalized.
CM Punk has reached that destination and then some. His shoot promo last June sparked a revolution that has rarely been achieved, mainly by the fan favorite future opponent, Stone Cold Steve Austin.
He became a WWE Champion and a face of the company from the start of a Indies wrestler who tried to make a decent buck after each match.
There's a method to Punk's madness.
Here's the story...
His Indies Career and the Birth of a Pro Wrestler
A story must have a beginning. In Punk's case, his ballad begins in the independent promotion, Ring of Honor.
Before that however, he began in the IWA: Mid-South promotion, in which he was the heavyweight champion of that brand five times, including retaining the belt over guys like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Colt Cabana and even Eddie Guerrero.
From 2000-2005, Punk made the crowd look in awe as he made executed difficult moves look effortless. Those matches with Cabana, were the ones that got him noticed by the promotion currently executive-produced by the infamous Jim Cornette.
That moment on, Punk began to solidify himself as one of the best pure wrestlers in the entire world. It is on his shirt, but it is wildly true.
In 2002, Brooks was signed with ROH and was immediately a crowd favorite. The IWC stems from indy promotions and Cornette's business is considered the king. Shortly thereafter, he turned heel in his attempt to begin one of his most successful and famous feuds, with the veteran Raven.
Their feud went back and forth for the better part of 2003 and was considered one of ROH's best feuds in that span. That included many no-disqualification matches and brutal contests. Most importantly, they were wrestling classics and should be documented in ROH history books for some time to come.
In Punk's quest for the title after his feud with Raven, he was involved in a tournament to crown the Pure ROH Champion, in which he lost to AJ Styles in the finals. Immediately following that scenario, he and Cabana became Tag-Team Champions as the Second City Saints.
At the same time, Punk signed with the NWA Total Nonstop Action (TNA) promotion as he teamed with Julio Dinero and Raven in his alliance, The Gathering. He ended up quitting TNA, because an incident backstage disallowed him to wrestle for ROH. Punk being Punk, chose the indy wrestling promotion.
During his time with ROH, he became the first head trainer for the industry's school. With experience and leadership came championship opportunities.
He began a feud with Samoa Joe in a three-match series. The first match, on June 12, 2004 at World Title Classic in Dayton, Ohio, resulted in a 60-minute time limit draw when neither Punk nor Joe could pin or cause the other to submit in the 60 minutes. At Joe vs. Punk II on October 16, they wrestled to a second 60-minute draw.
At Joe vs. Punk III, Joe ended the series by defeating Punk at All-Star Extravaganza 2 and there was no time-limit. The match received a five-star rating by Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter. It became the first match in North America to receive a high rating in seven years, that being the Hell in a Cell match between HBK and the Undertaker at Badd Blood: In Your House in 1997.
Even though Punk signed with WWE in June of 2005, he won the title by defeating Austin Aries, in which began his famous, "I'm going to take the ROH Title to WWE" speech.
He lasted as a villain up to his last match with Colt Cabana in a two-out-of-three falls match, which saw Cabana beat his long-time best friend. Tears were shed and streamers fell from the roof as Punk left the building.
The first chapter of Phil Brooks ended and a new career was on the horizon, which led him to...
ECW to Smackdown and the Verge of a Champion
I'm straight edge. I'm a man of great discipline. I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs. My addiction is wrestling. My obsession is competition, discipline. My name is CM...... Punk.
He was finally on the big stage in professional wrestling. CM Punk was noticed by members in the back of WWE and received the contract. Instead of NXT, he began at Ohio Valley Wrestling (which is now owned by Impact Wrestling) and then moved up to ECW.
ECW was the place for Punk at the current stage of his career. An indies performer like Punk wasn't seen to belong at the top stage with Cena and Orton. At least, that is what the WWE brass believed.
On June 24th, 2006, Punk made his ECW debut at a house show defeating Stevie Richards. About a week and a half later, Punk found the screen as his TV debut by performing the promo written above the page. Then on Aug. 1, 2006, a pro wrestler was born.
He beat Justin Credible on ECW in his first match on television.
Just like new guys coming into the industry, you need to be built up. Punk was successful in this by defeating Richards, Credible, C.W Anderson and Shannon Moore. A feud with Mike Knox and his girlfriend, Kelly Kelly, spiced up Punk's TV roles, while still a face.
Between this time until WrestleMania 23, Punk teamed with DX and the Hardy Boyz against Rated-RKO, Greg Helms, Knox and Johnny Nitro at the Survivor Series PPV. Brooks feuded with Hardcore Holly, while his six-month unbeaten streak was broken. Then Matt Striker began a program with Punk, giving him his second loss to his career.
Johnny Nitro and Punk had a MITB-qualifier match on ECW and we saw Punk become the first ECW guy to be in the Money in the Bank match at WrestleMania 23.
Fingertips away was Punk who was pushed off by Mr. Kennedy to lose the MITB match. Although that wasn't his last appearance in the event, but we'll get to that later.
Punk then turned heel and joined the "New Breed" with Striker, Elijah Burke, Marcus Cor Von and Ariel for a brief moment while feuding with the ECW Originals (Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, RVD, Balls Mahoney).
WWE shortly scrapped that idea and had Punk turn on the New Breed to side with Dreamer and his team members. Popularity was growing for the Chicago native and a ECW Title was on the horizon.
Punk was slated to face Chris Benoit at Vengeance in 2007, but after dropping out of the match, Johnny Nitro took his place and defeated Punk for the ECW belt. After continuing this feud for a few months, he defeated Morrison in a "last chance match" on Sept. 1, 2007 to capture his first major title in WWE.
He then retained the belt over the Miz, Morrison, Big Daddy V and Elijah Burke. Eventually, he lost the title to Chavo Guerrero on January 22, 2008 as Edge speared him causing Punk to drop the belt. And that instance my friends, began CM Punk's rise to the top of WWE for the first time.
By competing in the...
Money in the Bank and the World Heavyweight Championship
And thus began a championship reign beloved by the IWC since Rob Van Dam. CM Punk finally captured his first major World Championship.
This was of course after his Money in the Bank victory at WrestleMania 24, in which he cashed the briefcase in on Edge after Batista came back to beat down the current Hall of Famer.
Punk was by no means a superstar at this time. More often than not, the casual fan didn't even know who Punk was, which caused something strange to happen.
Plain and simple, the ECW superstar flopped on the big stage. He wasn't properly built up as a threat, he just won the Money in the Bank briefcase. These days, a star who wins it usually has been built to become a monster or the next big thing.
Punk was different. He was still that great wrestler, but wasn't utilized properly.
This caused WWE Creative to take the belt off of him by having Randy Orton and his Legacy minions take him out backstage. He was replaced by Jericho, who eventually won the belt.
He was taken away from the main event to gain more experience and teamed with Kofi Kingston to become tag-team champions. They held onto the belt for a couple of months and lost to Miz and Morrison at a live event.
One belt after another, Punk won a tournament to become the #1 contender for the IC belt against William Regal in January 2009. It took three matches and two DQ's, but Punk was victorious as he became the 19th and fastest Triple Crown winner in WWE by breaking Kevin Nash's record.
Punk now had another shot at the main event as he won the MITB briefcase for a second time at WrestleMania 25, becoming the only man to win it twice.
He cashed it in at Extreme Rules against Jeff Hardy to win his second World Heavyweight Championship. The same night, he lost his IC title before the cash-in.
In my opinion, this as well as the feud with the Undertaker put Punk on the map. It only takes that one moment when the WWE Universe sees something in you as a performer and somebody to back as a favorite or heel.
Against Hardy and Taker, Punk put on some of his best heel runs, including the back and forth on drugs and Hardy's personal demons.
Although, after a lengthy reign as champion, excising Hardy from WWE and making the Undertaker tap at Breaking Point, the WWE brass still didn't see Punk as a consistent main-event player.
CM Punk, yet again, was forced to drop and bite his tongue. This began his.......
Descent to the Mid-Card and a Blink of Frustration
Once on top of the WWE sat a man on a chair with a yellow band of mediocrity layeth upon his biceps. Instead of sitting atop the main event, he led the Straight Edge Society, the New Nexus, was a Raw commentator for some time and even mentored young Darren Young (no pun intended) on NXT.
Someone who stole the show night in and night out was forced to sit back and watch guys like Cena and Orton share the bright lights. It isn't sour grapes, just the reality of the situation.
Punk became the heel who was acting as a "savior" if you will. Bringing in Serena and Luke Gallows to show them the way to enlightenment with no drugs, alcohol or smoking. Wrestling was their passion and the Straight Edge Savior attempted to bring a twist to WWE programming.
To no avail, it didn't click with the audience and more importantly, the backstage brass.
Feuds with Rey Mysterio and Big Show kept CM Punk busy, but that was exactly what there were supposed to do. Punk was not considered for the main event spot on Smackdown for an instance. He was doing what I noted in the title, blinking with frustration.
After the SES folded, he was on commentary, which showcased his fabulous mic skills for the world to notice. Then the New Nexus came to light after Wade Barrett lost to Punk in a steel cage match, in which Punk gained control of the group.
A tag-team championship reign was prevailed by Otunga and McGillicutty, but the gold only flashed for a brief moment in time. To make matters worse, the group only held the tag belts, which isn't a prestigious award anymore.
Punk outgrew the New Nexus after a couple of months and then entered a program with Randy Orton. This went back to the punt to the head by Orton, which made Punk drop his World Heavyweight Title. Their feud lasted until WrestleMania 27, which we witnessed Orton get the best of the Second City Saint.
Brooks had memorable moments from the feud, but none to really be remembered by. It sounds like a contradiction, but it remains true. All of this was a ball of fire held in by Punk, just waiting to be spewed out like a volcanic eruption.
Lucky enough for Phil Brooks, the time became certain his moment in the limelight was inevitable. Words were said on top of a runway on a Raw Roulette in the summer of 2011. Those words are known as...
The Promo Heard Round the World and the Revolution of Punk
A repetition of words that every wrestling fan can listen to and crack a smile. The shoot promo CM Punk laid down on the WWE Universe shook up things much like the Nexus destroying the ring the previous summer, but only it had much more impact.
This wasn't your typical summer shake-up. It was life-altering. At least for Punk, the WWE would soon follow suit.
Punk ran with that promo and the popularity skyrocketed. There has rarely been a jump quite like this. Mr. Kennedy's run with WWE could rival this jump to the top, but Punk ran with it and succeeded with flying colors.
He was victorious in the Cena angle. Then he transitioned to a program with Triple H and Kevin Nash, in which he was shining bright in both agendas. A quick feud with Ziggler just made the champion look even stronger.
For his second WWE Championship reign, it already has become one of the most successful in recent memory. Including battles with Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio for a moment and now Daniel Bryan, he has held the belt for over seven months.
From Nov. 20, 2011 until the current day, he has been the king.
To make a pro wrestler go from jobber to superstar, one event adds to the overall equation. In Edge's case, his feud with John Cena sparked a future Hall of Famer. Randy Orton became the Legend Killer and instantly became a sensation.
CM Punk needed that one big moment to be in discussion with the likes of John Cena, Randy Orton and Triple H. Granted HHH no longer wrestles, it is still a prestigious name. It is time for Punk to run not the just the brand, but the company.
At the moment, Cena is the top guy, but Punk will have his time at the very top of the ladder. He can go nowhere but up from this point. It all stems from work ethic, determination and most of all is the passion put into the work being displayed.
In a moments time, Punk became a sensation. Instead of an Internet darling, Punk transformed into a worldwide superstar. A pro wrestler with morals, truth and dignity that thrives the business's true spirit.
A ballad was constructed from beginning to end. A story that should be told and learned upon from the younger generation of wrestlers hoping to break through. When adversity hits you in the face, only pushing through can make you successful. It is a way of life, not just a facebook status or tweet.
CM Punk fought for all he stands for. Knowing this sentiment however, people still criticize. This leads to one question... is CM Punk......
A Sell-Out? More Like Success
What is wrong with the image to the left?
It means success. It means a dream coming true. It means being one of the faces of a worldwide corporation.
CM Punk started in the IWA: Mid-South as a five-time World Heavyweight Champion. Now, he is the current WWE Champion going through one of the longest WWE Title reigns in the past decade. His opponents defeated are John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Chris Jericho.
Those are a quality bunch of performers, and some are the best in the company. CM Punk took what was nothing and became a something. Something that kids want to be when they grow up. No, he is not John Cena, he is not the next Stone Cold Steve Austin. He is the next CM Punk.
In a world where characters are lost in professional wrestling. The Undertaker was the last true "character" with non-humanistic characteristics and an attitude that was not seen in the current public. Today, like I said, characters don't exist. CM Punk has taken the role of a "Reality Era" and turned it into a revolution.
A straight-edge man, on and off the camera. Punk is the same person regardless of kayfabe. It isn't a character, it is a way of life to Mr. Punk.
There is nothing to be said of CM Punk's work ethic and demeanor, because it is almost unmatched. I'm not attempting to be a "mark" for CM Punk. All my purpose for this article is to relive the career so far of CM Punk. A tale of adversity being thrown from many directions.
It is certainly a ballad.
A form of "art" if you will. It started as a match with Val Venis in WWE on Sunday Night Heat and now he is on top of World Wrestling Entertainment with nowhere to go but up.
Phil Brooks is a success.
His story however, is to be continued...
Thank You All
Thank you everyone for reading this piece. This one took me quite some time to produce, because CM Punk has made a name for himself and I tried to make it just to his rising career.
If you enjoyed this piece, please let me know what you think down in the comment section!
Have a great day, everyone!