Whether you like CM Punk or hate him, you have to admit that he's accomplished some impressive feats in his career. I will even go so far as to say that CM Punk is on the cusp of earning himself Hall of Fame induction when re retires. You may totally agree, or may think I'm completely out of my mind.
One thing is certain, though: CM Punk deserves your respect.
Perhaps no WWE Superstar generates as much controversy today than CM Punk. He has lots of support from the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC). But there are many who also believe him to be vastly overrated. I'm not going to go into Punk's in-ring abilities in this article. What I will discuss is how he's established himself as perhaps THE major player in WWE.
CM Punk has had a long professional career, beginning with the Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South promotion in 2000. He had a four year run in Ring of Honor, and even paired with Julio Dinero for TNA pay per views. In 2005, Punk joined Ohio Valley Wrestling, WWE's then-developmental promotion. After OVW, Punk debuted on WWE TV for the ECW brand on the July 4, 2006 show. It was then that CM Punk began his climb to the top of WWE.
You might be thinking that I'm glossing over some great moments in CM Punk's career, especially his ROH feud with Raven, which was one of the best feuds of the year in all of pro wrestling. And yes, I am glossing over it, because even some of the most ardent fans don't pay attention to anything beyond TNA and WWE. So it wouldn't make sense to dedicate the bulk of this discussion to events that most fans know nothing about.
Besides, one great feud in ROH a decade ago doesn't demand my respect. What CM Punk has done, and still is doing, in WWE does.
Early in his WWE career, CM Punk established himself as a commodity. He was recruited by both the New Brend and ECW Originals factions during their feud, eventually joining the Originals after betraying the New Breed. In 2007, Punk won the ECW Championship from John Morrison, earning the first championship of his WWE career. It would be the first of many.
Punk would win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania XXIV and XXV, being the only wrestler to do so twice. He's one of only 25 Triple Crown Champions in WWE History, holding the WWE, World Heavyweight and World Tag Team Championships during his career, as well as the ECW Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. He, along with Kane and Big Show, is one of only three men to hold all three of WWE's World Titles (WWE, World Heavyweight and ECW Championships).
And now, perhaps most impressive of all, is his lengthy WWE Championship reign. Standing at 387 (on Dec. 11, 2012), Punk has managed to keep the title longer than anyone in the last 25 years, and stands at sixth all time in longest WWE Championship reigns. And in a few days, he'll pass Randy Orton for 10th all time in number of total days as WWE Champion as Punk heads into his match with the Rock at the Royal Rumble.
Punk has led some of the better storylines in WWE in recent years as well. He led the Straight Edge Society, the New Nexus and who can forget his epic "pipe bomb" on Raw, which truly kicked off his dominance of the top of the card over the past year and a half.
So here we are, at day 387 of Punk's reign.
With what punk has been able to accomplish in his WWE career, how can anyone deny he's one of the best and most accomplished in modern history? You may not like his gimmick, you may not like his in-ring style. And while he may have called these accomplishments "imaginary brass rings," what he's been able to do in his six year career has been more than most have done in 20.
In an era of short storylines and quick title reigns, Punk has managed to craft what will likely be a Hall of Fame Career. Love him, hate him or anything in between, CM Punk deserves your respect.