One point in time has stood out. It was 2007 and 15,000 jam packed the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. In a strange twist of fate, officials informed me that I would face CM Punk for the ECW Championship. This came as a shock to me since Chris Benoit was originally scheduled for the match.
The Rabid Wolverine was unable to attend the event, and I was selected as Punk’s opponent. The WWE wanted to have me as an option whenever Chris Benoit returned. I wasn’t the typical “ECW” Superstar, and I’m positive most felt this match would be a walk in the park for Punk. However, officials booked me to win the match, much to the shock of the live audience.
The exhilarating feeling of winning the ECW Championship was soon clouded with horror when WWE officials informed the locker room that Chris Benoit had passed away. When the details of Benoit’s passing came to light, officials informed us that Benoit was practically a stranger now.
In light of the Benoit controversy, I partook in my first match as ECW Champion. The WWE wanted to put me in a matchup with its biggest star in John Cena. Despite a great matchup, I was booked to lose the match, but I felt as if I did great in defeat.
The officials informed me that I would undergo a character transformation. To my surprise, the WWE allowed me to create almost every aspect of my new character. I always felt I had a resemblance to legendary Doors Rocker, Jim Morrison, and I ultimately decided to model my new gimmick/character after him.
I really got into Jim Morrison. I spent time reading his biography, related books and his books of poetry. I wanted to immerse myself into the role, and this was the best way. Jim Morrison possessed a mysterious quality that made it seem like he was always on the edge.
I created my promos, catch phrases and my slow motion entrance.
My new gimmick was self-complimentary and conceited. In turn, I was the perfect opponent for CM Punk. My program with CM Punk stretched over three pay-per-views as I arose as the victor in each encounter.
After the SummerSlam matchup, I was informed that I would enter a program with the Boogeyman. Before the program could be ignited, I was suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy.
Sports Illustrated broke the news of numerous WWE suspensions (me included). I felt as if I had made the biggest mistake of my life. If life teaches you anything, it’s that you learn from your mistakes. Before my suspension commenced, I dropped the ECW Championship to CM Punk.
Upon my return, I defeated CM Punk in a non-title matchup. I wasn’t surprised as Vince McMahon and ECW Creative had been on a personal crusade against Punk since his debut. The program with Punk didn’t last long as The Miz was soon added to the mix. I was placed into a mini feud with Miz that was turned into a fully fledged partnership.
Obviously, we were pinned as odd pairing. In our first match as a team, we defeated another odd pairing in Matt Hardy and MVP for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Our title reign lasted several months with us defeating the likes of Kane and CM Punk, Tommy Dreamer and Colin Delaney, and the Hardy Boyz.
Throughout our time as a team, Miz became one of my best friends. Despite our friendship, most felt that I would become the huge star while Miz would reside in the mid card. I waved off the speculation because you never know what’ll happen in the WWE.
The Dirtsheet was created during our time together. The WWE gave us creative control, and we made the best of it with numerous comedic skits and harsh criticism towards other WWE Superstars. I think the show allowed fans to witness what we were really like.
Zack Ryder is doing the same today.
Our first title reign ended at the hands of Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder in a four-way tag team match that saw Hawkins and Ryder pin Jesse and Festus. We sporadically feuded with DX and Cryme Tyme while retaining our relevance through the DirtSheet.
In the months that followed, we won the World Tag Team Championships while picking up two Slammy Awards for the Dirtsheet and Tag Team of the year. WWE Management placed us in a feud with WWE Tag Team Champions, The Colons. We traded wins while temporarily picking up the Bella Twins as our valets.
The angle culminated in a match at WrestleMania XXV when they defeated us to unify the Tag Team Championships.
The loss was a result of Creative wanting to split our team up. I was ecstatic when I learned of this while the split came at the conclusion of a match during the 2009 WWE Draft. The Miz would solidify his status as a heel by attacking me and sparking a feud with John Cena.
On the other hand, I remained a heel for my last ECW match with Evan Bourne.
Moments before the match, I learned that I would be drafted to SmackDown and repackaged as a face.