Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Raven vs. CM Punk

Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Raven vs. CM Punk – ROH, 2003

History

At the March 15, 2003 Ring of Honor event, CM Punk was set to take on Raven. Punk came out early in the show and talked about how being straightedge made him superior to Raven. Sure enough, that brought Raven out. Raven listened to Punk and finally agreed to a “wrestling” match for the first ten minutes. After ten minutes, however, Raven’s Rules would come into play.

It didn’t even take ten minutes for it to become clear that Raven was outwrestling Punk, who’d bailed to the outside. Punk grabbed a chair and returned to the ring. Punk swung, but the chair missed Raven, hit the rope, and bounced back into Punk’s face. Shortly thereafter, the ten minute time limit ran out and Raven was soon opened up. After Raven had a table kicked into his face, Trinity hurried over to check on him. Punk threw her into the guard rail and continued his assault. She retaliated by hitting Punk with a moonsault, so Punk sent her through a table. After the ref got knocked down, Punk hit Raven with a low blow and then followed up with his Devil Lock submission for the win. After the match, Raven shook Punk’s hand (as dictated by the Code of Honor) but a brawl soon erupted. Punk cleared out and the referee tried to explain to Raven that fighting after the match wasn’t allowed by the Code, so Raven hit him with the Raven Effect DDT.

A week later was the first Night of Champions show. Before their tag match, Punk talked about being straightedge, and how he stood against evil actions like Raven personified. Raven came out and talked about how Punk enjoyed spending time at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch and added that Raven’s Rules would be in full effect.

Raven teamed with Colt Cabana and Punk chose Ace Steel as his partner. The odds soon turned against Raven as Cabana botched a moonsault to the outside and started screaming. Raven was still able to hit the Raven Effect on Ace Steel for the win. After the match, Cabana rolled back into the ring and attacked Raven because Punk was his best friend and Steel had been his trainer.

It was nearly a month later at Round Robin Challenge 2 before things heated up again. Punk had come out to do an interview when one of Raven’s pals came out to give him grief. Lucy Furr (AKA WCW’s Daffney) DDT’d him and Punk continued talking about his upcoming match with Raven.

Raven returned to Ring of Honor at June 14th’s Night of the Grudges. He teamed with BJ Whitmer to take on Punk and Cabana in a No DQ match. Punk was soon bloodied by trash can shots from Raven. Whitmer also was bloodied by Cabana while brawling through the crowd. Raven finally hit the Raven Effect on Punk only for Cabana to pull him out of the ring to break up the pinfall. Whitmer followed that up with a diving headbutt only for Cabana to pull out the referee. Whitmer dropped Cabana only for Punk to blast him with a chair and put Cabana on top of him for the pinfall. After the match, Punk continued attacking Raven while Cabana set up a table outside. Punk then put Raven through the table.

This was followed by Wrestlerave ’03, where Punk and Cabana teamed again against Raven and Christopher Daniels. A bloodied Punk and Cabana spent most of the match keeping Daniels from being able to tag Raven. Once Raven came in, he fought back only to get clocked with Lucy’s purse by Punk. That was enough for the pin, and Punk pulled a chain out of the purse afterward that he used to choke Raven. After the melee was broken up, Raven challenged Punk to a dog collar match.

That match happened at the inaugural Death Before Dishonor. The show opened with Punk talking about his alcoholic father and remembering a time he’d saved his father from dying in a drunken stupor. Punk added that he’d regretted it ever since. He added that he knew why he’d saved his father, but didn’t know why he’d let Raven go. Shortly thereafter, Cabana arrived and Punk left.

Before the match, Punk made fun of the fans for being at an arena that didn’t serve alcohol and zoomed in on Danny Doring in the audience. The two of them brawled and eventually the referee was knocked out. Raven hit the Raven Effect, but there was no ref to count the pinfall. Colt Cabana hit the ring and DDT’d Raven onto a chair. That was enough for Doring, who hopped the rail and attacked Cabana. Meanwhile, Punk dragged himself over to cover Raven and win the match. Afterward Punk taped Raven’s arms to the ropes in his signature pose and mocked him before pouring a beer in his face and calling him an addict. That was the cue for Tommy Dreamer to come out of nowhere and nail Punk with a chair before hitting a DDT of his own. Dreamer then fastened Punk to the ropes and released Raven. Raven shook Dreamer’s hand and hugged him. Dreamer produced a beer and Raven poured it down Punk’s throat. Punk screamed threats at Raven as the referees tried to free him.

The feud resumed at September’s Beating the Odds as Raven and Punk squared off in a Clockwork Orange House of Fun match. Despite Cabana’s interference, Raven still pulled out the win. After the match, the lights went out and a red X (to symbolize the straightedge symbol) was lowered into the ring. Punk fastened Raven to the X to close the show.

The next show, Glory by Honor II, changed the rules a bit. Raven and Punk would each compete in single’s matches, but their enemy would choose the opponent. Raven was in a match against Steve Corino, which he then said fell under Raven’s Rules.

Corino had one of his trademark introductions with this one naming everyone he’d wrestled and beaten. Raven finally hit the Raven Effect and covered only for Punk to pull the referee out of the ring. Punk hit a superkick and Corino got the win. After the match, Corino told Punk he didn’t need his help and slapped him in the face.

Punk had his own hands full as his opponent was Terry Funk. Punk’s first action was to grab the microphone and mock Funk, then declared that the match was a hardcore match. Funk’s retort was a chair to Punk’s face. The two brawled as Funk kept asking Punk if that was his best. Punk finally locked Funk in his own spinning toe hold, and followed it up by the figure four. Punk released it when Funk made the ropes and immediately put it back on. Punk was finally disqualified for refusing to break the hold. Cabana hit the ring to help get Funk free and then locked on a figure four of his own on Funk. That brought Raven and Dreamer out to make the save.

And that was the end of the feud. Punk went on to feud with Corino, and Raven left the promotion.

Analysis

This was a great feud. On one side you had CM Punk, the vowed straightedge no alcohol no drugs guy. On the other, you had Raven, the recovering addict who’s been honest about his drug abuse. Both are great on the microphone, and both could bring it in the ring. (To give you an idea of the respect the ROH fans had for Raven, during this feud they also brought Jeff Hardy in for a match. Hardy was booed out of the building.)

The emotional peak of the angle was easily when Raven poured the beer down Punk’s throat. In one move, Raven had taken everything that Punk represented, spit on it, and slapped him in the face to boot.

The one flaw was that the feud tried to go on longer than it should have. The perfect ending would have been for Raven to get the clean win at Beating the Odds, with no interference from Colt Cabana. Both men would have bled buckets and pulled out all the stops.

Instead, ROH had the angle with the symbol, which indicated that the angle would continue. It did, and the angle where both men picked the other’s opponent was a good next step, but realistically speaking it should have happened earlier.

The feud’s greatest weakness was the lack of the final blowoff match. Raven made one more appearance after the feud ended, where he faced Justin Credible. We still never got the one final match to decisively end the feud.

Of course, it was also kind of strange that Raven and Punk were feuding in Ring of Honor and Punk was part of Raven’s Gathering in TNA, but we’ll skip that.

Where are they now?

Raven remains with TNA today. He has reformed a type of Gathering under the name Serotonin. Serotonin recently disbanded and Raven began feuding with Kaz (Frankie Kazarian).

CM Punk left TNA in 2004 following the Rob Feinstein incident, where TNA decided to pull all their wrestlers from Ring of Honor. Punk chose to continue working in Ring of Honor instead. He continued to appear for ROH until August of 2005 when he left the independent scene to accept a developmental deal with the WWE. In June of 2006, Punk was brought up from OVW to ECW, where he remains today. Punk is also the current ECW World Heavyweight champion.

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