July 30, 2013
Although Daniel Bryan is the current hot hand in WWE, no one can lay claim to more success since leaving Ring of Honor than CM Punk can. Through his DVDs “CM Punk: The Second City Saint,” “Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk: The Collector’s Edition,” and “The Summer of Punk,” ROH compilation DVDs have told a thorough account of his career with all of his biggest moments and matches.
Now the series finally comes to a close with “CM Punk: Icon,” covering the summer of 2004 through his surprise one night return at Unscripted II in February of 2006. “Icon” wisely sidesteps the matches already covered on the “Joe vs. Punk” and “Summer of Punk” DVDs, and focuses on his other major matches and feuds.
We begin at ROH Reborn Completion, when Punk was scheduled to have his final confrontation with wrestling legend Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Despite being retired almost 10 years, Steamboat was not afraid to get physical with Punk and the two men quickly got into a brawl. Generation Next (Alex Shelly, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) came out uninvited to assist Punk, but Punk didn’t take too kindly to that. Punk had a change of heart and joined forces with Steamboat to clear the ring.
The following weekend ROH invaded the Midwest for a double shot of Death Before Dishonor II. At Pt. 1 in Wauwatosa, WI, Punk and his Tag Team Championship partner Colt Cabana were able to best Jay & Mark Briscoe in a lengthy 2/3 Falls match to retain the titles. The following night in Chicago Ridge Punk and his trainer Ace Steel teamed up to fight Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer in a brutal Chicago Street Fight that featured the first chair riot in ROH. Both matches were great in very different ways, showing off what a diverse performer Punk already was.
Punk and Cabana couldn’t hold the Tag Team Titles forever, and at the following show Testing the Limit the Rottweilers duo of Ricky Reyes & Rocky Romero were able to capture the gold in an average match. The Second City Saints duo had done a lot to elevate the titles, but it was clearly the time for Punk to move on to bigger things.
When Jushin Liger came in for the Weekend of Thunder, Punk took a backseat to Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, and Low Ki in matches with Liger. On Night 1 Punk dropped a competitive match to rising star Austin Aries. On Night 2 he gained a measure of revenge by teaming with Ace Steel to defeat Aries and Roderick Strong in a No DQ Match.
In celebration of their third birthday, ROH decided to hold three Third Year Anniversary Celebration shows. Punk had a role in all three, losing to the returning Spanky at Pt. 1, defeating Alex Shelley at Pt. 2, and losing to Jimmy Rave at Pt. 3, which would kick off a heated feud between them.
The feud with Rave and The Embassy took over Punk’s matches for the next few months, beginning at Trios Tournament 2005. In first round action the team of Punk, Colt Cabana and Steve Corino bested the Embassy’s Jimmy Rave, Oman Tortuga and Prince Nana’s Weapon of MASK Destruction #3. A month later at Best of American Super Juniors Tournament, Rave got one back by teaming with Fast Eddie to beat Punk and Cabana in a No DQ Match. Two weeks later Punk and Rave were scheduled to battle in a singles match at Stalemate, but Rave back out at the last minute and Punk instead defeated Mike Kruel. After the match Punk and Rave brawled all over the building.
This set the stage for two final violent encounters to settle the feud. Rave decimated Punk in a Dog Collar Match at Manhattan Mayhem, but the following week in Chicago Punk won the feud by scoring a huge victory in an awesome Steel Cage Match at Nowhere to Run.
Punk also found time to pursue tag team gold, but he and Ace Steel were unsuccessful in unseating new Champions BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs in a good match at Final Showdown. He was able to score a victory over Roderick Strong at The Future is Now, just six days before his showdown with Austin Aries for the ROH World Championship.
CM Punk made his last official ROH appearance on August 13, 2005, and then headed off to the WWE developmental territory OVW. Six months later, ROH found themselves in a tight spot due to a snow storm in the northeast, and Punk just happened to be in the area and WWE allowed him to make a one night only return to the company. He joined ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson in a tag team effort to defeat Punk’s old nemesis Jimmy Rave and Adam Pearce.
CM Punk’s ROH career has now been completely documented with compilation releases, and with each release it became more and more apparent that Punk was something special and was destined for big things in this business. “CM Punk: Icon” does an awesome job collecting Punk’s biggest moments that were yet uncollected by his other releases, and finishing the portrait of one of, if not the single most important wrestler ever to step foot in Ring of Honor. The matches themselves are a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality, but there are enough good ones to warrant a recommendation on that alone. Aside from match quality, it’s a CM Punk DVD – if you like Punk, get it! You can purchase this DVD at the ROH Store.
Tags: Austin Aries, cm punk, Jimmy Jacobs, Jimmy Rave, Ring of Honor, Roderick Strong, ROH