Posted by James Tee
Hello and welcome back to Wrestlingnews.net, and after a break due to a hectic few weeks with Wrestlemania and a move in home for myself, we are back with the third part of my look at the life and career of CM Punk. After his show stealing match with The Undertaker, Punk looks like he is about to take some well deserved time off.
Back in 2002, Punk was working his way through the independent ranks, reaching the pinnacle of the indie scene.
PART 3 – RING OF HONOR AND TNA
Joining Ring of Honor in 2002, Punk initially made his debut as a crowd favourite, however, he soon became a heel. Upon his heel turn, he became embroiled in a feud with Raven, in both Ring of Honor and TNA.
On the Ring of Honor side of things, it was one of the top feuds in the company throughout 2003, and marked the first time that Punk used his Straight Edge lifestyle in a storyline in a major promotion. Likening Raven to his alcoholic father, the two men fought in a series of No-Disqualification matches throughout the year. The feud itself came to a head at The Conclusion, where Punk was successful inside of a Steel Cage.
However, over in TNA, the two men initially didn’t feud. Instead, alongside Julio Dinero, Punk was a follower of Raven, as part of The Gathering. Whilst he was low in the TNA pecking order, Punk was starting to climb up the ROH rankings. After narrowly missing out to AJ Styles in a tournament final t0 crown the first ROH Pure Champion, the young Punk moved onto Tag-Team success. Alongside his career long friend Colt Cabana, Punk became a two time ROH Tag Team Champion as part of the Second City Saints (both times, the pairing defeated the Briscoe Brothers to win the belts).
It was around this time that Punk found himself in a position of great responsibility. He was appointed the head trainer, a role held by other wrestlers such as Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson, based out of Bristol, Pennsylvania.
Heading into 2004, Punk and Dinero found themselves betraying Raven in TNA, and headed into a feud with their former leader, with the help of their new manager, James Mitchell. However, the two struggled to get over, and were soon not being used by the Nashville promotion. In March 2004, after the Feinstein Controversy, Punk decided to stay with Ring of Honor, bringing his time with TNA to an end.
It did not slow down his ROH progression however. From June 2004, Punk entered the most important twelve months of his career up to that date. From that time, the Chicago native went in search of a maiden ROH World Championship; in his way, was the Samoan Submission Machine, Samoa Joe.
In a three match series which would stretch over six months, Punk and Joe would have matches that have gone down in ROH folklore. The first match, at the beginning of June was a sixty minute draw. The second match was something of an epic.
The match, which again was a draw, was the first American match awarded five star status by Dave Meltzer since The Undertaker vs HBK seven years previously. It set the scene for a decider which would have high implications for both men’s careers.
Unfortunately for the Second City Saint, it would not be his time to be ROH Champion. Joe won the third and final match just before the Christmas season of 2004. It would not be long before Punk would have a huge change in his professional workplace.
On May 9th, 2005, Punk lost a try-out match against Val Venis on an edition of WWE Heat. Despite the defeat, Punk accepted and signed a deal to move to WWE. Despite this, his time would come in Ring of Honor.
At Death Before Dishonor III, in June 2005, and despite the fact that Ring of Honor bosses knew he was leaving, CM Punk won his first ROH Heavyweight Championship, defeating Austin Aries with the Pepsi Plunge.
Immediately, and not for the first time, Punk used his real-life to influence his in-ring character. Punk would turn heel, threatening to take the ROH title with him to WWE. For weeks, Punk teased the locker room and the ROH fans about his departure, even going as far as to sign his WWE contract on top of the ROH title. It went as far as Mick Foley appeared on a few occasions, trying to get Punk to do the right thing.
Punk ultimately wouldn’t leave with the ROH Championship however. In a four way match involving Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels and eventual winner James Gibson, Punk would lose his title, and in the process, would be on his final journey out of Ring of Honor.
His final official match in the promotion would be against his long-time friend, and former tag-team partner, Colt Cabana. In an emotionally charged match, a match which would be 2 out of 3 falls, Punk would lose to his fellow Steel Dominion alumni.
It was now official…..
PUNK WAS GOING TO THE WWE
NEXT TIME: CM PUNK – FROM ECW TO MONEY IN THE BANK
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