WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Rise of CM Punk

In the WWE, it has always been evident that kissing corporate ass and being jacked helps a great deal in being the top man in the company. Triple H, John Cena and Hulk Hogan are the three names that spring to mind for me, all carried the company for a number of years respectively. That was until a young man called Phil Brooks smashed the trend by cashing in his Money In the Bank briefcase in on Edge in 2008, ushering in the character we see on our screens today.

From humble beginnings, Brooks’ love for the business was evident as he started out in a backyard wrestling venture known as ‘Lunatic Wrestling Federation’. His first real break in the wrestling world came in 2000 when he signed for the IWA Mid-South promotion, where he would wrestle his best friend Colt Cabana, AJ Styles, Chris Hero and even the late Eddie Guerrero for the Heavyweight title.

Between 2000 and 2005, Punk wrestled on the indy scene whilst also getting two big breaks with both Ring of Honor, and TNA. After a dead end villainous gimmick in TNA, he was dropped from the roster and sent back to ROH where he would face Samoa Joe in a best of three series, which would gain a 5 star rating from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the first to do so since Undertaker and Shawn Michaels’ epic Hell in the Cell match at Badd Blood 1997.

Punk’s journey in the WWE began in 2005, where he was sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling where he won every title eligible to him as a competitor. After he dropped the OVW Heavyweight title, Punk was brought up to the main roster, notably ECW. For weeks before his official debut, vignettes were aired about how it took dedication and discipline to be a ‘straight edge’ pro wrestler, a gimmick which has stayed with him to this very day. From 2006 – 2008, Punk had rivalries with the likes of Elijah Burke, Mike Knox and John Morrison, the latter being the most prolific as it was over the ECW title for a number of months.
After winning the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania 24, Punk was drafted to Raw as part of the 2008 draft lottery. On his first official night as a Raw superstar, shockwaves were made as he cashed in his briefcase to beat Edge, who had just been attacked by Batista. However the title was taken away from him at Unforgiven as ‘Legacy’ attacked him backstage.

After losing his rematch, Punk went on to win the World Tag Team championships with partner Kofi Kingston, and the Intercontinental Championship to culminate a very successful year for him. It was at this time Punk achieved the triple crown status, and became the quickest man to do so. At Wrestlemania 25, Punk set a precedent by becoming the first man to win back to back Money in the Bank matches. Punk was then drafted to Smackdown, where he defeated Umaga in a Strap match at Extreme Rules. The night was not over for the Straight Edge Assassin, as he cashed in his briefcase again successfully on an incapacitated Jeff Hardy. After dropping the World Title to Undertaker, Punk moved into middle card bookings with his new stables.

Punk became the influential leader of the ‘Straight Edge Society’, with his cult like disciples Serina and Luke Gallows doing his bidding. Punk’s feud with Rey Mysterio during this time led to a ‘Hair vs Mask’ match, which Mysterio would win and shave Punks’ head bald. Punk ended this program and began a similar program with the Big Show until he was traded to Raw, with Edge going in the opposite direction. It was here that today’s character was born, as he was assigned leadership of the New Nexus that ultimately led his charge to the Money in the Bank Pay per view in 2011.

Prior to the match, Punk had humiliated Mr McMahon with his infamous Pipe bombs, and his segment on the stage where his microphone was cut off. This led to a kayfabe suspension, and only built the anticipation for the match against Cena. Punk won the match in his hometown of Chicago, and seemingly left the WWE, with the company even going as far as installing Cena as champion again. However Punk returned with a new Titantron and new music that night.

Punk lost the title to Alberto Del Rio at Summerslam after the Mexican aristocrat cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. Punk regained the title on October 31st, beginning his reign as WWE champion for 434 consecutive days, the most in the modern era. His alliance with Paul Heyman during this time leads to where we are today. After losing to Undertaker at this year’s Wrestlemania, Punk took a hiatus to recover from injuries after being on the road for nearly four years.

Since his return, Punk has faced the likes of Curtis Axel and Alberto Del Rio whilst getting involved in a bitter rivalry with his former best friend and manager Paul Heyman. With the upcoming ‘Best Vs Beast’ match at SummerSlam, it goes to show that Punk can instantly adapt to any situation thrown at him. Despite Punk’s triumphant return to Raw after 3 months off the ratings did not improve, questioning Punk’s drawing ability.

Whether he is in a Championship match or a feud outside the title, it is undeniable that he is one of the hottest commodities in pro wrestling today. He is the epitome of controversy, and undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers of our time, I’d go as far to say he is the complete package. Even when he isn’t in the hunt for the title, you can be damn sure that Cm Punk will steal the show.

A few critics have dubbed Brooks ‘The Modern Day Stone Cold’, and I would have to agree with this statement. Even if he is a heel, he still has the support of the male 25+ demographic and people still cheer him despite it mostly being jeering. This is very reminiscent of Steve Austin as he always had that small band of die hard followers who supported him. Punk’s promo’s also remind me of Austin, saying what he wants to who he wants, whenever he wants. A great example of this, with Austin’s long time nemesis Vince McMahon, was when Punk was negotiating his contract live on air. If attacking the boss like that on live television doesn’t have you connecting the two, then you need a tune up.

His undeniable passion for the business makes Punk a top superstar and it is my view that he could walk in to any company and make even the worst superstar look good. If he can make Ryback look good in a TLC match, this is entirely possible. His work from the indy’s right through to his current program has been of the best of quality and never once has he left me feeling robbed of a good match. This is why, to me CM Punk is, as he proclaims “The Best in the World”.

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