He is currently one of the biggest stars in the world of professional wrestling, the longest-reigning WWE Champion this century, and his old employers have decided to pay tribute to him again.
Yep, the good folks at Ring of Honor have delved into their archives once again for another two disc set devoted to wrestling’s most famous non-drinker. The set in question is C.M. Punk: The Second City Saint.
And as is customary with these affairs let’s start at the beginning.
July 12th, 2002
Punk goes up against his old buddy Colt Cabana (hey Scott Colton, how you doing?) at Night of the Butcher.
These two know each other so well they could probably do a match with their eyes shut. Well, probably not. I doubt it Cabana could pull off an Asai Moonsault with his shut.
This was one of those short and sweet encounters jam packed with action. Cabana was looking to make a statement here because the powers that be brought Punk into the company before him. Everything they did just looked so natural and fluid, and it was a shame they weren’t given more time.
As for the winner Cabana made his statement, taking Punk down with his Colt 45 finisher at the third attempt for the winning pin.
December 28th, 2002
Punk faces Cabana again, this time with an ROH contract on the line at Final Battle.
The danger when two guys have faced each other as often as these two have is that they could just go through the motions and do the same thing every time. Thankfully that was a trap they didn’t fall into here.
Although this was a little shorter than their pervious encounter it was the perfect sequel. There were parts that were similar, but moves that worked in the first match were countered more often than not.
Once again they both put in good performances, and with a regular slot and plane rides to the shows for the winner they certainly turned things up a notch.
This time it was Punk who came out on top when he took Cabana down with the Pepsi Plunge, consigning his friend to long road trips while Punk flew in luxury.
February 8th, 2003
Now a regular on the ROH roster Punk takes on former ECW star C.W. Anderson at the One Year Anniversary show.
Anderson came into this one as a late replacement for Reckless Youth, who had been injured in a car crash on the show. He wasn’t actually meant to be there, having been fired from the company twice before.
As for the match it had an old school kind of vibe about it. (Where have I heard that before?) Anderson continued the “family” tradition of working over Punk’s arm, but it wasn’t long before the Straight Edge star came back with some nice moves of his own.
The end came when Anderson tried to take Punk down with the trademark spine buster. Punk managed to counter with a sunset flip for the winning pin.
March 15th, 2003
Punk takes on another former ECW star in the form of Raven in a Raven’s Rules match at Expect the Unexpected.
Punk was a fully-fledged heel by this time, his straight edge ethos being preached to anyone who would listen, which made him a natural adversary for Raven.
The match itself started out quite normally. Punk out-wrestled Raven early on before Raven came back and out-wrestled him. It was then that the ECW legend called for the plunder to be brought into the match, signalling the start of Raven’s Rules.
Nothing was off limits. They destroyed barricades and clobbered each other with chairs. Even Raven’s main squeeze Trinity got involved when she took Punk out with a moonsault from the top rope to the floor. She soon paid the price though when Punk leg dropped here through a table.
Eventually they managed to get back to the ring, and although Raven took Punk down with his trademark drop toe hold onto a chair Punk quickly came back as Raven tapped out to his Devil’s Lock submission.
That wasn’t the end of things though. Punk offered his hand, apparently following the Code of Honor, but when Raven accepted this gesture Punk attacked, and although Raven reversed the positions the referee stopped him from taking Punk down with the Raven Effect DDT. But just as Punk scurried away Raven took out his frustrations on the official, taking him out with the move instead.
March 22nd, 2003
The old rivalries continue as Punk teams with Ace Steel against Colt Cabana and Raven at Night of the Champions.
We had lots of jaw jacking at the beginning of this one as the two sides traded insults before they decided it would be another Raven’s Rules affair.
When the match eventually started Punk played the part of the cowardly heel perfectly as he tried to avoid all physical contact with his nemesis.
The toys soon came into play, and although it was more or less a regular tag match as Punk and Steel used Cabana as their crash test dummy all hell broke loose when Raven got the hot tag and began hitting everyone with a rubbish bin.
Plenty of hard-hitting action followed, with Punk crashing and burning when he tried to put Raven through a table before Raven sealed the win when he took Steel down with the Raven Effect DDT.
There was more to come though. When Raven tried to observe the Code of Honor Punk gave him the finger. Raven snapped and went to put Punk away with his DDT until Punk bolted from the ring.
Raven then decided to take his frustrations out on the still-down Steel as he took him down with more DDTs. While all of this was going on Punk shouted at Cabana for not saving the main who had trained him.
Eventually Punk returned to the ring and attacked Raven. Then it happened. Punk finally convinced Cabana to join his die as they attacked Raven again, with Punk taking him down with a drop toe hold onto a chair before adding insult to injury with his own Raven Effect DDT.
April 12th, 2003
It’s back to singles action for our man as he faces B.J. Whitmer at Epic Encounter.
It was nice to see Punk going back to some good old fashioned wrestling after the two hardcore encounters, and although this didn’t last long it was still full of great action.
These two looked ready made for each other as they exchanged holds early on, with Punk quickly taking the upper hand. As the match progressed Punk went to the outside and dragged a table out from under the ring, setting it up at ringside. He didn’t get to use it at first though when Whitmer stuffed his attempts.
Later, during a back and forth exchange on the ring apron Punk took the upper hand again and used a German suplex to put Whitmer, and himself, through the table. But as both men laid motionless on the floor the referee and several backstage officials checked on their condition before the referee called the match, neither man being declared the winner.
June 14th, 2003
The big rivalry continues as Punk teams with Colt Cabana against Raven and B.J. Whitmer at Night of the Grudges.
Once again there was a ton of jaw jacking at the beginning, but with Punk and Raven involved what would you expect?
The action began in the normal way, but it wasn’t long before the chairs came into play when Punk hit Whitmer and Raven hit Cabana before they moved on to the all hell breaking loose part of the match.
This part featured fan participation and a lengthy brawl through the crowd as the claret flowed down the faces of Punk and Whitmer. But after Raven and Whitmer took their foes down with drop toe holds onto chairs they began to move back towards the ring.
Back between the ropes the Chicago boys used Whitmer for target practice before he got the hot tag to Raven, and moments later it looked all over when Raven was finally able to take Punk out with the Raven Effect.
But when he went for the cover Cabana pulled him out of the ring as the referee made his count. Then Whitmer hit Punk with a diving head butt from the top rope, but when Whitmer went for the cover Cabana pulled the referee out of the ring.
A few seconds later Punk took Whitmer down with a chair-assisted Shining Wizard before Cabana added his Colt 45 finisher for the winning pin.
Once again there was more action after the bell as Punk clobbered his foes with numerous chair shots before putting Raven through a table with a leg drop from the top rope.
July 19th, 2003
The rivalry gets even more heated as Punk faces Raven in a dog collar match at Death Before Dishonor.
Remember what I said earlier about sequels? Well this was the perfect sequel in their ongoing saga.
It began with Punk cutting another promo, but this time around he singled out former ECW star Danny Doring in the crowd. He then refused to put on the collar, suggesting several alternative stipulations. Raven wasn’t interested in changing the rules though.
From there we got what could only be described as a brutal display as they tried to beat the proverbial out of each other. They hit each other with the chain, they brawled all over the arena, they busted each other open, Raven got put through a table, as well as a few other things I’ve probably forgotten about.
Raven looked like he was going to get the win after taking Punk out with the Raven Effect. One problem though, the referee was taking a nap after an accidental chair shot. It was then that Colt Cabana stormed the ring and attacked Raven, taking him down with a DDT on a chair.
Doring then jumped the guard rail and began brawling with Cabana, sending him out of the ring and into the barricades, and while all of this was going on the now-revived referee made the count as Punk covered Raven for the winning pin.
Guess what folks? The action didn’t end there. Punk pushed Raven out of the ring and taped his arms to the bottom rope. He then mocked the former heavy drinker before pouring a can of beer over him.
Then came the big surprise. As Punk celebrated in the ring none other than Tommy Dreamer came in and clobbered Punk with a chair before taping his arms to the top rope. He then released Raven, who took great delight in returning the favour by pouring a can of beer over Punk.
September 20th, 2003
It’s legend time once again as Punk takes on Terry Funk at Glory by Honor 2.
This was actually a part of the Punk/Raven feud where they were allowed to choose each other’s opponents for this show. Punk chose Steve Corino for his nemesis while Raven chose one of his old rivals for Punk.
Before the match began Punk took to the microphone and spoke of Funk’s numerous retirements as he promised to retire him once and for all.
When the match began Funk outwrestled Punk, but when the action spilled out to ringside Punk suddenly announced that this encounter was a hardcore match, a clear attempt to upstage Raven.
There were a few moments of hardcore action, most notably when Funk suplexed his man from the ring and through a table. But when he missed with a moonsault his left knee buckled under the strain.
Punk was like a rabid wolf as he went to work on the injured knee, first with a spinning toe hold and then with a figure four, and when Funk managed to get to the ropes Punk clobbered his knee with a chair.
Punk continued his assault on the knee with more leg locks, but despite all of this Funk refused to give up as he made his way to the ropes again. Punk refused to release the hold, and as Funk cried out in pain, still clinging to the ropes, the referee called for the bell, disqualifying Punk.
Punk still refused to break off his attack, and when Colt Cabana came down to the ring it looked as if he was trying to plead with Punk to stop the attack.
In reality he wasn’t. Cabana took Funk’s legs and applied a figure four of his own while Punk hit him in the face, and it was only when Raven stormed the ring that they broke off the attack, with Punk heading through the crowd while Cabana headed up the aisle.
Cabana soon found an obstacle in his way though in the form of Tommy Dreamer, who threw him back into the ring so Raven could take him down with the Raven Effect.
November 28th, 2003
Punk faces Raven for one last time in a steel cage match at The Conclusion.
This was the perfect way to end their feud. It began with Punk stopping Raven from getting into the cage, and when they did make it inside the claret was soon flowing after numerous chair shots and flying visits to the cage fence.
The holy you know what moment came when Punk climbed to the top of the cage as Raven lay in the middle of the ring. The man from the Bowry managed to move out o the way as Punk crashed and burned with his failed leg drop.
As the action moved towards it’s conclusion Punk almost took the win with his own version of the Raven Effect. It didn’t work though, and when he had the opportunity to walk out of the open cage door Punk chose to climb on to the top of the cage again, intent on doing more damage.
Raven soon stopped him, pushing him down and crotching him on the open door. But just when Raven was about to leave the cage Punk managed to get back on top so he could slam the door into Raven’s head. He then dropped to the floor to claim the feud-ending win.
December 27th, 2003
Punk teams with Colt Cabana to take on the Japanese team of Tomoaki Honma and Kazushi Miyamoto at Final Battle.
This was the first of four matches in the one night ROH versus All Japan Series, and it was pretty darn good. It began with a bit of a feeling out period before both teams got into first gear, with Punk and Cabana using some nice moves to take Miyamoto down.
Both teams put in impressive performances as the action progressed, and the style and moves of the Japanese stars really made this match for me.
Of course there was the all hell breaking loose segment towards the end with bodies flying everywhere and plenty of near falls before Punk took Honma down with the Pepsi Plunge for the winning pin.
January 10th, 2005
The entire Second City Saints team of Punk, Colt Cabana and Ace Steel face the Prophecy’s Christopher Daniels, B.J. Whitmer and Dan Maff at The Battle Lines are Drawn.
This was the first match in the feud between ROH’s two big factions, and it was good way to get things going. Given the talent on show it was obvious this was going to be a quality match, and from the opening exchanges between Steel and Daniels right it up the end it proved to be so.
After the initial exchanges the Saints put in some good teamwork as Maff became the punching bag for the evening, and when he eventually got the hot tag it signalled the start of the six-way brawl. Or perhaps I should say eight-way brawl.
Because after we had the obligatory bodies flying through the air segment the Saints’ Traci Brooks and her opposite number Allison Danger got in on the action as well. It was a brawl that was only broken up when Punk put Danger in a sleeper hold.
Seeing his team-mate in danger (pun intended) Whitmer came into the ring with a chair. Punk ducked the swing through as Whitmer accidentally clobbered the referee, sending him in la-la land.
Eventually another referee came down as the teams continued to brawl. He immediately called for the bell and ruled the match a no contest.
Bet you thought that was the end of the action, didn’t you? Well it wasn’t, because things got even more heated as they began brawling through the crowd and all over the arena for the next ten minutes.
Eventually the Saints took the upper hand, showing their superiority when Steel and Cabana helped Punk put Daniels through a table with the Pepsi Plunge.
February 14th, 2004
Punk faces A.J. Styles in the final of the Pure title tournament at the Second Anniversary Show.
I really enjoy watching these Pure rules matches. It lends itself to a certain style of wrestling that we rarely get to see on the main stages these days, and this was another perfect example of that.
If these two faced each other today it would be considered a dream match. Mind you, it seemed like a dream match back then. Both Punk and Styles put in great performances in this one. With no illegal tactics or outside interference they were allowed to do what they do best, and that’s wrestle.
The rope break rule came into play early on when Punk used them to spin out of an arm wringer. Punk disputed the call, and also had good reason to dispute the loss of his second rope break, considering Styles was using the ropes for a neck crank-type move.
As for the rest of the match it was pretty good. They exchanged numerous submission holds before Punk kicked out of the pin after the Styles Clash.
Several near falls and the loss of all rope breaks followed before Punk tried to go for the Pepsi Plunge off the top rope. Styles managed to stop this attempt with some well-placed blows, and as Punk lay probe, dangling upside down from the top rope, Styles took him down with a Super Styles Clash, moving backwards into the ring for the title winning pin.
March 13th, 2004
With Ricky Steamboat as the special referee Punk faces Styles again as he challenges for the Pure title at At Our Best.
This time around these two didn’t have to go through two other opponents before they faced each other, which meant fresher wrestlers, more time and an altogether better encounter.
Once again they proved they they’re two of the best in the world. It was completely different to the tournament finals, and a little bit more heated as well.
The rope break rule wasn’t an early factor this time around. In fact it was Styles who used them more as he lost all of his while Punk still had two of them left.
The action was perfect throughout. There was the usual exchange of submission holds as well as the sight of Styles almost falling to his own finisher when Punk took him down with that particular move.
The end almost came when Punk applied a sleeper hold. Styles had used all of his rope breaks by then, and it wasn’t long before he slumped to the mat. Steamboat checked his arm and was about to call for the bell when Styles barely kept the limb off the mat.
Styles quickly invoked the spirit of Hulk Hogan as he made his comeback, and a few moments later he took Punk down with a discus clothesline for the winning pin.
After the match ended Punk grabbed the microphone and demanded an apology from Steamboat for his decision. Needless to say that the apology wasn’t forthcoming as Steamboat reminded Punk of the way he’d disrespected him throughout the evening.
Punk then tried to attack Steamboat as he left the ring, only for the Dragon to reverse his Irish Whip attempt so he could take Punk down with his trademark chops and arm drags. Sadly where weren’t any “you still got it” chants from the ROH faithful.
April 24th, 2004
Punk teams with Colt Cabana as they challenge the Briscoes for the Tag Team titles at Reborn Stage 2.
The Briscoes were a completely different breed of animal back then. They didn’t live up to their redneck roots, they wore those red and black singlets, they both had full heads of hair, and I think Mark still had all his own teeth!
Seriously though, this was a pretty decent encounter. The Saints were treated as mega-over babyfaces here from the start, and we even had a few comedic moments from Cabana early on.
Things took a more serious turn when the brothers isolated Punk and used him for target practice, but when they went to take him down with their version of the Doomsday Device Punk caught the lad in mid-air and took him down off his brother’s shoulders with a Powerslam. (Before you ask there was no commentary for this match, and from a distance those rednecks looked the same back then!)
The mass brawl saw both teams bringing out the big guns, and just as the brothers were about to take Punk out from the top rope he threw one down to the floor and took the other out with a Pepsi Plunge to win his first ever title in ROH.
But before they could celebrate B.J. Whitmer came down to the ring to attack Punk. The Briscoes briefly joined in until Ace Steel appeared and clobbered Whitmer with a chair.
May 15th, 2005
The Saints face the Briscoes again, this time at Round Robin Challenge III.
This one had quite a bit of back story. These two teams, along with the Prophecy’s Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer, had competed in the Round Robin tournament. Punk and Cabana had lost the Tag Team titles in the first match to Maff and Whitmer when special enforcer Ricky Steamboat stopped the Saints from taking the count out loss, which eventually led to Maff and Whitmer winning the titles. Steamboat later paid the price for this when Punk and Cabana attacked him in the ring. Later that night Maff and Whitmer lost the titles to the Briscoes, which meant that the Brothers had to defend the titles against the Saints.
As for this particular match it was another great piece of storytelling. Both teams entered the ring exhausted from their previous exertions, and Mark was handicapped even further because of injured ribs.
So after the initial exchanges the Saints began to target Mark’s ribs to good effect. It was a great example of tag team wrestling, an example of just how great Punk and Cabana worked as a unit.
Needless to say Mark eventually managed to get back to his own corner to tag his brother Jay, and that’s when the bodies began to fly.
At one point the brothers looked to take Cabana out with the Doomsday Device, only for Punk to break up the attack when he crotched Mark on the top rope. Moments later though, and despite his injured rubs, Mark took Punk down with a Shooting Star Press, only for Cabana to pull the referee out of the ring as he counted Mark’s cover.
Eventually Mark’s injuries led to his downfall. Although he fought of Punk’s Pepsi Plunge attempt, sending Punk crashing from the top rope to the floor he crashed onto Cabana’s knee as he came off the top rope himself. Cabana followed up with a frog splash from the top, and a three count later there was the third title change in as many matches.
There was no time for a celebration though. Maff and Whitmer hit the ring, briefly attacking Cabana before they brawled with the Briscoes at ringside. Cabana then took them all out with an Asai Moonsault to the floor.
Punk was about to enter the fray until Ricky Steamboat came down to the ring. At first it looked like Punk was backing off after they went nose to nose until the Straight Edged one attacked. Steamboat quickly took control with his chops and arm drags before finally taking Punk out with a cross body block from the top rope.
May 22nd, 2004
It’s the final match of the collection as Punk and Cabana defend their Tag Team titles against Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer at Generation Next.
This was another very heated battle between these two factions, and the perfect continuation of their feud. Contested under no DQ rules it began as a normal tag match, with both teams, and the Saints in particular, looking very good.
But as was expected all hell broke loose about ten minutes in when they began brawling around ringside and through the crowd as they clobbered each other with chairs.
They soon made it back to the ring for the big moves. There was one point where all four men were on the top rope in one corner brawling, but after Cabana fell to the ring apron and Maff through a table Punk took Whitmer down with the Pepsi Plunge for the title retaining pin.
In conclusion – it took me over six hours (spread over a few days) to watch all of this collection, and I’m glad that I did.
Ring of Honor’s latest tribute to the Straight Edge Superstar is another quality release, and it backs up what I’ve been saying about the man for nearly a decade.
We all know that he’s a great talker and a great wrestler, but this compilation shows that he’s more than capable of competing in a variety of different styles against a variety of different opponents. From the technical stylings of Colt Cabana and C.W. Anderson through to the hardcore leanings of Raven and the tag team speciality of the Briscoes, Punk can do it all.
So if you’re one of those people who only really took notice of Punk when he debuted in WWE I urge you to go out and get a copy of this, because it shows there really is life before you enter the main stages of professional wrestling.
And before you ask, this collection definitely gets the big thumbs up from this particular writer.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. C.M. Punk: The Second City Saint is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.
Don’t forget to check out my website at twoshedsreview.blogspot.com. It’s Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and MMA blog, with approximately 1,400 articles from the last 13 years.
And if you want a free wrestling magazine, why not head on over www.altwresmagazine.co.uk. The first nine issues are still available to download!