I love Wrestling, I will take it in any form. I may die without it, but since I have never gone without it for more than a few hours, this is merely a theory. That is why I was excited by the arrival of two things into my young adult life, one was the internet and the second was a Visa debit card that allowed me to order things from America. It opened a new world of badly designed and printed DVDs from every two-bit Indy Federation in North America (as well as some wonderful ones). I decided upon and ordered an IWA:MS event, the quality of the DVD cover and DVD-R inside hid what it really was. You see, it transformed into solid gold as soon as I placed it in my Disc Drive (I had to watch it on my PC as my snooty DVD Player decided it wasn’t a real thing, possibly due to the overall cheapness).
This is where I first met CM Punk, I distinctly remember a skinny, bleached-haired, tattooed, shouty little boy risking his life by yelling at drunken rednecks and I never averted my gaze. Who was he? He only looked to be my age, he hadn’t even wrestled for me yet and I just adored him. There was nothing physically appealling about him, he didn’t even look like a wrestler, so why did I find him so interesting? I know now of course, first impressions count and my first impression of CM Punk is the same reason I love him to this day. I sensed his realness.
There’s nothing those people could say in response to him that could throw him off his game, or hurt him. He was a dangerous little cocktail of anger and venom and he was just legit, he believed in himself and the things he was saying and it really connected with me. In an industry of flamboyant and over-the-top characters, or vanilla personalities was this young kid who tattoed his ethics across his body and fearlessly confronted anyone who challenged him, don’t get me wrong he annoys me as much as he amuses me, and that has never changed, but I saw something in him that I rarely see. I saw a true individual and a future star.
Then he wrestled… and he was really good. THANK GOD!
The reason I’m telling you this story is simple (stick around, everything is connected) this DVD is completely CM Punk’s DVD. No annoying voiceovers or terrible music from bands who would have seemed trite in 2001, like most WWE releases have. It’s just Punk and his friends telling you about what made a neglected little outcast boy into the least-likely WWE Champion of all time. It’s not all sentimental and gushing relatives, which is nice for most Superstar bios, but that wouldn’t really be CM Punk. He has his (non-biological) family there to speak about him, but they tell stories and memories of times past that fit in with his narrative, not just to make him look good or show them feeling proud.
His friends are from all walks of life and it’s awesome to hear stories of what made him into CM Punk from his ex-Girlfriend and friends he grew up with. These talking heads include peers like John Cena, Triple H and The Miz. Close friends like his ex-girlfriend Natalie, who is probably the nicest person in the world, his best friend Chez and her family (who are like Punk’s adopted family), Lars Fredriksen of the Punk band Rancid (who seems to be a kind of big Brother figure and is full of interesting viewpoints and advice) to his Indy peers and friends Ace Steel, Colt Cabana, Joey Mercury, Chris Hero, Lita and Daniel Bryan. Paul Heyman fills in the blanks of CM Punk’s developmental days, unwittingly revealing himself to be CM Punk’s Guardian Angel and the cast is nicely rounded off by everything that I despise about Wrestling in the grotesque frame of Michael Hayes.
Never has one man enveloped the lazy, pig-headed, bigoted side of professional wrestling so perfectly as the former “Freebird”. A man who almost cost us one of the most unique Superstars of all time by, and this is documented here, and he sees no problem with this… not really being bothered to watch footage of Punk wrestle, and instead thinking Paul Heyman was hyping a non-starter. CM Punk was almost released from his WWE contract before leaving OVW, because Michael Hayes thought he was Heyman hyperbole. So how many wrestlers has that actually happened to who will never get to tell their story? Truly a sobering thought.
World Wrestling Entertainment is on an absolutely stellar run of first class Biographies and Home Video Releases so CM Punk’s DVD has come at both the best and worst of times. The Best because WWE are on a creative high for DVD Sets so his first real DVD release had a good chance of being amazing. The Worst because it has a lot to live up to as the Bret vs Shawn, Randy Orton, Austin, Rock and Edge DVDs have been some of the strongest output in years. The good news was that as soon as this title was announced, CM Punk took to Twitter and assured his fans that this would not be some in-house, run-of-the-mill production. There would be no lost Aunts and Football Coaches relaying unimportant stories about a kid they barely remember. He was going to oversee and cherry pick only the most important people and events in his life, right down to the music and cover art. That was encouraging because I like to feel that I am watching someone’s best work and for it to have an overall feeling of them in it, for the DVD to capture the true essence of the Superstar it is documenting. There is of course a downside, if he was choosing the content then wouldn’t that make it all one-sided? Wouldn’t it just be an ego-boosting trot down memory lane, while everyone who loves him gushes about what a stand-up guy he is? Thankfully that fear is allayed.
Remember how I liked CM Punk because he was truthful and real? Well… he was like a closely-guarded enigma of a man in those days compared to this Documentary. I have seen his Ring of Honor shoot interviews (a lot) and he’s always been open and funny, and has always allowed the bridges he burned to light his path, but even those aren’t on the same level of brutal honesty that we have here. I mean, of course, there are some things that set off an alarm or two as to whether you are being ‘worked’ and yes, we probably are in some cases, but that’s ok. Like the Montreal Screwjob, I never really want to know everything that led from the ‘Pipebomb’ Promo to the win at Money in the Bank 2011. It would ruin the excitement, but if he isn’t telling the whole truth, then he does it convincingly and that’s all I can ask of him. For the most part however, he is completely open and honest and you wonder if sometimes he should even be saying the things that he is revealing. Then you remember that he doesn’t care one iota if he should be saying the things he says, and you relax and enjoy his fascinating story even more.
This is a man who has hit more roadblocks on his way to Superstardom than one can imagine. His visceral frustration when relaying bittersweet memories of winning titles only to be told “We don’t know what to do with you” once he is a champion, to the frankly insulting way in which he was told he was “John Cena’s television program” to keep him fresh for his feud with The Rock it is easy to see why his character and promos seem so real. They are. The things he complains about actually happened to him and it’s preposterous. WWE’s higher ups should watch this DVD and just feel as embarrassed as they do incompetent, for the way he’s been treated. Not that he wants you to feel sorry for him, the easy manner in which he speaks never hints at a cry for pity or sympathy, he says it in a ‘Oh yeah, can you believe this??’ sort of way and it’s sort of funny, in a really sad way.
It does lead to a very cathartic moment when he realises that he needs to just do things for himself. The section about his Straight-Edge Society run is wonderful. He ‘s a man on the edge and just takes matters into his own hands, much to the general bemusement of his bosses. You just imagine this ball of angry energy writing out his own storylines and it’s hilarious. Everything about this DVD is eye-opening and fun, with a hint of sadness that he never ponders upon.
The footage of his days working the Independant circuit is well-placed and important. IWA:MS, ROH and even his own fed the LWF are covered in great detail. The much lauded ‘Summer of Punk’ is given the respect it deserved for it was one of the most beautifully performed periods in wrestling. It’s hard to put across in words just how rabid and angry the Ring of Honor faithful were when a suited and booted CM Punk used their prestigious World Title as a writing desk, while signing his WWE Contract upon it. It had to be seen, and it is, through some wizardry, WWE show everything. All his important moments. Even his career-defining (to that point) series of matches with Samoa Joe, for WWE to not only show but allow praise to be heaped upon a man who is a Champion in a rival televised company is truly groundbreaking. His territories-esque ‘Marquee Matches’ with Chris Hero (now NXT Talent Kassius Ohno) and Colt Cabana are given the feeling of importance they deserve as it was in these matches that the true workhorse wrestler that we have now was moulded. I distinctly remember one of his matches with Hero going some 75 minutes, that’s exhausting to watch, let alone compete in.
We are also given access to his beautiful Tour Bus and he explains why he felt it a necessary purchase. Which, despite being luxurious, is just functional and it makes sense. We also see him jogging around the streets of Chicago with his headphones on and his explanation that he enjoys the solitude of running. He just seems like a sociable person who is completely comfortable in his own skin, in his own company. Just as the Edge DVD showed a man completely at peace with his retirement, this shows CM Punk finding his own peace in a very hectic life. You can imagine that when he retires, he’ll be happy, like Edge, showing up when he feels like it, but otherwise totally content in his own pursuits, which is a nice thought.
I like CM Punk, he’s a cool guy. He’s a talented, funny, generous, intelligent, independent, pig-headed, cut-his-nose-off-to-spite-his-face, contradictory, arrogant, aloof, warm, determined man. CM Punk is a real person with flaws and amazing character traits. He shows us every side of his personality because he’s proud of who he is. Not many people comfortably do that. Then again, not many people make an impact like Punk has. Not many people are real.
Overview and Rating:
This is without a doubt the absolute best DVD that WWE has ever produced. I don’t think you’d have to be a fan of CM Punk to love this, I think you could just show it to non-wrestling fans as a stand alone documentary about a guy who clawed his way to the top, in an industry he loved and his struggles on the way and they would be enthralled. The quality is, as usual, perfection. The amount of content is mind-blowing. The subject is fascinating and the footage they have managed to procure is brilliant. I cannot say anything more about this than it was clearly a labour of love that has paid off in spades. Get your hands on this DVD, unless you have a Blu-Ray player. In which case buy the Blu-Ray because the extras are fabulous.
Disc One – Two-Hour Documentary
Disc Two –
Finals Match in the OVW World Heavyweight Championship Tournament
Brent Albright vs. CM Punk
Ohio Valley Wrestling 1st March, 2006
CM Punk vs. Justin Credible
ECW 1st August, 2006
ECW Championship Last Chance Match
CM Punk vs. John Morrison
ECW 4th September, 2007
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Chris Jericho vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. John Morrison vs. Carlito vs. CM Punk vs. MVP vs. Mr. Kennedy
WrestleMania XXIV 30th March, 2008
World Tag Team Championship Match
CM Punk & Kofi Kingston vs. Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase
RAW 27th October, 2008
No Disqualification Match for the Intercontinental Championship
CM Punk vs. William Regal
RAW 19th January, 2009
Disc Three –
Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk
SummerSlam 23rd August, 2009
Rey Mysterio Joins the SES vs. CM Punk’s Hair
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
Over the Limit 23rd May, 2010
WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. CM Punk
Money in the Bank 17th July, 2011
WWE Championship Match
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
WrestleMania XXVIII 1st April, 2012
WWE Championship Match
CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan
Over the Limit 20th May, 2012
Blu Ray Extras –
No Plan B
Chicken Wings and Apple Pie
Most Recognizable Tattoo
Traveling with Ace
ECW Arena Match
Hanging with Eddie Guerrero
Driving Away With the Title
“They’re Gonna Hate Me”
Six People, One Room
I’m a Paul Heyman Guy
The Bus Tour
A Day at the Ball Field
Finals Match in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament
Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
Armageddon 14th December, 2008