Tag Archive | "CM Punk"

CM Punk transitions from in-ring to comic book storytelling with “Drax”

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CM Punk transitions from in-ring to comic book storytelling with “Drax”

Posted on 14 September 2016 by Jonathan Williams

Drax Vol. 1: The Galaxy's Best DetectiveBefore he began his transition from the wrestling ring to the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon, former WWE Champion CM Punk started writing for Marvel Comics, another of his non-wrestling dreams. Ironically, the Straight Edge Superstar’s first foray into comics was a short story for the Thor Annual #1, released in February of 2015, in which a brash young Thor guzzles gallons of alcohol. Punk’s first ongoing series for Marvel is a solo outing for the character portrayed by Batista in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie (who, in another twist of irony, won the 2014 Royal Rumble match that ended up being Punk’s WWE finale) beginning in October of 2015.

With issue #11 being released later this month, Marvel recently collected the first five issues of Drax into a trade paperback. Co-written with the accomplished Cullen Bunn, Drax Vol.1: The Galaxy’s Best Detective sees the Destroyer going solo as the rest of the Guardians begin their own adventures. With nothing better to do, his first objective, of course, is to find Thanos and exact revenge for the loss of his family.

Despite his tragic motivations, Drax’s journey becomes comical after the Space Sucker — the hunk-of-junk spaceship Rocket Raccoon loans him — crash lands on a desolate moon. Thankfully, Drax soon finds a bar where he can drown his sorrows. It is here that Drax meets an unlikely ally in former foe Terrax, and an equally unlikely mechanic in Ora, the hot pink bartender. Ora offers to repair the Space Sucker if Drax will find out who has been stealing valuable pieces of technology from her and others around town.

Drax, with his impeccable investigative skills, tracks down the thief, who has also been kidnapping the town’s children and using them as slave labor. This monster ends up being a bigger problem than anyone anticipated, but Drax ain’t scared, especially with the help of a disembodied robot head and other new allies. Together, they are able to free the kidnapped children and figure out why this larger-than-life threat has been absconding with random mechanical gadgetry. This story arc comes to a comically anticlimactic climax that is just as quirky as the rest of the story, leading right into the issues that will be collected in a second volume later this year.

Punk and Bunn’s writing is complemented by Scott Hepburn’s illustrations to create a fun new sci-fi adventure serial. Say what you will about his other post-wrestling endeavor, but Punk was always a good storyteller in the ring. Though he wasn’t able to escape a clobbering in his UFC debut, his work here is delightful antihero escapism.

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CM Punk’s rivalry with Jimmy Rave is the focus of “CM Punk: Icon”

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CM Punk’s rivalry with Jimmy Rave is the focus of “CM Punk: Icon”

Posted on 08 January 2014 by Jonathan Williams

CM Punk: IconCM Punk‘s Ring of Honor rivalries with Samoa Joe and Raven have been well documented, as has the infamous Summer of Punk in which he threatened to take his ROH World Championship with him upon his departure for WWE. With such impactful feuds during his ROH tenure, followed by the success he’s had in recent years in WWE, it might be easy to forget the bitter exchanges Punk had with Jimmy Rave leading into the Summer of Punk. These matches are the centerpiece of CM Punk: Icon, the latest Punk DVD compilation from ROH.

Picking up where CM Punk: The Second City Saint left off, Icon begins with Punk’s match against Ricky Steamboat, a turning point in Punk’s career as his demeanor during the match changes drastically after he is humbled by Steamboat’s still-impressive abilities, as well as his post-match words for Punk. With the fans solidly behind him, Punk and his longtime friends Colt Cabana and Ace Steel go on to battle the likes of the Briscoe Brothers, Austin Aries, Alex Shelley, BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs. All great matches, mind you. But it’s not until Punk’s clash with Rave on the third night of ROH’s Third Anniversary Celebration that Icon really starts to gel as a cohesive collection of matches.

After defeating Punk (with a good deal of help from the Embassy, a boot lace and a can of air freshener) in front of his hometown Chicago crowd, Rave definitely stokes the ire of Punk for several months. Stooping to numerous personal lows (including attacking Punk’s then-girlfriend Traci Brooks, which is alluded to in commentary), Rave and the Embassy continuously antagonize Punk, only to scurry away or attack from behind when faced with his fury head on. With Bobby “The Brain” Hennan in his corner to help neutralize the antics of Prince Nana, Punk comes out on top against Embassy member Mike Kruel at Stalemate in April of 2005, only to be attacked from behind by Rave and the rest of the Embassy after the match while Heenan is showing respect for Punk.

When Punk finally gets Rave in a position in which Rave seemingly has nowhere to run (a dog collar match at Manhattan Mayhem in May of 2005), Rave again uses Kruel as a distraction to attack the already-collared Punk from behind before the match is officially underway. What follows is 15 of the most intense minutes in ROH history as Punk and Rave battle inside and outside the ring while chained together, followed by a passionate backstage promo from a bloodied Punk that makes his malicious intentions for Rave all too clear. But it obviously doesn’t resolve anything as the two face off again only a week later at Nowhere to Run, this time inside a steel cage.

With the Embassy kept at least somewhat at bay thanks to the cage, Punk and Rave go back and forth in a bloody battle to conclude this long-standing feud. But in a match where anything goes, Rave is allowed to resort to his previous tactics without having to hide them from the referee. With his hometown fans behind him once again, Punk finds a way to fight back from every obstacle Rave and the Embassy put in front of him, eventually turning some of them around on Rave. With a huge suplex off the top of the cage, Punk finally gives Rave his comeuppance before setting his sights on attaining the ROH World Championship.

In one of his final matches before the Summer of Punk gets underway, Punk takes on Roderick Strong in a respectful exchange that leaves both competitors looking like heroes. And after a surprising turn of events, Unscripted II lives up to its name as Punk makes a one-time return to ROH (while already under contract to WWE), teaming with Bryan Danielson to take on Rave and Adam Pearce in February of 2006. Having built a career on, among other things, unexpected actions and surprising promos, this seemingly impossible return/send-off somehow seems like the perfect end cap for Punk’s ROH career. And considering his contributions to ROH during his time there, Icon is certainly an appropriate title for this latest collection of his classic matches.

www.rohwrestling.com

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“Best in the World” is one of WWE’s most in-depth DVD releases

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“Best in the World” is one of WWE’s most in-depth DVD releases

Posted on 08 October 2012 by Jonathan Williams

Arguably the most highly anticipated DVD release in recent WWE history, CM Punk: Best in the World definitely takes a unique approach to showcasing one of wrestling’s most intriguing talents. While previous WWE DVD releases (especially those that focus on current superstars) have highlighted a respective wrestler’s best WWE matches and moments, Best in the World is just as much about CM Punk‘s straight edge punk rock lifestyle as it is about his wrestling career. And when it comes to his in-ring accomplishments, this three-disc set is not limited to the work Punk has done since he joined WWE.

For a young Punk, pro wrestling was just another oddball form of escapism for a kid coming from a broken home. While he embraced punk rock, comic books and monster movies, he also found refuge in the brash antics of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and the other pageantry he saw in the wrestling world. With commentary from his surrogate family and close friends such as Rancid‘s Lars Frederiksen, original trainer Ace Steel, longtime wrestling friend Colt Cabana and former WWE Women’s Champion Lita, Best in the World gets at the things that make up the Punk we know today. It seems that few topics are off limits as Punk talks about the drunken father that inspired his aversion to drugs and alcohol, the origins of the CM Punk moniker, the meanings behind many of his tattoos and the years of backyard and indie wrestling where Punk paid his dues.

As a result, Best in the World plays more like a documentary on one of yesterday’s stars rather than someone who is just reaching his championship potential. From the ex-girlfriend who encouraged Punk to embrace his punk rock attitude as his wrestling persona to indie rivals like Chris Hero (who appears here as Hero, not as his NXT persona of Kassius Ohno) to WWE friends and foes like Daniel Bryan, Triple H, John Cena and The Miz, it’s apparent that Punk’s self-made family is a tight-knit circle that crosses over from his personal to professional life. In an unprecedented move on WWE’s part, Best in the World includes footage from his early matches in Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South, his rise to prominence in Ring of Honor against the likes of Samoa Joe, the infamous Summer of Punk (read my review here), during which he signed his WWE contract on the ROH title, and his early Ohio Valley Wrestling matches.

Courtesy WWE

It’s not until almost 45 minutes into Best in the World that we see Punk’s WWE debut thanks to Paul Heyman and the resurrected Extreme Championship Wrestling. And in true Punk fashion, he’s more than willing to discuss how he feels WWE misused him in his early days with the company, even during his runs as ECW, Intercontinental, World Tag Team and World Heavyweight Champion. But if there’s anything Punk is good at doing it’s adapting, and he realizes at numerous points on this DVD that in order to prove himself in WWE he will have to adapt in big ways.

In steps Punk’s big friend Luke Gallows, as well as Serena and Joseph Mercury, to form the Straight Edge Society. And while Punk was subversively turning himself into a Jesus-like Messiah on television, Best in the World reveals his more benevolent side behind the scenes when Mercury falls on hard times. Despite his best efforts with the SES, however, Punk soon becomes disgruntled yet again as others get championship opportunities. And that’s about the time that the pipe bomb goes off. In much the same way he had done years earlier in his final months with Ring of Honor, Punk dares to say what’s truly on his mind. He takes control of his fate with only a few weeks left on his WWE contract, and threatens to defeat Cena for the WWE Championship and leave the company with the title at last year’s Money in the Bank, in his hometown of Chicago.

Courtesy WWE

My only criticism of Best in the World is its glorification of the events that transpire after Punk lives up to his promise and does, indeed, walk out the front door of the arena with the WWE title (only to tweet that now-infamous picture of it sitting in his refrigerator later that night). No one can argue the impact Punk had on WWE during the time leading up to Money in the Bank. But had his WWE return been postponed for a few more weeks (if not months), his actions would have carried even more weight. But considering that few (if any) other people would have dared to risk their future with WWE the way he did, this slight glorification of a series of events that did get many people’s attention is a very minor complaint.

What Best in the World proves, without a doubt, is that the Punk we see on TV and in WWE rings is the same person you might find at a Cubs game or in an airport. He can be brash and rude, but he can also be a leader and an inspiration (as he has been for veterans like William Regal and up-and-comers like Zack Ryder). And regardless of how you feel about him personally, there’s no doubt that Punk is one of the most entertaining guys to step into a WWE ring, which is displayed on the other two discs of this set. From an OVW match against Brent Albright and his ECW debut against Justin Credible to his WrestleMania XXIV Money in the Bank win and championship victories over John Morrison, Regal, Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho, Punk makes it hard to deny that he is, as he likes to say, the “best in the world.” And with this DVD release, it seems that WWE is finally agreeing with him.

www.wweshop.com

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“The Summer of Punk” chronicles CM Punk’s final months in Ring of Honor

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“The Summer of Punk” chronicles CM Punk’s final months in Ring of Honor

Posted on 07 October 2012 by Jonathan Williams

One summer, CM Punk became an underdog champion whose fan support was divided between those who recognized his talent and those who saw him as a turncoat. Truth be told, Punk did betray many of his supporters when he proclaimed that he would hold the title hostage and take it with him when he left the company. Oddly enough, I’m not talking about the events leading into last year’s Money in the Bank pay-per-view, where Punk defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship, only to walk out the front door of the arena with the belt, as his contract expired that same night. I’m actually referring to a very similar series of events that took place in 2005, when Punk became the Ring of Honor Champion, then proclaimed that he would take that title with him as he left the smaller promotion for WWE‘s grander stage.

While WWE’s highly anticipated CM Punk: Best in the World DVD set comes out Oct. 9, ROH chronicled Punk’s 2005 departure months earlier with The Summer of Punk, a two-disc set featuring matches that took place during his final months with the company. And it’s strange how similar that summer was to the summer of 2011, when Punk revealed that his WWE contract expired the same night he battled Cena for the WWE Championship (in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, no less).

The Summer of Punk begins with Punk, a fan favorite, defeating Austin Aries (himself on his way out for his first stint with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) for the ROH Championship. As his victory speech progresses, he gradually becomes more and more arrogant, stating that a microphone in his hand is like a pipe bomb, saying he is “the devil himself,” referring to himself as the “greatest pro wrestler walking the Earth today,” calling the fans his puppets and generally foreshadowing everything from the inception of his Straight Edge Society to his current WWE title reign.

The Summer of Punk includes some of the most memorable matches and promos from the summer of 2005, including the moment that he signs his WWE contract on the ROH title belt. But just as he has done over the past year or so in WWE, Punk is able to back up everything he says by defeating several of ROH’s top wrestling talents, including Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong, Christopher Daniels and longtime ROH rival Samoa Joe. Though Punk had previously had some great matches with many of these people, he truly brings out the best in them with his threats of leaving with the title. But for those three months, he is unbeatable and it really does look like he will cripple ROH by taking its top prize to another wrestling promotion.

From his numerous battles with an unlikely savior in James Gibson (this DVD is almost as much about Gibson’s quest for the title as it is about Punk’s determination to retain it) to his infamous confrontations with Mick Foley (yet another instance of history repeating itself in recent weeks in WWE), Punk’s ability to play with the emotions of his competitors and the ROH fans is phenomenal. But even after his tyrannically turbulent final months in ROH come to an end, as Punk wrestles his longtime friend Colt Cabana in his farewell match in the Chicago suburb of Chicago Ridge, he is visibly emotional as the fans chant his name and shower him with streamers (a common show of respect for ROH fans). And when the locker room empties and the ROH roster shows its respect to a man that helped elevate ROH to greater recognition, it’s clear that The Summer of Punk is a bittersweet chapter in the story of a man whose potential in WWE has only become popularly apparent in the past few years.

www.rohwrestling.com

 

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