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Ring of Honor Summer of Punk 2005 Review

It took 7 DVD’s, the majority of Saturday, and ton of Pepsi to bring this review to PINFALL Magazine. The Summer of Punk is one of those monumental moments of time in wrestling that you hear referred to often, but not in a detailed way. On the eve of WWE’s big Punk-Centric Money in the Bank PPV I wanted to take a look back at CM Punk’s signature title reign. Punk wrestled his heart out during the Summer of 2005, and I’m glad to be able to share it with you here now…

6 YEAR OLD SPOILERS FOLLOW

Death Before Dishonor III – ROH World Title Match: Austin Aries (C) v CM Punk (*****): Punk had an epic entrance. It’s funny that there was one guy chanting for Aries before the match, in contrast to the boisterous reception Punk received. Aries taking a dropkick while doing a headstand couldn’t have looked more painful, a good display of Punk’s aggressive style. The neck work following is appreciated. It seems like common sense to work the neck after nearly breaking your opponent’s, but not as many people take common sense into their work, as they should. Aries’ with a cringe-worthy DVD onto the apron, that’s how you get a pop. I love how Punk played the crowd here because it makes his heel turn so much more devious. Aries is such a great improvisational heel, picking up the streamers, teasing the fans/Punk. The way Aries sold the clothesline in the corner (backwards) looked like something out of a video game, and I mean that in a good way. Fitting of Punk to use Hogan’s point taunt, right before he pulled a Hollywood Hogan on the ROH crowd.

Punk pinning the ref in the corner before nailing the Shining Wizard was so professional, just no-sold the ref’s existence. The Super-Brainbuster spot was top notch, even the commentary put it over well. Punk’s reaction to taking the Pepsi Plunge made me laugh. The finish isn’t my favorite, as it was a trip to no-sell city, but everything else about this match is flawless. The promo is amazing, my favorite was “the champ is here”, couldn’t help but laugh. I’m going to no-sell the Daniels promo after Punk leaves.

Sign of Dishonor – A very different entrance for Punk this time out. The crowd, the music, the attitude, it’s a complete 180. My favorite part was his impression of fans talking about Low-Ki/Daniels/AJ. Signing his WWE contract on the ROH belt was evil genius.

Punk interfering in Colt Cabana and Daniels’ match added a little flavor. Colt could have went heel, and accepted Punk’s help, but they went the other way with it. Colt is no heel. Daniels taking full advantage of Punk mistakenly knocking Colt out was in character. Punk being a child about taking his belt home with him is more brilliance. The crowd called Punk a “bitch” and “CM Pussy”, but they really missed out on “CM Punk-Bitch” chants. Punk challenging guys who couldn’t possibly be at the arena was hilarious. It was nice of Mick Foley to roll out of bed, and into the ring. Mick dropping the F-Bomb popped the crowd huge. Foley was always a little wordy. I liked the little replay of Lethal beating Punk that they showed in the corner.

ROH World Title Match: CM Punk (C) v Jay Lethal (***): It’s funny to see Punk sell Lethal’s Dragon Suplex (1st move of the match) like a chair shot, when I just seen him no-sell 3 finishes from Aries after a 40-minute match. You never get the same Punk match twice. Lethal is a charismatic guy, but he doesn’t show it too much here. Samoa Joe coming down didn’t even get much of a reaction, crowd must have been worn down from the long show. Punk rubbing the match into Joe’s face as he finished Lethal was great. This match had fun start, and strong finish.

Escape From New York – Punk’s James Gibson impression is classic. I can’t get enough of his impressions. Foley sneaking up on Punk popped the crowd again. He really could have said anything while choking Punk, and the fans would have eaten it up.

ROH World Title Match: CM Punk (C) v Roderick Strong (****): Punk heckles the crowd better than anyone in wrestling. Punk brought the chops to Roddy, but Roddy’s chops were on another level, as they ripped the flesh from Punk’s body. The atmosphere is a lot better for this than the Lethal attempt. The crowd wanted Punk’s back broken, intense. Punk took the thumb to the eyes up a notch. I like when Punk checks the ref to make sure it wasn’t a three count, a small but sensible spot. Taz was to Suplexes as Roddy is to backbreakers. The very last exchange sucked, but the rest of the match was excellent. Gibson, Foley, and Joe jumping Punk finally paid off for the crowd, but when the faces mug a heel it’s ridiculous (aka: TNA booking).

Fate of an Angel – Punk opens the show, and actually puts Gibson over a bit since that’s who he eventually drops the belt to, makes sense. Noble doesn’t interest me on the mic or in the ring, but Punk busting him open to shut him up was acceptable.

ROH World Title Match: CM Punk (C) v James Gibson (***): Gibson’s head-wrapping is comically large. Decent shoulder work from Gibson. Punk’s back was gushing blood along with Gibson’s head, and I can’t say it didn’t add something visually. This one was more of a brawl than the previous bouts, though it’s not exactly hard hitting. Gibson’s Tiger Driver on Punk was possibly the most impactful I’ve ever seen by anyone. Gibson’s high-flying maneuvers leave something to be desired. The Wedgie finish was funny, and went down better than the Roddy finish. It’s awesome that Punk keeps sneaking away by cheating. Daniels stealing his belts as the only way to bring him back to ROH was a clever twist.

Homecoming – ROH World Title Match: CM Punk (C) v Christopher Daniels w/Allison Danger (****): Some guy with the worst hair ever getting in Punk’s face was hilarious. Another hot crowd, after the first 10 minutes being rest holds, the heat ceased for a bit. They keep it simple for the first half hour, but Punk still adds enough to keep it interesting. These guys both have a variation of moves for any situation, have to give them that. Punk flicking his sweat on a fan booing him was great. I was happy to see Punk selling his neck after going for a headbutt. The man knows how to tell a story. A rare ROH Ref bump, which led to a perfect near-fall. The crowd never really popped as loud for any other near-fall down the stretch. The Anaconda Vice brought them back to life, which was a great way to kill some time leading into the final minute. More run-in nonsense post-match.

Redemption – ROH World Title 4 Corners Elimination Match: CM Punk (C) v James Gibson v Samoa Joe v Daniels (****): There’s a fitting “Punk’s a genius” chant early on. I loved the build-up around Punk and Joe finally locking up. This match is almost a Gauntlet match for Punk. Ring of Honor Joe had beast mode activated. Punk tagged Joe with a slap, which couldn’t have been better timed. The entire Punk/Joe sub-plot carried this bout. Punk continuing his tyrannical reign with a chair shot to Gibson’s skull was wonderfully diabolic. Punk and Daniels get their point across much faster in this bout. The elimination finishes for Daniels and Joe was great. Daniels and his tweener edge showing through (as always). The parameters for Gibson showing up after the chair shot were set perfectly. The Super Tiger Bomb blew the earlier one out of the water. What a cap to one of the best storylines of the last decade. A much more entertaining hour long match. The ultimate spit in the face to Punk’s reign was the beer
drinking post-match. Punk no-sold the drinking, and hugged it out with James Gibson.

The Final Chapter – 2 out of 3 Falls: Colt Cabana v CM Punk (****): All the video recapping Punk’s ROH career with his usual AFI playing was awesome. The whole deal is pure class. The match is the equivalent to an all-star game or a friendly in soccer. They have the perfect comedy act, Punk the straight man, Colt the goof. Punk cheating his way to the first fall was even funny. The second fall flew by, and the finish came practically out of nowhere. Punk didn’t hold back in his last match, he flew around like he didn’t have a care in the world. Colt pulled out all the stops as well. Punk was like 90′s Rey Mysterio with all the different Rana variations. There’s a Reverse DDT off the top rope that could have killed a lesser man, but it just encouraged Punk. Punk losing, and doing his ref check was classic. Cool of Punk to do the J.O.B. for his boy Colt Cabana.

… Colt botched the Pepsi pour.

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Let’s hope 2011 is yet another Summer of Punk!

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