RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S WWE DVD REVIEW SERIES: "C.M. Punk: Best in the World" - A look at one of WWE's more well-rounded releases
Oct 9, 2012 - 9:27:54 PM
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By Sean Radican, Torch columnist
C.M. Punk’s “Best in the World” DVD, which is out today in stores, strays from the usual style of WWE DVD releases. The strengths of this release are numerous, but the sheer number of people Punk brought in to talk about him not only personally, but also professionally, is remarkable.
Viewers of this release are going to be surprised to watch how Punk became a wrestler. He wasn’t an athlete in high school and the story on how he started his own wrestling company before he was even trained is fascinating to watch, especially the commentary from his friends and family about that period in his life.
It’s not surprising that WWE secured the rights to the IWA-MS and ROH footage given how hands-on Punk was involved in making his documentary. The IWA-MS footage is interesting to watch given where Punk and Hero are now in their careers compared to when they were wrestling in IWA-MS a decade ago.
The ROH footage is rewarding for longtime fans of Punk, as his time in ROH, feud with Samoa Joe, and the Summer of Punk angle are all chronicled on the documentary. Punk’s farewell show for ROH in 2005 is also chronicled with footage of his match against Colt Cabana in Chicago. Punk also brought in Colt Cabana to talk about the match. It’s surprising to see this footage on a WWE release in the sense that no other wrestler that has had a documentary made by WWE has had their pre-WWE career covered as in-depth as Punk’s is on this release.
If anything, this release might have people going out of their way to seek out footage from Punk’s independent career, especially his major angles covered here on ROH and matches from his feud with Chris Hero in IWA-MS, which can be found respectively at ROHWrestling.com and SmartMarkvideo.com.
Punk gives viewers a glimpse into what made him into who he is as a person and it’s rewarding to see the influence that music had on his life. Punk and his friends talk about his straight edge lifestyle that began for him at a young age. Lars Frederiksen of Rancid, who is a friend of Punk’s and a huge wrestling fan, adds a lot of great commentary on this release.
Punk’s path to the WWE beginning with his time in OVW under Paul Heyman is covered in-depth with Heyman providing a lot of insight into Punk’s development as a wrestler and the struggles he endured with the “big independent star” label put on him by management. It’s really interesting to hear how much Punk learned about the business while working with Heyman behind the scenes during his time in OVW and it’s easy to see why Punk calls himself a “Heyman Guy” after watching this portion of the documentary.
Punk’s ups and downs once he got into WWE starting with the WWE-branded version of ECW are covered in-depth as well. Triple H and Michael Hayes appear and talk about management’s view of Punk during this period and it is clear management didn’t see him as someone having a lot of upward mobility because of his look and blunt personality.
Almost through sheer force of will, Punk managed to stay in the company after Heyman left. The commentary from Hayes and Heyman about the decision to put the ECW Championship on Bobby Lashley and not C.M. Punk at the December to Dismember PPV in 2006 is very telling about how management saw Punk at that time. The fallout from Heyman being overridden and Lashley winning the title saw Heyman leave WWE, which left Punk in a lot of danger.
Punk’s first World Championship reigns are covered in-depth and he really got the short end of the stick during that time. Triple H’s commentary about how Punk got the belt, but wasn’t treated like a champion is interesting to listen to, as the theme of Punk struggling to hold onto his spot continues to unfold on this release. It wasn’t until Punk worked a short World title program with the Undertaker that he cemented his spot in the company in 2009.
Punk tells a lot of interesting stories about his frustrations about dealing with Vince McMahon. One story that Punk tells that is particularly funny is how after Punk finished his program with the Undertaker, McMahon told him he had a challenge for him and that challenger turned out to be Punk working heel. Punk discusses how during this conversation he bluntly asked McMahon what the challenge was.
Punk continued to have some ups and downs and didn’t cement himself as a top guy until his famous “pipe bomb” promo in 2011 before the Money in the Bank PPV, which is shown in its entirety on this release. Punk was set to leave the company and actually signed an extension just to cover him through MITB and his WWE Championship shot against Cena.
The background behind the promo and the commentary from other wrestlers on it adds a lot of depth to the frustration Punk was feeling during that time as his contract was set to come up. Punk ended up resigning and you’ll hear the story right from his mouth about why he decided to stay with WWE and the security his new contract would provide him as a top guy in WWE.
Overall, this is a fascinating DVD release. It doesn’t totally break the mold in terms of how WWE produces their documentaries, but it is an honest and open look at Punk’s entire career. It’s hard to imagine WWE producing another DVD that gives the viewer such an open and well-rounded perspective on one of their performers, but part of that comes from Punk being so hands-on in the making of this release. This is a must-see release in my eyes.
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