In what was supposedly his final night with the promotion,
CM Punk captured the heavyweight championship. And instead of voluntarily dropping the belt, Punk continued to claim himself as the champion, bringing a sense of controversy to wrestling while elevating his own character.
Sure, that's what happened last year in WWE, but it also happened in 2005 in Ring of Honor -- and with the exact same wrestler! Kudos to ROH for not only noticing the similarity, but using it as an opportunity to hook in fans that wouldn't normally buy ROH DVD's -- this writer included.
The Summer of Punk shows how The Straight Edge Superstar carried himself in a smaller promotion. The brilliant mic work, charisma and mat skills are already there; the setting and production values are really the only things that are different here.
From the moment he wins the ROH title from
Austin Aries to his final match in the company against
Colt Cabana, each bout is filled with drama and the match quality ranges from good to excellent. Plus you have interactions with everyone from
Samoa Joe to
Mick Foley and
Christopher Daniels to
James Gibson, so it's all good. Plus one line in the commentary during the Punk-Aries match stood out for me: "I can see him (Punk) headlining a WrestleMania one day." Wow.
I liken this release to
The Best of Cactus Jack in ECW, in that a popular wrestler had gone on to bigger fame, but his prior promotion had enough footage to tell a unique story.
Having said that..... I have to say that ECW did a far better job with their release.
Joey Styles narrated the Cactus DVD, explained whom Foley was at that point in time and a little bit about all of his opponents as the story unfolded. Whereas in The Summer Of Punk, you merely have the matches and interview segments, but no one to set things up.
It's a small thing (and would have cost ROH next to nothing), but why not have, say,
Kevin Kelly or
Jim Cornette host the segments and explain how WWE essentially stole ROH's idea? It's not that the material is so hard to follow (and the announcers do a decent job for during-the-match commentary) but there are certain things I still don't completely understand. For example, why was Punk continually reappearing in ROH months after he supposedly quit? Why not leave for WWE (or OVW, I guess) and screw defending the title? I'm sure there was a logical explanation, but I'm still not sure what it was.
Another thing I really would have liked to see from a business standpoint is for ROH to exploit what is essentially a once in a life opportunity, in the sense that they are getting attention from mainstream fans. Why not add a bonus match or two to show fans what ROH is like today? It could be as simple as last year's
Charlie Haas and
Shelton Benjamin versus
The Kings of Wrestling, or if they wanted to stay true to the source material, why not Punk versus
Bryan Danielson (thanks, by the way, to our resident ROHbot
James Bullock for the match suggestions)? ROH had a perfect opportunity to sell casual fans and really didn't take advantage of it.
But neither of those points really took away from my enjoyment of the source material. Could ROH have done better with this release? Absolutely. But is worth watching? Absolutely, and I'd have to recommend it.
One last note: As someone who doesn't order DVD's online that much anymore, I was thoroughly impressed by ROH's shipping department in getting my order delivered (and in Canada, no less) so quickly and professionally. I will definitely be back.
Canadian Bulldog has been writing about professional wrestling since 2003, and became a WWI Superstar atWorld Wrestling Insanityin January 2006. Need more Bulldog? Check out his "Complete and Utter Bulldog" podcast at Club WWI; like his Facebookpage, and follow him on