Saturday, October 13, 2012

CM Punk "Best In The World" DVD Review

So I got around to viewing the highly acclaimed CM Punk DVD “Best In The World,” and I’m sure it goes without saying that I loved it.  My eyes truly were glued to the television screen.  Now, I don’t do match reviews, so this post will focus solely on the fantastic documentary portion.  Oh, and it’s detailed.  You’ve been warned.

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The DVD begins with Punk’s early life, focusing on his rough upbringing and the difficulties with his family.  While this portion of any wrestler documentary can drag on (since it can be difficult to relate to, as a fan), it was actually a very important part, as it introduced Punk to his Straight Edge lifestyle, which obviously played a significant role in his career later on.  The personalities introduced during this section – his surrogate family and his ex-girlfriend – also continued to appear throughout the rest of the documentary (particularly during the tattoo discussion).  It was just the right length – it gave you enough information to understand Punk’s philosophies, but it didn’t overstay its welcome.

We then moved onto the beginning of Punk’s wrestling career, which was all pretty much new information to me.  I had no idea Punk was a backyard wrestler, and that he and his friends put on shows that would draw significantly larger audiences than legitimate local independent promotions.  And not only did they include footage from Punk’s time in Ring of Honor, but they actually shot some of the footage at the current facility, which I thought was really cool.  And since I didn’t actually watch Ring of Honor, it was cool seeing Punk’s original “I’m leaving with the championship” storyline, and how closely it mirrored the infamous Money in the Bank storyline (including the utterance of the line “in anybody else’s hand, this microphone is just a microphone.  But in my hand, it’s a pipebomb”).

The real fun (for me anyway) began when we got to Punk’s WWE career.  It was during this portion that we truly came to understand Punk’s frustration.  The guy clearly had a chip on his shoulder and that likely rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.  Nonetheless, you certainly got a view of how particular the front office can be at WWE. 

Michael Hayes was especially interesting here.  While he did admit certain things – like that Paul Heyman was right about all the things he said – he also seemed very unaware of the ridiculousness of some of his comments.  For example, he attempted to argue that the “boys in the back” thought Punk might have tarnished the World Heavyweight Championship during his first run, when I’d imagine that most of them thought Punk got the bum deal (the way Hayes made it sound, the office was right to push him as a second rate champion).  He also seemed oblivious to the detriment caused by many of the preconceived notions and biases held by the decision makers within the company.  And what’s truly scary is that this is coming from somebody who appears to be a Punk advocate!

I actually came to this realization a couple of weeks ago, but CM Punk is truly the last person to enter the company and retain the identity that brought him to the dance.  Monty Brown came from TNA and was rechristened Macrus Cor Von.  Bryan Danielson was rearranged to become Daniel Bryan.  Yet Punk was able to debut on WWE television under his “Indy” name and look.  And (in Punk’s words) he owes that to Paul Heyman.  And once Heyman was removed from the picture, Punk kept expecting to get fired (and according to Jim Ross, I believe, that was almost a reality).  What I found particularly interesting, though, was the way Punk didn’t even really believe his job with the company was secure until he won Money in the Bank for the second time.  By that point, he’d been ECW Champion and World Heavyweight Champion once before, and it was several years into his WWE tenure.

Speaking of Punk’s first title reign, that was really the first glimpse we got of Punk’s dissatisfaction with his position in the company.  What I found discouraging, however, was that everything negative said about that title reign (fighting for real estate, not made to be the focus of the show) can easily be said about his current one.  And, again, there didn’t seem to be any sort of awareness from the “suits” such as Triple H and Michael Hayes.  They’d be talking about how it was wrong that the champion wasn’t presented as the headliner, yet here they are doing the same thing again (on that note, I am eager to see what Punk will have to say about this reign a couple years down the line).

I really enjoyed the portion on the Straight Edge Society.  And the story Joey Mercury told about CM Punk’s loyalty really adds a very touching and human level to his personality (especially since so many of the testimonials are about how difficult he can be).  It was also great hearing Punk admit that he was actively modeling his behavior on Jesus Christ, and that he purposely referred to Gallows and Mercury as “Joseph” and “Luke” because they were disciples.  While short lived, this was a fun period to look back on because it seemed like the first time Punk was able to let loose, be himself, and take ownership and control of his character.  It seemed like the first time Punk was truly enjoying himself (and while Punk did get into the fact that it was cut short for BS reasons, I wish he had expanded upon it and given us a little more insight into why it ended).

This is where things get, for lack of a better word, interesting.  Up until this point, we’re given a pretty insightful and descriptive look at Punk’s career.  Yes, select things aren’t really touched upon for obvious reasons (like his time in TNA), but for the most part it’s pretty in depth.  However, at this point things take a pretty huge jump, essentially going from the Straight Edge Society to the Money in the Bank storyline with John Cena.  No mention of his time at commentary (while more or less insignificant, his stellar and acclaimed performance would have added to his claim to be the best at everything he does) or his time with Nexus.  And really, there was no mention of the fact that he went on a LONGGGGG streak of storylines that saw him lose decisively each and every time (from Rey Mysterio to Big Show to John Cena to Randy Orton).  And the DVD sorta just ends with the Money in the Bank storyline and the establishment that Punk really has “made it” and is one of the “made men” in the business.

I understand why they wouldn’t want to end things on a negative note, but I wish we had gotten some insight into the fumbles and questionable decisions of the Summer of Punk.  I maintain that the Money in the Bank storyline was flawless (and thus, perhaps a smart place to end the story), but it would have been interesting to get some perspective on the decision to bring Punk back so quickly, as well as moving Punk onto disastrous feuds with Kevin Nash and Triple H.  Would WWE attempt to make excuses for these decisions, or would they admit that they may have been wrong?  What did Punk think?

This isn’t a criticism – since the Money in the Bank storyline is a natural place to end the story on a thematic level – it’s just something I would have enjoyed seeing.   One thing I thought the documentary was missing, though, was Shawn Michaels.  Following the Summer of Punk, stories started circulated that Shawn Michaels kinda went to bat for him by saying something along the lines of “if he’s doing something wrong, show him how to do it right” (paraphrasing).  It would have been nice to see somebody other than Paul Heyman (who was portrayed as being “contrary”) say that the powers that be were wrong for being so resistant to push Punk and give him an opportunity.

Oh, and I loved the Ferris Bueller shout out.

As a final note, the one emotion I came out of this with in regards to Punk and his attitude is admiration.  Knowing and working with him may be difficult (I guess it depends on who you ask), but there’s something truly admirable about a guy who speaks his mind and is willing to fight in what he believes in.  I think most of us wish we could stand up for ourselves when dealing with intimidating people – whether they’re bosses, bullies, or friends – and it’s impressive that he’s able to do that.

Overall, I ABSOLUTELY recommend this DVD.  It was a fun, unique look at one of the hottest acts on television right now.  I truly believe you’ll come to like, admire, and respect Punk more after viewing this.  If you haven’t bought this DVD, YOU NEED TO DO IT NOW!  I helpfully provided a link below.  Use that:

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