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WWE: CM Punk - Best in the World
When I heard WWE was working on a CM Punk collection, I was immediately skeptical. Recent titles meant to milk the popularity of a feud or Superstar have left a bad taste in my mouth. Take the new "Once in a Lifetime" set; what could have been a thorough and interesting look at two of wrestling's most iconic heroes, boiled down to a half hour "documentary", made up of promos and interviews we'd already seen.
This is nothing like that.
"CM Punk - Best in the World" is a fresh, complete perspective on the WWE Champion's journey from Midwest independents, to the "pipe bomb" that shocked the world. At nearly two hours in length, the documentary portion of the set is its crowning achievement. It gives proper time to each segment, making sure that everything WWE fans love about the "Summer of Punk" is right there alongside his humble origins in the Chicago wrestling scene.
WWE spared no expense, nor did they lack compelling interviews. The usual suspects - Jim Ross, Triple H, John Cena, etc. - are all there, but you might be surprised by the amount of time and depth given to Punk's real friends and influences. Guys like Joey Mercury and Paul Heyman steal the show with their personal stories and dealings with the Straight Edge Superstar. And of course CM Punk is there to guide us through all the historic moments of his slow, often times frustrating, rise to the very top.
Everything from Punk's backyard wrestling federation to his time in OVW learning under Paul Heyman, to ECW and the World title, all the way up through his Money in the Bank wins and problems with dropping the belt at the hands of Randy Orton. It's quite refreshing to see a WWE piece that blatantly calls out their "dropped balls" with Punk, and he delivers some harsh criticisms on many of their more controversial judgment calls. You can feel the animosity starting to grow as he has to continue fighting against management, just to get the same treatment even the worst World Champions of WWE's past had been granted. At one point he flat-out questions their decision to allow the Miz to headline WrestleMania, while he - as the most hated heel in the business at the time - once again played second fiddle.
For as much as they do include in the documentary, those looking for hours and hours of old footage from his days in Ring of Honor are going to be disappointed. It was impressive enough that ROH allowed the WWE to use some of the footage they did, especially considering that much of it discussed Punk's feud with current TNA TV Champion Samoa Joe. (If you're really interested in Punk's time with the company, you can check out the DVD collection "Summer of CM Punk".) But I guarantee you, there will be few people disappointed in this set.
The matches included are a perfect collection of Punk's rise over the years. Again, nothing from Ring of Honor included here, but they do squeeze in his OVW Championship match against Brent Albright, which is a nice touch for the likely majority of fans who haven't seen it! There's his WWE debut, an ECW title match with John Morrison, a Money in the Bank victory... Tag team wrestling, hardcore wrestling, mid-card, main event...it's all here. They even included his "match of the year" candidate bout with Daniel Bryan, from this year's Over the Limit! The Blu-ray extras are fun for those who pick it up, but fans stuck in DVD-mode shouldn't worry too much; the set is still phenomenal without them.
"WWE: CM Punk - The Best in the World" hits shelves this Tuesday, October 9th, and is a must-own documentary, and a solid collection of Punk's best matches. You absolutely do NOT want to miss it!
Follow me on Twitter @MikeKillam.