Let me put this out there right now: CM Punk – Best in the World is one of the best WWE DVDs ever made. While there are a lot of great looks at the careers of various superstars through these documentaries created by the WWE, not many go as behind-the-scenes as Punk’s, and leave you wanting even more. This release is proof that breaking the fourth wall, and letting viewers backstage and into the reality of the industry only makes wrestling that much more compelling.
The documentary portion of CM Punk’s DVD comes in at just over an hour and forty-five minutes and it covers everything from his early life all the way up until his Money in the Bank match with John Cena, and his infamous “Pipe Bomb” rant against the company. There’s really so much interesting stuff throughout that they easily could have made this a three hour documentary and it still would have left viewers clamoring for more. Do you want to know what the CM in CM Punk stands for? You’ll find out in the extras of this DVD (and it’s actually hilariously uncharacteristic of the guy). Do you want to know how many times the WWE dropped the ball with Punk, and how many times he took it back into his own hands in order to get where he is today? What about the fact that he was actually an “extra” at Wrestlemania when John Cena fought Triple H, and dressed up as a gangster for Cena’s entrance? It’s all here, either in the actual documentary, or in the special features. And it’s all gold.
The best part about Punk is that he’s so upfront with his feelings, and he holds nothing back. While he cares deeply about the industry, he’s not afraid to call say it like it is and walk right up to someone like Vince McMahon and tell him what’s on his mind – even if he knows it puts him at risk of being fired or demoted. This is something that is pretty unheard of in any job, as most people who are unhappy with a certain direction they’re heading in at work just keep it to themselves, or rant about it with friends. It’s easy to admire Punk for this reason alone, but by the end of this DVD you’ll find even more reasons to do so.
Early on Punk talks candidly about his blood parents and brother, and how they all but left him in the cold. Knowing that was a place he didn’t belong, Punk went and stayed with one of his best friends, and he was basically “adopted” by their family, and he refers to them as such. We learn how school wasn’t the best place for him, as his taste in music, comic books and just being different caused him to be made fun of and viewed as the black sheep. Eventually this all led to him and some others creating the LWF (Lunatic Wrestling Federation) where they created a backyard ring and grew in popularity by simply being themselves and doing what they enjoyed.
The disc then covers his transition into the independent scene, and his eventual rise into the main event scene with Ring of Honor. There’s a lot covered here with candid interviews with various wrestlers he fought at the time (such as Colt Cabana and Chris Hero) as well as talking about major feuds he had with Raven and Samoa Joe during his time there, though those two wrestlers aren’t interviewed here.
Punk soon accomplishes all he can accomplish in RoH and after a tryout with WWE, he signed a contract with them. Since he was still with RoH for a a few more months, Punk decided to blend his real life situation into an interesting storyline what ultimately became known as the “Summer of Punk.” We get to see this all play out through footage from the RoH archives, which really helps add so much depth to this documentary over Punk and others just explaining what happened without us seeing it.
As stated above, this DVD doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to how unhappy Punk has been many times throughout his WWE career, and that started right from the very beginning. As soon as he was brought over from RoH, the WWE shoved him down into their developmental area OVW. As Paul Heyman explains, he had no clue why they sent this bright young talent down to OVW, and basically says that the WWE picks off top talent from the independent scene even when they don’t know what to do with them.
Heyman loved Punk from the very start, and the two had a relationship that grew. It’s here that we really learn the backstage smarts that Punk has in comparison to many of his wrestling counterparts. We also get more insight into how the chain of command goes, as Heyman kept pushing for Punk to be called up, but as Michael Hayes explains, Heyman was good at embellishing things and really making people sound better than they were. In short, Hayes pretty much blames Heyman for Punk not being called up earlier.
There are a few WWE superstars who talk about Punk during this time, such as The Miz, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, Triple H and John Cena. Kingston and Bryan do most of the talking, while Punk’s closer friends Cabana and Curt Hawkins deal out most of the information as to what was going on with Punk outside of the ring. Cena isn’t used that often, but the edits they use early on really make him sound bad, and those who dislike him will do so even more by this point in the DVD. Later on (and in the deleted scenes) Cena gives Punk props, so it’s more an out of context type edit to stir controversy, but for a guy known for only a handful of moves, he initially sounds quite condescending to Punk after he finally sees one of his matches.
Triple H also talks openly about things on the DVD, going so far as to really delve into how sometimes the guy who is World Champion is really just a placeholder, and while he’s champ, he’s still a mid-carder and not always an automatic main eventer. He also talks about Punk’s “Pipe Bomb” moment (which you get to see in full here as well) and calls it his “Austin 3:16” moment. Even though Punk basically called him out during that promo, Triple H knew what it meant for Punk’s character, and the business, and says it like it is.
There’s lots of interesting thoughts that come from Punk during his time with the WWE, and it’d take too long to go into all of them, and simply reading them wouldn’t do the DVD justice. Punk’s thoughts and story really is incredible, and with just how real things get in this DVD, it’s definitely a must-buy for any wrestling fan – whether you like Punk or not. That said, if you don’t like Punk going in, odds are you’ll see him in a whole new light once you finish watching, and even if you still don’t like him, you’ll damn sure respect the guy.
Like usual for WWE DVD releases, the visual quality of this documentary is solid throughout, and so are the audio portions. As I’ve stated before, the WWE is almost always on the top of their game when it comes to video production, so this should be no surprise to those who collect these DVDs.
Disc One: Special Features
There are quite a number of one to four minute clips available that didn’t make the documentary cut, but are incredibly interesting and fully edited nonetheless. When you finish watching the documentary, going through these 15 (plus a music video) clips are a must.
High School Sports – Here Punk briefly talks about trying to make the High School wrestling and football teams, and how his rejection due to ridiculous reasoning eventually led him to helping create the LWF.
CM Punk: The Name – This is the clip that explains the origins of the CM Punk name, as well as what the CM actually stands for. Needless to say, once you find out you’ll chuckle, but you’ll also likely pretend that CM simply stands for CM.
Skull Fracture – The flow of the documentary makes it understandable why this stuff was left to the special features, as it just doesn’t fit anywhere to help segue into another story. That said, learning that Punk fractured his skull, and watching it happen over and over through footage of his, is just crazy. Especially when you learn about his recovery process, and just how straight edge the guy actually is.
OVW Vs. Albright – This is a bit that talks more about his time in OVW, as well as his major feud with Albright down there, which went on for upwards of eight months.
From Extra to Champion – This is where you get to see Cena and Triple H talk about how Punk was one of the gangsters for Cena’s entrance at Wrestlemania the year the two fought. I REALLY wish Punk would have commented on this, but it is what it is, and it’s still a cool thing to learn that most may have missed at the time.
December to Dismember – Here’s an interesting piece that talks about how Heyman thought it was time for Punk to take the ECW Title from Big Show during the Extreme Elimination Chamber match at December to Dismember after a big rub from DX at Survivor Series the month prior. However, Michael Hayes decided that it wasn’t the right time for him and instead put his weight behind Bobby Lashley. Of course, we all know how that turned out.
1st Impressions – Here Zack Ryder, Chris Hero, Lita, William Regal, Ace Steel, Curt Hawkins, Kofi Kingston and his friend Natalie Slater talk about their first encounters with CM Punk, and how meeting him for the first time is quite an experience in most cases.
In-Ring Style – This piece talks about how CM Punk knows how to tell stories in the ring, and really brings the audience into his matches. He also talks about why he does the kicks the way he does, as well as the submissions and various other moves.
It’s Clobbering Time – Before each match you may hear Punk scream something, and this statement is it. He talks about why he chooses to yell this, and where it comes from.
The Hat – This is a fun little bit about how CM Punk wears the same baseball cap everywhere he goes until it’s so beaten down that it has to be retired. Then he goes out and buys the exact same style hat and wears it until it also has to be retired, and so on and so on. And you’ll be surprised at just how beaten down and dirty he lets them get before he starts fresh!
“The most insulting thing you could say to me” – Here Punk talks about how they traded him to RAW from Smackdown! for Edge, and how the WWE had nothing for him. He talks about how annoyed he was that the WWE basically used him as a placeholder for The Miz, as he was seen as “John Cena’s TV Program” during that feud to keep things fresh for Miz.
A Conversation with Lars – During the documentary we hear from Adam Birch (Joey Mercury) about his conversation with Punk when Punk was deciding whether or not to resign with WWE, and here we have another conversation he had with his good friend Lars Fredericksen from the band Rancid, who tells a story he told Punk about why he should re-sign.
Title in the Fridge – This is a quick piece about how the picture of the title in the fridge that blew up on Twitter after his Money in the Bank match with Cena came to be. It’s actually such a simple explanation, yet it worked perfectly.
Natalie’s T-shirt – A bit of an inside joke between Punk and his ex-girlfriend/friend Natalie is explained here.
“Neenage Anarachist” – Here’s a music video by Against Me! that mixes photos and video of Punk’s career.
This disc is filled with matches that span Punk’s earlier career right into his WWE career. The cool thing about the matches chosen here are that they’re all touched upon throughout the actual documentary. While they’re shown in snippets at the time, it’s cool to get to see them in their entirety here in the special features. There are some really great ones, including the fourth Money in the Bank Ladder match, which was filled with some great spots, and a walk down memory lane for certain characters that are no longer with the company.
Finals Match in the OVW World Heavyweight Championship Tournament
Ohio Valley Wrestling – March 1, 2008
Brent Albright Vs. CM Punk
Singles Match (Punk’s ECW Debut)
ECW – August 1st, 2006
CM Punk Vs. Justin Credible
Last Chance for the ECW Championship Match
ECW – September 4, 2007
CM Punk Vs. John Morrison
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Wrestlemania XXIV – March 30, 2008
Chris Jericho Vs. Shelton Benjamin Vs. John Morrison Vs. Carlito Vs. CM Punk Vs. MVP Vs. Mr. Kennedy
World Tag Team Championship Match
RAW – October 27, 2008
CM Punk and Kofi Kingston Vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase
No Disqualification Match for the Intercontinental Title
RAW – January 19, 2009
CM Punk Vs. William Regal
The third disc continues the rise of Punk’s career, and also continues to show most of the matches that were touched briefly upon during the documentary, helping the entire set come full circle. One of the biggest matches on this disc is Punk Vs. Cena from Money in the Bank, where Punk took the title and ran once all was said and done. The most recent match on the disc is Punk Vs. Daniel Bryan at Over the Limit, and this is just one of the many superb matches the two have had. While they’re both heels at the moment, I still hope to see an Iron Man match between the two down the road.
Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Summerslam – August 23, 2009
CM Punk Vs. Jeff Hardy
Rey Mysterio Joins SES Vs. CM Punk’s Hair
Over the Limit – May 23, 2010
Rey Mysterio Vs. CM Punk
WWE Championship Match
Money in the Bank – July 17, 2011
John Cena Vs. CM Punk
WWE Championship Match
Wrestlemania XXVIII – April 1, 2012
CM Punk Vs. Chris Jericho
WWE Championship Match
Over the Limit – May 20, 2012
CM Punk Vs. Daniel Bryan
CM Punk: Best in the World is an absolute must buy for any wrestling fan – Punk supporter or not. This DVD goes so in-depth and gives such great behind-the-scenes information that you really see an inside look at how things work, and how Punk doesn’t want to just sit back and collect his paycheck, but really wants to make a difference. Let’s put it this way, even if you despise Punk going in, once this two-hour documentary is complete, odds are you’ll be a straight edge supporter from this point on. Highest recommendation.
WWE Home Video presents WWE Over the Limit. Featuring: John Cena, John Laurinaitis, CM Punk, Chris Jericho, The Big Show, Cody Rhodes, Beth Phoenix, Layla, Christian, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz. Approx. Running Time: 3 Hours. Rating: TV-PG. Released: October 9, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.