Views from the Hawke’s Nest: The CM Punk vs. Raven Feud
CM Punk and Raven had a legendary feud in 2003. The rivalry actually did not just take place in ROH though and was also simultaneously going on in MLW. While the ROH feud was one of the most deeply personal, hatred-based, and bloodthirsty in the company’s history, the MLW one was hacky bullshit. This review exams both components of their feud as they happened chronologically.
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CM Punk cut a promo at the 2003 Anniversary Show about respect. He said Raven deserved no respect because he does drugs and he’s not an athlete.
Raven was then seen cutting a promo about how Punk reminds him of himself when he was breaking into the business. He then claims that he’s in better shape than he’s ever been in before.
This was a RAVEN’s RULES match.
While this was certainly an overlong brawl (especially for the first match in a planned feud), it was still an extremely effective first chapter in what would be one of the most celebrated feuds in Ring of Honor history.
They brawled with intensity and physicality. Raven worked and fought like he wanted to prove something to himself. Punk worked and fought with a chip on his shoulder.
It was the perfect blend of real life and pro wrestling motivations informing the effort and story in the ring. Punk made Raven tap out after an “accidental” ref bump caused Raven to miss an opportunity to pick up the win. (***1/4)
This was yet another solid brawl in the early goings of this feud. All four guys were working hard and flying around like they were trying to kill each other.
Raven got a big victory here. Colt injured himself on a moonsault to the floor. Raven then had to overcome both men in the ring. He managed to pin Ace after the Raven Effect.
Punk refused to shake Raven’s hand afterwards so Raven gave Ace another Raven Effect. Punk eventually convinced Colt to join him in a post-match attack of Raven. (***1/4)
Raven cut a promo in the back about how he was genuinely impressed that Punk beat him the first time. Despite getting the victory in the return match, he was very frustrated that he was not able to give Punk a Raven Effect. He said a Raven Effect was coming for him.
Punk claimed that he was going to accept the handshake at the end of the last match but Raven never gave him a chance.
We saw Punk get confronted by a random Raven lackey. Lucy debuted and attacked him. Punk cut a promo in the back with the Saints. Ace Steel being super duper serious while Colt couldn’t care less about any of this was fantastic. Lucy seemed to be going to a Harley Quinn dynamic with Punk.
This was yet another fun brawl between these two. It seemed quite odd that Raven managed to win cleanly here with the Raven Effect though.
While you wouldn’t expect MLW to necessarily cater to an ROH storyline, you could have hoped that Raven and Punk would have had enough sense to save the Raven Effect for a big moment in ROH. Oh well.
These guys have real solid chemistry. They can’t just go out there and casually have a great match, but you can tell that they’re going to get there after enough time. (***)
We saw CM Punk, Colt Cabana, and Lucy in the ring after a match with Izzy and Dixie. Punk cut a great promo on Raven about the difference between his movement and Raven’s movement a decade ago. The highlight though was Colt not taking it seriously again while Punk got frustrated again.
June 14, 2006
We then saw another in-ring promo from CM Punk and Colt Cabana. Punk compared himself to Malcom X and Martin Luther King. Great heel move.
This was a No Disqualification match.
The only issue with this match was that they were obeying tag rules randomly throughout the match. It was a No DQ match that spent half the time on the floor. Why would you bother ever obeying tag rules. Oh well.
Beyond that though, this was such a compelling bloody brawl. The violence and hatred were elevated big time from the previous outings, and we had ourselves our first great match as a result. Everyone was just trying to murder each other here.
BJ ended up taking the fall, and Punk was celebrating like he won the main event of Wrestlemania. Raven was incredibly frustrated, and Punk managed to jump him after the match. The commentators were trying to sell that Punk gave Raven such a beating that there would be no coming back for Raven. (****)
This was pretty flat for these two together. It was a watchable brawl, but it was missing some passion in the ring. It was definitely also missing investment from the crowd who clearly did not care much about the issues between these two. Punk won with the Raven Effect after Michael Shane interfered. (**1/2)
Punk and Shane continued to beat down Raven after the match. Norman Smiley made the save! He challenged them to a tag match!
This was a No Disqualification match.
This one once again suffered from everyone following the tag rules. It compensated for that at least with yet another great bloody brawl that awesome from beginning to end. All four guys were just tearing into each time and time again, and it built to this awesome finish. Punk pulled a chain out of Lucy’s purse and beat Raven with it for the pin. He then tried to choke the life out of Raven after the match. It was awesome. (****1/4)
Raven challenged Punk to a dog collar match at the next show. He promised he would eat a Raven Effect.
Backstage, Punk cut the promo of his life and everyone’s life. Punk revealed that Raven reminded him of his father and that’s why he hates him.
July 19, 2003
CM Punk explained how he regretted saving his father’s life when he almost choked on his own vomit. He explained how Raven, much like his father, has destroyed so many lives whereas Punk saves lives. Colt Cabana showed up, bantering away, but Punk was having none of it this time.
CM Punk vs. Raven
This was a dog collar match.
Before the match started, Punk cut another great promo on Raven and the crowd. He also called out Danny Doring who was in the crowd for some reason.
These two had yet another fantastic brawl. Raven was destroying Punk for a while. Punk was able to start fighting back after he sent Raven through a table. They actually managed to pull off a fantastic crowd brawl with the highlight being Punk using the chain to pull Raven off the top row of some bleachers.
They made their way back to the ring. Raven was on the path to victory, but Colt Cabana popped up to given him the Raven Effect. Danny Doring chased him off, but Punk crawled on top of Raven to pick up the victory. This was one of the greatest matches in ROH history, but the post-match was even more electric.
Punk tied Raven up in the ropes and poured beer on his face. He told Raven it was time for a relapse. That’s when Tommy Dreamer showed up and whacked Punk in the head with a chair. Punk then got tied up, and Raven poured beer on his face. (****1/2)
Raven cut a promo about the cruel and unfunny irony that he once had Tommy Dreamer’s number in the way that Punk had his number now. Raven said he enjoyed his sweet revenge of pouring beer down Punk’s throat. Raven said he wants more. He wants a cage match.
CM Punk said he will accept any offer of a match from Raven unconditionally. That’s how made he is for the alcohol spot.
Norman Smiley running around and sexually assaulting Francine while Joey Styles encourages him on commentary (while lalso making rape jokes in regards to Kobe Bryant) is not really my idea of a fun time. Joey Styles then doing the catfight gimmick while Francine and GI Hoe go at it made the whole thing even more fun obviously.
Anyway, there was a match that supposedly happened here. Punk pinned Raven after a powder shot and then the DDT. (DUD)
After the match, Raven, Norman, and GI Hoe put on a show for the crowd where GI Hoe would take off her shirt (she still had a bra on). This was obviously super cringe-y and objectifying. It was at least happily consensual though which is somehow a step above what happened during the match.
We saw a promo from Raven saying it was not him who attacked Lucy.
CM Punk confronted the ROH financial backer backstage to call him out for not protecting Lucy at their show while he was gone.
CM Punk cut another promo on Raven. It was good, but it felt a little repetitive.
August 22, 2003
CM Punk vs. Raven
This was reviewed here. It was the end of their MLW feud. Punk used a crooked referee to win.
This was a Clockwork Orange House of Fun Cage match (it was a cage match with weapons ready to go inside).
While this was certainly veered too close to “plunder brawl” instead of hate-filled blowoff at times. It was still yet another satisfying chapter though in one of the most celebrated feuds in ROH history.
Raven finally connected on the Raven Effect. Colt Cabana made the save for Punk. Raven and Punk continued to go at it. Raven managed to hit an avalanche Raven Effect through a table to finally defeat CM Punk in a match.
It was clear though that the feud was not truly over though because the lights went off and Raven ended up strung up on the STRAIGHT EDGE “X.” (***1/2)
September 20, 2003
We saw CM Punk cost Raven his match with Steve Corino. Corino was not happy with that turn of events.
Punk then cut a promo backstage and then in the ring about how he’s going to destroy Terry Funk….FOREVER~!
CM Punk vs. Terry Funk
There were a lot of cool things going on here, but unfortunately too much of the match was a plodding brawl. The match accomplished what it needed to accomplish though at the very least.
Funk came up injured after a moonsault attempt. Punk went after the leg continuously until he got disqualified for refusing to break the hold in the ropes.
Colt Cabana came out and attacked Funk some more. Raven and Tommy Dreamer got to make the save. Bad guys looked like bad guys. Philly heroes got to celebrate at the end. Good enough. (**1/2)
This was a cage match.
This was unfortunately quite the weak conclusion to the legendary Raven/Punk feud. They clearly felt the need to do another match after their first cage match needed to be edited so much in post-production to become watchable. However, both guys worked this match in such an obligatory manner that all the juice that made their previous matches so special was missing from this one. This battle felt more like an appropriate blowoff for their hacky MLW feud instead of what they were doing in ROH. Quel dommage. Punk won weakly via escaping the cage. (**1/4)
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It did of course not stick the landing, and it does deserve to be knocked down a peg or two because of that. It still should be celebrated though and studied by anyone looking to make an impact in 2017.