At the beginning of 2003, Raven was released from World Wrestling Entertainment but didn’t wait long before getting his name back out there. He would join Total Non-Stop Action by the end of January and would make his debut for Ring of Honor on March 15th, 2003 at a show called Expect the Unexpected. On that night, Raven began a feud with top independent wrestler CM Punk which would last for over seven months.
The feud started with Punk issuing a challenge to Raven saying that if Raven could last ten minutes in the ring with him then the match would become a hardcore match. Raven would last ten minutes, but ended up losing the match to Punk anyway after Punk made Raven submit to the Devil Lock. Their feud continued eight days later on March 22nd when Raven teamed with Colt Cabana to take on CM Punk and Ace Steel. Raven got the win over the team after hitting a DDT, but after the match Colt Cabana turned on Raven to form the Second City Saints.
Raven found a new partner in BJ Whitmer to combat CM Punk and Colt Cabana for the June 14th show. Although Raven wasn’t able to win the match, he did hit the Evenflow DDT on Punk. Whitmer was pinned after Colt hit the Colt .45. After the bout, Punk continued the feud by hitting a leg drop through a table. By the way, this was Raven’s first appearance in ROH since March. Raven attempted to play mind games with Punk by sending some followers to ROH, most notably Trinity to get inside Punk’s head.
On June 28th Christopher Daniels partnered up with Raven to wrestle Punk and Cabana. Once again, Raven wasn’t able to get a victory over Punk. He was close after hitting the Evenflow DDT on Cabana but Punk entered and viciously beat Raven up with a chain to get the victory. Afterward, Raven challenged Punk to a dog collar match at Death Before Dishonor the following month.
Their showdown at Death Before Dishonor is without a doubt the climax of the feud as it’s the biggest show for ROH thus far. At least, that’s what it seemed like. I believe the show had the most fans in attendance for the company up to this point. Colt Cabana got involved in the brawl and hit a DDT on Raven on a chair to allow Punk to get the cheap win. After the match, Punk tied Raven to the ropes and dumped beer on him. However, Tommy Dreamer made his ROH debut and attacked Punk. Dreamer would tie Punk to the ropes and Raven would dump beer on Punk! Raven would challenge Punk to a cage match after the show, which was accepted.
Apparently the cage match on September 6th was supposed to be a hair vs. hair match but TNA prevented that from happening and had Raven do that stipulation for them instead. The bout is a Clockwork Orange House Of Fun match which means there are weapons inside the cage. The match had gone nearly thirty minutes, but didn’t click well with the fans who crapped on it according to live feedback. So, the feud was continued. Raven was able to hit the Evenflow DDT through tables to get the win. But, the feud continues when perhaps it shouldn’t have. After the match, Punk crucified Raven to a straight edge X.
Their feud continued on September 20th where they picked the others opponent. Raven picked the legend Terry Funk to wrestle CM Punk. Punk picked his friend, Steve Corino. Punk would get involved and distract Raven allowing Corino to win the match. Punk had a figure four on Funk during their match but didn’t let go of the hold when Terry reached the ropes and was disqualified as a result.
The official blowoff in ROH for these two took place on November 28th inside of the steel cage. After over nearly seventeen minutes of action and after seven months of feuding, CM Punk closed the steel door on Raven’s head to escape the cage to win the match and the feud.
I hadn’t been a follower of ROH when the feud took place, but once I heard about Raven competing in ROH I went out of my way to watch this feud. The first match I remember watching was their Death Before Dishonor match and I really enjoyed the match. After watching the whole feud, I know that the DBD match was really the highest point of the feud. Anything after that point in the feud is kind of missing something. The angle after DBD was nicely done and was a good effort to make their be a reason for the feud to continue. But, after a really poor match at the September 6th show, the feud lost most of its steam.
Punk vs. Raven was a popular match to take place on the independent scene in 2003 and 2004. The feud started in ROH, then went to MLW and there was a brief feud between the two for TNA. But, without a doubt the feud in ROH between these two was their best stuff. Anytime a feud is taken by other promotions it just feels flat and uninteresting to me.
I’ll consider the feud to be a good feud and the first real feud for Punk in ROH. Considering Raven was a rather big independent name at the time, having Punk win the feud makes him a huge asset to the company. I liked the feud and thought they both played their roles very well in the feud.
What are your memories of Punk vs. Raven in ROH? Share your thoughts below!
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