WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009: CM Punk
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Punk faces Morrison in the first round of the tournament, a wrestler the real Punk calls one of the best athletes in WWE. "You can't take him lightly because he'll screw you up," Punk tells me. "He is someone who hasn't reached his full potential yet, so you just need to be tenacious if you want to beat him."
I go after him from the opening bell and never let up to take the first round victory. But then something strange happens. Tommy Dreamer is back and he tells me that I should get disqualified on purpose in my next match against Elijah Burke. He tells me I need to prove a point to the McMahon's and go extreme. For some reason I agree. I lock on a submission hold and refuse to let go during the refs count and he signals for the bell. So much for my second title reign. Oh well, luckily for me I run into Burke later on backstage where he seems to be pigging out on a diet of Chinese food and pizza. Burke calls Punk a "greasy, wannabe rebel" so you do what you've been trained to, slam Burke's head into the table and hit him repeatedly with a garbage can. What a job.
Burke goes on to win the title at the next pay-per-view, then challenges Punk to a Last Man Standing match for the belt. This is a match where you win by beating your opponent up so bad, he can't get up by the count of 10. Seems like a perfect match for a guy who likes to knee people in the head so hard it forces them to take naps in the ring.
As for being called "greasy" and a "wannabe rebel", the real Punk says he's been called a lot worse in real life. How does he get past all the haters? "I think that has a lot to do with what I call PMA, positive mental attitude," he says. "A whole bunch of people told me that if I went to WWE, I'd never make it. But it's like I never heard them. I never listened. To me, I'm exactly where I belong. I feel like I was born to do this. Whatever your walk in life is, you pick what you want to be, then go ahead and be the best one."
Unfortunately for cyber Punk, his quest to be the best gets a little derailed in the Last Man Standing match, as Tazz, the old-school ECW vet and one of Tommy Dreamer's best friends, gets so mad about you sending his buddy to the hospital, that he interferes in your match and chokes you out to the point where you can't get up. Burke wins, and it looks like Tazz may have just come out of retirement.
Punk likes this new twist to the storyline. "Tazz was awesome because he had such a presence that nobody realized that he wasn't the biggest guy in the world," he explains. "You hear fans talk about Tazz and you'd think he was 6-8, 350-pounds. That's an accomplishment. He just had such a strong presence and personality."
As the story progresses, you do get another title shot against Burke, and the real Punk has some advice for me before my match: "Elijah's not a risk taker, but he gets really impatient in the ring and tries to take shortcuts. I always found a high kick to the head scrambles his brain a bit, so I recommend that."
And since nothing says championship like scrambling a little brain, I do just that, repeatedly kicking Burke in his head, then finishing him off with the GTS.
CM Punk is your new ECW champion! The crowd starts chanting Punk's name and Tommy Dreamer even comes down to raise his arms in victory.
This brings an angry Tazz and Morrison to the ring who are looking to start a fight. Burke and Tazz then challenge Punk and Dreamer to a tag team match at Wrestlemania. Stephanie McMahon is out and says that since Tazz made the challenge, Punk gets to pick the match type: Cage, Extreme Rules, or Tables.
I decide to go with Extreme Rules and it's time for Wrestlemania.
"Wrestlemania is extremely intense," Punk tells me. Last year, Punk made a huge name for himself by winning the Money in the Bank ladder match in front of 80,000 people. "I came to the ring and there were still a couple of other guys who needed to do their entrances. I was trying to soak it all in, look at some faces in the crowd, get some focus points, and it was just so super cool."
Speaking of making a name for himself, it was time once again to play "What does CM stand for?" Punk loves messing with people about his name (he's told fans it stands for everything from Cookie Monster to Charles Manson), and he always has a new answer for me whenever I bring up the topic. Last time we talked about it, he told me a story of how it stood for Chick Magnet. "I don't know where you got that from," Punk laughs, even though he's the one who told me. "CM has always stood for one thing: Chicago Made. Chick Magnet? That's preposterous. Girls don't like me. I was born and raised in Chicago. The city made me. Punk is just because I've always been a smart-mouthed, wise-ass punk. I still am. I was the guy, if a bunch of football players were messing with one of my friends, I'd walk over there and spit in their face."
"Are you just messing with me now?" I ask
"Could be," he laughs.
The mystery continues (and he knows I'll ask him again next time I see him).
Funny thing is, Punk thinks he has one of the worst names in wrestling. "I think CM Punk is one of the worst names in the business, but I am what I am," he says. As for the other bad names in wrestling history? "I'm a big fan of unnecessary alliteration. I'm a big comic book nerd, so it always tickled me that everybody's name is like Peter Parker or Lana Lang. So in wrestling, Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese was always a really good bad name."
"Whose fault are the bad names, the talent of the creative team?" I ask.
"I think it boils down to being the wrestler's fault. You don't always have to say yes to everything. You can say: 'No, I'm not a Rooster.' It is intimidating and you don't want to screw up or burn bridges, so a lot of guys, if they hand you something, they just try and take that ball and run with it."
Luckily for me, this isn't the Red Rooster's Road to Wrestlemania or I might be prepping for a another "classic" against the Brooklyn Brawler.
Anyway, it's time for Wrestlemania and Punk is the first to grab a barbed wire bat and beat Tazz senseless. By the time the match reaches its climax, all four participants are a bloody mess. At the end, Punk sets up a steel chair in the ring, jumps off of the chair and back flips onto Tazz to send him back into retirement.
But Wrestlemania isn't over. Out of respect to Tommy Dreamer and his legacy, Punk grants him one last shot at the title. Luckily for Punk, Dreamer is a complete mess after the tag match, so after a couple of kicks and a GTS, Dreamer is out and Punk is the last man standing at Wrestlemania.
Will we see Punk walk out of Mania this year with any gold or will we see his storyline with Randy Orton continue to progress until the big event?
"I love to beat up Randy at Raw, at live events, at overseas tours, Wrestlemania, whatever," Punk says even though it's a bit early to tell where his real storyline will be headed by then. "I'd like to think I'd be done beating up Randy by Wrestlemania, but if not, I'd love a cage match against Randy at Wrestlemania to settle the feud.
"I don't think guys are really defined until they get their second title run and that's what I'm looking to do. The Royal Rumble would be a good place to start."
Looks like CM Punk's real road to Wrestlemania has more than a few paths that it could take, and for a wrestler who is also such a huge fan like Punk, he wouldn't want it any other way.
"You never know what's going to happen in this business, whether it's the story on Raw or in the video game," Punk says. "But at least in the video game I can still get up after a choke slam."
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