I’m a huge fan on the Indies when a storyline/rivalry crosses over different promotions. It adds a sense of realism and that there is a wrestling universe (rarely the WWE universe of course) where everything is interconnected. It enables you to feel wrestlers characteristics and motivations much more strongly. Over the past 15 years or so one of the best examples was the Raven vs CM Punk feud. I won’t go into too much of the detail, as I think there’s a fair amount of familiarity with it, but Punk’s straight edge lifestyle and Raven’s more ahem ‘colourful’ drug and alcohol past made them perfect opponents.
Generally the FWA was decent at incorporating imports into storylines and not feeling throw away, however this match is fairly stand alone. Punk would complete a few more times over the coming tour this was a part of including challenging Doug Williams for the FWA Title, and Raven would return for a more prominent role in the company in 2005, but this feels mainly an attempt to tap into an over feud, between two talented ‘name’ guys to draw eyeballs.
Before the match we see Punk walking through the building into the bar area and cutting an excellent promo on the vices of the fans (and Raven of course) and the poison they are putting into their bodies. It’s a really good promo and already shows the charisma and presence Punk had. The less said about how my fellow Brits come across during their time on screen… The version of the match that I’ve got access to is the version shown on the FWA’s weekly TV show on The Wrestling Channel so it’s fairly disjointed and cut up and it’s hard to get a sense of the real flow of the match and the story being told.
Like a lot of their matches we get some stalling on the outside from Punk to begin with and then Raven getting on the mic to try and taunt him into losing his cool. Both look to try to take it to their type of match – Raven by trying to take it to the outside, while Punk wants to make it a more technical match. Having seen some of their ROH matches, this lacks the intensity of those contests and feels fairly paint by numbers – something which may have to do with the fact that I think their feud was starting to wind down. As mentioned, the ad breaks in the match and the clipping makes it hard to get a full sense of how good it is (and reflects my match grade), but what we get is still entertaining, carried by the rivalry and the charisma of the two. Pretty shockingly Punk ends up winning cleanly with the shining wizard following no cheating and/or no heel shenanigans. (** ½)