When wrestling fans think of wrestlers who made a successful jump from the independent scene to the professional wrestling scene, several names come to mind. Some of them are AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and others. But like many other movements, there were people who the first ones to make the successful jump. They were current Smackdown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan and former WWE superstar and now UFC fighter CM Punk.
Before Daniel Bryan and CM Punk arriving in WWE, it was very rare to see an independent wrestler make it in the WWE. CM Punk started wrestling in 1999 and would last around on the independent scene until 2005 when he signed with WWE and reported to OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling). During his independent run, he would have run in Ring of Honor and TNA where he would make his name. He was in TNA until March of 2004 when he quit the company after having a dispute with his contract. His tenure in Ring of Honor was more memorable than TNA because he had two memorable feuds with ECW legend Raven and current WWE superstar Samoa Joe.
There have been lists done on feuds in Ring of Honor and Punk’s feud with Samoa Joe generally in the top five. He ended up signing with WWE in 2005 after having a tryout match on Sunday Night Heat to Val Venis and would end up losing. Once he signed his contract, he was assigned to OVW. Ohio Valley Wrestling uses to be the training grounds for WWE before NXT as it was home to several WWE legends like Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, and John Cena.
He started off his WWE career for the newly reformed ECW in 2006 and would part of that brand until 2008. He would end up appearing on WWE programming in 2008. The first major moment he had was he was included in the Money in the Bank match at Wrestlemania 24. He would also be one of the only wrestlers who would go on to win the briefcase multiple times. In 2009, he would be part of the WWE faction Straight Edge Society with Joey Mercury, Sienna, and Luke Gallows.
Unfortunately, WWE did not push this faction at all and would end up getting disbanded a year later. Then in 2010, CM Punk took over the Nexus faction, but would end up getting removed in 2011. It was then in 2011 that CM Punk would enter the main event scene of WWE as he would go on to win his first title. He would also go on to hold the record for the longest reign of holding the title for a record of 434 days that came to an end at the Royal Rumble in 2013 when he lost to the Rock.
He would end up being in WWE until the Royal Rumble in 2014 when he would leave the company the night after the Rumble. It would come out later on that CM Punk was not well liked by the WWE management. There are several reasons for his departure, but the biggest reason for him leaving was how WWE would give part-timers a push and not the wrestlers who were there and were grinding every day.
Another moment that CM Punk had was on an episode of RAW, he would drop a “pipe bomb” and would go off on what is considered to be one of the greatest promos of all time. Here is the clip of the promo:
By the end of 2014, it was announced that he would be signing with the UFC. It took two years but this Saturday he makes his UFC debut at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Ohio. He will go down as one of the better WWE wrestlers, but many wrestling fans do not like him because of how his tenure came to an end. However, the one bright side that can be made with how he departed was it created one of the most memorable moments in Wrestlemania history with Daniel Bryan defeating Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista in two matches (Triple H was the first match, and Randy Orton/ Batista was the main event). Here is the clip of Daniel Bryan winning the title: