Over the course of 2003, a young CM Punk would hold a consistent feud with hardcore wrestling legend Raven. Punk being the drug and alcohol-free up-and-comer, and Raven being on the back end of his career and having dealt with real-life substance abuse issues, the two were a match made in heaven for a wrestling feud.
A bit intense in subject matter for a wrestling feud? Maybe. But memorable? Certainly. And that’s what important for this story to be told in full. Punk and Raven’s feud would eventually culminate in a dog collar match. (Sound familiar?) The young CM Punk would defeat Raven in a bloody and brutal war at Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor show on July 19, 2003. Although the two would have other matches after that, their dog collar match is collectively remembered as the fever pitch and blow-off to the feud.
The young Punk’s already-polished skills on the microphone not only did a great job of promoting all of his Ring of Honor matches, but spawned one legendary moment in particular that is important for understanding the full scope of this story. During a speech before his departure to WWE in June 2005, Punk told a parable that depicted his relationship with Raven from years prior. It ended with this:
“You stupid old man. I’m a snake. The greatest thing the devil ever did, was make you people believe he didn’t exist. And you’re looking at him right now. I am the devil himself.”
Punk’s feud with Raven would help him skyrocket to the top of Ring of Honor, and eventually lead to his signing with WWE. Punk would jump ship to the big leagues in late 2005, and over the course of nearly a decade there, would become a cult hero. He would leave in 2014, and only come back to wrestling a full seven years later as AEW’s biggest free agency signing to date. Even while he was gone, his influence was felt, and he remained an inspiration to young wrestling hopefuls.
Enter a young wrestler from Long Island, going by the name Maxwell Jacob Friedman.