Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Strange Bedfellows - CM Punk and Russell Simpson

Been awhile since I did one of these. Sorry about that. Anyway, since everyone's talking about CM Punk's butt right now, let's look at his "debut" in the WWE.

At this point in time in 2005, CM Punk was huge in the wrestling world, thanks to his epic trilogy with Samoa Joe in Ring of Honor. The WWE finally decided to take notice of the straight-edger and immediately asked him to do a tryout match. However, instead of an usual singles match where he would be jobbed out to one of the federation's C-List talent, he was placed in a tag team match.

His assigned partner was Russell Simpson, aka Psycho Simpson. I literally have nothing on him. He's just one of those faces that doesn't leave any impression. The WWE must have saw something in the guy because he already had seven tryout matches.

So on the April 17, 2005 broadcast edition of Sunday Night Heat, the two wrestlers were set to face off against fitness guru Simon Dean and his perfect specimen Maven. But there was something amiss. Instead of being announced by their respective names, Punk and Simpson had a tag team name: CM Punk. Confused? Lillian didn't botch this one up, folks; the producers thought it would be better if they use one guy's own ring name as the team name. Simpson still retained his nom de plume, while Punk went under the name of Chad Collyer. For those that don't get the in-joke, Punk and his indie buddies liked to use each other's name (real or fake) when in televised tryout matches.

To clear up any further confusion, I will just refer to them by their real wrestling names. Man, talk about an oxymoron right there. Anyway, Dean and Maven waste some time on the mic, talking about how they have photographic evidence as to why they were easily beaten up by Stone Cold Steve Austin on Raw. Cut to some stills where bottles of Dean's Simon System are badly photoshopped on to Austin's beer cans and hands.

Maven and Simpson start off. Punk instantly pisses off Maven while on the apron, taunting the bland heel and showing that Maven isn't tough enough to be here or even take a joke.

Simpson continues the early punishment on Maven and allows Punk to come in and take over his wrist-lock. While Punk delivers some high kicks to Maven, commentator Jonathan Coachman tries to be "funny" by mocking the jobber team's name, referring to them as "CM Dawn", a play on the once popular 90s R&B duo.

So while Coach is set adrift on memory bliss, talking about events that happened on Raw, Maven and Dean get the heat on Punk. Dean oddly circles around the ring while shouting and having Punk in a headlock, before then doing a simple suplex and a float-over pin. Further confusing me, Dean follows that up with what is either a mini twerk or a little grind, complete with pointing at his junk, before doing a leg drop.

Surprisingly, the crowd is actually into this match, letting out a fairly loud "You Suck!" chant. Maven flaunts his muscles too much (save that for your current job as a bouncer!), allowing enough time for Punk to recover and avoid a dropkick. The crowd is ready for the hot tag but it's botched up in two ways. First, instead of the usual leaping grasp for a tag, Punk does a weak walk to Simpson before the tagged-in Dean elbows him in the back, which then causes Punk to deliver the tag and allow Simpson to run wild. Secondly, the crowd quickly realizes that, oh yeah, the unique-looking Punk is now out and we instead have this average guy coming back in.

Dean tags in Maven, kicks Simpson before being back-body-dropped by him, and the two heels do their tag team finisher: a double armpit-lifting Rock Bottom. 3 count and it is over.

Post-match, the perfectly-fit team get ready to do their DiBiase-esque final gag of stuffing a nutrition bar into the mouth of Simpson. Punk tries to intervene but Dean gives him a rolling elbow. Meanwhile in the crowd, a smark holds up a prominent CM Punk sign. The commentators don't call attention to it, nor is there a Russell Simpson sign anywhere.

Punk would later have a second tryout match, this time a straight-up singles match against Val Venis. I implore you to go check it out because it literally is one of the best "star vs. jobber" matches, right there next to the Razor/Kid feud. Despite getting some heat backstage for making that match too good, Punk was signed to WWE. Before paying his dues down in OVW, he of course finished up his work in the indies by taking part in ROH's amazing storyline, "The Summer of Punk". Simpson was also signed and shipped off to OVW. He proceeded to do nothing of note there until being released in 2006. He would retire a couple years later.

This is a case of a put-together tag team where one of the wrestlers is absolutely nothing like the other. This isn't something like Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty; this is more like Shawn Michaels and Alex "The Pug" Pourteau. I didn't really mean to completely bury Simpson here, but it's hard to take notice of the guy when he's standing next to someone who would later be the best in the world.

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