Vintage Vault “Pre-Viewing of Punk”: Unforgiven 2007

CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke for the ECW Championship

As we head out of the summer of 2007 and into the fall, we have seen a major shift on ECW as CM Punk has finally achieved his goal of becoming the ECW Champion and is now the official face of the brand. Now while it came a little too late as it really should’ve happened at Summerslam, the fact that it has happened was a good thing even though it looked like they had no intention of giving him the belt and he only got it when John Morrison was suspended due to the Signature Pharmacy scandal that was breaking. Despite this, it was for the best as Morrison’s reign was flailing and with no real top face contenders besides Punk, it was better for Punk to have the title since there were stronger heel contenders and he could have a good run as champion. He starts off his reign here with an old rival and after the good match they had back at Judgment Day, you figured that they would have another good match here.

On the 8/28 ECW, Morrison cut a promo on his win at Summerslam and on the Fatal-4 Way happening later that night to determine the Number One Contender, and in the main event Punk would defeat Big Daddy V, the Boogeyman, and the Miz to earn the title shot. On 8/30, WWE announced that 11 Superstars were being suspended for their connections to Signature Pharmacy with Morrison being one of the names listed, and on the 9/4 ECW in what was deemed his final title shot, Punk would finally defeat Morrison to become the ECW Champion. On the 9/11 ECW, Burke was named the Number One Contender and the two men brawled and at the end of the night, Punk teamed with Stevie Richards to defeat Burke and Kevin Thorn in a tag match when Punk pinned Thorn. Given this only had a week build and they had to scramble after Morrison got suspended, they did fine to make this match feel big especially given the history between the two men.

Punk gets a big pop from the crowd while Burke was still pretty hot as a heel, and this was a good match to be the opener for the show as the crowd immediately gets hot for Punk. The two men square off to start and they lock up with Burke backing Punk into the corner as the ref forces a break, and Punk hooks a front facelock and takes Burke to the mat as he rides him until Burke escapes and he works on the arm. He goes behind Punk who fights to his feet and he escapes with a drop toehold before riding him again, and he hooks a cross armbreaker on Burke who quickly reaches the rope to force a break as they lock up with Burke backing Punk into the corner and he hits a back elbow. He pounds on Punk and whips him into the corner as Punk leaps over him and he gets a kick in, and he gets a shot in and hits a Russian legsweep for a two count as he knocks Burke down again. He pounds on Burke and kicks at him as he stomps on him in the corner and hits a snapmare before kicking him in the back, and he hits a backbreaker on Burke for a two count and pounds on him as Burke reverses a whip into the other corner. Burke catches a kick attempt and kicks at Punk before hanging him up in the ropes and he slams the back of his head into the mat, and he stomps on Punk repeatedly for a two count and hits a snapmare before kicking at his back and he hooks a submission on. Punk fights to his feet and escapes the hold with a reverse dropkick as he hits the running knee on Burke in the corner, and he hits the running bulldog on Burke and goes out to the apron as he hits a springboard clothesline for a two count. Burke rolls outside to regroup and Punk goes out to the apron only for Burke to sweep his leg out and Punk lands hard on the floor, and he pounds on Punk and hoists him up as he rams his back into the apron and he returns to the ring. He goes back outside and throws Punk back into the ring for a two count as he pounds on Punk’s back for a two count, and he hooks a Boston crab on and grinds down on Punk who reaches the rope to force a break and Burke hits a pair of German suplexes. Punk blocks a third one and hits a trio of back elbows only for Burke to block a shot and he hits the Elijah Experience for a two count, and Burke hooks an inverted Texas Cloverleaf on Punk who rolls through to escape and Burke pounds on Punk’s back before kicking at him repeatedly. He grabs the leg only for Punk to hit an enzurgiri though Burke gets a kick in and he hits an uppercut on Punk for a two count, and he rakes his boot across Punk’s face and slaps him in the face twice only for Punk to hook a rollup which gets the three and he retains the title.

The match itself was pretty good as both men worked hard and put on a solid title match though it was a slight step below their match at Judgment Day. Burke has lost quite a bit of steam following that loss and the breaking up of the New Breed so he was treading water by this point, but he was a fine choice to challenge Punk here given their history and you knew they would have a solid match. Even though he’s only been champion for two weeks, Punk already feels like the top star of the brand even though it would’ve felt more special if he just won the title at Summerslam and not on TV. Again, you have to wonder what the original plan was as it seemed like they were going to run with Morrison as champion and not give Punk his big win, but they had no choice but to switch the belt based on what happened though it does give Punk the chance to be the top guy. These two men still had good chemistry and put on a solid match though the ending was weird as Punk could’ve used a stronger clean win as opposed to a fluke win as you knew Burke wasn’t winning the title. The crowd was into the match and popped big for Punk when he won. Punk retains the title over Burke and both men move on.

Final Grade: ***