While it’s true that Ring of Honor was not the first place CM Punk began to make his name, it was, however, the house that he helped build. It can be argued that the upstart independent promotion ended up much better off after he left for WWE than before he arrived from IWA: Mid-South.
He had learned the industry on the fly, developing and starring in a backyard wrestling promotion that he and friends had grown into a huge success. Working with Chris Hero in IWA, then legendary stars such as Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio, helped Punk grow and develop as a wrestler. This followed with him perfecting his Straight Edge character, he was ready to take the next step, and the upstart ROH promotion based out of Philadelphia was the perfect place to do so.
My personal favorite feud from Punk’s days with ROH is the one with Raven, as it was just a great psychological, character-development rivalry that increased Punk’s exposure and enhanced his reputation as one of the brightest rising stars in professional wrestling. It didn’t start and stop with his promo work (which was just outstanding), as the in-ring product supported the notion of Punk was much more than just some Indie darling.
After an incredible series of matches with Samoa Joe, including two ROH Championship matches that ended in hour-long draws with Joe successfully retain his title in the third. Finally, Punk captured the ROH title, confusing the smarter fans (or smart marks) watching who were convinced he’d be leaving for an offer with WWE. Then, in another shocking move, Punk cut a great promo shortly afterward, resulting in him signing his WWE contract on Ring of Honor’s top prize.
While his ROH Championship title reign was short, it brought a great deal of attention to both Punk and Ring of Honor, and the now-dubbed “Summer of Punk” storyline remains one of the best and most popular ROH moments in ROH (and wrestling) history.