Before I saw CM Punk’s WWE documentary, I thought Ring of Honor, TNA and WWE were the only wrestling promotions Punk wrestled for. I found out during the documentary that Punk once wrestled for an independent promotion called Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South (IWA-MS). Highlights of a CM Punk vs. Chris Hero ladder match were shown and the spots in that match amazed me. I later brought a DVD set that had that ladder match. The match is now one of my favorite CM Punk matches, but that is not the Punk vs. Hero match I am reviewing. The ladder match was one of the main reasons I bought the DVD set, but there was another match on that set that I wanted to see. I found out that CM Punk and Chris Hero had a match that went 92 minutes. That is more than one hour and a half! The match happened ten years ago and the first time I heard of the match was last year. I couldn’t believe it took me so long to find out about this match and I realized there are probably many wrestling fans who don’t know this match exists so I decided to review it. I’m not going to do a full play-by-play review of this match because it would be too long. I’m going to re-watch the entire match and write about the important things that happened.

The Facts:

  • This match happened in Clarksville, Indiana. The show was called When Hero Met Punk.
  • Dave Prazak and Jim Fannin were the announcers during this match.
  • IWA Mid-South was founded in 1996 by former ECW wrestler Ian Rotten. IWA-MS alumni includes Eddie Guerrero, A.J. Styles, Rey Mysterio Jr., Samoa Joe, Claudio Castagnoli (Antonio Cesaro), Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) and Colt Cabana.
  • This was a two out of three falls match with a 90 minute time limit. CM Punk’s IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship was on the line.
  • Chris Hero is known as Kassius Ohno in WWE. He is currently on the WWE NXT roster.
  • When this match happened, Chris Hero was 23 years old and CM Punk was 24 years old.
  • On December 21, 2002, Punk and Hero had a match that ended in 60 minute time limit draw. According to CM Punk, the match happened at a show that was not as big as the show that would happen one week later and Punk knew fans would save their money for the bigger IWA-MS show. Punk told IWA-MS founder Ian Rotten that he wanted to do a one hour match. Punk said to Rotten, “There’s not going to be a whole lot of people here and whether I wrestle for two minutes or an hour, I’m still going to get paid the same and I might as well have fun.” The next IWA-MS Punk vs. Hero match was the 92 minute match.
  • According to The Internet Wrestling Database, the longest WWE match was Bruno Sammartino vs. Waldo Von Erich. The match happened at a MSG show on August 22, 1964 and the time length was 81 minutes.
  • The Guinness World Record for the longest pro wrestling match is 12 hours. Six wrestlers rotated into and out of the match on November 6, 2010 in Sidney, Ohio. The wrestler with the most accumulated pin falls and submissions after 12 hours was the winner of the match. The match was promoted by Shockwave Impact Wrestling.
  • On February 8, 2013, Dave Prazak tweeted the handwritten notes by Hero for commentary during the 92 minute match. The notes can be seen at http://twitpic.com/c20qy7.
  • Former Ring of Honor commentator Joe Dombrowski wrote a column about the Punk and Hero rivalry and among the people he interviewed were Jim Fannin and Brent Blades. Fannin, one of the announcers during the 92 minute match, said, “I don’t think I will ever see anything like that again. It is very hard to hold the attention of a fan for 90 minutes. The fact that everyone in the building was standing for the last 15 minutes of this match made for an incredible atmosphere and everyone was pulling for Hero to get that first victory over Punk. By this point, the hatred had left the rivalry. They had been apart for about a year and the mutual respect they had after the tables and ladders made it a friendly contest to see who the better man was.” Former IWA-MS referee Blades said, “90 minutes? Nobody could do that… Could they? Well, Hero and Punk sure did and for the last 15-20 minutes of the match the entire crowd was all on their feet to see the end. There was not a minute of this whole match that the whole crowd wasn’t into it, 90 minutes. Do people really realize how long 90 minutes is? Think about it, that’s longer [than] some movies you go see. This crowd was in it and loved it. This is one of their matches that most will never forget, not because of the craziness like the Tables and Ladders, but just at how good it was and the fact that it could be so good for so long. It wasn’t like 65 minutes was good and they could have done away with the other 25, the whole 90 minutes was truly classic.”
  • The time length of this match was 92:15.
  • The full match can be seen at http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/QeNKiaf5pr8/.

The Match:

The match started at a slow pace with a lot of exchanging holds on the mat. Play-by-play announcer Dave Prazak acknowledged that and said going fast pace early in the match could cost someone a fall. There were some pin attempts after the first five minutes, but none of them were near-falls. Announcer Jim Fannin mentioned that CM Punk wrestled a combined 110 minutes in one weekend and said you have to watch RAW and Smackdown for two or three months to get 110 minutes of actual wrestling. After ten minutes, this looked like an even match-up and it was too early to predict who would win. I like two out of three falls matches because it is very hard to predict when the first fall will happen and who will win the first fall. Fannin said he gets sickened when people say Hero doesn’t look like a wrestler because the steroid freaks in WWE couldn’t carry a match for three minutes. Punk and Hero continued to exchange holds after 20 minutes, but they were able to keep the match entertaining despite the slow pace. The submission holds in this match were very good. It’s not like they were doing headlocks for 20 minutes. Punk left the ring after Hero hit him with forearms to the back and that was the first time someone in the match had an advantage. At the 30 minute mark, there were no falls yet and not many near-falls. The first 30 minutes could have been very hard to watch because the slow pace, but it felt like a quick 30 minutes. It was hard to believe that this match was already longer than most WWE matches. The pace got faster after 35 minutes. They did less submission holds and more forearms, chops, punches and kicks. After 40 minutes, it felt they were far away from the first fall and neither man had control of the match for more than a few minutes. I had no idea who was going to win that first fall which is surprising because 40 minutes should be long enough to be able to make that prediction. Hero had Punk in a submission hold right before the 45 minute mark and it looked like Punk might submit, but Punk escaped the hold.

Punk got Hero down in the corner and kicked him in the face. Punk covered Hero and got a near-fall. 45 minutes and no falls yet. Punk knocked Hero down with a clothesline and got another near-fall. The pin attempts were starting to get closer to a three count. Hero got Punk out of the ring and did a tornado dive to the floor. Hero proved that he had a lot of energy left after 45 minutes.  Russian Leg Sweep by Punk got a two count. Punk hit Hero with a suplex at the 50 minute mark. Hero got a near-fall after he repeatedly kicked Punk’s face. The first 40 minutes were mostly mat wrestling and now there has been many near-falls. Punk went for the Shining Wizard and Hero avoided it. Punk spun around and kicked Hero in the head. Punk pinned Hero and got the three count. Punk led one fall to zero at 53:56. The fall was unexpected. I have seen this match before and I didn’t think Punk would get the three count there. Hero hit Punk with a backbreaker and Punk got his foot on the rope before the three count. Hero knocked down Punk with a clothesline, but Punk kicked out again. At 60 minutes, both men looked tired. A front flip neckbreaker by Hero got a near-fall. Hero got Punk in a submission hold, but Punk got his foot on the bottom ring rope. Hero hit Punk with the Hero’s Welcome and Punk kicked out! That was a great near-fall because Hero’s Welcome was one of Hero’s finishers. The move looked a little bit like Cody Rhodes’s Cross Rhodes finisher. Punk did a flying head scissors which was amazing because it happened right before the 65 minute mark. They had wrestled for over an hour and still had a lot of energy left. Hero left the ring and Punk jumped off the ring apron and did a flying head scissors outside of the ring! That was awesome! The flying head scissors in the ring was cool, but the flying head scissors outside the ring looked amazing. Punk went back in the ring and did a suicide dive to the outside onto Hero! Punk did not look like someone who had been wrestling for over 65 minutes. Punk tossed Hero back into the ring. Punk and Hero were on the top turnbuckle and Hero hit Punk with the Pepsi Plunge! That was Punk’s finisher! Hero got the three count! The match was tied one fall to one fall at 68:16.

The referee gave water to Punk and Hero after the second fall. The next fall would win the match. Hero hit Punk with a suplex and Punk kicked at two. 70 minutes were gone and 20 minutes remained before the time limit. Punk hit Hero with the Shining Wizard and Hero kicked out at two! Punk hit a move called the Blockbuster and Hero kicked out at two! Punk kicked out of a pin attempt at the 75 minute mark. Hero Hip Dislocator by Hero got a two count. Dropkick to the back of the head springboard by Punk and Hero avoided the three count by putting his hand on the bottom ring rope. Punk applied the Hangman’s Clutch submission hold on Hero (Hero’s finishing submission hold) and then hit Hero with the Hero’s Welcome (Hero’s finishing move). Hero kicked out at two! Punk put Hero in a sleeper hold after 80 minutes. Hero tried to get out of the hold many times, but Punk continued to keep the sleeper hold on Hero. Prazak mentioned that Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales had a 90 minute draw in 1973 at Shea Stadium.  I did some quick research and I found information about a Sammartino vs. Morales match at Shea in 1972 that was announced as a 75 minute draw so that means Prazak was wrong. Hero finally got out of the sleeper hold by hitting Punk with a suplex. Hero took Punk down and went for the pin, but Punk got his foot on the bottom ring rope! 85 minutes were gone and 5 minutes remained. Hero hit Punk with two Hero’s Welcomes and Punk kicked out at two! Punk hit Hero with the Hero’s Welcome! Hero kicked out at two! Fannin explained that they were able to kick out of the finishers because after 86 minutes, it is hard to fully execute the finishing moves. 87 minutes were gone and 3 minutes remained. Hero went for a pin attempt and Punk kicked out. Two minutes left. Both men were down. 90 seconds left. Punk attempted a pin, but couldn’t get the three count. One minute left. Punk went to the top rope. Hero climbed to the top. REVERSE POWERBOMB BY HERO! DOUBLE PIN FALL! Both men’s shoulders were down. 90 minutes expired! Two falls to two falls. The match went to sudden death. Punk hit Hero with the Shining Wizard! Hero kicked out! Punk put Hero in a submission hold. Punk released the hold and Hero put Punk in the Hangman’s Clutch. Punk tapped out and after 92 minutes, Hero became the new IWA-Mid South World Heavyweight Champion.

Winner: Chris Hero

Rating:  *****

The reason I gave this match five stars was because Punk and Hero were able to keep me entertained for over 92 minutes. Doing a 92 minute match is difficult, but doing an entertaining 92 minute match is more difficult.  I thought for sure I would not be able to watch this entire match. I expected it to get boring and hard to watch after 30 minutes. I was wrong. This match got better as the match got longer. Hero impressed me a lot and when he reaches the main WWE roster, I hope he is as good as he was ten years ago. The wrestling that Punk and Hero did was amazing and they used a lot of different moves during the match. I was amazed by how much energy Punk and Hero had at the end of the match. The announcers were talking about old wrestling matches that went more than an hour and one of them said that none of those matches had guys doing jumps off the top rope, flips and dives to the outside like Punk and Hero did in this match. The commentary from Prazak and Fannin was great and they helped make the match more enjoyable. In my opinion, this match has to be in the top five of CM Punk’s greatest matches.

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