CM Punk - Best in the World [DVD] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

CM Punk

Best in the World 📀 (2012)

WWE Home Video

Professional wrestler CM Punk might be the most important figure in straight edge since Ian MacKaye. Hyperbolic as that sounds, Punk, who also describes himself as a vegetarian and a feminist, has taken edge all the way to World Wrestling Entertainment, a place not especially known for those values. That he takes these punk sensibilities and makes them part of his wrestling gimmick is commendable.

Yeah, wresting is fake. Yeah, hardcore wrestling fans don't like the WWE. But what makes Punk compelling, and indeed even relevant to punk with a lowercase "p," is the way he's taken the underground to the mainstream. His new documentary/highlight reel, Best in the World, a three-disc DVD/Blu-ray set, explores his history and successes. And he certainly faced a lot of adversity rising through the ranks, from promoters not understanding his tattoos to fans not understanding his style. But he's risen up as an antihero, succeeding despite conventional wisdom saying he shouldn't.

That Punk would question the status quo isn't necessarily new for WWE wrestlers (sorry, "superstars"), but how he does it is different. Antiheroes like Stone Cold Steve Austin and D-Generation X had plenty of contempt for the establishment, but they expressed it through debauchery and nihilism. They didn't care. Punk is the opposite. He cares more than anyone else. That's why he's straight edge (among other reasons): He doesn't want to dull his view and ambition. Oddly enough, for all his tattoos and anger, he's still arguably a better role model for kids than most wrestlers.

The matches covered on the second and third discs are pretty good, but the documentary is essential viewing. Punk and his friends from Chicago lay out exactly what straight edge means, and how abstaining from drugs has helped them in their lives. Another wrestler, Joey Mercury, even credits Punk with helping him beat drug addiction. If this set teaches impressionable young wrestling fans something about punk culture and straight edge discipline, then I'm for it. This is the new gateway punk.

You want punk credentials? The set features music from Against Me! and the Bouncing Souls. Punk quotes H2O and rocks one of their hoodies. He's also buddies with Rancid, who appear in the documentary portion. Lars Frederiksen even provides an interview. WWE is fake; Punk is real.

Best in the World is one of the strongest documentaries WWE has put out in a while. Punk, always strong on the mic, makes for a good interview subject, spinning story after interesting story. Hopefully, he teaches kids a thing or two along the way.