Whilst I was researching through the old Reporter newspapers from 1998, something caught my eye on page 5 in the April 9 edition.
It was a picture of a pro wrestler with a skull on his t-shirt leaping from the top rope, ready to do some skullduggery on an opponent’s skull.
Although I am not as big of a pro wrestling fan as I used to be, I wondered who this high flyer was and I read the caption that he was none other than Phil Brooks.
Most know him by his ring name: C.M. Punk.
Punk has gone on to huge things in the World Wrestling Entertainment in recent years. His ability to throw his body around and top microphone skills made him a heel and then an antihero crowd favorite. He held the WWE title for 434 days, which makes him the longest-reigning champeen in the modern era. That reign ended Jan. 27, 2013.
A few times, however, he ticked off the big bosses by deviating from scripted storylines to get into some of the real warts of the inner workings of the WWE. But he was getting such heat from the audiences that owner Vince McMahon and his people had to suck it up. Finally, the two parted ways in 2014 and Punk is now trying to make it as an ultimate fighter.
But way back in ’98, Punk, who hails from Lockport, was a featured star in the Lunatic Wrestling Federation and picked up the biggest break of his career when he and the LWF were featured in the Reporter. He was 21 at the time and the LWF got started in a dude named Larry Satkus’s back yard in Mokena.
After Satkus, C.M. Punk and a few other goofs watched a pay-per-view event, Satkus had an idea that only the rarest of great minds could come up with.
“I said ‘hey, let’s go in the back yard and beat the crap out of each other,’ ’’ he said. “We were jumping around like a bunch of jerks.’’
And so, that’s where it started for Mr. Punk.
The LWF started to grow and they were attracting a couple of hundred people to their shows.
Punk talked about his love for the sport.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s the ultimate stage,” he said. “A lot of kids play baseball, stickball or soccer. They grew up watching that and they want to emulate it. I grew up watching wrestling. It’s a love of the sport, the theater and the stage it provides.’’
Even back in the old days, he would take chair shots to the head. On one night, one of the Obnoxious Frat Boys snuck up behind him and BAM!
“It’s like playing a game of chicken,” Punk said. “You know it’s coming, your body wants to react. You’ve really got to work at overcoming that. It’s really getting over that natural reflex.’’
Punk went on to become a huge star. The rest of the LWF? Well…
The group still has a Twitter account and it appears it hasn’t hosted matches in a while but one of the founding fathers of the group wrote a book about the organization.
There was one report that in September, 1998, Punk closed the LWF because his brother allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars so the inner workings of the group was not without its drama.
While people are predicting and celebrating the demise of newspapers, I steadfastly maintain there is a great need for them. I know of some places where Internet archives have been wiped out and the only place you could still read certain stories is the hard copy of the newspaper.
We provide an important service to society. Where else are you going to find out C.M. Punk got hit start jumping around with a bunch of jerks?