At the same time, Punk joined the wrestling promotion NWA Total Nonstop Action (TNA), in which he was paired with Julio Dinero as members of Raven's TNA alliance The Gathering.Punk started climbing the ranks of ROH, including coming in second at the Second Anniversary Show during the tournament to crown the first ROH Pure Champion, losing to A. Styles in the finals and winning the ROH Tag Team Championship twice with Colt Cabana as the Second City Saints.In 2005, Punk signed a contract with WWE and was sent to its developmental promotion, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where he won every championship available in that promotion.
From February 2003 until May 2004, Punk refused to wrestle for IWA: Mid-South, because he claims that this was in protest to Ian Rotten's mistreatment of Chris Hero in the company.
During Punk's time in IWA: Mid-South, he had high profile feuds with Colt Cabana and Chris Hero while also rising to the top of the roster winning the IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship twice and the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Championship on five separate occasions, beating stars like A. Styles, Cabana and even Eddie Guerrero for that Championship.
Punk's feud with Hero included a 55-minute TLC match,a 93-minute two out of three falls match, and several 60-minute time limit draws.
In the independents, Punk, along with fellow Steel Domain graduates Colt Cabana, Chuckee Smooth, Adam Pearce and manager Dave Prazak, formed an alliance named the Gold Bond Mafia.
Punk's home promotion for his early career is usually considered to be Independent Wrestling Association: Mid-South (IWA: Mid-South).