035 ROH Second Anniversary Show 2/14/2004

ROH 35 – Second Anniversary Show – 14th February 2004

Two years since that fantastic Low Ki/Chris Daniels/American Dragon match, two years since Da Hit Squad repeatedly dropped the Christopher Street Connection on their heads…2 years since ROH first broke onto the independent scene. Now 2 years later it’s an independent powerhouse, with a cult following of dedicated, loyal fans and a roster of talented people, ROH has been a phenomenal success. Tonight it celebrates with the inception of a new championship – the Pure Wrestling Title – and we have an 8 man tournament to crown the first champion. Stars in that like AJ Styles, Matt Stryker, Doug Williams and John Walters have to be considered favourites, and they’re joined by Chris Sabin, Josh Daniels, Jimmy Rave and a mystery entrant. Samoa Joe also defends the World Title against Dan Maff and BJ Whitmer as promised…but Low Ki gets a shot as well! Trouble is imminent, as this is the last show pre-Feinstein scandal, but lets try to enjoy it for what it is. ROH is shockingly onto it’s fifth Boston home, we’re in Braintree, MA. Hosts are Chris Lovey and (THANKFULLY) Ray Murrow is back with him.

Top 5 Rankings
1. Dan Maff
1. BJ Whitmer
2. Jay Briscoe
3. John Walters
4. Chris Sabin

Samoa Joe opens the show looking very dapper in a swish suit. He thinks the Pure Title is a joke, and has only been invented because nobody could beat him for the World Title.

It’s a big night for The Prophecy, as BJ Whitmer and Dan Maff are in the fourway for the title tonight. Maff is irate at Low Ki, but Allison tells him he has to forget about that. Whitmer laughs at him and tells him Ki might knock him out again…I like BJ as a jerk, it suits him.

To the arena, and ‘Disposable Teens’ hits. Is Chris Daniels the mystery entrant into the tournament? Certainly appears that way, what with the familiar music, and the familiar figure in the familiar robes but…SWEEEEEEERVE! It’s CM Punk, in one of the single greatest angles ROH has ever done. The crowd are absolutely furious at this. Bobby Heenan (yeah, that never came off, the scandal meant Heenan never came to ROH) is managing the Saints and has got Punk the spot in the tournament, and the Saints a Tag Title shot on ROH’s Chicago debut in a couple of months.

CM Punk (7) vs John Walters (2)

Seeds are in brackets. It’s a tournament quarter-final here, with Punk taking on hometown boy John Walters. He defeated Chad Collyer at The Last Stand to earn his spot in this tournament, and is still hot coming off his Fight Without Honor against Xavier at Final Battle 2003. This is probably the biggest match in the first round in terms of star power, and a big name will go out here, whoever the winner is.

Surfboard from Walters as he looks to force an early tap out from Punk. Nice chain wrestling follows, with neither man getting a real advantage. Walters lifted onto the apron, but he comes back in with a slingshot armdrag, then an armbar. More armdrags, and Punk has to head to the floor for a break. Walters continues his work on the arm with another armbar when Punk returns. Punk manages to throw Walters to the floor which sets him up for a TOPE! Tilta-whirl gutbuster from Punk for 2. Double underhook backbreaker, then a big stomp to the back out of a surfboard. Punk goes to the top rope for a super rana but Walters rolls through it and we get a nearfalls sequence. Big clothesline from Walters gets another 2. Punk escapes a Hurricane DDT attempt and drops him with an STO. STF locked in and Walters has to scramble to the ropes. Mule kick from Punk…DOUBLE KNEE FACEBUSTER…DOUBLE KNEE BACKBREAKER! Michinoku Driver from Punk for 2. Walters OFF THE TOP WITH A CROSSBODY…and that hurt his injured ribs. HURRICANE DDT! Punk got his foot on the ropes at the last possible second. Punk bails from a second Hurricane DDT, then counters a bridging roll up with a tiger pin to win at 13:00.

Rating – *** –
Started slow but got interesting at the end, as they made the absolute best with the time they were given. Crowd aren’t too happy to see Walters gone so early, and I probably disagree with the decision to eliminate him in the first round, and wouldn’t have put him against Punk. Given that he was wrestling Punk, sorry Boston, but the right man went through.

Chris Sabin (5) vs Doug Williams (4)

Williams comes out to Blur’s ‘Song 2’ (complete with crowd doing the ‘woohoo’) and gets a huge pop. It’s the first time visited ROH since Death Before Dishonor so it’s good to see him back. Chris Sabin earned his spot in the tournament by defeating Jimmy Jacobs at The Battle Lines Are Drawn. Williams earned his by…generally being a fantastic wrestler.

Sabin might be in the Top 5, but he can’t hang chain wrestling with Doug, who quickly drops a knee across the back of his neck. Rear chinlock applied, then a surfboard as he piles on the pressure on Sabin early. Bridging camel clutch from Williams, as he is just schooling Sabin. He clasps on a front facelock to continue weakening the neck, and when Sabin escapes that he takes him straight down with a headscissors. Camel clutch slapped on, then another knee drop to the neck. Scoop slam followed by a slingshot knee drop, once again focusing on the neck. Sabin gets his first offence in with a forearm, but quickly gets put in a Crossface. Running knee lift drops Sabin again for 2. Snap suplex…BOMB SCARE KNEE DROP TO THE NECK! Williams goes upstairs again but gets crotched. Sabin joins him on the top but gets shoved off. Williams misses a senton and both men are down.

Sabin onto the apron and he scores with a springboard dropkick. Hurricanrana keeps Williams down, but Sabin can’t suplex because of the damage his neck has sustained. Swinging neckbreaker from Sabin gets 2. He blocks a Chaos Theory attempt then NAILS springboard swinging DDT. Sit out DVD gets 2. Williams catches Sabin in the corner – CHAOS THEORY! Williams advances at 08:17.

Rating – *** –
Mildly biased opinion, since I think Doug Williams rocks, and watching him dominate Sabin for the first five minutes of this match was so much fun. Sabin actually played his part well, selling the neck for the most part then executing his plucky comeback before going down to all the neck damage he had sustained. Good little story, and Doug advances.

Doug Williams…and ‘by golly’ Sabin gave him a hard match. He says the Pure Wrestling Title is meant for him.

Josh Daniels (6) vs Matt Stryker (3)

I think Daniels was a last minute replacement for someone, but I can’t think who. He’s barely made any ROH appearances to date so he has no momentum coming into this (he did beat Steve Corino at The Conclusion though), and realistically, he’s job-fodder. Stryker is in the tournament by way of his Field Of Honor win back in December (remember the FOH winner was guaranteed opportunities to advance his career) and is one of the favourites, as his lofty seeding shows. Personally I’d have had Stryker do the first round job to Punk and let Walters win this one and face the winner of the AJ/Rave match but…I can hardly doubt the wisdom of Gabe…plus he seems to love Matt Stryker.

Crowd aren’t Stryker’s biggest fans it seems. He seems to have more later though, as we get duelling ‘Lets go Stryker’ and ‘Lets go Daniels’ chants. Daniels has one of the hardest chops in the company and Stryker has to run to the ropes after taking just one. Jumping heel kick from Stryker then a…something to the face for 2. Rear chinlock, then a surfboard to continue to wear down Daniels. Back suplex from Josh to escape, followed by a snap suplex for 2. Stryker puts an STF on him out of nowhere and he has to make the ropes. STIFF STIFF chopfest, before Daniels almost takes Stryker’s head off with a lariat for 2. German suplex gets 2 as well. Daniels goes to the top and gets caught with Stryker’s wish-I-was-Kurt Angle running belly to belly. Stryker goes for a forearm but gets caught with a northern lights for 2. Strykerlock and Daniels taps real quickly at 08:29.

Rating – ** –
Bar the Glory By Honor II convention card fourway, this was Daniels’ best singles match in ROH thus far. Fans seemed to really get into his stuff, probably because he was hurting Stryker so much with his chops. Nice way to end it by putting over the effectiveness of Matt Stryker’s Strykerlock, which would become far more significant later. Clever booking all round…

Stryker puts Daniels over backstage but says he’s winning the Pure Wrestling title.

Jimmy Rave (8) vs AJ Styles (1)

The final first round match, and it was a match requested by AJ Styles. Yep folks, this is the pay-off to all those Styles-Rave segments we saw throughout the autumn and winter of 2003. Styles raged and Rave for being a dunce and continually losing throughout his FOH campaign. When Rave finally won a match, beating Caprice Coleman, Todd Sexton and Rainman at Battle Lines Are Drawn, Styles congratulated him…and said ‘now you’re ready for me’. Mis-match here, with Styles being the favourite for the tournament…and Rave fully expected to do what he does best – lose.

Poor Rave gets a ‘Die Die Die’ chant, which I think is a tad unnecessary. Rave looks up for it in the opening exchanges, quickly going for the Satellite Crossface and generally looking quite determined. Rave rolls out of the ring because he knew Styles was about to go for his dropkick – nice! Styles ducks the Shining Wizard then drops him with a Final Cut backbreaker. Conventional backbreaker has Rave absolutely squirming in pain. Rave blocks the suplex neckbreaker and almost rolls Styles up. Rave ducks the discus lariat – STO backbreaker! Satellite Crossface locked in, but AJ is right on the ropes. Again Rave avoids the dropkick but doesn’t avoid the nip up lariat, nor a powerslam which gets 2. Pumphandle gutbuster from Styles, then a swinging neckbreaker.

Rave gets a kick in then goes to the top rope. He looks for a flying headscissors, but AJ attempts to catch him and give him the Styles Clash. Rave rolls through – CRAPPY WIZARD! Rave’s Shining Wizard is truly abysmal, but it gets 2. Hammerlock back suplex from AJ. He drop toeholds Jimmy over the middle rope, but he then twists his knee going for the quebrada inverted DDT. Rave has a choice to make here…AND HE ATTACKS THE KNEE! Dragon screw, then a kneebar! AJ makes the ropes, and one discus lariat later, he’s in the semi-finals. 07:34 is your time.

Rating – *** –
Personally, I thought this was one of Jimmy Rave’s best efforts in ROH. He was helped with the background story, which meant the attack on the knee at the end, although brief, was pretty exciting. I also loved how he was familiar with all AJ’s trademark spots and kept avoiding and blocking them. Clever booking again because, whilst putting on a good little match, AJ was able to hold a little back and for the later rounds.

Rave apologises backstage after the match, but Styles tells him not to be because he’d do the exact same thing.

Two jobbers called Scott Clark and Jerk Jackson come to the ring for a match with Dunn & Marcos…one of ROH’s biggest shows of the year folks. The Outcast Killaz arrive and want to know why the RCE have this match whilst they have nothing. It’s called being over fellaz. The nobodies leave…and Dunn & Marcos…AREN’T GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE! The Killaz take a pasting…

Jim Cornette (taped back at The Last Stand I’d wager) says Jay Briscoe agrees to Joe’s challenge of a cage match. However, he’s negotiated it so the match can be won by escaping the cage.

Special K vs Carnage Crew – Country Whipping Match

Special K are apparently represented by Izzy, Dixie and Hydro. This feud just gets more and more violent, with the Crew getting more and more pissed off that they can’t score a victory over Special K. DeVito’s daughter wants to be a raver, as we found out at Final Battle 2003. They had a brawl at the ROH/JAPW show where K was challenged to Scramble Cage II in New Jersey next month, then at Battle Lines Are Drawn, Special K recruited Abyss as their insurance policy and he took out the Crew again. Thanks to the Backseat Boyz the Crew didn’t get a victory at The Last Stand, now they get a country whipping match to make up for all the times Special K have used straps on them.

More Special K goonies jump Carnage Crew in the aisleway, meaning Special K have no intention of keeping it to 3 on 3. Justin Credible flogs Izzy in the ring, but they go to the floor and Credible gets whipped into the rail. Lots of brawling on the floor, including a rare wrestling move as Loc suplexes Hydro on the floor. Izzy, Dixie, Loc and DeVito are bleeding, particularly Dixie who is a mess. Angeldust does his best to botch a swinging neckbreaker into a chair from Loc.

Hiptoss facebuster by Izzy and Dixie but DeVito breaks the pin with a strap. Choke stunner on Hydro and Dixie by DeVito. Justin superkicks Izzy as he flies off the top rope…HEAD DROP BACK SUPLEX BY LOC ON DIXIE. DeVito northern lights suplexes Hydro into the corner, as Loc gives Dixie the press slam brainbuster. THAT’S INCREDIBLE ON IZZY. They set up for the Spike Piledriver on Hydro…as Angeldust wanders around in the entrance with a young girl. DeVito and Justin Credible charge after him…and Lovey and Murrow speculate that it was DeVito’s daughter. SPIKE PILEDRIVER THROUGH A TABLE ON LOC – DANGEROOOUUUUUUS! Special K just got revenge for the Spike Piledriver through a table on Becky a few months ago…and they win the match at 08:45.

Rating – ** –
It was fun, don’t take this seriously and you’ll enjoy it. Lots of little ravers getting bloodied up and stiffed by the Carnage Crew, with a fantastic ending that continues the feud to Scramble Cage II which is the next show. Really shows how intense and personal this feud has become – making it the perfect fit for a climax inside a cage.

Special K laugh hysterically backstage, and say that Angeldust is ‘taking care of another DeVito’. I thought she was only 13? DUDE…

GMC brings out Julius Smokes to tell us where Homicide has gone. Smokes sings pointlessly, but essentially, his point is, he doesn’t know where Homicide is. Cide hasn’t returned his calls either, can’t imagine why. If Smokes called *me* I’d call him back right away…More gibberish, I think he was talking about the Rottweilers but really didn’t care enough to listen…

CM Punk (7) vs Doug Williams (4)

What a first-time meeting this is. Punk progressed to the semi-finals by beating second seed John Walters, and fans are absolutely HATING him tonight. Williams absolutely dominated Chris Sabin earlier and progressed with some ease. Punk spots a kid in a Curryman mask at ringside and naturally finds that pretty funny.

Williams gets caught in a bear hug right at the start, but he quickly counters into a surfboard. Williams to the floor BUT HE MEETS THE TOPE ATTEMPT WITH A EUROPEAN UPPERCUT! Slingshot schoolboy pin for 2. Punk with an arm wrench, but naturally Doug just wrestles out of that with ease. Knucklelock, and Punk hits a nice hurricanrana out of it. Williams goes for Chaos Theory but Punk blocks. Williams just wiggles out of a Punk headlock, leaving him irate. Punk tries to out-British style Doug Williams and gets caught in an STF. Punk goes outside, then slides in to stomp him when Williams tries to follow. He brings more low tactics by choking Doug over the ropes, then hitting a very low headbutt. Neckbreaker gets 2. Williams goes for the high knee but takes a German suplex instead, as Punk continues to press home his advantage. Bootscrapes in the corner, then the running facewash. He tries to do it a second time – CHAOS THEORY SCORES! Williams was too tired to cover right away, but eventually goes to the top rope – BOMB SCARE KNEE DROP MISSES! That hurt the knee, and Punk immediately dropkicks it. Leglock applied and Punk is just making Williams squirm.

Dragon screw gets Punk 2. He hangs Williams in a tree of woe…YAKUZA KICK TO THE KNEE. Punk runs in but Williams manages to lift himself up – CHAOS THEORY AGAIN! But his knee gives out on the bridge, meaning his shoulders are on the mat. Punk gets the shoulder up before the three, meaning he’s the winner, and he advances to the final at 10:41.

Rating – *** – More clever booking as Punk shows prowess at picking apart a knee injury, which is significant given that he might face AJ Styles in the final, who already has an injured knee before he even faces Matt Stryker. Good little match, but disappointingly short. The finish made sense given what had gone before, and Punk is working the crowd as well as anyone you’ll ever see tonight.

Steve Corino has sent in a tape for the 2nd Anniversary. Lots of sarcasm from him, as he really hasn’t had the best of times in ROH. He ribs on the Pure Title (‘why not have a Sports-Entertainment title?’) and Samoa Joe (‘maybe fathead Joe might pull up his trunks a little higher – right up to his nipples’). He only watches ROH to watch ‘his hero’ CM Punk. Random…

Matt Stryker (3) vs AJ Styles (1)

Big clash here, as it’s the FOH winner Matt Stryker against the favourite to win this tournament, AJ Styles. AJ came through Jimmy Rave in the first round, but not without injuring his knee. Stryker, meanwhile, beat Josh Daniels with the Strykerlock, a move which affects the knee…see the connection? AJ has to avoid the Strykerlock in this one…

Stryker gets an early armdrag in, so AJ responds with a snapmare then he rakes the brow. AJ fires off a quick kick to the leg and that backs Stryker off. Big enzi rocks him again, followed by the perfect dropkick. Snap suplex scores AJ a 2. Big forearms, before AJ hits an over-the-back backbreaker. Moonsault dropkick in the corner and it looks like AJ’s knee isn’t bothering him too much. Knee drop for 2 continues to make that point. This is bizarre…he’s selling the knee as he walks around, then hitting offence regardless.

Chinlock from AJ, complete with headbutts to stop Stryker trying to break it. Jumping heel kick from Stryker for 2. Stryker works a surfboard, but Styles manages to break with a kick. Mutalock on Stryker, as again AJ uses highly knee-reliant offence seemingly easily. Stryker finally attacks the knee with an aggressive series of kicks, then goees to the floor to SLAM the knee over the ring apron. FIGURE 4 AROUND THE RINGPOST. Styles manages to prevent him putting it on properly, and he kicks Stryker to the guardrail. AJ to the floor and he spears Stryker into the guardrail. Shinbreaker from Stryker, then a dragon screw as he continues to give AJ’s knee a working over.

AJ gets some chops, which will have extra impact given that Stryker has already been chopped repeatedly by Josh Daniels. Stryker starts twisting AJ’s knee, but Styles manages to free himself. He runs at Stryker in the corner AND GETS BACK DROPPED TO THE FLOOR! More oddly heel tactics from Stryker as he starts drilling AJ’s head into various objects around ringside. AJ fires back by dropping Stryker over the guardrail. In the ring AJ goes for the suplex neckbreaker, but Stryker lands in his feet then charges through him with a chopblock. Reverse heel kick from Styles, then a brainbuster, but that only means that both men are down.

Lariats from AJ knock Stryker down, and he almost gets rolled up for a count of three. Thumb to the eye from Stryker, but he gets a German suplex, into the sitout gourdbuster for 2. Neckbreaker over the knee from Stryker, then a big boot to knock him down. STRYKERLOCK!! He somehow makes the ropes, but that could’ve been all the damage AJ’s knee can take. He goes for a quebrada, but Stryker steps aside and he lands on his face. How could he get the spring for a quebrada if his knee is injured? Stryker lifts AJ to the top rope and goes for his running belly to belly. AJ shoves him off THEN HITS A SPRINGBOARD 450! AJ wins it at 20:37.

Rating – *** – Match of the night so far, and had AJ’s selling been better, it could’ve been a first 4* match for Matt Stryker in his ROH career. For once he did everything right, he went for the knee, stuck with it and worked a nice story up to the Strykerlock. Problem was, AJ was really all over the place. He would be selling the knee like death just walking around the ring, the somehow manage to hit completely knee reliant moves like that German/facebuster combo, or a quebrada…and he even went as far as totally not selling it for the finish. I’m all for the belief in an adrenaline rush, but not quite to that extent. I suppose in his defence, he still has Punk in the final, and had he sold everything like it was the end of his career in this, then it’s taking heat away from the final, where all the drama needs to be. Still, good match though, one of my three favourite Stryker matches in ROH. A nice little side-story to this as he used strangely heel tactics to attack the knee. Is a heel turn in the air?

Punk is backstage, and he dedicates the Walters match to Cabana, then the Williams match to Steel. Lucy has “retired” by the way…and he’s well aware of AJ’s knee injury, and he’ll be going for it on his quest to win the Pure Title.

INTERMISSION – GMC has Loc with him…it was DeVito’s daughter with Angeldust, and Loc is absolutely furious. In Scramble Cage II, Loc swears death on Special K.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Backseat Boyz – ROH Tag Title Match

Completely forgot about this one in my match-listings. Anyway, Acid and Kashmere have been red hot since they lost the titles to Special K. They won Scramble Cage at Main Event Spectacles, went undefeated through the first double shot weekend, then in their first ROH match of 2004, they won a triple threat No DQ Match also featuring the Carnage Crew and Special K. Jay and Mark held the belts all the way through Samoa Joe’s assault on them, and Jay is now all set for a Steel Cage Match with Joe at the next show. This is the final everyone wanted to the Tag Title Gauntlet way back at Glory By Honor II, now we get to see it here.

Backseatz are way over in Boston so it seems. Jay and Kashmere start and Jay rolls up Kashmere but Acid blind tags in. Mark blind tags in with a springboard dropkick, and you get an idea how important this match is as Lovey and Murrow take the opportunity to thank people, companies and wrestlers they’ve worked with in 2003. Couldn’t the show end with some kind of credits sequence or something? Acid hits a missile dropkick as Jay takes a spear from Kashmere. Dream Sequence on Mark and Jay has to make the save at the last minute.

Springboard swinging DDT from Acid. He sends Jay to the floor and prepares for a dive…but Mark intercepts and drags him off the second rope. The Briscoes back as Mark hits a springboard double stomp into a backbreaker. NWA-TNA is not on the list of companies that get thanks from the announcers. Jay looks for a Jay Driller…but that gets intercepted. Jay saves Mark from a T-Gimmick and we get simultaneous powerbombs. Yakuza kick on Acid, so Acid fires back with a couple of his own. Mark to the top rope…AND HE HITS A DIVING SWINGING DDT THROUGH A TABLE ON THE FLOOR! Acid is dead…SPIKE JAY DRILLER ON KASHMERE!! DANGEROOOUUUUUS! The Briscoes retain at 07:58.

Rating – ** – Meh…could’ve been a classic on another show, but was complete filler here tonight. They should’ve saved this for another day. As it was, it was a fun abandonment of the tag rules as they went spot for spot. That loony swinging DDT from Mark, then the Spike Jay Driller made for a fun conclusion as well so, it’s hard to complain too much.

Time for another promo…AND IT’S SPANKY!! YAAAAY! It seems like he’s “coming home” to ROH.

Gary Capetta is outside AJ Styles’ locker room. He tries to go in, but Jimmy Rave comes out and tells GMC that AJ will be fine for the final.

Samoa Joe vs Low Ki vs BJ Whitmer vs Dan Maff – ROH World Title Match

The addition of Low Ki to this match makes it INSANELY interesting, as there are suddenly a hundred thousand extra issues. It means we get to see Low Ki and Samoa Joe go at it again. They had an unforgettable match at Glory By Honor back in October 2002, and getting to see them go at it again is awesome. Ki’s mortal enemies in ROH are The Prophecy, so that means BJ and Maff are in danger. Lets not forget that Ki and Maff had a match at Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies when Ki knocked Dan Maff clean out cold with a springboard enziguri. Joe has already beaten Maff and Whitmer with the ROH Title on the line in singles matches, now he faces both of them at once. This is after they attacked him backstage at The Last Stand. All the while, Maff and Whitmer can barely stand the sight of each other, and it was Whitmer who superkicked Maff on top of Stryker at The Last Stand before a double pin meant they were co-winners of the #1 Contenders Trophy. ROH Title is on the line, although to win it you must pin Joe. If Low Ki, Dan Maff or BJ Whitmer pin each other to win the match, the belt doesn’t change hands, but the winner of the match becomes #1 Contender outright.

‘Welcome back’ chants for Ki, but there is some audible booing as well. Joe and Ki start and they almost kick each other before Maff blind tags Low Ki out. Joe and Maff are even…YAKUZA KICK DUEL! Judo throw by Joe, then some STIFF CHOPS TO THE BACK! That’s enough to convince Maff to tag out, and now it’s Whitmer-Ki. Ki traps BJ in a hanging armbar in the ropes which is pretty swish. He goes for another armbar in the middle of the ring, but BJ makes the ropes. Whitmer tries to work Ki’s arm but takes a kick to the face. They go strike for strike, except Ki absolute savages BJ with chops. Snap suplex, rolled into a northern lights suplex from BJ for 2. Muta elbow from Ki, then a bridging double underhook suplex for 2. Joe tags in and he almost caves BJ’s skull in with hard knees.

Back suplex on Whitmer who has been a whipping boy thus far. Boston crab applied and Maff has to make the save. Low Ki back in and he dropkicks Whitmer in the chest. Bite Of The Dragon on Whitmer, and Maff makes the save. Joe tosses Maff to the floor FOR THE ELBOW SUICIDA! Whitmer has Ki up FOR A SUPLEX TO THE FLOOR! Whitmer and Ki placed in chairs…Ki blocks the Ole Ole Kick AND MONGOLIAN CHOPS THE HELL OUT OF JOE! Joe’s hand is busted wide open as Ki goes for an Ole Ole Kick. Ki into a chair….OLE OLE KICK ON LOW KI. Joe tosses BJ to the floor then whips Maff into a cannonball on top of him.

Joe has to get the ref to tape the hand up because blood is just POURING from it. Flatliner by Whitmer on Joe – EXPLODER ’98! Maff is tagged in for a senton. Maff zooms in on Joe’s hand, stomping on it then biting it for a ‘You Sick F*ck’ chant. Enzi kick from Joe but Whitmer drops an elbow to the back of the head to stop Joe making the tag. The Prophecy duo with a double suplex on the ROH Champion. Maff starts biting the hand again, and he then drops a headbutt to the groin. BJ almost forearms Maff in the face but manages to stop. HEAD DROP GERMAN SUPLEX BY BJ! Low Ki has to make the save now. STO SLAM BY JOE! Low Ki tags in now…ENZI KICK TO JOE! KI AND MAFF GO AT IT! CAPO KICK…SPRINGBOARD ENZIGURIIIIIIII! Hanging crucifix on BJ then a Tiger suplex. Ki blocks the Wrist Clutch Exploder attempt blocked…EXPLODER ’98 FOR 2. Maff is back and Ki has to escape the Burning Hammer. Spear from Maff…HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Joe makes the save there. Maff misses the cannonball on Ki…Maff avoids the Tidal Krush…AND JOE BITCHSLAP TAGS IN ON KI! HE WALKS STRAIGHT INTO A HEAD DROP BACK SUPLEX FROM MAFF! Joe kicks out…AND DROPS MAFF ON HIS NECK WITH A POWERBOMB! STF applied…AND KI BREAKS IT WITH A KICK TO THE FACE!

The Prophecy guys are down…KI AND JOE SLAP THE SH*T OUT OF EACH OTHER. KRUSH COMBO ON JOE! KAWADA KICKS…JOE FIRES BACK WITH E HONDA SLAPS…AND HEADBUTTS…CAPO KICK FROM LOW KI…ENZI FROM JOE! THIS IS INSANE! I cannot express how hard I’m marking out right now. Maff and Whitmer come back. Ki and Joe block Wrist Clutch and Burning Hammer attempts respectively. DRAGON CLUTCH ON MAFF…CHOKE ON WHITMER! Ki and Joe stare each other down through this…AND IT’S ON AGAIN! Ki with a hard kick to the spine that gets no sold. Joe responds…but no dice on his either. They de-tape just like Glory By Honor…AND MAFF SPEARS LOW KI OUT OF THE RING. SAMBO SUPLEX ON WHITMER…CHOOOOKE! WHITMER TAPS AT 24:01.

Rating – ****1/2 –
That is one of my favourite matches in ROH history, I sh*t you not. Low Ki was back to his very best, as we revisited all the cool stuff from the Joe match, got another springboard enzi on Maff…honestly he was on top form tonight. Joe, despite bleeding all over the place from the hand kicks ass as well. I felt sorry for Whitmer, and to a lesser extent Maff, because the whole feud going into this was about them double teaming to get the belt, but aside from a 5-minute period of isolation on Joe, they were pretty much whipping boys for Joe and Ki’s awesomeness. I am not complaining though…fantastic match, one of Joe’s best title defences.

Jerry Lynn is coming after the Pure Wrestling Title…then he yells ‘YOU KNOW IT’…that’s Chris Daniels’ deal!

CM Punk (7) vs AJ Styles (1) – ROH Pure Wrestling Title Tournament Final

This will be fought under Pure Wrestling rules, which means a 20 count on the floor, three rope breaks, and punching is illegal. These two met in a great match at Tradition Continues, and now we get to see a rematch, with the winner getting the honour of becoming the first ever Pure Wrestling Champion. We all know that AJ is carrying a bad knee into the match, whilst Punk demonstrated against Doug Williams that if a weakness is exposed, he’ll go after it like a shark. Can AJ suck it up and beat CM Punk just like he did way back in Baltimore? Punk has Tracy Brooks in his corner for the first time tonight. People singing along with his entrance theme is fantastic. I don’t think an entrance theme has been this over since RVD using Pantera’s ‘Walk’ back in ECW.

AJ is hobbling before the start of the match, and Punk literally dives to the floor trying to attack it. AJ grabs an arm of Punk, and Punk uses the ropes to somersault into a reversal…and that costs him a rope break. AJ goes for the Styles Clash as Punk argues with the ref, and Punk attacks the leg and forces AJ to roll to the ropes. That’s a rope break down for both guys inside two minutes of the match. They tie up…and after falling to the floor they continue to jostle for dominance on the floor, and both almost get counted out in the process. They run the ropes, until AJ goes after Tracy Brooks. SPRINGBOARD CROSSBODY FROM PUNK! AJ catches Punk with a dropkick on the floor, and that hurts the knee. AJ does his rail-jump thing BUT PUNK DIVES OVER THE RAILS RIGHT ON TOP OF HIM! AJ goes for the nip up hurricanrana attempt, but Punk catches him and turns it into a Boston crab. AJ uses the ropes to break that, and he’s only got one rope break left now. Hanging choke in the ropes from AJ, odd his legs are fine to do that. Anyway, for some bizarre reason that cost Punk a rope break…but that doesn’t stop him sweeping Styles’ legs from under him as AJ again goes for the springboard no-sell. Brainbuster from Punk for 2. Styles tries to come back with the suplex neckbreaker, but Punk blocks then gets more offence in with an STO. Half crab locked in…and AJ uses his last rope break to escape that hold.

Punk grapevines the legs, but AJ tries to free himself with a neck vice. Punk falls forward and grabs the ropes, and that’s his third rope break gone. Punk lifts AJ to the top rope…AJ COUNTERS WITH A SUPER GOURDBUSTER! They just forearm each other on the canvas…DISCUS LARIAT FROM STYLES! Punk goes to the floor and he could be counted out. He comes back in and blocks an attempted swinging DDT from AJ – then hits a Shining Wizard for 2. AJ goes for the quebrada, but Punk blocks the DDT and takes AJ down with a piledriver. Version of the cloverleaf applied, and AJ climbs up the ropes and kicks himself free. He’s quickly dropped with a dropkick to the knee. Punk goes for another Shining Wizard…BUT GETS CAUGHT AND DROPPED WITH THE STYLES CLASH…FOR 2!! Discus lariat blocked…DEVIL LOCK DDT FROM PUNK! He takes Styles to the top for a Pepsi Plunge but AJ resists with forearms. OVERHEAD KICK FROM STYLES! He climbs to the second rope…STYLES CLASH OUT OF THE CORNER! AJ wins the match at 16:31, even though Punk had his foot on the ropes (he was out of rope breaks).

Rating – **** –
Even with AJ’s frankly shocking hit and miss selling, I really love this match. The oddball officiating means Punk has extra ammunition for future promos, and the last few minutes were all action, which is enjoyable, whether you criticise Styles’ lack of knee-selling or not. Despite the selling issues, it’s such an exciting climax to the tournament, as AJ defies three matches of pure punishment to his knee to become first Pure Wrestling Champion.

Lots of guys come from the back to applaud AJ, whilst Punk looks on pissed off, and rightly so. Samoa Joe is there (with a huge towel around his hand). He takes the mic and congratulates him, but says the belt is worthless compared to the World Title. One fan tells AJ to f*ck him up and gets SILENCED by an ice stare from Joe. The only reason he has that belt is because he couldn’t beat Joe for his. The scene closes with a bunch of guys in the ring, AJ thanking Boston…and it’s generally a wonderful moment to close out the last show before the company hit VERY turbulent waters.

Cabana is live from Chicago…or taped in Elizabeth, New Jersey on 13/03/04 if you’d prefer. He’s not in Boston because his shoulder was injured by The Prophecy at The Last Stand. His guest, once again, is Ace Steel. It’s the 26th anniversary of Ace Steel doing impressions, and he does Dusty Rhodes. Dusty Rhodes himself shows up…he says it doesn’t matter what’s going on with the company higher-ups, and that ROH belongs ‘to the boys’. He’s joining up with the Carnage Crew on the next show to kick Special K’s ass.

GMC is with Julius Smokes and he says he didn’t understand what J-Train was saying in the ring earlier…you and me both buddy. Smokes doesn’t know when Homicide will be back, and doesn’t know where he is. Cloudy turns up and tries to score weed from Smokes, who grabs him whilst Capetta goes to find the Carnage Crew. Justin Credible, Loc and DeVito turn up and interrogate him…apparently Angeldust still has DeVito’s daughter. The camera crew, GMC and Smokes leave as DeVito prepares to use a blowtorch on him.

What follows is extensive highlights from the last year, before we end the show.

Tape Rating – *** –
It’s a good show, but I think it’s a tad overrated by some people. All the Pure Wrestling stuff is of a good standard, and it’s a great tournament, but it’s all a little too samey. The good thing about Road To The Title way back was that there was so many varying styles of good match, what with Williams/Dragon, Red/Ki and Daniels/Styles all providing different, but great matches. However, I don’t want to sound too negative because this is honestly a wonderful show. The Styles/Punk final is good, and you get to see one of Matt Stryker’s best ROH matches ever. AJ proves how good he is by putting on good matches, even on a bad night. Meanwhile, the ROH Title match is one of the best ever, and IMO an underrated candidate for MOTY…it’s THAT good.

Top 3 Matches

3) AJ Styles vs Matt Stryker (***)

2) AJ Styles vs CM Punk (****)

1) Samoa Joe vs BJ Whitmer vs Dan Maff vs Low Ki (****1/2)

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