049 ROH Midnight Express Reunion 10/2/2004

ROH 49 – Midnight Express Reunion – 2nd October 2004

Not that I’m saying the line up for this show isn’t as stacked as others ROH has put on in recent memory, but realistically, everyone’s here for one of two reasons. You’re either watching this show for the reunion of the Midnight Express – all three members plus Jim Cornette…or you’re here for one of the most anticipated ROH World Title Matches ever – Samoa Joe finally defends the belt tonight against American Dragon. Also on the bill is a big Generation Next 8-Man Elimination Tag, plus the Rottweilers are at full strength, as the Havana Pitbulls, Homicide and Low Ki are all in action. We’re back at the National Guard Armory in Philadelphia. Hosts are Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty.

The opening shots are off the Midnight Express and James E. signing autographs.

Havana Pitbulls vs Special K – ROH Tag Title Match

So the Pitbulls came out of Ultimate Endurance 2 with the Tag Title belts still around their waists, despite a gallant effort from Dan Maff and BJ Whitmer. Their reward is a rematch with Special K, who really made them work for a successful defence at Scramble Cage Melee. Difference this time is the Special K combination. Last time it was Izzy and Dixie, but Lacey (Izzy’s girlfriend) blamed Dixie for the defeat. Now Izzy teams with Angeldust as the K again look to end their vast losing streak.

Reyes and Angeldust start, and Angeldust more than holds his own in the initial wrestling exchanges. Izzy/Romero now and Romero breaks out the stiffness and tries to take control. Izzy flips out of a German attempt and hits the moonsault kick on him. Angeldust sends Reyes to the floor and Special K have the upper hand. Romero tries to get Angeldust to kick him, but Dust fakes him out with a slap. Cobra clutch backbreaker from Angeldust. Reyes comes in and dumps him on his head with a back suplex. He hits the double boot to the face then tags Romero back as the Rottweilers have Dust isolated. On the floor Smokes holds him open for Reyes to kick him in the stomach. He comes back into the ring with a slingshot hilo for 2. Angeldust comes back with a double stomp to the back of the head and we get tags all round. Izzy kicks Romero square in the face for 2. Reyes has to make the save as Izzy covers following the flipping inverted DDT. Romero unleashes a flurry of hard kicks into a Rings of Saturn. Angeldust saves, then joins Izzy to hit the hiptoss facebuster. Reyes comes in – AND ANGELDUST GIVES HIM THE SOUTH OF HEAVEN! Reyes is up again though and comes back with rolling Germans. Izzy breaks the bridging pin attempt with an Asai moonsault. Smokes trips Izzy, and the Pitbulls give Angeldust the Guillotine Knee to retain at 11:29.

Rating – * – Unlike the first match, which I really liked, this one was nowhere near as enjoyable. Izzy has since become more of a heel, and that meant his status as a plucky underdog was diminished for this one, and it hurt the match dynamic a lot. Angeldust looked good in there, but by and large it was just spot-spot-spot with no real plot at all.

Special K have another argument in the ring after the match, with Lacey yelling at Angeldust for losing. Dixie and Becky defend him whilst Deranged, Cheech and Cloudy are still on Lacey’s side. They have to hold Becky and Lacey apart.

BJ Whitmer vs Trent Acid vs Jimmy Rave vs Josh Daniels

Wow, this screams of thrown together. Whitmer has so much momentum coming off Glory By Honor 3 so they waste him in this. He really has been thrown by the wayside in 2004. Acid is the king of the multi-man, and won a Six Man Mayhem on the last show to remind us of that. Jimmy Rave has put a couple of wins together over Special K members, so this one will be more of a challenge. He may also clash with Josh Daniels, who’s booked for the first time since Round Robin Challenge 3/Generation Next when he had his five minutes with The Embassy.

Rave and Daniels start so we’ll get The Embassy thing sorted right away. Daniels ducks a quick Crappy Wizard attempt early, as Rave starts aggressively. Daniels comes back with chops and generally over-powers Rave until he tags out to Acid. Whitmer in as well, but as Trent goes for the Asai moonsault Rave hangs him over the top rope. Allison Danger is at ringside routing on BJ’s opponents. Cue more sexism from Mark Nulty…he’s funny. Rave comes in again but almost gets pinned with a Blue Thunder Driver. Daniels/Rave again, with Daniels scoring with a big clothesline. Daniels gets 2 with a northern lights suplex. Swinging snap suplex from Rave. Acid gives Rave a roaring forearm then hits a springboard swinging DDT on Whitmer. Daniels goes through the ropes at hits a tope on BJ on the floor. ASAI MOONSAULT FROM ACID! Jimmy Rave prepares for a dive of his own but Daniels shoulder tackles him out of nowhere. Whitmer comes in…and gets a flying headscissors from Rave, then the Crappy Wizard. Acid drops Rave with the Yakuza kick, but then takes a lariat from Daniels. Daniels and Whitmer trade chops, before Daniels drops him with a German suplex. Acid throws Daniels out then takes an inverted DDT from Rave. Whitmer powerbombs Rave for 2. Nana gets on the mic to yell at Jimmy as Whitmer gives Daniels the WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER! Acid wipes Whitmer out with the Yakuza kick…RAVE CLASH ON ACID! Jimmy wins it at 09:51.

Rating – * – I don’t know what to say, it was too spotty to be a good wrestling match, and wasn’t a particularly good spotfest either. There was some good stuff in there – Josh Daniels looked particularly impressive. Whitmer was completely wasted and I’m glad he didn’t have to become the fall guy for Rave’s push. Realistically, this was nothing but filler anyway, it was mildly entertaining and the fun of the Rave/Nana push continues so.

Allison Danger offers The Embassy money to kill Whitmer, but Nana is a foreign prince, he doesn’t need it. Allison is left on her own with BJ…but the Carnage Crew come out and save. Maff isn’t here tonight with an injured shoulder, so Whitmer is in trouble. He takes the Carnageplex before DeVito pulls out a garbage can and baseball bats. They repeat Reborn Completion, by putting BJ in the can THEN BATTERING HIM SH*TLESS WITH THE BATS!

Jay Lethal vs Low Ki

Ki is back from “suspension” tonight, following the riot at Testing The Limit. His opponent is Jay Lethal, and Ki specifically requested this match…since Lethal is Samoa Joe’s protégé. Ki wants a title shot and a match with Joe, so what better way to send a message than battering Jay? This is a big chance for Lethal…sadly, it’s heel Ki, so he’ll probably just get the crap stiffed out of him.

Ki immediately rides Lethal to the mat and gives him the disrespectful slap treatment. Lethal takes his first hard kick to the face. Lethal comes back with some hard chops which Ki crazy-sells (to my surprise). Lethal hits a jumping heel kick on Ki and sends him to the floor…FOR A TOPE! Ki blocks a German suplex attempt, so Jay switches to a back suplex instead. Lethal gets distracted by Smokes and Ki gives him a dropkick to the face. Julius Smokes is arguing with what appears to be Lethal’s family at ringside as Ki chops him so hard he has to roll to the floor. Lethal tries to fight back again but Ki drops him neck-first over the top rope which gets 2. Ki puts Lethal into a headscissors, facing him right in the direction of his family to be more insulting. Lethal gets 2 out of nowhere with a sunset flip, but Ki finally re-takes control with a neck ringer. He applies a chinlock, again facing Lethal’s family. Ki goes to the top next for an enormous DOUBLE STOMP!

Ki takes the fight to the floor where Smokes holds him prone for some harsh chops, again right in front of the Lethal family. KI SPITS ON LETHAL’S MOTHER! But he gets distracted by the family and Jay somehow manages to score with a right hand. SLAP FROM MRS LETHAL! Back in the ring Lethal avoids the springboard enzi and almost puts Ki away with a gutwrench suplex. Gutbuster from Lethal, followed by a neckbreaker for 2. Ki blocks the Dragon Suplex, before Lethal knocks Smokes off the apron. He turns right into a CAPO KICK though. Ki puts Lethal’s mouth over the bottom rope THEN STOMPS HIM AMERICAN HISTORY X STYLE…YOU SICK F*CK! DRAGON CLUTCH!! Lethal finally taps at 14:25.

Rating – *** –
It wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but it was undeniably entertaining, and a real breakout performance from Lethal. Getting squashed so often really is allowing him to perfect his underdog routine and he did it well again here. The stuff with his mother was priceless stuff, and in a sports-entertainment kinda way really helped the match along. Low Ki’s heel character frustrates, in that you don’t get the great wrestling we saw from him in 2002, however, as we saw at Testing The Limit, and as we saw tonight, he is starting to perfect his evil persona, and it makes for entertaining matches when done right.

Low Ki hangs onto the Dragon Clutch, then kicks Lethal in the head to send a message to Samoa Joe.

‘Like everyone else, you are just another victim’ – Ki to Lethal

‘Lets go Tazz’ – Philly to Ki.

Nigel McGuiness vs Homicide

McGuiness is full-time on the roster now, and kicked his full-time career off very nicely in his match with John Walters at Glory By Honor 3. Now he has a big chance to perform against one of THE guys in ROH. Homicide was injured for GBH3 but still showed up to antagonise Steve Corino and CM Punk. Since he’s not allowed another ROH Title shot till 2005, he doesn’t have a lot to gain from this, but a loss would be humiliating so.

They go to the mat to start, which as Nulty points out, is probably to McGuiness’ benefit. Nigel demonstrates his excellence in this area by applying a cravat. He traps cranks Homicide’s arm between his legs, but Homicide comes back with an STF. He goes for a Rings of Saturn but McGuiness gets the ropes. Nigel elbow drops Homicide’s arm, then hauls him up into a shortarm clothesline for 2. Homicide tries to provoke Nigel into a fight, and he responds by picking apart Homicide’s leg. He applies an STF and forces Homicide to crawl to the ropes. Deathlock from McGuiness, and they go chop for chop as he applies the hold…until McGuiness folds Homicide up and works the arm as well! Rolling hammerlock from Homicide. McGuiness escapes and Homicide pulls him back down with a DDT into a front facelock. Hammerlock from Nigel before Homicide sends him to the floor. Homicide fakes the tope con hilo, then steps onto the apron and drops a double axehandle instead. Homicide goes for the lariat on the floor and NAILS the ringpost. McGuiness slams the arm into the guardrails…and Homicide is in trouble now.

Back in the ring Nigel hangs Homicide from the ropes using his arm. Homicide hits a chop but hurts himself more than McGuiness. Wristlock applied by McGuiness, and he uses that to backbreaker Homicide as he goes for the ropes. McGuiness just muscles Homicide into a German suplex…but Homicide low blows as he goes for a second. Smokes chokes McGuiness as Homicide distracts the ref. Running knee in the corner from Homicide. He chokes McGuiness over the middle rope, which of course gets him into an argument with the referee, which of course allows Smokes to get another cheap shot in. Homicide hits a belly to belly suplex for 2. Smokes distracts the ref allowing Homicide to hit another low blow then apply the STF. He goes to the top rope and scores with a diving headbutt for 2. He goes upstairs again but this time Nigel is up and he NAILS a belly to belly superplex. HAMMERLOCK back suplex from McGuiness for 2. Homicide flatliners McGuiness into the turnbuckles then scores with a piledriver for 2. Wristlock drop from Nigel gets a 2 right back. Homicide comes back again with a bridging T-bone suplex for 2. REVERSE SUPLEX ACE CRUSHER FROM McGUINESS…FOR TWO! He goes to the top rope but Smokes grabs his leg…SUPER ACE CRUSHER FROM HOMICIDE! LARIAT NAILED…but it’s weaker and he’s slow to cover due to the arm injury. McGuiness boots the arm…but has to block the Cop Killa…HAMMERLOCK DDT! SHORTARM SCISSORS INTO A ROLL-UP…THREE COUNT! McGuiness scores the upset at 20:00.

Rating – *** –
REALLY solid affair that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was pushing for an extra star, but all the outside interference, cheating…and Homicide still doing his lariat after having his arm worked for the whole match cost it that. McGuiness is really stepping up to the plate now he’s been given an opportunity, that’s twice he’s churned out really good matches, and this win will do a lot for him.

INTERMISSION – GMC is with Generation Next, who are gearing up for the elimination tag. Alex Shelley says they’re gonna win unsurprisingly. Shawn Price is with Ricky Steamboat’s team, which is Punk, Steel, Walters and Jacobs. CM Punk dares Generation Next to come take their spots.

Before the next match Ricky Steamboat gets on the mic and b*tches at Mick Foley for saying ‘ROH’ Ring Of Hardcore and calls him a stuntman garbage wrestler…oh it’s on like Donkey Kong!

Generation Next vs CM Punk/Ace Steel/John Walters/Jimmy Jacobs

For the second time, all four members of Generation Next unite and enter one big ass tag match. Unlike Generation Next (the event), however, this one will be fought under elimination rules. Everyone on the babyface team has issues with GeNext. Punk and Steel are still after revenge for GeNext injuring Colt Cabana at Scramble Cage Melee. Jimmy Jacobs has an issue with Alex Shelley dating back to 2003, whilst Walters has been feuding with the stable since their formation. Walters is Pure Champion remember, and he actually defended the title successfully against Alex Shelley on a convention card earlier in the evening. Ace Steel is sporting an awesome new haircut courtesy of Eugene and WWE Raw.

Walters and Strong start and Walters hits a couple of Steamboat-esque armdrags. Evans in and Walters give him a stalling vertical suplex then traps him in a cradle full nelson. Jacobs is tagged in and he uses Evans’ chest like a trampoline. Strong clubs him from behind but Jacobs quickly grabs him into a side headlock. Punk in (I think we’ve had some clipping somewhere as DeAngelis just said ’10 minutes expired’) and he chops it out with Rod until he gives him a slingshot suplex. ‘Looks like a mentally challenged person cut his hair’ – Bower on Ace’s new do. Falcon arrow from Steel gets 2. Everyone piles in and brawls, with the babyfaces eventually sending all the GeNext guys into a collision in the middle. Triple rowboat on Aries, Shelley and Evans as Jacobs gives Strong a hurricanrana. Double stomp/backbreaker/powerbomb/neckbreaker quadruple team on Jacobs – that ruled! Order is finally restored with Jacobs getting isolated. All four GeNext guys hit running offence in the corner before Strong covers for 2. Jacobs tries to scramble away and get a tag so Strong powerbombs him hard. More GeNext quadruple teaming as they pancake Jimmy high in the air then let him fall on his face. Atomic drop from Aries. Jacobs makes a tag but the ref doesn’t see it so poor Jimmy is still stuck in the ring. Rod Strong shows his strength with an amazing stalling brainbuster. Shelley puts Jacobs in a Boston crab and Evans gives him a standing shooting star press for extra punishment. Aries and Shelley go for a Doomsday Device but Jacobs manages to duck. DOUBLE PEDIGREE on Evans and Aries! Aries again stops a tag though, then dishes out a double underhook suplex for 2. YAKUZA KICK TO THE BACK from Strong, and that was horrifically brutal. The ref gets distracted with the pissed off babyfaces and Aries nails Jacobs with a chair. SHELLSHOCK NAILED! Shelley eliminates Jacobs at 13:32 (shown…we’re somewhere around the 19 minute mark I think).

Punk and Strong are in the ring next, and Punk gets caught in a surfboard. Punk fights free and immediately gets dropped again with a clothesline. Evans in and he tags him with a spinning heel kick for 2. Aries comes in an stops another tag with a back suplex. He drives a knee right into the back of Punk’s neck then applies a front facelock to block another tag. Wheelbarrow splash from Strong and Evans gets 2. Strong goes to the second rope to hit the elbow drop for another nearfall. Shelley in and Punk blocks a suplex attempt with a small package for 2. Strong comes in and Punk back suplexes him ONTO Shelley and manages to make a tag to Walters. Walters DDT’s Aries into a deathlock on Evans, but Shelley saves. CAPTURE STUNNER on Strong. He holds Evans in a lion tamer which allows Ace to baseball slide into his face. SPINAL SHOCK ON EVANS! Steel eliminates Evans at 20:18. Steel gets thrown off the top rope by Shelley, and Aries gives him the crucifix driver to eliminate him at 20:52. Aries gives Walters the Golden Gate Swing for 2. Shelley in and he hangs Walters in a tree of woe and dropkicks him in the chest. Aries tags in…and gets a HURRICANE DDT! Strong tries to use a chair again but Punk cuts him off. CHAIR SHOT TO STRONG…CHAIR GUILLOTINE ON ARIES! Shelley gets a drop toehold on the chair, and the referee disqualifies Punk at 24:45. Steamboat is irate because he hates hardcore…and it’s down to 3-on-Walters. Walters puts Aries into a full nelson, but Aries escapes with a low blow. Walters blocks a suplex attempt and almost eliminates Aries with a quick pin. Strong tags in and they trade shots before Walters takes a second low blow in a minute. DOUBLE LUNGBLOWER on Aries and Shelley. ROLLING LUNGBLOWERS ON STRONG! That’s enough to eliminate Strong at 28:29. Rings of Saturn from Aries, but Walters makes the ropes. Shelley blocks a double knee gutbuster – BORDER CITY STRETCH! Walters again refuses to tap and grabs the bottom rope. Strong comes out again with the ref distracted, but this time Steamboat stops him using a chair. STEAMBOAT WITH CHOPS ON ROD STRONG! They brawl to the back as Walters blocks a superplex attempt…TOP ROPE LUNGBLOWER ON ARIES! Walters gets a superkick from Shelley…SHELLSHOCK FOR 2! Aries goes to the top…450 SPLASH CONNECTS. That’s finally enough for Walters, as he is the last man eliminated at 34:12 shown (they clipped around 7 minutes off the start there).

Rating – *** –
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good match, and easily match of the night thus far. However, it’s not a patch on the original 8-man at Generation Next. The elimination rules really made things a lot more complicated, as the match seemed to have no flow or real momentum at all, just spots thrown together leading to eliminations. I also have a problem with the legal man at the finish…i.e. were both of them legal or something? Focusing on the positives, some of the GeNext multi-man spots were cool, and the performance of Walters was again credible, as he’s stepped up his game since winning the Pure Title. I’m willing to bet ROH had far higher hopes for this match than this…

Shelley and Aries are left in the ring as Walters trudges out to a round of ‘Walters sucks’. Poor guy, he’s over nowhere but Boston. Shelley says the only spot they have left to take is Samoa Joe’s and the ROH Title. There’s some tension as both men seem to want the belt…but eventually they shake hands and walk out. Interesting…although for my money, a little early to start sowing the seeds of a GeNext split.

Up next it’s time for the Midnight Express Reunion. We get 5 minutes of all four of them being humble, sentimental and putting each other over. Lane goes out of his way to put over the ROH roster and the Philly fans. Cornette pays tribute to Ray Traylor (Big Bossman) which shows true class. The prepare to head off but Prince Nana comes to the ring. He has emptied his bank accounts and got a loan from his great uncle back in Ghana to bring a new member to The Embassy. He’s the ‘real express’ – former Rock’n’Roll Express member Ricky Morton. Morton says there should’ve been a Rock’n’Roll Express reunion instead. Morton puts over fellow Embassy members Jimmy Rave and the Outcast Killaz. Cornette says Morton should retire and eventually we get a brawl. Ricky Morton runs away as Nana gets the ROCKET LAUNCHER! Corny gives Nana a racket shot to the nuts before the Midnights finally take their leave. AWESOME segment.

Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson – ROH World Title Match

This is undeniably one of the biggest ROH Title matches ever. This one has been building since Final Battle 2003, when Dragon said the only time he’d shake Joe’s hand was before and after his World Title match. A lot has happened since then. Dragon teamed with Joe to challenge the Briscoes for the Tag titles in January, and blamed Joe for their defeat (Joe was preoccupied on the outside as Dragon was pinned). At the Reborn weekend Danielson again echoed his desires for the title, even taking over Samoa Joe’s Ring in Chicago when Joe didn’t turn up. He finally earned himself a title shot by winning the Survival Of The Fittest tournament, and now he gets his chance. This is actually the third time these guys have clashed in ROH, and right now the score is 1-1. Joe took a win in January 2003 at Revenge On The Prophecy, but Dragon got a win back at the First Anniversary Show. They were hard-hitting affairs but both have improved since then. They had a great match in PWG earlier this year, and now look to better it again now.

Dragon has the power of the cloak again for this one. Danielson grounds Joe with a wristlock then switches to a headscissors. Enziguri from Danielson for the first big strike of the match. Joe snatches him into a cross armbreaker and Dragon grabs the ropes and bails to the floor to get some distance. Camel clutch from Dragon but Joe just sits up out of that and drops him to the mat. Abdominal stretch from Joe, but Danielson is easily the superior mat wrestler and he comes out of that into a bridging toehold. Joe eventually gets free of that and is all aggressive in the corner…until Dragon goes right back to the leg. He works another toehold but Joe manages to chop his way free. Headbutts from Joe take Dragon down for 2. Dragon fights out of a double underhook with a big dropkick to the face. Camel clutch again, complete with ferocious face raking. Slaps and kicks from Joe, and they have Danielson running all over the ring to avoid them. Sound strategy there – wear the big man out. Joe finally lays Danielson out with a huge forearm, then back suplexes him TO THE FLOOR! Joe follows him out so you know what he wants to do. But Dragon blocks the Ole Ole Kick and SLAMS Joe’s leg into the guardrail. He goes into the ring…FOR A SOMERSAULT PLANCHAAAAAAAA! He’s hanging it all out there for this one folks! He puts Joe into a chair now…OLE OLE DROPKICK SCORES! He takes Joe round the ring with more chops and strikes for a second Ole Ole Dropkick. Back in the ring Dragon tries to take it back to the mat but Joe unloads some more chops…then gets thumbed in the eye! It’s Dragon’s turn Joe into an abdominal stretch, as he is just picking the champ’s body apart in the first 20 minutes. Problem is, Joe’s a strong motherf*cker, and he stands up with Danielson on his shoulders and dumps him. Dragon tries to trade slaps with Joe which is retarded…and he almost gets his head knee’d off. He comes back with a boot to the face and his fiery European uppercuts. Joe heaves Dragon up again and drills him with a knee-lift gutbuster…and just like that Joe is in the ascendancy.

Joe kicks hard at the ribs, and Dragon is left coughing up hell on the apron. He tries to distance but Joe just marches after him with more kicks. Joe cranks on an extreeeeeme crank half crab but Danielson makes the ropes. Dragon comes back with double axehandles and more European uppercuts. Rolling legsweep from Joe for 2. Headscissors from Danielson, but he’s feeling the ribs right now. JUDO DDT…THEN THE DIVING HEADBUTT…2 COUNT! Danielson goes for a suplex but Joe blocks and drops him with a fisherman suplex. JUMPING ENZI sends Dragon to the floor…JOE WITH AN ELBOW SUICIDA! Just a quick comment here – Mark Nulty is doing a great job on commentary, he gets better with every show. OLE OLE KICK SCORES! All the way around the ring…OLE OLE KICK SCORES! ‘He’s f*cked up’ – Philly. Danielson comes back with a chopblock as Joe climbs back into the ring, and he goes right back to work on that leg. Danielson applies a MutaLock at the 30 minute mark. Joe goes for the STO Slam BUT DANIELSON COUNTERS WITH A HEADLOCK! DIVING UPPERCUT FROM DRAGON…for 2. Dragon springboards off the ropes – STO SLAM NAILED THIS TIME! Joe goes for the STF, but he has to switch to a crossface because his knee can’t support the toehold. Danielson ducks a lariat and dropkicks the knee. Spinning toehold from Danielson…BRIDGING DEATHLOCK! Joe crawls the ropes but he can barely walk now. He hits a desperation powerslam for 2. Danielson blocks a cross armbreaker…HEAD AND LEG BACK SUPLEX…CATTLE MUTILATION!! It doesn’t work because he’s been working the leg all match. He shunts Joe to the top rope but Joe slips free of the back suplex attempt…CHOKE! Dragon grabs the ropes so Joe German suplexes him hard. LARIAAAT…Dragon kicks out at 2! Joe heaves Dragon up for the Musclebuster but Dragon escapes. Roaring elbow nailed, and he takes Joe down with a dropkick to the knee. DRAGON SUPLEX…TWO COUNT! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! Joe makes the ropes and Danielson is getting frustrated. KNEE STRIKES FROM JOE…KNEE STRIKES FROM DANIELSON…KNEE STRIKES FROM JOE…CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKE!! DRAGON TAPS, DRAGON TAPS…DRAGON TAPS! 39:14 is your match time there.

Rating – ****1/2 –
I really don’t believe it, but these two have gone and done it again. Another epic MOTYC from ROH…that was fantastic. Probably my third favourite ROH Title match ever to this point, it’s that good. I loved the way Danielson picked apart Joe’s legs like nobody else has during his title run, but Joe came back, working the ribs to prove he can hang in a wrestling match with somebody like Danielson…and in the end, his superior striking power was enough to get him the win. Danielson was on top of his game for this…and I really couldn’t believe he broke out a somersault plancha, he put EVERYTHING into it. I felt so bad knocking half a star off, but it wasn’t quite Aries/Danielson or Joe/Punk. I didn’t like the way that Dragon went to Cattle Mutilation as the match climaxed, rather than trying a leg submission. I also didn’t like the way he still hit his diving headbutt (and still wanted to do a back superplex) even though he’d has his ribs worked over. I also would’ve liked it if, rather than tap, Dragon had been choked out at the end. By tapping it just makes him look a little weaker than going on until he’s unconscious. Still, it was one for the ages, and Joe chalks up another successful defence.

We get a handshake after the match…then CM Punk’s music hits. He’s come to demand a title rematch since Joe couldn’t beat him back in June. Dragon says he deserves a rematch since he went harder and more aggressively with Joe in losing than Punk did in his draw. Generation Next charge out to attack Punk, whilst Joe and Danielson watch. Shelley and Aries both indicate they want the belt…then Aries gets in a shoving match with his old rival Bryan Danielson. Joe and Dragon have had enough and they go after Generation Next….THEN Homicide’s music plays. The lights are out, and when they come on Julius Smokes is in the aisle with Joe’s other title belt…AND THE ROTTWEILERS ARE IN THE RING! Ki, Reyes, Romero, and Homicide join the party, as all the major players in ROH are out in a brawl. TWISTING PLANCHA FROM SHELLEY! TOPE FROM ARIES! TOPE CON HILO FROM HOMICIDE! SPRINGBOARD TWISTING 450 FROM JACK EVANS! KI AND JOE ARE BRAWLING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING. Dragon tries to pull them apart…and Joe elbows him in the face. ROARING ELBOW ON JOE! Danielson says it’ll be him and Low Ki against Joe and Jushin Liger at the Rexplex…BEST END TO A SHOW…EVER!

Tape Rating – *** –
It started slow, but once it got going, what an absolute stormer. Ki/Lethal, Homicide/Nigel and the GeNext 8-Man are all solid…then the title match is an MOTYC, what can you say. If that wasn’t enough, outside of the matches, you get two of the most unforgettable moments of the year, with the Midnight Express stuff, and the crazy brawl at the end. On paper it’s not the best, but you’ll enjoy it trust me.

Top 3 Matches

3) Generation Next vs CM Punk/Ace Steel/John Walters/Jimmy Jacobs (***)

2) Nigel McGuiness vs Homicide (***)

1) Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (****1/2)

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