ROH 54 – All Star Extravaganza 2 – 4th December 2004
2004 is racing to a close with this show, dubbed All Star Extravaganza 2 because of the sheer amount of talent we have on tonight’s card. Jim Cornette and Bobby Heenan are here tonight, as is Ricky Steamboat. Low Ki and Austin Aries wrestle for #1 contendership to the ROH title, it’s a Reborn Stage 2 rematch between Homicide and Bryan Danielson. Nana’s campaign against Jay Lethal begins by unleashing his first Weapon of MASK Destruction. The Tag and Pure titles will be defended…and the main event will finally get us a winner in the CM Punk/Samoa Joe series. After two 60 minute draws, they clash again tonight, this time with No Time Limit – there must be a winner. This show has been proclaimed by many as ROH’s best ever, and Joe/Punk has been heralded as ROH’s best match ever. Are they right? Let’s find out I guess. We’re in Elizabeth, NJ for the second consecutive show. Hosts are Jimmy Bower, CM Punk and Mark Nulty.
GOOD TIMES, GREAT MEMORIES – Colt Cabana is back! He’s angry because Generation Next took out his shoulder and is going to make Strong and Evans pay. His guests are Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel and Bobby Heenan. They look for people to make fun of…and Cabana calls in Jimmy Jacobs. ‘You’ve got your Hair Jordan’s on’ – Heenan on the fuzzy boots. Jacobs HUSS’s…Heenan HUSS’s. Heenan says he and Cornette are in a gunfight tonight. That made little sense, but it certainly was amusing.
Allison Danger is getting more insane. She’s signed Maff and Whitmer up for a Fight Without Honor at Final Battle 2004. She just has to get the Carnage Crew to sign.
Davey Andrews/Anthony Franco/Shane Hagadorn/Matt Turner vs Special K
Special K are Izzy, Dixie, Angeldust and Deranged. They have Lacey, Becky, Cheech and Cloudy in their corner. Special K are still in somewhat of a slump, despite Izzy getting a win at the last show. Angeldust, Dixie and Becky are trying to get clean and serious, whilst Lacey and her boys are as crazy and drugged up as ever. This is easily the biggest match the students have had in ROH. Thus far they’ve been squashed and not got in a lot of offence. I think this is Turner’s first time out. Franco and Hagadorn have both partnered Andrews before.
Dixie and Angeldust shake hands, Izzy and Deranged don’t. Andrews and Angeldust start. Cobra clutch backbreaker from Angeldust, then some big kicks to the back. Deranged and Turner next and Deranged forearms him in the corner then hits a running knee. He scores with a corkscrew enzi kick before tagging out. Hagadorn and Dixie now and the Special K guy scores with a jumping heel kick. Franco and Izzy complete the set, and Izzy dumps him on his head with a Blue Thunder driver. He kicks Franco in the face then prepares for a springboard 450. Franco avoids it and tags out to Andrews. It breaks down into a big brawl. Dixie and Deranged take out Hagadorn and Turner. SOUTH OF HEAVEN ON FRANCO! Angeldust has it in the bag, but Andrews rolls up Izzy and takes the win at 04:48.
Rating – * – Nothing remarkable or special, but it served it’s purpose. Special K dominated then lost to further the split angle. The students again looked perfectly capable of taking an ass kicking. They could be doing a lot worse with the time they’ve spent in the ring in ROH.
Special K finally break apart after the match, as Lacey directs Cheech, Cloudy, Deranged and Izzy into assault on Dixie, Angeldust and Becky. Lacey gives Becky an Implant DDT to completely make the point.
Samoa Joe backstage talking about the big main event tonight. Ricky Steamboat approaches after the promo and compares the Joe/Punk series to his series of matches with Ric Flair. He wants to sit ringside and watch their third match tonight.
Jay Lethal vs Weapon Of MASK Destruction
Samoa Joe’s protégé Jay Lethal slapped every member of The Embassy at Weekend Of Thunder Night 2 after Jimmy Rave stole a victory from him, with the help of Prince Nana. Nana declared war on Lethal, and tonight he brings in his Weapon of MASK Destruction to take him out. The Mask is a big guy, and is fact Slash Venom from IWA-Puerto Rico, who appeared back at Glory By Honor III with Chicano against Maff and Whitmer. Lethal’s big aim here is to get a rematch with Jimmy Rave, but he needs to get past Nana’s minions first.
Mask jumps Lethal after a handshake and pummels him in the corner. Facebuster from Lethal, then a gutwrench suplex for 2. Lethal sent to the apron, and he springboards in, only to be caught with a powerslam. The Mask targets the back with shots to the kidneys then a back suplex. Lethal goes for the Dragon suplex, but it’s blocked and the Weapon slams him into the turnbuckles. Chops from Jay but Weapon goes to the eyes. Lethal comes off the second rope with a jumping DDT, now both men are down. Back body drop from Lethal, then a clothesline. Mask misses something in the corner and gets hung in the turnbuckles. Neckbreaker out of the corner from Jay. He goes to the top rope and misses a diving headbutt. Neckbreaker from the Weapon for 2. DRAGON SUPLEX FROM LETHAL! That would be it at 06:37.
Rating – * – I like Jay Lethal, and any time he gets put in there with a decent opponent, he’s delivered thus far. He’s done it with Low Ki, he’s done it with Alex Shelley a few times, he’s done it teaming with Joe at the Weekend Of Thunder. However, he’s getting shoved into nothing matches like this too often for me to buy him as a credible threat to the upper card. He’s not being given enough of a chance to show what he can do. He’s over with the live crowd, and he sold the back well here which is fine and dandy…but give him a little more to work with. The way he’s being pushed at the moment just does nothing to convince me about him. There’s nothing actively wrong with this match…but there’s nothing to get excited about. Lethal is supposed to be the real deal, I NEED to be excited by him to believe the hype.
Nana gets the microphone and berates the Weapon for losing. Nana says he’s bringing another Weapon in for Final Battle 2004 and he’ll get the job done on Jay Lethal.
Outcast Killaz vs Dunn & Marcos vs Carnage Crew vs Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer – Scramble Match
The Carnage Crew have a cool new entrance. We get two long-running feuds here, as Maff, Whitmer and the Carnage Crew have been at odds since August. The highlights package before the match shows DeVito eliminating Maff and Whitmer from Scramble Cage Melee, then the steel chair massacre on Loc at ROH Gold. So far this feud has produced absolutely nothing of real interest beyond Mick Foley’s involvement. They’re on a collision course for Final Battle 2004 and a Fight Without Honor to put their issue to bed. The Ring Crew Express and the Outcast Killaz have been feuding forever, and probably will until they escape their roles as permanent jobbers. Still, both are entertaining in what they do and are perfectly capable of putting on decent scrambles.
The Crew and Maff/Whitmer fight in the aisle as the Ring Crew and the Killaz fight in the ring. Bulldogs by Dunn and Marcos as Allison Danger comes down. Whitmer with a German suplex then a dragon suplex on Dunn. He hits a big powerbomb for 2. Maff grabs Tortuga and Loc hits him hit a German suplex on him. Marcos high fives Maff then stomps on his foot as Maff starts air guitaring. Maff press slams Marcos to the floor on everyone. Santiago with a bridging exploder on Maff but DeVito breaks the pin. CROSSFACES on Diablo. Whitmer and DeVito give him a Carnageplex. Everything spills to the floor and DeVito HITS A MOONSAULT! Marcos and Dunn go upstairs for a STAAAGE DIIIIIVE! Whitmer and Maff start chopping each other then decide it’s time for STEREO TOPE’S! Loc brings Oman into the ring and gives him the Saito suplex. DeVito with the northern lights into the turnbuckles. Maff and Whitmer throw the Carnage Crew out, then Maff gives Oman the cannonball senton. Figure 4 from Maff…FROG SPLASH from Whitmer. Maff, Whitmer, Loc and DeVito disappear into the crowd as Santiago hits Dunn with an Alabamaslam. DeVito tries to whip Whitmer into a chair but a fan moves it and almost gets punched by DeVito. Tilta-whirl DDT by Dunn & Marcos on Santiago. LOC WITH A CACTUS ELBOW FROM THE BLEACHERS! DeVito grinds an old pizza box into Whitmer’s face. Maff throws a chair into Loc’s head then dumps a garbage can on him. Assisted Shiranui attempt by Dunn & Marcos, but Oman blocks it. He hits the cradle half nelson suplex on Marcos and the Killaz win at 09:21 as the brawl between the Crew and Maff/Whitmer spills up a flight of stairs and out of sight.
Rating – ** – A change of pace from the usual Scramble, but the men involved took a real clash of styles and made it work well. Maff, Whitmer, Loc and DeVito produced better brawling here than they had in any of their previous matches, and had some fun exchanges as they stole each other’s double teams as well. The right team won as well, as the comedy with Nana ignoring the Outcast Killaz despite their winning is sure to be fun. Dunn & Marcos did their thing too. This surprised me in how good it was.
John Walters vs Jimmy Rave – ROH Pure Title Match
Rave has earned this title shot with an undefeated streak which goes back to July when he joined The Embassy. Since then he’s beaten everyone, from the likes of Special K members, to Ace Steel and Jay Lethal. Walters is putting together a pretty impressive Pure Title run since taking it from Doug Williams at Scramble Cage Melee. He isn’t getting anymore over, and is sucking the belt down with him, but the matches have been of a decent standard.. He last defended it at Night 2 of the Weekend Of Thunder, defeating Homicide.
The referee sends Nana and the Killaz to the back before we even start. Walters gets 2 with a quick roll up. Both men threaten each other with closed fists, which are illegal under Pure rules. Armbar from Walters but Rave counters into one of his own. Hiptoss from Rave but Walters comes back with a dragon screw. He puts Rave into a submission and Rave uses his first rope break to escape. They run the ropes then go into a staredown, before Walters punches Rave. That earns him a warning. Rave gets back into the ring and fakes being punched. The ref believes him and that means Walters loses a ropebreak. Armbar from Walters again and he works hard to keep the hold applied. Finally Rave escapes but Walters counters his bridging armbar right back into a hold of his own. Monkey flip from Rave but Walters comes back again with an armdrag. Northern lights suplex from Rave into a wristlock. Neckbreaker over the knee from Rave, then a punch to the face with the ref’s back turned. Jimmy scores with a snap suplex for 2, then puts him in a chinlock. Walters blocks a Boston crab attempt with a roll-up for 2. Inverted DDT from Jimmy Rave. He puts Walters into a sleeper in the ropes, then drags him to the floor to slam him into the guardrail. Back inside, Rave hits a back suplex for 2. He goes for a second but Walters blocks and almost puts Jimmy away with some pinning combinations. Walters scores with a clothesline, and both men are dazed. Walters goes to the top and connects with a missile dropkick and Rave uses his second ropebreak kicking out of the pin. Lungblower out of the corner from Walters for 2. Satellite Crossface from Rave, and the fans are willing Walters to tap. Walters uses his second break to escape that hold. Rave counters a sunset flip with the CRAPPY WIZARD for 2. He calls for the Rave Clash but Walters blocks and puts him into the Sharpshooter. Rave escapes and applies a Boston crab. Walters counters to a Boston crab of his own and Rave uses the ropes for the third time to escape. Torture wrack in the ropes from Walters but Rave escapes and hits an STO backbreaker, then the Ghanarea for 2. Sharpshooter from Walters again. Rave gets to the ropes but he doesn’t have any ropebreaks left. They tumble to the floor but Walters clings on to the Sharpshooter. He holds onto it until a count of 16 then rolls into the ring to win it by count out at 16:51. Walters is the first ever man to win by count out in ROH.
Rating – *** – It wasn’t exciting, and the finish where they both attacked each other’s legs like crazy after working the arms for most of the match was somewhat out of place, but it was a fun working of the Pure Title rules, and a unique finish which I liked. The fact is, these two aren’t the greatest pure wrestlers ever, and it showed, but they put together a competitive match and certainly nothing you could complain about too much. The Pure Title surely must be taken off Walters soon though. No matter how consistent his performances are, he just isn’t over, and under him the belt has really wasted away into midcard status. Either that or something drastic has to be done to him to get him over…and it has to be done quickly.
UPDATE – It’s an update on the Briscoes and their status in ROH. Remember, they were “suspended” back at Testing The Limits after that riot they were involved in along with Samoa Joe and the Rottweilers. Jimmy Bower highlights the kick from Low Ki which gave Jay Briscoe a concussion. Mark’s motorcycle accident isn’t mentioned – instead his absence is explained by an unfilmed attack by Reyes and Romero in the parking lot. Apparently they could be done with ROH and are now retired. (Nice piece, but there’s a continuity error I’ve spotted. Ki, Homicide, Smokes, Joe and the Briscoes were all fined/suspended for their involvement. Bower actually said on commentary that the Pitbulls weren’t fined since they were backstage preparing for their Tag title match – so when did they attack Mark Briscoe? – Meanwhile, I’d be surprised if we didn’t see the Briscoes back sometime in 2005)
Now we get a video package highlighting some of Joe’s best title defences in 2004. The Second Anniversary Show fourway is first, with a clip of the awesome exchange with Low Ki. Next it’s the disgustingly bloody cage match with Jay Briscoe at At Our Best. Joe wins it with a Musclebuster after AJ Styles gave Mark Briscoe a Styles Clash on the floor. To Death Before Dishonor 2 and his defence against Homicide. After failing with the Musclebuster and the Island Driver, Joe finally picks up the win with the Choke. Finally Midnight Express Reunion against Bryan Danielson. Awesome MOTYC match, which Joe eventually won, once again with the Choke.
Austin Aries vs Low Ki
The winner is #1 Contender and gets a World Title shot at Final Battle 2004. Aries has undeniably broken out in a huge way since debuting at Do Or Die 2. He declared his intentions to go after the ROH Title at Midnight Express Reunion, and despite Alex Shelley’s reservations, now he gets a shot. Ki, meanwhile, as a huge issue with Joe, and would surely like to get his hands on him to prove who is more deserving of the belt that Ki only lost because he got screwed by The Prophecy. This could be great if Low Ki wants to wrestle tonight, or it could really suck if he phones it in and gets caught up in being a heel like the matches with Mark Briscoe and Chad Collyer.
Ki backs Aries into a corner and goes for a cheapshot but Aries ducks it and piefaces him. Low Ki is arrogant as they exchange holds, slapping him in the head as they go. Ki mounts Aries and unloads forearm strikes on him. Eventually Aries counters and they scrap it out until Ki makes the ropes. Ki rides Aries and slaps him, then grabs in a chinlock. Aries counters and Low Ki utilises a kick to escape that. Ki with a headscissors on the mat but Austin escapes and dropkicks Ki goes to the outside and Aries soars out after him with a tope. Ki avoids the slingshot hilo but Aries goes out the other side of the ring and hits it anyway. He kicks him in the back but Ki doesn’t sell, so Aries kicks him in the face. Aries with a dropkick in the corner for 2. Ki They fight over a suplex on the ropes and eventually it’s Ki that front suplexes Aries onto the top rope. Aries gets sent crashing off the apron after a dropkick. Gutbuster from Low Ki before he rakes his eyes in the corner. Big kick to the back and that just has Austin squirming in pain. Bodyscissors from Ki as he continues to attack the midsection. Aries put in a tree of woe, and Low Ki goes to the top rope to DOUBLE STOMP HIM RIGHT IN THE FACE! Aries goes for the crucifix driver, but Ki blocks it. Ki makes out like he’s going to trade chops then pokes him in the eye before going back to the bodyscissors. Aries goes for a sunset flip but gets DOUBLE STOMPED in the chest for 2. Low Ki to the top rope but this time he misses a double stomp. Ki goes for the springboard enzi but Aries nails him with a clothesline. Sidewalk slam from Aries for 2. He hits a gutbuster, into an STO, then the swinging elbow drop for 2. Inverted atomic drop from Ki but he walks right into a spinning forearm. RUNNING GUILLOTINE from Aries, then a slingshot twisting splash. Springboard moonsault attempt from Aries, but Ki gets the knees up. Bridging German suplex from Ki for 2. Ki gets caught on the top rope and dragged down into a rolling front slam. 450 FROM ARIES…BUT KI GETS THE KNEES UP! One minute left in the time limit and Ki wants a Ki Krusher. Aries blocks…CRUCIFIX DRIVER! Ten seconds left…450 SPLASH FROM ARIES!! The bell rings before he can get the three count though. 20:00 is your time.
Rating – **** – That was, by some distance, the best match gangsta heel Low Ki has produced. Everything about it was spot on. He forgot about the fans and produced some focused, solid body part work, had perfect heel mannerisms and generally looked like he really wanted to wrestle today. I loved the little things he did, like rolling his eyes before going for the springboard enziguri, showing his frustration at having to break out one of his bigger moves to beat Aries. I didn’t like how Aries completely gave up on selling the ribs with all his offence at the end, but aside from that, he looked good (again) as well. There are few better than him in the company at the moment. It’s a shame about the non-finish though.
GMC comes out and says if the fans want five more minutes then the match will continue. They’re keen, and Aries is livid so wants to keep going as well. Ki gets the microphone and says he signed on for a 20 minute match, then walks off.
Havana Pitbulls vs Nigel McGuiness/Chad Collyer – ROH Tag Title Match
This match comes about after the last show, when Collyer suggested they form a team and go after the Tag belts after they had such a competitive 15 minute draw with each other. It’s not the first time they’ve teamed either, since we saw them beat Maff and Whitmer at Joe vs Punk II. Reyes and Romero have built quite a formidable title reign now, overcoming Generation Next and Maff/Whitmer at the Weekend Of Thunder. They’re not booked at Final Battle 2004, so if they retain here, they make it into 2005 as champs. It’s also a rematch of the heavily pimped Collyer/Romero match from Death Before Dishonor 2 which I didn’t enjoy as much as some. He’ll also feel somewhat aggrieved after the way he was treated at the hands of Smokes and Low Ki on the first night of the Weekend Of Thunder. ROH seem to be getting behind Collyer at the moment, but his “big” matches (vs Romero, vs Lethal and vs Low Ki) I really haven’t rated. I’m starting to think maybe I’m really missing something with him…but hey, these are my reviews!
Reyes and Collyer kick off. Collyer works an armwrench then brings McGuiness in who continues the focus on the same arm. Collyer and Romero get together for the first time and Collyer goes after the ankle. Both guys with a monkey flip, and Romero goes for a cross armbreaker. Armdrag from Collyer, then he catches him in a satellite swing. Nigel as well, and they go all the way round Romero, working over every limb in turn, and finish it up with a wishbone split. Reyes is back in and he latches onto a kravatte. Cross armbreaker from Reyes but McGuiness quickly escapes and goes back to the kravatte. Hard kicks from Reyes but Nigel responds with a standing enziguri to the back. Double wristlock takedown from Collyer and McGuiness. Snap suplex from Collyer gets 2. McGuiness/Romero, and Nigel goes into the headstand in the corner. Romero doesn’t walk into a kick and tries to shake McGuiness off the top. Reverse suplex Ace crusher from McGuiness for 2. Crossbody block off the top from McGuiness for another two count. Hammerlock DDT from McGuiness, then the shortarm scissors, which Reyes has to break. The Pitbulls double team McGuiness with stiff kicks then crotch him against the ringpost for the Reyes dropkick. Romero with some brutal kicks to the chest and legs. Knee strike from Romero, into a clothesline from Reyes. Reyes is legal and he peppers McGuiness with more kicks. Romero and McGuiness slap each other, before Nigel knocks Rocky down with a forearm. McGuiness finally gets the hot tag and Collyer is all over both Pitbulls. Dragon screw on Reyes, then the Texas Cloverleaf. Romero makes the save there. Collyer kicks Reyes out then BOTCHES a tope and almost kills himself. McGuiness with the Artful Dodger on Romero…KNEE STRIKE FROM ROCKY! Cross armbreaker applied, but Nigel isn’t legal. Collyer with a DDT on Reyes for 2. Reyes with more stiffness, but Collyer dumps him with a German. Kimura submission from Reyes but McGuiness saves. Romero knocks Nigel out then DIVES OFF THE APRON after him. Texas Cloverleaf from Collyer again…but Smokes distracts him. GUILLOTINE KNEE by the Pitbulls. That’s it and they retain at 16:23.
Rating – *** – I enjoyed it, and it’s definitely one of the better Pitbulls title defences thus far. The problem with them is, they’re just not having any really showstealing matches, and they’re gradually getting less and less over. This is the second time in as many shows they’ve put on a decent performance, and the crowd has just been silent. If Collyer had done some more leg work to make the Texas Cloverleaf a more effective and dramatic move in the closing stages this could’ve been even better.
A fan moons Julius Smokes after the match, which he sells quite hilariously. Only topping that humour is the disgusted look on Rocky Romero’s face.
Jim Cornette/Bobby Heenan – The Great Managerial Debate
Jim Cornette comes to the ring next for the “Great Managerial Debate”. It’s a year since he’s been in the RexPlex. He pays a lot of respect to Bobby Heenan then brings ‘The Brain’ out. Cornette continues to show his respect, calling Heenan the greatest manager of all time. Heenan takes the mic to put over Cornette and ROH. Cornette then decides it’s time to go all heel. He calls ROH his house, and now Heenan has come in to upstage him as top manager again. He wants Heenan to step aside and/or die so he can be number one. He brings up the cancer which gets a sh*tload of heat. Bobby says he’s going nowhere to a big pop…so Corny brings out Rod Strong and Jack Evans to maul him. Colt Cabana and Jimmy Jacobs make the save…CABANA HAS A WRESTLING CHANNEL T-SHIRT ON! Heenan suggests he manage Cabana/Jacobs and Cornette manages the GeNext combo tonight to see who the greatest manager is. It’s on for later tonight. I can’t rate this as such, but Cornette just cut a truly awesome promo. One of the best in the company’s history. Heenan doesn’t sound particularly healthy, which is sad…but he says he’s recovering so I wish him all the best.
INTERMISSION – GMC (aka ‘The Scoopster’ apparently) is with The Embassy. Nana says his next Weapon of MASK Destruction will succeed against Lethal. Then he says he’s suing ROH for not letting Nana and the Killaz at ringside during Rave’s Pure Title match. Diablo points out that the Outcast Killaz have now win two consecutive matches. Nana responds by sending them to prepare his bath water. HA!
Shawn Price is with Lacey’s bunch of Special K members. She says they kicked out the losers and declares herself the leader. Deranged tries to say something but Lacey silences him. Cheech and Cloudy eat brownies.
Jerk Jackson vs Trent Acid
Jackson has appeared in a jobber role before in ROH at the Second Anniversary. I have no real idea why this match is on the card, other that to fill the dodgy first match after intermission spot in the card, since after this it’s three huge attraction matches to end the show. Jackson is one of Trent Acid’s students at his wrestling school (which he runs with Johnny Kashmere). Acid is continuing in his slump of not winning and being hated by the smarks. If he can’t get a win here it truly would suck to be him.
Mark Nulty and CM Punk are on commentary now. Rather than wrestle, Acid kisses a woman in the first row. Jackson is willing to fight on the floor and whips Trent into the guardrail. PRESS SLAM ONTO A CHAIR from Jerk. Right hands from Acid but he can’t get going, and Jackson delivers a dropkick. Finally he takes it back inside and hits a big boot, then a suplex. Punk is grilling Nulty on mispronouncing Colt Cabana’s name. Jackson goes to the top rope to MISS a 450 splash. He ducks the Yakuza kick and goes for one of his own. Acid ducks that and NAILS the Yakuza kick this time. INVERTED BRAINBUSTER (which is apparently called a Shovel Driver) finishes Jackson off and we’re done at 03:25.
Rating – * – As three minute, waste of time matches go, that was entertaining. Jackson dominated and came up with some interesting spots, Acid won with two moves. Jackson’s still a jobber, everyone still hates Trent Acid, the status quo remains intact. CM Punk and Mark Nulty on commentary were amusing…
Allison Danger charges into the Carnage Crew’s locker room and they happily agree to sign up for the Fight Without Honor at Final Battle. The Crew expect a lapdance but she doesn’t oblige. She does steal a dollar from Loc though. I like whacky Allison…
Generation Next vs Colt Cabana/Jimmy Jacobs
Obviously after what took place earlier, Cornette is in the corner of Strong and Evans, whilst Heenan accompanies Cabana and Jacobs. Colt and Jimmy will both want revenge on GeNext, since they’ve suffered at the hands of Austin Aries and Alex Shelley repeatedly. Jacobs has failed on numerous occasions to beat Shelley and has been in a couple of multi-person tags, and this is Cabana’s comeback from the shoulder injury he sustained at the hands of Aries back at Scramble Cage Melee. Strong and Evans will want to get back into the title hunt after going so close at Weekend Of Thunder Night 1.
Cabana gets a big ‘welcome back’ chant which Jacobs takes the credit for. Colt starts HUSSing in response. Jacobs and Cabana get fed up of waiting and they bring Evans and Strong in the hard way. Simultaneous dropkicks send the GeNext guys back to the outside, where Heenan cheapshots them. Cornette is furious about that, but calls his team together for a group hug. Jacobs and Strong start and Jacobs clocks Rod with a chain that Heenan gave him. The ref confiscates it…so Bobby gives another chain to Cabana. He comes in and socks Strong again. The referee is suspicious so Colt hides it in his crotch…then in his mouth. Finally he slips the chain out again as Cornette almost has a hernia on the apron. Evans comes in and does a standing back somersault. Cabana tries to one up him with A ROLY POLY!! ‘You got served’ – Elizabeth. Jack breakdances so Heenan moonwalks on the floor. Colt fakes some dancing and slaps Evans in the face. He hangs Evans in the ropes so The Brain can score with another cheapshot. Cornette gets in the ring and challenges Heenan to a fight. Heenan gets in and says he’ll give Cornette a free elbow drop. Jim is gullible as f*ck and Heenan avoids the elbow drop. Cabana fakes Evans and gives him a slap. Evans tries the same trick but Cabana slaps him again. Jacobs in and Colt uses Jimmy’s head as a battering ram on both opponents. Cornette has had enough and he tries to lead Roderick and Jack to the locker room. The referee threatens to disqualify them so they come back in. Spear from Jacobs to Evans, but Jack blocks the Contra Code and hits a MOONSAULT INVERTED DDT! Cornette with a cheapshot on Jacobs. Strong in with a back suplex. He assists Evans with the standing Phoenix splash. Gutbuster from Evans for 2. Strong misses a standing moonsault but still cuts off a potential tag with a backbreaker. Evans misses a spinning kick but scores on the rebound with a corkscrew enziguri. Strong press slams Evans on top of Jimmy in the corner. Jacobs comes back with an inverted Pedigree on Evans. Hot tag to Cabana and he scores with an Asai moonsault press on Strong. COLT 45 ON EVANS – DANGEROOOUUUUS! Strong makes the save. Cornette in…TENNIS RACKET SHOT ON CABANA! Cornette tries to put Evans on top…AND HEENAN BLASTS HIM WITH THE RACKET! Cabana covers Evans for the win at 17:16.
Rating – *** – Simply the best comedy match ROH has ever put together. From the Heenan and Cornette interaction to Colt Cabana, Jimmy Jacobs and Jack Evans, everyone was bang on the money and I’m sure pretty much everyone will eat this up. If you’re looking for pure wrestling you don’t get it here, but it’s a lot of fun, and the tennis racket shots at the end are a great touch. It’s hardly a classic but it’s must-see stuff.
Homicide vs Bryan Danielson
It’s a rematch from Reborn Stage 2 now, and that initial encounter still ranks among my top contenders for match of the year for ROH in 2004, even including all the fantastic stuff the company has produced since then. Danielson signed off the Weekend Of Thunder after consecutive defeats to Jushin Liger with a promise that, rather than driven by a love of wrestling, he is now driven by hate. This came about after he was attacked by Low Ki and the Rottweilers following the tag main event of Night 2. It’d be a measure of revenge for that night, and from the Reborn match, where Homicide won using a low blow, if he could get a much-needed win here. To reinforce his attitude change, Dragon has a new look tonight. He’s all in black with new MMA kickpads and a crazy beard. The cloak of awesomeness remains though.
Homicide stalls to begin with to rile the crowd up. Despite his change of attitude Danielson still begins with some neat wrestling exchanges. Homicide works hard to escape a headlock, and again opts to yell at the crowd rather than wrestle. He goes for the arm but takes a dropkick from Danielson and flees. Dragon with some stiff shots, then he starts PUNCHING Homicide. That’s something new from him. Knee strikes from Danielson, but Homicide stands tall. He finally gets knocked down after a European uppercut, and seeks refuge in the corner. Dragon with a neckbreaker, then some kicks. Homicide responds by choking and raking at Danielson’s face in the corner. A shoulder tackle from Dragon sends Homicide outside again. Homicide misses an elbow drop and Danielson immediately targets the arm with a Fujiwara armbar. Homicide takes Dragon to the outside and scores with a double axehandle off the apron. Dragon whips Homicide so hard into the railings that they completely snap. They brawl up the aisle and Homicide takes a slam onto the steel rampway. Homicide is down injured so Dragon just goes after Smokes instead. Cide back and he suplexes Danielson onto the timekeepers table. Homicide goes for his running boot in the corner but executes it with far less conviction due to the ankle Dragon injured with the slam on the ramp. Danielson targets it with stomps, but Homicide fires back with a knee to the stomach. Big boot to the head from Homicide, but he takes an age to capitalise. Back suplex from Danielson, and now both men are down.
Jumping kick to the chest from Dragon, then a running elbow strike in the corner. Mexican surfboard from Dragon, and that will do more damage to the injured ankle. Homicide blocks the airplane spin and goes for one himself, but his ankle can’t pull it off. This time Danielson with an airplane spin into a rolling front slam. Dragon to the top rope…AND HE HITS A DIVING PLANCHA ONTO JULIUS SMOKES! Ace crusher from Homicide for 2. Bridging T-bone suplex but Homicide can’t hold the bridge long enough for a pinfall. Incredibly he goes to the top rope, but gets caught by Danielson who scores with a superplex. DANIELSON MISSES A DIVING HEADBUTT. Homicide goes upstairs…AND HE NAILS A DIVING HEADBUTT! Both men block brainbuster attempts – CATTLE MUTILATION FROM DANIELSON! Smokes gets on the apron to distract everyone, and that’s enough to break the hold. Dragon blocks a super rana attempt and nails the diving European uppercut for 2. Homicide takes off his boot to try and bring some relief to his ankle, but all the while Dragon stomps at his leg. Smokes again distracts the referee AND HOMICIDE SMACKS DRAGON WITH HIS BOOT! TWO COUNT! Danielson escapes a Cop Killa attempt…low blow from Homicide! Danielson blocks the Lariat…CATTLE MUTILATION PIN…3 COUNT!! Match time was about 25 minutes…
Rating – **** – It’s a step below Reborn Stage 2 thanks to Smokes’ interference, and the really bizarre thing with the boot, but other than that it’s a really good match. It’s more of a fight than their first match, but the drama is very much still there, and with Homicide far more over as a heel now, the heel/face dynamic works a lot better than it did in Chicago back in April. The finish was really clever, as Homicide again went for the low blow/Lariat combination, but Danielson countered and scored the win. I’m still a little unclear how taking your boot off miraculously heels an injured ankle though. Psychologically odd, and that is reflected in the lower score, but still good.
The Pitbulls and Low Ki join Smokes and Homicide and absolutely destroy Danielson, going after the arm. Finally Homicide DOUBLE STOMPS the exposed arm and that was sick. It takes McGuiness, Collyer, Walters, Loc and DeVito to finally make the save.
TAPED EARLIER THIS WEEK – Really interesting segment where Jimmy Bower and CM Punk go over the two Joe vs Punk hour-draws and Punk runs through his strategies. Interestingly he was aiming to win the World Title Classic with a sleeper hold. The second match he could tell Joe had done more research and prepared harder, so he broke out older moves. I can’t really review it, but a great idea for the tape, and it just adds to the hype for their deciding match tonight.
Ricky Steamboat comes to the ring next, just to make you wait for the match just a little longer. He pays respect to Bobby Heenan, then cuts a promo on Mick Foley. He then leaves to take his seat…IT’S ON!!
Samoa Joe vs CM Punk – ROH World Title Match
After two 60 minute time limit draws, there is no time limit this time – there must be a winner. This is the climax of what has probably become the definitive series of matches in ROH’s brief history. It’s not a feud as such, but after drawing in Dayton at World Title Classic, then in Chicago for Joe vs Punk II, their issue will finally be settled. Remember Punk’s past strategies – the headlocks, rope-a-dope etc – will he go for these again, or will he try to blast through Joe and beat him in a straight fight to take the belt? Punk is flanked by his students, whilst Joe has his protégé Jay Lethal in his corner.
The crowd is split right down the middle for this. Punk immediately goes for a headlock but Joe chops him real hard. Punk goes for headlocks again, but Joe just keeps escaping. More headlock escapes from Joe, and he again goes to the chop…and Punk has to take some time on the floor to regroup. Joe tries to provoke Punk into a stiff-fest, but Punk refuses to fire the first shot. He ducks a chop and almost pins Joe with a backslide. HEADLOCK APPLIED!! Punk with a dropkick to the back of the head, perhaps going for the neck again. He clamps on a front facelock, trying to wear Joe down just like in the previous two encounters. Punk with a dropkick flurry to the neck and head, then he continues to target that area with stomps and knee drops. Chops in the corner from Joe, then a headbutt. Punk with a kick, then a springboard dropkick to the back of the neck again. Joe goes for the STO Slam but Punk counters. Joe counters the counter with a pinfall, but Punk takes it right back to a headlock. Joe backs him into the corner and FIRES OFF A VOLLEY OF STRIKES! No clean break there, but Punk fires back, and floors Joe with a forearm. KNEE STRIKES from Joe and Punk is left on his ass. He kicks him in the face and Punk tumbles through the ropes to the outside. That kick busted Punk wide open, and he is pouring blood on the basketball court floor of the RexPlex. He comes in to more kicks from Joe, who goes after the cut next with elbows to the forehead. He hits the chop/kick combo clean then drops the knee across the face. He claws and scrapes at the laceration, trying to make him bleed more. Joe works a crossface until Punk makes the ropes. Punk fights back with elbow strikes, so Joe headbutts him and he has to bail again. STO SLAM NAILED! Punk is being obliterated now. Joe headbutts again, still relentlessly attacking the wound. Bootscrapes from Joe, then the running facewash. Punk tries to come back with punches and kicks to the neck but he gets kicked in the head and again goes to the floor. JOE WITH THE ELBOW SUICIDA! And of course, now we’re on the floor meaning only one thing. OLE OLE KICK! Some kid tries to hand Joe a Pepsi bottle to hit Punk with haha. Joe goes for a second but Punk blocks. HE SWITCHES THE HURRICANRANA OFF THE APRON INTO A DROPKICK! F*CKING AWESOME SPOT!!
He props Joe up on the apron then comes off the second rope with a KNEE DROP TO THE NECK! We’re finally back in the ring and Punk gets 2 with a crossbody off the top. Clothesline from Punk but Joe no sells…tornado DDT from Punk for 2. He sets up for the Shining Wizrard…JOE COUNTERS WITH A POWERSLAM! Powerbomb from Joe…STF!! He does it over the back just like in Chicago but he can’t keep hold because of the blood on Punk’s face. Punk blocks a dragon suplex – DEVIL LOCK DDT FOR 2!! Punk with an Anaconda Vice but Joe grabs the ropes. Pepsi Twist from Punk…MOONSAULT SCORES! It’s another nearfall, but not enough to put Joe away. Punk goes to the top rope again but Joe cuts him off with a clothesline. Punk bites Joe and goes for a powerbomb…BUT JOE COUNTERS WITH A HURRICANRANA. LARIAAAAAAT…PUNK KICKS OUT!! Joe wants a DVD but Punk knees his way free then hits the mule kick. SHINING WIZARD FOR 2! Joe blocks another Pepsi Twist – CHOOOOOOOOOOKE!! Punk looks out, and the ref checks the arm. It drops for a third time…BUT RICKY STEAMBOAT STOPS THE BELL!! He points out Punk was still moving…and we’re still going!! Jawbreaker from Punk, but Joe holds on. Jawbreaker from Punk…AND JOE STILL HOLDS ON!! Punk does the turnbuckle run pin for 2. He’s going for a quick pin now, breaking a schoolboy, crucifix and La Magistral…and none of them work. Joe goes for a back suplex but Punk crossbody counters for another 2. Both men are exhausted, but just unload on each other with forearms. JOE PINS USING THE ROPES…BUT PUNK STILL KICKS OUT! ‘F*ck You Joe’ – Elizabeth. Punk goes for the Pepsi Plunge but Joe blocks…AND OVERSHOOTS A SPLASH OFF THE TOP! He just knee’d Punk square in the face. Punk goes for a Mexican roll up…AND JOE HOOKS ON THE CHOKE AGAIN! CHIMERA SUPLEX COMBO FROM JOE…THEN BACK TO THE CHOKE! IT’S OVER…IT’S OVER!!! JOE RETAINS!! What an epic!! 31:32 is your time.
Rating – ****1/2 – Because twice just wasn’t enough, these men produce one of the best matches in ROH history again! That was just exhausting, and incredibly, managed to top both their previous efforts. Psychologically, it was about as deep as a wrestling match can get. The way they played off their two previous matches was simply stunning. Punk attacked the neck just like in the previous two matches, but just couldn’t work the headlock plan like in the first two matches, and the second Joe succeeded in busting him open, there was no way he was going to be able to last an hour. The way Punk switched the rana off the apron to a dropkick in midair was among the greatest things I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring. IN Dayton and in Chicago he tried a hurricanrana and got thrown into the guardrail as a result. This time he switched it up and Joe just had no answer. The Steamboat interference was a wonderful reference to the Punk/Steamboat feud, and the Punk/Styles match that Steamboat officiated back at At Our Best. In the end Joe was a desperate man, breaking out the Chimera suplex combination, something he hasn’t needed since 2003 in retaining the belts. The way he basically had to turn heel on himself to retain the belt not only made the match that much better, it truly puts over the belt as well. Is this the best in ROH history? Not quite…I still rate Crowning A Champion’s Iron Man match in the top spot…but this is up there with it I assure you. I can’t stress enough how important it is you see the first two matches BEFORE you watch this one however. Without those first two laying the groundwork and establishing the themes, this “final battle” (clever huh) doesn’t mean nearly as much as it should to you.
The students and Lethal hit the ring to check on their guys, the scene is so reminiscent of mid-90’s AJPW right now. Steamboat has a quiet word with both men before he leaves. Joe says the ROH Title is the most important belt in the world, and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it. He extends a hand to Punk, and they shake to a standing ovation. Joe’s not done though, he puts the rest of the roster on warning (including Low Ki) then challenges Mick Foley as well.
SSP is with Angeldust, Dixie and Becky. They seem desolate that Lacey turned all their friends against them. Becky says going to show Lacey what ROH is all about.
Maff and Whitmer are talking, and they get told about their Fight Without Honor at Final Battle 2004. Much like the Carnage Crew, they’re pretty happy about it. Maff lays down more threats to Allison Danger as well.
Gary Capetta is with Austin Aries. He delivers the news that Aries gets the title shot at Final Battle, since Ki walked out. Austin says he’s taking the top spot when he beats Joe on December 26th.
Tape Rating – **** – This is definitely up there with the best shows ROH has ever put on. Like all their best efforts, it just has such a ppv feel to it. Everything clicked so well. Prince Nana was on top form as a heel, Julius Smokes was annoying without becoming over-bearing. Maff, Whitmer and the Carnage Crew were better here than they have been throughout their feud. After the two opening matches, everything else is really good stuff, with Aries/Ki and Danielson/Homicide particularly standing out – unsurprising given the talent those four guys possess. But even beyond that there’s just so much must-see stuff. Jim Cornette’s heel promo on Bobby Heenan is incredible, and the comedy tag match their interactions produce is simply priceless. Plus there’s the cool segment with CM Punk discussing his strategies in the first two matches with Samoa Joe. That’s really interesting stuff if you’ve seen those two matches. Then the main event, in the eyes of many, is the best match the company has ever produced. CM Punk and Samoa Joe put on a third classic encounter, topping even their previous efforts, and you need to see it. Buy this show now!
Top 3 Matches
3) Austin Aries vs Low Ki (****)
2) Bryan Danielson vs Homicide (****)
1) Samoa Joe vs CM Punk (****1/2)