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056 ROH It All Begins 1/15/2005

ROH 56 – It All Begins – 15/01/05

What a curious title for a show. What’s all beginning? Aren’t ROH approaching their third anniversary? Well – here’s what’s beginning. 2005 is getting underway with this show. 2004 was a big year for the company, one that saw it overcome enormous challenges, and produce some of the very best wrestling North America has seen. It’s a hard ask for the promotion to produce even more decent stuff in the coming year, but no doubt they’ll be trying. This show is also the first show of the Austin Aries World Title reign (with a defence against Colt Cabana). He was the man to finally defeat Samoa Joe at Final Battle 2004, and “it all begins” for him tonight. The Best of 5 Series between American Dragon and Homicide kicks off on this show as well. I think production values have again improved with this show too. There are swish new graphics, and the overall quality just seems better. We’re back in Boston, but we’ve changed locations again. Revere was only good for the Weekend Of Thunder it seems. No, we’re back in Cambridge, MA (the site of Expect The Unexpected and Night Of The Grudges). Hosts are Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty.

In an unusual move for ROH, the show starts with an in-ring promo segment. Bobby Cruise brings out new World Champion Austin Aries. He says he won’t be trying to follow in the footsteps of Joe, he’ll be making his own legacy, and making his the greatest title reign in history. Cruise makes the announcement that the Contenders Ring has been eradicated, and title shots are now decided by petitioning ROH officials. Alex Shelley comes out and says he was the one that made Aries’ title reign possible. He wants a shot at the title but gets jumped from behind by Roderick Strong. Colt Cabana makes the save and sends Aries and Strong running for higher ground. Shelley says thanks but Cabana brushes off the handshake after all the bad blood between the Saints and Generation Next. Shelley calls out Spanky and demands they have their match here and now.

Alex Shelley vs Spanky

After that unique start, now we kick of 2005 in the ring and it could be a decent match. Shelley has been floundering in ROH since his TNA run, and was left in the dust in Generation Next by Austin Aries. However, he has committed to every ROH show he can possibly make for the foreseeable future, and has asked for his release from TNA, so perhaps the push he should’ve had months ago can finally begin. This is Spanky’s first appearance in ROH since Round Robin Challenge 3. He made a return to ROH then, but his commitment to Zero-ONE and lack of enthusiasm for wrestling in America meant he never came back after that. We’ll apparently be seeing a lot more of him in 2005, however.

Shelley shakes hands in case you missed the fact that he’s a babyface now. Spanky tries to chain-wrestle with Shelley, which is surely a mistake, and he quickly has to find the ropes. Bridging hammerlock from Spanky, but Shelley comes back with a Japanese stranglehold. Headscissors takedown from Spanky as the pace increases, but Shelley promptly slows it right down again with a headlock. They go to the apron where Shelley drills Spanky with a DDT. SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA from Shelley! He takes Spanky back inside and gives him a slingshot legdrop for 2. Shelley goes to the top but Spanky SHOVES HIM OFF! Shelley just went flying into the guardrails. Spanky targets the knee, throwing it into the railings and kicking at it. In the ring again, Spanky applies a leglock, then switches to a figure 4. Shelley makes the ropes and comes back with a flurry of forearms and a big clothesline. Spanky goes for Sliced Bread #2 but it’s blocked and Shelley hits a springboard enziguri in the corner. Bulldog from Shelley, then a double boot to the head for 2. Spanky with a Flatliner into the turnbuckles, but Shelley is up again with a stepping enzi. Double underhook facebuster from Shelley for 2. CROSS-LEGGED BRAINBUSTER…but Spanky kicks out again. Jawbreaker from Spanky – SLICED BREAD #2…BUT SHELLEY KICKS OUT! Brainbuster from Spanky and he sails off the top rope with a frog splash, but it’s still not enough. Spanky nails a superplex but rather than pinning goes to the top rope again. Picture Perfect elbow drop for 2. Superkick from Spanky…SUPERKICK FROM SHELLEY! SHELLSHOCK – but Spanky uses the ropes! Shelley goes for the Cross-Legged Brainbuster again…BUT SPANKY NAILS SLICED BREAD #2 OFF THE ROPES! That’s enough to get him the victory at 14:45.

Rating – *** –
Really fun opening contest, and in an interesting fact, that’s Spanky’s first win in ROH since he beat Paul London and Jody Fleisch on the fourth ever show – Road To The Title. There are some faults, like the chaining at the start, where both men seemed to target the arm – that went nowhere. And Shelley decided he wouldn’t bother selling all Spanky’s work on the knee. Instead they opted to throw out a load of big moves in the finale…and they did that just fine.

Steve Corino is waiting for CM Punk so they can cut a promo. Finally he turns up (Cabana in tow) and they toss a coin to decide who goes to the ring first. Punk wins…Cabana hangs with Alex Law and Ricky Landell (Corino’s students) and they can start their promo. Punk says they will win the Tag belts tonight because they’re good friends…and because they’re DANGEROUS! That pisses Corino off since he yelled it right in his good ear. Corino then hilariously shouts his promo because he can’t hear anything.

Allison Danger is excited because it’s 2005 and she’s going recruiting to bring new members to The Prophecy. Her prom dress has holes in it!

Deranged vs Azrieal

The Special K in-fighting continues with this one. Angeldust has finalised his transition from raver to serious wrestler by ditching his PCP nickname and using Azrieal for the first time in ROH. These two fought at Final Battle 2004, when they teamed with Lacey and Becky for an intergender tag. Lacey injured Becky with her Implant DDT so Azrieal is out for revenge, not just on Deranged, but to piss her off as well. Lacey looks stupidly hot tonight. Cheech and Cloudy are out there as usual too.

Deranged gets the first impactful move of the match as he counters a back suplex with a crossbody. Azrieal with kicks to the spine, then a big kick to the face which sends Deranged to the outside. He hits a front dropkick which throws Deranged right into the corner for 2. Deranged comes back with a high knee in the corner then a hiptoss bomb for 2. Springboard double stomp to Azrieal’s chest for another near fall. Deranged chokes him on the ropes, then distracts the ref as Lacey, Cheech and Cloudy all get shots in. Running hurricanrana from Deranged which sends Azrieal to the floor where Cheech and Cloudy get more cheap shots in. MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR from Deranged but all he got were his own friends. Double stomp to the back of the head from Azrieal…SOUTH OF HEAVEN! Cheech and Cloudy invade the ring and jump Azrieal to force a DQ at 05:15.

Rating – * –
It’s not a great match in fairness, but it developed the Special K feud and they managed to fit some fun spots in before the cheap finish. Hopefully ‘It All Begins’ doesn’t mean DQ finishes become the norm in this company. This is the second show in a row where there’s been one (after Low Ki/Dragon at Final Battle).

Dunn & Marcos comes out to make the save for Azrieal and to give Lacey a good spanking. Is the We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore Tour continuing into 2005?

Homicide says he’s going to show he’s more than a brawler in the Tap-Out Match against Bryan Danielson tonight, as he stretches him and forces the tap out. Allison Danger arrives and offers them spots in The Prophecy. They don’t seem keen on that but she points out that the Pitbulls are wrestling her brother (Steve Corino) tonight and she can help. They send the camera man away and have a chat.

Roderick Strong vs Shane Hagadorn/Evan Starsmore/Alex Law/Ricky Landell

This isn’t 4-on-1 but Strong wrestling all the students one after another. He was scheduled to wrestle in Ultimate Endurance for the tag belts later, but Jack Evans was injured on a show the previous night, so Strong pulled himself from that match. Now he’s going to further the feud between the Second City Saints and Steve Corino by taking on two of CM Punk’s students and two of Corino’s.

Strong gets big ‘You Tapped Out’ chants for his appearance on WWE Smackdown as part of Kurt Angle’s open challenge. Hagadorn is first out and he gets a slap right off the bat. Hagadorn looks for a crossbody, but gets a ribbreaker, then slammed over the turnbuckles. Rock Bottom backbreaker and Hagadorn is done in less than a minute. Starsmore is in next and he’s the unfortunate victim of some patented Rod Strong chops. CRADLE HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER…but Evan is in the ropes. Strong gives him a brutal powerbomb and he’s gone at around 2 minutes. Law is in next, and he gets in some offence with chops and a high knee. He goes for a hurricanrana but gets a powerbomb backbreaker. More chops from Roderick and at three minutes Law is finished off with another backbreaker. Landell is the last man out and he trades chops with Strong. Double underhook suplex from Strong for 2. Regal neckbreaker from Landell for 2, and he follows it with a back suplex. Running clothesline from Landell, but it’s not enough. Strong finally goes to the eyes and he follows it with a double knee gutbuster. YAKUZA KICK but Landell grabs the ropes before the three. Strong isn’t phased though. He delivers a Canadian backbreaker then gets the submission victory with a stranglehold camel clutch at 06:18.

Rating – DUD –
This match was pretty much destined to get nothing. Jack Evans’ withdrawal from the show at such short notice left them with pretty much nothing to do with Roderick Strong, and with this solution, it gives him some work, and furthers the GeNext issues with Corino and Punk. Hagadorn, Starsmore and Law really didn’t get the opportunity to show what they can do – they were nothing more than punching bags out there. Landell looked decent as far as young guys go.

Strong keeps the submission hold applied until Steve Corino comes out to run him off. He b*tches at smarks in the crowd booing him even though he’s a babyface – awesome. He challenges Strong but gets no immediate response. That match will happen next show as ROH kicks off it’s Third Anniversary celebrations though.

Bryan Danielson cuts a promo looking like a homeless person. He says he’s going to destroy the Rottweilers, and tonight he’s making Homicide tap. Allison Danger tries to recruit him or the Prophecy cause…but he walks away.

Lacey is furious that Dunn & Marcos spanked her. Cheech and Cloudy get a ticking off. Apparently her boys will end the careers of Dixie, Azrieal, Dunn and Marcos in the Scramble Cage.

SCRAMBLE CAGE RETURNS – 19/02/05 – Elizabeth, NJ

Havana Pitbulls vs Steve Corino/CM Punk vs Carnage Crew – ROH Tag Title Ultimate Endurance Match

Quite what either one of these teams has done to earn Tag Title shots I’m not entirely sure. Punk and Corino have teamed together a whopping total of once previously – although they did defeat the Generation Next combination of Alex Shelley and Roderick Strong. The Carnage Crew are coming off a high profile loss at Final Battle 2004 to the Maff/Whitmer combination in a Fight Without Honor. The defending champions, Reyes and Romero, have had the straps since August but are still looking for that first really earth-shattering title defence to get them as over as they need to be to take the belts forward. They’re particular brand of solid, but unspectacular matches are starting to test the fans’ patience. Their last defence was against McGuiness and Collyer at All Star Extravaganza 2. The first fall is a Scramble, the second is for the Tag title.

Punk and DeVito get us underway, as DeVito scores with a dropkick. The Crew go for the Carnageplex but Corino tags Loc with a superkick. DDT/Stunner combination on Reyes and Romero from Corino. Carnageplex on Punk, then a double back suplex on Corino from Loc and DeVito. Reyes and Romero clear the ring with dropkicks. On the floor Corino and Loc brawl as Romero hits a SOMERSAULT PESCADO on Punk and DeVito. The Pitbulls go for the guillotine knee drop on Punk, but Corino saves. Corino gets fought off and they hit the guillotine knee…but Corino still saves. Loc with a Saito suplex on Romero, but then gets a northern lights bomb from Corino. DeVito with a Side Effect on Corino. Punk gives Loc the Pepsi Twist, into the Anaconda Vice and he taps at 04:29. The Crew take their sweet time leaving the ring but eventually it’s Punk and Corino against the Pitbulls. Romero chops away on Punk as Reyes clubbers Corino. Double suplex on Punk, then a variety of strikes to keep him on the ropes. Punk avoids a dropkick from Reyes, and hits one of his own to the back of the head. Corino in and he trades kicks with Ricky. Punk messes up a double reverse elbow much to Corino’s frustration, then hits a knee drop for 2. He whips Reyes into the boots of Corino, who then tags in to nail a stalling vertical suplex. Romero distracts the ref and that allows Corino to knee Reyes in the balls. Punk with the 10 punch deal in the corner, but gets distracted by Rocky, allowing Reyes to hit a spinebuster.

Springboard knee from Romero as he finally gets a tag. Octopus stretch on Punk as Reyes wards Corino off. Ricky with a head crank on Punk, then a cross-legged abdominal stretch. Punk takes the dropkick in the corner, then a back suplex from Romero. He applies another abdominal stretch, which Punk eventually breaks with a hiptoss. He applies an abdominal stretch of his own, but he leaves his midsection wide open to a kick from Reyes. Gutwrench suplex from Romero, as the Rottweilers give Punk’s ribs and back a real working over. Punk botches a sunset flip and takes a spinning heel kick from Reyes as punishment. Romero with the jumping knee strike for 2. Punk gets the hot tag out of nowhere and Corino comes in on fire. Romero holds Corino open for a shot from Reyes. Missile dropkick from Romero, and that didn’t take long for the Pitbulls to regain control. Corino fights back with a brainbuster, and now both men are down. Punk in with the double underhook backbreaker on Reyes for 2. The Rottweilers come back with the high knee/lariat combo for 2. Back suplex/inverted DDT combination for another 2. Punk blocks a German suplex and gives Reyes the Shining Wizard. Anaconda Vice on Reyes but Smokes distracts the ref. Roderick Strong appears out of nowhere and assaults Corino. GUILLOTINE KNEE on Punk and the Pitbulls retain at 22:39.

Rating – ** –
Considering who was involved in that match, believe me this is really poor. The Scramble was really dreadful, and was so short and meaningless I question why the Carnage Crew were even involved in this at all. With Evans gone, it’s clear that all ROH was interested in doing was the Pitbulls against Corino/Punk. Why not remove the Crew altogether and just do a straight match, which might have stood a chance of being better. As was, the clashes between the Extreme Saint combination and the Rottweilers were ok. I enjoyed the working over Reyes and Romero gave Punk’s ribs, even though it went nowhere, and there was some more quasi-comedic moments from Corino and Punker and that worked well. The finish sucked and featured a run-in, and had absolutely no heat on it beyond people being pissed off about the run-in. Time to get the belts off the Pitbulls methinks – problem is, the tag scene is such a mess right now there’s really nobody who can take them.

INTERMISSION – Breaking News is that Low Ki has been suspended from ROH for attacking a referee at Final Battle 2004. That’s his NOAH tour covered then. In other news, James Gibson (former WWE star Jamie Noble) makes his ROH debut during the Third Anniversary Celebrations – he’ll be at the Dayton and Chicago events.

Nigel McGuiness vs Samoa Joe

This was originally scheduled to be an ROH Title match for Nigel, but since Joe no longer has the belt, he no longer has a shot. On the bright side, he’s become a solid, credible midcard act for ROH, and I can see him continuing this rise into 2005. His matches are always good, and outside of the Walters match (Glory By Honor 3) and the Homicide match (Midnight Express Reunion) I don’t think he’s anywhere near shown the limits of his potential. I can see a heel turn working for him, as his charisma and mannerisms seem somewhat suited to it. Joe, meanwhile, has to bounce back on this, his first appearance without the ROH Title. He still has a feud with Mick Foley on-going (and Foley is here tonight). He needs to make a statement tonight. If this is anything like their 2004 TPI match, it should be pretty good.

Joe is still way over without the title unsurprisingly. McGuiness holds onto a kravatte and Joe struggles to break it. Finally he does with a double leg takedown and peppers Nigel with strikes. Chop/kick combo from Joe, but McGuiness avoids the knee drop and kicks him in the back. McGuiness goes for his handstand in the corner, but is quick enough to avoid the running boot to the face that Joe used at the Weekend Of Thunder, and the TPI. McGuiness comes back with his trademark crazy chaining…so Joe just runs straight through him with a forearm strike. Joe with the bootscrapes, then the running facewash. He sends Nigel flying into the ropes with the rolling legsweep, then when he goes to the floor Joe flies out after him with the ELBOW SUICIDA! OLE OLE KICK CONNECTS! Back in the ring, Joe unloads with E HONDA SLAPS. But McGuiness is still standing. FOREARMS from Joe…and still Nigel doesn’t go down. He hits some forearms of his own but then gets rocked with an STO Slam for 2. Handstand in the corner again from McGuiness, and this time as Joe goes the running boot McGuiness kicks him in the face. Joe goes for another STO Slam but McGuiness counters with a headlock takeover then blasts the former champion with a superkick. Shortarm Scissors from McGuiness, but with no previous work on the arm Joe just powers out. HAMMERLOCK DDT from McGuiness, then back to the Shortarm Scissors. Joe fights out again, and hits a powerslam for 2. McGuiness goes for a second hammerlock DDT but Joe blocks and DESTROYS him with a lariat. Joe goes for the Musclebuster but McGuiness fights out…ACE CRUSHER OFF THE ROPES! McGuiness goes for the headstand again…BOOT TO THE FACE FROM JOE! DEATH VALLEY DRIVER from Joe for 2. KNEE STRIKES…CHOOOOOKE! McGuiness taps at 14:14.

Rating – *** –
I preferred the TPI match, but this was all good. It was just, since Joe is still “the man” in ROH, this was more of a squash type match, where as in IWA McGuiness was presented on a much more level playing field. Still, he has some cool moves, so his offensive flurries looked decent and made sense. At the end of the day, this was all about Joe looking strong in his first match after losing the belt, and he did just that.

It’s time for Homicide vs Danielson, but before it can even get underway they start brawling and fight out into the crowd. Danielson suplexes Homicide onto an open chair as they reach the back of the building. Cide comes back with a trash can shot. Stiff strikes from Danielson, then Homicide goes to the eyes. He just picks up a chair as we crash to static fuzz (cool gimmick – in reality, this was all stopped as the building manager freaked and threatened to stop the show if they didn’t get it back in the ring).

We switch to a Jim Cornette promo, and he’s still seething at Bobby Heenan after All Star Extravaganza 2. He doesn’t like it that Heenan got one up on him and he’ll be looking for revenge at the Third Anniversary Celebration in Chicago.

Homicide vs Bryan Danielson – Best of 5 Series Match 1 – Tap-Out Match

After that wildness, they finally make it into the ring for the match itself. Anyway, this is the first match in the Best of 5 series which has come about thanks to Danielson’s ambition to destroy the Rottweilers. Obviously, we know about his issue with Homicide, dating back to Reborn Stage 2 when Homicide beat him with a low blow then a Lariat. However, since then, the Rottweilers jumped Dragon after the tag main event at Weekend Of Thunder Night 2, then spent both December shows absolutely destroying his arm – first in the Danielson/Homicide rematch at All Star Extravaganza 2, then the Danielson/Low Ki rematch at Final Battle 2004. He’ll be carrying that injury into this match – and remember, at the last show Homicide beat Josh Daniels with a new arm submission. Homicide has Smokes AND Rocky Romero out there.

The match starts officially and this just feels intense right now. Both men manage to get slaps in. Homicide goes after the arm with a wristlock, then a crossface chickenwing. He hits a hard shoulder tackle right on Danielson’s injured arm too. Dragon comes back with a stomp to the ankle – perhaps testing the injury he created at All Star Extravaganza 2. Dropkick from Danielson, then he applies a deathlock. He switches that to the BRIDGING DEATHLOCK for extra punishment. European uppercuts and a jumping reverse kick from Dragon, but Homicide busts out an armbar DDT, and just like that he’s back in charge. He singles out the arm again as he works an armbar. As he’s down in the corner both Romero and J-Train get cheapshots in. Danielson fires up and looks for a comeback, rocking Homicide with European uppercuts then kicking him right in the stomach. He applies the Mexican surfboard, but again switches it to a reverse chinlock to protect the arm. Next he uses his airplane spin but Homicide slips free and Dragon dropkicks nothing. Ace crusher from Homicide, and Danielson rolls outside. TOPE CON HILO NAILED! Back in the ring Danielson hits a head and leg throw, and goes after the leg again with a half crab. Danielson attempts Cattle Mutilation but Homicide blocks and hits the Lariat. Smokes exposes the bare turnbuckle but it’s Danielson that whips Cide into them first. Unfortunately for Danielson Homicide pops right back and sends him SHOULDER FIRST into the ringpost. Armbreaker from Homicide…but incredibly Danielson muscles him up for a GERMAN SUPLEX…AND HOMICIDE STILL GOES BACK TO THE ARMBREAKER! Homicide goes to the top but his leg makes it take too long and Dragon is able to catch him with the superplex. BRIDGING FIGURE 4 FROM DRAGON! But Smokes tries to get involved, and Danielson breaks the hold to press slam him off the top rope. KIMURA FROM HOMICIDE! Danielson taps at 16:31.

Rating – **** –
Every time these two wrestle they seem to bring some fun psychological aspects to the table, and this one was no different. I loved the way Homicide attacked the arm without it being in your face and hugely obvious (like for instance – Daniels working Doug Williams ribs at Night Of Champions). It was also interesting the way Danielson worked in the attack on Homicide’s leg, yet due to his own injuries, he simply couldn’t do enough damage to get a win. Breaking out the Tope con Hilo for the first time in a while was also a clever move as it really puts over how seriously both men are taking this series. It wasn’t amazing, and is the worst of their three matches in ROH thus far – but at the same time gave them a really solid base from which to build from in the future Best of 5 matches.

Homicide isn’t done though. He says he’s ending Danielson’s career now and tries to use brass knucks on him. But Dragon fights back, taking out Romero and Smokes, then NAILS Cide with the knucks. Danielson says in the next match he’ll beat Homicide at his own game – fighting. Match 2 in the Series will be a Taped Fist Match.

Austin Aries vs Colt Cabana – ROH World Title Match

This is a rematch from Scramble Cage Melee (also in the Boston area incidentally), where Aries took Cabana out of ROH for several months by attacking his shoulder viciously during the match – then after the match 450’d a chair into the injury. I guess we’re not going so much for a conclusion to the Saints/GeNext feud, rather it’s just a simmering dislike that will always be there. Obviously this is an extension of that bad blood.

Cabana flies out of the blocks, hammering Aries, who quickly bails. Aries demands he show some respect and shake hands. Aries attempts a cheapshot after the handshake, but Colt is wise to it and scores with another volley of right hands. Again Austin flees and b*tches on the microphone. He demands Cabana wrestle him, not just use punches. Cabana obliges Aries by chaining with him, and again he manages to control the World Champion. Cabana hits a big clothesline as Aries looks to pick the pace up. Aries misses the slingshot hilo, then takes a couple of body slams. Spinning forearm from Aries and finally he gains a semblance of control. He hits a high knee to the shoulder and that’s the first time he’s attacked Cabana’s suspect shoulder. Legsweep into the buckles from Cabana, but Aries comes back with a tornado armbar DDT, then applies a Fujiwara armbar. Gutbuster from Aries, then the swinging elbow drop for 2. Aries goes for the crucifix driver, but Cabana drops him with a Samoan drop. Back suplex by Aries and that’s good for 2. Cabana goes for a DVD but Aries escapes – FISH HOOK CROSSFACE! Austin with a trio of dropkicks in the corner which are good for another nearfall. Aries wants a superplex but Cabana blocks and gets a huge amount of airtime on a missile dropkick. Spinning crucifix drop from Cabana for 2. Aries blocks the Colt 45 and hits a rolling front slam. 450 SPLASH MISSED and Cabana almost gets a quick win with one of his roll-ups. Aries gets kicked to the outside…AND CABANA SAILS AFTER HIM WITH THE ASAI MOONSAULT! Aries is on the run and he crawls up the ramp towards the back. Cabana drags him back and almost pins him again. Cabana blocks the brainbuster…COLT 45 NAILED! He hit his finisher, but Aries was too close to the ropes. Aries tries to run away again! Colt goes after him, but then gets whipped head-first into the railings. BRAINBUSTER ON THE RAMP!! DANGEROOOUUUUS! Officials hurry out to check on Cabana, who just isn’t moving. Incredibly, he sucks it up and crawls back to the ring. SMALL PACKAGE from Cabana but Aries kicks out. BRAINBUSTER nailed by Aries and that’s it. 450 SPLASH SCORES! Aries finally retains at 22:13.

Rating – *** –
The live reports suggested this wasn’t that good, but I found it an intelligent and clever way to get Aries’ title reign underway, and immediately establish a different trend to World Title matches than Samoa Joe. It established Aries’ new character – just because he respects the belt and shakes hands he’s still a heel, and now he’s somewhat demonic and will do anything to keep it. Cabana looked like a credible challenger throughout the contest, withstanding the attack on his shoulder and coming close – indeed, it was only Aries doing something stupid like the brainbuster on the ramp that finished him off. It was better than the Scramble Cage Melee match, which I also enjoyed far more than anyone else it seems.

Mick Foley/Samoa Joe – Non-Sanctioned Confrontation

They’ve had a number of interactions over the last few shows, and now it comes to this – a non-sanctioned confrontation between them. At Weekend Of Thunder Night 2 Foley called Joe softcore for not accepting CM Punk’s challenge…then Joe called Foley washed up when he finally did accept. After his epic defence against Punk at All Star Extravaganza 2 Joe issued a challenge to Mick Foley. Then at Final Battle 2004, Foley told Joe to show him some respect…and Joe obliged by punching his lights out. Nobody knows what’s going to happen here. Will things get physical?

Foley botches his cheap pop but covers for it quite hilariously – ‘right here…in a SUBURB of Boston, Massachusetts’. He brings Joe out and presents him with a Cactus Jack T-shirt. He also says he has an opportunity for Joe – a shot at HHH and the World Title…kinda. He’s giving him A SHOT at a shot at HHH and the World Title. He’s here to give Joe a spot in the Royal Rumble. He could phone Brian Gewirtz (RAW’s Head Writer) and make it happen…but Joe isn’t impressed. Foley says he sat down with Vince and watched an ROH DVD and a Samoa Joe match. To go to the WWE Joe needs to tone down his style (‘we got a guy in the WWE who hurts people – his name is RVD’ – Foley). He also needs to lose weight…and be called ‘Raw Fish Eating Joe’ and do Stinkfaces.

Naturally Joe is pretty furious by this point and again challenges Foley to a fight. Foley starts heeling up, and says Joe is nothing to him – he’s never been a big fish in a big pond on live TV and ppv like Mick has. He also rips on the ROH fans, but they don’t sell it and cheer Foley anyway. Foley says he’s not going to wrestle in front of a few hundred wrestling geeks when he can make a ton of money wrestling on pay-per-view. Instead he jumps Joe with a microphone and beats on the former ROH Champion. But Joe comes back with a JUMPING ENZIGURIIIIIIIII! Someone hands Mick a chair through the curtain and he lays Joe out with it. Eventually Joe gets a Double Arm DDT on a chair and that ends the segment. BANG BANG. That was phenomenal. Mick’s promo was amazing, and would’ve gone down far better with a crowd who were willing to buy him as a heel, and the brawl was fun. Great segment.

Colt Cabana is pissed off because Austin Aries gave him a brainbuster on the ramp – and injured him again just like he did at Scramble Cage Melee. He challenges Aries to a cage match on the next show.

Mick Foley chuckles to someone on the phone and says taking out Joe was easier than he thought. He’s bringing a real WWE superstar for the next show in New Jersey (don’t get your hopes up – it never happens. Assuming it was ever planned to actually be a WWE superstar).

Tape Rating – *** –
Gabe has stated on the message boards that this show was designed to feel like a TV taping, and he’s right – it has a very different feel to it than many other ROH shows. He’s also openly stated he wants ROH to be a more storyline driven promotion in 2005, and that shows too. Deranged/Azrieal, Strong/Students, the Ultimate Endurance were really untraditional ROH matches – with cheap finishes and squashes. There’s also the way it has two significant in-ring promo segments (just like a RAW or Smackdown taping) with Aries at the start and Joe/Foley at the end. The TV taping feel does affect match quality somewhat, as there is nothing fantastically good or memorable. However, with four matches at 3* or higher, it’s solid on that front – and the Joe/Foley segment is just unreal. I wouldn’t want every show to be like this, but as a one off it was an entertaining experience. It’s definitely skippable if you’re not a completist, and I don’t recommend it to those who want to see ROH at it’s best…but it’s definitely alright.

Top 3 Matches

3) Spanky vs Alex Shelley (***)

2) Austin Aries vs Colt Cabana (***)

1) Homicide vs Bryan Danielson (****)

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