057 ROH 3rd Anniversary Show Pt. 1 2/19/2005

ROH 57 – Third Anniversary Celebration: Part 1 – 19th February 2005

ROH has an ambitious spring schedule coming up, with five shows in the upcoming four weeks The first three of those being the designated Third Anniversary shows, then the 6-Man Tag tournament in Philly, rounding things off with the latest attempt to break into the Connecticut market. Obviously, after the traumatic year that ROH went through in 2004, it’s unsurprising their in celebratory mood for even making it this far. As such, we don’t just get one commemorative show, we get three. Kicking things off is this beast – a double DVD set, as ROH returns (in fact for the very last time) to the RexPlex. There’s a lot on the card tonight, in what surely is the single longest show ever. We’ll be main eventing with duelling cage matches, as Austin Aries defends again against Colt Cabana, whilst the usual suspects are all ready to return to the Scramble Cage. Homicide and Bryan Danielson’s Best of 5 series continues, Spanky continues his return with a big match against CM Punk. It’s Shelley/Jacobs AGAIN, Jay Lethal and Jimmy Rave are after the Pure Title, the debuts of Ebessan and Billy Ken Kid from Osaka Pro…and Samoa Joe and Mick Foley will attempt to settle their score. Lots to pack into the next five or so hours then. We’re in Elizabeth, NJ, sadly for the last time, as the RexPlex closed down shortly afterwards. Hosts are Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty.

Alex Shelley opens and he wants to know where Jack Evans stands in the GeNext split. Evans arrives on cue says he’s still with Generation Next, and tells Shelley to stay out of their business.

Punk and Corino goof around again. Corino has a broken hand and is bummed, whilst Punk is psyched for the Third Anniversary. He’s bitter that a young guy is trying to make a name for himself from a veteran just like he did. Corino storms off, but Punk is still chirpy. He gushes about how great it is that ROH is at the Third Anniversary. For 2005 Punk wants to win the ROH Title and get rid of GeNext like he got rid of Christopher Daniels.

Samoa Joe ponders what he should do now he’s not World Champion anymore. He says his ambition is to become the triple crown champion. He wants to make the Pure and Tag titles the way he made the World title. But first he has to get through Mick Foley’s mystery opponent. Jay Lethal is with him and Joe warns him that once he’s Pure Champion, Joe wants a shot.

The locker room empties and everyone looks ecstatic to be here. For someone that’s not even on the card, Fast Eddie gets a lot of camera time. CM Punk gets more promo time and again bigs up ROH for making it this far, and leads the wrestlers in a standing ovation for the fans. That’s a nice touch.

Steve Corino vs Roderick Strong

Corino is apparently throwing format out of the window by demanding this match takes place here and now. Anyway, this basically came about after Rod Strong massacred Alex Law and Ricky Landell (Steve Corino’s students) at It All Begins, then attacked Corino himself with a chair during the Ultimate Endurance match later the same night. Corino and GeNext already had beef after Corino interjected himself into the Saints/GeNext feud…and now Strong is looking to elevate himself at the expense of the former ECW Champion, who carries knee and hand injuries into this.

Strong sprints out and they explode out of the blocks with forearms. Strong scores with an early backbreaker which sends Corino outside. They brawl on the floor where Corino back drops Roderick into the front row. Strong looks for some chops on the floor but inadvertently chops the ringpost. Back in the ring Strong hits a dragon screw then attacks the knee he injured at It All Begins. Shinbreaker from Strong for 2. He props up a steel chair into the corner but then opts to start smacking Corino’s knee into the ringpost. He applies the figure 4 going for a submission. Corino escapes by kicking Strong into the chair which was still in the corner. Corino blocks a German attempt and hits a standing enziguri to bring himself back into the match. Ace crusher from Corino, ripping Homicide off, for 2. Running STO out of the corner, but he can’t capitalise, leaving both men down. Strong blocks a brainbuster and hits a Rock Bottom backbreaker for 2. CRADLE BACKBREAKER NO SOLD…but Strong floors Corino with a big boot. Corino’s students bundle into the ring and hit kicks on Strong as the referee is distracted, and Corino follows up with a northern lights bomb for 2. Strong ducks a lariat but takes a back suplex. Double knee gutbuster on Corino for 2. Corino blocks a powerbomb attempt and hits the lariat for the win at 11:13.

Rating – ** –
Fun, competitive opening contest, which actually did a lot for Roderick Strong. He’s always been the least over of the GeNext guys, but the passion Corino put into that performance, especially with so many injuries, really put Strong over. The match was classic Corino really, not the best match ever, but a great working of the crowd, giving them a match they really cared about. I could’ve done without the interference from Law and Landell though, or maybe Corino selling the knee a little more at the end, but hey, it’s the opener – who’s really expecting match of the night?

Since he’s a big babyface, he pays Strong respect after the match and offers a handshake…which Roderick declines.

Izzy and Deranged discuss drugs backstage, but Lacey makes them focus on Scramble Cage. She wants revenge on Azrieal, Dixie, Dunn and Marcos and orders her men to get it done.

Jimmy Rave vs Jay Lethal

Winner of this gets a Pure Title shot later tonight – which is interesting since Rave is the Crown Jewel of The Embassy, whilst Pure Champion John Walters is the faction’s newest recruit. Lethal has been desperate to get his hands on Rave for months, ever since Rave beat him at Weekend Of Thunder Night 2. Lethal has gone through two Weapons Of Mask Destruction, and gets his chance at a rematch, and the chance to strike a devastating blow to his enemies in The Embassy, beating the Crown Jewel and the Pure Champion in one night. Rave, of course, has Prince Nana, John Walters (who has hilarious new music and Aladdin ring attire) and the Outcast Killaz in his corner. He also needs a win here ahead of his big grudge match with AJ Styles next weekend in Dayton. Words can’t do justice as to how utterly ridiculous John Walters looks.

Since it’s Jay Lethal the crowd are psyched for this. They start with an intense lock up which neither man gets an advantage from. We get a real stiff chop exchange, and it’s Rave that goes down first. Lethal almost back body drops Rave through the roof, then gets 2 with a snap suplex. Rave with a slap to the face, but he quickly has to block the Dragon suplex. Jimmy whips Lethal ribs-first into the ringpost to finally get an advantage. On the floor Rave follows it up with shots to the guardrails and the ring apron. Bow and arrow submission on Lethal, then a punt to the ribs. Rave with a gutbuster for 2, as Lethal’s midsection is getting a working over. Jumping heel kick from Lethal, but he can’t follow up, and Rave locks in a modified abdominal stretch. Jimmy with a front suplex over the top rope, but his attempt for a spear through the ropes is blocked. Lethal off the top with a missile dropkick which sends Rave outside. RUNNING TOPE NAILED…but did that do more damage to his ribs? He goes to the top again for the DIVING HEADBUTT, but he can’t cover for a long time because it busted up his ribs. Backbreaker from Rave, then Ghanarea for 2. Lethal with a clothesline out of nowhere, but only for 2. Rave with a kick to the chest, then the CRAPPY WIZARD for 2. Jimmy wants the Rave Clash but Lethal escapes – DRAGON SUPLEX!! Lethal wins at 10:53.

Rating – *** –
What a performance from Lethal! I think I’ve made it clear I’m not buying into the hype with him as much as everyone else, but THAT was a money performance. Only with Low Ki at Midnight Express Reunion and Alex Shelley at Scramble Cage Melee has he managed to drag out a performance like that. Great job playing with sympathetic babyface, in front of the New Jersey fans that absolutely love this guy. And what about Jimmy Rave? A year ago he was working the angle with AJ Styles and looked like a wet blanket trying to aggressively target injuries…now a year later he has his cocky heel persona nailed, and was totally believable in this role. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but this match honestly made these two look like the future of ROH.

But that dastardly Prince Nana isn’t done yet. Lethal thinks he’s got some time to rest those rib injuries, but no such luck. Nana sends Walters into the ring, and it turns out Lethal gets his Pure Title shot here and now.

John Walters vs Jay Lethal – ROH Pure Title Match

This is definitely the biggest match of Lethal’s ROH career thus far. After putting a streak together against The Embassy (beating two Weapons of Mask Destruction, then the Outcast Killaz at It All Begins in a cut match, and now Jimmy Rave as well) he’s earned this title shot…but can he suck up the rib injuries to secure a popular first title change of 2005? Walters, meanwhile, returns after missing It All Begins – he was in Ghana on vacation you see!

Walters immediately stomps at the ribs and almost pins Lethal in the first five seconds. Immediately Walters takes it outside and rakes Jay’s eyes along the guardrail. Lethal gets bundled into the railings, which does still more damage to that midsection. Walters applies a surfboard in the middle of the ring. Lethal gets taken to the top rope, but he rolls through Walters hurricanrana attempt. Sharpshooter from Walters, and Lethal uses his first ropebreak to escape that. Dropkick out of nowhere from Lethal for 2. He hits a back suplex, but he’s slow to capitalise because his ribs and back are killing him. Inverted surfboard from Lethal, and Walters uses his first break to get out. Lethal struggles to the top rope but this time misses the diving headbutt. Boston Crab from Walters, but Lethal rolls through and puts him into the Sharpshooter! That costs Walters his second ropebreak to get free. Powerbomb from Walters for 2, then he locks in the Sharpshooter again. Yet again Lethal has to grab the ropes, so now both men only have one break left. Pumphandle backbreaker from Walters, and it’s followed with a camel clutch. Lethal busts his ass to escape that, but gets tripped by Oman Tortuga whilst the ref is distracted. TOPE ON NANA AND SANTIAGO! Lethal throws Walters out and blasts him with a double axehandle. He goes for a tope but Walters catches him and drops him over the guardrail. Back in the ring Walters puts Lethal in a body scissors, and Lethal uses his last ropebreak. Lethal escapes the Hurricane DDT and powerbombs Walters, leaving both men down. Lethal forgets the Pure rules and starts using right hands, then back body drops Walters. Jumping DDT off the second rope for 2. He goes upstairs again, but Walters catches him because he’s moving so slowly. Lethal pushes him off…PICTURE PERFECT ELBOW DROP FOR 2! Walters blocks the Dragon suplex…ROLLING LUNGBLOWERS! He pins Lethal and grabs the ropes (which is legal now since Lethal is out of breaks) for the win at 12:50.

Rating – *** –
Jay Lethal was on tonight. If he can consistently find this sort of form then he’ll go a long way to making a believer out of me. Unlike the Shelley matches, and unlike the Low Ki match, this time it wasn’t his opponents making him – he carried these two matches with his well-timed, well-executed comebacks, and the great, consistent selling of the ribs. For Walters part, turning him heel seemed to be a revelation (or maybe it was just wrestling the super-over Lethal), as the fans cared more about him than they have in the past 18 months. The fans were absolutely begging for a title change then.

Backstage Allison Danger leaves the locker room of Homicide and Julius Smokes as we look for a promo. Homicide says he’s beating Danielson in the Taped Fist Match tonight.

Billy Ken Kid vs Ebessan

A guest match from Osaka Pro is on the agenda now, as these two Japanese guys make their ROH debuts. Billy Ken Kid is renowned for being the better worker of the two, yet Ebessan is respected as one of the funniest workers around at the moment. Expect some form of comedy match here. Ebessan, meanwhile, is the single scariest looking wrestler ever. Seriously, not even in my nightmares could I imagine something so hideous. He’s about oompa-loompa height, has the scariest mask in wrestling and dresses like a clown.

Billy works the arm to start, which Ebessan sells by screaming ‘OUCH’ very loudly. They run through some near-miss stuff for some applause. Ebessan with a kick to the head, then a lucha armdrag. Ebessan goes to the floor and Ken Kid dives out with a somersault senton off the second rope. Slingshot Bronco Buster from Billy. Chop exchange in the middle of the ring, which Ebessan eventually sells Flair-flop style. Superkick from Ebessan, then a sit-out DVD for 2. Billy blocks a bulldog , then hits Stratusfaction for 2. Ebessan goes for a German but no dice and Billy gets another nearfall with a hurricanrana. Hideous handspring enziguri from Ebessan. Ken Kid almost puts it away with a backslide but Ebessan comes right back with a Shining Wizard. He (eventually) signals for the end, but Billy hits the MAXIMO EXPLOSION for 2. 450 Splash by Billy Ken Kid and he wins it at 07:24.

Rating – * –
I don’t enjoy Ebessan as much as some people, but he’s funny for what he does. In fairness, they actually abandoned a lot of the comedy in favour of more wrestling…which I don’t think was a bright move. The fans wanted to laugh, and these guys (particularly Ebessan) just can’t hang with this roster in terms of workrate. Billy Ken Kid is a talented guy though…I have no idea how old he is, but perhaps he’s one for the future. You might like this more than I did…

AJ STYLES RETURNS TO ROH – He’s coming back for one night only for revenge on Jimmy Rave at Part 2 of the Third Anniversary Celebrations in Dayton.

Jimmy Jacobs vs Alex Shelley

For the fourth time in a little over a year, these two meet. The previous encounters (The Last Stand, Death Before Dishonor 2 Part 2 and Joe vs Punk 2) have all ended the same way – Shelley coming out on top. As a video package reminds us, over that time, Shelley has been a real bastard to the HUSSmeister. He ditched him as his tag partner at Reborn Stage 2, and at Joe vs Punk 2 absolutely massacred him in an ‘I Quit’ Match. However, times change. Shelley claims to have changed his ways after being dumped out of Generation Next. He’s looking for forgiveness, and maybe if he can get it from the guy he’s wronged more than anyone else, then the rest of the locker room will start to accept his apologies. Jacobs, meanwhile, will be desperate to finally get a win over Shelley and push on up the card. He did once pin Shelley in ROH – in a great fourway at the Glory By Honor 2 dark matches. He pinned Shelley in a match that also featured Roderick Strong and Josh Daniels.

Shelley has gotten himself into incredible shape it has to be noted. Jacobs is all business for this one. As per usual their opening stuff is pretty smooth and it’s all pretty even. Jacobs fires in some slaps, but Shelley comes back with forearms, then a shortarm clothesline. Back suplex from Shelley, before he scales the ropes. He goes for a crossbody but Jacobs counters with a knee to the stomach. He follows up with a spear, then pounds his head against the canvas. They trade headbutts, before Jacobs starts biting Shelley in the head. Jimmy drop toeholds Shelley into the turnbuckle, then double stomps him back into it as he starts getting up. Stomps to the ribs from Jacobs as he continues to be aggressive. Shoulders to the stomach as Shelley is hung in the ropes, then a running spear. Shelley has his stomach used as a trampoline, then Jimmy drops into a senton across the stomach. Shelley comes back with slaps, then a snap suplex. Jacobs goes back to the ribs to re-establish himself. He goes for the spear in the ropes again, but this time Shelley moves and Jimmy flies through the ropes to the floor. SUPER KICK FLURRY from Shelley gets 2. Shelley gets caught on the top, but he gives Jacobs an inverted atomic drop off the ropes, then a swinging fisherman’s suplex for 2. Shelley looks for an inverted superplex but Jacobs elbows him off…BACKWARDS SENTON SPLASH! Both men get back up and take it in turns to strike each other. Shelley blocks the Contra Code but gets a big boot to the face. BORDER CITY STRETCH out of nowhere but Jacobs makes the ropes. He goes for the Contra Code again but Shelley blocks once more, then Shellshocks him into the turnbuckles. JACOBS WITH SHELLSHOCK for 2…BORDER CITY STRETCH ON SHELLEY! Shelley can counter it though, and he puts Jimmy into the Border City Stretch again. Jimmy taps for another loss to Alex Shelley at 13:05.

Rating – *** –
This was definitely their worst ROH match, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, because it was. When these two step into the ring with each other it’s practically impossible for them to have a “bad match”, simply because they’ve wrestled each other so many times. However, this wasn’t their best effort. Now that Shelley is a babyface he wrestled the match as such, and the fans really didn’t dig the guy they wanted to cheer (Jacobs) heeling it up somewhat and going all aggressive to get the win, meanwhile the man they wanted to boo (Shelley) practically begging for some sympathy in his comebacks. Plus working the ribs after all the stuff with Jay Lethal earlier in the night seemed foolish, since it was never going to be as over as Lethal.

Shelley gets on the stick and says he’s going to earn everyone’s respect and forgiveness for his sins in Generation Next. He offers Jacobs a handshake, but Jimmy blasts him with the Contra Code instead. Clearly he’s not ready to forgive quite yet…

Jim Cornette hypes up his appearance in Chicago at Part 3 of the celebrations. He’s coming for revenge on Bobby Heenan in front of his hometown fans. He underestimated Bobby last time, but won’t be making the same mistake twice.

Spanky vs CM Punk

This is quite the match to just be throwing on the undercard. Spanky made his long-awaited return to ROH at It All Begins and got his first win since Road To The Title when he beat Alex Shelley. Now he wants to continue to climb back up the ranks by beating one of the men that cemented his place in ROH in Spanky’s absence – CM Punk. Punk said earlier tonight he wants to get back into title contention. Beating someone like Spanky is clearly something he needs to do in order for that to happen. Spanky’s new entrance music is Electric 6’s ‘Danger! High Voltage’…awesome.

Punk is so not over as a face in New Jersey. Spanky wastes no time in trapping him in a headlock. They continue the methodically paced chaining with neither man gaining a real advantage. Spanky tries to wear Punk down with a front facelock, but Punk is able to counter back to a headlock. Spanky misses a knee drop and Punk capitalises with an armdrag. Hurricanrana from Spanky, then an armbar. Swinging neckbreaker from Punk leaves Spanky down for 2. He attacks the neck with headbutts, then stomps on it. Rear chinlock applied, still focusing on that new injury. Next he locks in a headscissors on the mat, but Spanky grabs the ropes. Jumping guillotine over the top rope from Punk, but as he goes to the top Spanky fires back by kicking him off. Spanky attacks the knee with rapidity and aggression, kicking and elbow dropping it. He smacks the knee around the ringpost for further damage. Leglock from Spanky, which has Punk squirming in pain. Punk tries to come back with right hands, but Spanky keeps kicking the leg. Punk blocks a Sliced Bread #2 attempt then takes Spanky upstairs for an INVERTED superplex. Clothesline from Punk, followed by the mule kick. Mounted punches in the corner, but Spanky counters with an inverted atomic drop. He dropkicks the knee and Punk immediately goes down. Flatliner from Spanky for 2. Neckbreaker over the knee, then a lariat, before he climbs the rope. Frog splash attempt by Spanky, but Punk gets the knees up – which hurts him in the process. Punk goes for a piledriver but his knee gives out. He attempts a Shining Wizard but Spanky counters with a superkick for 2. Sliced Bread #2 off the ropes attempted, but Punk blocks and hits a double underhook facebuster (since he can’t do the backbreaker because of his knee) for 2. Spanky blocks the Pepsi Twist, then the Devil Lock DDT, but Spanky blocks…SLICED BREAD #2! Spanky wins at 14:41.

Rating – *** –
The crowd was absolutely dead for this, which was disappointing. It’s a good thing every crowd isn’t as negative towards Punk as the New Jersey guys because his matches have zero heat. This match doesn’t have the best reputation, but I kind of enjoy it. Some of the exchanges are awkward (I believe this is the first time they’ve met in a singles match), but I appreciate the sound psychology and story-telling…especially Punk not doing the Welcome to Chicago backbreaker because of his knee. Definitely something that carries over to tape much better than for the live audience I think.

Prince Nana arrives with the Outcast Killaz and attempts to recruit Spanky for The Embassy. Spanky politely refuses, which causes Punk to laugh. Nana takes offence, and gives Punk a slap. The Outcast Killaz try to attack him but comically screw up…then Punk sprays Nana with air-freshener. The Embassy bail, and Punk reminds them that they ‘ain’t sh*t’ compared to the Second City Saints.

Havana Pitbulls vs Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer – ROH Tag Title Match

This is a rematch from Weekend Of Thunder Night 2, when Maff and Whitmer went close, but couldn’t quite get the win and regain the belts they held for an hour at Round Robin Challenge 3. They earned this shot by defeating the Carnage Crew in the Fight Without Honor at Final Battle 2004. The Pitbulls are fresh off another successful Ultimate Endurance defence (the first culminating in a memorable win over Maff and Whitmer ironically) when they overcame the Carnage Crew and the Punk/Corino combination. They’re still not over as champions despite their talent and six month title reign. Beyond Ultimate Endurance at Glory By Honor 3, they just haven’t had enough memorable matches to be considered a success. Is this a statement on how good they are, or an indictment on the somewhat poor state of ROH’s tag division at the moment? As I said at the outset of the Carnage Crew feud, Maff and Whitmer are capable of carrying the division as it attempts to recover…are they going to get that chance? Apparently Maff and Whitmer have stated that if they don’t win the belts tonight they’ll split up.

Reyes immediately traps Maff in a headlock to start the match. Maff no-sells some chops then drops Reyes with one of his own. Romero and Whitmer in, and they hit each other with stiff boots. They fire off slaps next, and Romero gets the better of that. Romero gets floored with a high knee then a reverse elbow. Whitmer gets 2 with a back suplex. Reyes takes a scoop slam but manages to tag Romero in and suddenly the Pitbulls are in the ascendancy. Jumping knee strike from Romero, and Whitmer falls to the floor where Smokes and Reyes double team him. In the ring legally now, Reyes plants BJ with a spinebuster, then stretches him over his knees for Romero to come in with a springboard knee drop. Backbreaker from Reyes for 2. Romero mounts Whitmer and fires off a few cocky slaps. He holds BJ prone for a slingshot hilo from Reyes which gets another 2-count. Exploder suplex out of nowhere from Whitmer, and now both men are down. Tags all round, and Maff no-sells a dropkick then press slams Romero into a senton for 2. Jumping heel kick on Reyes, then the cannonball senton on Rocky for 2. Romero goes for a double axehandle but takes a belly to belly suplex. Romero blocks a lariat and traps Maff in the bodyscissors hammerlock that. Maff tags out to Whitmer who trades German suplexes with Reyes. Saito suplex from Whitmer, and both men are down again. Maff in, and Reyes traps him in a triangle choke. Maff powers out though and gives Reyes the HALF NELSON SUPLEX. Reyes gets up though…BURNING HAMMER! We have ourselves new champions at 10:36.

Rating – ** –
Not a great match, and certainly not as good as their first contest, or even the Ki/Romero match at Death Before Dishonor 2 Part 1. The crowd again hurt it, as they sat on their hands, meaning it was almost completely devoid of drama. There was nothing actively wrong with it, it was just a battle of two teams who aren’t over enough trading moves with little flow, rhyme or reason, and a finish that was completely out of nowhere. At least the crowd popped big for the title change, which bodes well for the future reign of Maff and Whitmer.

Allison Danger comes out and says this was a non-title match (remember, she owns Maff and Whitmer’s contracts). Maff takes the time to spear Julius Smokes into the guardrails, before Danger is trapped on her own with her former Prophecy members. Maff forces Allison to tear the contract up, meaning they’re free at last. Whitmer celebrates by giving her the WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER!! But still they’re not done, as Maff puts her in a figure 4…and Whitmer comes off the top with a frog splash. That’s that angle done then…OUCH!

GMC comes to the ring to make a big announcement. ROH will be working with NJPW and the NWA to host the Best of American Super Juniors tournament, with the winner advancing the Best of the Super Juniors tournament in Japan.

Next out is Mick Foley to a huge pop. Remember he promises a big name WWE star to teach Samoa Joe a lesson tonight. Mick b*tches about not getting heat for his heel antics in Boston. He says he was going to bring Test in, but that isn’t happening. Foley also could’ve wrestled Joe himself but after his encounter with Joe at It All Begins, he’s in now physical condition to wrestle him. Instead he’s giving the opportunity to one of wrestling’s rising stars…which gives us the following match.

Vordell Walker vs Samoa Joe

This is quite the auspicious debut for Walker. He’s impressed Gabe with his performances in FIP (the promotion Gabe books in Florida) enough to earn this shot, and apparently was quite impressive at Do Or Die 4 which took place on the afternoon of this show, dispatching Cheech of Special K, and has also taken Austin Aries close for the ROH Title in FIP. Joe, meanwhile, is looking for some revenge on Mick Foley before he presses ahead with his ambitions to be the first triple crown champion in ROH history. Can Walker make a name for himself right here with a huge victory?

Vordell takes the advantage with a dropkick but quickly gets taken over with a throw from Joe. Chop/kick combo from Joe, into the knee drop. Walker bails, which of course leaves him prone to Joe’s ELBOW SUICIDA! E Honda slaps on the floor from the Samoan. Walker comes back with an armdrag then a judo throw, before going for a cross armbreaker. Joe escapes and hammers him with knee strikes, then slaps on the Choke. Incredibly Vordell fights free and plasters Joe with a standing enziguri. Standing moonsault from Walker for 2. Walker goes for a DVD but Joe slips free. E Honda slaps again, then an enziguri kick which flattens Walker. Somehow he still gets up, but runs straight into the Choke, and he’s unconscious at 04:07.

Rating – * –
Nothing more than a squash. Walker didn’t exactly do anything to be criticised for, and there really wasn’t much opportunity for him to demonstrate his talents, but he didn’t sell himself enormously. He looked a little nervous admittedly, but he’s done enough to impress Gabe in FIP, so I’m not going to judge him on this.

But Mick Foley has a back up plan. Tonight he’s going to be passing the torch to someone, and he will finally teach Samoa Joe a lesson. He has the tenacity of Cactus Jack, the psychotic tendencies of Mankind and the dancing ability of Dude Love…yes, the name on the tip of everyone’s tongues…it’s Ebessan Jack.

Samoa Joe vs Ebessan Jack – Hardcore Match

Yep, now Samoa Joe is up against Ebessan, dressed up as Cactus Jack. In fairness, Ebessan looks hilarious, both in terms of his attire and his mocking of Foley’s mannerisms. Unfortunately, he is oompa loompa height and is surely in for a savaging.

It’s under hardcore rules since Ebessan Jack is the new hardcore icon. Ebessan with Foley-esque right hands , but he doesn’t have the bulk to shoulder tackle Joe. Ebessan with a stomp to the head, and he promptly runs away before Joe can catch him. Ebessan with the running knee in the corner as he continues the Mick Foley style offence. Joe gets thrown to the floor where Foley slams him into the railings then gives him a clothesline. Ebessan prepares for the Cactus elbow drop…but is too scared to do it from the second rope, and the first rope, and the apron. Finally he just elbow drops him on the floor for a deafening ‘holy sh*t’ chant. They botch a powerslam spot, but Joe recovers do deliver it at the second time of asking. Powerbomb from Joe, into the STF, but Ebessan makes the ropes. Bootscrapes from Joe, then the running one for extra punishment. Foley slips Ebessan Mr Socko…MANDIBLE CLAW! Unfortunately Joe just bites Ebassan’s hand then gives him an enziguri. Foley trips Joe up and joins his protégé in the ring to stomp on Joe. Right hands from Foley, but Joe destroys him with a clothesline. STO slam on Ebessan…THEN THE MUSCLEBUSTER! That’s Ebessan pretty much dead with 06:27 on the watch.

Rating – * –
It’s funny stuff, but at the end of the day, ultimately pointless. The fans came to see Joe vs a WWE star, or Joe vs Foley. Squashes, comedy or otherwise, aren’t really a great way to settle the feud between Mick Foley and Samoa Joe. Still, for comedic value, this was much better than Ebessan/Billy Ken Kid earlier.

Joe and Foley get into a fight, as Mick drills Joe with the double arm DDT then a swinging neckbreaker on the floor. Joe comes back though and gives Ebessan a chair shot. Foley and Ebessan get sat on a chair, which means only one thing. OLE OLE KICK CONNECTS! He sets up for another one, but someone attacks him from behind – it’s Austin Aries. He takes Joe into the ring and gives him the swinging elbow drop. He’s softening up Joe for their rematch in Chicago next week, assuming he gets past Colt Cabana tonight. Aries leaves with Foley…and Joe is in a heap.

We get a clip from a recent FIP show. Danielson and Homicide’s feud has spilled into that promotion as well. Danielson floors Homicide with a roaring elbow after Homicide’s successful title defence against Rocky Romero.

Homicide vs Bryan Danielson – Best of 5 Series Match 2 – Taped Fist Match

Do I really need to be hyping this that much? Danielson has been feuding with the Rottweilers since December, and is now embroiled in this Best of 5 Series with Homicide. Homicide leads 1-0 after winning their Tap Out Match at It All Begins, but Homicide needed significant help from Julius Smokes in order to get it done. After the match Danielson floored Homicide with brass knucks, hence now we have ourselves a Taped Fist Match. The concept of this is pretty simple. Both guys have their knuckles heavily taped in order to make their punches much more brutal. Significantly, J-Train won’t be at ringside either, still selling the effects of Dan Maff spearing him into the guardrails. Rocky Romero is with ‘Cide though.

It starts like a boxing match as they look for the killer punches with the taped fists. Homicide in fact rolls to the floor to avoid a right hand out of a headlock. It’s Homicide that gets the first shots in though, as he hammers away on Danielson in the corner. Danielson comes back with some punches of his own, before the two come to a stand off. Kicks from Dragon, then another big punch and Homicide goes down. Homicide throws Dragon to the floor to get himself a break. Back rake on the floor from Cide, but Danielson flings him into the railings then clotheslines him into the front row. They brawl into the crowd just like at It All Begins. Homicide throws a chair at Danielson then throws some serious right hands. Chair to the shoulder from Homicide, perhaps again testing the arm injury they exposed way back at All Star Extravaganza 2. Homicide goes for a suplex, but Danielson reverses it and SUPLEXES HIM ONTO AN OPEN CHAIR! The fight carries on though, and Homicide whips Dragon through an entire row of chairs then smacks him in the head with a garbage can. They’ve made it to the bleachers where Homicide spikes Dragon with a DDT. Danielson comes back with European uppercuts though, then pummels Homicide with kicks all over the body. We’re still in the bleachers, and Dragon rains down punches. Homicide comes back by pulling out a fork.

Homicide just starts raking Danielson in the head with the fork, which is just sick to watch. Back to ringside with Danielson bleeding from the fork attack. He continues maliciously raking Dragon in the head even once they return to the ring. The ref finally takes the fork away, but Homicide just starts punching Danielson instead. Dragon tries to fight back with right hands, and lifts Homicide into the airplane spin. Homicide rakes the eyes and face to escape that. He climbs the ropes and nails a taped fist drop off the second for 2. Old School Expulsion on Dragon by Homicide, as he steals Steve Corino’s move. Is that feud still alive? He goes for a fist drop with the fork, but Danielson moves. Right hands from Dragon, then the Mexican surfboard. Homicide escapes that by going to the eyes, just like the airplane spin. Danielson blocks the Lariat with a punch to the arm…CATTLE MUTILATION! Homicide isn’t tapping so he switches it to the pin for 2. To the top rope where Danielson hits a BACK SUPERPLEX! Both men get up at the same time and just tee off on each other. Rocky Romero distracts the referee as Smokes limps to ringside and tapes brass knucks inside Homicide’s taped fist. BRASS KNUCKS RIGHT HAND from Homicide and that’s Danielson knocked out at 17:52. Homicide now leads 2-0 in the series.

Rating – *** –
Nowhere near as good as their previous efforts, because there just wasn’t any wrestling. The stuff in the crowd was pretty crazy, and Homicide pulling out the fork, just as with the tope con hilo in Boston, made this series seem incredibly important. It was a vicious, violent affair, but I definitely prefer it when they wrestle, as opposed to brawl. The next match in the series is in Chicago, at the third show of the Celebration week.

INTERMISSION – GMC is with Maff and Whitmer. Obviously they’re happy at being new Tag champions. Maff seems particularly psyched after being in ROH for all three years of its existence. They promise to be the longest reigning champions in ROH history.

Shawn Price is with Bryan Danielson who seems pretty pissed off with the ending to the match. Dragon challenges Homicide to a fight in the parking lot after the show…

Austin Aries vs Colt Cabana – ROH World Title Steel Cage Match

Cabana earned himself a rematch from It All Begins last month because Aries was a bastard and needed to use a brainbuster on the steel ramp to finally put the Second City Saint down. Lets not forget, it was also Aries that put Cabana on the shelf for months after 450ing his arm between steel chairs at Scramble Cage Melee. This is Cabana’s last chance to win the belt, and this time it’s in a cage to make sure Aries can’t bail or try something low like using the ramp.

Aries starts the match by immediately running for the door and trying to escape. Cabana manages to cut him off, but it’s immediately clear what Aries’ goal is in this match. They wrestle pretty cautiously at first, feeling each other out. Cabana tries to climb out but Aries drags him down. Dropkick from Aries to counter a sunset flip. Back body drop from Cabana, then a series of body slams. Aries keeps getting up though, and he eventually takes a body drop into the cage. Springboard forearm from Colt as Austin looked to throw him into the cage. He levels the champion with a huge lariat, and the challenger is in control. He tries to climb out again, but Aries dropkicks his leg at the last second to stop it. Cabana is sandwiched between the ropes and the cage, and Aries keeps dropkicking his face into the cage. Colt hangs between the ropes and Aries gives him a springboard double axehandle for 2. Cabana is bleeding now, and Aries shows no mercy by raking his face against the mesh. Cabana catches Aries and throws him into a tree of woe then goes for the door. Aries grabs the ankle out of desperation whilst still in the tree of woe. Swinging stunner from Aries to the bloody Cabana. Aries tries to climb out, but Cabana grabs a leg. He press slams Austin off the top to get him down. Aries kicks Cabana in the face for 2. He stomps on the hands to cut off Colt’s climbing ability. Cabana no-sells some right hands from Aries and palm strikes him in the face. Aries gets thrown head-first into the cage repeatedly. Cabana rakes Aries’ face into the cage then tries to escape again. Aries scales the cage alongside him, and goes for the crucifix driver off the ropes, but Cabana shoves him off. MOONSAULT PRESS FROM CABANA! Once more he goes for the escape, but again Aries climbs up after him. SUPER RANA from Aries, and both men are on the floor again. Aries with a dropkick in the corner, but he almost dropkicks Cabana through the door to the floor. Both men climb up the cage again and slug it out on the top rope. Cabana hits a bionic elbow, but Aries falling down crotches him on the top rope. Roaring elbow from Aries, and he wants to escape again. Cabana drags him back into the spinning Razor’s Edge for 2. Both men fight to drag themselves out the door. Finally Aries gives up on that and slams the door into Cabana’s head. Aries goes for the brainbuster, but Cabana blocks…and gets a knee to the head for his trouble. Aries climbs the cage but Cabana hoists him onto his shoulders. ARIES NAILS A REVERSE HURRICANRANA…but Cabana kicks out at 2. Cabana blocks the brainbuster again and starts suplexing Aries into the cage. CABANA WITH A BRAINBUSTER! He climbs the cage to escape, but AGAIN Aries pulls him back. They’re fighting on the top again, and Colt punches out the champion. He climbs over the cage and is just inches from the floor…BUT ARIES TOPE CON HILO’S THROUGH THE DOOR TO LAND JUST SECONDS BEFORE HIM! Aries retains at 20:37.

Rating – **** –
Well, that surprised me. I wasn’t expecting too much from this, but these two provided a really unique, and cleverly worked cage match. They didn’t break out the crazy high spots of a Scramble Cage match, and they didn’t go down the excessive blood-loss route like Samoa Joe and Jay Briscoe did last year…instead they worked the crowd with a clever battle of two men wanting the belt so badly they were willing to flee the cage at any second. Plus the finish was absolutely incredible…and perfectly timed. Aries took that bump with absolutely no protection, and that must have killed his back. Still, he’s still got the belt, and that’s all that counts. Comparisons with Joe/Briscoe are inevitable, and it’s not on that level. It was never as dramatic, intense or emotional, and won’t be making any major ripples when it comes to the end of 2005 and we’re discussing MOTY candidates…but it’s good stuff.

Backstage Shawn Price finds Homicide, and tells him of Danielson’s challenge. Homicide accepts, and it seems they’ll be fighting after the show.

Generation Next vs Special K vs Carnage Crew vs Dixie/Azrieal vs Dunn & Marcos – Scramble Cage Match

This is a return to the original Scramble Cage format from Main Event Spectacles. Two teams start, another enters every 90 seconds, they can’t be a winner till every team has entered. And there’s numerous issues in this as well. Obviously there’s the in-fighting between the Special K factions. Lacey has led Izzy and Deranged (who are representing the faction in this) along with Cheech and Cloudy to kicking out Dixie and Azrieal, so those four men will want to be getting their hands on each other. Plus Lacey has a huge problem with Dunn & Marcos, who insulted her at Glory By Honor 3, then spanked her at Final Battle 2004. The Carnage Crew are Scramble Cage veterans, and are all about the violence, whilst Generation Next’s (Roderick Strong and Jack Evans) involvement means a return to Scramble Cage for Evans, who made his name in the first one at Main Event Spectacles, then put in an unbelievable performance, winning Scramble Cage Melee back in August. As if there wasn’t enough at stake, the winner in this gets ten times their normal pay, whilst the losing team is suspended for 90 days.

Strong b*tchslaps Deranged to gets us underway. Satellite headscissors from Deranged to come back, but Evans takes him out then goes at it with Izzy. Moonsault dropkick from Izzy, which sends Jack into the cage. Strong throws Izzy through the door to the floor. Inverted headscissors from Deranged to Strong. The Carnage Crew are out next and they come in and start beating on Roderick Strong. DeVito gives him a northern lights suplex into the corner, and that’s followed with a Carnageplex for Evans. Dixie and Azrieal make their way out as the Crew give Deranged the splash mountain neckbreaker. Dixie and Azrieal haven’t even got into the ring by the time Dunn & Marcos arrive. STAAAAAGE DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVES into the ring from the Ring Crew Express. Assisted Shiranui on DeVito, then the electric chair senton for 2. Roderick Strong is injured and has already been taken to the back, meaning Evans is on his own now. Evans goes to the top of the cage with Azrieal. Azrieal goes for a back superplex but GETS THROWN OFF THE TOP. 450 SPLASH FROM EVANS ON DUNN! Azrieal is already climbing back up though, as is DeVito. DEVITO WITH A MOONSAULT OFF THE CAGE! AZRIEAL COMES OFF WITH A DOUBLE STOMP TO IZZY! Men start spilling to the floor where Dixie throws Evans into the guardrail. DeVito brings a table into the ring, as Cloudy sends Jack Evans into the first row. DeVito takes Izzy to a platform and they look set for a Spike Piledriver through the table. But Dunn makes the save…AND IZZY NAILS A CRAZY PHOENIX SPLASH TO EVERYONE ON THE FLOOR! Dunn and Marcos are on the platform with Loc on the table below. ELECTRIC CHAIR SENTON OFF THE CAGE AND THROUGH THE TABLE!!! MARCOS PINS LOC…AND THE RING CREW EXPRESS HAVE DONE IT!! 10:24 is your time. It’s Dunn & Marcos that will be getting that extra pay, and the Carnage Crew are suspended for 90 days.

Rating – *** –
All the insanity and fun you’d expect from a Scramble Cage, but it just wasn’t on the same level as any of it’s predecessors. It lacked the significance and uniqueness of the first one, the violence of Scramble Cage II, and just wasn’t as absolutely nuts as Scramble Cage Melee. Plus Roderick Strong getting injured seemed to disrupt it a bit, and take Evans out of the match. Still, there were wild spots, like Izzy’s phoenix splash to the floor…and Dunn & Marcos getting that first big win was sensational. They were popular and justified winners as the Third Anniversary Celebrations got underway. Great job from all concerned…and hopefully Rod Strong’s injury isn’t too severe.

GMC is backstage with Alex Shelley. He bemoans his bad luck of recent months, and compares it to seeing your girlfriend sleeping with another guy. He reiterates his desire to earn everyone’s respect. He apologises for his actions whilst in Generation Next, and vows to make good on his promises. He’s also coming for Aries and the World Title, and revenge on GeNext.

The Carnage Crew are near inconsolable after their suspension. Apparently Dunn & Marcos are Loc’s students. They promise that when they come back they’re gonna be crazier than ever.

Outside Bryan Danielson is waiting for Homicide. The Notorious 187 doesn’t take long in turning up and they proceed to fight around outside. They throw each other into the side of a truck, before fighting inside where the crew are taking the ring down. They finally get pulled apart by a bunch of people…and this issue is still red hot.

Apparently this is three days removed from the show, and he hypes his live Good Times, Great Memories in Chicago. His guest for now is Bobby Heenan, who has some harsh words for Jim Cornette. They’ll clash again in Chicago…and we’re out.

Tape Rating – *** –
Wow that was one long ass show. It’s got a bad reputation as being the worst of the three Anniversary shows, and if that’s the case, the Dayton and Chicago events should be something special. This was a really solid, if overly long show. Nothing was actively bad, outside of Joe/Walker, which was very short. On the positive side, there’s fun matches between Spanky/Punk, Shelley/Jacobs, Dragon/Homicide, and then the cage matches provide ample main events. Cabana/Aries was well executed, whilst Scramble Cage didn’t disappoint. Nothing from this show is stand-out amazing or MOTY worthy, but it’s solid. Admittedly the Joe/Foley stuff left a sour taste in my mouth because it was a lousy way to end their feud, but at least they used it effectively to build for the Joe/Aries rematch in Chicago. Anyway…this is recommended. As a new fan getting into ROH, this is a good place to start. It’s a nice long show, and you get to see all sides of ROH. Great wrestling in Spanky/Punk or Shelley/Jacobs or the Pure Title matches, a crazy brawl in Homicide/Dragon, a fun cage match, and then wild high spots inside the Scramble Cage. Plus there’s some comedy with Ebessan thrown in along the way…just don’t attempt to watch it in one sitting. This monster is over five hours long…

Top 3 Matches

3) Jay Lethal vs John Walters (***)

2) Dunn & Marcos vs Carnage Crew vs Generation Next vs Special K vs Dixie/Azrieal (***)

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

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