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059 ROH 3rd Anniversary Pt. 3 2/26/2005

ROH 59 – Third Anniversary Celebration: Part 3 – 26th February 2005

The Third Anniversary train arrives for its final stop tonight. After two excellent shows prior to it, it’s got a lot to live up to. We have a tasty line-up tonight to make that happen. Top of the bill is the rematch everyone wants to see – Austin Aries defends the ROH Title against Samoa Joe. Elsewhere, the war between CM Punk and The Embassy kicks off in earnest as Punk is scheduled to wrestle Jimmy Rave. Homicide and Bryan Danielson’s next match in the series is also tonight. After brawling over the buildings in Elizabeth and Dayton, it’ll be a Falls Count Anywhere match. Spanky and Jimmy Jacobs battle over the Shiranui (Sliced Bread #2 or Contra Code if you prefer), James Gibson wrestles, Alex Shelley gets his hands on Jack Evans…oh yeah, there’s Bobby Heenan and Jim Cornette in the building looking to settle scores if you weren’t already happy. Honestly this is the 3YA card I was least excited about, but lets see if I was wrong. We’re in Chicago Ridge, IL. Commentators are Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty (who have done an excellent job on all the 2005 shows thus far).

Austin Aries and Jack Evans open the show. Aries says he’s beating Joe again tonight to silence all the doubters. He’s also sending Evans after Shelley tonight to finally get him out of GeNext business…AND next week they’re going to win the Trios Tournament.

The Embassy arrive to rile up the crowd. Basically he says Rave is ending ‘Common Man’ CM Punk’s career tonight. Naturally that pisses the Chicago crowd off.

Fast Eddie vs Matt Sydal

This is most definitely a grudge match for Matt Sydal. His partner in the Air Devils turned his back on him and joined The Embassy after just one match (they defeated Dunn & Marcos), then allowed Jimmy Rave to give him the Rave Clash. Can Sydal get some quick revenge here and now? Eddie has both Prince Nana and Jimmy Rave in his corner.

Sydal starts out cautiously because he’s aware of Rave and Nana at ringside. Eddie takes advantage by getting aggressive and slapping him in the face. Sydal escapes a DVD attempt and gives Eddie a nice armdrag. Springboard from Sydal, but Eddie catches him with a powerslam for 2. He doesn’t learn though, Sydal quickly goes for a crossbody and gets caught again. DVD over the knee from Eddie, then a big kick to the back. Eddie with a press slam backbreaker on Sydal, but he comes back with a spinning heel kick off the second rope for 2. Aftershock backbreaker from Eddie, and that snuffs out that comeback. He applies a dragon sleeper to wear down the high-flier. Cradle back suplex from Eddie, and that dumps Sydal on his head for 2. Enzicanrana from Sydal brings him back, then an inverted satellite headscissors as Sydal starts no-selling the back Eddie has spent the past 5 minutes working on. The Embassy retreat up the aisle…SO SYDAL SPRINGBOARD PLANCHAS AFTER THEM! HANGTIME BABY! Eddie returns to the ring and crotches Sydal on the top rope. Fast Eddie goes for the moonsault fallaway slam but Sydal gets the knees up (I think). They chop lumps out of each other as Nana chatters on the microphone. Sydal scales the ropes but he’s distracted by Nana. Eddie catches him and drags him down for a TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER! That’s the win for Eddie at 10:07.

Rating – ** –
Surprisingly, Fast Eddie impressed me far more than Matt Sydal in that match. He had a very direct and effective assault on Sydal’s back…but Sydal simply no-sold it to start hitting all his high-spots. I appreciate it’s a lowly undercard match and the crowd are here to be excited by the highspots…but personally I’d have been far more impressed with a tad more selling. It turns out Eddie is really dislikeable as a heel…so I sense this run in The Embassy will work out well for him. Matt Sydal must again wait for his chance to break out sadly. The distance he got on that plancha was completely insane though.

Samoa Joe says he’s taking his belt back, and getting revenge for Aries siding with Foley last weekend.

Jack Evans vs Alex Shelley

This is the first time Shelley has been able to get his hands on a member of GeNext. Evans wasn’t part of the initial action to kick the former leader out (that was Strong and Aries at Final Battle 2004) but last week in Elizabeth told Shelley he was siding with the new leader and his tag partner. So the motivation for both is clear. Evans wants to take Shelley down before he can do damage to the faction and get at Austin Aries. Shelley wants a measure of revenge and to get one step closer to that precious title shot. Mark Nulty points out this is only Evans’ second ever one-on-one match in ROH.

Shelley offers Jack one last chance to repent and leave GeNext…and gets slapped in the face for it. Evans tries to chain with Shelley but eventually gets blasted with a forearm to the face. Evans rides a hiptoss and gets in a few forearms of his own…but then gets trapped in a CRADLE dragon sleeper. Shelley avoids a knee strike and dropkicks Jack in the face. Evans goes for a springboard but Alex wipes out his knee and Jack bounces off the ropes to the canvas. Cloverleaf bow and arrow stretch from Shelley, as he continues his mission to snap Evans. SKULLF*CK!! Shelley kicks ass. Now he applies an INVERTED Lion Tamer. He’s being as destructive as Bryan Danielson was last June. He next uses an backbreaker stretch over the shoulder, but Evans escapes and hits a dropkick. He goes for a running knee but Shelley moves and Evans flies over the ropes to the floor. SPINNING PLANCHA from Shelley, as now he tries to out-fly Jack. Corkscrew enziguri from Evans for 2, before he applies an armbar, complete with kicks to the head. Spinning heel kick then a standing twisting shooting star press for 2. Now he hits springboard twisting senton, before applying an octopus stretch. Shelley comes back with a powerbomb to counter a rana, and both guys take a while to recover. Flying forearm from Shelley…followed by Sweet Chin Music, but Evans avoids that and hits a standing twisting moonsault for 2. SHELLSHOCK out of nowhere…but Evans kicks out at 2! Evans still isn’t finished, as he counters a body slam with a DDT. He climbs the ropes, but Shelley avoids the 630. SUPERKICK…BUT EVANS KICKS OUT AGAIN! He cuts Shelley off on the top rope, but gets thrown down. Inverted atomic drop from Jack, then the running knee strike. FISHERMAN SUPERPLEX for 2! He goes for the 630…HOLY SH*T SHELLEY GOT THE KNEES UP! He tries to snap Evans in half with an inverted half crab, and Jack finally has to tap at 13:49.

Rating – *** –
Well that was a whole lot of fun, and demonstrated just how far Jack Evans is improving as a wrestler. He’s an entertaining and charismatic guy, which really helps him get over, but his timing is fantastic. He’s learning all the time when and how to time his big comebacks, and when to break out the high-flying moves. He just needs to add a few more high impact moves to his arsenal to go with the flying, and maybe some better striking too. Shelley, meanwhile, showed himself to be a quality worker once more. The fans bought into his babyface act for the first time, and he walked Evans to an enjoyable encounter. He’s still on for a title shot somewhere down the line, as he’s gone 2-1 over the Anniversary week.

The lights go out after the bell, and Austin Aries makes his way to the ring. They waste no time and start slugging it out, and with Evans on his side, Aries is soon able to give Shelley the BRAINBUSTAAAAAH! Aries sandwiches Shelley’s arm in chairs…AND EVANS ALMOST KILLS HIMSELF GIVING THE CHAIRS A 630 SENTON! Aries has sent a message to one of his top contenders…and possibly injured him too. By that I mean, Shelley isn’t booked on the next two shows, I assume for Zero-One commitments, so that’s an awesome angle to cover it. Plus he has no friends to compete in the Trios Tournament anyway…

Cabana milks his hometown for as many pops and chants as he can. His guest (for the third time in GTGM history – surely a record) is WWE HOFer Bobby Heenan. Weasel runs over his history in his hometown of Chicago. He thanks everyone for his 40 years in the business, and puts over ROH bigtime. They couldn’t end a segment like that though…because here comes Jim Cornette – flanked by ROH Tag Champions Dan Maff and BJ Whitmer. Cornette runs down Chicago and b*tches about Bobby hitting him with the tennis racket at All Star Extravaganza 2. This time will be different though, because he’s got Whitmer and Maff to back him up. He challenges Heenan to find two guys to wrestle them. Heenan has Cabana of course…and his newfound friend (as of last night) Nigel McGuiness.

Colt Cabana/Nigel McGuiness vs Dan Maff/BJ Whitmer

This isn’t a title match in case you were wondering. Cabana and McGuiness are a team now after having fun and enjoying themselves when they wrestled each other last night in Dayton. Maff and Whitmer are apparently acting more heelish now they’ve won the belts. They jumped Jacobs and Delirious without a handshake yesterday, and now they’ve sided with Jim Cornette. Anyway, Corny will want revenge for Cabana and Jacobs beating his GeNext team of Strong and Evans back at ASE2, to prove he’s the best manager of all time.

Cabana and McGuiness clear the ring and Heenan orders the bell rung. Cornette tries to back off saying they need preparation time, but no dice. The ref starts counting them out, despite the fact that there’s no count-outs in ROH. Nigel and Whitmer start, with McGuiness scoring the first takedown after an armdrag. Maff tags in and gets grounded by Nigel as well. Whitmer comes back, but Nigel takes both the champions down with wristlock takedowns, and they both flee to the floor again. Cornette argues with the referee again and almost has a heart attack. Cabana double axehandles Whitmer’s arm, and Heenan starts choking BJ as Nigel distracts the referee. Cornette holds Cabana open for a forearm from Whitmer, but Colt avoids it and slams their heads together. Maff has to stop an argument between Cornette and Whitmer on the floor, meanwhile Bobby has slipped a chain to Cabana. He wraps it around his fist and punches Whitmer in the head…then starts selling a punch himself and saying BJ used the chain. Cornette gets shoved over by the referee in the ensuing melee, and Cabana holds the ref back and starts officiating for himself. This is ridiculous! McGuiness and Whitmer bring it back to wrestling, and Nigel flattens BJ with a lariat for 2. Maff comes in and gives Nigel a swinging neckbreaker. He holds McGuiness open on the apron for Whitmer to clubber away on his neck to continue the punishment. Nigel tries to scramble away and make a tag but Whitmer elbow drops the neck to stop him. Double clothesline from Maff and Whitmer, before Maff starts hammering on Nigel in the ropes. Whitmer in again but this time McGuiness dives through a double clothesline attempt and makes the tag to Cabana. ASAI MOONSAULT ON BOTH MEN! Maff takes a missile dropkick but Whitmer breaks the pin. Cornette gets in the ring and accidentally belts Maff with the tennis racket. Heenan comes in with brass knucks and knocks Cornette the f*ck out! Cabana blasts Maff with the racket one more time and small packages him for the win at 16:33. Does this mean Cabana and McGuiness move right in line for a title shot?

Rating – *** –
Much like the first encounter at All Star Extravaganza really. As a match it’s not really rateable, but it’s just hilarious, and such spectacle that it’s not like it’s not enjoyable. I think Cornette was mildly funnier here, but the in-ring comedy of Cabana and Evans was more amusing from the first encounter…plus the famous managers had far more involvement in the match. Plus, the ASE2 contest stands up to repeated viewings far better.

Homicide vs Bryan Danielson – Best of 5 Series Match 3 – Falls Count Anywhere Match

This whole week these two have been at each others throats. They brawled through the crowd in Elizabeth’s Taped Fist match, which Homicide cheated by using brass knucks to win. Then last night in Dayton after being warned not to touch each other, Homicide assaulted Danielson’s student Puma, then jumped him after his match later in the show. They ended up brawling into the parking lot after the show, and apparently the cops were needed to break that up. Anyway, Homicide is 2-0 up in the series. If he wins tonight, he completes a clean sweep.

It’s a ferocious lock-up to get us underway, and neither man can get an advantage. Homicide throws Dragon outside, but Danielson tries to keep it in the ring. Danielson next throws Homicide out, but this time Homicide decides to keep it in the ring. They chop each other hard, but Dragon gains the advantage with a European uppercut. To the floor we go at last, and Danielson clotheslines Homicide over the railings into the crowd. Bower and Nulty flee leaving this without commentary. Dragon with a series of stiff kicks, then a small package for 2. They break out a rolling cradle through the fans, with neither man coming out on top. For the third show running we’ve got a fight into the bleachers, and Homicide takes the opportunity to throw Dragon off them. Backslide from Homicide for 2. He throws a trash can into Dragon’s face, but that doesn’t put him down either. Danielson smacks Cide around like a b*tch, before they throw more chops on each other as they stand on the top row of the bleachers. This time it’s Homicide’s turn to be sent for a ride off them. Homicide dishes out a suplex on the hard floor, but Dragon comes back by going for the airplane spin. Cide throws him into rows of chairs, then clotheslines him into the aisleway. It doesn’t stay at ringside for long though, as Dragon throws Homicide straight over the railings back into the crowd. More stiff strikes from Danielson as I become bored. A Mexican surfboard on the floor regains my interest a little bit. Next he scoops Homicide up and starts airplane spinning him like a maniac through the crowd. He makes himself so dizzy he runs straight into a wall and wipes himself out. Homicide goes for a piledriver but takes a back body drop on the floor. OLE OLE DROPKICK from Dragon! Homicide recovers though and sets Danielson up on a chair for a running lariat. It’s now so dark I can’t really tell what’s going on…it appears Dragon has a Boston crab on Homicide, until Smokes breaks it up. Homicide goes for the Cop Killa, but that gets countered into the Cattle Mutilation pin for 2. Homicide gets thrown into more chairs as the commentators return, then he gets suplexed into open chairs just like in New Jersey. FINALLY they come back to the ring and Danielson scores with a roaring elbow for 2. He scores with the judo DDT then scales the ropes for the diving headbutt. Homicide rolls through a German suplex and hits the Ace crusher for a 2 count in return. Knees to the stomach, then the satellite facebuster. CATTLE MUTILATION ON DRAGON! Danielson escapes and shows Cide exactly how to execute the hold, but Smokes breaks it up. They collide in mid-air going for crossbodies, and now they’re both down. Right hands exchanged, then big forearms, but finally Smokes grabs Dragon. Homicide inadvertently nails Smokes, and Dragon gets the win at 19:33 with a cradle back suplex. Homicide’s lead has been slashed to 2-1.

Rating – * –
Sorry, but I absolutely HATED that. I don’t care how different it might be to see brawling in ROH, I’d rather see wrestling. For wrestlers as talented as Homicide and Bryan Danielson to waste all that time brawling on the floor is an absolute sin in my eyes. I complained after the Taped Fist contest that they were relying too much on the crowd stuff, but at least in that they conveyed some form of emotion and desire. This was just crowd brawling at the expense of all else and it sucked. Big deal, they did wrestling moves in the crowd…I’d rather see them do them in the ring, with some logical plot around them. I’m sure for the live crowd this was fun (when it was happening right in front of them) and for the wrestlers themselves it must’ve hurt like crazy…but that was crap. Keep it in the ring next time.

INTERMISSION – The Prazak is with James Gibson and Spanky. They pat themselves on the back for their match last night, and rightly so. Spanky would like a rematch down the line, but first he wants to organise a team to enter the Trios Tournament with Gibson as his partner. Gibson tells Spanky to find them a third partner…and each head their separate ways ahead of their matches. Jacobs comes to talk to Spanky about their move. He says the Contra Code is different to the Sliced Bread. Spanky pulls rank and tells him to show some respect and not use his move since Spanky is the veteran and all. I bet Jacobs has been on more ROH shows than the Spankster though.

Mick Foley is with Ebessan Jack. He says Ebessan has a broken heart thanks to Samoa Joe. Foley says he won’t be back in ROH for a while…but when he comes back it’ll be for vengeance on Joe.

Jimmy Jacobs vs Spanky

So the premise for this match is pretty simple – Spanky is pissed off that Jacobs is using his finishing move. In Jimmy’s defence, they are slightly different…and Spanky had been away from ROH for a long time but whatever. Anyway, both could use a win. Jimmy has been beaten twice already this week, whilst Spanky lost to James Gibson last night and wants to bounce back. SHIRANUUUUIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!

Spanky starts aggressive, throwing right hands and trapping Jacobs in a headlock. He smacks Jacobs around with more big forearms, then blocks a headscissors attempt. Jacobs with a headscissors at the second attempt, then a dropkick. He goes for the Contra Code and gets b*tchslapped for that. Spanky takes it to the floor and throws Jacobs into the guardrails, he’s that pissed off. Second time he whips Jimmy so hard he flies over the guardrail and into the crowd. Spanky drags him back and slams his head into the ringpost. Back suplex from Spanky as the action returns to the ring. Spanky locks on a Boston crab, but Jacobs makes the ropes. Jimmy attempts a comeback and takes another big forearm to the face. Jacobs counters a suplex into a small package for 2, but Spanky regains control. He kicks Jacobs in the face, but Jimmy comes back with a springboard forearm. He misses a spear in the corner though, and Spanky is back on offence again. Springboard crossbody from Jacobs for 2. Jumping heel kick from Spanky, before he goes for Sliced Bread #2…doesn’t get it though. Spanky with a flatliner, before he sails off the top with a frog splash for 2. Spanky nails a neckbreaker, but Jacobs flies right back at him with a spear. Swinging DDT from the underdog for 2. Jacobs hits a big boot, then drops his opponent with the inverted Pedigree. TOP ROPE SENTON SPLASH SCORES, but Spanky kicks out. Spanky blocks the Contra Code and hits a super kick. SLICED BREAD #2 NAILED…and Spanky gets the win at 10:47.

Rating – *** –
It was interesting to see a different, more aggressive side of Spanky. They didn’t really get the time to do anything too special, but it was nice to witness a different side of Spanky’s character, and again allow Jimmy to demonstrate his excellent ability to play the babyface in peril. The whole argument over finishers made this match seem like a bigger deal than it actually was…definitely a successful way to fill the problematic post-intermission spot.

Puma vs James Gibson

I don’t have a lot to connect these two really, beyond their loose NJPW links. Like I said in the Part 2 review, Puma is a product of the Inoki dojo in LA, and Gibson is a regular member of the NJPW roster. Puma looked decent last night against Homicide, when really his only job was to go out there and make Homicide look good. Tonight should be his real chance to shine – can he hang with Gibson? For his part, Gibson debuted last night against Spanky in a great little match. He looked class, gliding effortlessly through their match and seemingly enjoying the reaction of the enthusiastic crowd.

Puma busts his ass to hang with Gibson at the start, but gets trapped in a wristlock. He escapes that and like lightning both men are back on their feet. Puma works Gibson’s leg, but quick as a flash is back on the defensive. Drop toehold from Puma, and he follows that by using a headscissors to send Gibson to the floor. He dives through the ropes into a hurricanrana on the floor – nice. Dragon screw by Puma, and that leaves Gibson down in a heap. The youngster keeps the focus, leg dropping Gibson’s knee then wrenching at it. Puma kicks at Gibson’s leg as it’s hung in the ropes then gets a 2 from a snapmare. Gibson counters a shinbreaker with a sunset flip, but Puma is persistent and keeps coming back. Puma heads to the floor…so Gibson dives off the apron with a SOMERSAULT SENTON! That wasn’t healthy for his knee though. Back in the ring Gibson stomps on the head, then hits a neckbreaker for 2. He slows the pace right down with a rear chinlock, tiring his younger opponent out. Puma counters with a sleeper hold, but takes a jawbreaker and doesn’t get to hold onto it for too long. Kick flurry from Puma, culminating in a jumping heel kick for 2. Hanging triangle choke in the ropes from Puma, but it’s illegal so he can only hold it for five seconds. He follows that with a springboard crossbody, but it’s not enough. Texas cloverleaf locked in by Puma, but Gibson is practically on the ropes. Bridging German from Puma for 2. He tries to follow it with a Tiger suplex, but Gibson grabs the ropes. Instead Puma opts for a kick to the head, then a dragon sleeper…but Gibson escapes and plants Puma with a brainbuster. Puma blocks the Tigerbomb so Gibson knees him square in the side of the head. Gibson gets 2 from a second brainbuster. Tombstone piledriver from Puma, but he goes to the top rather than pinning. PICTURE PERFECT elbow drop, but that’s only good for 2. Knee strikes from Puma, but out of nowhere Gibson drops him with a DDT, then slaps on the TRAILER HITCH…and it’s all over. 12:57 is your time.

Rating – *** –
Not quite as good as last night, but then, Puma isn’t as good as Spanky (yet). Unlike last night where he looked like a talented jobber, tonight the Pikachu wannabe looked like a damn fine wrestler…and I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to seeing him again in the future. He did a decent job of attacking the leg (something I thought Gibson could’ve sold a little better) but seemed to lose focus towards the end. I like Gibson’s subtle ring psychology, in that most of his offence seems to target the neck, softening it up for the Trailer Hitch, but it’s not so obvious that it’s in your face. He has a similar presence to Bryan Danielson (when he’s not wasting time in the crowd with Homicide). If you see his name on the card you’re almost guaranteed a good match.

Jimmy Rave vs CM Punk

This issue between The Embassy and CM Punk has absolutely erupted over the past week. Punk laughed at Nana when Spanky rejected his offer to join The Embassy, and since then it just hasn’t stopped. Punk sprayed Nana with air freshener in Elizabeth, but then got beat down by the group after his match with Alex Shelley last night in Dayton. He did end the night on top though, as he helped AJ Styles out, eventually chasing Rave and Nana off, allowing AJ to give Fast Eddie a Styles Clash. Now he gets his hands on Jimmy Rave in his hometown – where he’s never been beaten in ROH. Rave has Eddie and Nana in his corner, whilst Punk is flanked by Tracy Brooks and Davey Andrews.

Rave jumps Punk right at the end of his entrance and starts choking him on the ropes. Punk comes back with a dropkick that sends Jimmy to the floor, and that’s the end of his furious start to the match. Finally he comes back into the ring and slaps Punk square in the face. Punk responds by stomping all over him then stiffing him mercilessly in the corner. He follows that with a loooong stalling vertical suplex, and the fans are absolutely eating this up. Double underhook backbreaker scores, then Punk traps Rave in the ropes and just stands on him. He gets 2 with a dropkick to the back of the head. Nana tries to give Rave an advantage by tripping Punk up, but Tracy responds by tripping Jimmy up too. Punk blocks the Crappy Wizard and counters with a half crab, but there won’t be a submission because Nana is yelling at the referee. Rave takes the advantage with a low blow, then starts untying his bootlace. Punk takes a big knee to the stomach and Jimmy is finally able to pull the entire lace out. More clubbering away in the corner on Punk, before he starts choking him with the bootlace. He covers the lace with a chinlock, so the ref is completely unaware. Tracy yells at the ref to check him, but Rave hides it in his mouth, then starts choking Punk again as soon as the ref turns away. Next he gives it to Prince Nana, and HE starts choking with the lace. Punk tries to fight back, but gets thumbed in the eye.

Crossface strikes from Rave, and he provokes Tracy onto the apron so he can start choking the Punker with the laces again. SHINING WIZARD OUT OF NOWHERE FROM PUNK! He slugs it out with Rave, eventually trapping him in a sleeper hold. Tracy is on the apron again, so Rave applies a sleeper of his own, with shoelace reinforcement. Punk finally has nothing left and is choked out thanks to the shoelace at 15:23…but the referee sees the bootlace! He orders the match restarted, and Punk is on fire. Flying forearm from Punk, before he clotheslines Rave to the floor. Fast Eddie tries to help his partner out…SO PUNK FLIES OUT WITH A SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Punk comes off the top again with a crossbody, but Rave rolls through it for 2. STO backbreaker from Rave, then Ghanarea, but Punk kicks out again. Roaring elbow from Punk but that’s nowhere near enough. He sets up for the Pepsi Plunge but Rave counters with a sunset flip powerbomb INTO THE CRAPPY WIZARD! Now Rave is going for the Pepsi Plunge, but Punk hoists him onto his shoulders and drops him off the second rope with a Samoan drop. He locks in the Anaconda Vice…but Nana hands Rave the air-freshener spray. Rave blasts Punk with it, and just like Styles last night, he steals the win with a roll-up at 19:42.

Rating – *** –
That was Jimmy Rave’s best HEEL performance ever. As a match, it wasn’t good, but as a heel performance, it was absolutely spot on. For once, it wasn’t about Nana on the floor, it was about Jimmy in the ring, and he nailed it. From the boot lace cheatery, to the facial expressions, to trying to steal the Pepsi Plunge…it was all there. Obviously it wasn’t the greatest match ever. Punk treating Jimmy like a jobber for five minutes, then ten minutes of cheating, then a few nearfalls at the end. But if you can appreciate good heelwork, then this is better than Styles/Rave. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather see a good wrestling match, but this weekend, with victories against AJ Styles and CM Punk, Jimmy Rave has really been established as one of the top heels in the company. Like that or not, at least in this match he showed the charisma to do it.

After the match Punk is in absolute agony so Tracy gives Rave a slap. The Embassy try to mug her, and they give Davey Andrews a beating too. RAVE CLASH ON TRACY BROOKS! THAT DASTARDLY JIMMY RAVE!! Meanwhile Punk still can’t see anything, and certainly can’t see Colt Cabana arrive with a chair to make the save. Punk has to be helped to the back still blinded…GREAT angle.

Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe – ROH World Title Match

So this be it, the climax of the Third Anniversary Week, the rematch you all want to see, it’s Joe vs Aries once again. Aries was the man that ended Joe’s incredible 21 month title reign, now the former champ is coming back for his belt – and with added fire after the events of last week in Elizabeth. Aries was revealed as the man that handed Mick Foley a chair to pummel Joe with at It All Begins, and he also helped Foley put a beating on Joe, before leaving with the hardcore icon…and apparently he was taken to the Smackdown tapings this week thanks to that arrangement.

The bell rings and the crowd seems jacked for this. Joe getting introduced as the challenger just doesn’t seem right. Joe goes for the first big offence of the match, but Aries has the chop/kick combo scouted and he rolls to the floor. Aries works a headlock, but Joe simply lifts him up and sits him on the top rope. Aries increases the pace with a dropkick to the face, and he controls Joe in the corner. He hits a springboard reverse elbow but Joe feels no effects, and he retaliates with E HONDA SLAPPAGE! Next Austin decides he wants to trade forearms, but gets killed some more so runs to the floor again. He tries to pull Joe out of the ring but Joe with one foot drags the champion in and murderises him with a flurry of Kawada kicks. Aries blocks the STO slam but has to dive out of the ring again to avoid a Yakuza kick. ELBOW SUICIDAAAAAAA! I guess Joe got fed up of that. Joe sets up a chair for the Ole Ole Kick, then has to go retrieve it from a vulture fan. OLE OLE KICK NAILED…so damn hard he kicked the guardrail over. He takes Aries around the ring and gives him a second Ole Ole Kick, and Aries is busted open. Joe goes right for the cut, punching, elbowing and headbutting the wound. Joe gives Aries a powerbomb then turns it over into the STF, and rakes at the cut at the same time. Next it’s time for bootscrapes, and Aries is a mess. Hanging guillotine out of nowhere from the champion, then a slingshot spinning splash…THEN an Asai moonsault, but that sequence wasn’t as effective as the one that won him the belt. Slingshot reverse elbow from Aries…DROPKICK FLURRY in the corner for 2. STO SLAM FROM JOE, then a running senton splash. Austin comes back with a dropkick to the knee, but nothing works, and Joe flattens him again with a powerslam. CRUCIFIX DRIVER out of nowhere by Aries, but Joe kicks out. Now Aries sets up for the brainbuster, BUT JOE LIFTS HIM INTO THE MUSCLEBUSTAAAAAAAAA!! ARIES IS IN THE ROPES, TWO COUNT! Kawada kicks from Joe, but Aries comes back with his kick to the face. BRAINBUSTAH BUT JOE KICKS OUT! 450 SPLASH TIME…BUT IT MISSES. KNEE STRIKES from Joe…CHOOOOOOOOOOOKE! Aries low blows, but Joe holds on! He drops down to hold onto it…and his shoulders are down! Aries rolls over at the last second to keep them that way and on the brink of victory, Joe has been counted down at 17:12.

Rating – **** –
Another quality match from these two, and I hope we get to see another match between them somewhere down the line, because they have fabulous chemistry in these sub-20 minute sprints. I liked the way this defence really emphasised the differences between their title reigns. Joe was dominating, where as Aries is calculating, always ready to run to the floor and take a break if he feels he’s in danger. For the first 10 minutes or so I was worried they were making Aries look a little too much like Joe’s b*tch, but the blood spot erased that. From that moment Aries was less like a little b*tch, and much more the courageous, if dislikeable champion. I didn’t like the finish as much this time, it was weak. The protection of Joe was fine, but I’d have preferred to have seen Aries do something more to out-fox the challenger, rather than this finish, which seemed more like a mistake on Joe’s part than genius on Aries’. Plus it lacked a little of the emotion of the first bout. The crowd was hot, but you never QUITE felt they truly believed the title change was coming – something that electrified the Philly crowd back at Final Battle. Still, great match…

After all that Colt Cabana leads a ton of wrestlers to the ring, and they pile in whilst Joe and Aries head to the back. He cuts a similar promo to Punk’s in Elizabeth, giving the fans a standing ovation for their contributions to ROH over the past three years.

The Embassy is in a happy mood this weekend. They recruited Fast Eddie, Rave beat both Styles and Punk. Speaking of Punk…Nana reveals what Jimmy sprayed him with – poisonous bug spray. That’s why he can’t see anything then.

Tape Rating – *** –
Definitely my least favourite of the three Anniversary shows, by some distance actually. There are people who rate this as the best of the three, and I respect their opinions, but honestly disagree. For me at least, Dragon/Homicide was just dreadful, and beyond Aries/Joe, the card just doesn’t have anything that stands out as much. That being said, it’s still a GOOD show. It’s very consistent, and as everyone knows, I like that. The Heenan/Cornette stuff is hilarious, as always. Shelley/Evans, Spanky/Jacobs, and Gibson/Puma are all good matches, and you’ve got a decent opener as well. Plus, you’ll probably enjoy Homicide/Danielson more than I did .Meanwhile, the Punk/Rave match features Jimmy’s break-out performance as a top-line heel. You might not like the match itself, but one can surely appreciate the power of his performance, especially having watched him since late 2002 in ROH, when he was just this black-hole of charisma and interest. However, in this reviewer’s opinion, if you’re missing any of the 3YA shows, this is the one. You can get Heenan/Cornette at All Star Extravaganza 2, a better Joe/Aries match at Final Battle 2004, and I just believe Dayton and Elizabeth (which is a similar show, but MUCH longer, and with fun cage matches, hence more bang for your buck) are better. And with that said…it’s list time.

Top 3 Matches

3) Alex Shelley vs Jack Evans (***)

2) Jimmy Rave vs CM Punk (***)

1) Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe (****)

Top 5 Third Anniversary Celebration Week Matches

5) Samoa Joe/Bryan Danielson vs Generation Next (**** – Part 2)

4) James Gibson vs Spanky (**** – Part 2)

3) Austin Aries vs Colt Cabana (**** – Part 1)

2) Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe (**** – Part 3)

1) CM Punk vs Alex Shelley (****1/2 – Part 2)

Top 5 – Performers of the Third Anniversary Week

5) Alex Shelley

Great week for him. MOTYC in Dayton, solid matches in NJ and Chicago, and has taken his character to a new level. His feud with Aries is developing nicely.

4) Colt Cabana

Has gotten himself into awesome shape. Put on a fun cage match with Aries in Elizabeth, demonstrated his improving wrestling skills with Nigel McGuiness in Dayton, then was at his comic best in Chicago.

3) Jack Evans

All round good week for him. Got to display his highspot ability in Scramble Cage, then in Dayton and Chicago showed improving wrestling ability, and highlighted his talent as an entertainer.

2) Jimmy Rave

This was a HUGE week for Rave. He started with a solid match against Jay Lethal, then broke-out in a huge way with back-to-back victories over Styles and Punk. Performance in Chicago was excellent

1) Austin Aries

With all three of his matches in the Top 5 for the week, Aries is rising to the task of being champion. Has also been great in angles – with Foley in Elizabeth and with Shelley in Chicago. He is stepping up!

Honourable mentions – Jay Lethal, Prince Nana, Spanky, CM Punk, Jimmy Jacobs, James Gibson

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