067 ROH New Frontiers 6/4/2005

ROH 67 – New Frontiers – 4th June 2005

Goodness me, I haven’t reviewed any new ROH in months. Seriously, the last show I reviewed was the excellent Nowhere To Run event, and I did that at the end of July. It’s now October 30th, and I have a b*tching hangover following a night of pretty wreckless eating, drinking and merriment – the 29th of October being my birthday and all. Still, that’s nothing that some Pepsi Max won’t sort out, so let’s get cracking. When we left ROH, CM Punk was on top of a steel cage in Chicago, celebrating his big win over Jimmy Rave to settle their long-standing feud, and he now is hot on the tails of ROH Champion Austin Aries, who continues defending the title in an increasingly gruelling schedule. Meanwhile, new Pure Champion Samoa Joe is determined to raise the prestige of that belt, and ROH stalwart Bryan Danielson quit after failing to take the World Title. We still have the Cabana/McGuiness and Shelley/GeNext feuds on the go as well as we head into this event.

This is the debut in the Buffalo area, so it’s another show in a new market. All three titles are on the line, with Whitmer/Jacobs defending against Dunn & Marcos, Joe defending the Pure Title in what should be a classic against James Gibson, and Spanky finally getting his World Title shot as your main event. Alex Shelley and Roderick Strong clash in a rematch from The Final Showdown, and Colt Cabana and Nigel McGuiness will go at it again, this time in the tag environment, teaming with their preferred partners, CM Punk and Chad Collyer respectively. I’m not sure what to make of this show. The card isn’t bad, with Aries/Spanky and Joe/Gibson in particular sounding good. But there’s not a lot of buzz about it, and it has more of a reputation for a group of asshole fans who showed up to get themselves over, and generally managed to piss everyone (fans, wrestlers and management alike) with their antics, which hopefully will not make this DVD. We’re in Williamsville, NY (right outside of Buffalo I’d imagine). Hosts are Dave Prazak and Jimmy Bower.

James Gibson and Spanky start, with Gibson saying they’re having their very own Benoit/Guerrero Wrestlemania 20 moment tonight, when they win the Pure and World Titles.

Lacey seems pretty chuffed with life right now. She was hanging out with P. Diddy in New York after all. Izzy and Deranged aren’t here tonight, but Personal Assistant Cloudy and Secretary Cheech are. Cheech asks for a match, and Lacey actually gets him one…but if he doesn’t win it’s back to the books.

El Generico/Sal Rinauro vs Jimmy Rave/Fast Eddie

Check this out. Jimmy Rave comes off one of the matches of his life against CM Punk to the opening match. Still, ROH is all about the competition. We have a mild present vs future theme running tonight, and to that end, new talents on the roster like Generico and Rinauro are getting their chance. Generico has been on shows before obviously, and has looked solid of course. This is Rinauro’s official main show debut, but he used to be Mellow in Special K. When Fast Eddie joined The Embassy back during the Third Anniversary Celebrations, it seemed like he might be getting a bit of a push, but since then he hasn’t really wrestled too much. Apparently Rave/Eddie make a decent team in FIP though, so now we’ll see it in ROH under the Embassy gimmick. Nana and Jade Chung are out here naturally.

Rave and Rinauro start, and Jimmy starts pounding on Sal in the corner. Rinauro looks for some armdrags and sends his opponent to the floor with an armdrag off the ropes. ‘We want armdrags’ – Buffalo. Eddie tags in and runs into another armdrag because he’s blind. Generico stomps Eddie’s foot but he comes out with a double stomp to the back. Jumping heel kick from the generic luchador, followed by a standing moonsault for 2. Sal comes back in and gets decapitated with a northern lariat from Rave. It’s heel it up time, first with Rave distracting the ref, then with Eddie choking Rinauro on the ropes. Sal comes back with a rope run moonsault press, but The Embassy occupy the referee so he doesn’t see the tag. Both Rave and Eddie look to wear Rinauro down with surfboards, but he won’t stay down. He attempts a crossbody but Eddie is too strong, and gives him a death valley neckbreaker for 2. Eddie tosses Sal, and distracts the ref whilst Rave gives him a few cheap guardrail shots. I’m loving the heel work here, it’s really smart. Sal back in again, and he hits a jawbreaker out of nowhere on Rave, and he makes the hot tag to Generico, who flies in with a beautiful top rope crossbody block. They look for a double team, but Rave levels Generico with GHANAREA! Sal is still alive though…HIPTOSS WONDERWHIRL for 2! CRADLE RUSSIAN LEGSWEEP FROM EDDIE! Generico tries to make Fast Eddie more blind with the YAKUZA KICK in the corner. He goes to the floor with a somersault pescado, and Rinauro almost wins it with a springboard enziguri. CRAPPY WIZARD…RAVE CLASH! Sal is counted down at 11:41.

Rating – *** –
Great choice to open a show in a new market. Rave and Eddie brilliantly played the heels in this contest, both through their offence, through their cheating, and through their whole approach to beating down and isolating Sal Rinauro. Neither Sal nor Generico are especially big deals in ROH, but so effective was The Embassy’s job as the easily dislikeable heels here that it sucked the new crowd right into the contest. If Jimmy Rave hadn’t improved so much during the CM Punk feud as a singles wrestler, I’d really suggest making the Rave/Eddie combination more of a permanent fixture. Fast Eddie isn’t all that good, but he’s fun to hate, and in tags you can hide his weaknesses really well. Oh, and book more of Sal Rinauro, he had a great little showing on debut.

Alex Shelley is here to b*tch about Generation Next again. He says he’s sending Rod Strong to hospital tonight.

Cheech vs Loc

This is probably the match you bought this DVD for. Actually, Cheech does seem to be a bit of a cult hero amongst some ROH fans, particularly after his showing at Stalemate. He doesn’t really do anything for me, but I’m sure this will please those guys. This is Loc’s first match back in ROH after the Carnage Crew’s shock return to ROH at Manhattan Mayhem, when they beat up Dunn & Marcos as revenge for putting them out for 90 days. That feud isn’t over yet, but DeVito has to work extra hours tonight to make up for the pay he lost, so it’ll have to wait.

Loc comes out drinking whisky and is fat as hell. He spits JD in Cloudy’s face and makes a grab for Lacey before Cheech finally grabs him. Cheech with a springboard…headlock (??), but he gets dumped on his head with the Saito suplex. Bower points out how out of shape Loc has got as he throws Cheech into the railings. He gets 2 with a swinging neckbreaker, then chokes him in the ropes as this plodding assault continues. Cheech tries to mount a comeback with a missile dropkick but he gets caught in an INVERTED TOMBSTONE. Lacey distracts the referee so there’s no pin, and Cloudy interferes. 619/dropkick combo on Loc. Cheech off the top with a SHOOTING STAR PRESS but Loc just rolls him over and pins him at 04:13. I guess that means poor Cheech is back to being a secretary.

Rating – DUD –
To all the Cheech fans out there, I really don’t think this was his fault. Loc has never been the best wrestler in the world, but having to deal with him in a four minute match when he’s hideously out of shape and with a really terrible finish, he never stood a chance. Here’s an idea, lets not book either one of these guys to wrestle again!

Colt Cabana is looking for CM Punk, and isn’t interested in recording a Good Times, Great Memories. He tries to motivate his friend for their match tonight. He was there for Punk during the Raven feud, during The Prophecy feud, during the Terry Funk assault, the Ricky Steamboat attacks, he was there. Now he wants Punk to help him deal with Nigel McGuiness. Punk tries to say his upcoming battles with GeNext (Strong on the next show, then Aries at Death Before Dishonor 3) are worse) but Cabana is all fired up. They get all shouty, before walking off arm in arm and apparently ready for tonight. GREAT PROMO from Colt.

Kevin Steen vs Homicide

This is a big chance for Kevin Steen to show the ROH fans why he’s booked as a much bigger deal everywhere else he goes, and his biggest match in the promotion. Homicide is coming off a mixed Midwest weekend, where he lost the Best of 5 Series to Bryan Danielson, but then beat Doug Williams in a great wrestling match. He’s also got the feud with Jay Lethal and Samoa Joe hanging over his head after what happened at Manhattan Mayhem, but it’d be good for Steen’s career if he could stop along the way to put in a performance here too.

Cide tries to be the heel but the fans really want to cheer him. Spinning heel kick from Steen gets the first nearfall. Homicide goes to the floor but Steen goes right after him with a pescado. Back in the ring he hits the somersault leg drop for another 2. Homicide comes back with a dropkick and now it’s his time for a dive…TOPE CON HILO! He starts throwing the big Canadian into the guardrails with absolutely no mercy. Steen gets another shot though, since Homicide appears to stop to look at a fans shirt…weird. Big boot right in Cide’s face for 2. Homicide hits back with a swinging DDT off the second rope. Again he stops to cheerlead, but still dumps Kevin with a neckbreaker and a T-bone suplex. He does seem to be focusing on the neck, and slows the pace to crank on it with a chinlock of sorts. Steen gets out of that, but eats a belly to belly suplex before he can mount any offence. Hammerlock headscissors submission from Cide as he continues to soften his opponent up for the Cop Killa and/or Lariat. After playing babyface for a while, he decides it’s time to be a heel again, and starts choking Steen in the corner. Superkick out of nowhere from Kev, leaving both men down. Kryptonite Krunch on Homicide for 2, and Steen follows that with a gutbuster. PICTURE PERFECT MOONSAULT…for 2. He calls for the Package Piledriver but Homicide blocks. Steen blocks the Cop Killa and blasts Cide with an enziguri. Cide is almost counted down off a swinging cradle back suplex. Mr Wrestling goes to the top again but takes way too long and gets crotched. Second rope Ace Crusher…but Steen blocks the Lariat! Homicide dumps him on his chest…AND KILLS HIM WITH A DANGEROOUUUUS LARIAT! Yeah, this is done at 12:45.

Rating – ** –
What a strange match that was. It definitely rates as Steen’s best performance in ROH by some distance. For the first time he worried less about the fans, or about hitting his money offence and instead concentrating on playing plucky underdog to Homicide, and by and large he did it pretty well. There was some sloppy spots (like Homicide’s set up to the Lariat) and I really disliked the way Homicide, supposedly one of the top heels in the company, kept playing up to the fans, and in the end, it came down to two guys dumping moves on each other. That’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like these guys, especially Homicide are capable of more – that’s reflected in the rating.

BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs vs Dunn & Marcos – ROH Tag Title Match

Suggestions on a postcard – what exactly did the Ring Crew Express do to earn this match? Have they won a single match since their big Scramble Cage win back in February? Oh well, like Generico, Rinauro, and Steen earlier, this is a big chance for them to shine in a higher profile match than they normally get to work. Whitmer and Jacobs have been great as champions thus far, with the highlight being their thriller in Manhattan with Generation Next. At Nowhere To Run they both lost singles matches though, so in theory at least, they should have title defences against both McGuiness/Collyer and Gibson/Spanky on the horizon…assuming they survive here. Unless the RCE/Carnage Crew feud is going to be for the belts.

Dunn & Marcos try to discuss strategy and get jumped by the champions right out of the handshakes. We’ve got ourselves a brawl, and the Express score with simultaneous bulldogs, causing Jacobs and Whitmer to have a rethink. Jacobs and Marcos slow it down and trade a few holds, with Marcos looking for a sneaky roll-up. Dunn tagged, and the RCE give Jimmy a double hiptoss as the challengers continue to methodically work the smaller man. Wheelbarrow hurricanrana from Marcos, then a northern lights for another 2. Dunn scales the ropes to score with an elbow drop/backbreaker combo as the punishment on Jimmy Jacobs continues. Finally they make a mistake and BJ gets a blind tag. But he walks right into their trap, and it’s AIR GUITAR TIME! Jimmy tries his hand at air guitar too…then opts to kick them in the hands for some HUSSing fun. He wants Whitmer to HUSS…and he kicks his hand to make him do it. Whitmer tries to go after his own partner, and almost gets pinned as he chases Jacobs out of the ring. But Whitmer has a huge size advantage, and he uses it on Marcos, leaving him isolated. Powerbomb senton by the champions for 2. Marcos scores with a headscissors into the buckles, but he tries to follow up with a crossbody…and BJ muscles him into a BRAINBUSTER! Jacobs comes in and trampolines on poor Marcos’ chest, and he stays on the midsection with a camel clutch. Whitmer tagged, and Marcos again hits a hurricanrana out of desperation. Hot tag to Dunn, who levels Jacobs with a Saito suplex. He blocks the Contra Code and blasts him with the Gory Driver. Dunn sends Marcos into BJ for a swinging DDT, and they hit the kick flurry and the assisted Shiranui on Jacobs. ELECTRIC CHAIR SENTON…for 2. They go to try it again from the second rope, but Whitmer makes the save. HE EXPLODERS MARCOS OFF DUNN’S SHOULDERS! Dunn goes for a dive…EXPLODER INTO THE BUCKLES! Jacobs goes to the top…DOOMSDAY RANA! The champs retain again at 13:25.

Rating – ** –
A hot closing sequence saved this a little I have to say, because before that was all pretty solid, but mostly unexciting stuff. I liked the psychology of the match, with Dunn & Marcos having success working over Jimmy Jacobs, but then making a mistake due to their inexperience and getting a bit of a hammering after that. It wasn’t quite what the crowd expexted though. Not the spotfest match that Manhattan Mayhem was, nor was it Dunn & Marcos playing the underdog challengers that the fans could really rally behind either. As such it left the new market crowd a little confused and quieter than they really could’ve been. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch of this, as I’m sure they’d have a better match in them, and there’s a bunch of stuff from this they could play off. Call it a minor success, and it’s nice to see some variety.

Roderick Strong vs Alex Shelley

This is a rematch from the opener at The Final Showdown, when Shelley managed to pin Rod after two Shellshocks. The next night Strong did get a win back though, pinning Alex’s partner, Delirious in one of most underrated matches of 2005 thus far. We’re at an interesting stage in the feud now. Shelley failed to dethrone Austin Aries as ROH World Champion, and has so far failed to gain the acceptance of the locker room either. Yet by the same token, the mighty Generation Next are STILL unable to put him down and keep him out of their business, so who knows where we’re going next. Both these guys are two of the most consistent performers on the roster this year, so this definitely counts as one of the highlights of the card.

Austin Aries decides it’s time to make his presence felt right after the bell rings. He offers Shelley the chance to leave of his own accord, or Roderick will snap his spine. Shelley pisses Aries off by pointing out that he has a bad neck, and Spanky’s finisher targets that. Austin says it’s a rumour and takes a swing at Shelley, before bailing to the outside with Roddy. The referee throws the Champ out as Shelley rocks Strong with a pescado. BACK BODY DROP INTO THE FRONT ROW! Roderick tries to take a time-out, wandering around in the crowd rather than come back and fight. Eventually it’s on again, and Shelley just throws Strong into the guardrails, then launches him into the fans again. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA OFF THE RAILINGS! We’re in the crowd now, and Strong eats a SHELLSHOCK INTO THE HOCKEY HOARDINGS! Still he’s not done, as he brings Roddy back to ringside only to suplex him into the front row again. Finally Strong manages to mount some offence, smacking Alex against the hockey boards, then dropping him chest-first on the guardrail. To the aisle now, where Shelley drop toeholds Strong onto a section of rail…this is absolutely brutal! Again Shelley drops Strong into the fans laps, as he back suplexes him to the front row, then hits a running dive of his own. To the ring apron now, where Shelley tries to kill Strong with a DDT. Finally we’re in the ring, and Shelley gets 2 with an awesome springboard crossbody, then follows it up with a knee strike off the top. He slows it down now, tying Roderick into a submission predicament, and he starts fishooking the mouth as he goes. To the second rope with a springboard moonsault for 2.

He avoids the double knee gutbuster, but Strong avoids a DDT and drills him with a back suplex backbreaker. Just like that the momentum has changed, and Strong goes after the back like a mofo. He hammers away on Shelley, who won’t stay down and keeps firing back, and eventually uses a low blow to get Strong off his case. Tornado DDT scores, but it hurts his back too much for him to make an immediate cover. Strong capitalises with a Rock Bottom backbreaker, then keeps the pressure on with a surfboard, a leg full nelson, then a camel clutch. Shelley manages to break that with a piggyback stunner for 2, but he’s sustained heavy damage now. He can’t even stand up, so Strong starts choking him in the ropes. The half nelson backbreaker is repeatedly blocked…SHELLSHOCK! That’s his finisher, but he can’t even make a pin. Big boot from Strong gets 2. Atomic drops from Shelley, and a running clothesline, as now they’re just dumping offence on each other to get a win. He’s still struggling with the back, but keeps coming, with a stepping enzi and a Golden Gate Swing. Strong won’t stay down though and hits a double knee gutbuster. He boots Shelley right in the spine…STRONGHOLD! Shelley gets to the ropes and goes to the BORDER CITY STRETCH! Strong won’t quit though, and Shelley hits a couple of inverted DDT’s then goes to the top. He hits a frog splash, and goes back to the Border City Stretch, and still Roddy makes the bottom rope. Strong blocks Sweet Chin Music and hits a cradle backbreaker for 2. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER and it’s done at 23:53.

Rating – *** –
Seems like a harsh rating, and if I have out extra half and three quarter stars, this would probably get some, but I don’t, and there was definitely enough about this I didn’t like to keep it out of 4* territory. But lets start with the positive, this was an improvement on their first encounter. Perhaps more so than any match in this feud thus far, you could feel the hatred in the way these guys just brutalised each other. They used the unique building (it’s obviously a hockey arena normally) to add some interesting elements to their crowd brawling as they tried to destroy each other out there, then once the match was in the ring, they were just as ruthless, with Strong murdering Shelley’s back for his backbreakers and the Stronghold, whilst Shelley kept on the neck for the BCS. My biggest problem with this was the lack of a final sequence. It was going along great, then it just ended. It just seemed like the match had another five minutes or so to run. Given the finish they did use, I’d really have liked them to be selling the injuries a little harder, so you could BELIEVE the match would end at any time. For instance, if he was one backbreaker away from losing, why the hell was Shelley fine to hit a frog splash seconds earlier? I really enjoyed this, I’m loving this feud, and right now these are two of my favourite guys on the indy scene, but it’s little things like that which have stopped me going higher on this particular match.

But we’re not done here yet, as Austin Aries returns to ringside with a big metal stick, which he uses to hammer on Shelley’s injured back. Roderick uses the Stronghold whilst Aries jams the pipe in. Officials turn up, but it doesn’t stop GeNext getting more shots in.

INTERMISSION – Jay Lethal still hasn’t received clearance to return to the ring after the Ghetto Stomp Cop Killa, but he’s coming to the next Manhattan show next week anyway. Meanwhile medics try to stretcher Alex Shelley out, but Aries and Strong come out again to dump him into the guardrails.

The Embassy celebrate f*cking up El Generico and Sal Rinauro’s hopes of a permanent spot on the roster, and Nana says he wants them to win the Tag titles. Jimmy Rave is worried about AJ Styles, but Nana says they’ll deal with him when the time comes. Nana sends that disrespectful little Vietnamese girl Jade to the hotel to run his bath water.

Backstage Generation Next decide to attack Shelley again as he’s stretchered out of the building. Job done methinks fellas…

Davey Andrews vs Masked New York Superstar vs Shane Hagadorn

Elimination rules apply to this one. The Masked NY superstar is Loc under a mask, just like the masked guy Matt Stryker wrestled at The Final Showdown. I can’t believe this made the DVD for any other reason than to give a bit of exposure to Andrews and Hagadorn, who are decent prospects from the first class of graduates from ROH’s wrestling school.

Andrews and Hagadorn try to wrestle seriously, as the NY Superstar prances around like an idiot, kicking Shane in the face. Finally the students team up on him, with Andrews coming off the second rope with a knee. German suplex/dropkick combo, and Hagadorn eliminates the Superstar at 01:16. Davey isn’t happy about Shane stealing the pin, and he slaps him right in the ear, then dropkicks it as well. He’s actually going to work the ear, wreching it, and working a headlock right across it. Hagadorn comes back with chops, clotheslines and a dropkick for 2. He hits a back suplex, but Davey slaps on the headlock again, really grinding on that ear. Shane fights like crazy and eventually escapes. He goes to the top, but misses a crossbody. Andrews kicks his ear and goes to the headlock again. Hagadorn taps at 04:59.

Rating – * –
Jobber match, but it earns it’s star for some fine psychology from the young guys there. For two inexperienced guys to work a sub-5 minute match with a headlock as a finish and not get sh*t on is quite the feat, and I think it’s clear to see these guys have a bright future if they continue to improve. After whining in the intro, I’m glad this got included…Davey Andrews will f*ck up your ear – what a gimmick idea that’d be.

Nigel McGuiness/Chad Collyer vs Colt Cabana/CM Punk

The McGuiness/Cabana feud got really serious last time in Chicago, when Nigel cheated, using a low blow to beat his opponent in his hometown. Cabana, who’s usually all about the fun, now wants some serious revenge, and has a chance in this tag. There’s something on the line for the partners as well though. Collyer is coming off a big win over Jimmy Jacobs and is closer than ever to securing a permanent spot on the roster. Meanwhile Punk is coming towards an ROH Title shot at the end of the month and needs to get some momentum before then. And Collyer surely already earned a Tag Title shot for his team after beating Jacobs…if he and McGuiness can beat former tag champions and big stars in the promotion here tonight, there will be no denying they earned a title shot.

McGuiness and Cabana start out hot, brawling to the mat until their partners pull them apart, and eventually it comes down to Punk and Collyer to wrestle properly. Chad works over Punk’s arm, then tags in McGuiness who traps him in a cravatte. Jimmy Bower discusses the rumours linking CM Punk to TNA, AJPW and WWE. Nigel uses the Artful Dodger stuff, which almost ends in a pinfall on Punk, despite Cabana’s best efforts to tell his partner what was coming next. Eventually Colt cheapshots McGuiness, and it breaks down into a brawl again. Again Punk and Collyer break it up and return to wrestling each other. Punk works Chad’s arm this time then brings Cabana in, who shows off his own European stylings to annoy Nigel. Collyer goes for a toehold, but Colt counters out of it and pauses for more jawing with his British adversary. It breaks down again, and this time Collyer cheapshots Punk instead of breaking it up. McGuiness and Collyer isolate Cabana (I hear the asshole fans chanting ‘Heidenreich’ at Nigel…chumps) and start to give him a wearing out.

Cobra clutch from McGuiness, into a shortarm clothesline for 2. Cabana finally gets free and makes a tag, but Collyer had the ref occupied, so still Colt doesn’t get to escape. He exchanges strikes with Collyer, then drops him with a hurricanrana. McGuiness goes for the slingshot lariat, but Cabana ducks and it hits Collyer…and now we have the hot tag to Punk. He hits a springboard crossbody on both opponents, but Collyer ducks the Pepsi Twist. German suplex nailed by Chad for 2. Slingshot elbow strike by Nigel, and Punk comes right back with a spinning heel kick. Nigel doesn’t want to fight Cabana as this starts to fall apart…and Collyer locks in the Texas Cloverleaf. Punk breaks it with the Shining Wizard and the Saints club the crap out of the British guy. Neckbreaker/body splash combo on McGuiness for 2. It’s apparently Pepsi Plunge time, but Collyer makes the save and McGuiness pins Colt using the ropes at 17:36.

Rating – ** – Man that felt like it’d never end. Had it been anyone but CM Punk in the ring there’s no way this would’ve got almost 20 minutes, and to be honest, there was no need for it to either. We got the point – Cabana and McGuiness don’t like each other and their feud is getting more heated, we didn’t need 20 minutes making the same point over and over again. The crowd didn’t help either. They were completely silent, except for the notorious troop of asshole fans, who were clearly affecting the wrestlers with their inane chantings and retard babble. Still, McGuiness’ new heel character has some potential as the feud progresses. Collyer is fine for his part-time spot with his whacky idiot gimmick. CM Punk was visibly treading water out there before his matches with GeNext later in the month. An extremely disappointing match in truth…

Samoa Joe vs James Gibson – ROH Pure Title Match

This is definitely the highlight of the card from my point of view. Samoa Joe is the man that’s been chosen for the job of raising the prestige of the flagging Pure Title. At the moment, it really is seen as nothing more than a midcard title, and putting it on guys like John Walters and Jay Lethal (no offence to him, his two defences were great) didn’t help that. Putting it on someone like Joe, and putting him up against opponents of the calibre of Gibson is a step in the right direction. In storyline terms, we know Gibson is absolutely desperate for some gold in the company that has helped relaunch his career, and Joe is out to prove that, if he’s the Champion, it’s his belt that is the most important.

A hot crowd greets Gibson and Joe as they tentatively go through a feeling out process. Remember, this is Joe’s first match back from rib injuries which blighted him throughout May so it’s only natural he doesn’t start out full throttle. Gibson seems to have the edge as they trade holds, eventually giving Joe’s arm a working over with a variety of hammerlocks. Joe eventually finds some counters to Jamie’s arm work, so Gibson switches to a half crab…but Joe has enough strength to muscle out of it. He looks for another arm submission, but Joe lifts him to the top rope…and that counts as a rope break! Joe is pissed, and Gibson takes advantage of the distraction, dropkicking the champion’s leg. He stays focused on the leg but Joe fires back with the STO SLAM! He hits the chop/kick combo into the knee drop, but it’s obvious Gibson’s early matwork has had an impact, as Joe has to stop to recover. Jamie gets sent to the floor after a running knee strike in the corner but yet again Joe can’t follow up right away because he’s feeling his leg. Finally Gibson comes back inside where he gets peppered with a flurry of stiff strikes then put into a surfboard. He has to endure more punishing forearm shots, but eventually hits back with a swinging neckbreaker. Joe explodes back onto the offence though, using a rolling legsweep and a running senton. SAMOAN CRAB applied, and that draws Gibson into using his first break.

They fight on the second turnbuckle, but Gibson slips free…BACK SUPERPLEX ON JOE! That’s good for a 2 count, but nothing more. TRAILER HITCH, but Joe is way too big to keep the hold applied and Jamie has to switch to a roll-up for another nearfall. He goes for his running knee strike and runs straight into Joe’s awesome powerslam. Cross-armbreaker applied out of that, and Gibson uses his second break. Bootscrapes from the champ, but Gibson comes back with a dragon screw…STRYKERLOCK He’s worked on Joe’s legs all match, but still the Samoan can get to the ropes to tie us at 2-2. E Honda slaps by Joe but Gibson fires right back with a dropkick. Gibson goes for a pescado but gets caught and SLAMMED into the railings. Back inside and Joe keeps on the back with the powerbomb into the STF. Jamie really doesn’t have a choice but to use his last break now. Joe sets up for the Musclebuster…COUNTERED INTO THE TRAILER HITCH! F*CKING AWESOME SPOT! Still Joe powers out though…CHOOOOKE! Gibson doesn’t have any rope breaks left, and no way to escape. He taps at 23:56.

Rating – **** –
If Samoa Joe can produce Pure Title matches like that every time then he might well succeed where everyone else has failed and actually elevate that belt to something more meaningful. Buffalo just witnessed a terrific, methodical wrestling match. They started slow as Joe felt his way back from his injuries, but from the moment the referee made the shady call to deduct him a rope break for lifting Gibson onto the top turnbuckle, this was all beautiful. Gibson worked the leg, Joe the back. Gibson tried to wrestle, whilst Joe utilised more of a striking game. Ultimately Gibson’s wrestling approach and attack on the champ’s leg wasn’t enough, and Joe was able to take all his rope breaks away then trap him in his patented submission. In only his second Pure rules contest, Joe puts on another candidate for best Pure Title match ever, can’t say fairer than that. And Gibson sliding out of the Musclebuster into the Trailer Hitch was wrestling magic.

Austin Aries vs Spanky – ROH World Title Match

Spanky has made no secret of his desire to win ROH gold. After being fantastically consistent thus far in 2005 he’s finally earned his shot at Aries tonight. Can he succeed where his friend James Gibson failed? Aries is continuing his punishing schedule as World Champion. He survived the last Midwest double shot. He survived his trip to Mexico, but as Shelley pointed out earlier tonight, rumour has it he’s feeling the strain, and is carrying a neck injury. If that’s the case, Spanky could only be a Sliced Bread #2 away from victory.

Austin’s new beard is gay to the max for anyone interested in his facial hair. He seems surprisingly aggressive in his defensive wrestling right from the off. Are the rumours about his neck injury true? Spanky tries to test it with a couple of headlocks, but bails to the floor the second Aries tries to break out some of his more explosive offence. Headscissors from Spanky, and he jars Aries headfirst against the canvas he looks to pop out and hit the dropkick. Spanky avoids the springboard reverse elbow but Aries blocks Sliced Bread #2. HEAD DROP back suplex scores for Spanky though, and he is on the neck like a pitbull. After his initial flurry on the injury he goes to a chinlock, then uses a lungblower and another back suplex to keep the pressure on. Eventually Austin rolls to the floor to escape the attacks of his challenger, unable to take anymore apparently. On the outside Spanky flings him into the railings to keep the defending Champion in trouble. Aries grabs Spanky out of desperation – NECKBREAKER OVER THE GUARDRAIL! PILEDRIVER ONTO AN OPEN CHAIR! HOLY SH*T! In just two moves Spanky’s next has become as f*cked up as Aries’ and now it’s anyone’s ballgame. Back in the ring Aries misses the slingshot hilo, but scores with a slingshot swinging neckbreaker for 2. Spanky takes a dropkick right to the back of the head and a stiff kick to the spine.

The winner here is the guy who’s neck can take the most punishment. Austin misses a knee drop to the neck which allows Spanky back into the match. He goes for a modified STF and Aries has to go to the eyes to escape that. Cobra clutch backbreaker from Aries, then the power drive elbow to the neck…still just 2 though. Spanky misses a tornado DDT but still has enough to absolutely rock Aries’ injured neck with a DDT. The brainbuster is blocked and Spanky connects with a northern lariat to do still more damage. Aries wants the 450 splash but takes way too long going upstairs so Spanky drags him down with a super hurricanrana. Spanky heads upstairs now…top rope elbow drop TO THE NECK! They rip off the crappy finish from Loc/Cheech earlier but luckily Aries only gets 2. Spanky has a superkick blocked…HEAD DROP BACK SUPLEX! But still Spanky isn’t out of it. SLICED BREAD #2…COUNTERED INTO A TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER! Aries calls for the 450, but Spanky moves. He nails Aries with a German suplex, but his neck is too injured to hold onto the bridge. Both guys have eaten the crap out of each other now…but still Aries blocks Sliced Bread #2. He takes Spanky to the top rope…TOP ROPE SLICED BREAD! ARIES GRABS THE ROPES! His chin is bleeding just like Survival Of The Fittest, but he’s still in the match! MULTIPLE FACE KICKS! BRAINBUSTER NAILED…AND IT’S 450 SPLASH TIME! Aries retains at 18:35.

Rating – **** –
Aries keeps up his string of awesome ROH Title defences and gave the new market a gripping main event there. It won’t be winning any MOTY awards, but that was a whole lot of fun. It’s the kind of thing ROH is all about. 20 minutes of great moves, telling a great story, executing everything perfectly and bringing it home with a red hot closing sequence. Being critical I’d like to have seen both guys take their top rope moves (the elbow drop and the 450 respectively) out of their arsenal to put over the neck damage, but whatever, it’s a really enjoyable, underrated match, wrestled at a hundred miles an hour. If WWE put on main events as entertaining as this constantly they wouldn’t be in such a slump right now.

BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs are proud of their run as ROH Tag Champions. Whitmer runs through all the guys they’ve beaten, with Jimmy providing some hilarious facials in the background. Pointless promo though…

Austin Aries is all bloody and beaten up, but he sends out a warning to Low Ki and CM Punk – his belt isn’t going anywhere. The doctor turns up to tend to his cut…

It’s been a rough night for James Gibson and Spanky, as they’re both going home empty handed. Gibson says the love of the fans has made him soft, and it’s time for him to be the ass kicking REDNECK MESSIAH he used to be. Apparently they need to stop worrying about the fans and concentrate on getting the job done…and that’s how we end the show.

Tape Rating – *** – Not the strongest ROH show ever, especially considering how good the string of shows in May was, but it’s still good enough to get 3*. There’s some really meaningless stuff to sit through, and a few of ROH’s more trusted performers seemed to phone in their matches a little bit (Punk and Homicide for instance), but the two main event matches more than make up for it. Joe/Gibson is one of the best Pure Title matches around (perhaps even the best outside of Lethal/Joe), whilst Aries/Spanky is just a great, physical, fast-paced main event that any wrestling fan can enjoy. I think Shelley/Strong and the opening tag match also deserve some credit since they were both pretty damn entertaining as well. There’s nothing must-see about this show, and it’s easily skippable if you can’t afford to be getting every ROH home release…but if you do, just be aware you’re missing out on a couple of great title matches.

Top 3 Matches

3) Roderick Strong vs Alex Shelley (***)

2) Austin Aries vs Spanky (****)

1) Samoa Joe vs James Gibson (****)

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