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069 ROH Death Before Dishonor III 6/18/2005

ROH 69 – Death Before Dishonor III – 18th June 2005

This is a momentous show for Ring Of Honor. It’s the third Death Before Dishonor for one thing, and over the past two years the previous three DBD events have produced some memorable moments. It’s also ROH’s debut in their new New Jersey base, after the RexPlex in Elizabeth was closed down after Third Anniversary week. It’s the full-time return to ROH for AJ Styles, who’s TNA-imposed exile is finally over. He’s coming to seek vengeance on The Embassy. The rest of the card is pretty decent, and the main event will see CM Punk compete in his last ever ROH match. The rumours around him have been circulating for sometime, and he finally is on his way to the WWE. He marks his final night with the company by challenging for the ROH Title, just as Paul London did at the first Death Before Dishonor. We are in Morristown, NJ, in a spacious arena which looks a little sparsely populated it has to be said. Hosts are Dave Prazak, Jimmy Bower and CM Punk.

Colt Cabana opens up this special night preparing for Good Times, Great Memories. Finally he will have CM Punk as an official guest on his show…but Punk doesn’t show up. Colt is sure he’ll be here later…

Generation Next are outside, and Aries talks about all the damage done to his neck. Samoa Joe’s Musclebuster, Spanky’s super Sliced Bread #2 and Low Ki’s top rope Ki Krusha have all taken their toll. But Aries vows that Punk isn’t beating him on his last night. Strong and Evans have a #1 contendership match for the tag belts tonight…and Jack seems pretty confident.

BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs vs Jimmy Rave/Fast Eddie – ROH Tag Title Match

The Embassy have been on a big role in 2005, so it’s only natural that they should get a tag title shot at some point. For Jimmy Rave this is his third successive show jerking the curtain after his MOTYC cage match with CM Punk. I bet he can’t wait for AJ’s return so he can move back up the card a little. Anyway, Whitmer and Jacobs have already proved they’re not fluke champions with wins over Generation Next, the Second City Saints and Dunn & Marcos. Can they keep the streak going tonight? Fast Eddie marks out for Jimmy Rave stepping on Jade Chung…and he gets to do it himself as well.

Jacobs and Rave go first, and Jimmy seems to be one step ahead of Rave at every turn. He blocks a chop and Rave inadvertently HUSS poses. The champions work Rave’s arm early then switch to clubber the crap out of him. Eddie and Rave come back with a double pancake on Jacobs before just beating him down in the corner. BJ in and he sends his opponents sprawling with his hard-hitting. Nana grabs his boot, which allows Rave to catch him from behind with a clothesline. Fast Eddie chokes the big man in the corner, and this match is mirroring the New Frontiers opener in how fun the heel work from The Embassy is. Death Valley neckbreaker by Eddie scores for 2. Rave tags and he brings nothing fancy, just pounding on Whitmer. On the floor Mike Kruel takes a few cheap shots whilst Rave occupies the referee. Fast Eddie runs into an exploder suplex like a blind idiot and Whitmer makes the hot tag to Jacobs who clears house for the champions. Rave hits GHANAREA on BJ…and the CRAPPY WIZARD! Jacobs breaks with a TOP ROPE SENTON! Jacobs sets up for the Doomsday Rana on Eddie who escapes and plants BJ with the cradle Russian legsweep. MOONSAULT FALLAWAY SLAM on Jacobs for 2. Rave runs into a lariat from Whitmer. DOOMSDAY RANA ON FAST EDDIE! The champs retain at 10:03.

Rating – *** –
Perhaps my rating is a tad generous, but I really like the Rave/Eddie tag team. Both guys are so easy to hate they generate great heat, and their isolation work is a joy to behold. I also went high on the rating because it was interesting to see some variation in these Whitmer/Jacobs title defences, with BJ this time playing the face in peril. With AJ Styles back tonight now Jimmy Rave can move back up the card a little bit…which is probably a shame for Fast Eddie who could really get over with this team becoming a regular thing. Too bad…he isn’t that good.

CM PUNK MEMORIES – Punk talks about his debut appearance for ROH at Unscripted in September 2002. He didn’t wrestle until All Star Extravaganza, but he came out and exchanged words with Colt Cabana. Remarkably this was only two months after he fractured his skull. Punk looks so different now, it’s really weird looking at this. ‘I look like a 12 year old kid’ – Punk.

Colt Cabana is still waiting for CM Punk, even though he should be preparing for his Pure Title shot. He laughs that Nigel McGuiness couldn’t beat Joe in Manhattan last week…and decides to wait for Punk a little longer.

AJ Styles is psyched to be back for good, and he has Jimmy Rave in his sights.

CM PUNK MEMORIES – The landmark Raven feud. We get clips from the Raven’s Rules Match at Expect The Unexpected and the Dog Collar Match at Death Before Dishonor. Everyone remembers the feud for the great promos, but these two matches are really underrated.

Carnage Crew vs Dunn & Marcos – Anything Goes Match

Dunn & Marcos got absolutely decimated last week at The Future Is Now, but they didn’t quit, and still had enough left to brawl with the Crew at the end of the night. This is the rematch that EVERYBODY wants to see…expect some blood.

Dunn & Marcos are serious tonight and jump the gun to take the fight to the Crew. RCE kick combo on DeVito, and Marcos plants Loc with a swinging DDT. They break out the trash cans and go wild, sending both opponents to the floor. Loc is bleeding as Marcos gives him an enziguri. DeVito blasts Dunn with a chair, whilst inside the ring Marcos gets dropped onto one of the cans. He comes back with a slingshot senton onto a garbage can and Loc. GOURDBUSTER THROUGH A CAN on the floor by DeVito. He pours alcohol into the open wound of Dunn. The poor guy is absolutely pissing blood and DeVito shows no mercy by dropping an elbow. Suplex on the metal ramp follows as Dunn is taking a sh*tkicking. Marcos headscissors’ DeVito into a chair for 2. He blocks the assisted Shiranui…DUNN GETS BACK DROPPED OVER THE TOP THROUGH A TABLE! The Crew set up another table for Marcos…SPLASH MOUNTAIN NECKBREAKER! He’s dead, this is over. 08:34 is your time.

Rating – ** –
Hardly a classic, but it was a huge improvement over the suckfest that they put on at The Future Is Now. Last week was just an utter squash, this at least managed to maintain a semblance of competition whilst the RCE still took a royal ass-kicking. It’s through no fault of theirs that this feud is so unappealing to me, they are bumping like absolute lunatics to make their matches, and the Carnage Crew, interesting. They get a decent ovation as they leave the ring…

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF LACEY – Clips of Lacey beating Cindy Rogers with an implant DDT precede a Lacey segment of frankly colossal stupidity. She’s the top business woman in ROH and she hates men. Then she goes to the ROH Wrestling School and beats up Shane Hagadorn. You’ll laugh all the way through this…it’s embarrassingly bad. It is over five minutes of my life I’ll never get back though. Luckily she is very very hot.

CM PUNK MEMORIES – Punk vs Homicide at Round Robin Challenge 2. He calls this his breakout match in Ring Of Honor, and one of his best matches of 2003.

Samoa Joe vs Colt Cabana – ROH Pure Title Match

It almost hurts me seeing Joe out this early in the show! Anyway, this is his third defence of the Pure Title, and so far his record has been pretty good. He beat Jay Lethal in an awesome match and has set about redefining the Pure Title with great performances against James Gibson and Nigel McGuiness. Colt is coming off a big win over Jimmy Rave in Manhattan, and will have one over his rival McGuiness if he can win the belt here, after Nigel failed last week.

Colt takes less than 2 seconds to cost Joe his first ropebreak by wrapping his arm in the ropes. Joe is furious and pushes the referee, and that costs him his official warning as well. That’s a pretty questionable interpretation of the rules. He continues to frustrate Joe by crawling away from a pin attempt. Surfboard by the challenger, and he’s easily able to escape Joe’s counter too. Cabana again crawls away from a pin, and Joe has to go to the floor with steam practically coming out of his ears. Test of strength ends with Colt using his European ability to take Joe into a wristlock. It’s been five minutes of total Cabana dominance. RIGHT HAND by Joe…and that’s his second ropebreak gone. SLAPS from Colt but Joe isn’t feeling a thing. FUJIWARA ARMBAR and Cabana uses his first ropebreak to escape. Chop/kick combo scores, and Joe drops the knee right to the shoulder, clearly going after that body part.

He headbutts Cabana in the shoulder then plants him with an armbar DDT for 2. Right hands to the shoulder by the champion, and that’s legal. BIG BOOT to the arm, followed by an armbar. Cabana to the apron but he sticks his head through the ropes and takes another kick to the shoulder. He repeats Survival Of The Fittest 2004 with a sunset flip into the ring…and he STF’s Joe to take away his final break, even though he couldn’t lock it in properly due to the shoulder injury. QUEBRADA PRESS for 2. He scores with a leaping lariat but still it isn’t enough. Joe with a powerbomb…INTO A CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! PSYCHOLOGY! Cabana needs the ropes for a second time. Running knee into the corner and it’s Musclebuster time. Colt fights it and scores with a missile dropkick. He goes for Nigel’s Artful Dodger schtick and eats a JUMPING ENZI! Cabana blocks the Musclebuster again but can’t hit the Colt 45 due to his shoulder. POWERSLAM…CROSS ARMBREAKER! Cabana taps at 14:07.

Rating – *** –
Another fine title defence from Samoa Joe, and after three defences I’d already say his reign is by a long way the best of any Pure Champion. Obviously this wasn’t in the league of the Gibson or McGuiness matches, but then it wasn’t as long. The psychology, however, was really top notch. Great selling of the arm by Cabana, and Joe proved repeatedly why he’s one of the best going right now by changing up his offence to target the injury. It told a solid story as well, with Colt frustrating the champion early, so Joe moved it away from a wrestling match to a striking game (even with the limitations of the Pure rules) by punching and headbutting the arm instead.

Nigel McGuiness comes to the ramp to laugh at Cabana’s failure but doesn’t heed to Cabana’s demands to get in the ring with him.

James Gibson w/ huge booger is pissed off with Homicide for the way he won last week. Gibson wants to be ROH Champion and Cide isn’t getting in his way. He’s going after Homicide and revenge in the four corner survival tonight.

CM PUNK MEMORIES – Punk vs Steve Corino from Empire State Showdown. Punker talks about his odd relationship with Corino, and the one upsmanship that goes on between them. Another one of his favourite matches from 2003.

It’s time for a Jay Lethal promo, which is never good. He says he taught the Rottweilers a lesson at The Future Is Now, and he won’t quit until he has a pinfall win on Low Ki. Tonight he gets his chance.

Prince Nana heads to the ring to unveil his hired assassin to take out AJ Styles before he can even get his hands on Jimmy Rave. ‘DISPOSABLE TEENS’…is it Chris Daniels? No, it’s Allison Danger, who announces that Daniels is returning to ROH next show in Long Island. That kicks ass! The Prophecy is back. Meanwhile Nana’s hired gun is…Petey Williams.

Petey Williams vs AJ Styles

Opinion has been pretty mixed as to whether Petey should be brought in to ROH. Personally I think he’s a talented guy, and his lengthy run with the TNA X-Division belt produced some great matches. Indeed, most of TNA’s early monthly ppv’s were memorable only because of the Petey Williams X-Title defence. Anyway, he gets his chance against a familiar opponent. This is Styles’ full-time return to the company, and the first time we’ve seen him since February in Dayton when Jimmy Rave beat him by spraying him in the face with air-freshener. AJ wants revenge on his former protégé for that defeat, and for the theft of the Styles Clash. He needs to survive this first…

Both guys seem fired up but take it cautiously to begin with. Williams goes to the arm but takes a barrage of strikes. They hit armdrags from all kinds of positions before Petey grounds Styles with an armbar. Williams has AJ’s dropkick scouted and keeps working the arm. AJ tries to pull Williams to the floor but can’t so he re-enters and hits the dropkick for 2. Backbreaker on the Canadian. A couple of scissor knee drops from the NWA Champion find the mark. The nip-up rana scores as well but Petey is proving himself to be resilient. AJ goes for a TKO over the ropes, but ends up just dropping Williams to the floor in ugly fashion. Williams blocks a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor and leg drops across the chest. SLINGSHOT HURRICANRANA TO THE FLOOR! BACK SUPLEX ONTO AN OPEN CHAIR! AJ landed right on his face and could have been taken out of competition right there. Williams places Styles in the ropes then walks away. ‘Hit him Scott…Nana, I’m sorry’ – Petey. That was funny. Williams with a Goku Raku but it’s way too close to the ropes. There’s fight left in Styles who scores with a spinning heel kick. Pumphandle gutbuster nailed and he follows with the quebrada inverted DDT for 2. Petey blocks the suplex neckbreaker and hits a swinging neckbreaker of his own. Canadian Destroyer blocked…Styles Clash blocked…Petey with a DDT for 2! OVERHEAD ENZI on Williams as he skips to the apron. To the top rope and Williams goes for the Destroyer again. Styles holds on…SPIRAL TAP MISSED! Williams locks in the Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring but he hasn’t worked the legs and Styles powers out. Canadian Destroyer blocked again…STYLES CLASH! Petey is beaten at 16:37.

Rating – *** –
Their TNA ppv match was better, and in truth, this was somewhat too much of a TNA-style match for an ROH crowd, but for what it was, it worked fairly well. Nothing clever but it was an aggressive, back and forth match, with a few spots and counter sequences to remember. I have to say, I almost noticed AJ working the midsection a little bit to set up for the Clash, but I rather suspect that was more accidental than anything else. This wasn’t about working a body part, it was about trading offence, first guy to hit their big finish wins. AJ hit the Clash, Petey didn’t get the Destroyer. Hence he lost. I wouldn’t be against Petey back in ROH…but won’t cry if he isn’t. I’d rather see Chris Sabin.

Prince Nana berates AJ and says he stole the Clash from Jimmy Rave. Nana sends Jade Chung into the ring to slap Styles. Naturally she’s hesitant but eventually low blows him. The distraction allows Jimmy Rave to jump AJ. RAVE CLASH! Jimmy just laid Styles out with the move he stole. Welcome back!

INTERMISSION – GMC is with the Tag Champions. BJ says they’re not losing them. Fantastic…

CM PUNK MEMORIES – The Saints put Chris Daniels out of ROH with the Pepsi Plunge through a table at Battle Lines Are Drawn. Then Reborn Stage 2 when Punk and Cabana became Tag Champions in their hometown. Punk says he misses the Briscoes. WHERE THE HELL ARE THEY?

Colt Cabana is way up in the (empty) cheap seats. He isn’t happy that he lost, or that Nigel McGuiness laughed at him, but now it’s time for GTGM with CM Punk. He still is nowhere to be found though…

Lacey’s Angels vs Generation Next

Izzy and Deranged taking on Strong and Evans. Winners get a tag title shot in Long Island. Last summer we saw Strong and Evans brutalise Special K representatives a few times as GeNext established themselves, most notably at Reborn Completion when Roddy almost killed Dixie with his devastating chops. All four of these guys have improved hugely since a year ago so this one could be good.

Jack breakdances so Deranged does a headstand and gets stomped in the balls by Evans. Jack blocks the Mad Scientist Bomb and scores with a back flip hurricanrana. Deranged stomps on Evans’ balls as he dances some more. Corkscrew dropkick from Evans scores and Strong is in. He ties Deranged into a knot and stretches him with a knee in the back to boot. Izzy runs into a flurry of armdrags so Deranged mugs Rod from behind. Deranged gets belly to belly suplexed on top of Izzy. Evans sends him out with a springboard dropkick. EVANS WITH A SPRINGBOARD 630 TO THE FLOOR! How he continues to surprise you with his crazy stuff is unreal. Strong press slams Evans onto Izzy, and they follow that with the suplex/flip splash combo for 2. Dropsault from Jack, but Izzy gets his knees up from a standing moonsault press and hits a springboard swinging DDT. The Angels with a double brainbuster on Jack. Roderick almost kicks Deranged’s head off to break that pin. Doomsday Ace crusher by Deranged and Izzy for 2. Jack wipes both Lacey’s boys out with a springboard moonsault double inverted DDT (you read that right) and makes the hot tag. CRADLE HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER on Izzy. Deranged double stomps Strong out and eats a reverse rana from Evans. BLUE THUNDER PILEDRIVER BY IZZY! Somehow Evans isn’t dead and he kicks out as well. DUELLING RUNNING MOONSAULTS TO THE OUTSIDE! Izzy and Deranged were on a roll for about 3 seconds. Strong powerbombs Evans into the MOONSAULT DOUBLE STOMP to Deranged’s back. SKIPPING A GENERATION SCORES! That would be it but Cloudy and Cheech pull the referee out. Evans mounts the ropes again but gets caught. TOP ROPE T-GIMMICK DDT! Lacey’s Angels score the upset win at 12:33. They will go on to challenge BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs.

Rating – *** –
A semblance of fun formula stuff, coupled with more than enough completely nutty high-spots to satisfy those who like that kind of thing is more than enough to earn this a comfortable 3*. Strong and Evans’ matches with Whitmer/Jacobs and Shelley/Delirious were better but for your senseless spot chicanery this was perfectly fine.

CM PUNK MEMORIES – His face turn by saving Ricky Steamboat from Generation Next at Reborn Completion. This allows Punk to touch on his feud with Steamboat from spring 2004 as well.

Azrieal vs Nigel McGuiness vs Homicide vs James Gibson

With such a big roster these days, and after glancing over the cards for a number of the upcoming shows it’s clear that ROH is bringing back the four corner survival in a major way this summer, and this one brings a number of interesting stories to the table. Obviously the big issue is between Homicide and James Gibson. Gibson is desperate for gold in ROH, but right now needs to put some wins together after his failure to beat either Austin Aries or Samoa Joe. At The Future Is Now he lost to Homicide, but only after Cide kicked him in the balls. Tonight he looks for a much-needed win and for vengeance. Nigel comes to this fresh off his own Pure Title defeat to Samoa Joe. He’s got the on-going feud with Colt Cabana. He’d look like a tit if he lost here after laughing at Colt earlier. This summer is also supposed to be Azrieal’s big break-out, similar to that of Jay Lethal last year. After winning the Six Man Mayhem last week, this is his chance to shine with some of the bigger names.

Homicide starts with Azrieal who more than hangs on the mat with the Notorious 187. Gibson has already seen enough and tries to get his hands on Cide. He tags Az out of the match but Homicide goes to the floor to avoid Gibson again. Homicide and Azrieal trade armdrags and nearfalls, before Jamie tags in and Cide promptly brings McGuiness into the match as well. Nigel Europe’s it up on Gibson with a number of holds and counters. Gibson breaks out a few counters of his own as they go back and forth. McGuiness springboards out of an armwrench and elbows Jamie in the side of the head. With Gibson weakened Homicide tags in but he runs into an armdrag. Gibson goes after the arm to control the pace. Backbreaker on Homicide for 2, before he starts wearing him down with a surfboard. Cide doesn’t want anymore of Gibson and tags Azrieal. He gives Gibson a back suplex and applies a chinlock. McGuiness connects with a series of headbutts to Az’s stomach then really twists him in a cradle hammerlock. On the mat he locks in a cobra clutch, totalling taking Azrieal to school. Az counters out with a flapjack and McGuiness tags Homicide.

Az goes for a chinlock on him and just like with Gibson it’s countered. Cide scores with a tilta-whirl backbreaker and gets 2. Azrieal rolls through a sunset flip and dropkicks Homi in the face. McGuiness tags and decapitates Az with a superkick, but gets caught with a T-bone suplex by Homicide. Gibson and Cide go to the top, but Az comes and SUNSET FLIP BOMBS THEM BOTH INTO NIGEL! For a carwreck spot that was pretty fluid. Azrieal tries to pin all three men without success. McGuiness headstands and Az falls for it but Homicide blocks the Tower of London. Gibson German suplexes Azrieal and Homicide breaks his bridge with a low blow. Jamie stomps Homicide down into the corner then knees McGuiness in the head. RELEASE TIGERBOMB on Azrieal! Swinging neckbreaker on Homicide for 2. He goes for the Tigerbomb on Homicide but Nigel breaks that. HOMICIDE GIVES HIM THE TOPE CON HILO! PESCADO BY GIBSON! AZRIEAL HITS A TOP ROPE MOONSAULT! Homicide crotches McGuiness against the ringpost…as Az DOUBLE STOMPS him! LARIAT from Homicide. He goes for the Cop Killa on Gibson but Nigel shoves Jamie to the ropes. TOWER OF LONDON! McGuiness wins at 20:28 and for the third show running, Gibson is a loser.

Rating – *** –
It had obvious flaws, but I switched off and ignored them, and found myself actually getting pretty caught up in this one. Much like everything else tonight actually, it wasn’t a bad match – in fact, it was thoroughly decent. It just lacked the quality to get it a higher rating. For instance, the legal man rule just went out of the window at the end, as three legitimately talented wrestlers (and Azrieal) simply abandoned logic to hit a flow of high-spots. Azrieal didn’t exactly do anything wrong per se, but he didn’t add anything either. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve a push or anything…but I do think he’ll need to show more if he wants to advance up the card. In fairness, Jay Lethal took a while to really catch on…it’s only fair Azrieal gets the chance as well. Big win for McGuiness there…

CM PUNK MEMORIES – ‘F*ck anybody who tries to stop us’ – Punk. The aftermath of Punk/Joe at World Title Classic is shown as a lead in to Punk reminiscing on the famous trilogy.

Low Ki vs Jay Lethal

This is a rematch from their unexpectedly good/heated encounter at Midnight Express Reunion. That night Lethal lost in a spirited fight, and has been feeling the wrath of Low Ki ever since. He’s pissed off at ROH, and in order to lash out at Samoa Joe (the new ROH legend – some would say replacing Ki himself) he assaulted Jay Lethal the Trios Tournament. He finally revealed himself as the attacker at Manhattan Mayhem, and later that night Ki and Homicide injured Lethal in the main event with the Ghetto Stomp Cop Killa. Jay returned for revenge in Manhattan last week, putting Cide through a table then hitting the Dragon Suplex on Low Ki. He’s already said he wants the ultimate revenge by getting a clean win over Ki. Well…here’s his chance. Ki is fresh off beating ROH Champion Austin Aries.

Ki’s ‘Ghetto Stomp’ T-shirt is awesome. Nobody is wasting any time as they start smacking the crap out of each other from the bell. Lethal is still feeling the neck injured at Manhattan Mayhem but hits a springboard dropkick to send Low Ki outside. TOPE SUICIDA finds the mark but probably does more damage to his suspect neck as well. He hits a backbreaker to follow up a couple of suplexes and gets 2. Ki just can’t get any momentum going as he runs into a jumping heel kick. He does eventually score with a dropkick to the face and he targets the neck right away. He twists the head, pulling Lethal’s (stupid) hair to get him to his feet. Lethal tries to fight back but gets absolutely obliterated by a chop and goes back down. A headscissors continues the focused abuse and Jay desperately finds the ropes. Ki hammers on the back of the head, then stands on Lethal’s throat, utterly remorseless in this painfully slow demolition job. Smokes gets in some cheap shots as well. Ki goes for a clothesline, but runs into a Dragon Suplex attempt. He counters with a snapmare and tosses Lethal into the canvas by the hair. Jay goes for a series of pin attempts and gets a STANDING DOUBLE STOMP TO THE NECK! Ki puts him in a tree of woe…but Lethal pulls him off the top rope anyway. He gets some offence in complete with heavy neck-selling and drops Ki with a gutbuster/gutwrench suplex combo. Low Ki blocks the running suplex so Jay neckbreakers him instead…and hurts his own neck in the process. The running suplex is blocked again…AND HE RUNS INTO A VERTICAL LEAP DOUBLE STOMP TO THE HEAD! Lethal blocks the Ki Krusha but gets dropkicked almost through the turnbuckles. Again Ki gets shoved off the top rope…LETHAL SCORES WITH THE DIVING HEADBUTT! But his neck ruins any chance of a cover quick enough to win. Smokes is on the apron to toss a bat to Ki…DRAGON SUPLEX! LETHAL COVERS…but J-Train breaks the count at 2. The referee has no choice but to throw this out at 15:12.

Rating – *** –
I’d probably say this was as good as their first match. I preferred the psychology of this one, with Ki using the neck abuse to add focus to his already excellent dickhead heel routine. However, the first match was so special due to the unique heat it had, and the interaction with Jay Lethal’s mother, both of which were absent for this. Plus…what a cheap finish! I know it had to happen that way to keep the feud alive but…blaaargh.

Low Ki is more valuable to ROH now than he ever has been before, even when he was putting the company on the map with his awesome matches right at the start. He can go from wearing his working boots in a hard-hitting match like Ki/Aries last week, and effortlessly slips into something like this, where he carries a match by being an absolute cock in his disrespectful savaging of a young guy. Talk about Jimmy Rave all you want, Low Ki IS the best heel in ROH. It sometimes mean we don’t get to see him as the best wrestler in ROH (which on his day he can be)…but it all adds to the product, and in this case, it’s helping to make Jay Lethal’s career.

Lethal tries to give Smokes a Dragon Suplex but Homicide comes out to drag him out of the ring, and he retrieves Low Ki too. This issue isn’t done…

Austin Aries vs CM Punk – ROH World Title Match

It’s main event time, and CM Punk’s last night, last show, last match, and last chance to win the ROH Title. He earned himself this shot by beating Jimmy Rave in the steel cage to end their feud, and in New York survived Generation Next’s policeman Roderick Strong to make it here. Meanwhile, Austin Aries’ title reign is on shaky ground. His gruelling schedule is reportedly catching up with him, and after taking devastating moves at the last three live events, his nagging neck injury is getting worse. Joe’s Musclebuster, Spanky’s Sliced Bread and Low Ki’s Ki Krusha…have they taken too much out of him? If so, Punk could well leave ROH giving the fans that one last special moment.

Even before the match starts it’s clear the normally mixed New Jersey crowd is completely behind Punk tonight. Aries winds up the crowd after giving Punk a clean break whilst Prazak and Bower gush over Punk’s ROH history. A second time Aries backs Punk to the ropes, and this time he doesn’t give the challenger a clean break. Punk retaliates with one blow to the neck and Austin runs away clutching it in pain. Aries with the springboard reverse elbow and he slows it back down with a side headlock. Punk counters with a headscissors, and we all know where that focuses. Aries headstands out and gets dropkicked IN THE NECK! That’s a big score for Punk who has been pretty controlling in the opening five minutes. He wrenches on a headlock, making the champion bust his ass to escape. When he does Punk quickly follows up with a bulldog for 2. Aries takes another dropkick to the back of the head and at 10 minutes is looking like a beaten man. Punk with a backbreaker then a modified camel clutch, applying special pressure on the injury. Aries finally counters a suplex but gets dropped anyway with a neckbreaker. He goes to the apron, then gets sent to the floor when Punk hits a springboard dropkick. Punk SOARS TO THE FLOOR with a tope. Again they squabble on the apron…ARIES WITH A DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! ‘Holy sh*t’ – Morristown. It’s taken him almost 15 minutes, but just like that Austin has turned the tide. He starts throwing Punk into the guardrails but eventually Punk reverses a whip and Aries meets the steel, injured neck and all. Aries heels it up again by throwing streamers at the challenger, and sets to work on injuring CM Punk’s neck as well. He re-enters with a corkscrew body press to the back and springs up again into a Lionsault to make it worse.

It’s getting to the stage where the crowd are jeering everything Aries does, and giving Punk an ovation for anything he comes up with in response. Austin works the back now to chants of ‘f*ck you Aries’. Shinbreaker/back suplex combo scores. Punk goes head-first into the buckles as we speed towards the 20 minute mark. Chinlock applied, with a knee in the back so Austin is working two body parts at once. Punk runs into a sidewalk slam and takes the bump right on his neck. Aries whips Punk into the exposed turnbuckle but Punk hits out with a NECK LARIAT FROM BEHIND! DOUBLE UNDERHOOK BACKBREAKER…for 2. Punk goes upstairs and hits a crossbody but Aries kicks out again. He connects with the mule kick but Aries blocks the Pepsi Twist. Aries with the running dropkick in the corner but Punk still won’t stay down. PILEDRIVER NAILED! He sets up for the 450 splash but Punk press slams him off the top. SHIIIIIINING WIZARDOOOOOO…Aries kicks at 2. He manages to block the Pepsi Plunge AND HE HITS A SUPER BRAINBUSTER! DANGEROOUUUS! PUNK KICKS OUT! He catches Austin on the top rope…ARIES HITS THE PEPSI PLUNGE! ONE COUNT OF DISRESPECT! PUNK WILL NOT DIE AND THE CROWD HAS LOST IT! FACE KICK BY ARIES! 450 SPLASH SCORES…AND PUNK JUST ROLLS INTO THE ANACONDA VICE! Aries gets to the ropes. He goes for the crucifix driver but it’s countered into a TKO. Punk to the ropes…PEPSI PLUUUUNGE! PUNK WINS…PUNK WINS! 30:29 and finally he is ROH World Champion!

Rating – ***** –
F*ck it…f*ck no-selling…that’s ROH’s first 5* match of 2005 right there. Simply incredible, both from the wrestlers and the marvellous crowd. As if the match wasn’t good enough New Jersey added to it even moreso by literally going nuts for everything Punk did and sh*tting all over Aries. Simply unforgettable stuff…something special which all ROH fans should see.

The fans barrage Punk with chants of ‘Please don’t go’ and ‘We will miss you’ before Aries does the honourable thing and hands him the belt. It’s speech time…why hasn’t the locker room emptied? He calls the belt the most important title in the world. All of sudden you can HEAR the venom in his voice. He tells the story of the old man and the snake, and in case you hadn’t guessed – HEEL TURN B*TCHES! ‘I am the devil himself and all of you stupid, mindless people fell for it’ – CM Punk. Now he’s leaving for the WWE as an undefeated ROH World Champion and there’s nobody who can stop him. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS COMES THROUGH THE CROWD! THE FALLEN ANGEL IS BACK!

Everyone goes nuts and wants to see an impromptu match…but CM Punk runs off through the crowd and doesn’t come back. Daniels isn’t getting his hands on Punk tonight, but he pauses to tell the story of how he picked TNA over ROH, but never forgot all the things he did in ROH. He’s also never forgotten his destiny – to be Ring Of Honor Champion. ‘When I was gone, I was gone because I had to be. But now I’m back, and I’m back because I wanna be’ – Daniels. Awesome promo…

Roderick Strong and Jack Evans are backstage. Austin Aries isn’t cutting a promo after losing the belt…and Jack tells Strong he’s taking some time off because he’s holding them back.

Dunn & Marcos took another beating from the Carnage Crew tonight but still won’t quit. It seems they still want some more.

Colt Cabana looks to round off Death Before Dishonor 3 with CM Punk’s appearance on GTGM…except Punk has already left the building with the belt. Colt looks pretty gutted.

A few days later Austin Aries cuts a promo reflecting on his title run. He’s proud of everything he accomplished as champion, and is pissed off at CM Punk for stealing the title and pissing on everything he worked so hard for. Aries vows that he and Generation Next will come back stronger than ever.

I’m pausing here to reflect on Austin Aries’ title reign, since I’ve read a lot recently suggesting he wasn’t a great ROH Champion. I whole-heartedly disagree with that. He won’t go down with Low Ki, Samoa Joe or CM Punk as one of the great champions, but as a transitional guy between Samoa Joe and what was to come with Punk and the belt, he seemed to do a job. Having quality matches was hardly a problem. At worst his defences were solid (Cabana at It All Begins, or Homicide at Best of American Super Juniors), and he put on a stream of great ROH Title matches that all other champions struggle to match. Even in non-title action he produced good stuff, like the tag from Third Anniversary Celebration Part 2, the final of the Trios Tournament or the non-title clash with Low Ki.

Maybe then it was his lack of major “feuds” that have caused his title reign to be deemed a failure. What about the Cabana mini-feud? What about Alex Shelley? He was also an on-going storyline unto himself. His constant battle to live up to the standards set by Joe’s reign made compelling viewing, and made the title seem all the more prestigious. He journeyed around the globe defending it. He held it, whilst guys like Gibson, Spanky, Shelley and Punk absolutely craved it. For consistency, for solid story-telling and in the protection of the prestige Samoa Joe gave the ROH Title, I think Aries delivered. In the grand scheme of things, maybe it wasn’t as heated as Xavier’s run, or as epic and significant as Joe’s, as fantastically booked as Punk’s…but whatever. I certainly wouldn’t call him a failure. Like the New Jersey crowd said – ‘Thank You Aries’.

Tape Rating – *** –
This was getting a recommendation on the strength of Aries/Punk alone. It’s MOTY at this point and a truly significant moment in ROH history that needs to be seen. As for the rest of the show – how much you enjoy it entirely depends on you. Is your glass half empty or half full? If it’s half empty then this is a one match card, with nothing else on the DVD living up to it’s potential or being of any real consequence. Alternatively, if you’re a glasses full person, then this is a solid top-to-bottom show, with nothing bad on it whatsoever, rounded off with a MOTYC main event. I definitely place myself in the latter of those two categories. The title change, Punk’s heel turn and the return of AJ and Daniels leave ROH in complete chaos as they approach the summer months and the bundle of shows they have scheduled. As a set-up for the summer schedule DBD3 really works, there isn’t a single bad match on the show (even the Carnage Crew managed to surprise me and pull out 2*)…and you even get a solid bonus match of CM Punk vs James Gibson from FIP. My biggest criticism is that, by padding it out to two DVD’s and adding in so many unnecessary promo’s (like AJ Styles’, Whitmer/Jacobs and that god-awful Lacey skit) and Punk featurettes (interesting as they were), the show itself felt quite stunted, dragged at times. Plus the frequent breaks in the flow made it more obvious that, until the main event, we were struggling to break the 3* barrier. Man…this has been a long review…anyway, buy the DVD. CM Punk’s title reign is one of the biggest and best things ROH has ever done. You need to see the beginning…so therefore this is somewhat of a necessity.

Top 3 Matches

3) Nigel McGuiness vs James Gibson vs Homicide vs Azrieal (***)

2) Samoa Joe vs Colt Cabana (***)

1) CM Punk vs Austin Aries (*****)

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