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071 ROH Escape From New York 7/9/2005

ROH 71 – Escape From New York – 9th July 2005

Never before has a show been more appropriately named. Since making their return to New York state at Manhattan Mayhem, ROH has run it practically non-stop for two months. Five of the last eight shows have been in the state, and one of the three that wasn’t was right next door in New Jersey. Clearly the market is red hot right now, but too much of a good thing is never enough – like ice cream or pick’n’mix sweets. But the promotion isn’t alone in it’s desire to escape from New York here tonight. After beating Jay Lethal last night, CM Punk has been backed into a corner and will be making his final ROH appearance here tonight, and once again he’ll be looking to sneak away to the WWE with the World Title in tow. At bell time it still wasn’t clear who he’d be facing however. Also on the card is a huge, and much-pimped rematch – Samoa Joe defending the Pure Title against Austin Aries, who owns a staggering three pinfalls over the Champ. Long-time rivals Homicide and Jay Lethal clash, and the Cabana/McGuiness rivalry continues in a European Rules Match. Like last night, Mick Foley is here, The Embassy is running around as well, plus the Tag Titles defended, four corner survival and more stuff besides. We return to the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, NY. Your hosts again are Dave Prazak, Jimmy Bower and Lenny Leonard.

Colt Cabana isn’t doing Good Times, Great Memories tonight, and tries to cut a promo on Nigel McGuiness. He gets interrupted by Austin Aries, who’s pissed off about what CM Punk is doing with the belt. Cabana says it’s nothing to do with him. Cabana is wearing a TWC t-shirt – another reason he’s cool.

Lacey’s Angels/Vordell Walker vs Dunn & Marcos/Dixie

Just like last night Lacey’s Angels are Cheech and Deranged. I don’t have a lot of interest in seeing all the former Special K chaps wrestle for the 8 millionth time, but this is mildly interesting on some other levels. Dunn & Marcos have yet to really do anything with Lacey’s Angels, and if they click that could be turned into an entertaining little undercard feud with a ton more potential than the sh*tty RCE/Carnage Crew stuff. This is also the first time Vordell Walker has really been booked sensibly. He’s clearly not capable of hanging with ROH’s top guys yet, so let him open the show with a bunch of smaller guys who he can throw around and who can sell his spots like death. This is a big chance for him, and you can’t help worry for his future if he f*cks it up.

Marcos starts with Cheech, who is wildly popular with the Manhattan crowd. It’s your usual spotty opening with Marcos hitting a couple of lucha style takedowns. Cheech demands Dixie but gets smacked about by him too. Double jump fist drop from Dixie, breaking out something new. THREE WAY AIR GUITAR! Walker bundles in and eats a multiple revolution satellite headscissors from Marcos. Triple leapfrogs from the babyfaces as they all avoid Cheech…before the RCE blast him with their kick combo, then Dixie nails him with an awesome running DDT. Cheech finally hits a headscissors on Dunn and tags out to Vordell. He dumps Dunn with an ocean cyclone suplex for 2. Deranged in, which means it’s RUNNING CHINLOCK time. Dunn comes back with a sunset flip off the second rope…but Deranged comes back with a rewind hurricanrana for a 2 of his own. Dunn blocks a quebrada but Deranged COUNTERS to a DDT! Handspring moonsault press for 2. Walker comes in again but gets shoved off the ropes. Dunn rocks him like a hurricane with a top rope elbow drop, but Vordell comes back with ROLLING GERMANS! Cheech gets 2 off that with a cocky pin. Dunn almost powerbombs Deranged through the ring and this is his window to make a tag. Hot tag to Marcos who kicks lumps out of Cheech. Assisted Shiranui nailed on Vordell as well. Cheech blocks the electric chair senton though, and the Angel’s hit Marcos with a springboard Ace crusher. Dixie wipes them out…WALKER WITH THE VORTEX! Dunn & Marcos break the pin and send him to the outside. SECOND ROPE ELECTRIC CHAIR SENTON ON CHEECH! That’s it at 11:25.

Rating – *** –
That was honestly one of the most surprising matches of 2005. I expected absolutely nothing from it, and got an unexpectedly compelling and fun little tag match to open the show. There were some problems, mostly through Vordell looking as green as ever, but even he managed to look like a machine as he threw the smaller guys around. Dunn did a good job playing the face in peril…for six guys right at the bottom of the card, in reality fighting to keep their spot in the company, you really couldn’t ask for a lot more.

Colt Cabana tries to cut his promo again but gets interrupted again, this time by Samoa Joe. Just like Aries, he wants to know what’s up with CM Punk. Again Cabana refuses to get involved, saying Punk is acting on his own. Cabana gives up on cutting his promo…

BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs vs Carnage Crew – ROH Tag Title Match

I guess this is the Carnage Crew’s reward for kicking lumps out of Dunn & Marcos during their brief feud. Whitmer and Jacobs have torn through just about everybody else put in their way, so it’d be quite the feat if the Crew could finally climb to the top of the tag team mountain in ROH, after three years of paying their dues, bleeding buckets…yadda yadda yadda. I’m sure most fans of real wrestling are longing for Whitmer and Jacobs to retain here. You can’t help but think that’d really help the Carnage Crew over as heels if they were to take the belts tonight huh?…

BJ and Jimmy have some real comic chemistry in their pre-match routine. Their success as a team has to go down as another one of the more pleasant surprises in 2005. Jacobs and Loc start, with Loc gaining control as soon as he’s able to negate Jimmy’s quickess. Jacobs comes back with a rana before it’s time for DeVito and Whitmer. BJ has a long history with the Carnage Crew from late 2004 in case you’re lucky enough to have forgotten that feud. DeVito tries to make a point by out-wrestling Whitmer and works the arm. ‘You fat bastard’ – NY. Whitmer can hang so DeVito asks to wrestle Jimmy Jacobs instead. He goes to the eyes on Jimmy and the Crew take it to the floor as the ref argues with BJ. Jacobs gets smashed into the railings, then Loc introduces Whitmer to the timekeepers table. DeVito suplexes BJ on the metal ramp as the match has fallen entirely into Carnage Crew territory. Loc dumps Jacobs with the back suplex as the match returns to the ring. DeVito gets 2 with his fatty dropkick. Jacobs gets a double team clobbering whilst BJ again gets too riled up for his own good. Loc gets another nearfall with a falcon arrow. DeVito introduces little Jimmy to more guardrails as the isolation job continues.

The Crew hit a DOOMSDAY DROPKICK…and for the first time in ages I’m mildly impressed with them. DeVito murderises Jacobs with the crossface strikes then looks to wear him out/catch his breath because he’s so out of shape with a chinlock. Jimmy tries to fight back with right hands, but gets planted with a side effect. Loc with a swinging neckbreaker, but Jacobs avoids DeVito’s moonsault. Hot tag to BJ who naturally clears house on both Crew members. Jumping heel kick for Loc, who looks gassed by this point. The Crew put Whitmer in a double crab, but Jacobs breaks that with a double DDT. The champs with the powerbomb senton on Loc for 2. Loc back drops Jacobs TO THE FLOOR! SPIKE PILEDRIVER on Whitmer…but he kicks out! They go for it a second time but Jimmy Jacobs breaks it up. Whitmer gives Loc the Exploder…but DeVito chucks Jimmy all the way to the floor again! BJ GETS SHOVED OFF THE TOP THROUGH A TABLE! Jacobs is back…SPIKE PILEDRIVER ON HIM INSTEAD! NOOOOOO! The Carnage Crew are your new champions at 14:13. After the match BJ and Jimmy get a standing ovation for their efforts…

Rating – ** –
That was the best Carnage Crew match in some time, which isn’t saying a lot, but this wasn’t actively bad. In fact, it was a pretty unique story for a match to have, as the fat, out of shape brawlers attempted to drag the wrestling team down to their level in order to get the belts. To that end, it was quite successful. The beatdown on Jimmy Jacobs was effectively done (moreso than the isolation of Dunn in the 6-man opener) and the finish was really hot. In no way do I want to see Loc and DeVito with the belts…but it’s a testament to the great reign of BJ and Jimmy that they were able to get that good a match out of them. By the way…why the f*ck did ROH just put the tag belts on the freakin’ Carnage Crew?

Azrieal vs Roderick Strong vs Jimmy Rave vs James Gibson

ROH is really digging the four corner survivals at the moment huh? Anyway, there’s a few things to deal with here. Azrieal and Rod Strong wrestled last night. Gibson will remember Roddy well after he f*cked his back up royally at Best of American Super Juniors. But…before the match can even get going the lights go out.

It’s CM Punk on the balcony to taunt James Gibson, and say he’s not putting the title on the line tonight because Jamie acted like such a dick last night at Sign Of Dishonor, and his win/loss record sucks ass. Instead he singles out Roderick Strong and says he wants to continue the lesson he started teaching him at The Future Is Now…in a non-title match. Mick Foley appears on the balcony behind Punk…and threatens to throw him off unless Punk makes it a title match. Punk agrees because he’s a chickensh*t…so tonight it’s Punk vs Strong with the title on the line. Gibson shakes Rod’s hand, ending their issue, and sends him to the back to get ready…and out of nowhere Alex Shelley steps in to change the complexion of the match we’re supposed to be having. Quite why is anybody’s guess.

Azrieal vs Jimmy Rave vs James Gibson vs Alex Shelley

This remains a big chance for Azrieal to shine against three guys much higher up the card than him. This is the third show in a row he’s been booked into a significant undercard match. He needs to grab the brass ring if he wants to cement a more sizable push. Gibson is looking for gold in ROH, but as CM Punk pointed out, his recent won/loss record is pretty hideous – his last win coming at Nowhere To Run against BJ Whitmer…and he’s lost a number of title matches already as well. Jimmy Rave and Alex Shelley seem like odd men out in this match. Rave has AJ Styles to worry about, whilst Shelley is embroiled in his on-going feud with Generation Next. Indeed, this is his in-ring comeback after being injured by Strong and Aries at New Frontiers. The winner of this apparently gets a Pure Title shot next week in Connecticut.

Rave jumps Gibson to kick start the match and hammers on him in the corner as Alex Shelley comes from the back to join the contest. Azrieal tags in who sends Jamie to the floor with a snapmare. We do the same fuzzy feed gimmick as last night to see Matt Hardy again, before coming back to see Nana dragging Jade around ringside as Gibson traps Az in a hammerlock. Shelley tags in to test his strength with the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion. They scrap on the mat with neither man able to gain an advantage before Rave tags himself back in. Gibson deathlocks the legs and bridges but Shelley breaks the hold with a double stomp. Azrieal comes in to take advantage of that. Unfortunately Gibson fights him off and tags out to Jimmy. Rave smacks Az in the face and hangs him gut-first over the top rope for a 2 count. Rave singles out the midsection of Azrieal, and Shelley continues the work with a nasty grounded surfboard which Gibson has to break. Alex hits a moonsault right on the pressure point, and when that doesn’t get a pin goes to a Japanese stranglehold, complete with knee right in the back. Rave breaks out a bodyscissors, as he and Shelley seem to be teaming up to work over Azrieal. Shelley returns to surfboard Az again, whilst Nana continues to bully Jade Chung. Az almost reverses the surfboard so Shelley ditches him with a back suplex. After wrestling Strong last night and having to content with Shelley and Rave tonight, Azrieal’s ribs and back must be killing him. Gibson tags in on Shelley, but the ref was distracted by Jimmy Rave, meaning he doesn’t allow Gibson to enter, and the isolation of Azrieal continues with a Rave gutbuster. The Crown Jewel literally drags Az ribs-first into the ringpost to do yet more damage.

Those ribs have been worked over for almost 10 minutes now. Az tries to get some momentum going and runs like an idiot right into a spear. Together Rave and Shelley drop Azrieal over the top rope, but get distracted by Gibson. Azrieal finds it within him to springboard into both opponents…but there still isn’t a chance to tag. Gibson finally snaps, coming in to throw Azrieal into his corner and make the hot tag. Jamie gets 2 on Rave with a swinging neckbreaker, but Shelley makes the save. SUPERPLEX SCORES…TRAILER HITCH! Shelley breaks that with a dropkick to the head, but Azrieal kicks him out. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA ON SHELLEY! It’s Rave and Gibson left alone, and Rave nails Ghanarea for a 2. Rave Clash time, but Azrieal breaks it with a springboard clothesline. Azrieal tags in to kick Jimmy in the back, then rock him with the low dropkick. They mess around in the corner before Azrieal hits a running Iconoclasm for 2. Gibson powerslams Az…FROG SPLASH from Shelley for 2. Alex takes it to the top rope…but soon as to avoid Azrieal’s double stomp. He gives Az a tilta-whirl backbreaker and a powerbomb, meaning Gibson again has to save. Jamie walks right into a superkick from Shelley, and again Rave looks to team up with him. DDT ON SHELLEY – TRAILER HITCH AGAIN! CRAPPY WIZARD TO BREAK IT! Azrieal kicks Rave down…RAVE CLASH! Azrieal’s ribs are f*cked as well! Jimmy is getting the Pure Title shot after 22:13 shown.

Rating – *** –
I liked the match…I disliked Azrieal. I really wanted to get behind him, but that’s two nights in a row he’s completely no-sold extensive damage to his ribs/back to hit his trademark spots, and he needs to move beyond crap like that if he wants to move up the card. He did fine as a whipping boy for Shelley and Rave for 15 minutes, but it’s just so hard to buy into his babyface comebacks if he’s no selling the injuries – which is the reason we’re SUPPOSED to care about his whole comeback. Now onto the positives…didn’t Rave and Shelley look like a good heel combination there? Funny that isn’t it? Nudge nudge, wink wink. It’s a good match, I just felt it would’ve been a lot better had somebody better than Azrieal been involved.

Nana seems pretty jubilant until he claps eyes on Jade Chung. He punishes her by making her kiss Jimmy Rave’s foot. She doesn’t look happy about it, but she does it anyway. She looks pissed and looks like she’s going to slap Nana…but instead starts crying and gets dragged away. This angle is wonderfully distasteful is it not?

Prince Nana isn’t finished either. He returns to ringside before the next match to offer Austin Aries a spot in The Embassy. Aries is too focused on Joe to even listen to what Nana has to say. He’ll only do business with Nana if he’ll go to the back and run his bath water…

Samoa Joe vs Austin Aries – ROH Pure Title Match

Everyone knows the story behind this one. It was Austin Aries that ended Joe’s colossal 21 month World Title reign at Final Battle 2004. It was Austin Aries who pinned Joe again in the rematch at the end of the Third Anniversary week. Hell, even last night Aries managed to pin Joe again in a four corner survival. Now Aries has his sights set on Samoa Joe’s Pure Title, which he is desperate to make as prestigious as the World Title. To do so he’s defending against top quality opposition, and here he’ll be looking to finally exorcise the demon of Austin Aries and prove he can beat him.

Joe immediately tries to swing a big arm in Aries’ direction, but the challenger is quick enough to avoid the contact. Aries takes it to the mat, but Joe counters out and headbutts him in the spine for good measure. The champ gets caught in a grounded headscissors, and Austin has enough about him to avoid a slap as Joe breaks free of the hold. Aries hits a springboard reverse elbow, but it’s completely no-sold by Joe who fires back with a bitch slap. Aries increases the pace again and runs into a spinebuster, and Joe follows that up with a senton across the back. Joe applies the Samoan crab which forces Austin to use his first break. Chop/kick combo from Aries, but he misses the knee drop, and Joe punishes his insolent move theft with a big roundhouse kick. Running knee strike in the corner which leaves Aries prone for a facewashing. He goes to the outside to get some respite from the non-stop Joe brutality, as just like in their previous two matches, Joe is overwhelming him. He comes back by dropkicking Joe off the apron…HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! He got so much distance on that he sailed over the timekeeping table as well. Again it’s the high-impact, quick offence of Aries which has brought him back in the match. He goes for a cross armbreaker after a near fall, and that gets Joe’s first ropebreak. Austin nails a running dropkick in the corner, then a missile dropkick off the top for 2. He calls for the brainbuster but it’s way too soon for that.

Joe powers free and plants Aries with an STO which leaves both men in a heap. Aries gets knee’d off the apron, which naturally leaves him in prime position for an ELBOW SUICIDA! OLE OLE KICK! Joe isn’t done…A SECOND OLE OLE KICK! But can Joe learn from his mistakes from the first two matches and turn his dominance into a victory? Aries counters Joe’s trademark powerbomb…AND HE STF’S JOE! That was cool, and it makes Joe go to the ropes for a second time. He elbow smashes the Champion BUT MISSES THE 450! Joe fires back with the powerslam, and gets Austin to use his second break with a cross armbreaker. The powerbomb scores second time of asking, and now it’s Joe’s turn to crank on an STF. Aries uses his last ropebreak to escape the hold. Joe goes for a lariat…CRUCIFIX DRIVER! BRAINBUSTAAAAAA! 450 SCORES THIS TIME! IT’S FINAL BATTLE ALL OVER AGAIN…BUT JOE GETS HIS FEET ON THE ROPES! They’re both out of breaks now, but Samoa Joe just survived Aries’ trademark offensive flurry. He goes for the brainbuster again…E HONDA SLAPS IN RESPONSE! Aries ducks the jumping enzi, and fires back with a face kick. He goes upstairs for the 450…AND GETS CAUGHT WITH A SPINNING MUSCLEBUSTER! Aries has his foot on the ropes, but he doesn’t have any breaks left so that’s enough to at last secure Joe a win over him at 17:12.

Rating – **** –
Probably my least favourite of the Joe/Aries matches, but it’s still pretty f’n good. It plays on the two previous encounters marvellously well, both with the general lay out of the match – Aries attempting to survive Joe’s overwhelming and damaging offensive arsenal – and with a number of awesome familiarity moments. I loved the way Aries ripped off Joe’s spots, both the chop/kick combo and the STF. There was a nice homage to Final Battle 2004 in there as well, as Joe finally survived the offensive flurry that ended his World Title run. Samoa Joe + Pure Title Matches = awesome.

INTERMISSION – GMC is with the Carnage Crew, new ROH Tag Champions. Loc says this is the culmination of all their hard work in ROH and in wrestling. They’re off to celebrate in the nudie bar…Capetta isn’t invited.

Nigel McGuiness vs Colt Cabana – European Rules Match

This feud continues to escalate and has been running pretty much since February. Cabana managed to beat Nigel during the Third Anniversary Celebrations, but since then Nigel has had the upper hand. He won with an inadvertent low blow at Manhattan Mayhem, then finally ended the whole “sporting” aspect of their rivalry at Nowhere To Run, where he again beat Colt, this time with an intentional low blow. He even stole another victory on Cabana at New Frontiers when he teamed with Chad Collyer to overcome the tandem of Cabana and CM Punk. Both are coming off Pure Title losses to Joe…and Nigel should have the upper hand here, given that he is a European and all. The European Rules aspect means this should be a little different. Eight three minute rounds, winner is the first to two pinfalls, or a straight knock out. There is a standing 10 count after going on the mat. You get three public warnings before a disqualification. There probably are more rules…Bobby Cruise didn’t make them overly clear to be honest.

ROUND 1 – The first thing McGuiness does is use a closed fist behind the referee’s back. Colt fires back with one of his own which the ref does spot, and that earns him a public warning inside a minute. Nigel tries to get Cabana to punch him again, but he resists. Cabana goes to work on the arm but McGuiness escapes and again tries to tempt Colt into using a closed fist. He gets put in a headlock, and behind the ref’s back Colt finally does use a closed fist…then he fakes a low blow and that earns Nigel a public warning. There’s so little between these guys they even cheat the same. That’s the end of round 1 anyway…

ROUND 2 – McGuiness gains an advantage by throwing his towel in Cabana’s face, then goes to work on him in the corner. He works the neck with forearms, but can’t drive Colt head first into the canvas. Cabana comes back and insults McGuiness by dumping him headfirst into the mat. Nigel shoves the ref in frustration and gets himself a second warning. Colt scores with a series of dropkicks and gets the first pinfall to end round 2 at 01:53.

Again Nigel cheats to start the round, this time by spitting water. He turns his attention to Colt’s midsection, scoring with a couple of headbutts right to the breadbasket. He goes to the well once too often though and Cabana counters with a sunset flip for 2. Nigel bridges to counter…and Colt smacks him in the balls! That’s Cabana’s second public warning right there. McGuiness is pissed off, but Colt uses all his momentum against him to go for more pinning combinations. Flying forearm from Cabana as the round comes to an end…10 seconds late by the way.

INTERRUPTION – It’s another Matt Hardy promo. He’s excited about his ROH debut next show, but warns Chris Daniels to be ready for an unfortunate twist of fate.

Nigel comes out for this round with his iron in tow, and when the ref takes that he punches Colt in the face. Hammerlock DDT from Nigel, as he goes to work on Colt’s arm this time. He applies a version of the Devil Lock and Cabana quits at 00:59. We’re tied at 1-1 now.

Now he’s weakened a body part Nigel doesn’t need to cheat anymore, and he goes right back to work on the arm and shoulder. Cabana blocks the Artful Dodger with a dropkick, and scores with the double knees in the corner. McGuiness goes for the same move but it’s blocked. Cabana applies a Boston crab, but Nigel pretends to be the ref convincing Colt that’s submitted and Cabana breaks the hold. They trade nearfalls but they’re losing the crowd now. McGuiness rolls Colt up at 01:58 to win the match. Total match time was 11:00 dead by my watch.

Rating – ** –
It’s not great, but certainly not as bad as some reports, or the live crowd would have you believe. Nigel actually carried the match with his heel work, but beyond that a lack of comedy (which has formed a broad base of their previous matches) or psychology outside of the one-upsmanship and McGuiness heel-work really hurt, and lost the crowd along the way. The European Rules took away from their rivalry, rather than added to it. The three minute rounds meant they never really got into a rhythm, and the action always felt stunted and interrupted before it could really get going. Cramming three falls into 11 minutes of wrestling was also pretty stupid. All in all, nothing special here…their European Rounds match at Universal Uproar here in the UK was better.

Roderick Strong is in some grotty cellar or something. Austin Aries psyches him up for his big title match.

Homicide vs Jay Lethal

The Jay Lethal/Rottweilers feud continues to rage on, and is one of the hottest feuds in the promotion right now. Homicide and Low Ki put Jay on the injured list at Manhattan Mayhem with their devastating Ghetto Stomp Cop Killa, and before that it was Ki that injured Lethal way back at the Trios Tournament. Lethal gained a measure of revenge at The Future Is Now when he put Homicide through a table, and hit his Dragon Suplex on Ki. At Death Before Dishonor 3 Jay went to a non-finish with Low Ki after interference from J-Train…but will be looking for a decisive pinfall victory on a Rottweiler tonight, in New York City which they proclaim to be their home turf.

The crowd is absolutely smoking hot for this relaxed rules contest. Homicide rolls through a bulldog attempt, but Lethal counters a suplex and dropkicks Cide to the floor. Back inside Lethal hits a couple of early suplexes but it’s way too early to be looking for a pin. He flies out of the corner with a springboard crossbody for a 2 count though. Homicide fires back with a spinebuster and looks to take control of the match. The fight spills to the apron where Homicide scores with an ACE CRUSHER! Homicide distracts the referee as Smokes nails Jay with a bat on the floor. That’s enough to bust Lethal open it seems, and Cide goes after the cut right away, but then he gets distracted by a Red Sox fan. He takes Jay back inside…and he brings a fork in with him. LETHAL GETS STABBED IN THE HEAD! He drags poor Jay around the ring, f*cking up his head with the ghetto fork. But he still tries to fight back with chops, so Homicide rakes his eyes. Now Homi goes to work on Lethal’s neck injury, leg dropping him in the back of the head as he is draped in the ropes. Lethal fires back again, but he doesn’t have a lot left and one forearm from Homicide lays him out. Jay goes for a headscissors out of the corner, but all that happens is he gets caught and powerbombed for his problems.

He finally does score with a belly to belly suplex, and that gives him a small chance to recover. Homicide comes back slugging away, but Lethal is hulking up! He scores with a dropkick, then hits a running neckbreaker for 2. He connects with the second rope heel kick but it’s still not enough to get the win. Running suplex scores, and now he heads to the top for the DIVING HEADBUTT! But that damages his neck, and he can’t cover right away. Homicide blocks the Dragon Suplex and elbows the neck, before dropping him with a piledriver. One of his thugs shoves a table in the ring, and he could have revenge for The Future Is Now on his mind. He sets the table up and takes Jay to the top rope. LETHAL DDT’S HIM OFF THE TOP THROUGH THE TABLE! HOMICIDE KICKS OUT AT 2! Lethal just won’t give up though, and he scales the ropes again. One of Homicide’s thugs cuts him off though…AND NAILS HIM WITH A TOP ROPE SIDEWALK SLAM! That was Grim Reefa I think. Lethal blocks the Cop Killa…DRAGON SUPLEEEEX! That would be it but a gang member pulls the ref out of the ring. Lethal has had enough and he goes to the floor to fight with J-Train. HOMICIDE SMACKS LETHAL IN THE NECK WITH A CHAIN! LARIAAAAT! Homicide wins at 19:14.

Rating – *** –
That was lashings of fun. It’s not often you see a violent brawl like that packed with so much psychology and stuff, so I really enjoyed it. The only thing that brought this down was the interference. I can see why they did it, as it’s a way to further the feud and again screw Lethal over so it works in context of the angle, but when rating this match, it hurt it a little bit. This also seemed to run a little long, but these are minor points. It’s another important performance and match in the progression of Jay Lethal though. He sold the neck injury after the diving headbutt which I was ecstatic to see, and for the first time in his ROH career, he found himself bleeding and still kept fighting. He will come off like a star when he finally gets a win over one of the Rottweilers.

CM Punk vs Roderick Strong – ROH World Title Match

This is the second night in a row Mick Foley has somewhat forced CM Punk into a title defence, as Punk looks to weasel out of ROH and take the belt to the WWE with him. Last night Foley guilted him into a title match, and he opted to gain a measure of revenge on Jay Lethal for pinning him at Back To Basics. Tonight, as we learned earlier, he wants to continue the lesson he started with Roddy at The Future Is Now, when they put on a hell of a match…and Mick Foley bullied him into making it a title match. This, once again, is Punk’s last night with the company though folks. If Roderick Strong can’t overcome the odds, get the biggest win of his career and save the World Title, then CM Punk is walking to Vinnie Mac taking the strap with him. Samoa Joe is watching this from the balcony…

‘OVW’ – New York. The fans are right behind Roddy tonight it seems. Punk brings the insultage by chopping Strong rather than giving him a clean break. He hides in the ropes as Strong tries to fire back, and insults him again by chopping the back. This time he bails all the way to the floor to escape the wrath of the GeNexter. Punk keeps avoiding Strong’s chops, and gets in sneak open-hand strikes of his own like a complete prick. He has the Stronghold countered and the double knee gutbuster blocked before finally succeeding in clotheslining the Champion over the top rope. Outside Punk again fires off another chop then runs away before Roderick can respond. Back inside…and still Punk hits still more chops whilst again managing to avoid any in return, and grounds his opponent with a headlock. Punk goes for a leapfrog and FINALLY Strong is able to unleash some devastating chops of his own. The fans are loving Punk getting a taste of his own medicine, but he goes to the eyes to break the flurry. They are literally cheering every strike Strong scores with, before he sends the champion to the floor. HE SAILS OUT WITH A PESCADO! Punk’s chest is bleeding from all the chopping by the looks of things, and he’s getting hit so hard he tumbles into the front row. Roddy hits his first backbreaker of the match, and the crowd come alive again with a ‘break his back’ chant. He gets a little too carried away though and he runs right into a hotshot over the top rope, switching the momentum of the match again. James Gibson is on the balcony with Samoa Joe now, as Punk dropkicks Roderick in the back of the head. He scores with the mule kick then Russian legsweeps him down for 2. Strong comes back with a springboard crossbody, but Punk immediately cuts him off with a clothesline before he can follow up. They trade forearms, with the fans cheering every Strong strike and booing every shot from Punk.

The champ hoists the challenger up into a stalling vertical suplex. Mick Foley is somewhere in the balcony watching as well, and has to witness Punk slow it right down with a chinlock. The mind games continue as Punk hits a backbreaker on the Messiah of that very same move. He peppers Rod with kicks, and when that doesn’t secure a pinfall he goes back to a chinlock to wear him down further. Strong has enough fight to break free, and he drags Punk into a sunset flip by his tights for 2. Punk’s ass is on display as he climbs the ropes…and this is an homage to Ric Flair all of a sudden with Roderick press slamming him off. DOUBLE KNEE GUTBUSTER from Strong…and he blasts Punk with the big boot to get 2. He unleashes more chops, then a series of clothesline before getting a nearfall from an AJ Styles-esque dropkick. ROCK BOTTOM BACKBREAKER! It doesn’t get the win but he’s really starting to damage Punk’s back. The half nelson backbreaker is blocked…and Punk nails the Shining Wizard. ANACONDA VICE…BUT STRONG ROLLS HIM UP FOR 2! Tornado DDT from Punk…ANACONDA VICE AGAIN! Strong gets to the ropes and he’s still in the fight. Punk drops him again with the Pepsi Twist and goes back to the top rope. He misses a springboard leg drop AND ROD GETS THE STRONGHOLD ON! Punk makes the ropes though, much to NYC’s dismay. Half nelson gets blocked and countered again, and Punk nails the Devil Lock DDT, but still only gets 2. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER…CRADLE BACKBREAKER…PUMPHANDLE DRIVER! PUNK GETS HIS FEET ON THE ROPES! What the hell does Roddy have to do? Punk escapes the powerbomb backbreaker…and he rolls Strong up using the ropes to steal it at 26:29.

Rating – **** – For the second night in a row, CM Punk just delivered an awesome main event. That was even better than the Jay Lethal match last night. Punk as the sneaky, cheating heel is awesome, from the way he taunted Roderick with chops, right the way to stealing the win by using the ropes. Meanwhile Roderick continues to improve every time he’s in the ring. He just went nearly half an hour with the World Champion and looked well within his depth, helping to tell a great story. The only reason I didn’t give this an extra half star is that never once did you feel like Strong truly had a chance of taking the belt. With Joe and Gibson (more credible threats to the belt, and with outstanding feuds with Punk) watching from the balcony, it was a constant reminder how much further down the pecking order Roderick is, and despite the quality of his performance, and the heat of the wonderful Manhattan crowd, there was just never the magic of a title change in the air.

CM Punk thinks he’s succeeded in leaving ROH with the World Championship. James Gibson sprints out so Punk tries to escape through the crowd…except Samoa Joe is in the crowd! The chase continues until Punk flees up the ramp, where Mick Foley cuts him off with right hands. TIGERBOMB BY GIBSON! Foley counts to three, and they’ve succeeded in humiliating the champion. Gibson calls out Punk next week in Connecticut…and after this he really has no choice but to accept.

Colt Cabana is in a foul mood. He again reiterates he has nothing to do with CM Punk, but has bigger problems, namely Nigel McGuiness. He’s upset he couldn’t get the job done tonight, and he’s heading back to England to train harder.

Tape Rating – *** –
Escape From New York gets a lot of pimping from various sources, and I can’t argue that it isn’t deserved. It’s just a really solid event, which flows nicely, builds to an awesome conclusion, and has absolutely nothing bad on it. Even the stuff which isn’t great (the Tag Title match and the Euro Rules match) are surprisingly adequate fare. Although nothing is MOTY good (hence the rating of the show isn’t higher) Joe/Aries and Punk/Strong are worth going out of your way to see. I can’t wait for next week’s Connecticut show…and you can consider ROH’s first ever New York state double shot a success. Oh, and this angle with CM Punk as heel champion is as good as anything Ring Of Honor has ever done. Punk is outstanding in the role, thus far the matches have rocked, and the future situation, with Gibson, Joe and Daniels all sniffing around looking for title shots is just awesome.

Top 3 Matches

3) Homicide vs Jay Lethal (***)

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

1. CM Punk vs Roderick Strong (****)

Top 5 New York Weekend Matches

5) Homicide vs Jay Lethal (*** – Escape From New York)

4) Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe vs James Gibson vs Homicide (**** – Sign Of Dishonor)

3) CM Punk vs Jay Lethal (**** – Sign Of Dishonor)

2) Samoa Joe vs Austin Aries (**** – Escape From New York)

1) CM Punk vs Roderick Strong (**** – Escape From New York)

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