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073 ROH The Homecoming 7/23/2005

ROH 73 – The Homecoming – 23rd July 2005

Exhausted by all these ROH shows yet? If so, that’s probably not good, because we’re not even through July. The last show of the seventh month of the year sees Ring Of Honor return home to Philadelphia. But it’s not just a homecoming for the promotion, tonight also marks the first time AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels will wrestle for ROH in Philly for a very long time. They compete in tonight’s main events against huge adversaries. It’s AJ taking on Jimmy Rave in a Street Fight, whilst we ended the last show with Chris Daniels stealing CM Punk’s title belt and vowing only to return it if he showed up tonight to defend it. Also tonight, Alex Shelley’s feud with Generation Next continues. He has a mystery partner to take on Austin Aries and Roderick Strong. Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal and James Gibson all look for revenge on The Rottweilers in a huge six man tag. In a Tag Title rematch the Carnage Crew defend against BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs…and Spanky’s back from Japan tonight too. Short card isn’t it? Welcome back to ROH in Philadelphia. Commentary tonight comes from Dave Prazak, CM Punk and Jimmy Bower.

Just as he closed out the last show, Chris Daniels opens this one, and he still has the title belt. He says he’d earn his title shot if Joe or Aries were still champion, but it’s Punk’s actions and attempts to leave with the belt that have made him do this.

Alex Shelley is changing in a corridor again. He talks about the speculation concerning his mystery partner tonight. It could’ve been Chris Sabin, Petey Williams, Rhino, Sabu or Charlie Haas…but it’s none of those guys. For now he’s keeping tight-lipped.

Deranged vs Azrieal vs Nigel McGuiness vs Spanky

Nigel is so the odd one out in this match…and not just because he’s the only guy with two names. I told you ROH was loving their four corner survivals at the moment. Anyway, Deranged needs to win because Lacey is threatening personnel changes to her Angels if they don’t start winning. Azrieal needs to win because, despite being in some big matches, he’s been jobbing left, right and centre. Spanky needs to win because he wants title shots, and now he’s back from Japan, and with WWE rumours circulating, he really has to act fast. Nigel is actually on quite the winning streak at the moment. One last victory could put get him a shot. Plus his nemesis Colt Cabana is back from England next month…he needs to stay hot.

Spanky has shorter hair again, just like when he was on the way out of ROH last time. Deranged and Azrieal start, as CM Punk absolutely buries everyone on commentary. Az ties Deranged up in a deathlock but doesn’t hold on too long. Deranged tags out by swatting Nigel in the face…that was quite funny. Nigel chases him on the floor, with Spanky and Azrieal joining the chase. Satellite octopus from Deranged, countered into a backbreaker by Azrieal. Az nails Deranged with a dropkick for 2. He fires back with a hurricanrana and a corkscrew enziguri. Hiptoss facebuster scores, but McGuiness low bridges Deranged and ambushes him on the floor. Spanky hits a body avalanche…TOWER OF LONDON nailed by Nigel. Punk says he beat Strong and Gibson by hooking the leg hehe. Spanky with a jumping heel kick on Azrieal, and follows with a moonsault kick in the corner. Enzi shot by Az, but Deranged tags himself back. Low blow behind the referee’s back and now Deranged is on top. ‘Nigel McBritish’ – Punk. Azrieal dishes out a shinbreaker and a dragon screw, then continues to work Spanky’s leg over with a leglock. He wrenches the offending limb in the ropes before tagging out to Nigel. Spanky takes a snapmare which smacks his neck on the ropes, then applies an Indian deathlock. Wristlock takedown nailed to keep Spanky on the canvas. Az dragon screws him off the top rope for 2. Spanky comes back with a flatliner into the buckles…and now would be a good time for a tag. Deranged gives McGuiness a headscissors, but Nigel rolls off the ropes and KILLS him with a lariat. McGuiness goes outside and starts beating up Cheech for good measure…SOMERSAULT PLANCHA from Az. Spanky with a RUNNING PESCADO! He takes Deranged in to give him a neckbreaker. Azrieal springboards in with a clothesline. Quebrada swinging DDT for Azrieal from Deranged. They go to the top rope, and McGuiness POWERBOMBS them both off. Spanky superkicks Nigel…SLICED BREAD #2. Azrieal plasters him with the cobra clutch backbreaker. He goes for South of Heaven on Deranged, but Spanky superkicks him off his shoulders. SLICED BREAD #2 for Deranged, and at 16:09, Spanky is your winner.

Rating – * –
Some funny commentary from Punk, and Deranged provided some comedy moments too, but that was pretty horrible. It was mostly a very slow, very uninspired bunch of senseless spots, and the only real attempt made at any wrestling (working Spanky’s leg) went nowhere anyway. I appreciate what ROH are trying to do with these lengthy four corner matches, since they can be really entertaining, and get a lot of guys onto the card…but Deranged and Azrieal really shouldn’t be booked in serious matches like this. They’re just nowhere near as good as McGuiness or Spanky.

GMC is in the ring to address Prince Nana’s treatment of Jade Chung. On cue, we clip to Nana and Jade arriving at ringside. ROH officials have decided that if he continues to physically abuse her or the whole Embassy will be fired. ‘You old douchebag’ – Nana to Capetta. Nana offers Jade the chance to leave and go back to her hut in Thailand. She opts to stay in The Embassy. Mike Kruel comes out and wraps Jade in a big sheet so she can’t show her body. He drags her away on a leash as well…so much for ROH officials. I’m loving this incredibly misogynistic angle…but the segment really dragged

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

Rematch from Escape From New York now. The Carnage Crew completed an unlikely victory over Whitmer and Jacobs (succeeding where members of Generation Next, The Embassy, the Second City Saints and Dunn & Marcos had all failed) to secure their first ROH Tag titles. Now they have to prove it wasn’t a fluke and beat Whitmer and Jacobs twice. They came through Ultimate Endurance 4 last week to prove they weren’t one-match wonders…but surely they can’t beat the impressive Hillbilly JesHUSS combo twice. The winners of this match are booked on the forthcoming Midwest weekend, whilst the losers have to stay home, and we all know how important ROH bookings are to Loc and DeVito.

Whitmer and Jacobs take the fight to the champions from the outset, with Jimmy diving off the apron onto Loc. He comes back by throwing Jacobs into the guardrails. In the ring he dumps BJ on his head with the saito suplex. Back body drop/powerbomb combo from the Crew on Jacobs for 2. Punk’s commentary is absolutely side-splitting as DeVito chokes Jacobs over the bottom rope. He looks for a submission with a chinlock and when Jacobs fights out of the hold he plants him with a side effect. Loc in to work the exact same chinlock on the tenacious Jimmy. DeVito gives him a superplex, and Loc follows right up with an elbow off the second rope. They set up for a Doomsday crossbody, but Jacobs victory rolls out and makes the hot tag. Powerbomb senton on Devito for 2, but Loc gives Whitmer a swinging neckbreaker. Somersault senton from the top rope…MOONSAULT by DeVito for 2. They set up for the Spike Piledriver but Jacobs takes DeVito off the top with a super rana. CONTRA CODE on Loc for 2. DeVito tries to give him a super back drop but Whitmer is back. POWERBOMB/TOP ROPE CONTRA CODE COMBO! Whitmer and Jacobs get their belts back at 09:22.

Rating – * –
The first match was better, with more of a defined story I felt. This was more like the kind of substandard formula crap you can see in the WWE every week. Hardly the fault of Whitmer or Jacobs, who busted their asses to get a good match out of the Carnage Crew in New York, but Loc and DeVito just aren’t good enough to wrestle a decent match in a workrate promotion like ROH. It was nice to see their hard work for the company rewarded with a title reign…now lets fade them out at last.

SIDENOTE – In the ring the first two matches haven’t been too great…but they’ve been made a lot more bearable by CM Punk and Dave Prazak on commentary. Punk is killing me with his utter burial of everyone he’s watching, and Prazak is working off him wonderfully well. The bad matches are worth watching for the commentary alone.

Homicide/Low Ki/Ricky Reyes vs Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal/James Gibson

Six man tag action now, appropriate since this is the first time we’ve been in Philadelphia since the Trios Tournament. We all know the issues Joe and Lethal have with the Rottweilers. Joe has a thing with them dating back to 2002. It was at the Trios Tournament that Low Ki beat up Jay Lethal, kick-starting Jay’s problems with the group. At Manhattan Mayhem we saw the first tag bout, where Ki and Cide almost crippled Lethal. Gibson also has problems with Homicide, which started at The Future Is Now when Homicide cheated to beat him. They’ve clashed since in a couple of four corner survivals, but he’ll be looking for retribution here. I think I’m right in saying this is the first time we’ve seen Reyes SINCE the last Philly show.

It’s complete mayhem to start as the babyfaces storm the ring and the resulting brawl sees all the Rotts thrown to the floor. Joe and Reyes start for real with an awesome back and forth mat exchange. Ricky hits a few stiff kicks but runs right into the STO slam in the middle of the ring. Gibson/Ki in next and this is a total dream match. Ki bridges into a kick to the face to give Jamie something to think about. Gibson grounds him with a knucklelock, so Ki brings it back to a striking game. Swinging neckbreaker by James, before he tags out to Lethal. Reyes is back in, and Lethal hangs with his striking power before dropping him with a back suplex for 2. He holds Reyes prone in the corner for a RUNNING BOOT by Joe. Chop/kick combo into the knee drop connects but Ricky still kicks out. Gibson gives him a backbreaker before Homicide and Ki get involved illegally and stop him following up. Reyes capitalises with a belly to belly suplex. Homicide in for the first time to wear Jamie down with a chinlock. He hits a belly to belly of his own and tags out again. The Rottweilers have isolated Gibson now, before he finally hits back with a dropkick on Cide. Lethal in with dropkicks for everyone, but Ki hides behind the referee until he and Homicide can beat on Jay 2-on-1. On the floor Homicide clotheslines lethal, and Smokes gets in a few cheap shots as well.

Cide starts choking on the former Pure Champion whilst the ref is distracted, and gets 2 with a bridging T-bone suplex. To the second rope where Cide nails an ACE CRUSHER. Reyes suplexes Lethal onto the top rope as the mugging continues. Ki kicks Jay to the floor where Smokes cracks him in the chest with a bat. Camel clutch by Ki, and Homicide runs into a brutal basement dropkick to the chest. Roles reversed…AND KI KICKS LETHAL IN THE FACE! TAKE THAT YOU B*TCH! That was brutal and he rolls to the floor he’s such a mess. Somehow Jay fires back with a running suplex on Homicide and makes a tag. Joe decimates everyone but can’t secure a pinfall. Gibson flies in with a crossbody on Cide. DDT scores, into a front double underhook…KI BREAKS WITH THE SPRINGBOARD ENZI! Lethal is back and he jumping heel kicks Low Ki. To the top rope for a missile dropkick, but Homicide stops his Dragon Suplex attempt. Cide crotches Lethal in the corner for Reyes’ basement dropkick. GHETTO STOMP COP KILLA…Gibson breaks it up before they can hit it. The Rottweilers get thrown to the floor…THREE WAY TOPE SUICIDAAAAAAAAS! OLE OLE KICK ON HOMICIDE! Gibson takes him inside but Smokes distracts him. Grim Reefa hands Homicide a chain…CHAIN LARIAT ON JAMIE! Poor Gibson is pinned again at 23:36.

Rating – **** –
That was fantastic, and for all the critics of this show, for my money worth the price of the DVD alone. Just a tremendous 6-man tag, with the Rottweilers playing kick ass heels throughout. I have no problem with cheap finishes like Punk’s recent matches, or this one here, when it makes sense in context of an angle/match, and the finish here did just that. I’ve seen this match compared to the Reborn Completion main event (I think Prazak did it on commentary too)…for my money this is better. And for the love of God book Gibson/Ki before Jamie goes back to the WWE…and never ever let Low Ki kick you in the face. How is Jay Lethal not dead?

INTERMISSION – GMC pimps ROH coverage in Entertainment Weekly. Lacey yells at Deranged and Cheech for being losers, and suspends them.

Alex Shelley makes his way to the ring for his tag engagement with Generation Next…but who is his partner? On that subject, this is a business. With that in mind, he isn’t selling out…he bought in. Prince Nana comes to the ring…and Alex is your newest member of the Embassy. Jimmy Rave is the first member of the ROH roster to forgive him.

Alex Shelley/Fast Eddie vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong

Since Final Battle 2004 when he was kicked out of Generation Next, Alex Shelley has been on a quest for allies in ROH to help him in his battle for vengeance against his former foes. Clearly he’s finally found some in Prince Nana and co. This puts an interesting twist on the Shelley/GeNext issue, especially after Aries turned down a spot with the faction at Escape From New York.

Aries starts with Eddie and he nails his springboard reverse elbow. Strong joins him for a spinebuster/clothesline combo for a 2 count. Roddy almost caves in Eddie’s face with a dropkick, then starts to stretch out the back with a leg full nelson. Aries nails the slingshot corkscrew splash and the Lionsault, and stays on the midsection with a sidewalk slam. Strong gets distracted by Kruel and Shelley, and walks into a cradlebreaker by Eddie to turn the match around. Roderick with chops, so Eddie goes to the eyes then tags out. SKULLF*CK…and Strong is in a world of trouble. Tag to Austin who drills Eddie with the power drive elbow. He looks for the 450 but Shelley shoves him off the top rope into a German suplex from Fast Eddie. Now Shelley is willing to get in the ring with Aries and he chokes him over the bottom rope. He works the neck, applying a cravat then dropping the former ROH Champion with a neckbreaker. Suplex neckbreaker over the knee by Eddie, who’s breaking out a few new moves for this one. Aries tries to fight back but Alex traps him in their corner to continue the beating. Chinlock on Austin, and despite his battling, he still can’t make a tag. They go for Doomsday powerbomb…but Aries ducks into a hurricanrana on Eddie. Strong tagged at last, and he dishes out the backbreakers for both opponents. Superkick by Shelley…and a Golden Gate Swing. Eddie soars in with a moonsault for 2. Aries goes mental, hitting his nemesis with a running dropkick in the corner. Shelley blocks the brainbuster, and Strong has to break up Shellshock. CRADLE BACKBREAKER…450 SPLASH! Eddie breaks the pin and gets pulled out by Mike Kruel before Roderick can go after him. PESCADO ON KRUEL AND EDDIE! Jimmy Rave runs in and hammers Aries with a steel chair. CHAIR ASSISTED CRAPPY WIZARD! Shelley finally pins Austin Aries at 12:53.

Rating – *** –
Disappointingly brief, but you have to believe this is only the start of the issue between The Embassy and Generation Next. Adding Alex Shelley to The Embassy, whilst a HUGE step down for Shelley (he goes from leading his own crew to Prince Nana’s lackey), is an awesome move and the list of potential matches stemming from a full-blown feud between the two factions is awesome. Oh…and I much prefer Generation Next as babyfaces. The explosive nature of Strong and Aries’ offence makes them perfect for the role. Now all they need is some reinforcements…or to get Jack Evans back.

The Embassy put an absolute mugging on Aries and Strong…until AJ Styles’ music hits! He clears the ring of The Embassy and demands Jimmy Rave get in the ring with him…so it’s time for the Street Fight.

Jimmy Rave vs AJ Styles – Street Fight

This feud continues to get more and more personal. We know Jimmy has stolen AJ’s move, since then he’s got even more dastardly. He’s sprayed him with bug spray, choked him with a bag, Rave Clashed him in New Jersey…and now in his return to ROH action in Philadelphia, AJ has to be looking for some revenge. Right now both guys have a win each, with Jimmy winning in Third Anniversary week, and Styles levelling the score at Sign Of Dishonor. I guess we’re not including the Second Anniversary Show match…

Both are in street clothes in this no rules environment. Rave goes to the eyes but quickly gets beaten to the outside. Jimmy gets intimate with some guardrails as AJ has started this one on fire. Styles press slams Rave into the front row to thunderous applause, and the fight heads into the fans. Rave gets a taste of the merchandise table as well. Jimmy tries to whip AJ into the railings, but he slams on the breaks and charges back with a spear. But Jimmy finally gets in some offence with a DDT THROUGH A CHAIR! Back at ringside he returns the favour from earlier by dragging AJ into the railings. He takes the fight back to the ring and tries to go for a chair but AJ fights back. CRAPPY WIZARD for 2. Styles blocks a Rave Clash and fires back with a vicious HEADBUTT FLURRY! Rave is bleeding he took so many headbutts and Styles goes after the cut with a string of right hands. To the apron where Jimmy blocks an attempted Russian legsweep…AND GETS BACK SUPLEXED THROUGH A TABLE! DANGEROOOUUUUS! He wants to Styles Clash him on a chair…but Rave is still alive and back drops him onto the weapon. STOMP ONTO THE CHAIR! AJ somehow gets up…BRAINBUSTER ONTO THE CHAIR! That was disgusting…but AJ doesn’t have time to think, he has to fight off Nana and Kruel. PESCADO FOR THE EMBASSY! Jade Chung tries to interfere, but he shows her some mercy and escorts her out of the ring. Alex Shelley in…SHELLSHOCK! RAVE CLASH! Jimmy Rave steals another one at 12:53.

Rating – *** –
Easily their best match in ROH, as they finally abandoned the pretence of throwing in the wrestling moves and just had a knock down, drag out fight. There were some great spots, and they created a level of hatred and tenacity that they previously hadn’t managed. The finish was a tad overbooked, particularly after the two previous cheap endings tonight, but it served a purpose. After stealing wins over AJ and Generation Next in one night, now everyone is positively begging someone to kick the collective ass of The Embassy. I’m still waiting to see Styles and Rave really click together and put on a classic though…

Hilariously people pelt the ring with pink toilet paper and bath loofa’s. Austin Aries and Roderick Strong try to help AJ out but the numbers are simply overwhelming. The Embassy stands tall over all their fallen enemies…and they have a stupid new hand gesture too. Eventually Strong, Aries and Styles shake hands, clearly united in hatred for a common enemy.

CM Punk vs Christopher Daniels – ROH World Title Match

This is the match you bought this DVD to see. Sixteen months plus in the making, finally it’s Punk and Daniels going one-on-one in ROH. CM Punk and his Second City Saints put Chris Daniels out of ROH in January 2004, and ever since his return to the promotion at Death Before Dishonor 3 the Fallen Angel has been on a mission to take Punk’s title and send him to the WWE with a royal asskicking. Punk tried to dodge him, running away at DBD3, then refusing to defend the belt at Sign Of Dishonor. But at Fate Of An Angel Daniels finally guaranteed his shot by stealing Punk’s belt and refusing to return it unless he got this match tonight. Here we go…

Annoyingly there are some vocal pro-Punk fans in the crowd which hurts the angle somewhat, but Daniels is the crowd favourite as these two finally square off. Punk slaps Daniels in the face rather than give him a clean break then runs away before the Fallen Angel can retaliate. To the mat and Punk rides Daniels, slapping his head before fleeing again. Daniels eventually scores with a right hand, then he slaps Punk about a bit. Once more Punk runs to the floor to escape further punishment. Punk tries to slow the pace with a headlock, but Daniels speeds it right back up with a series of armdrags. Headscissors on Daniels, but he counters out into a headlock of his own. The early exchanges have been all about establishing control, and they continue to trade headlocks trying to set the pace. Chris is the first man to use some bigger offence, but Punk shoots back by shouldering him against the buckles. Headlock on the challenger again, then Punk takes him around the ring, driving him into the top turnbuckle. Daniels goes for a series of mounted punches…before both men take turns to hit inverted atomic drops. It’s still all about one-upsmanship apparently. Punk misses a springboard crossbody and Daniels is quick to capitalise with a neckbreaker for 2. That looks like it hurt the champion and the Fallen Angel goes after it. He wrenches on Punker’s neck, choking him in the ropes to do more damage as we’re approaching 20 minutes. Punk tries to escape but that only exposes his neck to the ring apron, and Daniels takes full advantage. Slingshot guillotine into the bottom rope as the assault continues. Vertical suplex on Punk, followed by an Arabian press to the upper back. CROSSFACE…but Punk is too close to the ropes. Punk tries to run through the crowd but finds himself dropped over the guardrails instead.

Daniels starts absolutely driving the back of his head into the steel, just killing his neck at this stage. Daniels again goes for control with a headlock but Punk gains some distance with a knee to the stomach. The champ stays on the ribs, kicking and stomping them, desperate to open up an injury on his challenger. He looks to have succeeded and has Chris backing off in the corner. Bodyscissors applied, which is sensible because it works the injury and allows Punk’s neck some time to recover as well. Punk misses an elbow to the ribs, but Daniels goes ahead and hurts himself some more anyway by getting nothing from an Arabian press. Daniels tries to fight back from the apron but takes a knee to the stomach, and Punk neckbreakers him through the ropes back into the ring. 30 minutes in and both guys look to slug it out…until Punk slaps on an abdominal stretch. Daniels fights out and goes for one of his own, complete with added stretching of the neck. Psychology rules…but Punk escapes and knees him in the gut. Back to the abdominal stretch he goes…but still Daniels fights out. He scores with a flatliner and both men are left in a state. Clotheslines by Daniels and a quebrada for 2. A falcon arrow gets another nearfall before again he goes for mounted punches in the corner. Punk misses a shoulder to the ribs in the corner, which hurts his neck. Daniels goes for a springboard and gets SHOVED TO THE FLOOR! That is going to leave his injured midsection in a mess. Punk starts throwing him into the railings and the ring apron, and with no count out there’s just no respite. Back in the ring he hits a gutbuster and a senton splash, just showing no mercy whatsoever. He headbutts Daniels in the stomach, but that hurts his neck as once again psychology RULES! Punk applies an octopus stretch in the ropes, and since that’s not legal he goes back to the bodyscissors. 40 minutes gone now…is Punk playing for time? Punk goes for a rana off the second rope which is just crazy, and Daniels counters with a powerbomb. Daniels unleashes an offensive flurry, culminating in a running STO for 2. To the corner where Punk blocks the Fall From Grace. Daniels counters a DDT and enzi’s Punk in the neck. He goes for Angel’s Wings but Punk blocks and hits the DOUBLE UNDERHOOK BACKBREAKER! All impact on Daniels’ weak point and the momentum switches again. Spear from the champion for 2. Daniels ducks the Pepsi Twist and dumps Punk ON HIS HEAD with a DVD. Punk blocks the Fall From Grace again and that leads to a squabble on the ropes. Punk goes for a missile dropkick AND HITS THE REF!

The ref is out…and Daniels nails a blue thunder driver. The ref is still down so you could count to 56 and it wouldn’t matter. PEPSI TWIST…and now it’s Punk that has no ref to count the pin. Urinage slam from Daniels…BEST MOONSAULT EVER! NEW REF IN…BUT PUNK KICKS OUT! Was that Chris Daniels’ last chance? They just tumble through the ropes to the floor they’re both so shattered as the clock is now ticking past 49 minutes. Punk grabs a chair but Chris cuts him off before he can use it. Slugfest on the floor with neither man going down. To the apron and the SLUGFEST CONTINUES! Punk goes for the Plunge…Daniels goes for the Angel’s Wings. Punk goes for the octopus in the ropes again but takes an elbow to the neck. This is getting messy as Daniels scales the ropes again. PUNK SCORES WITH A SUPERPLEX! That further damages both men though, and the champion is slow to take advantage. KOJI CLUTCH ON PUNK! HE GETS TO THE ROPES! Daniels with a headbutt flurry but he gets met with a big boot. Punk goes for a split-legged moonsault but Daniels gets the knees up. Five minutes left in the time limit! CROSSBODY from Daniels for 2…sell the ribs Chris! PUNK PINS USING THE ROPES…ONLY FOR 2! HE USES THE TIGHTS…STILL 2! BEST MOONSAULT EVER AGAIN…BUT IT HURTS DANIELS’ RIBS! PUNK WITH THE ANACONDA VICE! Daniels gets a foot on the ropes…he’s still in this. ANACONDA VICE AGAIN! Is the challenger done at last…hell no! Punk still has it on though, and we’re almost at 59 minutes. Daniels elbows the neck to free himself and has a minute to win it! NEARFALL FLURRY! 30 seconds and Punk blocks Angel’s Wings. ANGEL’S WINGS SCORES AT LAST…BUT THE TIME LIMIT EXPIRES! IT’S A 60:00 DRAW…PUNK ESCAPES AGAIN!

Rating – ****1/2 –
How there isn’t more love for this match I really don’t know. I can see why the live crowd wasn’t into it so much, but for a tape/DVD market, I thought this was such an intelligent match. Perhaps it’s because everyone was expecting a more hate-filled brawl…but personally this felt like a better way to go. Both Punk and Daniels have reputations for being cerebral wrestlers…and watching these guys attempt to one-up each other for 60 minutes was great. The opening stuff, with Punk heeling it up amidst a total struggle for control rocked. Next was half an hour of these two methodically and sadistically decimating a body part, both setting up for a potential finisher. I loved the use of a ref bump, it was in keeping with the rest of Punk’s sleazy, cheap title reign which has seen finisher theft, grabbing the ropes, chain assaults and the like. Maybe the pace was a little slow, hence the loss of the live audience, but I really think the match carried well onto tape. It isn’t perfect, and therefore doesn’t push an extra half star, but is clearly an outside MOTYC in my book. For a start, it is very slow. Whilst I loved the methodical and cerebral pace, some won’t and will find this hard going. There’s some awesome psychology in here…but Daniels forgets to sell the ribs a few times, and that drags it down a little. There was also a little spell between the 45-50 minute mark where it felt like they were really stalling for time before their big go-home sequence in the final 10. It also really annoyed me that Daniels used Angel’s Wings for his finish right at the death. Why not use Last Rites, which is a neckbreaker finisher, after working the neck all match? None of these things is major of course, but all added up, it’s enough to knock off half a star. This is better than Joe/Punk 1 at World Title Classic if you’re looking for a comparison. Another great match in Punk’s fantastic championship reign…although Punk/Gibson was better.

The fans are pretty pissed off at that, and give more heat to the official ruling of a draw than the rest of the match put together. I guess after all the cheap finishes earlier they wanted to see a finish. Punk tries to assault Allison Danger…and the fight goes on! Punk neckbreaker’s Daniels…and James Gibson comes out to get involved. Punk nails him and Daniels with the belt to lay them both out…and here comes Samoa Joe! He has no shoes and kicks LUMPS out of the World Champion. Punk runs away and we fade out. Is that the last we’ll see of the ROH World Title?

Tape Rating – *** –
Certainly the weakest show of the summer schedule so far. There are a few bad matches, and a number of dodgy finishes to boot. However, it’s not like you’re not getting any value for money here. Punk/Daniels and the Six Man War are terrific matches, and will justify the purchase of this DVD alone. The big thing about this event is, it’s crucial in shaping up a number of future storylines. It’s not like all the cheap finishes went nowhere…they all had a purpose. This show is the start of the GeNext/Embassy feud in earnest, with Shelley joining The Embassy, and the faction exerting their dominance over GeNext and AJ. You also get the continuation of the Rottweilers’ feuds with Joe, Lethal and Gibson…the Tag belts are finally taken off the Carnage Crew’s shoulders before some big tag matches on the next Midwest double shot. All of these things needed to happen…admittedly it sucks for the live fans that it all had to happen on one night, but whatever. I think this was a good show…I’ve rated far worse.

If you’re looking to skip shows and you feel like you HAVE to skip out some of Punk’s awesome title reign (which you shouldn’t)…this is probably the one. But I’m still giving this a recommendation so. Buy it if you’re a fan of long, technical, more old-school matches because Punk/Daniels is a must-see.

Top 3 Matches

3) Jimmy Rave vs AJ Styles (***)

2) Homicide/Low Ki/Ricky Reyes vs Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal/James Gibson (****)

1) CM Punk vs Christopher Daniels (****1/2)

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