075 ROH Punk: The Final Chapter 8/13/2005

ROH 75 – Punk: The Final Chapter – 13th August 2005

It’s CM Punk’s last night in Ring Of Honor. Admittedly this is the 5th show that’s made that claim, but this really is it for the Punker. He dropped the World Title to James Gibson in the previous night’s classic fourway and tonight he bids farewell to the promotion in a 2/3 falls match with the man he came in with – Colt Cabana. It’s going to be an emotional show I sense. It’s also Matt Hardy’s final appearance, taking the ever improving Roderick Strong. New World Champion James Gibson attempts to become the first double champion ever as he teams with Spanky to challenge BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs for the tag belts. The GeNext/Embassy rivalry continues with Aries/Rave, and we also have a rematch of the impromptu Manhattan Mayhem main event, with Joe and Jay Lethal taking on Ki and Homicide. Fittingly this is in Punk’s hometown – Chicago Ridge, IL. Calling the action are Dave Prazak, Lenny Leonard and Jimmy Bower.

The show opens in the ring with Dave Prazak bringing out James Gibson. He thanks ROH and it’s fans for saving his career and reiterates what he said last night about how important the ROH Title is to him. Despite the rumours, as long as he is Ring Of Honor Champion he won’t be going back to the WWE. Spanky comes and asks for a title shot, which Gibson willingly agrees to.

Matt Sydal vs Alex Shelley vs Delirious vs Nigel McGuiness

It’s a fourway to open this show just like at Redemption, although at least it’s not rammed full of jobbers. Sydal and Shelley should have some interesting interactions, since Sydal is now the newest member of Generation Next after their win over Alex Shelley and The Embassy last night. McGuiness is preparing for his blow-off match with Colt Cabana next week in New Jersey.

Shelley and the psychotic Delirious are in first and they run through some smooth mat exchanges. Alex ties him in a knot and drapes the Ghanaian flag over him. Delirious pops up with clotheslines but gets carried away posing to the fans and gets dropped on his head with a back suplex. Nigel comes in with a wristlock suplex. Sydal gets a surprisingly large pop as he tags Delirious. McGuiness lifts him to the floor but Matt springboards back with a dropkick. He dropkicks Nigel’s knee and delivers the standing moonsault press for 2. Delirious runs into the enzicanrana as this old rivalry is renewed. Shelley legsweeps Delirious then applies an octopus. The lizard man dropkicks Nigel and scales the ropes. Sydal crotches him to get into the match. Delirious freaks out Sydal who walks into slingshot lariat from McGuiness. Delirious breaks the fall with a leg drop off the top…and Shelley DESTROYS him with a superkick. McGuiness with the wristlock takedown on Sydal. He goes for the Tower of London but Delirious breaks it. Shelley enziguri’s McGuiness and drills him with the Golden Gate Swing for 2. Shellshock countered into a hammerlock pedigree. Delirious with the PANIC ATTACK on Shelley and Nigel for 2. TOP ROPE MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR BY SYDAL! TOWER OF LONDON ON DELIRIOUS! Big win for Nigel at 10:56.

Rating – ** –
That was a corking way to start the show. Throw four exciting, OVER talents out there (unlike last show with Stryker, Keenan and Ace) and let them entertain for 10 minutes. It’s not that special a match, but it popped the crowd big (especially Sydal and Delirious – they need to be on every show) and had some exciting moments.

On the floor Shelley and Sydal are still brawling as the feud between GeNext and The Embassy rages on. Sydal gets the worse end of that…

Chad Collyer vs Ace Steel

Ace will be over tonight because it’s Chicago. Collyer should be over because his character and new mohawk are pretty cool. This is probably as unexcited for an ROH match as I’ve been for a while, but this is Chicago and Collyer has a history of surprising people in this building (Collyer/Romero from Death Before Dishonor 2, or Collyer/Jacobs from Nowhere To Run).

It’s a surprisingly tentative opening with both guys playing to the crowd. They trade full nelson’s, ending with Ace dropping Collyer on his head to break it. There’s a bunch of screaming girlies in the crowd who are ridiculously into Chad. Steel splashes the leg and goes to work on it. Both miss everything in a flurry of offensive strikes and stand off. Collyer hits a jumping heel kick for 2. He targets the ribs with double stomps. Steel comes back with a headscissors and drops him with a clothesline. Collyer takes a running dropkick in the corner and then a back suplex. He goes to the ribs again by suplexing Steel over the ropes. They go to the floor where Ace blocks a double axehandle and chops Chad around ringside. Steel accidentally elbows one of the ROH students into the guardrails as he winds up to take a swing, and he’s a nice guy to he stops to check on him. COLLYER WITH A CHAIR SHOT! Jesus f*cking Christ Steel is split WIIIIIIIIIDE open. COLLYER CLOVERLEAF, and Steel’s head is in an absolute pool of blood. Beyond question one of the sickest blade jobs I have ever seen. The referee stops the match and awards it to Collyer at 10:31.

Rating – * –
Meh, it was vaguely amusing at times but I wasn’t digging it…that was until the totally over the top and unnecessary bladejob from Ace. Seriously, I hope he didn’t do himself some serious damage there, since blood is just cascading from his head. I must confess to enjoying Chad Collyer’s idiotic, deluded wrestler character though. I guess this really puts him over what with the cheating and the blood. But the bigger issue here has to be Ace’s well-being. He’s hit an artery for sure…there are literally huge puddles of blood on the canvas.

Jimmy Rave vs Austin Aries

The last couple of shows have seen the Embassy/GeNext feud really kick off in a big way. At The Homecoming they clashed during a tag match when Alex Shelley joined The Embassy, then had more skirmishes after the Styles/Rave Street Fight. Last night they engaged in a thoroughly enjoyable 6-man which Generation Next got the better of when Austin Aries pinned Jimmy Rave with the 450. Tonight GeNext’s leader and the Embassy’s Crown Jewel meet in singles competition.

Rave has new tights – Chicago still hates him. He tries to slap Aries and almost gets slapped out of the ring in return. Aries has his number early so he takes some time out on the floor. Springboard reverse elbow by Austin and he busts out something new with Japanese armdrags. He connects with Nana on a baseball slide sending him into the rails. Rave gets the knees up to block Aries’ lionsault and immediately capitalises, dragging Aries ribs-first into the rails. He isn’t trying anything fancy, just frequent kicks and punches right to that wounded area to keep himself in charge. He uses the abdominal stretch and he’s a dirty cheat so pulls on the ropes and Nana for extra leverage. A pretty gross looking gutbuster gets 2. He grounds Aries again with a bodyscissors. Ghanarea countered with a crossbody but that obviously hurts Austin too and Jimmy is able to get up first and clamp on a bearhug. Finally Aries fires back and drops Rave right on his neck with a clothesline. The power drive elbow gets him 2. Slingshot reverse elbow in the corner, leaving Rave in prime position for the RUNNING DROPKICK. He goes for the crucifix driver but Rave counters with a SAMOAN DROP! Jimmy ducks a roaring elbow and smacks into the ribs again with a spear for 2. He goes for another gutbuster but Aries lands on his feet. The Crappy Wizard is countered with a dropkick to the knee. BRAINBUSTER for 2! Despite the ribs he prepares for the 450…BUT RAVE GETS THE KNEES UP! Austin still blocks the Rave Clash and sets up for a super brainbuster. He has to block a second rope Rave Clash…and rolls Jimmy up for 3 at 13:30.

Rating – **** –
The psychology in that was so f*cking awesome. Rave targeted the same ribs that got worked over last night in the 6-man, and of course, as well as already being damaged, when your finisher is the Styles Clash, messing up your opponent’s stomach really helps. Aries is so good as a babyface as well. His explosive offence is brilliantly suited to the big comeback moments, it’s incredible ROH actually booked him as a heel to be honest. I was dreading this match ending with Aries hitting the 450 after two nights of working the ribs…so as soon as that was blocked you KNEW I was going high on this. I’m surprised this doesn’t get more mention – it’s fantastic. I’d compare it to Gibson/Strong from Best of American Super Juniors. Not outstandingly exciting, and not especially hyped, but such a psychologically superb wrestling exhibition.

Alex Shelley jumps Aries from behind which allows Jimmy to hit a RAVE CLASH before Strong and Sydal can get to the ring and rescue their leader.

Homicide/Low Ki vs Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal

This card is amazingly stacked now I think about it. Rave/Aries, Strong/Hardy, Punk/Cabana, the big tag title match…and this is only main eventing the first half of the show! It’s the rematch from Manhattan Mayhem, and there’s so many issues it hurts. Jay Lethal’s problems with the Rottweilers are well documented. He hasn’t been able to pin either one of them in singles action, so maybe with his mentor beside him tonight will be the night he’s been waiting for! Plus Samoa Joe has issues with Ki and Homicide going all the way back to 2002. I thought I’d mention that the way they’ve spliced together Ki and Homicide’s respective intro’s for their music is fantastic.

Unsurprisingly Joe and Lethal struggle to contain themselves and the brawl erupts from the outside. ELBOW SUICIDA ON HOMICIDE! That whilst Ki and Lethal are tearing lumps out of each other in the ring. Jay goes for a tope but Low Ki elbows him in the throat. He wipes out Joe from behind and the Rottweilers team up on the big Samoan. Joe gets isolated as the Rotts heel it up good and proper. Homicide drops him with a DDT and distracts the ref whilst Ki stands on his throat. Ki tags and we has a VIOLENT CHOPFEST with Joe. It’s like Glory By Honor all over again, until Ki kicks Joe suspiciously low and tags out. Homicide takes a belly to belly which finally allows Lethal into the ring. He starts positively but Ki pokes him in the eyes to slow his momentum Homicide does the exact same thing then throws him across the ring by his hair. Low Ki throws Lethal to the floor for a CACTUS ELBOW from Homicide. Ki pisses off Joe some more before almost dropkicking Jay’s head off in the corner. DOOMSDAY BULLDOG but Joe breaks the pin. Like the vindictive bastard he is Low Ki squeezes the air out of Lethal with a bodyscissors, with Homicide keeping his hand from the ropes. Cide in with a piledriver. Ki tree of woe’s him and you know what that means…but Lethal avoids the double stomp! He fires off a second rope jumping heel kick and finds the hot tag to the Pure Champion. DEATH VALLEY DRIVER drops Homicide right on his head. STF…AND KI BREAKS IT WITH A GHETTO STOMP! He goes on to cheap shot Lethal from behind which sets him up for Cide’s Ace crusher. Homicide blocks the Dragon Suplex by going for his low blow/lariat combo…BUT JOE SHOVES LETHAL ASIDE AND HITS THE POWERSLAM! DIVING HEADBUTT FOR 2!

On the floor Low Ki avoids an Ole Ole Kick and hits Joe with the chair! KOBASHI CHOP FLURRY ON LETHAL! STANDING DOUBLE STOMP! LETHAL KICKS OUT! Low Ki scales the ropes again and drops an elbow for 2. Homicide is on the floor biting Samoa Joe. KI WITH A GHETTO STOMP OVER THE MIDDLE ROPE! Joe counters a tornado DDT from Homicide so Ki absolutely sprints across the ring to dropkick him. DRAGON SUPLEX FROM LETHAL! Homicide attacks the ref to make sure Jay doesn’t get the win and he is disqualified at 17:36. But the fight is still on so none of the wrestlers care. Lethal and Joe take Homicide into the crowd where Joe BOOTS A CHAIR INTO HIS FACE! OLE OLE KICK IN THE CROWD! To the bleachers where Joe holds Cide prone for Lethal to nail a running dropkick. Low Ki arrives on the scene AND F*CKING KILLS LETHAL WITH A SLAM ON THE CONCRETE! Joe smacks him in the head with someone’s shoe! Ki and Lethal take another shoe up the rows of bleachers and slug it out there. Joe and Homicide are back in the aisle where Joe suplexes Cide onto the ramp. KI HITS A GHETTO STOMP OFF THE BLEACHERS! HOLY SH*T! ‘You killed Lethal’ – Chicago. SAMOA JOE IS THROWING CHAIRS! HE’S GONE APESH*T! ONE MAN CHAIR RIOT! The Rottweilers run off through the fans. Lethal isn’t dead again and fights with a bloody Low Ki in the ring. KI CRUSHAAAAAA! I think we’re finally done, and the segment ends with Ki standing furious in the aisle.

Rating – ****1/2 –
I included the post-match shenanigans in the play by play…but yeah, that was complete carnage, and another MOTYC. The match itself was phenomenal, with Cide and Ki playing the dickhead heels so perfectly it was scary. This was the first match where I can say without question I now PREFER Gangsta Ki to the all-action violence party 2002 version. Joe and Lethal are such perfect babyfaces to them as well, what with Joe’s overness and bruality, and Jay’s willingness to take a good beating. The crowd brawl that it all ends up in is insane. Seriously…Homicide and Bryan Danielson can’t even TOUCH it. The violence, the hatred, the intensity and the sheer awesomeness of this match/riot mean you almost HAVE to buy this DVD, and that’s before CM Punk’s farewell. The visual of Low Ki covered in blood standing defiant in the aisle should be one of those iconic moments. It’s both beautiful and utterly terrifying.

INTERMISSION – (Taped earlier) Ace Steel talks about CM Punk and Colt Cabana coming up in the business together from the time he started training them. He can’t believe the wrestlers/human beings they’ve become…and he makes their match 2/3 Falls. Gabe = Ace?? ;-)

BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs vs James Gibson/Spanky – ROH Tag Title Match

Gibson earned this shot at Nowhere To Run when he beat BJ Whitmer in the opening match. Since then he’s gone on to achieve his ambition of winning ROH gold, finally winning the World Championship in Dayton at Redemption. Now he has the opportunity to become the first double champion in ROH history with his friend Spanky. We all know their friends, but will they be able to co-exist now Gibson has won the belt and has something Spanky wants so badly? Incidentally both of them are on their way back to the WWE. It’s not if, it’s when…so if they’re going to be tag champions together, it has to be tonight. For Whitmer and Jacobs, this is perhaps the hardest of all the challenges they’ve had for the titles. GeNext, the Embassy, the Saints, the Ring Crew Express, McGuiness and Collyer etc. Of course…the Carnage Crew did beat them so!

BJ Whitmer has lost papers/scissors/stone to Jimmy Jacobs’ HUSS like three consecutive shows now. You’d think the stupid hillbilly would learn. Spanky hits an armdrag on Whitmer and goes to work with a bridging hammerlock. Gibson tags and stays on the arm. Jacobs enters and is all energy in his exchanges with the ROH Champion. Jamie attacks Jacobs’ arm just like his partners. Spanky hits dropkicks on both champions, and Whitmer gets sent outside with a double dropkick. DOUBLE TOPE SUICIDA from the challengers. They have Jimmy trapped in the ring and Spanky pounds on him in the corner. He hits a spear out of nowhere and gets a tag. Spanky hurricanrana’s Whitmer then gives him a moonsault kick in the corner. Sliced Bread COUNTERED WITH A NECKBREAKER! Awesome conuter there, and Spanky rolls to the floor to recover. Jacobs gives him a second neckbreaker and drops some elbows right to the back of the head. Spanky breaks a neck vice by biting Jimmy’s hand but he quickly tags Whitmer back in for more heavy duty offence. Jacobs prevents Spanky tagging with a front facelock, then drives him on his head with a DDT. Spanky steps off Jacobs’ face into a tornado DDT on BJ which gives him the window for a hot tag to Jamie. Whitmer eats the swinging neckbreaker but he blocks the Trailer Hitch with a northern lights…GIBSON HOLDS ON! Jacobs breaks the hold with a double boot. Exploder suplex on the World Champion but Spanky missile dropkicks Gibson into a crossbody for 2. Spanky with a REVERSE RANA for BJ. Jacobs slows him down by going back to the neck. Powerbomb senton on him for 2. The champs call for the Doomsday Rana but Spanky victory rolls out and Gibson plants Jacobs with a spinebuster. Flatliner on Whitmer for another tag to Jamie. Gibson goes for the Tigerbomb…AND SPANKY GIVES HIM SLICED BREAD #2! Whitmer pins the ROH Champion at 17:29. Surely he should be getting a title shot…

Rating – *** –
It was a solid tag team match which, in truth felt a little dry after the chaos of the Rottweilers-Joe/Lethal tag before intermission. The crowd took a while to get into it, but they seemed to have fun in the closing stages. The finish was pretty hokey, and the Spanky is heel turn is insanely rushed, but that’s how it has to be when both he and Gibson are so close to going back to Vince and co. Losing CM Punk, Spanky and James Gibson in such a short space of time is really going to hurt ROH.

Spanky explains that he’s choosing ROH Title over his friendship. He wants a title shot before he swans off to the WWE just like Paul London or CM Punk. Well, that explanation definitely puts over the World Title…although it really makes the tag belts/division look even weaker than they did before.

Jimmy Rave and Alex Shelley try to attack Rod before the next match but Aries and Sydal hit the ring and brawl to the back.

Roderick Strong vs Matt Hardy

Matt Hardy’s final Ring Of Honor appearance, and he’s booked against one of the fastest up and comers on the indy scene. Roderick has been busting out a lot of notable matches this year, but hasn’t been winning a whole lot. If he can secure that big breakthrough win over Matt Hardy it’d be huge for him. It’s a tough ask anyway, and Hardy is 2-0 in ROH with wins over Chris Daniels and Homicide. The Chicago fans are absolutely disgraceful and boo the crap out of Matt Hardy. That’s classy guys…boo a guy who turned up for you when he didn’t have to and is here to make one of our top guys look good. I’m not going to say anymore on it, and I normally think the Chicago Ridge fans are spot on. But in this instance they should be ashamed of themselves. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth…

The upside of all Hardy’s heat is that Roderick is over like crazy. Matt takes the first two minutes of the match cutting a promo that gets so much hatred you can barely hear it. He grinds on a side headlock to control the early pace with the younger guy. Strong responds with an armbar, talking some smack as he does. He looks for the Stronghold and Hardy counters to the front double underhook which sends Roderick to the ropes. On the floor Hardy right hands Strong and gets his chest f*cked up with a brutal chop. Roderick beats him back with a series of chops until finally Matt moves and he connects with the ringpost. Hardy capitalises by ramming the arm against the metal some more. Back inside he switches to the neck with a bionic elbow and a neckbreaker for 2. Strong looks for a comeback and gets dropkicked in the knee. If that gets injured his backbreaking ability will be severely stunted and Hardy attacks it. Figure 4 locked in and Roddy has a real fight on his hands to find the ropes. Strong connects with an enziguri to block a dragon screw. Hardy pulls Strong out of the corner with the SPLASH MOUNTAIN which gets 2. Twist Of Fate blocked…BACK SUPLEX BACKBREAKER! Strong collapses in pain though. He finally hits a double underhook suplex (with leg selling) for 2. He applies the leg full nelson but the injury means he rolls it to a pin. He goes close again with his gorgeous dropkick.

Strong hoists Matt into a stalling vertical suplex but then is slow to follow up because that put so much pressure on his bad wheel. Roderick appears to set up for an Oklahoma Stampede but gets dropped with an inverted DDT. He bulldogs the ROH competitor out of the corner and looks for a sleeper. Strong dumps him with a back suplex to escape that. Hardy blocks a superplex but takes too long taunting the fans to hit the yodelling leg drop. He does find the mark with a tornado DDT. Strong still has too much in him to get the front double underhook on though. Strong gets floored with the discus punch but the strain is showing on both guys. Twist of Fate blocked again…HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER! DOUBLE KNEE GUTBUSTER WITH KNEE SELLING! BIG BOOT FOR 2! STRONGHOLD! It’s the Boston crab version though because his injured leg ensures he can’t apply the Lion Tamer version. Hardy is still coming…FRONT DOUBLE UNDERHOOK! Roddy gets the ropes to a big pop. Side Effect blocked…but so’s the half nelson. Strong misses a springboard crossbody and this time does get planted with the Side Effect. Strong kicks out so Matt DOES IT AGAIN! But his own back is hurting and he’s too slow to cover. He looks for a third Side Effect and Strong counters with a roll-up to get a huge win at 23:54.

Rating – **** –
Matt saves his best performance for last, and along with the CM Punk matches, this was Roderick Strong’s coming out party. He was a tremendous babyface here, sucking in the anti-Hardy crowd with his selling, facials and epic comebacks at the right times. And this was an ROH-style match, not sports-entertainment like Hardy/Daniels or Hardy/Homicide. Matt proved he could go (in my eyes anyway), working the arm to get himself an opening in the match, then attacking the leg to neutralise Rod’s backbreakers before finally concentrating on the neck to soften him up for the Twist of Fate or the front double underhook. And psychologically, this was the match that really demonstrated how far Strong has come in 2005. He absolutely murdered Hardy’s back, yet only hit two backbreakers all match. The “Messiah of the Backbreaker” he may be, but he didn’t need them to beat the Sensei of Mattitude. And now he gets a huge win, ending Hardy’s undefeated streak to boot. I’d like to thank Matt for coming into ROH, busting his ass, putting on three decent showings then going out the right way by putting over one of the promotions young talents. The Midwest fans have been sh*t to him, he didn’t deserve that. Thanks Matt…

Colt Cabana vs CM Punk – 2/3 Falls Match

For the last time ever, Punk goes back to ‘Miseria Cantare’…then comes out to Bouncing Souls’ ‘Night Train’. Look up the lyrics for that song. It makes this emotional moment even more poignant. Anyway, the storyline reason for this stems from Punk’s actions whilst he was champion. He no showed Good Times, Great Memories at Death Before Dishonor 3 for one thing. He cost Cabana his match against Daniels at Sign Of Dishonor (then said Daniels hadn’t beaten anyone worth anything to get a title shot), and all the while he was getting heat in the locker room from guys like Austin Aries and Samoa Joe. But this is Punk’s last match, forget storylines. He’s going out of ROH the way he came in, wrestling his best friend and training partner…and this time in his hometown. There are fans literally crying as he comes to the ring by the way. Ace Steel is timekeeper, and Samoa Joe is at ringside watching.

Punk is in tears before the bell, and the amount of streamers he gets is staggering. Wristlocks to start us off with both jostling for position, ending with Colt giving Punk a clean break. Standing switches next and it’s Punk that offers the break. Test of strength after that, before Cabana fakes Punk out to apply a hammerlock. Punk tries to get serious and walks into a cheeky heel trip. Colt ties his friend into a bodyscissors but he’s such a prolific chainer now he has no problems switching to a bearhug or a headlock. Satellite headscissors on the former World Champion. Punk breaks out a satellite armdrag to one up his fellow Saint. Colt blocks a springboard hiptoss so Punk goes for a springboard crossbody instead. Cabana regains control with a grounded headscissors and stomps Punk’s face when he goes for a monkey flip. Punk is getting more pissed off but Colt simply distracts him using Steel and Joe for another headlock. They criss-cross and Punk refuses to look at the ceiling. Cabana stomps the foot instead. Punk tries to argue and has his other foot stomped. LOW BLOW…COLT 45 THEFT! Cabana is pinned at 12:40 so Punk is 1-0 up. Punk with disrespectful kicks to the head and a choke in the ropes. Cabana chops away and gets knee’d in the stomach. Octopus crucifix in the ropes by Punk, followed by a springboard dropkick. Colt takes Punk’s head off with a lariat to bring the score to 1-1 at 16:06.

This actually is the final chapter for CM Punk now and he stares down the man he held the tag belts with. They trade chops and are too pumped to feel a thing. Punk goes for the octopus crucifix again but Cabana dumps him to the floor. Asai moonsault blocked but Punk misses a baseball slide. HURRICANRANA OFF THE APRON! Punk never hit it on Joe but he hits it on his old nemesis one last time. Double underhook backbreaker blocked and Cabana gets 2 with a butterfly sit-out pin. He springboard forearms Punk to the floor. ASAI MOONSAULT CONNECTS! They fight back to the top rope and Cabana rolls through a super rana into a Boston crab. REVERSE HURRICANRANA ON CABANA! Punk with a flurry of strikes ending with a BUSAIKU KNEE STRIKE! Colt catches him in the ropes to hit a SUPER INVERTED DDT! This is Punk’s last match though and he judo throws Cabana down and into the Anaconda Vice. Pepsi Plunge blocked and Cabana Samoan drops Punk out of the corner. Punk kicks away at the leg which sets up for the Shining Wizard for 2. Cabana is the master of the roll-up though and he uses momentum to roll into the winning pin to take it 2-1 at 27:48.

Rating – *** –
I don’t really want to be rating this as a match at all, because it’s so emotional that any ability to cold-heartedly sit back and decide whether it was “good” or “bad” seems somewhat irrelevant. Anyway, it wasn’t exactly a modern classic, but then they never wanted it to be. It was two guys going out there and having fun in what could be their last ever chance to wrestle one-on-one. There was a fun storyline going through the first couple of falls, first with the respectful exchange of holds (which went on for what seemed like an eternity, I have to say), then with Punk having enough of Colt’s comedy capers and trying to get serious. The final fall was packed full of fun spots and homage’s to matches in their past and was good to pop the crowd that for most of the match seemed struck to silence by the realisation that Punk actually is going. It was cool of Punk to put Colt over on his way out too. For that and so many other things…’Thank you Punk’, ‘Please don’t go’, ‘We will miss you’ and the like…

Now the tears really start to flow as Punk and Colt hug and the locker room empties. Punk’s parents are in the ring by the way, and poor Samoa Joe is actually a sobbing mess. Punk gets ready to make a speech but Colt pours a whole bottle of Pepsi over his head. Joe does the Steve Austin beer drinking thing, except with Pepsi. Punk says his thank you’s (including to Gabe Sapolsky and the ‘three pricks’ next to him – Homicide, Low Ki and Jimmy Rave) and goodbyes. ‘This is my family…say hello to the future of wrestling’ – CM Punk. He leads a Pepsi toast and gets hoisted onto Ace and Colt’s shoulders. The DVD fades with the fans chanting ‘CM Punk’. Now I have tears in my eyes as well…

Tape Rating – **** –
Another really fantastic show from Ring Of Honor. Above all else, this card demonstrated perfectly how much the workers, the bookers and the fans care for this product. It’s tough not to like a show which screams passion at you from the word go. From James Gibson’s promo on the World Title, Ace Steel going above and beyond the call of duty with his blade job, Aries and Rave putting on a clinic, that crazy Rottweilers MOTYC/brawl, Matt Hardy and Roderick Strong working the fans into a frenzy to the emotional scenes of the main event – it all clicks. Get this show now to see a company that promotes real wrestling and some of the best and most dedicated workers in the world for some of the most loyal fans on the planet. Perhaps more so than any other how I’ve reviewed this leaves me wanting to chant ‘ROH…ROH…ROH’ over and over again. And this is coming from a show which features a staggering THREE roll-up finishes. I thought I hated them ;-)

Top 3 Matches

3) Austin Aries vs Jimmy Rave (****)

2) Roderick Strong vs Matt Hardy (****)

1) Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal vs Homicide/Low Ki (****1/2)

Top 5 Punk’s Final Weekend Matches

5) Austin Aries vs Jimmy Rave (**** – Punk: The Final Chapter)

4) Roderick Strong vs Matt Hardy (**** – Punk: The Final Chapter)

3) Austin Aries/Roderick Strong/Matt Sydal vs Jimmy Rave/Alex Shelley/Abyss (**** – Redemption)

2) James Gibson vs CM Punk vs Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (****1/2 – Redemption)

1) Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal vs Homicide/Low Ki (****1/2 – Punk: The Final Chapter)

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