078 ROH Glory By Honor IV 9/17/2005

ROH 78 – Glory By Honor IV – 17th September 2005

Can you believe it’s been three years since Low Ki and Samoa Joe whooped the tar out of each other in the first ever Fight Without Honor? Can you believe we still haven’t seen a rematch? Glory By Honor is ROH’s traditional autumn supercard…and traditionally it doesn’t deliver one of the best shows of the year. In 2002 we saw Ki/Joe but a lot of disappointment. 2003 featured the classic Joe/Daniels main event but seemed to take an eternity to get there. 2004 was the best GBH so far delivering a solid card and Mick Foley’s debut…but John Walters had the best match on the show. So what does this year have in store? Low Ki returns to Fights Without Honor to settle his war with Jay Lethal. AJ Styles and Jimmy Rave end their feud, and by the end of tonight somebody won’t be able to use the Styles/Rave Clash anymore. Plus, in an ROH dream match, James Gibson defends the World title against Bryan Danielson, who is making his return to the promotion after quitting in May. It’s Mick Foley’s last ROH show as well, fitting then that we’re in Lake Grove, NY, right outside Long Island. Commentary comes from Dave Prazak, Jimmy Bower and Lenny Leonard.

Lacey joins GMC all alone. She’s suspended all her Angels for sucking so hard, and will be scouting new talent tonight. Assuming she can survive all the filthy disgusting men about…

Jay Lethal is in the ring and he calls out Low Ki. J-Train is all that greets him, and he says Ki will only come out if Lethal will agree to reinstate Ki if he wins. He’s still suspended from Final Battle 2004 remember…and despite clearly not having that kind of power, Jay agrees.

Jay Lethal vs Low Ki – Fight Without Honor

It’s been Lethal’s quest in ROH this year to score an illusive victory over Gangsta Ki, ever since Ki assaulted him at the Trios Tournament in March. He came close at Death Before Dishonor 3 and Redemption before the Rottweilers antics forced non-finishes to both those matches. He almost had his neck broken at Manhattan Mayhem. He was beaten up in front of his own mother last October at Midnight Express Reunion. Is tonight finally to be his night against the “great international Rottweiler” – Smokes’ words, not mine.

Low Ki jumps Lethal from behind to immediately go on the offensive. Jay rallies back with a jumping heel kick and a back body drop. He chops the gangsta around the ring and scores with a couple of suplexes. He leg drops Ki’s neck on the apron before just punching away at him on the floor. Ki with an inverted atomic drop and he sends Lethal through the ropes with a dropkick. They exchange chops on the apron, but the former ROH Champion seizes control by slamming Jay on the floor. He pulls the protective mat aside for another slam on the exposed floor this time. Lethal lies prone on the timekeeper’s table, but he realises Ki wants to go for a Ghetto Stomp. Ki dives off the apron with a forearm instead. He props up the table for a Krush Rush but Lethal counters. Low Ki with a vicious dropkick from behind and he just rams Jay through the table face-first, busting him open. He saws at the open wound with a table shard! In the ring he camel clutches Joe’s protégé, clawing at his bleeding head as he does. Ki has a board set up, and he actually FINGERPAINTS with the blood! Jay into the tree of woe where he avoids the double stomp and dives off the ropes with another heel kick. Gutbuster/gutwrench suplex combo scores. DIVING HEADBUTT CONNECTS! He delays making the cover though and Ki kicks out. He sets up for the Dragon Suplex but Smokes gets up on the apron so he tries to Dragon him instead. Low Ki brings a chair into play…and uses it to SHOTGUN DROPKICK Lethal’s ribs for 2. GHETTO STOMP…BUT LETHAL KICKS OUT! Ki uses the chair to lay waste to Jay’s midsection. GHETTO STOMP ON THE CHAIR! Lethal is dead at 16:23, and I’m assuming that now means Low Ki has been officially reinstated?

Rating – **** –
From this reviewer’s point of view, this was their best match. The heel/face dynamic was superb (although somewhat harder to spot thanks to the crowd being almost entirely behind Low Ki), with Ki at his deliciously vicious best once again. Lethal yet again delivered in his role as plucky underdog, and the ultra-violent finish really showed how intense his hatred for Ki is. I’ll give a bit of a spoiler away now and say they go at it again later in the show – personally I’d have ended the feud here. Lethal was put over enough without the win (and frankly isn’t over enough to deserve a win over Ki)…and Low Ki phenomenal gangsta persona gets another boost by rolling over him.

The aftermath sees Low Ki act like he’s going to shake Lethal’s hand…but he doesn’t. Dick…

American Dragon is back! He talks about how the feud with the Rottweilers and losing to Austin Aries got him down, so he went to Europe. But nothing has changed – all he has left to do in ROH is win the World Title. He’s beaten everyone, he’s main evented enough, he just needs the belt. If he doesn’t win tonight, this is his last night in Ring Of Honor.

Azrieal vs Austin Aries

Eh, you want my opinion, Azrieal has blown his chance at breaking out this summer. He’s done ok, and is fine for a spot lower down the card. But he hasn’t put in the performances to warrant a Jay Lethal-esque push, nor has he shown the connection with the fans that Lethal had (back when I thought HE wasn’t deserving of his push). Aries needs the win here to stay strong for The Embassy/GeNext feud…unless Az can pull out something pretty special. Aries has TERRIBLE new music. Bring back ‘Personal Jesus’ now. Why is ROH changing everyone’s music at the moment? He’s WAY over btw.

Aries controls the matwork, then dropkicks Azrieal in the face for daring to try stuff of his own. He doesn’t seem happy in general, firing off several stiff strikes on the former Special K member. Az hits a springboard crossbody and a couple of armdrags. Slingshot hilo nailed for 2. He takes Austin down again with a satellite headscissors. Neckbreaker over the knee by Aries, then a flurry of forearms right to the same spot. Chinlock applied now, all softening him up for the brainbuster. Azrieal gets dropped again with a harsh clothesline but kicks out of the pin. Lacey is outside scouting talent by the way. A HEAD DROP back suplex by Aries is sure to impress her (she’s his real-life girlfriend). He lifts Az into a torture wrack , then an inverted Finlay roll. Azrieal rolls out of another back suplex attempt and drops Aries on his neck with one of his own. He fells Austin again with a stepping enzi and a running boot. To the top rope but Az blocks a superplex and double stomps Aries’ neck for 2. Aries Russian legsweep’s Azrieal into the turnbuckles. Brainbuster countered into a DDT leaving both men down. Azrieal misses a double stomp off the top. FACE KICK…BRAINBUSTER…450 SPLASH! Goodnight Az…Aries is your winner in 11:18.

Rating – ** –
That was quite a squash considering how hard Azrieal has been shoved down my throat all summer, but I’m a psychology mark and at least that was really crisp. The biggest problem with Az is that his offence is absolutely lame. His strikes are really weak, and his double stomps (especially coming right after Low Ki’s devastating Ghetto Stomp variants) are absolutely suckish. Outside of his Electric Chair/South Of Heaven finisher he hasn’t got jack. Aries looked leagues better than him here.

James Gibson talks about how much winning the ROH Title means to him…and how much more keeping it means. He points out that whilst Dragon walked away when he couldn’t win the belt, he kept coming back until he finally won it. Awesome promo – his best since he’s been here.

Nigel is developing a bit of a heel persona, as he vows to bring honour back to the Pure Title…and rips off Bret Hart’s catchphrase to piss everyone off.

Nigel McGuiness vs Roderick Strong – ROH Pure Title Match

I’m guessing Roddy has earned this title shot for the huge tear he’s been on this year. McGuiness won the belt from Samoa Joe at Dragon Gate Invasion, finally stepping out of the midcard and winning some gold. He needed a few dirty tricks along the way to topple the mighty Samoan, and you sense he might need a few more tonight if he’s to overcome the Messiah of the Backbreaker.

‘He’s a wanker’ – Lake Grove to Nigel during the opening exchanges. McGuiness is well aware of Roderick’s chopping power and blocks his first attempt at one. He tries to keep Strong on the mat to save himself from the chops and the backbreakers. The first three minutes of this match has been almost entirely headlock, but finally Strong is able to hit his first backbreaker. Nigel headstands into a double boot to the chest and goes back to the headlock. Strong eventually uses his first ropebreak to get out of it. He goes for a volley of forearms but they all get blocked and Nigel headlocks him AGAIN. He works a wristlock as well, softening Strong up for his submission finisher. Strong again gets pushed towards the ropes and he uses his second break. He hits a lungblower and launches into a series of brutal chops, getting some serious offence in for the first time. McGuiness slingshots off the ropes into a lariat for 2. He European uppercuts the back of the neck for another nearfall. Kicks to the spine in a tree of woe position, but as he looks for another corner headstand Strong BLASTS him with a running boot. Rock Bottom backbreaker finds the mark, and Nigel uses his first break to stop him applying the Stronghold. SUPERPLEX by the challenger gets 2. He scores with the double knee gutbuster and Nigel clings to the ropes for dear life. As the ref tries to pull Roddy away, McGuiness takes advantage and thumbs him in the eyes. He throws a closed fist whilst Strong can’t see…TOWER OF LONDON! Nigel has swindled his way to victory at 12:15.

Rating – ** –
I really liked the story they were going for, with McGuiness slowing everything down to avoid Strong’s offence…and the finish continued his summer-long descent into heeldom cleverly. They were the good parts, the negative was – man did this ever DRAG. About 8 minutes of this 12 minute contest was Nigel headlocking. Like I said, the story was clever, but sitting through it wasn’t so fun. Still, it sets the tone for what they’re looking to achieve with his Pure Title reign, and that’s what the first defence is all about. Job done then…

Clips of James Gibson defending the World Title against Roderick Strong in FIP. Apparently this was a classic. Look out for FIP’s BYOB (Big Year One Bash) if you want to see it.

Homicide vs Colt Cabana

Cabana was jumped by Homicide at the end of the Dragon Gate Invasion home release because Cide felt like Colt disrespected him during his appearance on Good Times, Great Memories earlier in the show. That’s about all the reason you’ve got for this one. Cabana is coming off the back of his best performance in Ring Of Honor with James Gibson. I’ll be surprised if these two mesh as well…

Cabana gets distracted by Smokes before the match is even a minute old and his comedic stylings piss them both off. Homicide beats him around the ring to start, mostly with right hands. Colt comes back with some generic offensive moves then goes Artful Dodger to catapult Cide against the ropes then over the knees. J-Train takes his shirt off…provoking a huge ‘put your shirt on’ chant. Tornado snap suplex from Cabana for 2. Homicide throws him to the floor where Smokes delivers a few cheap shots. Colt blocks a T-bone suplex but gets dropkicked outside again for Homicide to nail a tope. Cabana gets set up on a chair on the floor, and Cide runs through him with a clothesline. Back inside the Notorious 187 scores with a jump swinging DDT for 2. Neckbreaker by Homicide but he misses a diving headbutt. Cabana suplexes him in from the apron, but he’s slow to capitalise. He misses an elbow drop off the ropes thanks to distraction from Smokes. Homicide hits the T-bone suplex this time. They trade punches in plodding fashion before Cabana misses the butt-butt. He does floor the Rottweiler with a lariat though. Homicide with an Ace crusher, then he goes under the ring for a chair. Cabana hits a cradle suplex for 2. He looks for the Colt 45 but Smokes throws him off by climbing to the top rope. Homicide throws the chair into his face causing the DQ at 14:31.

Rating – * –
Well, that really brought me down. At the start of this feud on the last show I pointed out how little interest I have in seeing these two wrestle. I really don’t see them gelling that well, and so it proved hear. I liked some of Homicide’s heel work, and his neck-based offence at least added a slight semblance of psychology, but too much of this was lame standing around and punching. I hate that about WWE matches, and I hate it in ROH too. It doesn’t convey hate and anger to me, it conveys crap wrestling. If this is the standard to expect from these two, abort the feud now. I don’t care how tempting adding a serious side to Colt’s persona is…I don’t want them to wrestle if they can’t do better than this. To end on a positive note – this was one of Julius Smokes’ best managerial performances ever. He struck an awesome blend between comedy, heelish interference, working the crowd and interference.

Homicide and Smokes look to put a beating on Colt and get wiped out by a double clothesline. Grim Reefa and Ricky Reyes turn up to make it 4-on-1…and still Cabana keeps fighting. Low Ki jumps him from behind to finally put him down. Samoa Joe runs out to make the save because he always hates the Rottweilers, leading to a brawl in the aisle. Low Ki gets on the mic to point out to Joe that’s now officially back in ROH. He takes credit for Samoa Joe’s success, and the success of the ROH Title as well. Jay Lethal is out here now and he tries to get at Ki again. He’s feeling pretty confident by this point…so they’re going to fight again!

Jay Lethal vs Low Ki

So the Fight Without Honor wasn’t the end of this feud then? That’s a shame, since a much better ending was for Ki to go over Lethal. It makes sense given that surely we’re slow-building towards the inevitable Ki/Joe rematch. If that’s the destination, Low Ki surely has to beat Joe’s protégé along the way. Plus, Ki is so much more over than Lethal, something that won’t change after Lethal’s rather predictable win in this match.

It’s an all-out slugfest with Lethal coming out on top and pummelling Low Ki to the floor. But he’s still an inexperienced fool at times, and he tries to kick Low Ki in the spine. Doesn’t he remember Ki and Danielson from the first couple of shows? Ki no sells and B*TCHSLAPS! He drills Lethal with a kick to the spine…NO SOLD! They have a sick chop war, and Lethal floors Ki with a superkick for 2. Diving headbutt misses and both men are down. SHOTGUN DROPKICK sends Jay to the buckles. Ki looks for the Dragon Clutch but has to settle for a dragon sleeper. Lethal blocks the Ki Krusha…but can’t hit the Dragon Suplex. Smokes is on the apron so Joe absolutely brutalises him. Inside the ring Ki gives Jay the TREE OF WOE DOUBLE STOMP! Homicide, Reyes, Joe and now Cabana are all brawling on the floor. Lethal avoids the springboard enzi…DRAGON SUPLEX! KI KICKS OUT! He shunts Jay out of the ring to get some respite. Ki goes to the top but loses his balance and crotches himself. DRAGON SUPERPLEEEEEEEEX! Lethal finally pins Low Ki at 09:21.

Rating – *** – To clarify, I absolutely disagree with Jay Lethal being the one to finally get a rare singles victory on Ki. His “does not job” thing has been built up so much, he should only be giving it up when he eventually has the Samoa Joe rematch. As fun as this was in terms of brutality, Lethal’s sympathetic performance and the crazy, sports-entertainment-esque brawling all over the place…Lethal is just not over enough to be the guy to beat Low Ki. This feud has been awesome for him, and has really broken him out of the pack. He’s gone from midcard blandness to being one of the top young guys on the roster. He is not, however, ready to be on the same level as Low Ki, Homicide or Samoa Joe, and the fans aren’t ready to accept him there yet – hence they’ve spent most of these two matches tonight chanting for Ki. I’ve really enjoyed both Ki/Lethal matches at this event, so far they’re the best matches on the card by a distance…but Ki should’ve won!

INTERMISSION – Nigel McGuiness joins Capetta. GMC questions Nigel’s tactics in beating Roderick Strong tonight. McGuiness disagrees, saying he built him with a pure wrestling hold. He tries on GMC’s glasses hehe…

Davey Andrews vs Eric Matlock

Aren’t these post-intermission popcorn matches normally cut? I suppose we do have a double DVD to fill tonight. Davey is supposedly the top graduate, and in terms of wrestling, he’s not bad. I think he needs to work on his persona a little bit, since his “intensity” mostly comes off as boring to me. Matlock is a worker from the California scene I believe and was in the 2005 Super 8. He’s on the main card after impressing in a dark match at Dragon Gate Invasion apparently.

Matlock goes for a cross armbreaker but Andrews powers out. Davey with a double knee in the corner but he misses a springboard dropkick. Matlock gets 2 with an elbow drop. German suplex from Andrews, followed by a Final Cut. He locks in his “Death Stretch” (it’s Kawada’s Stretch Plum) and Matlock taps at 02:29.

Rating – DUD –
Wasn’t there another hideous three minute Lacey hating men promo to show hehe? Naah, I’ll be truthful and say I like the way Andrews’ approaches matches. He’s stiff, he’s serious, and with a finishing move like the Stretch Plum, he clearly has a decent taste in who to steal moves from. He does KENTA’S Busaiku Knee Strike as well so…I guess he’s a puro mark. The future is bright if he could just get some charisma.

Adam Pearce vs Ricky Reyes vs Samoa Joe vs BJ Whitmer

Pearce is debuting tonight. He’s a former PWG Champion, and is from Chicago like Punk, Cabana, Steel etc. He’s an old-school heel in the way he likes to piss the fans off as much as possible rather than actually wrestle. Hilariously on his way to the ring he manages to get into arguments with just about every fan in the front row. He drops the f-bomb in pretty much every sentence. I like him and his pretty eyelashes. Joe’s wrestled Reyes and Whitmer in singles matches before…and beaten them both. There’ll probably be heat between him and Reyes after the Rottweilers stuff earlier. If someone can pin BJ Whitmer here they will probably get a tag title shot, since he’s one half of the champions.

‘Pearce sucks dick’ – Lake Grove. ‘So?’ – Adam Pearce. Reyes starts with Whitmer who scores the first knockdown with a dropkick. Joe and Pearce tagged in, they play for cheers from the fans. Scrap Iron makes out like he wants a knucklelock with the Samoan and takes an eternity to actually tie up. Joe ends up kneeing him in the bollocks. Pearce goes to the eyes and chokes Joe over the ropes. Belly to belly suplex from the debutant for 2. He pokes the eyes again then puts Joe in a camel clutch. Reyes or Whitmer occupy the official and Adam takes advantage by choking him with some tape. Joe gets some momentum and Pearce pokes the eyes for a third time. He goes for it a fourth and takes a jumping enziguri. Chop/kick combo into the knee drop. Pearce and Reyes double team Joe to keep him down. The Pitbull kicks at Joe’s legs, keeping him on the canvas. Lacey is scouting again as Pearce comes off the second rope with a fist drop. These two are working together to keep the former World and Pure Champion away from Whitmer. Eventually he hits a legsweep and a back senton on Pearce though. Joe doesn’t stay out of the match long though and rocks BJ with the STO slam. Reyes spikes him with a DDT, then runs right into an exploder suplex from BJ. PILEDRIVER on Whitmer by Pearce who then almost gets killed by a Samoa Joe lariat. Pearce gets crotched on the top rope and Reyes clotheslines him to the floor. MUSCLEBUSTAAAA on the Rottweiler. E HONDA SLAPS for BJ, and he blocks the Wrist Clutch Exploder then knees the crap out of his head. CHOOOOOKE! Joe has Whitmer unconscious and is your winner at 18:40.

Rating – *** –
Adam Pearce f’n rocks! Seriously, he’s so much fun to watch in the way he works a crowd…and swears more than AJ Styles says ‘faggot’. I don’t think I want to see him as a singles competitor every time out, but in a tag team (such as the way he operated with Ricky Reyes to isolate Joe) he could be an awesome addition to the roster. The finish made sense, as Joe didn’t pin Reyes, rather opting to destroy Whitmer – since he’s tag champion, and remember Joe wants to be the first triple crown champ. Beating a champion usually gets you a title shot. Overall a pretty solid fourway, made memorable by Pearce, but there were some decent spot exchanges at the end too.

Joe takes the microphone after the match and vows that he’ll be the next tag champion, much as I pointed out.

Austin Aries talks about Survival Of The Fittest last year – his “coming out party”. Next week is 2005’s SOTF…and this year he wants to exorcise the demons of last time and win the thing.

James Gibson vs Bryan Danielson – ROH World Title Match

Since the day Gibson set foot into ROH this is the match everyone has been begging for. Hell, a big part of the outrage over April’s Best of American Super Juniors Tournament was because we never got the Danielson/Gibson final we were all expecting. But finally we do have it now, with Dragon returning to ROH after taking a summer-long hiatus in Europe following his failure to beat Aries for the belt at Nowhere To Run. We heard him say it earlier – he’s done everything he can do in the company aside from win the belt. If he doesn’t win it tonight, he’s leaving again. Gibson is coming off successful title defences at Night Of The Grudges 2, Dragon Gate Invasion and in FIP. He’s not leaving for the WWE until someone takes the gold from him. Danielson has his old gimmick/attire back, meaning claret boots, longer hair, no beard etc. He’s now using ‘The Final Countdown’ as his music!

Both men dish out an early armdrag to show how deadly they are on the mat. They battle over a wristlock before Gibson swats a dropkick attempt away. Danielson gives Jamie a clean break but later knocks him down with a shoulder tackle. Back to the mat during a big duelling chant, ending with Dragon nipping up into a front dropkick. He tries to force Gibson into a Cattle Mutilation position but can’t manage it. Dragon scores with a tilta-whirl backbreaker to establish the first real advantage for himself. He keeps the champion on the mat with a chinlock but Jamie forces his way up and forearms Danielson down. He steps up the intensity by raking and Dragon’s face, then ripping his ‘I have till five referee’ taunt. Abdominal stretch for the challenger, who hiptosses free. To the apron where Dragon gets SUPLEXED TO THE FLOOR! DIVING KNEE off the apron by Gibson. He launches Danielson into the railings to pile on the pain. He starts to work the midsection, shouldering the ribs then scoring with a backbreaker. He chinlocks the challenger, whilst twisting his body to hurt the ribs as well – it’s the little things. AmDrag gets tree of woe’d for the HANGING HEADSCISSORS! Jamie did that against Cabana as well to soften up the neck for the Trailer Hitch. He rams Dragon neck-first into the apron for even more damage.

Dragon tries to fight back but gets kicked in the injured stomach. TIGER MASK BACK FLIP out of the corner, into a corkscrew enzi on Gibson. He kills Jamie with a running forearm in the corner, then slingshot suplexes him for 2. Mexican surfboard time at 18 minutes. AIRPLANE SPIN…and remember he’s beaten people with this before. DIVING HEADBUTT MISSES! Mexican roll-up from Gibson for 2. TRAILER HITCH…DANIELSON POWERS OUT WITH A SUPLEX! Gibson ducks the roaring elbow and goes for the Tigerbomb. Danielson banzai drops to counter that and NAILS the diving headbutt for a nearfall. Dragon victory rolls Gibson to the floor for a TOPE SUICIDAAAA! Gibson gets whipped over the railings into the front row, before Dragon wraps the arm in the metal and KICKS IT! MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE SHOULDER! Oh god the motherf*cking psychological awesomeness. He continues the arm-injury fun with an inverted wristlock takedown. Danielson with an armbar, and as Bower points out on commentary, he is literally wrenching on every single joint in the arm. Samoan drop from Gibson leaving both competitors down. Dragon goes for a cross armbreaker…GIBSON COUNTERS TO A CLOVERLEAF! Remember Jamie attacked the ribs and back earlier, but Dragon gets the ropes.

He goes for a tilta-whirl backbreaker but Danielson counters looking for a shoulderbreaker. Jamie rolls through that and drops him with a TOMBSTONE! GUILLOTINE LEG DROP! TRAILER HITCH! ALL HURTING THE NECK…but STILL Dragon powers up. Tornado DDT from Gibson…TIGERBOOOOMB! DANIELSON KICKS OUT! If Gibson’s arm wasn’t injured, would his front choke or Tigerbomb have been more effective? Running knee to the head NO SOLD! Gibson goes to the eyes and still eats a roaring elbow. DRAGON SUPLEX…but the bridging pin only gets 2. CATTLE MUTILATION LOCKED IN! But Danielson’s neck is weakened so Jamie moves towards the ropes. TIGER SUPLEX FROM DRAGON! CROSSFACE CHICKENWING! GIBSON TAPS…GIBSON TAPS! AMERICAN DRAGON IS YOUR NEEEEEEW ROH CHAMPION! 32:26 is your time.

Rating – ***** – You can consider that the very definition of a wrestling clinic. If faultless, technically perfect, well-structured, well-paced, hold-for-hold wrestling is your thing then go ahead – order this DVD. This mat-classic was as good as anything you’ll see. From the opening bell to the last it was literally sensational stuff. The early exchanges as both guys jostled to one-up each other and establish control…then Gibson working the neck and midsection for the Trailer Hitch and Tigerbomb…THEN Danielson working the arm for the Cattle Mutilation. But with his injured neck he couldn’t use that move, so instead he pulled out Bob Backlund’s vaunted chickenwing to savage Jamie’s massacred arm and take the win. Seriously…if you can find a match that was technically better than that this decade I’ll struggle to believe you. One of the best matches in ROH history right there…

It’s another emotional scene as the crowd goes ballistic for Danielson’s historic title win. His first act as champion is to lead the fans in a standing ovation for James Gibson (who’s still selling the arm). He points out that ROH champions of the past have been leaving for the WWE, or going to TNA. Unlike those guys, whilst he’s ROH Champion, he won’t be going to WWE or TNA. The belt to him represents wrestling freedom – and that’s why he became a wrestler in the first place. The locker room has emptied onto the ramp to congratulate him. What a damn match…what a moment. After all he’s done for this company, finally he stands on top of it. Congratulations Bryan…

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST 2005 – The qualifying round matches are Gibson/Daniels, Aries/Rave, Joe/Milano Collection AT, Cabana/Reyes, Strong/Clark and Lethal/Rinauro. Nigel McGuiness is defending the Pure Title against BJ Whitmer too. I like the idea of having hype videos for future events on these shows.

Jimmy Rave vs AJ Styles – Finishers Match

The concept of the match is fairly simple. No referee, no rules, no way to win except one – hit the Clash on your opponent. AJ must hit the Styles Clash to win, Jimmy the Rave Clash. The loser is no longer allowed to use the move in ROH. By this point you know the history behind this feud. Rave used to be AJ’s protégé, but he joined The Embassy, stole his move etc. Since AJ has returned to ROH Jimmy has sprayed him with air freshener, choked him with a bag, jumped him, cheated him…all your usual Embassy tactics really. Adding more to this occasion is the presence of Prince Nana in Rave’s corner, and Mick Foley in Styles’. Mick and The Embassy clashed at Glory By Honor 3 a year ago, and at Night Of The Grudges 2 again The Embassy tried to attack Mick. The sight of Foley (a WWE guy) coming to the ring with TNA’s top star is really weird.

Since there’s no referee, there’s no bell so I’ll start the clock as Rave jumps Styles. AJ rallies back with a flurry of right hands and kicks and generally tosses the poor guy around the ring. Styles throws Rave to the floor then sails out with a beautiful pescado. Styles Clash blocked as Rave runs out of the ring, but he still eats boot from a dropkick through the ropes. Under close consultation from Foley himself, AJ hammers Rave with a series of Cactus Jack-esque forearms. He goes for the Styles Clash again, when another Weapon of MASK Destruction runs in and distracts him. That turns the match and allows Jimmy to whoop Styles’ ass in the corner. Dragon sleeper on the TNA X-Division Champion, into an inverted suplex. To the floor again, but Foley is keeping a close eye on Nana so he can’t interfere. Together they choke Styles but before long Mick runs the Prince off. He goes for the Rave Clash on the metal ramp and gets back dropped. In the ring Jimmy crotches Styles over the top rope. Duelling ‘Jimmy Swallows’ and ‘Jimmy Likes Balls’ chants make me chuckle. Standing enziguri by Styles rocks the Crown Jewel. Standing switches, ending in AJ’s nip-up rana. Rave comes back with Ghanarea, but since this is a Finishers Match, he can’t win with that. He struggles, but manages to bring a table into play. AJ gets propped up against it where Rave delivers the Crappiest Wizard of them all. Uncharacteristically he goes to the top rope, and gets caught up there. They brawl on the turnbuckles…and BOTH GO THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPER’S TABLE! Rave is up first but Styles whacks him in the head with a shard of table. Rave blocks the Styles Clash again with a Crappy Wizard. He tries to brainbuster Styles like at The Homecoming, but that gets switched and RAVE GETS BRAINBUSTERED ON AN OPEN CHAIR! More Masked Weapons get involved, and Foley cuts them off with a chair. AJ gives Nana a right hand then gets swiped by a northern lariat from Rave. They fight on the turnbuckles…SUPER STYLES CLASH THROUGH THE TABLE! AJ wins at 18:44

Rating – ** –
A disappointing end to what has probably been a disappointing feud. Granted three of their four matches (Third Anniversary, Sign Of Dishonor, The Homecoming) have been fun, but they’ve never really produced a show-stealer, and this was a big huge ugly mess until the last five minutes when they produced a few decent high spots. They really could’ve utilised the unique stipulations better, countering each other’s attempted Clashes etc, especially with AJ’s incredible ability to innovate things like that. Instead they just aimlessly brawled for way too long before they got to hit their hot home stretch. I was impressed with the reference to the brainbuster chair spot from the Philadelphia show…unfortunately that one spot was more intelligent than the other 17 minutes of match combined. It’s a good thing these guys can move onto other feuds with opponents more suited to their style.

Foley double arm DDT’s Nana on a chair to complete the destruction of The Embassy for tonight. AJ has reclaimed the Styles Clash, but now the attention turns to Mick, since this is his last night in ROH. In his farewell speech, he actually talks about how close he came to signing for TNA…and how he met a lot of their roster working for ROH. He says that anyone that leaves ROH for the WWE raves about the promotion, and he’ll be no different. Apparently he helped set ROH up with the building in the Long Island area so that’s cool too. He’ll still come by the backstage area once in a while – it’s touching how much of a legitimate fan of this product he appears to be. By way of saying of goodbye he drops a CACTUS ELBOW off the apron on Nana. Thank you Mick…

Colt Cabana cuts a promo on Homicide. He’s not happy about all the cheating and outside interference Cide used in their match tonight. He’s calling in his friend Steve Corino to help him out…

GMC closes GBH4 the way he started it – with Lacey. She scouted some impressive talent and promises interesting developments. I doubt it…unless she signs Adam Pearce.

Tape Rating – *** – After NOTG2 and DGI kinda let the recent high standard of ROH shows slip, the company returned to form with this excellent show. Admittedly not all the mud they threw at the wall stuck – Homicide/Cabana and Styles/Rave were major disappointments, but elsewhere there was loads of fun. I may have disagreed with Lethal eventually going over, but both Ki/Lethal matches were good, as was the fourway, featuring the impressive debut of Adam Pearce. You’ll either love or hate this guy…and I thought he rocked. Plus Gibson/Dragon is 2005 MOTY right now – even better than Aries/Punk. The ROH Title match was a phenomenal, must-see exhibition of impeccable wrestling that I urge all fans of the mat-game to go out of their way to see. Please, buy this DVD just to watch those two masters at work.

Top 3 Matches

3) Samoa Joe vs BJ Whitmer vs Adam Pearce vs Ricky Reyes (***)

2) Low Ki vs Jay Lethal (****)

1) James Gibson vs Bryan Danielson (*****)

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