ROH 80 – Joe vs Kobashi – 1st October 2005
Welcome to probably the biggest weekend in ROH’s history. The cards are stacked, the talent line-up is impressive but more importantly than all that – the man, the myth, the LEGEND of Kenta Kobashi arrives from Japan to make his Ring Of Honor debut. He comes to make every ROH fan’s dream come true as he wages war with Samoa Joe. It’s also James Gibson’s final weekend in the promotion, selecting his own opponents to put on two final classics. But as he departs, Jimmy Yang arrives for his ROH debut shows. Back by popular demand for the first time since late 2003, my old favourite Serious Tony (Mamaluke) makes an inexplicably hyped return. Speaking of returns, Jack Evans is back after his hiatus too…along with all your other ROH favourites. Like I said – STACKED weekend. Tonight’s event is main evented by the dream encounter the title alludes to – Samoa Joe against Kenta Kobashi – in what has been called the 2005 MOTY. James Gibson takes on his former Jung Dragons partner, the debuting Jimmy Yang. Nigel McGuiness defends the Pure Title against Jay Lethal, Whitmer and Jacobs have an open contract on the Tag Titles too. The Embassy/GeNext and Homicide/Cabana feuds continue as well. For the final time your scene is the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, NY. It’s been a terrific venue for the three shows it’s played host too, but is simply too small to accommodate Ring Of Honor and it’s ever-growing fanbase. It’s a standing room only sell-out tonight. Commentary comes from Dave Prazak, Lenny Leonard and a brief appearance from Jimmy Bower.
Straight away you can tell a little extra effort has gone into the production on this DVD. The main event has garnered such publicity that so many people will be getting this show, and getting to experience ROH as a promotion. The DVD menu has the Joe/Kobashi match in the background, and we open with a fancy video package hyping the match.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Colt Cabana
Straight into the action, which is again a nice touch given that for many people, this will be their first taste of ROH. This is Claudio’s second main show appearance, having jobbed to Nigel McGuiness at Fate Of An Angel in July. He immediately endears himself to me by having Brian May’s solo from ‘We Will Rock You’ as the intro to his entrance music. He also dresses snazzily, European uppercuts a lot and is generally pretty over. You can expect to see a lot more of him. Cabana, meanwhile, is embroiled in a feud with Homicide, which started at Dragon Gate Invasion. He got a DQ victory over the Notorious 187 at Glory By Honor 4, but neither man really settled the score there. Homicide is in the building tonight after missing Survival Of The Fittest 2005 (where Colt made it to the final 3).
Given how proficient they both are at the European style, it’s no surprise to see the opening exchanges largely involve a trading of wrestling/counter-wrestling. Armdrags from Cabana as Monsta Mack taunts him from the front row on behalf of the Rottweilers. He goes for some Artful Dodger and eats a European uppercut from Claudio. A diving Euro uppercut to the neck follows that. Castagnoli absolutely powers Colt into a stalling vertical suplex but holds him up for too long and gets small packaged for 2. There’s another Rottweiler thug on the balcony and that allows Claudio to hit an inverted suplex. Claudio gets sent to the floor but he has the sense to avoid Cabana’s Asai moonsault. He does score with a missile dropkick to keep the European competitor down. Castagnoli ducks the lariat but Cabana moves right into a quebrada press. Swinging neckbreaker (Shake, Rattle ‘n’ Roll) from Claudio. Cabana looks for the Colt 45 but is distracted by a third thug…RICCOLA BOMB by Castagnoli! He scores the upset at 07:51.
Rating – ** – The crowd tonight is really hot, and this match served it’s purpose in terms of bringing them nicely into the show. It was disappointingly brief, and served as little more than progression of theCabana/Homicide program, and another exhibition of Claudio is capable of, but they’re popular competitors and they meshed well in the time they had. Expect to see more of Castagnoli in ROH, he is OVER!
Matt Sydal vs Azrieal vs Christopher Daniels
Holy crap, check this out…Sydal is actually booked outside of the Midwest! He’s the newest member of GeNext (as of Redemption) and hasn’t been on a show since that weekend. Anyway, getting him out to east-coast shows is a step in the right direction. This his first appearance since winning the 2005 TPI. Azrieal’s push has stalled recently, which I’m not too displeased with, but this is a big chance for him and Sydal, getting to wrestle Daniels in this elimination rules match. Daniels needs a win to get back on track after failing to win the ROH Title, then failing to win Survival Of The Fittest etc.
Three-way headlock from the start, before Daniels shoved Az into Sydal. The young guys team up on the veteran to double dropkick him out. Az with a tilta-whirl backbreaker and a back suplex for the GeNext member. Sydal climbs into a running knee on Daniels. He goes for a tornado DDT but Azrieal catches him in a powerbomb. Azrieal tries to work over both opponents and catches Sydal from a monkey flip looking for a double stomp but gets clotheslined by Daniels. Matt gets caught on the top rope by the Fallen Angel…BUT HE SPRINGBOARDS OFF AZRIEAL INTO A SWINGING DDT ON DANIELS for 2! Az cobra clutch backbreakers Daniels into a cannonball leg drop by Sydal. More double-teaming on Daniels ensues but in the end he rocks them both with a bulldog/clothesline combo. Blue Thunder driver on Sydal for 2. Azrieal blocks Last Rites with a springboard clothesline, and gives Daniels a swinging neckbreaker in the ropes. TOP ROPE DOUBLE STOMP whilst he’s hung there! Sydal gives Azrieal the inverted Rocker dropper for 2. SLINGSHOT RANA TO THE FLOOR on Daniels! Az dives out with a pescado too. Sydal and Az fight on the top rope…MOONSAULT BELLY TO BELLY! Azrieal is eliminated at 09:26. Matt goes for flash pins on Daniels but can’t win it and the former Prophecy leader nails a back suplex. DEATH VALLEY DRIVER for 2. Sydal hits the standing moonsault press, then a top rope crossbody block. ANGEL’S WINGS and Daniels wins at 13:02.
Rating – *** – That was spot-tacular, and one of the best triple threat matches I’ve seen in ages (not in the league of Daniels/Ki/Dragon, London/Ki/Styles or Joe/Styles/Daniels from TNA though). Lots of neat three-way innovation, and above all else, it really emphasised the talent of Matt Sydal. He’s such a graceful high-flier and has a lot to offer if he can get regular bookings. Obviously purists might want to look away, but it was as good a spotty sprint as you’ll see anywhere.
James Gibson talks about this being his last weekend and how he’s picking Jimmy Yang as his opponent, and plans on ending his time with a big win. Yang himself is present, and calls Gibson ‘Jamie-san’. He looks forward to competing with the handcuffs off…and it’s Yang Time now.
Tony Mamaluke and Sal Rinauro both come to the ring. They’re scheduled to wrestle each other, but instead opt to team up and accept the open challenge from the Tag Champions. Mamaluke’s promos are still rubbish…
BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs vs Tony Mamaluke/Sal Rinauro – ROH Tag Title Match
Has Serious Tony got miles better since 2002/3 when he was last in ROH. He was almost entirely boring then (aside from his brief angle with James ‘Nunzio’ Maritato) and has been since he stopped wrestling like he did in ECW. Anyway, Gabe has really hyped his return to ROH and FIP debut so clearly he sees something in him. Sal has impressed whenever he’s got a booking and received major hype himself when he finally earned a full-time spot. This is Hillbilly JesHUSS’ first defence of the belts since August thanks to various other commitments.
Whitmer and Mamaluke start with some intensity, with Tony taking it to the mat to do the same shooter stuff he was doing last time he was in ROH. Whitmer muscles him up and drops him since he weights about 60lbs. Jacobs and Rinauro tag, Jimmy hits a few armdrags then gets caught with a dropkick. Mamaluke in and Rinauro drop toeholds Jimmy over his knee. Tony dragon screws Jacobs into the turnbuckles and goes to work on the leg. Camel clutch next as he goes after the back instead. Whitmer comes in with a series of forearms so Mamaluke dropkicks his knee. He dives off the top into a front choke but BJ is a horse and SUPLEXES him into the buckles. ‘We love head-bumps’ – NY. Jacobs in for a double clubbering on Serious boy. The powerbomb senton double team finds the mark as well for 2. Double knee gutbuster by Mamaluke allows him to make a much-needed tag. FLYING HEADSCISSORS hit by Rinauro on Whitmer, and he gets a couple of nearfalls on Jacobs. Springboard corkscrew enzi attempt COUNTERED WITH A SPEAR! Sal eats a lariat from BJ but Mamaluke makes a blind tag and starts booting the hillbilly. He slaps on a Fujiwara armbar, then a triangle choke. Whitmer again powers out and tags. Tony blocks the powerbomb/Contra Code but still BJ is too strong…DOOMSDAY RANA! Mamaluke kicks out…that just shouldn’t happen! Sal wipes Jimmy out with a pescado. He dropkicks Whitmer off the top rope as well, as Mamaluke sunset flip powerbombs Jacobs. SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW ENZI by Rinauro. DOUBLE RUBIX CUBE! We have new champions at 13:47…
Rating – *** – I don’t agree with putting the belts on Mamaluke and Rinauro the first time they team together, but the match was good. It had a nice dynamic with Sal and Tony impressing in spurts, but the teamwork experience of Whitmer and Jacobs kept them in control until the offensive flurry again. Tony Mamaluke was actually the star of this match. He carried it and really presented the challengers as a legitimate threat from the outset with his intensity, and he brought some nice wrestling with him. He’s not the best “shooter” out there, but in a tag team with a spottier guy like Sal Rinauro, his schtick works. I understand the need for more credible teams in the tag division, but why hot shot the belts onto the new guys when BJ and Jimmy had been carrying the belts so well? The whole scene just looks that much weaker. I’d much rather have seen JesHUSS go over here and play up the “commendable effort” of the new challengers. Feed them a few victim teams over the next few shows to build them up and get some tag experience then take the belts in a rematch. Turning this match into more of a feud for the belts elevates their prestige and the credibility of the teams.
Nigel McGuiness vs Jay Lethal – ROH Pure Title Match
Jay never got a rematch for the Pure Title when he lost it to Joe in this very building, and is due a title shot after his pinfall win over Low Ki. Nigel has been using shady tactics to get wins since he became Pure Champion. He went to the eyes against Roderick Strong and a low blow to overcome BJ Whitmer. So far his heel turn has been fun, but his Pure Title matches haven’t been too hot. He needs to connect the entertainment of his heel antics to match quality now…
Lethal with early headscissoring on the mat, then a big dropkick. McGuiness wants no part of getting chopped by Lethal. First he walks away from the chop attempts, then he uses his forearms to block. He goes all European but Jay grounds him again with a dropsault. The challenger repeatedly counters out of McGuiness’ wrestling holds to hit a chop. He beats Nigel into the corner with a flurry of stiff strikes. McGuiness with a headstand, and he double boots Jay down when he goes for the running kick counter. Wristlock takedown on Lethal, the champion going to work on his arm. The hammerlock DDT scores as well to do more damage. BRUTAL tree of woe kick to the spine by McGuiness. Lethal counters the headstand second time of asking with a running chop. He hits a spinebuster then the second rope heel kick for 2. The Dragon Suplex is blocked but the running suplex isn’t. DIVING HEADBUTT from Lethal for another nearfall. He draws Nigel into using his first break with the inverted surfboard. Behind the referee’s back McGuiness drives Jay’s head into his iron…and that gets him another cheap win at 10:59. ‘God bless the Queen…and God bless America’ – Nigel.
Rating – *** – That was a really fun little match. Lethal played the babyface to a heel champion really well, and it meant the match became far less tedious than the Strong or Whitmer defences. I like that with each of his outings, Nigel is having to go a little bit further in cheating to win. First he just raked the eyes, then last time it was a low blow. Now he needed the assistance of a foreign object to beat a plucky challenger. Definitely a step in the right direction in terms of character progression.
Jimmy Rave vs Roderick Strong
Roddy comes into this hot off the heels of winning Survival Of The Fittest 2005, and is on his way to a World Title shot at the end of the month so will be looking to get some momentum going. The feud with The Embassy continued at SOTF when Rave used a chair on Austin Aries to injure his back during their qualifying match. The two factions have been trading wins over the last few shows. It’s interesting to note that neither is at full-strength this weekend. GeNext are boosted by the return of Jack Evans, but Aries is in the UK (working 1PW if you’re interested – check them out). The Embassy only have Nana, Jade and Rave. The TP treatment for Jimmy gets worse every show by the way.
Rave avoids early chop attempts quite sensibly and negates his powerful offence by grounding him. Finally he does take the bait and tries to go chop-for-chop with Roddy. Inevitably he loses and runs to the outside. Again he grounds Strong with headlocks which keeps him well away from chops and backbreakers. Eventually Strong frees himself with a back suplex and snaps off a couple of his stinging chops. The back gets worked with a couple of hard Irish whips to the turnbuckles. To the outside again and Jimmy goes back-first into the metal rails. Strong gets distracted by Prince Nana, allowing Rave to shove him OFF THE APRON! Jimmy is vicious on the floor, repeatedly ramming his head into the railings. Back inside he scores 2 with a neckbreaker then slaps on a neck vice. Roderick hits a springboard crossbody but Rave cuts the comeback off with a northern lariat. Swinging neckbreaker suplex scores after a period of cobra clutching Rod in the ropes. Royal octopus stretch in the middle of the ring wears the GeNext man down some more. Hiptoss backbreaker by Strong but Rave grabs the ropes to block the Stronghold. He grabs the ropes again to look for a cheap victory, then blasts Roddy with the CRAPPY WIZARD. Roderick with the Rock Bottom backbreaker and a big boot for 2. A back suplex backbreaker finds the mark as well. Half nelson blocked and Rave hits the spear and a NORTHERN LIGHTS BOMB! Nana slings a chair into the ring but the ref puts a stop to any illicit activity. Double knee gutbuster…STRONGHOLD! Rave taps at 13:48.
Rating – *** – What a show this is turning into – that was solid too. Strong worked the back like usual, but it was nice to see Jimmy Rave come up with a strategy to counter that – going after the neck, with headlocks in the early going (which also stopped the big chops) then with bigger offensive moves as the match wore on. The finish was disappointingly sudden, and I really thought this had another five or six minutes left in it when the end came. Then again, this is a loaded card tonight, there’s not a lot of time to spare sadly…
Prince Nana jumps Strong after the match and gives him the RUNNING ASS TO THE FACE! They use Jade’s leash to strangle him in quite a disturbing visual…but she falls over allowing him to breathe again. She gets berated…THEN SHE RIPS OFF HER SACK! LOW BLOW ON JIMMY RAVE! A LOW BLOW FOR NANA! JADE CHUNG HAS BROKEN FREE AT LAST! Roderick clears the ring as the crowd literally goes mental for Jade! What an awesome pay-off to the abuse angle they’ve been running all summer. Strong challenges The Embassy to Steel Cage Warfare (essentially a Wargames match) when ROH returns to Manhattan at the start of December. That should totally rule. The segment ends with Jade and Roderick hugging…
INTERMISSION – Lacey storms the ring to inform everyone that she’ll reveal the new line-up for Lacey’s Angels tomorrow night in Philadelphia.
BRYAN DANIELSON UPDATE – He returns for the Cleveland debut in two weeks, where he’ll defend the belt against long-time rival Austin Aries.
We come back from intermission with the Ricky Reyes squashing ROH student Pelle Primeau in 48 seconds with a dragon sleeper. I like the gimmick of Reyes squashing guys…since he’s shown some improvement recently but isn’t getting over as the bruiser/destroyer that he is. Hopefully the angle will help him out with that…
Jimmy Yang vs James Gibson
Yang’s debut means that all three members of the Jung Dragons have now been in ROH at one time or another (Kaz Hayashi was at Final Battle 2003). These two know each other well from their days of teaming together, and after Yang’s WWE release (in case you weren’t aware, he was Akio), Gibson has selected him as an opponent for his last weekend. Jamie has been fantastic during 2005 for ROH but he was always going to head back to Stamford eventually. Hopefully he can sign off producing the same kind of matches he has done throughout his tenure. How will Jimmy handle the ROH style…it’s a lot different from the limitations he had to compete under in the WWE (where he still put on some real crackers with Paul London).
The early action is clean, quick and crisp, reminiscent of the decent WCW cruiserweight stuff from back in the day. Yang controls the outward bound star with a headlock but that might not be the best idea given Gibson’s mat-wrestling skill. He scores with a quick reverse heel kick in the corner but Jamie counters a powerbomb with an armdrag. Springing armdrag off the ropes, then a swinging neckbreaker for 2. That was absolutely beautiful! Yang blocks a hiptoss and nails an enziguri kick. Jamie rolls Yang to the floor…TOPE SUICIDA INTO THE FRONT ROW! Gibson tries to re-enter the ring by diving off the top and sails into a spinning heel kick by Jimmy. Moonsault kick in the corner, into a superkick for 2 on the former ROH Champion. Yang tries a camel clutch but Gibson powers out by shunting him into the buckles. WILD near fall exchange, and that ends with a double clothesline and both men go down. JUMPING knee strike by Gibson as he’s the first man back to his feet. A spinebuster finds the mark on the debutant. He misses an elbow drop from the second rope and Yang hits a MOONSAULT PRESS! YANG TIME MISSES! SICK DDT BY GIBSON! He latches onto a front double underhook submission…THEN THE TRAILER HITCH! Yang is too powerful and drives Gibson to the turnbuckles. Backbreaker…IT’S YANG TIME! ONLY FOR 2! Jimmy goes upstairs again and gets crotched. POWERBOMB INTO THE TURNBUCKLES. TIGERBOMB…BUT YANG KICKS OUT! TRAILER HITCH AGAIN! Yang taps at 15:49.
Rating – **** – I’m going to miss James Gibson of course, but if Yang can produce performances like that every time out, he’ll be a fine addition to the roster. It wasn’t a technical classic, but I was left astounded by how smooth and clean they were hitting some really complex stuff. I said it in the first 30 seconds of the match, but it was like one of WCW cruiserweight matches back when that division when all WCW was worth watching for. Flowing, beautiful back and forth wrestling, with a thrilling finish.
Gibson gets a huge ovation post-match, which is spliced with clips of some of his best matches. He thanks ROH and the fans for the fun he’s had in 2005. He challenges Roderick Strong for tomorrow night in Philly. He’s been somewhat of a mentor to him, and wants to wrestle him on his last night, possibly to decide who is Ring Of Honor’s MVP for this year.
Jack Evans vs Homicide
The return of Flippy McGillycutty gets quite the ovation, since Jack is always over in NYC. He decided to take some time off after losing a match to Lacey’s Angels at Death Before Dishonor 3, but now he’s healed up from some injuries, had some time to think and is ready to throw himself into the Embassy/GeNext war. But not tonight, instead he has a tough ask in the hometown boy – Homicide. As we saw earlier, Homicide has Colt Cabana to worry about. These two have wrestled each other all over the place in companies like JAPW and CZW – where Homicide once eliminated Evans from their annual Best of the Best tournament with a positively vile RUNNING Cop Killa.
Prazak points out that Cide is undefeated in New York. Evans uses all his flippy powers to counter Homicide’s wrestling, but Cide shows himself to be pretty nimble by landing on his feet from a monkey flip. Satellite headscissors sends Homicide to the floor for a TOPE CON HILO! Evans taking a page out of Homicide’s playbook there. The Notorious 187 hits back with a tilta-whirl backbreaker and a bridging T-bone suplex. He half crabs Jack, then pulls on his hair so hard his head actually touches his foot. Tree of woe basement dropkick to the GeNexter, followed by a leg drop over the bottom rope. Jack blocks another tilta-whirl backbreaker but then runs right into a second rope swinging DDT. Jack crotched on the top rope, but he still connects with a MOONSAULT ASS TO THE NECK! I sense that wasn’t supposed to go like that! Homicide into the crowd but Evans goes after him with a SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT SPLASH! SPRINGBOARD SENTON TO HOMICIDE’S THUGS! He’s still not done springboarding, as he uses the ropes again to assist a missile dropkick for 2. Evans tries to steal Cide’s second rope Ace crusher but gets planted with a second rope DDT. Cop Killa blocked…but the Ace crusher finds the mark. LARIATOOOOOO! That would be it, but Colt Cabana is on the balcony and he starts wigga-rapping. Key punchlines include using Homicide’s real name, and calling him ‘Konnan’s b*tch’. Evans uses the distraction to hit a reverse rana and steal the huge win at 13:38.
Rating – *** – Much better than I thought it would be. Singles matches really aren’t Jack’s forte, but he works hard and with clever workers he gets through. Homicide earned points for using all his offence to wear down Evans’ neck. Jack’s high-spots were exciting as always (even when he didn’t quite hit them right), and stealing Homicide’s moves was an unexpected extra. For the second time tonight we’ve seen the Homicide/Cabana feud extended in a way which doesn’t detract from a fairly entertaining match.
Samoa Joe vs Kenta Kobashi
Probably every ROH fan’s dream match is happening here and now. You’ve heard it pimped by everyone from fans, to critics, to ROH officials. Everyone loves this match. It’s the ROH icon and legend against puro icon and legend. Without doubt this promises to be a classic. Word has it Kobashi was in the States to have “perfect” matches. Doesn’t sound like he’s going to be phoning it in in front of the sell-out crowd of rabid wrestling fans in the New Yorker Hotel. The pop/chants for Kobashi are deafening as if you expected anything less, but Joe is psyched for this, defending his “home” against the foreign invader.
Seriously, the atmosphere is incredible. Joe sets the standard early by kicking Kobashi in the leg rather than lock-up. He backs the legend to the ropes…AND F*CKING SLAPS HIM! Ohhh man! Kobashi responds by shunting Joe to the ropes and delivering a sickening chop. Joe suplexes out of a knucklelock and shoulder tackles Kobashi to the floor. ELBOW SUICIDAAAAAAAA! Just like Misawa and AJPW! Back in the ring Joe drops a big elbow for 2. MISAWA FACELOCK! Kobashi gets close to the ropes…so Joe turns it to a KAWADA STRETCH PLUM! His little smile to the smart fans there was quality. Kobashi no-sells some of Joe’s chops…MURDEROUS CHOPS in response. JUMPING ENZIGURIIIIIIII nailed by Joe! KAWADA KICKS NO SOLD! KAWADA KICK VS KOBASHI CHOP DUEL! Joe floors Kobashi again with devastating knee strikes. Kobashi goes to the floor again after the chop/kick combo and the knee drop. OLE OLE KICK BREAKS THE RAIL! Joe goes for the same move twice though and pays by getting chopped INTO THE FRONT ROW! Dragging him back ringside, Kenta drops Joe with a DDT on the floor. ‘I can’t see sh*t’ – wiseass fans on the other side of the building. He’s trying to slow the pace to control the super-aggressive Samoan, but goes back to making mincemeat of his chest with more horrifying chops. Kobashi tries to get Joe up for the brainbuster but that isn’t happening and he gets suplexed. CHOP VS KICK DUEL! JOE FIGHTS BACK IN A CHOP WAR! F*CK YEAH! COME ON JOE!
In the end the former GHC Heavyweight Champion chops the former ROH Champion to the mat again. Kobashi applies an abdominal stretch, which provides a great shot of the alarming amount of damage Joe’s chest has suffered from all the chops. It’s purple and blistering for f*ck’s sake. Joe gets put in a facelock next, with the Japanese veteran still trying to wear the aggression out of him. NECK CHOP FLURRY…STO SLAM BY JOE! POWERBOMB INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! BOOTSCRAPES…RUNNING FACEWASH! MUSCLEBUSTAAAAAA! KOBASHI KICKS OUT! KNEE STRIKES, but Kobashi judo throws out of the Choke. STF by the Samoan, followed by a Crippler Crossface as Kenta edges one arm closer to the ropes…THEN a Rings of Saturn when he gets the other arm free. Great little sequence! Joe goes for the running knee strike AND GETS CAUGHT IN THE HALF NELSON SUPLEX! RUN JOE…MACHINE GUN CHOP FLURRY! HOLY F*CKING SH*T! Joe’s chest is disgusting now, and he seriously looks on the brink of tears. DOUBLE HANDED NECK CHOPS! Joe is dead on his feet…HEAD DROP HALF NELSON! JOE KICKS OUT AT 2! Kobashi drags him up again…HEAD DROP SLEEPER SUPLEX! DANGEROUS!! JOE KICKS OUT AGAIN! E HONDA SLAPS…COME ON JOE! SPINNING NECK CHOPS FROM KOBASHI BURNING LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! IT’S OVER! KOBASHI WINS! KOBASHI WINS! 22:15 is your time…f*cking hell that ruled.
Rating – ***** – So that’s 2005 MOTY sorted then. In terms of sheer marking out, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much to cream over in all my years of watching wrestling. I hate the people that will tell you this is a 20 minute chop fest, that’s bullsh*t. This was a phenomenal story of the fiery young hometown guy defending HIS turf against the legitimate superstar and all time great. From the opening slap, the theft of Kobashi’s greatest rivals’ moves to the way he simply refused to lose at the end, it was laid out in a sublime way. In the end Kobashi’s smarts and unrelenting POWER and VIOLENCE was too much for Joe…who by the way put in an absolute career-defining performance. You could tell by the end of the match he was absolutely shattered. Not only is he a big man to be wrestling 20+ minutes at that frantic pace, but Kobashi’s chops were killing him. He would have collapsed had he had to take too many more, they were that brutal. Get this DVD and look at the mans chest – THAT is why Samoa Joe is pro-wrestling. As for Kobashi, what more can you say? He came with his working boots on, he was a class act that was willing to put Joe over as a legitimate threat to him and he was rewarded by being able to take one of his “perfect” matches back to Japan. There aren’t too many guys who would go from main eventing the Tokyo Dome in front of 60,000 people to wrestling in front of 800 smarks in a hotel ballroom in New York and still turning up in such supreme fashion. In terms of wrestling, Gibson/Danielson was better, but that was a wrestling-clinic. This was all about emotion, and that, to me, is what wrestling should be about. The emotion of the electrifying crowd. The emotion you get watching the DVD at home. The emotion of two of the best wrestlers in the world going all-out to entertain. MOTY for 2005…arigato Kobashi-san.
Joe can actually barely stand, but Kobashi helps him up and shakes hands as NYC gives them a standing ovation. ‘ROH’, ‘Arigato’ and ‘Match of the Year’ chants…but the biggest chills for me come from Joe being helped up the ramp by Jay Lethal, then turning to salute the fans saying ‘ROH forever’ You damn right man!
Backstage Joe says he gave it his all tonight…and he’s coming for round 2. Kobashi is interviewed as well, but it’s all in Japanese.
Tape Rating – **** – Maybe I’m being a little generous…actually no, I’m not. That was a phenomenal show. From top to bottom, EVERYTHING was good. Cabana/Claudio was a fun opener, then everything was 3* or higher. Gibson/Yang is really underrated, and a terrific introduction to what we can expect from TAFKA Akio in ROH and a fine way for Jamie bid farewell to the New York fans. Plus, regardless of how poor the undercard was (or wasn’t in this case), you need this DVD for the main event, which is a worldwide MOTYC for 2005. If you’ve never seen ROH before, this is a great place to start your collection. If you have seen ROH before, you know what this company is all about. It’s about wrestling, and this here is the proverbial ‘good sh*t’. Solid card, fun angles (Jade leaving The Embassy, Homicide/Cabana etc) and a truly awe-inspiring main event. Cha-ching!
Top 3 Matches
3) Roderick Strong vs Jimmy Rave (***)
2) James Gibson vs Jimmy Yang (****)
1) Kenta Kobashi vs Samoa Joe (*****)