Written by: Arnold Furious
When people talk about great Indy matches and in particular the best match put on by Ian Rotten’s IWA-Mid South promotion this is the match that comes up. Chris Hero v CM Punk. A match that ran to 92 minutes making it one of the longest North American matches in decades. The only one that comes close, in my memory, is Bryan Danielson’s 70-odd minute bout against Austin Aries for Ring of Honor.
This comes from SmarkMarkVideo.com the official suppliers of IWA-MS.
We’re in Clarksville, Indiana. Hosts are Dave Prazak and CM Punk. There’s like 30-40 people in the building, which is kinda sad.
February 3rd 2003.
This is the one year anniversary of Punk v Hero in IWA-MS where they went 55 minutes. We open with Michael Todd Stratton. He says he should be the number one contender because he already beat 3 top guys. He says he doesn’t care how the booking is he’ll be wrestling the winner of Punk v Hero. He’s told the people were promised a match between Stratton and Wolfe tonight. “Fuck the people”. Jim Fannen tells him he HAS to wrestle Mark Wolfe AND KO. Stratton calls it a conspiracy and says the office is against him. “I’m not black, don’t be holding me back”.
Simon Sezz v Shark Boy
Winner gets a title shot against Nate Webb this evening. Punk makes fun of Sezz’s lack of physique so I don’t have to. I always shoot the fin for Sharky. “Get some gear” Punk tells Sezz as he mounts the buckles. Followed by “go to the gym”. Punk gives up on calling the match so he can make fun of Sezz. Hey, works for me. This suffers from some timing issues. Sezz’s leapfrogging and cartwheels look pretty poor. Shark Boy gets warned for a closed fist but as Prazak points out shark’s don’t have fists. Shark Boy seems to have a few issues with the referee complaining of slow counts. He bites Sezz’s fingers. Hey, he’s a SHARK, what do you expect? The ref gets tired of seeing punches from Sharky and blocks one. Shark Boy looks upset and Sezz gets an opening. “Bite my friggin’ fingers will ya”. Heh. Brisco corner roll from Sharky and the count is REALLY slow. He’s fucking with Shark Boy here. Sezz with a moonsault to the floor and he wings Shark Boy with it. The announcer tells us “six minutes have elapsed”. Er. Six? Sezz misses a Merosault. The ref stops another punch from Sharky so he goes southpaw on Sezz. Sharky starts working at the neck and Punk bets five bucks Sharky will bite him and he does. DEEP SEA DROP. The ref tells Sharky his SHOE IS UNTIED so the pin doesn’t count. Tremendous. Shame Sezz doesn’t bother selling the finisher. He pops back up and gets a roll up with the ropes for the win. *3/4. They were more working at the heel ref angle. Sharky was having bits of fun out there. Punk talks about how long his match might go tonight.
POST MATCH Shark Boy threatens the ref telling him he’s in “deep shit”.
Mitch Page v Jimmy Jacobs
Jacobs is still coming out to “The Touch”. Punk tells it’s from Transformers: The Movie not Boogie Knights although obviously I know because I love me some Stan Bush. Jacobs calls himself the most massive, manly and muscular wrestler in the world. That’s strange because he’s a fraggle. Emo-Fraggle in fact. Jeff Hardy is his hero. Page looks like he ate two Jimmy Jacobs for breakfast this morning. He comes out to the Fat Boys tune “Fat Boys are Back” from 1985. Classy. Page gets the mic to say he’s now a downright sweet person. Jimmy sures likes whining. I can hear him whine and he’s not even miked up. Jacobs starts too fast for Page. “Japanese girls dropkick” from Jacobs. Great call Dave Prazak. Jacobs with the TORNADO BACKRAKE. “Write about that one on the Internet” – Prazak. Erm, ok! Berzerker boot! HUSS, HUSS, HUSS! Page has had enough and starts pounding Jimmy in the face. Punk talks about how he gets heat for doing commentary on IWA tapes. Page fishhooks a bit and steals Jimmy’s headband. Page breaks out the Shattered Dreams and he just punted Jimmy in the nuts causing the high pitched selling, which the crowd don’t even laugh at. What’s wrong with you? He’s bringing the funny. Punk says he’s going to try and chop Hero in the face 69 times tonight. Jimmy is getting beaten up here. Avalanche and the Vaderbomb finishes for Page. **1/4. That was a fun little comedy match between two guys who had no right to have a decent match with each other.
Steve Stone v Alex Shelley
Some old dude is smoking a pipe at ringside. That’s just weird for an American audience. Although this crowd looks pretty inbred. Steve Stone, the former Nottingham Forest winger, is looking in good shape considering he’s already retired from one sport. Hey, that’s NOT Steve Stone! Shelley is rocking the Abe Lincoln beard. Stone is another guy with no ring gear. Is gear optional in IWA? “Fuck you, you hairy fuck” – Stone @ some fan. Shelley makes some effort to get the crowd involved but I seriously think the majority of them are in a coma. They suck. Shelley does a lot of headlocking. Stone grabs the hair to counter and is way too loose on a headlock. Shelley breaks out some moves and one guy is clapping in the front row. Next to him I suspect the next three guys are actually dead. The one kid hasn’t moved the whole show so far. He’s just staring at the ring. Stone fucks up a neckbreaker. Shelley landed on his face. Lollipop from TNA is wondering around. Punk criticises Shelley for not realising how small the ring is in IWA. Shelley with the Final Cut for 2. Shelley misses off the top and Stone hits a harsh looking moonsault for the shock upset win. *1/2. That was short too. And bad.
JC Bailey v Adam Gooch w/Michael Todd Stratton
Gooch amuses himself by laughing at the fans although he’s one of the goofiest looking motherfuckers I ever saw. Him and Stratton who has one of the worst hats on I’ve ever seen. It’s a yellow beanie. What’s wrong with you? Punk complains about how bad Disturbed are. Punk wants to put Disturbed (and “all the Juggalos”) on the Hindenburg. He just needs a Delorean and 88 Miles per Hour. Stratton gets another promo. Punk mocks Gooch’s really bad Rick Rude knockoff. The abs are drawn on with a biro. Gooch needs to warm up and does some push up’s before crotching himself with one of those bicep curl rope deals. Despite all the goofing this is still one of those “two skinny Indy guys” matches that CZW suck at. They blow a kip up in the corner with Bailey not staying up long enough or Gooch being too slow coming in and they collide. Just, bad. Bad. Bailey tries to make amends with a senton to the floor. There are some ugly, ugly people in this building tonight. Bailey tries to stomp a mudhole. This match is so bad. Gooch stalls. Bailey looks like he’s never been in a wrestling ring before. They do some headbutts and that’s about the best spot they’ve had so far. Bailey tries to channel the support of the rats. Gooch blows his knee out. Six minutes elapsed! Stratton is in the ring. That should logically mean the match is over. We get a trainer out here. I fast forward to the point where Gooch just pops back up and attacks the sucker, erm, Bailey. Gooch goes low while Stratton is distracting. How’s the ref not understand what’s happening there? Stratton crotches Bailey on the post for good measure. Gooch fucks up a springboard. Is this meant to be a comedy match? In Japan they’d be laughing constantly at how bad it is. Up top and they don’t blow a superplex, which is almost a shock. Bailey with a few half speed lariats. Someone needs to watch Excalibur matches. Cross fixed brainbuster finishes for Bailey. Hey, what a surprise they can hit high spots but can’t do anything else. ¼*.
13 minutes for that last match. 13!
Danny Daniels v Drake Younger
Daniels used to be a ref in ECW. He’s one of the better prospects in IW-MS. He actually looks like a wrestler. Younger is rocking a boxing robe. He’s “just happy to be here”. Jim Fannen takes over from CM Punk on commentary as he’s the main event later. Daniels controls with ease holding onto the arm for the most part. Gory Special from Daniels into the Pendulum of Pain. He’s making this look easy. He threatens to go and boff Lollipop. Drake comes back with a Mutalock. Daniels with an AWESOME powerbomb. Daniels with a suplex combo with rolling suplexes of different varieties. This should be over already as Daniels has been SO dominant. He starts stretching Drake on the mat and using the ropes for his own amusement. Drake gets the chance to do something as Daniels bails and it’s an Asai moonsault. It looked rushed. I think he was probably scared of not getting his head over. He tries a flipping leg jam but Daniels gets his knees up. This kid sure likes to scream in pain. Savage BOSTON CRAB from Daniels and he switches to one leg to make Drake really scream. Drake comes back with a less than perfect spinebuster. Drake is really green. Daniels has been in charge for most of the match though so it hasn’t really shown. He’s getting respect for surviving. Drake has a little momentum so he starts popping off moves including a belly to belly that looks really weird. 10 minutes gone! Pretty long for a squash. Daniels with a superplex. Drake is still screaming away. Is he paying tribute to Norman Smiley? Drake comes back with a big DDT and the feeling is very much that this should be over by now. Drake is starting to get sloppy. Daniels with a Tombstone and that’s finally the finish although the powerbomb about 3 minutes in probably should have done it. **. Not a bad match as Daniels carried it but it was just way too long.
Michael Todd Stratton v Mark Wolf
This is for a title shot at the IWA title. Stratton takes forever to get out here. Two laps of the ring so he can just stare at people isn’t good. Wolf is like a mini-Balls Mahoney. Stratton wants to know if Lollipop is here to scout for TNA. She is. He badmouths her so she slaps him. Stratton grabs her for a makeout session but Wolf ruins his fun. This is another bad match with some horribly sloppy mat work. Wolf’s attempted cheeky roll up being the worst of it. The mat work improves somewhat with a half decent near falls but isn’t this supposed to be a more angry kinda deal? Hey, Wolf breaks out the SALAMANDER pin. That’s the most interesting aspect of this one so far. Stratton starts throwing punches but that gets him rolled up. Geez, this is ugly. Wolf straps Stratton in a Sharpshooter but the ring is too small. Sloppy Northern Lights from Wolf. TKO and that’s pretty sloppy too. Stratton can barely get out by rolling the shoulder. KO is out here. He throws a bag of cocaine at Wolf and Stratton rolls him up for the title shot. ¼*. Bad.
POST MATCH Jim Fannen points out that Stratton now has to wrestle KO. Fannen warns him he can’t strike him or walk out or he loses his title shot.
Michael Todd Stratton v KO
KO has a Scottish gimmick. He says he didn’t intend to hit Mark Wolf. That was a mistake and he dedicates this match to Wolf. KO is really green but at least he looks like a wrestler. Stratton has no problem outwrestling him in the early going. Some woman ringside is screaming about how good KO’s armbar is. Holy crap that was 5 minutes of action? “You’re gitting on mah fuckin’ nerves” – Stratton @ the ref. Can’t we just have Tracey Smothers instead of a knock off? He isn’t THAT expensive is he? KO works a really loose armbar. Still. Stratton retorts with a chinlock. Getting bored now. Crowd seem to like KO though and he comes back with a DDT. Stratton rolls out of the way of a pin. KO’s striking is embarrassingly bad. Belly to belly is ok though because he’s so big his throws look good. 10 minutes gone by! Christ. Stratton with Memphis fist drops…for 2! But that’s a devastating move. Fannen calls this KO’s third match. Then why book him in such a long match? Give him 5-7 minutes and let him develop. Wolf comes out here and knocks KO out with a chained fist shot. RECEIPT! ¼*. Mostly restholds. About twice as long as it should have been.
Light Heavyweight title – “Spyder” Nate Webb (c) v Simon Sezz
Sezz is still hand slapping despite his cheating in the opening bout. Webb comes out to The Simpsons’ “Those Were the Days”. GENIUS! Followed by Randall doing Salsa Shark. “We’re going to need a bigger boat” before finally doing the Wheatus and “Teenage Dirtbag”. Webb is another skinny Indy guy but he’s really quite tall and a total goofball so that compensates. We get a bad dance off. 1PW should hire Webb for some Donny Dance Offs. The start of this is sloppy. Webb’s long legs make him look awkward. Sezz starts popping off moves. Rana, flying headscissors and a superkick. None of that gets it done. Sezz brings a chair in. I guess this company has somewhat relaxed rules. However instead of just bashing Webb with it sets Webb up on the chair. Well that was dumb. Triple Jump Enzuigiri from Webb and he hurts himself with a really bad landing. Not content with that he hits a twisting dive over the ropes wiping out the front two rows of chairs. Loose DDT from Sezz and a nice frogsplash. Out comes Dean Baldwin to pull the ref out, who cost Sharky the opener, and he chases him around. Sezz gets laid out by Baldwin and he has a ref’s shirt on. Webb with a Tumbleweed and he lands his ass on Sezz’s face to retain. *.
POST MATCH Referee Brent Blade attacks Baldwin but he recovers so Blade runs off. That’s it for disc one. I was hoping there was only one match on disc two but unfortunately…
Ian Rotten/Corporal Robinson v 2 Tuff Tony/Bull Pain w/Mickie Knuckles
Originally this is slated as Pain v Robinson after Robinson turned face on Pain and sided with the IWA. Pain cuts generic sweary heel promo #4. “You people make me sick…motherfuckers…hung like hamsters…stupid motherfuckers…etc”. Pain stalls for about 6 or 7 minutes. Lock up. Stalling. Lock up. Stalling. Mindless brawling. They brawl out to the floor. This brings out Tony & Rotten making this a 4 man brawl. And that’s all it is. Mindless brawling. Ian Rotten bleeds. Well that’s his moveset used up. Go on, bleed on people, you fucking waste of skin. Why even bother with a ring in this one? There’s nothing even resembling wrestling going on. Russian legsweep on a chair from Robinson gets 2. Robinson is bleeding. He hits a really sloppy DDT for 2. Pain doesn’t seem to know how to kick out. Stratton is out here as if we don’t have enough useless wrestlers at ringside. Pain uses his baseball bat, and by uses I mean misses by a good two foot, for the pin. -***. Absolutely god-awful. Everyone involved in this match should be banned from wrestling for life. Or shot. Either is fine by me.
Fuck you Ian Rotten for making me watch that. Fuck you.
IWA title – CM Punk (c) v Chris Hero
And here’s the titular match. 2/3 falls no less. The time limit is 90 minutes. Prazak reels off both wrestlers influences, which is pretty neat. Some of the crowd seem motivated although some of them are still sitting there like zombies. Hero goes to a chinlock early and they scuffle back and forth into the ropes. Clean break. Punk tries for a leg but Hero first punches then wrestles his way out. Hero sneaks in a backslide but Punk rolls through but Hero facelocks him. Punk tries for a leg again but leaves himself open and Hero ties up Punk’s legs. Punk gets out into a hammerlock. He transitions to the leg but that gives Hero more room and he kicks Punk in the head. Punk tries for a cheeky roll up but only gets 2. They kick back a moment to think out some strategy. CHESS! Back to the mat and the pace on this so far has been really slow but that’s expected. Hero seems to get the better of that and picks off the arm. Punk is in trouble right away as he’s unable to wrestle his way out with a snapmare. Sometimes basics are highly effective. He won’t get a submission from this but he’ll certainly frustrate Punk. 10 minutes gone.
All mat stuff so far. It must be daunting knowing you have 90 minutes to do. Punk resorts to pulling the hair and he runs the buckles to get out BUT Hero reverses right back into it. Punk tries to trip Hero up but Hero shuts him down and we’re back to where we were. It’s a bit looser this time. Punk goes through the legs and takes it into the ropes to give himself some time. Both guys are sweating profusely. Punk gets the arm but Hero keeps escaping so Punk goes to the chinlock instead. Hero escapes so Punk turns up the dial and slides between his legs. AAAARRRRMMdrag! It’s been mostly arm v arm so far but Punk has found it harder to get an advantage on his arm work. He tries some less conventional holds and stamps the elbow. They get a clean break and they knucklelock. Test of strength is very much a time consuming deal because it’s not as hard as doing chaining. Hero monkeyflips to gain control but flips backwards and gets caught in a bodyscissors. As Hero tries to pin this hold looks gay. It just does. Fannen starts talking about fan predictions and the first guy called it as 85 minutes. It’s almost hard to grasp that length of time for a wrestling match. Hero works at his patented cravat. 20 minutes gone.
Still nothing off the mat really. They bust out the double headstand and handshake in it as no one can get an advantage. Doug Williams v Johnny Moss looked much better than that but kudos for trying. Hero hammers at the back and Punk bails out for the second time. Punk comes back in and tries to go inside but Hero spins out into a roll up for 2. Armdrag from Punk and we’re grounded again. Hero headstands out of it, which was nice. Punk spins out and he’s back on top again. Crowd has been completely silent during the match, which is kinda disappointing but then they’ve sucked all night so it’s not a shock. Hero tries to get Punk off balance by working the right arm instead of the left. Hero locks it right up and Punk can’t seem to get anything going although they’re standing so he should be able to just take it into the ropes. He jumps onto Hero instead and gets a headscissors takeover. Hero tries to jockey out but Punk has it cinched in. Third attempt gets him out and Hero quickly goes to a front facelock. Hero tries a quick roll up but can’t get a pin and Punk armdrags him back over. The armdrag has been a staple of his approach in this match. I’m disappointed so far as neither man has really been looking for anything that ties in to a finish. Punk goes back to the headscissors because of how much difficulty Hero had last time getting out but Hero uses his long legs to turn it around at 30 minutes.
Hero holds on to that headscissors but it’s a little loose and you’d think Punk should be able to slide out. Punk tries for the ropes but he’s stuck thanks to the angle Hero has the headscissors on. Punk nips out of it but Hero armdrags him. Oh, turnaround. Punk is clearly showing some early signs of fatigue. Hero gets aggressive and ties that arm up. It’s because he’s been given the opening by Punk looking a little gassed. He grabs Punk’s hand to stop him striking so Punk goes to kicks instead and Hero grabs that too. He’s got Punk at a disadvantage. Punk slides sideways and Hero keeps holding the leg so ENZUIGIRI! First real impact move. Punk takes advantage by grabbing the leg and working a standing leglock. He pulls Hero away from the ropes and he’s putting a lot of pressure on before rolling through it to cause extra pain. Hero gets his foot against Punk’s and grabs an anklelock. Oh, that was nice. He’s really got that on too. Punk won’t quit so Hero tries to switch to a different leglock so Punk headlocks him. It’s on tight and Hero is almost out. Punk gets Hero so he’s nearly out and then switches to the hammerlock. Obviously he feels that arm is the weak point. Hero manages a German suplex but Punk lands on his feet and stamps on Hero’s face. BUT Punk has a bad ankle and standing up is a problem that he didn’t realise he had before. They start forearming each other and Hero hits one massive one that knocks Punk on his ass. Punk comes back with chops and forearms and the pace has notably picked up. Punk with a suplex for 2 and he goes back to a chinlock having done quite well standing up considering his leg is bad. Hero gets all pissed off with being kicked in the back and gets himself a receipt. Hero remembers the ankle and grabs it. Punk finds himself in trouble because he’s not only hurt but he’s unable to think because of the pain. Hero sees this as an opening; HANGMANS CLUTCH…into the ropes. Punk knew where he was and as Hero transitioned he moved closer to the ropes. 40 minutes gone.
Notable pick up in 30-40. Punk ties the legs up. He’s very much looking to keep Hero grounded and put this into the deep freeze if possible. Use the clock in his favour. Hero counters out into a cravat but Punk has the ropes again. He’s been very ring aware during this match. More so than Hero I’d say. Hero shows the people at home where CM Punk just bit him to get out of that cravat. Hero is now hesitant to lock up and Punk has a distinct psychological advantage. Hero requests a crossover knucklelock so he can overpower into the Goku Raku Stretch. Punk reverses it. Hero reverses back. He’s gotten Punk into the middle of the ring and that sets up the Goku Raku over the knees. If Punk was less strong he’d be choked right here. Hero bites the nose. It’s getting nasty now. Punk flips over and chinlocks as we hit halfway in the time limit. Punk isn’t looking for a submission here like Hero did he just adds in knees to cause damage. Punk throws a few forearms and hits a few spinning backhands. MMA style. Nice. Punk stomps away at Hero’s right knee and chokes him on the ropes with his boot to set up the BOOOT SCRAAAAPES. That gets 2. Punk with a few clotheslines but he’s waking Hero up. Punk off the ropes with a stronger clothesline for 2. This is a war of attrition. Punk falls outside and Hero hits a corkscrew plancha. Hero rocked himself with that move. They counter on the ropes and Punk ends up on top with a Russian legsweep with floatover for 2. It seems both guys are going to a higher gear looking for a fall. As if all the setup work is now in place for a pin. Punk stalls on a vertical suplex at 50 minutes.
Punk throws some forearms and Hero has no response. Hero ducks a few clotheslines though and he boots Punk in the face. Short kicks connect for 2. Hero having gotten Punk down goes for the cravat. Any cravat work he does helps to set up for the Hangman’s Clutch. They switch standing and Hero hits a release German suplex for 2. Punk flips out of the corner and tries for a wheelbarrow into the bulldog. Hero is screaming but still kicks out. Something about his the eyes. Punk wants the Tiger Backbreaker but Hero lifts him to block it. Punk counters back. WELCOME TO CHICAGO, MOTHERFUCKER. Hero ducks a Shining Wizard but Punk goes back the other way and kicks Hero in the face for the first pin at 53.56. 1-0 Punk. Hero is struggling after taking a big shot but Punk strikes at him and it wakes him up and they start trading. Hero is the aggressor and Punk seems to have eased up a touch having gotten that pin. Punk comes back with crossfaces and he tries to choke Hero out with the Chickenwing crossface. Mmmmm…chicken wings. Hero makes the ropes and fatigue is very much a factor now. Punk comes off the top and Hero catches him into the Hero’s Sandwich over the knee BUT Punk has the rope with his boot to save the fall. Punk has been ALL about ring positioning this evening. Hero stomps him and adds a senton. That gets a long 2. Punk looks winded. He sees Hero coming on a lariat though and ducks. Punk tries for a lariat but Hero clocks him with his own as Punk just runs right into it. That gets 2. Punk with the Tequila Sunrise! That’s a surprise move. He cranks it right up and Hero is lucky he’s tall so he can get the ropes. ONE HOUR gone. 60 minutes.
These are true Ironmen now. Hero breaks out a flipping neckbreaker…for 2. That was close. Fannen was nearly announcing 1-1 on the mic but not quite. Hero with a bodyscissors and Punk tries to counter into a leg hold but Hero holds him in place and tries to get a cravat. Hero turns it into a rolling cradle and then he’s able to get a cravat. Punk considers tapping out and his arm drops three times BUT his other hand is up shaking a finger. Punk just about gets his foot on the rope. HERO’S WELCOME…FOR 2! How does Punk have enough left to kick out? Hero just can’t get a fall here. He must be mentally affected by seeing Punk kick out of that. Referee Rudy Charles lays a count on Hero as he falls outside and someone in the crowd shouts “there’s no count outs in the IWA”. Punk follows out with a diving rana! Punk throws forearms leaving Hero staggered – TOPE SUICIDAAAAAAAAA! Punk wants something high impact to finish this and he sets for the Pepsi Plunge but Hero is aware that’d be it and he fights it. They trade up there with Hero getting desperate. Hero blocks into the PEPSI PLUNGE. PEPSI PLUNGE FROM HERO! He pins Punk with his own move at 68.16. 1-1. Now THAT is what he needed to do. Hero tries for another pin but Punk is recovered enough to kick out. CRAVATPLEX but Punk falls into the ropes and Hero has to pull him back out for 2. 70 minutes gone.
Hero lifts the boot scrapes as well. He seems to be getting joy with Punk’s own moves. Pin gets 2. Punk works a leglock but Hero catches him in the cravat. Punk fights out and they slap at each other. Punk wants the surfboard but Hero is in the ropes again desperate to avoid anything that could cause cramp and additional pain. Hero tries to get Punk tied up but Punk slides out and Hero is set for the SHINING WIZARDOOOO! 1-2-NOOO! Kickout from Hero. Punk goes for another but springboards over the top into the buckles into a Blockbuster for 2. He fractured his skull doing that the previous year. Forearm duel. They’re still throwing heavy, which shows amazing conditioning. Hero eventually keels over but Punk follows suit glad of the chance of a rest. They start trading on the mat and Hero hurts himself in the process of unloading with forearms. Hero with an Oklahoma roll for 2. Hero with a flipping slam but that gets 2. Hero with the cravat but he can’t get anything from it. Punk sees an armdrag coming and stops before jumping on top for 2. How much longer can they do? Punk with the big corner knee and a missile dropkick gets 2. Hero sees the rope and grabs it rather than kicking out. Punk tries for a rana out of the corner but can’t get all of it. I think that’s the first actual mistake. Punk is pissed off and steals the HANGMAN’S CLUTCH! It’s a receipt for the Plunge. 80 minutes gone.
Punk let’s go of the Clutch and hits the HERO’S WELCOME and Hero KICKS OUT. Punk goes the other way with a sleeper. 1975 was the last time there was a 90 minute draw claims Prazak. Hero with a jawbreaker but Punk keeps the sleeper on. Hero tries it again and Punk keeps his jaw clear and the sleeper is still on. Hero won’t stay down. Hero finally gets a jawbreaker to break the hold but Punk is right there and slaps the sleeper back on. Hero is digging down deep to get back to his feet but Punk hooks it back up and he’s down again. “He’s out” – Punk. Prazak is doing a great job on commentary telling us the history of 90 minute draws in wrestling. Punk goes back to the sleeper but Hero grabs him – BACKDROP DRIVER. Punk pops back up but he doesn’t know where he is. BACKDROP DRIVER. Back up. CRADLE BACKDROP DRIVER. 1-2-3…NOOOO, FOOT ON THE ROPES! 5 minutes left. HERO’S WELCOME! It’s over. HERO’S WELCOME! Hero even hooks BOTH legs…FOR 2. KICKOUT! NEVER! He goes again but Punk reverses and hits a pair of HERO’S WELCOMES and again Hero kicks out. No fuckin’ way. It’s implied there’s not a lot of stink on these finishers because they’re both so tired. They start trading big boots and neither guy will give an inch. FOREARM DUEL! How is this still going? DISCUS FOREARM! FOR 2! Punk looks out of it. Hero is exhausted. Time is running out. Hero prays for a finish and kicks Punk in the face six times. Punk keeps blocking. Hero’s Welcome is escaped and Punk has the Rolling Prawn Hold…FOR 2. Both men’s shoulders ended up being down so the ref stopped counting. Punk GOES UP TOP. Are you kidding me? 30 seconds left. HERO WITH A SUPERBOMB! DOUBLE PIN. The time limit expires. Both guys are pinned. Ian Rotten is out here and he wants SUDDEN DEATH. Next pinfall wins.
They’ve gone OVER 90 minutes now. The locker room has emptied out. “This could go ALL NIGHT” – Fannen. Hero is fired up but Punk dropkicks the knee. SHINING WIZARD…FOR 2. Shinbreaker, dragon screw and the double leglock is on. Hero is fucked. Middle of the ring. Crowd is on their feet now. Hero tries to punch his way out as Punk cranks away. Hero COUNTERS OUT. HANGMAN’S CLUTCH! Punk can’t get the ropes. PUNK TAPS! PUNK TAPS! HERO WINS! 92.15 is your match time and Chris Hero is your new IWA champion. ****1/2. The first 30 minutes was largely pointless other than to slowly wear each guy down but everything after 30 minutes was great. Apart from the end where the double pin went down. That didn’t work for me at all. But I’d say they had a solid hour of the 90 minutes, which equates to 2/3rds of a great match. Kudos to both guys for even attempting such an epic match and it’s a pity that IWA-MS has no audience or it could have been in the running for MOTY in 2003.
Of course it’s not as good as Angle v Benoit from the Royal Rumble of that year because that match was THAT much smoother. Although this does just about end up being as epic. I’d have Paul London v Bryan Danielson from ROH’s Epic Encounter above it too. Where’s that list guy when you need him? I’m sure I rated more matches over ****1/2 than two in 2003. Oh, there was London v AJ v Low-Ki from the ROH anniversary show but I think Punk-Hero was a greater achievement than a slick spotfest. AJ v London from Night of the Grudges would be in contention as well. Let’s say this 92 minute match makes up the top five for 2003.
POST MATCH I’m exhausted just watching. Punk is still down. Hero is somehow upright and walking around hugging people. Punk is up. Punk is back down again. Handshake and a hug.
Final Thoughts:</strong It’s a one match show. In fact you could probably skip over the entire first disc because there’s nothing on it. Then perhaps skip over the terrible tag match that precedes the main event but even so its still 92 minutes of wrestling even with 8 matches cut out. I’ll give it a thumbs up based on Punk-Hero alone. Of course the rest of the show sucks but unless IWA-MS brings out a “best of” this is the only way you’re going to get to see one of the longest matches of your lifetime. The first 90 minute match since the 70’s! It has to be noted btw that Punk wrestled for ROH the following night. He really did earn that WWE contract.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.