This would be the last show in Ring of Honor's "Third Chapter," which began all the way back in April with the first night of "Reborn." Most of Chapter 3 concerns the rise of Austin Aries as a big ROH star and Samoa Joe fending off challenges from CM Punk and Homicide to establish himself as unbeatable. How do you end something like that? Well, you gotta read to find out.
December 26, 2004
From Philadelphia, Penn.
Your hosts are Jimmy Bower and CM Punk.
Bryan Danielson reflects on his history with Low Ki and wonders what in the hell happened to Ki. He promises to dispense with Ki tonight and move on to his Best of Five series with Homicide.
Opening Match: Trent Acid vs. Jimmy Jacobs.
Acid tries to use a lot of flippy-flop stuff, but Jacobs is Brody Jr. so he brushes it off and knocks Acid to the floor. Acid ducks out of the way of a dive and tries to hide on the other side, but Jacobs follows him out with a tope. Acid counters the Contra Code (Sliced Bread #2) to a superkick and hits a screwdriver for two. He hits a Yakuza Kick but pulls Jacobs up. That's never good. Jacobs makes him pay with the Contra Code at 6:01. After the match, Acid is so disgusted with himself that he "quits" Ring of Honor. 1/2*
Deranged & Lacey (w/Special K) vs. Angel Dust & Becky Bayless.
Special K finally broke up after months of bickering caused by Lacey's nagging. Angel Dust now wears actual wrestling gear and would drop his gimmick in favor of the name "Azrieal." Punk, of course, loves the fact that Angel Dust is now clean and sober. The chicks get involved early, cheating from the outside. Angel Dust plays face-in-peril for a while. He eventually gets a double stomp to Deranged's face and makes the hot tag to Becky. Becky is a little butterball of fire! Deranged punches her (!), but Angel Dust takes out all of the other men with a cannonball, making it a one on one. Deranged gets out of the pile, though, and trips Becky up, allowing Lacey to hit the DDT for the win at 7:39. Lacey demands a beatdown on Becky, but Dunn & Marcos make the save. Not a good match, but it's the perfect use of the Ringcrew Express. *
Homicide (w/Julius Smokes) vs. Josh Daniels.
Homicide starts out trying to wrestle, which is a mistake because he's in there with Baby Dynamite. Daniels gets a series of rollups and keeps Homicide grounded. Homicide charges right into a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Homicide hits a single-arm DDT and goes after Daniels' arm. He doesn't really seem to be taking Daniels seriously, though, so Daniels is able make a comeback with a snap suplex. He misses the diving headbutt but ducks a lariat and hits a Bridging German for two. Homicide comes back with an Ace Crusher for two. Daniels hits his Dragon Suplex but can't bridge because of the arm. Homicide counters another attempt to a Headscissor/Keylock for the tapout at 10:19. Not bad for a long squash. **1/2
Pure Title: John Walters vs. Jimmy Rave (w/Prince Nana & the Embassy).
This falls under the auspices of "if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em." Rave clearly finds himself outclassed by Walters' technical wrestling ability and is "forced" to cheat. Rave hits Gonorrhea (Test Drive) out of nowhere early on. He chucks Walters over the top and whips him into the barrier then hits a Shining Wizard off the apron, trying to get Walters counted out (Pure matches have a 20 count). Walters crawls back in and has to put his foot on the ropes to break a pin, using one of his rope breaks. He comes back with a roll up and knocks Rave loopy with a lariat. Rave has to use a second rope break. Walters fights out of the Rave Clash, but Jimmy locks in a Butterfly Lock, forcing him to use another break. Walters' final break goes via a Crippler Crossface, but Walters slaps on the Sharpshooter. Now no one has a break, so Rave wisely rolls Walters up and grabs a handful of (legal) rope. Cool ending (in theory) as Walters ties Rave in the tree-of-woe and cranks back on his neck from the floor. The referee astutely asks Rave if he wants to give up while counting Walters out of the ring. Unfortunately for Rave, he can't take the pain and taps out at 19, which is where the "in theory" part comes in because that's just a wee bit trite. (11:31) **3/4
After the match, Prince Nana offers Walters a spot in the Embassy. Walters teases smacking Nana in the face before accepting the money and selling out. Good for him. You know what I love about Nana? He's like a demented version of Eddie Murphy's character from "Coming to America."
Fight Without Honor: Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer vs. The Carnage Crew.
Mick Foley named Maff & Whitmer the team that embodied hardcore in Ring of Honor, and the Carnage Crew objected because that's *their* label. Alison Danger sneaks down to watch the chaos, and chaos there is! Maff boots a ladder right into Devito's face, busting him open early. Tables, ladders, and chairs all get involved, and the chairshots are all of the "vile" variety. Mick Foley comes down and interrupts the match to say he's impressed by the tables, ladders, chairs and Kendo sticks, but it's not a real hardcore match without thumbtacks. He pours out an X-mas stocking full of tacks into the ring. Devito winds up going into the tacks via the Exploder '98 to give Maff & Whitmer the win at 14:58. Like a lot of hardcore matches since 1999, this had a lot of crazy spots, a lot of violence, but not a lot of intensity, which is what makes a great match. **3/4
After the match, Foley puts everyone over and asks them to hug. Ahhh. Ricky Steamboat walks out to a smattering of "you sold outs!" He had signed to be an agent with the WWE just before this. Steamboat questions what kind of man would enjoy seeing people fall in thumbtacks. Foley reminds Steamboat that Ricky has been a part of some violent matches in his career. He offers an olive branch, saying that Ring of Honor is based on great wrestling, not hardcore wrestling. But hardcore is the snip of parsley. He also wishes Steamboat well in making good wrestlers out of Snitsky, Heidenreich and Luther Reigns. Steamboat says an occasional hardcore bout is okay, just not all the time. Foley then relates the story about getting punched in the face by Ric Flair for being disrespectful and mentions that Samoa Joe has also been disrespectful. He offers Joe a chance to show respect. Joe offers a hug and the double-crosses Mick with a punch to the face. He tells Mick to find him when he's ready to wrestle.
Gary Michael Capetta catches up with the new Embassy. Prince Nana brags about his riches. Nothing urgent.
Jay Lethal vs. The Weapon of Mask Destruction #2 (w/the Embassy).
Not sure who #2 is, although Nana calls him "Brian" at one point. He kind of looks like El Generico. Punk and Bower spend most of the match making fun of him anyway. This is just an extended squash to further the Lethal/Embassy feud. Lethal wins with the Dragon Suplex at 6:22. 3/4*
Homicide compares his series with Bryan Danielson to the Yankees-Red Sox but says he won't choke.
Roderick Strong & Alex Shelley vs. Steve Corino & CM Punk (w/Tracy Brooks).
Corino gets the usual Bill-Clinton-at-the-88-DNC-convention intro. The announcer even gets a dig on Green Lantern Fan and mentions all three identities of Tom Brandi as haling from Philadelphia. Funny stuff. Speaking of funny stuff, there's this match. I'm not sure why they decided to play it this way, considering it's supposed to be a blowoff for the Punk/GenNext feud, but damned if it's not entertaining. Most of the early going is Corino dominating and trying to catch a breather, but Punk keeps tagging him back in immediately. See, that's the kind of fun stuff you just don't see enough of. Add to that, the way they yell out "Steamboat!" every time they do an armdrag, and you have one of the best popcorn matches to come out of Ring of Honor. Punk winds up playing face-in-peril for a while as Corino has sporadic arguments with the ref. Corino gets the hot tag and buts out a series of Japanese moves. Things go back and forth as per the R&R/Midnights formula until Punk catches Shelley in the Anaconda Vice for the submission at 17:32. This was mostly just a formula tag but for Punk and Corino's one-upsmanship. ***
After the match, Austin Aries walks down and claims Alex Shelley is spending too much time on other projects (TNA). Aries and Strong turn on Shelley, booting him from Generation Next and electing Aries the new leader of the group by process of Natural Selection.
Bryan Danielson vs. Low Ki.
This was not exactly the "Round Robin Challenge" match of the year they had in 2002. Then again, it really wasn't designed to be. Ki sends Julius Smokes to the back before the match. Hmmm. Danielson dominates the first few minutes on the mat. They unload on each other with kicks, and then Ki tries to bite Danielson's fingers off to take over. Danielson appears to dislocate his shoulder, and he makes the ref jerk it back into position. Dragon hulks up and tries to twist Low Ki's leg off. He puts Ki in a surfboard and pulls Ki's neck back so far it winds up in Danielson's crotch, prompting Punk to chime in on commentary with "He just teabagged Low Ki!" Ki counters the Airplane Spin to a Dragon Clutch, and they tumble to the floor. CUE OMINOUS MUSIC! Danielson picks Ki up and gives him another Airplane Spin out in the crowd. Homicide and Julius Smokes run out from the back and hit Danielson's arm with a chairshot. Danielson is taken to the back as Jay Lethal and a few other babyfaces keep Ki at bay. Back in, Ki tries to intimidate the ref into naming him the winner, but the ref won't do it. Ki strangles the ref for fun. This was an okay use of 22 minutes, but neither man was into it that much because they were just leading up to the non-finish. **3/4
Bower makes the HUGE announcement, that AJ Styles will be returning to the territory to take on Jimmy Rave.
ROH Heavyweight Championship: Samoa Joe (w/Jay Lethal) vs. Austin Aries (w/Roderick Strong).
Aries attacks at the bell, but Joe flapjacks him and locks in a headscissors. Aries rolls through to the ropes and puts on his own headscissors. Joe gains the advantage, and Aries turtles. Joe blocks an Aries headlocks takeover and suplexes him, but Aries avoids a knee. Joe no-sells a shoulderblock and slaps Aries in the face. They criss-cross ending with an Aries dropkick to the knee. From there, Aries' strategy kicks in as he tries to take Joe's legs out from under him. He drops an elbow and segues to an STF. Joe's got a big weight advantage, though, so it's easy for him to crawl to the ropes. Joe counters a kneebreaker with an enzuigiri to take back the advantage. Joe nails the Facewash and starts casually beating the hell out of him. Aries comes back with a series of chops, but he can't get Joe up for the Brainbuster. Joe elbows him to the floor and blocks a tope with a boot to the face. He nails the Olé Kick and soaks in the adulation of the crowd. Another Olé Kick. The rule of three kicks in as Aries avoids the third and Joe catches his knee on the crowd barrier. Aries one-ups him, launching himself like a dart with a missile dropkick right to Joe's face. Aries springboards back in with an elbow, but Joe catches him in a chokehold. Aries rolls out of it but runs right into a powerslam. Joe blocks a huracanrana once, but Aries hits it anyway for two. Aries launches a few more dropkicks, but Joe unleashes an Island Driver (Running Emerald Frosion). ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Joe sets him up for the Muscle Buster, but Aries shoves him off the ropes and hits the 450-splash! ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Joe elbows Aries to the floor, but Aries comes back in with a sunset flip into a Boston Crab! Aries blocks a lariat and gets an illegal modified wakigatame. Joe counters a brain buster and sets Aries on top. Muscle Buster? No! Crucifix bomb by Aries! There's your brainbuster! 450 SPLASH! ONE, TWO, THREE! Aries ends the ungodly long reign of Samoa Joe at 17:29. While this match had a decent storyline - the early legwork, Aries repeated attempts at the brainbuster - there were points where I just couldn't buy Aries offensive flurries. Unlike many other Joe matches in the past year, this one felt forced and artificial. That's not to say it's not a very good match, but that's the reason it's not a MOTY caliber main event. ****
The 411: This was basically the Ring of Honor equivalent of Starrcade '97 or WrestleMania X-7, the end of an era. Much of ROH's third chapter was mired in controversy, but they re-established themselves with the young talent in GenNext and Joe's viselike grip on the title. Fortunately for ROH, they were able to keep up the momentum coming out of this show to grow in 2005.