It's Champion Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe for the ROH World Championship!
ROH – FIGHT OF THE CENTURY – EDISON, NEW JERSEY – 8.5.06
Review by Brad Garoon and Jacob Ziegler
BG says: ROH reminds you to watch the ROH Video Recap on the main menu before watching the event. In it are teaser clips from the no-rope barbed wire match from Dayton. Homicide tries to cut a promo but it is censored by the commissioner’s office. That’s hilarious. Davey Richards’ dream is to be NOAH’s GHC Jr. Heavyweight champion, so he’s thrilled that KENTA has chosen him to be his American protégé. Lacey assures everyone that it’s none of their business whether or not she was in the rockin’ car with Colt Cabana. A history video for the Joe/Danielson match is shown, hyping their match at Fight of the Century. Roderick Strong and Jack Evans are going to finish off the Briscoes once and for all in Liverpool, England, but first they have to get through six teams in two Ultimate Endurance matches.
The fans are all lined up to see the Fight of the Century. Samoa Joe will finally challenge Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Championship. This is probably the most hyped up title match in ROH history, so lets see how this all plays out.
Samoa Joe is counting down to the time when he’ll win the title. Joe has always been considered the definitive champion in ROH, and tonight he’ll take the belt back.
Bryan Danielson says the time for talking is over, but then he talks for a bit. He’s seen that Joe’s knee is healed but he himself is in the best shape of his life. After tonight everyone will know he is the best wrestler in the world.
JZ says: They are lined up to witness the Fight of the Century! Samoa Joe wants to know if Bryan Danielson can hear the ticking of the clock, as his title reign is just about over. He says when Danielson wakes up he will be 15 pounds lighter. Bryan Danielson, wearing a t-shirt that says “all natural” (which I find very funny), is pumped up for tonight’s match as well. The build to this match has been fantastic.
MATCH #1: Colt Cabana vs. Sal Rinauro
BG says: They lock up to start and Cabana shoves Sal to the floor. Back in the ring Cabana embarrasses Sal by staying in control at half speed. Sal gets a headlock but Cabana counters to a roll up for 2. He leapfrogs the referee and hits a backdrop. He tosses Sal to the floor where Rave slaps him. DISQUALIFY CABANA! Cabana knocks him to the other side of the ring with Nana slaps him. Sal is completely outnumbered! Back in the ring Rave hits Cabana with a clothesline. Sal stomps Cabana for 1. Sal blatantly distracts the referee allowing Rave and Nana to attack Cabana for 2. Sal goes to the eyes but Cabana comes back with a tornado suplex for 2. Sal hits a superkick for 2. Cabana blocks a hurricanrana and hits the Whirlybird. He follows with an inverted Boston crab for the win. This was all about showcasing the new Embassy dynamic. There wasn’t much of a match outside of that.
JZ says: Dave Prazak and Jared David are the hosts for tonight. Prince Nana and Jimmy Rave accompany Rinauro. Colt Cabana is happy to be here. He dominates Rinauro easily in the early going. Every time Rinauro tries something Cabana easily counters it and makes Rinauro look like an idiot. He tosses Rinauro to the floor right in front of Rave, who slaps him in the face. He goes over to the other side of the floor, where Nana slaps him as well. This fires him up, but Cabana isn’t fazed. Rave interferes and Rinauro finally gets an advantage. He distracts the referee, allowing Rave and Nana to interfere, leading to a near fall. Cabana comes back with jabs and elbows, but Rinauro pokes him in the eyes. Tornado suplex by Cabana gets two. Superkick by Rinauro gets two. Rinauro goes for a rana, but Cabana reverses it to a nice whirly bird and then locks on an inverted Boston Crab and Rinauro taps out at 7:33. That was a fun little opener, as I love this new dynamic in the Embassy.
MATCH #2: Top of the Class Trophy Match – Shane Hagadorn vs. Bobby Dempsey
BG says: I know Jake is confused by how over Dempsey is, but I’ve finally figured it out. He’s just siphoning heat off of Flogging Molly! Hagadorn is excited to take out the Dempsey he hasn’t defeated yet. Hagadorn slugs Dempsey with a foreign object before the bell and then puts on a crossface for the immediate win. It was actually kind of annoying to sit through the long entrances for that.
Adam Pearce comes out to congratulate Shane Hagadorn on behalf of the Commissioners Office on winning the shortest ROH match of all time. Because the match was so short now Pearce has to come out to talk to fill time, thus finally explaining how a wrestling TV show always happens to end at just the right time. Hagadorn offers his services to Pearce whenever he needs them. Pearce appreciates it and then calls out his buddy BJ Whitmer to explain his actions from the night before. He respects what Whitmer did in the CZW feud but he thinks that Whitmer did it for the wrong reasons. Whitmer did it for the fans but Pearce did it for Jim Cornette. Whitmer didn’t do anything when Homicide knocked him out with a chain and now Pearce needs to know if Whitmer has Cornette’s best intentions in mind. Whitmer has respect for Homicide, which is enough to bring out Steve Corino to attack him from behind. Pearce challenges Homicide to get a tag partner to take on himself and Corino. The obvious partner is laid out in the ring.
JZ says: No, I don’t know why people are cheering hard for Bobby Dempsey, thanks for asking. He yells a lot about his “god damn trophy,” which is pretty irritating. When the referee is putting the trophy outside the ring, Hagadorn nails Dempsey with brass knuckles and locks on his submission to win the match at a mere 0:06. Thank you for keeping that short.
Adam Pearce comes out and compliments Hagadorn on his victory. He says he could be Lt. Commissioner one day if he keeps winning matches in less than 10 seconds. The crowd is chanting for Homicide pretty loudly. Hagadorn takes off and Pearce calls out BJ Whitmer. Pearce goes over the CZW war, and wants to know if Whitmer is going to go along with him in doing Jim Cornette’s bidding. Whitmer says he respects Pearce, but he also respects Homicide. Steve Corino comes out and attacks Whitmer from behind. Pearce challenges Homicide to find a partner to go against him and Corino tonight. Gee, who might Homicide pick?
MATCH #3: Four Corner Survival – Nigel McGuinness vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Jay Lethal vs. Claudio Castagnoli
BG says: Claudio and Daniels start. Claudio insults Daniels who responds with a slap. Claudio bails as he tags to Nigel. Nigel controls Daniels on the mat but Daniels comes back and tags to Lethal. Nigel works over Lethal’s arm and unwinds him into a clothesline for 2. He goes for another clothesline but Lethal counters to an enziguiri and tags to Daniels. Claudio and Daniels deviously work together to take Daniels apart. Claudio press slams Daniels into the turnbuckle for 2. He spits at Danger and goes for a delayed vertical suplex on Daniels. Danger breaks the suplex by pouring water on Claudio and Daniels tags to Lethal. Nigel tags in for Claudio but Lethal takes him apart. Lethal climbs the ropes but Claudio tosses him to the floor. Daniels cleans house on Nigel and Claudio. He misses the triple jump moonsault and everyone hits their signature moves on everyone else. Nigel picks up the win with an ugly rebound clothesline. Nigel probably could have controlled more of the match to look stronger going into his huge title match on the next show because as it was it just looked like he was in the right place and the right time to get the win. The bulk of the match was pretty solid, however.
JZ says: Nigel’s Pure Title is not on the line here. The fans still just bang on the guardrails to no apparent pattern of any kind. There’s history between Daniels and Claudio, so they start it off with Daniels dominating. Claudio tags out quickly to Nigel. Almost everyone in this match has had singles matches with each other, with the exception of Lethal and Claudio. Also, Nigel has successfully defended his Pure Title against all three of these men, Daniels once, Lethal twice, and Claudio three times. Lethal tags in and the crowd is solidly behind him. Even so, Nigel is able to contain him until Daniels gets tagged in. Claudio takes a cheap shot at him and tags himself in to go for the cover. Lethal will have none of that however. Claudio spits on Danger at ringside, which serves her right for being there without a purpose. That hiptoss-cartwheel-dropkick that Lethal does is impressive, but you’d think that people would learn to quit sitting up for it, since he does it in every match. It’s like Jerry Lynn’s legdrop. Lethal goes to the top but Claudio tosses him off. Everybody comes in and starts hitting moves on everybody. The madness ends when Nigel levels Claudio with a lariat to get the win at 11:48. That was a solid, albeit meaningless, four-way.
The New Guy
BG says: Davey Richards came to ROH to compete against the best in the world, and tonight he fights his Japanese mentor KENTA. KENTA tries out his English by telling Richards that he’s testing him tonight.
JZ says: Davey Richards is here to talk about his match against KENTA tonight, which he is pretty excited for. KENTA is standing right next to him and says that tonight he will test Davey.
MATCH #4: Ultimate Endurance ROH World Tag Team Title Match – Austin Aries & Roderick Strong vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Irish Airborne vs. Jack Evans & Matt Sydal
BG says: Just like the night before the first fall is a scramble match. The Briscoes and Irish Airborne attack before the bell. The former Generation Next clears the ring only to get attacked from behind again. Evans fights off the Crists but he and Sydal get hit with stereo dropkicks. The Crists dive out onto Evans and Sydal on the floor. Strong tosses Jay out onto them and then dives out as well. Aries hits a low suicide dive onto the pile and Mark follows suit with a no hands plancha. Back in the ring he gets 2. He hits a belly-to-belly suplex for 2. He hits a gutwrench suplex and a kneedrop for 2. Jay comes in and they hit the double shoulder tackle. Mark double stomps Evans and hits a knee to the gut. The Briscoes hit a powerbomb/neckbreaker combo on Evans and a guillotine legdrop on Sydal for 2. They go for the spike Jay Driller on Aries but Strong slams Mark on the apron and the Crists hit the Irish Air Raid on Jay to eliminate him. The crowd is unhappy about it and to be honest the eliminated looked like something had been goofed.
The tap out match starts with Strong beating on Dave Crist. Evans hits him with a double stomp/standing moonsault combo. Sydal tags in and they hit a double dropkick in the corner. Sydal and Evans both have trouble grasping the stipulation of the fall so Strong tags in. He hits a backbreaker on Dave and tags to Aries. Aries hits a slingshot senton and a fistdrop. He puts on a chinlock but Dave gets to the ropes. Aries puts on another submission and Evans stupidly breaks it up. He then apologizes for doing so. What a mess this is turning into. Strong tags in and puts on a seated abdominal stretch but Jake breaks it up. Aries tags in just before Evans runs in with the Ong Bak kneedrop. Aries puts on a camel clutch and hits a double stomp to the back. Jake and Strong tag in and Jake hits a leg lariat. He hits a bodyslam and puts on a cross armbreaker. Aries breaks it up. Dave tags in and they go for the Irish Air Raid but Strong blocks it and hits the Go 2 Sleep on Dave. He hits a uranage backbreaker and puts on the Stronghold to eliminate the Crists.
This is a cool way to end the match. The Tag Team Championship match starts with Strong and Evans in the ring. Strong slaps Evans and they lock up. Strong puts on an abdominal stretch but Evans comes back with a cartwheel kick. He dumps Strong to the floor but Aries cuts off a dive with a clothesline. Sydal knocks Aries to the floor and follows him out with a plancha. Evans dives onto Strong with the Space Flying Tiger Drop and rolls him back into the ring. Evans and Sydal hit a double spinning kick. Evans hits a standing corkscrew moonsault for 2. Sydal tags in and hits a standing moonsault for 2. He hits a running knee and Evans hits a handspring elbow. Strong tosses Evans into the turnbuckle and Aries hits him with a running dropkick for 2. The champs hit a double uranage backbreaker and the chop/brainbuster combo. They hit the double backbreaker again but Evans blocks the combo with a roll up for 2. Sydal tags in and hits the Slice. He climbs the ropes but misses the shooting star press. Strong runs in and hits him with the Sick Kick. He hits the half nelson backbreaker and Aries hits the 450 splash for the win.
These things always seem to fall apart after the first fall and this was no different. The second fall was a complete mess but the final fall redeemed it well enough. I’d actually like to see a straight up match between those two teams without the nonsense associated with Ultimate Endurance.
After the match Aries gets on the microphone and says that he still wants the tag titles back. When he finds out who took them he’ll teach them why he and Strong are the best tag team in wrestling today.
JZ says: The champions are still sans belts. Same rules as last night, so we’re starting with a four-team scramble match. Sydal and Evans do some cool stuff with Irish boys in the opening. I think the last time just Evans and Sydal teamed together was all the way back in April of 2004, ironically enough in a tag team scramble. The real feud here though is Aries and Strong against the Briscoes, but there’s also the friendly rivalry between former Generation Next teammates Aries, Strong, Evans, and Sydal. The action in this is pretty much too fast for me to call. Seriously, the Briscoes look like the most legit ass-kickers on the roster outside of Samoa Joe. Out of nowhere the Crist brothers hit the Irish Air Raid to eliminate the Briscoes at 5:10, and the crowd is extremely unhappy about it. We’re in a tap out match now, a rule that Evans forgets, but the referee helpfully reminds him. That’s good officiating right there. The Crist brothers look impressive in this fall, but when they try the Irish Air Raid Strong awesomely counters it and starts in with the backbreakers and locks in the Strong Hold on Jake to eliminate them at 11:40. Now we’re down to former Generation Next team members against each other for the ROH World Tag Team Titles. They all know each other very well. Evans goes for the Sasuke Special into the rana but can’t quite get it. It’s still sweet. Prazak mentions the match Strong and Evans had against each other in FIP back in January, which I oddly enough just watched earlier tonight. Sydal is left alone with the champions, and he gets beat up and Aries hits the 450 Splash to get the win and retain at 17:01 total. Aries cuts another promo after the match, which is becoming a habit for him. I can’t hear Aries so well, but who am I to complain? That was about as good as last night’s match.
BG says: Colt Cabana starts cutting a promo just as Lacey confronts him about the rumors about the two of them. Lacey had better not find out that it’s Cabana spreading the rumors. Cabana seems dumbfounded.
JZ says: Colt Cabana is about to talk about something, but Lacey comes and interrupts, wondering if Cabana started spreading rumors about them on the internet and stuff. Cabana makes sure the camera man checks out Lacey’s ass as she walks away.
MATCH #5: Homicide & BJ Whitmer vs. Steve Corino & Adam Pearce
BG says: Corino’s pink pants party shows a real sense of security. He spends a little too much time hassling the fans and provokes an exceptionally fat bastard to take his shirt off. The way Corino makes fun of Green Lantern Fan makes ROH look smalltime, in my opinion. Homicide tries to fight off his opponents on his own before Whitmer comes out as though he was going to be some kind of surprise. The numbers catch up to him and Corino goes after his ear. Whitmer’s music hits and he runs out to tackle Corino. Pearce tells him to choose between him and Homicide so Whitmer slugs him down. Everyone fights into the crowd and have the typical brawl in that area. Back in the ring Pearce begs for mercy and is given none. Whitmer puts on a camel clutch and Homicide hits a dropkick. Corino hits Whitmer with a clothesline from the apron to give Pearce the advantage. Pearce and Corino hit a double flapjack for 2. Whitmer blocks the piledriver but can’t make the tag. He takes some more punishment but catches Pearce with an exploder suplex. Homicide and Corino tag in and they slug it out. Homicide hits Diamond Dust for 2. Corino goes low but J-Train distracts him. Corino comes back with an enziguiri and climbs the ropes. Homicide brings him down with an Ace Crusher for 2. Corino hits an STO but Homicide slaps him down. He dumps Pearce to the floor and brings out a pair of scissors. Pearce stops him from using them and hits a spinebuster for 2. Whitmer slams Corino into the barricade as Homicide hits a top rope DDT on Pearce for 2. Corino and Whitmer brawl to the back as Homicide sets up a chair. He puts Pearce’s head on the chair and climbs the ropes. The Briscoes run out and start beating on Homicide, drawing a disqualification. When Whitmer was face in peril the match almost killed me. When Homicide came in things picked up a little but not enough to get me to enjoy this and the finish made me wonder why the match went so long. After the match the Briscoes put Homicide’s hand in the chair and Jay hits it with a top rope legdrop.
JZ says: Corino and Pearce insult the fat people in the crowd to rile them up, so one particular offender decides to take his shirt off for some reason. Corino also addresses a fan that I choose not to name. Pearce has a funny Chicago logo on his singlet, just like the band. Homicide doesn’t even wait for his partner to join him before starting to fight. Where is Whitmer? He finally comes out and the crowd LOVES him. I love that they love him. It’s a big brawl and its spills to the floor very quickly. It goes back to the ring for a few minutes but Homicide and Corino are soon back outside the ring. I do believe these men will eternally hate each other. Back in the ring and Peace and Corino double team Whitmer to take the advantage. Pearce goes for the piledriver but Whitmer counters and goes for the tag, but Corino cuts him off. Corino and Pearce make a sweet heel tag team. The crowd chants “fuck your haircut” at him, which is certainly creative. Homicide and Corino get in the ring with each other and the crowd is going nuts. Homicide hits a Diamond Dust, which Prazak calls the blockbuster. Erroneous! The match breaks down and Whitmer and Corino end up brawling to the back. Homicide hits a DDT off the top rope on Pearce for two. Homicide tries to use a chair, but the Briscoes come in and that’s enough for the DQ at 15:29. That was a good intense brawl up until the shitty finish. Homicide really could have gone over Pearce and then the Briscoes could come out. The Briscoes and Pearce give Homicide’s arm the Pillman treatment to a chorus of boos.
MATCH #6: KENTA vs. Davey Richards
BG says: Richards ducks a kick from KENTA and KENTA blocks one from Richards. Richards escapes a wristlock with a kick to the arm. KENTA hits a powerslam and kicks Richards’ back for 2. He puts on a chinlock and then kicks Richards’ chest for 2. He puts on the Mark Nulty Special but Richards gets to the ropes. Richards hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and kicks KENTA’s chest. He hits a snap suplex for 2. He puts on a chinlock and hits a kick to the chest for 2. He hangs KENTA on the top rope and boots him to the floor. He follows him out and they trade kicks. KENTA slams Richards into the barricade and boots him into the crowd. Back in the ring KENTA hits the afterthought kick. He hits a kick to the chest for 2. He puts on a camel clutch but Richards gets to the ropes. KENTA hits more kicks to the chest and dumps Richards to the floor. KENTA goes back into the ring and catches Richards coming back in with a kneedrop off the top for 2. He puts on the body scissors but Richards gets to the ropes. Richards hits a knee to the gut and a running powerslam. He hits a second rope legdrop for 2. He hits a capture suplex and KETNA falls to the floor. Richards follows him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Richards hits a springboard dropkick. He opens up with kicks and hits a German suplex for 2. KENTA comes back with an Ace Crusher. He hits a springboard missile dropkick for 2. He sets Richards on the second rope and hits a dropkick. He slaps Richards down for 2. Richards hits a side suplex but KENTA comes back with a hurricanrana. Richards hits a powerbomb and puts on the stretch muffler. KENTA gets to the ropes. Richards unloads with kicks but KENTA no sells them and kicks back. Richards isn’t a salesman either and he comes back with the handspring kick. KENTA hits the Busaiku knee kick and both men finally go down. Richards hits an overhead suplex and a running forearm. He hits a clothesline for 2. KENTA hits a tiger suplex for 2. Richards hits a gutbuster and a running powerbomb for 2. He climbs the ropes but KENTA gets his knees up to block the shooting star press. He hits the Busaiku knee kick for 2. Richards reverses the Go 2 Sleep to a crucifix bomb for 2. KENTA comes back with the Ace Cruhser and Go 2 Sleep for the win.
After his first three matches blew me away KENTA’s performances are starting to expose him as something of a one-dimensional wrestler. Richards has the same problem but it’s to be expected, as he hasn’t been wrestling very long. Neither of them sells at all and what selling they do seems to come from exhaustion rather than punishment. To end on a positive note the match was hard hitting and pretty entertaining, and Go 2 Sleep has been established as an end all be all move.
JZ says: Both men are tentative to start, since they know each other well from teaming together. Richards is bravely wearing white tights. KENTA takes the first advantage, hitting a series of kicks to the back and goes for the headlock. More kicks follow as KENTA continues to hold the advantage. Richards comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and some kicks of his own. They go to the floor and exchange kicks, a battle that KENTA wins. Back in the ring and KENTA hits his springboard delayed kick to the head. He goes to the half Camel Clutch and then hits more kicks. Back outside the ring and KENTA hits more kicks. Inside the ring more kicks follow and a double stomp to the noggin gets a near fall. Richards comes back with a knee to the gut. He hits a running powerslam and a legdrop off the second rope for a near fall. A nice capture suplex follows and they go to the floor where Richards hits a dive. Back in the ring Richards hits a springboard dropkick, more kicks, and a German suplex for two. KENTA comes back with an Ace Crusher. He hits some, guess what – kicks! A running slap to the face follows for a two count. They exchange boots to the face, and Richards catches KENTA with a Saito suplex. KENTA tries a springboard rana but Richards counters with a powerbomb and the stretch muffler. KENTA reaches the ropes, and then gets up and they trade kicks to the head. They follow that by trading slaps to the face. They trade kicks again. Richards goes for the Butterfly Brainbuster but KENTA reverses to a Tiger Suplex for two. Richards hits a running powerbomb for two. Richards executes a beautiful Shooting Star Press but it hits nothing but knees. KENTA hits a big knee to the face and sets up for Go 2 Sleep, but Richards reverses to a crucifix for a sweet near fall. KENTA finally hits the Go 2 Sleep to get the pin at 19:23. That certainly got very entertaining by the end, but the early portions were fairly repetitive and exposed both guys, in my opinion. Richards maybe should find another person to emulate.
MATCH #7: ROH World Title Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe
BG says: The build to this match has been pretty great. Joe staked claim to the ROH World Championship so Danielson turned on him in the Cage of Death and took out his knee. Joe rehabbed and destroyed his competition on his way to Danielson. He sent in video to show Danielson that his knee had healed up just fine and said that he was in the best shape of his career. He picked up momentum by squashing AJ Styles in Styles’ farewell match in the main event of the show before this. As mentioned above this was probably the most hyped up title match to this point. The crowd is vocal in support of both men.
They lock up and Danielson hits a cheap shot against the ropes. Joe wins a test of strength but Danielson comes back with a northern lights suplex. He takes control on the mat but Joe dodges a dropkick and Danielson begs off. Danielson bails when Joe goes for kicks but can’t escape them all. He tries to stick and move with arm wringers and the like but Joe’s brute force keeps him running. They trade strikes and Danielson goes down. He takes out Joe’s leg and puts pressure on the knee. Joe hits a Manhattan drop and kicks at Danielson’s back so he bails and has a temper tantrum. Back in the ring Danielson puts on a chinlock but Joe powers out and hits an electric chair drop. Danielson keeps Joe on the mat with wristlocks and cheap shots but Joe crotches him on the second rope. Joe hits an enziguiri for 2. Danielson blocks a face wash and goes for one himself. Joe blocks it with a lariat and Danielson bails again. Back in the ring Danielson works over Joe’s arm. Joe comes back with strikes for 2. He puts on a chinlock and hits a powerslam for 2. Danielson hits a neck wrench suplex and climbs the ropes. He hits the diving headbutt for 2. He puts on a strangle hold but Joe gets to the ropes. Joe sweeps the legs and hits a dragon screw for 2. He puts on a figure 4 leglock but Danielson turns it over. Danielson puts on an armbar but Joe rolls him up for 2. He puts on the Samoan crab but Danielson gets to the ropes. Danielson hits a roaring forearm but Joe powers out of the Mexican surfboard. Joe hits a Samoan drop for 2. He hits a Manhattan drop and a big boot. He hits a senton for 2. He goes for the muscle buster but Danielson escapes and hits a diving European uppercut. He hits a chop block and zeroes in on the knee.
He wraps the knee around the post and hits it twice with a chair in front of the referee. He hits a shinbreaker and then a running butt splash on the knee. He puts on a leglock but Joe gets to the ropes. He slams the knee into the mat while jawing with the crowd. He dropkicks the knee and puts on a figure 4 leglock. Joe tries to turn it over and then gets to the ropes. He comes back with a face wash but Danielson stops him with a dragon screw. He hits another neck wrench suplex and climbs the ropes. Joe catches him coming down with an Ace Crusher and Danielson bails. Joe follows him out with a suicide dive. He hits the Ole Kick but Danielson blocks a second attempt with a forearm. Danielson hits a running dropkick, which I believe is a segment taken move for move from their 2004 match. He dumps Joe into the crowd but slips and Joe comes back with a suplex. Danielson gets Joe back into the crowd and then gets back into the ring to hit the springboard somersault dive. Back in the ring Danielson hits a missile dropkick. Joe hits the STJoe and flushes the toilet for 2. He gets the rolling cradle for 2. Danielson hits a dragon suplex for 2. He puts on the Regal stretch but Joe counters to the choke. Danielson gets to the ropes. Joe goes for the choke again but Danielson uses the turnbuckle to pin him for 2. He hits a dropkick and counters the STJoe to the Cow Killer. That was amazing. Joe gets to the ropes but Danielson puts it back on. Joe gets to the ropes again but Danielson gets the Cow Killer on a third time and rolls Joe up for 2. Joe hits a knee buster and puts on a half crab. Danielson reverses to a roll up for 2. He hits a roaring forearm but Joe comes back with a lariat. Danielson hits a dropkick but Joe comes back with a powerbomb for 2. He puts on the STF and floats into a crossface. Danielson rolls back for 2. He hits a hurricanrana to block another powerbomb but Joe sets him up top for the muscle buster. Danielson avoids it and gets a crucifix pin for 2. He sets Joe up top but Joe fights him off and hits a second rope knee kick for 2. He hits a brainbuster for 2. He gets a roll up for 2. Danielson puts on a half crab but Joe gets to the ropes. Joe hits another lariat and the muscle buster but Danielson is too close to the ropes and it only gets 2. He goes for it again but Danielson blocks it and hits a back superplex for 2. He goes for the unprotected elbows and puts on the crossface chicken wing. Joe fights out and counters a roll up to the choke but Danielson holds on until the time limit runs out.
These two are just on an entirely different level than most wrestlers today so it’s no surprise that they could keep a sixty minute draw compelling. Joe’s strikes versus Danielson’s leg work was excellent in the early part of the match. The match going long made sense because Danielson was frustrated at not being able to get a good string of offense going and thus spent a lot of time regrouping. It lost a little steam after the first fifteen minutes at which point it stopped feeling like each guy was giving it his all and it became obvious that the match was going to go long. The match got back on track after the chop block and the final stretch was filled with great touches like Danielson using tactics that worked against other opponents (the roll up counter to the crab against Strong and the corner counter to the Cow Killer from the well known signature move against Shelley). Joe breaking out the new offense, like the second rope knee was great as well. It wasn’t the classic draw that Joe had with Punk, but it also wasn’t the kind of draw that Punk had with Daniels where it felt like the match could have ended at many times. This never felt like it should end but it also didn’t feel like either guy was really fighting their heart out for the first 45 minutes, which doesn’t make sense considering how badly Joe supposedly wanted the belt. With all his experience keeping the belt from Punk by letting the clock run out he should have been doing more to keep that from happening to him. The final 15 minutes were out of this world and worth checking out on its own merits.
JZ says: Bryan Danielson has been champion since 9.17.05, and this is his twenty-eighth defense. Danielson gets some cheers, but most are behind Samoa Joe here. Both men start slow with chain wrestling, feeling each other out in the early going. I’m surprised the commentators are still here; this definitely feels like one of those “let the action speak for itself” matches. Joe tries to build momentum, so Danielson does his best Larry Zbyszko impression and stalls him out. Danielson goes after Joe’s weakened knee, and Joe tries to strike Danielson down. Danielson gets some control and works on Joe’s arm and face. Joe makes some short comebacks, but the Champion regains the advantage. Danielson continues to work on the arm, though I have to think that working on the weakened knee would be a more prudent strategy. Joe continues to make short comebacks, but the Champion continues to mostly have control. Joe comes back and puts on the figure-four leglock at about the 23-minute mark. He puts on the Samoan Crab a few minutes later. He hits a flurry of offense but is unable to put Danielson away. Joe goes for the Muscle Buster but can’t hit it, and Danielson takes out his knee again. He uses a chair, and I guess this match is being held under relaxed rules. Danielson proclaims himself the world’s most boring wrestler as he continues to work on Joe’s knee. Danielson uses the figure-four now. He goes up top for something, but Joe kind of hits an Ace Crusher and a dive to the floor. Joe hits the Ole Kick. Danielson hits the flipping dive off the apron into the crowd just past the 43-minute mark. Back in the ring the champ hits the missile dropkick. He charges right into the STJoe though. Joe then executes a sunset flip and the rolling cradle for a near fall. Danielson comes back with a dragon suplex for two. He tries the Regal Stretch but Joe fights out and puts on the Choke, but Danielson reaches the ropes. They do the Bret Hart/Roddy Piper finish for a near fall. Danielson awesomely reverses the STJoe into Cattle Mutilation, but Joe reaches the ropes. Danielson puts it on again and Joe again reaches the ropes. Joe fights back and uses a half Boston Crab. Big lariat by Joe and both men are down. Joe hits the powerbomb into the STF and then the cross face. Joe goes for the Muscle Buster but Danielson fights out. A second attempt leads to a crucifix by Danielson for two. We’ve got five minutes left and Joe keeps going for pinfalls. Joe finally hits the Muscle Buster but Danielson grabs the ropes at two. Danielson hits the super back suplex for two. Danielson hits elbows to the face but Joe maintains consciousness. The champ goes for the cross face chicken wing but Joe fights out. Ohkana roll by Danielson reversed to the Choke and the crowd is about to lose it. Thirty seconds remain and Danielson is trying to fight out of the Choke. Before he can submit the bell rings and we have ourselves a 60-minute draw. I agree with other reviews that said this match could have been a tighter 45 minute match, and Joe was uncharacteristically sloppy at times, but the last 15 minutes were amazing, the crowd was hot, and it felt suitably epic. The crowd of course has to give the most irritating chant known to wrestling besides “you fucked up,” which is “five more minutes.”
BG says: After the match Danielson shakes Joe’s hand and walks to the back. KENTA approaches him on the ramp and motions that he wants the title. The Briscoe Brothers attack KENTA from behind and Danielson walks away to let it happen. Homicide makes the save and brawls with the Briscoes to the ring. The numbers catch up to him until Joe makes the save. They clear the ring and Joe offers to put the bad blood between him and Homicide behind him to help him against Cornette’s contingent. Homicide suggests the Briscoes take on himself and Joe in New York City at Glory by Honor. Joe is happy to be a part of Ring of Homicide.
JZ says: KENTA stops Danielson from entering the locker room, which leaves KENTA wide open to an attack by the Briscoes. Homicide comes out to fight them, and Joe decides to help out one of his most hated rivals. They establish that their still hate each other, but are willing to work together against the Briscoe Brothers on September 16. That should be all kinds of crazy.
We close with a brief ad for the next show, “Unified,” which takes place in the UK ya know.
BG says: Bryan Danielson for being the backbone of a great sixty-minute main event.
JZ says: Gotta be Bryan Danielson. The dude is an absolute machine.
The 411: BG says: The undercard is decent but there’s nothing spectacular. KENTA has a good match with Richards but gets exposed in the process. The main event isn’t quite as good as the 2004 version of Joe vs. Danielson overall but parts of it are so good that you really do need to see the match. I’ll give this one a solid recommendation based on the main event alone.
JZ says: The show is almost sold as a one-match show, with a main event that was built up for a long time and built up really well between the two most over (along with Homicide) and the two most talented (arguably) guys in the company. Based on that this is an easy show to recommend, just seeing Joe and Danielson tear it up. There’s also some decent stuff on the undercard, so get this one and have fun!