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A2Z Analysiz: ROH Third Anniversary Celebration – Part 1 (Austin Aries, Colt Cabana)

3rd Anny - 1

For the full archive of my many Ring of Honor DVD reviews, please visit RetROH Reviews.

Rex Plex – Elizabeth, NJ – Saturday, February 19, 2005

Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty are on commentary.

~MATCH #1~
Steve Corino defeats Roderick Strong at 11:12. Corino doesn’t want to wait to get this match started so he challengers Strong to a No Rules Match. Strong readily accepts and the fight is on. Strong weathers Corino’s early attacks and works the leg. After an intense back and forth battle, Strong uses a couple of backbreakers but can’t put Corino away. The referee gets distracted by one of Corino’s students and two of the others enter the ring and take cheap shots. It’s a No Rules Match, distracting the referee seems unnecessary. Corino hits a Northern Lights Bomb for two. Strong is still in the fight until Corino flattens him with a lariat to get the pin. Obviously Strong ended up okay in the long run, but I don’t see much reason for Corino to have gone over here. The match was a good, up-tempo opener to get the crowd going though.
Rating: ***

~MATCH #2~
Jay Lethal defeats Jimmy Rave (w/ Prince Nana) at 10:55 to earn an immediate shot at the ROH Pure Title. This was supposed to be the opener, but Strong and Corino had other ideas. Rave does his best to keep Lethal grounded, hoping to keep him away from his Embassy stablemate. He works over Lethal’s ribcage, which should render Lethal short of breath. Lethal withstands a great deal of punishment, including Ghanarrhea and the running knee strike. Rave goes for the Rave Clash but Lethal counters it into the release Dragon Suplex to get the pin. Good showing for Lethal there and a big victory. Lethal now gets a title shot later in the show.
Rating: ***

Prince Nana is irate, and he says that the title match will take place RIGHT NOW! Bower and Nulty are aghast that the Embassy would be so underhanded.

~MATCH #3~
ROH Pure Champion John Walters (w/ Prince Nana) defeats Jay Lethal at 12:55 to retain the title. Walters has been the Champion since 8.28.04, and this is his sixth defense. Walters has the obvious advantage here, as Lethal is just coming off a tough match with Rave. Everything Lethal tries the Champion has a counter for, and it’s not looking good for the challenger. Walters is able to get Lethal to use all three of his rope breaks, which almost always comes back to hurt under Pure Title rules. That holds true here, as Walters counters a Dragon Suplex attempt with three Lungblowers, and then rolls Lethal over to the ropes so he can use them for leverage on the pin. That one didn’t click quite as well as the match against Rave, and it would have been nice to see Lethal get the big win in his hometown. It wasn’t bad by any means, it was just deflating in the end.
Rating: **¾

~MATCH #4~
Billy Ken Kid defeats Ebessan at 7:26. I admit I know nothing about Kid and this is the only match I’ve ever seen him in. Both of these men are from the Osaka Pro promotion. Ebessan is known for his unique appearance and comedic approach to the ring. The crowd is certainly digging on him, and this is certainly nice for variety. Unfortunately for Ebessan the comedy won’t get it done tonight, as Kid puts him away with a nice 450 Splash. This was a pleasant enough diversion but not much to really get attached to.
Rating: **

~MATCH #5~
Alex Shelley defeats Jimmy Jacobs at 13:05. Two of my favorite ROH wrestlers ever right here. They have had many matches against each other, and Shelley has won every time. Shelley has been a huge dick to Jacobs in the past, but he’s trying to turn over a new leaf, so he even offers Jacobs a handshake, which is reluctantly accepted. Jacobs is pretty aggressive here, attacking Shelley both in and out of the ring. Shelley isn’t about to back down though, and both men show a lot of heart and determination. They both hit some signature moves, but they know each other so well that they’re both able to counter or escape. Jacobs even uses the Shellshock and Border City Stretch, but Shelley reverses it and forces Jacobs to tap out. I feel like this was a good opportunity to give Jacobs a much-needed win, especially since Shelley was in the midst of finding his place post-Generation Next, but that doesn’t take away from the spiffy little match they just had. These two were pretty automatic against each other, and while this wasn’t one of their best it was still good.
Rating: ***¼

Jacobs gets a little heat back when Shelley offers him a handshake and Jacobs kicks him in the gut and then lands the Contra Code. He spits on Shelley and says some naughty words.

~MATCH #6~
Spanky defeats CM Punk at 14:41. Both of these men have title petitions in, so there are ramifications all over the place here. This is a babyface v babyface match, so they start it out with some chain wrestling, which the crowd appreciates. Spanky tries to keep Punk grounded by working on his leg. Neither man can keep an advantage for very long, as they are pretty evenly matched. Spanky is fresh off an underwhelming run in WWE, so he has something to prove here. The leg work pays off in the end, as Punk is unable to hit his signature DDT, and Spanky hits Sliced Bread #2 to get the pin. Really good stuff here, with both men looking good and Spanky’s leg work paying off in the finish, which is always appreciated. Punk can take the loss here, so everything about this match worked just right.
Rating: ***½

After the match, Prince Nana comes out with the Outcast Killaz to offer Spanky a spot in the Embassy, which he respectfully declines. Nana is angry, so he and the Killaz go after Punk, who thwarts them with ease. Punk even continues selling the leg like a pro.

~MATCH #7~
Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer defeat ROH Tag Team Champions Ricky Reyes & Rocky Romero at 10:35 to win the titles. Reyes and Romero have been the Champions since 8.7.04, and this is their eighth defense. If Maff and Whitmer don’t win the titles, they will never be able to team again, thanks to a stipulation in the contract added by their jilted former manager Allison Danger, who still owns their contracts. Reyes and Romero have the obnoxious Julius Smokes in their corner. Both teams are hyper-aggressive in the early going, as there is a lot on the line here. It doesn’t take long for me to remember how little I think of Maff as a performer. There is very little selling going on here, just four guys tearing into each other. In the end Maff is able to trap Reyes in the Burning Hammer and that’s enough to get the pin. The crowd pops huge. The match was okay enough, but was just all movez with nothing tying it all together.
Rating: **¼

After the match, Danger tries to claim that this was a non-title match, but Maff and Whitmer are having none of it. The new Champs get rid of the Rottweilers, and then force Danger to rip up the contract. Whitmer then hits her with a Wrist-Clutch Exploder, and then Maff puts her in a Figure-Four Leglock while Whitmer comes down with a Frog Splash. That seems excessive.

~MATCH #8~
Samoa Joe defeats Vordell Walker (w/ Mick Foley) at 4:05. Foley comes out and cuts a lengthy promo that all leads to the introduction of Walker. They had been teasing a WWE superstar to face Joe, but this is the best they could come up with. Obviously Joe dominates in the early going, but Walker gets his shots in as well. Walker makes a rookie mistake and charges right into the Choke and Joe gets the win. This was a fun little sprint but a little bit underwhelming for Joe.
Rating: **

Foley gets on the mic and says he has more in store for Joe. He introduces Ebessan, who comes out dressed in the Wanted shirt and a ripped flannel, just like Cactus Jack. Okay then. Foley declares that this match will be a Hardcore Match.

~MATCH #9~
Samoa Joe defeats Ebessan Jack (w/ Mick Foley) at 6:27. Ebessan does a pretty convincing Cactus Jack impression, and works in quite a bit of comedy at Joe’s expense. Foley interferes quite a bit, but even the two-on-one disadvantage isn’t enough to deter Joe’s rage. Joe finally gets tired of Ebessan’s antics and puts him away with the Muscle Buster. I can’t remember exactly what the original plan was here, but it had to be better than what we got.
Rating: *½

Foley attacks Joe after the match, but Joe is able to counter him and hit the Ole Ole Kick. Austin Aries comes out in a hoody to surprise Joe with a steel chair attack, softening him up for their title rematch next week in Chicago.

~MATCH #10~
Homicide (w/ Julius Smokes) defeats Bryan Danielson at 17:53 in a Taped Fist Match to go up 2-0 in the Best of Five Series. Danielson dominates early on, and he’s working a much more brawl-centric style tonight rather than his usual technical wizardry. Homicide uses his Ghetto Fork to bust Danielson open, which is the first time Danielson has ever bled in Ring of Honor. Both men fight hard against each other and keep the crowd into it. Late in the match Julius Smokes makes his way to ringside and tapes brass knuckles to Homicide’s taped first. Homicide then decks Danielson right in the mouth, and that’s enough to get the pin. I was never wild about the matches these two had, and I tend to dislike things even more when Julius Smokes is involved.
Rating: **¾

~MATCH #11~
ROH World Champion Austin Aries defeats Colt Cabana in a Steel Cage Match at 20:38 to retain the title. Aries has been the Champion since 12.26.04, and this is his fourth defense. This is win by pin, submission, or escape rules. Both men make escape attempts in the early going, which helps put over the importance of the title, showing how much both men want to possess it. Cabana is the first one busted open, within the first five minutes or so. Aries spends a lot of time working on Cabana’s head, which is great strategy for someone that uses a Brainbuster as a finisher. After a grueling battle, Cabana and Aries battle on the top rope and Cabana knocks him back to the mat. Cabana goes to climb over the top, but Aries opts for a suicide dive through the cage door to just beat Cabana to the floor to retain his title. Cabana was a good first challenger for a new Champion, but he never really had a shot at taking the title. That being said they both worked hard to make this a good cage match, and there’s no faulting the effort here. Good finish too.
Rating: ***¼

~MATCH #12~
The Ring Crew Express (Dunn & Marcos) defeat Azrieal & Dixie, Generation Next (Jack Evans & Roderick Strong), Special K (Deranged & Izzy), and The Carnage Crew (DeVito & Loc) at 10:31 of a Scramble Cage mach. The team that drops the fall is banned from ROH for 90 days, while the winning team gets 10x their normal pay. Two teams start it off for two minutes, and then every one minute thereafter a new team enters the fray. Once all five teams are in the match, the first pinfall or submission wins. Gen Next and Special K are the first two teams. After two fast-paced minutes, the Carnage Crew is the third team out. Azrieal and Dixie are fourth and they’re in no hurry to get to the ring. Dunn and Marcos complete the field and they go right to the platforms at the top of the cage and Stage Dive off into a pile of wrestlers. The match is a collection of brawling and high spots, and it’s the right collection of guys to do that. Loc and DeVito bring a table into the ring but it proves to be their undoing, as with Loc is splayed across the table Marcos gets on Dunn’s shoulders on the platform, and comes flying down with a senton. That’s enough to get the pin. This was exactly what was promised – crazy high spots and non-stop action. Doesn’t do much for me at this point, but it had its place in 2005 Ring of Honor.
Rating: **½

A2Z Analysiz
This show is LONG. Twelve matches and five hours long to be exact. Nothing is too terrible, except for the waste of two Joe matches that they presented. There’s good variety and solid star power up and down the card though, so at least with the length of the show there was enough stuff happening.

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