Ring of Honor DVD Review: The Future Is Now, 6/12/05

The Future Is Now was held on 6/12/05, same date as ECW’s One Night Stand. Now, why do I mention this? Because ROH held this show in the afternoon and continued to mention how many of the people going to the pay-per-view later that day were seeing ROH action for the first time. Whether this is true or not, who knows, but it’s a nice tidbit of information to fill up space in the review, no? Anyway, this show is all about CM Punk, despite the cover and the main event. Punk earned a title shot by defeating Jimmy Rave in the steel cage, and is cashing it in at the next show, Death Before Dishonor III. However, the bigger news is that the next show is supposedly Punk’s last show with the company, as he had been signed to a WWE developmental deal at that time. But before he even gets to the world champion, Austin Aries, he has to face Aries’ friend, partner, and stablemate, the powerhouse known as Roderick Strong. Speaking of Austin Aries, there’s controversy between him and Low Ki stemming back to All Star Extravaganza II where they wrestled for No. 1 Contendership to the World Championship. Aries won the match when Ki got himself disqualified, and went on to win the world title at Final Battle 2004. The question remained; if Ki had won the match, would he have been the champ once more, and become the first ever two-time champion? Ki believes so, thus the main event of the show to prove who the better man really is. Punk is absolutely estatic, as Aries is going into tonight’s match with an ‘injured’ neck, and Ki is only going to make it worse, which means Punk’s title match could be that much easier. The rest of the card is pretty much filler except for Ring Crew Express versus Carnage Crew…but does anyone care about their feud? Did anyone care then? Sadly, the answer is no, despite both teams going through hell to entertain the fans, especially in their match tonight.

Clips of Ring Of Honor being on WB11 news are shown. Austin Aries and Azrieal are in the ring for a few seconds, doing some moves.

Carnage Crew is backstage cutting a promo, as this is their official return to ROH. They’re pissed because they were stuck with their nagging wives and annoying children for three months due to Dunn & Marcos pinning them in the Scramble Cage, suspending them for 90 days. No one cares about the Carnage Crew and all they’ve done for the company, so tonight they’re gonna make the people care by destroying the Ring Crew Express in a street fight, just like they did a few months ago in the ‘easiest match of their lives’. Say what you will about these two in the ring, but they’re fun and intense on the mic.

Lethal appears backstage with a neckbrace on, and explains he’s out of action because last time in Manhatten he played by Rottweiler’s rules, but “tonight…we play…by Jay Lethal’s rules!”People, if you’re wondering where the Jay Lethal promo jokes come from, this is a good example.

Match One
Colt Cabana vs. Jimmy Rave-

Rave just finished his big feud with Cabana’s best friend and fellow Second City Saint CM Punk at the last show, losing in a fantastic cage match, so he’s looking to redeem himself by beating the next best thing. The two men trade arm drags, and Cabana pulls down Rave’s tights when he starts getting too cocky. Rave shoves Cabana in frustration, but Cabana ends up pantsing him again. Cabana completely outwrestles Rave and continues to embarass him by sitting on his back, but Rave has enough and nails a hard lariat to the back of Cabana’shead, knocking him down. Raven lifts Cabana back up and hits a swinging neckbraker, but only gets a two count from the move, so he decides to choke him with the ropes. The two trade chops until Rave throws Cabana out of the ring and distracts the ref, allowing The Embassy to beatdown Colt on the outside. Rave rolls out of the ring and Cabana starts fighting back, but accidentally chops the ringpost due to Rave ducking, halting his comeback. Rave throws him back into the ring but Cabana boots him in the face and nails a missle dropkick from the top, and both men are down. Fans start chanting for Colt Cabana as he hits the butt-butt followed with a jumping lariat, but only gets a two count. Rave attempts to leap off the second rope, but Cabana catches him in midair and nails a snap suplex. Colt attempts his finishing move, Colt 45, but goes for a sunset flip instead which allows Rave to roll through and connect with his running knee strike to the head of Cabana, scoring a nearfall. Rave lifts Cabana in position for the Rave Clash, but Colt keeps blocking it until he finally reaches the ropes and kicks Rave away from him. Cabana escapes a full-nelson hold from Rave and turns it into a pinning combination, scoring the pinfall at 9:34. **1/2

Colt Cabana defeats Jimmy Rave via pinning combination in 9:34.
For an opener, this was just fine. They had a nice little story going as Cabana used his antics to frustrate Rave while Rave used the numbers game against Colt. Good action, entertaining, and the finish didn’t make Rave look too bad after now losing to both Punk and Colt consecutively. However, this would mark the beginning of Rave’s downward spiral, becoming nothing more than a glorified jobber aside from his involvement in the GenNext/Embassy feud.

Nana gets the mic and says that Jimmy Rave, himself, and the rest of The Embassy run Ring Of Honor. The fans chant “shut the f*ck up”. Nana blames Jade Chung for Rave’s loss and tells her to get her ass into the ring and slap the hell out of Colt, and then shoves her towards the ring. Jade reluctantly enters the ring and Colt laughs it off, but Jade actually does slap him! Colt looks shocked and grabs Jade…only to start dancing with her as “Let’s Get It On” starts playing. Jade does a little tease for Colt, but Nana pulls her out of the ring and drags her to the back, kicking and screaming all the way.

Clips of Austin Aries and Roderick Strong leaving the ring at New Frontiers play while Jimmy Bower tells us Shelley is now injured due to the attack from Generation Next and will be out for an indefinite amount of time. It’s not shown, but the attack consisted of Aries running to the ring after Strong had beaten Shelley in a singles match and repeatedly hitting Shelley with a steel pipe. Shelley was taken out on a stretcher, but Aries attacked him as he was being wheeled out as well.

Clips of Dunn & Marcos beating the Carnage Crew in the Scramble Cage are shown, followed by Carnage Crew’s surprise return and attack on the two at Manhattan Mayhem, including a piledriver through a table!

Match Two
New York Street Fight
Ring Crew Express (Dunn & Marcos) vs. Carnage Crew (Loc & DeVito)-

The Ring Crew Express decides to try and jump the Carnage Crew as they enter the ring, which proves to be a fatal mistake as Loc kills Dunn with the backdrop driver while DeVito gives Marcos a delayed vertical suplex. It spills to the floor immediately and Loc continues to beat Dunn while DeVito takes Marcos. Both members of Ring Crew Express are busted open by punches and Loc brings Dunn into the ring, continuing to spread the cut open and wipe the blood on his face. Punk isn’t impressed on commentary and makes this comment- “If this is how they (Carnage Crew) get revenge, they aren’t very good at it. They need to go back to revenge school.” Classic. Loc pours alcohol into Dunn’s open wound and nails a swining neckbreaker. DeVito places Marcos in the corner of the guardrail, and Loc tosses Dunn to the outside so DeVito can whip him into the guardrail, making him fall next to his partner. DeVito then nails a running hip attack to both men, crushing them into the guardrail. Devito tosses both members of the Ring Crew Express into the ring and Loc places the ringbell on the head of Marcos and then rings it. Loc tells DeVito it’s time to end it, and they nail the Carnage Plex on both Dunn and Marcos (pretty much an assisted Hero’s Welcome), but doesn’t go for the pin. Devito and Loc then give Marcos a splash mountain/neckbreaker combo. See that? Briscoes don’t deserve THAT much credit for their double team moves. Carnage Crew go to the outside and pull out a ladder, but get distracted when the fans chant “Your CD Sucks”. This works out perfect for the Ring Crew Express, who nail simultaneous dives to the outside, slamming the ladder into the bodies of the Carnage Crew! The ladder is set up across the guardrail and ring apron, horizontally like a bridge. The Ring Crew Express bring DeVito into the ring and nail a combination of kicks, and then take Loc down with an assisted Sliced Bread #2. DeVito and Loc are placed on opposite turnbuckles, Dunn taking Loc and Marcos taking DeVito. However, out of nowhere Loc shoves Dunn off the top rope and he falls onto the ladder, BOUNCING off it and landing onto the concrete! That looked SICK! Meanwhile, Marcos goes for a top rope hurricanrana on DeVito, but he blocks it, and Loc runs over to lend him a hand in an assisted top-rope spike piledriver for the win at 10:34. **1/2

Carnage Crew defeats Ring Crew Express via top-rope assisted spike piledriver in 10:34
Well, that was certainly a lot of fun, and left room open for a bigger and better rematch. It was almost a squas, but the big underdog comeback worked so well and had perfect placement, and made it seem like the Ring Crew Express could actually pull out the upset. Other than that, it was a random but entertaining brawl that included a SICK bump onto the ladder. Did what it accomplished, so that counts for something.

More clips of Ring Of Honor being on WB11 news is shown, this time with the news lady ‘wrestling’ Lacey.

Match Three
Six Man Mayhem
Azrieal vs. Deranged vs. Izzy vs. Fast Eddie vs. Jack Evans vs. BJ Whitmer-

Azrieal and Deranged start off by blocking and reversing a lot of moves until Deranged drops Azrieal across the ropes and then nails a springboard tornado DDT. Yeah, this is gonna be spotty. Izzy and Evans enter as the other two leave, and Izzy takes it to Evans with a headscissors takedown but Evans counters with a dropsault then sends Izzy to the floor. Deranged runs in and nails Evans with a flip sitout facebuster, but gets too cocky as Eddie runs in and gives him a tombstone piledriver. Whitmer runs in and nails Eddie with a belly-to-back suplex and then gives Evans a german suplex, following up with a spinebuster on Deranged. Azrieal attempts a crossbody on Whitmer, but he rolls through and gives him a devestating brainbuster. Whitmer stands tall, until Izzy runs in and gives him a reverse hurricanrana, spiking him on his head. So, we’ve seen about ten moves so far that could (and should) finish a match, yet no pinfalls. Awesome. Eddie attempts a german suplex on Izzy, but he flips out of it and lands on his feet before connecting with an enziguri. Izzy and Deranged then team up and nail a Code Red/neckbreaker combo on Eddie. Azrieal, Whitmer, and Evans are all fighting on the outside so Izzy and Deranged both nail a plancha to the outside, and Eddie leaps from the top rope with a Phoenix Splash, taking out everyone. Fans chant for Nana, but he doesn’come through with a big dive of his own. Back in the ring, Whitmer and Eddie trade chops and forearms until Eddie gives Whitmer a russian legsweep driver. Evans rolls into the ring and connects with a pele to the head of Eddie, followed by his standing corkscrew shooting star press for a two count due to Izzy breaking it up.

Izzy connects with a flip kick that sends Evans over the top rope and to the floor which allows Azrieal to run into the ring and block a hurricanrana attempt from Izzy and instead give him an electric chair driver for a two count, but Deranged breaks it up. Deranged gives Azrieal a snapmare driver, spiking him on his head, only to get caught by a huge big boot by Whitmer. Whitmer gives Deranged a spinning cross-arm sitout powerbomb, but only gets a two count as Evans breaks it up by giving Whitmer a flip neckbreaker. This match is absolutely insane, and I’m loving it. Evans stands on the apron and Whitmer goes for a spear, but Evans leaps over him and Whitmer drives through the ropes and nails Eddie on the outside. Meanwhile, Evans gets a running start, does a cartwheel, and flips over the top rope onto both men! In the ring, Izzy stumbles around until he grabs Azrieal and whips him into the corner and follows up with a dropkick. Izzy hangs Azrieal in the tree of woe and goes for a baseball slide, but crotches himself on the ringpost. Azrieal climbs to the top rope as Izzy tries to climb away, but Azrieal leaps off and connects with a double stomp to the back of Izzy’s head for the three count at 9:39! **1/2

Azrieal defeats five other mean via top-rope double stomp at 9:39.
This is no doubt that this is one of, if not THE most spottiest matches in ROH history. So, while it’s not a great match by any means, it sure is fun to watch and very, very entertaining. Plus, to be honest, they added a bit of a story with Izzy and Deranged teaming together, as they are co-workers for Lacey’s Angels, and Azrieal was able to finally pin one of his rivals.

More clips of Ring Of Honor being on WB11 news are shown, and more Aries/Azrieal action is going on.

Masked Boston Superstar vs. Davey Andrews is about to start in the ring when suddenly some familiar music hits and Shane Douglas walks to the ring and clears it of the two men, giving one a clothseline and the other a belly-to-belly. The Franchise tells the fans to welcome him to New York City. Douglas says there’s rumors of a ECW reunion show happening later that day (referring to One Night Stand, one of the very best PPVs of 2005), but says that trying to have an ECW reunion without the Franchise is like a bull with no horns, or no balls. He says he was invited to go to the show, but told McMahon to kiss his ass. Fans start chanting “You’re A Liar” due to the fact that Douglas wasn’t even invited to the pay-per-view considering he burned the bridge with WWE years ago and was under contract to TNA, but Douglas plays it off and says he chose to come to Ring Of Honor instead. Fans start chanting “We Want Flair” and Douglas asks if Flair’s still alive. Yes Franchise, he’s still alive, and still putting on better matches than you ever could. Douglas says he heard Gabe call Ring Of Honor the ‘new’ ECW, and he asked if the fans thought that to a mixed response. He goes on to say from what he’s seen, ROH isn’t worth the sweat from his balls. He’s the only man able to put a company on his shoulders and take it to the top, and then ressurrect it when it’s died. The entire crowd now chants “Fuck You Shane”. Douglas tells the fans they should be lined up ready to kiss his backside, not disrespecting him like they’re doing. Next time the fans need someone to save the sport, it’s not gonna be Gabe Sapolsky, it’s gonna be him. He says Ring Of Honor is the same thing as the WWE and each fan is a f*cking moron. Douglas gets a “Don’t Come Back” chant while leaving, and I agree with them one-hundred percent.

Match Four
James Gibson vs. Homicide-

This match is signed as an exhibition, as both men want to prove themelves worthy of a world title shot since both of them have had many chances in the past only to come up short. They start off with a basic yet agressive feeling out proccess, trading lots of hold and counter holds until coming to a stalemate, only to go back to the same proccess and come back to the stalemate. The two try locking up for a third time and Homicide sends Gibson to the outside and signals for his tope con hilo, but Gibson slides into the ring and cuts him off with a clothesline. Gibson whips Homicide into the corner and goes for a big splash, but ‘Cide dodges it and places Gibson on the top rope before nailing a superplex. ‘Cide walks over and lifts Gibson back up, but Gibson comes back with a swinging neckbreaker to regain the advantage, and then places him in a tree of woe in the corner while proceeding to pull in his neck back, trying to weaken that part of the body. Back in the middle of the ring, Gibson continues to work over the neck with cravates, headscissors, etc. Gibson decides to lift ‘Cide up, but he quickly whips Gibson into the ropes, however Gibson stops himself. ‘Cide charges at him and Gibson elevates him over the ropes and to the apron before stepping out to the apron himself.

Both men battle with strikes until ‘Cide connects with the ace crusher on the apron! As both men lay on the floor, Julius Smokes grabs Gibson’s flag and teases lighting it on fire as fans chant ‘Burn That Shit’. Smokes takes a couple shots at the country boy before tossing him back to ‘Cide in the ring. ‘Cide draps him across the bottom rope and nails an Undertaker-esque legdrop, followed by a chinbreaker, starting to work over the neck area himself. ‘Cide goes through a series of chokes, chinlocks, etc to continue wearing Gibson down, but Gibson starts to fight back until he’s cut off with a dropkick that sends out him of the ring and into the first row, which leads to a tope con hilo by ‘Cide!

‘Cide gets Gibson back into the ring as quick as posible but only gets the two count and goes right back to the chinlock. Gibson gets out of the hold and applies a sleeper, but ‘Cide breaks it quickly with a jawbreaker and hits the ropes, only to get caught with a powerslam by Gibson for a two count. This is the definition of ‘back and forth’. The two men trade strikes in the center of the ring but Gibson gets the advantage with a dropkick and a clothesline, following up with an Austin-like elbow drop off the second rope. Gibson climbs the ropes again, this time to the top, but ‘Cide crotches him on the top and nails the butterfly suplex for the two. ‘Cide now climbs to the top and goes for the diving headbutt, but Gibson rolls out of the way and attempts his Tiger Driver, only to have it blocked. Gibson knees ‘Cide viciously in the head to wear him down and connects with a vertical suplex, following up with an attempt at a swinging DDT but ‘Cide blocks it and places him on the top rope before taking him off with a top-rope ace crusher! ‘Cide signals for his lariat, but Gibson kicks him in the gut, only to have ‘Cide clothesline him a second after.

‘Cide attempts the Cop Killa, but Gibson reverses it into a German Suplex with a bridge, only getting a two count. ‘Cide and Gibson go through a few counters and reversals before Gibson gives him a big DDT and floats over into the Front Guillotine Choke. Gibson only applies the submission for a few moments before quickly lifting the weakened Homicide up and planting him with the Tiger Driver….BUT HOMICIDE KICKS OUT! Wow, THAT was a nearfall! ‘Cide rolls out to the apron and slowly stands up, and Gibson starts to choke him in the ropes with the Guillotine Choke due to frustration, but stops before the five count, only to shove the ref to the other side of the ring! ‘Cide takes advantage of the situation by low blowing him and giving him a beautiful lariat for the three count. ***1/2

Homicide defeats James Gibson via lariat in 21:14.
What can I say? This is a textbook example of back-and-forth competitive wrestling, with great action and great selling throughout. Psychology was awesome as both men worked the neck, which each of their finishing holds to major damage to, and Gibson had been showing frustration recently for not being able to win a major title, which was hyped during commentary and played a big role in the finish. Some may find the match a little slow to start, but it’s a rewarding experience at the end. This match rocked.

Homicide and Smokes aren’t done with Gibson as they place him on a table in the middle of the ring, but Jay Lethal runs out with his neck brace on and clotheslines ‘Cide and places him on the table. Lethal then climbs to the top rope and comes off with a big splash, smashing ‘Cide through the table! That’s definitely safe and completely possible to do with a broken neck! The rest of The Rottweilers run out to chase Lethal off and help ‘Cide, but they’re too late to do anything and spend their time checking on their fallen comrade.

Gary Michael Capetta is backstage with a beaten and blody Ring Crew Express. They say they may be beaten and bloody, but they’re still standing. They’ve been beaten by everyone on the roster, but they’re not going anywhere, and if the Carnage Crew wants to continue this way, they can find them after the show taking down the ring. Are we supposed to take these guys seriously after they pretty much remind us how completely useless they are? Well, not completely useless…they do take down the ring.

Match Five
Roderick Strong vs. CM Punk-

CM Punk has his World Title shot against Austin Aries coming up at the next show, so Aries sent his stablemate and friend Roderick Strong to both scout and soften up Punk. The two lock up in the center of the ring, and Punk manages to push Strong into the corner, but gives him a clean break. The crowd starts to chant for both men, with the ‘CM Punk’ chants overwhelming, as Punk mocks Strong by congratulating him on having three fans in the building. They lock up again with Strong this time pushing Punk into the corner and attempts a wicked chop, but Punk ducks it. A test of strength occurs in the middle and Punk turns it into a keylock of sorts, and Strong tries to monkey flip Punk off him but Punk keeps his hold on the arm of Strong and turns it into a wristlock. Punk tries to monkey flip Strong, but he lands on his feet and tries to apply the Stronghold to Punk, but Punk gets out of it. Strong attempts his gutbuster, but Punk lands on his feet and applies the Anaconda Vice for a brief moment, only to have Strong reach the ropes in an instant, and we’re back to where we started. Punk goes back to working on the arm, taking Strong down to the mat and applying an armbar/headscissors combo, but eventually Strong gets out of it and back to his feet. Strong tries to shoulder block Punk, but Punk barely budges and gets in the face of Strong. Damn, Punk is tall!

Strong hits the ropes and tries another shoulder block, but again nothing. Three more attempts ends in the same result, so Strong tries another chop but again Punk ducks it and nails a series of arm drags before once again working the arm of Strong. Punk gets a bit bored of working the arm and snapmares Strong to the canvas and connects with a series of dropkicks to the back of his head. Punk gives Strong a hammerlock suplex and gets a two count, and Strong rolls out to the apron to avoid further injury, but it doesn’t work too well since Punk suplexes him back into the ring moments later, one again getting a two count and one again working over the arm of Strong. Punk connects with a series of chops to Strong’s chest while dodging Strong’s chops the entire time. Punk attempts to whip Strong into the corner, but it’s reversed, and Punk tries to leap over the charging Strong but gets stopped and pulled back to the mat just so Strong can give him a CHOP! Man, they’ve hyped these chops like crazy and Punk is selling it like death…well, not that you realy need to sell these bad boys anyway. Strong continues to give Punk a series of sick chops, while still selling his hurt arm in between (Strong chops righty, his left arm was being worked over). Suddenly Punk starts firing back with his own chops, and we have ourselves a chop war…which Punk seems to win! Strong rolls to the outside and pulls Punk out with him, and the chop war continues. Strong places Punk against the ringpost and sets up for a chop, but Punk ducks it and Strong nails his good arm across the steel. Hmm, where have I seen that exact same spot before *cough Cabana/Rave cough*?

Punk chops him a few more times before sending him back into the ring. Strong tries to make a comeback but Punk gives him a hiptoss before he can do anything and legdrops his hurt arm while once again working it over in a hold. Strong fights through the pain and manages to lift Punk up with his one hurting arm and give him a small, but effective, powerbomb. Strong strikes Punk a few times and tries to whip him into the corner, but Punk stops and kicks Strong in the arm as he’s charging. Punk leaps to the top turnbuckle, but Strong manages to run and kick the top rope, making Punk stumble all the way back to the canvas. Strong gives Punk a belly-to-back suplex, followed by a dropkick to the back of the head, and then a normal backbreaker. Strong stretches Punk over his knee, trying to wear him down as the crowd chants ‘CM Punk’, getting behind him, but it does no good as Strong drops him with a suplex. The chop war begins again with Strong winning it and giving Punk an innovative backbreaker over his shoulder as Punk rolls out to the apron. Strong tries to suplex Punk back into the ring, but Punk gives Strong a series of shoulder thrusts to the gut. Punk goes for one more shoulder thrust, but Strong cuts him off with a nice knee strike to the head, dragging him back into the ring and giving him a butterfly suplex for the two count. Strong continues working the back with a camel clutch, as Strong really pulls back on the neck and body, trying to bend Punk in half. Strong whips Punk hard into the turnbuckle, making him collapse to the canvas after impact, only to lift Punk up and do the same thing again.

Punk tries to fire back with chops to the chest, but Strong gives him a thumb to the eye and tries to whip Punk into the corner again, but Punk reverses it. Punk charges at Strong, but he elevates him ove the top and to the apron, as Punk goes for a shoulder thrust and Strong attempts his knee strike once more, but Punk avoids the knee this time and gives Strong a big kick to the head, followed up with a springboard dropkick to the neck! Man, these two are really tearing the house down, learning and evolving as the match goes on. The chop war begins once again, with both men giving it all they have until Strong attempts the half-nelson backbreaker, only to have Punk block it and nail Strong with the leg lariat. A fan yells “See ya on Velocity”, but Punk fires back with “That’s okay, you’ll still be watching me!”. I love Punk. A series of kicks from Punk takes Strong down to the canvas, but he kicks out at two. Punk hooks the arms of Strong, possibly looking for a standing Pepsi Plunge, but Strong flips him over his back only to have Punk turn it into a sunset flip pin attempt. Both men get up quickly and Strong attempts the half-nelson backbreaker again, but Punk flips out of it and attempts a crucifix pin, yet Strong overpowers him and lifts him on his shoulders becore connecting with the gutbuster, following it up with the big boot…but he only gets a two count! Strong slowly lifts Punk up and connects with a release suplex before attempting his Stronghold, but Punk counters it into a victory roll pin for two. Punk gets up and charges at the kneeling Strong for his shining wizard, but Strong catches him on the run, lifts him up, and gives him a devestating powerbomb backbreaker!

Strong now applies the Stronghold, bending Punk in an awkward way while digging his knee into the lower back as Punk tries to crawl…and he makes it to the ropes to break the hold. Strong places Punk on the top turnbuckle and attempts a superplex, but Punk blocks it and manages drop Strong chest-first onto the canvas and follow it up with a legdrop from the top and only gets a two count…but he goes right into the Anaconda Vice! Strong struggles for a moment but gets his foot on the rope to break the hold, as Punk calls for the Pepsi Plunge. Wrestling Rule #13- if you call for a move, you’re not hitting it. Punk starts to bring Strong to the corner, but Strong ducks down and grabs Punk’s hand, forcing him to low blow himself. Strong goes for a pump-handle slam, but Punk flips out of it and gets Strong in a waistlock, yet Strong reverses it and gets Punk in a waistlock before charging foward and trying to get the O’Conner Roll, but Punk shoves him off and nails him with the shining wizard! Punk goes for the pin…two count…and he goes right into the Anaconda Vice! Strong taps out at 24:07! ****

CM Punk defeats Roderick Strong via Anaconda Vice at 24:07.
Superb match, better than anything I expected out of these guys to be honest. They went all out and told an awesome veteran/rookie story thoughout, as Punk dominated nearly the entire match due to Strong’s rookie mistakes. The best part was they evolved as the match went on, learning from mistakes made earlier in the match or noticing a pattern in their opponent’s attack to develop a counter/defense for it. Both men sold like crazy and treated this like a true, competitive contest, something missing in big matches these days. While the finish was a little flat, it worked, and it doesn’t stop this match from being what it was; a classic.

Punk grabs a mic and asks the three people who hate his guts to stand up, as he lets them know that he respects their opinion since they bought a ticket, but he’s the one with a microphone and they’re putting money into his pocket. He says no matter where he ends up, his strength, will, determination, etc makes him one thing, and that’s better than them (meaning the ‘three’ naysayers). He tells Roderick to inform Austin Aries he’s losing his belt next week, so he should spend as much time with it as he can before it’s taken from him. Punk then puts over Strong and tells the fans to chant his name, because he’s the future of Ring Of Honor. Boy, was he ever right.

Match Six
Pure Title
Nigel McGuinness vs. Samoa Joe(c)-

The two trade basic holds for a few moments until Joe gets McGuinness down to the mat and places him in a rear chinlock, pulling back far and bending Nigel in half, but Nigel manages to roll foward and escape it. The two lock up and Joe gains the advantage by taking Nigel down to the mat and bending both his arms in an awkward position while kneeling on his neck, but after a few moments he brings him back to his feet. Joe starts to work on the arm of Nigel, but Nigel spins around and gains control of Joe’s arm and starts bending it himself. Joe quickly escapes the arm bar and puts Nigel into a headscissors, only to have Nigel escape that and start spreading the legs of Joe in an awkward way. Joe manages to shove Nigel off him and send him out to the floor as both men take a breather. Nigel enters the ring and seems frustrated as he gives Joe a stiff forearm, so Joe just lays him out with an enziguri.

Joe whips Nigel into the corner and connects with his jumping knee strike to the head and follows up with his vicious facewash attacks, but as he goes for the running facewash Nigel cuts him off with a big kick that makes Joe sit in the corner. Nigel decides to try the running facewash himself, but Joe was playing possum as he springs up and gives Nigel a thunderous chop across the chest that sends him out to the apron. Joe then nails a running kick to the head of McGuinness that sends him into a security guard and both men topple over the apron and into the front row! Nigel re-enters the ring at a 14 count, obviously dazed from the kick, and Joe immediately snapmares him down and nails his chop to the back, kick to the chest, and knee drop across the head combo. Joe sends Nigel toward and turnbuckle and charges after him, but Nigel performs his headstand and gives Joe a kick to the chest in order to disorient him, and then traps his arm in a keylock and slams him down to the mat. Nigel goes to work on the arm of Joe, placing it in a keylock once again and giving him a snapmare variation, using the arm to send Joe to the mat. Nigel lifts Joe up and hammerlocks the arm before planting him with the Divorce Court and quickly placing him in a crossface, making Joe grab the bottom rope and use one of his breaks. Nigel places Joe in That Arm Submission in the center of the ring, but Joe reaches the bottom rope with his foot once more, leaving him with a final rope break. Nigel hits a series of forearms to the arm of Joe, and then charges at the big man but gets planted with the impact STO, giving Joe control of the match once again. Joe is frustrated and gives Nigel a closed fist, forcing Sinclair to give him a warning, meaning if he uses another closed fist he’ll lose his final rope break.

Joe starts to unload on Nigel with elbows and forearms, but Nigel falls back into the ropes and rebounds off, nailing his lariat and placing Joe in a variation of That Arm Submission once again, forcing Joe to use his final rope break! Nigel has three rope breaks left, and if Joe uses a closed fist he’s disqualified, and the title changes hands on a DQ! Joe manages to send Nigel into the corner, but Nigel does his headstand…however, Joe has it scouted and nails a running kick to the face, making McGuinness collapse to the canvas. Joe fights through the pain and gives Nigel a powerbomb before turning it into an STF, but Nigel makes it to the ropes. Nigel is bleeding from the nose now, most likely due to the kick to the face…thank God wrestling is fake though, right? Joe nails a series of stiff kicks to the chest of Nigel and then takes a breather, which is long enough for Nigel to regain himself and whip Joe into the ropes. Nigel charges at him and Joe attempts the impact STO once more, but Nigel reverses it into almost an armdrag and then connects with a superkick to the head of Joe, knocking both men down. Both men rise up at the same time and Nigel taunts Joe by doing his headstand in the corner, prompting Joe to charge at him with the running kick, but Nigel turns and lands on the apron in time to avoid the kick. Nigel reacts quickly and traps Joe’s legs in the ropes, putting him into a figure-four hold using his hands with added leverage from the rope! Nigel’s being counted out as Joe fights through the agony without any rope breaks left!

Nigel enters the ring at the count of 19, and attempts a legsweep hammerlock DDT, but Joe trips him up and avoids the move. Joe takes a rest for a moment and then nails a huge lariat on McGuinness, folding him in half and quickly pinning him, and Nigel gets his foot on the bottom rope in time, meaning he has one rope break left. Joe connects with a series of forearm strikes, sending McGuinness into the ropes and attempting his rebound lariat, but Joe cuts him off with a big powerslam for a two count, followed by a running back senton, also for a two count. Joe brings Nigel back up and places him in the corner slowly and gives him a few hard chops before whipping him into the opposite corner, but Nigel does his funky European thing by leaping back and crawling through the legs of Joe, going back to the corner they started in and sitting on the top turnbuckle, taunting Joe to come at him. This proves to be a terrible mistake as Joe runs at him, dodges the boot, and connects with a huge palm strike and follows up with the Muscle Buster for the pinfall at 19:45. ***1/2

Samoa Joe defeats Nigel McGuinness via Muscle Buster in 19:45,
One of the better Pure Title defenses during the championship’s incarnation, and a pretty good match. My only gripe was Joe’s selling at times. Well, he sold the arm real well all the way through, but when he was in the figure-four variation for almost twenty seconds straight with added ropes for leverage and started running around…ugh, stuff like that just irritates me. I can forgive a bit of no selling, but real noticeable stuff bugs me to no end. Other than that, the selling was fine, and even really good most of the time, and the action itself was great the entire time. Started slow, but escalated gradually, and like many matches tonight the competitors learned from past mistakes and developed a strategy as they went along. Nigel looked great coming out of this match, as he dominated the champion on the mat and forced him to use all his rope breaks early on, which obviously worked wonders for his career (look where he is now). A lot of things were accomplished in this match and it had a lot of great action, so it’s pretty easy to give this such a good rating.

Shane Douglas storms the ring immediately following the match and grabs the Pure Title from the ref before he can hand it to Joe, prompting a “You Still Suck” chant from the crowd. Douglas says a bunch of stuff that can’t be understood or heard due to bad sound quality and a loud, pissed off crowd. He says something about the crowd kissing his ass, and then starts to recite his infamous promo before he threw down the belt, but when he gets to the “and they can all…” part, he finishes by saying “…put their hands together for Ring Of Honor and the tradition. That’s right, you impressed the f*cking hell out of The Franchise today! Ring Of Honor is the shit!”. Talk about change of heart, and in record timing! Too bad Douglas still sucks. [b]*NOTE*[/b] On the cover of the DVD, it shows Joe on the mic, apparently pointing and talking to Douglas. If this did happen, then it’s not on my DVD for some reason. It could be seperate pictures taken and put together to make it seem like it. Just letting you know.

Clips of a confrontation between Low Ki and Austin Aries that occured on WB are shown.

Match Seven
Non-Sanctioned Non-Title
Low Ki vs. Austin Aries-

Dualing chants for both men as they start off by staring each other down. Smokes gets Aries attention for a moment which allows Ki to jump him from behind, but Aries fights back, and the two exchange strikes until Aries gets the advantage with a running forearm, sending Ki to the outside. Aries looks for the dive and Smokes tries to trip him up, but Aries avoids it and Sinclair ejects Smokes from ringside! Ki enters the ring and the two viciously lock up and end up in the corner, as Ki applies his hanging armbar in the ropes, breaking the hold at a four count. The two lock up in a test of strength in the center of the ring and Ki puts Aries on the mat, but Aries bridges up, so Ki kneels on top of Aries to break his bridge! Aries manages to escape the hold and get back to his feet before trapping Ki’s arm and taking him down to the mat with a cravate. Aries and Ki trade some basic holds for a bit until Ki goes for his headstand kick to the arm, only to have Aries scout it and knock him down with a dropkick. Aries connects with an elbow strike, followed by a jumping elbow drop, only gaining a two count. Ki looks for a suplex, but Aries blocks it and gets pushed against the ropes as Ki unleashes a SICK chop acoss the chest. Ki snapmares Aries and nails a STIFF kick across the back. Man, this guy is so brutal.

Ki takes Aries down with a knee strike and continues to strike him, following him around the ring, but Aries manages to quickly hit the rolling firemans carry and climb the top rope. Aries leaps off with a frog splash, but Ki gets his knees up and Aries lands gut-first across thems. Ki places Aries in the corner and gives him a kick to the chest followed by a shoulder thrust to the gut before finally bringing Aries to the mat and applying the bodyscissors. Aries squirms his way out of it and does his patented jump up followed with the dropkick to the face, escpaing the hold completely. Aries whips Ki into the corner and nails a running shoulder thrust to the gut, folowed by choking with the ropes for leverage. Ki then attempts to whip Aries into the corner, but Aries springs back off the middle rope and connects with the elbow strike to the chin of Ki, knocking him down and out of the ring. Aries hits the ropes and goes for the suicide dive, but Ki sees it coming and delivers an INSANE kick to Aries head. Ugh, you could hear boot meeting head. Ki quickly enters the ring and goes for the pin, but only gets a two count, so he starts choking Aries with the ropes. Ki breaks the choke and snapmares Aries down and places him in almost a sleeper hold, draining the energy out of him. Aries tries to make a comeback, but Ki takes him out with a running elbow strike followed with a running clothesline. Ki’s really working that neck hard.

Ki chokes Aries some more before dropping him with the belly-to-back suplex, gaining a two count. Ki whips Aries into the corner and connects with a running shoulder thrust, and then whips him into the orginal corner while going for the same attack, but Aries sees it coming and turns it into a sunset flip pin, only getting a two. Aries attempts the crucifix bomb, but Ki stays his ground, so Aries tries to turn it into a sunset flip pin once more, only to have Ki jump up and land on his chest with the standing double stomp! Aries slowly rises to his knees and Ki delivers his usual series of kicks to the chest, but Aries asks for him to keep bringing it! Ki keeps kicking him but Aries gets to his feet and tells him to “come on!”. Aries finally blocks one of the kicks and turn it into a shinbreaker/release belly-to-back suplex, making his comeback! Aries whips Ki into the corner and nails a running dropkick to the face, but only gets a two count off it. Aries goes for a bridging German Suplex, but Aries can’t hold the bridge due to his hurting neck. Aries attempts the slingshot twisting body press, but Ki gets his feet up to stop his assault. Ki then gets up and connects with a springboard enziguri, sending Aries out of the ring and to the floor! Ki places Aries towards the center of the ring, climbs the ropes, and goes for his top-rope double stomp, but Aries rolls out of the way. It doesn’t matter though, because Ki is right back up to his feet and connects with the running shotgun dropkick to Aries, sending him flying into the turnbuckles, but Ki only gets a two count for it. Aries blocks a Dragon Clutch attempt, and then slips out of a Ki Krusher attempt, finally managing to lift Ki up and drop him down with the brainbuster, yet only gains a two count. Aries goes to the top rope, but Ki stops him with some strikes and goes up to the second rope.

Both men trade strikes, fighting for control on the top rope, but Aries manages to push Ki into the tree of woe position! The crowd knows it’s coming, but Ki doesn’t, as Aries jumps up and connects with a…pretty pathetic looking double stomp! Man, that just didn’t look very pretty at all, but it was still effective. Aries goes for the pin…and only gets a two count! Aries tries for a second brainbuster, but Ki knees his head in midair and connects with a kappo kick, making Aries stumble into the corner. Ki slowly starts rising to his feet, but Aries stops him with a stiff kick to the head! Aries places Ki where he wants him and starts climbing the top rope, but Ki kicks the ref into the ropes, forcing Aries to fall crotched on the top. Ki climbs to the top with Aries and strikes him with Kawada kicks to the head, weakening him enough to nail the TOP-ROPE KI KRUSHER! Ki slowly crawls over to Aries and…gets the three count at 21:58! ***3/4

Low Ki defeats Austin Aries via top-rope Ki Krusher in 21:48.
This was a really good match, and Ki working over Aries’ injured neck the entire time was just perfect. It literally acted as a target, because every single chance he got Ki would try and attack the neck, and it impeded a few of Aries’ moves (although he really shoulda sold it more). These two gel pretty well together, and aside from one of two semi-awkward spots, this was no different. Definitely tacked on 1/4* just for the finish, since not only did it work really well in the match and looked awesome, but it further added to the ‘hurt neck’ angle that had been hyped on commentary all throughout the show, since Punk’s submission finisher puts pressure on the neck. Although, truthfully, Aries losing before his biggest title defense to date is lame.

The Rottweilers rush to the ring and start beating down Aries, but the rest of Generation Next (Strong and Evans) run down and fight them off, as Evans does a HUGE springboard double moonsault to the outside to take out the gang, but in true Evans fashion, pretty much doesn’t get caught and lands on his neck. Sorry Jack. Jay Lethal runs down to the ring once again, just to help out with the finishing touches as he gives Ki a Dragon Suplex, finally extracting the revenge he was waiting so long to get.

Colt Cabana cuts a promo backstage, talking about the pure title match and who the winner ended up being. Cabana mocks Nigel by telling him he couldn’t get it done tonight, but Joe did. Cabana tells Joe he’s a meany pants but that’s all good, because he’s a wrestler first and foremost. He ends it with a question for the ages; who has two thumbs and loves the pure championship? Cabana points to himself. I love Colt.

Gary Michael Cappetta catches up with Aries and asks how his neck is, who responds by telling him obviously it’s not broken, which means it’s fine. Aries says Punk can do whatever he wants to him, because he’ll just keep on coming, and nothing/nobody will take his title away.

Ring Crew Express are taking down the ring and say that they’re ready to fight the Carnage Crew, but they didn’t show up. The camera turns to see the Carnage Crew not even twenty feet away, drinking at the bar. Reminds me of the Anchorman scene when Ron Burgundy wonders where his news team is, and they’re right next to him. RCE looks stupid once again tonight and tries to attack Carnage Crew, and the two teams brawl outside as the camera fades to black.

Moment Of The Night: Without a doubt, it’s gotta be the spot where Loc shoves Marocs off the top rope and he hits the vertical ladder and FULLY bounces off it, doing a cartwheel in midair before hitting the floor. Thank God he was okay after that. Not only did it look cool, but it got over how violent and pissed the Carnage Crew is upon their return.

Wrestler Of The Night: Tough choice, as so many guys stepped up to the plate and surprised/impressed me on this show. I think I gotta go with Roderick Strong, as he had his absolute best singles match up to this point and showed why he’s a future main eventer, and why many consider him the MVP of 2005. Yes, he had a great wrestler like Punk to match up against, but he more than held his own and sold and worked so well during the match…major props to him. The scary thing is that he’s like ten times better now than he was when this show took place!

Match Of The Night: Definitely CM Punk versus Roderick Strong. Awesome in so many ways.

The Inside Pulse
Well, here’s a show to add to the ‘underrated/overlooked’ list for sure. No one really talks about it, ever, yet it holds a lot of great matches and many different styles. Exciting spotfests, wild brawls, fun opener, stiff fight, technical masterpiece, etc, and I’m a guy who loves varation on a wrestling show. Now, a few of the final matches followed a similar formula, but they altered it for each match so it really wasn’t that repetitive, which can be a huge problem on ROH shows. Aside from some crappy sound quality during the second Douglas promo (although that may not be a bad thing), everything was great production-wise. The only reason this show doesn’t get a higher score is because nothing important happened, unless you count Douglas’ appearance ‘important’. It was more of a filler/set-up show with some really great wrestling, so because of that, it gets a definite thumbs up and a solid reccomendation. Unless you’re only collecting monumental shows or are short on cash, there’s no reason you shouldn’t own this DVD.

Questions, comments, concerns? Contact me on MSN at Spartanlacrosse@hotmail.com, or on AIM at DesertEagle313. And as always, thanks for reading my review. Hope you enjoyed it!