Tuesday Morning Backlash on Daniel Bryan Danielson’s WWE Release, John Cena’s Role, Undertaker’s Injury

Columns, Features, Top Story

So, I got a bit carried away with this one. There’s a 10 Thoughts in the 10 Columns column… as well as video of the entirety of the 2007 Wrestling Observer Match of the Year starring Bryan Danielson… oy. So, as usual, bookmark and utilize Ctrl F to figure out where you are, where you left off and what you want to read. Beyond that, I strongly suggest you start at Section 10 and utilize it as a soundtrack to the rest of the column.

1) WWE Raw Thoughts – 10 Thoughts on Daniel Bryan Danielson’s Release
2) WWE Smackdown Thoughts – Fatal Four Way’s Affect on Undertaker Injury Angle and CM Punk
3) TNA Impact Thoughts – On the Push of Jay Lethal and Frankie Kazarian
4) WWE NXT/Superstars/Misc – The NXT Season 2 Rookies So Far
5) ROH Thoughts – Can we Admit Gabe Sapolsky was Right Yet?
6) Guest Spot – Kyle Sparks on The Hypocrisy of the WWE based on Bryan Danielson
7) A Modest Response – To Mark Allen’s “This Week in ‘E”
8) History Time – Why I love Pro Wrestling: Danielson vs. Morishima I
9) Match Review – Joe vs. Punk II
10) Personal Life/Blog/whatever – 10 Songs that Matter to Me

1) WWE Raw Thoughts – 10 Thoughts on Daniel Bryan Danielson being Released and the NXT Rookie Invasion

1. I’m lead to believe that this isn’t a work… and that it was likely the right call. Look, I love Bryan Danielson. He may be my favorite wrestler ever. I loved last week’s angle and thought he’d be a star from it. But the senate bid and the advertising are more important right now. These are big moves- bigger than any wrestler.

2. I fully expect Danielson to return with a huge push. Although not the intention, this will likely end up working like the Brian Pillman angle from years back, with Danielson as a huge wildcard who can work everyone and keep people wondering what’s real and what isn’t. There was a time when it was thought he’d never have the promo skills to pull this off, but his recent issues with Michael Cole have proven otherwise.

3. So, why do I expect him back? I hear he has no interest in TNA. He apparently could have gone there for years. Danielson can work ROH, DG USA, PWG and so on as the wronged party, as he’s already promised to speak out. This should be incredible heat and, much like Matt Hardy once-upon-a-time, a huge deal when he returns, except with the talent to capitalize.

4. I have no idea whether or not John Cena really wants Danielson back or argued for him, but stating that he did was a brilliant move. Cena still takes a lot of heat from many corners of the internet. Being seen as a standup guy for the internet darling Danielson can only help him gain acceptance and respect from the contingent that despises him. Will it turn everyone to his side? Of course not. But it will help.

5. Wade Barrett is good, but he’d better be amazing because he’s going to have to carry this NXT Invasion. We’ve been over that David Otunga can talk reasonably well but not wrestle. Justin Gabriel, of course, can go about as well as Otunga can talk, but not really talk. The rest are at varying degrees of effectiveness, but none are really remotely close to Danielson as the full package but Barrett. If Wade wasn’t going to be a star before, he’s surely going to get every chance to be now.

6. If this is a work, it’s a terrible idea. The release simply doesn’t have the cache of Undertaker’s being comatose. Vince may like shoot angles right now, but this fake release will piss pretty much the entire wrestling world off- from the office staff to the WWE wrestler to indy guys – everyone was worked. These are not people who are used to being kayfabed. It isn’t the 80s where the business is that protected, so there would be little to no reason to go to these lengths to make it seem real. The harm would more than counter any goodwill

7. Still, if it is a work, here’s how I want it to happen (which it won’t): Barrett should cash his title shot in against Cena at the Summerslam (this needs time to simmer) and let Danielson interfere and cost Cena the match. Yes, I know that’s obvious… but after that, he should immediately turn on Barrett, as well, and beat him within an inch of his life. This could set up a three-way or transition into a series of singles matches between the three men.

8. If not this, then when Danielson returns, let either him rescue John Cena from the next huge beating because Cena stuck up for him and the NXT guys did not or have him fake save Cena only to turn on him. The former would transition to Cena and Danielson taking out the Rookies for a month or two, then having their respect match around the Royal Rumble, while the latter allows the traditional feud based on hate.

9. Bryan Danielson’s “remorse” and “we’ll never see him again” smacks of a guy the WWE plans to bring back, likely as a face depending on how fast this blows over. He’s now set to return in either scenario presented in 8 and seems like a big deal. Note that his last image on WWE television was destroying and shouting down the biggest name in the business- John Cena. I don’t see the WWE letting that be how he walks away.

10. And in one week the WWE took their hard, interesting, real feeling storyline and turned it into just another wrestling angle. The opening show promo is a total cliché, as is the pathetic fake vehicular homicide at the end. Instead of trying anything new, we’re back in the same territory as always. Oh well, last week was great, at least.

2. WWE Smackdown Thoughts: Fatal Four Way’s Affect on Undertaker Injury Angle and CM Punk

The Undertaker angle was smoking hot, but is not something that can sustain a slow build. They need to push this faster and harder than they really have. A sense of urgency in finding who is responsible would be excellent. A great way to do this is to have someone claim responsibility for the assault, end up facing off with and losing to Kane in a big match, then finally having it revealed they weren’t responsible. Swagger would be perfect for this. For this reason, Fatal Four Way needs to hurry up and get done with so momentum can be regained. With the focus on the four men in the title match and promoting the PPV, not enough attention is being paid to the Kane-Undertaker angle, which is the real moneymaker. Big Show will likely remain involved in this angle as the skeptic, as we move into some kind of three-way feud between Swagger who is blamed, Show who thinks it’s really just Kane, and Kane as the frightening, mysterious figure.

This match has also stalled out CM Punk’s momentum a bit. He had his own excellent storyline going with his head shaved and new mask after the Rey Mysterio feud concluded. Losing that feud, there was no reason for him to return to the title picture. A face mocking his hypocrisy, while Rey went away for a bit would have been the perfect follow up to his big feud loss. This could, however, be a blessing in disguise for Punk. The only face remotely close to ready to challenge him in this role on Smackdown is Kofi Kingston, who’s tied up with Drew McIntyre. The Fatal Four Way could give Kofi time to transition that feud to Drew vs. Matt Hardy, then be promoted to working with CM Punk. Worst case, though, would be pretty good anyway- Ziggler can gain heat and steam with Vickie Guerrero, with or without Christian involved. Christian, if not Kofi, could easily work with Punk in a role to get over his hypocrisy in wearing a mask for being bald while his followers are bald. Hopefully, immediately after Fatal Four Way, one of these two feuds is transitioned towards.

3. TNA Impact Thoughts: The Pushes Jay Lethal and Frankie Kazarian

Frankie Kazarian and Jay Lethal are both in the midst of a huge push involving top wrestlers AJ Styles and Kurt Angle, as well as all time great Ric Flair. Both men are top notch in ring performers, but I feel that only one of the pushes is destined to succeed.

Frankie Kazarian is a very good in ring worker. Although slightly less athletic, he’s also a bit bigger and has an arguably better look than AJ Styles. He’s also seemingly getting a huge push, looking more and more likely to replace AJ Styles in Ric Flair’s burgeoning new stable. After the best match at last night’s Slammiversary PPV against Kurt Angle, a man who always has a huge influence on the company, and with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff on record as loving his look the former Suicide seems to have a very bright future.

Jay Lethal’s push seemingly happened by accident. A Ric Flair impersonation promo seems to have finally cued TNA brass in to the fact that Lethal’s personality is more than that of a simple Macho Man impersonator. Lethal has a great comedic presence, but, as he’s shown lately with Flair, can make things matter and take them to another level. His recent work with Flair has been the first time many fans have been able to see Flair’s TNA tenure as more than a legacy tarnishing joke. Further, he’s proven time and again that he can absolutely go in the ring and, and don’t sell this short, make fans care about what he’s doing. Many men can have great matches or make fans care, but very few can do both at once as consistently as Lethal with his top flight athletic ability, selling, and timing. He’s already had one of Kurt Angle’s top TNA matches ever for the X-Title, and had another great one with AJ Styles at Sunday’s PPV. At his size though, that athleticism is less rare. What really makes Lethal stand out are his ROH matches with Low Ki and Samoa Joe. In the former feud, he showed he could be the underdog, fighting back against arguably the toughest man ever in ROH when no one gave him a shot. He kept coming at Low Ki and was made by his tenacity through numerous very good matches that doubtless would be great now with Lethal’s added experience (he was 19 or 20 years of age at the time of that feud). After that, Lethal turned heel on mentor Samoa Joe and was able to be a cocky heel the fans wanted Joe to kill.

The ability to make people care is why Lethal’s push will likely succeed where Kazarian’s will not. Kazarian is likely going to replace AJ Styles with Ric Flair’s stable, but is too similar to AJ. He’s getting a big push in a new role, but it’s a role that already has failed for the guy he’s most similar to. This can get him to the upper-mid-card, but likely not more than that. Worse, Kazarian has been a heel before and without great success. He’s just not smarmy or evil enough and it feels contrived. Lethal, on the other hand, has the underdog babyface role down pat. He fits the character and it him. With both getting pushes with similar in ring skill, it is the interview ability and comfort level with the role that will make the push. There, Lethal is easily ahead of Kazarian.

4. WWE NXT Thoughts – The New Rookies From Season 2 So Far

Here are my thoughts on the rookies who have had ring time so far:

Husky Harris – Kendall Windham sure seems like a flop. He’s a solid wrestler, but he has two huge strikes against him. First is he’s being set up to fail. Second is that he’s got the goofiest facial expressions I’ve seen in years. Harris is a big man, so why is he wearing that ring outfit? He looks absurd and since in wrestling look is half the battle, he’s already behind the 8-ball. Worse, he makes goofy faces pretty much constantly. Fans will not be able to take his ring work seriously if he can’t keep from looking ridiculous the entire match.

Titus O’Neil – You know how everyone swore Otunga must have “it?” Well, this guy might really have “it.” He’s big with a good look and he seems to get what he’s doing on the mic and in the ring without really knowing how to go about what he says or does. He’s sloppy both on the mic and in the ring, but the timing and ability are there for more. Will he reach his potential? No idea at this point, but this guy could work out.

Eli Cottonwood – He didn’t show a ton, but he wasn’t atrocious for a random giant and could float around being useful for awhile.

Percy Watson – He seems already like a guy the WWE likes… but I don’t see anything. He has an interesting look without having anything interesting about him. I can see why he was paired with Darren Young, who is very similar, in being boring with a distinct look, except reportedly a better worker. I’d expect him to be this season’s Heath Slater.

Alex Riley – He came off as a star week one and weakly week 2. If he’s going to win or contend, he can’t afford many performances like last week, though Matt Striker obviously hurt him. I’d like to see the Rookies of this season split into factions- one group that follows the vets and one that rebels. Riley could be a star as the leader of the former faction.

Michael McGuillicuty – While McGuillicuty or Kaval should really lead the rebels. Hennig has been a step above on the mic and with his presence through the first two shows and could be a huge success. I’m already a big fan, so hopefully his ring work won’t be a let down.

Kaval – As a ROH fan, I’m predisposed to liking the former Low Ki. I’d love to see him enthralled by LayCool for now before breaking free and killing everyone with his vicious kicks. He’s incredibly small and I really wish he were brought in as a foil for Rey Mysterio, but with Danielson gone for now, he should have a huge opportunity.

5. Ring of Honor Thoughts: Can we Admit Gabe Sapolsky Was Right Yet?

Ring of Honor in late 2008 decided they were better off without their creative visionary, Gabe Sapolsky. Attendance and DVD sales were down at that point as the company struggled to create new stars and catch lightning in a bottle with another hot angle. Since Sapolsky left, he revealed many of his former ROH plans and, with DVD sales that never fully recovered according to all reports, despite a television audience with HDNet and a creative direction that has featured far less buzz. Now, for their biggest show in quite awhile their second attempt at an Internet Pay Per View at one of the biggest yearly shows, Death before Dishonor, ROH themselves are using several of Gabe’s top matches.

When he left ROH, Sapolsky revealed his intention to build towards an epic Davey Richards vs. Tyler Black showdown, feeling both were the top young wrestlers in ROH. The idea was for Tyler to defeat Nigel McGuinness (Desmond Wolfe) for the ROH Title when Tyler was still a hot act, then defend the title for months as Davey slowly worked his way up the card and into contention. Well, it took an extra year and turning much of the fanbase on Tyler Black, but ROH’s current brass has apparently see the wisdom in this match and will use it for their next big PPV, though with far less buzz than it would have had under Sapolsky’s time frame.

The other two big matches on the Death Before Dishonor card are holdovers from the Sapolsky era as well. In 2006, Sapolsky had the Kings of Wrestling, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero, as one of the hotter acts in all of wrestling, but was forced to break the duo up due to Claudio signing a WWE contract. The feud that was supposed to headline the tag division was the incredible hot outsider duo, the Kings of Wrestling against homegrown heroes, the Briscoes. Claudio ended up staying in ROH, but with the team with Hero already broken up, the trigger was never pulled. Now, the Kings re-unite at Death Before Dishonor VIII to face the Briscoes once more… though without the outsider angle to really get fans invested.

One feud Sapolsky planted the seeds for that didn’t fall apart, though, is Kevin Steen vs. El Generico. With their often contentious partnership dissolved, these two have been trying to kill one another for months. Surely, it seems nearly time for a Fight Without Honor to blow the feud off, but still, with their incredible chemistry, this can go on for a bit longer. The current regime has certainly kept the feud heated and with the involvement of a rejuvenated Steve Corino and Colt Cabana, this is one feud Sapolsky would have likely struggled to do better.

Still, ROH’s current direction is marvelously similar to Sapolsky’s vision two years ago. After struggling to find their way and their presentation for so long with new voices being heard, the company has seemingly essentially went back to what they were before Sapolsky’s departure, if a bit watered down. They are, seemingly, re-hashing Sapolsky’s ideas in a less successful manner. I don’t know about you, but to me, that certainly makes it seem like Gabe Sapolsky was in the right all along.

6. Guest Spot – The Hypocrisy of the WWE After the Bryan Danielson Situation

Having just finished watching Raw, after completing my ROH recap right here at the Pulse (/cheap plug), I find myself utterly appalled at what I just saw. 72 hours after firing Bryan Danielson due to an angle that everyone in creative loved and justifying it with a halfhearted reference to the Benoit rule that almost everyone has broken in the last 3 years, WWE closed their flagship show by running an angle that essentially posits attempted vehicular homicide.

Part of the issue here is that–as has been established in a variety of places–the so-called “Benoit Rule” that WWE is invoking to justify the dismissal of Danielson has been broken by a wide variety of people within the organization since 2007. The short list includes such luminaries as JBL, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Randy Orton, Umaga, John Cena, etc. The obvious rebuttal to this claim is that, well, those are all established veterans and many former (or current) World Champions. While yes, that is a valid point, let’s not forget that Rob Van Dam was atop the company with two World Titles when he got busted for pot and dropped both. Jeff Hardy was arguably supposed to ride the Money in the Bank win into the stratosphere and got turfed out of the match for wellness issues. The point being–at least so one thought–stars shouldn’t be above the rules, a point that this particular enforcement would seem to blatantly contradict.

In addition to this incongruity, there is the fact that Heath Slater also quite clearly choked John Cena with the dismantled ring rope while Cena was virtually “unconscious” and tacitly unable to defend himself. Even if one assumes that there is a distinction to be made between the veterans mentioned above and the rookies (a dubious point, at best), for Slater to escape unscathed is confusing to say the least, and points to a significant failure of director Kevin Dunn, who apparently chose to focus on Danielson’s choke for significantly longer than Slater’s, therefore (inadvertently?) leaving Danielson “holding the bag” (in the alleged words of a TNA worker) for something that wasn’t necessarily his fault.

Now, having established a total lack of justification for the dismissal of Danielson, I am left with nothing but being angry at the lack of justice in the situation. While the angle itself is still solid, and has great potential for continued development, especially for Wade Barrett who I–like everyone else–am quite high on–Danielson’s absence hurts it somewhat, as it appears to be a glaring plot hole that was filled in the most haphazard, ham-fisted way possible.

This finally brings me to the angle to close Raw on Monday. While it certainly wasn’t as violent as some of the vehicular angles they’ve run in the past–or as over the top (the Rock/Hogan ambulance incident comes to mind)–the fact remains that it was definitely a longer lasting and more abjectly violent set of imagery than was Danielson’s 5 second visual choke of ring announcer Justin Roberts. And while I’m at it, has anyone actually interviewed Justin Roberts about the situation? It would seem to me that since his involvement is the prevailing issue, his story would be one to hear. Be that as it may, as more and more time passes, it appears more and more likely that this is legitimate; that being something I feared all along.

WWE has freed the American Dragon, and unfortunately, it appears as though unless something changes he’s bound for TNA which will be an unmitigated disaster, or ROH, which would feel exceptionally awkward given his remarkable send-off a mere 8 months ago. Neither feel right at this point in time and moreover, we as a fanbase were robbed of seeing Bryan Danielson–a man many of us enjoyed following for the last 7 years–perform on the biggest stage in the wrestling word. And that is a crime in itself.

7. A Modest Response – Mark Allen on Raw being Must-See in This Week in ‘E

“Regardless this week’s RAW is still “must see TV” just to simply see what happens next. This whole ordeal starting from RAW and leading to Bryan’s release has put the entire wrestling world on notice and reminded me again why it’s fun to be a wrestling fan.”

Mark is so rarely wrong I almost hate to go into these, but this is just a flat out false statement if you follow the WWE. First off, Raw stopped being must-see the instant Danielson was released. While this had a bit to do with the lack of his presence to carry in-ring portion of the NXT stable, it more had to do with the WWE getting scared. When the WWE gets scared, they always react to going back to what was safe. In this case, the startlingly different WWE NXT Invasion became just another hackneyed wrestling plot we’ve seen 100 times, hardly anything approaching must-see or containing the manic energy of the first assault. Seriously, how many vehicular homicide angles can WWE do.


Next, we have that the Danielson release is why it’s fun to be a wrestling fan. That’s wrong. The Danielson release, right for the WWE though it may be, is why I hate wrestling. Daniel Bryan went from a bland, small wrestler the WWE would only use an enhancement talent to inarguably one of the best wrestlers in the world. In other words he went from this:

to this:

Through hard work and determination the small, bland wrestler who was even a comparative afterthought in early ROH to Low Ki and Chris Daniels by Gabe Sapolsky’s own admission, a guy who was finally given a contract with a major company only after every other one of his contemporaries already had a contract (Punk, Joe, AJ, Daniels, Ki, Shelley, Aries, Strong, Cabana, Sydal/Bourne… hell, everyone but Hero) with a bigger company, a guy who went from unable to make the crowd get emotionally invested to being absolutely beloved…. He was told he didn’t have enough personality so he developed a shoot fighting persona, a wise-assed fan taunting persona, a goofy nice guy persona and more. Danielson was told he couldn’t cut promo, then went out and learned how to bring so much intensity that his promos with Michael Cole were easily the highlight of the first NXT Season. A guy who lived his dream and was succeeding through sheer amazing talent in absolutely amazing storylines may have just lost his dream, his livelihood and his chance for riches and fame. Through sheer bad luck, almost for doing his job too well, Bryan Danielson potentially may have lost everything… for no good reason. That is most certainly not what I love about wrestling.

8. History Time – Why I love Pro Wrestling

No long diatribe here, just watch. Bryan Danielson breaks his orbital bone here and just keeps going. This was the Wrestling Observer’s 2007 Match of the Year… the night before my birthday:




9. Match Review: Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk II

Joe vs. Punk II
Chicago Ridge, IL

ROH World Title Match
Samoa Joe (c) vs. CM Punk

Punk is now a major face and Joe is still the unbeatable heel champion. The first match saw Punk use hit and run tactics to try and wear down the big, offensive, Samoa Joe, but a hurt knee prevented him from capitalizing. Will Punk be able to defeat Joe this time, or will Joe’s knowledge of Punk’s strategy allow him to come out on top? Punk has home field advantage, being from Chicago, but Joe has the champion’s advantage. It’s match time.

As the familiar “Miseria Cantare” blares out Punk emerges to chants of “Welcome home” and “New Champ.”
Easier chanted than done, as the Godzilla theme leading into “The Champ is Here” heralds the arrival of the year long champion, Samoa Joe.

During ring announcements the crowd is strongly behind CM Punk and against Joe. It’s always disconcerting to hear Joe get heel heat in an ROH ring, but here it is.
Both men feel each other out again to begin. This time Samoa Joe works on the mat with Punk rather than trying to shrug him off and go for strikes. He seems a lot more successful this way, although Punk is still better on the mat.

The respect from the last match comes out early in this match as both men are giving each other clean breaks and avoiding going for anything high risk and giving their opponent the advantage.

As Joe looks like he has the mat advantage, Punk goes with the headlock again, just like last match. Joe has reversals for that prepared and manages a leg scissor with an underhook of the arms. They continue to fight over Punk getting the headlock and maintaining it for several minutes, but Punk, still better on the mat, has a counter for every counter Joe attempts. Joe is getting a lot more offense in while trying to fight back this time and using less energy going for huge moves.

They begin to re-do the shoulder block spot from the first match, where neither can move the other, but when Punk goes for his cheap shot Joe begins striking and both men end up in a big reversal sequence. This is won by Punk and Joe goes to the floor. Punk won’t try returning strikes with Joe and instead goes right back to mat work.

A test of strength results in Joe using his slap combinations to pepper Punk, but Punk fires back, using his speed. Joe, taking a page from Punk’s book, covers up and kicks Punk’s head off, forcing Punk to bail.

Back in and Joe and Punk begin working a knuckle lock again. Joe has the strength advantage and uses it, but Punk uses his speed and mat skill again, now to work Joe’s arm. This is ongoing and Punk is badly outwrestling Samoa Joe in this one.

Punk climbs across the ropes, a la Undertaker with an arm lock and takes Joe down with a leg drop to the arm off the ropes. The arm work continues as the announcers put over that Punk has been working with Ricky Steamboat, a nice bit of inter-feud continuity.

Joe finally escapes the wristlock with a spinning forearm. Joe goes for his chop-kick-knee combination, but Punk again has Joe scouted and goes to the side headlock. Punk is using the strategy Bryan Danielson did in his Midnight Express Reunion match with Joe by picking apart two body parts to ensure he has options and Joe is weakened in more than one way. Danielson attacked the arm and leg, and Punk is going after the head and an arm.

Punk, working the headlock follows Joe to the floor without breaking the hold, but Joe turns it into a suplex on the floor to break the hold hard this time. Joe hits the chop-kick-knee combination, this time countering Punk’s counter and that big suplex changed the complexion of this match. Joe finally has Punk open enough for chops and the facewash, but Punk retreats from that and attacks Joe’s head for the advantage.
Punk now goes for the facewash on Joe and connects. The head work is paying off!

From here Punk rides a knee from the second rope down on Joe’s back. The wear down continues.
Joe, finally counters with kicks and he’s attacking Punk’s leg, a tactic which saved the title in the first match. Punk refuses to tap to an STF alteration and tries a flying cross body, but Joe walks out of the way of it. Joe has Punk hurt and goes for high impact maneuvers.

Joe goes after the legs again with a sweep, but Punk dodges and Joe takes a dropkick, no sells and hits the sweep as intended. Joe continues the assault with a Boston Crab. Punk’s back and legs are suddenly in a load of trouble, but Joe still seems winded.

Joe unleashes on Punk with strikes and Punk is in big trouble. The saving grace for Punk this time is that Joe still appears winded and isn’t putting together combinations like he usually does. Joe finally hits the facewash, but has to catch his breath afterwards.

Joe continues the assault for several more minutes, but Punk gains an advantage with a second rope hurricanrana and a tope suicida. Punk goes with the Olay Olay kick and connects. A second Olay Olay kick and Joe is out. Punk’s speed and conditioning have totally changed this match.

But, I spoke too soon as Punk tries another hurricanrana he ends up being spun into the guardrail. Joe’s strength is not to be underestimated here. Angrily Joe goes for an Olay Kick, but is cut off and both men have finally gotten their second win and exchange strikes.

That goes about as well for Punk as one would expect and he eats Olay Kick. Back in and Joe retains control by planting Punk with a giant STO. Joe now knocks Punk out of the ring and nails Punk with a diving forearm. At this point the announcers sign off and we get the remainder of the match with no commentary.

Joe still in control DDT’s Punk on the apron. The crowd continues to rally behind Punk, clapping out the beat to his song, and booing Joe heavily when he hits the ring. Back in and Punk attempts offense, but eats a spear from Joe.

Joe, in a rare act of desperation, goes to the top and misses a big splash. High risk is called that for a reason. Punk has an opening and goes with a mule kick and enziguiri to keep the big man on the defensive.

He continues kicking the crap out of Joe until he runs into Joe’s powerslam and armbreaker combination.
Joe, thinking he has control and can finish, goes for the powerbomb combination, just as he did at this point in the previous match, but this time Punk snaps off a hurricanrana and a Yakuza Kick.

Punk hits an elevated neckbreaker, but can’t keep Joe down. Punk manages a tornado DDT, but that won’t finish either so he goes back to the headlock, which sends Joe scurrying for the ropes.

Punk goes into the ropes again, which has been a mistake pretty much every time he attempted it this match, and Joe kills him with a lariat. Joe in control continues working over Punk.

A quick reversal leads to a hammerlock DDT, working the hurt arm and the head, but even that only gets two, the first real near fall of the match, around 50 minutes in. A Pepsi Twist attempt by Punk, just like the first match, but this time Joe counters into a powerbomb combination to a crossface. Punk won’t tap and makes the ropes. We’re clearly in King’s Road Style were the very slow and story heavy start gives way to the fast paced, high impact finish.

Joe tries a Dragon Suplex, but Punk counters with a sunset flip and a Shining Wizard. Huge false finish there as Joe has his foot on the ropes.

Pepsi Twist into a moonsault and Punk just cannot keep Joe on the mat. Punk picks Joe up but receives a big pumphandle for his trouble. His speed allows a sleeper counter on Joe, though and Joe is in trouble… but he escapes with a back suplex. Punk no sells and they double clothesline each other for a double count.
Punk is up first and he sets Joe up for the Pepsi Plunge, top rope Pedigree, and with his knee basically fine in this match, if he hits it the match is over! They fight it out on the top and Joe manages a superplex to the crowd’s dismay.

Muscle Buster set up by Samoa Joe and they fight out of that. Only 10 seconds remain and Joe hits a big fisherman’s buster from the top as time runs out.

Samoa Joe and CM Punk go to a draw (60 Minute Time Limit, *****)
Technically this is as good a match as you’ll find. They told the story and built on nearly every spot contained in the first match and managed to go through all the big spots the first match lacked in the last 20 minutes of this one. This one focused on Power and Striking by Samoa Joe vs. Speed and Technical work by CM Punk. Both looked completely beat at several points, but at those times that one big move was never connected with to end it, usually because of something that happened in Joe-Punk I.
I’m usually really hyped up by the end of this one, but with Punk gone and his push dead, and Joe leaving and his role in the big feud in TNA basically being that of a meddler, this upset me more than cheered me up. Luckily the pace and build of Joe-Punk III is so different that it’s bound to hold interest.
After the match the two ROH Legends shake hands and “The Champ is Here” plays.

10. Personal Life/Blog/Whatever- 10 Songs That Mean Something to Me

A) Frank Sinatra – My Way

An absolutely iconic song by an iconic singer, this is the perfect way to kick off the list. In life, sometimes you find yourself going your own way, against everything, taking it on the chin and making it right as best you can with a mischievous smile, strength of character and a stiff drink. That’s what this song is about.

B) Black Star – Thieves in the Night

The only rap song on this list, this one has special meaning to me as a former teacher in an urban school. This song perfectly depicts the malaise of the “ghetto” mindset that leads to the perpetuating of societal ills and the wasting of young life. I’ve taught this song.


C) John Lennon – Watchin’ the Wheels

I had to specifically try to leave off Beatles and Lennon songs or the list would be filled entirely by them, but this track, released shortly before Lennon’s untimely death, had to make the list. It’s another song about living life your own way, but instead of the fighter Sinatra, Lennon surely sounds like a man at peace. As the musician who’s work most touches my life, I sincerely hope that he really was at peace at this point, especially considering what came next.


D) Eddie Vedder – You’ve got to hide your love away

Sometimes the cliché’s are just right. The Beatles are my favorite band ever and my current favorites, well, for the past twenty odd years, are Pearl Jam. That leaves me unable to resist this gem from the “I am Sam” soundtrack where the Pearl Jam frontman covers one of my favorite Beatles songs. Vedder’s throaty singing is perfect for this one, especially when placed counter to the Lennon version with his distinctive rock rasp. This is a very faithful cover beyond the change in lead vocals, only sped up a touch. No need to mess with perfection.

E) Bouncing Souls – Night Train

I actually found this one through wrestling- it was the song CM Punk used at “Punk: The Final Chapter” for his Ring of Honor farewell. Since then the heartfelt, rebellious break-up song has taken me through two failed engagements and never lost a bit of its poignancy. I’m convinced there’s no better way to describe the feeling of when it’s really over than “And it feels like dying; it just feels like time to go.”

F) Billy Joel – Just the Way You are

Sure, this one is a bit morbid. Joel wrote this for Elizabeth Weber, his wife at the time. It really touches me that one of the most beautiful love songs ever by one of the most talented musicians of the past 30 years is for a relationship that failed.


G) Hank Williams – Family Tradition

“I like every kind of music but country.” Hey, fuck you.

H) Everclear – Santa Monica

Everclear seem to have been forgotten, but they were a really good band. Everything they sang about felt genuine, if a bit confused. Honest confusion and frustration with the way the world works make for good music. This one is about escapism and the frustration of how ineffective it is. You can, perhaps, see why this would appeal to the guy who ran away to Mardi Gras and has like six road trips planned currently.


I) Touch Me – The Doors

Another morbid one. This one has two back-stories attached. When Robby Krieger wrote this, the original title was “Hit Me.” The popularly accepted idea is that this was about blackjack, but Jim Morrison changed it so that he wouldn’t have to worry about rowdy crowds. From what I understand, the real story is far better. Krieger wrote this about an abusive relationship he was in, but Morrison was concerned about popularity at this point, so he insisted it be changed. We have the “underground icon, tragic figure” Morrison selling out here and punking out on the real lyrics. The irony of him actually ending up hiding the abuse the lyrics attempt to delve into and how abused parties in relationships will often show just to hide…


J) Elton John – Tiny Dancer

A memory I never really share. This was my song with my first love. The song wasn’t about her, but nothing could fit her spirit more. I remember her sister driving us back from a movie or a mall or something in the rain and me being in the back seat reaching over and holding her hand on her shoulder, about as perfect a moment as I’ve ever had. A year after we broke up, we began speaking again for a short while. I ended up making her a mix CD, as fools are wont to do. Tiny Dancer immediately made her burst into tears. Before now, there are maybe five people who ever heard that story.. and probably exactly one that it matters to.

I hope you all enjoyed yourselves and I’ll see you again next week.

Glazer is a former senior editor at Pulse Wrestling and editor and reviewer at The Comics Nexus.