A2Z Analysiz – Samoa Joe: A Championship Legacy (CM Punk, Daniel Bryan)

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March 19, 2013

No championship reign in Ring of Honor has carried with it the importance of Samoa Joe’s incredibly nearly two year run on top. Joe burst onto the ROH scene in late 2002 and within six months was one of the top contenders to the ROH World Title. He was placed in a Four Corner Survival Match along with Homicide, BJ Whitmer, and EZ Money at Expect the Unexpected with the #1 Contender’s Trophy on the line. Joe emerged victorious, and then steamrolled his way over ROH Champion Xavier the following week at Night of the Champions to become the third ROH Champion.

A little over a month later Joe made his first official title defense with a victory over popular British wrestler Doug Williams at Retribution: Round Robin Challenge II. Joe continued to take on all comers and come out on top, including wins over the departing Paul London at Death Before Dishonor, hometown boy BJ Whitmer at Wrath of the Racket, and rival Christopher Daniels at Glory By Honor II. Each match demonstrated Joe’s tenacity and sheer will to hang on to the ROH World Title and build its prestige.

As 2003 wore on and the calendar turned to 2004, Joe showed no signs of slowing down. He engaged in a war with the Briscoes, making his first successful defense against the elder brother Jay at Tradition Continues. Joe followed that up with impressive matches against the likes of AJ Styles at The Conclusion, and then outlasted BJ Whitmer, Dan Maff, and the first ROH Champion Low Ki in a brutal Four Corner Survival match at the 2nd Anniversary Show.

One of Joe’s toughest opponents throughout his reign was “The Notorious 187″ Homicide. The two engaged in several furious battles, and Homicide earned Joe’s ire by throwing a fireball in his face to draw a disqualification at Reborn Stage One. Joe got his revenge by cleanly defeating Homicide with a brainbuster in a great match at Generation Next. Over the summer Joe made several more successful defenses, and even traveled outside of ROH to face Shinya Makabe at a New Japan USA show in Los Angeles. Joe also beat another hometown hopeful hero, in this case Colt Cabana, at Death Before Dishonor II Part Two.

Joe continued to roll through the fall, besting Doug Williams once again at Glory By Honor 3 and defeating Bryan Danielson in a classic at Midnight Express Reunion. He also stuck it to the Rottweilers once again by getting past Rocky Romero at Gold. The stage was now set for Joe and his most threatening challenger to complete their epic trilogy of matches.

CM Punk first challenge Samoa Joe at World Title Classic in June, and the two engaged in an epic battle of wills, resulting in a 60-minute time-limit draw. A rematch was in the cards, but it actually wouldn’t come together until four months later, in Punk’s hometown at Joe vs. Punk II. Even with the support of his Chicago brethren, Punk couldn’t put Joe away and the two wrestled to another time limit draw in one of the best matches in ROH history. Joe stated that this was Punk’s last shot at his gold.

However, Punk wouldn’t take no for an answer, and at Weekend of Thunder Night Two he held the show hostage, saying he would not leave the ring until Samoa Joe accepted his challenge for a no time-limit match at the next show. Mick Foley came out to verbally spar with Punk, and then Joe finally made his way out to accept Punk’s challenge. The match took place at All-Star Extravaganza II, and even Ricky Steamboat came out to watch the match from ringside. After another titanic struggle, Joe was able to finally earn a decisive victory in just over 30 minutes to close the most celebrated trilogy of matches in ROH history.

THE PULSE

This is a very tight, very focused selection of matches from the most influential and important World Title reign in ROH history. The match selection is quite good, though I would have included the Frontiers of Honor match with Zebra Kid for posterity, since it is the match that made the ROH Title into the ROH World Title. Even so this is a great set and an excellent representation of Samoa Joe’s title reign. You can purchase this set at the ROH Shop.

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