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Montgomery County Fairgrounds – Dayton, OH – Friday, February 25, 2005
Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty are on commentary.
The Air Devils (Matt Sydal & Fast Eddie) defeat The Ring Crew Express (Dunn & Marcos) at 8:42. This is what happens when you let the fans of ROH vote on something – they name a team “The Air Devils.” Bower makes fun of the name on commentary, ensuring that fans will get nothing to vote on for the rest of his tenure. The action here is fast and furious, as these four have the task of getting the crowd going. Eddie is able to trap Marcos on the top rope and he brings him down with the Fasteddious to get the pin. Solid opener here and a good win for the new team.
But the Air Devils are short-lived, as Eddie attacks Sydal after the bell and puts him out with a sitout powerbomb. Then Prince Nana and Jimmy Rave come down to the ring and welcome the newest member of The Embassy – Fast Eddie!
Homicide defeats Puma at 10:00. After the brawl last night, ROH officials have told Bryan Danielson and Homicide that they will lose their night’s pay if they touch each other tonight. Puma makes a good showing for himself but has trouble overcoming Homicide as well as Julius Smokes’ interference from the floor. Eventually Homicide is able to trap Puma in the Cattle Mutilation, sending a not-so-subtle message to Danielson. Good showing for Puma here, but this was all about making Homicide look good, and it certainly accomplished that.
Colt Cabana defeats Nigel McGuinness at 12:08. These two skilled grapplers engage in some European Style mat and chain work, with McGuinness in particular channeling Johnny Saint. After a lengthy clinic in awesome wrestling, Cabana is able to trap McGuinness in a Victory Roll to get the pin. This was the kind of match no one else on the roster could have, a completely unique and entertaining display from both guys here.
ROH Tag Team Champions Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer defeat Jimmy Jacobs & Delirious at 9:28. Maff and Whitmer have been the Champions since 2.19.05, and this is their first defense. The Champs attack right away and dominate their smaller opponents. Jacobs and Delirious earned this title shot by defeating Special K back in October, the last time ROH was in Dayton. I miss the city-specific booking that Gabe used to specialize in. Jacobs gets beat on for a bit but Is able to make a hot tag to Delirious. Whitmer bumps around like crazy for him, which is way more than Maff will do. Maff is one of the most selfish wrestlers I’ve ever seen. Whitmer tries to powerbomb Jacobs off the top rope but Jacobs counters to a hurricanrana! Delirious follows with Shadows over Hell and the crowd (myself included, and Brad too!) bought that near-fall. Maff comes in to break up all that fun, and he and Whitmer take Jacobs to the floor and ram him into multiple barricades. Back in the ring Maff hits Delirious with the Burning Hammer to get the pin. Obviously the result was never in question, but Jacobs and Delirious made a pretty good go of it.
James Gibson defeats Spanky at 13:28. This is Gibson’s ROH debut. They start with some chain wrestling, keeping it clean but aggressive. Bower spends a good chunk of the opening minutes criticizing WWE for the way they do business. Spanky lands the first high-spot, sending Gibson to the floor and following him out with a top-dope dive. Back in the ring Gibson takes it to the mat and focuses on Spanky’s left arm. These two pros and good friends continue to trade momentum back and forth, and keep the crowd engaged. After a tremendous encounter, Gibson hits Spanky with a Double-Arm DDT and then locks on the Front Guillotine Choke to get the tap-out win. Bower and Nulty may have oversold it a bit, but this was quite a good match, and a really good way for Gibson to kick off his run in ROH.
Daizee Haze defeats Allison Danger, Lacey, and Tracy Brooks in a Four Corner Survival Match at 6:20. Haze and Lacey start it off, but it doesn’t take long for Brooks and Danger to get involved, as the pace is quick from the get-go. Bower makes note of Lacey’s ass and Nulty immediately scolds him. Probably the only time I agree with Nulty on anything. Brooks and Danger end up brawling to the back, leaving Lacey and Haze alone in the ring. They go back and forth attempting their big moves, and it’s Haze that’s able to connect with her Heart Punch and a Yakuza kick to get the pin. Good, fast-paced action here and a solid way to get back from intermission.
CM Punk defeats Alex Shelley at 22:00. Punk accepts Shelley’s handshake, but then holds him down on the ground and tells him that it’ll take more than a handshake to prove that he’s done being an asshole. To his credit, Shelley accepts the challenge and they chain wrestle, with Punk going after the arm and taking the first advantage. After several minutes of abuse, Shelly makes a comeback and takes control, attacking Punk in a variety of ways. I love watching Shelley work. Shelly focuses on the midsection, which is a good setup for the Border City Stretch. The back and forth continues, both men sticking to their game plans, and both men cinching in their signature submission moves but neither able to get a victory on the first attempt. In the end Shelley puts Punk in the Border City Stretch but Punk counters to the Anaconda Vise to get the win. That was similar to the earlier Gibson/Spanky match, but they went longer and still kept up the same kind of pace and level of crowd engagement. Both men stuck to solid game plans and did stuff that makes sense. Underrated match here I think.
After the match, the Embassy runs out and tries to attack CM Punk, but Shelley helps Punk clear them out. Shelley then cuts a promo once again apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Punk accepts, more or less, and asks the crowd to give Shelley a hand.
Samoa Joe & Bryan Danielson defeat Generation Next (Austin Aries & Jack Evans) at 23:14. Is there a more awesome team than 2005 Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson? I don’t think so. Danielson and Evans start the match, and they trade some dance moves and strikes. Guess who does better in each scenario? Joe gets tagged in and he wants Aries to get in the ring, since they will square off for the ROH World Title tomorrow night in Chicago Ridge. Joe and Danielson take turns destroying Evans in the opening minutes. After watching is partner get beat up for several minutes, Aries seizes an opportunity and Generation Next takes control on Danielson. Joe gets pretty antsy waiting on the apron and it leads to a schmoz on the floor, and moments later Joe and Aries get tagged in and are the legal men. Gen Next try the Ode to the Bulldogs but Evans slips and almost kills himself. The referee has completely lost control by this point. Danielson holds Aries back while Joe puts Evans in a modified Stretch Muffler to get the win. This match did a lot right, as they knew how long to entertain in the beginning before getting serious. Joe gets a big win to lead into his title shot tomorrow, Evans did what he does best, and Danielson and Aries were their usual great selves. Great semi-main event here.
After the match the Rottweilers attack Joe and Danielson until the cameras just awkwardly cut away.
Jimmy Rave (w/ Prince Nana defeats AJ Styles at 22:07. Rave also has a random woman with him; I don’t recall who that is. This is Styles’ return after almost a year away due to the Rob Feinstein scandal. This is promoted as a “one-night return” for Styles. This is a wild affair from the early going, with both men aggressively attacking each other and quickly taking it to the floor. Rave tries to get something going for himself but every time he does Styles doesn’t seem to be in the mood for selling. The commentators keep trying to put over what an even match this is, but that’s not the way AJ is wrestling it. Nana interferes as often as possible, and it finally pays off when Rave is able to spray air freshener in Styles’ eyes and roll him up with a handful of tights for the win. This wasn’t a bad match by any means, but in a main event slot it just didn’t feel right, since one of the participants made sure the other one didn’t look to be on his level, for whatever reason. These two would go on to have better matches later.
Of the nine matches here, five of them are three stars or more, and two of those are four-star efforts, so that’s worth a recommendation for sure. Feuds also mover along here, with Punk v the Embassy, Homicide v Danielson, and Aries v Joe in particular. Also, let us never forget THE AIR DEVILS.
Tags: AJ Styles, Anniversary Show, CM Punk, Jimmy Rave, Ring of Honor