National Guard Armory – Philadelphia, PA – Sunday, December 26, 2004
Jimmy Bower and CM Punk are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Trent Acid vs. Jimmy Jacobs
They start with some shenanigans and quickly transition into mat wrestling. Acid delivers a couple of armdrags and then taunts Jacobs and pays for it. Jacobs knocks Acid off the apron and wipes him out with a suicide dive. Acid comes back by powerslamming Jacobs into the steel barricade. Back in the ring Acid tries to keep Jacobs on the mat. Jacobs fights up and tries the Contra Code but Acid blocks it and hits a superkick. Acid follows with a Falcon Arrow for a two-count. The crowd HUSSes Jacobs back into the match. Jacobs misses a Big Boot and Acid hits a Yakuza Kick for two. Acid pulled Jacobs up for some reason. He goes for the Shovel Driver, but Jacobs slips out and hits the Contra Code to get the pin at 6:00. That was okay for a match with no build of any kind, but I don’t understand why it was necessary for Acid to pick Jacobs up from that last cover since it makes Jacobs look bad. Other than that, this was fine.
Acid is so disgusted with his recent losing streak and inability to beat that goof Jimmy Jacobs, so he profanely quits Ring of Honor. I think that really was his last appearance with the company.
MATCH #2: Lacey & Deranged vs. Becky & Angeldust
I believe this is ROH’s first mixed tag team match. The men start it off. They chain wrestle and the girls take cheap shots when they can. The pace quickens, and the action gets a little too fast to call. Angeldust drops Deranged on his face and then hits a double stomp to the back of the head. Deranged fights back with a modified tornado DDT and a slingshot springboard double stomp to a standing Angeldust. Lacey gets a tag and she’s not shy about going after Angeldust. Deranged goes for a super hurricanrana but Angeldust shoves him down and hits a double stomp to the face. The women get the tags and it’s Cat Fight time. Becky takes advantage and Deranged pulls her off a cover. She slaps Deranged and gets knocked on her ass for her troubles. Angeldust comes to her rescue and takes out all the Special K members at ringside with a dive. Meanwhile, Deranged trips Becky up, allowing Lacey to hit the Implant DDT to get the pin at 7:40. That was solid and well put together given the participants.
After the match Special K looks to attack Lacey, but Dunn & Marcos make the save and beat up on Cheech. They rocked him like a hurricane.
MATCH #3: Homicide vs. Josh Daniels
They start with some chain wrestling, but things get heated and both men throw some strikes into the mix as well. Daniels takes the early advantage and grinds on Homicide with a headlock. He hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Homicide fights back and targets the left arm. He goes up to the top rope and misses a diving headbutt. Daniels capitalizes with a hard clothesline and a back-body drop. He tries his own diving headbutt, but he also misses. Homicide tries the Lariat, but Daniels ducks and hits a German Suplex for two. Daniels tries another Northern Lights Suplex and Homicide counters with an Ace Crusher for two. Homicide goes back to the arm, but Daniels grabs a Dragon Suplex for a two-count. Moments later Homicide traps Daniels in a Key Lock and Daniels taps out at 10:19. That was a solid showing for Daniels, as Homicide gave him a good amount of offense. Homicide also worked the arm throughout the match and won with an arm submission, so good on them.
MATCH #4: ROH Pure Title Match – John Walters vs. Jimmy Rave
Walters has been the Champion since 8.28.04, and this is his fifth defense. Rave is accompanied by Prince Nana and The Outcast Killaz. These two faced off at All-Star Extravaganza 2 just a couple of weeks ago, where Walters won via countout. Rave takes control early and throws the first punch, earning a warning from referee Todd Sinclair. Walters fights back with chops and takes Rave down with a side headlock. He locks on a particularly painful submission hold right near the ropes and Rave is forced to use his first rope break. Rave responds by hitting a spinning vertical suplex. He takes control now, keeping Walters grounded, and poking him in the eyes when he tries a comeback. Rave dumps Walters to the floor, where there is a 20 count during Pure Title matches. He hits a flying knee off the apron and Walters makes it back to the ring at the count of 19. Rave covers right near the ropes and Walters uses his first rope break. Walters gets fired up and unleashes a flurry of offense, including Snake Eyes and a huge clothesline for two. He covers again, and this time Rave uses his second rope break. Walters hits the Hurricane DDT for another two-count. He goes up top, but Rave knocks him down. Rave goes for the Rave Clash but Walters escapes. The Crown Jewel of the Embassy puts on a guillotine-like submission and Walters uses his second rope break. Rave then locks on a Crossface and Walters uses his third and final rope break. Walters comes back and locks on a Sharpshooter. Rave uses his third and final rope break. The ropes are in play now for both men. Rave uses an O’Connor Roll with the ropes for leverage but only gets two. He goes up top, but Walters knocks him down and ties him up in a submission hold. Walters is outside the ring during the hold, so he is risking countout. For some reason Rave holds on until 19 and then taps out, giving Walters the win at 11:31. I have a hard time buying that Rave could hold on for 19 seconds in the hold but wouldn’t wait one more second to win the title. I appreciate points for effort on a creative finish, but it didn’t work for me. The match was solid stuff but not quite as good as their previous encounter.
Nana gets in the ring and puts over Rave and his efforts tonight. He then switches gears and offers Walters a spot in The Embassy. Walters is convinced, and he joins! Good for him, Nana made a convincing case.
MATCH #5: Fight Without Honor – Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer vs. The Carnage Crew
Loc pairs off with Whitmer while Maff and DeVito do battle in the early going. They all take it to the floor and engage in various levels of brutality. Maff is the first one to use a chair, and he also brings out a ladder. More brawling and hardcore activity continues with little rhyme or reason. Loc and DeVito take control for a good amount of time and use plenty of weapons to their advantage. Ladders get set up and all four men climb up and slug it out. Maff and Loc fall down crotch first on the top rope, and DeVito takes Whitmer down with a Side Effect. All four men are down. Mick Foley makes his way out to take the attention away from the wrestlers. He cuts a promo to reveal a Christmas stocking full of thumb tacks. DeVito hits an Ace Crusher close to the tack pile for a two-count. Things get crazy when Loc delivers a neckbreaker to Maff, from the apron through a table on the floor. Back in the ring Whitmer hits the Wrist-Clutch Exploder on a pile of tacks for the pin at 14:48. That was slightly better than the Boston Street Fight, but mostly more of the same. Foley coming out there was just weird and unnecessary, it just felt forced.
The Foley – Steamboat Confrontation
Foley gets on the mic to put everyone over, and the wrestlers shake hands and return the favor to Foley, the Hardcore Legend. Ricky Steamboat, fresh off the announcement that he will be returning to WWE as an agent, comes out to tie up the loose end of the hardcore wrestling versus scientific “feud” the two legends had. Foley appeals to Steamboat’s past hardcore matches with the likes of Wahoo McDaniel and the Hollywood Blonds, among others. He says that ROH doesn’t always stand for Ring of Hardcore, but he wants Steamboat to admit that it sometimes does. Foley takes unnecessary shots at Heidenreich, Snitsky, and Luther Reigns. Steamboat agrees that hardcore wrestling is okay in small doses. Then they shake hands. Wow, what an exciting climax for the feud. Foley then calls out Samoa Joe, the ROH World Champion. He says that when Ric Flair punches him in the mouth, he deserved it for disrespecting a legend, and he wants to offer Joe a chance to apologize. Foley talks down to Joe and offers a handshake. Joe makes nice and then sucker punches Foley! That makes Foley angry and it looks like they’re going to fight but Steamboat stands in between them. Joe tells Foley to call him when he’s ready to wrestle. Sadly, the Foley versus Joe match never happened.
MATCH #6: Jay Lethal vs. Weapon of MASK Destruction #2
WMD #2 attacks right away and they trade control a bit in the opening minute. Lethal hits the first big strike with a dropkick. WMD #2 comes back with a back-elbow smash. He drills Lethal with a dropkick to the back of the head for two. WMD #2 keeps Lethal on the mat and uses his generic (tee hee) offense to wear him down. He goes up top and misses a moonsault. Both men are down. Back on their feet Lethal fires up and tries the Dragon Suplex but can’t connect. Lethal can hit a big clothesline though and that gets two. He hits a leaping DDT from the second rope for another two-count. WMD #2 comes back with a Fisherman Buster for two. Lethal responds with the Dragon Suplex to get the pin at 6:22. That was another solid win for Lethal and a fine way to come back from intermission.
MATCH #7: CM Punk & Steve Corino vs. Alex Shelley & Roderick Strong
Punk and Corino have Traci Brooks and some random students with them. I believe this Corino’s first match since defeating Homicide in a Barbed Wire match last November at War of the Wire. Corino and Strong start it off and they wrestle on the mat and trade strikes. Whenever Corino tries to tag Punk in, Punk stays in for a matter of second and tags back out, exposing Corino’s poor endurance. On the third try Corino ducks, leaving Punk in the ring to battle Generation Next. Punk and Corino continue their shenanigans while Shelley and Strong try to win the match. Generation Next isolate Punk in their half of the ring. After several minutes of abuse Punk hits the Pepsi Twist. Corino gets the hot tag and he is a house afire. Strong cuts him off with a backbreaker for a two-count. Shelley misses a Frog Splash and Corino makes the tag. The referee loses control and all four men are in the ring, and all four men get taken down. Back on their feet Punk hits Shelley with Welcome to Chicago Mutherfucker for two. Punk follows with a Mule Kick and an enziguiri for another two-count. He puts on the Anaconda Vise but Shelley escapes with Strong’s help and hits Shellshock for two. Corino and Strong take the fight to their floor. Strong comes back in to hit Punk with a backbreaker and Shelley covers for two. Corino comes in and Shelley tries a Tornado DDT but Corino catches him and Punk flies in with the Hart Attack. Punk then locks on the Anaconda Vise and Shelley taps out at 17:32. That was a solid formula tag match with some neat stuff at the beginning and a hot ending.
Austin Aries comes out to talk to Shelley, who hasn’t been around much in recent months. Aries says he’s going to take the top spot in ROH by defeating Samoa Joe later to win the ROH World Title. He says that he also wants Shelley’s spot, and offers him five seconds to leave. Aries sucker punches Shelley and Strong pulls him off. Strong then hits Shelley with a huge backbreaker! Aries officially kicks Shelley out of Generation Next and takes his place as leader!
MATCH #8: Bryan Danielson vs. Low Ki
Ki is accompanied by Julius Smokes. They aggressively wrestle on the mat to start. Ki takes the first sustained advantage as the match stays on the mat, much like their first singles match in ROH at Round Robin Challenge. He focuses on Danielson’s left arm and viciously attacks it. Danielson fights back with a series of kicks. Ki cuts him off with a dropkick right to the arm. Danielson tries to fight back but only has use of one arm at this point. Finally, Danielson has had enough, and he gets angry. Danielson attacks KI’s knee, which should help subdue his kicks. He brings Ki up to the top rope and hits a superplex. Ki tries to use the Dragon Clutch, but Danielson airplane spins him and both men spill hard to the floor. They fight into the crowd, where Danielson executes a roving Airplane Spin. As they get close to the entrance, Homicide and Julius Smokes bust out and interfere. Homicide uses a chair to beat on Danielson, and Jay Lethal comes out to brawl with Homicide. Danielson gets helped to the back, while Ki threatens the referee to declare him the winner. Ki knocks Hanson out and then chokes him with a belt. I never heard a closing bell, but I think it was a no-contest around 20 minutes in. This was similar yet different from their match in 2002, as this one was much more hate-filled. The finish being inconclusive was kind of a bummer, but ROH very rarely used something like this (and I think they later changed it to a DQ win for Danielson), so that at least helped the match feel unique.
MATCH #9: ROH World Title Match – Samoa Joe vs. Austin Aries
Joe has been the Champion since 3.22.03, and this is his thirtieth defense. Aries starts off hot and attacks Joe right away. Joe fights right back and plants Aries on the mat. Jay Lethal is in Joe’s corner and Roderick Strong is in Aries’ corner. Aries and Joe take it down to the mat and trade holds. Joe uses his power to dominate and tries the Big Joe Combo, but he misses the knee. Aries goes back to the headlock, trying CM Punk’s strategy. Joe also uses a headlock. They crisscross the ropes and Aries lands a dropkick to the knee. Aries zeroes in on the knee, which is pretty good strategy. He tries the shinbreaker / belly-to-back suplex combo but Joe blocks the suplex and hits an enziguiri. Joe goes to work with strikes and hits the Face Wash. Aries tries to fight back but Joe cuts him off and sends him to the floor. Joe goes for a dive, but Aries avoids it and goes for one of his own, but Joe catches him with an enziguiri. The Champ hits the Ole Kick twice but misses his third attempt. Aries knocks Joe back into the chair and hits an IED. Back in the ring Aries hits the slingshot elbow but Joe catches him in the Choke! Aries escapes out of that but runs right into a snap powerslam for two. Joe tries a powerbomb but Aries reverses to a rana for a near-fall. Aries hits a running dropkick that sends Joe into the corner, and then hits two IEDs in a row. On the third attempt Joe catches Aries and hits the Island Driver but it only gets two! The crowd cheers for both men, but when they cheer for Aries it just irritates Joe. They fight up on the top rope and Aries knocks Joe down and hits the 450! Joe kicks out at two! Aries gets knocked to the apron but comes back in with a sunset flip for a two-count, and then locks on the Samoan Crab! Joe powers out of the move, but Aries is tenacious and locks on the Fish Hook. That’s an illegal hold so he breaks it. Aries goes for the Brainbuster, but Joe blocks it and sets Aries on the top rope. Joe unleashes a series of strikes and goes for the Muscle Buster but Aries counters with a crucifix bomb. Aries hits a series of strikes and kicks Joe down to his knees. He lands a kick to the head, the Brainbuster, and a 450 Splash to get the pin and become the fourth ROH World Champion at 17:29! This one holds up well, with great strategy and emotion from both guys and a hot crowd to match. It was a fitting end to Joe’s epic, company-defining title reign. Ever the company man, Joe goes out of his way to put Aries over after the match, even strapping the title on him as the crowd chants “ROH.”
The main event is a great, memorable match that basically saves the show, because nothing before it was particularly great in any way. But man, the end of Joe’s title reign, that was a HUGE deal at the time, and it’s fun to revisit it.
Tags: Austin Aries, CM Punk, Final Battle, ROH, Samoa Joe