Morristown, NJ – 6.18.2005
World Champion: Austin Aries
Pure Champion: Samoa Joe
Tag Team Champions: BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs
Commentary is provided by Jimmy Bower, Dave Prazak, and CM Punk.
Colt Cabana’s “Good Times, Great Memories” opens the show. He’s emotional as tonight marks CM Punk’s final match in ROH. He introduces Punk as his guest, but Punk is nowhere to be found. Cabana tells us that his producer says Punk will be there later on. Outside, Austin Aries (flanked by Roderick Strong and Jack Evans) tells us that he may be sore, but that comes with the territory of being a champion, and he makes no excuses. He tells Punk that he won’t be riding off into the sunset with the ROH Championship, but rather as a loser. He then tells Strong and Evans they need to win an ROH tag title shot tonight, so Generation Next can have complete control of ROH. Evans tells Aries it won’t be a problem. We’re then shown Paul London’s farewell from the first Death Before Dishonor in 2003.
ROH Tag Team Championship
BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs vs. The Embassy (Jimmy Rave & Fast Eddie)
Whitmer and Jacobs have been champions since 4.2.2005 and this is their fourth defense. Prince Nana, Jade Chung, Mike Kruel, and The Outcast Killaz are in Rave and Eddie’s corner. Jacobs frustrates Rave early on by ducking his offense and consistently taking him down with armdrags. The champions wear down Rave’s left arm until Rave throws Jacobs to the mat by his hair. He and Eddie pop-up Jacobs and let him crash into the canvas. Jacobs slides through Rave’s legs and tags in Whitmer, who fights off both members of the Embassy with chops. Nana grabs Whitmer’s leg, giving Rave the opportunity to clothesline him in the back of the head. The Embassy isolates Whitmer in their corner, wearing down his upper back and neck. Kruel even gets the chance to send Whitmer into the barricades. A desperation suplex from Whitmer to Eddie allows him to get a tag out to Jacobs. Jacobs gives Eddie a reverse snapmare driver and a diving forearm strike to Rave for a two count. Whitmer is back in as the legal man as Eddie pulls Jacobs to the floor. Rave hits Whitmer with Ghanarhea and the Doppler Effect, but Jacobs flies in with a super senton to break up his pin attempt. Eddie fights out of the Doomsday Frankensteiner. He gives Whitmer a side Russian leg sweep and a super moonsault slam to Jacobs for two. Whitmer turns Rave inside out with a lariat. He and Jacobs successfully deliver the Doomsday Frankensteiner to Eddie for the pin at 10:04. This was action packed and the crowd was all about seeing the Embassy lose. The last few minutes provided some really innovative and fun moments which resulted in a very satisfying conclusion. This was a great way to kick off the show. ***
Throughout the show, CM Punk provides insight over footage of his most memorable ROH moments. He talks about his and Colt Cabana’s unannounced appearance at “Unscripted”, which he remembers fondly due to being pleasantly surprised the East Coast crowd was aware of both him and Cabana. It was two months after he fractured his skull, but he was excited and ready to make an impact in ROH.
Present day, Cabana is torn between waiting for Punk to show up for his talk show and preparing for his Pure Championship opportunity tonight. However, he is confident he will win the title, and promises us he will be back later with Punk. AJ Styles then tells us he’s back in ROH for good, and that’s bad news for Jimmy Rave who stole the Styles Clash from him.
Punk then leads us through his first match with Raven in ROH at “Expect The Unexpected.” It was his debut in the Boston area and the birth of the straight edge character in ROH (or as he calls it, “the Punk you love to hate.”) We move along to their Dog Collar Match at “Death Before Dishonor.” He feels like he and Raven brought out the best in one another, and that they both learned something from their feud. Even though they may not like each other, he believes they both earned one another’s respect.
The Ring Crew Express (Dunn & Marcos) vs. The Carnage Crew (Loc & DeVito)
Just six days earlier these teams fought at “The Future Is Now” in a New York Street Fight where Dunn got his back thrashed by being put through a ladder. Dunn and Marcos attack Loc and DeVito before the bell, and get the upper hand on them by utilizing trash cans. The Crew turns things around by throwing the RCE into the barricades. DeVito beats down Dunn ringside while Loc suplexes Marcos onto two trash cans in the ring. Dunn is bleeding like crazy, and it doesn’t help when DeVito pours Jack Daniels onto his wound. DeVito suplexes Dun on the entrance ramp. However, he ends up face first into a chair propped up in the corner thanks to a headscissors from Marcos. When Dunn makes his way into the ring, he’s back dropped out of the ring and through a table almost immediately. DeVito gives Marcos a super Razor’s Edge/neckbreaker combo through a table for the pin at 8:36. This was more or less every Carnage Crew brawl, but Dunn and Marcos are so great at taking their offense that it puts these bouts above most other Carnage Crew offerings. The finishing move was pretty sweet too. Pelle Primeau is wiped out with a trash can for his troubles after the match. **
We see a clip of Lacey vs. Cindy Rogers where Lacey defeated Rogers with an Implant DDT. Lacey then introduces herself as the top businesswoman in all of wrestling. She’s here to make lots of money, and for her that’s an easy goal to achieve. She says all the men in wrestling are scumbags, showing us a clip of her being cat called by a random passerby when outside the ROH offices. She decided to manipulate those men to get a contract with ROH. She also did so to infiltrate Special K, and even now that they’re broken up, she owns Izzy’s name and contract. She also owns Shane Hagadorn at the ROH Academy, tapping him out with an armbar after a brutal slap to the face. She claims that Lacey’s Angels will be on top of ROH.
Punk then reminisces on his first match ever with Homicide at “Round Robin Challenge II” in the Pittsburgh area. He says many believed this to be his breakout match in ROH, as it made people realize he could actually wrestle and that he wasn’t just a loudmouth. It was one of his favorite matches for awhile, and definitely one of the best he had in 2003.
ROH Pure Championship
Samoa Joe vs. Colt Cabana
Joe has been champion since 5.7.2005 and this is his third defense. After they shake hands, Cabana brings Joe’s hand over to the ropes to cost him one rope break. Joe is livid with referee Todd Sinclair. Joe putting his hands on Sinclair earns him a warning. Joe takes Cabana to the mat only for Cabana to further frustrate him. Joe ends up catching him with a closed fisted punch. That costs him his second rope break. Cabana’s flurry of strikes does Joe no harm. Joe goes for a Fujiwara armbar. Cabana gets to the ropes. Joe headbutts Cabana’s arm. Cabana responds with some European uppercuts. Joe blocks one and drops Cabana in a divorce court for two. Cabana throws some chops. Joe boots him down. He puts on an arm hold. Cabana clasps his legs against Joe’s head to free himself. Joe kicks Cabana to the floor. He’s poised to dive but Cabana sunset flips back in. Cabana puts Joe in an STF. Joe uses his third and final rope break to escape. He powerbombs Cabana. Cabana escapes a pin and moonsault presses off the second rope for two. The Flying Asshole and a leaping lariat warrant the same result. Joe avoids another sunset flip and applies a crossface. Cabana uses his second rope break. He surprises Joe with a missile dropkick. He comes out of the corner and is caught with an enzuigiri. Joe powerslams him for two. He then applies a cross armbreaker causing Cabana to tap out at 14:06. This was different from many of Joe’s defenses, as no one had been able to get into his head as quickly as Cabana was. He was able to get Joe off his game, however, he was not able to overcome Joe’s power. There was a lot of creativity while also keeping a logical narrative. Samoa Joe’s World title reign rightfully gets a lot of praise, but his Pure title run deserves some love as well. Nigel McGuinness mocks Cabana with a sarcastic applause from the entrance. A pissed off Cabana wants McGuinness to come fight him, but McGuinness just heads backstage. ***¼
James Gibson tells Homicide he’s coming for him in the Four Corner Survival match later tonight to get revenge for Homicide defeating him at “The Future is Now.” This win he believes will help him regain momentum towards the ROH World Championship. We then see Punk vs. Steve Corino from “Empire State Showdown.” Punk says he and Corino always tried to one-up each other. Jay Lethal then tells Low Ki he won’t quit going after the Rottweilers until he pins his shoulders to the mat, and he plans to do so tonight when they meet one-on-one.
AJ Styles vs. Petey Williams
Williams is a mystery opponent for Styles brought in by The Embassy, and this is also Williams’ debut for ROH. The Embassy of Prince Nana, Jade Chung, Mike Kruel. and the Outcast Killaz are in Williams’ corner for this match. There was a fake out moment in making the people think Christopher Daniels was going to accept the challenge, but it turned out to be Allison Danger making her return to ROH. She told the audience she was back in ROH to reign with her king once again – but not tonight. The Prophecy is back and they will reign supreme like we’ve never seen before, starting July 8th in Long Island. She told Prince Nana that she thinks he is doing a great job, and she requests that they destroy AJ Styles tonight.
Williams goes after Styles’ arms as Styles looks to pick up the pace. Styles cuts off Williams with a dropkick for two. After delivering a backbreaker, Styles drops his knee across the back of Williams’ head twice. He takes Williams down with a Frankensteiner from the mat for two. When Williams tries to halt a corner attack, Styles dumps him over the top rope and to the floor. Williams stops a sunset bomb to the floor and legdrops Styles onto the ring apron, following up with a slingshot Frankensteiner onto the floor. Williams back suplexes Styles onto a chair, with Styles landing on the chair ribs and shoulder first. Nana gets in a cheap shot before Williams whips Styles into the corner. Williams attacks Styles neck and back. Styles wipes Williams out with a roundhouse kick and clothesline. He gives Williams a gutbuster. Styles springboards in from the apron and drops Williams with a reverse DDT for two. Williams counters a suplex with a swinging neckbreaker. He calls for the Canadian Destroyer. Styles rolls through and picks up Williams for the Styles Clash. Williams resists, and when Styles pulls him up, Williams brings him back down with a DDT. Styles sends Williams to the apron and nails a Pele kick. Styles misses the Spiral Tap. Williams and Styles fight for pin attempts. Williams decides to lock in a sharpshooter, which Styles turns into a pinning predicament to escape. Styles jackknifes his way out of a Candian Destroyer, then pulls up Williams and delivers the Styles Clash for the pin at 16:36. Williams was a good opponent for Styles’ return to ROH, as they have a history with one another, typically producing good matches, and it was a good fake out for those who were expecting Daniels. They didn’t do anything too extraordinary or anything that makes this match stand out from their TNA encounters, but it was a perfectly cromulent match to re-establish Styles in ROH and reignite his rivalry with the Embassy. ***¼
After the match, Prince Nana sends Jade Chung over to Styles to slap him. She doesn’t want to do it. As Nana is yelling at her from the apron, Styles goes after him. Chung low blows Styles from behind, and Rave sneaks in and drops Styles with the Rave Clash.
Gary Michael Capetta interviews Whitmer and Jacobs during intermission. Whitmer says they’ve successfully proven they’re not just a fluke, and they plan to hold the tag titles for a long time.
We see clips from “The Battle Lines Are Drawn” where Punk rid ROH of Christopher Daniels with a Pepsi Plunge through a table. Speaking of, we also see him give a Pepsi Plunge to Mark Briscoe at “Reborn Stage 2” to win the ROH Tag Team championship with Cabana. He talks about how special that moment was to win the titles with his best friend in their hometown. He also puts over the Briscoes as a tag team, and how their 2 out of 3 falls match in Milwaukee was lauded by Ricky Steamboat as being one of the best matches he had seen in person. He also talks about how proud Ace Steel was of him and Cabana for their tag title victory, which made the moment even sweeter.
Colt Cabana is sitting in the stands. He’s not happy in losing to Samoa Joe, nor Nigel McGuinness taunting him, but he thinks he can get some one-on-one time with Punk now, as he was told Punk was hanging around the stands. He isn’t around, but Cabana guarantees he will get Punk later.
Generation Next (Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. Lacey’s Angels (Deranged & Izzy)
Lacey, Cheech, and Cloudy are the Angels corner. As Deranged tries to show up Evans in the breakdancing department, Evans steps on his groin. Evans headscissors him to the floor, but Deranged comes in as Evans is breakdancing and stomps on his groin as a measure of revenge. Evans corkscrew kicks Deranged in the chest before tagging in Strong. He stretches out Deranged on the mat, then armdrags Izzy several times when he tags in. He suplexes Izzy onto Deranged, then Evans springboard dropkicks Izzy to the outside. Evans lands a 630 splash onto all of Lacey’s Angels (sans Lacey) on the floor. Evans splashes onto Izzy several times. Izzy gets his knees up to stop a splash, then uses the ropes for a tornado DDT. Lacey’s Angels finally gain control by wearing down Evans in their half of the ring, with some assistance from the floor, all the while taunting Strong. Evans is able to kick out of a facebuster/Ace Crusher combo, and reverse a double Irish whip by coming off the ropes with a quebrada into two elbow strikes. Strong runs roughshod on Deranged and Izzy upon tagging in. He turns a wheelbarrow attempt from Izzy into a backbreaker. Deranged double stomps Strong into the mat, and Evans in turn spikes him with a reverse Frankensteiner. Izzy drops Evans with an Omega Driver for two. Deranged and Izzy hit stereo dives onto Strong and Evans on opposite sides of the ring. However, Strong is able to backflip Evans into a knee strike onto Deranged’s back as Deranged lay across the second turnbuckle. Izzy breaks up the pin. Strong and Evans hit Ode to the Bulldogs. Paul Turner is pulled outside by Cheech and Cloudy to stop the pin. Izzy throws Strong into the barricades and halts Evans on the top turnbuckle. Lacey’s Angels hit a super T-Gimmick DDT for the pin at 12:33. This was a bit messy, and the bulk of the match was mostly just stunts, but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t have fun watching it. Part of it absolutely the gaudy, absurd dress shirts Deranged and Izzy are wearing. This is most certainly a big win for the Angels, but you could tell it was gonna take more than a coat of paint for the former Special K guys to be a more significant entity. **¾
Punk revisits him saving Ricky Steamboat from Generation Next’s grasp at “Reborn: Completion.” Steamboat is someone Punk idolized growing up and believes he has one of the best minds in pro wrestling. This was the night his career path did a 180. Even if he was at odds with Steamboat in ROH, he didn’t like that Generation Next stole his thunder, nor did he think it was fair Steamboat had to fight off four men by himself.
Azrieal vs. James Gibson vs. Homicide vs. Nigel McGuinness
Homicide plays mind games with Gibson, refusing to tag in while he is one of the legal competitors. When it looks like they’re about to go at it, Homicide tags in McGuinness. McGuinness uses the ropes to break a wrist lock from Gibson and stun him with an elbow strike. Homicide finally comes in when he sees Gibson in a weakened state, but unfortunately, Gibson armdrags him down and applies a lot of pressure to his left shoulder. Gibson gives Homicide a backbreaker and keeps his offense on Homicide’s lower back after the fact. Homicide tags in Azrieal after being whipped to the buckle. Gibson breaks free of a clutch and tags in McGuinness. He puts Azrieal in a Cobra Clutch, delivering a lariat when he escapes. He puts the move back on and tries to unwind Azrieal into a lariat, but Azrieal counters with a flapjack. Homicide is tagged in by McGuinness. Homicide talks trash towards Gibson on the apron before giving Azrieal a hard back kick. He gives Azrieal a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee for two. Azrieal rolls through a sunset flip and basement dropkicks Homicide. McGuinness blind tags in. Homicide monkey flips Azrieal into a superkick from McGuinness for two. The match breaks down as Gibson enters the match and goes for a superplex on Homicide. Azrieal jumps in, sunset bombing Gibson as Gibson superplexes Homicide, with Homicide clipping McGuinness on the way down. Azrieal escapes the Tower of London. Gibson pins Azrieal in a bridging German suplex, and Homicide kicks Gibson right in the groin to break the pin. Gibson stomps Homicide down in the corner. He also blasts McGuinness in the side of the head with a knee, drops Azrieal with a Tiger Driver, and then stops a charging Homicide with a neckbreaker. Gibson avoids another groin kick but is sent outside by McGuinness. Homicide sends McGuinness outside and follows with a tope suicida. Gibson pescado’s onto Homicide, and Azrieal moonsaults onto everyone. Azrieal double stomps the back of McGuinness’ head in the ring, but Homicide knocks Azrieal down with a running clothesline. McGuinness shoves Homicide to the corner when he has Gibson set up for the Cop Killer. This puts Gibson perfectly in place for McGuinness’ Tower of London, which he hits after sending Homicide outside, and pins Gibson at 20:30. McGuinness at this point was climbing up the ranks and pinning someone with the notoriety of Gibson felt like an achievement. McGuinness and Azrieal felt mostly like background noise for the Homicide and Gibson issue, but they contributed to the action plenty. There just wasn’t much to the action outside of the Homicide and Gibson issue which made some of the twenty minutes drag just a little bit. Still, this was fine, just fine. ***
We are treated to clips from all three matches in the Joe vs. Punk trilogy. The insight shared by Punk here was more or less condensed thoughts he shared in the Joe and Punk Straight Shootin’ interview.
Jay Lethal vs. Low Ki
This is a rematch from “Midnight Express Reunion” where Ki tapped out Lethal to the Dragon Clutch. Lethal was attacked at “Trios Tournament 2005”, and Low Ki revealed he was the attacker at “Manhattan Mayhem.” At that same show, Ki and Homicide put Lethal on the shelf with a Cop Killa/double stomp combo. . This is Lethal’s first match back since that attack. However, he would sneak attack Low Ki at “The Future Is Now” six days earlier with a Dragon suplex. This is Lethal’s first match back since that attack.
This starts with the two men trading blows. Lethal would use back elbows to get the better of Ki, sending him outside with a springboard dropkick. Lethal follows that up with a suicide dive, then a backbreaker and leg lariat back inside the ring. Ki holds onto the ropes when Lethal throws a dropkick, and after Lethal crashes to the canvas, Ki hits him with a low dropkick. Ki does more damage to Lethal’s neck. Lethal his Ki hooked for a Dragon suplex after ducking a clothesline. Ki backs Lethal to the corner. He then snapmares Lethal, pulls him up by his hair, and slams him to the mat. Lethal leaps over Ki to avoid a corner attack and sunset flips him for two. He follows up with two more sunset flips, but Ki double stomps his back after avoiding the third flip. Lethal is able to save himself from a tree of woe double stomp by pulling Ki off the top rope while in the tree of woe. After freeing himself, Lethal takes down Ki with a backdrop. Lethal strings an atomic drop, gut buster, and gutwrench suplex together for a two count. Ki escapes a running suplex. When Lethal charges at Ki, Ki leapfrogs over and double stomps Lethal’s back on the way down. Lethal small packages his way out of a Ki Krusher attempt. Ki escapes another running suplex and Jon Woo dropkicks Lethal to the corner for two. He brings Lethal to the top. Lethal knocks Ki down and nails a diving headbutt. Julius Smokes slides a baseball bat into the ring while distracting referee Mike Kehner. Lethal ducks a bat attack from Ki and Dragon suplexes him. Kehner turns around and coins Lethal’s pin. Smokes jumps in and breaks it up. A she pummels Lethal, Kehner calls for the bell at 15:10, but for some reason he throws out the match despite the fact Smokes very clearly interfered for Ki’s benefit. Aside from a very puzzling result, Lethal looked awesome against Ki, Ki wrestled a really smart match against Lethal, and the vibe was both intense and entertaining throughout. This feud has been very beneficial for Lethal’s standing in the fans’ eyes. ***¼
Lethal fights back and has Smokes hooked for a Dragon Suplex when Homicide runs out and saves him. Homicide gathers Ki as well, flips the timekeeper’s table out of frustration, and leads Ki and Smokes to the backstage area. The audience applauds and cheers for Lethal as he gets to his feet and then exits whilst nursing his throat and neck.
ROH World Championship
Austin Aries vs. CM Punk
As indicated all over this DVD, this was Punk’s last match with ROH before departing for WWE. Because of this, the audience is completely behind him. Punk enters the ring with tears in his eyes and gets drowned in streamers by the crowd during Bobby Cruise’s introduction. Punk earned this title shot by winning his feud against Jimmy Rave. He defeated Aries’ partner Roderick Strong six days earlier at “The Future Is Now”, but Strong achieved his goal of wearing down Punk’s back. Aries is coming into this match with a messed up neck. The wear and tear of defending his title around the world had already been taking its toll on him, but three moments specifically did damage to his neck. First, Samoa Joe gave him a Muscle Buster at “Nowhere To Run.” A few weeks later, Spanky would hit him with the Sliced Bread #2 at “New Frontiers.” Finally, at “The Future Is Now”, Low Ki gave him a super Ki Krusher. Considering Punk’s finishers right now are the Pepsi Plunge and Anaconda Vise, that does not bode well for the defending champion. This is also the rubber match for these two, as Punk defeated Aries at “Glory By Honor III”, and Aries defeated Punk at “Weekend of Thunder, Night 1.” Aries has been champion since 12.26.2004 and this is his nineteenth defense.
As they’re posturing, Aries shoulder blocks Punk in the corner, and Punk forearms Aries in the neck. This lets each other know that they’re aware of their injuries. Aries lands a springboard back elbow off the second rope and grounds Punk with a side headlock. Punk counters into a headscissors, wisely dropkicking Aries when Aries goes for his patented headstand escape, and puts Aries in a side headlock himself. Punk holds onto it tightly no matter what Aries does to escape, harkening back to Punk’s strategy against Samoa Joe in their trilogy. Punk finally bulldogs Aries for a two count. Punk also gets two with a fisherman’s suplex. Aries goes for a brainbuster, but Punk escapes and drops Aries with a neckbreaker. Punk gets Aries to the floor and suicide dives onto him. However, as they get to the apron, Aries is able to give Punk a Death Valley Driver onto it! Aries sends Punk into the barricades twice. When he tries a third time, Punk reverses it and Aries crashes it into the barricades instead. Aries however pulls Punk by his trunks, sending him face first into the barricades. Inside the ring, Aries follows that up with a twisting body press and a quebrada to Punk’s lower back. The fans jeer Aries as he hits his shin breaker/back suplex combo. This continues as Aries sweeps Punk into a side slam. An entire turnbuckle pad is removed. Punk is sent back first into the exposed buckles. Aries is then sent chest first and flipped inside out with a Northern lariat. Punk busts out a flying forearm. After a couple back elbows he whips Aries to the corner twice and gives him a backdrop. Welcome to Chicago, Mother Fucker gets Punk a nearfall, as does a high crossbody. Aries blocks the Pepsi Twist and knocks down Punk with a running clothesline for two. Aries hits the IED. Punk ducks a rolling forearm, but Aries jackknife pins him. Punk reverses into a backslide for two. Aries gives Punk a piledriver for two. After a Finlay roll, Aries goes up top. Punk slams him back down to the mat. He tosses Aries up in the air, and when Aries lands, Punk blasts him with a Shining Wizard for two. Punk brings Aries up for the Pepsi Plunge. Aries counters with a super brainbuster, and Aries can’t believe it when Punk is able to kick out. Aries heads up top in the hopes of delivering a 450 splash again. Punk punches him several times in the forehead. He then hooks Aries’ arms. Aries reverses and gives Punk the Pepsi Plunge himself. Punk kicks out one and the fans go wild. Aries knocks him down with a rolling forearm strike and kicks him in the head. Aries nails the 450 splash, but Punk pulls him over into the Anaconda Vise! The fans are hoping for a tap out, but Aries gets his feet to the ropes. Aries crucifix pins Punk for two. Aries tries a crucifix driver, but Punk turns that into a TKO. Another Shining Wizard connects, and Punk finally hits the Pepsi Plunge for the pin at 30:26 to become the NEW ROH World Champion. The wrestling and story here were awesome, but it was the fans that made this match. They were dying to see Punk win the title, and their desperation made all of Punk’s comebacks, kick outs, and bigger moves even more significant due to their excitement, and their excitement helped make the match even more exciting. It felt like their adulation actually willed Punk to withstand Aries’ finishing moves and get the strength necessary to pull off the Pepsi Plunge. Them sprinkling in the neck and back work along with some callbacks to the Joe vs. Punk series were icing on the cake. This ruled, both serving as a fantastic end to Aries’ title reign, while also cementing Punk as an ROH icon. ****¼
Like a pro, Aries hands Punk the championship and raises his hand in victory. The fans chant “thank you, Aries” as he walks to the back. Punk says it was during his rivalry with Samoa Joe that he declared the ROH title the most important title in North America, but because of his victory, it is now the most important title in the world. In his hands, the title becomes power, and a microphone in his hand is like a pipe bomb. He tells a story about an old man who nurses a snake back to life, only for the snake to kill him once he is better, because that is what snakes do. Punk tells this story, because that’s exactly what he did to the fans. He used them and their emotions to win the title, and now that he has it, he doesn’t need them anymore. He says he’s better than Low Ki, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe, putting a fine point on it by saying “the champ is here.” He says he is taking the title to WWE, and there isn’t a single person in the locker room who can stop him. Punk looks towards the entrance ramp, but Christopher Daniels enters the ring through the crowd. The Fallen Angel chants let Punk know exactly who is in the ring. He whips around and the two of them go face to face. They trade blows with Daniels getting the better of the exchange. Punk slips away when Daniels goes for the BME. Daniels on the microphone lets Punk know he is coming back for revenge after Daniels’ sixteen month absence Punk caused. Punk asks “the ROHbots” if they want to see that match. He then tells Daniels he has to wait sixteen more months to get a title match and that he can kiss his ass. Punk then leaves the building.
When it becomes clear Punk isn’t coming back, Daniels turns his attention to the ROH fans. He says Daniels bided his time to return to end the war Punk started at “The Battle Lines Are Drawn.” However, he was pulled aside in Nashville and told he had to make a decision, and no matter his choice, he would lose something he cared about. It tore him up, but he walked away from Ring of Honor. He talks about some of the career defining moments he had in ROH, as well as a sampling of the names he wrestled when he was in the promotion. He’s kept his eyes on ROH, and talks about the new people who become the backbone of ROH. All of those men now have to deal with him. Just because he was gone, he didn’t forget his destiny – to be the Ring of Honor World Champion. When he was gone, it was only because he had to be, and now he’s back because he wants to be.
Backstage, Roderick Strong and Jack Evans are backstage. The cameraman (Gabe) asks if Aries is coming. Strong snaps at him, saying he doesn’t feel like talking to him now. Evans tells Strong he’s having doubts after taking his third straight loss tonight. He says he may have to ghost for a little bit, promising to be on his game when he comes back. Strong doesn’t love hearing this. The Ring Crew Express are of course taking down the ring. Marcos says they have the Carnage Crew running scared, and they’re going to have them once bitten, twice shy. Cabana is upset that he didn’t end up getting Punk for Good Times, Great Memories after all.
We then get a promo from Aries that was filmed “several days later”, giving him time to reflect on the title loss. While he appreciates the words of encouragement since losing the title, there is no shame in his loss. The greats have all won and lost titles in their career, and he is no different. He’s proud of what he accomplished as champion. He had over 20 title defenses in 10 promotions across 5 countries. He kept the honor and integrity at the same high Samoa Joe did. The only thing he isn’t proud of is what happened after he handed CM Punk the title belt, because Punk pissed on everything he worked so hard to build. He has a lot to do in ROH still, and Generation Next is going to come back stronger than ever. He says some people think of this as the end of a title reign, but in his mind, it’s the beginning of a legacy.
CM Punk vs. James Gibson
FIP “Florida Rumble” – Lakeland, FL – 12.17.2004
Gibson eliminated Punk in the Florida Rumble earlier in the night, costing him a chance to challenge for the FIP Championship. Punk attacks Gibson as Gibson enters the ring. Punk chokes Gibson with his entrance jacket. Gibson side steps a corner attack and sends Punk shoulder first into the corner while applying a hammerlock. Gibson hammerlocks the arm in the ropes and gives the arm a dropkick. Punk falls back to escape an arm hold, sending Gibson into the turnbuckles. Punk gives Gibson a backbreaker for two. He also earns a two count after a neckbreaker. Gibson shows glimmers of reversing momentum, but Punk shuts him down. Gibson crumbles when he’s whipped back first to the corner. Gibson schoolboys Punk after coming off the ropes, then buys some recovery time by dropping Punk with a twisting neckbreaker. A running knee to the side of the head gets Gibson a two count. Punk comes back with Welcome to Chicago, Mother Fucker. Punk puts Gibson in a cross armbreaker, and Gibson reverses into a Cloverleaf. Punk gets to the ropes to escape. Punk slips to the apron and climbs to the top turnbuckle. Gibson catches him as he dives down into a Fujiwara armbar. Punk escapes, but when he goes for Gibson’s foot, Gibson schoolboys Punk for the pin at 11:26. This was a solid but unspectacular match, which was more or less how most ROH style match-ups went down in FIP. Good news is, a solid match between these two is still really good. It told a solid story, and the crowd liked seeing Punk lose, but I don’t think the vibe of the contest really matched the hostility portrayed by the two of them against one another in the Rumble. ***