Lake Grove, NY – 7.8.2005
World Champion: CM Punk
Pure Champion: Samoa Joe
Tag Team Champions: BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs
Commentary is provided by Jimmy Bower, Dave Prazak, and Lenny Leonard.
As has become customary for ROH, the show after a World championship victory opens with the new champion addressing the crowd. CM Punk comes out to new entrance music, “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour, wearing a black suit with a lavender button up shirt and shiny tie underneath. Shane Hagadorn is sitting ringside and smiles in admiration at his trainer as he smugly shows off his championship belt to the crowd. Although he doesn’t think the crowd deserves an explanation for why he did what he did at “Death Before Dishonor III“, he can’t resist. He explains that a year and half ago he was still working for a promotion called Total Nonstop Action (TNA). Of the four individuals who were told they had to make a choice between working for TNA or working for ROH, he was the only one of the four (the other three he names: AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, and Christopher Daniels) who chose ROH. This was despite the fact that the four of them agreed to stick together in their decision. He also knows for a fact there would not be an ROH for Styles and Daniels to come crawling back to if it were not for him. Everybody else turned their back on the company. Even though he was the one who decided to stick around, all the fans did was ask when everyone else was coming back. He was the backbone of ROH, and now he is their champion, and there is nothing anybody can do about it. Fast forward a year later and he gets an offer from WWE. The fans doubted that he would sign a contract with WWE, and Punk admits he has not signed a contract – yet. He then pulls out his WWE contract from his inner jacket pocket, showing it to the camera and crowd. He calls it his key to freedom and to not have to see the ROH fans again. He asks ring announcer Bobby Cruise to hold the ROH World title so Punk can sign his contract on top of it. Cruise refuses, as does senior official Todd Sinclair, but Shane Hagadorn enters the ring and happily holds the title belt for Punk, his trainer. Hagadorn tells Punk this is the greatest moment of his life. Punk tells the audience to kiss his ass goodbye as he signs atop the ROH title. We then see from the entrance ramp James Gibson taping up his hands. He gets in the ring and gives Hagadorn a Tiger Driver as Punk flees. He yells at Punk that there is no way he is leaving with the title. As Punk backs up to the entrance, he is met by Christopher Daniels who pummels him. He throws Punk into the ring where Gibson gets in a few shots. Punk escapes their grasp and leaves through the crowd.
Jay Lethal & Dixie vs. The Heartbreak Express (Sean Davis & Phil Davis)
The Heartbreak Express are an FIP staple, and this match marks their main show ROH debut. The wrestling here doesn’t matter, as the match is interrupted twice by Matt Hardy’s home movie stuff he was doing around this time to build anticipation for his ROH debut next week. Lethal gives Phil the safest Dragon suplex of all time for the pin at 3:05 (shown). This built up Lethal for later in the show and teased Hardy’s pending debut, so that’s cool I guess. ½*
Azrieal vs. Roderick Strong
During Strong’s entrance, they show us a clip from “New Frontiers” where Generation Next attacked Shelley as he was being stretchered out after his match with Strong. The match is pretty even to start, with Azrieal getting the best of Strong with a belly-to-back suplex. They trade chops, and Strong then pulls Azrieal off of the top turnbuckle into a backbreaker. Outside the ring, Strong drives Azrieal back first into the ring apron. Azrieal kicks out of a belly-to-back suplex. Azrieal blocks a half-nelson backbreaker with an O’Connor Roll. Strong kicks out and nails Azrieal with a lariat as Azrieal comes off the ropes. Strong rolls through a sunset flip from Azrieal, cradling Azrieal up into a backbreaker. Strong superplexes Azrieal for a two count. When he goes for another superplex, Azrieal crotches Strong on the top rope, and double stomps Strong’s back which drives him off the ropes and into the canvas. Azrieal Frankensteiner’s Strong to the floor and follows with a tope con hilo. Back in the ring, Azrieal tries a Dragonrana. Strong catches him mid-air and gives him a powerbomb across the knee for two. Azrieal is able to whip Strong to the corner. After a knee strike, he hits a diving Diamond Dust on Strong for two. He also gets two with a superkick. Azrieal pulls Strong up, possibly for a Cobra Clutch. Strong swings him up into a slam, and then a backbreaker. Azrieal’s back is too worn down to get Strong onto his shoulders. Strong locks on the Stronghold and Azrieal taps out at 11:28. This match drove home just how much Strong has improved, and that Azrieal was capable of doing well in singles matches, even with people who didn’t wrestle his style. Strong was slightly backbreaker crazy at this point, but it worked for the story of the match and the crowd dug it. I did too. ***
Alex Shelley runs in after the match and drops Strong with a Shellshock to the delight of the crowd.
ROH Tag Team Championship
BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs vs. Lacey’s Angels (Cheech & Deranged)
Whitmer and Jacobs have been champions since 4.2.2005 and this is their fifth defense. Cloudy and Lacey are in the Angels corner. Lacey’s Angels earned this title match due to defeating Generation Next at “Death Before Dishonor III”, although it was Izzy and Deranged who won that bout. Whitmer shuts down Deranged’s flippy ish with a lariat. The champs pummel Deranged to the mat. Whitmer powerbombs and splashes Jacobs onto Deranged. Lacey distracts referee Paul Turner so Cheech and Deranged can double team Jacobs and turns the match in their favor. Lacey’s Angels keep Jacobs in their corner, acting obnoxious pretty much the entire time. Deranged misses a springboard dropkick to Jacobs, instead taking down Cheech. Jacobs forward rolls across the ring and tags in Whitmer. In the process of beating down both Deranged and Cheech, he wheelbarrows Jacobs up and uses him as a weapon. Cheech stops Whitmer from pinning Deranged in a Northern Lights suplex. Whitmer pops Cheech up into a spear from Jacobs. A running Liger Bomb from Whitmer to Deranged gets another two count. Another distraction results in Jacobs being crotched on the top turnbuckle and Whitmer spiked with a reverse Frankensteiner by Deranged. Deranged and Cheech drop Jacobs with a Doomsday Ace Crusher, and can’t believe it when Jacobs kicks out. Whitmer stops them from giving Jacobs the super T-Gimmick. Whitmer shoves Cheech to the floor, and they take down Deranged with the Doomsday Frankensteiner for the pin at 11:21 to retain the titles. Deranged and Cheech had some cool combos and double team moves but were just not convincing challengers. Whitmer as a one man wrecking crew in the comeback was very fun to watch. This was a fine match, and another example of the growth Whitmer and Jacobs have made as partners. **¾
AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Rave
Before the match, a short video package is played where Gabe I mean Jimmy Bower explains that due to Prince Nana’s disgusting tactics towards Jade Chung, The Outcast Killaz have quit The Embassy. They also encouraged Jade to quit too, but she decided to stay with Nana and co. This Jade Chung stuff was tough to watch back then and even more difficult in 2021. We are also reminded that Rave pinned Styles in February after using aerosol spray in his eyes.
Styles immediately German suplexes Rave, and Rave escapes to the floor. Styles stops Rave from going backstage. Rave begs off after a backdrop, but Styles won’t relent, giving Rave three consecutive backbreakers. Styles drops Rave face first on the barricades and then roundhouse kicks him back in the ring. Styles does more damage to Rave’s back. After a series of headbutts, Styles tries a discus clothesline, but the momentum carries him to the floor. Rave baseball slide dropkicks after him and then sends Styles crashing into the barricades. In the ring he turns Styles inside out with a lariat to the back of the head and kneels on Styles’ neck. He slingshots Styles’ throat into the bottom rope before pinning him. Styles kicks out and fights up with shots to Rave’s midsection as well as chops to the chest. Styles knocks down Rave with an enzuigiri. Styles earns a two count with a brainbuster, then another with a pump-handle gutbuster. Rave holds onto the top rope to stop from receiving a reverse DDT. Styles crashes to the mat, and Rave nails the Doppler Effect for two. Styles escapes a Rave Clash attempt. He nails Rave with his signature dropkick. They fight to the apron, and although Rave gets back in the ring, Styles cuts him off with a springboard shoulder block. Prince Nana crotches Styles on the top turnbuckle as Rave distracts referee Mike Kehner. Rave spears Styles into the corner for two. Rave signals for the Rave Clash. Styles swoops underneath and Prawn Holds Rave for the surprise pin at 16:40. This was not as exciting as their match from February but a solid chapter in their feud. Styles win felt more like a moment of fortuity than cleverness which made that pin fall just a bit flat. ***
Styles stops Prince Nana’s sneak attack attempt. He hooks Nana for a Styles Clash. From behind, Rave suffocates Styles with a plastic bag. Kehner makes sure Styles doesn’t die.
Nigel McGuinness vs. Vordell Walker
Fun bit of trivia – this match features Lenny Leonard’s ROH commentary debut! Matt Hardy interrupts this match too, saying it will be him vs. Christopher Daniels. He tells Daniels to prepare for a double dose of Mattitude. McGuinness blasts Walker with a rebound lariat. He rolls under a clothesline from Walker and nails a superkick. Walker German suplexes McGuinness after ducking a lariat for two. Walker drops McGuinness with an Ace Crusher for two. McGuinness is able to halt Walker on the top rope and hit the Tower of London for the pin at 3:33. I have no problem with McGuinness gobbling up Walker – he’s on his way up the roster, and Walker never caught on with the crowd. *
Austin Aries vs. Homicide vs. James Gibson vs. Samoa Joe
Aries and Gibson start off. Things head up when Aries gives Gibson a springboard back elbow, and Gibson angrily responds with a shoulder tackle. Aries slips outside when Gibson goes after his legs and tags in Homicide. He refuses to wrestle Gibson, just like last month, and won’t enter the ring until Gibson tags in Joe. Joe’s aggression picks up as he and Homicide trade offense. Homicide tries to catch Joe off guard with a tope suicida, only for Joe to punch him as he begins to dive. Homicide tags in Aries. Joe attacks Aries’ head. Gibson does some damage to Aries’ mid-section. Aries takes him down with a clothesline and tags in Homicide, who agrees to come in now that Gibson is on defense. Julius Smokes even gets in some shots as Homicide attacks Gibson’s throat and back. Gibson is able to suplex Homicide through the timekeeper’s table in the process. Homicide hoists himself back into the ring, kicks Gibson in the ribs, then tags in Aries, who delivers a backbreaker to Gibson for a two count. Both Aries and Joe attack Gibson’s throat and neck. Joe takes out Gibson’s knee and forces Homicide in with a tag. Aries breaks up Homicide’s pin attempt. When Gibson backs Homicide to the corner, Joe tags in on Gibson and peppers Homicide with rapid fire slaps to the face. Joe stops a tornado DDT and scoop slams Homicide, but Aries once again comes in to break up the pin. Joe facewash kicks Homicide while knocking Aries off of the apron in the process. Gibson tags in and Homicide drops him with an Ace Crusher. Aries sneaks in a pin on Gibson for two. As things break down, Homicide wipes out Joe with a tope suicida. Aries wipes out Homicide with a Heat-Seeking Missile. Gibson then somersault sentons off the top and onto Homicide. Joe lands a twisting body press onto everybody, kinda. Joe whips both Homicide and Aries into the barricades while Gibson has made his way back into the ring. Homicide checks Joe into the barricades when Joe goes for the Ole Kick on Aries. Joe backdrops a charging Homicide into the barricades. Joe powerbombs Gibson into an STF. Aries legdrops Joe to break the submission, and Joe slaps Aries across the face. Gibson impressively German suplexes Joe for two. Gibson puts Joe in a Guillotine Choke. Joe drives Gibson to the corner. Aries tags in and goes for a brainbuster on Joe. When he fails, Gibson assists Aries with a double suplex. Homicide shoves Aries to the floor to stop a 450 splash. He lariats Joe in the back of the neck, then hits a regulation lariat. Gibson Cactus clotheslines Homicide to the floor, and Aries is able to hit Joe with a 450 Splash for the pin at 25:46. Once this got cookin’ it was action packed and very fun, heating up the Gibson and Homicide issue, while also giving Aries a big win over Joe just one night before competing for his Pure Championship. ***¼
Alex Shelley returns to attack Aries, giving him a superkick and then running backstage. Homicide and Gibson brawl with one another to the backstage area.
Christopher Daniels vs. Colt Cabana
This is Daniels’ first match in ROH since “The Battle Lines Are Drawn” when The Second City Saints put him out of action with a super Pepsi Plunge through a table. Daniels of course officially returned last month to confront CM Punk. He can’t get his hands on Punk tonight, but he can get a measure of revenge on another Second City Saint: Colt Cabana. Cabana has apparently agreed to face Daniels to “busy” Daniels so he can’t challenge for the World Title, as a way of thanking Punk for assisting him with Nigel McGuinness at “New Frontiers.” Allison Danger is in Daniels’ corner.
Daniels has no patience for Cabana’s joking apology or shenanigans, angrily shoving Cabana to the floor during the opening portion of the contest. Cabana shifts his attitude and works over Daniels’ left arm. Daniels is able to counter the arm hold, but when Daniels attempts a hip toss, Cabana grounds Daniels and splashes onto his left arm. Daniels halts a charging Cabana with a knee to the mid-section and follows up with a punt to the ribs. He gut wrenches Cabana into a gut buster for a two count, then applies a grounded abdominal stretch. Daniels gets two with an Arabian Press. CM Punk makes his way ringside and taunts Daniels with the ROH title. Punk baits Daniels right into a hip toss from Cabana into the barricades. Cabana takes issue with Punk’s interjection, telling Punk it’s his match. Daniels is able to surprise Cabana with a sunset flip back in the ring. Cabana kicks out and drops three consecutive elbows onto Daniels. He gives Daniels a tornado suplex. Daniels avoids a top rope attack and drops Cabana with an STO. Daniels knocks him back down with an enzuigiri, then lands a high crossbody when Cabana gets back to his feet. Cabana drops to a knee to avoid the Angel’s Wings. He knocks down Daniels with a big boot and catches his breath. Cabana lays out Daniels with a quebrada press for two. The Flying Asshole and a running lariat produce the same result. Daniels pulls Cabana by his singlet into a Blue Thunder Bomb. Cabana stops Daniels’ Iconoclasm, instead coming off the top with a missile dropkick to Daniels. Daniels escapes the Colt .45. He tries a backslide, but when that doesn’t work, he takes down Cabana with a Complete Shot and locks on the Koji Clutch. Punk gets on the apron to distract Todd Sinclair. Daniels releases the hold and admonishes Punk. Punk enters the ring as Sinclair checks on Cabana. Punk grabs Daniels’ boot and gets pulled into the ring. He gives Daniels a chinbreaker, and Daniels errantly collides with Sinclair. Punk pulls a chain out of his trunks. Cabana grabs Punk by his shoulder, but Punk turns around and clocks Cabana thinking it was Daniels! Daniels throws Punk to the floor and hits Cabana with the BME for the pin at 23:02. I never love when the focus on a match is on someone who isn’t even a participant, but there is no denying that Punk as champion was THE thing in ROH during this period, so in this instance it gets a pass. However, there was no need for a background noise match to be 23 minutes, although credit to Cabana and Daniels for making it worthwhile for almost the entire time. It was also successful in achieving its goal of adding more heat to the Daniels/Punk issue while also beginning the dissension between Punk and Cabana. ***
Daniels says if Punk wants to fight him so badly, he should put his title on the line. Daniels invites him to finish what they started sixteen months ago. Punk says Daniels doesn’t deserve a title match because he hasn’t defeated anyone worth a damn. That feels like a low key shot at Cabana. In fact, if Daniels doesn’t leave right now, nobody will get a title shot tonight. Referees finally convince Daniels and Danger to leave, with Daniels stating that he will get a title shot.
Punk then turns his attention to the crowd he says is undeserving of his presence. When deciding who he would defend his title against tonight, he says one name came to mind. He plans to give us the match that was never supposed to happen – him vs. Low Ki. Low Ki’s music hits, but he doesn’t show up, as he is overseas for Pro Wrestling NOAH. That’s okay because Punk had a back-up plan just in case. Punk plans to face the man everyone said was the best wrestler in the world until he showed up – Bryan Danielson. Of course, Danielson quit at “Nowhere To Run”, so that wasn’t going to happen. Punk has yet another back-up. There may not be one single ROH legend to step in the ring, but what about two ROH legends? Punk calls out The Briscoe Brothers, who haven’t been seen since “Testing The Limit”, and tonight they won’t be seen either. Punk says that’s four challenges with no answers, and he says he’s leaving with the title.
Mick Foley then enters the ring. He says tonight will be the first time many people will hear him use the F word, because when he saw Punk earlier with ihs purple streaked hair and his suit, he thought Punk looked “fucking ridiculous.” As ridiculous as Punk looked, he thought what Punk said was even more fucking ridiculous. He knew full well none of the people he challenged would be available, but he also thought it was ridiculous that Punk claimed he single handedly made ROH. Although he admires Punk for choosing ROH over TNA, it is more accurate to say that ROH made Punk. He thinks Punk should offer a title shot to one of the hungry young wrestlers in the back, as it would be the right thing for business. Punk says when it comes to business, Foley as WWE champion wasn’t even in JBL’s league in terms of filling seats and selling PPV’s. Foley says in terms of his legacy as a wrestler, what he brought to the table was knowing deep down that his opponents were better off for having him involved in their career. He asks Punk if he wants to be remembered as the guy who had five star matches with Samoa Joe, or the guy who left ROH in a worse place than when he found it. He thinks deep down he needs to have that match with one of the up and comers in the locker room. Punk disagrees that he has to help out ROH, but he does have a loss to avenge, and it just so happens that the loss he wants to avenge also fits the bill of the type of competitor Foley has in mind. Tonight, he will defend the title against the man who pinned him at “Back To Basics”, Jay Lethal. Lethal accepts the challenge, and we are treated to the clip of him pinning Punk with a Dragon suplex from “Back To Basics.”
ROH World Championship
CM Punk vs. Jay Lethal
Punk has been champion since 6.18.2005 and this is his first defense. Lethal immediately Dragon suplexes Punk at the bell. Punk rolls to the floor to avoid being pinned. Lethal desperately pummels his back and shoves him in the ring, but Punk rolls out another side of the ring. Lethal continues to attack Punk around the ringside area, including a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Lethal stomps Punk down in a corner before giving him a suplex for two. Lethal also gets two with a belly-to-back suplex. As Lethal tries an up-and-over in the corner, Punk catches Lethal and drops him neck first across the top rope. Lethal’s neck was worn down by Low Ki at “Death Before Dishonor III”, and Punk takes advantage of that by centering his offense around Lethal’s neck. On the floor he drives Lethal’s back into the barricades before going back to Lethal’s neck inside the ring. Lethal tries a sunset flip and a crucifix pin, but Punk kicks out of two both teams, and halts Lethal’s momentum with a neckbreaker. When Punk brings Lethal to the top turnbuckle, Lethal is able to pummel Punk and send him falling to the mat. Unfortunately, his falling headbutt attempt misses. Lethal however is able to save himself from a super belly-to-back suplex, by twisting over in mid-air and driving Punk into the canvas with a crossbody. Samoa Joe is now ringside cheering on his protégé. Lethal holds onto his bad neck as he fires up against Punk. He strings together his own neck based offense, getting a two count after a jumping neckbreaker. A flying leg lariat also gets Lethal a two count. Punk gets up his boot to stop a charging Lethal. Punk lands a crossbody. Lethal rolls through and pins Punk for two. Punk hoists Lethal up and hits Welcome to Chicago, Mother Fucker for two. Lethal almost hits a Dragon suplex again when he catches Punk coming off the ropes. Punk weaves his way out of it and delivers an enzuigiri. They fight for a suplex, and then trade waistlocks. Lethal ends up giving Punk a fisherman’s buster. He successfully lands the diving headbutt, but Punk is able to kick out from his pin. Punk escapes three Dragon suplex attempts. He hits a Shining Wizard and puts Lethal in the Anaconda Vise. Lethal scrambles to the ropes, forcing Punk to release the hold. Joe from the floor gives Lethal an encouraging slap to the face to fire him up. It works, as Lethal unloads a series of chops on Punk. Punk once again escapes a Dragon suplex. Lethal goes to the top turnbuckle. Punk palm strikes Lethal and mocks Joe by giving Lethal a Muscle Buster. He then puts Lethal in a rear-naked choke while locking eyes with Joe. Lethal taps out at 20:57. Of all the potential options and dream matches for Punk at this time, Lethal was probably not on anybody’s list. However, because of Lethal’s win over Punk, and giving Punk the ability to antagonize Joe in the process of wearing down Lethal, this challenge worked out really well. Lethal gave Punk a heck of a fight, and the crowd was with the match from the hot start all the way to the end. Kudos to Lethal for stepping up to the plate, and kudos to Punk for helping to produce a match that at that time may have seemed like a disappointment and ended up an absolute hoot. ***¾
Punk immediately gets in Punk’s face after the bell. Foley interjects and pushes Joe aside. Joe gets in Foley’s face, and Punk knees Joe in the back, which also knocks down Foley. Punk pounds on Joe and Foley until Gibson runs out. Punk hightails it through the crowd, holding his title high. Foley then informs Punk that he spoke to the owner and promoter of WWE, and if Punk can’t do the right thing for ROH, then he may not do the right thing in his company. Good thing he wasn’t fired like Brian Lee back in 1995. He warns Punk that if he wants to avoid a career stuck in OVW, and perhaps on Sunday Night Heat if he’s lucky, he’ll defend the title tomorrow night in Manhattan. Punk leaves through a curtain unhappy. Joe, Gibson, and Foley all shake hands as the show concludes.