Ring of Honor: Escape From New York

New York, NY – 7.9.2005

Championship Rundown
World Champion: CM Punk
Pure Champion: Samoa Joe
Tag Team Champions: BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs

Commentary is provided by Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

Colt Cabana says he is not doing Good Times, Great Memories tonight, as he is focusing on facing Nigel McGuinness in a European Rules match. Austin Aries interrupts Cabana to ask about CM Punk’s behavior and him jerking around the ROH title. Cabana says Punk is his own man and he has nothing to do with any of his actions. Aries suggests Cabana tell Punk to get his head on straight. Cabana tells the camera man they need to do this over again later.

The Ring Crew Express (Dunn & Marcos) & Dixie vs. Lacey’s Angels (Cheech & Deranged) & Vordell Walker

Cloudy and Lacey are in the Angels and Walker’s corner. The babyface trio have a good time wearing down Cheech. Marcos sends Walker outside with a headscissors when he tries to make the save. Dixie crushes Cheech with a tornado DDT after the Express each deliver superkicks to him. Cheech pokes Dunn in the eyes and knocks him down with a Busaiku knee. Walker muscles up Dunn in a wheelbarrow suplex. Deranged has some fun with Dunn too, almost pinning him with a moonsault press DDT and a handspring moonsault. Dunn is able to catch Deranged with a powerbomb and tag in Marcos, who nails Cheech with an enzuigiri and one-footed dropkick. Walker gets “Shot Through the Heart” by Dunn and Marcos. Cheech places Marcos on his shoulder, and Deranged drops him with a Doomsday Ace Crusher. Dixie makes the save. He moonsaults Deranged and gives Cheech a neckbreaker. Walker drops Dixie with a swing-out uranage. Dnn and Marcos clothesline Walker to the floor. Marcos headscissors Cheech head first into the turnbuckle pad. Marcos lands an avalanche senton on Cheech for the pin at 11:23. I am an unabashed Ring Crew Express supporter, so to see them rule the roost was a great deal of fun for me. The fun action and high energy level made for a perfect open to the show. **¾

Cabana is now doing his second take with the camera man. This time he is interrupted by Samoa Joe who, like Aries, asks what’s up with Punk. Cabana swears he has nothing to do with it. He bails on the promo as he doesn’t want to be cut off again.

ROH Tag Team Championship
BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs vs. The Carnage Crew (Loc & DeVito)

Whitmer and Jacobs have been champions since 4.2.2005 and this is their sixth defense. Jacobs takes the opening exchange with Loc, sending him to the corner with a headscissors. Whitmer schools DeVito on the mat. DeVito changes the tone of the match by poking Jacobs in the eyes, then taking him to the floor where he throws him into the barricades. Whitmer comes outside to aid his partner from a double team attack and ends up being sent into the barricades himself. DeVito then suplexes Whitmer onto the entrance ramp. This gives the Carnage Crew the opportunity to beat down Jacobs back inside the ring uninterrupted. When Whitmer does try to interject, it backfires as DeVito is able to send Jacobs into the barricades while Todd Sinclair is busy admonishing Whitmer. When DeVito misses a moonsault, it gives Jacobs the opportunity to spear Loc and then tag in Whitmer. Whitmer is able to fight off both of the Carnage Crew for a little while. He succumbs to a double spinebuster and then a double crab. Jacobs DDT’s DeVito and Loc simultaneously to save his partner. Whitmer then powerbombs Jacobs onto DeVito for two. Loc backdrops Jacobs to the floor. The Carnage Crew drill Whitmer with the spike piledriver for two. Jacobs rescues Whitmer for a super powerbomb. Whitmer gives Loc an exploder suplex. DeVito shoves Jacobs off the top turnbuckle and to the floor. Whitmer is also shoved to the floor, falling through and breaking the timekeeper’s table in the process. Jacobs goes for the Contra Code on Loc. Loc halts him, gives him to DeVito who is still perched on the top turnbuckle, and a super piledriver gives DeVito the pin on Jacobs at 14:11. Credit where credit is due, the Carnage Crew probably had their best match ever in winning these titles. The bar isn’t high, and this title win feels like a lifetime achievement award more than something earned through quality matches and/or fan support, but at least they put in their best effort when it mattered most. Jacobs and Whitmer worked very well with them, and got a nice round of applause from the crowd on their way backstage. ***

Azrieal vs. James Gibson vs. Jimmy Rave vs. Roderick Strong

As soon as the bell rings and Gibson and Strong are ready to lock up, the lights go out. CM Punk appears in the balcony in white dress pants and a red dress shirt. Punk mockingly chants “let’s go Gibson.” He had fully intended to challenge the winner of tonight’s Four Corner Survival to a title match tonight, but since Gibson stuck his nose where it didn’t belong twice last night, and because of his recent win-loss record, he doesn’t think Gibson deserves the challenge even if he were to win this match. He tells Gibson that he will never be the ROH Champion. He thinks Rave and Azrieal are great competitors, but he has his eyes on one guy tonight, Roderick Strong. He called Strong “the future” a few weeks ago after they wrestled at “The Future Is Now.” He’s not done teaching Strong a lesson, and tonight he will teach him another lesson, except, it’s going to be in a non-title match. Mick Foley then appears behind Punk. He goozle Punk and threatens to push him over the balcony and to the floor unless Punk makes it a title match. The crowd pops when Foley quotes Dirty Harry: “do ya feel lucky? Well do ya, Punk?” That’s cute, because his actual name is Punk, you see. Punk agrees to make the match a title match as soon as Foley puts the microphone in his face. Foley let’s go, leaving an exasperated Punk recovering against the handrail. Gibson encourages Strong to go kick Punk’s ass. Strong exits the match, and Rave jumps Gibson from behind. As Rave chokes Gibson with his boot, Alex Shelley comes to the ring to take Strong’s place in the match.

Alex Shelley vs. Azrieal vs. James Gibson vs. Jimmy Rave

Prince Nana, Jade Chung, and Mike Kruel are in Rave’s corner. Azrieal armdrags Gibson to the floor who seems surprised to see Shelley when comes to. We get a Matt Hardy interruption like we did during a couple matches last night as Azrieal and Gibson trade holds. Gibson and Shelley also trade offense, with Rave blind tagging himself in when Shelley gets close to his corner. Gibson gets Rave in a bridging knee lock, which Shelley breaks to ensure Rave does not tap out. Azrieal suplexes Gibson and applies a front facelock. Gibson uses an atomic drop to escape. He pulls Azrieal into a clothesline then tags in Rave, who drops Azrieal chest first across the top rope. Shelley moonsaults onto Azrieal and puts him in a straightjacket choke. Shelley and Rave form a makeshift tandem, wearing down Azrieal’s midsection and preventing him from tagging in Gibson. Azrieal is able to knock both Rave and Shelley down with a springboard dropkick. Rave and Shelley back Azrieal to the corner, but Gibson is fed up as they also knocked him off the apron, so he attacks Rave and Shelley, hip tosses Azrieal to his corner, and tags himself in. Gibson superplexes Rave and pulls him into a Guillotine Coke. Shelley dropkicks Gibson, but then is sent outside with an enzuigiri by Azrieal, who then tope con hilos onto Shelley. Rave has Gibson set up for the Rave Clash, and Azrieal stops him with another springboard dropkick. Azrieal also crushes Rave with a running cradle neckbreaker. Shelley flies in with a frogsplash onto Azrieal for two. He gives Azrieal a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a powerbomb. Gibson stops Shelley’s pin and stomps him down in the corner. Gibson knocks Rave off the apron. Shelley superkicks Gibson and tags in Rave. Gibson boots Rave in the throat, then DDT’s Shelley and puts him in a Guillotine Choke. Rave hits Gibson with the Doppler Effect. Azrieal breaks Rave’s pin (sorta). Rave then scoops up Azrieal into the Rave Clash for the pin at 22:09. With the crowd digging Gibson’s attitude, the seeds of Rave and Shelley working together being planted, and Azrieal doing enough cool stuff to justify his inclusion, this had quite a bit going for it. On top of that, Rave would earn himself a Pure Title match with this win. The action flew by and the story had the crowd going for the duration, which is about the best you can ask for. ***½

Prince Nana says he is going to party tonight like it’s 1979. He is offended that Jade Chung entered the ring to celebrate with them, and tells her to kiss Rave’s foot. Rave takes off right boot and sock. Rave shoves her face into his foot. When Nana turns his back, it looks like Chung may strike him, but when he turns around she cowers and becomes submissive once more.

ROH Pure Championship
Samoa Joe vs. Austin Aries

Joe has been champion since 5.7.2005 and this is his fourth defense. Aries ended Joe’s ROH World title run back at “Final Battle 2004”, can he end Joe’s Pure title reign as well? As referee Todd Sinclair is running down the Pure Rules, Prince Nana interrupts and invites Austin Aries to join The Embassy. Aries tells Nana he has more important things to concern himself with, and that if Nana wants to help, he can go run Aries’ bathwater backstage.

Aries avoids a corner attack. Joe throws headbutts at Aries’ shoulder blades. Aries escapes another attack and puts on a headscissors. Joe escapes, and Aries avoids being slapped. Joe stomps on his hands. Aries hops over Joe and comes off the second rope with an elbow. Joe is unfazed. Aries does take him down with a clothesline. Joe gives him a spinebuster. He does more damage to the back by landing a senton splash on it. Aries uses his first rope break when Joe puts on the Boston Crab. Even though Aries gets in a bit of offense, Joe takes him down in the corner and gives him a facewash kick. Aries kicks Joe off the apron and onto the timekeeper’s table. He follows with the Heat-Seeking Missile. Aries teases an Ole kick, but ends up bringing Joe back into the ring. He puts on a cross armbreaker after a quebrada fails to get him a pin. Joe grabs the ropes, meaning both men are down one rope break. Aries hits the IED and a beautiful missile dropkick for two. Aries vigilantly pounds on Joe’s back in the hopes of giving him a brainbuster. It doesn’t work, and Aries gets planted with the STJoe. He sends Aries to the floor and comes after him with an elbow suicida. He gives him the Ole kick too. Back in the ring, Aries rolls through Joe’s powerbomb and puts on the STF. Joe uses his second rope break. Aries misses a 450 splash. Joe scoops him up in a powerslam, then puts on a cross armbreaker. Aries uses his second rope break. Powerbomb back into the STF. Aries escapes and gives him a crucifix bomb. He follows that with a brainbuster and heads up top. He hits the 450 splash. Joe gets his foot on the ropes, using his final rope break. Aries knocks Joe down and goes for another 450. Instead, Joe catches him with the Muscle Buster for the pin at 17:11. This match was a far cry from their World title match, but still quite good. There were plenty of call-backs to that match, and they used the Pure Title rules in a unique manner, which is always appreciated. While this was certainly a good match, it is viewed as being slightly disappointing given their previous efforts against one another. ***¼

Gary Michael Capetta chats up the Carnage Crew backstage. Their feud with the Ring Crew Express isn’t over, but tonight is about validating their careers and celebrating their title win.

European Rounds
Colt Cabana vs. Nigel McGuinness

This match is contested in eight, three minute rounds. The first to two pinfalls, two submissions or a knockout wins. Punches and kicks are not permitted. Wrestlers have ten seconds to get to their feet once being thrown to the mat. A rule break results in a warning, three warnings results in an automatic disqualification. Derek Dempsey is Cabana’s cornerman, and Smash Bradley is McGuinness’ cornerman.

In round one, McGuiness closed fist punches Cabana out of Todd Sinclair’s view. Cabana responds with several fists of his own and Sinclair gives Cabana his first warning. McGuinness taunts Cabana, asking for a punch, but Cabana doesn’t take the bait. Cabana feigns a low blow behind Sinclair’s back after poking McGuinness in the eyes, and McGuiness gets a warning as well. Cabana has McGuinness’s hands tied up in his thighs as the round ends. McGuinnes throws his towel into Cabana’s face to get a head start in round two. He strikes Cabana in the back of the head. Cabana sends McGuinness face first into the mat after McGuinness failed to do so to Cabana. McGuinness shoves referee Todd Sinclair in frustration, earning him a second warning. Cabana trips McGuinness as McGuinness comes off the ropes, rolling him up in a schoolboy pin for three to win the second round and lead the match 1-0. McGuinness spits water into Cabana’s eyes to start round three. He attacks Cabana’s mid-section. When McGuinness bridges out of a sunset flip, Cabana taps him in the groin, which earns Cabana a second warning. He doesn’t seem to mind. Cabana nails a flying forearm as the third round concludes. We get an interruption from Matt Hardy saying we are just one show away from his ROH debut, and he will be honored to step into the ring with Christopher Daniels, but that Daniels will experience an unfortunate Twist of Fate. McGuinness cheap shots Cabana in the ear at the beginning of round four when Todd Sinclair disposes of McGuinness’ Union Jack iron. McGuinness does damage to Cabana’s left arm, and puts him in a kneeling cloverleaf while keeping Cabana’s left arm in a hammerlock. Cabana verbally submits, tying the match 1-1. McGuinness lightly mule kicks Cabana to end the round. McGuinness goes back to working on Cabana’s left arm as round five begins. Cabana dropkicks McGuinness as McGuinness goes to the corner. He drives double knees into McGuinness’ chest. On the mat he applies a half crab. McGuinness smacks on Cabana’s match, confusing him into thinking the referee was telling him to break. Cabana does release, but is able to backslide McGuinness for two. After reversals and pinfall attempts, McGuinness kneels down on a sunset flip from Cabana, pinning him at 13:45 and winning the match 2 falls to 1. There were definitely flaws in the presentation, as McGuinness smacking Cabana’s back sure could’ve been seen as a tap out, and they did several kicks throughout the match with no warnings or admonishment. It was a creative stipulation to prolong this feud, but not what the ROH audience was looking for at this time. That said, under these rules and the roster they had, it was the two best people to choose, so even with everything going against it, the match was still pretty solid. **½

Roderick Strong is taping his wrists backstage, preparing for his World Title match, and Aries gives him words of encouragement.

Relaxed Rules
Jay Lethal vs. Homicide

They brawl in and out of the ring right at the bell. Lethal gets Homicide back in the ring after sending Homicide into the barricades and attacks his back. Homicide cuts him off with a spinebuster. He drops Lethal with an Ace Crusher on the ring apron and Julius Smokes follows up with an aluminum baseball bat shot to the head. That busts open Lethal a little bit, and Homicide jabs at the open wound with a fork. After throwing elbows at the wound he legdrops Lethal on the ring apron. Lethal reverses Homicide’s hip toss attempt with a belly-to-belly suplex. Lethal connects with a dropkick. He string a knee strike and neckbreaker together for two. Lethal cracks Homicide with a leg lariat off of the second turnbuckle for two as well. Against his better judgment, Lethal delivers a diving heabutt. His open wound and injured neck don’t allow for a cover right away, and when he does cover, Homicide places his foot on the ropes. Homicide attacks Lethal’s neck after escaping a Dragon suplex and gives Lethal a piledriver. Homicide brings a table into the ring. He looks to superplex Lethal through it, but Lethal instead brings Homicide down with a super DDT through the table! Lethal heads to the top rope for another headbutt. Grim Reefer, who is unnamed by commentary, swoops in and drops Lethal with a super side slam. Homicide covers Lethal but Lethal is still able to kick out. Lethal is able to drop Homicide with a Dragon suplex, but Homicide kicks out just before the three count. Lethal goes outside to fight off Smokes. Homicide now has a chain, and he clobbers Lethal in the neck with it before turning him inside out with a lariat for the pin at 19:12. With Low Ki in Japan this was a fine way to keep Lethal’s issue with the Rottweilers festering. Some of the action was messy, and they didn’t necessarily fill the time well, but the atmosphere was good and it had just enough cool moments to make it worthwhile. **¾

ROH World Championship
CM Punk vs. Roderick Strong

Punk has been champion since 6.18.2005 and this is his second defense. Between his snake allegory he used at “Death Before Dishonor III” and now adding the opening of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”, Punk must have been very into Kill Bill at this time. Samoa Joe stares down Punk from the balcony. Punk chops Strong in the corner, then immediately runs into the opposite corner and ducks between the ropes to avoid retaliation. Punk snapmares Strong into a back chop and then hits the floor. Punk smacks Strong on the back twice whilst also maintaining a side headlock. As the pace picks up, Strong goes for a gut buster and the Stronghold. Punk quickly escapes both, but Strong Cactus clotheslines him to the floor. Punk kicks Strong in the chest as Strong re-enters the ring. Punk ducks Strong’s chops while peppering Strong with his own, then brings him back down in the side headlock. Finally, as Punk goes for a leapfrog, Strong halts and lands his first chop of the match, then a few more for good measure. Strong follows Punk outside with a pescado. Strong chops him around ringside, even chopping him into the laps of a couple fans. Inside the ring, Strong scoops up Punk into a backbreaker, then drops Punk with a belly-to-back suplex. Punk stops a charging Strong by dropping him chest first across the top rope. After Punk pummels Strong and dropkicks him in the back of the head, he yells to Joe and James Gibson in the balcony that he built ROH. Strong lands a crosbody off the second rope, but is quickly knocked back down with a clothesline. Punk also holds onto the ropes as Strong tries a dropkick, resulting in Strong crashing back to the mat. Punk gives Strong a delayed vertical suplex, impressing himself with his own strength. He digs his knee into Strong’s back while applying a chinlock. When Strong escapes, Punk takes him back down with a knee to the stomach. Punk is in disbelief when Strong does not pass out in a side headlock. Punk’s buttocks are shown as Strong inadvertently pulls them down in a sunset flip. Foley has joined Joe and Gibson in the balcony as Strong throws Punk off the top turnbuckle. The End of Heartache and Sick Kick follow, but Punk kicks out. Strong also gets two with a big dropkick. Strong’s uranage backbreaker doesn’t get it done either. Punk escapes a half-nelson backbreaker. He hits Strong with the Shining Wizard for two. Strong crucifixes his way out of an Anaconda Vise. Punk superkicks Strong after kicking out of a schoolboy. He tornado DDT’s Strong into the Anaconda Vise. Strong makes his way to the ropes to the crowds delight. Punk hits the Pepsi Twist but misses a springboard leg drop, giving Strong the chance to lock in the Stronghold. Punk grabs the ropes, forcing Strong to release it. Punk drps him with a hammerlock DDT for two. Punk tries a rolling elbow. Strong catches him with a half-nelson backbreaker. He scoops Punk up into another backbreaker, then a pump-handle piledriver. Punk once again uses the ropes to save himself from defeat. Punk escapes a powerbomb. Strong O’Connor rolls Punk for two. Punk rolls Strong onto his back and puts his feet on the ropes for extra leverage, getting the pin at 26:28. No doubt about it – that ending was weak. Fortunately, the rest of the match ruled. Lots of intense action, psychology, a hot crowd, and them being able to build uncertainty around somebody who was still finding their footing as a singles competitor made for a terrific main event. ****

CM Punk says he is leaving ROH as the only undefeated champion in history. He tells the crowd to say goodbye to the Champ. James Gibson runs to the ring. Punk jumps into the crowd with Gibson egging him to come back to the ring. Samoa Joe gives chase to Punk through the crowd, leading Punk back ringside. He backs up to the entrance way where Foley meets him and pummels him right to Joe. Joe and Foley throw Punk into the ring. Gibson drops Punk with a Tiger Driver and Foley gives a three count. Gibson grabs and admires the ROH Championship. He stands over Punk and says if he has any guts, he’ll give him a title shot next week in Woodbridge, CT.

Backstage, Cabana blows off the ROH camera crew. He’s sorry if people want Punk, but that has nothing to do with him. He’s mentally defeated that he couldn’t defeat Nigel at his own game, which he thought he could do. He tells the camera man (Gabe) that he’s off to England.

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