Ring of Honor: Punk: The Final Chapter

Chicago Ridge, IL – 8.13.2005

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

Commentary is provided by Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

As is customary for ROH, the show after a World championship victory opens with the new champion addressing the crowd. Dave Prazak introduces James Gibson who comes out with a bandage on his forehead. He tells the crowd that winning the ROH World title was the most important thing to happen to him in his career. There are rumors about him going to WWE, but he promises that as long as he is the champion, he will continue to defend the title and not spit in the audiences face as Punk had intended. He also promises not to lay down for anyone – if he is defeated, it will be because the individual across the ring from him is the better man. As he discusses not being a transitional champion, Spanky comes into the ring. Tonight he and Gibson challenge Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer for the ROH Tag Team titles, and if they’re victorious, Gibson will be the first ever dual champion in ROH history. Spanky offers his congratulations to Gibson, but also requests a shot at the World title on another evening. Gibson gleefully agrees to defend the title against him in the future, as it was their match against one another back in February that put Gibson on the map in ROH.

Matt Sydal vs. Delirious vs. Alex Shelley vs. Nigel McGuinness

Daizee Haze is in Sydal’s corner, while Prince Nana is in Shelley’s corner. The fans love when Delirious goes nuts at the sound of the bell. Shelley is very proud of himself for tying up Delirious’ limbs and placing the Ghanian flag on top of him. Delirious frees himself and knocks down Shelley with three consecutive clotheslines. Shelley belly to back suplexes Delirious while Delirious is posing, then blows a snot rocket onto him before tagging in McGuinness. McGuinness mocks Delirious’ posing, so the disrespected Delirious tags out to Sydal. Sydal dizzies McGuinness with a couple of armdrags and springboard dropkicks him to the floor. In the ring he lands a standing moonsault for two. Sydal halts a charging Delirious with a headscissors and monkey flip. Shelley gets in some shots on Delirious, but when McGuinness comes in, Delirious is able to take him down with a dropkick. Sydal crotches McGuinness on the top turnbuckle and tags himself in. McGuinness nails Sydal with the rebound lariat, and Delirious stops his pin with a top rope legdrop. Shelley superkicks Delirious, Sydal spinwheel kicks Shelley, and McGuinness drives Sydal into the mat in a wristlock. McGuinness goes for the Tower of London. Shelley blind tags in as Delirious stops McGuinness and Sydal. Shelley sends Sydal and Delirious out and nails McGuinness with an enzuigiri. The Golden Gate Swing gets Shelley a two count. He calls for the Shellshock. McGuinness escapes and drives Shelley hard into the mat while keeping him hammerlocked. Delirious tags himself in. He hits the Panic Attack on both McGuinness and Shelley in opposite corners. Sydal wipes out Shelley and Nana on the floor with a moonsault. McGuinness boots Delirious and drops him with the Tower of London for the pin at 10:51. This crowd is FIRED UP and their energy aided in the excitement of a match that was a whole lot of fun. With McGuinness having a big match with Cabana coming up, he was the right man to win, and it kept Delirious’ losing streak going. Shelley and Sydal fighting post-match to continue the Embassy and Gen Next issue was icing on the cake. Killer opener. ***¼

Ace Steel vs. Chad Collyer

Collyer grows frustrated with Steel being able to counter all of his offense, and for embarrassing him after dropping him to the canvas out of a full nelson while Collyer’s feet were on the top rope. This results in a shoving match and Collyer knocking down Steel with a leg lariat. Steel very cleverly uses the ropes to walk up the ropes and execute a headscissors. Steel nails a single leg dropkick in the corner and delivers a belly-to-back suplex for two. Collyer drops Steel chest first across the top rope and forearm strikes him to the floor. Collyer tries to follow Steel with a double axe handle and ends up being chopped out of mid-air, then chopped all around ringside. Steel accidentally elbows an ROH student when rearing back for a punch. Steel checks on the student. As his attention is diverted, Collyer blasts him across the head with a folding chair! When Collyer pulls Steel back into the ring, his head is disgustingly bloody, pooling underneath him in the ring. Steel passes out in a cloverleaf at 10:27. The match was solid, but the image of Steel laying in a pool of his own blood will be the only thing anyone remembers. **¼

Austin Aries vs. Jimmy Rave

Prince Nana is in Rave’s corner. Rave has also transitioned from pleather plants to tights. Aries controls Rave in the early going, forcing Rave to retreat to the floor after giving him a dropkick out of a headscissors. When Rave comes back in, Aries hits a back elbow off the second rope and snaps off a pair of Japanese armdrags. Rave is able to get his knees up to avoid a slingshot quebrada, then pulls Aries ribs first into the ring post. Rave locks on an abdominal stretch. Todd Sinclair catches him using the ropes for leverage, and while Sinclair breaking his rope hold does allow Aries to break free, Rave knees him in the stomach to shut him down right away. Aries escapes from Ghanarhea mid-swing, but Rave puts him in a bearhug. Aries escapes and trades forearm strikes with Rave. Rave goes to Aries’ eyes, but Aries mows him down with a clothesline. Aries then hits the Powerdrive elbow for two. The IED also gets him a two count, with Aries nursing his ribs after impact. Rave drives him into the corner. Aries sunset flips out of a corner attack. He tries a crucifix driver, but instead Rave drives Aries down in a lowered Samoan Drop. Rave ducks a rolling elbow and spears Aries for two. Rave escapes an O’Connor Roll, but when he goes for the Doppler Effect, Aries dropkicks his knee out. Aries gives Rave a brainbuster for two. Rave gets his knees up to counter the 450 splash. He pulls Aries into a small package, but Aries is able to kick out right before three. Aries shoves Rave to the corner to avoid the Rave Clash. He places Rave on the top turnbuckle. Rave is able to pull Aries into position for a super Rave Clash. Aries uses his feet to kick Rave in the head until he is released. Rave dives down for a sunset flip. Aries kneels down and pulls Rave’s legs forward to pin him at 13:28. Interesting choice for Aries to pin Rave on back-to-back nights. The crowd once again was very hot and also super behind Aries, which helped turn a good match into a very good match. Part of what made the Embassy and Generation Next feud so good was the chemistry between the participants, and that was definitely the case with Rave and Aries in this bout. ***¼

Alex Shelley attacks Aries after the match. Rave drops Aries with the Rave Clash, and the Embassy poses before Nana drops a forearm on the back of Aries’ neck. Roderick Strong and Matt Sydal chase the Embassy off. Nana declares “Embassy Forever!” as the ROH logo takes us to the next match.

Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal vs. Homicide & Low Ki

The match starts as an all out brawl between the four participants. Joe clotheslines Homicide to the floor and delivers an elbow suicida. Lethal gives Ki a few elbows and clotheslines. Joe whips Homicide into the barricades. Lethal hits a springboard dropkick which sends Ki to the floor, but Ki elbows Lethal from the floor to block a suicide dive. Homicide baits Joe back into the ring where Ki blindsides him with a double sledge. Ki and Homicide then double clothesline Joe and manage to isolate him in their half of the ring. Of course, they resort to cheap tactics in order to do so. Joe managed to overhead suplex Homicide, giving him an opportunity to tag in Lethal. Lethal backdrops Homicide for a two count, and earning a two count from a leg lariat. Ki flicks Lethal in the eyes and then goes back to the apron. With that, Homicide is able to take over, and now the Rottweiler’s once again control the match. Lethal’s period of isolation in their corner is more lengthy than Joe’s, and Joe has to come in and save Lethal on a few occasions. Lethal is able to evade a double stomp attempt from Ki and knock him down with a leg lariat from the second turnbuckle, allowing for Joe to finally tag in. He backdrops both Ki and Homicide right away. Joe drops Homicide with a Death Valley Driver for two. Joe powerbombs Homicide, then turns him over and applies an STF. Ki double stomps Joe to break the hold. Ki kicks Lethal from the apron and Homicide drops him with an Ace Crusher for two. Homicide low blows Lethal to block a Dragon suplex. Joe powerslams Homicide and then fights Ki on the floor. Lethal hits a diving headbutt on Homicide for two. Joe misses an Ole Kick to Ki outside the ring, with his leg hitting the barricade. Homicide nails an enzuigiri on Lethal as Ki nails Joe across the back with a folding chair. Ki tags himself in. He blocks Lethal’s sunset flip and delivers a double stomp. Shocked that Lethal was able to kick out, Ki kicks referee Jason Harding in the face. Ki comes off the top turnbuckle with an elbow smash. Joe and Homicide fight on the floor as Lethal and Ki exchange chops. Kid sends Lethal crashing onto the second turnbuckle, then comes off with the top with a double stomp to his back! Lethal gets his foot on the rope to stop the pin. All four men end up back in the ring. Joe stops Homicide’s tornado DDT, but Ki gives him a Jon Woo dropkick. Lethal gives Ki a Dragon suplex. Homicide elbow drops the referee, causing the match to be thrown out at 17:34. That was crazy and fun, but this was just the beginning. What’s worth talking about is the post match brawl. With an actual ending, this would have been ranked even higher. ***½

All four men fight into the crowd. Some stand out moments from their brawl include Joe suplexing Homicide on the entrance ramp and Low Ki leaping off the bleachers for a double stomp onto Lethal. When Homicide and Ki end up ringside, Joe throws chair after chair out of the crowd onto them. It rules super hard. Ki and Lethal fight in the ring where Lethal hopes to give a bloodied Ki another Dragon suplex. Instead, Ki low blows Lethal and drops him with a Ki Crusher. Homicide and Joe fight to the backstage area. Homicide returns to greet a bloody Ki in the aisle and bring him to the back.

Earlier in the day, Ace Steel discussed training Colt Cabana and CM Punk at the Steel Domain wrestling school in Chicago. Clips of Punk vs. Cabana from “Night of the Butcher” are shown as Steel tells the story of their friendship forming. We also see their argument from “Final Battle 2002” as Steel discusses how although the two of them had different backgrounds, both had the same passion for wrestling. We also see Punk and Cabana becoming a tandem at “Night of Champions” stomping Raven on the canvas, then Cabana holding Ricky Steamboat for Punk to pummel at “Reborn: Stage One.” Tonight is going to be like Steel watching his two kids go at it, and while there won’t be a dry eye in the house, everyone in attendance will get to witness history.

ROH Tag Team Championship
BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs vs. James Gibson & Spanky

Whitmer and Jacobs have been champions since 7.23.2005 and this is their second defense. Gibson earned this match by defeating Whitmer at “Nowhere to Run”, the previous ROH event to emanate from Chicago Ridge. Spanky and Gibson control Whitmer by his left arm. When Whitmer gets a chance to tag in Jacobs, Gibson armdrags him right away and holds onto his left arm. Spanky and Gibson double hip toss Jacobs and dropkick him to the floor, and Whitmer suffers the same fate. Gibson and Spanky then deliver stereo suicide dives. Back in the ring they sequester Jacobs until Jacobs goes up and over Spanky in the corner and knocks him down with a spear. Upon tagging in, Whitmer sends Gibson to the floor Spanky takes down Whitmer with a Frankensteiner and gets a two count after a crossbody off the second turnbuckle. Whitmer counters a Sliced Bread attempt with a neckbreaker off the second turnbuckle. Spanky finds himself trapped in the champions corner. Spanky is able to escape when he tornado DDT’s Whitmer, kicking Jacobs in the face in the process. Gibson drops Whitmer with a neckbreaker. He puts Whitmer in a Guillotine choke, keeping hold even after Gibson gives him a Northern Lights suplex. Jacobs boots Gibson in the face to free his partner, and is then tossed outside by Spanky. Whitmer stops a charging Gibson with an exploder suplex. Spanky missile dropkicks Whitmer as he has Gibson in his arms, allowing Gibson to lateral press Whitmer for two. Whitmer ducks a double clothesline. Jacobs pulls Gibson to the floor. Spanky spikes Whitmer with a reverse Frankensteiner. Jacobs stops his pin and gives Spanky a reverse snapmare driver. Whitmer powerbombs Jacobs onto Spanky for two. The champions look for the Doomsday Frankensteiner on Spanky. Instead, Spanky victory rolls Whitmer, and Gibson drops Jacobs with a spinebuster. Spanky drops Whitmer with a Complete Shot after ducking a rolling elbow. Gibson blasts Whitmer with a couple knees to the head before attempting the Tiger Driver. Spanky superkicks Gibson to stop him and then gives him Sliced Bread #2! Whitmer then pins Gibson at 17:28. While the match ended up as a smokescreen to beef up Spanky’s title shot against Gibson, it was a kick ass smokescreen. The two teams busted their humps and provided a really energetic, fun match with some really good tandem offense and close nearfalls. Spanky’s turn was well done, and the fans dug it, so while in most cases it could come off contrived or cheap, it really worked for me. ***½

Spanky presents Whitmer and Jacobs with their title belts and asks them to exit. He stomps on Gibson while cutting a promo that I can hardly understand. Either way, he wants the ROH World Championship.

Roderick Strong vs. Matt Hardy

Strong enters first and the Embassy tries to sneak attack him. Austin Aries and Sydal are able to halt Rave and Shelley and take them backstage before Hardy’s entrance. The semi-hostile Chicago Ridge boos Hardy as he grabs a microphone. His long inaudible promo boils down to “thank you to my supporters, and thank you to my detractors for buying a ticket.” This is Hardy’s final match in ROH…for now. Hardy holds firmly onto a side headlock as he fans have fun chanting about Edge and Lita. Strong then holds onto Hardy’s left arm while keeping him grounded. Hardy slams his way free and Strong goes for the Stronghold. Hardy instead tries his double underhook guillotine but Strong backs his way to the ropes before it can be applied. Hardy throws Strong to the floor after pounding on his back. Strong ruins Hardy’s life with chops, but also smacks his own hand against the ring post by accident. Hardy drives Strong’s shoulder into the ring post. Hardy goes after Strong’s left leg back inside the ring. After Strong turns over a figure four leg lock, he enzuigiri’s Hardy away. Hardy is able to land a sit-out Splash Mountain powerbomb for two. Strong comes back with a backbreaker and chops before taking Hardy over with a butterfly suplex. Strong pulls off a beautiful dropkick and hobbles his way over to Hardy for a pinfall attempt, only getting to two. The same happens after a vertical suplex. Strong hoists up Hardy, who manages to slip out the back and give Strong a reverse DDT. Hardy also clotheslines Strong in the corner and brings him out with a running bulldog for two. Strong escapes a sleeper hold attempt with a belly-to-back suplex. Fans are unhappy when Hardy escapes a superplex predicament, and delighted when Strong shuts down his second rope leg drop. Hardy however delivers a tornado DDT for two. He also gets two with a rolling elbow. Strong counters the Twist of Fate with a backbreaker. He then gives Hardy a gutbuster and a Sick Kick for two. Hardy takes Strong down with a sunset flip out of the corner. Strong kicks out and puts Hardy in the Stronghold. The fans boo when Hardy gets to the ropes. Hardy locks Strong in the double underhook guillotine choke, and the fans cheer when Strong gets to the ropes. Hardy side steps a crossbody attempt. He hits the Side Effect twice. The third time, Strong counters into a prawn hold, pinning Hardy at 23:52. This was definitely the best of Hardy’s three matches and came off as a huge win for Strong. The crowd went from being muddied in their support to entirely behind Strong by the match’s conclusion. Their support of Strong and jeers for Hardy added a lot to the match, which by and large was excellent, albeit a smidge too long. ***½

It is now time for the main event. Colt Cabana enters first and is received very favorably by his hometown. The entirety of “Miseria Cantare” by AFI plays as we see are shown more highlights from Punk’s ROH career: winning the tag team titles with Colt Cabana at “Reborn: Stage Two”, retaining the titles at “Death Before Dishonor II: Part One”, and ending his feud with Jimmy Rave at “Nowhere To Run.” “Night Train” by the Bouncing Souls then plays, which is very apropos for Punk’s final night with ROH. Punk’s eyes are red and puffy from crying as he embraces the Chicago ROH crowd one last time. Cabana holds the ropes for Punk. Punk drops to his knees in the middle of the ring and is showered with streamers from the fans as they chant his name. They chant “please don’t go” and “thank you, Punk” as referee Todd Sinclair clears the streamers from the ring. After Bobby Cruise’s introductions, Ace Steel takes a seat at the timekeeper’s table to watch the match up close Samoa Joe also grabs a seat ringside. Punk and Cabana shake hands and embrace before Todd Sinclair calls for the bell. Jimmy Bower joins commentary.

2 out of 3 Falls
CM Punk vs. Colt Cabana

After feeling each other out they engage in a double knuckle lock. Punk shoulder tackles Cabana three times. Cabana trips him to avoid a fourth. He takes Punk down with an armdrag and headscissors him to the corner. Punk headscissors Cabana into an armdrag to show him up. He comes off the second rope with a crossbody for two. Punk keeps armdragging Cabana and Cabana keeps putting him in a headscissors. They criss-cross the ropes. Cabana tries his old face slapping gag but it doesn’t work. Cabana stomps on both of Punk’s feet instead. Punk low blows Cabana behind the referee’s back in retaliation. Punk gives Cabana the Colt 45 to pick up the first fall at 12:41. Punk catches Cabana in an Anaconda Vise in the ropes. After releasing the hold he comes in with a missile dropkick. Cabana catches Punk with a lariat to pick up the second fall at 16:06. Both guys talk some trash as they exchange chops. Cabana fires away with some chops and strikes to the chest. Punk goes for another Anaconda Vise but Cabana simply dumps Punk to the floor. They go in and out of the ring until finally Punk comes off the apron with a Frankensteiner. Back in the ring he goes for an underhook maneuver. Cabana counters with a butterfly suplex for two. Cabana forearms Punk off the apron and follows with an Asai moonsault. Back in the ring Punk gives Cabana a Frankensteiner. Cabana rolls through and applies a Boston Crab. Punk escapes and spikes Cabana with a reverse Frankensteiner. Punk hits him with a Busaiku Knee. Cabana brings Punk off the ropes with a belly-to-back suplex that sees Punk land on his head. Punk kicks out. When he and Cabana recover, Punk applies the Anaconda Vise. Punk brings him to the top with a Pepsi Plunge. Cabana brings him down with a Samoan Drop. Punk crucifixes him for two. He also gets two with a running knee strike. Punk and Cabana switch positions in a roll-up until Cabana catches Punk with a three count at 27:46 to win the bout. The rest of the Summer of Punk offers the better matches from Punk, but that isn’t what this match was about at all. This was all about him and his best friend in the business having one last match and having fun while doing so, and leaving the crowd with a positive impression of someone who made an indelible mark on the promotion. The match was held under the right circumstances: in Chicago under in 2 out of 3 falls rules (which is the type of match that put their names on the map in the Midwest) and in front of the right audience. This won’t be remembered as a classic, but as a fun farewell for one of the most important wrestlers in Ring of Honor history. ***

Punk is bewildered that Cabana got him for a three count. Ultimately though he comes to terms with it and shakes Cabana’s hand. Punk’s parents and the entire locker room enter the ring to send him off, including Cary Silkin. Cabana showers Punk with Pepsi and also presents him with a champagne flute of Pepsi. Punk says tonight is very emotional for him, as he loves ROH. He says it’s the best place to wrestle, and has both the best fans and locker room. He says tonight is one of the best nights of his life, thanks Chicago, and drinks his Pepsi along with Cabana and Steel. Punk also thanks Gabe Sapolsky who is standing in the entrance way, along with the Rottweilers. He says ROH is his family and that they are the future of wrestling. The show concludes with Cabana and Steel holding up Punk on their shoulders and leading everyone in a “CM Punk” chant.

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