Ring of Honor: Samoa Joe – Total Domination

Disc One

Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal vs. CM Punk & Spanky
“Back to Basics” – Woodbridge, CT – 3.12.2005

Punk and Lethal’s opening exchange ends in a stalemate. Both guys went for their big moves early but couldn’t pull them off. Spanky tags in. He sends Lethal to the corner with a huracanrana and knocks him down with a forearm. Joe tags in and Spanky does not have a good time trying to take him down. He bounces off Joe trying a running shoulder block, so he tags in Punk. Punk goes for his headlock offense that he used in his and Joe’s trilogy of matches. Spanky blind tags in to help Punk take Joe down. Joe however sends them to the floor with a double shoulder block. Spanky gives Lethal a dropkick once he comes back in. Lethal responds with a snap backbreaker. Lethal holds Spanky in a tree of woe position so Joe can give him a facewash kick. Spanky and Joe wear down Spanky until Punk comes in to kick Lethal. Distracted, Spanky sends Lethal to the floor where Punk throws hi m into the barricades. Now it’s Lethal who is isolated and beaten down. He escapes when Spanky attempts the Sliced Bread #2. Lethal manages to escape, leg lariats Punk off the apron, and tags Joe in. Joe overhead suplexes Punk. He slams Spanky for two and puts on a cross armbreaker. Punk breaks it, so Lethal clotheslines him to the floor. Joe powerbombs Spanky and turns him over into the STF. When Spanky escapes, Lethal delivers a diving headbutt. Punk breaks the cover. Spanky uses Joe to give Lethal a tornado DDT. Punk enzuigiri’s Lethal into a Complete Shot from Spanky. Lethal manages to kick out. Lethal escapes the Welcome to Chicago and chops both Spanky and Punk. Punk German suplexes Lethal but Joe makes the save. Joe ducks Punk’s clothesline and gives Spanky an elbow suicida. Punk brings Lethal up top for the Pepsi Plunge. Stevie Richards of all people emerges from the back to distract Punk. He superkicks Punk while the referee is elsewhere. Lethal gives Punk a Dragon suplex for the pin at 25:45. What a totally bizarre finish. Ring of Honor ended up doing no follow up with Richards which makes the finish even more perplexing. The wrestling was good up until that point, especially before the abrupt finish. ***1/2

ROH Pure Championship
Jay Lethal (Champion) vs. Samoa Joe

“Manhattan Mayhem” – New York, NY – 5.7.2005

Joe gets Lethal to the corner after locking like they’re going to lock knuckles. Lethal slaps Joe and tells him that “the real champ is here.” They go to the mat. Lethal brings Joe back up by his arm, but Joe takes Lethal back down in a full body stretch. Lethal gets to the ropes. Joe does not break cleanly and lays in a few strikes. Lethal comes back with a leg lariat for one. He puts on a key lock parachute stretch. Joe uses a rope break to escape. He ends up using a closed fist on Lethal, costing him another rope break. Lethal drops him with a neckbreaker. Joe catches Lethal in the corner with the STJoe. Joe stops Lethal’s rolling elbow with another closed fist, causing Joe his third and final rope break. He powerbombs Lethal into a Boston Crab. When Lethal breaks, Joe goes for the facewash kick. Lethal traps Joe’s leg in the ropes and gives him a dropkick. He suplexes Joe and gets two with a diving headbutt. Joe sends Lethal to the apron. He kicks him to the floor and follows with an elbow suicida. Joe and Lethal fight on the apron. Lethal puts on a sleeper. Joe grabs the ropes, but since he’s out of rope breaks Lethal need not break the hold. Joe has a solution though: tumbling back first through the timekeeper’s table. When they recover back in the ring, Lethal dishes out some chops. Joe powerslams him for two then puts on a cross armbreaker. Lethal escapes. He gives Joe a neckbreaker and a Flying DDT for two. He then hits the Dragon suplex, the same move that won him the title. Joe however manages to kick out. Joe gives Lethal a Dragon suplex, and a cross-armed German suplex for the pin at 16:32. Such good story telling out of both guys. Joe losing all his rope breaks early, then having to desperately resort to throwing Lethal through a table just to survive was awesome. Lethal looked like he had finally matched his mentor, coming close to defeat so many times, only to suffer defeat in the end. A brilliant Pure title contest and one that still holds up to this day. ***3/4

After the match, the Rottweilers attack both Lethal and Joe. This includes Low Ki, who admits to Lethal it was him who attacked Lethal back at the Trios Tournament 2005 show. This altercation would lead to an impromptu match at the end of the show.

Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal vs. Homicide & Low Ki
“Manhattan Mayhem” – New York, NY – 5.7.2005

Lethal and Joe attack Ki and Homicide from behind and pitch them to the floor. Stereo suicide dives follow. The bell officially rings as all four men are fighting it out in the ring. Joe gives Ki to Lethal. He holds Ki in a tree of woe so Joe can give him a facewash kick. As Homicide and Lethal fight in the ring, Ki attacks Joe on the apron. Homicide sends Lethal to the floor and tope con hilo’s after him. Ki stomps on Lethal’s face for two. Ki and Homicide destroy Lethal in their half of the ring. Homicide gets two with a piledriver. Lethal blocks a lariat and gives Homicide a Dragon suplex. Joe tags in. He throws boots and strikes. Ki gets tossed down with the STJoe, and Joe overhead suplexes Homicide into the corner. Ki gets in some Mongolian chops. Lethal helps Joe by giving Ki a clothesline. Joe goes for the Muscle Buster. Homicide kicks his legs out. Ki double stomps Joe on the second rope! Lethal drops Homicide with a running suplex. Ki dropkicks Joe to the corner. Lethal goes for a superplex on Ki. Ki knocks him into Homicide. Homicide and Ki hit the AMAZING double stomp/Cop Killa combo on Lethal for the pin at 10:07. Talk about packing a lot of action into a short amount of time. That finish was an awesome ending to a wild, fun brawl. Remember when Manhattan Mayhem was condisered the best ROH show ever? It’s still a contender for that title. ***1/4

ROH Pure Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. James Gibson

“New Frontiers” – Williamsville, NY – 6.4.2005

A long segment of looking for control on the mat kicks off the contest. Gibson seems determined to get either one of Joe’s arms or legs worn down. While Gibson puts on a cross armbreaker, Joe picks up Gibson and places him on the top rope. Referee Todd Sinclair charges Joe a rope break for that, which Joe is not happy with. Gibson uses the distraction to hop over Joe and dropkick his leg out. Gibson has found the limb he is going to work on. Gibson twists up Joe’s leg in the ropes. Joe blocks Gibson’s corner attack with the STJoe. He drops a knee across Gibson’s chest. A corner knee strike sends Gibson to the floor. Joe throws more kicks to the chest. He puts on a Boston Crab. Gibson uses his first rope break to escape. Gibson crotches Joe in the corner. He brings Joe down with a belly-to-back superplex. Gibson puts on a Guillotine. Joe begins to ram Gibson in the corner to break it. Gibson releases the hold so he can shove Joe to the corner and roll him up for two. Joe gets his own two count with a powerslam. He transitions right into the cross armbreaker. Gibson uses his second rope break. Joe goes for a facewash kick. Gibson catches and gives him a dragonscrew leg whip. He then applies the Trailer Hitch. Joe uses his second rope break. Gibson dropkicks him to the floor. He tries a pescado. Joe catches him and tosses him into the barricades. In the ring, Joe powerbombs him into a STF. Gibson uses his third and final rope break to escape. Joe goes for the Muscle Buster. Gibson slips out and puts on the Guillotine. Gibson turns it into an O’Conner Roll for two. Joe puts on the Coquina Clutch. Gibson taps out at 23:54. I actually got annoyed at one point because it seemed Gibson let up on Joe’s leg, but in the end he went back to it and made up for it. This was a no-nonsense, hold and strike battle that was both engaging and fun to watch. They used a lot of creative ways to escape holds without using rope breaks in the beginning which was both clever and a nice change from the Joe/Lethal bout. Aside from it going a bit too long, this was a great match to showcase what the Pure title stands for. ***3/4

ROH Pure Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Austin Aries

“Escape From New York” – New York, NY – 7.9.2005

Aries ended Joe’s ROH World title run, can he end his Pure title reign too? 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. It’s a far cry from their World title match, but still quite good. They called back to that encounter, and used the Pure Title rules in a unique manner, so I give them credit for that. A good match, but perhaps slightly disappointing given their previous efforts against one another. ***1/4

Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal & James Gibson vs. Homicide, Low Ki & Ricky Reyes
“The Homecoming” – Philadelphia, PA – 7.23.2005

Joe’s team clears the ring. When the dust settles, Reyes and Joe start off. Reyes throws some kicks and hits the ropes. Joe catches him with a STJoe. Gibson and Ki tag in. Gibson controls Ki by his arm. Ki kicks him from the apron to escape. Gibson gives him a neckbreaker and tags in Lethal. Ki looks like he’s going to lock-up but ends up tagging in Reyes. Lethal suplexes him for two. Lethal holds Reyes so Joe can give him a running kick. Gibson has to fight off all three of his opponents. Homicide knees him from the apron and Reyes gives him a belly-to-belly suplex. The Rudos have Gibson’s number until Gibson gives Homicide a dropkick. Lethal tags in and throws dropkicks at everyone. Ki hides behind a referee. Homicide sneak attacks Lethal. Ki throws him to the floor where Homicide and Reyes do some damage. They all take turns beating Lethal down both in the ring and on the floor. Even Julius Smokes gets a shot in with a baseball bat. Lethal eventually escapes with a running suplex to Homicide (just like at “Manhattan Mayhem”). Joe tags in and whoops that ass. He gets two on Homicide after a senton. Gibson blind tags in and crossbody’s Homicide. He shoves Ki off the apron before backdropping Homicide. Gibson gives him a DDT and puts on a butterfly lock. Ki uses a springboard face kick to save his partner. Lethal comes in to attack Ki. He goes up top after a gutwrench suplex. He comes down with a dropkick. Ki and Homicide trip Lethal. Reyes dropkicks the top of his head. Ki and Homicide set up for the double stomp/Cop Killa combo. Gibson stops them. Joe’s team sends Ki’s team to the floor. Triple suicide dives! From behind the referee’s back, Homicide is handed a chain. He clotheslines Gibson with it to get the pin at 23:33. Everybody was on their A game in this match. Although Lethal and Ki was the heart of the contest, Homicide and Reyes did a great job playing gatekeeper when it came to Lethal going after him. Joe and Gibson delivered the goods as usual, making for a very successful affair. ***1/2

Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi
“Joe vs. Kobashi” – New York, NY – 10.1.2005

Joe takes Kobashi to the ropes and smacks him in the face. Kobashi gives Joe a vicious chop in the corner. Joe suplexes him out of a knuckle lock, then shoulder blocks him to the floor when he gets up. Joe follows with an elbow suicida. In the ring Kobashi fires up when Joe starts throwing chops. Kobashi throws them right back with much more intensity. Joe throws some kicks and an enzuigiri in response. Joe throws Kawada kicks to his head. Kobashi feels no pain, so Joe throws knee at his head instead to take him down. Kobashi eats the Ole kick on the floor. He chops Joe when he tries it a second time. Kobashi then chops Joe into the crowd. Ringside, he DDT’s Joe on the floor. Kobashi chops Joe to the mat and gives him three falling chops to the chest for a two count. Chops are thrown by both men with great ferocity. It is Kobashi who ends up knocking Joe off his feet. Joe grabs the ropes to break an abdominal stretch. Joe blocks a rolling chop. He drops Kobashi with the STJoe and also lands a senton. Joe throws punches and chops in the corner. He powerbombs Kobashi in the corner! Joe only gets two with a facewash kick and Muscle Buster. He powerbombs Kobashi into the STF. Kobashi gets the ropes. He dumps Joe on his head with a half-nelson suplex! Kobashi unloads with an incredible amount of chops to Joe in the corner. We’re talking roughly 100 of them, if not more. Kobashi gives him another half-nelson suplex. Joe grabs the bottom rope to stop the pin count. Joe comes back with some forearms. Kobashi catches him with a sleeper. He drops Joe on his head again with a sleeper suplex. Joe kicks out! He throws rapid fire slaps to the face. Kobashi gives him three rolling chops and the Burning Lariat for the pin at 22:13. This was unreal. When you think of the spectacle of Joe and Kobashi, this is exactly what you would have expected. I’m still surprised Kobashi took so much of Joe’s key offense and made him look great. Sure, there’s some things to complain about, but this was such a pivotal point in Ring of Honor that its faults are so easy to look past. While I don’t think it’s a perfect match like some, it’s still quite incredible and a must watch for independent wrestling fans. ****1/2

Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels
“Vendetta” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 11.5.2005

Daniels of course not shake hands. Joe kicks his leg every time they’re about to lock knuckles. Daniels ducks a kick, but gets sent to the floor via shoulder block. Back in the ring, Joe throws a series of cross forearms to Daniels’ face. Daniels gets his boot up in the corner and gets a one count with a leg lariat. He throws strikes in the corner. Joe catches him with the STJoe. He drops a knee across Daniels’ chest for two. Joe puts him in a Boston Crab. Daniels gets the ropes. Joe gives him the Facewash kick after a running knee. Daniels manages to dragonscrew leg whip Joe and wisely decides to focus his attack on that leg. Joe manages to pull off a Death Valley Driver, but grabs his leg in pain right after its execution. Daniels gives him a chinbreaker. Joe powerslams him for two. Joe powerbombs him into the STF. When Daniels gets the ropes, Joe goes for the Muscle Buster. Daniels drops him with a STO instead. He looks for the Angels Wings. Joe escapes, so Daniels puts on a kneebar. Joe slaps Daniels to block a figure four. Joe gets two with a running boot. Daniels goes for an O’Conner Roll. Joe turns that into the Coquina Clutch. Daniels rolls back to get a two count. He hits the BME for two. Daniels forearms Joe in the corner. He fires himself up only to be crotched on the top rope. Joe sneaks in the Muscle Buster for the pin at 20:34. I really liked the psychology in this match. Joe was absolutely dominant and it was only when Daniels went for the knee that he had an advantage. When he got too hot headed in the end, Joe was able to polish him off and put him away. It was a smart match to give us a satisfying ending to the contest while still having us look forward to a rematch down the line. ***1/2

Disc Two

Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels
“Dragon Gate Challenge” – Detroit, MI – 3.30.2006

A great video package is shown chronicling Joe and Daniels’ history together in ROH prior to the contest. Joe attacks Daniels in the aisle, because Daniels angered Joe by coming out to “The Champ is Here” with the TNA X-Division title around his waist. Even though Daniels throws Joe into the barricades twice, it’s Joe who has control when they enter the ring. Joe sweeps out his legs to avoid a palm strike. When Joe goes for the Muscle Buster, Daniels uses his legs to bring Joe to the floor. Daniels then comes after him with an Arabian Press. In the ring he gets two with a headscissors. Daniels trips him in the corner and gets two again with a swinging DDT. Joe drops Daniels chest first into the mat when he goes for another headscissors. He uses kicks and a chinlock to keep Daniels grounded. Daniels gets the ropes to break the Boston Crab. Daniels tries to charge Joe in the corner. He gets sent out with the STJoe instead. Two Ole kicks are dished out. He goes for the Muscle Buster back in the ring. Daniels escapes and drives his shoulder into Joe’s mid-section. He brings Joe down with the Iconoclasm. Daniels throws a flurry of forearms. He gets two with the Blue Thunder Bomb. Same with the STO. Joe catches Daniels with an atomic drop. Daniels gets his knees up to block a senton. Joe however powerbombs Daniels into the STF. When he switches to a crossface, Daniels uses the ropes to escape. Daniels snapmares Joe and looks for the Last Rites. Joe turns it into a choke. Daniels uses a chinbreaker and hits the Angels Wings. Daniels can’t believe Joe is able to kick out of that. He hits the BME three times to finally get the pin at 16:58. A really cool ending to a really fun match. This was much more of a brawl and a fight to see who could get to their one of their bigger finishers first. Definitely the best match these two had in ROH and a great way to end the feud. ****

Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles
“Time To Man Up” – Lake Grove, NY – 8.4.2006

After a handshake, Styles attacks Joe with forearms. Joe takes him down with a couple shoulderblocks. Styles headscissors Joe from the apron and gives him a dropkick. A backbreaker only gets him one. Joe kicks Styles when he looks for an early Styles Clash. Styles puts on a Muta Lock. Joe grabs the ropes with ease. Joe clobbers him with a right hand. Styles uses a bodyscissors to take Joe to the floor. Joe kicks out Styles’ legs, causing him to crash onto the apron. Styles hops into the crowd when Joe Irish whips him. When Styles comes back over, Joe slams him into a chair against the guardrail and Ole kicks him into the barricades. A forearm and enzuigiri back in the ring takes Styles down for two. Joe sends Styles back to the floor. Styles gets back in when Joe comes out and tope con hilo’s back out onto him. Styles comes back in with a springboard forearm strike for two. So does a hammerlock suplex. When Styles tries another springboard move, Joe catches him with an Ace Crusher. Joe powerbombs him into the STF. Styles grabs the ropes when it’s turned into a crossface. Joe misses an enzuigiri. Styles hits the Phenomenon for two. Joe powerslams him for two. Styles sunset flips out a Muscle Buster. He picks him up for a Styles Clash. Joe grab the ropes. Joe drives Styles into the mat to break his sleeper. He suplexes Styles out of a sleeper for the pin at 11:59. That finish came out of nowhere, and this match was not nearly as long as I anticipated. It was not only the main event of the show, but also Styles’ final match in ROH, but I guess with Joe preparing to go an hour with Bryan Danielson the next night it makes sense why this would be truncated. Nevertheless, they did a good job with the time allotted. ***1/4

Samoa Joe vs. Roderick Strong
“Glory By Honor V, Night One” – East Windsor, CT – 9.15.2006

Neither guy gets control on the mat. Strong takes Joe to the corner, but he’s the one who gets thrown down. Joe throws elbow at Strong’s head until he grabs the ropes. Strong ducks a chop and gives Joe a few of his own. Strong butterfly suplexes him but can’t even get a one count. Joe throws Strong face first to the mat when he tries a leapfrog. He works on Strong’s neck. Strong Saito suplexes his way out of a neck hold. He gives Joe a side Falcon Arrow after an enzuigiri and gets two. Joe drops him with the STJoe. He facewash kicks Strong in the corner. Strong tries a half nelson suplex but Joe’s size is too much for him. Joe goes back to the neck. Strong goes for the suplex again, and this time Joe fights his way out. Joe wins a strike exchange. Strong however ends it with a backbreaker. A couple forearms and a leg lariat get him a two count. He dropkicks Joe to the floor and comes after him with a twisting splash. Joe slams Strong chest first into the canvas. Joe powerbombs him into the STF. Strong escapes. He gets in a boot, but gets powerslammed when he comes out of the corner. Strong responds with another backbreaker for two. He also gets two with a superplex. Joe breaks out of the Stronghold. Strong musters him up for the Death by Roderick! Joe rolls through Strong’s legs to knock him down. Joe wants to go for the Muscle Buster. Strong however comes off the top rope with a boot. He gives Joe a butterfly suplex for two. Strong wants another superplex. Joe counts that with an Island Driver off the second rope for the pin at 19:13. That match absolutely FLEW by and that finish was killer. Strong looked like he had Joe’s number on so many occasions and really let into him. Joe’s early neck work paying off in the finish is the kind of stuff I love in wrestling. Another forgotten gem in the ROH history books. ***1/2

Samoa Joe & Homicide vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)
“Glory By Honor V, Night One” – New York, NY – 9.16.2006

Joe and Homicide attack the Briscoes. They send them to the floor and come out with an elbow suicida and tope con hilo, respectively. Homicide and Joe control Mark back in the ring. Joe casually walks away from one of his crossbody’s. Jay tags in and suffers the same fate of his brother. Jay has to resort to kicking Homicide low for him to get control. Mark drives Homicide’s head repeatedly into the barricades. Homicide is beaten down by The Briscoes until he ducks Jay’s boot and tags Joe back in. Joe facewash kicks Mark. Jay kicks Joe from the apron so that Mark can give him a spinwheel kick. Now it is Joe whom the Briscoes take to task. Joe throws Jay to the mat to bock a leapfrog. Homicide tags in and overhead suplexes him. Mark attacks Homicide from behind. Homicide gives him a DDT off the second rope. Homicide looks for a Hamachan Cutter on Jay. Mark attacks Homicide, sending him to the apron. Mark drops him face first on the ring apron, then dives onto him. Jay boots Joe out. A series of moves leaves all four men laying. Joe throws Mark to the floor. Homicide clotheslines Jay into a suplex from Joe. Mark breaks the cover and superkicks Joe. The Briscoes go for the Doomsday Device on Homicide. Joe stops Mark from hitting the clothesline and kicks him into the barricades. Homicide gives Jay the Cop Killa for the pin at 17:57. I don’t know how this went from being a crazy brawl to a fairly normal tag match so quickly, but at least the action was consistent. I don’t know what it is, but this lacked a certain element that really kept this from going above being slightly average. Well, average for what these four men are capable of anyhow. **3/4

Samoa Joe vs. Takeshi Morishima
“Fifth Year Festival: NYC” – New York, NY – 2.16.2007

The fans go nuts as they trade forearms. Morishima sends Joe out with a shoulder block and comes off the apron with another. Morishima gives him a cartwheel splash and a flurry of punches in the corner. He chokes Joe on the middle rope and gets two with a lariat. Joe throws some chops. Morishima takes him down with a hip attack. Morishima gets two with a top rope dropkick. Joe catches him with a kick as he comes off the second rope. Joe’s senton gets him two. After an enzuigiri, he facewash kicks Morishima. Joe’s elbow strikes end up busting Morishima’s nose. Joe kicks him to the floor and follows with the elbow suicida. Morishima Ole kicks him twice. Back in the ring, Morishima and Joe duck each others strikes until Morishima catches Joe with a side slam. He bowls over Joe with two rolling back splashes. Joe counters a lariat with the STJoe. Joe enzuigiri’s Morishima after ducking another strike. He gets two with a Death Valley Driver. Joe goes for a powerbomb. Morishima sits down on his chest instead. Morishima goes up top. Joe gives him a gamengiri. He hits the Muscle Buster! Morishima kicks out! Joe peppers him with punches. Morishima brushes off a kick before lariating Joe and falling to the mat himself. Morishima gives Joe a Backdrop Driver for two. Joe responds with a half-nelson suplex. He puts on the Coquina Clutch. Morishima’s hand drops three times, making Joe the victor at 18:09. Watching two big guys slug it out is always a fun time. I’m a little annoyed by the outcome, because knowing that Morishima was becoming World champion the next night, it felt weird to have him lose just to throw Joe a bone in his Farewell Tour. Sure, he did a lot for ROH, but he is still leaving the company and Morishima is about to be the top guy. Questionable finish aside, this was fun. ***1/2

Samoa Joe & Homicide vs. Nigel McGuinness & Takeshi Morishima
“Fifth Year Festival: Chicago” – Chicago, IL – 2.24.2007

Homicide actually wins the opening exchange with McGuinness with a one-legged dropkick. He does not have much luck with Morishima, so naturally he tags in Joe. Even with Joe’s chops Morishima takes him down with a hip attack. He cartwheels into a corner splash. Joe kicks him out of the ring. McGuinness knees Joe to stop his elbow suicida. Homicide knocks McGuinness to the floor and both he and Joe dive onto their opponents. The fight spills into the crowd. Obviously Joe squares off with Morshima while Homicide is with McGuinness. He Ole kicks him into the barricades. Joe dominates McGuinness back in the ring. Homicide takes the reigns and ends up taking a hard lariat. Morishima tags in. He misses a corner splash. He does however catch Homicide coming off the ropes and suplexes him overhead. From there, he and McGuinness wear down Homicide in their corner, targeting his shoulder and chest for the most part. Homicide blocks a lariat and gives McGuinness an Ace Crusher. Joe tags in and lays in strikes to Morishima. He gets two with the Death Valley Driver. Morishima sits down on his chest. McGuinness stops Homicide’s monkey flip and places him on the top rope. Homicide comes down with a DDT. A flying elbow gets him two. Morishima breaks up the pin after Homicide gives McGuinness a piledriver. McGuinness positions Homicide for the Tower of London. Joe breaks that cover and forearms Morishima off the apron. McGuinness short arm lariats Joe. All four men knock each other down. McGuinness headstands in the corner. Joe kicks him. Morishima gives Homicide the Backdrop Driver. He side slams Joe. Joe catches him on the top rope and gives him the Muscle Buster. He goes for one on McGuinness too but fails. McGuinness gives him the Rebound Lariat for the pin at 23:08. This was shockingly uncoordinated and heatless. Unless it was Joe and Morishima in the ring together, the crowd didn’t really seem to care. To be fair, there was nothing to really sink your teeth into, so it’s not entirely the crowds fault. Overall, it was fine but disappointing. ***

Samoa Joe vs. Nigel McGuinness
“Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool” – Liverpool, England – 3.3.2007

Joe ends an exchange of holds by slapping McGuinness in the back of his head. McGuinness slaps Joe a few times. Joe throws McGuinness to the floor. McGuinness gets to the apron. Joe trips him, then swings him head first into the barricades. A fan hands Joe a chair so he can pull off the Ole Kick. Joe goes to throw McGuinness back in the ring. McGuinness rolls back and gives him a lariat. McGuinness decides to go after Joe’s left arm. Joe uses his right arm to drop McGuinness with the STJoe. He drops a knee to the chest for two. McGuinness hops over Joe and drives him into the mat with a falling lariat. He staggers Joe after multiple strikes. He turns him into a short arm lariat for two. McGuinness fights for the Tower of London. He hits it and gets two. Joe comes off the middle rope with a knee strike. He powerslams McGuinness for two. McGuinness gets the ropes to break Joe’s crossface. McGuinness ducks Joe’s oncoming clothesline. Another short arm lariat results in another two count. McGuinness looks for the Tower of London on the ring apron. Joe stops it and ends up giving McGuinness the Muscle Buster on the ring apron instead! McGuinness is getting carried to the back by officials. Joe puts him over on the microphone but then demands he gets a handshake before going to the back. Joe gets angry when it looks like McGuinness isn’t turning back and he calls him a pussy. McGuinness becomes angry himself and slowly makes his way back to the ring. He goes to shake Joe’s hand, but then slaps him across the face instead! Joe lays in some strikes before going for another Muscle Buster. He successfully delivers it, but McGuinness manages to kick out at two. He kicks out of a lariat also. Joe throws some headbutts and chops. McGuinness rebounds off the ropes and rolls Joe up for two. Joe boots McGuinness when he headstands in the corner. He puts on the Coquina Clutch. McGuinness rolls back for two, so Joe puts on a rear-naked choke instead. McGuinness passes out at 22:51. The nonsense with McGuinness really mucked things up if you asked me. Instead of McGuinness kicking out of the apron Muscle Buster and looking like a tough guy, he got minutes of rest and then lost to Joe anyways. I’ll say the same thing about this as I did the Morishima match; McGuinness should have gone over. I know that’s easy to say in retrospect, and who knows if TNA had a say in the matter. Everything turned out okay for everyone when all is said and done, but in the time period this took place it was a little frustrating. That aside, McGuinness looked good in losing and the crowd was going wild. ***1/2

Samoa Joe vs. Homicide
“Fifth Year Festival: Finale” – Liverpool, England – 3.4.2007

This would be Joe’s final ROH match (aside from his match with Tyler Black at “Rising Above 2008”). Homicide sends Joe to the floor. Joe knows what’s coming, so he jumps into the crowd. He grabs a beer but decides to head back to the ring instead. Homicide gets in a few shots when Joe comes in, but misses a crossbody from the second rope. Julius Smokes grabs Joe’s foot so Homicide can get in some punches. He gives Joe a running knee and throws him out. A basement lariat is only good for a one count. Joe catches Homicide with an atomic drop and a senton. The facewash kick follows up. Homicide sunset flips Joe from the second rope. When that gets him two, he delivers a diving DDT for the same result. He huracanrana’s Joe to the apron and gives him an Ace Crusher on it. Homicide puts on a rear chinlock. Joe rolls Homicide around by his shoulders and delivers a lariat. Homicide blocks an atomic drop with a chinbreaker. Joe quickly recovers and powerslams him for two. He gets planted with the STJoe. Smokes grabs Joe’s leg on the top rope. Homicide superplexes him back into the ring for two. A couple neckbreakers and a piledriver get him a two count. Joe powerbombs Homicide twice and then puts on the STF. Homicide gets the ropes. They fight for position in the corner. Homicide eventually DDT’s Joe off the second rope. He wants to do it again, but Joe fights him off and goes for the Muscle Buster. Homicide slides out. Joe ducks a lariat and puts on the Coquina Clutch. Smokes climbs the ropes. Joe notices and slams him into the ring. Homicide grabs the ring bell and smacks Joe with it. Joe still kicks out of his cover. Joe ends up giving Homicide the Muscle Buster. Smokes pulls the referee out of the ring to stop the count. Joe throws him into the barricades and gives him the Ole Kick. Joe goes to do it a second time, but Homicide stops him with a tope con hilo. His lariat does not get him the pin. He brings Joe up to the top rope. Joe fights back and gives Homicide the super Muscle Buster for the pin at 22:58. That was a lot more smoke and mirrors for Joe’s last match than I would have liked. Things like randomly grabbing a beer and lots of Julius Smokes interference doesn’t really define his ROH career. Mostly this was just two friends having fun one last time in a company they helped grow. Ironic since Joe’s farewell really did nobody but himself any favors. I guess his final match being self-gratifying makes sense in that regard. ***

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