ROH on SBG #545 – CM Punk Hall of Fame Special


Jonathan Gresham defended the ROH Championship on in TERMINUS the night before this episode aired:


ROH World Championship – Pure Rules Match
Jonathan Gresham vs. Santana

TERMINUS 2 – Atlanta, GA – 2.24.2022

Gresham has been champion since 12.11.2021 and this is his tenth defense. Santana challenged Gresham to this match at the conclusion of the first TERMINUS show. The Pure Rules are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Each wrestler has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist results in a warning, a second will be a disqualification.
*This match has a 60 minute time limit.

Santana let it be known he was more interested in a fight than a wrestling match. Santana successfully got Gresham’s aggression up, but Gresham transferred that into a “Pure” outlet, tearing apart Santana’s limbs inside the ring. Santana uses his first rope break to force Gresham to let go of his wrist when Gresham pulls Santana out of the ring, pulls him around ringside, and then back inside. Santana is able to land a roll-back Ace Crusher. When Gresham gets ahold of his wrist, Santana forearm smashes Gresham to free himself again. Santana also strikes Gresham with a closed-fist, earning a warning. After a suicide dive, Gresham springboards in and wheelbarrow Santana into a seatbelt pin for two. Santana then turns Gresham inside out with a lariat. Gresham uses various pinning combinations to try and keep Santana down, but ends up mowed down with a rolling lariat. After trading one counts, Gresham sits down on a sunset flip. The referee’s count was fumbled, so Gresham jackknife pinned Santana for the pin at 19:15. Yeah the count was blown, but Gresham and Santana made it worse by calling a ton of attention to it and firing the referee on the spot after the match, maybe for real. This was a good match up until then, with good energy and intensity, but not at the level of the Josh Alexander match from the first TERMINUS card. Like the first event, this show was panned; maybe this company is just snakebit. ***¼

Now onto this week’s episode!

On January 26th, Ring of Honor announced the creation of the ROH Hall of Fame to coincide with their 20th Anniversary. Throughout the month, each episode of ROH television will feature one of the inductees into this year’s inaugural class. This week’s episode features highlights and two matches from the fourth and final inductee, CM Punk.

ROH World Championship
Austin Aries vs. CM Punk

Death Before Dishonor III” – Morristown, NJ – 6.18.2005

This was promoted as Punk’s final match with ROH before departing for WWE. Because of this, the audience is completely behind him. Punk enters the ring with tears in his eyes and gets drowned in streamers by the crowd during Bobby Cruise’s introduction. Punk earned this title shot by winning his feud against Jimmy Rave. He defeated Aries’ partner Roderick Strong six days earlier at “The Future Is Now”, but Strong achieved his goal of wearing down Punk’s back. Aries is coming into this match with a messed up neck. The wear and tear of defending his title around the world had already been taking its toll on him, but three moments specifically did damage to his neck. First, Samoa Joe gave him a Muscle Buster at “Nowhere To Run.” A few weeks later, Spanky would hit him with the Sliced Bread #2 at “New Frontiers.” Finally, at “The Future Is Now”, Low Ki gave him a super Ki Krusher. Considering Punk’s finishers right now are the Pepsi Plunge and Anaconda Vise, that does not bode well for the defending champion. This is also the rubber match for these two, as Punk defeated Aries at “Glory By Honor III”, and Aries defeated Punk at “Weekend of Thunder, Night 1.” Aries has been champion since 12.26.2004 and this is his nineteenth defense.

As they’re posturing, Aries shoulder blocks Punk in the corner, and Punk forearms Aries in the neck. This lets each other know that they’re aware of their injuries. Aries lands a springboard back elbow off the second rope and grounds Punk with a side headlock. Punk counters into a headscissors, wisely dropkicking Aries when Aries goes for his patented headstand escape, and puts Aries in a side headlock himself. Punk holds onto it tightly no matter what Aries does to escape, harkening back to Punk’s strategy against Samoa Joe in their trilogy. Punk finally bulldogs Aries for a two count. Punk also gets two with a fisherman’s suplex. Aries goes for a brainbuster, but Punk escapes and drops Aries with a neckbreaker. Punk gets Aries to the floor and suicide dives onto him. However, as they get to the apron, Aries is able to give Punk a Death Valley Driver onto it! Aries sends Punk into the barricades twice. When he tries a third time, Punk reverses it and Aries crashes it into the barricades instead. Aries however pulls Punk by his trunks, sending him face first into the barricades. Inside the ring, Aries follows that up with a twisting body press and a quebrada to Punk’s lower back. The fans jeer Aries as he hits his shin breaker/back suplex combo. This continues as Aries sweeps Punk into a side slam. An entire turnbuckle pad is removed. Punk is sent back first into the exposed buckles. Aries is then sent chest first and flipped inside out with a Northern lariat. Punk busts out a flying forearm. After a couple back elbows he whips Aries to the corner twice and gives him a backdrop. Welcome to Chicago, Mother Fucker gets Punk a nearfall, as does a high crossbody. Aries blocks the Pepsi Twist and knocks down Punk with a running clothesline for two. Aries hits the IED. Punk ducks a rolling forearm, but Aries jackknife pins him. Punk reverses into a backslide for two. Aries gives Punk a piledriver for two. After a Finlay roll, Aries goes up top. Punk slams him back down to the mat. He tosses Aries up in the air, and when Aries lands, Punk blasts him with a Shining Wizard for two. Punk brings Aries up for the Pepsi Plunge. Aries counters with a super brainbuster, and Aries can’t believe it when Punk is able to kick out. Aries heads up top in the hopes of delivering a 450 splash again. Punk punches him several times in the forehead. He then hooks Aries’ arms. Aries reverses and gives Punk the Pepsi Plunge himself. Punk kicks out one and the fans go wild. Aries knocks him down with a rolling forearm strike and kicks him in the head. Aries nails the 450 splash, but Punk pulls him over into the Anaconda Vise! The fans are hoping for a tap out, but Aries gets his feet to the ropes. Aries crucifix pins Punk for two. Aries tries a crucifix driver, but Punk turns that into a TKO. Another Shining Wizard connects, and Punk finally hits the Pepsi Plunge for the pin at 30:26 to become the NEW ROH World Champion. The wrestling and story here were awesome, but it was the fans that made this match. They were dying to see Punk win the title, and their desperation made all of Punk’s comebacks, kick outs, and bigger moves even more significant due to their excitement, and their excitement helped make the match even more exciting. It felt like their adulation actually willed Punk to withstand Aries’ finishing moves and get the strength necessary to pull off the Pepsi Plunge. Them sprinkling in the neck and back work along with some callbacks to the Joe vs. Punk series were icing on the cake. This ruled, both serving as a fantastic end to Aries’ title reign, while also cementing Punk as an ROH icon. ****¼

ROH World Championship
CM Punk vs. Roderick Strong

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

Punk has been champion since 6.18.2005 and this is his second defense. 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 crowd’s 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. ****

Next week, we get a Hall of Fame special, showcasing all five entrants: The Briscoes, Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, and CM Punk.

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