Ring of Honor: Samoa Joe – A Championship Legacy

samoajoechampion

Disc One

#1 Contenders Trophy Match
Samoa Joe vs. Homicide vs. BJ Whitmer vs. EZ Money

“Expect The Unexpected” – Cambridge, MA – 3.13.2003

Whitmer and Money’s opening exchange ends in a stalemate. Homicide takes down Joe with a headscissors. Joe responds with an armdrag that takes him to the corner. Joe brushes off a forearm and drops Homicide with the STJoe. Whitmer knocks Homicide down with a high knee for two. Homicide responds with a facewash kick. Money catches Whitmer with the Money Clip. He then puts him in a pendulum. Everybody takes turns beating up and wearing down Whitmer. Whitmer catches Homicide with a half-nelson suplex for two. Homicide sends him to the floor and follows with a tope con hilo through the middle rope. Joe ducks a clothesline from Money and suicide dives onto Homicide and Whitmer. Money dives onto all of them. In the ring, Money blocks Homicide’s huracanrana attempt and gives him a Blockbuster. Whitmer takes him down with a leg lariat. Joe takes Whitmer out before trading slaps and chops with Homicide. Joe drives his knee multiple times into his head. Whitmer and Homicide suplex each other a few times. Joe blind tags in and powerbombs Whitmer into an STF. Whitmer escapes. Money takes him and Homicide out. Homicide blocks Joe’s clothesline with an Ace Crusher. He kicks Joe low before giving him a running boot. He then puts on an STF. Joe gets to the ropes. Money gives Homicide a release suplex (called Cha-Ching). Whitmer breaks the cover. Money goes for the Money Clip. Whitmer blocks it and delivers an exploder suplex. Homicide and Joe break the count. Homicide clotheslines Whitmer to the floor. Joe knees Homicide in the jaw. Money German suplexes Joe onto his head. After fighting back and forth, Joe locks Money in the Coquina Clutch. Money taps at 15:50. There was no selling from anybody at any time. Joe and Homicide got the crowd into it for the most part, but Whitmer was still quite new and Money had nobody’s attention. Decent action but it could have been a lot better. **¾

ROH Championship
Xavier (Champion) vs. Samoa Joe

“Night of the Champions” – Philadelphia, PA – 3.22.2003

Joe’s partners from The Group, Michael Shane and CW Anderson, take Christopher Daniels and Allison Danger away to ensure a fair fight. Joe mauls Xavier with strikes and throws him face first into the corner. Xavier tries to skin the cat when Joe tosses him over the top rope, but Joe just kicks him to the floor. He gives him the Ole kick into the guardrails. Joe throws some Kawada Kicks back in the ring. Xavier blocks the Island Driver with a Back Cracker. He drives his forearm into Joe’s neck for two. Xavier dropkicks Joe to the floor and then suicide dives into a swinging DDT. He goes more damage to Joe’s neck back in the ring. Joe gets incensed when Xavier dropkicks him in the face. He absorbs Xavier’s chops and throws some of his own. Joe remains standing when Xavier throws a couple clotheslines. Joe turns Xavier inside out with one of his own. He gives Xavier three various suplexes that drop him on his head. Xavier turns Joe’s bridging German suplex into a lateral press for two. Joe blocks the X-Breaker but takes a knee strike to the head. He successfully hits the X-Breaker and goes up top. Joe gets his knees up to block the 450 Splash. He throws some knees to Xavier’s head before locking on the Coquina Clutch. Xavier’s arm drops three times, giving Joe the win and the title at 11:21. In addition to this being a very important match in ROH’s history, it told a good story and kicked off Joe’s reign of dominance convincingly. It got to show that not only could Joe absorb a lot of punishment but that he was smart and not just a guy who did power moves. Xavier’s reign may not have been the best but at least his final defense served its purpose and kicked off arguably the most important ROH title run ever. ***

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Doug Williams

“Retribution: Round Robin Challenge II” – West Mifflin, PA – 4.26.2003

Williams goes for Joe’s leg. Joe goes for an STF early on a few times. Williams makes it to the ropes before it can be applied each time Joe tries. Williams bridges forward when applying a hammerlock. He maneuvers Joe into a headlock. Joe switches out, so Williams takes him down and wiggles out of it. Joe blocks the Chaos Theory and delivers an enzuigiri. Joe knocks him down with a back elbow and drops an elbow for two. He gives Williams the facewash kick in the corner. He gets two with a brainbuster. Williams blocks a corner attack. He throws some knees at Joe’s face while holding onto a cravate. He Judo throws him and looks for an arm submission but Joe makes it to the ropes. He does more damage to Joe’s arm after that. Joe lifts Williams up. Williams twists his arm to escape his inevitable doom. Joe catches him coming into the corner with the STJoe. Joe powerbombs him into the STF. Williams escapes and puts on a Fujiwara armbar. Joe gets the ropes. Williams delivers a trifecta of knees to Joe’s shoulder. He goes for the Chaos Theory. Joe stops it by grabbing Williams’ leg. He drives his knee into Williams’ head a few times before applying the Coquina Clutch. He taps out at 11:49. I’m sad this didn’t get more time, because a lot of Williams’ matches were fantastic and I think he and Joe could have had a classic if given the opportunity. As it was, it was a really good and very smartly worked match. ***¼

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Paul London

“Death Before Dishonor” – Elizabeth, NJ – 7.19.2003

This is London’s final match in ROH. Joe pulls London in from their handshake and shoulder blocks him to the mat. London kicks him in the face to counter a German suplex. London spinwheel kicks Joe and Joe responds with a hard forearm strike. London uses his speed to try and get a roll-up pin. Joe hits the floor to catch his breath. London however baseball slides him into the barricades. Joe whips London into the barricades himself. London boots Joe and gives him a moonsault press off the barricades. Joe fires up from London’s forearms back in the ring. He plants him with the STJoe. Joe drops him stomach first onto the top rope. He misses a kick to London in the tree of woe, causing him to crotch himself on the bottom rope. Joe catches London’s pescado attempt and slams him back first into the ring post. The Ole kick follows. In the ring he missile dropkicks London and gets two with a German suplex. He sets up for the Island Driver. London turns that into a sunset flip for two. He goes for some other desperation pin attempts. He dropsaults Joe to the corner. London tricks Joe into thinking Joe threw him into the corner even though London was able to block it. He gives Joe a leg-capture DDT. The London Star Press connects and is only good for a two count. Joe brings in London from the apron into the Coquina Clutch. London rolls back on it to get a two count. Joe gives him a Dragon suplex for two. He also gets two with a lariat. London puts on the Coquina Clutch. He ends up passing out at 14:04. I’m surprised how short this was considering it was London’s final ROH encounter, but given that the show had gone past midnight at that point I presume they truncated it for the sake of the live crowd. It was still a very good, competitive match for London to go out on and a big win for Joe. ***1/2

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. BJ Whitmer

“Wrath of the Racket” – Dayton, OH – 8.9.2003

Whitmer is wearing a face mask. Joe takes Whitmer down and stretches his leg and back out in a half Boston crab. Joe levels him with a few kicks to the chest, but Whitmer gets back up and clobbers Joe with a forearm to the face. Whitmer takes off his mask as he and Joe trade slaps across the face. He ducks Joe’s corner kick and gives him a belly-to-back suplex for one. Whitmer goes to clothesline him in the corner but gets caught with the STJoe. He gives him the Combination for two. Whitmer goes for a rolling elbow but gets dropped with a uranage instead. Joe follows Whitmer to the floor in the hopes for an Ole kick but gets sent into the barricades by Whitmer instead. Joe is able to kick Whitmer against the barricades a few times after rcovering and pulls off the Ole kick twice. Back in the ring he goes for the Island Driver. Whitmer slides off his shoulders and nails a superkick. He strings a pair of suplexes together for two. Whitmer tries driving Joe to the mat. Joe instead drives his knee into Whitmer’s head and goes for the Coquina Clutch. Whitmer grabs the bottom rope to escape. Joe sunset flips Whitmer into a rolling cradle for two. Whitmer gives him an exploder suplex right onto his head! Joe kicks out. He gives him a Backdrop Driver and Joe kicks out of that too. Whitmer throws a few knees. Joe responds with an enzuigiri and a German suplex. He Dragon suplexes Whitmer and gives him a straightjacket German suplex for the win at 12:19. Whitmer got a nice reaction at times for being the hometown boy with a broken nose, and the exploder spot had people buying that they were about see a title change. Otherwise, this was about the same as any other of Joe’s lesser defenses. ***

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Christopher Daniels

“Glory By Honor II” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.20.2003

Joe boots Daniels the moment the bell rings. He goes for an immediate pin and gets two. He stomps down Daniels and forearms him to the mat. Daniels snaps off a couple armdrags and nails a dropkick. Joe cuts him off with a clothesline. His combination gets another two count. Daniels gets two with an Arabian Press. Joe throws punches and chops in the corner. He ends with the facewash kick. Joe kicks Daniels in the back before applying a Boston Crab. Joe almost gives Allison Danger the facewash kick when she helps Daniels break the hold. Daniels cuts him and hits an Arabian Press on the floor. He sends Joe into the barricades. He goes for the Ole kick. Joe cuts him off and hits it himself. Joe rolls him in the ring in a Gedo Clutch. Daniels ducks a clothesline and German suplexes Joe. Joe however catches him with a powerslam for two. Daniels blocks a boot. He enzuigiri’s Joe twice and drops him with a Complete Shot. Daniels gives him a Samoan drop. He hits the BME for two. Joe drops him with the STJoe. He drives his knees into Daniels’ head and clotheslines him for two. Daniels drops him with a Complete Shot and puts on the Koji Clutch. When Joe escapes, Daniels hits the Blue Thunder Driver for two. He goes for an Iconoclasm. Daniels ends up bringing Joe down with a Frankensteiner. He hits the Angels Wings! Joe kicks out. The bell rings but it’s a false alarm. Daniels goes for the Last Rites. Joe reverses into the Coquina Clutch. Daniels gets his foot on the ropes. Joe delivers an enzuigiri before dropping Daniels with the Island Driver for the pin at 15:02. That was incredible. They had built a Daniels/Joe singles match for so long that the Philadelphia crowd was hot from bell to bell. The false finishes were executed perfectly and it made for a super enjoyable fifteen minutes. ****

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Jay Briscoe

“The Tradition Continues” – Baltimore, MD – 10.16.2003

Joe does some damage to Jay’s left arm. Jay tries to control Joe on the arm, so Joe just smacks him in the back of the head. Joe gives him the Combination. He puts on a variation of the Boston Crab until Jay grabs the ropes. Joe gives him a Facewash kick. Jay fires back with a pair of yakuza kicks which send Joe to the floor. He follows Joe out with a splash off the top rope. He throws some chops back in the ring before delivering a dropkick. He gets two with a suplex. Briscoe goes for a corner splash and gets caught with the STJoe. He gives Jay the Ole kick twice on the floor. In the ring he powerbombs Jay into the STF. Jay escapes. He throws some slaps but then gets rolled around in a cradle. Jay gives Joe a Backdrop Driver and a Gourd Buster for two. He drops Joe with a double-armed DDT before heading up top. He nails a top rope legdrop for two. He powers up Joe for a Death Valley Driver but Joe kicks out. Jay goes for the Jay Driller. Joe tries for the Coquina Clutch but can’t get it. He instead gives Jay a Dragon suplex for two. Joe throws multiple kicks before delivering the Island Driver. Jay kicks out! Joe throws some strikes before taking Jay out with a short-arm lariat for the pin at 14:59. This was a great way to throw some stock into Jay as a main event entity. Even though he started out as a singles wrestler in ROH, by then he and Mark had almost been tagging exclusively. This was a nice reminder that Jay could go on his own and had championship potential nearly ten years before he would get the job done. ***¼

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. AJ Styles

“War of the Wire” – Framingham, MA – 11.29.2003

Joe elbows Styles a couple times in the side of the head and shoulder blocks him down. Styles snaps off a Frakensteiner. Joe does the same. Neither of them get control on the mat. Joe throws some kicks. Styles trips him into a side headlock. He delivers a dropkick and a knee drop to the face. He gets two with a suplex. Joe punches Styles to block a discuss clothesline. He kicks him to the floor and follows with an elbow suicida. Styles avoids the Ole kick but eats a superkick instead. Styles jumps into the crowd to avoid being whipped into the barricades. He leaps over and clotheslines Joe. He powerbombs Joe back in the ring for two. Joe catches Styles with the STJoe. He facewash kicks Styles in the corner. Joe sweeps out his legs to cut off his momentum. He powerbombs Styles into an STF. Styles gets his foot on the ropes. Joe rolls him in a cradle. Styles catches Joe with a Pele kick. He hits the Phenomenon for two. He puts on a Muta Lock. Joe escapes and hits an enzuigiri. Styles fires up with forearms. Joe responds with slaps. Styles throws a gamengiri and both guys are on the mat. Joe fights Styles from the top rope. Styles brings him down in a powerbomb. He gives him the Styles Clash for two. Styles goes for the Phenomenon again. Joe catches him with the Island Driver for two. He throws some knees. Styles nails a rolling clothesline. He goes to the top. Joe catches him and hits the Muscle Buster. He locks on the Coquina Clutch. Styles passes out at 16:41. That was a lot of fun, as you would expect. The one thing I learned from this and the Low Ki title match was Styles is great in getting his ass beaten, showing glimmers of hope, and then ultimately losing in the end. He fits that role flawlessly and it worked here too. ***1/2

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Low Ki vs. Dan Maff vs. BJ Whitmer

“Second Anniversary Show” – Braintree, MA – 2.14.2004

Joe and Ki are ready to start off when Maff blind tags in. He and Joe trade shoulder blocks, forearms, and running boots. Joe Judo throws him into some back chops and a kick to the chest. Ki and Whitmer tag in. Ki puts on an armbar in the ropes. Whitmer suplexes him over and controls his wrist. Ki kicks him in the chest to get him away. Whitmer does some damage to Ki’s neck. Ki fires away with some chops. Whitmer gives him a pair of suplexes for two. Ki gets in his own bridging butterfly suplex for two. Joe puts Whitmer in a Boston Crab to further wear down his back. Maff breaks it. Ki puts him in a Dragon Clutch in the ropes. Maff breaks that too. Joe sends Maff to the floor and follows with an elbow suicida. Whitmer suplexes Ki to the floor! Ki blocks Joe’s Ole kick and throws some Mongolian chops. Joe’s hand has been cut open. Whitmer checks Ki into the barricades. Joe throws both Whitmer and Maff into the barricades. However, The Prophecy bring him back into the ring and isolate Joe specifically targeting his injured hand. Joe ends up in Ki’s corner and gives Whitmer an STJoe. Ki tags in. He enzuigiri’s Joe and lights up Maff with chops. He nails a Koppu Kick and the Tidal Wave. He gets two on Whitmer with a Dragon suplex. Whitmer gives Ki an exploder suplex for two. Maff spears Ki and misses a cannonball senton. Ki misses the Tidal Krush. Joe slaps him in the face to tag himself in. Maff Saito suplexes Joe onto his head for two. Joe powerbombs him into the STF. Ki throws some kicks to the chest. Joe responds with some knees, slaps and a headbutts. Ki Koppu Kicks Joe and Joe enzuigiri’s Ki, bringing them both down to the mat. Ki has Maff in the Dragon Clutch while Joe has Whitmer in a sleeper. Maff spears Ki out of the ring as he and Joe are trading strikes. Joe suplexes Whitmer into a choke sleeper. Whitmer taps at 23:57. The dynamic these four guys had together really made the match. Everybody hated one another and it made for an intense battle. Joe and Ki headlining the show was an appropriate way to conclude the Anniversary event while the Prophecy held up their end of the bargain as well. ****

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Homicide

“Reborn: Stage One” – St. Paul, MN – 4.23.2004

Homicide jumps Joe. Joe reverses a hip toss and snaps off an armdrag. They each go for an early STF but both guys break the hold quickly. Homicide angrily rolls to the floor so he can calm down. Joe throws forearms at Homicide’s face on the mat. Joe puts him in a Stump Puller. Homicide chops Joe against the ropes. It does nothing. Joe and Homicide get into a slap fight. Homicide’s headbutt does nothing while Joe’s headbutt knocks Homicide off his feet. Joe breaks a wristlock in the corner. Homicide bites Joe’s ear to break a lock-up. Homicide puts on a headscissors. Joe grabs the ropes. Homicide elbows Joe in the corner. Joe forearms him in the opposite corner and sets Homicide up on the top rope. Homicide jumps off but gets caught with an STJoe. Joe hits an elbow suicida after Homicide rolls to the floor. Joe backdrops Homicide into the audience then back to the ringside area. Joe puts on a Boston Crab back in the ring. Joe gives Homicide a couple facewash kicks once he grabs the ropes. Homicide comes off the second rope with a knee drop to the back of Joe’s neck. He gets two with a Rude Awakening. Homicide puts on a Dragon sleeper. Joe gets his foot to the ropes. Homicide sends Joe to the floor and hits his signature tope suicida. Joe throws Homicide to the barricades and kicks his head into them. In the ring Homicide gets his feet up to block a corner attack. He delivers a tornado DDT for two. Joe overhead suplexes Homicide into the corner. He powerbombs Homicide for two. Homicide blocks the STF transition. Joe catches a boot, slaps Homicide, dragonscrews him to the mat, and then locks on the STF. Homicide grabs the ropes. Homicide ducks a clothesline and gives Joe an Ace Crusher. He hits a lariat for two. Joe goes for a sleeper. Homicide rolls up Joe and counts the pin. It seems like a three, and the bell rings. Referee Paul Turner assures the timekeeper and Homicide that it was only a two count. Homicide is so upset that he hits Turner. Joe gives Homicide a boot. The lights go out. Homicide throws a fireball into Joe’s face! The bell rings at 19:00 as referees check on Joe. The fireball thing was pretty cheesy, especially with the goofy reaction the commentators had to it. I guess it was somewhat creative and made for a nice moment, but to do it in front a brand new ROH crowd may not have been the best idea. I give Joe and Homicide credit for working hard until that point. ***

ROH World Championship – No Disqualification
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Homicide

“Generation Next” – Philadelphia, PA – 5.22.2004

Homicide attacks Joe before the bell but gets backdropped right away. Julius Smokes comes in. Joe clotheslines both he and Homicide. Joe follows Homicide to the floor with an elbow suicida. Homicide cuts off his Ole kick attempt. Joe however does give that kick to Smokes. Back in the ring Homicide misses a knee and gets powerslammed. Joe then gives him the Combination and a facewash kick. Homicide bites Joe’s ear to avoid a superplex. He sets up a table against the barricades. He wants to suplex Joe from the ring into it, but Joe instead suplexes Homicide back inside the ring. After they trade strikes, Joe puts Homicide in a seated abdominal stretch, switching into a Stump Puller. He goes for the Island Driver. Homicide dropkicks Joe to the floor. He goes for a suicide dive and ends up putting himself through the table. Joe drives Homicide into the barricades. Smokes want to use a chair but referee Todd Sinclair stops him. Homicide uses a fork and chair to get things back in his favor. He drops Joe with a tornado DDT for two. He goes for another but gets stopped by an STJoe. Joe powerbombs him into a Boston Crab. Homicide escapes but takes a running Death Valley Driver shortly after. Homicide counters a super Muscle Bustwer with a Hamachan Cutter. He follows up with a lariat for two. Homicide gives him a Backdrop Driver and a piledriver, but Joe kicks out of those as well. Homicide puts on his own STF after a neckbreaker. He jabs the fork into Joe’s face while holding on. Joe picks him up for the Island Driver and gets two. A lariat and brainbuster but Homicide away at 19:59. The No DQ stipulation was used really well here. Homicide used it very often as an act of desperation while Joe knew his cunning and strikes would be enough. Homicide was a good opponent for Joe at this time because he was a believable candidate and someone who you believed was not intimidated. A much better contest than the Reborn bout. ***½

Disc Two

The second disc starts off with 20 minutes of highlights from Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk from “World Title Classic” (Dayton, OH; 6.12.2004). Punk almost had the pin with a DDT but couldn’t capitalize on the pin quick enough. Joe kicked out and the 60 minute time limit expired shortly after.

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Shinya Makabe

New Japan USA – Los Angeles, CA – 6.24.2004

Makabe back elbows Joe before giving him a spear. They trade strikes on the floor. Makabe knocks him down with a back elbow in the ring. He gets two with a suplex. Joe fights back and catches Makabe with the STJoe. Joe delivers the Ole kick. Makabe clotheslines Joe off of the apron causing him to hit the guardrails. Makabe gets two with the Northern Lights suplex, and another two count with a powerslam. Joe powerbombs Makabe into a crossface. Makabe gets to the bottom ropes to escape. Joe gives him a fisherman’s suplex for two. Joe and Makabe exchange slaps and knock each other down with a forearm and enzuigiri, respectively. Joe nails a lariat and a Saito suplex. Makabe fires up after kicking out. Joe hits him with a lariat for the pin at 9:23 (shown). There was nothing too terribly exciting about what they did. It was fun seeing Joe defend the title against an outsider in a different environment, but novelty aside this was more or less an exhibition bout. **¼

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Colt Cabana

“Death Before Dishonor II, Part Two” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 7.24.2004

They each back one another into opposite corners and break away cleanly. Cabana is unable to lift Joe for a slam. He eats a forearm but it only fires him up. It takes him three tries, but he is able to take Joe off his feet with a running shoulder block. He twists up Joe’s neck with his feet. He misses a hip attack and gets forearmed to the floor. Back in the ring Cabana goes for double knees in the corner and gets caught with the STJoe. When Joe goes for the Combination, Cabana rolls him up for two. Joe comes back with the facewash knee. Joe lights Cabana up with strikes when Cabana tries ascending the ropes. Joe gives him a belly-to-back suplex for two. Cabana fires back after sitting in a half crab. Cabana gets in his double knee strike in the corner. He goes for a moonsault but Joe shoves him off the top and into the entrance aisle. Joe goes for the Ole Kick. Cabana blocks the Ole kick with the chair he is sitting on. He hits the Ole kick himself! Back in the ring however, Joe gets in a powerslam for two. He also gets two with a lariat. Cabana hops over Joe in the corner and gives Joe his own slam. He gives him a Saito suplex for two. Same goes for a frog splash. He sunset flips Joe into the STF. Joe escapes. He nails two enzuigiri’s. Cabana rolls Joe over to avoid a choke. Joe lariats him for two. The Muscle Buster puts Cabana away at 17:22. I don’t know if this would have had the same heat in front of another crowd, but the Chicago crowd was rooting for their hometown boy and it made for a good dynamic. The spot where Cabana hit the Ole kick himself was a really fun one and I’m surprised it wasn’t done more often. ***¾

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Doug Williams

“Glory By Honor III” – Elizabeth, NJ – 9.11.2004

They start out hot and heavy with Williams ending up on the floor. He comes back in and stretches out Joe’s whole body. Joe slaps him so he can get away. Joe uses that same tactic when Williams goes after his legs. Williams goes for his corner knee strike. Joe shoves him away and drops him with the STJoe. He headbutts Williams down in the corner and delivers the facewash kick. He brings Williams to the floor for the Ole kick. Williams blocks it with a clothesline at first, but Joe hits him with an enzuigiri and ends pulling the move off. Joe slaps him a few times and goes for a lazy cover. Williams kicks him in the face from the mat. Joe enzuigiri’s him to the floor. He goes for an elbow suicida. Williams catches him on the apron and comes back in with a high crossbody for two. Joe blocks a knee strike and gets two with a powerslam. He goes right for a cross armbreaker but Williams clasps his hands together to stop it. Williams comes back with the Bomb Scare (top rope knee drop) for two. He applies a sleeper hold. Joe turns that into a torture rack but can’t hold on. Williams does more damage to the neck but gets taken out by a lariat for two. Joe drops him with the Muscle Buster for two. After more slaps and a lariat, Joe gets the pin at 17:51. Williams is one of the best guys on the mat and here he showed his proficiency here more than ever. He picked apart any body part he had the chance to, particularly Joe’s neck and legs in the hopes of taking out his arsenal. Even though it did not work, Williams looked like a strong contender and put on a worthy successor to their 2003 title defense. ***½

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Bryan Danielson

”Midnight Express Reunion” – Philadelphia, PA – 10.2.2004

Would you believe this was Danielson’s first shot at the ROH World title? You should, because it’s true. Joe and Danielson feel out each other quite a bit in the opening. Joe goes for Danielson’s ankle, and Danielson lands an enzuigiri for a quick two count. Joe goes for a triangle choke but Danielson gets the ropes very quickly. Although it’s Joe who takes Danielson to the mat, Danielson is the one who gets control by wearing down Joe’s leg. Joe’s aggression gets Danielson to cower in the corner. Danielson attacks the leg again in response. Joe headbutts Danielson multiple times in a knuckle lock. Joe pins him for two. Danielson delivers a dropkick to bring Joe back to the mat. Danielson grabs at Joe’s face multiple times. Joe gets angry and chases Danielson around the ring. Joe is able to knee him in the side of the head and get a two count. Danielson stretches out Joe’s arm while applying pressure to his neck. Joe gets his foot on the ropes to break it. Joe suplexes Danielson to the floor. Joe goes for the Ole Kick, but Danielson catches it and throws Joe’s leg into the barricades. Danielson springboard dives from in the ring back out onto him. Danielson then dropkicks Joe into the barricades. Danielson gets a two count back in the ring. Joe fires up, throwing many chops against the ropes. Danielson cheaply thumbs him in the eyes to stop him. Danielson continues to stretch Joe on the mat. Joe unleashes a barrage of knee strikes. Danielson kicks Joe in the face from the mat, then throws multiple European uppercuts. Joe knees Danielson in his mid-section in various ways. Joe puts on a half crab, digging his knee into Danielson’s shoulder blades. Danielson gets the ropes to escape. Danielson throws repeated Polish hammers to Joe’s arm. Joe sweeps Danielson’s legs for two. Danielson suplexes Joe and heads up top. Danielson connects with a diving headbutt for two. Joe comes back with a fisherman’s suplex and an enzuigiri which sends Danielson to the floor. Joe suicide dives onto him. Joe finally delivers the Ole kick twice. Danielson clips Joe’s leg once they get back in the ring. As you would presume, Danielson keeps on Joe’s leg after clipping it. Danielson flies off the second rope with a European uppercut for two. Danielson hops off the second again. Joe catches him with a uranage for two. Joe turns a powerbomb into a STF. Danielson escapes. Joe goes for a lariat. Danielson kicks out his leg and locks Joe’s legs up. Joe powerslams Danielson for two after he escapes. Joe goes for a cross armbreaker. Danielson rolls out and gives him a Regalplex for two. Danielson locks on Cattle Mutilation. Joe rolls his shoulders to pin Danielson for two. These two fight for control on the top rope. Joe slips out and German suplexes Danielson off. Joe delivers a lariat for two. Joe sets up for the Muscle Buster. Danielson slips out, throws some forearms and then dropkicks Joe’s leg out. Danielson Dragon suplexes him for two. Danielson puts on Cattle Mutilation. Joe puts his foot on the ropes. Joe knees Danielson in his hurt ribs. Joe drives his knee into the side of Danielson’s head multiple times. Danielson does the same to Joe’s forehead. More knees from Joe lead to him putting on a rear-naked choke. Danielson taps out at 39:16.

Simply put, that was awesome. Both guys went balls to the walls and threw everything they had at each other. Both of them had a game plan and is just so happened that Joe’s worked out. This is often overlooked for some of these guys’ more classic matches, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t one of my favorite Samoa Joe title matches. ****¼

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Rocky Romero

“Gold” – Dayton, OH – 10.15.2004

Each guy knows each other from training in the same dojo. Because of that, they’re able to evade each others’ strikes in the early exchange. Homicide grabs Joes’ legs so Romero can get in some kicks to Joe’s leg. Referee Todd Sinclair ejects Homicide from ringside. Joe slaps Romero and takes him to the mat. Romero almost gets in a cross armbreaker but Joe is able to avoid it. Joe catches Romero in the head with a kick that sends him to the floor. Romero Oklahoma Rolls back in, once again going for the cross armbreaker. Joe makes it to the ropes before it can be applied. Joe unleashes some kicks that sends Romero back to the floor. Romero springboard dropkicks Joe’s leg. He throws more kicks at the legs while also slapping Joe a few times. Joe catches Romero with a powerslam. He hits the Combination. Romero has a few moments of hope, but all Joe does is slap him in the face to stop him. Joe gives him the Ole kick twice on the floor. Romero is able to kick out when brought back into the ring. Romero and Joe knock each other down with stereo kicks to the head. Romero tries a Flying DDT. Joe ends up blocking it. Romero throws a knee strike. Even though he has a visual pin, Joe’s hand made it to the bottom rope. While he’s celebrating, Joe is able to recover and deliver a hard knee strike to the head for two. Joe also Saito suplexes him for two. Romero huracanarana’s him into a cross armbreaker. Joe lifts him into a powerbomb and applies the STF. Romero taps out at 17:58. The commentators tried really hard to make it seem like Romero had a chance at winning the title, but I have trouble thinking the crowd ever bought it. I certainly did not. I liked that this was a more strike heavy and calculated but it’s certainly not a noteworthy inclusion in Joe’s reign. ***¼

After this we are shown 20 minutes of highlights from the one hour draw Joe had with CM Punk at “Joe vs. Punk II” (Chicago Ridge, IL – 10.16.2004). It’s the most hyped match of the trilogy and is certainly deserving of the praise it receives. Here, Punk had just reversed a Pepsi Plunge with a superplex when the time limit expired.

At “Weekend of Thunder Night 2” (Elizabeth, NJ – 11.6.2004) CM Punk staged a sit in. He thinks he deserves a third title shot after taking Joe to the time limit twice. With that in mind, he challenges Joe to a third title match to be scheduled the next time ROH returns Elizabeth, NJ. This time, the match would have no time limits. He refuses to leave until Joe comes out and answers the challenge. Mick Foley makes his way to the ring. He came to the building just as a fan to see Liger. He does remind Punk that he said his and Joe’s second one hour draw was one of the best things he saw in his career and that he will sing Punk and Joe’s praises to the WWE whenever he returns. Foley tries introducing us to Samoa Joe but he’s not coming out. Foley calls Joe “softcore” and leaves. Punk remains in the ring through intermission and when The Ring Crew Express and Special K come out for their match. Punk begins reading part of Mick Foley’s Christmas book until Joe finally comes out. Long story short, Joe accepts and levels Punk with a forearm.

ROH World Championship – No Time Limit
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. CM Punk

“All Star Extravaganza II” – Elizabeth, NJ – 12.4.2004

Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat is ringside to watch the action. Joe gets in the first real shot with a chop. He avoids Punk’s headlock attempts and throws another chop. Punk gets the headlock on by hip tossing out of a Saito suplex. From there, Punk decides to target Joe’s neck. Joe is able to counter the STJoe which leads to each guy getting a quick nearfall before Punk reapplies the headlock. Joe unloads with strikes in the corner. Punk throws some of his own causing Joe to fall to the mat. Joe kicks Punk to the floor. Somehow Punk is now busted open. Joe goes after that cut when Punk makes his way into the ring. Punk almost has an attack in the corner but gets caught with the STJoe for two. Exhausted, Punk throws kicks and punches to Joe’s neck as he did early on. Joe kicks him to the floor and follows with an elbow suicida. He hits the Ole Kick. Punk blocks a second one with an elbow strike. He comes off the ring apron with a dropkick. Punk drives his knee across Joe’s neck. Punk lands a tornado DDT back in the ring for two. He goes for the Shining Wizard. Joe blocks it with a powerbomb and stretches Punk’s neck and back across his own back. Punk drops Joe into the Anaconda Vise. Joe gets his foot on the ropes. Punk hits the Pepsi Twist and a moonsault for two. He tries for a sunset bomb. Joe huracanrana’s through and nails a lariat for two. Punk manages to hit the Shining Wizard for two. Joe puts on a sleeper. Punk is passed out and Todd Sinclair calls for the bell. However, Ricky Steamboat notices Punk has some life and stops the time keeper from ringing the bell. Joe refuses to let the sleeper go. Punk uses the ropes to roll back and pins Joe for two. Punk goes for some more nearfalls to no avail. Joe almost gets the win by using the ropes which angers the crowd. Joe knocks Punk off the second rope. He misses the target of a splash but his knee hits Punk’s head. Punk goes for an O’Conner Roll which Joe turns into the Coquina Clutch. He lifts him into a German suplex, then a Dragon suplex, then puts the Clutch back on. Punk passes out at 31:25. This was a fantastic way to end their trilogy. While it didn’t have the “classic” feel as the other two, they showed a lot of growth from those two bouts and used it to their advantage. Punk’s blood and his precision on Joe’s neck were probably the two things that to me added the most drama. I don’t think this is nearly as well revered as the other two matches but it’s still one hell of a match. ****½

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