Ring of Honor: CM Punk – Icon

cmpunkicon

Disc One

The DVD opens with a clip from “Reborn: Completion” in Elizabeth, NJ on July 17th, 2004. CM Punk and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat are throwing fists. Steamboat manages to get the better of the exchange at first, pummeling Punk in the corner. Punk comes back with a piledriver. Steamboat throws him off of the top rope. He threatens Punk with the ring bell. Steamboat stands over Punk, saying that they can stop their fighting if Punk begins to take things more seriously and becomes the man Steamboats believes he can be. Enter Generation Next who attack Steamboat. Punk now stands over Steamboat. It looks like he’s about to attack Steamboat when Punk attacks Generation Next instead! Punk of course succumbs to a 4 on 1 disadvantage but Steamboat lends a helping hand when he comes to. Generation Next retreats when Steamboat gives them all overhand chops. Punk and Steamboat put their fists together, signifying that their feud is over.

ROH World Tag Team Championship; 2 out of 3 Falls
CM Punk & Colt Cabana (Champions) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)

“Death Before Dishonor II, Part One” – Wauwatosa, WI – 7.23.2004

Mark and Punk reach a stalemate. Jay and Cabana tag in. After some chain wrestling Jay brings Cabana to the corner in a chinlock. Mark tags in. Cabana breaks out of the chinlock Jay has on him to avoid a cheap shot. He takes control of Mark and with Punk’s help keeps on a wristlock. Punk goes for a facewash kick but Mark rolls out of the way. The Saints keep Mark trapped in their corner, targeting his mid-section and chest for the most part. Mark sends Punk to the floor when Punk attempts an O’Conner Roll. Jay keeps him busy so Mark can flop onto him with a pescado. That’s enough for the Briscoes to keep control of him. Cleverly, Punk lands on his feet out of Jay’s monkey flip and tags Cabana back in. Cabana gives Jay a big knee lift and Mark double knees in the corner. He puts on the Billy Goat’s Curse while Punk puts on a Camel Clutch. Jay boots them both. He drops Punk with the Jay Driller to pick up the first fall at 20:13. Jay baseball slides Punk to the floor. he accidentally clotheslines Mark to the floor. Cabana rolls Jay into the Billy Goat’s Curse. He turns that into a pin for two. He gets another two count with a hip attack. Mark tries a crossbody and accidentally hits Jay with it. Cabana gives Mark a reverse suplex. Cabana fights off Jay. Mark nails him with a spinwheel kick. Cabana has been left alone to fend off the Briscoes for himself while Punk recovers on the floor from the previous fall. Jay gives Cabana a backbreaker. Mark comes off the top with a knee strike, but Cabana pulls Jay into it! Cabana throws Mark to the floor. He ties up Jay’s arms and gets him in a pinning combination to take the second fall at 26:43. Pissed, Mark starts the third fall stomping on Cabana’s head. That becomes the Briscoes focus. They hit Cabana with the Doomsday Device. Punk finally remerges to break the cover. The Briscoes are able to keep Punk cut off for awhile longer and wear Cabana down some more. Cabana eventually fights them off and tags out. Punk gives the Briscoes a Russian leg sweep/DDT combo. He Welcomes Mark to Chicago for two. He goes for it again but Jay boots him in the head. He tries another Jay Driller. Punk blocks it with a waterwheel slam. Cabana frog splashes onto him but his stomach is too hurt to pin him. Punk tries a pin and Mark pulls him off. The Saints throw punches at Mark. Jay pulls Cabana to the floor. Mark backdrops Punk onto them. Mark flies out with a shooting star press onto everyone. Cabana Asai moonsaults onto everybody after that. Back in the ring a series of moves knocks everyone down. Mark gives Punk a springboard Ace Crusher. Cabana drops Jay across his knee with a shoulder breaker. Mark then drops Cabana with the Cut-Throat Driver. Punk breaks the cover. He brings Mark to the top rope and hits the Pepsi Plunge for the third and final fall at 37:30. There were many really cool, fun, and brilliant spots but some plodding moments as well. Punk being taken out for that long of a period is a little hokey in hindsight though Cabana fighting through the second fall by himself was fun to watch. Everything came together in the final fall and the match ended up being groovy, I just don’t think nearly 40 minutes of match time was necessary. ***¾

Chicago Street Fight
CM Punk & Ace Steel vs. BJ Whitmer & Dan Maff

“Death Before Dishonor II, Night 2” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 7.24.2004

Whitmer and Maff drag the Saints to the floor and throw them into the barricades. Back in the ring they beat down Steel while keeping Punk out. Punk pulls Whitmer out and throws him into the barricades. He and Steel throw punches and bionic elbows at Maff. Punk catches Whitmer coming off the top rope with an exploder suplex. Punk dives onto Maff. Whitmer uses a chair to stop Steel’s suicide dive, then throws it at Punk’s head. They bloody both Saint members on the floor and whip them with their belts back in the ring. Steel does a good job fighting them both off. He throws Maff face first into the barricades. Whitmer puts a table in the ring. Steel throws him into the barricades too. Punk dives in from the crowd onto Maff. In the ring Steel dropkicks a chair into Maff’s. Punk facewash kicks Whitmer thrice. As Whitmer sits in the corner, a table is set up so one edge is near his throat. Steel places a chair on his face. Punk slides a ladder into the chair into his face. He busts Whitmer open further with a belt buckle. He uses a barbed wire 2×4 on both Whitmer and Maff. Whitmer uses it to give Punk a side Russian leg sweep. Maff hits it into Punk’s crotch. He does the same thing to Steel. A barbed wire board is brought into the ring. Punk and Whitmer fight for a suplex onto it. Punk goes for a tornado DDT and gets tossed into the wire instead! Steel prevents Whitmer from hitting an exploder suplex. Maff moves the board so Steel only suplexes Whitmer onto the canvas. The board is set up in the corner. Whitmer cuts off Punk from sending Maff into it. Maff sends Punk through it with a cannonball senton! Steel then breaks the barbed wire board by throwing Maff into it. He gets two with a Tiger Driver. Everybody stands in the ring with a chair in hand. Punk and Steel take the first shots. Although reeling, then hit Whitmer and Maff back. Maff and Whitmer fire each other up and throw back more shots. Steel breaks his chair over Whitmer’s chair. Punks shot sends Maff to the floor along with Whitmer. The crowd begins to throw all their chairs into the ring. The two teams brawl on top of the sea of chairs. Maff suplexes Punk on top of them. He then suplexes Maff. Steel and Maff spill out to the floor. Maff places a ladder between the barricades leading down the aisle. He places Steel on top of it. Whitmer poises for a dive, but Punk throw him into the chairs. Steel rams the ladder into Maff’s face. He places Maff onto the ladder and Punk successfully dives onto him! In the ring, Steel hits Whitmer with a chair. They fight over who will go through a table. Steel ends up putting Whitmer through it with a tombstone piledriver off the second rope! That gives Steel the pin at 27:41. This felt like a big time feud blow off. These teams bled and killed each other for our amusement and succeeded in doing so. It was super intense and felt very real. Crazy stuff. I think it’s very smart that the Saints were the staples for the first two Chicago Ridge ROH shows and had two major victories in main events. ****

ROH World Tag Team Championship
CM Punk & Colt Cabana (Champions) vs. The Havana Pitbulls (Rocky Romero & Ricky Reyes)

“Testing The Limit” – Philadelphia, PA – 8.7.2004

Julius Smokes is in the Pitbulls corner. Punk’s and Reyes’ aggressively vie for control. Reyes gets a German suplex. Punk mule kicks him to the floor. Punk knocks Romero off the apron and pescado’s onto him. Cabana baseball dropkicks Reyes into the barricades. Romero and Punk trade right hands. Reyes and Cabana join them. Cabana accidentally chops the ring post. Romero crotches Punk in the ring post while Reyes hits him with a delayed dropkick to the crown of his head. Punk catches Romero with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Cabana gives him a sidewalk slam for two. After a reverse suplex, Punk back suplexes him for two. He stretches Romero out. Reyes runs in to stop him but Cabana catches him in a surfboard stretch instead. Punk misses a shoulder tackle in the corner. Romero kicks him in the side of the head. He and Reyes take turn wearing down Punk’s arm. Punk avoids a double team and Welcomes Reyes to Chicago. Romero rolls him into a cross armbreaker. Punk picks him up into a powerbomb. Cabana is pulled off the apron by Smokes so the Pitbulls can continue to attack Punk. It doesn’t last long as Punk rolls under a double clothesline and tags Cabana in. He throws jabs and elbows to fight them off. He gives them both a lionsault press. Reyes blocks the Colt 45. Cabana O’Conner Rolls him into the Billy Goat’s Curse. Punk assists with a Camel Clutch. Romero kicks Punk and rolls him back into a cross armbreaker. Cabana breaks it. The Saints set up for a Doomsday Device. Reyes shoves Cabana off the top. Romero rolls off of Punk’s shoulders and puts on the cross armbreaker. Cabana frog splashes Romero. Reyes gives Cabana a bulldog. He rolls him into a Saito suplex for two. Punk dropkicks Reyes off the apron and into the barricades. Romero small packages Cabana for the pin at 19:07. The guys worked hard but the ending came off really forced and awkward. It wasn’t bad, but a little long and ended fairly weak. **¾

CM Punk vs. Austin Aries
Weekend of Thunder Night 1 – Revere, MA – 11.5.2004

Punk and Aries spend some time going back and forth. Aries comes off the second rope with a back elbow. He spends too much time bragging, allowing Punk to take him down with a headlock twice. He paint brushes the back of his head a few times causing Aries to retreat to the ropes. Punk fakes Aries out and comes off the second rope with an elbow to the head. He reigns down with punches after throwing Aries into a couple corners. Aries responds with a Manhattan Drop. Punk delivers one of his own and drops Aries out of a delayed vertical suplex. Punk chokes him on the ropes. He boots Aries from the ring apron and tries a sunset flip. Aries rolls through and hits a dropkick. Punk is able to regain control on the floor. He tries a Shining Wizard but he connects with the barricades! Aries wisely decides to attack Punk’s knee. The lights in the building go out as Aries twists up Punk’s leg in the ropes. The lights come back on and Aries is still in control. Punk’s head is bleeding, somehow. Punk sends Aries into the corner and turns him inside out with a clothesline to the back of the head. Aries blocks a mule kick and drives Punk’s knee into the canvas. After some of his signature moves Aries puts on a half crab. Punk gets the ropes. He manages to give Aries the Pepsi Plunge off the second rope even if it does hurt his knee. Punk crawls over for a pin. Aries gets his foot on the ropes. Punk tries the Pepsi Plunge again. Aries blocks it with a shinbreaker and a suplex into the corner. He gives Punk’s leg a 450 splash. He re-applies the half crab. Punk taps out at 22:34. Technically the match was really good, as Punk’s selling and Aries’ attacking of the knee worked well, but the lack of any heat whatsoever brought down what could have been a great match. The lights going out randomly did them no favors. Like I said, technically fine, but not as good as you would expect these two to pull off. ***¼

No Disqualification
Generation Next (Austin Aries & Roderick Strong) vs. CM Punk & Ace Steel

“Weekend of Thunder Night 2” – Elizabeth, NJ – 11.6.2004

The Saints jump Generation Next before the bell. Steel suicide dives onto Strong. Punk gets two on Aries with a Michinoku Driver. Punk whips Strong into the barricades. Aries takes him down with a Heat-Seeking Missile. He rams Steels’ back into the barricades multiple times. Strong sends Punk through a chair with a backbreaker. In the ring, Aries slingshots in with a splash to Steel across Strong’s knees. Punk trips Strong to the floor and throws him into the barricades. He and Steel drop Aries in a legdrop/suplex combo. The Saints meet Strong with a double spinebuster. Punk kicks him in the groin. Evans emerges ringside with a ladder. Punk dropkicks it into him and then pescados onto the ladder and Evans. Steel brings the ladder into the ring and side slams Strong onto it. Aries gives Steel a receipt with a Side Russian legsweep onto it. Punk powerbombs Aries onto the ladder. Evans misses a springboard tornado kick onto Punk. The Saints try to take Evans out. With Strong’s help though, they are able to take out Punk with a Doomsday crossbody. Aries frog splashes onto Punk for two. Aries whips Steel into the ladder in the corner. He and Strong both dropkick Steel into it. Strong helps Evans perform a twisting senton. Steel comes back with a fisherman’s buster to Strong. Aries and Evans take out Steel on the floor while Strong sets up Punk’s leg in the ladder. Aries slams a chair onto the ladder. Strong sets up the chair and drives Punk’s knee onto it. Strong and Aries slam Punk onto the ladder. Exhausted, Steel smacks Aries in the back with a chair. Aries whips Punk into the chair in the corner, then dropkicks his head into it. Steel butterfly suplexes Aries onto the ladder. He flubs a chair-assisted legdrop as Punk knee strikes Strong in the corner. Punk suplexes Strong onto the ladder. Steel meanwhile has set up Aries on a table ringside. Strong stops Steel from climbing the ladder with an electric chair slam. Punk is now on the ringside table. Evans barely hits the table with his splash, getting the worst of the dive. Aries goes for an elbow drop off the apron. Punk moves and Aries collides with the table (it does not break). Strong gives Punk a backbreaker across his shoulder. Punk blocks a second Doomsday Crossbody by catching Evans and powerslamming him onto a ladder. Steel helps Punk give Strong a piledriver onto the ladder. Aries blocks Steel’s attack and Finlay Rolls him onto the ladder. He follows with a 450 splash that misses, causing him to collide stomach first with the ladder. Steel powerbombs Evans through the ringside table. Strong gets two on Punk with a backbreaker. Punk puts Strong away with an ultra sloppy Pepsi Plunge onto the ladder for the pin at 19:56. That went far too long for a sequence of disconnected moves in which many were missed. I think it would have been much better for Gen Next to go over here too, especially given that they had the numbers advantage. Also, if the entire ROH locker room hates Gen Next, why was nobody there to help the Saints out? This gets points for some nifty spots, but otherwise this was a rare miss for the guys involved. **½

CM Punk vs. Spanky
“Third Anniversary Celebration Night 1” – Elizabeth, NJ – 2.19.2005

Spanky brings Punk down in a side headlock. Punk tries reversing but Spanky puts on a headscissors. Punk grabs a front facelock. Spanky pushes him to the ropes to break. After a shoulder block, Punk reapplies the side headlock on the mat. Spanky trips him into the front facelock. He misses a knee strike, allowing Punk to snap off an armdrag. Spanky takes him over with a headscissors and an armdrag of his own. Punk drops him with a twisting neckbreaker for a one count. He throws some headbutts to the back of Spanky’s head. He applies a figure four headscissors. Spanky gets the ropes. He snaps Spanky’s head on the top rope Savage style. He tries a springboard move but Spanky dropkicks him off the ropes mid-move. Spanky then aggressively attacks Punk’s left knee. Punk throws some chops and forearms. Spanky kicks Punk in the knee. He tries for Sliced Bread #2. Punk stops him, crotches him on the top rope, and brings him down with a reverse suplex. He throws a mule kick after some back elbows. He tries a small package but Spanky kicks out. Spanky dropkicks Punk’s knee and delivers a Complete Shot for two. He tries a top rope splash but Punk gets his knees up. Punk is too weak to follow up. Spanky superkicks him to block the Shining Wizard and gets two. He tries Sliced Bread #2. Punk avoids it and gives him a butterfly facebuster. Spanky grabs the ropes to avoid the pin. He tries a leg hook DDT. When it hurts Punk’s leg, Spanky capitalizes to hit Sliced Bread #2 for the pin at 14:41. I really liked the psychology of the match and that it was the focus of the match the entire time. For whatever reason the crowd dismissed this before it went anywhere so the match suffered from an atmosphere standpoint. ***

CM Punk vs. Alex Shelley
“Third Anniversary Celebration Night 2” – Dayton, OH – 2.25.2005

Punk takes Shelley down out of a handshake. He says Shelley has to do a lot more than a handshake if he wants to make up for everything he did as part of Generation Next. Shelley has the chance for a cheap shot in the corner but does not take it. He holds Punk in a front facelock until Punk makes it to the ropes. Punk takes him down in a courting hold. He and Shelley exchange holds on the canvas. Punk delivers some dropkicks for two. He begins to work over Shelley’s neck and left arm. Punk goes for a crossbody but Shelley catches him with a gut buster. He kicks Punk in the ribs before dropkicking him to the floor. In the ring Shelley stomps on Punk’s back and gives him another gut buster. He applies a chinlock while stretching Punk’s leg. Punk gets on a crossface but Shelley grabs the ropes right away. He kicks Punk in the ribs. After taking some damage, Punk comes back with a flying forearm and a leg lariat to Shelley’s neck for two. Shelley locks his hands when Punk goes for the Anaconda Vise. He throws strikes to Punk’s stomach. Punk comes off the second rope but is caught with a spear. Shelley frog splashes onto Punk for two. He tries for the Border City Stretch. Punk rolls Shelley onto his shoulders for a two count. Punk sets Shelley up top. He tries bringing him off with a Pepsi Plunge. Shelley looks to counter with a super Manhattan Drop. Punk instead lands on his feet and hits the Shining Wizard for two. He tries for the Pepsi Twist. Shelley blocks it but takes a Samoan Drop. Punk puts on the Anaconda Vise. Shelley gets the ropes. Punk tries the Pepsi Plunge again. Shelley shoves him down. He comes off the top with a double stomp then puts Punk in the Border City Stretch! Punk rolls it into the Anaconda Vise. Shelley taps at 22:00. Two of the best put on a technically awesome match. They didn’t go all out because there wasn’t much back story to it, but the work was excellent and was paid off nicely. ***½

CM Punk vs. Jimmy Rave
“Third Anniversary Celebration Night 3” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 2.26.2005

Rave attacks Punk before the bell. Prince Nana and Fast Eddie are in his corner while Traci Brooks is in Punk’s corner. Punk backdrops Rave and dropkicks him to the floor. Rave laps Punk when he comes back in. Punk knocks him down. He gives Rave a Garvin Stomp and chops him against the ropes. He drops Rave out of a delayed vertical suplex. He Welcomes Rave to Chicago. Nana trips Punk, so Traci trips Rave. Punk dropkicks him in the crown of his head. Rave tries for the Doppler Effect. Punk instead rolls him into a half crab. Nana distracts referee Todd Sinclair. Rave kicks Punk in the groin. He chokes Punk with his boot in the corner. Behind the referee’s back he chokes Punk with his boot lace. He conceals it while applying a chinlock. Nana chokes him with the lace as well. When Rave tries hiding the lace, Punk nails him with a Shining Wizard. Rave puts on a sleeper hold while using the lace again. Rave gets the win at 14:24 after Punk’s arm drops three times! But wait! As Rave is celebrating, the boot lace falls. Todd Sinclair confirms with Punk that he used the lace on him. Instead of calling for a DQ, Todd decides to re-start the match. Punk rolls up Rave for two. He fires at Rave with a flurry of chops. He knocks Rave down with a running elbow strike. He clotheslines Rave to the floor. Punk follows with a tope con hilo onto him and Eddie. Punk goes for a crossbody. Rave rolls through for a two count. Punk mule kicks Rave. Rave gives him a backbreaker and Ghanarhea for two. Punk tries for the Pepsi Plunge. Rave flips out of it and hits the Doppler Effect for two. Rave tries for the Pepsi Plunge himself. Punk brings him off the second rope with a Samoan Drop. He puts on the Anaconda Vise. While Eddie distracts the referee, Nana gives Rave an aerosol can. Rave sprays it into Punk’s eyes and rolls him up for the decisive pin at 4:18. Although it’s not shown on the compilation, Punk gives Traci the Rave Clash after the match. This was an awesome way for Rave to climb up the ranks. He ran used tons of cheap tactics against one of the biggest stars in the company. To Punk’s credit, he allowed Rave to look REALLY strong which helped a lot. Very good stuff. ***½

Disc Two

Trios Tournament Quarter-Final Round
CM Punk, Colt Cabana & Steve Corino vs. The Embassy (Jimmy Rave, Oman Tortuga & Weapon of Masked Destruction #3)

“Trios Tournament 2005” – Philadelphia, PA – 3.5.2005

The Embassy are jumped by their opponents in the aisle with Punk going after Rave. Destruction chop blocks Punk’s taped up leg out. Tortuga and Destruction send Corino and Cabana to the floor. They do some damage to Punk’s leg. Punk catches Destruction with the Pepsi Twist and tags in Corino. He throws right hands at everyone in the Embassy. He knocks down Rave with a lariat. He DDT’s and stuns Tortuga/ Destruction simultaneously. Destruction drops him with a Side leg sweep. Cabana breaks the pin. Corino drops Destruction with an Ace Crusher and tags Cabana in. He hip attacks Tortuga. Punk tags in and gets in a shot to Rave. Destruction attacks him causing all six men to come in. Rave accidentally boots Tortuga. Rave heads backstage. Punk puts Destruction in the Anaconda Vise. Destruction taps out at 4:56. The match itself was nothing, but it did further the Rave/Punk feud kind of. *

No Disqualification
CM Punk & Colt Cabana vs. The Embassy (Jimmy Rave & Fast Eddie)

“Best of the American Super Juniors Tournament” – Asbury Park, NJ – 4.2.2005

The Embassy (Prince Nana, Jade Chung, Oman Tortuga, and Mike Kruel) are ringside. Rave gets cornered in the ring. Eddie pulls Punk out of the ring. Cabana is able to give Rave the Flying Asshole for two while Punk punches Eddie outside. Oman Tortuga attacks Punk when he’s about to get his hands on Rave. Punk clotheslines him. Eddie then attacks Punk from behind. Punk throws some forearms his way and dropkicks him in the back of the head. Punk gets in a few shots on Rave. Tortuga comes in to attack so Punk’s student Davey Andrews jumps in. They fight out into the crowd where Punk and Cabana take control. Rave chokes Punk in the bleachers. On a nearby stage Punk suplexes Rave. He tries to do it a second time but Rave gives him a leg sweep onto the stage instead. Ringside Cabana drops Eddie onto Punk’s knee. Back in the ring Punk superplexes Rave. Andrews and Tortuga begin fighting again for some reason. Cabana Asai moonsaults onto both of them as well as Fast Eddie. Punk drops Rave out of a double choke and thros strikes to his face and body in the corner. He drops Rave onto his stomach and nails a Shining Wizard. He puts on the Anaconda Vise. Jade Chung runs in and pulls Punk’s hair. Punk sets her up for a piledriver. Nana nails Punk with the aerosol can and Rave pins him at 12:45. This match was a mess. It progressed the angle nicely, and I really like The Embassy keeping Punk away from Rave, but this was just uncoordinated and not that great of a watch. *

CM Punk vs. Mike Kruel
“Stalemate” – Dorchester, MA – 4.16.2005

Punk was set to take on Rave, but Nana claims that Rave hurt his arm in an elephant riding accident so Kruel will take his place. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan is in Punk’s corner to try and keep The Embassy neutralized. Kruel throws Punk down and stomps on him. He chokes Punk on the middle rope after a back elbow. He throws him overhead with a belly-to-belly suplex. Punk makes a comeback. Nana distracts Punk. Heenan makes sure he doesn’t interfere. Punk shoves Kruel into Nana, which knocks Nana off the ropes. Punk gets the pin with an O’Conner Roll at 3:00. That happened. ¼*

Heenan says some stuff to the crowd and then leaves. As Punk applauds him, Jimmy Rave runs in from the crowd and attacks him from behind! He pummels Punk until Punk backdrops him into the crowd. He throws a chair at Rave’s head. Rave gets in a shot with the chair too. Ringside Rave sends Punk into a ring post. He does it again, but this time with a chair around Punk’s head and neck. In the ring Punk re-takes control and calls for the Pepsi Plunge. This prompts the Embassy to come out. Punk manages to fight Kruel, Tortuga, and Nana off until Rave jumps in. Rave wraps a chain around his throat and hangs him over the top rope. Cabana, Lethal, and other run out to save Punk and send the Embassy packing. The chain of course would lead to…

Dog Collar Match
CM Punk vs. Jimmy Rave

“Manhattan Mayhem” – New York, NY – 5.7.2005

Rave jumps Punk before the chain is attached to his dog collar. The Embassy is ringside. Rave gets the chain attached. Punk throws some punches. He strikes Rave in the stomach with handfuls of the chain. Punk Garvin stomps Rave before dropkicking him in the back of the head. He hangs Rave in a tree of woe and drives his knee into his mid-section. Punk grabs a chair. Rave pulls the chain causing Punk to be driven face first into the ring post and chair, busting him wide open. Rave then sends him into the barricades. Back in the ring he digs his fingers into Punk’s gash on his forehead. He curb stomps Punk with the chain in his mouth. Punk kicks out. Rave tries for the Rave Clash. Punk uses the ropes to kick Rave away and then hits the Shining Wizard. He gets two with a leg lariat. Rave brings Punk down with From Dusk til Dawn and uses the chain to rip at Punk’s face. Punk rakes Rave’s eyes to escape. Rave tries Ghanarhea. Punk tries Welcoming him to Chicago. Rave escapes and goes for the Doppler Effect. Punk rolls him into a half crab. Nana distracts Punk. Rave uses the chain to crotch Punk. He hits the Doppler Effect for two. Rave brings Punk up the ropes hoping for the Pepsi Plunge. Punk backdrops him off the top rope to avoid it. He powerbombs Rave thrice for a two count. He then puts on the Anaconda Vise. The Embassy jumps up but Punk knocks them down. Punk drops Rave with the Pepsi Twist. Fast Eddie tries a moonsault. Punk moves and he lands on Rave. He throws Eddie into Kruel, then kicks Rave as he gives Kruel a tornado DDT. Nana tries a cheap shot. Punk stops him. Jade Chung jumps on Punk’s back. Punk throws her off. Rave bashes Punk with five chair shots, three of them to the head. That gets Rave the pin at 13:37. That was masterful storytelling. Punk looked incredibly strong withstanding the attack of The Embassy and all of the surplus interference showcased exactly why Punk and Rave have to finish their feud inside of a steel cage. Brilliant booking. ****

Colt Cabana, James Gibson, Azrieal, and Dixie run out to send the Embassy packing. Punk is about to be helped to the back but ends up slowly making it back on his own volition. Backstage he tells the camera that he realizes Raves’s plan. He doesn’t want Punk to make it to their cage match in Chicago, so he’s tried to cripple him physically and emotionally. He knows Rave went after his head because the biggest injury that Punk ever sustained was a cracked skull. He mentions that the Embassy will be neutralized by a steel cage when they fight in his backyard of Chicago. Punk promises to scrape and crawl his way to victory. He promises payback in Chicago.

ROH World Tag Team Championship
Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer (Champions) vs. CM Punk & Ace Steel

“The Final Showdown” – Dayton, OH – 5.13.2005

Before the bell Steel attacks Whitmer. This is because there’s still bad blood from the Second City Saints/Prophecy feud from last year. Things get settled before Jacobs and Punk officially start. Punk is able to overpower Jacobs at first. They end up in more or less of a stalemate when they tag out. Whitmer and Steel go back and forth on the mat. They shove each other leading to a strike exchange. Whitmer backs Steel to the corner. Jacobs blind tags in. He gets in some strikes before taking Steel down in a side headlock. Steel drives his shoulder into his mid-section repeatedly. Whitmer tags back in. He and Jacobs double team on Steel. Steel avoids a tandem back drop. Steel backs Jacobs to the corner and tags Punk in. Punk clotheslines Whitmer and then chops up Jacobs with Steel’s assistance. Punk dropkicks him in the back of the head for a one count. The Saints isolate Jacobs until Jacobs manages to send Steel into the corner with a Frankensteiner. Whitmer tags in and unloads with forearms on both Steel and Punk. He German suplexes them both. He gives Steel a Dragon suplex. Punk gives Whitmer a Shining Wizard. Jacobs comes in and gets caught with a gut buster. Punk kicks Whitmer into a slam from Steel. Punk comes off the top with a legdrop for two. Steel clotheslines Whitmer off of Punk’s shoulders. Jacobs breaks the cover. Punk suplexes Whitmer onto his head after Steel dropkicks him. Jacobs comes of the top with a senton to Punk. He suicide dives onto Steel. Whitmer superkicks Punk and gives him an exploder suplex. Punk kicks out. Jacobs gives Punk a Doomsday Frankensteiner off of Whitmer’s shoulders for the pin at 16:42. That has to be Jacobs’ biggest win to date. This was a fun callback to yesteryear and a nice win for Whitmer/Jacobs to have under their belt. There was never a question of a title change, but it was a fun placeholder before Punk’s Cage match the night after. ***¼

Steel Cage Match
CM Punk vs. Jimmy Rave

“Nowhere To Run” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 5.14.2005

Rave tries to escape right away but Punk won’t allow it. He throws Rave multiple times into the cage head first to the point where Rave’s head busts open. Punk punches his open wound. He uses a chair on Rave. Punk goes to leave the cage. Jade Chung is awaiting with the door to slam on Punk’s head. Punk stops the door but Nana throws powder in his eyes! Rave smacks him in the head with the chair. Nana tries pulling Rave out of the ring. Punk ends up stopping him. Rave gets control until he and Punk fight on the top rope and end up crotching themselves simultaneously. Punk wins a strike exchange. He goes to climb out of the cage. Rave follows and brings Punk down with a Side Russian leg sweep. He applies a crossface while using the same boot lace he used a few months back. Punk fights out. He drops Rave onto his stomach and hits the Shining Wizard for two. Jade Chung enters the ring and jumps on Punk’s back. Punk throws her off. Rave tries sneaking in a spear and ends up hitting Chung with it! Punk tries a hurancanrana. Rave counters with a Rave Clash! Rave is too worn down to go for a cover immediately. Both guys climb the cage again. Rave looks for a Super Rave Clash. When that doesn’t work, he comes off the top with a flying Doppler Effect. Punk kicks out. Nana again tries helping Rave escape. Punk again stops Rave and Welcomes him to Chicago. Punk chokes Rave with the boot lace. Rave fights Punk off momentarily. Punk pulls him up for the Pepsi Plunge. Nana enters the cage ready to fight. Punk grabs him. Rave almost spears Nana but stops when he realizes Punk had moved. Punk kicks them both in the side of the head. He sends Nana into the cage. Punk and Rave make it to the top of the cage. Punk superplexes Rave back to the mat! Punk crawls over and gets the pin at 24:15. This was a very emotional and fitting end to the feud. There were many callbacks to their Third Anniversary Celebration and Manhattan Mayhem battles. Even though the cage didn’t keep interference totally gone, it played its role and fit in with the story they told. The finish was awesome and believable. Thus ends one of ROH’s best cage matches and most underrated feuds. ****

CM Punk vs. Roderick Strong
“The Future Is Now” – New York, NY – 6.12.2005

Strong’s mission is to wear down Punk before Punk challenges Austin Aries for the ROH World Title in six days. Punk avoids being chopped. Strong goes for Death by Roderick early. Punk blocks it and goes for the Anaconda Vise. Strong gets to the ropes before it can be applied. Punk snaps off three armdrags after ducking Strong’s chop. He also catches Strong in the corner with a kick to the head. He gives Strong a hammerlock suplex for two. Punk delivers a headbutt. When he tries going up and over, Strong catches him and finally lays in some chops. Punk throws some of his own chops back, sending Strong to the floor. Strong accidentally chops the ring post. Punk hip tosses him in the ring twice before legdropping his arm. Punk goes to the top rope. Strong dropkicks the ropes to bring him back down. Strong focuses his offense on Punk’s back while nursing his arm. Punk gets to the apron and kicks Strong in the side of the head. He nails a springboard dropkick for a two count, then uses his time to recover. When both men get to their feet a chop battle ensues. Punk nails a leg lariat. He gives Strong two mule kicks and a kick to the back of the head. Strong responds with Death by Roderick and the Sick Kick for two. He goes for the Strong Hold. Punk rolls him up to counter. He tries a Shining Wizard. Strong instead powerbombs Punk across his knee and then puts on the Strong Hold. Punk escapes. Strong brings Punk to the top rope. Punk shoves him off and nails a top rope legdrop. When Strong kicks out, Punk puts on the Anaconda Vise. Strong gets his foot on the ropes. Strong uses Punk’s own fist for a low blow. After fighting for position, Punk hits the Shining Wizard for two. He puts the Anaconda Vise on. Strong taps at 24:05. That was an excellent brawl. They kept a semblance of a story and we now have Punk’s worn down back and Aries’ worn down neck as two established stories heading into their title match. Strong looked pretty weak in the whole ordeal but it actually worked for the best considering how he kept getting caught in the Vise and how it led to the finish. It didn’t need to be this long, though. ***½

At “Unscripted II” in Long Island on February 11th, Julius Smokes called out Colt Cabana for his match with the Grim Reefer. Instead, CM Punk, who had been in OVW for nearly half a year at this point, makes his way out to the ring. As Punk is talking, he is attacked by Adam Pearce who has been sitting ringside since he squashed Pelle Primeau and Mitch Franklin in the previous encounter. Colt Cabana makes the save. Prince Nana then makes his way out to tell Punk “that’s what you get.” Cabana and Punk look puzzled. Punk turns his attention to Cabana. He says the way Cabana has been acting since beginning his feud with Homicide is troubling him. Cabana says he doesn’t need Punk telling him what to do right now. He sends Punk to the back so he can wrestle Grim Reefer. Punk then says if anyone has a problem with him that he will fight them tonight.

Later on in the evening, Bryan Danielson defended the ROH World title against Xavier. Originally he was set to face Embassy member Alex Shelley but Shelley could not make the show. After Danielson defeated Xavier, Jimmy Rave attacked Danielson since Rave has a title match against him in a couple of weeks at the 4th Anniversary Show. CM Punk made the save and Adam Pearce came back out to even the odds. Pearce and Rave leave Punk and Danielson laying. Punk gets on the microphone and sets up a tag team match for the main event. It takes some time for Danielson to come around but eventually he does.

CM Punk & Bryan Danielson vs. Jimmy Rave & Adam Pearce
“Unscripted II” – Long Island, NY – 2.11.2006

Danielson wins the opening exchange with Pearce due to a dropkick. Punk and Rave tag in. Before they even touch Rave tags Pearce back in. In a lock-up, Punk brings Pearce’s arm to the corner and has him tag in Rave. Punk slingshots Rave in and takes him down with hip tosses and a suplex. Danielson tags in. He pummels Rave in opposite corners. He gets two with a top rope headbutt. Rave gives Punk a chinbreaker to escape his grasp. Pearce tags in but is taken down immediately with an armdrag. Punk and Danielson double team him in their half off the ring. Rave tags in and fights with Punk to the floor. Punk kicks Rave’s leg out back in the ring. Rave bails to the floor and Punk follows. This causes all four men to fight out on the floor. Danielson and Rave fight into the crowd while Punk sends Pearce into the barricades a few times. Punk and Rave end up back in the ring together. Punk is begging for mercy as Danielson continues to send Pearce into the barricades. Danielson slaps Rave when he comes back in. He and Punk deliver stereo kicks. Pearce catches Danielson with a knee strike. Danielson tries fighting him but gets dropped onto the barricades. Pearce gets a receipt by sending Danielson into the barricades. Rave and Pearce work Danielson over. Danielson victory rolls out of a Doomsday Device and knocks them both down with rolling forearms. Punk throws some punches. He Welcomes Rave to Chicago. He backdrops Pearce to the floor and follows with a suicide dive that sends Pearce into the crowd. Punk sends Rave into the crowd and Danielson slingshot dives onto them both. Back in the ring Punk puts Pearce in the Anaconda Vise. Rave breaks it up. Rave superplexes Punk into a top rope splash from Pearce. Danielson breaks the cover. Pearce keeps Danielson at bay. Rave tries for Greeting from Ghana but Punk turns it into the Anaconda Vise. When Pearce tries breaking it, Danielson puts him in Cattle Mutilation. Both men make it to the ropes. Pearce stops Punk and Danielson from superplexing Rave. Rave drops Danielson with Greetings from Ghana. Pearce gives Punk a spinebuster. Rave hits the Doppler Effect for two. Punk gives Pearce a headscissors. Punk misses a Backfist. Rave goes for Greetings From Ghana. Danielson stops him with a missile dropkick. Punk catches Rave with a Complete Shot and puts on the Anaconda Vise. Danielson makes sure neither Peace or Nana can interfere. Rave taps out at 29:02. Rave and Pearce were a natural team. I appreciate that Danielson kept his persona intact even while teaming with Punk who was obviously insanely beloved. They had an old school approach to the match while also calling back to Rave and Punk’s feud. It was a lot of fun seeing Punk back in the company for one night, though having Rave tap out right before he challenged for the World title was puzzling and probably a mistake. It was a place holder main event but worked out really well given the unfortunate circumstances that struck this show. ***½

Bryan Danielson gives Punk credit for coming to the show even though he didn’t have to. If Punk ever decides to leave “the entertainment business”, Danielson would be happy to give him a shot at the World title. That’s a funny comment in hindsight. Danielson has the crowd give Punk a standing ovation and shakes his hand. Punk verbally destroys a detractor in the audience. He then gives the Long Island crowd the proper East Coast goodbye he never got to have during the Summer of Punk. As the fans chant his name, Punk runs outside and makes a Snow Angel.

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