Dark Pegasus Video Review: Ring of Honor — World Title Classic
|Ring of Honor — World Title Classic
By J.D. Dunn
Colt Cabana welcomes Ace Steel to the show (in the parking lot) to talk about their last trip to Dayton. They mistake Todd Sinclair and crew for Generation Next. Oh, the hilarity.
Lovey quickly pimps the new distribution system, made necessary by the whole Feinstein Incident. And he also reveals his real identity – Jimmy Bower. The New CC are Masada and Danny Daniels, a short-term gimmick as they feuded with the real Carnage Crew. Kind of like the Ghostbusters and the Real Ghostbusters, only no one shit in Egon’s bag. The match is about par for these guys, although I *hate* that the CC does a Doomsday Bulldog early on in the match and winds up finishing with a lame double-backbreaker. That’s just anti-climactic. CC wins at 6:31. **
Wow. Funny to look back. Jimmy starts out with future disciple Delirious. They actually do some nice wrestling. Nulty puts over the use of the bridge. Okay. Comedy erupts in a battle of “Huss” vs. “Bah.” Rainman, who is now one-half of the Dark City Fight Club, tags in, and the pull of Wrestling Rule #32 forces him to team up with Caprice Coleman. Whatever happened to Coleman? I know he did a few dark matches for the WWE and TNA. His wiki cuts off at 2007. Everyone hits wacky versions of kicks only to get hit with an even wackier kick. That leads to the requisite dives to the floor. Odd that Sydal was the one who made it to the WWE. He’s actually the most generic out of all these guys. Yes, even Loc. Everyone starts in with the finishers and brawling on the floor. That leaves Jimmy Jacobs to hit the Contra Code on Loc for the win at 9:51. Very indy formula here — wrestling leads to breakdown leads to dives leads to finishers – but most of these guys have the personality to keep things afloat. **1/2
Before the match, Shelley reminds Stryker that he kicked his ass in the Best-of-Three series, and GenNext busts Stryker open. Rave and Walters finally come out to save after Stryker starts down the path of bleeding to death. Walters offers to go 3-on-2, but Stryker hulks up (yes, really) and returns to the ring. Jimmy is still wrestling under the “lose and you’re out” ultimatum. The faces isolate Strong, but Stryker is losing blood and can’t do much. Jimmy gets caught going for a huracanrana, and GenNext delivers a triple neck/backbreaker combo. The faces get pissed as Mark Sinclair misses several tags. The match breaks down, and Walters hits Roderick with the Lungblower. Rave applies the Crossface on Strong, but Aries breaks it up with the 450-splash and finishes Rave with the Rings of Saturn at 16:30. I understand losing track of who’s legal, but how could Strong and Aries both be legal? The match was fine, even though they dropped the whole “Stryker is bleeding to death” angle. Jimmy is now dropped from the roster, and ROH never saw him again. ::cough:: ***
We’re JIP to the last two minutes. Winner gets a spot in the Pure Title Tournament. Hydro catches Collyer in a reverse shinni no make for the win. [N/R]
Well, here it is. The match that brought back epics, at least to the mainstream. This would be the first time that I’ve seen this in several years. Let’s see how it holds up. Before the match, Les Thatcher introduces the new physical world title belt and presents it to Joe. Mat wrestling early, and Punk tries to ground things early. Joe is his usual casual self, although Punk is able to avoid most of his hardest strikes.
Joe finally gets pissed and repeatedly headbutts Punk down in the corner. Punk bails and calls a timeout, slowing things down again. He gets more of the same when he comes back in. Punk fires back, so Joe bails this time and stares down a CM Punk fan. Punk one-ups him by offering the fan a handshake and psyching him out.
Punk goes back to the headlock for a bit, and then he gets into an ill-advised battle of strikes with Joe. Obviously, that goes badly for Punk. At this point, it’s becoming obvious that Punk’s strategy is to stall until Joe gets pissed and then pick spots for his offense. Punk tries to escape with the world’s worst Flair Flip, so Joe just hits a suicida. Ole Kicks follow, but Joe is in no hurry. He lets Punk get back in and gives him a SICKENING Bossman slam. That leads to the Facewash as Joe is getting progressively more vicious.
Punk hits a crossbody to stun Joe and finally fells the big guy with kicks. He takes Joe down and puts him in an Indian Deathlock. Joe headbutts his way out of it, though, and applies the abdominal stretch. Punk fires back but makes the mistake of mocking Joe. Joe roars back yet again, but Punk grabs a sleeper to kill the momentum.
Joe fights out of the sleeper and hits the enzuigiri. More kicks from Joe put Punk down in the corner as this becomes the longest ROH title match in history. Punk elbows out of a backdrop superplex and hits a flying elbowdrop. Nulty compares this to Funk vs. Briscoe and Hennig vs. Bockwinkel. Joe catches Punk with a snap powerslam. Interestingly, that’s the first true nearfall 45-minutes into the match. Joe transitions into the cross armlock, then into the STF, but Punk makes the ropes.
Punk ducks a swing and hits a high kick. That sets up a huracanrana. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Joe spins him around with the sunset flip roll. Punk gets a crucifix for two but stands up and GETS HIS HEAD TAKEN OFF BY A LARIAT! Yikes. Joe is slow to cover, though, and only gets two. SHINING WIZARD BY PUNK! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Punk goes low, but Joe shakes it off and slams his knee into the canvas. That sets up the half-crab, but Punk makes the ropes. Joe sets up for the Super Muscle Buster, but Punk reverses and slips behind him PEPSI PLUNGE! Punk lands on his knees and rolls to the floor in agony. No capitalization imminent. Back in, Punk goes for the Shining Wizard, but Joe hits the Dragon Screw as we hit the two-minute warning. A reverse DDT gets two, and they start firing off strikes from their knees. Punk actually wins that battle, but he can’t cover. Nulty mentions that he say Ricky Steamboat beat Ric Flair in 59 minutes. Yeah, everyone has. It was on TV and everything. Stop namedropping. Punk gets one final two as the time limit expires at 59:56 (well, close enough). It certainly is exhausting. What you get out of the match depends on your values going in. Other one-hour draws in ROH easily surpassed this one in terms of action and drama. If logical consistency and strategy are your things, though, this is a fascinating study. I firmly believe that, for everything you excel at, you have to sacrifice something else, and while Punk properly demonstrated an intelligent strategy, that strategy was at the detriment of a lot of action early on. For what it’s worth, I thought it was pretty good, but matches since have left it in the dust. ****
Submission Fall: After the last match, the fans aren’t really into this one. Jack’s antics bring them back into it, though. Man, he’s just getting KILLED in there. No one, and I mean NO ONE, takes damage like Jack Evans. The Prophecy give him a doubleteam backbreaker, and that leads to a Boston Crab from Whitmer at 13:39.
Scramble Fall: The Briscoes get caught with their wild offense, and Cabana slings Jay to the floor. Maff saves Mark from a Colt .45, but it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire as the Prophecy finishes the Briscoes with the Doomsday Legline at 17:24.
Anything Goes: Cabana gets on the mic and brags about eliminating Christopher Daniels from ROH. Maff and Whitmer knock them down and step on their throats, vowing revenge. Ace Steel goes to the floor and tosses Allison Danger into the barricade. Maff gets tossed into the barricade too, and he’s busted open. The SCS work the cut, but Maff and Whitmer start beating each other up to get fired up. The Saints take over again on the outside, and they set up a table, hoping to put Maff & Whitmer out the same way they got rid of Christopher Daniels. Whitmer blocks, though, and puts Ace through the table with the Super Exploder! Maff adds a Burning Hammer to Colt, and the Prophecy gets the pin at 34:34. The most entertaining thing for me was seeing Jack Evans bouncing around like a cat flea on crystal meth, so it was downhill after that. For those who just loved the Prophecy/Saints feud, though, this match is for you as the Prophecy finally got some revenge. ***
The 411: Well, it's called World Title Classic for a reason, and while the other matches don't drag the show down, they're not exactly memorable when compared to Joe vs. Punk I. This is pretty close to the definition of a 'one-match show.' Regardless of what you think about its quality (I happen to think it's worth seeing at least once for all wrestling aficionados), it certainly has significance. It paved the way for a number of long, epic encounters both in ROH and even extending to the WWE. It's unlikely John Cena and Shawn Michaels would have been given most of Raw to play with a few years ago had Joe/Punk not generated the buzz that you can non-Iron Man, one-hour matches.
Thumbs up for Joe vs. Punk I and some good GenNext stuff elsewhere on the card.
|Final Score: 8.0 [ Very Good ] legend|