A2Z Analysiz – ROH Bryan Danielson: The American Dragon (Austin Aries, CM Punk)
by Jake Ziegler on April 27, 2012

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MATCH #1: Two out of Three Falls Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Paul London, The Epic Encounter, 4.12.03

Danielson beat London at All Star Extravaganza and London got a win back at Night of the Butcher so this is the ultimate rubber match. They start with some back and forth chain wrestling. Both guys try to psyche each other out and the crowd is into it. This match is going to have big ramifications on the Top 5 Ranking System. I miss that. London continually uses a headlock and Danielson responds with strikes to work his way out of it. Danielson targets the midsection and uses the abdominal stretch in a variety of ways to wear London down. He gets the first near-fall of the match with a small package. Danielson also uses headbutts to great effect, and continues working over the midsection. The crowd is chanting for both men, alternating. Danielson knocks London to the floor and then suplexes him back in for two as fifteen minutes have gone by without a fall. London fires back with a boot out of the corner and a hard clothesline. He gets a sunset flip for two. Danielson slingshots London into the ropes and London skins the cat into a headscissors that sends Danielson to the floor. Up on the apron London kicks Danielson in the face and then brings him back in the ring, only for Danielson to use his momentum to send London back to the floor. Danielson then wipes out London with a dive. Back in the ring Danielson hits a modified suplex and the diving headbutt off the top rope for two. London ducks a clothesline and gets a backslide for two, and Danielson responds with a small package for two. Both men look winded but London musters up the strength to deliver a leg lariat from the second rope. London cradles Danielson for a two-count. He starts to go up top but Danielson cuts him off and hits a bridging German Suplex for two. They go up top and Danielson tries the super belly-to-back suplex but London reverses the momentum and falls back on top of Danielson to capture the first fall at 20:30. There’s a 30 second rest period between falls.

London extends a hand and Danielson slaps his face. Even so London is able to land a superkick and another roundhouse kick to the head. London goes up top and Danielson stops him by dropkicking the knee out from under him. Unfortunately for London his knee gets trapped in the top rope and Danielson viciously attacks it. Danielson goes after the injury and dumps London to the floor. He follows him out and strikes away. Back in the ring London catches a quick release German Suplex. London gets aggressive and Danielson tries to run away from him. Back in the ring Danielson zeroes in on the leg and locks on a half crab. London is forced to tap out at 27:14 to even things up at one fall apiece.

As the third fall begins Danielson continues attacking the leg. London responds with hard kicks to the face and then the DDT that he does for a two-count. Thirty minutes have expired as London tries to keep up the pressure on Danielson but his leg is giving him trouble. They start trading forearms and Danielson wins that battle with a roaring forearm for two. Danielson then locks on Cattle Mutilation but London is able to get his foot on the bottom rope. London traps Danielson in a victory roll for two. After a flurry of slaps to the face London covers again and gets two. Danielson counters with an enziguiri, and then another one. He follows with the bridging Dragon Suplex but London kicks out so he locks him in the half crab again. London reaches the ropes. Danielson goes for mounted punches in the corner and London grabs him in the capture powerbomb. Once again London goes up top and Danielson knocks him down. Danielson puts London on the top rope and finally hits the super belly-to-back suplex but it only gets two! He locks on the half crab again and pulls London out to the center of the ring as the crowd chants “Please Don’t Tap” / “Tap.” Finally London reaches the ropes. Danielson looks cocky as he covers for two. He pulls London up and puts him on the top rope again and gets in position for a back suplex to the floor, which is a stupid spot because that would hurt Danielson just as much. They continue battling on the top rope and London sort of brings Danielson down with a swinging DDT. London goes up to the top rope and nails the London Star Press right to the back and that’s enough for the pin at 41:14. That was brilliant from top to bottom and never felt as long as it was. Both guys had awesome strategy and London’s selling was amazing. This is one of the best matches in early ROH history.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #2: Number One Contender’s Trophy Match – Bryan Danielson vs. AJ Styles, Main Event Spectacles, 11.1.03

The crowd is amped before these two even lock up. They start off with some mat wrestling and go to a stalemate. This is Danielson’s first match since the two out of three falls match against Paul London at The Epic Encounter. They continue fighting back and forth and spill to the floor as Chris Lovey suggests that he and Ray Murrow go watch the match from the crowd and let the action speak for itself. As is my custom, when the commentators take a break so do I. I’ll let you know how it ends. After some brutal back and forth action, Styles hits the Styles Clash for the win at 24:16. That was an incredibly stiff match and I believe this was the first time they went without commentary so it definitely felt different. Both men were on point and they had amazing chemistry as opponents.
Rating: ****

MATCH #3: Bryan Danielson vs. Jay Briscoe, Final Battle 2003, 12.27.03

Jay is one half of the ROH Tag Tam Champions. They start aggressively chain wrestling right away. Danielson goes for an early Cattle Mutilation but Jay is able to avoid it. Jay tries to keep pace with the American Dragon on the mat, but that’s a tough task for anyone to manage. Danielson lands a hard dropkick for two and then starts attacking the arm. Jay fights back and goes after the neck. He hits a vertical suplex and a hard clothesline for a two-count. Danielson gets fired up and throws some European Uppercuts. Jay cuts him off and hits a hangman’s neckbreaker. Danielson fights right back with a ridiculous European Uppercut and then he unleashes the Airplane Spin. He follows up with the diving headbutt for two. Danielson goes for a roaring forearm but Jay blocks it and they trade slaps. Jay goes to the eyes and hits a Falcon Arrow for two. He follows with a Mafia Kick for two. Now Jay tries the Jay Driller but Danielson blocks it but can’t block a second Mafia Kick. Danielson then hits a Dragon Suplex from out of nowhere and locks on Cattle Mutilation for the win at 13:35. The finish came out of nowhere but aside from that this was a hot opener.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #4: Bryan Danielson vs. CM Punk (Special Guest Referee – Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat), ROH Reborn Stage 1, 4.23.04

This is the first, and I believe only singles match these two had in ROH. They stall to start as Punk jaws with a fan at ringside. Back in the ring Punk takes a cheap shot and then bails, just trying to get under Danielson’s skin. It works, as Danielson aggressively takes Punk down to the mat and starts working the arm. Punk tries to appeal to Steamboat when Danielson breaks the rules but of course that gets him nowhere. They trade control in a Greco Roman Knuckle Lock and Danielson wins that battle. Danielson then resumes his arm work. Punk escapes and hits a back body drop, or as Chris Lovey calls it, a “traditional backdrop.” Danielson fights back with kicks and stomps, and then resumes work on the arm. Punk tries a split-legged moonsault but Danielson gets his knees up. Now Danielson focuses on the abdominal region. Punk tries escaping to the floor but Danielson goes right after him and continues the abuse. Back in the ring Danielson locks on the surfboard. Danielson then tries the abdominal stretch but Punk fights his way out of it and suplexes Danielson all the way to the floor. Punk picks Danielson up and drives him into the barricade. Back in the ring Punk goes to work on the back. Punk goes for a suplex but Danielson reverses it and drops Punk’s abdomen on the top rope. Danielson tries to knock Punk to the floor but Punk blocks it and then drills Danielson with a missile dropkick. Punk continues working the back and Danielson actually comes back with a blatant low blow right in front of Steamboat. Danielson keeps it up and hits Punk with a diving European Uppercut off the second rope. He picks Punk up for the Airplane Spin and tries the diving headbutt but misses. Punk comes back with the Mule Kick but can’t capitalize and Danielson locks on Cattle Mutilation, but Punk is able to break it and hit the Shining Wizard for two! Now Punk sets up for the Pepsi Plunge, but Danielson fights it off and hits a superplex! Both men rise and trade chops. Punk tries the Shining Wizard again but Danielson avoids it and rolls Punk up for a two-count. Danielson tries a crucifix but Punk counters with a Samoan Drop. Punk puts on a half crab and Danielson reaches the ropes. Now Punk goes to the top rope again and Danielson catches him in midair with a dropkick. Danielson hits the Dragon Suplex and then locks on the Abdominal Stretch and Punk taps out at 26:10! Very few wrestlers could make the abdominal stretch a believable finisher, but these two aren’t like most wrestlers.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #5: Bryan Danielson vs. Austin Aries (Final Fall-SOTF 2004), Survival of the Fittest 2004, 6.24.04

This is just the final fall of the match, so I won’t be giving it a rating. Earlier in the match Colt Cabana eliminated Samoa Joe, Mark Briscoe eliminated Cabana, and then Mark and Homicide eliminated each other with a double pin. They take it to the mat right away and Danielson establishes dominance. Danielson is absolutely vicious in attacking Aries, who was very new to ROH at this time. Aries fights back and gets a little cocky with the ROH veteran. Danielson has been scratched over the right ear and he’s bleeding as Aries takes control with strikes and kicks. That doesn’t last long before Danielson comes back and hits a butterfly suplex for two. Aries tries the fancy back elbow off the second rope that he does, but Danielson cuts him off with a dropkick. Now Danielson goes to work on the back. Danielson goes to the second rope and Aries dropkicks him, causing Danielson’s leg to get tangled in the ropes. Aries follows up with another dropkick, this one to the back of the head, and Danielson tumbles to the floor. Sensing an advantage, Aries follows Danielson out and whips him into the barricade twice. Back in the ring Aries hits a slingshot splash for two. Aries hits the IED and another dropkick to the back of the head for two. Danielson is able to fight back with a series of hard chops. Aries goes to the apron and Danielson tries to suplex him back in but Aries reverses it and sends Danielson back to the floor. Somehow Aries’ chin has been busted open. Back in the ring Aries hits the shinbreaker/belly-to-back suplex combination. Aries then goes up for the 450 but misses and Danielson clobbers him with a running forearm. Danielson hits a series of clothesline for a two-count. He follows with a bridging Dragon Suplex for two, and then locks on Cattle Mutilation. Aries breaks out of it and turns it into a Fish Hook, and then into the Rings of Saturn. Danielson reaches the ropes. Aries continues the momentum, hitting the Brainbuster for a two-count. He goes up for the 450 again and this time hits nothing but knees. Danielson unloads with a series of bodyslams and a roaring forearm for a two-count. He sets Aries on the top rope and hits the belly-to-back superplex for two. Danielson goes back to bodyslams, and Aries cuts him off with a quick small package for two! That just angers Danielson, who goes back for more bodyslams and then locks on a bearhug. Danielson really wrenches it in and twists Aries’ body into unnatural positions and Aries is forced to tap at about 21:30. I don’t rate that because it’s not the whole match, but I remember the full version being around 4.5 stars, based a lot on that final sequence between Aries and Danielson. This match made Aries a star in Ring of Honor.

MATCH #6: Two out of Three Falls – Bryan Danielson vs. Austin Aries, Testing the Limit, 8.7.04

Each fall has a 60-minute time limit. They take it right to the mat, being cautious with each other. This goes on for a while and Danielson tries an early Cattle Mutilation and Aries wisely avoids it. They take it right back down to the mat and try to outwrestle each other. Aries lands a monkey flip and Danielson looks more annoyed than hurt. For the most part Danielson seems to have the upper hand in the early going. Danielson focuses on the neck, but switches it up to a bodyslam, which he used so effectively at Survival of the Fittest. He goes up top but Aries cuts him off and hits a super hurricanrana. Aries follows up with the IED and more high impact moves as 15 minutes have gone by. Danielson comes back and again tries Cattle Mutilation but Aries wisely avoids it and puts on the Fish Hook. Jimmy Bower notes that the hold is illegal and should be broken but the referee doesn’t do it, so Danielson is forced to roll over into a pin cover for two. The crowd chants in a dueling fashion. Danielson and Aries battle on the top rope and Danielson brings Aries down with a super gutbuster. Ever the master tactician, Danielson focuses on Aries’ midsection now. Danielson puts on an abdominal stretch, and even uses the ropes to accentuate it. The crowd boos him for it. Danielson continues the advantage, using a Canadian Backbreaker. Aries breaks out of it and dumps Danielson to the floor, giving himself a breather. He lands a baseball slide and then a twisting plancha to the floor. Back in the ring Aries goes to work, keeping Danielson on the mat. Aries focuses mostly on the neck, but Danielson quickly comes back and targets the midsection again. Danielson hits a slingshot suplex for two. He covers Aries frequently, making him kick out a bunch of times and using up his energy. Danielson utilizes the Airplane Spin, which I love. He needs to bring that back in WWE. Danielson goes up for the diving headbutt but Aries is able to avoid it. Aries goes for the Brainbuster but Danielson blocks it so he hits a Golden Gate Swing instead for two. He hits a Finlay Roll and then a supremely awkward moonsault for a near-fall. Aries keeps up the pressure, bodyslamming Danielson and going to the top rope. Danielson cuts him off and hits a huge superplex. He goes up to the top now and this time hits the diving headbutt but it only gets two. Danielson goes for the belly-to-back superplex but Aries reverses the momentum and falls on top for two, and then Danielson reverses that for two. They reverse a series of pinning combinations on each other for two-counts. Aries lands the Crucifix Bomb and then locks on the Rings of Saturn, and then turns it into Cattle Mutilation and Danielson taps the first fall away at 42:08.

They actually change referees between falls, which is a really nice touch. Aries and Danielson get a 30-second rest period and away we go with fall number two. Danielson doesn’t like being down a fall and gets aggressive, but Aries maintains the advantage. Aries goes to the top rope and Danielson shoves him all the way to the floor. Danielson goes to work on the leg, mimicking his strategy against Paul London from The Epic Encounter. Aries is getting absolutely dominated in this second fall. Danielson throws him to the floor and tries to follow him out with a dive but Aries moves and Danielson gets his foot caught on the middle rope and Danielson lands hard. Aries goes up to the top rope and delivers an elbow drop. Danielson is totally out. He delivers a little more punishment on the floor. Finally back in the ring Aries hits a slingshot twisting body press for two, and then a quebrada for another two-count. Aries knocks Danielson back to the floor and takes a breather. He tries an elbow smash but misses and hits the ring post. Danielson gets a second wind and starts viciously attacking the arm. He goes for a suplex but Aries counters and hits the Brainbuster! Both men are down. Back on their feet Aries hits a gutbuster, an STO, and the Power Drive Elbow (not good strategy) for a two-count. Aries goes for the Brainbuster again but Danielson slips out and locks on Cattle Mutilation and turns it into a pinning combination to even the match at one fall apiece at 1:03:17.

After the rest period we’re ready for the third and final fall. The crowd, to their credit, is really into the match. Danielson and Aries fight up top but Aries makes the most of it, hitting a super DDT! Back on their feet Aries hits a series of bodyslams. Danielson responds with his own bodyslams. Aries gets a small package from out of nowhere for two. Danielson goes back to the bearhug he used at Survival of the Fittest. Aries forces his way out of it and locks on his own bearhug! Danielson re-reverses and really puts the pressure on. He turns it into a suplex. Danielson then puts Aries up on top and hits the belly-to-back superplex but it only gets two. He locks in Cattle Mutilation again and Aries reaches the ropes. They go back to the top rope and Aries knocks Danielson down and tries the 450 but misses. Danielson tries a European Uppercut but Aries catches him in a backslide for two! They trade forearm strikes now and then Danielson goes to the leg. Aries fights him off with kicks to the face. Back up on their feet Danielson hits a roaring forearm and again both men are down. Up again and this time Aries hits the roaring forearm. Aries puts Danielson up on top and hits a super Brainbuster but it only gets two! He pulls Danielson up and hits two more Brainbusters and the 450 Splash to win the second fall and finally end this match at 1:16:11. I give major respect to the two guys for going that long and going all-out, but just because you CAN go that long doesn’t mean you SHOULD. They made it painfully obvious in the early going that they were going long and the commentary hammered that point home repeatedly. They did a lot of good stuff and it was as reasonably entertaining match, but they could have accomplished what they did here in 45 minutes or so.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #7: ROH World Title Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe, Midnight Express Reunion, 10.2.04

Joe has been the Champion since 3.22.03, and this is his twenty-fifth defense. They start cautiously, as these two have been in the ring together several times in ROH (though it’s been well over a year) and they should know each other very well. Danielson strikes first with an enziguiri that stymies the Champ. Joe comes back and targets the arm and Danielson gets to the ropes and takes a powder. Back in the ring Joe uses his size advantage so Danielson counters with his technical prowess, focusing on the big man’s legs. That’s wise strategy. Joe tries to keep his challenger on the mat but Danielson powers up and hits a solid dropkick to the face. Danielson irritates Joe and gets him to give chase, and the crowd eats it up. They trade strikes and Joe wins that battle. Joe suplexes Danielson to the floor and quickly joins him out there. He goes for the Ole! Ole! Kick but Danielson blocks it. Danielson wipes Joe out with a springboard dive from the ring to the floor! The crowd loves that. Danielson hits an Ole! Ole! Dropkick just to be a dick. He continues to pummel Joe on the floor and then delivers a second Ole! Ole! Dropkick. Back in the ring Danielson gets a two-count. Joe tries firing back but Danielson thumbs him in the eye. Danielson gets cocky and Joe makes him pay for it with hard knee strikes, so Danielson responds with forearm uppercuts to knock Joe down. Every time Joe tries to build some momentum Danielson cuts him right back down. Finally Joe is able to string some offense together, working on Danielson’s midsection with a series of strikes. Joe locks on a half crab and Danielson gets to the ropes. Danielson fights back with some clubbing blows and more European Uppercuts. Joe fights back with a legsweep for two. He puts on an (almost) Anaconda Vise and Danielson reverses to a headscissors. Danielson suplexes Joe and follows up with the diving headbutt for a two-count. He tries another suplex but Joe counters with a Fisherman’s Suplex for two. Danielson hits a dropkick and Joe comes right back with a hard enziguiri that sends Danielson to the floor. Joe follows him out with the elbow suicida. He hits the real Ole! Ole! Kick and then another one. Back in the ring Danielson cuts Joe off and goes to work on the leg. Danielson puts on the Muta Lock and Joe reaches the ropes. Joe tries the STJoe in the corner but Danielson counters it and hits a diving European Uppercut off the second rope for two. Danielson goes for a turn-around cross body block but Joe catches him and slams him down for two. Joe hits a powerbomb for two and then turns it into an STF. Danielson reaches the ropes. Back on their feet Danielson dropkicks the knee and uses a spinning toehold and then a reverse Indian Deathlock. Joe reaches the ropes. Danielson charges right into a snap powerslam. Joe turns it into a Cross Armbreaker but Danielson rolls out and turns it into a bridging Regalplex for two. Danielson then hooks on Cattle Mutilation and turns it into a pinning combination for two. He puts Joe up on the top rope but Joe slips out and hits Danielson with a release German Suplex. Joe hits a big lariat for two! He goes for the Muscle Buster but Danielson slips out and hits a series of forearm blasts and a dropkick to the knee. Danielson hits a Dragon Suplex but Joe’s shoulder doesn’t stay down so there’s no count. He goes back to Cattle Mutilation and Joe reaches the ropes. Joe cuts Danielson off with a knee to the ribs and a series of knee strikes to the head. Danielson tries his own but Joe just hits harder and then locks on the Choke and Danielson taps out at 39:12! What a phenomenal match that never felt as long as it was. This is definitely an overlooked gem for both of these guys.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #8: Bryan Danielson vs. Jushin Liger, Weekend of Thunder Night 1, 11.5.04

They take it down to the mat and Liger uses a headscissors. Danielson fights back and they trade holds back and forth. The crowd is fully in support of Liger. Danielson goes for the surfboard but no one would know how to counter it better than the man who popularized it. Liger then locks on the surfboard himself, and turns it into a Dragon Sleeper. Danielson escapes by attacking the mask, but Liger keeps up the offense, hitting a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker that sends Danielson to the floor. Liger hits a dropkick and a house show dive to wipe Danielson out on the floor. Back in the ring a frustrated Danielson bulldozes Liger into the corner. He clubs away at him and drops him on the top rope, then dropkicks him to the floor. Danielson follows him out and whips him into the barricade repeatedly. Back in the ring Danielson continues the advantage, keeping Liger on the mat and even going after his mask to really disrespect his opponent. Danielson uses the airplane spin and then turns it into a Finlay Roll. He goes for the diving headbutt but Liger moves out of the way. Liger goes up top now and he misses the diving headbutt. Back on their feet Liger hits a couple of Palm Strikes and a super hurricanrana for two. Danielson cuts Liger off with a dropkick to the arm. That’s unique. Danielson hits a bridging German Suplex for a two-count and then locks on Cattle Mutilation. He turns it into a cradle for a near-fall, and then gets another cradle for two. Danielson hits a roaring forearm and the Dragon-plex but Liger kicks out. Once again Danielson locks on the Cattle Mutilation and Liger reaches the ropes. Danielson tries a Brainbuster but Liger reverses it and hits one of his own. Liger hits a Palm Strike and the Koppo Kick. He follows with the Liger Bomb for two. Liger then delivers a Super Brainbuster for the pin at 18:24. That was good and it was fun to see Liger in ROH but it felt very perfunctory and the result was never in question. It played like a Greatest Hits album, which is fun but not incendiary.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #9: Bryan Danielson & Low Ki vs. Jushin Liger & Samoa Joe, Weekend of Thunder Night 2, 11.6.04

This is the first time Liger and Ki have been in a match together. Joe and Ki start it off but Ki immediately tags out just to irritate Joe and the crowd. Danielson tries to strike Joe but that just angers the ROH World Champion and he knocks Danielson off his feet. That actually works to Danielson’s advantage, as he starts going after the legs. Joe powers up and knocks Danielson back down again. Tags are made and Liger hits both opponents with tilt-a-whirl backbreakers. Liger and Joe then hit simultaneous dives to the floor to wipe out both Danielson and Ki. The crowd is amped. Back in the ring Liger puts Ki in the surfboard. Joe tags back in and Ki continues getting beaten up. Ki backs Liger into his corner and makes the tag. Danielson and Ki keep Liger isolated and wear him down for several minutes. Ki hits a huge double stomp off the top rope but only gets a two-count. Finally Liger comes back with a Fisherman’s Buster and makes the tag! Joe tears into Ki, face washing him right to the floor. He hits an Ole! Ole! Kick and Liger follows with one as well. Back in the ring Ki hits a desperation clothesline and makes the tag. Danielson hits a huge European Uppercut off the second rope for two. Joe comes back with a legsweep and makes the tag. Liger has Palm Strikes for everyone! Ki and Danielson come back with their own version of the Hart Attack for a two-count. Danielson traps Liger in Cattle Mutilation and Joe has to break it up. Ki hits Joe with Black Magic and then traps Liger in a modified Octopus Hold. Liger reaches the ropes. Ki goes for the Phoenix Splash and misses but is able to hit the Koppo Kick. He goes up again and this time lands the Phoenix Splash. Danielson (the legal man) covers but Joe makes the save. A fired up Danielson hits the Dragon-plex but it only gets two. Joe illegally hits Danielson with an enziguiri and Liger follows with a Palm Strike and the Brainbuster but Ki breaks it up. Ki holds Liger but Danielson accidentally hits his own partner with a roaring forearm! Joe knocks Ki out of the ring and Liger hits Danielson with the Liger Bomb to get the win at 21:17. Excellent work from all involved there, as the action rarely stopped and the crowd was fired up all the way. That’s a much better use of Liger than the singles match from the night before.
Rating: ****

MATCH #10: Steel Cage Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Homicide, Final Showdown, 5.13.05

This is the fifth match in a Best of 5 Series. Homicide won the Tap Out Match at It All Begins and the Taped Fist Match at Third Anniversary Celebration Part 1, and Danielson countered by winning the Falls Count Anywhere Match at Third Anniversary Celebration Part 3 and the Lumberjack Match at Stalemate. They also split a pair of matches in 2004 at ROH Reborn Stage One and All Star Extravaganza II so this is the ultimate rubber match. They start off fighting on the floor and Homicide immediately busts Danielson open with the ghetto fork and then throws him into the barricade. Homicide is in complete control, throwing Danielson around ringside and abusing him with the fork. Finally they make it into the cage and the match can officially begin.

Obviously Homicide starts out in control, as the commentators note that this cage match is only pin or submission rules, as neither man had a desire to escape from the cage. Also, the winner of this match gets a shot at the ROH World Championship tomorrow night in Chicago Ridge, and the loser will battle Doug Williams. Danielson fights back and hurls Homicide into the cage repeatedly. He gets a hold of the fork and digs it into Homicide’s head. Danielson continues throwing Homicide into the steel cage and hits him with a series of European Uppercuts. He hits a butterfly suplex for two. Danielson digs at Homicide’s forehead and then sets up a couple of chairs that were thrown into the ring earlier. He tries a suplex but Homicide reverses it and suplexes Danielson instead. Homicide cracks the chair on Danielson’s back and then sets it up in the corner. Danielson fights back with a series of knee strikes and a hard elbow. He takes the chair and runs it into Homicide’s face. Danielson then locks on the Mexican Surfboard, and follows up with a snap suplex. He goes to the top rope and Homicide joins him up there and they trade headbutts. Homicide hits a Super Ace Crusher for a near-fall. Danielson fights back with a Regalplex for two. Homicide tries to climb out and Danielson doesn’t want to let that happen and he throws Homicide down to the mat. Danielson then goes to the top of the cage and delivers the diving headbutt! Somehow that only gets a one-count? Danielson goes for the Airplane Spin but Homicide blocks it and hits a piledriver for two. They fight to the top rope again and Danielson hits the belly-to-back superplex but it only gets two. Homicide responds with a big Lariat for a near-fall. He grabs brass knuckles but Danielson ducks and hits a roaring forearm. Danielson then picks Homicide up for the Airplane Spin and spins him around an inhumane number of times. Believe it or not, that’s enough for Danielson to pick up the win at 14:13. Only Danielson could get a win with an Airplane Spin. These two brought the hatred and made this one a lot of fun.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #11: ROH World Title Match – Bryan Danielson vs. James Gibson, Glory By Honor IV, 9.17.05

Gibson has been the champion since 8.12.05 and this is his fifth defense. Danielson is making his first ROH appearance since losing a title match to then-champion Austin Aries in Chicago at Nowhere to Run. He debuts “The Final Countdown” as his entrance music to make his big return. Jimmy Bower replaces Lenny Leonard on commentary for this match.

They start off cautiously, since I believe this is the first ever one-on-one match between these two. They trade arm holds, and Danielson breaks one and tries the dropkick but Gibson avoids it. Neither man can get a sustained advantage. When they wrestle into the ropes we get a clean break and then they shake hands again. Good sportsmanship is hard to find. They trade more holds and Danielson connects with a dropkick and a knee drop. He tries an early Cattle Mutilation but Gibson gets to the ropes and rolls to the floor to regroup. Back in the ring they engage in a test of strength and exchange slams while still locked together. Danielson breaks it up and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a bodyslam. He hits another knee drop and then grinds his knee into Gibson’s face. He locks on a headlock and Gibson powers out. Gibson hits a back suplex for a two-count. He works Danielson over and tries an abdominal stretch but Danielson hip tosses his way out of it and forearms Gibson to the apron. They battle on the apron and Gibson suplexes Danielson to the floor. Gibson follows Danielson out with a flying knee to the face off the apron. He hits a chop to the chest and then whips Danielson into the barricade. Back in the ring Gibson stays in control, working on the midsection and ribcage area. Gibson hits a backbreaker for two and then locks on a submission hold. He aggressively works Danielson over, showing how much he wants to retain the ROH World Title. Danielson fights back and flips over Gibson in the corner and hits a spin kick to the face. Now the challenger is in control, hitting a slingshot suplex for a two-count. Danielson utilizes the airplane spin and then goes up for the diving headbutt but he misses it. Gibson gets a rolling prawn hold for two, and then locks on the front guillotine choke. Danielson suplexes his way out and both men are down.

Gibson tries a sunset flip but Danielson Earthquakes him and then hits the diving headbutt for a two-count. Danielson then victory rolls Gibson to the floor and skins the cat back in. He then follows Gibson out with a suicide dive. He works Gibson over on the floor, and then back in the ring he hits a double dropkick right to the arm. He viciously attacks the arm until Gibson comes back with a Samoan Drop. Both men are down and when they rise Danielson hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Danielson then immediately goes back to the arm. Gibson is able to reverse it into the Texas Cloverleaf! That was awesome. Danielson reaches the ropes. Danielson tries a Tombstone Piledriver but Gibson reverses it into a Tombstone of his own! Gibson goes up top and hits a guillotine legdrop but Danielson kicks out at two! He then locks Danielson in the front guillotine choke. Danielson breaks it and sets Gibson on the top rope, but Gibson pops right out with a tornado DDT and the Tiger Driver but Danielson kicks out again! Gibson hits a couple of knees to the side of the head, and it wakes Danielson up! Danielson catches Gibson coming off the ropes with a roaring forearm. He hits the Dragon Suplex but Gibson barely kicks out. He then locks Gibson in Cattle Mutilation! Gibson powers out, but Danielson hits him with a Tiger Suplex and Gibson kicks out again! Gibson kicks out of the hold and into a cover (a la Bret Hart at WrestleMania VIII) but Danielson kicks out. Danielson goes for Cattle Mutilation and Gibson fights it off, but Danielson turns it into a Crossface Chicken Wing and hooks on the body scissors, and Gibson is forced to tap the title away at 32:24. That match was awesome in just about every way. It never felt that long, they both had strategies that they used effectively throughout the match, and the crowd was with them the whole way. It was just one of those matches that clicked from the beginning. It’s too bad we never got to see a rematch.
Rating: ****½

After the match Danielson cuts a promo, putting over Gibson because he did not have to wrestle due to his WWE contract but he chose to anyway. The new Champion goes on to say that the ROH World Title represents wrestling freedom and that as long as he is the Champ he will NOT go to WWE or TNA.

MATCH #12: ROH World Title Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels, A Night of Tribute, 11.19.05

Daniels (accompanied by Allison Danger) beat AJ Styles and Matt Sydal in a three-way match earlier on the card to earn this title shot, while Danielson wrestled Azrieal in a non-title match to “even the odds,” Danielson has been the Champion since 9.17.05, and this is his sixth defense. They chain wrestle back and forth aggressively in the opening minutes. Danielson controls the lion’s share of the early going, primarily working the leg. Danger gets her face too close to the action and the Champion gives her an earful. Daniels comes back with a couple of cradles for two-counts but Danielson cuts him off with a clothesline. Danielson locks on the surfboard and turns it into a pinning combination for two. The champion has been controlling the match for almost 15 minutes. Every time Daniels gets the slightest bit of offense going Danielson cuts him off and continues his dominance. Danielson hits the slingshot suplex for two. Daniels fights out of the corner and hits an enziguiri. He follows with a knee strike that sends Danielson to the floor, and then follows him out with an Arabian Press. Back in the ring Daniels hits a high cross body block off the top rope for two. Daniels hits the Blue Thunder Bomb for another two-count. He puts Danielson on the second rope but pays for it when the Champ flies off with a diving European Uppercut. Danielson goes up top and lands the diving headbutt but it only gets two. He follows up with a Finlay Roll, but Daniels comes right back with a Death Valley Driver for a two-count. Daniels rolls that right into the Koji Clutch and eventually Danielson makes it to the ropes to break the hold. A series of reversals ends with Danielson putting on Cattle Mutilation and Daniels reaches the ropes. Back on their feet they trade forearms, and Danielson wins that battle with a thumb to the eyes. Daniels ducks a rolling elbow and hits a uranage slam and the Best Moonsault Ever for two! He charges but Danielson catches him and places him on the top rope and hits a superplex. Danielson hits the Dragon Suplex but only gets two. He locks on Cattle Mutilation and Daniels powers his way out of it, only to run right into a roaring elbow. That knocks Daniels out and Danielson gets the pin at 29:34. These two are great, but that ran a little bit long and the finish was slightly anticlimactic. Other than that though the work was the usual good stuff you get from these two.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #13: ROH World Title Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Naomichi Marufuji, Final Battle 2005, 12.17.05

Danielson has been the Champion since 9.17.05, and this is his eighth defense. They immediately start chain wrestling and they appear pretty evenly matched in the early going. A chop exchange happens pretty quickly and things get heated. Danielson avoids a dropkick and then both men go for one at the same time but neither connects. They continue trading strikes, trying to establish who the alpha male is. Danielson takes Marufuji down to the mat and tries to hold him there. He throws in some knee strikes as well. Marufuji fights out and goes after the arm. They exchange slaps and Marufuji appears to slap harder. Marufuji throws some kicks in and keeps Danielson off balance. He pitches Danielson to the floor but gets pulled down face-first on the apron. Danielson goes for a suplex on the apron but Marufuji blocks it and goes for a sunset bomb to the floor. Luckily for Danielson he is able to block that, as there are no pads on the floor at all. Danielson takes advantage now, throwing Marufuji around ringside. Back in the ring Danielson covers for two. Danielson locks on the surfboard and stomps Marufuji’s quads. He continues the leg work, using a spinning toehold. Danielson hits an interesting looking DDT for a two-count and then goes back to the leg with a Figure-Four Leglock. Marufuji turns it over and Danielson rolls into the ropes to break the hold. Back on their feet Marufuji slaps the Champion, which just angers him. Marufuji lands a dropkick and then a basement dropkick. He goes for a super rana and Danielson pushes him off. Danielson tries coming off the ropes but Marufuji dropkicks him right out of the air. They battle over a suplex and Marufuji suplexes Danielson all the way to the floor. Marufuji tries a baseball slide out but Danielson avoids it and throws him into the barricade. Danielson then wipes Marufuji out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Danielson hits a missile dropkick and then a bridging Butterfly Suplex for two. Danielson sets Marufuji up top for the belly-to-back superplex but Marufuji slips out and puts Danielson in the Tree of Woe. Marufuji hits a sliding dropkick and then a big coast-to-coast dropkick. That gets a two-count. Marufuji hits a superkick and goes for Shiranui but can’t hit it. Danielson hits a roaring elbow and a bridging German Suplex for two. He follows up with Cattle Mutilation and Marufuji reaches the ropes. Danielson then lands the belly-to-back superplex and it gets two. He goes right back to Cattle Mutilation and turns it into a cradle for a near-fall. Danielson goes for a Regalplex but Marufuji reverses it and hits Shiranui! Marufuji is too worn down to cover, and both men struggle back to their feet. They trade pinning combinations and Danielson holds Marufuji down at 23:44. The match really picked up a lot in the second half. I think they could have done more, but since they were the semi-main and Low Ki versus KENTA was still to come I can see why they held back.
Rating: ***¾

Video

The DVD closes with a five-plus minute video package detailing Danielson’s ROH career leading up to his victory over James Gibson for the ROH World Title. I can’t remember which show this was on but it’s very good and a fitting end to this DVD collection.

The Pulse: Simply put, this is an amazing collection of matches featuring one of the best wrestlers in the world and one of the most important performers in ROH history. It’s a great cross-section of Danielson matches from 2003-2005, featuring some of the other biggest names in ROH history like Paul London, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, and Austin Aries, among others. Along with The Summer of Punk DVD, this is one of the best compilations ROH has put out. You can and SHOULD purchase this DVD at The ROH Store.



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