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MATCH #1: Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal vs. CM Punk & Spanky, Back to Basics, 3.12.05
Punk and Lethal start the match. Spanky is replacing Steve Corino, who was injured or something. Anyway, Lethal and Punk wrestle on the mat, both trying to establish dominance. Neither can do so and they come to a standoff. Spanky tags in and he also engages Lethal in a mat game. Bower and Nulty bury Corino on commentary, apparently he just no-showed. I don’t remember the story behind this. Spanky takes Lethal down with a flying forearm so Joe tags in. I wonder if Spanky and Joe ever had a singles match. Joe overpowers Spanky so Punk tags in. This is the first time they’ve been in the ring since All-Star Extravaganza II I think. Bower wonders if there will be a one-hour draw tonight, and Nulty responds with “fortunately it’s a tag team match,” as if that makes the idea of a draw completely absurd. I hate how Nulty’s commentary distracts me from matches. Punk and Spanky use some teamwork to take Joe down, but then they foolishly gloat about it and Joe makes them pay. Lethal tags back in and Spanky hits him with a dropkick. Spanky gloats so Lethal hits him with a unique backbreaker. Lethal and Joe go to work on the back for several minutes. Punk distracts Lethal from the apron and Spanky hits a leg lariat from behind, which sends Lethal to the floor, where Punk catches him and drops him on the guardrail. Now Punk and Spanky are in control. They work Lethal over for a few minutes until Lethal slips out of Sliced Bread #2 and makes the tag. Joe is a house afire but the referee is losing control of the match. Punk and Lethal take it to the floor while Joe hits Spanky with a powerbomb and turns it into the STF. Spanky bites his way out of the hold. Lethal comes back in and hits the diving headbutt for two. Spanky comes back with a tornado DDT. Punk comes in and they double-team Lethal but can’t put him away. Lethal is fighting for his life here against two adversaries. Punk hits a German Suplex but Joe breaks up the cover at two. Joe and Punk slug it out now until Joe ducks a strike and takes Spanky out with the elbow suicida. Punk cuts Lethal out of the air with a dropkick and goes for the Pepsi Plunge. For some reason Stevie Richards walks out and hits Punk with the Stevie Kick. Lethal then hits Punk with the Dragon Suplex to get the pin at 25:45. The match was solid if a bit long, but man that finish with Richards made no sense and ended up going nowhere ever.
MATCH #2: ROH Pure Title Match – Samoa Joe vs. Jay Lethal, Manhattan Mayhem, 5.7.05
Lethal has been the Champion since 3.5.05, and this is his third defense. This is a classic teacher versus student contest. Joe tries to intimidate Lethal in the early going but the Champion will have none of it. I hate it when someone refers to a wrestler as a “Grand Slam Champion” for holding three titles. That makes them a Triple Crown Champion, not a Grand Slam Champion. Anyway, Joe and Lethal take it to the mat and exchange holds. Lethal is able to trap Joe in the Parachute Hold and Joe uses his first rope break. Joe avoids a cross body block off the second rope in classic Joe style. He then uses a closed fist and receives a warning for it. Lethal puts on a Cobra Clutch Crossface and Joe uses his second rope break already. Joe fights back with the STJoe and the Big Joe Combo for two. He uses another closed fist and costs himself his third rope break. Joe’s expression of anger is awesome here. He hits the powerbomb and turns it into the Samoan Crab and then the STF. Lethal uses his first rope break. Joe continues the abuse and goes for the Face Wash but Lethal catches it and traps Joe in the corner! Lethal runs in with a hard dropkick. He follows with a vertical suplex and the diving headbutt for two. They fight on the apron and Lethal uses a closed fist, which I believe is a warning for him. Joe knocks Lethal to the floor and follows him out with the elbow suicida. The referee starts the count but both men make it back to the apron. Lethal goes for a Sleeper since Joe can’t use a rope break, but Joe runs and leaps off the apron, sending both of them through a table! That was a unique bump. Back in the ring they trade chops. Joe hits the snap powerslam for two and then locks on a cross armbreaker. Lethal uses his second rope break. Joe goes for another powerbomb but Lethal slips out and hits a neckbreaker and a top-rope DDT for two. They trade some strikes and Joe wins that battle, and then hits a Northern Lariat. Lethal hits the Dragon Suplex from out of nowhere but it only gets two! He goes for another one but Joe escapes and hits a hard German Suplex, Dragon Suplex, and the Chimera Suplex for the pin at 16:35. These two had tremendous chemistry together and I really like how they structured the rope breaks. The table bump was awesome and the finish was great. This is one of Lethal’s best matches.
After the match, Homicide, Low Ki, Julius Smokes, and some other Rottweilers come out and attack both Joe and Lethal, just to be dicks. This would lead to an impromptu tag team main event later in the show.
MATCH #3: Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal vs. Low Ki & Homicide, Manhattan Mayhem, 5.7.05
Joe and Lethal charge out and knock Homicide and Ki to the floor. They wipe them out with dives and then wait for them to enter the ring. The fight is on and this one is going to be wild. Joe and Lethal are furious, with good reason after the heinous attack they sustained after their match earlier. Homicide and Lethal pair off in the ring while Joe and Ki fight on the floor. It doesn’t take long for Homicide to knock Lethal to the floor and hit the Tope Con Hilo. The Rottweilers take control, working Lethal over in their half of the ring. Homicide hits an elevated DDT and then Ki hits the Warrior’s Way. Ki covers and gets two. An awkward spot ends with Homicide hitting an Ace Crusher. Lethal is getting destroyed here. Homicide hits him with a piledriver for two. He tries the Lariat but Lethal ducks and hits the Dragon Suplex! Lethal dropkicks Ki and makes the tag! Joe is a house afire. He hits Ki with the STJoe and Homicide with an exploder into the buckles. Ki starts coming back but Lethal cuts him off with a clothesline. Joe puts Ki up for the Muscle Buster but Homicide breaks it up. Ki then hits Joe with a double stomp off the top rope to the back. Lethal hits Homicide with the running vertical suplex. Ki drills Joe with the shotgun dropkick. Lethal goes for a superplex but Ki nocks him down. Homicide grabs Lethal for the Cop Killa and Ki adds a nasty double stomp. Lethal lands horribly on his neck and head and that’s enough for Homicide to get the pin at 9:18. That was an awesome brawl and a really good example of a good sub-10 minute match. This kicked off a huge feud that would go on until September.
MATCH #4: ROH Pure Title Match – Samoa Joe vs. James Gibson, New Frontiers, 6.4.05
Joe has been the champion since 5.7.05 and this is his first defense. I haven’t watched this match since I first reviewed it over five years ago, so let’s dig in. Not that I mind, but I’m surprised they didn’t re-record the commentary and left Jimmy Bauer on. Joe starts it off with a Greco Roman Knuckle Lock and takes Gibson down. Gibson slips out and grabs a single leg takedown that barely gets a one count. They take it back down to the mat and Joe uses his size advantage to take control. Gibson stays on pace with him as they trade holds back and forth. Joe focuses on the neck while Gibson focuses on the knee. Just as I say that Gibson changes it up and goes to the arm. Joe muscles Gibson up and sets him on the top turnbuckle. Referee Todd Sinclair charges him a rope break for it! That seems dubious to me. Joe argues with the referee and Gibson uses this to his advantage to go back to work on the knee. Gibson charges in for a corner dropkick to the knee but Joe catches him in the STJoe. Joe hits the Big Joe Combo as the dueling chants begin. He whips Gibson into the buckles and hits a big knee to the jaw. Gibson rolls to the floor dazed while Joe takes the time to recover. Bauer notes that the top turnbuckle pad has fallen off, we’ll see if that comes into play. Back in the ring Joe delivers a solid headbutt and then unleashes some kicks to the chest. He continues using a variety of submission holds and strikes to wear the challenger down. Gibson pops out of the corner with a swinging neckbreaker and both men are down. He tries to build momentum but Joe cuts his legs out from under him and hits a senton to the back. Joe then locks on the Samoan Crab and Gibson uses his first rope break.
The champ sets Gibson on the top rope but Gibson slips out and is able to hit a belly to back superplex! The crowd was distracted with something else, idiots. Anyway, Gibson gets a two-count. Gibson then locks on the front guillotine choke and then turns it into a rollup for two. He unleashes a series of knee strikes to the head but then runs right into a snap powerslam for a two-count! Joe then goes for the Cross Armbreaker and Gibson uses his second rope break. He goes for the face wash but Gibson grabs his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip and then a dropkick to the knee! Gibson then busts out the Trailer Hitch (for the first time in ROH Bauer says) and Joe uses his second rope break. Back on their feet Joe tries a series of strikes but Gibson absorbs it and dropkicks Joe to the floor. Gibson tries a plancha but Joe catches him and hurls him into the guardrail. Back in the ring Joe hits the powerbomb for two and then turns it into the STF. Gibson uses his third rope break. Joe tries the Muscle Buster but Gibson slips into the front guillotine choke! Gibson tries an O’Connor Roll but Joe grabs him in the Choke and Gibson is out at 23:56. These are two pros that had great strategy and lots of cool reversals for each other’s moves. The rope breaks were used effectively and the crowd (other than one distraction) stayed with them. This is definitely one of the better Pure Title matches.
MATCH #5: ROH Pure Title Match – Samoa Joe vs. Austin Aries, Escape From New York, 7.9.05
Joe has been the Champion since 5.7.05, and this is his fourth defense. Aries was just coming off losing the ROH World Title to CM Punk, which he had defeated Joe for six months prior, so it makes sense that Aries would get this title shot now. Aries also beat Joe in a title rematch, so he’s up 2-0 lifetime. That gives Joe some pretty powerful motivation here.
They wrestle on the mat in the early going and neither man is in a hurry yet. Aries hits the jumping back elbow off the second rope, which doesn’t amuse Joe. The challenger perseveres and takes Joe off his feet, but then runs into a big spinebuster. Joe then hits a big senton across the back. Aries is plucky but Joe continually cuts him off with extreme aggression. Joe hits the Face Wash and Aries crawls out under the ropes. Back in the ring Joe takes it to Aries with strikes. Aries avoids a charge in the corner and Joe falls to the apron. Then Aries dropkicks Joe to the floor and follows him out with the Heat Seeking Missile. Back in the ring Aries works Joe over and locks on a Cross Armbreaker. Joe uses his first rope break. Aries hits the IED and a missile dropkick for two. He tries the Brainbuster but Joe blocks it and hits an STO. Joe sends Aries to the floor and lands the Elbow Suicida. He follows with two straight Ole Kicks. Back in the ring Aries counters a powerbomb with a sunset flip for two. Aries then turns it into the STF, a movie that Joe is rather fond of. Joe uses his second rope break. Aries hits a running forearm smash in the corner and goes up top for the 450. Joe moves out of the way and hits a snap powerslam for two. He then locks on a Cross Armbreaker and Aries uses his second rope break. Joe hits the powerbomb for two and turns it into the STF. Aries uses his final rope break to escape the hold. Joe goes for a lariat but Aries ducks and hits a huge crucifix bomb! Aries hits the Brainbuster and goes up top to hit the 450! Joe gets his foot on the bottom rope though, so now both men are out of rope breaks. Aries goes for another Brainbuster but Joe blocks it, only to miss an enziguiri. Aries drills him with a kick to the face and goes up top. Joe knocks him down and hits the Muscle Buster. Aries gets his foot on the bottom rope during the pin, but it doesn’t matter and Joe gets the win at 17:12. This was all well and good but they didn’t really make creative use of the rope breaks, they were just kind of there.
MATCH #6: Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal & James Gibson vs. Low Ki, Homicide & Ricky Reyes, The Homecoming, 7.23.05
Joe is the current ROH Pure Champion. They waste no time getting the match underway. The babyfaces quickly dominate and throw the Rottweilers to the floor. Reyes and Joe are the first two back in the ring. They fight a bit before making tags to Gibson and Ki. Gibson tags out to Lethal, who is by far the least experienced man in this match. Ki wants nothing to do with Lethal so he tags Reyes. The good guys take control, working Reyes over in their corner. With some help from Homicide on the apron, Reyes takes control and tags Ki. Now the Rottweilers work on Gibson. Lethal gets a hot tag and Ki once again avoids him until he can take a cheap shot. After several minutes of heat on Lethal, Joe gets a hot tag and is a house afire. Gibson comes in and gets him some too. The referee loses control and it turns into a pier-six brawl. Lethal focuses on Ki, hitting him with a leg lariat and a missile dropkick. He goes for the Dragon Suplex but Homicide breaks it up. Homicide goes for the Cop Killa and Ki looks to add the double stomp but Gibson breaks that up. The babyfaces dump all three Rottweilers to the floor and follow them out with a triple dive! Back in the ring Gibson tries a Gibson Driver but Homicide avoids it. The referee gets distracted and a random thug hands Homicide a chain. Homicide hits a chain-assisted Lariat to get the pin on Gibson at 23:35. Everyone was rockin’ for that one, with very little resting and lots of hard hitting action from start to end. These guys didn’t mind working snug, that’s for sure.
MATCH #7: Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi, Joe vs. Kobashi, 10.1.05
They include the introductions, which is a nice touch. There is no commentary on the match, so as is my custom I will withhold my commentary as well and be back for the finish. After a grueling encounter, Kobashi clobbers Joe with a lariat to get the pin at 22:14. There’s a reason this match has no commentary – it doesn’t need it. I also don’t need to say much about it because this is required viewing for all ROH fans. The atmosphere is amazing, the strikes are brutal, and it’s a reminder that at one time Joe was one of the finest wrestlers in the world.
MATCH #8: Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels, Vendetta, 11.5.05
Daniels is accompanied by Allison Danger. These two have faced each other many, many times over the years. Joe uses his power to knock Daniels to the floor. Back in the ring Daniels takes Joe down and starts grinding away with a headlock. Joe responds with a series of brutal crossface strikes. Daniels comes back with a leg lariat and then locks on a chinlock. He controls for a few minutes before running right into the STJoe. Now it’s Joe’s turn to go on offense. Joe hits the Big Joe Combo for two. He continues to wear Daniels down, even hitting the Face Wash. Joe tries it again but this time Daniels catches it and hits a Dragon Screw. Daniels goes to work on the leg now, which is good strategy. He’s so precise in his attacks that he hits the Arabian Press right on the knee. Daniels works Joe over in the corner but Joe is able to come out with a Death Valley Driver. Joe hits the snap powerslam for a two-count. He follows with the powerbomb for two and turns that into the STF and then a crossface. Daniels reaches the ropes. Daniels fights back with a running knee strike and an STO for two. A series of reversals ends with Daniels putting Joe in a leglock. Joe chops his way out and both men are down. Back on their feet Joe hits a running boot in the corner for two. Joe locks on the Choke but Daniels battles his way out. Daniels hits the uranage slam and the Best Moonsault Ever, which only gets two. He charges into the corner but Joe avoids him and puts him in position for the Muscle Buster! Even on one leg Joe is able to hit the move and that’s enough for the pin at 20:36. These two have always been and will always be great opponents for each other. This one featured good strategy from both guys and just their general all-around good work.
The second disc starts off with a really good video highlight package of the Samoa Joe versus Christopher Daniels feud, which goes as far back as 2002. It’s about five minutes long and they do a really good job recapping the entire feud. This really made me want to see the match.
MATCH #9: Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels, Dragon Gate Challenge, 3.30.06
Daniels comes down wearing the TNA X Division Championship, and is accompanied by Allison Danger. The fight starts in the aisle with both men slugging away at each other. They make it into the ring and Joe is in control. Brad Garoon and I are in the front row here. Joe hits a flying knee strike and continues the abuse. He goes for an early Muscle Buster but Daniels fights it off and uses a body scissors to send Joe to the floor. Daniels follows him out with an Arabian Press. He then rams Joe into the barricade. Back in the ring he hits a shoulderblock off the top rope for a one-count. Daniels tries to keep Joe on the mat, which is wise. Joe reverses an Irish whip and catches Daniels in a headscissors and slams him to the mat. He hits the Big Joe Combo for two. Joe uses a Boston Crab and then turns it into the Samoan Crab. Daniels makes the ropes. He tries firing back but Joe catches him with the STJoe. Daniels rolls to the floor to regroup. Joe follows him out and hits two Ole Kicks. Back in the ring Joe continues the abuse and tries a Muscle Buster but Daniels slips out. Daniels hits the Iconoclasm and both men are down. Back on their feet Daniels unleashes a series of strikes and a Blue Thunder Driver for two. Joe comes back and goes for the Big Joe Combo #2 but Daniels gets his knees up on the senton. Even so Joe catches a snap powerslam for two. Joe hits the powerbomb for two and turns it into the STF. Daniels reaches the ropes. Danger grabs Joe’s leg to distract him, allowing Daniels to hit an enziguiri. Daniels goes for Last Rites but Joe reverses to the Choke, which Daniels counters with a chinbreaker. Then Daniels hits the Angel’s Wings but Joe kicks out at two! Daniels hits three Best Moonsault Evers and that’s finally enough for Daniels to score his first singles pinfall victory on Joe in ROH at 15:36. These two are great adversaries and this match was perfectly executed.
MATCH #10: Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles, Time to Man Up, 8.4.06
This is AJ Styles’ last match in ROH. Styles attacks right away and away we go. He hits The Dropkick and Joe is taken off guard. Styles hits a backbreaker for one. He goes for an early Styles Clash but Joe fights out of it. Instead Styles hits a DDT for a two-count. Styles continues on offense, knocking Joe to the floor. He goes to the apron but Joe sweeps his legs out from under him. Joe tries to whip Styles into the barricade but Styles jumps over it. As soon as Styles gets back over the guardrail, Joe grabs him and rams him into the barricade. Joe then hits the Ole Kick. Back in the ring Joe continues the flurry of offense. Joe knocks Styles to the floor and goes for the Elbow Suicida but Styles avoids it and hits a dive of his own. Back in the ring Styles hits the springboard forearm smash for two. Styles hits a hammerlock back drop driver for another two-count. He goes for another springboard move but Joe catches him in an Ace Crusher. Joe hits a lariat for two. He follows with the powerbomb for two and turns it into the STF and then a crossface. Styles reaches the ropes. Joe tries an enziguiri but Styles ducks and then hits the flipping inverted DDT for two. Joe fires back with the snap powerslam for a two-count. He goes for the Muscle Buster but Styles slips out and hits the Styles Clash! That only gets two. Styles tries a Sleeper but Joe drives him down into the mat. Joe hits a couple of strikes and then puts on the Choke. He turns that into a suplex and that’s enough for the pin at 11:59. That was surprisingly short and the finish came a bit from out of nowhere but with Styles on his way out and Joe getting a title shot the next night I can see why they did it this way.
MATCH #11: Samoa Joe vs. Roderick Strong, Glory By Honor V Night 1, 9.15.06
Strong is one half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions with Austin Aries. They start off cautiously and Strong takes Joe down to the mat with a hammerlock. Joe rolls out of it and both men get back to their feet. They lock up and Strong backs Joe into the corner. Strong tries a chop but Joe blocks it and trips Strong (almost the STJoe) as a bit of a warning. Joe takes Strong down with a single leg and lands a couple of elbows to the head before Strong gets to the ropes. Back up Strong once again backs Joe into the corner and this time connects with a couple of stinging chops. Strong hits a side suplex and a double underhook suplex for a one-count. He tries a dropkick but Joe avoids it and hits a modified flapjack. Joe unloads with a series of kicks to the chest and then the Big Joe Combo for a two-count. He keeps Strong on the canvas and wears him down. Strong escapes a modified Dragon Sleeper with a Back Drop Driver, and then he is able to hit a cross body block off the second rope. He follows with a clothesline, an enziguiri and a Falcon Arrow for a two-count. He charges at Joe in the corner and this time suffers the full effects of the STJoe. Now Joe is in control, taking Strong down in the corner and hitting the Face Wash. Joe works on the head and neck area, which is smart given Joe’s finishing moves. Strong powers up and engages Joe in a forearm battle and it’s going poorly for him until he introduces chops. He then catches Joe in a backbreaker and gets a two-count. He unleashes a flurry of offense on Joe, ending with a leg lariat but once again only gets two. Joe escapes the Stronghold attempt but Strong dropkicks him to the floor and follows him out with a twisting plancha.
Strong throws Joe back in the ring for a two-count. Joe comes back with the powerbomb for two and then turns it over into the STF. Strong reaches the ropes. Joe comes right back with a snap powerslam for another near-fall. Strong comes right back with a Half Nelson Backbreaker but Joe kicks out at two. He sets Joe up on the top rope and hits a massive superplex but once again it only gets two. Joe comes back and tries a big running boot but Strong avoids it and locks on the Stronghold, sort of. Strong hits a gutbuster but when he tries to follow up Joe sweeps his legs out from under him. Joe goes for the Muscle Buster but Strong avoids it and hits a big boot off the ropes. Strong tries the Gibson Driver and is able to hit a modified version but Joe kicks out. He sets Joe up on the top rope and goes for another superplex but Joe reverses it and hits a Super Death Valley Driver for the pin at 19:14. What an awesome power match and a great showing from Strong. They both just tried to outhit each other and Joe was able to connect with the bigger hit. Strong looked on Joe’s level throughout the match.
MATCH #12: Samoa Joe & Homicide vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe, Glory By Honor V Night 2, 9.16.06
Joe and Homicide charge the ring and the fight is underway. They backdrop the Briscoes to the floor and then follow them out with stereo dives! Jay and Mark get a chance to recover and we start the match proper with Homicide and Mark. They go back and forth and Joe tags in. He whips Mark into the corner and causally walks away when Mark tries a springboard cross body block. Jay makes the tag, and these two have some history for sure. Joe takes him right into the corner and punches him right down. He hits the Big Joe Combo, which will always make me think fondly of Brad Garoon. Joe bodyslams Jay and then makes the tag. Homicide comes off the top rope with a splash for two. He distracts the referee so Smokes can take a cheap shot. He hits the Three Amigos for a two-count. Joe comes back in and hits Jay with an enziguiri. Jay is just getting destroyed here. Homicide puts Jay in the Tree of Woe and hits the Chris Sabin hesitation dropkick for a two-count. Finally Jay makes the comeback with a low blow and then tosses Homicide to the floor. Mark immediately pounces on Homicide and slams his head into the barricade multiple times. He legally tags in and the Briscoes go to work on Homicide now. After a few minutes of abuse Homicide is able to make the tag and the crowd thinks Joe may do something illegal to Mark. The youngest Briscoe is unafraid, taking it right to Joe. Unfortunately for him, Joe catches him with the Big Joe Combo #2. Joe hits the Face Wash and Smokes barks in Mark’s face. He levels Mark with a spinning back fist but Mark recovers with a spin kick and makes the tag. The Briscoes go to work on Joe now. Joe hits a flapjack out of nowhere and Homicide tags in. Homicide hits Jay with a belly-to-belly suplex and a flying back elbow. The referee loses control as both Briscoes are in the ring. Even so, Homicide is able to control both of them with seeming ease. The battle spills to the floor and Mark drops Homicide on the ring apron, and then wipes him out with a dive. Jay sends Joe to the floor, and then Homicide gets in the ring and hits Jay with an Ace Crusher. Homicide signals for the lariat but Mark breaks it up, and then Joe kills Mark with a lariat of his own. Joe tosses Mark to the floor and then he and Homicide double team Jay but can’t put him away. The Briscoes go for the Doomsday Device but Joe breaks it up by puling Mark to the floor and hitting an Ole Kick. Meanwhile Jay goes for the Jay Driller but Homicide reverses it and tries the Cop Killa. Jay reverses that and tries a military press but Homicide slips out of that and kicks him in the back of the head. Homicide then hits the Cop Killa to get the pin and earn his title shot on December 23 at 17:59. They could have cut a couple of minutes of but for the most part it was all go-go-go with tons of action and a hot finish.
MATCH #13: Samoa Joe vs. Takeshi Morishima, FYF: New York, 2.16.07
They start off hot, slugging at each other. Morishima shoulderblocks Joe down to the floor and follows him out with a shoulderblock off the apron. Back in the ring Morishima continues slugging Joe down in the corner. The crowd is hot for both guys. It’s all Morishima in the early going, as Joe looks sluggish. Morishima hits a huge missile dropkick, which is always fun to see. Joe catches Morishima in an inverted atomic drop, which leads to the Big Joe Combo for a two-count. He follows up with the Face Wash. Morishima is bleeding from the nose now. Joe knocks Morishima to the floor and wipes him out with the Elbow Suicida. He follows with the Ole Kick and then another one. Back in the ring Joe covers for two. Morishima is able to catch Joe coming off the ropes with a side slam and he’s back in control now. He bowls Joe over a couple of times for a two-count. Morishima hits a running Yakuza Kick in the corner but misses a second charge and Joe hits a regular STO for a change. That gets two. Joe hits a nasty Death Valley Driver for another two-count. He goes for a powerbomb but Morishima backdrops him and sits down on his chest. Morishima goes up top but Joe joins him up there and kicks him in the face. Joe is then able to hit the Muscle Buster! Morishima kicks out! Back on their feet they trade strikes and knock each other out. Back on their feet Morishima hits a Thesz Press for two. Morishima follows with a uranage slam and then the Back Drop Driver! Joe kicks out! Morishima hits a Northern Lariat but Joe responds with a half nelson suplex! Joe puts on the Choke and keeps it on despite Morishima’s many escape attempts. He locks on the body scissors and Morishima is out at 18:07. With Morishima challenging for the title the next night and Joe on his way out, the result of this match doesn’t make much sense. But for the sheer fun of two big guys kicking the crap out of each other I really enjoyed this.
MATCH #14: Samoa Joe & Homicide vs. Takeshi Morishima & Nigel McGuinness, FYF: Chicago, 2.24.07
McGuinness and Homicide start it off with some chain wrestling. Homicide hits a dropkick and the World Champion tags in. Morishima took the title from Homicide a week ago in Philadelphia, and it becomes apparent why when Morishima dominates. Joe tags in and they take it to each other, reprising their match in Manhattan eight days ago. When Joe knocks Morishima to the floor he goes for a dive but McGuinness blocks him. Homicide takes offense and knocks McGuinness to the floor, and then he and Joe hit stereo dives to wipe out both opponents. Everyone starts fighting through the crowd now and things are getting out of hand with Joe and Homicide using chairs. Joe hits Morishima with the Ole Kick. Back in the ring Joe and Homicide continue to dominate. After a few minutes McGuinness catches Homicide with a lariat and makes the tag. Morishima starts throwing Homicide around the ring and wearing him down. Homicide is in trouble and getting beaten down by both of his much larger opponents. McGuinness goes for a short-arm lariat but Homicide ducks it and hits an Ace Crusher. Both men are down. Tags are made and Joe is a house afire. Joe hits Morishima with a Death Valley Driver for two. He goes for a powerbomb but Morishima backdrops him and sits down on his chest. McGuinness tags in and works on Joe for a bit. Homicide makes a blind tag and hits McGuinness with a hurricanrana off the top rope. McGuinness goes for a superplex but Joe assists in blocking it and Homicide hits a super DDT. Homicide follows with a top-rope elbow drop for two. He hits two straight neckbreakers and a piledriver for a two-count. Morishima comes in to break up the pin and knock Joe to the floor. He pulls McGuinness over to the corner to make the tag. Morishima goes up top and nails the Missile Dropkick. McGuinness tags in and hits the Tower of London. Joe breaks up the pin attempt and knocks Morishima off the apron. He tags in officially and the referee loses control. Everyone throws lariats at someone and all four men are down. Back on their feet the action is coming from all over the place. Morishima hits Homicide with the Back Drop Driver and then catches Joe with the side slam. He goes up top again but Joe kicks him down and hits the Muscle Buster! Joe goes for the Muscle Buster on McGuinness but can’t hit it. McGuinness is able to hit the Rebound Lariat to get the upset pin at 23:10. That had some good stuff in there but a lot of it just felt like going through the motions. Granted, for these guys that’s still pretty good but this just seemed to lack fire.
MATCH #15: Samoa Joe vs. Nigel McGuinness, FYF: Liverpool, 3.3.07
They start with some chain wrestling, which McGuinness excels at. Things start to get heated early on and Joe dumps McGuinness to the floor. Joe goes for the elbow suicida but McGuinness avoids it. McGuinness goes to the apron and Joe sweeps his legs out from under him, and then swings him head-first into the guardrail. The UK crowd is surprisingly supportive of Joe against their countryman, but it is his second-to-last night in the company so I can see it. Joe hits two Ole Kicks and then tries to throw McGuinness back in the ring. McGuinness rebounds though and nails Joe with a lariat. Back in the ring McGuinness goes to work, hitting a mule kick. McGuinness goes to work on the arm and shoulder now. He charges into the corner, right into an STJoe. Then Joe hits the Big Joe Combo, but can’t cover right away and only gets two. McGuinness comes back with the Guns of Brixton combo for two. He hits a running European Uppercut and a short-arm lariat for two. McGuinness tries the Tower of London but Joe avoids it. Unfortunately for Joe, McGuinness is able to hit it on the second attempt but still only gets a two-count. Joe is able to get up to the second rope and hit a huge nee strike for two. Joe hits the snap powerslam for two. He follows with the powerbomb for two and turns it into the STF and then the Crossface. McGuinness reaches the ropes. Joe tries a lariat but McGuinness ducks and hits one of his own. McGuinness goes for the Tower of London again but this time on the apron. Joe avoids it and is able to trap McGuinness for a Muscle Buster on the apron! That’s a pretty sick bump to take.
Referees come out and start walking McGuinness to the back as Prazak and Leonard surmise that the match is over. Joe gets on the microphone and is angry that McGuinness didn’t shake his hand before leaving. McGuinness slowly walks back to the ring and slaps Joe across the face! The fight is back on! Joe has the advantage still, hitting another Muscle Buster. McGuiness kicks out! Joe hits a big lariat but again McGuinness kicks out! He hits another one and this time McGuinness kicks out at one! McGuinness gets a quick schoolboy rollup for two. He tries the headstand but Joe kicks him square in the face. Joe then locks in the Choke and McGuinness is out at 22:51. The stop and start part of the match would have made sense if McGuinness won the match, but since he didn’t it just looks like he got his ass handed to him twice instead of once. Aside from that it was a pretty good match I just don’t care for the finish.
MATCH #16: Samoa Joe vs. Homicide, FYF: Finale, 3.4.07
Homicide is accompanied by Julius Smokes. Joe looks a little emotional since this is his last match in Ring of Honor. They start with some chain wrestling as Jimmy Bower checks in at the commentary booth to talk about Joe’s history in ROH. Bower also notes that Takeshi Morishima successfully defended the ROH World Title against KENTA in Japan, and will be back in April to defend the title. Joe hits a double underhook suplex and holds it for some reason, since Homicide’s shoulders are nowhere near the mat. Homicide sends Joe to the floor and teases the Tope Con Hilo. Joe would rather drink beer, which just annoys the Notorious 187. Back in the ring Homicide tries a cross body block but Joe casually avoids him. Tempers are flaring a little bit and Homicide is able to take control. After a few minutes Joe comes back with the Big Joe Combos. Yes, both of them. Joe delivers the Face Wash. He charges into the corner but Homicide avoids him and gets a sunset flip for two. Homicide hits a DDT off the second rope for another two-count. He goes up again for an elbow to the back of the head, which gets two. Homicide then hits a headscissors off the second rope. They go to the apron, where Homicide hits an Ace Crusher. Back in the ring Homicide covers for two. Joe comes back with the sunset flip and rolls Homicide around the ring, dizzying him before getting a two-count. He follows with a big lariat and both men are down. Back on their feet they trade punches. Homicide hits a chinbreaker but then runs into the snap powerslam for two. Joe hits a huge knee strike off the second rope for two. Homicide fights back but runs right into the STJoe. Joe goes up top but Smokes grabs his leg. Homicide is able to hit a superplex for a two-count. He follows with two neckbreakers and a piledriver for another near-fall. Joe comes back with the powerbomb and turns it into the STF. Homicide reaches the ropes. Joe goes for the Muscle Buster but Homicide blocks it and brings Joe down with a DDT for two. Homicide hits a Northern Lariat and an Ace Crusher for two. He goes to the second rope and Joe pulls him down and puts on the Choke! Smokes gets up on the top rope and Joe goes over to slam him down. Homicide grabs the ring bell and cracks Joe across the face with it! Joe kicks out! Homicide goes up top and Joe is able to grab him and hit the Muscle Buster! Smokes pulls referee Todd Sinclair to the floor. Joe takes offense and hurls Smokes into the barricade. He hits the Ole Kick and Smokes reveals himself as the worst seller ever in Ring of Honor, again. Joe sets up for another Ole Kick but Homicide cuts him off with a Tope Con Hilo! That’s a pretty great spot. Back in the ring Homicide hits the big lariat for two. They fight up on the top rope and Joe hits a Super Muscle Buster (a la Do or Die) for the pin at 22:59. I don’t mind Joe going over here, since Homicide was almost gone too and had already won and lost the ROH World Title. They certainly threw everything out there for Joe’s last match, and while it wasn’t a super memorable classic it was a lot of fun and a good Greatest Hits type match for Joe to go out on.
Joe gives a thank you speech after the match, which is hard to hear because ROH has notoriously bad sound. The locker room stands at the entrance and watches on out of respect.
The DVD closes with a nice little video package summarizing Joe’s time in Ring of Honor. I’d call Joe one of the three most important figures in ROH history, along with Bryan Danielson and CM Punk.
The Pulse: Joe is certainly one of the most important figures in ROH history, and this DVD does a decent job of showing why. His best run was his run of title defenses in 2003-2004, but he did have quite a few highlights after that and this is a good summation of them. The Kobashi match is one of the best in ROH history and certainly one of the most significant. All of the 16 matches reach three stars or higher, and five of them go four or more. That makes this a set well worth your while to check out. You can purchase it at the ROH Shop.