CM Punk vs. Bryan Danielson w/Ricky Steamboat as Special Guest Referee
- ROH Reborn: Stage 1 04/23/2004
There's a lot of animosity here between Punk and special referee Ricky Steamboat. "The Dragon" wants to call a clean wrestling match between two of the best young talents using the canvas in the ring to draw a physical work of art. "The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson wants to oblige and showcase his strong mat wrestling acumen and prove on yet another occasion why his reputation of "Best In The World" stands.
Punk will have none of that. Punk is a so good at working his slimy, antagonist character into almost every second of his performance. Punk embellishes the antagonist role so well with Steamboat and makes the special referee factor important to the match without bringing down the performance of the men actually fighting each other. Punk and Bryan are in a wrestling battle to decide a winner and dueling with that story is Steamboat and Punk in a moral battle of and the corruptible snake (Punk) taking liberties, bending the rules and antagonizing the virtuous legend (Steamboat) who won't screw the rotten bastard but won't take any shit from him either.
Bryan did a great job keeping the wrestling performance in the forefront along with the character performance with some masterfully applied holds that just ripped and stretched Punk. Bryan's European uppercuts and chops were sharp and hard-hitting all night. Both men worked the counters and transitions as smoothly and at a constant pace which kept the energy high for me especially the Cattle Mutilation spot. I gasped at the back suplex counter to the outside of the ring. The concrete bound fall looked so dangerous and painful like a momentum shifting moment in a lengthy match should.
Both Bryan and Punk have the gift of making the simple special
and the climactic moment on the top rope where Punk is trying to deliver Pepsi Plunge and Bryan is fighting to hook a superplex is further enhanced by the crowd cheering "YES!" and "NO!" respectively for each man's attempt to hit the game changer of the match. In the end, Bryan pulled off the superplex (YES!) which jarred Punk's entire body which Bryan had already stretched to hell. They worked some more back-and-forth pin-attempt counters in the finishing stretch until Punk got caught and had to tap out. Bryan is the one that ultimately humbled the corruptible snake.