Finishing off the trilogy reviews:
Samoa Joe © vs. CM Punk (ROH World Title; No Time Limit, there must be a winner; All Star Extravaganza II)
It is the wrestling trilogy of the 21st century, CM Punk/Samoa Joe. In the 50’s it was Buddy Rogers and Lou Thesz. In the 60’s it was Gorilla Monsoon and Bruno Sammartino . In the 70’s it was Jack Briscoe and Dory Funk Jr. In the 80’s it was Ric Flair and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. And now, it is CM Punk and Samoa Joe. There’s the bell and it…is…on!
- Mark Nulty
No prematch promos here. The time for talk is over. Ricky Steamboat is at the ringside table. This is Punk’s last shot at Joe and the title.
Crowd is HUGELY behind Joe here, although Punk has his vocal supporters. This is in New Jersey, not the friendly confines of Chicago. Mat wrestling is met with strikes from Joe. It’s all business tonight. Punk of course goes for the headlock early, but we’ve more than established that Joe is smarter than he looks. He avoids them with ease and chops down Punk forcing him to take an early break for the 1st time in their series. Punk’s got to play this one on the fly. Joe is as confident as ever so he asks Punk to chop him, fearing nothing that Punk can do. Punk obliges, but barely pats him on the chest. He then challenges Joe to chop him again. Joe doesn’t give a shit about mind games so he’s more than happy to. Punk smarty ducks and gets a backslide for an early nearfall which takes Joe off his game for a split second for Punk to lock in the headlock. Punk’s ring awareness will be his greatest strength tonight. He keeps his control segment ever-changing by dropkicking Joe in the head and then jumping right back on a headlock, followed by more head dropkicks. Punk has all the time in the world, so he’s gonna move at his pace. They both counter the other’s offense, after over 2 hours of time in the ring together, they know everything that the other man has up their sleeve. But unlike the 1st two matches, Joe is able to capitalize on his strikes. He capitalizes so much, that Punk gets busted open from a stiff knee. Punk is in the greatest trouble he’s been in so far in the series.
Joe knows what’s on the line, so he attacks the wound with animalistic precision. He’s literally trying to rip open Punk’s face here. The tides have turned a full 180. Now Joe is the one that is going to be able to last a long amount of time, and now Punk is going to have to be the one that has to end it as early as possible. Joe now uses Punk’s greatest weapon against him and uses the headlock to wear him down. There’s no way Punk can go over an hour tonight, if he’s got a shot, he’ll have to end it early. That cut is a target for the baddest motherfucker alive. Punk also doesn’t have the Chicago crowd to get him back into it. Joe just murders him for a long period of time. Punk takes a massive shitkicking, and it’s incredible to witness. He blocks a second attempt at the Ole Kick, and goes on the apron. Now, twice he’s had his jumping hurricanrana from the apron reversed into a face full of guardrail from Joe, so now he takes out the champion with a dropkick. Punk gets some chants, so he plays to that portion of the crowd to keep him in it. He even hits a Ricky Steamboat-like crossbody for a nearfall in a cool callback to that series. Another cool spot as Punk reverses the armbar that Joe had been using so effectively in the series to a School Boy. They fight on the top in a spot very reminiscent to the ending of the 2nd match, but Punk knows that a Pepsi Plunge is out of the question so early in this match, so he drops down and goes for a Powerbomb (which Joe had been using so well in the series) and Joe reverses that with a hurricanrana (which Punk had been using so well in the series). What’s better than a Joe hurricanrana? A Joe lariat that nearly decapitates Punk of course, which only gets a two count to everyone’s surprise. Moments later Joe FINALLY gets the choke for the first time in the series, which is amazing when you think about how much time these two had in the ring. Punk’s hand falls three times and it’s oer. Joe has retained the title…
BUT WAIT! Ricky Steamboat is stopping the time keeper from ringing the bell! He’s pointing to Punk, whose fingers were moving, he’s back in it as the ref calls off the timekeeper from stopping the match. Punk tries to fight out but Joe’s a Pitbull that won’t let go. Punk uses that to his advantage and gets the reversal that Bret got on Piper at Mania VIII and Austin at Survivor Series 96…it’s only two this time though as Joe was forced to let go. Crowd is really into it right now. Quick pinfall variations from Punk and Joe now. They’re going balls to the wall. It’s like they never even went 60 minutes. Huge moment of not only the match but Joe’s reign as he is so desperate to keep the title that he uses the ropes to try and pin Punk. Crowd is pissed at that. These two talked about these matches in their shoot together, and they said that Steamboat came up with that. They thought it was stupid at first, but eventually realized it was brilliant in relation to the match. Plunge is again reversed by Joe. Punk now realizes that the Plunge, although the one weapon in his arsenal that can beat Joe, can’t be hit, especially not after the beating that Punk has taken. He goes for a rollup, hoping that will be his saving grace, but Joe counters into the choke. Punk knows that he only has a few seconds to escape, but Joe realizes that too, and drops him on his head to keep him in it with huge trapped suplexes. Crowd begs for Punk to hold on, but he has already given everything. He has nothing left. Joe retains via pass out.
Joe gets on the mic and proclaims the ROH title the most important belt in the world. He shakes Punk’s hand and declares that he’s unstoppable as ROH champion. No one in any locker room in the world can beat him when it matters. Long live the King.
Phenomenal match that made both guys even bigger after it was over. One of the best of this decade. It didn’t have enough to push it into ***** territory, but it left an imprint on me anyway. I love how they “only” went 31 minutes as opposed to over an hour like everyone thought they would because of Punk’s injury. Psychology was great too. If you’re a fan of matches that have call backs to other matches, then this is defiantly right up you alley. A true classic.