This week I watched a good bit from ROH. I won't give the links here but there's a good few matches on Dailymotion and even YouTube which I managed to find. So, without further a due, here's what I watched this week.
Austin Aries vs. CM Punk - ROH Death Before Dishonor III (2005)
For those of you that don't know, this was the ROH World title match where CM Punk finally won the gold before turning on ROH in the well known Summer of Punk angle. I'm sure it was one of those matches that would have been better watching back in 2005, because I'm sure the surprise that CM Punk won this match great. That said, this is an excellent match that still holds up today.
The pacing of this match was very good, with Punk methodically picking his places to work on Aries, while the champion worked at a slightly faster pace. Both men compliment each other quite well here, and in the final few minutes of the match the crowd really become alive and add a lot to the match overall. The ending with CM Punk eventually getting the win was a great moment, and really capped off the excitement in this match very well. 4/5
Samoa Joe vs. Bryan Danielson - Midnight Express Reunion (2004)
This is brilliant bout which really highlights Danielson's superb psychology in the ring. His tactics of standing toe-to-toe with Samoa Joe, while also finding ways to get in his head was great to watch. It was a man trying so many different things to get the win, with Joe staying on defence and fighting back when the time was right.
The later stages of the match were especially good, with Danielson finding an opening to work on the leg of Joe. With some good selling on Joe's part, both men put on a really engaging conclusion to the match, with Joe desperately yet successfully being able to apply the rear naked choke hold for the win. 4.5/5
Samoa Joe vs. Austin Aries - ROH Final Battle 2004
Although I've seen very little of Samoa Joe's dominant reign as ROH World champion, there's still so much to love about it. One of the main things that made it so good was that there were so many different tactics used by challengers. People like Punk used the headlock, Danielson used mind games and picked a body part, while here, Aries used his speed and energy to topple Joe.
It was a tactic that made for an exciting match. It may have slowed down in parts, particularly when Joe was in control of the bout, but just like the Aries/Punk match, the final few moments of this match are great to watch. It was a near two year reign coming to an end and the crowd ate it all up with Aries went on his last flurry of offence before getting the win. 3.5/5
Bryan Danielson vs. Tyler Black - ROH New Horizons (2008)
A flawless performance from Bryan Danielson here, a real wrestling clinic. I honestly can't say enough good things about his match. I loved the opening parts of the match where Danielson took control of Black, followed by Black's worked on the injured head and neck area of Danielson, and then the last 10 minutes which great sequences and nearfalls.
These are the standards that Danielson set for himself back then in ROH. His effortless psychology and precision was something that while fans appreciated, was also something expected from him as well. This is a highly regarded match that I feel isn't highly regarded enough. 4.5/5
Bryan Danielson vs. Alex Shelley - ROH Arena Warfare (2006)
If you're looking to see an example of a great heel vs. heel dynamic then you don't have to look any further than here. Both men do an extremely good job of keeping the fans hate for each men straight down the middle, while also putting on a terrific wrestling display.
Both men take turns controlling the match, before things kick up another gear heading into the last 10-15 minutes of the match. There's a lot of nice sequences, action, and perfectly placed spots throughout. The best moment however, is at the very end of the match when Danielson reversed the Sliced Bread attempt into a Cattle Mutilation, before turning him over into a pin for the victory. It's hard to believe that this match doesn't get talked about, because it's one of the finest matches I've seen from 2006. 4.5/5
Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels - WWE Backlash 2004
I didn't know Benoit's whole family were in the crowd for that shows, that's kind of depressing. Anyway, this is a really good match here that, while wasn't as good as the match at WrestleMania XX, was still really enjoyable.
The hot crowd in Calgary (I think... somewhere in Canada anyway) were firmly behind Chris Benoit, which really added to the match overall. The pacing of the match was particularly good, with each man taking a bit of a breather every so often, leaving the other two to go at it. This really kept things, and enabled all three guys to work a different kind of match than their previous one at WrestleMania. 4/5