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[2005-09-17-ROH-Glory By Honor IV] Bryan Danielson vs James Gibson

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ROH Title Match

James Gibson vs. Bryan Danielson
Danielson returns to ROH not only with a new theme, that being Europe's iconic "The Final Countdown," but also with a much improved wardrobe that is reminiscent of Bob Backlund. Very, very nice and professional.
This was some fucking quality professional wrestling. It was not a spotfest. It was technical wrestling at its finest.
So much of this match, probably the first 12-15 minutes, were mostly on the mat, just both guys trying to get leverage, trading holds, struggling to find a weak spot. Danielson's time in Europe while away from ROH was really paying off here, as the much more experienced and successful Gibson couldn't find something to work on.
Gibson did get his moments. He did some work on Danielson's back, but never got enough done on it to make any kind of impressionable damage, which had to be disappointing for him after defending the title against Roderick Strong earlier in the month for FIP, and that he also liked to use the Texas Cloverleaf.
Danielson was just amazing in this match, finally getting momentum about 20-25 minutes in when he worked on Gibson's left arm and shoulder. Gibson did a phenomenal job of selling the work Danielson did on him, constantly in pain going forward in the match. This was so critical going to the finishing stretch.
Gibson, oh man he fought so valiantly when Danielson kept locking him in submission and pinfall attempts, and his counters were just as impressive as Danielson's. But on this day, Danielson was to no longer be denied. After working on Gibson's left arm and shoulder, Gibson failing to escape the hammerlock, Danielson locked in the Crossface Chickenwing, leaving Gibson no choice but to tap out, much to the crowd's ecstatic approval.
Post-match, Danielson is classy as expected, taking time to acknowledge the hard work Gibson put into the ROH Title, and said he will be proud to defend the title going forward, that he had no plans at the time of going to WWE or TNA.
This is not the match of the year for 2005, not even for ROH. It was a purist's dream, a true throwback to the days of Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, etc. So in that sense, this lacked the immediate electricity of CM Punk's key farewell tour matches. But in the last several minutes, the Long Island crowd was way into this. This match told a great story and was paced incredibly well. I'd much rather see a match build its way to a frenzy, than to blow its load so fucking early.
To me, this is above Punk vs. Alex Shelley, Kendrick vs. Danielson, Punk vs. Jimmy Rave, and Joe vs. Gibson for 2005 so far in this rewatch. But ultimately, if you put a gun to my head, I'd have to lean towards those key Summer of Punk matches (Death Before Dishonor III, Escape From New York, and Redemption) over this one. On a different day though, I might choose this work of art instead. This was an undeniably tremendous MOTYC, and arguably the best match of Gibson's career.

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Some utterly great moments here, but I felt the opening 15-20 minutes were too sluggish and slow for this to be the epic it was hoping to be. Well worth your time, just keep in mind it's a very slow burner. I don't want to spoil any of the great parts of this match, but Gibson's Texas Cloverleaf counter was thing of beauty.

 

★★★½

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The commentators noted that Bryan might leave ROH if he didnt win but i didnt get that sense of frustration or urgency from either. That's OK though it was a fantastic title match with two technicians going at it for the championship, plain & simple. Nice intensity and focus with Gibson being the best visiting WWE wrestler to ROH. I thought Gabe S. was distracting on commentary though...I muted it for about 70% of the match.

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This is one of my all time favorite matches because it was the first match of its kind that I really saw. I was fourteen, had just gotten into the indies after getting into puro the year before and this was the fourth ROH show I got. They work a beautiful technical match that might be a touch slow for some but I thought everything they did was engaging and it entertained the hell out of me. As the match builds, you see Danielson go from a straight laced wrestler to being more arrogant and aggressive, two traits that would define this very title reign. Gibson getting desperate towards the end of the match is great. The Piper/Bret spot to escape the tiger suplex and eventual cattle mutilation ruled and I liked how Bryan realized he wasn't going to be able to get the suplex again so he opted for the chickenwing to take the title. There's a lot of attention to detail here that I think add to the match if you're paying close attention but even if you're not, I still think this is an incredible match from one of the very best ever in Bryan and one of the most underrated wrestlers of the 2000s in Gibson. 2005 was a wonderful year. ****3/4

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An underrated classic. I can understand how some would find the opening half slow but I think that when placed against the essentially time killing stuff done in main events these days (particularly in New Japan), the difference is clear. Bryan and Gibson infuse so much struggle and thought into each move that I couldn't help but be enthralled. There's so many little things in this I liked, from the way they manipulated the pace to maximize the crowd reaction to the little near misses. I loved when Bryan went for an elbow drop but stopped because Gibson had rolled away. Didn't look like a botch, didn't look planned either, it just felt like an organic moment that would happen should two wrestlers be competing. There's a real intensity to the finish as Bryan clings to the arms, switching up his game plan to try and put Gibson away. To go for the Crossface Chickenwing instead of the Cattle Mutilation to get the win was a stroke of genius. 

****1/2

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They open it up w/ some wonderful technical rasslin' -- it's pretty even throughout, but to use somewhat of a commentator cliche here, I'd say that if it was scored on points, Danielson would be in the lead. There's a true feeling of competition in everything they do, and I like the little playfulness in their exchanges; it demonstrates that feeling of competition & one-upmanship perfectly. I also like how, as the match progresses, things get meaner & meaner between the two; stomps, knees to the face, trashtalk, etc. One spot that I absolutely adore is when Danielson goes to drop an elbow on Gibson who is on the ground; Gibson ducks, so Danielson looks to go for another one, but as he is going for it, Gibson keeps on rolling away & starts to get up, so Danielson stops himself from doing that elbow drop & instead blasts an uppercut to Gibson, who was now standing. It's so brilliant in all of its simplicity. Gibson gets the first real work-over segment of the match, and he's really great punishing Bryan -- he nastily drops him rib-first on the guardrail, launches him into the corner w/ a lot of force behind it, busts out some excellently brutal looking backbreakers & neckbreakers. They swift the momentum to Bryan beautifully -- just a bit earlier, there was a moment where Gibson started striking Bryan, which essentially woke Bryan up to strike him back & almost win the exchange, so here Gibson makes that mistake again after getting a bit too cocky about his control; once again, as Bryan is on the corner, Gibson goes to strike him, but he took his time with it, which he pays for as Bryan strikes back & gets back into things. Now Bryan is pretty much in control, and oh man is he brilliant. His main focus goes to Gibson's arm, and he is superb going after it w/ all kinds of violent work over it. Goddamn I also love the bit where he goes to pin Gibson multiple times in a row, just to tire Gibson out some more. And of course the whole finishing stretch rules w/ Gibson escaping the Cattle Mutilation, only for Bryan to lock-in his new ultimate weapon of choice in the Chickenwing. Brilliant wrestling all the way through. It's the kind of a match where I find something new to love about it every time I watch it. ****1/2

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