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[2005-10-02-ROH-Unforgettable] James Gibson vs Roderick Strong

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James Gibson's Independent Farewell

James Gibson vs. Roderick Strong
This is simply the greatest non-retirement farewell match ever, even better than the sentimental double farewell matches hosted by ECW in 1995 and ROH in 2009. While Austin Aries vs. CM Punk was an advertised farewell, and thus had all the emotional elements of that dynamic, I don't count it since it wasn't the actual farewell for Punk.
Strong of course did a tremendous job on Gibson's back, even better than in their previous singles matches both in ROH and FIP. He was ferocious in this match. But despite the roll he was on, and how badly he wanted a victory over his mentor with this being his last chance at that, let's not forget that his opponent on this night was James Gibson.
Gibson also so badly wanted the bragging rights of going out on top in his final ROH match. And boy did he show how hungry he was for that. Deep into the match, Gibson allowed the younger, less experienced Strong to get over-zealous, baiting Strong into landing a rock-solid chop on the steel ring post. Fortunately, Gibson channeled Punk instead of Matt Hardy and went to work on that right hand. Strong would sell the arm tremendously as the match progressed as well, showing the pain of landing a chop and improvising with forearms.
Earlier in the match, both men took a segment from their FIP match and had a phenomenal strike exchange segment on the floor that had the Philly crowd rocking. Once Strong had the advantage, he immediately threw Gibson again onto the ringside barricade, inflicting more damage on Gibson's back. However, as badly damaged as Gibson's back would get, he would show just why he was going back to the big leagues, finding ways to counter many of Strong's attempted submissions as only a pro as successful and experienced as him could pull off.
After about 15 or so minutes of the match having its foundation established, they went into the near-falls. What really stood out to me is that the third act of the match wasn't a spotfest. They just logically hit their established finishers on each other and paid off the story they had established throughout the match, and the crowd was going insane! And when Gibson lifted Strong onto the turnbuckle to deliver the same Super Tiger Driver that won him the ROH Title, Strong sniffed it out (knowing he would have no way of kicking out of such a move), delivering a super gutbuster and finishing off the former ROH Champion with a final Liontamer, leaving Gibson no choice but to submit as the crowd was in a frenzy!
This is nowhere near the best match I've ever seen, but it exemplifies everything that I love about pro wrestling. It had a tremendous story, a sentimental dynamic, a fantastic payoff, a phenomenally built pace, and elevated Strong for his upcoming ROH Title shot while giving Gibson arguably the best match of his entire career, a fitting finale to a relatively short but unquestionably invaluable chapter in ROH history.
Post-match, Gibson gives a fantastic farewell speech, declaring Strong as the MVP and future of the company, solidifying all the work that Punk, Hardy, Alex Shelley, and Austin Aries had put into elevating the Survival of the Fittest winner. Strong, Gibson, and BJ Whitmer (a close friend of Gibson's) embrace after the match to a tremendous ovation.
After getting to the back, Rave & Nana ambush Strong, leaving Gibson to beg for medical help.
Rating: ****1/2


I have a new feature to debut here too. Unfortunately, James Gibson's career had to end abruptly in 2009 due to a terrible back injury, and since then he has only done a couple of quick matches within the WWE umbrella. I am very happy for him though to be rewarded for his dedication and skill, as he now has a cushy WWE producer job, certainly playing a part in the incredible in-ring consistency that WWE has had in the past year.
But it is because of that injury and the position Gibson has in WWE, that I can confidently say he will never wrestle in ROH again despite his sincere expression in his farewell match that he hoped he would have the opportunity to do so.
A key word I use to describe Gibson's time in ROH is "invaluable," as a play off of the MVP narrative ROH pushed during his time in the company, and because one really can't put a price on what he brought to the company despite being there for only eight months.
With that in mind, I debut a feature, one that can be expected to be done again for other great ROH talents that have moved on and are highly unlikely to ever wrestle for this federation again.
James Gibson's 10 Greatest ROH Matches
James Gibson vs. Brian Kendrick - Third Anniversary Celebration Pt. 2 ***3/4
James Gibson, Brian Kendrick, & Nigel McGuinness vs. Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, & Vordell Walker - Trios Tournament ***3/4
James Gibson vs. Rocky Romero - Back to Basics ***1/2
James Gibson vs. Roderick Strong - Best of American Super Juniors Tournament ***1/2
James Gibson vs. Austin Aries - The Final Showdown ****
James Gibson vs. Samoa Joe - New Frontiers ****1/4
James Gibson vs. CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels - Redemption ****1/2
James Gibson vs. Bryan Danielson - Glory By Honor IV ****1/2 (Gibson's greatest match in ROH)
James Gibson vs. Christopher Daniels - Survival of the Fittest 2005 ***3/4
James Gibson vs. Roderick Strong - Unforgettable ****1/2

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