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Charles (Loss)

[2006-09-16-ROH-Glory By Honor V] Bryan Danielson vs KENTA

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ROH Title Match

Bryan Danielson vs. KENTA
For the first time on this project, I revisited this match twice. I'll detail why when I get to what took me out of this match at first.
Danielson of course has his right shoulder taped due to the injury sustained at Gut Check. The demeanor of everyone including the audience is giving off the vibe that this could headline a major PPV event. Of course, there are dueling chants before they even lay hands on each other.
KENTA wins a lockup early, putting Danielson against the ropes, but the champ ducks a lethal kick. They have another lockup with KENTA winning once again, and he decides to slap Danielson. Moments later, Danielson returns the favor but uses his left hand to protect his injury. They then have a knuckle lock that ends with Danielson countering a waist-lock into an arm submission, and the champ knees the challenger in the face when reaching the ropes. That is obviously being done not just to set KENTA up for Danielson's various submissions, but as a means to marginalize any possible Super Falcon Arrows or the very move that had put Danielson away twice in NYC, that being the G2S.
KENTA gains an advantage and kicks Danielson's right shoulder, causing the champ to take a powder as he sells the pain. KENTA patiently waits, not giving the champ any chance of cheap-shotting him on the outside. Back in the ring, KENTA kicks Danielson's right shoulder again, but the champ striikes him with slaps, a headbutt, knee to the face, snapmare, and kick to the spine. That just pisses KENTA off, who gives Danielson a receipt with his own snapmare and spinal kick. Danielson continues selling his right shoulder which KENTA goes after again, but the champ cuts off the challenger with a headlock and takes him down. KENTA counters that with a head-scissors, but the champ of course manages to get out of that and lock on a Regal Stretch style Camel Clutch, pulling the challenger back down and working the neck, but the challenger of course reaches the ropes.
Danielson goes back to the left arm but that's moot as KENTA cuts him off with a couple kicks including one to the right shoulder, then KENTA goes to the right arm with an arm twist. Danielson tosses him off and takes him to the outside via a dropkick, then slingshots himself and misses the challenger. Danielson pays for that dearly as KENTA uses that opportunity to kick Danielson's right shoulder a few more times, then throws him shoulder-first into the guardrail, much like McGuinness in the prior match. KENTA stays focused, stomping that right shoulder before throwing the champ back in the ring.
KENTA wraps Danielson's right arm around the top rope a couple times, then just continues kicking it and Danielson's yelps of pain are second-to-none. KENTA works more submissions on it and Danielson's attempts to get out of that work are quite futile, including trying to roll KENTA over for a flash pin. KENTA drops his knees on Danelson's right arm and even grinds them on that shoulder joint too, just absolutely relentless as he should be, for this is for the top prize in all of independent wrestling. KENTA then gets a bit too cocky though, sling-shotting himself and disrespectfully planting the sole of his boot on Danielson's scalp, then posing.
That only pisses Danielson off of course, who gets up and takes advantage of KENTA wasting time posing and takes the challenger down. But that doesn't work out for Danielson, as he finds himself in a body-scissors Kimura Lock on the right arm, hopefully something we see a certain Beast do to him in the future. Danielson gets some adrenaline and slaps KENTA and also delivers a head-butt, then goes for a Sunset Flip in the middle of the ring, but his comeback fails as he couldn't get KENTA out of standing position due to his shoulder injury, and the challenger bitch-slaps him to a great pop. KENTA goes back to work on Danielson's right arm and shoulder. Danielson tries to counter with a mounted choke but KENTA rolls him back down in position, then follows up with more kicks to that right shoulder.
Danielson ducks a Yakuza kick and knees KENTA in the gut, then hits a Cravate suplex to finally gain some real control as the crowd engages in dueling chants. Danielson delivers kicks of his own, including a spin kick, showing off his arsenal despite his shoulder injury. He looks to pin KENTA but referee Todd Sincalir realizes it's a choke attempt and refuses to count the pin, so Danielson just rubs KENTA's eyes across the rope. Danielson goes for the Mexican Surfboard, but his right shoulder prevents him from lifting KENTA all the way up. The crowd says he fucked up, so he says he never fucks up and drives KENTA's knees on the mat. Awesome.
Danielson then goes to work on KENTA's left knee, hoping to take away the Super Falcon Arrow and especially the G2S. Keep in mind also that KENTA had been using his left leg to attack Danielson's injured shoulder, showing the brilliance of the champ's strategy here. With the referee's back to him, he uses the ropes for leverage which KENTA attempts to point out. KENTA eventually rolls Danielson over and gets a rope break, and Danelson conveniently says he can't get his legs unwrapped from the submission, smirking ever so smugly. Danielson slingshots KENTA's throat on the bottom rope, then takes in the crowd's adulation to give him some adrenaline.
After some nice counters, KENTA blocks a boot and kicks Danielon's right hamstring to regain control, but can't follow up immediately for a pinfall or submission work due to the damage he had faced. But Danielson's work on the left knee would be all for naught, as KENTA went back to work delivering left kicks to Danielson's injured shoulder, then hits a spring missile dropkick for a nearfall. Now at first, that could be interpreted as just blatant no-selling. But after discussing this with former ROH reviewer Aaron Glazer, a man that had a huge influence on me, it was pointed out that KENTA would been booked like a Terminator or Undertaker, in fact a juggernaut as I've often described his run in ROH. This showed that Danielson, in the face of injury adversity and knowing he'd lost twice to KENTA, was gonna have to rely on something besides his state-of-the-art submission wrestling if he wanted to be the one to slay the juggernaut and hold on to the top prize in the company. That all that submission work on KENTA's left leg had only managed to fatigue KENTA for about a minute had to be of major concern to the champ as he had been trying to protect his right shoulder and take away the challenger's finishers.
Danelson blocks a fisherman's suplex and arm submission, so he eats a butterfly suplex and cross arm-breaker on the right shoulder, but reaches the ropes. His selling is truly exceptional here as KENTA stomped on that limb. Danielson manages to regain control and gets a half-crab on KENTA's left leg, hoping that strategy will pay off. KENTA reaches the ropes and the champ delays letting go, so KENTA hits him with an enziguri. KENTA makes his first attempt at the G2S but the champ escapes and hits a couple strikes, then places the challenger on the top rope. He slaps KENTA to keep him dazed, then plants the challenger with a Superplex, causing further pain to his own injured shoulder and preventing himself from going for the pinfall right away.
KENTA gets placed in the Crossface Chickenwing but reaches the ropes. Both men are exhausted and unable to go right to work on each other, but Danielson gets a scoop slam on him. The future HOFer goes for a diving headbutt only to eat KENTA's boots. KENTA goes for a springboard move but gets a receipt, this one being a dropkick to the gut, and both men are down in pain and exhaustion again. When they get back up, they exchange strikes, and Danielson has to use his left hand. Danielson hits a few head-butts, while KENTA goes for kicks to the face. Danielson's head-butts win, allowing him to drop KENTA with a release German Suplex. KENTA gets an adrenaline rush and hits a release fisherman's suplex that had been teased a few minutes earlier. Danielson gets up quickly to hit a desperate roaring forearm, but KENTA gets one more adrenaline rush to drop the champ with a discus lariat, and both men are down and getting a well-deserved standing ovation.
When they get up, KENTA clotheslines Danielson out of the ring and also falls out himself. Danielson reverses an Irish Whip but KENTA stops himself from hitting the guardrail. He charges at Danielson, and the champ uses the challenger's momentum to hit a release overhead belly-to-bully suplex on the floor. Danielson follows up with a baseball slide, sending KENTA into the front row. I am stunned to see, no matter how important this match is for the company, that Danielson once again went for a top rope dive towards KENTA when considering his injury. That couldn't have been fun at all, but the audience did go crazy for it.
KENTA gets back in and eats a shotgun missile dropkick, and the champ still kips up despite his injury. Danielson takes a major risk, confident he has control, and goes for a roaring forearm with his right arm. That investment doesn't pay off, as KENTA counters it with a Fujiwara Arm Bar on that right shoulder, resulting in an excellent false finish. In the corner, Danielson cuts off KENTA with a boot and goes for a top rope elbow strike, but KENTA counters that with an Ace Crusher and they have another excellent Fujiwara Arm Bar false finish on that right shoulder.
KENTA goes for a Tiger Suplex, but Danielson uses his stronger left shoulder to block it. KENTA gives him strikes and goes for a spinning back fist, but Danielson catches his arm and plants him with a gorgeous Regalplex for another very nice false finish. With both men exhausted, the crowd is getting antsy with dueling chants and the champ rips the tape off his right shoulder. He plants KENTA on the top rope and his a super backdrop suplex, willing to punish his right shoulder more. He goes for a pin, and he seems like he knew KENTA would roll over to kick out, as Danielson brilliantly uses KENTA's position to put him in a Cattle Mutilation for yet another excellent false finish. I'm really impressed that while earlier in the match they would roll out and counter each's submissions, at this point they're going for rope breaks, truly selling the exhaustion and putting over how devastating their finish attempts are.
Danielson follows that up with a front chancery suplex and goes for the diving headbutt. KENTA sees him up there and finds the energy to take advantage, cutting Danielson off and going for the Super Falcon Arrow. Danielson blocks it and pancakes KENTA then goes for an aerial move, only to be caught in the fireman's carry position. Crowd is fucking APESHIT at this point as they know what's coming. KENTA hits the G2S to a phenomenal pop. One, two...
AND DANIELSON GETS HIS LEG ON THE BOTTOM ROPE!!! That results in one of the greatest reactions in company history, with the crowd chanting for the company and these men have got them in the palms of their hands now.
KENTA kicks at Danielson's right shoulder again and hits a Busaiku knee on the back. He knee strikes a draped Danielson on the bottom rope and goes for another Busaiku knee, only for Danielson to counter that with an O'Connor Roll for yet another phenomenal false finish. The atmosphere for this is just totally unreal.
Danielson runs the ropes and KENTA capitalizes with a big boot, then motions he's going for another G2S. But Danielson counters with a crucifix pin for a nearfall, then gets ferocious on KENTA's head with elbow strikes. KENTA reacts in a manner that I see Brock Lesnar doing should he ever eat Danielson's elbows too, feeding off the crowd and trying to ignore the painful strikes for an adrenaline rush, but the champ goes for a Cattle Mutilation. KENTA still has enough awareness to roll Danielson over for another phenomenal false finish.
Danielson keeps the arms hooked and hits a Tiger Suplex for a false finish, then rolls KENTA over for a Cattle Mutilation again. KENTA's feet almost reach the ropes, and Danielson has the ring presence to let go and strike KENTA's head with more elbows. He plants the exhausted KENTA with the Cattle Mutilation yet again, and KENTA is unable to move his body. Reality finally sets in for KENTA, and the juggernaut submits, finally slayed and allowing the champ to go a year as champion!
The crowd is just in love with Danielson afterwards and of course thanks KENTA for what I imagine is the greatest match many in attendance will ever get to witness live. Both men, just like Marufuji and McGuinness, are respectful afterwards, following the Code of Honor, even though KENTA is so visibly disappointed, having gone through an up-and-down roller-coaster and surely believing he'd pin the champion, coming into this with a major injury, for a third time for the top prize in the company.
I revisited this twice due to the no-selling of KENTA's left leg that I mentioned earlier. It was because of that aspect I was left seeing this as a phenomenal work of art, but not the true cream-of-the-crop to measure up to the works of perfection taken place earlier in the year, let alone in company history. My friend Glazer though pointed out the story of KENTA being the juggernaut, and when considering that he had specifically put Danielson twice away with the G2S, plus the dynamic of Danielson's injured right shoulder, I decided to give this another try.
This is a truly perfect work of art that more than lived up to expectations and just piled onto the ROH Title's layered prestige. It capped off the other golden piece of booking for Gabe Sapolsky in 2006, when Danielson got his foot on the ropes after KENTA planted him with a G2S, the move that had put him away twice in front of the NYC audience. That was one of the finest pieces of crowd manipulation in the history of the business, right on par with Samoa Joe putting his feet on the ropes when trying to finish off CM Punk at All Star Extravaganza II. Such simple but holy shit oh so effective booking.
This also told the story of Bryan Danielson cementing his legacy as one of the absolute finest performers in the history of the business. How many people with his injury would be able to take the pain in such a physical war like this one and manage to pull off this kind of magic? He also cemented his legacy as ROH Champion, putting forth his most impressive performance when considering that injury.
Is this the defining performance of Danielson's career? Is this his greatest match? I'm not sure about the former, but for the latter I'm leaning towards no. That is not a criticism of this match, but stick a gun to my head, I'm leaning towards his blistering roller-coaster against Roderick Strong at Vendetta as his greatest title defense, and I say that without any live bias. I also would still pick Danielson vs. Paul London at The Epic Encounter as the greatest match in company history, but that's because I prefer London's selling in that one, still the gold standard in ROH a dozen years later, to the storytelling of KENTA being booked as a juggernaut. One can't go wrong with picking either match.
Is this KENTA's greatest match ever? It's certainly his greatest in ROH, which speaks volumes considering his body of work in the company. I do know he has another huge match to come in 2006 which I'll be comparing to this one, so I'll hold off on stating if this his greatest match or not. But it's certainly in the conversation.
Is this the ROH MOTY for 2006? I'm now leaning towards yes, but there are other candidates to choose from, none that one would be wrong picking. Do you prefer the fluid, nonstop action of CIMA & Speed Muscle vs. Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito, & Genki Horiguchi at Supercard of Honor? The flawless sports-entertainment segment that closed out Ring of Homicide? How about the climatic, emotional, back-and-forth piece of chaotic art as ROH and CZW closed out their feud inside the Cage of Death at Death Before Dishonor IV? How about Nigel McGuinness solidifying his future to one day become the face of the company in his native UK, doing so in a historic match that also solidified Danielson's position as the true champion of the company at Unified? Or does one prefer the simpler story, of a champion digging down deep to cement his legacy with a very real injury against the juggernaut that had put him down twice, and had also slayed Low Ki, Mark Briscoe, Davey Richards, Austin Aries, and Roderick Strong, and doing so at such a historic event like Glory By Honor V Night 2?
In a year that had ROH presenting so many matches that defined the 2000s decade, I'm gonna say this one stood out above the rest by the slightest of preferred hairs. And I really regret not booking a flight and hotel for the Tri-State area for Glory By Honor V weekend. Experiencing this one match alone inside the intimate, historic venue that is the Manhattan Center would've been worth every penny spent.
Rating: *****

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This match will always have a special place in my heart as it was the first Bryan Danielson match I ever saw & he ended up becoming my favorite wrestler of all-time. I think it's arguably the greatest match of all-time - top-3 at worst, #1 at best. Just pure magic from the entrances - when Danielson makes his way to the ring as Final Countdown blasts through the Manhattan Center, I already got goosebumps. His entrance here is one of my all-time favorite entrances; he just gives this vibe that he is the fucking king of the jungle, the man. Then the actual match; the whole thing was just the perfect storm - you got KENTA who has been booked as this unstoppable hard hitting juggernaut in ROH & then you got Danielson, who was fighting for the 1 year mark as the ROH World Champ while having an injured shoulder & all. Naturally KENTA kicked the shit out of that shoulder - you combine the brutality of those kicks KENTA dished out & the dramatic selling of Danielson = perfect. The moments like Danielson going for the Surfboard but not being able to which causes the crowd to chant "you fucked up" which Danielson quickly shuts down as he goes "I fucked up? I don't EVER fuck up!" while slamming KENTA's knees to the ground. The GTS nearfall which might just be the single greatest nearfall that I've seen in wrestling. Danielson ripping off the shoulder tape before going for the big backdrop superplex. It's just all pro wrestling perfection. *****

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Best ROH match ever for me at this point and what is possibly the magnum opus of Bryan's amazing career. Terrific story of the injured champion trying to the survive the unbeaten challenger who has run through everybody. KENTA brought the smugness and stiffness while Bryan brought the vulnerability, the desperation and the use of different strategies. With regards to the arm, Bryan was great at both the orthodox selling and fighting through the pain selling, the latter was most clearly evident in the finishing stretch. The no selling was probably excessive but like in the big NOAH matches, they justified it well enough. **** 1/2

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ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson vs KENTA - ROH 9/16/06

I really like their match from NOAH from the same year lets see how this one holds up. KENTA does not give Danielson any clean breaks. First time missing with a roundhouse kick and then second time bitch slapping him. Danielson starts slapping himself to fire himself up. Danielson does not give him a clean break the next time but KENTA unleashes a furious kick to the injured arm of the Champion. Danielson is nursing a right shoulder injury from his last defense against Colt Cabana. KENTA mercilessly decimates the arm with wicked kick after wicked kick. This is definitely one of those great asskicking matches. KENTA is just pulverizing him with great kicks. I like Danielson's mini-comebacks using left hand slaps and punctuating with a headbutt but more often than not KENTA is able to get back to the arm. I liked KENTA heeling it up a bit in America as Danielson was trying to draw on some sympathy. Danielson tackles him when he turns his back to him. I love that type of fire and pride. Ultimately, KENTA is able to get back to working the arm, but Danielson showed that he had some life left. I know Danielson was doing a subtle heel champion gimmick at this time, but I thought the choking, taunting the fans on a surfboard and not breaking on the figure-4 were not warranted, made more sense to go full babyface.  I did like Danielson targetting the left leg of KENTA. After all it is that leg that had been kicking his bad arm all this time so it made sense he wanted to rip it off. Too little thus far as KENTA is able to regain control with his big time kicks and hits a springboard dropkick his first big highspot. I loved the Butterfly Suplex ->Cross-Armbreaker by KENTA it feels like the match is really kicking into gear now. Danielson does a beautiful single leg takedown. Diving feet first through KENTA's legs and then picking the left leg and rolling through into a single leg crab. Great transition and works on the most offensively active part of KENTA's body. KENTA makes the ropes and hits an enziguiri. This is classic KENTA The Destroyer in the style of Hashimoto or Kobashi as their asskicking best. He is moving forward, but he is not moving too fast. He has targetted a body part. Danielson has shown fighting spirit cominh back with the left hand and submission work to try to neutralize KENTA's greatest asset: his left kick. 

I knew once the Go2Sleep was attempted this where the match would be make or break for me because they were going into the finish stretch with about 15 minutes left of video. That's a long time. They did falter at many spots. The most egregious being Danielson taking a nutty bump where he eats KENTA's feet on a top rope headbutt. He really took that shot hard. He was the one that hit the next move when he hit a dropkick to the midsection of a sprinboarding KENTA. I love each of those spots as a transition or counter, but space them out. Hard for me to respect the match if they are not respecting the moves. Each individual move looked great and it was exciting, but they were losing their impact because the moves were not having consequence. They do a fighting spirit sequence that was great. I loved Danielson's headbutts and KENTA's kicks, but I dont remember who won they both just went down. It just felt pointless after it was done. I thought the match did get back on track after Danielson's big dive. The crowd really got behind Danielson and he goes for a roaring elbow with his bad arm and KENTA wrestled him to the ground with a Fujiwara armbar. Great counter! Danielson's comeback is red hot, reverse cradle suplex and a super back suplex and Cattle Mutilation. I like that it is sustained offense. Danielson wants the top rope headbutt but KENTA meets him there (not my favorite way to do this, but whatever). KENTA gets knocked off and Danielson jumps on KENTA's shoulders. It was impressive that KENTA is that strong. GO TO SLEEP! 1-2-FOOT ON ROPES! Great nearfall and big pop. KENTA wants his big knee, but cant get it. Tries for Go 2 Sleep in the middle of the ring, but Danielson gets crucifix pin. I like how sustained the run up to the finish is. Danielson does the barrage of elbows, Tiger Suplex, more elbows then Cattle Mutilation for the win. There was a lot of struggle there. 

Awesome, awesome match. Some miscues here and there arent enough to ruin the match. It does feel a little disjointed they went from an asskicker with Danielson trying to survive into a bomb throwing finish run. The front half was truly excellent. The second half was mostly a hit with some misses. The last five minutes or so was absolute gold. The Fujiwara Armbar and Go 2 Sleep were great nearfalls for KENTA and Danielson really earned that finish by struggling through to dominate KENTA. I like the Morishima match more and the Low-Ki match from Round Robin Challenge too, but this is another classic Danielson/ROH match. ****1/2 


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