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Charles (Loss)

[2004-10-02-ROH-Midnight Express Reunion] Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson

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ROH Title Match

Samoa Joe vs. Bryan Danielson
This match showed yet again that even with an amazing victory, Joe's days as champion were numbered. Danielson dominated the majority of the match, willing to play a little dirty like he did in the 2/3 falls match against Aries in order to reach the pinnacle of the promotion. He also was far more devastating than Punk was in the 60 minute draw from World Title Classic. It was brilliant seeing him break Joe down on the left leg, to keep the champion from having a consistent base to brawl and strike.
But Joe was not to go down without a fight. This was certainly the most brutal defense he had to this point (which speaks volumes when considering his defenses against Low Ki, CM Punk, Homicide, AJ Styles, and Jay Briscoe), but he had plenty of adrenaline left in the tank to return the brutality favor tenfold to the quicker and more technically efficient Danielson. Once he got the knees to the head and slapped on the choke in the middle of the ring, more than 30 minutes into this classic, Danielson had no choice but to tap or pass out.
This isn't my favorite match by any means. But I honestly can't think of a single flaw with it. The storytelling was great. The psychology was great. It never dragged. It got the title even more over than before. The crowd was hot and believing they'd get a title change. And although it gave more glaring points for Joe in future title defenses, one still had to wonder what it was gonna take to bring the iconic reign to an end.
Post-match, we got plenty of chaos, just tremendous booking that led to so many great matches throughout the remainder of the year. Punk came out and asked when he would get his rematch. Generation Next came out to ambush Punk, but Joe & Danielson got fed up when Shelley & Aries got in their faces. The Rottweilers then came out just to raise hell (mixing it up for the first time with GeNext). After many holy shit high-risk aerial moves, Joe teased that he would do one but then got cut off by Ki out of nowhere. They brawled and Danielson tried to pry Joe off of Ki, but Joe was so furious that he elbowed the fallen challenger, who gave the champ a receipt with roaring forearms. This left Ki and Danielson in the ring standing side by side.
Danielson: "Me and Ki against you and Liger, Joe. Bring it!"
Rating: *****

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Fantastic match up that really gets the slow build right with both guys really tangling it up on the mat. Bryan in particular with a targeted attack on Joe's leg that pays off in dividends later on in the match. Loved their strike exchanges especially when Joe batters his way out of a mat exchange by just wailing away at Bryan. One of the best moments was Joe chasing Bryan trying to get a strike in but Bryan just slipping away like a slimy bastard. The big spots were well placed and provided a nice break for the mostly mat-based affair we had. Loved how Bryan went to the leg early and used it as the key of his transitions later in the match.

 

The finishing stretch was absolutely fantastic. Tight, exciting, and with a brutal and satisfying end. Those knees looked crazy good.

 

****1/2

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I loved this match. Danielson does a great job targeting the left knee of Joe throughout the match. I loved Joe chopping his way out of submissions and headbutting his way out of knuckle locks. Lots of high impact offense from Joe in this and Bryan returned the favor with those awesome looking double axe handle clubbing blows. The desperation lariat from Joe towards the end was timed so perfectly, great spot. Of course, the knees at the end... just awesome.

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