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[2004-06-12-ROH-World Title Classic] Samoa Joe vs CM Punk


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ROH Title Match
Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk
To this point, not only was this the most critically acclaimed match of Joe's title reign, but it was actually deserving of such recognition. It was his greatest defense, with a perfect gameplan that while it didn't earn the title for Punk, it began the slow demise of Joe's reign.
Unlike all other previous opponents, Punk came at Joe immediately with a shitload of headlocks to keep the beginning stages slow and in his control rather than go apeshit, shocking Joe in the process. This was critical to when Joe got his heat segments on Punk - while his strikes were still devastating, Punk had worn him down too much for him to quickly capitalize on those strikes as he has become accustomed to.
Joe's strikes though were still effective - while he couldn't finish Punk off with them due to Punk's perfect strategy, their devastating effect on Punk was a great way to offset Punk's work on him. Whereas Punk used a slow mat-based style, Joe still relied on his strikes, and it slowed both of them down.
What I found to be the most important moment in the later stages of the match was when Joe dropped Punk knees-first onto the mat. Moments later, when Punk was able to reverse a superplex attempt into a Pepsi Plunge, the pain was too fresh in his knees to cover Joe for the decisive pinfall, instead rolling out of the ring.
This was by no means a perfect match - it was a work in progress. While not an absolute masterpiece, it was nothing less than excellent. It confirmed that Punk was now to be one of the very top acts on the roster as a singles competitor. It took a "meh" challenger and turned him into the #1 Contender. It made the champion look mortal. And it not only planted seeds for a rematch, but also was the first glaring example that Joe's days as champion were numbered.
Rating: ****1/2
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  • GSR changed the title to [2004-06-12-ROH-World Title Classic] Samoa Joe vs CM Punk
  • 2 years later...

Going through ROH chronologically, I never would've expected CM Punk & Samoa Joe to be a duo to deliver a 60-damn-minute draw with 99% of it being SUPER compelling & straight-up fantastic. They keep me hooked for the entire duration, with my favorite thing about it being watching CM Punk's strategy unfold; the way he controlled Joe w/ HIS pacing & those headlocks -- it's such fascinating pro-wrestling. Punk sells & tells the story perfectly with his work, including some brilliant moments of his body language & facial expressions. Joe is also absolutely superb with everything he does throughout -- I thought he especially sold brilliantly, as through that, it really feels like Punk's masterful gameplan might pay off. The overall pacing in this is also exceptional; in classic 60-minute-match fashion, the battle of course gets more dramatic as minutes pass, but they don't go overboard with it, as they instead have a few major dramatic moments - namely the Pepsi Plunge one & then the DDT in the closing moments - and both of those named moments are absolutely terrific. There's maybe a few stretches here n' there where I wasn't as interested as I was in the early going or in the closing stages, but it's still at least very good action for the entire 1-hour runtime, with the most compelling stretches (which goes for most of the match) being simply wonderful. There's just nothing phony or hollow about this one. It's the first match of THE trilogy in 00s indy pro-wrestling, and it's a stone cold classic. Can't wait to revisit the other two. ****1/2

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  • 10 months later...

First time diving into this trilogy. Punk wrestles a smart match based around headlocks and overall keeping the pace slow and did some really entertaining heeling, and I thought Joe's selling and overall mannerisms were awesome. A few dead stretches and some stalling keep this from being in the upper echelon of 60-minute draws, but it's a great start to a famous trilogy. 

Side note, who was on commentary for this? Because it was awful, the lead guy kept talking about how much these guys were sweating and did his absolute best to telegraph that they were going for a 60-minute draw.

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  • 4 weeks later...

This was brilliant. All of Joe's ROH title defences have been done and dusted by the half-hour point, so Punk tries to wrestle this one smart by trying to keep Joe grounded with a headlock. This strategy works well from a kayfabe perspective and as a way to rile up all the smart fans by going back to rest holds! You can tell at times that they slowing the match down to catch some of their breath, such as the time when they each berate a Punk fan in the audience. At the 35 minute mark, you can tell that they are starting to run out of ideas. Things start to drag around this point. That is until Punk catches Joe in the sleeper and Joe has to fight to survive. Punk eats some downright disgusting kicks during this. This wasn't a perfect match, but they kept me engaged for 90% of the hour run-time and details like Punk not being to get a cover on Joe after the Pepsi Plunge and Joe not being able to hit either an Island Driver or a Muscle Buster gives us enough meat on the bone for them to go another sixty minutes again. ★★★★½

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  • 1 year later...

I haven’t really liked the Samoa Joe title defenses I’ve watched, and I don’t think much of Punk as a worker, so I wasn’t terribly excited to watch this again. The match is an unquestionable success — these were the last two guys you’d expect to pull off a one hour draw — but I can’t, in good conscience, rate it above matchups I enjoy more from 2004 like Eddie vs. JBL or Kobashi vs. Takayama. There were a couple of big turnoffs for me. One of them was how telegraphed they commentary was. Nulty was annoying enough aping  the Dean Gordon Solie and constantly disagreeing with the regular ROH commentator, but the pair of them went of their way to continually spell out that this was going long. I’m presuming they dubbed the commentary in afterwards and had already seen the match, but in any case it was amateurish. The other thing I disliked was this idea that Punk was more of a wrestler, and was employing this amazing psychology by forcing Joe to wrestle for longer than was typical for a Samoa Joe title defense. First of all, CM Punk couldn’t wrestle his  way out of a paper bag. Secondly, it’s boring, standard wrestling 101. To their credit, they kept it interesting throughout even if they did take regular breathers. I just wasn’t feeling it as a classic match. 

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