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[2004-10-16-ROH-Joe vs Punk II] Samoa Joe vs CM Punk


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ROH Title Match
Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk
This is honestly not the greatest match in ROH history. But that's not a criticism of the match whatsoever. It's a compliment of the quality of matches ROH has delivered for the past decade, and when both men finally hang up their boots, they will certainly look back on this as likely the best match of their careers despite some stupid bumps they took.
This was definitely an improvement over their match at World Title Classic (which I merely described to be an excellent ****1/2 MOTYC). In this one, they built off the previous match, but still changed it up to make sure this was wholly original. If I had one nitpick complaint about this match that keeps it from being the absolute best ROH match ever, it's that the work done on Punk, while they did pay off in the latter stages of the match, was not paid off quite as convincingly as the standard set by the ***** Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson and AJ Styles vs. Paul London matches.
This match also took aspects from the ***** title defense Joe had just two weeks earlier against Danielson. This was not only a highly intelligent wrestling match, but it got brutal as well. The work done in the early stages was sharp and clever, being more engaging with the matwork than in the previous match the two had earlier that year.
This also had incredible drama in the last third of the match. Of course, this was due to the match being in front of Punk's hometown crowd (which he alluded to at the beginning of the DVD), but this was simply more impressive than what they did in Dayton. The crowd firmly believed that Punk would defeat Joe, even though the match was booked just a few days prior due to Steve Corino being pulled from the weekend's ROH events. This was a nail-biter, and the most emotional moment was properly placed and flawlessly executed in the last 2-3 minutes, as both men struggled twice on the turnbuckles, an epic battle of muscle buster vs. Pepsi Plunge. On the second battle, Joe won it and got the musclebuster on Punk, but time ran out and he couldn't pin Punk. But just several weeks prior, the Pepsi Plunge did put away Joe in their threeway match involving Homicide.
Both men cut backstage promos afterward, Punk demanding one more shot without a time limit. Joe then states that Punk failed and the goal isn't to be the champ's equal, it's to defeat him.
This stands not just as one of the ten greatest matches in ROH history, but as one of the defining matches of the 2000s decade. It is a work of art. It is worthy of all the hype and praise it got. It still holds up as a masterpiece, and will continue to stand the test of time.
Rating: *****
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  • 3 years later...

It's been over 16 years since this match has taken place and over 10 years since I've first heard of the legend of this encounter. Tonight was the first time that I watched it, despite being a massive fan of Punk, Joe, and ROH in general. Punk's strategy is the same as last time: keep Joe grounded and wear him out with a simple headlock. He's in Chicago, so he's also got the fans behind him this time (with the exception of the one asshole in the crowd who gets chewed out by Punk in hilarious fashion after loudly complaining about being bored). Joe tries to get Punk to break his cool by nailing him with big strikes, which eventually works. Joe controls Punk until he is able to land a desperation hurricanrana that sends Joe to the outside. Punk hits a flurry of big spots, but trying to attempt the hurricanrana again sees Punk get violently thrown into the barricade on the outside. Punk is able to fight back and get a number of convincing near falls by hitting some deep cuts from his arsenal. Five minutes is left on the clock and Punk is getting more frustrated. He attempts the Pepsi Plunge, but Joe keeps fighting out of it. I adored the final flurry of strikes, but I wasn't a fan of the finish. Punk should have hit the Plunge just as the time limit expired. Instead, we have a finish where Joe was about to win just as the time expired. The fans seemed annoyed by the finish. One thing that they did better here than their first match is that there are no spots in the match where it's obvious that they are taking a breather and the match was better structured overall. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't slightly underwhelmed by this given its legend, but it's still an absolute breeze of a match to sit through despite its mammoth length.  ★★★★½

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  • 1 year later...

Well. this lived up to the hype. Not necessarily from the standpoint of being one of the greatest matches of all-time, but within the context of 2004 and all of the buildup and anticipation for the match. The decision to have the commentators let the match speak for itself was interesting. On one hand, I didn't have to listen to them spell out every little thing for me, but on the other hand, we lost track of how much time was remaining. I couldn't understand why the ring announcer didn't give a warning about how much time was remaining. Instead, he did a random countdown of the last 10 seconds, which wasn't in sync with Joe's spot. The finish wasn't great for the live audience, who wanted to see a result, but the match delivered in spades. During the middle of the year, I couldn't understand why WWE did so poorly in the WON awards compared to ROH, but after seeing this match, and the mess RAW turned into, I can see where the voters were coming from. Definitely one of the best matches of the year. 

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