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Cage of Death
Team ROH vs. Team CZW
The structure is an octagon-style COD surrounding ringside rather than the layered version.
Bobby Cruise goes over the rules, which are the same as War Games. Two minute intervals with a coin toss to determine who has the advantage. The match ends when every participant has entered the match and it is then one fall to a finish. JJ Dillon, who is sporting an old Four Horsemen jacket, calls the toss for ROH and wins it to give them the advantage.
ROH #1: Samoa Joe
CZW #1: Claudio Castagnoli
"Joe's gonna kill you!" "Joe has bitch tits!"
Castagnoli tries to play mind games but they eventually scuffle and it gets to the outside, complete with Joe hitting an elbow suicida to an incredible pop. Joe soccer kicks a metal trash can in Castagnoli's face and follows that up with a perfectly timed Ole Ole Kick to another wonderful pop. Castagnoli gets some payback by reversing an Irish whip and throwing Joe into a ladder.
They get back inside the ring and provide an appetizer of the classic singles match that they unfortunately never had. This is highlighted with Joe giving him 20 boot scrapes then a running boot scrape to of course another great reaction from the ROH fans. They go back out and Joe drops a ladder on Castagnoli's back, but then another Ole Ole Kick attempt is avoided.
ROH #2: BJ Whitmer
Whitmer has a bag of tacks but leaves it I believe with Dillon. He's a house of fire on Castagnoli but gets cut off. But Castagnoli's control is short-lived as Whitmer reverses an Irish whip, throwing Castagnoli directly into a Uranage Slam by Joe.
CZW #2: Chris Hero
Hero tosses a chair in the ring but is double-teamed. He cuts that off with double eyepokes on the ROH guys. This allows the Kings of Wrestling to double-team Whitmer as Joe is recovering on the outside. A hope spot from Whitmer is cut off from Castagnoli and they remove his ROH shirt then throw it to the CZW crowd. "Throw it back!"
ROH #3: Bryan Danielson
Massive pop for the ROH Champ of course and he's a house of fire on the Kings to the approval of the ROH crowd. It becomes an appetizer of a tag match I'd love to have seen: Kings of Wrestling vs. Samoa Joe & Bryan Danielson.
Danielson and Joe get the advantage with Danielson clotheslining Castagnoli out of the ring. Hero teases a Cravate move on Joe from the turnbuckle, but Danielson stops that with a perfectly positioned dropkick right on Here's face; Danielson then tells Joe to hit the musclebuster on Hero. As Joe is about to drop Hero, Danielson chop-blocks his right knee!
Danielson continues attacking Joe to massive boos from the ROH crowd, and the Commish is at ringside confused about what's going on. Danielson attacks Joe's right knee with a chair.
CZW #3: Nate Webb
Webb goes after a fallen Whitmer, as Danielson gloats, not giving a shit about this war. Danielson tells Cornette his focus is defending the ROH Title against Joe on August 5, then flips him off before leaving. Joe has to be escorted from the match, leaving Whitmer all by himself to a 3-on-1 disadvantage.
Webb then amazes me with one hell of a highspot. The Kings put Whitmer in a corner and place a trash can in front of him. Webb climbs and stands on the top rope of a nearby corner and then hits a fucking moonsault Van Terminator, smashing the weapon in Whitmer's face. A breathtaking highlight in this classic that has so many great things going for it. This causes Whitmer's forehead to bleed.
ROH #4: Adam Pearce
The Lt. Commissioner digs down deep with anger and necessary desperation, running a house of fire on the three CZW guys and getting the ROH crowd back into this. He and Whitmer work together on Castagnoli but that's brief as Hero tosses a trash can at Whitmer's face and goes to Pearce's eyes. The momentum is back in CZW's favor, the 3-on-2 advantage becoming reality.
But Pearce won't go down without a fight, brawling with Castagnoli on the outside. He teases a piledriver on the future WWE superstar. Castagnoli blocks that and monkey-flips Pearce into the cage wiring. Perhaps if Pearce had just gone for the piledriver rather than signal for it he'd have gotten some real momentum going for ROH.
CZW #4: Necro Butcher
Wonderful pop from the CZW fans as Necro brings a chair to the environment. He goes after Whitmer as Hero cockily sits on a chair and the ROH fans chant "Backyard wrestling!" while begging for Homicide to get involved. The 4-on-2 advantage is too much at this point as Whitmer and Pearce are getting annihilated, especially with Necro scoop-slamming the former onto a steel chair in the ring.
Necro targets Pearce with a ladder. Meanwhile, Whitmer is held up for Hero to launch at him, but Hero trolls the ROH audience by locking Whitmer in a Cravate instead of doing a spectacular move. Tremendous.
ROH #5: Ace Steel
Steel brings a cowbell to the environment and runs a house of fire with it on Team CZW to yet another awesome pop from the ROH audience. It appears the momentum may have swung in ROH's favor, especially with Steel also punching a chair into Necro's face. But that's short-lived as the Kings cut Steel off and Necro tries to choke Pearce with the cowbell's strap. Numerous guys are showing color at this point.
Hero gets on the mic to get a CZW chant going and tease the final member of Team CZW. Steel interrupts him by blindsiding him with a trash can, but that only irritates Hero and doesn't get any momentum going in ROH's favor. Hero points out that the last CZW member is a personal enemy of his, and the crowd is chanting for Homicide, but Hero says he and his personal enemy have a greater enemy in ROH. It's a "King of Diamonds."
CZW #5: Eddie Kingston
Not a bad plan B after Super Dragon stopped getting booked I must say. The ROH fans are heckling Kingston, but the 5-on-3 is just too much and the CZW fans are loving it. The ROH fans only beg for Homicide even more passionately, hoping against hope that something can be done after Danielson screwed them and put them in this position. Steel is busted open when Necro bulldogs him on a barbed wire bat.
Whitmer ducks a chop from Kingston and Hero takes it instead, causing the mortal enemies to get face-to-face and pie-face each other. But before they self-destruct with personal agendas like Danielson and Joe did, the lights go out...
The Notorious 187 is accompanied by Julius Smokes and the CZW guys are glued in on the established CZW killer. Homicide enters the structure to another electrifying pop and he's brandishing a wooden board. He smashes Kingston's head with it, splitting it into four even rectangles before getting it on with Necro. In my personal favorite spot of the match, Necro goes to grab a chair and charges at Homicide with it. But Homicide has grabbed Whitmer's bag of tacks, emptied it so that the barefooted Necro stepped on them, threw some right in his face, and then Necro got dumped by Whitmer with an exploder suplex!!! Fucking phenomenal nearfall.
Homicide has extra forks that he gives to Whitmer and Pearce and they use them liberally. It seems like everyone except Homicide and the Kings are now bleeding, with Homicide cutting Kingston open and licking the blood as the ROH crowd almost worships him for it. After teasing it and having it reversed earlier, Pearce gets a piledriver on Castagnoli on the concrete floor, and the future Cesaro is now bleeding too. Whitmer briefly has Necro wrapped in barbed wire, but OMG...
Pearce gorilla presses Webb out of the ring as the CZW superstar hits the cage and then falls through a fucking table. Absolutely breathtaking but not something I think we'll ever see again in ROH. Oh yeah, this got a massive pop for those wondering. The momentum is now clearly in ROH's favor, and the ROH fans are chanting "RING OF HOMICIDE~!" The match is just chaos with so many little battles going on in this absolute war.
In another amazing moment, Pearce drops Kingston with a sideslam; as he does that, Steel delivers a guillotine legdrop to Kingston, but also hits a super Stunner on Webb simultaneously. Amazing and very creative nearfall. The CZW fans chant "6 ON 5!" and the ROH fans respond with "You can't count!" Steel misses a tope suicida on Kingston, who walks out of the way so that Steel bounces off a table, but Kingston then gets hit by Homicide with a trash can.
Inside the ring, Pearce drops Webb with a spinning Angle Slam onto the tacks. Jesus Christ. Hero pushes the tacks out of the ring as more shit is set up. Homicide suplexes Kingston through a table as the fans chant for someone to sweep up the tacks. This is just a fucking warzone.
Hero and Homicide get back in the ring and go at it. Homicide tries to hit a super Ace Crusher on a chair, but he ends up hitting the chair himself with his ass. Pearce hits a flying elbow drop on Webb for a nearfall. The match continues to just be chaos, guys fucking each other up with so much shit, my favorite being when Castagnoli is hit in the abdomen by Homicide with the board, immediately followed by Whitmer hitting an exploder suplex on Kingston on the concrete floor.
Hero and Pearce have climbed the cage. As they exchange punches, Webb hits an incredible Fosbury Flop on Whitmer! Then Castagnoli jumps from the turnbuckle, lands on the cage next to Pearce, and drops the Lt. Commish with a Super Russian Leg Sweep through a fucking table! Then Homicide immediately hits a crazy tope con hilo on Webb to the outside! Fuck this shit is just unreal.
Hero ducks weapon shots and climbs up top, then hits a fucking moonsault onto Team ROH and Necro gets some of it too. Holy shit the crowd is eating this up! Nearfall on Homicide broken up by Whitmer is next. Whitmer sets up a chair in the middle of the ring and clubs Hero, and they exchange forearms. Hero eats a brainbuster on the chair for another nearfall, but Necro breaks that up by smacking Whitmer with a chair. Bodies are laying everywhere.
Whitmer and Homicide hit a double back drop driver on Necro, dropping him head/neck first on the chair to another amazing pop, but that's a nearfall of course, because that's not enough to bring this saga to a proper conclusion. But the CZW fans appreciate Necro's toughness and tenacity. There's more brawling outside the ring of course, but back inside Necro regains the advantage by clotheslining Whitmer and Homicide from behind.
Whitmer and Necro duke it out on the apron in front of a table, and the camera shows that a fucking barbed wire board has been placed inside the ring too! Whitmer and Necro continue their stalemate on the apron, but Whitmer "wins" it by hitting a Samoan Drop on Necro through the table, which also has barbed wire! Steel and Webb battle in the ring but Homicide comes to help out, so Steel targets Kingston outside the ring.
Webb plants Homicide down, then follows that with a missed steel chair moonsault. Homicide gets up and smacks it in Webb's face to an amazing pop, then signals for the Kudo Driver. Webb escapes that, teases a powerbomb, but Homicide escapes that, kicks him in the gut, and drops Webb with a Kudo Driver on the fucking barbed wire board!!! THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the conclusion of this feud.
The ROH fans are going crazy, and the Commish comes out to say the following to the CZW audience:
"Hey hardcore fans. You wanted your garbage wrestling. Well you got your garbage wrestling and your garbage wrestlers got their garbage asses kicked!"
Cornette tells the ROH officials and ring crew to "take out the trash," vowing they'd never return (of course, that does NOT mean that Whitmer vs. Necro on the next show is off.) Hero flips off everyone, and Cornette tells him not to show off his IQ. He thanks the ROH team and asks Dillon, Pearce, and Homicide to stay put.
The crowd is going nuts for Homicide. Just nuts. Before I review the match, I'm gonna continue going over the post-match, one that was a great follow-up to the post-match of the previous Death Before Dishonor installment's main event.
Cornette thanks all three men, especially Homicide for stepping up to the plate to help out his ROH peers when they needed him most. The CZW fans chant "boring" but Cornette hits them with one last zinger while also putting over Homicide. And for Homicide's contributions, Cornette has agreed to grant the three wishes.
FANS ARE CHANTING FOR LOW KI.
1 - Homicide wants to face Steve Corino again in an ROH ring. Cornette obliges. I'm still gonna pretend that feud wrapped up in 2003.
2 - Homicide wants a guaranteed ROH Title shot. Cornette obliges. OH FUCK YES~!
FANS ARE CHANTING LOUDER FOR LOW KI.
3 - Homicide wants Low Ki to be reinstated. HUGE FUCKING POP~! Oh if only...
But Cornette refuses because Ki knocked his tooth out and says he will do anything that directly benefits Homicide. Cornette is then labeled a liar by Homicide. Cornette retorts by asking if he's Homicide or Homocide. Homicide decides to then spit in the Commish's face.
Pearce goes after Homicide and Dillon locks the cage since he has the key. They ambush Homicide with Cornette spraying his face with mace. Pearce and Dillon keep ROH students at bay by striking them with weapons as they tried to climb in, and Smokes gets maced as well. Cornette then does something that he'd hypocritically shit on Hollywood Hogan for doing, having Homicide handcuffed to a turnbuckle and then smacking him with a belt repeatedly.
They leave Homicide for dead, and Smokes and the students get in. They have to use pliers to free Homicide since nobody has handcuff keys. Crowd is going crazy for Homicide as the show goes off the air.
What can I really say about this match?
This was EVERYTHING that we ask for in feud-enders. Sure, it was way too violent as I've mentioned in my review of this feud, but that's no reason that the industry can't capture this kind of magic again. This match truly had it all - timing, progressing other arcs, staying true to the characters, an absurd fuckton of unforgettable spots, peaks and valleys, swings in momentum, a moltenly passionate, white-hot divided audience, and a moment that had been 11 months in the making.
This match perfectly wrapped up the greatest feud in company history with a genuine climatic moment. This match progressed not only ROH's own Danielson vs. Joe program, but Hero vs. Kingston as well, a program that had zero to do with ROH. This match had all the brutality that the audience expected. This match also put Homicide in the position that the fans had demanded at Night of the Grudges II - this was the final step in making him the #1 babyface in the promotion, far above Samoa Joe or even KENTA.
As for the post-match, it was so perfectly executed, a swerve on par with CM Punk's heel turn after he brought such a high of happiness for the audience when he captured the ROH Title at Death Before Dishonor III. The foreshadowing of it was always there. Low Ki being the one to knock out Cornette's tooth and getting a lifetime suspension. Pearce sucking up to Cornette in the name of ROH pride. And Dillon showing up, wearing a jacket that showed off his past as a key member of one of the most vicious, cutthroat factions the business has ever seen. It was all right in front of us the entire time.
I know that unlike the Summer of Punk, the Cornette vs. Homicide feud was largely an aesthetic failure, so I'll be skipping most of it. But to me, this post-match is one of the greatest moments in company history. I put this on the same wavelength as Money in the Bank 2011. For one night, we witnessed true magic, a rare moment of culmination, with the hopes that it cracked the door open for more of that same feeling to come frequently. And just because the aftermath couldn't measure up doesn't mean that this wasn't a special segment.
This match is a true chef d'oeuvre. This will go down as the greatest booking orchestration of Gabe Sapolsky's career. It is not only one of the best matches in ROH's history, but one of the absolute best in independent wrestling history. For my ROH 2006 revisit, I do have it on par with Blood Generation vs. Do Fixer at Supercard of Honor. But don't ask me to choose which one is better. That's the same as asking me to pick between Toy Story or The Avengers. Two absolute pieces of perfection that provide such differently satisfying flavors to the viewer.
Words cannot express how badly I wished I had gotten to experience this masterpiece live in person.