THE MASKED FIPPER vs. RYZE (w/Dave Prazak) - squash
ROH WORLD TITLE SEGMENT - Meh. He tries to dodge a title defense tonight by claiming to have suffered a serious paper cut. This felt like something 2009 Austin Aries would do, not 2005 tweener-turning-babyface workhorse Austin Aries.
Roderick Strong came out and told Aries to stop being a wimp and defend his title against him tonight. Dave Prazak then came out and said that the title shot should go to his charge, Insane Dragon, instead, claiming that the referee screwed up during Insane Dragon's title shot last night (and my review indicates that such a thing did, in fact, happen) . Aries said they should fight for it. The poor quality of the audio equipment made a lot of what they were saying hard to hear, and Aries' actions felt very out-of-character.
WINNER GETS AN ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH LATER TONIGHT:
Roderick Strong vs. Insane Dragon (w/Dave Prazak) - 5.75/10
Roddy wins. I expected something a lot better from these two given ten minutes.
ERICK STEVENS v. DON JUAN - 4/10
It's been less than twenty minutes since it ended but Lenny Leonard has already forgotten that the opener happened, describing this as "the second match on the show." This match wasn't particularly exciting and was relatively short, but the crowd was very into Erick Stevens and was happy to see him win.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Amusing. Looking for any sort of win tonight, Don Juan tried to prove his prowess by picking up a woman in the crowd. Despite repeated heckling from the crowd, he managed to win the heart of a lovely young plant. As he led her off backstage, the Heartbreak Express showed up and hinted that despite what we saw last night, they were indeed allowed to join in with Don Juan and the as of yet unnamed SoCal Val in their recreational activities. They decided to try their hand at picking up some chicks, but quickly decide that the young lady that Don Juan just walked off with was the only attractive woman in the entire city. They were then jumped from behind by Aaron Epic and Kahagas, who are looking for revenge on the Heartbreak Express for walking out on them last month, so we got...
AARON EPIC & KAHAGAS vs. THE HEARTBREAK EXPRESS - 1.25/10
Short, and not very entertaining.
STEVE MADISON PROMO - He whined about getting overlooked in favor of guys like Punk and Roddy. Tony Kozina came out and challenged him to a match, so we got...
TONY KOZINA vs. STEVE MADISON - 6.5/10
Really great for the time it got. Madison is the one FIP guy who didn't really go on to make a big name for himself elsewhere that I have been impressed with in my foray into the dark days of early FIP.
JARED STEELE vs. EVAN STARSMORE - 3/10
VORDELL WALKER PROMO - Terrible. He was monotonous and boring and said the words "you know" about eight times in the span of a minute. He called out MASADA for a match because he was apparently upset that MASADA hit him in the nuts during their match last night, although you'd never have known he was upset from his total lack of emotion. MASADA came out and calmly and casually agreed to a match for right now so we got...
MASADA vs. VORDELL WALKER - 5.25/10
After a nice technical exchange, Walker turned his back on MASADA for seemingly no reason. This would be the same MASADA who Walker specifically challenged to this match to get revenge for MASADA hitting him with a low blow last night, so Walker clearly knows that MASADA isn't above doing morally dubious things... and yet the idiot turned on his back on this guy, so of course MASADA attacked him from behind, and rather than making me think that MASADA is a dirty cheater, this just made me think that Walker is an idiot.
The exact method of attack from behind was some clubbing to Walker's back, which was the beginning of a short story based around MASADA working on Walker's back, including a suplex on the (seemingly) cement floor. Walker would fight back by grabbing a submission on any limb he could reach, and eventually won with a Dragon Suplex. Action-wise, this was good for the mere seven minutes it got, and the story wasn't bad in any way, but it was type of story that would have worked a lot better in a longer match with more time to flesh it out. Another five to seven minutes would have done this match (and Walker, who Gabe saw a lot of potential in and was desperately wanted to push both here and in ROH but needed to get him ready first) a lot of good.
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH: Austin Aries(c) vs. Roderick Strong - 8/10
It's Aries and Strong in 2005. They're young, hungry, and not going to give you anything less than 110%.
CM PUNK PROMO - He says he's putting the FIP Heavyweight Title on the line (he's not really the champ. He stole the physical belt from Homicide last month) like the Florida Heavyweight Champions of old would have done. Also, he gets cheap heat by burying the fans and the city. This did contain one of those great CM Punk fan insults where he responded to a heckler by saying "if you don't shut your mouth I'm going to come over there and shove a bar of soap in it... although you'd probably just eat it, fatty."
BRYAN DANIELSON PROMO - He makes clear that Homicide, not Punk is the rightful champion, and that he's here to get revenge on Punk for having his stablemate attack him with a 2x4 during their match last month. He also lets everyone know that the wheelchair-bound Milo Beasley is just faking it, and gets a cheap pop by saying that he thinks this city is very nice.
2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH WITH NO TIME LIMIT:
CM Punk (w/Mr. Milo Beasley) vs. Bryan Danielson - 9/10
This might not have been an actual world title match (despite CM Punk's insistence that it was), but it sure as hell felt like one. This was that wonderfully cliché "game of human chess," with each man working over a body part and going after the chosen target aggressively while having to both defend their own injured body part and also conserve their energy for what would clearly be a long match ahead of them. Dragon worked over Punk's arm while Punk worked over Dragon's knee. Throw in some (but not too much) cheating by Punk, the continuation of the Airplane Spin as a motif in this evolving feud, and an epic, forty-minute struggle and you've got yourself a classic, but these two went a bit above and beyond that by structuring their falls (and nearfalls) around the finishes of the famous Florida champions of yore that Punk mentioned in his promo (specifically the Funks, Harley Race, and Jack Brisco), which gave this match a nice combination of local color and a nice nostalgic nod to the past. Just about the only real issue I had with it was that the low blow at the end led to absolutely nothing, although I guess it's also possible that heel announcer Dave Prazak was actually telling the truth and Punk really did kick Dragon in the "inner thigh" area and not the groin.
A GREAT show from FIP! Even without the epic main event, this was a much better show than usual from FIP in this era. Even if you don't want to watch the full thing, the last hour and a half or so is easily worth your time.