Wednesday Wrestling Review: Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk II
Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada are in the midst of putting together some of the best matches ever. This all a decade after Samoa Joe and CM Punk did the same thing.
Omega/Okada II just took place this past weekend as part of New Japan Pro Wrestling's Dominion 2017. Just like they did back in January, the two went all out and delivered an all-time performance. People are talking about New Japan Pro Wrestling and it has helped put the company more into the forefront of fans of pro wrestling in the United States.
This resembles a trilogy of matches that took place in Ring of Honor back in 2004 that revolutionized the company and made people notice the (at the time) small, word of mouth independent wrestling promotion.
You may have heard of these two guys. Samoa Joe and CM Punk.
Joe was in the middle of his amazing two-year ROH World Championship reign was faced with a new challenger in CM Punk. The first match of the trilogy took place in Dayton, Ohio at a show promptly titled "World Title Classic." You can easily guess why the show was named that. Joe and Punk went back-and-forth for 60 minutes to a time-limit draw.
Nobody was able to beat Joe using power or strength. It became a chess match of how CM Punk could overcome Samoa Joe to win the title. He utilized time and the story of trying to wear down Joe using technical wrestling. The time limit expired as CM Punk had Joe almost beat.
The first match of the trilogy was amazing. Better yet, it's severely underrated and almost forgotten about at times. The reason being is that everything came together perfectly on the second encounter.
Joe vs. Punk II - Chicago, Illinois - October 16, 2004.
During this time of ROH history everything was through the word of the internet. The people that attended the shows would write reviews and after this Chicago show completed everyone talked about how this DVD would be a must purchase for this match specifically.
I'll never forget the first time I watched the match itself. I skipped over every match just to watch the main event. Best part for me was that I didn't even know what the result was (somehow).
The two guys went hold-for-hold and told one of the best stories in the ring that you can find anywhere. CM Punk adjusted his strategy from the first match to try and tire out the champion even more. Joe, on the other hand, became more aggressive and tried to end the match sooner.
It was a rollercoaster of a match with both guys sticking to what their game plan was. They both found ways to get the match back to their style during the course of the match.
If there was a word to fully describe the match, it is smooth. Everything was done crisp and with a purpose. I would contend that this is a match that any future wrestler would want to watch and study.
They go the full distance again. This match would lead to the third match in December, 2004 in which Joe would beat Punk by submission in about 30 minutes. The trilogy is a much watch as a whole (this is closest it's available right now in one compilation), but for me it's Joe vs. Punk II that stands above them all.
Rating: *****/***** (one of my all-time favorites)