The show started with The Heartbreak Express continuing their winning streak (only in their own minds) with another loss to the make-shift team of Evan Starsmore and Erick Stevens. The one highlight of the match was the debut of So Cal Val, playing the part of "random girl in the crowd" chosen by the HBE to go party with them. The fact that she wasn't just an average fan sitting at ringside was extremely apparent as no female wrestling fans looks like So Cal Val. I can see potential in Sean and Phil Davis but Starsmore and Stevens are just too plain for my taste ( 5 / 10 ). Next up was a one-on-one contest between Don Juan, who ended up as So-Cal Val's boyfriend (so THAT'S why she was there!), winning his match with Tony Kozina. This was my first opportunity to see Kozina in action and he wasn't so bad, but I personally don't find Don Juan all that appealing ( 3 / 10 )
Austin Aries successfully defended his ROH World title against Dave Prazak's protégé Insane Dragon. At first, I was thinking to myself, "Oh what a squash this is going to be!" But then it turned out to be a pretty impressive battle between one established star and one up-and-comer. The finish was sort of botched, intentional or not, by the referee and Dragon had just cause to protest and demand a rematch the following night in Sebring. Very good match and I'm glad I got to see Insane Dragon in this sort of high-profile match. ( 7.5 / 10 )
The action continued with two of my favorite wrestlers. American Dragon took on Roderick Strong in a typical strong style war. It was funny because this was billed as their first meeting when 12 months later they will have had three epic 1 hour battles in Ring of Honor. Watching this match really showed how far both men have come in the wrestling business. The highlight of the match was an incredible 37-revolution airplane spin by Dragon on Strong near the end of the match. Compared to their future encounters, this was a sub-par match, but it was still an amazing match by independent wrestling standards. ( 8 / 10 )
Vordell Walker took on Jared Steel and Masada a triple threat match and they put on a nice performance. Vordell was the star of the match and I was happy to see how much Masada has improved since his days in ROH -- but Jared Steel had his hand raised at the end ( 6 / 10 ). Dave Prazak's team of Fast Eddie Vegas and Jimmy Rave continued their dominance in the tag team division with a victory over Sal Rinauro and Steve Madison (sub for Jerrelle Clark). Prazak is now claiming that Vegas & Rave will be first FIP tag team champions when the Tournament gets underway, and truthfully, they are the only regular tag team who can make that claim. ( 6.5 / 10 ).
And then.... it was time... for the maaaaaaaaaain event! C.M. Punk, who was carrying the stolen FIP belt and claiming possession was 9/10ths of the law, accepted the challenge from the redneck messiah, James Gibson. I have been a major C.M. Punk mark from the time I first set eyes on him, and for the brief time Gibson left the WWE he was my absolute #1 favorite wrestler in the world. It goes without saying, this was an amazing match and I thoroughly enjoyed it from bell-to-bell and you will too ( 9 / 10 ).
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