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2/3 Falls Match
Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson
"You're my bitch!" - Paul London as he's locked in a seated abdominal stretch
THIS. IS. ART.
I could probably write an actual essay on this, but I'm too tired to do so. First of all, this match makes me wanna pop in some Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit and Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat just to compare. Every single thing in this match was perfect. Remember what I said about them being a little worn out at Night of the Butcher? Well they fucking proved me right in this one.
This is the match anybody would watch and wonder why the FUCK London let his own ego get in the way. This kind of effort, in which his selling NEVER gets sacrificed, is what you want as a centerpiece of the WWE. Maybe Brian Kendrick by association killed his attitude, but there's no logical reason when looking at this match that London shouldn't be on CM Punk and Danielson's level right now. He looked like the second coming of Jushin Liger or Shawn Michaels in this match.
I must not forget Danielson's performance in this masterpiece as well. He dove further into his subtle heel persona, giving us even more of a sign of things to come down the road. For the first time in ROH, he momentarily antagonized the opposition fanbase. His frustration, in the end turning to what appeared to be desperation, was nothing short of flawless going against London's tenacity.
What also puts this match above Christopher Daniels vs. Doug Williams for me as the best ROH match of 2003 so far is that these men were both babyfaces; this wasn't a story of a clear-cut heel, and then failing to fully engage the crowd to its fullest potential. Danielson played the subtle heel to London's scratching-and-clawing babyface, and it got MORE of a reaction than the black-and-white Daniels vs. Williams. That is a true testament to both of these men.
Get yourself the new ROH Danielson compilation if you haven't seen this yet - this match alone will be worth every penny. You don't need to wait for a sale.
This is more engaging than Low Ki vs. Danielson; it's also my favorite ROH match so far in my rewatch. And there is NO way that this can be topped for 2003. NO WAY.