Background: This was a Survival of the Fittest qualifying bout that would allow the winner to enter the tournament finals. Milano Collection AT made his ROH debut here.
Survival of the Fittest 2005
September 24, 2005
Samoa Joe vs. Milano Collection AT
For those who don’t know – Milano Collection AT’s gimmick was him being an Italian model that happens to be Japanese. To display his worldliness, Milano carried around an invisible dog on a leash. I’m not making this up.
Smartly, Milano grappled Joe to the mat. Using his uncanny agility, Joe not only worked his way off of the canvas, but also plowed through AT with a shoulder tackle before using his own grappling skills to slip and role AT into a few holds and counters to Milano’s reversals. Joe took his time, working over AT’s left arm. In a unique showing of high-level thinking, AT stepped out of the ring before stepping back in via the bottom rope, turning Joe’s arm bar into a hammerlock against the Samoan. AT picked up the pace soon after, with Joe actually keeping up with Milano until AT head scissored him. The maneuver by AT set up the Paradise Lock that tied Joe in the ropes to so AT could dropkick Joe’s left arm and send the big man to ringside for a plancha.
Flying forearm by AT when the action returned inside only fired Joe up for STJoe when AT went for the elbow again. Joe’s chop-kick-knee drop combination didn’t put AT away; nor did the flying knee strike or Joe’s face wash into the running boot to AT’s face. As announce Lenny Leonard noted, Joe’s pins were very lax, allowing AT to kick out when he might not have to the ability to. A sick buzz saw kick from Joe seemingly knocked AT out. Showing great heart, AT not only got up on wobbly legs following the kick, but also did a split to avoid Joe’s spinning back first from the apron, dropping Samoa Joe left arm first across the top rope.
AT’s focus on the arm saw Joe clawing to the ropes. Making the mistake of letting Joe get up cost AT as Joe not only senton splashed AT, but also used a STF to lock Milano in the crossface and Rings of Saturn. Sadly for Joe, all of his submissions were unsuccessful in making his opponent tap out. Chops and kicks from Joe reddened Milano’s chest. Using an Irish whip against Joe, Milano cartwheeled so he could unleash clothesline. Joe tried to take a page out of Milano’s playbook by turning the Irish whip against AT, but ended up taking an enzuguri kick instead.
AT bounced off of the ropes, running into the power slam Joe used to lock in a cross arm bar. AT made it to the ropes to save himself, using another enzuguri when he got up to execute Armani Shoe Exchange (a springboard corkscrew Lionsault) … for a near fall!
The fans were starting to rise as Joe blocked the AT Lock; dropping Milano on his head with the Death Valley Driver for another two count. Joe refused to be denied, hoisting AT’s limp body off of the mat, hitting the Muscle Buster to a thunderous ovation. Joe hastily made the cover, gaining a three count and entry into the “SotF” finals.
Winner: Samoa Joe (14:22)
Is It A Classic: Definitely an impressive debut for AT in this David vs. Goliath struggle that saw Goliath win after he started paying attention to the little details. Collection came in with a smart idea of grounding Joe in hopes of making him tap following minutes of arm work, but Joe’s ability to break up AT’s flow proved to be Milano’s demise. Good stuff all around, and definitely warrants a viewing.