Background: The Nigel McGuinness-Bryan Danielson rivalry continued during Ring of Honor’s “6th Anniversary Show” that featured McGuinness defending the ROH World Championship against “The American Dragon” for the first time following a series of head injuries after Danielson suffered an eye injury at the hands of former champion Takeshi Morishima.
6th Anniversary Show
New York, NY
February 23, 2008
Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson
Showing he was up for the deal they made earlier, Danielson worked the arms and legs in the early going. Danielson got in an early bow & arrow, only for the champ to slip out. The fans began to boo as Nigel turned the tables on Danielson, going for a Lariat. Danielson avoided it with ease. Nigel didn’t know what to do as Danielson began to tie the champ up like a pretzel. When Nigel went for the headstand in the corner, “The American Dragon” dropkicked him in the abdomen, knocking McGuinness to the floor. Danielson followed up with a tope before pitching Nigel back in, dropkicking Nigel across the ring. Danielson picked the champ off the mat, belly to back suplexing him. Nigel rolled out onto the apron, holding the back of his head. Nigel took his time before forearming the referee. Nigel got himself disqualified. Nigel told the fans that they had just seen their World title match. Before McGuinness could leave, an Austin Aries-led crew (which included Roderick Strong for some strange reason) forced the titleholder back to the ring to restart this match.
McGuinness immediately fought Danielson off, working Danielson’s left shoulder by driving it into the ring post. Nigel laid in some stiff European uppercuts directed to the shoulder, using the ropes as a partner. Nigel clawed at “Dragon’s” face before slamming the arm into the ring post again. Nigel just wrenched and twisted on the arm while humiliating Danielson by playing with his face like it was putty. Danielson was able to avoid an uppercut, using his knees to turn Nigel’s stomach. Danielson hit the ropes, kicking the back of the champ, sending him to the floor. Danielson was about to pull Nigel in when Nigel used his two good arms to suplex the challenger to the floor. Nigel felt like a big man, beating Danielson around the ringside area while arguing with the fans. Danielson, somehow, took all of it, sending Nigel into the crowd with a backdrop. Danielson, against better judgment, dove on top of Nigel from the top rope. Danielson tried to missile dropkick the champ in the ring, but Nigel caught him. Nigel freed himself from the triangle choke he got himself caught in, cracking Danielson’s jaw with the Lariat. The fans turned Nigel into John Cena by chanting, “Same old s***!”
Nigel went for the Tower of London, but got sent to the floor again. Nigel was able to turn a tope attempt into the Tower of London on the floor. Nigel’s head collided with Danielson’s instead of the floor, causing a flow of blood to run down the side of his head. Danielson was stuck in the middle of the ring when Nigel decided to use Danielson’s own Cattle Mutilation. Danielson reversed his own hold into a near fall pin. Nigel went for the Jawbreaker Lariat when he got up, but Danielson avoided it. Bryan hit the ropes, going for a flying kick, only to get sent to the mat via a Lariat. Nigel followed up with another Tower of London, shockingly, for another near fall. Nigel locked in the London Dungeon on the arm he had been working on. Danielson spun around, putting a foot on the ropes. When the champ went for it again, Danielson rolled Nigel up for two seconds. Danielson got behind Nigel, using Doug Williams’ Chaos Theory. With exhaustion setting in, Danielson couldn’t go for the pin. Danielson was able to survive a rush of strikes, belly to back superplexing Nigel. Danielson, one arm and all, covered Nigel for a two count. Danielson floated over into Cattle Mutilation, but with his arm so weak, he couldn’t keep the hands locked. Danielson rolled through, in position for the elbows to the head. “The American Dragon” thought about the agreement he made to not attack McGuinness’ head, refusing to break his word. Danielson turned the hold into a dragon suplex before using the elbows to the ribs. Danielson rolled over, cranking Nigel’s left arm back. Nigel tried to roll through, but Danielson countered his reversal into the triangle choke. Nigel refused to quit to the fan’s disdain. Nigel struggled to the ropes, breaking the hold. Danielson began using left and right hooks to the body to drop Nigel in hope that Nigel would be counted down.
All of a sudden, McGuinness head-butted Danielson. Nigel did it two more times, with the last hitting Danielson in the left eye. Instead of showing the same mercy Danielson did for him, Nigel aimed for the eye with the Lariat before using Danielson’s own elbows to the head, with the last one being driven against the eye. Nigel locked in the London Dungeon, but Danielson was already unconscious, allowing McGuinness to retain the title. The crowd began to boo heavily as Nigel jetted out of the building.
Winner: Nigel McGuinness (30:05)
Is It A Classic: One of the greatest matches in their entire series. The story of Nigel’s concussed head immediately changed the match’s dynamics that was perfectly topped by Danielson potentially getting his eye re-injured as the fans slowly, but surely embraced the fans’ hate for him. A vocal group of fans say this match isn’t anywhere near the caliber of their previous contests. Maybe in the innovation department they’re right. But when it comes to psychology & storytelling, they didn’t have a match better up to that point. A must-see for sure.