Rivalries: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness Part I – The Best Champion in ROH

Hello everyone, Happy New Year, and welcome to Rivalries: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness Part 1! I was so excited to watch these matches that I started right away. Then, they were so good that I binged 3 of their matches in 24 hours. I’m splitting this series into three parts with 3 matches each. This first section focuses on the attempts to unify the ROH Pure Title and the ROH World Title. Without further ado, lets begin the most famous rivalry in ROH history!

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Bryan Danielson (c.) vs. Nigel McGuinness (c.) – ROH World Championship Match – ROH Pure Championship Match – Pure Wrestling Rules – ROH Weekend of Champions Night 2

Just so we are all on the same page, pure wrestling rules are as follows: Each wrestler gets 3 rope breaks to use in the match. There is a strict 20 count on the floor. Close fists are illegal, where the 1st punch garners a warning and the 2nd punch either causes a loss of a rope break or a DQ. Also, the Pure title can change via countout or DQ.

            As for the match, my god it was awesome. Considering this isn’t even the match in highest regards for these two, I’m super excited to get more into their series. A major story for most of the match was both wrestlers trying to get the other to use up their rope breaks. The spots were just so well done and clever. For example, at one point, Danielson just kept using the cravat for minutes on end to frustrate McGuinness, causing him to use a rope break. This pissed off Nigel, so he distracted the referee and punched Danielson. Danielson then got pissed, punched Nigel, and got a rope break deducted. Also, later on in the match, both guys used their signature moves near the ropes to ensure their opponent would have to use a rope break. Stuff that brilliant happened throughout the match. It was so freaking good. Also, across the board the action was spectacular. Early on was mostly mat wrestling, which was some of the best mat wrestling I’ve ever seen. It felt like an actual competition where every move and reversal was done with both purpose and struggle. While seeing the effortless flow of some matwork is cool to watch, this added grittiness was so much fun to watch. Then, as the match got more action packed, it got really epic. There were intense action with stellar kickouts throughout the second phase of the match. Strikes were especially stiff here, and they all looked great. Another awesome part here was the character work. Danielson was in the middle of a huge heel world title run, so he was a total scumbag. He would slap McGuinness repeatedly, even opening the match with a slap, while also taunting and egging on McGuinness. Nigel also showed good character work, as he was an adept master of pure rules who got frustrated by how good Danielson was. Everything here was just so good. The only real problem is the finish, which is unsatisfying, but also sheer brilliance. Warning to those wanting to watch this match, spoiler alert for the rest of the review. The finish was Nigel reversing a dive into the crowd by lifting a chair. This caused Danielson to be counted out. While not clean and slightly depressing, this finish was also pure genius, as the feud could continue, as there was an unsatisfying finish, and Danielson kept his title, since only the Pure Title changes by countout. This allows another unification match (which would draw huge numbers for ROH) and made Nigel’s victory hollow, as he isn’t world champion. I love this match. Even with a screwy finish, it still rules and is still a classic. If this is one of the forgettable matches of the series, then the is going to be epic.

Rating: ****½

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Bryan Danielson (c.) vs. Nigel McGuinness – ROH World Championship Match – ROH Generation Now

            While not as amazing as the first match, these two deliver once again in the same building. A nice wrinkle to this match was that this was exactly 3 months to the day after the previous match and was in the exact same building. As for the match, there was a simple story here which was at constant play, Danielson just kept outsmarting McGuinness. The first half of the match was mostly mat wrestling, with Danielson working over the leg. This entire sequence was all about Danielson dominating on the mat and outsmarting McGuinness, who could only make small comebacks. Then, as the match got to more hard-hitting action, McGuinness began to even the odds and get more offense, but Bryan continued to be one step ahead. It was great, with McGuinness slowly closing the gap as the match went on. Another notable part here is the hatred that is building between the two. Early in the match there was a shoving match and later on after Nigel hit a headbutt, Danielson just started slapping the hell out of him. The intensity and the rivalry is slowly building to a boiling point with these two matches. Another thing of note is the action, which was stellar. All the moves were placed well for supreme drama and everything was hit just perfectly. They also stiffed each other really hard, with some really sick headbutts midway through. Knowing how both guys ended their careers, it was pretty uncomfortable to watch. I will say, however, that the story was one note, which is fine, but it prevents this match from being as great as the previous one. The early going felt a little lost at points story wise, as sometimes the mat wrestling just felt like it was happening instead of it being vital to the plot. Also, the finish, while perfect for the story, wasn’t super satisfying or definitive. It does mean the feud continues though, so screwy finishes aren’t a huge deal. I really enjoyed this match and it was a breeze to watch. I don’t think I’ve had a better time watching two guys wrestle than with these two.

Rating: ****

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Bryan Danielson (c.) vs. Nigel McGuinness (c.) .) – ROH World Championship Match – ROH Pure Championship Match – Pure Wrestling Rules – Any Draw Will Lead to A Restart – ROH World Championship Can Change by Countout or DQ – ROH Unified

            I’m not going to beat around the bush, this is one of the best matches I’ve ever seen, so I’m just going to gush about it for this entire review. It was so cool how Danielson wrestled this match on top, like most of the prior matches, but it was more of an even fight. Nigel got a lot more offense generally, as his improvement and awareness of Danielson has gotten better. Also, the rope breaks were done so well here again. For example, Nigel lost 2 rope breaks, so he went into a mad rush to force Danielson to lose rope breaks. He hit a Tower of London and a Cattle Mutilation to force Bryan to use 2 rope breaks. The intensity was at an apex too, as the hatred finally boiled over and these two went blow for blow. The mat wrestling was pretty much forgone, as this was a fight between rivals. Danielson was also so good here as a mega heel. They were in Liverpool, England, so Nigel was a monster face (making him get beaten down for a lot of the match even more brilliant). Because Nigel was so over, Danielson heeled it up, goading the crowd and being super cocky and aggressive. It was so good. Then, when the match spilled outside, it was brilliant. Danielson used the same table choke spot Nigel used in their first match to try to get a countout. I love that throwback so much! Also, Danielson used the dive which cost him the first much, but this time it hit and nearly caused Nigel to use by countout. After the dive when Nigel hulked up, it was one of the most badass things I’ve seen in wrestling. I honestly marked out. On top of this, the action was super brutal and epic, and these two went all out for the match. There were finishers, brutal strikes, and incredible near falls. The only issues to speak of are minor, with one not even really being a flaw. Fisrly, some of the brutality (especially the ring post spot in the gif above) were especially brutal to watch with how these two’s careers turned out. Also, the finish fell flat, as the crowd didn’t buy it. While the finish was totally awesome, for some reason it flopped with the crowd and they hated it. Regardless, WATCH THIS NOW. Its free on youtube so there is no excuse. I love this match so much. It’s honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Rating: ****¾

Thank you so much for reading the second edition of Rivalries! I’m very happy you took the time to check this review out. I had so much fun watching these three matches, and cannot wait to review the other 6. This will be fun. I also have a ton of cool matches for RMR and have made some progress with Starrcade 1992, so overall I’m pretty productive. Check out new updates and such here, and check out some of my other writings at freeprowrestling.com. If you want to contact me, check here. Otherwise, like, comment, share, or do whatever else you want to do. Thank you for reading and see you next time!

-Terrance Smith

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