There has been a lot of talk recently about the resurgence of Jimmy Rave and how he is potentially the best wrestler in the world in 2016. From the footage I’ve watched from him in 2015-2016, I’m not sure I could back that claim. The more interesting thing to me is that Jimmy Rave had a fantastic 2005, that was viewed positively at the time and upon re watch in recent months.
Rave had super solid **** matches with CM Punk, AJ Styles, and later in the year as part of the Embassy versus Generation Next multi-man feud. ****, what’s so great about that? For one, Rave got over as a real heat drawing heel. That just didn’t happen in ROH. And while Punk and Styles were good workers in their own right, they certainly weren’t what they would become 5-8 years down the line.
I’d suggest checking out the following matches:
CM Punk (02/26/05 – Chicago)
If this match happened in 2016, move for move with the same crowd reaction, people would be saying it is an easy MOTYC. It was viewed that way back in 2005 by most, but at the time, it was still a good match and an example of something different in the highly technical world of ROH. Maybe the closest ROH ever got to being prime-Memphis like.
CM Punk (05/07/05 – New York City)
You would think a chain match, with a guy like Punk who doesn’t have the best body control, in front of a New York City crowd would be a disaster? You’d be wrong. Besides being bloody, this had the grit and intensity of a lucha apuestas match. Once again, Rave easily holds up his end of the bargain.
CM Punk (05/14/05 – Chicago)
Okay, so this is the weird one. Move for move, moment to moment, they execute a cage match that is arguably good, maybe very good. But there is no heat. That could have been due to the length of the show (which ROH was notorious for), the downtime to set the cage up before the main event, and the booking to have this be pin fall, submission, or escape. It’s worth taking a look at, but unfortunately is a disappointing finish to a really well booked and well wrestled feud.
AJ Styles (07/23/05 – Philadelphia)
This is probably the most underrated match in ROH history, outside of Chad Collyer vs. Rocky Romero from July 2004. It’s a street fight and once you get past Rave and Styles wearing designer jeans, there is nothing but positives. Rave’s top notch punches, which he seems to have ditched in his most recent run, are on display here, as well as the bumping, selling, and intensity that was needed as Styles could only work sparse dates for ROH because of TNA obligations. This even has a brain buster on a chair, a move that I shouldn’t like at all, but it fits in this match pretty perfectly.
There is also an angle on the April 16, 2005 ROH show that leads to the chain match. It starts with Rave leaving because he doesn’t want to wrestle Punk, who then wrestlers Embassy member Mike Kruel. Punk beats him and Rave comes back out and they have a great brawl, which ends with Rave attacking Punk’s second, Traci Brooks. Well worth seeing but not certainly not essential.