Samoa Joe

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In October 2005, when Japanese heavyweight superstar Kenta Kobashi made a "once-in-a-lifetime" trip to the United States, he was signed to two Ring of Honor shows. ROH officials selected Joe to face him in a singles match on the first night and a tag match on the second. Joe proved to be a formidable opponent for Kobashi, in a back and forth match, which Dave Meltzer again gave a five-star rating. The match went on to win the Wrestling Observer Newsletter award for "Match of the Year". In 2006, Joe was one of the principal wrestlers representing Ring of Honor in their war against rival Philadelphia promotion Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). The war culminated in a five-on-five Cage of Death match at "Death before Dishonor IV". Joe helped ROH dominate in the match, until, after picking up CZW wrestler Chris Hero for one of his finishers, the Muscle Buster, he was attacked by fellow ROH wrestler Bryan Danielson. Danielson repeatedly hit his injured knee with a steel chair, forcing him to quit the match. Joe was later replaced in the match by Homicide, who went on to win the match for ROH. Joe later teamed with Homicide to fight against the Briscoes, and, like Homicide, found himself back in the ROH world title hunt. Joe, however, came up short against champion Bryan Danielson in several matches, including a match that went to a 60 Minute Draw and the final one being a cage match on December 8. At the December 9 show, Joe called out the Pro Wrestling Noah promotion, claiming "Ring of Honor is right here!" This was not his first encounter with NOAH; at the September 16, 2006 ROH show, after a speech by wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino, Joe got into an argument and pull-apart brawl with Noah star Takeshi Morishima. Subsequently, a match was signed for February pitting Joe against Morishima which Joe won.