Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness – Their Title Unification Battle

On August 12th, 2006, in Liverpool, England, Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness, a title unification matchup between them at ROH Unified. The match would pit the World Champion (Danielson) against the Pure Champion (McGuinness). The two had faced one another in the first-ever title versus title match in ROH history a little more than three months earlier.

It was during that contest where McGuinness would win the Pure Championship since the World Title could not change hands on a count-out. While many may have thought McGuinness had the hometown advantage, Danielson received a great deal of admiration from the fans in attendance. Danielson would make his way out first, followed by McGuinness.

The American Dragon would immediately get under the skin of the fans, calling himself ‘even better than The Beatles.’ Despite this, fans would chant Dragon. Not to be outdone, McGuinness appeared to receive an even greater pop by the hometown crowd. The rules involved three rope breaks but can not be used after that to prevent a submission or pinning attempt.

Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness
[Photo: Reddit]

Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness – Title Unification ROH Unified 2006

There would also be a strict 20 count on the floor, and no strikes to the face are permitted. Also, in the event of a double disqualification or double pinfall that the match would be restarted. The two would shake hands and then go to their respective corners. Both men are shown the titles on the line prior to the match. Dueling chants of ‘let’s go Dragon’ and ‘let’s go Nigel’ fill the arena even before the match has begun.

The bell rings, and the two lock up. McGuinness backs up Dragon into the corner and breaks cleanly. Bryan Danielson then backs McGuinness against the ropes and then proceeds to slap McGuinness in the presented. Bryan Danielson then begins to work on the arm and shoulder of McGuinness. McGuinness breaks free of Danielson’s clutches and proceeds to counter and slap him in retaliation.

Nigel then holds an armbar on Danielson but only momentarily. The two exchange armbars and counters of each other’s grasp. At this moment, the Ring of Honor fans begin to chant for Nigel. McGuinness countered Danielson’s armbar with a stiff break of his own. Technically, both men have an answer for the other’s holds. Danielson focuses on the arm of McGuinness. He wrenches on it and systematically tears as the forearm, elbow, and wrist.

“Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness is wrestling to an elevated art.”

– Evan Ginzberg, executive producer of The Wrestler & 350 Days

10 Years Later: Revisiting Danielson vs. McGuinness at ROH Unified
[Photo: Voices of Wrestling]
Danielson then whips him into the ropes and hits a dropkick. He picks McGuinness up and then hits him with a pair of European uppercuts and then a butterfly suplex leaning to an armbar. McGuinness then manages to get to the rope leading to his first rope break. He is now only allowed two more. McGuinness recovers and tears at arm of Danielson. He then backs him into the corner turnbuckle and then charges from one corner to hit a European uppercut on the Ring of Honor Champion.

McGuinness then has his arm tied up, almost like a straight jacket. Danielson then makes his way back up to his feet. He recovers and then begins to work over the legs of McGuinness. Danielson tells the fans to ‘screw you’ and continues to work over the Pure Champion. While both are on the top rope, Danielson hits a superplex followed by a diving headbutt.

This leads to him applying cattle mutilation. Nigel gets to the rope leading to a second rope break. McGuinness now only has one more rope break remaining. But McGuinness catches Danielson perched on the top rope and hits the Tower of London. He then comes back and forces a rope break on Danielson in a pinning predicament, causing American Dragon to get his foot on the rope. Bryan Danielson now has his first rope break. McGuinness then applies cattle mutilation on Danielson leading to a second rope break by the ROH Champion.

At nearly the midway point of this match and both men have two rope breaks, with only one allocated to both men. Danielson makes his way to the outside, leading McGuinness to follow him out. The two men battle on the floor extensively. Danielson drives McGuinness’ head on a table and then steps on his throat. He then turns a table sideways and has the edge of the table across the throat of McGuinness.

As the referee attempts to count both men out, McGuinness makes his way back into the awaiting Danielson. Once in the ring, both men trade forearms across the face, chest, and throat of one another. Fans are chanting in support of both men. Eventually, McGuinness recovers and continues to work over the chest of Danielson. But its momentarily as Danielson recovers and locks in a cross-face chicken wing on McGuinness.

Commentary reminds fans that this was how Danielson had won the title at the time. This forces McGuinness to use his third and final rope break. Danielson empathically shouts ‘NO MORE,’ signaling that McGuinness can no longer reach for the ropes. The American Dragon follows that up with a belly-to-back suplex on McGuinness. Danielson then climbs to the top rope and attempts a diving headbutt, but McGuinness gets his knees up.

Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness – Unbridled Passion

Both men are now on the match recovering. They both get to their feet and then begin to exchange slaps across the face. The stiff strikes then leads to Danielson hitting a clothesline.

But then Nigel then hits a leaping clothesline on the prone Danielson sitting atop and straddling the top rope. McGuinness goes for the cover, and Danielson using his third and final rope break to stop the pinning attempt.

The ropes can no longer save either man. Fans once again collectively chant in support of both men. McGuinness then climbs the top rope but is stopped. Nigel pushes him off of him, but Danielson comes back and hits a dropkick on McGuinness.

He then uses a cross-face chicken wing on McGuinness on the top rope. But McGuinness reverses it into another Tower of London. Nigel goes for the pinning attempt but only gets a count of two.

The two men then make their way out to the floor. McGuinness and Danielson then pull at each other around the steel post. Danielson then causes McGuinness to bleed across the forehead.

American Dragon then springboards over the barricade onto McGuinness into the crowd. Fans cheer in unison at the action on hand. Both men are battered and beaten, but it’s clear that McGuinness is the worst off of the two.

Danielson begins to make his way back over the barricade first while McGuinness follows. Despite the beating McGuinness has received, he is relentless in his pursuit of the ROH Champion.

Danielson is back in the ring first as McGuinness continues to make his way into the ring. He breaks the count on the floor, enraged, going after Danielson. He drives repeated headbutts on Danielson. Danielson then hits repeated headbutts on McGuinness, leading to Nigel swinging back and hitting a massive clothesline.

But Danielson then locks in cattle mutilation a second time. But as McGuinness attempts to get to the ropes, he can not get a rope break. He then rotates out of the hold and reverses it.

This leads to a series of repeated elbows by Danielson on McGuinness, who can not defend himself. The referee stopped the match as a prone, and knocked-out McGuinness rests in the middle of the ring.

Danielson was awarded both titles as he posed on one knee with each championship. He proudly held the title above his shoulder but looked down at the fallen McGuinness, much to the dismay of those in attendance.

A battered McGuinness struggles back to his feet, clutching the ropes as he pulls himself up. Danielson then picks up the microphone and says that this was the hardest title match he had since capturing the title.

He says he would give Nigel one more title match. Nigel then picks up the microphone and says he would accept because Danielson, the crowd, and he wants the match. After the match, Danielson announced that the ROH Pure Championship had been officially retired and gave the title belt back to McGuinness to keep.