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31 Days of Wrestling (12/24/17): Christopher Daniels Wins His First World Title (At 47)


Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2017 produced for us.

Don't ever let anyone tell you you're too old to accomplish anything. Christopher Daniels won his first world championship at a mind-blowing 47 years old.

Granted, it was the Ring of Honor World Championship, which is a third-tier world title (behind WWE and the IWGP Heavyweight title, and whatever world title Impact Wrestling has now if you really wanted to count it) but for ROH, 2017 was a year they spent building up their profile. From the Adam Cole title run they had to the landmark exclusive signing of Cody Rhodes to Dalton Castle's victory at Final Battle to even this, decorated veteran Christopher Daniels winning his first title, they were all about building buzz to get to the next level.

Let's set the stage.


It's March, and the event is ROH's 15th Anniversary Show. Adam Cole is the current ROH champion and still a member of the Bullet Club, but as everyone knows by now, he and the rest of what would become the Undisputed Era on NXT are already on their way out. Christopher Daniels is looking to win his first world title in the business (it's his destiny, if you will) but he and Kazarian had just recently broken up after the latter decided to join the Bullet Club.

The match starts evenly and the story is simple. It's the young versus, well, the old. It's a matter of whether the veteran could still keep up with the spry kid, only 27 at the time. The Fallen Angel proves himself still capable despite Adam Cole (Baybay)'s constant taunting, but the tables turn when Cole superkicks Daniels's head into the steel ring post, busting it open.

Cole uses the blood to get under Daniels's skin even more, but the Fallen Angel manages to fight back. They hit each other with all their big moves, each other's big moves, and Daniels even throws in a Styles Clash (a nod to his TNA contemporary and Cole's Bullet Club predecessor) all to no avail. It's when referee Todd Sinclair gets knocked out that Cole seems to find a real opening, kicking Daniels in the nuts to what should have been a three count. 

Kazarian comes in, acts like he's going to help Cole win the match, but turns the whole game around on Adam Cole (Baybay) by revealing he's still on #TeamDestiny and that the whole thing was part of an elaborate plan. Daniels takes out Cole and manages to hit three Best Moonsaults Ever in quick succession, proving that he didn't really need help to win the match and the world title. 

Beyond being a huge moment for Daniels's career, it was pretty much a favor owed to him by the rest of the pro wrestling industry for being such a pillar of the business. For ROH, it was the company realizing that in order to remain relevant, not only do they have to recognize their up-and-coming talents, but they also have to build on the backs of legendary names. 

While the eventual match in which Cody wins the title from Daniels wouldn't even be up to par with this, these moves pretty much guaranteed a renewed spotlight for the company and its roster. If Daniels is already thinking of retirement, then 2017 was a hell of a year to seal the deal.

*****


31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2017.

Read our previous entries:

1. The Okada/Omega Trilogy
2. Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker (WrestleMania 33)
3. The Mae Young Classic Finals
4. Billy Suede vs. Jake De Leon (Wrevolution X 2017)
5. WarGames
6. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Dark (Ultima Lucha Tres)
7. Fatal Four Way for the WWE Universal Championship (SummerSlam)
8. Manami Toyota's Retirement
9. Jinder Mahal Wins the WWE Championship
10. Roman Reigns Tries To Take The Torch (No Mercy 2017)
11. Hanzello Shilva vs. Aldrin Richards (MWF Balikbayan 2017)
12. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega (G1 Climax 27 Finals)
13. The Implosion of #DIY
14. Ubusan ng Lahi (PWR Vendetta 2017)
15. The First (and Second) Women's Money in the Bank
16. Cody Rhodes Wins the Ring of Honor World Championship
17. The Beginning of the Zo Train Era
18. Killshot vs. Dante Fox, Hell Of War (Ultima Lucha Tres)
19. The 16-Time Champ is Here
20. Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii, G1 Special
21. Kurt Angle Joins The Shield for the TLC Main Event
22. Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne, NXT Takeover: Chicago

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