Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wrestling DVD Reviews: Ring of Honor-Fifth Year Festival Shows

Ring of Honor: Fifth Year Festival-NYC 2.16.07 ***½
Special graphics for the Fifth Year Festival. New back stage interview Becky Bayless checks in with the fans. This is my first DVD since she’s come one on to the team but I remember her as the valet for Special K. Damn she’s hot. Jimmy Rave cuts a promo while not looking at the camera, which I guess is the new and yet very dumb thing. Rave’s getting better at his promos but its definitely not his strength. Though he’s looking stylish like a young Ric Flair.

Pelle Primeau vs. Morishim-Squash
I don’t know, 15 seconds? Way to get Morishima over. Put a 5’8” 150 lbs guy up against over 6 feet tall and near 300 pound monster.

Adam Pearce vs. Delirious **
Formula heel vs. face match. Not as good as their first one on one encounter which sadly ended in screw job. Pearce is a good heel and gets too much flak from ROH fans. Where he ripped some of Delirious tassels and choked him with them was nice. Has a mean choke slam. The match was okay as a true show opener. The ending had delirious hiding brass knuckles in his mask and winning with a head butt.

Tag champs cut promo. Christopher Daniels is of course good, Matt Sydall is “eh.” They tease Daniels heel and Sydalls continued cocky streak as he’s now wearing the Dragon Gate Promotions Open the Brave Gate title.

Daizee Haze & Alexa Thatcher vs. Sara Del Rey & Allison Danger *
Not off to a great start are we. Sad this match featuring two of the best female wrestlers in the States today(Haze and Rey), along with Allison Danger who keeps getting better and the very attractive Alexa Thatcher didn’t amount to much. But ROH pushed their Haze/Lacey storyline and left Thatcher, who I had never once seen before, to get crushed. Opened good, quickly became a waste of time.

Shingo vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Jack Evans vs. Xavier-Four Way Fray ***
No tags, all at the same time. The former ROH World champion makes a bit of a return filling in for the injured Davey Richards and does a damn fine job making me hope ROH brings him back in the future. Shino and Evans, stable mates in Japan, team up on the others. Shingo and Xavier have a nice exchange. Xavier avoids Evans very beautiful sasuke special(cartwheel twisting senton over-the-rope and to the floor). Shingo and Evans deliver big moves to Xavier and Evans scores the victory there. Uses a bridging backslide pin, which takes a lot of flexibility to pull off. Jacobs gets worked over and Shingo finishes him off with a lariat. The two stable mates go at it and deliver the best portion of this match. Shingo gets better and better every time I see him. The man utilizes a lot of great facial expressions which helps him connect with fans as his English isn’t all that good. Plus his wrestling is getting tighter. Evans wins with the 630. Complaints-Xavier needed more to do. Jacobs didn’t do enough. Evans and Shingo needed 5 more minutes. Good match, far from a classic, but the kick in the ass this show needed.

Samoa Joe comes out to say his goodbyes and thanks.

BJ Whitmer vs. Brent Albright-Tables Are Legal ***
Two men, lots of tables, craziness. The structure of this entire match was who can pretty much toss the other wrestler through more tables. Think Mike Awesome/Masato Tanaka with less wrestling and more table destroying. Not that it was bad, its was fun. I liked when BJ used the exploder through a table but only broke the bottom fourth. Then does another exploder breaking it through the middle. No waste of tables with Whitmer. The two could have a great stiff heavyweight match with the little wrestling they did throw in like Brent using his rolling germans and half nelson suplex only for VJ to absorb it and nail him with a lariat. Albright goes with awesome bomb through two tables, slightly larger in scale to when he awesome bombed BJ in a similar fashion at Final Battle 2006( Albright has a serious dynamic that makes me question why WWE let him go. There’s a spot in a fit of anger where he just destroy a table . BJ wins with a super exploder through a table.

Roderick Strong & Austin Aries vs. “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydall-Tag Titles ***
My fav tag team of 2006 face off against a team up I’m “eh” about. I like Daniels, I like Sydall, but not really as a tag team. There’s some nice stuff in the opening, back and forth action. Early on there seems to be some problems between Aries and Strong. Despite that they work cohesively. They work over Sydall until Sydall can get to Daniels and then the tag champions work over Strong. When Aries gets in he goes off on the champions but he messes up the quebrada and lands on his head and hurts his ankle. Still he continues through. The champs try to take the advantage but it stays pretty back and forth. Eventually the champs retain. This was a solid match and had a good amount of time and everyone was good but there were times it felt like it was dragging or didn’t just click.

Than we get Roderick Strong turning on his partner alongside Davey Richards. Jack Evans with a save to his former stable mates but doesn’t want to get involved in a growing conflict. This seems to be the kick off to the currently brewing stable wars. This is a sad split as Strong and Aries were such a great tag team and complimented each other so much. Aries with a great personality and in ring dynamic. Take it from me, I hated this guy when I started watching ROH again but now he’s one of my favorite wrestlers to watch. He’s like a more serious Chris Jericho. Strong, Strong just gets better and better. Definitely a better wrestler than Aries and more powerful but lacks the personality of Aries and while he is intense in the ring, not as much as Aries is. Kind of lame to see them broken up.

The Briscoes vs. Nigel McGuinness & Colt Cabana ***½
Great, another tag team WWE messed up. Colt was suppose to start teaming with Nigel more regularly after they each settled their feuds and this was a great way to show what they could do in the future.

Briscoes attack early and strong but Colt and Nigel are able to get themselves on the offensive as both men have teamed before and weren’t just thrown together. They go back and forth working over members of the opposing team. Colt and Nigel use their European chain wrestling on mark and colt throws out some comedy as usual including pulling Marks chest hair. Mark uses a cross body to get his team back on offense. Once Nigel gets in he starts laying in those stiff strikes. Even pulls out a regular suplex, very rarely using any power moves or non arm based takedowns, sending one Briscoe down onto another. Jay and mark are amongst the best tag teams in the world and watching them just makes tag team wrestling worth it so they pull out some of their top team moves like the black tiger bomb/neck breaker combo. In Japan they call that the Redneck Boogie. There’s a nice assisted Tower of London by Colt and Nigel. Back and forth until Nigel pulls out the upset victory with the rebound lariat. Very good tag match. Best match on the card by far.

Samoa Joe attacks Nigel and then Morishima comes out.

Samoa Joe vs. Morishima ***¾
I’ll be honest, I was not taken with this match as much as others were. Maybe its because I got by best of Toshiaki Kawada bootlegs and was expecting something on that scale of classic AJPW with two wrestlers who can go like that. That said, it is a damn fine match. Morishima out sizes Joe and over powers him early. Uses the cartwheel avalanche splash into the corner to the shock of fans unfamiliar with Morishima. The two go back and forth with Joe hitting some of his signature spots and combos. He pulls out a lot of strikes that look and sound stiff. Sometime within the first seven minutes he breaks Morishimas nose. Morshima has simple moves and likes using his size as an offensive tool like his rolling shoulder block as his opponent is seated. That’s 290 pounds flying at your face and chest. Not good. Joe hit’s the muscle buster but Morishima kicks out. Morishima uses some big moves including his backdrop suplex driver but Joe kicks out. Samoa Joe pulls out a half nelson suplex which I don’t think I ever seen him do. He wins with the choke though maritime never quit. Very good match I just sort of expected something a little grander.

Graphics on popular feuds from 2005 to 2006.

Jimmy Rave vs. Homicide-World Title***¾
“The match is a formality. New world champions right here.”-Jimmy Rave on his way to the ring.

Be glad you lost Jimmy, though I was pulling for you. Rave attacks Homicide right out of the gate. The two take it back and forth for the majority of the match. Rave tries to keep the match at a slow pace but Homicide is always quick to speed it up. Homicide pulls out a nice tiger bomb and exploder suplex combo. Rave moments later starts to try and work over the knee for his heel hook. Rave makes the mistake of trying to get into homicides territory with the fork but Homicide forks him for his mistake. Rave starts pulling out the big moves in his arsenal but can’t keep Homicide down for too long. Rave digs deep in his bag of tricks and pulls out the move he was banned from using-the Rave Clash(AJ stole this move and found a way to stop the originator from continuing using it) from the middle turnbuckle. Homicides manager saves him from the heel hook submission. Homicide starts hitting some big moves while Rave tries to rehook his finisher but a sick looking cop killa and Homicide retains in a match I think was just as good as the Joe/Morishima match which some argue should have went on last.

Show ends as we see Jack Evans laid out in the back. In a scenario I would normally see in WWE or TNA so to say I didn’t like it would be an understatement. Overall no as good as Glory by Honor V Night 2 or Final battle 2006 as far as Manhattan Center shows go.

Ring of Honor: Fifth Year Festival-Philly 2.17.07 ***¾
Whats with the bad backstage bit with Jack Evans laid out opening the new DVD? And why is Davey Richards walking around saying “It wasn’t me?” and mentioning the No Remorse Corps. And more promos where the wrestlers aren’t really looking at the camera. With these sort of things and a hot interviewer makes me wonder if Ring of Honor is slowly building to a TV deal. Probably not. But still they seem too TV wrestling. Jimmy gets interviewed about a suspension due to pulling out the rave clash but Joe comes in and says instead of being suspended they’ll go one on one tonight.

TJ Perkins vs. Nigel McGuinness **½
Perkins uses some lucha in the early goings for an early advantage. Tries to take it to Nigel on the floor but the rebound lariat when Perkins tries putting him back into the ring knocks Perkins down. Nigel starts working over the arm per usual. TJ starts trying to block some of Nigels big moves and it goes back and forth. Perkins kicks out of Nigels Tower of London but the rebound lariat pulls out the victory. Best lariat in wrestling today? Hm… solid, fun, opener.

Nice promo with Lacey, Jimmy Jacobs, and Adam Pearce. Best moment is when Jacobs says “Let’s not forget that we go out there with the crest of love on our side.” This is what makes Jimmy Jacobs such an effective bad guy is that he believes himself to be the good guy and won’t back down yet he does such vicious and violent things in the ring and as fans we see him being manipulated into these situations by Lacey.

Claudio Castignoli vs. Austin Aries ***
Is Castignoli a face or heel? Here he is heeling it up as he enters through the crowd(still playing off Castignoli as a traitor to ROH from the CZW/ROH series) and he trades verbal jabs with fans. Good stuff. Gets mad when fans do his “HEY!” stick.

Aries takes control early but the fact he hurt his ankle the night before allows double C to takeover. Interesting as this match features two wrestlers with bad blood who were to team up several weeks later in an 8 man tag match. Castignoli is an effective heel and I prefer that in double C as I never liked him as a baby face but as either a fan-hated wrestler or playing the big man to a smaller wrestler he is quite entertaining. Aries lands on his feet from one of double Cs standard attacks and this turns the match into a brief back and forth. Castignoli takes back control and hits an impressive springboard twisting uppercut and his Alkamari Water Slide(sort of like an angle slam). However Aries uses his patent combo for the victory. His combo? Stiff kick to the face, brain buster, and 450 splash. Beautiful series.

We get more of the building to this “stable wars” as Aries talks about the NRC of Roderick Strong and Davey Richards. Calls Davey Austin Aries lite which has become a sort of criticism from Daveys online detractors. Jack Evans wants to try and have things get settled between his former tag partner Strong and their one time stable leader Aries but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to work.

Jimmy Jacobs, Lacey, and Adam Pearce vs. BJ Whitmer, Daizee Haze, and Colt Cabana ***
Big violent brawl is pretty much the sum of it. Its mostly set up like this: Whitmer vs. Jacobs, Cabana vs. Pearce, Haze vs. Lacey. Theres a fun spot early with Pearce, lacey and Jacobs all in the same corner and Colt picks Haze up(rocking that BJ Whitmer shirt like only she can) and she tosses her hip first into them. There’s a lot of crowd brawling for the guys as the women stay just around the ring. The focus is mainly on Whitmer and Jacobs as their feud has been one of the hottest in wrestling in the recent years. There’s a spot where Whitmer uses his belt to hang Jacobs but Jacobs is able to get out and use the railroad spike. Back and forth and Jacobs nails Colt Cabana with the low blow. He uses duck tape to tape him up as Lacey takes a high heel she brought to the ring and Jacobs uses it down hard on Cabanas throat. But even though it becomes almost 3 on 2 Whitmer pulls out the suplex exploder suplex from the top to win it for his team.

El Generico and Kevin Steen vs. the Briscoes ****
Generico has been getting a few ROH bookings of recent. Having improved quite a bit since the last few times he worked with the company. Steen makes his return as he’s had try outs before but has supposedly become far better. What follows is what I’d argue to be the best match of both shows. Steen tries intimidate the Briscoes early and all that does is lead to the Briscoes assaulting early. They start double teaming Generico after sending Steen out but Steen trips one of the Briscoes and pulls him outside. Its an early breakdown as both teams just go at it in a very hot opening. It eventually gets to a formula tag affair. Back and forth with Generico being worked over by the Briscoes one moment to Jay being worked over by the opposition. When the Briscoes get back on the offense they deliver a flurry of moves on Generico. In a very amusing bit Steen becomes so upset that he rips the tag rope(the little rope on the turnbuckle pad tag wrestlers are meant to hold on to waiting for a tag). Jay gets it after Steen throws it at him and sues it to choke Generico. Generico pulls out a spot from the Jay vs. Mark match at ROHs first year anniversary, though I doubt they were the only ones who used it but it was the first time and only time I had seen it, to reverse an attempted springboard twisting hurricarana into an ace crusher. Steen gets in and starts working over both men. There’s one of my fav Generico moves which happens on the floor as Generico jumps into the ring, through the bottom and middle ropes, back to the outside and uses a tornado DDT. Its another breakdown. Steen nails Jay with a powerbomb onto the edge of the ring apron. But the new ROH tag team make a mistake and Mark hits his cutthroat driver. The Briscoes hit their combination guillotine leg drop/shooting star press for the victory. Intense tag match.

Backstage with Colt Cabana still hurt and Whitmer, blood dried on face, talking about how Jacobs is going to suffer at Colts hands and then his own.

Jimmy Rave vs. Samoa Joe ***½
There were reviews saying this match was boring or wasn’t a good Joe farewell to Philly but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Joe still looks good while making Rave lose but still look like he’s been elevated to main event player in Ring of Honor. Joe messes with rave in the early going demonstrating his dominance. It starts a little back and forth until the match goes outside with Joe tripping Rave face first on the apron. Then hooking him and sending him head first into the barricade. Joe begins to control the match but Rave starts building an offense however when he spits on Joe gets upset and delivers his atomic drop/flying boot/back senton combo. Its all Joe until Jimmy rave reverses the face wash and starts working on Joes knee. Its back and forth as Joe gets out and starts nailing his moves but of course Rave hits some of his signatures. Joe makes Raves heel hook look devastating, even getting out and using it on Rave himself. Rave tries to keep out of the muscle buster but Joe uses the island driver for the win. I really liked this match.

Joe thanks the fans and puts over ROH. Backstage Becky interviews Jack Evans.

Delirious vs. Roderick Strong-FIP Title **
Online fans were right, worst match on the show but that might be because of delirious suffering an concussion part way through. It started off hot with some nice work from both men and Delirious being the very-over athlete he is doing some good technical work. The spot where it goes down hill is when Strong pulls Delirious off the top turnbuckle dropping him back and head first into the ring floor. You can tell delirious is out but he keeps trying to go. Strong continues the assault including a Tiger Driver on the ripped to the floor guardrail. Delirious is being carried out but Strong attacks him. All this does is solidify him as a heel. Aries makes the save and chases Strong off. All reports says Delirious did suffer a concussion being pulled off ROHs next two shows and even being spotted at the Chikara show the next day from this show still hurt.

Shingo and Jack Evans vs. Matt Sydall and “the Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels-Tag Titles ***½
Starts as fomula tag match. Good stuff with former stable mates and also dragon gate competitors Sydall and Evans. Evans showboating allows the champs to take the advantage. Sydall mocks him and attacks and then Daniels does the same. Even busting the robot because ROH fans know Evans is a b-boy. Evans gets out and tags Shingo who tries working over Daniels until Daniels catches him with the leg lariat. Shingo gets worked over for a moment and then Daniels gets worked over by the challengers. Shingos firemans carry into sit out spine buster in a nice move. Does some nice submissions after Daniels kicks out. This match eventually goes to hot tag mode and breaks down. Lots of back and forth with an assisted angel wings for the champs to retain. Another good tag match but I still do not care for the Daniels/Sydall tag team.

Aries and Evans talk. Aries says he won’t force Evans to help him. Both say they’ll start teams. Backstage Laceys proud of Jacobs, for once, and whispers something to him. Interestingly they are interviewed by Becky Bayless who has a history with Jacobs and apparently had a break up that Jacobs took very hard at one point. Not that this means anything but I felt like adding that.

Video package about international talent ROH brings in. They need some luchadors this year. Real luchadors from Mexico.

Morishima vs. Homicide-World Title ***½
Big outside brawl early. Homicide tries throwing out some moves at Morishima by using brawling and high flying on the monster. Even Homicides manager Smokes gets in on the action but Morishima is just too much knocking down both men inside the ring at one point. He uses his size to his advantage on the smaller Homicide. He pulls out some submissions and tries a lariat but Homicide reverses it to the ace crusher. Homicide pulls out his lariat but Morishima just takes it. Even a superplex from the top can’t keep the man down. Cide utilizes the flying rana but Shima just comes back with a uranage throw. He nails the backdrop driver and lariat but Homicide kicks out. Second back drop driver and new ROH World champion. Fast paced, action pack, good title match.

Overall I liked this show better then the NYC show.

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