I wonder how many people got into Ring of Honor through through the mass market Koch DVD releases. I know I count myself as one of those folks. I picked up their "Best in the World" release (not to be confused the 2006 Milestone Series show) and knew that this was a company I should check out. For whatever reason, I stopped there and did not get the three other Koch releases. Now like much of ROH's past releases these are out of production and are pretty desirable themselves. They do a pretty good job of compiling ROH's golden years of 2004-2007 and because they were mass produced, they are a little bit easier to come by than the show DVDs. You might actually find these at a cd/game exchange type store too! Although don't hold your breath.
But really, why didn't I purchase the other DVDs? I think I was super eager to get my paws on anything puro and the 'other three' didn't feature Japanese talent. I've eventually come in to possession of these compilations and want to let you know (over a decade later) if you should check these out.
The first one I'm going to review is the final one I bought. That is 'Stars of Honor.' As someone who's not a big fan of WWE style stuff, it makes sense why I put this one off. There are two Matt Hardy matches, a Christian match, and an MVP match. But! There is also guys like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Spanky Kendrick, and Jay Lethal. So, I got it
I watched these in order of least to most interested. Let's take a look!
Homicide vs Antonio Banks (MVP): This match took place 02/19/05 and is for the FIP Heavyweight title in Elizabeth, NJ. However, that doesn't make sense since 02/19 was the Second Anniversary show Night #1 and 'cide faced Danielson in a Taped Fist Match. I had to research this a little bit and this was probably a dark match and was not shown on the ROH DVD. I'm guessing it was added as an extra on a FIP or ROH show that needed some padding. Why they added this here is beyond me. I never though MVP was a big star back in 2008 when this was released. No disrespect to him but, the gimmick was goofy as hell. He looks way better here versus The Notorious One. This was a fun match with Banks powering the champ around.
Matt Hardy vs Homicide (Redemption 2005) - Matt Hardy had already been resigned to WWE but, wanted to fulfill his commitment to ROH during what would become the "Summer of Punk." Hardy's three show participation had to have some effect in getting more butts in the seats. He wasn't a welcome addition to the roster as the fans, much like ECW's, were very hostile toward big company outsiders. I belive Jeff made an appearance earlier and that did not go as well despite Jeff's style being much more conducive to the ROH style. Matt Hardy wanted to prove he was a top wrestler especially with James Gibson/Noble doing the same in '05. Gibson was never given the limelight like the Hardys and many felt by this point in time they were company men. What better opponent for Matt to face than the no nonsense Homicide? That being said, everyone wanted deep down for Matt to do well because he and Jeff had been instrumental in introducing the high risk action of a new generation to WWF. So, it was a 'we hate this guy! (I hope he does well!' sentiment. I was really impressed as they punched and slammed each other all over the place. Homicide can take a beating but, kudos to Hardy for taking a king-sized lariat. Some might not love the finish but, it was smart and it worked! Very good stuff!
Roderick Strong vs Matt Hardy (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005): We're going to come back to this show later. ROH has two matches from two shows on this compilation which is pretty weird since it sorta discourages a person from getting those actual DVDs. Anyhow, this is Matt's final appearance and has one final opponent in Roderick Strong. At this point, people were happy to see Hardy but, since it was known he was jumping ship back to WWE, they wanted to see him get destroyed. I think there was no better person than Roderick. And you better believe me & the fans get what we want. This was a great match where Roddy almost kills Matt with a back breaker combo. I mean I lost it when he hit it! That flurry should have been the finish IMO! Things are picking up!
Christian Cage vs Christopher Daniels (Generation Now 2006): The second of I believe Christian's 2 ROH shows. I think this was sort of a warm up before he went to TNA. And that's kind of what this match is with Daniels. It never goes into 4th gear but, is very good. Christian isn't one of my faves but, I can't fault them putting this on the DVD.
Spanky (Kendrick) vs Bryan Danielson (Best of the American Super Jrs. 2005): For as awesome as 2005 ROH was there was still goofy stuff like this show where Kendo -freaking- Kashin wins a tournament with Danielson, Rocky Romero, Kendrick, Roderick Strong, James Gibson, and more participating! To top it off Kashin dogged it and didn't even wrestle under his own gimmick AND this tournament was supposed to grant the winner a spot in the 2005 BOSJ in NJPW...but that never happened! SO, there was no point in even having the tournament let alone letting Kashin win. That show did produce some really notable matches. This being the first. Many have described this as the BEST opening match in ROH history. I don't know about that but, this was in no way wrestled like a tourney match. Danielson was brutal in grinding Kendrick down but, Spanky would not quit. Great match
James Gibson vs Roderick Strong (same show): Strong manhandles Gibson and Jamie is selling the heck outta it. Lotta great mat action here. They leave stuff on the table here but, there is a rematch at the Unforgettable 2005 show which I might have to snag. Very good match. Also may have to find their Full Impact Pro matches too.
Now I'm going to say the selling point of this DVD for most (including me) is Joe vs Punk III at All Star Extravaganza 2. Per my guidelines above, I would leave that match last. However, I find that is is not THE BEST bout on this compilation in my view. So, let's take a look now and then get on to the final and best match.
Samoa Joe vs CM Punk (All Star Extravaganza 2 2004): I've seen Joe vs Punk II and loved that match. It is a classic in my book. This match is not a classic though. The story of it did not connect with me as strongly. The layout of this did not strike me as much. There are some execution issues that while not egregious do take me out of the moment. All that said, this is a great match. **** stuff to me but, I am in the minority. I have not seen their first match at World Title Classic. I think I might want to.
Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter): This is the best match on this DVD and the one I probably knew the least about...other than people recommending it. This is the 3rd Homicide match, the 2nd Joe match, and the second match from Punk's last ROH show. Its an odd inclusion for those reasons. Was it trying to recognize Low-Ki and Lethal? Lethal was building but, Ki was Senshi at this time which was just weird (which would get weirder). I don't care at the end of the day though. This was a WAR! Ki & Homicide are heeling in the worst way and Lethal is the little brother to the juggernaut that is Samoa Joe. This is like an updated version of The Funks vs Abby & The Sheik or the best ECW brawls. There's blood, chair throwing, crowd fighting, and more. This was a classic fight to me. There's an 80's finish but, I mean that in the very best of ways. That bell don't mean a thing. This is the Samoe Joe you wanna see, this is the Homicide you wanna see, Baby Jay Lethal learning how to be a champ in this match. Yup, this is a classic.
Get this puppy used online and I'm sure you'll be happy. Its a weird pick of matches and talent especially with the benefit of hindsight. 2 Matt Hardy matches, an MVP dark match, and three Homicide matches seems like they were piecing this one together at the end. I would have preferred a 2nd Gibson match or a Paul London or an AJ Styles match instead. I think they were really focused on the Best Buy or Amazon customer snagging this and seeing those WWE names and going "Yeah why not!" With that in mind, they probably should have put another Punk match on there if they wanted to have 2 Joe matches. But, I'm Monday morning quarterbacking something from 12 years ago You get two very good-great Roderick Strong matches from his break-out year, you get two great-classic Samoa Joe matches, you get a great Bryan Danielson match from a show you probably don't want to track down...so it's a no brainer if you can get this under $10. If you look at this as a show DVD, there's a ****1/2+ match and 3 **** matches. That's a must buy in my book.
I've got Bloodstained Honor (terrible title) and Greatest Rivalries to tackle in the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading! Stay safe!