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Found 91 results

  1. OK we're on to Part #2 of the Best of TNA 2009 as determined by the DVD put out by TNA in 2009 Sarita vs Alissa Flash (Best Women's match, Impact TV 07/16) : You know I remembered this match and it was alright. TNA's Knockout division was getting pretty good around this time. You could expect quality beyond Awesome Kong, ODB and I think Gail Kim left already to try WWE again. Fun moves Sabin vs Shelley vs Homicide vs Daniels vs Amazing Red vs Suicide (Bound for Glory, October, Ultimate X match, #4 Best Bout) : Red was the champ and this was a free for all, the MCMG fought as a team and came out as a team. Yeah in hindsight they were in here just to spice shit up.And really that's all this was - top notch high risk spot match. It is neat that you have all of this talent but also bummer that they're not fighting for the World Title. They were just so afraid of pushing them beyond the X division. This should have been the main event as it was thrilling and the fans were crazy about it. AJ Styles vs Sting (Bound for Glory, October, #3 Best Bout): A simple but effective World title fight. It reminded me of Sting facing a young version of himself in AJ Styles. You could say it was a little disappointing if you bought the PPV and thought they would top Ultimate X but on tape and a decade removed, its a great match. Samoa Joe vs Daniels vs AJ Styles (Turning Point, November, 3 way, #1 Best Bout): Best Bout? You better believe it! This was a classic work rate match showing their 2005 classic was no fluke. This is in the Top 10 Best TNA matches that I've seen. I remember the build up to this and it was great to see Christopher Daniels as "himself" instead of Curry Man. I missed his early years in TNA and had only heard of these three's 5 star match. I was really jazzed up about this but I never bought TNA shows since I was worried about cheap finishes. So its fantastic to finally see this and know that it lived up to the hype. That said, I don't know how it would stack up against a ROH three way match in 2009 but would still put it at the ****1/2 level. ...and that's it folks! A fun albeit brief look at the Best of TNA in 2009. Thanks for reading and stay safe!
  2. A couple of years ago I found a TNA DVD that I'd never seen before and haven't seen since. It is TNA Best of 2009. I actually got my copy factory sealed too but without a price tag. So its odd that someone never opened this OR maybe this copy just sat around a warehouse for 10 years until I bought it. What makes this such a great find for me is that its right about when I really was paying attention to TNA but also becoming less interested in the program. So it features some of the last good TNA stuff on Spike. In the bonus features it has the announcement of Hulk Hogan joining the promotion which was the beginning of the end. So this DVD features the Top matches of the year and I can't really complain since I can only recall a better Knockout match than the one featured here and that was Cheerleader Melissa vs Ayako Hamada in a no DQ match. That could have been 2010 though. Anyhow, this post is going to focus on the Kurt Angle matches since he's in half of those featured. Personally, his stuff here isn't as top shelf as some of the bouts from 2006-2008 as shown on his TNA solo DVD (Joe matches, vs Nagata). That said those featured here are still very worthy of being some of his best work in TNA wrestling. vs Jeff Jarrett (Genesis 2009 January, #5 Best bout) : This was a No DQ match that was very much an Attitude Era throw back. Boxes were getting checked off: Big bumps, blood, chair shots, etc. But it felt good given the age of the two. I mean Jeff almost lawn darted on a suicide dive and damn near missed the table on a big spot. It worked because they sold the hate. This was a very, very good match. vs AJ Styles (Table match, January, Best Impact TV bout) : The intro video does a great job recapping the AJ & Kurt saga...One I'm very fond of. In a nutshell, Tomko (remember him?) and AJ are tag partners and part of Team Angle. Kurt's babe of an (ex)wife is introduced here as well. Kurt is a egocentric tool and AJ is protecting her. Kurt thinks there's romance brewing but AJ & Karen say they're just friends. Haaft They say this is after all of that but I sorta remember that running into this period of the Main Event Mafia (goan) vs the non former WWF /WCW wrestlers. Anyways, this was a good TV match but it should be clear that TNA was becoming WCW part deux. vs Sting (Empty Arena Match Best Grudge match, Impact TV February): They call it the best grudge match but you'll see the match below is the #2 match of 2009 and that's a grudge match as well. Maybe its the best TV grudge match??? Regardless, this is a battle I remember loving. It felt like something very special to see on TV. I still feel that way (even after all we've seen in the past year). Other than the fantastic and hilarious finish where Kevin Nash yells at them like an angry father (see below), this was a great battle. You could argue that this was more WCW flash backs but, if its done right, there's no problem to me. This was an instance where they did it right. I would give that credit to Sting and Kurt wanting to still put on a good show. It'd be wrong for me to call this a classic match BUT with the match combined with the ending, this was a Classic bit of TNA Impact TV! vs Desmond Wolfe (Turning Point, November, #2 Best Bout) : Its not great when you don't have anything worthwhile for 9 months from your top star to put on the DVD. But here we are! Desmond Wolfe has been gunning for Kurt and has decimated him on TV. Now they have a match to settle things. OK...I'm going to get my rant from 11 years ago out of the way. Why the hell did they change the name and character of Nigel McGuinness? He had so much hype coming from ROH and they just KILLED it by doing this. Doing this seemed like such WCW/WWF level bullshit. Its not worth going into but even Nigel (I know its not his real name but he's used it everywhere else in wrestling) says in a promo/vignette something like, ' I'm going by the name of Desmond Wolfe at the moment ' when introducing himself. He or whoever wrote the segment knew there was still cross over between ROH and TNA and they should acknowledge that this guy was someone else somewhere else. That is convoluted to write but its because it is a convoluted idea! All I can hope is Nigel didn't want to tarnish the character and his legacy by jobbing in TNA. And I can support that with hindsight on my side because he was a mid card jobber to the stars in the promotion. They tried to do the British team thing again but I had fucking tuned out of TNA a little after seeing what they did to my boy! Spoiler alert!!! The writing above should give you an idea on the outcome of this match. It is a great match. Its Kurt big-match-by-numbers but Nigel...I mean Desmond is masterful. To use a line from The Dark Night Returns, this isn't a wrestling ring. Its an operating table and Desmond Wolfe is the surgeon. I wrote more than that but I'm going to leave it there. The match is posted on YouTube so I recommend checking it out. More of the Best of TNA 2009 coming soon! Thanks for reading If you have pets give them a hug today!
  3. I loved the early battle of strength vs speed and how AJ adapted to Reigns' offence. I preferred the way the Payback match was paced and I wasn't really big on the crowd brawling in this one which is why I think the Payback match was better. The stuff with the pre-show panel table felt novel but I don't think it was worth the time they gave that segment. Sealing the Styles Clash for the last two months was probably the best thing they could have done and they did a great job building to it here too, I loved Reigns' Uppercut counter to it. Reigns' leg injury angle wasn't overly significant in the whole scheme of the match but it did provide a valid excuse for him to sell as much as he did before Gallows and Anderson got involved. I loved the way they mixed up the counters, for example in the last match Reigns Superman Punched Reigns in the middle of his Springboard Forearm and here he did it before Styles even leaped. AJ took some disgusting bumps and the match felt a different kind of brutal. The bit with Reigns swinging him into the apron and the barricade before Powerbombing him through a table that wasn't "cleared" beforehand was just insane and Reigns breaking the barricade with a Spear also felt fresh due to it being done from a different angle. ****1/4
  4. Generally speaking, I live in a cave with my head under a rock when it comes to contemporary wrestling. I poked it out a little bit last year to see the empty seats of Smackdown for historical purposes. When the Wonder Wall was debuted, I lasted 15 minutes before I became dizzy. I took a small trip away from the cave to see Ring of Honor attempt to return to form with their Pure Title tournament. I thought it was fantastic but they squandered or scared away whatever interest that drummed up. Now with CM Punk (and perhaps Bryan Danielson) in All Elite Wrestling, I am compelled to lift the stone from my head and check it out. So I watched his return promo in Chicago and man! that's entertaining! He's still got it. I'm not going to watch anything else on purpose mind you but I wanted to see that. You know...for historical purposes. I liked Punk's speech because he explained his comments regarding wrestling when he was doing MMA/UFC. He acknowledged his time in ROH and made the distinction between that wrestling and what he was doing for almost a decade in WWE. I was confused by a few (hundred) fans booing ROH in a past life. I'd be less confused if they booed ROH in their present form. Who boos a mention of ROH from 2002-2005? Are these folks completely ignorant of the giant influence the company had on both CM Punk and the current American pro wrestling landscape? That's an aside though.What I thought of after a couple days after is more interesting than the excitement of CM Punk back in a ring. Or more interesting on the historically ignorant fans. What really stuck with me is that Punk's history is kind of not true. Now I know it may have been kayfabe but Mr. Brooks, Phil if you will, has a tendency to blur the lines between a work and a shoot when on the mic. So we can say some of this was true for Punk & Phil. But I don't think any of it was any form of an objective truth. Chick Magnet Punk says that things had run their course in ROH and then went to WWE where he didn't wrestle for almost a decade. Now that's not true because no one wrestled in ROH either. I'll defend WWE's " sports entertainment " ideology in so much that what they do isn't wrestling. Pro wrestling is more dramatized combat with melodrama than wrestling like you'd see in high school, college, the Olympics etc. That's a sport. But frankly, I could say all professional sports aren't sports either but are this sports entertainment since no one's playing in an empty gym (until last year) and people are being entertained either through TV, videos, clothing, games. There isn't intentional and planned melodrama (although it happens organically). It lacks nuance for Punk to say he left wrestling in 2005 and came back now in AEW. It is kinda not true. I've watched his stuff in ROH (as we'll see below) and all in all it wasn't that different from what he was doing in WWE. Punk never mentions UFC. I wouldn't either. What he left in 2005 was the freedom and identity that ROH and the Indy scene afforded him. He could be himself. Brooks left a community that embraced him for an opportunity to make a living and potentially make a fortune. I don't think he anticipated what it would cost. I don't think he knew it would cost him friends and fans and would embarrass himself in the process...I recall him saying if UFC had been around when he was younger he would have gone into that instead of wrestling. Man, you ever hear of karate or judo? That wasn't true when he said it. And I don't think anything he said the other night is true either. This is why I stay in my cave and keep my head beneath a boulder. He's not the same person. I just know too much about Phil Brooks to really believe CM Punk anymore. But maybe that's the state of contemporary wrestling in general? I just know too much to really believe any of it. That's all a lead in to some reviews of when Brooks or perhaps Punk was a wrestler before not being a wrestler (never was a wrestler) and becoming a sports entertainer (always was a sports entertainer) and then a mixed martial artist (a sports entertainer but STILL not a wrestler believe it or not!) and a wrestler again (still not a wrestler). vs Raven (Death Before Dishonor 2003) : This was a dog collar match and I believe the consensus is that this is their best bout. I don't know since its all I got to watch but this is very much a Raven match. If you like his style and character (which I do) then this is something that you want to watch. Its a bit on the loner side but it pretty simple in terms of execution and scope. Its violent like it needed to be. Its got some stuff ECW fans would like too...remember this is only a couple years after they closed so that wasn't as odd as you might think. Great match vs AJ Styles (Tradition Continues 2003) : This is almost a 180 from the Raven ECW style match. Instead we see Punk stay in step with the Phenomenal One. It was full of fantastic counters and reversals. The human game of chess cliche is going to be applied to this match because I'm not always very good at describing what make a good match so very good. I think something I appreciate on this viewing is the teasers they chose to do. It just felt organic and competitive and dammit I'm a fan of that. I'm going to say this is a classic match. If you're keeping track, I wouldn't put it in the top tier but its certainly overlooked because it takes place in 2003 which probably doesn't get much love. And if anyone wants to sample 2003/Year 2 ROH they'll usually go to matches of AJ, Danielson and London putting on masterpieces. But in 2021, do people even do that anymore? Other than me? W/Ace Steel (Second City Saints) vs Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer (The Prophecy) (Death Before Dishonor II 2004) : Second City Saints was an awesome name. BJ Whitmer lousy name. Here's my BJ Whitmer rant: I can't believe that he/they wanted to keep a name with a double entendre in it and not have it purposely imply that 2nd meaning. Case in point D.P. Associates in FIP was a purposeful double entendre for the sake of a bunch of 20 year old guys having a laugh. BJ Whitmer never struck me as the type of talent that had a sense of humor about his in-ring persona. That aside, this was a bananas garbage wrestling spot mtach. This was your typical overkill wrestling to show how tough you were. As a match, it stunk BUT as a violent spot driven spectacular, it was great Its a few years ahead of its time but does bite off more than it needed to in order to get the same message across. vs Jimmy Rave (Manhattan Mayhem 2005) : Here we see Punk's (Phil's) version of the dog collar match. And you know its not bad at all. Its decidedly more move oriented but with Punk and Rave in there I did not mind. Rave is such a great opponent for Punk because he can stooge when he needs to, he can get nasty when he needs to, and he can do moves when he needs to. Frankly he's much like Punk in that regard. We get a good deal of blood from Punk and we get the Embassy interfering. Its quite great to be honest. I've not seen this before but I have seen their cage match and man this was a great (probably forgotten) feud. So there you have it. A few matches from CM Punk's time wrestling/sports entertaining in ROH. As you have already figured out, I picked some unsung ones for 2021. They aren't the Joe matches or Summer of Punk ones. 3 of the 4 are quite like stuff you could see in WWE actually. Again, either he never was a "wrestler" or he never left wrestling when going to the WWE. All semantic games aside- He should have been honest in saying he made a mistake in leaving pro wrestling and its fans when going to the UFC. And if he (Phil is Punk at this stage in his career) should have said thanks for welcoming him back despite his mistakes. In my opinion, CM Punk is the best all around pro wrestler of the last 20 years. His return to the square circle is huge and his promo was exhilarating. He will do great business for AEW. However, I think his cleverness in dissing WWE hides the real hurt of his MMA phase. As great as I know him to be, I just can't trust CM Punk anymore. I have to forgive him first. I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. I'll be back in my cave. Thanks for reading!
  5. The beginning was actually quite interesting as you had them working a tight lock up, Cena throwing the best punches he's ever thrown (I want to say his punching style here looked Buddy Rose's but I'm not sure I've seen enough of Rose to stand by that) and Cena using irish whips as punishment spots. Then they do an apron bump and this turns into a formulaic Cena-as-PWG "superworker" match, with AJ inserted into the formula and the formula slightly adjusted to fit his moves in but not enough to make it actually novel. And you don't want to see these two do a stupid spotfest. AJ Styles isn't 25 anymore, he isn't nearly as smooth and athletically impressive as he used to be and Cena never was nor is he ever going to be the guy for that type of match. The inefficiency of their finishers has reached such an absurd level I just don't buy anything they do as a potential match ender. Cena's weird Big Ending variation was ugly, but otherwise the move they spammed looked solid and some of the sequences were kinda cool, would have made for a 6.5 GIF maybe. Still this isn't really much different from a New Japan main event and I'm not sure whether it'd be more hypocritical to praise this and shit on New Japan or do the opposite. It's also amusing to see how many Japan references they make these days. "IWGP, BUSHIDO, Goto, using a translation of 雪崩式 instead of whatever WWE buzzword they have for top rope moves etc.) **3/4
  6. Holy shit this was amazing. It's a serious best WWE match ever contender for me. I really don't get why people get so upset over the overbooking, and honestly it was fine here. I don't remember the last time a WWE match so ambitious. The early portion was PERFECT in establishing Reigns' power and AJ made himself look good in the process too because when he did overcome it it meant that much more. I loved how it was paced, it had the greatest table spot in WWE history and a plethora of neat little touches. AJ avoiding Reigns' big suicide dive and then quickly leaping on him with the diving forearm was such a neat spot that made him look great. All of the big counters looked almost shockingly organic and natural for a 2016 WWE match and the rope break nearfall made my heart stop for a second. They both took some disgusting bumps here. Another thing I loved is how AJ used the Pele Kick as a way to upgrade his striking combo after it failed to take Reigns down earlier in the match instead of using it as a counter spot like he usually does, and to that point AJ quickly hitting Reigns with a Snapmare after Reigns survived his striking combo also made him look like a smart wrestler. I want to re-watch this and I don't remember when was the last time I felt that way about a WWE match. And Reigns hitting AJ with another Superman Punch after the big counter one also put AJ over as a serious threat and was just a badass thing to do and then AJ did that awesome delayed selling instead of popping up like you'd see in the Zayn-Owens match. These two have a five star match in them. ****3/4
  7. No thread for this yet? This is one of the more universally liked matches. Fantastic clash of styles (no pun intended), killer arm work, great selling, intensity, unique spots and grit. 2014 MOTYC. ****1/4
  8. Let's see what is going on with ROH from 6 years ago. AFTERSHOCK TOUR Saturday, July 11th, 2015 Eisenhower Community Center - Hopkins, MN. A couple matches have audio syncing issues. Mark Briscoe vs Danny Duggan - Skipped War Machine (Hanson & Rowe) vs Silas Young and Beer City Bruiser - An all action tag match with 4 big burly dudes. I thought this was a great start to the show (for me at least). ACH vs Dalton Castle - Wow! These guys emptied their tanks! This match oozed athleticism and charisma. I wish ACH would have been given a belt at some point as he really put on some great work rate heavy matches. I guess they figured he'd do it in the undercard so, why bother? That's a shame. ROH could use someone like him nowadays as an Ace IMO. Anyhow, they gave these two the time and this was a great match and a possible show stealer. Michael Elgin vs Matt Taven - This looked good on paper but meanders. This is the worse tendency of Elgin and late 2010's wrestlers - overly complex spot matches that have no story or drama. I can't blame them based on where they're at on the card and Elgin was on the way out I think. (Audio Problems) Michael Bennett w/Maria Kanellis vs Moose vs Cheeseburger vs Will Ferrara -Skipped Adam Cole vs Bobby Fish - This had room to be a classic encounter. It was a battle of who's knee would be broken first. Very dramatic with solid selling. Didn't reach the heights it could have but, another great one for this show. Jay Briscoe & O.D.B vs Jay Lethal & Truth Martini - I'm going to overrate this but, I thought this was another great match. It was all about ODB and I'm nostalgic for her and her run in TNA back in 2007-09 or whenever. This was more a TNA type match instead of an ROH one. However, everything was timed and built perfectly for what they were going for. The high end Lethal vs Briscoe teases were fantastic as well. It accomplished a lot without going for broke. AJ Styles vs Roderick Strong vs Kyle O’Reilly - A sort of dream match as we get 3 eras of top ROH talent in one ring. In 2015, we get a past, present and future meeting of ROH (but, of course everyone bounced to WWE in a year or so). You get that feeling here with these three top talents. It's a damn shame ROH lost not only the Undisputed Era guys but the AEW/Bullet Club guys later. All that aside, ROH in 2015 is fantastic. This is a classic match that pits these wrestling machines up against one another. It didn't break any new ground but frankly I don't want them to. I wanted an intense contest that was engaging and dramatic. They delivered and exceeded those expectations. (Audio Problems) This was a fantastic show that delivers where you want it to. The little audio issues aren't a big deal because I tend to watch stuff with the volume low or off. If that's a deal breaker for you then that's something to take into account. 2015 has been really good for ROH. Thanks for reading folks!
  9. A highly praised match, that I don't think I have ever seen. However, after the last great AJ match (vs Joe) that I watched I need more 2005 AJ in my life. This match starts off hot with AJ diving out of the cage onto Abyss during his entrance. They then brawl through out the arena. Strange choice for a cage match, however it is the main event of a show where every match is in a cage, so they probably needed to change things up. Finally it looks like AJ is going to get into the ring and he gets the cage door slammed into his back and then viciously into his face. Way more vicious than I have ever seen. It might had been the great bump AJ took, but it looked brutal. AJ is busted open and then Abyss goes to work on the cut. This match feels more like a grudge match than any match the WWE has had in years. I miss this TNA. Before they lock themselves in the cage Abyss brings a chair, chain and a bag of thumbtacks. Abyss' destruction segment is fun with AJ being rammed into the turnbuckle which has the chain on it and just being tossed into the cage like a sack of potatoes. AJ's comeback starts by countering a gorilla press into a DDT, which looked great. His comeback is destroyed after a minute or so with an INSANE Black Hole Slam! That gets two and now the thumb tacks are brought out by Abyss. He goes for another Black Hole Slam, but AJ counters. He tries to power bomb him into the tacks, but ti's countered into a Styles Clash right onto the tacks. Surprisingly that is not the finish. AJ goes to the top of the cage, but Abyss chucks the referee into the cage knocking AJ down to hang outside. Abyss goes to the top with the chain and hangs AJ. He chokes him, but AJ counters and sunset flip power bombs Abyss into the tacks for three. This was really good, but not on the level of Joe-AJ. It felt like it went a few minutes too long at the end and the crowd brawling at the beginning could had been short. None the less, great stuff. ****1/2
  10. Well ... would you look at that - today is also April 27th. Huh. There's not much for me to say about this match, but it's one that ultimately disappointed me on re-watch. Everything Styles & Ki do is crisp, tight, stiff, and incredibly innovative & beyond aesthetically pleasing to watch ... but there's nothing for me to sink my teeth into & become emotionally invested in. The transitions feel random and this felt nothing more than a basic your turn-my turn type of match, which is fine, but I usually expect much more from these two. Rating: ***
  11. Another match that was much better than I was expecting it to be. They start with the New Day as faces and AJ and Omos as heels but the roles are reversed in this as the New Day refuse to wrestle Omos early on and they put an extensive beatdown on AJ and constantly cut him off from tagging in Omos. Eventually the anticipation to seeing Omos make his in ring debut is built up and we get a hot tag that delivers with Omos coming in absolutely wrecking the New Day; he catches Kofi with a Volk Han aikido wristlock throw and he absolutely crushes Woods' ribes with a brutal rib breaker. The Headshrinkers like assisted springboard Phenomenal Forearm was a great looking spot as was the big finishing bomb from Omos on Kofi. Another match that I would say exceeded expectations on this card.
  12. G. Badger

    Ring of Honor - Year One

    The thing about watching Ring of Honor's back catalog is that you have to plan ahead or have a watchful eye online. Many of the original shows have been out of production for years and although they have put out a lot of fantastic compilations to compensate, those too are no longer in production. I have never bought any of my ROH DVDs as they come out. I'm always running behind...sometimes nearly a decade behind! This is the case with ROH Year One. When I first got into ROH, I was interested in getting stuff that featured puro stars I had not yet figured out a way to get anything of Japanese origin. Fortunately, ROH was in the middle of their partnership with NOAH and I was able to snag stuff with KENTA, Morishima, Kobashi, and Misawa. Some of that stuff is pretty hard to come by nowadays. Cool! I only later got interested in their back catalog but, did not have a good idea of what I should buy. Combine that with having to make the choice between buying classic AJ/NJ/AJW DVDs or ROH stuff, I went with the Puro/Joshi. I still stand behind that decision I have picked up stuff here and there over the past decade trying to fill the gaps of my ROH collection with compilations and keeping an eye peeled on eBay/Amazon. Like I started with, ROH had a fantastic run of compilations from perhaps 2014 covering all of their big stars (and some long time minor stars), factions, feuds, and even years. These have since dried up and only a few are still available at a discount on Highspots. ROH changed warehouses a couple years ago (I have a nice rant about this in one of my earlier blog posts) to MD and got rid of alot of product that wasn't moving. Highspots seemingly bought a bulk of it and do have a Year Four and Best of Alex Shelley set (which I bought a few years ago) that I would highly, highly recommend. I'm on a tangent...sorry. Year One is something that I thought I probably would never get around to seeing. I was able to get ROH's Year Two DVD set (back when I got the Yr. 4 and Shelley DVD) and I've not seen it available for a reasonable price since. Year One wasn't available at that time or if it was I was a dummy. But, I've pieced enough of it together with Youtube posts, Takedown Masters editions, and one compilation match to present to you my review of Ring of Honor Year One! I'm only going to be reviewing the stuff I enjoyed or that have been recommended elsewhere. If I haven't seen something I'll let you know A couple things are from memory but, again I'll let you know. The Era of Honor Begins - The first show. This is from the Takedown Masters Edition. These are the best versions to get IMO because they cut out the junk matches and none of the matches you want to see are messed with. There's some folks saying these are clipped but, that's not true. Seriously, get this version. It'll be cheaper than the official ROH release. Jay Briscoe vs Amazing Red - Good match but they were just throwing everything out there in no particular order. Scoot Andrews vs Xavier - Not Scott vs Xavier I guess had a really good series of matches on the Northeast Indies. This wasn't really any different. I had a good build and was really good sound match. Super Crazy vs Eddie Guerrero - Eddie's looking in a bad way here. Took awhile to get going but was a good match. Tons left on the table. I'm sure this is the match the people paid to see but, we get our main event next. American Dragon vs Low-Ki vs Christopher Daniels - Man! The Fallen Angel gimmick is one I really miss. Anyhow, this is still a classic match. It wasn't full of cliches and really introduced a new era of wrestling in the States. It is steps ahead of the other matches on the show in both layout and execution. I would say if you're into M-Pro wrestling of the 90's or the ECW 3 Way Dances of Super Crazy, Tajiri, Jerry Lynn, Little Guido, Spike, etc.(I'm showing my age right?) then, this is right up your alley. Round Robin Challenge - Show Two and a follow up to the conclusion of the last show.Ditto on this being the Takedown Masters version. This is labeled as Round Robbin Challenge Its all good. Everything you'd want to see is here in full. American Dragon vs Christopher Daniels - This has got to be top 5 or 10 best ROH show openers. This is a near classic encounter. Things were kept simple with Daniels targeting Am Drag's neck. There were plenty of teases and cut-offs to keep it exciting as well. These two rarely disappoint. Daniels vs Low-Ki - Another near classic but, a tad below the above match because in-ring story wasn't as compelling. Still, the intensity was there with the Fallen Angel looking to hit his big moves on Low-Ki and wrap things up early. Ki was just kicking and fighting the whole way. The finishing segments shows how in tune these guys were with their moves. They could seemingly pull a finish out of thin air. Spanky vs Jay Briscoe - I have no idea why anyone thought Spanky was a good wrestling name. Brian Kendrick is a good name and good enough that he's ran used it the rest of his career. So, it sucks to hear the announcers refer to him as Spanky and take him or them seriously. Nevertheless, this was a good match once Kendrick started bleeding. Despite both guys being young and trying to show-off, they kept it simple. Los Maximos (SAT) vs Brian XL & Amazing Red vs Chris Divine & Quiet Storm - On the other end of the spectrum we have matches like this. This was fun but also cringe inducing at times. These guys got into a ring and wanted to do everything they could think of. It wasn't very long and this style does typify independent wrestling at the time so, its a worthwhile time capsule. American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Ken Shamrock guest refs this. Again, they needed someone to put on the posters to get people to show up to the Murphy Rec Center. It makes sense though because both guys have a shoot style influence as well as martial arts background. So, this was what I would call a Inoki Strong Style match. It starts with shoot style grappling and works its way up to pro-wrestling moves as the match escalates in intensity. Historical importance aside, this is a classic match. Low-Ki is a scowling hard ass and Danielson is a baby face here so, its hard not to root for the Am Drag here. But don't be fooled, once Dragon gets that look in his eyes, he's a bad as they come. BUT we don't quite know that in 2002 do we? We certainly find out this match. He is a tough as nails, aggressive, and technically masterful. He has to be if he has any chance of beating the man they call Low-Ki! Classic stuff for sure. A Night of Appreciation - Show #3. I don't have this and cannot find the AJ Styles vs Low Ki match that looks to be the highlight. There is there 07/17/02 TNA on Youtube that could be watched as substitute I suppose. Eddie's last match for ROH. ROH Road to the Title - Takedown Masters Edition. Again, nothing that I wanted to see here was clipped or cut out. There are tons of matches here too. This one is not labeled as a Must See tape like the first two shows but, I disagree. This may not have the classic match but, this is Ring of Honor's first stacked show. Like the others unlike the other shows, I think I may have watched every match. I'm not going to review all of them but, I will talk about the ones I'm recommending. This tournament sets up the 4 way Iron Man match to crown the first ROH World Champ. Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles - Holy Cow! No one has talked about this match but, it was great. They were doing stuff at NWA-TNA PPVs but, I've never seen those. Maybe those are better but, if so then, I've got to watch 'em. This bout was like one long sequence full of reversals, counters and dodges. If you dug RVD vs Jerry Lynn then, you've got to see this! Near classic match to me. American Dragon vs Doug Williams - Doug's ROH debut and it is a banger. Stiff strikes, powerful suplexes and competitive mat wrestling. It was a great match that could have been something more if it wasn't a tournament match I think. This was a dream match. I wonder if they had a better one than this? -Oh I should mention Spanky Kendrick and Paul London had a good match. There was a botched superplex but, it didn't really look like that. It looked like they were going for something far riskier like a Kendrick dropping London's throat across the top rope from the superplex position- Low Ki vs Amazing Red - This was a little too choreographed for my tastes to be a great match. It wasn't too long and did have some nice moves and Ki was brutal like Yumiko Hotta here. Red or Ki did fumble a reverse rana and that didn't help things. Good match though. Christopher Daniels vs AJ Styles - Like I even need to talk about these two together. There was a lot of mat wrestling here which is probably different than their TNA stuff. It was great as was the whole match. They really might be each other's best opponents since they are so evenly matched. Crowning a Champion - Don't have this DVD but, the main event match is/was on ROH's Youtube channel. It is a 60 minute match and is pretty great. I'm writing from memory but, I'd say it was ****-****1/4. Certainly worth seeing once. Honor Invades Boston - Features Mark Briscoe's first ROH match since they are outside of the Murphy Rec Center and he can legally wrestle in MA. He and Jay have a great match against each other. I've only seen clips from ROH TV when they aired the Briscoes special right as everything shut down for the pandemic. It also features an AJ Styles - Low Ki classic. This takes places days after the aforementioned TNA match so, maybe watch that here in its place. I would like to find this DVD but, I guess there are a lot of DUDs on the card as well. Unscripted - This has some good matches on paper with Dick Togo, Ikuto Hidaka and Takao Omori but, it doesn't amount to much. This is the show where Xaiver (RIP) beats Low Ki for the belt and joins The Prophecy. I didn't see this match but, I've never had a problem with Xavier in ROH. Now I haven't seen a ton but, I think alot of the flack he got was for beating the ROH ace for the belt a couple shows in with A CHAIRSHOT! (and 450 splash). That really seems like the antithesis of what ROH was about especially at this time. The fans champ was beaten by cheating and lost the belt after one show. That does seem like some Sports Entertainment B.S. especially without the benefit of hindsight. Most notable though is Michael Shane vs Paul London. This is a great match and should be seen. This is the genesis of the "Please Don't Die" chant for London. It is warranted. I don't know how much people thought of London at the time but, he is THE underdog dark horse of ROH. Glory by Honor - This is Samoa Joe's debut and this was supposed to be a one time only appearance. He was hired by The Prophecy to beat up Low-Ki. These two just beat each other up and it was pretty great. I don't think it was a classic as its really just a collection of potato shots but, this is the only Ki vs Joe singles match in ROH history. The unofficial re-match is considered to be PWG's All Star Weekend V night 2 in '07. I should get this next Highspots sale. All Star Extravaganza - This is the remastered version and it a ROH release. This is out there still so, I recommend picking it up for sure. It was the first Year One ROH DVD I got and helped encourage me to check more of the early stuff out. Michael Shane vs CM Punk - Punk's debut and its a pretty good one. It is more of an in-ring-story match than full of a bunch of moves. ROH getting more talent in the wrestling department vs the moves department (Maximos, Quiet Storm, Brian XL etc.) is what helped make ROH a lasting promotion. Historical match and vintage Punk is always worth a watch. Like Daniels, he had a character and could talk and that was a big plus for ROH as well. American Dragon vs Paul London - Since I've already watched this show once or twice I wasn't going to sit through the whole #1 Contender Tourney but, London had already beaten 2 guys before facing Dragon. That does not bode well for him. But, do NOT count out Paul London! Most folks do not know how awesome he was year one & year two of Ring of Honor. He was the dark horse underdog of the company for sure. Mid card matches like this prove just how great he would become when given the opportunity. He and Danielson have a very good match where he's hanging with a fresh Dragon on the mat...despite being on his third match. And he throws a mean elbow too! Daniels, Donovan Morgan & Samoa Joe vs Homicide, Doug Williams & Low Ki - Great 6 man match where the tag rules eventually go out the window. I don't mind too much in matches where they're trying to push the level of chaos. Joe vs Doug is a match I gotta see. This was also Homicide coming out party as far as my viewing has gone. He's done alot of throw-away undercard tag stuff but, here he is allowed to be the great maniac we love. Low-Ki & Steve Corino vs Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka - This is the main event of the show but, really should be behind the Tourney finals in my book. SO, I watched it before that and am reviewing it first. I've also reviewed it early on the blog for my Masato Tanaka post ECW post. This is still a great match that's full of double teams and hard hits. This wasn't a big time event for Zero One so, this wasn't going to be more than what it was but, it was really great. The fans were really loving it. American Dragon vs AJ Styles - This was like an evolution of the NJ Jr. classics of the 90's. Excellent fast mat wrestling gave way to hard hitting action. AJ's bumping his butt off and Dragon gets busted open. If you can believe it AJ doesn't hit any dives here and it content grappling with THE grappler of ROH. They leave a lot on the table here but, still have a classic match. The organic and brutal finish seals the deal. Post show Homicide stabs Corino with a fork in the eye... Scramble Madness - Oh there's another Doug Williams vs Bryan Danielson match on this. I need to see this...but, nothing else looks too hot. Night of the Butcher - I look Abdullah but, I have no idea why he was booked. There is another Paul London vs Bryan Danielson match here - sweet! I think this DVD is pretty rare so, probably never going to see if (but I do have some stuff from Year Two) Final Battle 2002 - I don't have the show DVD but, this is from the Steve Corino DVD set put out by ROH. They may still have the set available on their website at a discount. It has the following match as well as most/all of the Homicide matches and later stuff with Steen/SCUM from the early 2010's. Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe - This was a First Pin or Submission Wins match. There's a lot of back story here with each guy. I've picked up on some in my viewings and have had to read elsewhere but, generally speaking Ki & Dragon respect each other but, are still rivals. Ki & Joe respect each other but, are more than rivals...enemies is probably the best term. Corino is allied with Joe for his Group which was supposed to be the next big thing after The Prophecy but, it never took off (but ignore that part for now). Joe and Dragon are rivals. Ki and Corino tagged at All Star but, I wouldn't say they're friends either. Oh also note that since Corino has been in Z1 he's muted his antics and is much more a puro style wrestler. He stil will take short cuts but, he is not out of place in this match. I could go on about this match as there were so many highlights. My favorite had to be Low Ki double stomping Dragon while we was applying Cattle Mutilation to Joe. What was the craziest part is that Bryan did not break his bridge so, it left Ki standing atop his abdomen like a foot stool. Danielson is a machine! Everyone looked like a beast at some point during the match to be honest. This was another classic for Year One. I've never heard it in that conversation but, it was another must see. It goes long so, set aside some time but, it ends Ring of Honor's first year with a bang. In summary, ROH Year One (2002) is really enjoyable. I am really happy that I have what I would consider the 4 essential DVDs in Era of Honor Begins, Round Robin Challenge, Road to the Title, and All Star Extravaganza. Honor Reclaims Boston seems like another worth seeking out but, the Takedown Master versions make those first 3 DVDs listed much easier to find. The prices do spike but, if you keep an eye on them then, you can get them for under $10 each for sure. As far as I understand it, ROH's Honor Club doesn't show things this old. They show things from the past few years but, their vaults are not open...which is crazy to me since not only do they NOT have these for sale in DVD format but, they are cutting back their DVD production way down. So, the prospect of any of these being available in physical media seems unlikely. Maybe I'm wrong about the Honor Club. And maybe Honor Club members have access to this stuff on Youtube somehow? I'm person that like to have the physical copy and if you are too then, its not too difficult to track down enough of the great and classic ROH matches to really enjoy yourself. The production quality is rough but, that is some of the charm. One thing I'll mention to tie this into the ROH Pure title revival is that most of the great matches in 2002 should be used as a stylistic template for ROH to come. There is no reason that the talent that Ring of Honor has right now cannot emulate the athletic competitive wrestling of Year One. Most of their current roster has much more experience and training than those guys almost two decades ago. Sure there is Hall of Fame talent there but, I'm sure that there is HoF talent in the ROH ring right now as well. I think this Pure Title revival is more than just bringing a secondary belt back. I hope it is a return to the snug aggressive wrestling we see at the heart of ROH's first year. There is still room for high flyers, brawling, hardcore matches, and comedy but, the focus of the company should be on the competition and the "sport" of professional wrestling. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it!
  13. Good match but pretty disappointing overall. I preferred the Goldberg, Joe and Strowman matches for Lesnar. Brock toned down suplex city so I suspect people are going to like this the best. Something about the pacing was off and it felt awkward at times. Still, good individual performances by both. Some really great bumping by AJ and he got in quite a lot of offense. Neat leg selling by Brock. Him violently powering out of the calf crusher was the best, most memorable spot. *** 1/4
  14. This is for the X Division Title, and came at the time when AJ would routinely bounce between being a contender for the X Title and then the World Title. This is from TNA's first 3 hour PPV, with the hook being that AJ is the X Division ace that Petey would have to overcome if he wanted to cement his own credibility as champion. Because of this there's a real buzz at the the beginning of the match from the crowd and the opening exchanges are really good with lots of intensity, and I liked, whether through reality or design that Petey looked to be having to work extra hard to keep up with AJ, who just felt like he was just getting started. I think this is the story they were trying to tell in the match, but ultimately it goes too far and this is way to one sided. Again, not sure if this is by design or just simply that in non kayfabe AJ is on that next level, but he just looks several notches above Petey here. He rolls out some fantastic sequences including a back flip off the apron and then scoring with a kick from behind, as well as dodging Scott D'Amore interference on the outside to score with a springboard forearm and is so smooth but also explosive in everything he does. Petey by contrast rarely gets to land a blow unless it's a opening caused by D'Amore distraction. I remember that being a criticism at the time that Team Canada matches wouldn't often devolve into too many D'Amore spots and that would overshadow matches, and that's the case here. When done right, manager involvement can be a fantastic storytelling tool but here the interference overwhelms the match, and while they were probably hoping for a bit of show stealer coming in, Petey comes across as nowhere in AJ's league and someone that flukes his way to retaining rather than being sneaky or resourceful. (** 3/4)
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