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  1. 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!
  2. 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
  3. 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: ***
  4. 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
  5. Didn't dig this at all. It seemed really spotty. The table spot in the first half was embarrassing. Both guys got on the top and held on to each other and then just jumped together through the table. I didn't like the finish either as it was confusing. The post match run ins are starting to get a little tiresome too.
  6. Not sure what the heel - face dynamic is here. Last time I saw AJ Styles and Onyx they were heels with Jeff G. Bailey as NWA Elite members. I'm not familiar with Suicidal Tendencies, but they seem to be working as heels here, so its a bit confusing. Suicidal Tendencies are also three members and they seem to be working un Freebirds rule according to the commentator as all three members are continuously tagging in and out. The match itself felt pretty flat. There really wasn't anything that caught my eye or kept me engaged. The finish was a mess with a ton of run ins and people brawling all over the place. Forgettable.
  7. 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
  8. This was apparently for the NWA world heavyweight title and it was not good... Styles and Paris pull out a ton of crazy spots and then the lights go out and Sabu puts Paris through a table and then he attacks Styles and then he puts Styles through a table and that was it. Skippable.
  9. 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)
  10. 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
  11. From main eventing British Uprising II the previous year, 2004 was not a good year for James Tighe. Well in kayfabe terms. In ring, he was one of the company’s strongest performers. In a storyline sense, his failure to capture the British Heavyweight Title led to him losing a lot of matches, often in upsets to guys lower on the card than him. I don’t think a losing streak gimmick has ever really worked in wrestling, but it was with the goal in mind of building his frustration at losses to a heel turn. Given how impressive he was in 2003 and in the title match with Doug Williams I feel the FWA should’ve kept pushing him as face challenger at the title level, but with his lack of charisma, it was probably right that the fans would end up picking more outgoing and flashier personalities over him. Tighe faced off with Styles at Vendetta in July, in a match that began sportingly but that saw Tighe getting increasingly desperate to win against a big name - to well and truly snap his losing streak. In the match, Tighe was able to go toe to toe with AJ for large parts, but, starting to feel he was being outgunned, resorted to trying to use a chair. The end result would actually see Styles on the end of a very dodgy referee call – whether intentional or not a recurring theme for Styles’ matches in the FWA – and he ended up as the one getting disqualified giving Tighe the much needed, if tainted win. Which is pretty much the reason for this being a 30 minute Iron Man Match – to decisively find out who was the better man. As I’ve noted in the reviews of other matches on the show, British Uprising III was mainly booked on the basis of matches built on feuds, but the fairly clear aim was for this to be the workrate match to carry that requirement of a big indie show. This is the main event of the show and has the task of following the controversial end to the FWA Title match which initially has an impact on the atmosphere, but the massive pop that AJ gets brings the crowd back. The first 7-8 mins are wrestled very cautiously, but I enjoyed the feeling out process given that the match is going a half hour and it doesn’t make sense to go too hard too quickly, I could see some finding the opening stretch dull, but I liked the struggle in the holds and every counter being fought over. This is shown in them fighting over the headlock, including Tighe snatching one when AJ is going for his patented drop kick. AJ’s tactic is to up the pace, and following getting the drop kick, able to follow Tighe out, jump the guardrail and catch him with the superkick. This leads to a period of AJ dominating, until being caught and driven face first by Tighe. But just when Tighe is starting to feel confident and in control, he takes his eye off the ball going for a suplex and gets caught in a crucifix for the first fall. I liked that as Tighe is protesting, he almost gets rolled up for a good close near fall. Following a period of back and forth, they both fall to the outside on a hurucanrana that didn’t look very smooth, but added to the sense of struggle in the match. This leads to a double count on the floor during which AJ takes a nasty over head suplex into the guardrail, which is enough to allow Tighe to sneak back in and level things at 1-1. I really liked Tighe smelling blood and going in for the kill and secure that big career defining win; he doesn’t want the draw. AJ is finally able to break the momentum with the Pele kick and then hits a brutal looking brianbuster for 2, knowing he has to bring out the big guns. AJ then going for a chink lock didn’t really fit the storyline but the flurry of strikes is more like it and just as in their first match, Styles manages to once again break Tighe’s nose. As the clock ticks down, AJ is the one going for the win while Tighe is just trying to survive. With 3 mins on the clock he desperately fights out of the Styles Clash on multiple occasions, as the crowd go nuts knowing that it’s a kill shot this close to the end. Sadly for him a kick out from a powerbomb puts him naturally in position for the Styles Clash and AJ goes 2-1 up with 2 mins to go. With 10 seconds to go Tighe gets a great nearfall with a roll up to try and tie at 2-2 – the equivalent of a late chance in football – but Style sees the last few seconds out by ducking and weaving as the clock strikes down. Not a typical babyface way of doing it but very smart. Post match, Styles tries to show respect but gets a Tighe low blow for his troubles. Jody Fleisch, who had made a big non-wrestling return on the show after more than a year away tries to make the save but gets taken out by Tighe’s tag team partner Mark Belton. We then get the big return of Jonny Storm to the FWA as well, and after the tease of a confrontation with his long time friend/rival Fleisch, we get AJ as the peacekeeper and a reunion handshake to a big pop. In terms of a match, I think this is very good. Some may think the opening segment doesn’t have much going on, but I liked the struggle and the building of the match. The little stories interweaved without having to resort to big moves and kick outs is very much appreciated by me, although I did think the match had a higher gear it could’ve found as it went into the final stretch. The main downside is that for the second year in a row in the main event of the biggest show of the year, and as he often did when facing the top names, Tighe loses the big match again. (*** ¾)
  12. The incomparable Master of Muppets has added a match to his YouTube channel from the house show on Monday night (July 16) in Reading, PA. The match sees AJ Styles team with Daniel Bryan against Samoa Joe and The Miz as part of the awkwardly-named Summerslam Heatwave Tour. The camera quality isn't great in this particular case, but if you can tough it out, it's a good chance to see Bryan and Miz opposite each other -- a matchup that has evaded us on television since Bryan's spring return and will likely happen at Summerslam. RELATED MATCH: Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH Midnight Express Reunion 10-02-04)
  13. G. Badger

    Spotlight: Samoa Joe

    Saw that Samoa Joe is on Smackdown now...nice! Even in 2018, I gotta say more Joe vs AJ & Danielson is always welcomed. It's a smart move too! I'm no WWE genius but, three future hall of famers working together seems like a no-brainer especially if they're gonna put Orton and Nakamura in the mix. Here's a little spotlight on Samoa Joe from 2005. If he can bring some of that magic to 2018, I might have to tune in. Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles (TNA Sacrifice 08/14/05): I thought this was a fantastic meeting of two of this generation's best wrestlers. It was really everything you could hope for in a match between AJ & Joe. Athletic, intense, and surprising. Also thought the ending was good for the match/story as well. A 100% clean finish or draw would have been preferred but, I think this match is still a classic. Samoa Joe vs Kenta Kobashi (ROH 10/01/05): This match had legitimate instensity as Joe was facing, no testing himself against Kobashi. He had to bring barbarian like intensity lest he be mauled. This was really great! I found the execution to be a little off at times especially on Joe's submission attempts, they were a bit loose. Overall it was above average though much of the match was comprised of strikes. And maybe that's a complaint some of the ROH fans have. It was very much a AJPW style match. There weren't amazing sequences, chains of moves, or the usual flashy business...just hardhitting, believable Kings Road style wrestling. Surprisingly, that King's Road or maybe Ark style (with all the macho strike-offs) was there as Joe paid homage to Kobashi's greatest foes & even the Orange Crush himself. If I can remember correctly, he did Misawa's elbow suicida & step-over facelock, Kawada's step kicks, soccer kick, & stretch plum, and even Kobashi's turnbuckle bomb. I thought that this really elevated this match above all the rest of ROH's stuff. It was great for those who didn't notice these parallels/homages but truly inspiring to those who did. This shows great judgement on Samoa Joe's part by acknowledging Kobashi's history, AJPW's history, and infusing it with his own. Re-Watch: Joe versus Kobashi is probably one of the greatest matches that has taken place on American soil in the past decade and in the decades to come. It has everythingdrama, story, crowd energy, the moves, the stiffness. It all comes together this night in NYC. Just beautiful stuff! It hits on a different level than the other 5 star matches because it is like the ultimate puro fan taking on the King of Puro and damn near beating him. Its totally for the marks but, Kobashi still has a reputation to uphold. And sweet Jesus, does he deliver! Bumping it up a half star to perfect-o! Samoa Joe vs Jushin Liger (TNA Bound For Glory 10/23/05): Amazing cool entrance by Joe and Liger's wasn't too shabby with his NJ music, full shoulder pads, and streamers. Liger, sized wise, looked like a good match for Joe. Shorter but, thick as Joe. Crowd was amped. Joe pretty much did his 'standard' TNA act here but, Liger switched it up from his 2005 routine and played it like a younger junior taking on the heavyweight. So, we got a few moments of brilliance from Liger as well as him taking to the air. The only thing stopping this from being a great match was the time it was given. It reminded me of a Fire Pro Wrestling match where you get a Critical just as you're starting to amp things up. Highly recommended match and a successful dream match in my book. Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles (TNA Turning Point 12/11/05): AJ took it right to Joe and set the tone for this match. Intense and physical as hell. It was full of nice surprises,teases, hard way blood from both guys, and fantastic pacing. Plus, the post match kept the story going setting up Daniels vs Joe. This really is a classic match alongside anything they did in ROH. Its really a testament to how TNA was mismanaged. Styles, Joe, and Daniels could have been having classics like these for the Heavyweight belt for a few years instead we got 2000 era WCW redux and all kinds of other stupidity. Here's hoping that the writers don't blow it this time around..I mean they've got Danielson and Nakamura this go around. Don't screw this up fellas!
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