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Found 211 results

  1. Far from their best match together, but this is a good little TV match as you would expect from these two. Bryan targeted Cesaro's left arm and Cesaro targeted Bryan's ankle after he kicked the ring post (which you could see coming once Cesaro got in place for it). Loved Bryan pulling on Cesaro's nose to pull off the Yes Lock and Cesaro countering a top rope huracanrana and pulling on Bryan's ears to setup a great looking super plex. Great finish too with Cesaro hitting his elevated European uppercut followed by the neutralizer. In my opinion, Bryan was WOTY for 2020 with continuously good to great performances despite having been away for several months due to paternal leave and he's talked about his career winding down as a top star, so it's cool seeing him pick up this year where he left off and it's cool seeing him put on quality TV matches and letting folks go over on his career winds down.
  2. G. Badger

    Best Match Watched - 2020

    Welcome to my Best Match Watched of 2020 celebration! We've got big stars appearing and a number of musical performances lined up tonight! Let's get this party started! Oh wait, never mind all of that...let's just get onto the Big List of my favorite stuff of that I've watched this year. In chronological order: Pre 1970's: Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) Honorable Mention, Very good match with nice action and pacing. Simple story but, well worked. 1970s & 80s: Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81) Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) Tiger Mask vs Black Tiger (05/26/82) Tiger Mask vs Bret Hart (07/30/82) Akira Nogami, Tatsutoshi Goto, K. Yamada, K. Hoshino & S. Koshinaka vs Hiroshi Hase, K. Kobayashi, Kensuke Sasaki, N. Honaga & H. Saito (04/27/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (04/27/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (05/27/88) Shiro Koshinaka vs Owen Hart (06/24/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Big Van Vader (06/26/88) Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88) Shiro Koshinaka vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (8/08/88) Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88) 1990s & 2000s: American Dragon vs Low-Ki vs Christopher Daniels - Era of Honor Begins (2002) American Dragon vs Christopher Daniels - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Daniels vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Jerry Lynn vs AJ Styles - Road to the Title (2002) American Dragon vs AJ Styles - All Star Extravaganza (2002) Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe Final Battle (2002) Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans FIP Strong vs Evans (2005) KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006) Low Ki (Senshi) vs Chris Sabin (TNA Bound for Glory 2006) Honorable Mention, An action packed match with 0 TNA bullshit to spoil it. Golden era X Division stuff. Daisuke Sekimoto vs Manabu Nakanishi (BJW 2007) Honorable Mention, A very good to great match that told a great story that that fans & myself could believe. Precursor to the BJW Strong Style revival stuff. 2010 to present: Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011) El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki (same) El Generico & Emil Sitoci vs Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly " Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan " Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. " Daisuke Sekimoto vs El Generico " Cole & O'Reilly vs Sabre Jr. & Scurll " Sami Callihan vs Big Van Walter " KENTA, K. Kanemoto, Minoru Tanaka, Kanemaru & Genba vs Devitt, Taguchi, K. Suzuki, Nakajima & KAI - All Together (2011) Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011) Fred Yehi vs Tracy Williams ROH Pure Title tournament (2020) Mark Haskins vs Alex Shelley (ROH TV 02/20): Honorable Mention, excellent chain wrestling by Shelley and a good fit for Haskins hybrid style. Crowd actually was into this match which can be tough for live ROH crowds nowadays. -THE BEST of the BEST!- Pre 1970's...well I only watched a few pre 1970's matches and well Mighty Atlas vs Angelo Poffo (Chicago 1956) was the best of the bunch. The rest of my picks are going to be a little more difficult so, I think I'll do a top 3 or top 5 for the others. Then...just maybe will I actually able to narrow it down. 1970s & 80s: Clearly I was all about NJPW in the 80's although I did dip my toe in AJPW a couple times later in the year. They had some good 6 man matches (British Bulldogs w. Kobashi), I didn't see anything that could touch NJPW. Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (11/05/81) Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) Riki Choshu vs Antonio Inoki (07/22/88) Antonio Inoki vs Tatsumi Fujinami (08/08/88) 1990s & 2000s: And now we enter the Ring of Honor K-hole I was lost in for awhile. Hey, I'm glad I took that journey. I was pretty ignorant of Year One ROH and got me excited to keep watching their current stuff. Plus is encouraged me to check out the sister company FIP which I've been digging. Also, I have made some purchases that have fill in some gaps in my DVD collection. I hope to be hitting up a couple of those for 2021. So, my list boils down to these: American Dragon vs Low-Ki - Round Robin Challenge (2002) Low Ki vs American Dragon vs Steve Corino vs Samoa Joe (2002) - Perhaps a controversial pick against the Era of Honor Begins but, I think this has the action along with the story lines Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) KENTA vs Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (ROH In Your Face 2006) 2010 to present: There's a good chunk from the wXw 2011 tournament here but, what can I say? It was a great show. Perhaps similar to the Ted Petty Invitational 2004. Sami Callihan vs Tommy End (wXw 16 Carat 2011) El Generico vs Kotaro Suzuki Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. Akiyama & K. Sasaki vs Omori & Takayama - All Together (2011) The runners up: Tiger Mask vs Steve Wright (04/01/82) - a long technical match with beautiful chain wrestling - counters, escapes, reversals, and counter reversals...distinct from his matches with Baby Face, Hamada, Blackman but, still was athletic and exciting as we've come to expect. KENTA & Marufuji vs Samoa Joe & Danielson (ROH Best in the World 2006) - Felt like a late 1990's AJPW Four Corners tag classic Yoshihito Sasaki vs Sami Callihan - I think this match best encapsulates the awesome hard hitting style that both guys showed all 3 days. I didn't rate it as a classic at the time but, both guys have stuck in my mind all year. Here's my top 3 and I'm just going by my gut: Tatsumi Fujinami vs Riki Choshu (06/24/88) - This was timeless stuff to me. A heavenly dream battle...great grappling, wonderfully engaging storytelling, and a real sense of rivalry. Low Ki & Homicide vs Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Punk: The Final Chapter 2005) - I got an out of body feeling when watching this match that was very similar to the first time I saw Kobashi vs Misawa's matches from 1997. Maybe it was the mild hype that lower my expectations but, this blew my mind. Davey Richards vs Zack Sabre Jr. (wXw 2011) - As hard as Sasaki & Sami were in the tourney, these two went beyond that. Davey really only does one thing but, when he's in there with the right person it can be awesome. It has grappling, strikes, nice counters & escapes all with an aggressive pace. Best Wrestler: Fujinami was killing it in '88. Tiger Mask given the right opponent was working magic. Sami, Yoshihito Sasaki, and El Generico were on fire during the wXw tourney in 2011. But I'm going to give it to American Dragon Bryan Danielson specifically for his work in 2002 in ROH. A natural baby face to Daniels' gimmick and Ki's natual demeanor, Dragon is relatable in addition to being a fantastic in ring worker. He has a grip of classic matches but, also elevates his tournament matches into something you want to see as well. Best Surprise: Yoshihito Sasaki was pretty much unknown to me other than a character in Fire Pro Returns but, he's a guy I want to be on the look out for in the future. Seeing as I got a 4 disc Best of BJW in 2006 set, the future might be pretty soon! But, I think the best surprise of this year was Full Impact Pro being pretty great wrestling. I watched their Unstoppable 2007 DVD a few years ago and for the first time a few years before that and it didn't "wow" me. I think my expectations were too high or something. As I watched it again, I saw stuff that I don't think I appreciated in the past. From that I've seen some really great stuff including Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans which is a lost "ROH" classic to me. I'm looking forward to getting back to FIP Fridays! Looking forward to: Tackling the mountain of DVDs I've got - AJPW, BJW, NOAH, NJPW, ROH and more including FIP. Duh right? But I'm also swinging back to FMW and specifically 1998 which may be their very best year. I've already watched a handful of matches (although I'm not including them on this year's list) and I am NOT disappointed. Thank you so much for reading this year! Its been a really crappy 365 days but, I hope I was able to give you a little bit of fun and inspiration. Let's hope for a better new year! Stay safe and keep watching wrestling!
  3. Welcome back to FIP Fridays! Hopefully I can get this puppy in before midnight! Also if you're interested all or at least most of the FIP DVDs I'll be reviewing are available on Highspots. They are having their Xmas sale so, that's a tough deal to beat. Tonight I'm going over the best FIP show I've seen yet - Strong vs Evans! As always I cherry pick but, this has quite a few matches I want to see. Austin Aries vs Jerrelle Clark - This is a really good athletic match with Aries playing heel alongside his stablemates Bryan Danielson & Dave Prazak. For my "opening match" it sets a great tone. They only thing holding this back is that it could have been longer. Clark's handspring moonsault thing was awesome! Bryan Danielson vs Jay Fury - Fury comes out for a little payback for what DP Associates did his tag partner in the previous bout. Very similar athletic match with some heeling from Danielson. He is such a good chicken shit heel! Milo Beasley who is DP's wheelchair riding goon does senton atomico off the apron at one point and it nearly kills him & Fury! Good payoffs here and good wrestling...very good stuff. We are off to a wonderful start. Oh and let me say the venue is much bigger, the crowd is bigger, and the camera angles are spot on. That makes a difference and glad to see that FIP is growing...I mean 14 years ago... Tony Mamluke & Jimmy Rave - Mamaluke's girlfriend is there again I liked this one a bit better than the Homicide match from Heatstroke last review. He and Rave have good chemistry and I think worked on the FL indies together for awhile. It shows..I would says its a good match for sure. Rave gets his mouth busted open...Rave stalls like a goon at the beginning and I loved it. He's probably one of the best heels of the 2000's. Colt Cabana & Sal Rinauro vs Erick Stevens & Steve Madison - First Stevens match I've wanted to see from this period. He and Madison are working their way up the card. They go as The Miracle Violence Connection which of course works since I'm guessing no one there knows about the Gordy-Williams team of the same name from the early 90's They too are a hard hitting team so, the good time Sal & Colt team have their hands full. But man they are a good pair - Sal is underrated as a worker and Colt can still go in 2006. He's in no laughing mood. I thought this was a great match. We get an 80's finish but, man it works and it sets up a revenge pair of matches. Might have to check that out. These teams just clicked in terms of working the crowd but, keeping the action exciting. Main Event time and the name of the show. The first meeting of former tag partners and Generation Next members Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans - To save you some time - this was the best ROH style match in FIP that I've seen so far.This is Messiah of the Backbreaker Strong vs using his offence at the right times Evans. I don't know if they had an encounter in ROH as good as this one and from what I know its their first. Jack was bent like a pretzel and chopped red but, he would not quit. His selling was so excellent because it really looked like Strong was destroying him. Perhaps he was but, like I mentioned above, he was able to get some space and hit some spectacular stuff that really sent Roddy reeling. It reminded me of some of TIger Mask's best matches when he was fighting from underneath and would pull a counter or reversal to turn the tide. Or hit a dive to to show his heart and desperation. All on top of Roddy shit talking the fans made this a classic match to me.I was hesitant to pick this up because I'm not a giant fan of Evans all of the time but, this is the perfect setting for him. The fans LOVE him and he plays such a good face in peril here to all of the kids and girls. Yeah, it just worked so well and they really did not hold anything back believe it or not. If you're an old time ROH fan and are looking to revisit that era or uncover something new from that time, I highly recommend this show. It's $5 and I really think the matches listed above are worth that. If you're a Roderick Strong fan like I am, you will want this in your collection. Thanks for reading! I think I might get this in on time after all! P.S. If you work retail, hang in there! I'm there with you - we'll make it!
  4. Not an all-time classic, but this is easily the best and final match in their best of 5 series. It's kind of lame seeing folks trying to escape continuously in cage matches, specially in blood feud cage matches, but that's not the case here as they recognize they are locked in the cage because they want to fight. Great bit with them showing their hate for each other to the degree they were biting each others foreheads, fingers, etc. while battling on top of the cage. There's also a handful of big bumps in this with Danielson hitting a massive diving headbutt off the top of the cage and a big avalanche backdrop off the top rope. Also Homicide bringing back the brass knuckles he used to win the taped fist match was neat callback. The highlight of this was the finishing airplane spin that goes on for over a minute. I know an airplane spin is not what you would picture as the finish to a blood feud, I thought it was great. Julius Smokes played a big role in this, so it sucks he wasn't ringside for it. I think him trying to interfere and it backfiring would have elevated this.
  5. This time it's Morishima's turn to jump Danielson during the entrances, and that certainly set the pace for the rest of the match. Morishima absolutely destroys Danielson for most of it - Danielson's bladejob is sick & Morishima's offense is absolutely brutal. Bryan's selling is tremendous & his big comeback was great; he shows great fire in it & gets to stun Morishima for a little while - just for a little while indeed, because very quickly Morishima shuts that comeback down w/ an absolutely vicious looking lariat. The finishing stretch is superb; some really great callbacks to their previous meetings there. Excellent, brutal sprint. ****1/2
  6. I know this is a stipulation that usually gets frowned upon as they lack psychology a lot of the time and are harder to put together, but this is one of the best three way matches ever and it also benefits from being an elimination match as you can get a proper 1-on-1 match after an initial elimination. Worth mentioning the booking leading to this match is fantastic with Whitmer and Jacobs being in a hot Jimmy loves Lacey angle and both men trying to kill each other with some dangerous powerbombs off the top rope through the ring apron or the crowd. They start with a standard three way and they work portions of it as handicap, Whitmer and Jacobs vs. Danielson and then Danielson and Jacobs vs. Whitmer and both portions work as Whitmer and Jacobs is the two lesser ranked opponents trying to get one on the Best in the World who's impossible to putdown and then other portion is the two smaller opponents trying to partner up to putdown the bigger man. The first fall ends perfectly with Jacobs pairing up with Danielson to eliminate the bigger man. Then the match turns into a 1-on-1 and it gets hot with Danielson, the dominant world champion and Best in the World to defend against the local Michigan native and much smaller challenger and underdog. The do such a fantastic job at putting this segment of the match together that the fans are split as usual, but hot for Jacobs and even buy into him pulling off the upset and winning the title and you can see fans literally jumping up and down on a hot near fall of a counter roll up. They avoid going overboard with the excessive 2.99 false finishes a lot of indy matches suffer from and the finish is fantastic as Danielson taps out Jacobs to a crossface chicken wing to which Jacobs pass outs to and doesn't tap and thus keeps over his image of being a tough to put away, ruthless and violent wrestler. Also you can hear the crowd actively booing at the finish.
  7. 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!
  8. Full Impact Pro DVD review for this week goes back to early 2005 and covers CM Punk. Duh right? Its a really good DVD, lets just say that from the start. The big reason why I say that is because it includes matches, promos, and run-ins that feature Punk. So its really easy to get sucked into the story line. Punkster is basically public enemy #1 by feuding with FIP champ Homicide and getting up in James Gibson's and Bryan Danielson's business. Azrieal who was a member of Special K, the raver group in ROH, is his toady and features in some of the early matches. Anyhow, enough explanation. First match is against Antonio Banks and its a fun match. Banks is MVP by the way. Next we gets Azrieal vs James Gibson which gets good after it gets going. This sets up the main event tag match. CM Punk & Azrieal vs Homicide and James Gibson (Unfinished Business 2005) - This is an Anything Goes Match. Punk doesn't want this. He wants a regular match because he's a chicken shit heel. It takes a minute to get going but then, its good in- ring action. Eventually, the fans get we want and the fighting goes to the outside...literally. They're in the gravel parking lot duking it out. And when they get back inside they end really strong. Very good match! CM Punk vs Puma (New Dawn Rising 2005) - Puma is TJP early in his career. This is a fun match but, nothing awesome. CM Punk vs Bryan Danielson (Dangerous Intentions 2005) - Great match. Punk loves working the crowd early on in FIP. There's like 20-30 fans at these shows so, good on him for engaging the crowd and getting some good heat. The fans in the audience love hating on him Anyhow, this was an intense match and the best bout thus far. Danielson always brings it and Punk is game. This is a long match in a good way. We get a cheap win but, it doesn't sour my opinion of the fight. And it works out...you'll have to get the DVD to see what I mean. CM Punk vs James Gibson (With Malice 2005) - Man, it seems like Punk is really turning it on now. I think he already knew he was leaving the Indies and wanted to put on great matches with everyone. I think FIP at this point in time was a place for their talent to work with each other to gain experience and chemistry in front of small but vocal crowds. Then they could bring their dialed in matches to ROH. I really think that is the case with Gibson. If you're a fan of his in ROH but wish there was more available then, check these early FIP shows. He and Punk have a great match. A similar ending as in the Danielson match. It works out and sends the fans home happy. It sets up the next show's big match of Punk vs Danielson 2/3 falls!! And...its not on this DVD. Bummer...I really want to track it down on eBay as its supposed to be pretty awesome. Overall, this is a very good DVD and its $5 on Highspots. Its totally worth buying if you're jonesing for vintage Punk. Here's the video trailer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1nMMjZO_kJw Thanks for reading!
  9. 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!
  10. A very good back & forth sprint w/ Dragon showing good fire & Williams playing the role of the veteran-being-taken-to-the-limit very well. ***1/2
  11. Very good opener, and the first match of the Round Robin Challenge between Daniels, Dragon & Low Ki. The opening exchanges are just perfunctory, feeling-out sequences. Nothing particularly memorable, but nothing bad. The match becomes more compelling once Daniels starts isolating the neck of Dragon. The commentary is selling how huge a deal this is since Daniels' finisher is neck-based. Dragon does an excellent job selling the neck, and there's multiple moments in the match where he's unable to create offense because of the neck. Curiously enough, he decides to hit a diving headbutt, but besides that oversight he was very good at incorporating the injured neck into the story of the match. Dragon fails to hold the bridge during the Cattle Mutilation because of the neck & Daniels reverses it into a Crossface for the submission victory. Daniels never even teases the Angel's Wings, but he wrenches viciously on the neck of Dragon in that Crossface, so that ruled. They understandably don't go all-out since both are wrestling again this evening, but both guys worked hard and produced a good, well-paced match. Rating: ***½
  12. Talk about it here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJVIjUWTdd8
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