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  1. I pulled out a few more PWG dvds for a re-watch to see if they were as good as I remembered and to be surprised how stacked some of the shows were. BOLA 2012 - wow...Anyhow, I cherry picked matches featuring Roderick Strong, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards as well as a bonus match. OK let's take a look Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong (Titannica 2010): Holy cow! This is way beyond what I saw them doing against each other in FIP 2006. On top of that, we get no playing to the PWG crowd, jokes or other stuff that became commonplace in the Reseda VFW. This is just two of the best Juniors going out there and bringing innovation, intensity, speed and stiffness. They brought the energy level up and settled it down, brought it up - settled it down. This was probably my best match watched in 2016. It stuck with me for days..and to boot its still available for $5 on Highspots as of this post. Classic match still to this day. Thankfully! ----- Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong (BOLA 2011): I haven't seen their ROH stuff but this was right up my alley as athletic competition/dramatized combat sport. I thought this was a classic BOLA match as the physicality, move choice and timing was excellent. Truly I would say it was on par with a Champion Carnival match of AJPW 90's. ----- Drake Younger vs Roderick Strong (BOLA 2012 n.1): A very good match that if given more time would have been a great one. This was really brutal at times. ----- Kyle O'Reilly vs Eddie Edwards (BOLA 2012 n.1): Two of my favourite guys but they never developed a story here. They just ran through a lot of good stuff but they never gave a chance to mean anything. That's OK because they would go on to perfect this on ROH's Reclamation Night 1. Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin (BOLA 2012 n.1): This was a Showdown in the Sun rematch and they have amazing chemistry. There are great strikes, counters, fighting spirit comebacks and all those things made this great. I hesitate to call this a classic because the stalling suplex spot was too long and they kicked out of one too many good finishes. I mean the ending should have been Davey's absolutely perfect flurry of kicks. It WAS the right moment but they wanted to do a minute or two more. It still works and is certainly the match of the night and was pretty bad ass. I'll say it's a BOLA classic but if a couple things were different this would be an all-time classic. One thing I'll say is folks got pretty drunk and that hurt the show. I felt that they got drunk early too. The guys in the front row are drinking pitchers of beer. Reminds me of college...but yeah lots of chanting, guys trying to get cheap laughs from the crowd, etc. Should have muted this... Adam Cole vs Eddie Edwards (BOLA 2012 n.2): This starts with Cole doing comedy heel shit and Eddie punishing him for it. This was a really good pairing AND fans aren't drinking tonight. Great match! *Bonus* Michael Elgin vs Ricochet (BOLA 2012 n.2): I distinctly remember thinking this was fantastic and I'm glad to say that holds up. This doesn't really come across as a classic but man, its the most logical and well paced match that on the BOLA this year. It was the man-beast vs the high flyer and they did an AWESOME job selling this story. Most of Ricochet's offense was hope spots and counters. And unlike Davey vs Elgin the night before, they didn't empty the tank but they never over did it. A great match and honestly its probably better than that because its smart. ----- Overall this was a pretty fun and rewarding rewatch experience! I genuinely was having a blast watching these matches without the "need" to watch the rest of the show. I would recommend all of the actual dvds if you're into these wrestlers but it was nice to rewatch and pretty much enjoy them like the first time 5-6 years ago. Thanks for reading! More Tiger Mask on the way shortly. Stay safe folks!
  2. Let's take the way back machine to 2014! Ring of Honor in Cincinnati (07/18/14) reDRagon vs Rocky Romero & Tomasso Ciampa: Koslov is injured so Nigel says Rocky has a replacement in the Sicilian Psychopath - nice! DRagon is pissed and rightfully so as the slap dash team takes the early advantage. Fish and O'Reilly eventually get control and unleash the 2 Man Smash Machine ™. Nevertheless, they can quite seem to get a handle on Ciampa and neither can Romero! This was a very good opener. It went a smidge longer than I like a first match to go but, I think they wanted to wow the crowd since there was a lineup change. Mission accomplished! Romantic Touch vs Jay Lethal: I gotta give this match some words because Jay Lethal was one of my MVPs of 2018. This started off fun but, was way too long. Nigel mentioned that Matt Bennett was out due to illness so, I think these early matches had to buy some time while they reorganized. BJ Whitmer, Jimmy Jacobs and Adam Page vs Cedric Alexander, Caprice Coleman and ACH: Very good, all action 6 man match. Coleman and Page were my faves. Kevin Steen vs Silas Young - No DQ: The penultimate Steen in ROH ma was a hardcore battle! Both guys are tough as leather and beat the brains outta each other. Kill Steen Kill is my favorite iteration of the French Canadian. Very good match with tons of chairs, trash cans etc. Ethan Gabriel Owens (Ethan Page) vs RD Evans vs Moose vs Matt Taven: Veda Scott is there and she's a total babe. Matt Taven is a guy who really impressed me with the matches I watched in 2018 but, those two things were not enough to keep me interested. Skipped this one. War Machine (Hanson & Rowe) vs The Briscoes: A very good physical match as the brothers are a little out-matched. We don't have a clear resolution as Cole & Lethal come out to spoil it...but then, Kaz & Daniels are out... Jay Lethal & Adam Cole vs Kazarian & Christopher Daniels: This was a fast paced jr. tag style match that had some storyline consequences...and we do get a pinfall. A very good match! Then, the original two teams come back out and damn, this was a great segment (starting with the War Machine vs Briscoes). It reminded me of how ECW would book tag matches. They were more organic fights between groups rather than just two teams squaring off for the belts. Main event time! Michael Elgin vs Roderick Strong: This one is for the World title. This was everything you could hope for! Roddy was hitting Big Mike as hard as he could and Elgin responded in kind! I was so glad to see he was in battle mode rather than, fan pleasing test of strength mode. He reminded me if late 90's Kobashi. Strong gets straight vicious and the champ is doing all he can to survive. Not only was this a hard hitting affair but, there were surprises and twists too. The Cincy crowd gets a ROH World title classic. I loved it! This was a great show and so glad I picked the DVD up. If you can, I'd highly recommend getting this show...at the least check out the title fight. Thanks for reading!
  3. ...and we're back! reDRagons vs Michael Elgin & Jay Lethal (10/05/13): Titles are on the line against the super team of Elgin & Lethal. This was a very good match but, not tremendous. It was a little goofy when Elgin does his 2 on 1 stuff but, the final bit was great per usual. Champs vs All-Stars: Adam Cole, reDRagon & Matt Taven vs Michael Elgin, C & C WrestleFactory Jay Lethal (Glory by Honor XII 10/26/13): We get over an hour of wrestling action. It is very difficult to keep a person's interest over that period of time but, it did. In fact, not only was I interested, I was invested. The match told a series of stories over the course of its duration. It was physical and compelling and an overall great match. Heck, I'd even say it was a ROH classic. The wrestlers along with the Corino/Kelly announce team, Truth Martini & the Hotties, Homicide & Kingston, the 3 referees, and Nigel all played their parts perfectly. It felt like a play with a cast of 19. Now, this could have easily been overbooked and bungled yet, it always seemed to be aware of that possibility. The match, as if an organism, would step back from the brink of parody to deliver something unique and surprising. vs Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander (11/16/13): This starts out with C & C getting the jump on the DRagon which eventually leads to them focusing on Caprice's arm. This is a good face in peril bit. Somewhere along the way, the legal man situation gets mixed up but, heck! it's just a TV match. It's not as offensive as a big deal PPV match. But, it's a hell of a TV/ small show match! Its not a perfectly executed but, these guys have the right idea as opposed to the Wolves matches. This bout knew what it wanted to be and acheived that. It had flow and the fans genuinely gave a damn. Not a perfect follow up to the Glory by Honor match but, a very good match nonetheless. ...until next time wrestling fans!
  4. So, before I continue with the reDRagons set, I'd like to review this show from January of 2013. Now, in case you were wondering, this isn't some essential show to Fish and O'Reilly's story. It just so happens that I have a few ROH DVDs that I've been meaning to watch that fit in with this watch-project's chronology. This one has been on sale for awhile and has gotten recommendations. Plus once ROH dvds are gone, they're gone (I just can't do the streaming subscriptions, I learned from my WWE network experience). So, Deny or Defy 2 sounded like a solid show and I bought it. Let's see if it's any good! Adam Cole vs Silas Young: This was a great opener and a great match overall. Cole is a known talent but, Young should be one as well. He works a more roughneck style now but, here he's doing a more athletic style and it's fantastic. This took me by surprise! Bobby Fish vs Tadarius Thomas: This was a good quasi shoot style match while still providing Fish a chance to blow bubbles with the crowd. Very good all-around work on his part. It's a dry yet, smart match. Charlie Haas vs Rhett Titus: Interestingly, Haas is wrestling how Silas Young wrestles now. So, it's a back to basics match. The fans are engaged and Charlie is working the fans to good effect. This may be something you don't necessarily give a shit about but, it is a fun, enjoyable match. Perfect for this spot on the card. I'd rather see these guys now instead of Flip Gordon and Cheeseburger...not to name names. Just saying... The Briscoes & Jay Lethal vs SCUM (Rhino, Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs): Seeing Rhino & Corino brings back memories and it feels right to have Mark & Jay (who've been with the co. in its original post ECW Philly days) fighting them. It's like ECW never went away and that's what this felt like. Brawl heavy match with some nice moves but, it's more about the characters and a pacing & finish that leaves you wanting more. Great match to me BJ Whimer vs Matt Hardy: This is a good match but, really it feels like a cool down for the upper card. I might even say this was just OK. I think it served its purpose. Kyle O'Reilly vs Davey Richards: This was pretty intense and fits perfectly into the Dragon's story arc (although not required). I'll say that Davey is clearly into doing his schtick at this point in his career. It works in a single setting if only because he can't do tandem moves & sequences. Usually it's the opposite for folks as they can do their spots, run around and look great. This doesn't fit Davey's persona though. He's got to go back to full speed ahead ultra aggressive Davey rather than rely upon Eddie's work and throw in hammy wolves spots. So, Kyle is the star of this to me. A very good to perhaps great match. Kinda wanna watch this again now... Defy or Deny Match: Kevin Steen vs Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong vs Michael Elgin: Elimination matches where no long term booking or planning comes into play are best left brief. I think that is my criticism here. Now, it's a great match (**** range) but, it could have been a classic with the talent in the ring if it had been more concise. And maybe you'll watch this and think it was.That's cool because there were points I was totally thinking that too. But I felt fluff got in the way too often for this to be downright amazing. Let's just say it is a big time main event nonetheless. It certainly felt like the money match and it absolutely worthwhile. Overall this is a fantastic show and for the sale price is worth checking out. The card flows well, and certainly delivers in terms of consistent quality with 4 out of 7 matches at the **** mark or so. You will want to watch the whole thing. Also if you dig the Undisputed Era guys, this is a excellent show to see what they were doing back in ROH. Gracias!
  5. Two bad bulls colliding in an explosive smack/bombfest which was paced masterfully. I liked it way more than their G1 meeting from 2015, actually. ****1/4
  6. We get a lengthy Rowe FIP segment, and it's awesome. Suzuki-gun do really good work over him, with everytime he was about to tag out, outcomes the rest of the heel team to cut him off. Once he finally makes the hot tag though, he makes it to Big Mike, who delivers an awesome hot tag, indeed. His exchanges against ZSJ were fantastic. After the fantastic Elgin vs. ZSJ section of the match, the thing essentially kicks into the finishing stretch & it remains awesome. Loved Suzuki constantly targeting Tana too, setting up a future singles meeting between them. Lovely match. ***3/4
  7. This was just the 4 lads involved beating the crap out of each other + throwing each other around. Liked how Cage & Elgin isolated Cobb - Cobb did a solid job as the FIP & Riddle was a tremendous hot tag. The finishing stretch was fantastic. ***1/2
  8. **Spoilers** My understanding is that even though this was a MVW show, this will be on CWF down the road so if you keep up with the show and avoid spoilers, stop here I had pretty high expectations going into the building and these two really lived up. I thought Elgin gave this a big fight feel, a super fight feel. He worked it to a bigger crowd that gave it some gravity, but it also made some of the moments feel somewhat awkward and out of place in the small room. That is, there were just some spots where things didn't flow quite right, a few little moments here and there where things felt disjointed. That was really my only critique (and I am really nitpicking) of the match and it honestly might not hold up once I see it on tape. Elgin worked this like a monster. He didn’t give a lot early on. He gave gradually, putting on a performance that reminded me of Aja Kong or Vader at his best. Trevor fought from behind and that let him fire off offense in spurts. Between the high impact beating he took and the high octane counters and comebacks this match provided a lot of "oh shit" moments. Most of those moments come from Elgin and start early. Elgin takes control after countering the apron punt and keeps control with high impact moves and strikes that break Trevor's momentum. Don’t worry though, Trevor gets to kick him… real good. When they return to the Apron punt Trevor tries to chop him down with 5 HUGE kicks. They tie lots of things together really well. They threw bombs at each other and both men put some real power on display, but all of that was put within the context of good selling and solid pacing. Big Mike always excels with the power, but I thought Trevor showed up big there. He delivered a dead-lift suplex late in the match that pulled my back out. They also knew they were working within the context of Trevor’s epic run and had a few nice little callbacks to things, especially the Day match. Trevor kicks out at one at a point late in the match, a spot that let the crowd on fire during Day/Lee. Here everyone pops hard only to see all the life quickly drain from Trevor again as he slumped to the floor. It was sort of brilliant. The ending was good, but not quite as satisfying as I might have hoped for. It made a ton of sense and honestly the more I think about it the more I at least don't dislike it. They are moving like one of them is about to hit a deathblow, with lots of quick reverses and counters and escapes, and all the sudden its a flash roll-up. It was a desperation move by Lee and was consistent with the beating he just took. Lee gets a clean win and Elgin loses absolutely NOTHING. My favorite part of the match was just how they built the emotion and intensity. Trevor comes in fired up and Elgin is stoic. As the match moves forward Elign grows impassioned and frustrated. First he tells Trevor it is his house and slowly unfolds that emotion. That eventually turns into anger as he tells Lee to stay down. Lee on the other hand sells the beating like a champ. He doesn’t just sell the pain, his energy levels decline as he goes too. Like the abovementioned one count spot Trevor had fired up so many times that he just crashes to the ground because he has almost nothing left. That comes right before he gets the desperation rollup win. These two pay a lot of attention to detail. Regadless, this is a must see match. I am not seeing quite as much interweb hype as I saw for Day/Lee (I am new to twitter so maybe I am missing it), but I think this deserves some buzz. It was really really good. For those rating inclined, I put this just under Lee/Day, giving it ****1/2, but the more I talk/write about it the more I am talking myself into this being better than that. I always like to reserve final judgment till I see it on tape. I can see some of my complaints sort of disappearing a bit and some of the strengths of the match really being accented on camera. It is possible that the little moments that seemed disjointed to me might not hurt this and I up its rating. I am really excited for this to hit youtube. EDIT: This one finally came to youtube and confirmed more or less everything I wrote about it before. It was a great, physical match, something a good bit different than other Lee title matches here. Elgin played the final boss in a video game really well. I loved it
  9. This ruled. They worked the David vs. Goliath dynamic with O'Reilly chopping down the bigger man in Big Mike - loved all of Kyle's offense, he was really great in this match. Elgin answered to KOR's submissions & striking combinations w/ big bombs & hard hitting lariats. It was all super enjoyable. ***3/4
  10. This was great. Elgin dominated most of the match due to his size & power - he did a really great job doing that in compelling fashion, while Riddle rocked the fighting from underneath role very well too. ****
  11. This was a fantastic way to start EVOLVE 81. Really good opener - David vs. Goliath dynamic w/ Big Mike throwing ZSJ around quite a bit & ZSJ answering with those nifty submissions & awesome strikes of his. ***3/4
  12. Typical New Japan main event 'epic'. The first half was completely forgettable, the work Naito did on Elgin's leg was sold pretty badly by Big Mike. The match only got interesting once they kicked into the finishing gear w/ them just throwing big bombs at each other, but even then, it wasn't very interesting. *
  13. This was actually quite a well worked David vs. Goliath trios match. Cage, Steen & Elgin were just throwing the smaller dudes around, while they came back to the match w/ their wacky, flippy hope spots & comebacks. ***1/2
  14. Interesting opening-Elgin overwhelms Nakajima with power, Nakajima had to use the dreaded Dean Ambrose rope pull and drop toe holds to get back in control, first attacks the arm and then when Elgin fights back goes for the legs. Nakajima's armwork and legwork is pretty inconsequential-triple limbwork would've been interesting but Nakajima's kicks were pretty enough that I'll just take that segment for what it was. I find it really hard to care about Elgin's control segments when all he does is spam spots, and his spots aren't really that special. Nakajima's selling carried the strike exchanges-Elgin nailed a couple of good elbows but also did stupid sound effect enzuigiris. There was stuff like Elgin's triple suplex attempt where you could tell they were just setting up the next spot and the finishing stretch was classic 2.99 spam/hit a big move>if the next one is reversed its damage is instantly nullified. A good showing for Nakajima who managed to make me enjoy an Elgin match about as much as I am gonna in 2016. **3/4
  15. Yano can build a neat match around rope breaks and shaking hands. I don't know what more you could ask from a wrestler. I don't remember seeing the crowd chant along his antics before, that really added to the experience. "Yano goes to grab a bald wrestler's hair" remains hilarious even years after he did it to Karl Anderson the first time. ***
  16. This match was almost like a mini-game for Honma-he'd try a move, get overwhelmed by Elgin's power, persevere and eventually succeed, then go for another move and get cut off by Elgin's power again. Every time Honma would execute a move he would earn a trophy or an accomplishment. In the end, because he was more concerned with earning the platinum trophy than beating the game, he lost. Best moments in the match came from Honma firing himself up and his theatrical selling in the finish. The turnbuckle Powerbomb no-sell spot worked because Elgin's Powerbomb actually looks good and dangerous and has credibility unlike Rollins'. Honma managing to take Elgin down with shoulder locks is the kind of spot that doesn't really make sense, but it's pro wrestling and a G1 house show main event so whatever. Finishing stretch became overreliant on nearfalls. Match would have been better and more compact if they'd done less of them and made the good ones matter more. ***-***1/4
  17. Fun match. Lots of PWG matches feel like they go too fast, it's just ZOOM ZOOM from start till the finish. This one wasn't like that, though it felt like some of it was more due to awkwardness and unfamiliarity than it being planned out-Elgin's elevated stunner looked terrible and Kamaitachi's apron dropkick didn't connect properly. What I like about Kamaitachi is that, despite esentially being a workrate junior there are elements of the wrestling I love in his work. There were some fun spots here based on Elgin overpowering him or catching him in mid air and what I liked about the faux fighting spirit strike exchange I usually loathe in a PWG match is that Kamaitachi kept cutting Elgin off before he finally hit the big Lariat, that's something you'll see in a 90s All Japan tag and it's great that he *gets* something like that. Elgin here looked more like the guy I never wanted New Japan to bring in than the guy that had some surprisingly good performances in the G1, with his input mainly being move move move. **3/4
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