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  1. Here's a quickie covering a few Ikuto Hidaka matches that I found online. I guess it's all a part of looking for Zero One wrestling matches. He's a guy that really impressed me from my brief foray into BattlARTS and from an ECW match back in 2000 or so. Had ECW lasted longer perhaps he'd be in the mix with Super Crazy, Tajiri, Jerry Lynn, Little Guido etc. and the best Juniors matches on US TV. Anyhow let's take a look at what I found. & Minoru Fujita vs T. Kuroda & Yoshihito Sasaki (08/31/04): Classic structure Jr. tag match with an awesome high energy final act. Great to see FMW alum Kuroda kicking butt! And man Sasaki had a relatively short career but he's so impressive even this early. No one talks about him so I'm going to praise his work and no frills style every chance I get. Here Fujita's execution is on point and the man Hidaka is his usual wizard self. He is just so quick and clean in his movements that it's a joy to watch. Fujita's hot tag to Hidaka is just sick! This is a very very good match. & Fujita vs Spanky Brian Kendrick & Alex Shelley (03/27/05): Kendrick surprised me again! He's so scrawny that I just don't believe he's any good. Then he proves me wrong. Thank goodness! Fujita was a bit off tonight or there were communication issues so some of his stuff (especially with Alex) didn't work correctly. But Shelley vs Hidaka was sublime. Their mat wrestling was totally worth it. Really other than those couple execution errors this was looking to be a great match ('05 Shelley and Spanky make it easy). As it stands its still very good and absolutely worth a watch if you're interested or nostalgic for early 2000's ROH type stuff. vs Super Crazy (04/14/05): This was what I had hoped for! He and Crazy met in ECW and had a breathtaking encounter on ECW on TNN. Here they do it again and actually take it more to the extreme. Crazy lived up to his name and Hidaka wouldn't be outdone in his home promotion. 14 minutes of fireworks. Very good match! Absolutely left me wanting more. vs Munenori Sawa (09/19/10): Wow this was some BattlARTS shit! I kinda didn't know what I was watching since stylistically this was so different from the previous junior style matches. This was two dudes beating the crap outta each other. There was little defensive manoeuvres. It was palm strikes and kicks until someone fell down. Then try to snap a limb or pop a joint. But in BattlARTS fashion there were drop kicks and a couple more moves too. But then Sawa just punches Hidaka in the face His face swells up and is bleeding from the mouth. This was a heck of a match. Feels weird to watch something so Indie 90's Japan take place in 2010. I love it! I'm not going to give a rating but highly recommend watching this! Overall this was a fun little mini project. I know there's more Ikuto Hidaka on my horizon as I've got some Zero One wrestling dvds as well as some late 90's stuff. This has only gotten me more hyped to watch those. Thanks for reading!
  2. In October, it was announced that Ring of Honor would be taking time off from Jan-March of 2022. The hiatus would end with Supercard of Honor. In the meantime, portion of the roster would be let go at the end of the year while others would be let go in early 2022. Many including myself believed this was the end of the road for the promotion. I'm not sure calling the Final Battle 2021 'End of an Era' helped dispel our speculation. I just posted on ROH thread that I thought AEW might have some interest in the brand especially with so many former ROH now AEW stars participating in Final Battle. After Final Battle ROH Chief Operating Officer Joe Koff did the ROH Strong podcast to talk about all of this. I've never listened to this podcast and I am guessing many of you haven't either. I had no intention of starting with listening to a suit talk corporate talk for an hour plus. That being said, it also seemed like the only place we were going to get actual details on what's to become of the organization. Again, there's just a lot of speculation floating around by both people in the business and fans alike. I'm going to give you my take aways from the 80 min. long interview. Its actually a pretty easy listen and Koff really seems to have a sincere affection for the fans, employees, and promotion as a whole. They begin by talking about Final Battle and the events that transpired with the tributes, matches, guest appearances and having the Lethal vs Gresham main event with Bandido being pulled due to COVID. Then there's a bunch of thanks given to Delirious (referred by his real name). What's odd is that they do seem to refer to things in the past tense. As in saying WAS instead of saying IS. I didn't make notes on this because they hadn't started talking about the hiatus and etc. But it did seem to initially corroborate speculations. They get to the meat and Koff starts by saying ROH's plans for 2020 were to start a live weekly TV taping ala RAW. So 52 live episodes per week. Perhaps live to tape like the late night talk shows. Additionally they wanted to have a fixed time across the Sinclair stations so it would appear the same time on every station so 22 The Point here in Pittsburgh would have it the same time as WUAB in Cleveland as in wherever else...again like most wrestling shows. Anyhow COVID happened and that plan got shot to shit. ROH then showed a few months worth of best of shows (we'll get back to that) and eventually came back with the Pure Title Tournament (see my past posts about that). He mentions in the meantime AEW has grown and IMO ROH has stagnated. They have done the best job in keeping people safe in terms of their and the Maryland Athletic comissions COVID protocols. Koff seemed please in keeping fans and staff safe although probably wouldn't have been a strict. Koff is adamant that Ring of Honor is not going out of business. Its not a matter of IF they come back its a matter of WHEN. They are "re-imagining" Ring of Honor. He does not express what this means (I'll take some guesses). He did say the plan is to cease matches and plans of touring until March when the plan is to return with Supercard of Honor. Koff said they will still be having TV shows in that time. I assume they have some stuff already taped and may do a year end retrospective. But more interesting is Koff remarked that ratings were positive for the Best Of shows in the Spring and Summer of 2020. In case you missed these, each week would feature a wrestler or team and showcase usually 3 standout matches during the ROH career or since Sinclair owned the promotion. If we read between the lines of what Joe Koff was saying, it sounds like this will be the plan from Jan-March. He said the shows without matches did really well (paraphasing). Well there's no ROH episode without matches but he must mean this from a production standpoint. So no matches booked, produced (filmed, lit, etc.) and wrestled. He was very careful not to give anything away for the future but repeated 're-imagine' and emphasis on the fans importance and 'focus on fans.' What this means I don't know and now comes the speculation - Informed speculation. At the end, I'll say what I'd like to see but this section is more interpretation of what Koff has said. First, I really believe this hiatus period of Jan-March will be Best Of episodes using ROH's back catalog. This will do well in the ratings while requiring minimal production and staff. This keeps ROH on TV while keeping fans happy. I think one thing everyone wants is easier access to ROH's back catalog even if its just 2011-2021. There's some really awesome stuff in there that I don't believe is even available on ROH's Honor Club service. I'm getting ahead of myself. I think COVID is a big part of letting go of talent and taking a hiatus. They were trying to wait the pandemic out while other companies eventually said screw it. Ethically I agree with ROH. Financially though this was pretty bad. They have had no show revenue for 2 years! This 3 month period is a time to hibernate and slow the bleeding as well as wait COVID out a little longer. In regards to his emphasis on the fans, I would think this means more social media activity but also listening to what the fans want in terms of booking. I don't think they will do away with Delirious but they will give fans more input as they do with The Experience shows and Unauthorized where people vote on matches or stipulations. I think they may have some folks pay more attention to what fans are saying online and booking with instead of against those opinions. Oh one other thing I remember is regarding the Forbidden Door. People believe Final Battle 2021 shows that ROH will be working with other promotions like AEW and Impact. Koff was quick to say there never has been a Forbidden Door with ROH. This is true and good of him to say this. ROH was THE promotion that worked with other companies - Zero-1, AJPW, Dragon Gate, NJPW, NOAH, Chikara, CZW, CMLL, and of course they had a working relationship with TNA on and off for awhile. WWF used to do it with ECW. I mean the NWA was before all of that! So anyhow, I do see this as a very real possibility. This is something the fans want to see. Fans of puro have been privy to this for the past 20 years. But the hope is that the AEW fans who jumped ship with the Elite and other talent will come back to ROH even if only on occasion. I think everyone would want another ALL IN level show down the road. Koff remarked that one of his best memories was doing ALL IN even though the aftermath was less than desirable. Could we see something like this in March for a true Supercard of Honor? That's what I've got as far as informed speculation. Koff didn't show his cards past what they are going to do in the meantime. He was pretty firm about Ring of Honor not going away. It would just be coming back different. I'm going to go bat-shit with the ideas. One thing I've thought of is having the majority of ROH's TV show be flashback matches along with promos all themed toward upcoming PPVs or which could be teased on AEW TV perhaps. This all depends on who ROH wants to keep or build around. I would love to see ROH focus on the Pure Rules or guys like Gresham, Tracy Williams. The ROH product will focus on a core group of guys but various talent will be brought in from the Indies or elsewhere (AEW, Mexico, Japan) to challenge them. Those guys and girls would venture out on occasion as well. This would be similar to the NWA territory days. Essentially re-unifying and sharing talent after Vince tore it apart 35 years ago. Again we have seen this in Japan in the 2000's Pro Wrestling Love Era. Again, we kinda would see this with TNA, PWG and ROH for awhile...I think we can see it again. I'd love to see this along with classic matches every week or two. So I don't think ROH is going to dissolve. I know ROH has put their back catalog out for the highest bidder so I think if someone gave them the right dollar amount for that and everything, they would take it. Koff is a businessman as he reminds us at the end of the podcast. I just don't know if that'll happen. OR maybe that is exactly how this is all going to go down... AEW buys ROH then they do like a RAW vs Smackdown thing with them? Or perhaps they will cut enough costs and re-envision their business model to work better work around COVID. They are very adaptable as Koff said and I believe him. But then again, business is business. Thanks for reading! Just had all of that floating around in my head so I hope it makes sense.
  3. We're back with Ring of Honor 2018 Global Wars in Buffalo, New York. Dalton Castle vs TK O'Ryan - skipped...this starts off as The Boys vs Vinny and Taven which kills the momentum of the show right off the bat. Kenny King vs Cheeseburger - skipped Kelly Klein vs Madison Rayne - skipped...notice a pattern? BUSHI vs Jonathan Gresham vs Flip Gordon vs Kushida - Ah a match that I'm interested in! This was fun but pretty underdeveloped and predictable. Nonetheless it still was enjoyable to see these guys do some cool spots even if obvious. BUSHI didn't do much for me but the other three were pretty good. I like this iteration of Flip Gordon. Jeff Cobb vs EVIL - I want to like Jeff Cobb but his intensity is lacking and his move set is unimpressive for his size. He has a good look and should be a beast but something just doesn't click with me. I've seen EVIL do better but that aside this was good stuff. But was not 'awesome ' as the crowd was chanting. It was a good mid card match that two professionals should be able to have. Nothing more or less. That doesn't really help my impression of Cobb though. Silas Young vs Juice Robinson - Here we go! Best Bout so far (not saying much!). Silas and Juice have a really good thing going. They are basic wrestlers with sprinkles of flash and it works out here. I was really digging this until Bully Ray comes out and spoils the finishing segment. I wouldn't care had the previous 2 bouts been better but damn dudes! Let's get an honest ***1/2 match in the books before you start with the Jeff Jarret-like bull crap! We get 95% of a very good match then some storyline setup. Whatever! Tetsuya Naito/SANADA vs Young Bucks - Thank goodness for the Young Bucks. They can get a show back on track in their sleep. Naito and Sanada have upped their games and have a great Young Bucks romp. Lots of cute sequences and fake outs but damn is it fast and exciting. Its Bucks by the numbers with Naito & Sanada plugged into that equation. And that's nothing to sneeze at Jay Lethal vs Chris Sabin - Proving ground match which is a 15 minute time limit match. If Sabin wins or lasts the time limit then he gets a shot at Lethal's championship. Yeah, best match so far. This isn't turn back the clock nostalgia. Both guys can still go! They play up their equality throughout and man are there some real surprises. I like that older Sabin is more like Alex Shelley now - he's all about Mr. Salty style submission holds. There's one segment when he just tears Lethal apart. This was smart as it not only ate up time but made Lethal weaker and less likely to hit the Lethal injection. This was a great match and if it was longer, I think it had the potential to be a classic. I liked the aftermath too. This felt like ROH of old. Best Friends vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Cody/Adam Page - Cody looks like a boy in pajama pants. He is like Peter Pan. Thank goodness he's in a multi man match. OK that's out of the way! This was a very good borderline great match. There's a little cutesy crap with Brandi and a group hug but overall this is serious match. Cody looked pretty good as his time was limited. Chuck Taylor was all business so yeah this delivered as a main event. They gave it plenty of time. Delirious can't help but overbook the finish for no good reason. Maybe it protects someone or something but not much makes sense in 2018 ROH. You just hope for exciting ma and stories be damned! This accomplished that and I ain't complaining. We'll finish up with the final stop of the tour in Toronto in a day or two! Thanks for reading I recommend checking out the Lethal vs Sabin match for sure! But the last 3 matches make this show worthwhile.
  4. G. Badger

    Best Match Watched - 2021

    Hello and welcome to my end of the year Best Match Watched list! Its like your Match of the Year lists but isn't limited to matches that took place this calendar year. Obviously, right? I haven't watched much of anything from 2021. Let's take a look at the first part of this year's viewing. Tiger Mask vs Pete Roberts (09/10/82 NJPW) Masato Tanaka vs Mr. Gannosuke (01/06/98 FMW) Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW) Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW) Tetushiro Kuroda vs Masato Tanaka (06/19/98 FMW) Hisakatsu Oya vs Tetsuhiro Kuroda (12/12/98 FMW) Abdullah Kobayashi vs Daisuke Sekimoto (07/22/05 BJW) Roderick Strong & Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Rave & Shingo (FIP New Year's Classic 2007) Tyler Black vs Roderick Strong (FIP Heatstroke '07 Night 1) Honorable Mention Tag Matches - Gotta show some love to the tag matches that just missed the cut: Tiger Mask & Tatsumi Fujinami vs Black Tiger & Pete Roberts (08/27/82 NJPW) Jado & Gedo vs Hayabusa & Masato Tanaka (05/05/98 FMW) Hayabusa &Tanaka vs W*ing Kanemura & Kodo Fuyuki (05/27/98 FMW) BxB Hulk and Yamato vs Roderick Strong and Jay Briscoe (FIP Third Year Anniversary) ----- And let's see what the second half of 2021 had for us: Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens (Dangerous Intentions 2008 FIP) Erick Stevens vs Go Shiozaki (Heatstroke 2008 FIP) AJ Styles vs Roderick Strong vs Kyle O'Reilly (Aftershock Hopkins 2015 ROH) Go Shiozaki vs Roderick Strong (Fallout 2008 FIP) CM Punk vs AJ Styles (Tradition Continues 2003 ROH) Jun Kasai, Men's Teioh, Y. Miyamoto & Jaki Numazawa vs Abby Kobayashi, T. Sasaki, MASADA, Shadow WX (01/02/07 BJW) AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (Turning Point 11/09 TNA) Tiger Mask vs Gran Hamada (02/03/83 NJPW) Strong BJW vs Suwama & Takumi Soya (03/20/12 AJPW) Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (06/02/83 NJPW) Tiger Mask vs Kuniaki Kobayashi (07/14/83 NJPW) Jay Lethal vs Kenny King (Global Wars Toronto 2018 ROH) -Honorable Mentions: Genichiro Tenryu vs Ashura Hara (04/12/86 AJPW) Sting vs Kurt Angle (Empty Arena Match Impact 2009 TNA) Desmond Wolfe vs Kurt Angle (Turning Point 11/09 TNA) -Re-watch honorable mentions: These don't count towards my BMW but I give high recommendations. Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong (Battle of Los Angeles 2011 PWG) Classic match Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong (Titannica 2010 PWG) Classic match Tiger Mask vs Dynamite Kid (04/21/83 NJPW) Classic match -Wrestler of the Year - Wrestler of the year is between Roderick Strong, Hayabusa, AJ Styles and Tiger Mask. AJ and Hayabusa had some really awesome battles the first half of the year. Styles just shined in everything I saw him in. Tiger and Roddy were ubiquitous in 2021 though. Strong was the ace of FIP and although I won't count his PWG matches but he killed it there. But you might have guessed, Tiger Mask is the wrestler of the year. Tiger Sayama had fantastic matches in a variety of styles and with a variety of opponents. Beyond that he was so damn innovative and had battles that looked & felt 10 and even 20 years ahead of their time. -Feud of the Year- Hayabusa/FMW vs Team No Respect had some really great encounters but fizzles out with the multi man matches. Erick Stevens vs the world in FIP was pretty damn compelling stuff and he had some of FIP's best singles bouts in the process. Homicide vs Corino was only a couple matches but was some of the most intense stuff of the year. Kuniaki Kobayashi vs Tiger Mask was the best feud though. But the match quality and intensity of each match really elevated it above all else. -Match of the Year - In all honesty, its tough for me to pick anything that rose above the rest. Everything listed was fantastic but I really had to go through my notes and blog posts to remind myself what was an all-time classic match. I think I'm going back to the first half of the year. Hayabusa vs Masato Tanaka (03/13/98 FMW), Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW), and Daisuke Sekimoto vs Abdullah Kobayashi (07/22/05 BJW) are my single match picks. Sekimoto vs Abby Jr. is very stylistically similar to the FMW bouts. The best tag match is the Sekimoto & Okabayashi vs Suwama & T. Soya from All Japan 2012. But I really recommend Roddy & Jack Evans vs Jimmy Rave (RIP) & Shingo in FIP as well. All that said the best match watched of 2021 was Hayabusa vs Mr. Gannosuke (04/30/98 FMW) due to the historical depth and the "deep" selling by Gannosuke. The wrestlers ' past, the stakes, the story of the match itself. It is comparable to a Misawa vs Kawada classic while still being FMW. That's a perfect combination for me. And one that I didn't know existed. If I was actively following FMW in 1998 and saw this when I was 14, I would have been flipping out! -Closing Remarks - I'll be frank: Check out the 6 disc Tiger Mask DVD set. Check out some of the FIP DVDs before they are gone. I really feel like those are going to be lost to time just for the mere fact that other FIP reviews are so hard to find online. And I'm not seeing much variety of DVDs on eBay. The BJW matches are also nearly lost media in my view. They just haven't gotten the hype that AJ, NOAH & especially NJPW have gotten. All of the above are for sale at Highspots. Not shilling here but trying to get you pointed in the right direction if you're wondering. Of course, check out what you can online as well. My goal for the blog is to provide some kind of record of wrestling soon to be forgotten. Its imperfect and biased but hopefully it encourages people to look to the past, give something a chance or even a second look. Thanks so much for reading! I hope that I've given you some enjoyment as well as some inspiration. Keep exploring! Stay safe folks and see you in 2022
  5. Kaitlin Diemond vs Karen Q - sorry, I skipped it. Long show for me. Chuck Taylor vs Adam Page - From last night's main event, we get a really good opening match. Seriously, this felt like a regular ROH opener compared to the previous show in Buffalo. That's even with me skipping matches too. The Buffalo show was anemic up until the Silas vs Juice match. This was just as good as that and we really haven't gotten started! Vinny Marseglia/TK O'Ryan vs Tetsuya Naito/BUSHI - What is Naito doing this low on the card? Ian, Colt and Caprice (I thought I missed Colt when he left but man I'm just a fan of Ian & Cedric together) indicate that Cody won't be on the show due to injury so they had to shuffle the card a bit. I guess that's part of why we get Page vs Chuck and this tag match. This is surprisingly good. Its sleep walking Naito and Bushi vs Vinny &TK probably having one of their biggest matches. It was rough around the edges but damn they brought just about everything that they have. With that said, I'm going note how despite this being a Global Wars tour, there's been a pretty meager NJPW presence. I'm not counting Juice because he's stylistically American. Other than Kushida, the LIJ guys have not really done anything to blow my socks off. If I was a younger fan, it'd be cool just to see them but in my heart, I'd be disappointed. Kinda like Kenta vs Misawa in ROH in 2008. It was cool and historical but not the all time classic we wanted. Well here ROH isn't even giving us fans the opportunity for top shelf performances. You stick main eventers in the mid card or below the top couple matches then I'll have to ask "why bother bringing them over?" It draws I guess but it doesn't seem to be productive long term. But heck I'm talk about stuff 3years ago! Next match! Matt Taven vs Christopher Daniels - Good match with few surprises though. I'm not complaining because its doing its job & I like both guys. But its wrecked by more interference leading to the finish. Is this fucking WCW? Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs EVIL/SANADA - Best Bout so far. Mark and Jay just beat Sanada like its Japan. Sanada and EVIL get steamed and man we get a very very good match. Its what you want and kicks into high gear but damn! We get another cheap finish. Come on! Can't they get a clean finish booked? Heck don't do 2 in a row at least...I wouldn't have minded this one if they didn't do something cheap right before this one. Everything that came before was really good stuff though so I still liked this overall. Jonathan Gresham vs Flip Gordon - I wish they would have given this at least 2-3 more minutes. It was over before it had a chance to get into high gear. Nonetheless, this technically was the best match this far. Flip hurt his leg and Gresham went after it in some very clever and punishing ways. Flip, to his credit, sold it quite well. I mean actually the best selling we've seen all tour sans Sabin vs Lethal last show. He hesitated on his movements, collapsed when he could have capitalized, and carried it through to the finish. Had this been a little longer, this would have been a great contest. Instead, they had to rush the finishing portion and wrap it up just too soon. ----- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky vs Super Smash Bros - ROH Tag Title Match - Yeah boy! This is what I'm talking! 12-13 minutes of straight bananas junior tag action. It was exactly what the show needed at just the right time. You could say that it was foolish to make this a title match since it telegraphs the outcome. But having the Smash Bros on here vs Kaz & Scorpio is all that matters. Great match, a blast! Trent Beretta vs Juice Robinson - This was supposed to be Trent vs Cody but the American Nightmare is injured. So they booked this instead. Seeing as both are NJ guys moreso than ROH, they fought this like a NJ match. Juice damn near died on a missed cannonball/rolling senton into and over the guardrail. You know the fans have changed because no one was chanting 'holy shit! Holy Shit!'. If there was a time to chant it, this was the time! From there they told the story of Juice hurting his back and Trent hurting his ribs. They weren't going to live and die on this story but it gave the middle of the bout substance. It was a means to explain why they were laboring to get to their feet and pull off their moves. I prefer this to plain old ' we're tired' or 'we're loopy'. The whole thing was excellent and really made me want to see more of Trent & Juice. They did exactly what the Global Wars tour is meant to do. Expose folks to new/different guys and make ROH seem like the place to watch. Near classic match, like ****1/4+ type stuff. Almost 20 minutes 'vintage' ROH action. The last three fights actually resemble Ring of Honor of old. ----- Chris Sabin/Kushida vs Young Bucks - Another great tag match. I think having this after the Smash Bros one may have hurt it some. I waited a day to watch this but felt it didn't rock my world like that one did. Also seeing a few Young Bucks shows the past week or two diminished the pizzazz if their spots. They are less spontaneous than they seem after you've seen them a few times but n close proximity.That's one of my biggest issues with them. That all said, this is an all over the place crazy sequence heavy match. I am a fan of Superkicks as they add a bit of ferocity to what sometimes appears to be a gymnastics or acrobatics routine. All 4 guys did an excellent job pulling that off though. I wish we got to see more Kushida on his own in the Global Wars tour. Since these matches have all been free for alls, I didn't feel like I got to see what he was all about. Nonetheless, he's a talent and if I were younger, this match would have been mind blowing along with the SCU/Smash match. Jay Lethal vs Kenny King - ROH World Title Match - I remember really digging Kenny King's push back in 2018. I would catch ROH TV here and there. His hunt for Lethal was engaging so I am psyched to see this match. Even more so after watching him develop in FIP this past viewing year. He is a talent so to now see him with a larger frame and a killer instinct, he seems ready to take it to champ Jay Lethal. Jay Lethal 2018-present has been one of the best at making everything he's in seem important. So although the Toronto fans may not have had the energy for this, it was a helluva title fight between two rivals. 20+ minutes of intense and exciting wrestling. I wouldn't say it is perfect but it is a fantastic main event and end to the Global Wars tour. A classic match to me. ----- This without a doubt is the best show of the tour and although the Global Wars title might not be accurate, it still was high quality modern wrestling. This show is packaged with the Lowell, Lewiston, and Buffalo shows. It runs for $10.00-2.50 (the lowest was a black Friday deal) but even if you spent the $10 it would be worth it. A word to the wise ROH's S&H is kinda high so plan on getting a couple things to offset the cost. But yeah, a fantastic show in Toronto and a smattering of very good to great stuff across the other 3 dvds...including the excellent Sabin vs Lethal match in Buffalo ...this is a no brainer. Thanks for reading! Hoping to take a rest for the next few days. Then I'll post my year end Best Match Watched list and any superlatives I want to mention. Stay safe folks
  6. I got the 4 disc set from ROH last year on a season sale and shoot might as well check it out. I always wanna watch stuff in chronological order but I got to give that up or I'll never watch everything. This set is $5 for 4 discs. This is disc one...just want to keep it simple. Eli Isom vs Flip Gordon - I skipped this...great start, right? I got too much to watch to spend time with this. Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky vs The Bouncers - The start of my show and this was the way to do it. Speed vs power and vets vs younger guys...yeah this was very enjoyable. Was it the best use of Kaz & Scorp? No but, it was fun. Jeff Cobb vs Cheeseburger - I can justify The Bouncers but I really can't justify Cheeseburger. Skipped...terrible use of Jeff Cobb here. Matt Taven/Vinny Marseglia/TK O'Ryan vs Dalton Castle/The Boys - ROH Six-Man Tag Title Match - This was a really fun comedy match with some very good moments of wrestling. If you're feeling a PWG 6 man this will do the trick. Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Cody/Adam Page - I'm watching these like ROH TV shows where they squeeze 3 matches in an hour. This is my main event for the "episode." And wow! This was a very good match. I'm not a Cody fan but he works really well in tag matches since his weaknesses are well concealed. The Briscoes are the tops and were working on making this a great **** level bout. Page was definitely game for that. Christopher Daniels vs Juice Robinson - This was disappointing but it did confirm my practice of treating every 3 matches like a TV episode. This then was fine for a TV opener. On to the next match! Bully Ray/Silas Young vs Young Bucks- I can understand that people don't want to see Ray in ROH. But this is more TNA then ROH in 2018 and they can really use a guy who can draw some heat...even cheap heat. There's no real faces or heels in the company here. He and Silas actually feel like actual heels and they are in their with the biggest faces of the company (tweener faces I guess??). The biggest stars of the company at least. So they work a real simple face/heel match. Bubba...or Bully bumps for the Bucks, Silas is the athletic heel and the Jackson boys do their stuff. This was a great match. People will disagree but the heel stuff made the Bucks' moves mean something. Jay Lethal/Jonathan Gresham/Chris Sabin/Kushida vs Tetsuya Naito/EVIL/SANADA/BUSHI - Big names and the main event to this episode and DVD! And you know that it came through! It wasn't as good as the previous match but once it picked up it gave you all the action you wanted to see from the guys. I'm not seeing the NJ guys as much as I used to (fine by me) but this is a nice way for someone only seeing NJPW in ROH to get a taste. Like TNA doing their Global X matches, its a really good 15 minute action match that is fast and exciting without killing anyone. That being said, this didn't have a lot of personality from LIJ besides EVIL. Lethal's team was fun as heck though! This was a really good DVD. I'd totally say this by itself is worth the $5. There's no classic encounter and only one great **** match this was so easy and fun to watch. Thanks for reading!
  7. These two have lots of history, having a great feud in CZW prior to this, and that chemistry is on show here, even though this is a short TV match. That history between the two is hinted at here, or implied without ever being made explicit on commentary, but helps the atmosphere for the match given we are in the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia and many in the crowd probably knew it. This is a hard hitting sprint, and given their previous rivalry they go straight at it from the opening bell. Early on Hero strikes just the right balance in backing away from Kingston's onslaught but not being a full on cowardly heel. Both guys lay in their strikes and in their brawling on the floor. There's one great spot where Kingston is distracted by Sara Del Ray on the outside and Hero takes him out with a brutal looking baseball slide dropkick from his blindside. As we know now from his rise to prominence in AEW, Kingston is a really sympathetic seller, bringing real emotion into his matches (even a short TV match like this one) and that rallies the crowd to his side, when Hero's antics at this point often got him cheered despite being the heel. Unfortunately it ends in a rather lame DQ when Kingston wont break in the corner, but he does make up for it by hitting ref Todd Sinclair with a nasty snap punch which gets a pop from the ROH crowd who always used to get on poor old Todd's case. Even those this has a crappy ending, and is only 5/6 mins long, it's a really fun sprint where they pack a lot in. (***)
  8. Two weeks previously they had wrestled to a time limit draw, so this is the rematch, but with higher stakes as it's a No. 1 contenders match for the ROH Title. As with the previous bout, they start with grappling and Danielson is really snug and tight in everything he does, making sure that Black has to earn his way out of every hold. Dragon is lazeer focused and serious early on, with the implication he'd potentially underestimated Black first time round, whereas now he knows he's a threat he's making sure to not give up any cheap openings. Both men are cautious early on, not wanting to make a mistake given the increased stakes of a title shot being on the line. While it stays technical Danielson is able to keep control. Black in contrast tries to up the pace to try and get the advantage but that opens himself up and I loved when he got caught with a big dropkick from Dragon. Danielson controls the match for long periods as reflecting his position as the ace of the company, while Black is good at selling and being on the defensive, trying to hang in there and look for openings when he can. Black spills to the outside, but potentially frustrated by Black's resilience after a series of pin attempts and not yet putting him away (and mindful of the time limit draw last time) Dragon misses a dive to the outside allowing Black to hit one of his own. This creates the separation that Black has been looking for, and now he's able to start getting on the offence and turning the match into his type of contest. The offensive flurry however almost snaps Dragon back into focus and single leg crab gets him back in control and now he's much more vicious with his kicks and strikes. He knows he's in a fight. Just as the intensity was really building, I was taken out of it a bit by a rolling pinfall spot which felt a bit goofy and which didn't really fit into the vibe of the match at that point, but they get in the groove quickly, and at this point have gone past the 20 min mark which was the time limit of the previous contest. With both men starting to get more desperate, Black goes to the top but gets thrown over the barricade and Danielson follows him with a crazy dive from the top rope and into the crowd. Given the punishment both men struggle to make the count, Black almost gets in at 19, but knowing he can't win by getting in himself, Danielson makes sure not to lose and pulls Black out for the double count out and another draw. I thought this was great and loved how it built on the previous match between the two. (****)
  9. Match has the backstory coming in of them being former Generation Next stablemates, and tag team champion partners. They had feuded in the past as part of ROH's rather ill-fated 'stable wars' period, but that felt pretty underwhelming from my memory. At that stage it was Aries who was the face and Strong as the heel, but that's reversed here. On commentary they say Strong is returning from a tour of NOAH and he feels a bit directionless in comparison to Aries who was being pushed back into the ROH Title picture. There's lots of cautiousness and feeling out early on, which makes sense given their history and knowing each other so well. Unfortunately, the match then never really progresses to where you think it could do, although this was a TV match rather than a bigger ROH show where they may have cut loose more. There are fun moments, but it gets pretty dull in the middle and meanders at times. Aries is wrestling in his heel persona, meaning he's not at his more fluid, while Strong - especially at this time - despite being a very good wrestler still wasn't that charismatic. He doesn't show the emotion and fire you would want from going up against your former partner. I did like the story of Aries constantly being able to dodge Strong's chops (although they don't do it as well as the 2005 match between Strong and Punk (Escape from New York?) which tells that story masterly) but by doing so he leaves himself vulnerable to other offence. It's probably a very niche reference but it reminded me of when Stoke City first got promoted to the Premier League in the late 2000s and teams were so psychologically terrified of giving away thrown ins due to Rory Delap's long throws they would concede in other ways. Probably just me thinking that though... While a good match, this feels like the two guys are doing it a bit paint by numbers. Maybe its the setting (being from a TV taping), maybe it's Aries still working in his new heel wrestling style or maybe it's Strong not having much going on in the company, but while I enjoyed it, it did feel disappointing given what both guys are capable of. (*** 1/4)
  10. Danielson just feels like the man here - so sure and confident in himself, both in a kayfabe and non-kayfabe way. He felt like the man in the promotion even though he is a few years removed now from being the champion. Match has a simple story early on - Dragon dominates on the mat, while Black is looking to up the pace and stick and move. There's a really good struggle to what they are trying to do, not just loosely exchanging holds lazily. Bryan is so good at making everything, every little movement mean something. He is also really vicious in all his stomps, kicks and matwork, which is effective in getting sympathy for Black and getting the crowd on his side despite their instincts to want to cheer for Dragon. This allows Black to be good at what he does well, which is to be a sympathetic seller and firing up for bursts of dynamic offence. Danielson works the leg for a couple of extended periods which does show one of Black's weaknesses which he continues to show in some matches in the WWE now whereby he is spotty on the limb selling, but that's nitpicking and there are some great nearfalls for both guys as they get into the closing stretch. This is face vs. face going in, but as mentioned Dragon's viciousness helps to get sympathy and the crowd rallying behind Black which just shows the masterful way Bryan is able to work the crowd. The match ends in a 20 min time limit draw, which leads to the predictable "5 more mins" chant, but the result is a hard fought draw with the storyline aim of showing Black as the future of the company that can hang with the Ace. (*** 3/4)
  11. Ring of Honor 2003 was something that was interesting to me for a couple reasons. The first was that it featured so many highly regarded matches with great show titles - 1st Year Anniversary (3 way), London vs Daniels from Round Robin II, The Epic Encounter, Night of the Grudges, Main Event Spectacles, and Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies and War of the Wire. ROH 2003 was also intriguing because these shows or matches are pretty hard to find. Comparatively 2004 stuff is still easy to track down because of such landmark shows or matches that have sold well over the years. Enough fans bought these back in the day either in 2004 or after that they're available on eBay or Amazon. Or they were significant enough to put on a compilation or two. Think of Joe vs Punk's trilogy, Generation Next, Weekend of Thunder, Final Battle 2004...I even see the Reborn series and some of the highlights now and again. Going back 2003 on paper had as many or more MOTYCs than 2004 but these DVDs don't see the light of day as often as 2004. It was an odd situation. One would think 2003 stuff would be more available and ROH would have gone back an re-printed those shows. I mean I got Joe vs Punk II in 2008 but I don't recall much of any 2003 stuff being available then...save the early compilations which are hit or miss in terms of quality. Sidenote - The best title is 'Let the Gates of Hell Open' which is the Rottweilers comp. Sorry for being long-winded. My point is that part of my interest in 2003 was also based upon its scarcity. 2004 was pretty available and 2002 due to the Takedown Masters and other re-print/re-packging was available (although I dragged my feet on that). Yeah 2003 had all of these classic bouts but never seemed within reach. So back in 2016 I scooped up ROH's Year Two DVD set as fast as I could (along with some other stuff) because I knew ROH's comps always went out-of-print. Knowing the lack of availability of these matches/shows for a fair price, this seemed like the only chance I would have. Its stupid but fear of missing out was at the heart of this. History has shown that to be a good move on my part. Since then ROH has dramatically cut back on their DVD production especially their compilations, which I think is their biggest asset (re-issuing their back catalog). I was finally able to see the all time classics mentioned above and man I was so glad. These were awesome contests and the biggest discovery was just how amazing Paul London was then. Seriously if he had stuck around, ROH would have been a different place for the better. But as you can tell from the title of this post, its not about him. Its not about those matches but the ones that were omitted. There was no Corino vs Homicide. I really wanted to see those but apparently they were omitted to be put in the Notorious 187's comp from the same time. I passed on that due to the problem of too many duplicated matches from other DVDs. So years went by and I just figured I'd miss 'em. That's part of being a fan is knowing you won't see everything you want to. However, at the start of the pandemic a lot of places put stock on sale. ROH was one of them and the Homicide one wasn't available but there was a Steve Corino one!? But there was Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies and War of the Wire listed. The backstory of the feud has to do with Corino kicking Homicide during a tag match in 2002. Homicide then gets revenge at All Star Extravaganza when he stabs him with a fork ala Abdullah the Butcher. Final Battle 2002 sees Corino hurt 'Cide and take his place in the 4 Way match. That's a classic match you should see. So now we're onto 2003 with the 1st Anniversary show where Corino introduces his ill-fated Group of Samoa Joe, Michael Shane and CW Anderson. This causes a big problem for ROH as this goes against the official booking. Of course this is a work. It doesn't matter because the fans are pissed. The match happens and its OK but the excitement comes from the fans shouting at Joe and company at ringside. It really is at or beyond ECW levels of unrest. Eventually the fans spill over the guard rail and attack Steve and his group. This is crazy! There is some certainty that most of these folks were plants but its been pointed out that a few real people rushed the ring as well. Supposedly Homicide breaks character and protects his foes. I for sure saw Joe beat the hell out of one guy. This was a tremendously risky booking decision but it paid off. I would consider this more of an angle than a match. vs Homicide (Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies 2003): Here's the first real meeting in my view and its a battle. Its a relaxed rules match and the only real rules enforced are the rope breaks and the ring-out count. Beyond that it appears anything goes! The blood was flowing and hits were connecting. Early on Corino eggs 'Cide to give him his best shot and gets a hard slap in return. This pops Corino's ear drum and as you may know he's left permanently deaf in that ear. What's odd to me is that this blow takes place so soon. I had always thought it took place late in the match. Credit to Corino for continuing after this injury. This was a great match (****) but it left room for the feud to continue. ----- vs Homicide (War of the Wire 2003): It makes perfect sense that they escalated to a barb wire match. Although I'm sure CZW did barb wire matches, I look to this bout as the sequel to Funk vs Sabu in ECW. ROH was the true heir to ECW's throne. To me this match felt like bringing the wire out of retirement after Paul E. vowed never to do another Barb Wire match. As if to say that the hate was so intense that only an ancient and forbidden battle would settle the score. They did it justice as both wrestlers put their bodies on the line. Their seconds got involved as well and made things more chaotic. I think it was a classic ROH match. Do not expect a work rate match with barb wire though. He had it in him in 2002 ASE and Final Battle but he'd gained some weight. More than that, I appreciate that as it puts over the damaging effects of the wire (If you are looking for something like that BJW has you covered.) That being said I wouldn't say it was the best wire match EVER but it was worth the wait. ----- In all honesty, I can't see why this was omitted from the Year Two DVD in terms of quality of content. These matches deserved to be on Disc #2 of that set as both are iconic matches. Secondly, disc #2 is the weaker of the set. I think we all would have picked these bouts over the Scramble Cage Match from Main Event Spectacles or AJ vs Kaz Hiyashi from Final Battle for instance. Perhaps swap one out at least. That being said, I'm glad they were available on this Steve Corino DVD. Like Paul London, I think ROH would have been a different place had Corino stuck around long term. His story in ROH is an odd one. He comes and goes every few years but always feels like an outsider threatening the principles and values of the company. In the included interview, he compares himself to Riki Choshu in this regard. I'm glad I got to see his first invasion and am looking forward to his return and the SCUM storyline in the future. Thanks for reading!
  12. 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!
  13. I've been reorganizing some stuff around the house and was going through a box of dvds. I found some PWG ones that I'd watched 5 years ago. I wasn't really keeping notes and was in a down period regarding wrestling. I just wanted to check out something different. Anyways, I thought I'd give a few things a re-watch and a proper review. Roderick Strong vs. Joey Ryan (Block A Quarterfinal) - skipped...I'm just over Joey Ryan's shtick. Alex Shelley vs. Matt Sydal (Block A Quarterfinal)- skipped, people really dig this. I'd recommend it too! but I've seen it a few times. It's kind of dry IMO. PAC vs. Claudio Castagnoli (Block B Quarterfinal) - Spectacular at times, Claudio was a fantastic base for PAC's moves. Likewise, PAC moved and bumped brilliantly for Double C. Very good match CIMA vs. SHINGO (Block B Quarterfinal) - Not as spectacular but more well developed and paced. Didn't think a ton about it originally but this was **** great match. Nigel McGuinnes vs. Necro Butcher (Block C Quarterfinal) - This was mainly Nigel being awesome in 2007. Good stuff very easy to watch. El Generico vs. Dragon Kid (Block C Quarterfinal) - Skipped wasn't interested. Having Claudio here would also have worked booking -wise Roderick Strong vs. Alex Shelley (Block A Semifinal) - First off, get the Alex Shelley ROH DVD now if you're a fan of his. Originally watched this after the 2004-05 Gen Next saga including the Embassy stuff. This match TOTALLY extends that feud to 2007 and in a PWG ring...the opening sequences and move theft make this so much deeper than just a very good match. If you know that stuff then this match is great shit! If this wasn't a tournament then they would have went on to wrestle a classic.Makes me wish we got more Alex Shelley in late 2000's ROH. He is truly an unsung great of ROH. CIMA vs. PAC (Block B Semifinal)- I have seen someone call this a classic but I disagree. It is a good spot match with some really crazy stuff. They were getting a little too cute with the moves at times (mainly PAC) but it was a worthwhile watch. El Generico vs. Nigel McGuinness (Block C Semifinal) - I would say this was a very good match but I enjoyed it way more than rating would indicate. Nigel just breaking Generico piece by piece is a thing of beauty...especially skinny 2007 Generico. Don't count the luchadore out though! Chris Hero, Kevin Steen, Tyler Black, Doug Williams, Susumu Yokosuka & Jack Evans vs. Austin Aries, Jimmy Rave, The Human Tornado, Scott Lost, Davey Richards & Karl Anderson- Its fun and there's no comedy b.s. like they would make a habit of doing. A nice match to eat lunch with. CIMA vs. Roderick Strong vs. El Generico (Finals - Triple Threat Elimination) - This was a pretty good ending to a great night of wrestling. Like many tournament finals, its more about the finals being a culmination of the tournament rather than it being an awesome fight. So this was a fun spot based match where it was all big moves with not a ton of story or selling.The right guy won it and that really helps everyone go home happy. This is a no brainer purchase if you're a fan of this era of wrestling. Its akin to an excellent 2007 ROH B-show. Very easy to watch and enjoy the heck out of!
  14. OK we're on to Part #2 of the Best of TNA 2009 as determined by the DVD put out by TNA in 2009 Sarita vs Alissa Flash (Best Women's match, Impact TV 07/16) : You know I remembered this match and it was alright. TNA's Knockout division was getting pretty good around this time. You could expect quality beyond Awesome Kong, ODB and I think Gail Kim left already to try WWE again. Fun moves Sabin vs Shelley vs Homicide vs Daniels vs Amazing Red vs Suicide (Bound for Glory, October, Ultimate X match, #4 Best Bout) : Red was the champ and this was a free for all, the MCMG fought as a team and came out as a team. Yeah in hindsight they were in here just to spice shit up.And really that's all this was - top notch high risk spot match. It is neat that you have all of this talent but also bummer that they're not fighting for the World Title. They were just so afraid of pushing them beyond the X division. This should have been the main event as it was thrilling and the fans were crazy about it. AJ Styles vs Sting (Bound for Glory, October, #3 Best Bout): A simple but effective World title fight. It reminded me of Sting facing a young version of himself in AJ Styles. You could say it was a little disappointing if you bought the PPV and thought they would top Ultimate X but on tape and a decade removed, its a great match. Samoa Joe vs Daniels vs AJ Styles (Turning Point, November, 3 way, #1 Best Bout): Best Bout? You better believe it! This was a classic work rate match showing their 2005 classic was no fluke. This is in the Top 10 Best TNA matches that I've seen. I remember the build up to this and it was great to see Christopher Daniels as "himself" instead of Curry Man. I missed his early years in TNA and had only heard of these three's 5 star match. I was really jazzed up about this but I never bought TNA shows since I was worried about cheap finishes. So its fantastic to finally see this and know that it lived up to the hype. That said, I don't know how it would stack up against a ROH three way match in 2009 but would still put it at the ****1/2 level. ...and that's it folks! A fun albeit brief look at the Best of TNA in 2009. Thanks for reading and stay safe!
  15. Generally speaking, I live in a cave with my head under a rock when it comes to contemporary wrestling. I poked it out a little bit last year to see the empty seats of Smackdown for historical purposes. When the Wonder Wall was debuted, I lasted 15 minutes before I became dizzy. I took a small trip away from the cave to see Ring of Honor attempt to return to form with their Pure Title tournament. I thought it was fantastic but they squandered or scared away whatever interest that drummed up. Now with CM Punk (and perhaps Bryan Danielson) in All Elite Wrestling, I am compelled to lift the stone from my head and check it out. So I watched his return promo in Chicago and man! that's entertaining! He's still got it. I'm not going to watch anything else on purpose mind you but I wanted to see that. You know...for historical purposes. I liked Punk's speech because he explained his comments regarding wrestling when he was doing MMA/UFC. He acknowledged his time in ROH and made the distinction between that wrestling and what he was doing for almost a decade in WWE. I was confused by a few (hundred) fans booing ROH in a past life. I'd be less confused if they booed ROH in their present form. Who boos a mention of ROH from 2002-2005? Are these folks completely ignorant of the giant influence the company had on both CM Punk and the current American pro wrestling landscape? That's an aside though.What I thought of after a couple days after is more interesting than the excitement of CM Punk back in a ring. Or more interesting on the historically ignorant fans. What really stuck with me is that Punk's history is kind of not true. Now I know it may have been kayfabe but Mr. Brooks, Phil if you will, has a tendency to blur the lines between a work and a shoot when on the mic. So we can say some of this was true for Punk & Phil. But I don't think any of it was any form of an objective truth. Chick Magnet Punk says that things had run their course in ROH and then went to WWE where he didn't wrestle for almost a decade. Now that's not true because no one wrestled in ROH either. I'll defend WWE's " sports entertainment " ideology in so much that what they do isn't wrestling. Pro wrestling is more dramatized combat with melodrama than wrestling like you'd see in high school, college, the Olympics etc. That's a sport. But frankly, I could say all professional sports aren't sports either but are this sports entertainment since no one's playing in an empty gym (until last year) and people are being entertained either through TV, videos, clothing, games. There isn't intentional and planned melodrama (although it happens organically). It lacks nuance for Punk to say he left wrestling in 2005 and came back now in AEW. It is kinda not true. I've watched his stuff in ROH (as we'll see below) and all in all it wasn't that different from what he was doing in WWE. Punk never mentions UFC. I wouldn't either. What he left in 2005 was the freedom and identity that ROH and the Indy scene afforded him. He could be himself. Brooks left a community that embraced him for an opportunity to make a living and potentially make a fortune. I don't think he anticipated what it would cost. I don't think he knew it would cost him friends and fans and would embarrass himself in the process...I recall him saying if UFC had been around when he was younger he would have gone into that instead of wrestling. Man, you ever hear of karate or judo? That wasn't true when he said it. And I don't think anything he said the other night is true either. This is why I stay in my cave and keep my head beneath a boulder. He's not the same person. I just know too much about Phil Brooks to really believe CM Punk anymore. But maybe that's the state of contemporary wrestling in general? I just know too much to really believe any of it. That's all a lead in to some reviews of when Brooks or perhaps Punk was a wrestler before not being a wrestler (never was a wrestler) and becoming a sports entertainer (always was a sports entertainer) and then a mixed martial artist (a sports entertainer but STILL not a wrestler believe it or not!) and a wrestler again (still not a wrestler). vs Raven (Death Before Dishonor 2003) : This was a dog collar match and I believe the consensus is that this is their best bout. I don't know since its all I got to watch but this is very much a Raven match. If you like his style and character (which I do) then this is something that you want to watch. Its a bit on the loner side but it pretty simple in terms of execution and scope. Its violent like it needed to be. Its got some stuff ECW fans would like too...remember this is only a couple years after they closed so that wasn't as odd as you might think. Great match vs AJ Styles (Tradition Continues 2003) : This is almost a 180 from the Raven ECW style match. Instead we see Punk stay in step with the Phenomenal One. It was full of fantastic counters and reversals. The human game of chess cliche is going to be applied to this match because I'm not always very good at describing what make a good match so very good. I think something I appreciate on this viewing is the teasers they chose to do. It just felt organic and competitive and dammit I'm a fan of that. I'm going to say this is a classic match. If you're keeping track, I wouldn't put it in the top tier but its certainly overlooked because it takes place in 2003 which probably doesn't get much love. And if anyone wants to sample 2003/Year 2 ROH they'll usually go to matches of AJ, Danielson and London putting on masterpieces. But in 2021, do people even do that anymore? Other than me? W/Ace Steel (Second City Saints) vs Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer (The Prophecy) (Death Before Dishonor II 2004) : Second City Saints was an awesome name. BJ Whitmer lousy name. Here's my BJ Whitmer rant: I can't believe that he/they wanted to keep a name with a double entendre in it and not have it purposely imply that 2nd meaning. Case in point D.P. Associates in FIP was a purposeful double entendre for the sake of a bunch of 20 year old guys having a laugh. BJ Whitmer never struck me as the type of talent that had a sense of humor about his in-ring persona. That aside, this was a bananas garbage wrestling spot mtach. This was your typical overkill wrestling to show how tough you were. As a match, it stunk BUT as a violent spot driven spectacular, it was great Its a few years ahead of its time but does bite off more than it needed to in order to get the same message across. vs Jimmy Rave (Manhattan Mayhem 2005) : Here we see Punk's (Phil's) version of the dog collar match. And you know its not bad at all. Its decidedly more move oriented but with Punk and Rave in there I did not mind. Rave is such a great opponent for Punk because he can stooge when he needs to, he can get nasty when he needs to, and he can do moves when he needs to. Frankly he's much like Punk in that regard. We get a good deal of blood from Punk and we get the Embassy interfering. Its quite great to be honest. I've not seen this before but I have seen their cage match and man this was a great (probably forgotten) feud. So there you have it. A few matches from CM Punk's time wrestling/sports entertaining in ROH. As you have already figured out, I picked some unsung ones for 2021. They aren't the Joe matches or Summer of Punk ones. 3 of the 4 are quite like stuff you could see in WWE actually. Again, either he never was a "wrestler" or he never left wrestling when going to the WWE. All semantic games aside- He should have been honest in saying he made a mistake in leaving pro wrestling and its fans when going to the UFC. And if he (Phil is Punk at this stage in his career) should have said thanks for welcoming him back despite his mistakes. In my opinion, CM Punk is the best all around pro wrestler of the last 20 years. His return to the square circle is huge and his promo was exhilarating. He will do great business for AEW. However, I think his cleverness in dissing WWE hides the real hurt of his MMA phase. As great as I know him to be, I just can't trust CM Punk anymore. I have to forgive him first. I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. I'll be back in my cave. Thanks for reading!
  16. Sorry for the delay! No real reason other than I've been watching WCW stuff from the Rise and Fall of WCW, Brian Pillman DVDs and a couple YouTube videos. This is my final Full Impact Pro DVD review and its been a really fun trip. Let's get on to it and then I'll have some closing remarks. Erick Stevens vs. Tyler Black (#1 Contender's Match) : This started with chain wrestling but this wasn't really their forte. It wasn't bad but it was uninspired. And ya know that's what the match felt like. NOW I'm nitpicking because they could have killed it. The final third proves my point. This part was great stuff. But given that this wasn't at the top part of the card, it did its job. Very good match though. MsChif vs. Rain (SHIMMER Title Match): This was a good match but ended when it started to pick up. Go Shiozaki vs. Roderick Strong (FIP World Heavyweight Title Match): This should be the main event so no idea why it's here on the card. Its for the damn main title with Mr. FIP Roderick Strong and the foreign heel. I'll be honest, this was my main event as I watched it last. OK that aside, this was a very well built match. The level of intensity & complexity escalated as it went on, selling along the way. Just about hold or throw was fought over. Their struggle felt real. Things weren't polished or rehearsed. I've been watching NWA/WCW from 87-90 and this felt a lot like that. There were some shenanigans but again that harkens back to that 80's stuff as well. I will call this a classic. Kenny King & Jason Blade vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe (FIP Tag Team Title Match) : This was a rematch from the best match of Unstoppable 2007...one of the best at least. Its been so long! But not only that but its been awhile since we've seen Jay & Mark together. And man! Its a really good one. This is more of a traditional tag match yet full of action when it counts. Again more shenanigans though. Sal Rinauro vs. Chris Jones (FIP Florida Heritage Title Match): No clue why this was the main event. Yeah they build it all up the whole show. But neither guy is main event material...I had this inkling ahead of time. It was a nice story but not top billing. So that's it! Now it went out with a bang since I watched Shiozaki vs Strong last and not Rinauro vs Jones...sorry dudes. Anyhow parting remarks - Watching this has been fun and is full of lost classics if you're a fan of ROH style. Seriously there are a few shows that are diamond in the rough ROH B-shows...especially 2007 & 2008. Stuff earlier than that is worth checking out but if you just want to get the most bang for your buck..get the 2007 & '08 shows that interest you. But also get Strong vs Evans...I think that might still be my top match of FIP. Read the different show reviews since I probably won't do some matches or shows justice now. Plainly, if you are a Roderick Strong fan then you would be a fool not to get a few of these DVDs. Strong vs Evans, New Year's Classic 2007, this show Fallout 2008, and Dangerous Intentions 2008 are no brainers. Heatstroke 2007 Night 1 also...stay safe folks! THANK YOU! I really appreciate you reading and keep watching old wrestling