Mike Reviews: Ring of Honour – “Japan’s Finest” – Disc One

Hello You!

Back with something else in my “to watch” pile, as we take a look at a compilation DVD that ROH put out covering some of the best matches from the company’s history that featured Japanese wrestlers.

Obviously ROH isn’t what it once was, but throughout the years the company has featured some truly excellent wrestling and one of the reasons why was because they were able to bring in wrestlers from major Japanese companies like All Japan, New Japan, NOAH and Dragon Gate to compete on their events.

The main reason I picked this one up is because it features the excellent main event from the first Supercard of Honour Show (An event I did have on DVD but sadly lost during a house move back in the day) as well as some cool sounding matches that I’d never seen before. We’ll just do Disc One today and I’ll try to get to Disc Two when I can (There’s a lot of matches on this here collection)

You actually can still buy this DVD on eBay, but golly gosh is it pricey! Still, if you like the sound of these matches then the option is there (Although it might be better possibly just to cherry pick the individual shows as that will probably set you back less in the long run)

And yes, I spell “Honour” with a “U”. I also drive on the left hand side of the road, drink copious amounts of tea and have terrible teeth. Deal with it!

Glory By Honour – 2nd of October 2002
Ikuto Hidaka Vs The Amazing Red

Hidaka did some shots in ECW during its final years but originally came up through the Battlarts promotion in Japan, which was a worked-shoot company where the goal was to make the matches feel like real fights as much as possible (Kind of like what UWFi was). He went to Zero One in 2001 and would have been part of their roster when taking this booking. Red has had numerous retirements due to the high risk wrestling style he employs, but he’s currently been getting some work for New Japan and hopefully that continues.

Hidaka actually manages to out quick Red in the early going, which leads to Red throwing some chops in annoyance. Hidaka throws him outside and then trade some chops on the floor before mutually deciding to roll back in to continue the chop fest inside there. Red gets a DDT to send Hidaka outside and goes for a dive to the floor but Hidaka catches him with a dropkick on the way down and puts him back inside the ring. Hidaka works the leg over back inside, showing some of the submission skills that served him well during his Battlart days, but Red refuses to submit in the punishing holds.

Hidaka tries a handspring kick in the corner but Red moves and tries a super rana, but Hidaka blocks that and then DDT’s Red. Red counters a springboard move from Hidaka by spin kicking him to the floor and then grazes Hidaka with a flip dive before putting him back inside for a cross arm breaker. Hidaka manages to get to the ropes to break that and dodges a Standing Shooting Star Press, only for Red to kick him down for two. Red tries a running attack in the corner but Hidaka presses him up into the air and kicks him on the way down. Red rolls outside to recover a bit and then comes in where he tries a satellite DDT but Hidaka blocks it into a sit out leg breaker before following with a springboard dropkick to the leg for good measure.

Hidaka goes to a leg lock next, but Red is able to make his way to the ropes before he has to submit and manages to get a desperation enziguri to buy himself some time. Fishtails sequence comes next, with both men trading pinning holds to no avail. Eventually both men go to clothesline one another and that’s ends in a double down. Hidaka gets up first and delivers a Torture Wrack into an Ace Crusher, but Red is able to kick out and then manages a 619 to the gut (Which is booed by the ROH crowd) and follows up with a Yoshi Tonic for two. Red heads up but Hidaka stops that and then tries a powerbomb, but Red counters that into a DDT and gets a Sky Twister Press followed by a standing Shooting Star Press for the win.

WINNER: THE AMAZING RED
RATING: ***

This was sloppy in places but it was a fun match overall and worth a watch.

Final Battle – 27th of December 2003
The Great Muta and Arashi Vs Dan Maff and Christopher Daniels w/ Alison Danger

This is a show I have on DVD, mainly for the fantastic Xavier Vs John Walters stunt show it has on it. Muta will likely be known to all who are reading this, as he’s one of the most famous Japanese wrestlers ever and has been wrestling since the 1980’s, including a few runs in WCW during that time. Arashi originally competed in sumo under the name Takuetsuyama and eventually found his way into pro wrestling when Giant Baba asked him to join up with All Japan Pro Wrestling in the 80’s. He then worked a litany of companies in the country, including SWS, WAR, SPWF and eventually All Japan again, which is where he was when this match happened. Daniels is now one third of SCU in All Elite Wrestling, whilst Dan Maff has wrestled for Jersey All Pro and ROH over his career, sometimes teaming with Monsta Mack as the tag team known as “Da Hit Squad”. During this time he’d joined up with Daniels to fill the role of enforcer for his “Prophecy” stable, a group whose goal was to tear down the company’s much vaunted “Code of Honour”.

Arashi and Maff start us out, with Arashi shoving Maff down in something Maff wouldn’t normally be accustomed to. Shoulder blocks come next, with Arashi winning again and then throwing some sumo slaps. Gabe Sapolsky chooses this moment to plug DVDs, which strikes me as something they could have done earlier on the tape instead of in the MAIN EVENT. Maff eventually gives up with Arashi and tags in Daniels, who demands that Muta come in. Muta obliges and controls things on the mat, which leads to him spitting some mist in the air for a big pop. Daniels heads outside to regroup, but Muta regains control pretty quickly once he gets back inside. Daniels eventually manages to get some punches and kicks in, but Muta slugs him down and brings in Arashi, who mows down Daniels with big man offence.

Maff eventually comes in to help his partner and they bull Arashi into the corner, but Arashi fights back with chops, which leads to Maff going to the eyes to put a stop to that. The heels choke away and double team Arashi in their corner, but he’s able to fight back and bring in Muta for the Power Elbow, which gets another big pop. Moonsault looks to follow, but Danger provides a distraction and that allows The Prophecy to cut him off. Muta gets worked over in the heel corner for a bit, making the odd sporadic comeback when he can. Eventually Muta ducks a Maff clothesline and gets a dropkick before tagging in Arashi for one of his own. Arashi gets a nice belly to belly suplex on Maff following that, but Maff is able to kick out at two.

Daniels comes in to help Maff and they take Arashi down with a double clothesline/Complete Shot combo, but Arashi powerslams Daniels in reply and tags in Muta for a Dragon Screw and a Figure Four. Maff breaks that up, which brings Arashi in to take him outside whilst Daniels gets a couple of two counts on Muta. Maff brings in a chair to attack Muta, but Muta gives him the Red Mist to stop that, only to then turn around into a uranage from Daniels. Daniels goes for the Best Moonsault Ever but Muta dodges that and then hits the Shining Wizard for the three count.

WINNERS: THE GREAT MUTA AND ARASHI
RATING: **

This was your standard tag match and it was basically fine, although the crowd didn’t seem to want to see Muta get worked over for as long as he did and just wanted to pop for all his trademark spots.

Unforgettable – 2nd of October 205
Kenta Kobashi and Homicide Vs Low Ki and Samoa Joe

This was the show following the famous Joe Vs Kobashi match, with the two men from that match given tag partners so that we could get them scrapping once again. I would imagine you all know who all four of these guys are, but just in case you don’t Kobashi is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever lace up a pair of boots and is possibly my favourite wrestler ever. He wrestled in both All Japan and NOAH before finally retiring in 2013 due to a litany of serious injuries finally catching up with him. Homicide was most recently seen in Billy Corgan’s new NWA group teaming up with Eddie Kingston, whilst Joe is currently working for the WWE and Ki can be found working in MLW. Homicide and Ki were both heels and affiliated at this stage in ROH’s history, but they’re being forced to oppose one another here because ROH wanted to give the fans the best match they possibly could.

Kobashi and Joe demand to start with one another to continue where they left off the previous night, with Joe actually giving Kobashi a clean break on the ropes. Kobashi actually returns the favour with Joe in the corner, showing that both men had earned the others respect the previous night. Joe takes Kobashi down with a shoulder block and then sends him out of the ring with a running big boot before following with a suicide dive to the floor. Back inside both men trade chops with one another, as you can quite literally see the sweat fly. Eventually Joe manages to force Kobashi into his corner, which allows Ki to tag in and demand Kobashi go at it with him. Ki goes to an arm bar over the ropes on Kobashi and then kicks at his arm to get out of a wrist lock.

Homicide actually requests to come in so he can go at it with his student and stable mate, which leads to them wrestling to a stalemate. Joe comes in to go at it with Homicide and delivers some kicks, but Homicide stops that with a poke to the eyes before bringing Joe to his corner so Kobashi can come back in. Kobashi goes to the kitchen sink move off the ropes and then chops Joe down for two. Kobashi goes to a version of Misawa’s face lock hold next, but Joe is able to get himself to the rope and the hold is broken. Joe continues to get worked over when Homicide comes back in, but manages to take him down with a kick before bringing in Ki, who wastes no time working over Homicide with kicks. Tempers flare between Homicide and Ki, and that leads to Homicide throwing Ki outside where Kobashi hammers him with some stiff chops and then DDT’s him on the metal ramp.

Kobashi chops Ki to send him into the crowd and puts him back inside for a Homicide camel clutch. Homicide actually holds Ki so that Kobashi can chop him, showing that he’s willing to put his friendship with Ki aside to win. Homicide throws Ki outside and tries a dive, but Ki catches him with a kick before he can complete it and then counters a sunset flip attempt back inside with a double stomp. Kobashi stops the tag, which brings in Joe to hammer away on him in the corner before calmly walking back onto the apron so that Ki can tag him in. The fans think this is awesome and I do believe that I agree with them! Joe and Homicide do a nice sequence that ends with Joe folding Homicide up in a stiff looking Death Valley Driver, but Kobashi comes in for the save. Ki and Joe actually tee off on Homicide in the corner with kicks, but Homicide fights back with a Tornado DDT to Ki for two.

Homicide goes for a superplex on Ki, but Ki fights that off and then hangs him in the Tree of Woe for a big double stomp for two. Homicide manages a desperation DDT on Joe and manages to make the tag to Kobashi, who delivers ALL THE CHOPS to both Joe and Ki in the corner. Kobashi goes for a half nelson suplex on Joe next but Joe manages to fight him off, so Kobashi goes to a sleeper suplex instead and then follows up with the half nelson to Ki for good measure. Joe fights back with forearms and then hits Kobashi with a power slam for two before transitioning to a cross arm breaker. Homicide manages to break that up but gets thrown outside, which allows Joe to deliver a big powerbomb to Kobashi before transitioning that into an STF and then transitioning out of THAT into the Dis-Arm-Her.

Kobashi manages to make the ropes to break the hold, so Joe just drops him on his HEAD with a back drop driver and then following with the Muscle Buster for two. Ki comes in and goes for the double stomp on Kobashi, but Kobashi is able to dodge it but he can’t avoid a Shining Wizard for two. Ki goes for the Ki Krusher on Kobashi, but Kobashi uses his superior size to block it. Ki goes to a crucifix styled submission hold, but Homicide comes in for the rescue. Joe tries to hold Homicide for a Disaster Kick, but Homicide ducks and Joe takes it instead. Joe rolls outside following that and Homicide follows with a suicide dive, which allows Kobashi to powerbomb Ki back inside the ring for two. Kobashi actually busts out the Orange Crush (Suplex into a powerbomb) back inside the ring, but Joe breaks up the count at two. Homicide disposes of Joe and that allows Kobashi to lariat Ki for the three count.

WINNERS: KENTA KOBASHI AND HOMICIDE
RATING: ****1/2

This was fan-chuffing-tastic, with super stiff action, a hot crowd and some great interactions between all four men. Definitely one to watch if you’ve never seen it.

Dragon Gate Challenge – 30th of March 2006
Dragon Kid and Genki Horiguchi Vs AJ Styles and Matt Sydal

AJ Styles is a name I think most of you will recognise, especially as he’s the current WWE United States Champion. Sydal would go on to play the role of Evan Bourne in the WWE before returning to the Indies. Dragon Kid was someone I became aware of before ever watching him wrestle because he had a 98 “entertainment” rating on Promotion Wars, so I used to always sign him whenever I had a WWF save game. He actually started out as a referee in FMW in the 90’s but eventually pursued his dream of wrestling by moving over to Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumón group. Horiguchi (Not to be confused with the footballer Genki Haraguchi who plays for Hannover 96) is another lad from Toryumón who ended up moving on to Dragon Gate. When he started getting a receding hairline the crowds would chant H-A-G-E at him (Which means baldness in Japanese) and that kind of became his thing for a while.

Horiguchi and Sydal start us out with some nice chain wrestling and that ends in a stalemate, so Sydal tags in Styles. Styles gets the better of Horiguchi with some arm drags and then demands that Dragon Kid gets tagged in. Kid obliges and he head scissors Styles outside, which brings in Sydal but Kid puts him in an Octopus hold whilst Horiguchi surfs on Styles for a pop. Styles gets worked over in the Dragon Gate corner for a bit but eventually manages to power Horiguchi into his corner, which brings in Sydal for a Sidewinder on Horiguchi for two. Team ROH work over Horiguchi now, with ROH roughly shoving Kid down when he comes in to help. Horiguchi eventually manages to counter a Sydal suplex with one of his own and tags in Kid, who runs wild on Team ROH with some impressive high flying offence, but he and Styles struggle to pull off a head scissors so Kid just sends him outside for an Asai moonsault instead, with Horiguchi adding a dive of his own to Sydal.

Styles counters a wheelbarrow styled move from Kid into a back suplex and Sydal manages to get a standing moonsault on Horiguchi to give Styles a two count. Play by Play gets difficult now as everyone is just running in with big move, highlights of which include Kid getting an Arabian Press on Sydal and Styles getting a rolling German Suplex into a sit out face buster on Horiguchi. Kid goes up top and gets the Dragon Rana on Styles (A rana where you flip forward in the air and then get a standard rana once you connect with the opponent. It’s pretty darn impressive) but Sydal breaks up the count at two. Sydal sends Kid outside and follows with a flip dive, whilst Horiguchi gets a series of pinning holds on Styles. Styles is eventually able to muscle Horiguchi into a Styles Clash however and that’s enough for the win.

WINNERS: AJ STYLES AND MATT SYDAL
RATING: ***1/2

There were a few sloppy moments and other occasions where they weren’t on the same page, but overall this was a really fun match that was fought at a brisk pace and featured some really cool moves.

Supercard of Honour – 31st of March 2006
Do Fixer – Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi and Ryo Saito
Vs
Blood Generation – CIMA, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino

This is the big Dragon Gate match that made all the headlines when it happened, and was in my case the first time I’d ever really seen some Dragon Gate action. It created a similar reaction in me as when I saw the famous Michinoku Pro tag match on Barely Legal 1997, as it blew me away and made me search out as much of that style of wrestling as I could. Dragon Gate was an offshoot of Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumón group and came about the name in 2004 when Dragon left and took the name with him, thus meaning a new name was required. Like Toryumón before it, Dragon Gate liked to put most of its wrestlers into different factions and have the factions do battle with one another in multi-man matches, hence what we have here in this match. Saito came through the Toryumón training school in 1999. CIMA is still going today and has appeared in AEW. He is probably one of the best practitioners of this style that you could find and is currently involved with Oriental Wrestling Entertainment in China. Doi and Yoshino would often team during this period under the name “Speed Muscle”, with Yoshino bringing the speed and Doi bringing the muscle. Yoshino more than earns his nickname of “Speed Star”, as he hits the ropes with blistering pace and is just generally an incredibly fast performer whilst still being able to be clinical with it.

Accurate Play by Play is probably going to be difficult here, as this will almost assuredly be a highly paced exhibition of spots more than anything else, so I’ll try to stick to just relevant bits whilst also explaining some of the crazy stuff that takes place. Horiguchi and Yoshino go at it to start, going through some quick counter wrestling, as the commentators make us aware that tags won’t be necessary under Dragon Gate rules, but we still may see them. Doi and Kid go at it next, with Doi trying to bully Kid around whilst Kid uses his speed to keep him on his toes. CIMA and Horiguchi go at it next, and that features fast paced action as well, which ends with Horiguchi sending CIMA outside. Saito and Yoshino go next, with Yoshino’s blistering speed on full display, but Saito manages to grab hold of him and brings in Kid to work him over.

Yoshino gets worked over in the Do-Fixer part of the ring for a bit, with some smooth double and triple teaming, but Yoshino is eventually able to drive Kid into the Blood Gen corner, where he gets cut off for a bit. CIMA gets an impressive one handed back suplex, but Kid fires back with kicks and brings in Saito, which in turn brings in Doi to rescue his team captain. Doi gets double and triple teamed for a big, with Do-Fixer getting a nice triple dropkick in there, but Blood Gen start pulling at what’s left of Horiguchi’s hair to cut him off for the heat. Doi gets a big running cannonball in the corner to Horiguchi and the rest of the team come in for an assisted flip senton splash for two. Horiguchi continues to get worked over in the Blood Gen corner, as they keep thinking up inventive ways to double and triple team him, but Horiguchi won’t stay down and keeps kicking out.

Eventually Horiguchi is able to counter a Doi suplex attempt with one his own and makes the tag to Saito. Do-Fixer run wild with a cacophony of dives, which leaves Saito and CIMA to go at it inside the ring, where Saito counters a rana into a powerbomb and gets a trio of fisherman busters for two. CIMA gets a double stomp in response and then brings in his partners for some further triple teaming, including putting Kid on Saito’s shoulders and then coming off the top with a Steiner Bulldog for two. Yoshino gets an incredible missile dropkick on Kid, almost as if he’s hanging in the air, for two but Dragon then turns a suplex attempt into a cutter. Madness just ensues now, with everyone coming in to hit a big move or counter move, and the crowd are loving it. I really couldn’t do it justice; you just need to see it.

Kid gets a super rana on Doi whilst Doi sits on Saito’s shoulders and Saito follows up with a big splash from the top for two. That was outstanding! Even MORE madness ensues and the commentators just give up at this stage and let the action speak for itself, with big moves getting hit one after the other and the crowd losing their minds more and more with every big move. It’s a pure spot fest, but it’s done with such speed and skill that it’s straight up mesmerising. CIMA eventually gets the Schwein (White Noise) on Kid for two, as the crowd are now chanting “Please don’t die”. Doi puts Kid up top, but Kid counters whatever he has planned into a cutter off the top and then delivers the Dragon Rana to pick up the three count as the crowd gives everyone a standing ovation.

WINNERS: DO-FIXER (AND THE REST OF HUMANITY FOR GETTING SUCH A GREAT MATCH!)
RATING: *****

If you’ve never seen this match then I strongly suggest you do, as it’s still to this day one of the most exciting and action packed bouts I’ve ever seen. I’d struggle watching a whole show of matches like this (Which is why I eventually just started cherry picking the big Dragon Gate matches that I wanted to see) but man as a special attraction it was out of this world good. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but I genuinely don’t think you could do this sort of match better and the reactions of the live crowd as they got swept up in it all was something to behold. This was my pick for Match of the Year in 2006 (Although I think KENTA Vs Marufuji from NOAH eventually won it) because it completely blew me away. I really can’t say enough good things about it; it really is an absolute treasure.

Ring of Homicide – 13th of May 2006
Kikutaro Vs Colt Cabana

From one end of the spectrum to the other, as Kikutaro is a comedy wrestler from the Osaka Pro company whilst Colt Cabana is a British Catch Wrestling influenced comedy wrestler, so this should be a complete change of pace from the last match. I’m actually pleased to be honest, as following one match like that with another one just like it would have been overkill, so kudos to whoever put the match list together for this tape.

Colt gives a clean break and a high five to start, which Kikutaro doesn’t seem to understand at first but it ends up being a SWERVE as he offers a down low, but Colt is just too slow. Ouch, poor Colt, he got confounded by something a 5 year old could do. Colt tenaciously holds onto a wrist lock next, but Kikutaro dodges some strikes and once again declares that Colt is too slow. Kikutaro gets sent outside but rolls in before Colt can dive out and then jams up the middle rope when Colt tries to get back in. The ref gets it too and Kikutaro teases a dive, but does a fake out instead. Colt and the ref get back inside, not before Colt asks the ref if his balls are okay in a funny bit.

Speaking of balls, Kikutaro tries the Hakushi rope walk back inside but slips and falls Ebessan first onto the tope rope before rolling around on the mat in agony whilst Colt looks on dumbfounded. Colt throws some elbows to Kikutaro (If you will) and Kikutaro slowly collapses. Colt gets the flying ass-hole in the corner and then follows up with a lariat for two. Kikutaro responds with a Dragon Screw and a Shining Wizard, but Colt kicks out at two. The ref gets involved again; as Kikutaro tries to whip him into Colt but Cabana dosey-doe’s the ref back into Kikutaro and follows with a powerbomb for the win.

WINNER: COLT CABANA
RATING: **1/2

Fun comedy stuff here and it was fought at a nice relaxing pace in comparison to the last bout.

International Challenge – 22nd of December 2006
Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal Vs CIMA and SHINGO

SHINGO would be better known as Shingo Takagi from New Japan these days, but he got his start in Dragon Gate and was actually the first man to graduate from their dojo in the post Ultimo Dragon era. Daniels had turned face by this stage and was tagging up with Sydal, although neither would remain a face for that much longer as Sydal would join up with The Embassy stable and Daniels would leave ROH to become full-time with TNA in 2007 after going to a draw with Erick Stevens.

Daniels and SHINGO start us out, with SHINGO using his power whilst Daniels uses his ring smarts and technical acumen. SHINGO bulls Daniels down with some shoulder blocks, but Daniels slips out of a vertical suplex and manages to take SHINGO down with a running shoulder tackle of his own. Sydal comes in with a spinning wheel kick to SHINGO, but SHINGO is able to tag out to CIMA, who gets a good pop from the ROH crowd who remember him from last time. Sydal is able to elude CIMA’s attacks but he tags out to Daniels as a previous knee injury appears to be bothering him. CIMA gets some arm drags to Daniels and then adds a double stomp for good measure before tagging in SHINGO, who targets Daniels’ head and neck by choking him on the ropes. CIMA comes in so the Blood Generation team can take Daniels down with double shoulder blocks and continue to work Daniels over in their half of the ring.

Daniels manages to get a tilt-a-whirl back breaker on CIMA and that allows him and Sydal to work CIMA over in their part of the ring for a bit. CIMA manages to dodge a Sydal cannonball splash from the top and tags in SHINGO, who just straight up stands on Sydal’s throat and then follows up with a spine buster for two. It’s now Sydal’s turn to get worked over, as Blood Gen isolate him in their half of the ring and beat him down. CIMA targets Sydal’s injured knee, even going as far to bite it. And these guys were apparently stable mates in Dragon Gate at the time, what would CIMA do to an enemy?!

SHINGO gets an awesome spinning Cobra Clutch slam on Sydal and then brings in CIMA for a double team wheelbarrow/cutter move, which gets two when Daniels breaks the count. Sydal eventually manages a desperation DDT to SHINGO and makes the tag to Daniels, who runs wild on the challengers, getting an STO on SHINGO which forces SHINGO to DDT his own partner by accident. Daniels and SHINGO brawl outside and Sydal preps a dive, but CIMA trips him and does the dive himself. Sydal won’t be denied however and moonsaults from the top rope to the floor before throwing CIMA back inside for a roll up that gets two. Sydals tries to rana SHINGO out of the corner, but SHINGO blocks it and then holds Sydal for a CIMA running dropkick. Sydal tries to sunset flip SHINGO in reply, but SHINGO blocks that and heaves Sydal into a buckle bomb.

Daniels tries to come in and make the save, but CIMA puts him in an Indian Deathlock and then vertical suplexes Sydal at the same time in a cool spot. Everything breaks down now, with everyone coming in with big moves. CIMA gets the Iconoclasm on Daniels and follows up with a modified Michinoku Driver for two. CIMA tries a springboard move of some kind, but Daniels counters that into a Death Valley Driver and then goes to a Koji Clutch on SHINGO. CIMA breaks that up with a frogsplash, but Sydal spikes CIMA with a DDT, only to turn around into a SHINGO lariat for a quadruple down. Blood Generation are up first and get a cross body block Doomsday Device, which gets two when Sydal manages to make the save. CIMA accidentally super kicks SHINGO, which allows Daniels to get a uranage on SHINGO followed by the Best Moonsault Ever. Sydal adds the finishing touch with a Shooting Star Press and that’s enough for the ROH squadron to pick up the duke.

WINNERS: CHRISTOPHER DANIELS AND MATT SYDAL
RATING: ****

The match continued to build throughout and by the end it was really good. It was the sort of good hard fought win that Daniels and Sydal needed to establish them as the top team in ROH and SHINGO did pretty darn well for a guy in only his second year in the business.

All Star Extravaganza III – 30th of March 2007
Dragon Kid, CIMA, Susumu Yokosuka and Ryo Saito Vs Austin Aries, Delirious, Claudio Castagnoli and Rocky Romero

Yokosuka is another wrestler who came in under Ultimo Dragon in the 90’s. Aries has wrestled for most of the major companies in America and was one of ROH’s top stars during this period, actively leaving TNA to return to the company later in 2007. Delirious is a masked madman who would eventually become the real life booker of ROH behind the scenes. Claudio would be better known as Cesaro in WWE these days, whilst Rocky Romero now works in New Japan where he plays colour commentator to Kevin Kelly’s Play by Play announcer.

This is supposed to be an All Star battle, with ROH putting a team together to go at it with Dragon Gate, although all of them are members of CIMA’s “Typhoon” faction. Saito and Romero start us out with some nice chain wrestling, which leads to Romero going for an arm bar but Saito is able to get to the ropes. Saito actually goes to the guard ala Antonio Inoki Vs Muhammad Ali, but Romero is able to put him into a bow and arrow. Saito manages to slip out of that though and tags in Dragon Kid, whilst Romero tags in Claudio. The much taller Claudio wants a test of strength, but Kid can’t reach his hand so stomps on his foot instead. Kid gets an awesome Deja vu flying head scissors to send Claudio outside and then tags in CIMA, whilst Delirious comes in for ROH.

CIMA is pretty freaked out by Delirious’ antics, as he walks around the ring rambling and no selling shoulder blocks. CIMA and Delirious actually do a pretty good sequence, which ends with CIMA dropkicking him and tagging out to Yokosuka, which is Aries’ cue to step in for the ROH side. Aries delivers arm drags to all of Typhoon and then suicide dives out onto all of them for good measure before putting CIMA in for a springboard splash for two. Aries tries a Quebrada next, but Yokosuka trips him up, which allows CIMA to cut him off. Aries gets worked over in the Typhoon half of the ring, with the men from Dragon Gate double, triple and quadruple teaming him when the opportunities allow. Eventually Aries manages to slip out of a double back suplex and makes the tag to Delirious, who runs wild on Typhoon with his wacky offence.

This leads to the ROH Team hitting a series of attacks in the corner on Kid, ending with Delirious getting double knees in the corner for two. Kid now gets worked over in the ROH part of the ring, with the ROH guys getting a quadruple big boot, which leads to the Giant Swing from Claudio. Kid eventually ducks when Aries tries to hit him, meaning that Claudio gets clocked, and that allows him to make the tag. CIMA does the cool Indian Deathlock/vertical suplex spot that he did in a previous match to Romero and that leads to dives to the outside from all of the Typhoon squad. Yokosuka and Claudio trade strikes inside the ring, which leads to Claudio getting a diving European Uppercut for two.

Yokosuka and Claudio fight over suplexes next, which ends with Yokosuka getting an exploder. Delirious tries to break up the pin but ends up catching Claudio with a leg drop instead, which makes sense as the ROH guys aren’t as used to tagging with one another so mistakes like that would be more likely to happen. Everyone comes in to hit a move now, as the crowd thinks the match is awesome. Romero eventually gets a fisherman buster on CIMA for two and gets a stiff kick to the face for another near fall. Man that kick looked and sounded VICIOUS. Romero goes to a cross arm breaker in the ring whilst the rest of the ROH crew keep Typhoon at bay, but Yokosuka manages to break free and make the save. CIMA gets the Iconoclasm out of the corner on Romero and goes for the Mad Splash off the top, but Romero gets his knees, up, which leads to Aries going for a frog splash of his own.

CIMA gets HIS knees up this time however to counter it, but he then feeds up into Shadows Over Hell from Delirious for two. Delirious head butts Kid out of the air when he tries a springboard move in a cool spot, which leads to even more big moves from everyone as I’m losing track of everything because it’s so nuts. Eventually Kid rana’s Delirious off Saito’s shoulders whilst he sits on the top rope and Saito follows with the splash. That looks to be it but Aries runs in with a big kick to Saito’s head and delivers and brain buster and a 450 Splash, with CIMA only just breaking the count at two. CIMA gets the Schwein (White Noise/Kryptonite Krunch) to Delirious for two and then muscles him up into a powerbomb for the win.

WINNERS: TYPHOON
RATING: ****1/4

This wasn’t quite in the same ballpark as a match between all the Japanese lads would be but it was darn close as all the ROH guys turned up to play and it was a great match as consequence. Not knowing who won the match coming in I was living with all the near falls and it was great stuff.

Supercard of Honour II – 31st of March 2007
CIMA, SHINGO AND Susumu Yokosuka Vs Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito and Masaaki Mochizuki

Mochizuki is Yokosuka’s brother and actually defeated him for the rights to the surname Mochizuki. All of these guys, except for Mochizuki I believe, are members of Typhoon, making it a bit different from the previous year’s Faction Warfare. As it’s under Dragon Gate rules, you don’t need to make tags and simply leaving the ring allows one of your partners to come into the ring. Like with the previous one of these matches, I’ll do my best to keep up but I promise nothing.

Saito and CIMA start us out and the wrestling is very nice (I’m sure you’re all shocked by this revelation). SHINGO and Mochizuki come in next for some powerhouse stuff, with Mochizuki throwing some stiff chops and SHINGO taking them like a pro. Yokosuka and Kid are the last pair to go at it and that’s all about Kid flying around and Yokosuka being a great base. The momentum swings between both teams in the early going, with each team enjoying some periods of control when one a member of the other team gets cut off. None of these sections go on for long enough to be really classed as the “heat” segment, and it would probably be better to class them as control segments as they are really just an excuse for everyone to do cool stuff on a particular member of the opposing team rather than an exercise in riling up the crowd so they want to see the tag.

CIMA gets a considerable working over, including Saito sitting him on the apron so that Mochizuki can clock him with a stiff kick to the spine. CIMA eventually makes his own comeback by tombstone piledriving Kid onto Saito and making the tag to Yokosuka. This leads to a series of big moves and ends with Dragon Kid getting his leg worked over in the opposing corner, which makes sense when you consider how he needs his legs for his flying antics. CIMA and Yokosuka drive Kid’s crotch into the ring post and then throw him back inside so SHINGO can get an impressive military press slam and a big vertical suplex for two. Kid fights back against SHINGO with strikes, but misses a big boot and gets caught with a DDT for two. CIMA’s team take out all of the opposing side, which allows him to get a back cracker on Kid for two. CIMA goes to a wacky submission whilst Saito and Mochizuki get held back, but eventually Saito gets free and makes the save.

CIMA gets the Steiner Bulldog on Kid whilst Kid sits on Saito’s shoulders, which is just as cool this time as it was the previous year, but Kid manages a desperation rana on CIMA and makes the tag to Mochizuki, which is everyone’s cue to unleash the madness with all the dives and big moves. Eventually Kid turns a Yokosuka suplex attempt into a stunner for two and then goes for a rana, but Yokosuka blocks it and then muscles him up into an Orange Crush for two. Kid tries to rana Yokosuka off Saito’s shoulders whilst he sits on the top rope, but CIMA saves and then goes Coast to Coast on Saito before getting the Schwein for two. Mochizuki manages a big kick on CIMA for two, which leads to the commentators checking out again like they did the previous year to let the action do the talking.

More incredible action takes place, with big moves being delivered, stiff strikes being received and just general outrageous near falls as the crowd takes to their feet to applaud the action. I honestly don’t know how long this review would be if I listed all the moves and counters that take place, but rest assured that it’s fan-smegging-tastic. Eventually Dragon Kid goes for a rana on Yokosuka but he manages to roll through and that’s enough for the pin. It’s almost poetic that the finish is a roll up counter after all those crazy moves.

WINNERS: CIMA, SHINGO AND SUSUMU YOKOSUKA (AND THE REST OF HUMANITY AGAIN)
RATING: ****3/4

This wasn’t quite as good as the first one as the crowd were expecting it to be awesome this time and were kind of waiting for it, but by the time it really kicked it in was incredible once again and the crowd were losing their marbles. Really great stuff. The only downside is the tape cuts away immediately after the 3 count, meaning we don’t get a chance to savour the atmosphere. Oh well, music rights will cause that I guess.

Good Times, Great Memories – 28th of April 2007
Takeshi Morishima Vs SHINGO

Morishima was the ROH Champion here and was getting a decent push as monster heel in. In some ways this was kind of a proving ground for him as to whether he could cut it as the GHC Champion in NOAH. SHINGO was still working for Dragon Gate here, so the commentators mention on commentary that this one has some possible political ramifications back in both men’s native land due to them representing different offices (Although I think NOAH and Dragon Gate weren’t especially hostile to one another. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on that front. As my memory serves, the business was hardly doing gangbusters in Japan during this era so most companies were willing to work with one another if it meant a boost at the box office)

SHINGO is in the unaccustomed role of being the smaller wrestler in this one, but does manage to take Morishima down with a shoulder tackle and then follows with a dive to the outside for good measure. SHINGO chokes Morishima with a chair outside the ring, as he’s clearly going to do whatever he can to win the Title as he apparently stated he would return to Japan from his excursion if he couldn’t beat Morishima in this bout. SHINGO works over Morishima back inside the ring, but when he tries some chops Morishima no sells them and takes him down with a hip attack. SHINGO rolls out following that to regroup, but Morishima is having none of that and follows him out with a shoulder tackle of the apron before sitting SHINGO on a chair and delivering another hip attack, crushing SHINGO between the metal of the ringside barricades and the sheer might of his bum.

Morishima chokes SHINGO over the ropes back inside, showing off some good heel instincts whilst he does it, and then gets another big hip attack to SHINGO’s face. SHINGO fires up with some forearms but Morishima staggers him with one of his own and then takes him down with a lariat before going to a camel clutch. I think Morishima did have a WWE try out at one stage but they didn’t want him because they thought he was too fat, but considering the success of guys like Umaga and now WALTER, I think it was a missed opportunity for them (Even though Morishima hasn’t helped his cause in recent years with his taxi driver attacking antics). SHINGO tries to fight back with a vertical suplex, but Morishima counters it with one of his own and tries coming off the 1st rope with something. SHINGO catches him in an atomic drop though and successfully manages to get a vertical suplex this time for a big pop from the crowd.

I love how the crowd bought Morishima as such a monster that merely being able to suplex him was cause for celebration. Such good booking. Out we go to the apron where SHINGO gets a DDT and then follows up with a Death Valley Driver onto the mats at ringside, as the crowd are now very into this and completely behind SHINGO. SHINGO rolls Morishima back inside and makes a cover, but Morishima is able to kick out. SHINGO actually gets Morishima with his own Back Drop Driver but Morishima kicks out at two and murderises SHINGO in the corner with strikes, even shoving the referee down in the process. Morishima gets a running big boot in the corner and heads up top, but SHINGO cuts him off and brings him down with a superplex.

Morishima no sells that however, so SHINGO gets a fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver for two and then follows up with a lariat for another two. SHINGO gets two more lariats but Morishima doesn’t go down and gets a lariat of his own before getting a uranage and another lariat for two. Morishima goes for a powerbomb, but SHINGO fights him off and then switches his weight on a Back Drop Driver attempt. Morishima sits on SHINGO when he tries a sunset flip and gets a lariat for two before following up with the Back Drop Driver for the win.

WINNER: TAKESHI MORISHIMA
RATING: ***3/4

A bit too short to be any more but this was a fantastic match for its spot on the card as it gave SHINGO a tonne of offence so that he looked like a genuine contender but also gave Morishima the clean win so he looked like a deserving and strong Champion. Just perfect booking and a great performance from both men.

 

In Conclusion

There were some fantastic matches on this here tape so it can only get a thumbs up in that regard. My main criticism would be the way it was all cut together, as a lot of the matches started and ended abruptly due to the fact that all the music had to be chopped out and it meant that a lot of the time we were robbed of seeing the crowd reactions following these great matches in full. There’s not much that could be done with that I suppose other than pay the rights fees, which was never going to happen, but maybe the camera could have lingered slightly longer at the conclusion of some of these bouts just so we could see the crowd going nuts at least even if we couldn’t hear them?

Aside from that though this Disc was pretty freaking great, although I’d stick with my prior advice of hunting down the individual matches you think you’d like first just in case it’s cheaper to buy the shows on their own rather than spending the $40 you’d have to pay on eBay for this collection.