This Is A Good Look At Why Ring Of Honor Made Such A Good Name For Themselves From The Beginning.
This was a great early effort by ROH. This DVD featured some refreshing new ideas for matches and some of the best working wrestlers all on the same show. The commentary was refreshing and enlightening from the beginning, unlike the WWE way where all you hear about is hype for their next PPV. Jeff Gorman (I think that's his name) knew what he was talking about and knew the names of most of the hold and maneuvers we saw. I liked him despite his funny, 'Revenge Of The Nerds' voice. They did start hyping their websites and other shows towards the end, but it still wasn't as bad as WWE. At least they talked about the match at hand instead of whatever the hell Triple H was doing two weeks from now. Chris Lovey has improved on his craft as well if you hear his commentary now and compare it to this DVD, which was made a couple years ago. There is a noticeable difference. He also doesn't seem to need to curse on his commentary as much anymore.
This DVD featured quite a few wrestlers I haven't seen in ROH before (admittedly, I'm a new fan of this fed, but have seen a few of their DVDs), such as Michael Shane, The Amazing Red, WWE star Paul London, Low-Ki, Donovan Morgan, Simply Luscious and this was the first ever appearance in ROH by C.M. Punk. You also get to see former ECW stars Tommy Dreamer and J.T. Smith at this show.
Da Hit Squad vs Devine Storm vs Jose & Joel Maximo vs Special K (Dixie and Joey) in a 4-Way Scramble Match - This is one of Ring Of Honor's signature matches. Basically, it's just a 4-way tag team match where there doesn't have to be a tag to get out of the ring, you just get out and someone new gets in. This makes for a quicker, higher paced match. As you can imagine, 8 men in one ring, all trying to get themselves over with their high spots, made for a very quick paced match. Simply put, there was too much going on at once to let everything that was happening sink in. Ultimately, all those spots meant nothing in the big picture. The highlight of the match was when Da Hit Squad ended up powerbombing all 6 other contestants at once. I wonder how long it took them to get that straight, it looked like a cheerleader pyramid! Some side notes I'd like to mention is that 1. The Special K gimmick sucks. It seems every time they have a young looking guy they don't know what to do with, they just throw him in that group and 2. The Spanish Announcing Team are one of the most impressive tag teams I've seen in quite a while.
The #1 Contenders Gauntlet - This "gauntlet" features A.J. Styles, "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson, Paul London, The Amazing Red, Michael Shane and C.M. Punk and was another signature match series of Ring Of Honor. Basically, you start with the first two competitors having a match, and the winner faces the next man, and so on and so on. I guess this is based on the luck of the draw. As mentioned earlier, this is C.M. Punk's first appearance with ROH and it is explained that he is in contention for the #1 Contendership (is that a word?) because of what he has done in other indy feds and that ROH recognizes other feds and their accomplishments. How's that for a different indy fed? Anyhow, the winner of this gauntlet receives a trophy which can be won or lost and pretty much guarantees a championship match, as long as you have the trophy when the match is given out. I like that idea, even though there is a loophole or two in the concept. I think once you have had the trophy, you should get a match eventually, regardless. I'm not even sure if this concept is still in use by ROH. There was a total of 5 matches here, all with different styles and all were good. I don't want to spoil the winners for anyone so I can't really talk about the matches themselves other than in this vague way. Anyhow, there will be at least one spoiler when I review the Final Gauntlet Match a little later down the line.
Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan & Samoa Joe vs Low-Ki, Doug Williams & Homicide - Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan's ROH Tag Team Championship were on the line if they lost this 6-man match. Lots of tag team action with Samoa Joe playing the part of the "hired hand" for The Prophecy. The Prophecy held up their end of the match as heels with all the classic heel mannerisms and psychology. Doug Williams did a terrible dive off the top in which the commentators tried to pass off as a plancha but was more like a weak clothesline off the top to the outside. Daniels did a nice Arabian Press to the outside and even Joe dived onto the whole group. I've never been a big fan of Homicide, but I did like his unusual new version of the STF. In what started off as a typical 6-man tag match, it turned into a spectacular finish with everyone going for and countering the other's finishing maneuvers. I especially liked some of the spots Daniels and Doug Williams worked together. This turned out to be the second best match on the show, which was hard to judge.
Alexis Laree vs Allison Danger - This was a straight out horrible match. I won't say I didn't enjoy it, but the match wasn't good at all. These girls didn't work well together. In my opinion, this should have been booked as an old ECW style catfight instead of a straight wrestling match. Allison Danger initiated the lesbian angle into the match by kissing Alexis. Both women were hot and Allison was more than willing to show it all off. Alexis could probably pull off a decent match if she had a better opponent.
The Carnage Crew vs The Ring Crew Express in a Bunkhouse Match - Bunkhouse Match in ROH mean no Code Of Honor which equals hardcore. Pretty brutal match but this was nothing but a squash. Barely better than the ladies' match.
Xavier vs Jay Briscoe for the ROH World Title - Simply Luscious was ringside with Xavier and Jay received this title shot as a result of pinning Xavier in a previous tag team match. This match lacked something, as it was not up to par as far as the usual ROH Title matches go. It was OK but nothing special and the crowd was definitely not into it either. As much as I liked Simply Luscious, I think her presence in this match ruined it. I know Xavier can put on a much better match than this.
**SPOILERS** A.J. Styles vs "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson in the #1 Gauntlet Match Finals - This had a great opening mat sequence and the whole match was fast paced and hard fought. I thought the commentator said it best when he said that was a "sweet exchange". Mat wrestling was the foundation of this entire match and it was truly excellent by any standards. It is what all professional wrestling should be about. This match also included some extremely high impact moves and equally beautiful high spots and superb submission holds. I'm not sure why American Dragon hasn't been picked up by WWE. He could put some life into their cruiserweight division that desperately needs some new faces. This was the best match on the show. **END SPOILERS**
Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka vs Steve Corino & Low-Ki - This was Low-Ki's 2nd appearance of the night. They had him change into his Zero-One attire from Japan, as it was filmed for Japanese TV as well. Ohtani was extremely over with the crowd and wrestled a very vicious style. No doubt Samoa Joe learned a bit from Ohtani. I could see there was definitely some influence by him in Joe's style. Low-Ki nailed a beautiful handspring roundhouse kick they called the "Tidal Crush" which I could probably never get tired of seeing. The timing for something like that has to be perfect. Ohtani's brutality and Low-Ki's vicious kicks were the highlight of this match. Not to mention that all 4 wrestlers were able to wrestle a great match in itself.
The Amazing Red vs Jose Maximo vs Joel Maximo in a three-way match - Taped on 9/22/2001. All 3 wrestlers came out as the Spanish Announcing Team and were dressed exactly the same, which made it hard to tell who was who. The match featured some great and innovative high spots and dives. At times, Red reminded me of Rey Mysterio Jr (What a dream match that could be). This was a high paced spot-fest that seemed to have no low points. Pretty good match but little to no psychology whatsoever.
Low-Ki vs Minoru Fujita - Taped on 6/15/2001 from Jersey All Pro Wrestling. Low-Ki highlighted his match with his devastating kicks, as usual. The finish was nice and unique. I can honestly say I've never seen a match end quite like this one did. This was Low-Ki's third match on this DVD, and he didn't let me down once.
The 6-Man Match, the Gauntlet Finals and the main event were all solid reasons to give this show a high rating. The ladies' match, the Bunkhouse Match and the ROH Title match brought it down a little.
I give this DVD 7.5 out of 10.
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