RING OF HONOR WRESTLING VOL. 1: THE BEST OF EPISODES 1-100 (DVD Review)
Rated: UR/Region: 1/Widescreen/Number of disc: 2
Available from www.rohwrestling.com
Ring Of Honor Wrestling has been apart of the Sinclair Broadcast Group since 2011. In celebration of the first 100 episodes of the show, ROH released this two disc set showing some of the highlight from the shows. Now, let me go on by saying that unlike your normal wrestling DVD reviewer, I won’t be giving you move by move or basically giving you playing by-play of what happens in the match. If at all possible I won’t even be telling you who won the match. The way I see it, if you haven’t seen the match before and might want to pick up this release to see it, why would I spoil everything that happens in the match? Instead, what I’ll do is simply give you some comments on the match and of course give you a “Flair rating” for each match. It might go without saying, but seeing as how this isn’t a show but a “best of” release, don’t expect to see too many matches drop below a 3.
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Kings of Wrestling (World Tag Title Match) (9/24/11)
This is the main event from the very first Ring Of Honor Wrestling episodes to air on SBG! It features Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, who most of you might know from the WWE as The World’s Greatest Tag Team, going two on two with the Kings Of Wrestling, Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli. Claudio is pretty well-known as Cesaro in WWE today. The Kings Of Wrestling were once one of the best tag teams in indie wrestling, while WGTT were great in WWE, but some seem to think they held back a bit in ROH. This was from the days when Jim Cornette was booking the shows, so a lot of former OVW guys seemed to be a part of those shows. This is a solid tag team match here that gives you a taste of what both teams can do, but you kind of got the feeling that things were being held back just a bit. Still, ROH has some of the best tag team wrestling out there, so you won’t dislike the match.
El Generico vs. Jay Lethal (World TV Title Match) (10/1/11)
Some say El Generico went back to Mexico to help orphans, other say he’s currently Sami Zayne in NXT. Regardless, he was the TV champion here against Jay Lethal, who was not long removed from TNA and trying to still get that stink off of him. Both are babyfaces (Good guys) here, so it is a pretty straight forward match. Of course, I won’t spoil it, but something happens at the end that makes the action really start to pick-up and that is when this match is at its best. Both guys aren’t really known to have bad matches in general, especially not in ROH.
Young Bucks vs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander (2/25/12)
The Young Bucks are probably the best indie tag team out there today, while C & C Wrestle Factory have since parted ways in ROH. This wasn’t much more than just a showcase to show off what each team could do and it tends to break down into spot after spot, which for a match like this is never a bad thing. I think this match showed the world that maybe hadn’t seen what The Young Bucks could do, just what they were in store for. It also showed that C & C wasn’t slouches either.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Adam Cole vs. Jay Lethal vs. Mike Bennett (March Mayhem Finals) (4/7/12)
This was an amusing match to see in 2015 considering that basically nobody here were in their grove as far as I am concerned in ROH just yet. Ciampa wasn’t the “Psycho” yet and was still a member of The Embassy. Adam Cole was still a smiling, kissing babies and shaking hands, babyface. That was despite him being much better at the time of being a big prick in other companies. Mike Bennett had Maria, but wasn’t as good as he is now, and Jay Lethal was good as always, but hadn’t gotten to the character yet. Things seem a little too quick and a bit rocky at first, but as things boil down, the match gets better and better, but never seems to hit that level you want as it was mostly just a match to get storylines advanced.
Eddie Edwards vs. Davey Richards (6/9/12)
The American Wolves are great in my book. Both as a team and when they have matches against one another, as we see here. If you’ve never seen the term “American Strong Style”, then a match like this is a good introduction to just that. This is another great match between the two. Maybe not as good as their match was at Best in the World 2011, but it was close. Has a few outside things that come into play and it advances the story, but kind of makes the match a bit less than their other matches. Still, a somewhat jaded Edwards and Richards match seems to be better than most in my book and I still loved the match overall.
Kevin Steen vs. Mike Mondo (ROH World Title Match) (7/21/12)
Kevin Steen is known as Kevin Owens in WWE today and Mike Mondo was once known as a member of the Male Cheerleader Spirit Squad group in WWE back in the day. This match gets a bit all over the place, with a lot of brawling. While that is usually when Steen seems to be at his best, I admit I felt something just didn’t click in this one for me as well as I’m sure it was supposed to. It has its moments, but seems to be the first on this set that doesn’t do as well a job as others at showing folks what ROH could do.
Roderick Strong vs. Adam Cole (World TV Title Match) (7/28/12)
Roderick Strong has done it all in ROH. At this point Adam Cole was still the smiling good guy, but you could start to see a bit more of the ROH Adam Cole we’d see today. This was a good example of what both guys were capable of in the ring and they always have seemed to gel well together. There’s some story advancing in this one as well, but when you hut the home stretch you could see the crowd start to really hang on to every movie and that helps you get more into what it going on as well.
Mike Bennett vs. Lance Storm (8/4/12)
Bennett still has Maria with him here, but seems to have moved on to the sparkly tights portion of his time in ROH as Lance Storm was pretty well-known from back in the day when wrestling was extremely popular. Having wrestled at about every promotion you could think of, Storm at 40 plus years old here looked about the same as he always did and if he had of lost a step you couldn’t tell it by much. Of course Bennett is solid, but not really the type of guy you will get five start one on one matches with, especially not during 2012. Still, it was fun seeing Lance Storm and I kinda wish he had stuck around more a bit in ROH at the time.
Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgim vs. Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong vs. Mike Mondo vs. Adam Cole (Survival of the Fittest 2012 Finals) (10/27/12)
The elimination rules here are used to get some folks out of the match somewhat quickly. As a result stuff tends to pop-off a bit too quickly for it to have much of a meaning at the start. When this one boils down to the final two or three guys is when you want to really start paying attention here. The locker-room spilling out around the ring to watch the finish up close wasn’t a bad touch either. This is another one were you really felt it could go either way and each move had a lot of meaning. The last part of this match is really something awesome to see.
Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly (World TV Title Match) (11/17/12)
This match puts former tag team partners against one another here, with O’Reilly the heel and Cole the face. Of course now days the roles are reversed and I believe that is for the best. You still can’t go wrong with a match between the two here. Cole seems to be able to do it all and O’Reilly is really good at mixing up a more MMA style offense with some regular wrestling moves. While I think the best match between these two is still yet to come, you can’t watch these two go at it and not have a really fun time watching them. If nothing else, this match shows you why these guys are more along the lines of straight up main Main Eventers in ROH now.
Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin (12/1/12)
Richards vs. Elgin is always a great thing and the only bad thing this match has going for it is that it tried to follow their basically perfect match they had together at Showdown in the Sun. Davey isn’t the champion here, however, and while his time in ROH was far from over, you still get that “Man on the way out” feeling when you saw him in ROH during this time. I think that vibe hurt the match a little, but not enough to take away what was another great hard-hitting match. Matches like this one are the ones you can show none-wrestling fans that they still seem to get caught up in and enjoy.
Matt Taven vs. Tadarius Thomas (Top Prospect Tournament Finals) (2/23/13)
Taven and Thomas were both pretty new to the world of ROH and while Thomas was impressing folks with his style, Taven was still looking to find his character. This wasn’t a bad match, but things seem to be more about hitting their spots and using the match to move forward a new storyline rather than anything else.
Roderick Strong & reDRagon vs. American Wolves & Michael Elgin (2/23/13)
With these guys I was ready to get ready to drop four or more Flairs, but while everyone here seems to find ways to get their stuff in regardless, I don’t think this one ever really gets cooking even with it still remaining about as entertaining as one would want. I just know everyone here can do better and probably has, but I’m sure the TV format and time issues are probably what held this one back from being great. It is still good.
Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (World Tag Titles vs. Team) (3/2/13)
Now this match isn’t the best wrestling match you will see on this set, but it is certainly a whole lot of fun and shows WGTT at a time when they were finally hitting their stride in ROH. Which sadly wasn’t long before they were gone. If you haven’t seen The Briscoes before, this gives you a taste of them. They’ve been a part of ROH since day 1 are really a whole heck of a lot of time as a team. This one turns into a fun brawl.
Matt Hardy vs. Adam Cole (3/23/13)
Matt Hardy was a lot of fun in ROH. If you haven’t seen his YouTube promos he shot while there, then you should seek them out. This match was from a time when he still seemed a little out-of-place, but him and Cole worked well enough together to give us a solid, but perhaps slower paced match that is fun, but you feel nobody ever really hit their 4th gear.
reDRagon vs. Forever Hooligans (World Tag Title Match) (4/6/13)
This is one of two matches from these guys you’ll get on this set and I’m a big fan of reDRagon and I’ve enjoyed Forever Hooligans from their NJPW multi-team matches. This was another solid match, but it seems to be more along the lines of just letting the Hooligans get their spots in to warm the ROH crowd up to them just in case people hadn’t been seeing their act in Japan. Like most ROH tag title matches, this one gets good at the finish, but seems to lose just a step before.
Michael Elgin vs. Karl Anderson (5/4/13)
Karl Anderson is mostly known for being one of the faces of The Bullet Club in NJPW and that popularity of the group has easily spilled over to the states. Here, we get to see these two bigger hosses slug it out and I like everyone remember being pretty happy about it at the time, but stuff seems to go too slow at the start and they just seem a little off at times. Still, they do pick up the pace near the end, but stuff seems to go a little too wrong early on and that did hurt the match overall.
Davey Richards vs. Kyle O’Reilly (5/4/13)
Now this is a match that could have probably been better given more time. So since it is what it is, the match ends up being a very good match instead of a great match. Richards and O’Reilly are close away from the ring and as a result they seem to have great chemistry and that chemistry helped their ROH wars be what they were. This match is a great mix of MMA and Wrestling, with some minor “Fighting Spirit” moments getting in the way of selling and being the matches only real flaw, besides maybe needing just a few more minutes added on.
Roderick Strong vs. Taiji Ishimori (5/25/13)
Taiji Ishimori is from Japan’s Pro Wrestling Noah. If it wasn’t for ROH and their past relationship with NOAH I’d probably never have heard of it. This is basically just a chance for him to show off what he can do, but he’s doing it with Roderick Strong, so the match ends up being probably way better than most expected and let me tell ya, it is WAY better than I assumed it probably would be going in. Taiji wanted people to see what he could do on a big scale and Roddy wasn’t shy about helping him out and showing us what he could do as well.
Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The American Wolves (6/8/13)
Again, we have a good match that is between two great teams, but it was mostly done for a stroyline to advance and it not only shows, but it holds the match back a bit. Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun and solid match as Davey and Eddie kept showing what still today makes them one of wrestling best teams (even if they are stuck in TNA), but The Briscoes are just as good, which is why I hoped to get a little more out of this than what we ended up with. Still, a good ROH tag match is better than most.
reDRagon vs. Forever Hooligans (World Tag Title Match) (8/3/13)
The main portion of this DVD set closes out with another match between these two teams and this one gets a lot better than the other match for the most part, especially during the ending portion of the match. reDRagon was even better here than they were before and while the Hooligans still get in those weird comedic spots, I think they found a way to make it flow a bit better here.
– Kevin Steen returns to ROH TV (12/3/11)
This was basically the long start of the storyline that would eventually turn Steen into the face of the company after they try to try to get people to boo him with no luck before. It’s fun, but everyone seems a little off on their delivery.
– Davey Richards & Kevin Steen go face-to-face (4/28/12)
This was a very shooty face to face that turns into a contract signing. You can see why the fans started siding with Steen. Davey is hit and miss on the mic and he is both in this segment.
– Jay Briscoe in ring speech (11/17/12)
This was when ROH introduced the great Nigel McGuinness as their new match maker. It also shows us why Jay Briscoe was so good on the mic and the crowd that ROH picked him to be ROH World Champion for a while as well.
– Charlie Haas vs. Cheeseburger (1/26/13)
This is more of an angle than a real match, as Haas was showing off his character and this introduces us to “Cheeseburger”. I won’t rate the match, because it never feels like a real one, but rest a sure this is an angle more than anything else.
– Charlie Haas-BJ Whitmer brawl in car dealership (2/17/13)
Fun brawl that actually takes place in a car dealership and reminds you a lot of some of the old stuff you’d see in the NWA.