The SmarK DVD Rant for Ring of Honor: Final Battle 2005

Reviews, Wrestling DVDs

The SmarK DVD Rant for ROH Final Battle 2005 (12/17/05)

– At the request of Travis, my DVD pimp from InsidePulse, here’s some more ROH in my continuing attempts to catch up on it.

– Taped from Edison, NJ

– Your hosts are Dave Prazak & Lenny Leonard

Opening match: Jimmy Rave v. Milano Collection AT

Again, I have to stress that the toilet paper gag is AWESOME. Rave grabs a wristlock and they work off that to start, with MCA going to an armbar off it. Bow-and-arrow, but Rave falls on top for two, so Milano goes back to the headlock. Criss-cross with cool flexibility from Milano, and he jumps on Rave’s back with a crazy submission hold. And then somehow ties Rave’s limbs in the bottom rope like a human pretzel and dropkicks him to the floor. Well, that requires some suspension of disbelief, but it’s no worse than the irish whip, I guess. Back in, Milano gets a low dropkick for two. Is the proper abbreviation Milano or AT, I wonder? Rave clobbers him from behind in the corner to take over and chokes him out on the ropes. They mess up a northern lights suplex in awkward fashion, but Milano puts him on the middle rope and does an AMAZING dropkick from the floor to the apron. That looked it shouldn’t have been possible. Back in, Rave gets a suplex for two, annoying the fans, and goes to a neck vice. Rave works on the neck and takes him down with a crossface, as the announcers note how Rave enjoys stealing finishers from better wrestlers. In all fairness, originality in wrestling is rare and everyone steals their finisher from somewhere. Milano baseball slides Prince Nana and comes back with an enzuigiri on Rave. Senton backsplash and Milano goes up with a high cross for two. Rave takes him down with a neckbreaker and STO for two, however. Milano cartwheels out of an irish whip and clotheslines Rave down, the follows with a standing shining wizard for two. Rave reverses a tiger driver and it’s KICK WHAM PEDI…uh…GREETINGS FROM GHANA for the win.

(Jimmy Rave d. Milano Collection AT, Pedigree — pin, 12:44, ***) Milano was feeling it here, which made for a good opener. Missed spots dragged it down a lot, however.

Azrieal v. Colt Cabana

Colt is the one being all serious here while Azrieal is goofing around. They exchange hammerlocks and Azrieal dances out of it while the announcers note that “Having someone try to kill you with a coat hanger will change your disposition.” Well said. They should put that on a sampler. Az dances around and grabs a headlock, then they argue about who hits the ropes. Colt tells him that if he tries to trip him up, he’ll slap him right in the face. And he does, so Colt does. The crowd chants “You got bitchslapped” in response. Awesome. More comedy with Azrieal stomping on Colt’s foot and hurting his hand while chopping him, but Colt dropkicks him for two. They slug it out and Azrieal gets a running knee in the corner and an enzuigiri for two. Cradle Shock gets two. Awkward bit with Azrieal trying for a sleeper that goes nowhere, but Cabana makes the comeback with a flying shoulderblock and missile dropkick. Lariat finishes.

(Colt Cabana d. Azrieal, lariat — pin, 7:20, *1/2) Weird mix of comedy here that never really clicked. However, the comedy ends after the handshake, as Homicide joins us. His warning is simple: He’s gonna motherf*cking kill Steve Corino, and if Cabana gets all up in his shit, he’ll motherf*cking kill Cabana too. He’s pretty upset.

ROH Pure Pure Title: Nigel McGuinness v. Claudio Castagnoli

Two referees here as Nigel takes him down to start and does some showboating. Nigel grabs a neck vice, but Claudio flips out of it and they criss cross into a Nigel armdrag. Rana gets two. Nigel’s celebration is a bit out of proportion to the move, so Claudio slaps him. Nigel responds with a closed fist in the corner, although he sells it like he’s the one who was hit. However, thanks to the power of TWO REFEREES, he gets caught. I’m guess that’ll factor into the finish somehow. Call me psychic. Nigel grabs a headlock and uses another fist, but the second ref catches him again for another warning. They trade armbars with Nigel yapping the whole time, and he blocks Claudio’s attempts to break free. Finally he’s able to reverse and uses Nigel’s own reversals against him. That’s a nice sequence. Nigel uses the ropes to break, but the second ref catches him and calls it a rope break. Claudio cradles for two. Backslide gets two. Majastral gets two. Nigel bails while Claudio leads the crowd in chants. Claudio gets aggressive and tries a suicide dive, but Nigel shoves the ref in the way, thus leaving us with one ref again. And now Nigel’s back in his element, going after the arm with only one ref to snow.

Nigel works on the arm and pounds Claudio with forearms in the corner for two. He hangs Claudio in the Tree of Woe and kicks the back, then steps on his face until Claudio has to use the ropes to break. A crossface chickenwing forces Claudio to use the ropes again, leaving us with no rope breaks. Claudio blocks a backdrop suplex and catches Nigel’s foot on his headstand kick attempt, and it’s a double KO. They trade forearms, but Claudio has the extra gusto and wins that battle, then takes him down for a low dropkick. Forearm to the neck gets two. Ricolabomb is blocked, but Claudio manages to get a fisherman’s suplex for two. They fight over a superplex, but Claudio backflips out of it and takes him down with a Diamond Cutter for two. And now our first referee is bumped, allowing Nigel to grab the iron. He tries the Eddie Guerrero finish by tossing the iron at Claudio and playing dead, but the ref is out anyway. So Claudio hits him with the iron for the pin. BUT WAIT! The second ref, who was thought to be dead ages ago, returns to reverse the decision, despite Claudio’s pantomime about how he was ironing his hair. Thank you, next week I’ll be picking lottery numbers for an encore.

(Nigel McGuinness d. Claudio Castagnoli, Dusty Finish, 14:37, ***1/4) Good match once they got past establishing the second referee and got down to wrestling, but the finish is evil in all its forms.

Alex Shelley v. Steve Corino

Even the ring announcer gets clobbered in the opening brawl, before Corino takes Shelley down with an armbar and stomps away in the corner. Although Corino is pudgier now than he was in ECW, the added weight actually makes him look more like a serious wrestler instead of a cruiserweight masquerading as a main eventer. They brawl outside and Nana gets a cheapshot in, as Shelley works on the arm. Back in, he throws some kicks at it and holds him on the mat in a hammerlock. Corino breaks free, so Shelley dumps him and Nana adds more abuse. Back in, Shelley takes him down and sets up a chair in the corner, but irony strikes again and Shelley eats it instead. Slugfest is won by Corino, but Shelley kicks him in the arm again. Corino keeps fighting with chops and adds a running knee, but Shelley rolls him up for two and then holds onto the arm with a cross-armbreaker. Who knew Shelley had this kind of match in him? Armbreaker and Shelley goes up top, too leisurely, and Corino follows him up, only to get brought down with a single-arm DDT that gets two. Back to the cross armbreaker, but Corino makes the ropes. He fights back, but Shelley kicks at the arm again. Corino gets a desperation STO for two and heel miscommunication allows him to come back. Lariat and Falcon Arrow suplex get two. Shelley wisely wraps up the arm again and pins him this time.

(Alex Shelley d. Steve Corino, rollup — pin, 11:04, **3/4) Very enjoyable little psychology-based match. Nice to see Shelley actually WIN, unlike in TNA. As promised, Homicide and his crew come out and try to murder Corino with DRANO, but Colt Cabana saves him. And as promised, they try to kill Colt instead, dumping it down his throat! Now there’s a unique heel spot. Remind me never to call Homicide’s bluff.

Jay Lethal v. Samoa Joe v. Christopher Daniels v. BJ Whitmer

Jay Lethal cuts a promo against Joe to go heel before the match, complaining that the mentor was making more money than the protege. Joe starts with Whitmer and gets elbowed down, but Joe no-sells it and kicks the crap out of him. Well, he seems to be in a bit of a mood today. BJ wants to tag out to Lethal, but obviously that would be a bad move for Jay, so Daniels comes in instead. Joe throws a couple of kicks at Daniels’ leg, but Daniels ducks one and slugs away. Joe overpowers him and slams him off a criss-cross, but Lethal adds a sucker kick from the apron to get Joe out. Daniels backdrops Lethal and a forearm gets two. Whitmer adds his own cheapshot on Daniels, however, yanking him out of the ring and beating on him outside. Back in, Lethal gets two as a result. Backbreaker gets two. Lethal brings Whitmer in, and a delayed suplex on Daniels gets two. Bow-and-arrow gets two. Back to Lethal, as he chokes Daniels in the corner and cuts off his comeback attempt. Nice seated dropkick gets two. Lethal grabs a sleeper and then brings in Whitmer for some choking, as this basically turns into Joe & Daniels v. Whitmer & Lethal. Daniels fights back with a jawbreaker, but misses the quebrada and gets choked down again. This prompts the women at ringside to get into a brawl in the ring, and Daniels nails Whitmer with an enzuigiri in the confusion.

Tags on both sides, and we’ve got Joe v. Lethal. As expected, Joe kicks Lethal into putty, yelling “I’m rich, bitch!” after no-selling an atomic drop. Whitmer charges, but Joe spikes him like a football with a uranage for two. BJ comes back with an exploder suplex for two. Whitmer dropkicks the knee and a seated dropkick gets two. Whitmer tries going over Joe in the corner, but Joe catches him with a death valley driver for two. Over to Daniels and Lethal, as a downward spiral gets two for Daniels. Lethal fights off the Iconoclasm and gets a flying leg lariat for two. Spinebuster gets two. Daniels blocks the dragon suplex and hits Lethal with a uranage to set up the moonsault, and that gets two. It’s a pier-six brawl and we’re left with Joe slugging on Daniels, but they stop to hit their opponents with slams and get two. Lethal tries to hit Joe with the X title, but Joe catches Daniels and hits a Muscle Buster on the belt as a result. Lethal gets rid of Whitmer and Joe, then finishes Daniels with a diving headbutt.

(Jay Lethal d. Samoa Joe, BJ Whitmer & Christopher Daniels, flying headbutt — pin Daniels, 15:04, ***) Slow start, but it picked up well at the end. Not enough Joe, however.

Davey Andrews v. Ricky Reyes

It’s the post-intermission Ricky Reyes match, of course. We cut to the back with Corino fleeing the arena like a coward and complaining about the working conditions. He’s surprised that a guy named “Homicide” is trying to kill people? Anyway, we join Reyes kicking Andrews in the chest, but getting powered out of the corner. Reyes locks in the sleeper, however, and it’s done.
(Ricky Reyes d. Davey Andrews, dragon sleeper — submission, 2:09, 1/2*) The usual from Reyes.

ROH Tag title match: Tony Mamaluke & Sal Rinauro v. Austin Aries & Roderick Strong

Mamaluke starts with Strong and they work on the mat, getting nowhere. They slug it out in the corner and Strong wins that, but a charge misses and Mamaluke rolls him up for two. Strong also tries a rollup, but Mamaluke traps him in a triangle choke. Strong powers out of it and goes for the Stronghold, but can’t get it, and Mamaluke tags out. Rinauro can’t overpower Strong, as he gets headlocked. Strong works the arm and uses a ponytail-assisted indian deathlock to keep him on the mat. Aries comes in with a senton and a fisherman’s suplex, which gets two. Back to Strong, who throws chops and dumps Sal, who in turn is rapidly looking out of his league. Strong dumps him right back in and pounds on the back. Aries comes in and adds a northern lights suplex for two. Double backdrop suplex gets two for Strong. He goes back to the chops, actually working the crowd up because of the volume of them. Poor Rinauro. Aries adds a dropkick in the corner for two. Aries tries his own chop, but it’s pretty wussy and he gets booed for it. Strong shows him how it’s done. Hey, you’ve gotta learn sometime. Sal rebounds out of the corner with a flip kick for two, but Strong rolls him over for two. Back to Aries, who drops the power elbow for two. He fights off both Italians, but Mamaluke finally gets frustrated and yanks him out of the ring, ramming his face into the railing a few times. That allows him to tag in legally and save his poor partner.

Backdrop driver gets two and Mamaluke goes to the cross-armbreaker, but Aries rolls out of it. Mamaluke kicks him down and taunts Strong, which will probably come back to haunt him. Rinauro comes in with a flying elbow on Aries, but Strong gives him a bitchslap to break it up. The champs double-team Aries in the corner and a dropkick gets two for Sal. Mamaluke comes in and talks trash, but gets rolled up for two, so he goes to the leg to keep Aries on the mat. Jawbreaker gets two. He tries throwing a chop, but he’s no Strong and the fans boo him for it. Aries fights them off during a double-team attempt, and it’s hot tag Strong. He cleans house with backdrops and clotheslines, and hits Rinauro with a butterfly backbreaker for two. More chops, but he comes back with a rana for two. Aries comes in for the Hart Attack, which gets two. Regal Roll and he goes up, but Mamaluke brings him down again with a superplex, into a Rinauro splash for two. Aries tries to go up again and finish, but the champs bring him down again. Strong breaks up the double-team and suplexes Rinauro, and Generation Next has had ENOUGH of this shit, finishing him with the backbreaker into Aries’ 450 to win the titles.

(Generation Next d. Mamaluke & Rinauro, Aries 450 splash — pin Rinauro, 18:18, ***1/4) This one totally exposed Rinauro, although he’s still supposed to be a rookie anyway so it’s not like that’s any shock. Essentially Aries & Strong are so far above their level, however, that I don’t think anyone would have bought a finish other than a clean title victory.

ROH World title: Bryan Danielson v. Naomichi Marufuji

Test of strength to start, which Marufuji rolls out of and follows with a spank of Danielson. He grabs a headlock, so Danielson starts a slugfest, which he loses. Criss-cross and Danielson headfakes him before cradling for two, but it’s a stalemate as both try a dropkick. They exchange shots again and Danielson has a funny moment where he backs down to think things over. He takes Marufuji down and grabs a chinlock, turning it into a dragon sleeper, but Marufuji reverses out and they trade wristlocks. Danielson gets all up in his face and Marufuji fires back with a slap, then blocks a charge with a boot before getting an awkward 619-like kick from the apron for two. Boot rake gets two.

Marufuji goes to a facelock and turns it into a dragon sleeper, but Danielson uses a knee strike to break out. Marufuji kicks him down for two and they fight outside and battle for a suplex on the apron. Marufuji opts to powerbomb him off the apron instead, but can’t execute. Danielson whips him around on the floor, and back in gets two. It’s the Rita Romero Special, but then he teases the fans with another one and flips them off. Instead, it’s a standing figure-four, but Marufuji makes the ropes. Danielson absolutely spikes him with a DDT for two and goes back to the leg with a normal figure-four this time, preventing a couple of reversal attempts from Marufuji. Finally he reverses it, and Danielson makes the ropes.

They exchange shots and we again learn that he has until FIVE, referee! However, Marufuji dropkicks him while he’s educating the referee. He takes Danielson down for a low dropkick and follows with a running elbow in the corner, and they go up. Danielson blocks a rana, but Marufuji dropkicks him on the way down for two. He adds some humiliating little kicks to the head, and suplexes Danielson to the floor. Baseball slide is caught by Danielson, and he hits Marufuji with a suicide dive. Back in, missile dropkick sends Marufuji flying into the corner on a dramatic oversell, and a butterfly suplex gets two. They fight in the corner and Danielson ends up in the Tree of Woe, but he fights on regardless, until he gets dropkicked in the face. Marufuji decides to capitalize with a Van Daminator (minus the chair), which gets two. Superkick, but Danielson fires back with the roaring elbow and a german suplex into Cattle Mutilation in the middle of the ring. Somehow, Marufuji makes the ropes. They head up top again and Danielson brings him down with a backdrop superplex, after a dramatic pause, and it’s another Cattle Mutilation. Marufuji rolls out, so Danielson holds him down for two. Marufuji comes back with Sliced Bread #2 and both guys are out. Marufuji blocks a german suplex and gets a sunset flip for two, and they trade crazy pinfall reversals until Danielson gets the pin. Hey, you don’t see that finish very often!

(Bryan Danielson d. Naomichi Marufuji, cradle — pin, 23:44, ***1/2) First half was too slow and awkward, but once they started suplexing each other it really clicked.

GHC Junior Heavyweight title: KENTA v. Low Ki

Very cool to finally have the opening declaration in English for once, although it’s not actually that exciting once you find out what is being said. The Japanese version before title matches over there sounds much more important and mysterious.

Lockup battle to start, as they fight to the corner and Low Ki suddenly snaps off an armbar. That’s just freaky. Low Ki takes him down with a headscissors and starts cranking on the arm, then fires off a chop that’s up there with Strong’s. He powers KENTA down and throws kicks, but the champ fires back and wins that battle, getting two. Not often you see someone out-kick Low Ki. KENTA throws the small kicks, and it turns into a slugfest before Low Ki kicks him in the back of the head from a crazy angle. That gets two. Into the corner, where Ki throws elbows, but gets caught in the other corner with a choke from the apron. KENTA goes up with a flying clothesline for two. Another kick to the back gets two. Ki gets dumped and KENTA kicks him up close for the fans, as though trying to make sure that everyone sees it’s real or something. Funny spot as he slingshots back in, over Low Ki, and then casually kicks him from behind. They exchange shots and Ki comes back with a koppo kick and then kicks him to the floor.

Ki follows with a flying elbow to the floor and they head back in, where Ki gets two. He throws the nasty kicks to the head and KENTA gets in his face with forearm shots, but an enzuigiri puts him down again. Slam gets two. Another kick to the back gets two. He takes KENTA down with a bodyscissors, but KENTA makes the ropes. Low Ki pounds away in the corner and blocks a sunset flip with a double stomp that gets two. Bearhug on the mat and Ki just casually kicks him out of the ring and drives him backfirst into the railing. A fan at ringside notes “Low Ki just f*cked you up!” Ah, such astute observation. Back in, that gets two.

Ki puts KENTA on the ropes and double-stomps the back, and that’s gotta hurt. It gets two. KENTA comes back with a powerslam, but Ki is up first, so KENTA boots him down and then throws a kick combo into a springboard dropkick for two. More kicks into a butterfly suplex, and he floats right into a cross-armbreaker, forcing Low Ki to make the ropes. Falcon Arrow suplex gets two. They head up and KENTA tries for a superplex, but Low Ki knocks him down and it’s GHETTO STOMP time. Fuck me, that’s sick. That gets two. He throws chops in tribute to the other Kenta, then springboards with an enzuigiri for two. Nice sequence. More Kenta-ness as he gives KENTA the little kicks to the face, and he goes up, but KENTA pops up with a Falcon Arrow from the top for two. This prompts the “This is awesome!” chant from the crowd. I was there with the Ghetto Stomp, man. They slug it out again and KENTA smacks him down for two. He goes for a rana, but Ki drops him on his head with the Ki Crusher for two. He follows with a handspring into a high kick, but they battle for a suplex before KENTA gets a tiger suplex for two. Ki dropkicks him into the corner, which sets up the flying double stomp for two. 450 splash misses, however, and the fireman’s carry into a knee strike (Go To Sleep, apparently) knocks Ki silly. Flying knee strike and it’s over.

(KENTA d. Low Ki, knee strike — pin, 25:02, ****3/4) This one was all about the crazy ultra-violence, as they kicked the hell out of each other and someone finally stood up to Ki’s stiffness and gave it all right back.

The Pulse:

A fun show overall, as Gen Next begin their tag title reign and Low Ki trades kicks with KENTA for half an hour. The nice thing about ROH, as well, is that you get a variety of different types of great matches in the main events, ranging from heavyweight duels like Joe v. Kobashi to lightweight slugfests like this one.

Strongly recommended for the main events.