The Ring of Honor Reviewer: Fifth Year Festival: NYC

The Ring of Honor Reviewer: Fifth Year Festival: NYC

Welcome to the Ring of Honor DVD review. In an attempt to help you decide what to purchase, I’ll be reviewing ROH’s big Fifth Year Festival and Wrestlemania Weekend. This is fairly up to date stuff with match ratings and all pertinent backstory, so I hope you enjoy. Ring of Honor runs its shows in chapters and this is really a good pickup point for the current chapter, so don’t worry too much.

If you’ve never read me before, I’m Pulse Glazer. I have a weekly Friday column here at Pulse Wrestling called A Modest Response, so I urge you to give it a try. Here’s a link to last week’s column. If you’re interested in this or any of the goodness that is ROH, e-mail me.

On to the show.

Ring of Honor: The Fifth Year Festival: NYC
2/16/07
New York, New York

Becky Bayless begins the DVD outside on the line in the afternoon discussing how happy Homicide is to be here because he was on the first show.

Jimmy Rave discusses who he’s defeated (CM Punk, AJ Styles, and Generation Next) and says that tonight is the culmination of his journey to becoming the ROH Champion.

Pelle Primeau comes out to address the audience and challenges anyone from the back to a match. Answering the call is the Godzilla theme seguing into “The Champ is Here.” This was Samoa Joe’s champion music so the crowd explodes, but instead out comes Takeshi Morishima who destroys Pelle with a backdrop driver and calls out Samoa Joe. Nigel McGuiness comes out and calms down Morishima.

Match 1: Adam Pearce w/ Shane Hagadorn vs. Delirious

Adam Pearce is a longtime indy worker. He plays a classic Memphis style heel. He’s a solid brawler and knows how to draw heat as an arrogant and cowardly heel. Since he joined Ring of Honor, he’s been an enforcer for Jim Cornette, who was in the commissioner role.

Delirious is a masked maniac. A small man, Delirious is a very good technical wrestler who has a variety of unique spots and is absolutely insane, utilizing a language all his own and confusing opponents with his outlandish antics.

Jim Cornette and Adam Pearce’s alignment continued when Cornette became a heel commissioner. This was fine for Pearce’s career, as Cornette’s boy he was assured a spot on the card, but Cornette disliked the insane Delirious and set Pearce to beat him up. Pearce did just that with the help of his manservant Shane Hagadorn. Tonight, although Jim Cornette is gone, Delirious goes for revenge on his henchman.

Shane comes out to Repo Man chants and attempts to get the mic, but Delirious rushes out to attack him. Delirious beats on Pearce until interference by Hagadorn allows him to turn the tables. Delirious is ready for this though and manages to counter both men and hits a diving senton off the top to the floor on both men.

Pearce eventually gets control with a low blow and chokes Delirious with a tassle to some great heel heat. The southern style heat segment continues for awhile, with even a quick chinlock, but some well times hope spots keeping the crowd involved.

Pearce and Delirious do the full Flair flip sequence and that leads to Delirious’s comeback as he hits the Panic Attack, a running knee to a downed opponent in the corner. From there Del goes up top to hit the Shadows Over Hell, a top rope back splash. That gets two because Hagadorn jumps up on the apron to disrupt the count.

Adam Pearce gets brass knuckles but accidentally hits Hagadorn with it. Delirious puts his own knucks in his mask and headbutts Pearce for three.

Delirious defeats Adam Pearce (Pin, headbutt with brass knuckles, ** 2/3)
This is how you time an opener to keep the crowd involved. The heat segment never dragged and both Delirious and Pearce made sure to constantly address the crowd to keep the match hot. This blows off the feud that was dominated by Pearce, giving Delirious his heat back and showing some character progression as now he’s not just crazy, but clever enough to counter a cocky heel’s cheating ways. Good booking and with a bit more time would have been an even better match.

Pearce pushes Hagadorn after the match, who apologizes profusely. They hug and make up.

Chris Daniels and Matt Sydal discuss that they should be above The Briscoes and Aries and Strong in the fans estimation. Tonight Daniels says he will prove that is so in a great promo. Matt Sydal cockily says there is a role reversal and Chris should follow the upstarts lead. Good promo, but not on the level of Daniels.

Match 2: Sara Del Ray and Allison Danger vs. Alexa Thatcher and Daizee Haze

Shimmer is a women’s promotion built on good wrestling. It is a sister promotion to ROH and thus occasionally gets matches on the card. Del Ray and Danger are a tag team in Shimmer and undefeated. Haze and Thatcher are attempting to stop that, but Haze has issues with another woman on the card, Lacey, who will not leave her alone.

Daizee has terrible marijuana referencing entrance music and this is Thatcher’s only ROH appearance thus far. Danger and Del Ray are wearing matching American flag tights.

Mat works starts and this really goes nowhere being standard formula for a bit until Lacey takes out Daizee Haze. Thatcher has no shot alone and is finished with a double underhook submission into a double arm suplex by Del Ray.

Sara Del Ray and Allison Danger defeat Daizee Haze and Alexa Thatcher (Pin, Double Underhook to a Double Arm Suplex, Dud)
I’m entirely sure why a Shimmer match saw ROH angle advancement here, but it was a waste of time.

Match 3: Four Way Fray: Xavier vs. Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Jacobs w/ Lacey vs. Shingo

Xavier is a replacement for an injured wrestler on this show. He’s a former ROH Champion having beaten Low Ki for the belt and lost it to Samoa Joe during the company’s first year. Since then he has fallen out of favor with ROH and its fans and is rarely booked. He’s a competent heel worker who mixes power and speed to good effect.

Jack Evans is a small, high flying member of the Ring of Honor roster. He’s one of the best high fliers in the business, a Dragon Gate regular, and a true contortionist. He was a member of ROH’s Generation Next stable built upon giving the next generation of stars a chance to shine, but since the group disbanded has been focusing on his own solo efforts. He’s also a breakdancer and runs an Eminem-esque gimmick.

Jimmy Jacobs is madly in love with Lacey, who is just using him and a complete bitch. He’s a small brawler, reminiscent of a modern day Kevin Sullivan, except he weighs around 160lbs, is more agile, and isn’t ugly as sin. Jimmy is emo as can be and has his own music videos dedicated to Lacey on youtube.

Shingo is a Dragon Gate wrestler who is in America to broaden his horizons as a wrestler. At 250lbs, he’s bigger than most of the ROH roster and uses a power moveset. Because of Dragon Gate’s high flying style he focuses mostly on being a launching pad for smaller workers. Shingo has an amazing mullet.

Xavier gets good heel heat for his surprise entrance, followed by a “Welcome back” chant, Jack gets a huge pop, Shingo gets some mullet love, and Jacobs gets his usual cell phone waving to his music. All four men are in there at once with elimination rules in this match.

Shingo and Jack work as a team to start off, immediately dumping Jacobs from the ring, but Xavier is able to fight back, taking Jacks head off with a lariat. Shingo and Xavier battle, but Shingo wins. Jack goes for a Sasuke Special, but misses and hits the guard rail. Shingo is in alone with the heels, but manages to fight both off and ends up matching up with Xavier again; who this time gets the advantage.

The Xavier hits Jacobs with a vicious powerbomb, faceplant, piledriver combination that kills Jimmy, Xavier but he turns into Shingo who grabs him in a torture rack bomb and Jack is back in to hit a reverse hurricanrana on Xavier for the elimination.

The Dragon Gate stable-mates go to work on Jimmy Jacobs and while Jacobs is able to fight back momentarily, a giant Shingo lariat cases the elimination.

Jack and Shingo fight back and forth, Dragon Gate style, trading high spots, Jack hitting a Sasuke Special and Shingo with a giant lariat, among other huge moves. Neither man can gain the advantage for long until Jack goes for the 630 and Shingo tries to stop him. Jack knocks Shingo off, nails the 630 and this match is history.

Jack Evans defeats Shingo, Xavier, and Jimmy Jacobs (Pin, 630, ***)
Jack and Shingo had to be the last two so they could build a quick story between them so they could challenge for the tag belts the next night. Xavier was a one off and Jacobs has angles of his own to advance with Cabana and Whitmer. Jack and Shingo showed they can work Dragon Gate style effectively and were an effective change of pace after the first two matches were of a more familiar style.

Samoa Joe comes out for a quick promo to be greeted with “Please Don’t Go” chants. A reminder, this is the first night of Joe’s six show farewell to ROH. Joe talks about the path ROH took to get where they are today and thanks NYC for building ROH.

Joe says he wasn’t in the building when Morishima called him out, but he’s here now and he calls Morishima out. Nigel quickly emerges to play peacemaker for NOAH saying that Joe can’t call out Morishima, only Morishima can call out Joe. Joe reminds Nigel where he is and where he works and ends up brawling with Nigel. The ref brigade and staff break that up and we’re on to our next match.

Match 4: Tables Match: BJ Whitmer vs. Brent Albright

BJ Whitmer was a major tag team force in ROH for a long time. He’s a power wrestler who will take an insane beating for the betterment of the product, a la Tommy Dreamer in ECW. His tag team with Jimmy Jacobs under manager Lacey was wildly successful, but when Jimmy focused more on his love of Lacey than winning matches, BJ quit Lacey’s stable and turned on Jacobs. Since then Lacey has been attempting to injure BJ Whitmer through whatever means necessary.

Brent Albright is the former Gunner Scott of WWE fame. He’s a solid brawler who uses suplexes to get the job done. He’s very powerful, so when he became a hired assassin there was no shortage of employers.

Albright, being a hired gun, took a job from Lacey to face BJ Whitmer at the last New York show, Final Battle 2006. At that show, Albright threw Whitmer through a table, leading to this match tonight.

Discussing this too much would do you a disservice. This entire match is built around how crazy the table spots can become and how dangerous these two men are. Well the first move of the match is a big table spot, both men take insane beatings, and the table spots are all quite absurd. BJ Whitmer finishes with a top rope exploder through two tables.

BJ Whitmer defeats Brent Albright (Pin, Top Rope Exploder, ****)
This was about as good a big table match like that gets. There was a lot of lying around and a lot of holy shit moments. Transitions were handled mostly by Whitmer, when they are usually a heels job. This was done to protect Albright, who’s being prepped for a major spot, likely as a face and came out of this looking like a million bucks.

Match 5: ROH Tag Team Title Match: Matt Sydal (c) and Christopher Daniels (c) w/ Allison Danger vs. Austin Aries and Roderick Strong

Matt Sydal is another former member of the Generation Next stable that, as before mentioned, housed Jack Evans. He was the junior member of the group and continually tried to take the tag titles. He’s a great high flier, second only to Jack Evans on the ROH roster in that regard.

Chris Daniels is an original ROH roster member. When Sydal was looking for a partner he went through many men, including AJ Styles, but he finally achieved the Tag Titles with the indies elder statesman, Daniels. Daniels is a fantastic technical wrestlre and TNA regular. He can do it all inside the ring.

Austin Aries is a former ROH World and Tag Team Champion. Along with Roderick Strong, he elevated the ROH Tag Titles to great status within the company and wrestling community. He was the leader of the Generation Next stable at the time of their greatest success, defeating Samoa Joe for the ROH World Title the very same night he became Gen Next’s leader. He’s a fast, technical wrestler who gets amazing impact on all of his maneuvers. Aries wrestles in TNA as Austin Starr.

Roderick Strong is a former ROH Tag Team Champion and the current FIP Heavyweight Champion. FIP is ROH’s Florida based sister promotion. Strong is a credible top card threat having taken former ROH Champions CM Punk and Bryan Danielson to the limit during their title reigns. He’s an good wrestler who mixes powerful backbreakers and chops which have been known to leave an opponents chest bleeding.

At this point, Aries and Strong, the former heads of Generation Next are coming for their tag titles. Matt Sydal has never defeated his former stable-mates with the title on the line and looks to do so here. Aries and Strong find themselves in a somewhat precarious position despite their stories history, having just lost a 2/3 falls to The Briscoes in two straight falls.

The match begins with regular chain wrestling serving as the feeling out process for all four men. This quickly becomes tag formula as Aries and Strong go to work on Sydal. Eventually Sydal gets the hot tag to Daniels who immediately goes to work on Roddy Strong, who goes into face-in-peril mode.

During the eventual hot tag Aries goes for a lionsault, twists his knee and lands on his head, cutting short his dominance and letting the champions take control. Aries looks to have hurt his leg badly. Strong gets back in and the two teams battle back and forth. Sydal tries to springboard on Strong, but Strong falls and let’s Sydal land on his knees. Some double teams leave Roderick in trouble again, but not for long.

Aries and Strong use some double teams to take control and Aries, limping badly is back in. Daniels breaks up the 450 and hits a death valley driver on strong. That leads to a shooting star press by Sydal and the Best Moonsault Ever by Daniels finishes for the champions.

Chris Daniels and Matt Sydal defeat Aries and Strong (Pin, Shooting Star and BME Combo, ** ¾)
This was put out to die after the wild tables match. The two extended face-in-peril sequences didn’t work and when the match should have turned up the volume, it couldn’t because of Aries hurt leg. These guys are all too talented to let the match come off too badly, but it certainly wasn’t good either.

Davey Richards comes out after the match to confront Aries and from behind Roderick hits Aries with a backbreaker. The heel beatdown commences and Roderick and Davey announce the formation of the No Remorse Corps.

Jack Evans comes out and causes Davey and Roddy to back off, but Jack doesn’t want a problem with Roderick, he just wants to make peace.

Becky Bayless interviews Homicide during intermission who gives his “I’m on top and we ballin’ interview.”

Match 6: Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana

Jay and Mark Briscoe are one of the best tag teams in the world today. They mix stiff work, power, high flying and unique double teams to consistenly put on amazing matches and land victories. They’re hicks from Deleware who just want a good fight as evidenced by their motto “It’s time to Man up.”

Nigel McGuiness is a British wrestler who mixes the European style with stiff strikes, specifically favoring the lariat. He’s a main event star and one of the best wrestlers you can find around, able to have great matches with a variety of opponents. His only notable feuds at this point are one with Jimmy Rave over respect and one taking NOAH’s side against Samoa Joe because he is a regular NOAH worker. Neither of those come to play in this match, but the NOAH feud does elsewhere on this DVD.

Colt Cabana is a comedy wrestler who specializes in the European style. Although he feuded with Nigel several years ago, they have buried the hatchet in an attempt to become a tag team here. Cabana was involved in several classic confrontations against the Briscoes in 2004 with former partner CM Punk.

Working stiff means really hitting your opponent hard in a wrestling match. For examples of this see this and the next match on this card.

A big brawl starts things off and even Colt is working fairly stiff here. The back and forth continues and they trade combination moves as a team. Eventually, the makeshift team of Nigel and Cabana take control and McGuiness works over Jay. The Briscoes use some shady tactics and Mark gets in with a double stomp. Quick tags and impact moves have left Nigel in a lot of trouble. Nigel uses superior wrestling skill to attack the arm and make the tag.

Cabana cleans house leading to a nice springboard from the inside to a senton to the floor wiping out the Briscoes. Mark is only stunned back in the ring momentarily and is able to hit a jumping moonsault on Cabana. Jay is in and has control of Colt. The Briscoes are using a lot of shady tactics with the illegal Briscoe holding or attacking their legal opponent. Cabana manages to outwrestle Jay and gets the tag to Nigel.

Nigel immediately begins stiffing the Briscoes and takes Jay’s head off with a series of big lariats. The Briscoes are too good at double teams though and they use that to take control of Nigel again.

Cabana has had enough of the double teams and runs-in, giving his team control of the match. They begin to work over Mark Briscoe as a team, but aren’t fluid enough at it and the Briscoes counter with a neckbreaker powerbomb combination on Nigel. The Briscoes assault continues with stereo fisherman busters and stereo frog splashes. Can Cabana and McGuinness step up their team work to compliment their superior wrestling in time to stop the Briscoes constant double teaming?
Jay and Mark are separated finally, letting Nigel and Colt hit a double team Tower of London, but Jay Briscoe breaks up the pin and eliminates Colt with a throw to the floor. The Briscoes control Nigel until Cabana is able to return.

A series of reversals is obviously controlled by Nigel as he rolls into the ropes for a rebound lariat while Colt undercuts Jay Briscoe from behind. That gets three and we have an upset.

Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana defeat Jay and Mark Briscoe (Pin, Rebound Lariat, *** ½)
Great story told here. The Briscoes were a superior team, but Nigel and Colt, Main Eventers, were better wrestlers. Could Nigel and Colt manage to figure out their teamwork’s timing and use their superior technical skill to beat Jay and Mark? Well, they managed it, but it was a close call as Nigel was extremely close to suffering the springboard Doomsday Device. They knocked the hell out of each other in this one while telling a great story that didn’t drag. A bit of time and more clearly establishing that Jay and Mark were working heel here would have had this at ****.

Samoa Joe runs out to attack Nigel McGuinness after the match. This draws out Morishima and we’re on to the next match.

Match 7: Takeshi Morishima vs. Samoa Joe

Takeshi Morishima is a monster from Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan. The agile big man is reminiscent of a young Terry Gordy.

Samoa Joe is a Ring of Honor icon. He’s the man who put the world title on the map during his 18 month reign putting on classics with the likes of CM Punk, Homicide, and Kenta Kobashi. This is the first leg of his farewell tour from Ring of Honor as he becomes a TNA exclusive where he is involved in main event programs with Kurt Angle and Christian Cage. Despite his fat appearance, he is an agile striker whom few can match for in ring quality.

Joe lost to Kenta Kobashi in 2005 and never got a chance to defeat KENTA during his ROH tour. These two losses, plus words exchanged with Morishima at 2006’s Glory By Honor V Night 2 lead to Final Battle 2006 where Samoa Joe called out anyone from NOAH. At this show, NOAH answered, sending over Takeshi Morishima for a tour to shut up the loudmouth Joe.

Both men begin with giant forearms and the crowd explodes. The bell is rung and they brawl to the floor with Morishima using shoulder blocks to keep Joe down. The crowd is firmly behind Joe who’s getting clubbed by Morishima drawing dueling chants. The Japanese giant continues to take it to Joe through it all.

Morishima is just crushing Joe so far, not even giving Joe any offense off of escaping chinlocks. To Morishima’s credit he’s actually digging in with the move, making it look painful, even biting and clawing at Joe’s head. Whenever Joe fights back at all, it’s with strikes, which seem to have no effect at all. Morishima butt butts Joe down and hits a dropkick from the top that shakes the ring.

Morishima goes up again but Joe counters with an atomic drop, big boot and senton. Joe gets control with that combination and begins to attack Morishima with combinations, like a charge in the corner into a Pelle kick. Joe manages the facewash on Morishima and stops to sell his hurt back in a nice touch. Joe’s softened Morishima up now, so his strikes are taking their toll. Morishima is bleeding from his nose and Joe will not let up on the strikes, even pulling out the elbow suicida.

Olay Kick time! Joe sets up Morishima and kicks his face off. Joe tries another Olay Kick and connects again. Morishima is in trouble and Joe throws him in the ring. Joe takes too long with his strikes and eats a Bossman slam.

Morishima is back in control and begins using his butt on offense. A corner Yakuza kick knocks Joe silly, but a second attempt allows Joe to counter into a STO. They begin fighting back and forth, but Joe’s combinations are too much for Morishima and he hits an enziguiri and Death Valley Driver. That gets two.

Joe uses Kawada kicks and tries to powerbomb Morishima. Morishima backdrops out and lands on Joe. Morishima goes up top and Joe follows. A big kick from Joe leads to a Muscle Buster, but that only gets a long two!

Morishima has his fighting spirit now and will not sell Joe’s assaults. A big lariat by Mori finally results in both men going down. Morishima is up first and goes with a Thesz press and then an exploder on Joe. Backdrop driver and Morishima has seemingly killed Joe, but the pin attempt only gets two.

Mori lariats Joe in the back of the head, but a second attempt turns into a half nelson suplex in a nice homage to the Joe-Kobashi match. Joe locks in the choke and won’t let go even as Morishima constantly tries to get out. Morishima is out as Joe finally hooks it in. Joe wins!

Samoa Joe defeats Takeshi Morishima (Ref stoppage, Choke out, **** ½)
Even better on DVD than in person. Joe did all the little selling and pacing things to make this match flow perfectly. Neither man controlled too long, but Morishima looked like a beast, refusing to be hurt by Joe’s best. The combinations softening Morishima and the learned lariat counter from the Kobashi match make this absolutely great. A clear MOTYC.

A nice Feuds of the Year video takes us to our Main Event. That was extremely well put together.

Match 8: ROH World Title Match: Homicide (c) w/ Julius Smokes vs. Jimmy Rave

Homicide is a ROH original, a brawling gangster who can work lucha or technical with ease. He was ROH’s most hated heel but he saved the company during the CZW feud and declared he must win the ROH World Title by the end of 2006 or leave the company. Win the title he did at Final Battle 2006 and now he’s going on to prove he is the best fighting champion around. ‘Cide can also currently be found as a part of LAX in TNA.

Jimmy Rave was, for most of his career, a lackey of Prince Nana in the Embassy stable. When Nana abruptly left, Rave lost his way. Due to prodding and disrespect from Nigel McGuinness Rave again found his way and became a dominating force utilizing the Heel Hook, a twisting ankle lock, to defeat opponent after opponent. Rave handed Homicide his last loss before becoming champion at Black Friday Fallout in Long Island and that, along with his recent success, earned him a title shot here. He is a fantastic heel whom the crowd despises and a very good, ever improving technical wrestler.

Rave attacks Homicide early, but the brawling and speed are right up ‘Cide’s alley as he deposits Rave on the floor and hits the tope con hilo. Homicide is in firm control on the floor.

Back in the ring where Rave has a chance in this one, so Rave finally gets control. Homicide ends up on the floor and Rave follows with a top rope cross body. Rave begins choking Homicide out and brings him back to the ring where he maintains control.

Rave begins working on Homicide’s injured arm, but realizing that won’t be the way he finishes, he goes back to wearing ‘Cide down in a more general way. ‘Cide is still too strong and he reclaims control with a Tiger Driver into a bridging exploder and a STF.

Homicide continues to lay into Rave, but Rave has to good sense to dropkick the leg of Homicide. This is the point of attack for Rave since the Heel Hook will work the leg he injures. The leg work continues

And Homicide begins to cheat to stay in the match using the fork on Jimmy Rave and clawing at the wound. Homicide continues to work over rave until a STO on the apron puts him in pain on the floor. Rave begins choking the champion on the floor and throws him into the steel barricade.

Back in the ring and a reversal sequence leads Rave to the shining wizard, Ghanarea, and a spear, none of which are enough to put ‘Cide down. ‘Cide’s selling here is great as he manages one counter and has to stop because of the pain he’s in. A superplex puts Rave right back in control.

‘Cide refuses to stay down and hits the Three Amigos suplexes, a tribute which gives him strength. He takes too much time going to the top and Rave follows, but this time Homicide hits a DDT off the top rope. Homicide now hits a jumping senton but that only gets two. That move annoyed me; Homicide’s back is supposed to be hurt.

Homicide attempts a top rope hurrcanrana, but Rave is ready and counters into the Rave Clash, a move Rave isn’t allowed to move because he lost a feud with AJ Styles over the move. Rave locks in the Heel Hook, but it’s far too close to the ropes, so he pulls ‘Cide to the center and locks the move in again.

Julius Smokes on the apron forces Rave to break and Homicide follows with a top rope Ace Crusher and a big Lariat that only gets two! Cop Killer attempt and Rave goes with the Heel Hook again. Had Smokes not interfered last time maybe this would be enough this time, but Homicide makes the ropes barely. Homicide up, throws Rave off and hits the Cop Killer on the rebound for the three.

Homicide defeats Jimmy Rave (Pin, Cop Killer, *** ½)
Homicide’s cheating here is quite controversial as he’s supposed to be a face, but it is in keeping with the character they established previously for him. It made Rave look fantastic that ‘Cide had to go to such lengths to beat him, but the strict face heel dynamic was stretched here. Besides the crowd’s preference Rave was mostly working face and ‘Cide as a heel. Still, Homicide won’t be a heel in NYC and Rave needed legitimacy, so the point stuck and Rave now looks great.

The show closes with Becky Bayless finding Jack unconscious backstage.

This is an absolute definite buy. Two *** ½ matches and two **** matches including one MOTYC. Go out and get this one!

Tags: