Ring of Honor DVD Review: Arena Warfare, 3/11/06

In 2006, Ring of Honor ran a Milestone Series of shows, each with its own reason for being special. Ollie Southerland, our new Ring of Honor Reviewer, last week, reviewed the first Milestone Series show, The 4th Year Anniversary Show. In his review he goes over all the major feuds of the time and sets up the ROH vs. CZW feud which will play heavily through the entire series.

Arena Warfare is a show that is run at, for the first time in ROH history, the ECW Arena. This is Combat Zone Wrestling’s home turf and they take exception to their Philadelphia based rival using the same building. To make matters worse, CZW was running a night event at the same venue, competing with ROH’s afternoon show. Well, the ROH and CZW fans filled up both shows and the ROH show, Arena Warfare, ended up quite wild.

On to the show.

Arena Warfare
Philadelphia, PA

We open with Chris Daniels outside the Murphy Rec Center discussing the beginnings of ROH and the great shows put on there. He goes over that ROH was always asked why they didn’t run the ECW Arena. He is driven over to the ECW Arena and puts over its importance in building stars and hosting great moments. Daniels arrives at the ECW Arena and promises ROH will make their mark there.

Match 1: Tag Scramble: Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Jason Blade and Kid Mikaze vs. The Ring Crew Express (Dunn and Marcos) vs. Homicide and Ricky Reyes w/ Julius Smokes

The first and last teams mentioned are the most important here by far. The other teams are good spotfest teams and solid indy workers but nowhere near the level of the Briscoes or Homicide.

The match starts out with some decent spots and soon, surprisingly is a heat segment on Kid Mikaze. Homicide and Reyes do not like the Briscoes and they forget about the heat segment to go after each other. Back to spots and the dives to the floor sequence is done early culminating in a Mark Briscoe shooting star press to the floor.

Mark and Reyes battle, Mark wins, then ‘Cide takes out Mark, so Jay takes out ‘Cide. The Ring Crew Express are in and take out Blade and Mikaze until the Briscoes return. Springboard Doomsday Device, but Homicide breaks it up.

Jay and Reyes go at it with Reyes winning this encounter with the Dragon Sleeper until Mark makes the save. Homicide takes out Mark and he is hit with a superbomb. Jay Briscoe saves but is nailed with the homicide lariat. Marcos comes in but eats a Cop Killa to finish for the Rottweilers.

Homicide and Ricky Reyes win the Tag Scramble (Pin, Cop Killa on Marcos, ** ¾)
Well, it was pretty clear that this match was all about the Rottweilers vs. The Briscoes, but unfortunately it was equally clear that the other two teams were just there for some fun spots and to take the pin. It was a match designed to show how impressive The Rottweilers and Briscoes could be and it accomplished that with some fun spots, but not much more.

BJ Whitmer comes to the ring as Homicide and Reyes depart. BJ gets a giant “Necro’s gunna kill you” chant. The Necro Butcher is a big, hardcore CZW wrestler with great charisma and more talent than pretty much any other death match wrestler in America today. BJ is angry that his match at the 4th Year Anniversary was interrupted and demands Necro Butcher come out so they can fight. Necro does not emerge.

Match 2: Roderick Strong vs. Jimmy Yang

Strong early has an answer for Roderick’s mat wrestling and speed, remaining one step ahead. Yang is forced to go high risk in order to take out Strong and does so with an asai moonsault.

Yang back in attempts to wear Roddy down, but Strong is, again too much for him and quickly regains control and begins attacking with backbreakers. Surprisingly Yang decides to play into Roderick’s strengths and chops him down before using lariats and backdrops to keep Strong on the defensive. Surprisingly Roddy has had a match for most of Yang’s offense, but Yang is proving he can strike with Strong.

Back and forth the match goes, but Roderick with backbreakers and the big kick takes control of Yang. Fireman’s carry into a double knee gets two. Roddy takes too long going for the Gibson Driver and a moonsault from Yang gets two. Yang sets Roddy up for a top rope Frankensteiner, but Roddy counters into the Stronghold for the win

Roderick Strong defeats Jimmy Yang (Submission, Stronghold, ** 3/4)
This was really building well until a CZW boring chant threw Roddy off right before the Gibson Driver attempt. They told a good story with Roddy having his was as he learned whatever Yang was trying to do and became able to counter more and more as the match went on. Solid back and forth match if a bit slow.

Colt Cabana gets a promo to put over how important the main event is. Cabana says he wants Homicide while looking haggard and will fight him anywhere.

Alex Shelley says he will take out Danielson by taking out his neck with Sliced Bread #2.

BJ calls out Necro Butcher again and this time Necro emerges. This is a nice brawl until Super Dragon emerges to take out BJ with the Curb Stomp (a sick move that must be seen to be believed). They now begin brawling until Necro takes out BJ and the CZW guys work him over until the ROH cavalry arrives and chases them away. Whitmer announces this is far from over.

Match 3: Matt Sydal vs. Austin Aries

These two members of Gen Next have a competitive rivalry, with Sydal coming after Aries tag titles even though Aries is the leader of his stable.

Some good mat wrestling starts us off and Sydal uses hi speed to control the stronger Aries with a headlock. Aries breaks free and shows his speed and mat wrestling are up for grounding Sydal with the same maneuver. Sydal, show up, is annoyed enough to try and shoulderblock Aries down. He fails, but manages to use his speed to reclaim the headlock, which they continue to fight over. Then Sydal headscissors Aries, a mistake. Sydal goes to great length to ensure Aries cannot dropkick him from here, but it’s for naught as Aries still manages to spin out and headlock Sydal.

Sydal has apparently had enough counterwork and begins with a headscissors, dropkick and dive to the floor, taking out Aries. Sydal controls in the ring by using speed and high risk moves to take out the more accomplished veteran.

Sydal, taking too many risks, gets caught up top and Aries knocks him off, then nails a tope suicida. Aries, apparently not liking being shown up, goes to work on Sydal with his own speed and high risk maneuver. Sydal attempts to fight back, but Aries in countering slams him down and begins using submissions to wear Sydal down, a much better strategy that that earlier employed by Sydal. Aries retains control with a mix of high impact and high risk offense, while stopping to wear down Sydal every so often and ensure he can’t come back.

Aries, getting cocky, goes high risk back to back, changing his strategy and stopping to argue with the ref in between. This gives Sydal a chance to hit a jumping DDT from the top and Sydal begins his comeback, keeping ahead of a now groggy Aries with his speed. Back and forth they go, each using their speed to the best of their ability until Aries finally controls and goes for the brainbuster only to get hit with a knee to the head by Sydal.

Sydal hits the Here it Is Diver for two and goes up for the shooting star, missing but landing on his feet. Sydal tries for quick pins, apparently finally realizing going up top gives Aries too much time to counter, but they aren’t enough since Aries isn’t that worn down. Aries kicks him in the head, brainbuster, 450 splash and it’s a three count from there.

Austin Aries defeats Matt Sydal (Pin, 450 Splash, *** ½)
Aries and Sydal matched speed and mat wrestling early, but Sydal got impatient and went all speed. Aries kept up with Sydal’s speed and also managed to hit high impact moves and wear Sydal down with submissions. After that Sydal wasn’t much quicker than Aries who managed to hit the right big moves in succession and get the win.

Post match the Briscoes beat down Aries and Sydal until Strong makes the save. That allows Sydal to get up and throw the Briscoes out of the ring.

Gary Michael Capetta interviews Homicide who says he’s waiting for Cabana outside.

Match 4: Irish Airborne vs. Tony Mamaluke and Sal Rinuaro

Irish Airborne are the Crist brothers, two young, green, fast workers. Mamaluke and Rinuaro are former ROH Tag Champions, basically using the FBI gimmick.

Irish Airborne have a speed advantage here while Mamaluke and Sal easily out mat wrestle them. The mat wrestling wins early and we get an extended heat segment on Jake lasts until Dave manages to enter with a giant missile dropkick. The Crists manage a double team Fireman’s carry Double Stomp to the head then a DVD across the knees for three.

Irish Airborne defeat Mamaluke and Rinuaro (Pin, DVD to double knees **)
This was standard and unimpressive. The double teams were nice, but back and forth, heat segment, comeback and win in no time at all just didn’t do it. This was like a Saturday morning match in the 80s between two low level names.

Match 5: ROH World Title Match: Bryan Danielson © vs. Alex Shelley with Prince Nana

Danielson announces that he had hoped the crowd would not chant profanities because of a little girl present. Then the little girl flipped Danielson off. A “she’s hardcore” chant leads Danielson to say he will punch her in the face. He says Shelley used to wrestle for CZW and wants to go back. The divided crowd is now as hot as possible. Danielson says since he will put on the greatest technical wrestling match ever in the ECW Arena and that he’s the best technical wrestler the building has ever seen, citing Malenko, et al. Shelley, long a heel, is now a face for this match to the CZW fans. Danielson is amazing.

Shelley as soon as the match begins gets a mic and decides he gets to be the heel instead, drawing some nice heat for himself.

Mat wrestling, both men’s forte, starts us off. This draws boring chants which Danielson encourages. Shelley invites the man chanting to the ring and he goes nowhere, being called a “pussy” by Shelley.

Back to the mat wrestling here. They’re fairly even, if Danielson has a slight advantage. Shelley hits the floor when Danielson delivers a big slap.

He returns and now the psyched out Shelley is under Danielson’s control. They heel at each other with Danielson grabbing an abdominal stretch and using the ropes for leverage while Shelley attacks at his eyes. Danielson is better at it, but when he stops to tell the ref that he has till 5, Shelley punches him in the mouth hard and attacks his legs.

That breaks down into a fist fight and both men are up and around, Danielson getting the better of the exchange with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. He goes to work on Shelley with the surfboard. The who’s a bigger jerk story here is great as he rakes at Shelley’s face, continuing the beating on Shelley’s legs. This will likely not pay off in the finish, but Danielson has established over time that he will use a leg attack to stop an opponents momentum during their comeback, so it still works in his matches.

Shelley makes a comeback with a quick pin, enziguiri and tornado DDT, but sells the leg through none of it unfortunately. They begin counter-wrestling and Shelley is a step ahead now, but I’m unsure why (he wasn’t actually doing anything better than Danielson, nor was there a big counter or Danielson mistake). He goes to work on Dragon’s neck, softening up Danielson for the Border City Stretch or Sliced Bread #2.

The neck work continues until Danielson is dumped to the floor. Nana attacks and holds Danielson for Shelley to dive on him. Danielson moves, Shelley nails Nana and lands on his head. Danielson dumps Shelley and Nana in the crowd and dives onto them.

Danielson is in full control back in the ring and after a flying dropkick and German suplex, he locks in Cattle Mutilation, but Shelley makes the ropes. Danielson attempts a superplex, but is pushed off and eats a frog splash. Shelley goes back to work on the neck with two brainbusters and a Border City Stretch. Danielson won’t tap so Shelley goes for a roll-up, but that’s only two.

A Sliced Bread #2 attempt is blocked and Danielson hits a top rope belly-to-back superplex in response. They begin stiffing each other, but Shelley manages a low blow and Shell Shock, again for a near fall. He goes right back to the Border City Stretch. Shelley after this finally hits Danielson’s “weakness” the Sliced Bread #2, but Danielson rolls through with a Cattle Mutilation which he turns into a roll up for the pin and the win!

Bryan Danielson defeats Alex Shelley (Pin, roll up, ****)
This was a ton of fun, particularly the “who’s a bigger jerk” stuff at the beginning, but when that fell by the wayside, they did body part work that never paid off and wasn’t really heavily sold. The back and forth stuff was very good and the finish was inventive. So much for the neck as a weakness of Danielson.

Match 6: Colt Cabana vs. Chris Daniels

This is would be a three way with Joe, but Joe had travel problems coming back from Mexico. When Joe does arrive he will take on the winner.

Cabana, with no humor due to the Homicide feud, mat wrestles with Daniels. Cabana uses agility to control since neither man can get an advantage on the mat. They continue to go back and forth, working each other over, until Daniels takes control. Daniels is focusing on taking the air out of Cabana with mid-section attacks. This will soften up Colt for the Angel’s Wings, Last Rites or Best Moonsault Ever.

Colts frantic counter attempts finally allow him to comeback but he cannot put Daniels down for keeps and Daniels manages a Blue Thunder Bomb to quickly regain control. Daniels goes for the BME, but misses and Cabana hits a missile dropkick. Cabana goes for the Colt 45 and Daniels counters, but Cotl Counters that and gets the quick pin.

Colt Cabana defeats Chris Daniels (Pin, Roll up, **)
That was pointless mat wrestling, a lot of body work by Daniels and a fluke win by Cabana. Ugh. Next.

Match 7: Samoa Joe vs. Colt Cabana

Joe gives Daniels a belly-to-belly and attacks Cabana right away. Joe quickly beats down and hits the Muscle Buster on Cabana who kicks out. Joe goes for the choke and Cabana makes the ropes. Wow this put over Colt huge. Cabana attempts to fight back but a second Muscle Buster finishes Cabana.

Samoa Joe defeats Colt Cabana (Pin, Muscle Buster, *)
Not much, but it sure put Cabana over.

BJ Whitmer hits the ring and he and Joe call out CZW. Necro is immediately out. Both lockers empty and this gets wild. Whitmer is eventually outnumbered and taped to the ring ropes where he takes a barbed wire bat to the back and staples to the head, stomach and back. CZW is spray painted on the ring over the ROH. CZW celebrates in the ring with a hurt, trapped Whitmer.

John Zandig gets a mic by threatening Whitmer’s life, but the DVD fades to black and To be Continued flashes on the screen.

The Inside Pulse
This show is not very good. The Shelley vs. Danielson match is very good, but nothing else even really reaches memorable, although Aries and Sydal have quite a good match as well. The show is notable because it builds up CZW and because of a hot crowd in the ECW Arena, but besides that, is probably most missable of the entire Milestone Series.