Welcome to the Pulsewrestling review of Ring of Honorâ€™s Best in the World. The concept behind this retail DVD, which means you can find it at your local Best Buy or FYE, is that ROH finds and brings the best talent in the world to compete on their shows. This DVD is a compilation wherein many of their wrestlers face many of the biggest and best wrestlers in the world. Iâ€™ll refrain from spoilers with this review. The first match alone makes this a must buy, so let’s get right to it.
Match 1: Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi (*****)
Kenta Kobashi is, for those unaware, one of the best wrestlers of the past twenty years. One of the pioneers of All Japanâ€™s heralded Kingâ€™s Road style, he then went on to be the main draw and champion of All Japanâ€™s offshoot, NOAH. His offense is built around a teiring of chops and head drops, each more devastating than the last. He was, at the time of this match in 2005, very likely the best wrestler in the world and the biggest draw in Japanâ€¦ so when he came to ROH, one man took umbrage at his invasion.
Samoa Joe was the ROH ace. The champion through the rebirth of ROH, he was one of ROHâ€™s few true heavyweights and their most dominant competitor. He decided to protect his home turf against the invading Kenta Kobashi. What followed was a classic match.
Joe took to using every bit of offense he could, even borrowing from old Kobashi opponents like Misawa and Tenryu, trying to knock the icon off his pedestal. Kobashi stayed calm and worked in his offense in an intelligent manner, only bringing up the volume when Joeâ€™s assault demanded it. The match is an absolute classic and the stiffness in Joeâ€™s attempt to protect his turf was absolutely amazing.
Match 2: AJ Styles and Matt Sydal vs. Dragon Kid and Genki Horiguchi (*** Â½)
From a stiff wrestling classic, we go to an innovative spotfest. This one has a ton of awesome fast paced moves and if you liked TNAâ€™s big elimination match, this is for you. Kid and Horiguchi are Dragon Gate wrestlers, both exceedingly fast, with Dragon Kid being one of the best high fliers and bumpers in the world today. Thereâ€™s not a lot of selling here, but the kinds of fun maneuvers make up for that. A few sloppy spots aside, this is a great preview into the world of Dragon Gate. For those interested, this is also a great opportunity to see a future WWE guy (Matt Sydal is Evan Bourne) team with a TNA stalwart and view how amazing they can each be when allowed to fly free.
Match 3: KENTA vs. Austin Aries (*** Â¾)
KENTA is likely the top junior in pro-wrestling NOAH. Heâ€™s a fantastic striker, known for his kicks and killer Go to Sleep finisher. In fact, much of CM Punkâ€™s current offense is taken from KENTA. This is a very slow and mat-based for most of the match that relies on Aries credibility with the ROH audience to carry it. They are very good at the mat-based stuff, but they flip a switch and do an absolutely awesome finishing stretch. This is early in KENTAâ€™s domination run and built to show how powerful he can be against a former ROH champion. It succeeds in spades there, but could have been a better straight match without the KENTA showcase. Luckily, the awesome finishing lasts for so long the match is very good.
Match 4: Samoa Joe vs. Kikutaro (***)
Mick Foley joined ROH and had some issues with Samoa Joe. Mick was contractually unable to wrestle, so he â€œtrainedâ€ a replacement. That is tiny Japanese comedy wrestler Ebessan Jack. Ebessan did all the trademarked Jack spots and really took it to Joe impressively and hilariously. The match is a bit long for the joke, but when it works, it really works and is quite a good laugh.
Match 5: Bryan Danielson vs. Lance Storm (*** Â¾)
Storm had decided he really liked ROHâ€™s competitive style and it was worth training for a comeback to face the ROH Champion Bryan Danielson. What followed was a technical masterwork that felt like an exhibition, but still a dream match that lives up to billing.
Danielson begins cocky, thinking an old Storm canâ€™t possibly challenge him, so the early portion of this match is dedicated to Storm showing he can hang with Danielson whether it be on the mat, through speed, or even striking, though he clearly prefers not striking with the champion as you can train to be fast or mat wrestle, but not at being hit. Danielson notes that and so continually focuses on his strikes, until those totally fail. Danielson, eventually, uses his speed to get ahead of Storm and works over the back, using strikes to thwart any comeback. The comebacks are well-timed and this features the usual beautiful Danielson finishing sequence. For those who grew up on Storm in WWE and WCW, this is must see.
Match 6: CM Punk vs. Terry Funk (**)
When CM Punk had a huge feud with Raven, each man got to choose each otherâ€™s opponent for a major show. Raven chose the legendary Terry Funk for Punk to battle. A big brawl followed, which was mostly poorly paced, but Punk, who was a major heel at the time, beat up the old Funker and got more over in the process. Not a good match, but Iâ€™m a Funk mark, so I still enjoyed it.
Match 7: Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Shingo and Naruki Doi (**** Â½)
The Briscoes are the definitive ROH tag team with a fast pace, hard hitting style that incorporates brawling, high spots and sick double teams. Both ROH originals, in 2007, they won the ROH tag titles and looked to have a long reign. Shingo of Dragon Gate had been in ROH for a year and wanted a shot at the tag titles. His time in ROH had turned him into a world class worker and now was the time to prove it. He enlisted another great wrestler from Dragon Gate, Naruki Doi to challenge the Briscoes and what followed was a classic.
While short on selling, the Briscoes attempted every double team and big move strategy they could, consistently attacking Shingo, who proved his monster toughness, surviving everything. Doi was left to many hit and runs while Shingo showed he was an absolute beast against the brothers from Deleware. Shingo being targeted showed that though the Briscoes were tough, they werenâ€™t the toughest and allowed a fresh Doi to give the Briscoes fits. Would the Briscoes double teams and skill prove enough or would Shingoâ€™s badassery backed by Doiâ€™s splendid timing throw off the champions efforts? ROH likes to pride itself on â€œstate of the art wrestlingâ€ which is a departure from normal North American wrestling into a hybrid style mixing with Puroresu, or Japanese wrestling. This is among the finest examples of that style ever to hit the states.
Match 8: Claudio Castagnoli vs. El Generico (****)
Two ROH regulars battle in this highspot heavy tournament final. Claudio is Swiss while Generico is the generic luchador. This is a mix of lucha libre and the usual ROH hard-hitting, which is rare for ROH, but the lucha really works and the high spots they bust out to try and top themselves have the crowd completely freaking out. If youâ€™ve never seen these two, this match will absolutely awe you and make you a fan, with Genericoâ€™s exquisite selling and pacing, Claudioâ€™s shocking agility for his size, and the dueling â€œHeyâ€ and â€œOleâ€ battle to start the match.
Match 9: Takeshi Morishima vs. Nigel McGuinness (**** Â¼)
One of the biggest stars in NOAH, Takeshi Morishima, their current champion, was the ROH champion for the better part of 2007. He was a dominant beast who the men of ROH lined up to challenge. One of Morishimaâ€™s biggest and best challengers was uber-face (at the time). Nigel had just transitioned from a mat-based, arm work style to his new lariat and strike heavy style. Here he used his new offense and new risks to great effect in beating on the champion, but Morishimaâ€™s massive girth meant that he could take all that and potentially quite a bit more. The match is a hard-hitting masterpiece that meant more before all of Nigelâ€™s hard hitting and risks became something he used in every single match, but even with that, the build and sheer force of this match make this an excellent introduction to two of the very best in the world.
Summary: This DVD is absolutely great. There is only one really disappointing match here and that features an all-time legend in the business. Whatever your preferred style, this DVD has something for you. Want hard hitting? Morishima-Nigel and Joe vs. Kobashi have you covered. Dragon Gate speed is more your alley? AJ and Styles vs. Genki and Dragon Kid or the Briscoes vs. Doi and Shingo will fill your fancy. For pure technical wrestling we have KENTA vs. Aries and Danielson vs. Lance Storm. Even comedy (Joe vs. Kikutaro) and lucha-hybrid (Claudio vs. Generico) are present. The only thing missing is a real, hard hitting brawl with Punk vs. Funk falling flat. Unless that is your only style of preference, you will find plenty to love on this DVD and I can only give the highest recommendation to buy
Tags: Bryan Danielson, Kobashi, Nigel McGuinness, Other, Puroresu, ROH, ROH, Samoa Joe