Let’s see. The last time I attempted to cover a Ring of Honor release on DVD was when the roster included CM Punk, Samoa Joe, and Homicide. That was back in 2005. Those wrestlers have since moved on to WWE and TNA, and I myself haven’t had nearly enough time to watch wrestling – my leisure time being mostly related to films theatrically and on DVD. Even with news wire updates and the occasional video wire, I feel I’ve been missing out on some enjoyable squared-circle action.
Jumping in feet first with the fourth All Star Extravaganza event, I know little of the storylines going on. Upon watching the trio of video wires prior to the event itself, I learned the following: Austin Aries is pissed at Tyler Black for breaking his nose; Jerry Lynn is so old that Bryan Danielson was watching his ECW matches while in high school; Chris Hero has facial expressions that could rival John Malkovich; and Grizzly Redwood is, well, you got me there.
Emanating from the New Alhambra Arena (formerly ECW Arena) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ASE IV had an interesting-looking card on paper with an influx of talent from across the pond and a first-ever main event pitting Bryan Danielson against Jerry Lynn.
Kenny Omega vs. Rhett Titus
Starting things off is Kenny Omega taking on Rhett Titus. Not a great opener, as the two wrestlers never really clicked; at one point Omega stutter-steps and almost botches a move. But he recovers nicely. Both competitors are new to me, but I see some potential in Omega. Not sure of his look, though. It’s like a cross between William Zabka and Zack Morris. With a little seasoning he could move into Tyler Black’s position, if and when Black breaks through the glass ceiling to claim championship gold.
Winner: Kenny Omega
Chris Hero vs. Erick Stevens
I’ve seen matches of the self-professed “Young Knockout Kid,” during his stint with IWA Mid-South when he was engaged in a long-stemming feud with CM Punk. Those matches may be the stuff of Internet-fanboy lore for some, but flash-forward to now and I see a guy like Diamond Dallas Page or Edge who wins by any means necessary, be it a loaded elbow, boot or brass knucks. The match flies by and seems to stop before it has a chance to get going. Crowd is lukewarm.
Winner: Chris Hero
Roderick Strong & Brent Albright vs. Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima
This is the first of three matches on the card that feature wrestlers from the Orient. Here we get a traditional tag-team match which, when compared to the national televised feds, is a good thing. None of this pair two star wrestlers and have them function as a team. Instead, we have a team of established workers from ROH (Strong and Albright) competing against a Japanese legend and a young 20-year-old star. As someone who remembers Sasaki from his days of wrestling in WCW – winning the U.S. Championship back in 1995 – a little nostalgia sets in. Now in a mentorship role to young Nakajima, Sasaki is still a force; like when he and Nakajima deliver some brutal combinations to Brent Albright before Sasaki says “Sayonara” with a Northern Lights Bomb.
Winners: Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima
Northern Navigation trailer
Takeshi Morishima vs. Go Shiozaki
Now with the crowd pumped, this international match looks to continue that energy all the way through the main event. Despite the differences in size, Shiozaki shows no fear in taking the offense to Morishima in the early goings. Both men are brawlers, with Shiozaki utilizing his legs at times to get an advantage. When the action spills to the outside, Go is whipped into the barricade so hard by Morishima that his back is lacerated. There was never any doubt on who the victor would be, but Go looks strong with his chops and his ability to catch Morishima in mid-air and deliver a German Suplex, then later connect with a Superplex. Though, seeing ‘Shima climb to the top rope and deliver a missile dropkick is pretty impressive in itself.
Winner: Takeshi Morishima
Nigel McGuinness & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The American Wolves
In this three-way elimination tag match we see the ROH Champion paired with a Swiss to form a European Union tag team; they are up against a team that’s already won team gold in the past and another looking to establish itself in the tag rankings. I liked this match just for the fact that Nigel is able to show off his charisma with his “Made in England” T-shirt. And the guy is able to hide his anger well – not even being spit on by one of the American Wolves would make him lose his cool. Nigel and Jay start the match, and again Nigel gets the upperhand working him over with a headlock. Nigel wants to dictate the pace, but when the Briscoe sang the Wolves are going at it, the action intensifies with vicious chops and headbutts.
There’s a point in the match where the American Wolves, content to see the Briscoes and McGuinness and Claudio wear themselves down, wait on the ring apron conserving energy. But when the opportunity presents itself, they break up the Doomsday Device by the Briscoes, get a blind tag and Richards gets a quick three rolling up Claudio. Now with just two teams the Wolves spend the time working on Mark’s knee, preventing him to tag brother Jay. When the tag finally occurs, Jay is a ball of fury. Soon the referee becomes irrelevant with all four men in the ring. But at least he didn’t lose track of who were the legal men in the ring. Briscoes win after Jay hits the Jay Driller.
Winners: Jay & Mark Briscoe
Match has its flaws, but Nigel doesn’t come out looking weak, because his partner takes the fall. The American Wolves have a good showing against the Briscoes as they slowly find their niche in the tag ranks.
Austin Aries vs. Naomichi Marufuji
In this battle of former heavyweight champs – Aries of ROH, Marufuji of Pro Wrestling NOAH – the first six-and-a-half minutes is a very even back-and-forth feeling out between the two wrestlers. Then Marufuji gets the upperhand. Fun moment #1 is when Fuji gets in a little ode to The Three Stooges when he gives Aires a slap to the nose.
This was a very good wrestling match, but it feels too by-the-numbers. Since Aries and Marufuji are evenly matched, there wasn’t enough disparity in the move sets. Both will (and do) take risks when they think it’ll help them get an edge. Something that stands out are the combinations. When Aries won the title from Samoa Joe – back at Final Battle 2004 – he surprised him with his offensive onslaught, not defensive posturing. Here he didn’t have an opponent the size of Joe, so he had to wear down the quickness of Fuji with his offensive moveset to the neck area. This is to set Fuji up for Aries’ patented brainbuster finisher.
Marufuji is no slouch either, hitting Aries with kicks en lieu of what the play-by-play guys thought would be his traditional finisher: the Shiranui. But Fuji busts out a finisher that have the announcers at a loss for words, because they think Fuji’s never performed it before in Ring of Honor. Which isn’t the case at all.
Winner: Naomichi Marufuji
The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs, Delirious, Tyler Black) vs. Kevin Steen, El Generico and Necro Butcher
This six-man tag started on the outside before the teams finally take their places on the ring apron. The referee is completely useless, letting the competitors and the action get out of hand. But that’s par of the course with multi-man tag teams. It had some decent action, but this is a throwaway six-man encounter, because four of the participants – Jacobs, Delirious, Steen and El Generico – would wage war over the tag team titles the next night at Final Battle 2008.
Winners: The Age of Fall
Jerry Lynn vs. Bryan Danielson
In our main event of the evening, Jerry Lynn, who has seemingly been reborn in ROH, takes on Bryan Danielson, a man who recalls the series of matches Lynn had against Rob Van Dam in ECW. Ten years after that then-heralded series, Lynn has lost a step, but his in-ring experience helps to counteract Danielson’s youth. With Nigel McGuiness guest commentating during this match, we get plenty of wiseass remarks from the champ. “Jerry Lynn, I’d like to say you still got it, but, sunshine, you need to get a job.” The old man revolts against youth for a good 26 minutes and he is able to take it to Danielson to the point I thought Mickey Rourke’s stunt double was going to pull out a win. He came narrowly close at one point, but Danielson, ever the ring technician, was able to raise his shoulder at the last possible moment and escape with the victory.
Winner: Bryan Danielson
Aside from the three video wires, there are no other extras included with the release of All Star Extravaganza IV.
When you think of All Star Extravaganza you expect something big or momentous. The card while it does have a natural flow – with all the single matches getting progressively better as the night wears on – there aren’t any real classics that I implore you to see. Of all the matches, I thought the traditional tag between Strong and Albright against Sasaki and Nakajima was the match of the evening. It has good energy, as the two teams work the formula to great effect. Bottom line: Good card, but wait until you can get at a low price.
Tags: CM Punk, Samoa Joe