A2Z Analysiz: Ring of Honor The Best of the American Wolves (Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards)

MATCH #1: ROH World Tag Team Championship Tables Match – Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The American Wolves, ROH on HDNet Episode #11, 5.30.09

This match actually took place on April 10 but didn’t air until May 30. This is the problem with two divergent timelines. Steen and Generico have been the champions since 9.19.08 and this is their eighth defense. The Wolves charge out and the fight begins in the aisle. Steen pairs off with Richards on one side while Generico battles Edwards on the other side, so we get a split screen to follow all the action. Generico dominates Edwards and goes over to help Steen. They throw Richards into the ring and the bell rings (even though I swear it rang while they were fighting in the aisle) to officially start the match.

Richards struggles to his feet while both Steen and Generico work him over. Edwards tries to help his partner but the champions just roll right over him too. The fight spills to the floor and Steen introduces the first table. Both Wolves get tossed into the table. Back in the ring the champions continue to dominate. Richards pulls Generico to the floor and whips him into the barricade. Back in the ring Richards attacks Steen’s knee. Generico gets back in the ring and the Wolves hit a superkick/German Suplex combo right onto the table. Edwards then drops Steen knee-first onto a table, breaking it in the process. AMERICAN WOLVES! The challengers continue working over Steen’s knee. Generico makes it back in the ring with a flying body press off the top rope on both Wolves. He hits Edwards with a Michinoku Driver for two. Richards calls out the DR Driver but can’t hit it. Generico hits an awkward tornado DDT and then takes Edwards out with a somersault dive to the floor. Meanwhile back in the ring Richards tries a hurricanrana (which he does all the time) and Steen powerbombs him onto a flat table. Steen goes up top and hits the Swanton and Generico follows with a Superfly Splash and Edwards breaks up the cover. All four men go back to the floor. Steen and Generico stack up a couple of tables and Steen tries to powerbomb Edwards off the apron. Richards breaks it up by going after the knee. Edwards brings a table into the ring. Meanwhile Richards tries the Shooting Star Press but misses. Generico takes Edwards out with the tornado DDT around the ring post. He sets Edwards on the table and delivers a big splash off the top rope! That’s enough to break the table. In the ring Steen has Richards in the Sharpshooter. Shane Hagadorn comes out to interfere and Steen drills him with a Package Piledriver. Steen then hits Richards with a superkick and sets up a table. He goes for a moonsault but Richards shoves him off the top rope and he crashes through the table stack from earlier! Generico gets back in the ring and sets Richards up for a super Brainbuster but Edwards breaks it up. The Wolves hit a Doomsday Ace Crusher through the table to get the pin and become the new ROH World Tag Team Champions at 13:26. That was action packed and a really good TV main event.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #2: ROH World Tag Team Championship Match – The American Wolves vs. Bryan Danielson & Tyler Black, Tag Title Classic, 4.18.09

The Wolves have been the champions since 4.10.09, and this is their first defense. The champions are accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. Larry Sweeney is officially done with the company by this point, and I wonder if they’ll offer any explanation. Former ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness has joined the commentating team. Edwards and Black start the match. They go toe-to-toe for a bit, and then Edwards tags in Richards. Soon after that Black tags Danielson, and he and Richards get aggressive with each other right away. Black and Edwards get in on the anger too, and a four-way shoving match disrupts the flow of the match, and Todd Sinclair has trouble breaking them up. Danielson and Edwards wind up in the ring and aggressively chain wrestle. I love the tone of this match. Edwards takes control and brings Danielson over to the corner and tags in Richards. Danielson makes the tag to Black, and he takes Richards down with a series of armdrags. Richards backs Black into the corner and the Wolves go to work on him. Edwards tags in and Black and Danielson regain control on him. The action in this one is happening pretty fast. The challengers overwhelm the champions, who threaten to leave the match and get counted out. Danielson and Black don’t wait around, dragging the champions back and battling them on the floor. Back in the ring Edwards takes a beating. The battle spills to the floor, where the Wolves take control. They beat on Black for several minutes until he makes the hot tag to Danielson, who unloads on Richards. Danielson has his way for several minutes before the Wolves comeback and double-team him. This is really hard to keep up with. It breaks down to a brawl again. Black goes up for a Phoenix Splash on Richards, but Edwards kicks him off the top rope through the timekeeper’s table! Richards locks Danielson in the Texas Cloverleaf and Danielson reaches the ropes. The Wolves viciously attack Danielson’s leg, as Black is out on the floor.

Black finally recovers and Danielson makes the tag. He’s all over the champions, wiping out Edwards on the floor with a somersault dive. Richards follows him out and overshoots Black, endangering the audience for the second time tonight. Danielson leaps out into the crowd as well, and the people are going banana. Richards and Black make it back to the ring and slug it out. Black hits the Paroxysm for two. Edwards breaks it up and then hits an awesome Code Breaker on Black for two. We’ve got less than 10 minutes left at this point. Danielson grabs Edwards and sets up for the super back suplex, but Edwards blocks it. Richards tries to suplex Danielson, but Danielson counters it to Cattle Mutilation. Meanwhile, Edwards climbs the top rope and crashes down on Danielson’s injured leg. That was cool. Black comes back and hits Edwards with the Buckle Bomb and the superkick but Edwards barely gets his foot on the bottom rope! He goes up for the Phoenix Splash as we’ve got about five minutes left. Richards runs up the ropes and nails Black with a German Superplex and a running boot. The Wolves hit the Superkick/German/Jackknife Pin combination but Danielson breaks it up! The champs try the Doomsday Ace Crusher but Danielson avoids it. Danielson goes up and drops Richards with the belly-to-back superplex. All four men get back to their feet, and the Wolves lock on stereo Cloverleaves on their opponents. The challengers reach the ropes. They come back and hit stereo elbows to the faces of their opponents. Then they roll over into stereo Cattle Mutilations as we’ve got one minute left! Black pulls up and hits the God’s Last Gift but before the count can be made the time limit expires at 45:00 (for real). That’s the best match I’ve seen this year in Ring of Honor. Excellent tag team work, super intense, hot crowd, great match.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #3: ROH World Tag Team Championship Match – The American Wolves vs. Bryan Danielson & Kevin Steen, Validation, 5.9.09

The Wolves have been the champions since 4.10.09, and this is their third defense. The match is announced as having a 45-minute time limit, even though in the Video Wire Danielson made note of the fact that it would be a 60-minute time limit this time. I guess since Steen is replacing Tyler Black, they went back to 45?

Steen and Danielson jump the champions on the floor, as former ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness joins the commentary team. The challengers absolutely dominate the champions outside the ring, and Steen goes for a Package Piledriver on Richards through a table but can’t connect. Steen then tries to hit one on Edwards in the ring, but Edwards backdrops him through the table. Danielson and Edwards start the proper in the ring, with Danielson gaining the first advantage. He goes for the surfboard but Richards breaks it up with a high-angle belly-to-back suplex. Richards gets tagged in officially and unleashes kicks on Danielson’s chest. Edwards also gets his chance to wear down Danielson, whose chest is already bleeding. On the floor Steen is starting to show signs of life. Edwards taunts Danielson and get slapped in the face and then otherwise abused. Even so Edwards is able to back Danielson into his corner and tag Richards. The assault on Danielson continues until he’s able to hit a simultaneous dropkick, and Steen has made it back to the apron. Unfortunately for Danielson, Edwards drags Steen off the apron, further injuring his Steen’s knee and also preventing the tag. Back in the ring Richards decides to start going after the leg, and locks Danielson in the Figure-Four Leglock. Edwards jumps off the top rope with a knee to Danielson, and then he kicks Steen back down to the floor. The champions use quick tags to continue working Danielson’s leg, and trying to keep Steen off the apron. They go for the superkick / German suplex combo but Danielson avoids it and is finally able to make the tag to Steen.

The Wolves both get thrown around, as Steen hits Richards with a powerbomb and goes for the Sharpshooter. Edwards breaks it up, but Steen catches him and hits a backpack senton on Richards. Funny, when he does that with Generico it doesn’t hurt him. The champions soon recover and double-team Steen, but they’re not able to hit a double suplex. Edwards tries a quebrada but Steen gets the knees up and Danielson illegally rejoins the ring with a missile dropkick, and then gets the legal tag to get back into the match. The referee has lost control of this one. Steen comes in illegally and hits the pump handle neckbreaker, and then Danielson locks Richards in the Triangle Choke. Meanwhile Steen locks Edwards in the Sharpshooter. Richards counters with a jackknife pin for two. He takes Danielson down and tags Edwards, who promptly kicks Steen down to the floor. The Wolves double-team Danielson, hitting stereo kicks, and then a super Doomsday Bulldog for two when Steen makes the save. Edwards goes for a leg submission on Danielson, who reverses it to a nasty looking arm submission, and Steen comes in with a Swanton bomb, breaking up the submission for some reason. The match has once again broken down, with all four men in the ring. Steen and Richards take their fight to the floor. In the ring Edwards tries the Chin checker on Danielson, but it gets reversed to the elbow strikes, which don’t score the knockout and only get a two-count. Danielson then locks on the Cattle Mutilation, and then rolls it into a Tiger Suplex for two. He takes Edwards up top for the belly-to-back superplex, but Richards breaks that up with a super German suplex. Richards then hits a nasty suicide dive onto Steen. Edwards hits the Chin checker but it only gets two! He wastes some time, and Danielson locks on the triangle choke and hits some elbows. Edwards escapes that and hits a dragon screw and then locks on the Achilles Tendon Lock, and Danielson taps out at 17:32! They had a solid story going there with Danielson’s leg, and I like Edwards getting the clean submission. The referee losing control in every tag match is getting a little old, but it’s hard to criticize the work of the four guys.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #4: ROH World Tag Team Championship Submission Match – The American Wolves vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico, Manhattan Mayhem III, 6.13.09

The Wolves have been the champions since 4.10.09, and this is their fifth defense. They’re accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. Steen and Generico are eager to get the fight started, so they chase the Wolves to the floor and the brawl is on. The challengers are in complete control early on, much to the delight of the NYC crowd. Then they spend too much time gloating, and Richards takes advantage, bringing Steen back in the ring. Richards goes for a missile dropkick, but Steen avoids it and locks on a Sharpshooter. Edwards breaks that up. I hate it when in no-disqualification matches they enforce tags and the legal man rule. What exactly is the referee going to do in a match where the only way a team can win is by submission? Richards escapes an abdominal stretch and tags Edwards. Before too long the challengers are back in control. Edwards backs Steen into a corner and tags Richards, who wisely goes after Steen’s arm, starting to wear it down. The Wolves work Steen’s arm briefly, and then shift focus to his knee. Also, why does the referee enforce rope breaks? After a long beating, Generico comes flying in to the ring with a cross body off the top rope, taking both Wolves out. This gives Steen time to recover, and he hits a superkick and a cannonball in the corner, and then locks on another Sharpshooter. Richards escapes and Steen makes the tag. Generico nails Richards with the running Yakuza kick in the corner, a Suplex, and then another Yakuza. He tries to choke Richards out but Edwards breaks it up. Steen and Edwards fight to the floor while Generico slugs Richards down in the ring. Generico runs into the ropes and Edwards pulls them down. Richards then leaps off the top rope with a Shooting Star Press to the floor, wiping everyone (including his own partner) out. Back in the ring Generico catches Richards with a Michinoku Driver. Generico tries another running Yakuza but Richards catches the leg and hits a Dragon Screw, and then vicious attacks the knee. Richards puts Generico up top and then gets knocked down. Edwards runs in with a knee to Generico’s face, and then hits a super rana. Richards locks Generico in a Texas Cloverleaf and Steen just barely breaks it up. Moments later Steen locks Richards in yet another Sharpshooter, but Richards won’t give up. Edwards tries to break it up, but Generico catches him and locks on a Sharpshooter as well! The Wolves break the holds. Steen goes for a Package Piledriver but gets backdropped to the floor. Generico hits a running Yakuza on Edwards and sets him up top. Richards comes out of nowhere to whack Generico in the knee with the ring bell, and Edwards locks on a single leg crab. Generico taps and the Wolves retain at 18:42! That was a seriously great match, as if that should surprise anyone. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #5: ROH World Tag Team Championship Match – The American Wolves vs. KENTA & Roderick Strong, Violent Tendencies, 6.26.09

The Wolves have been champions since 4.10.09, and this is their sixth defense. They are of course accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. KENTA and Davey Richards start the match, as there is heat left over there from their singles match back in April. Strong is replacing the injured Bryan Danielson. Richards quickly bails and Edwards comes in, and I can tell right now that I’m going to have a hard time keeping up with this action. The Wolves take a moment to powder, and then when they get back in the ring it’s on once again. Strong and KENTA take control and work Edwards over in their corner. The Wolves reverse the momentum and take over on KENTA. Strong gets tagged back in and no one can gain firm control in the early going. The Wolves take control of KENTA for a while, which ends when Richards and KENTA exchange blows and knock each other out. Richards makes the tag to Edwards, and KENTA is able to make the tag to Strong as well. Strong is a house afire, but the Wolves weather his storm and try to double-team him, but their attacks get countered and Strong makes the tag to KENTA. This match has pretty much been non-stop action. It’s been much too hard for me to keep up with in a play-by-play sense, I’m just enjoying it. Of course the referee eventually loses control, and the crowd is chanting “this is awesome.” After a long stretch of chaos, Edwards traps Strong in a half Boston Crab and Strong taps out at 21:05. That was an absolutely tremendous tag team match with non-stop action, as can be expected from the Wolves now. Even though it’s illogical for KENTA to win the titles, the crowd still bought it and helped make a supremely entertaining match.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #6: ROH World Tag Team Championship Match – The American Wolves vs. The Briscoes, The Final Countdown Tour: Chicago, 9.19.09

This was originally scheduled as a non-title match, but that just didn’t sit well with Jay, so he challenges them to put the belts on the line. ROH President Cary Silkin agrees with the Briscoes, and now we have a title match on our hands. The Wolves have been the champions since 4.10.09, and this is their eighth defense. They are accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. The Briscoes attack right away and have all the momentum on their side. Edwards is the unfortunate Wolf who gets stuck in the Briscoes’ half of the ring. They work him over a bit, until Edwards hits a jawbreaker and tags Richards. Jay picks up where he left off with Edwards and they start beating up Richards now. Neither Jay nor Mark seems interested in selling any Wolf offense in these opening minutes. Of course as soon as I type that, the Wolves take over on Mark, who continues trying to fight back. Mark avoids a double-team maneuver and makes the tag to Jay. The Wolves try to double-team Jay but that doesn’t go well for them. Jay hits Richards with a Death Valley Driver for two. The Wolves recover and Richards locks Jay in a Texas Cloverleaf, and Mark comes in to break it up. They continue to work Jay over in their half of the ring for several minutes, keeping Jay away from his brother. Of course at some point Jay decides to stop selling and makes the tag to Mark, who comes in a house afire. He nails Edwards with a Fisherman Buster for two. He follows up with a Super Ace Crusher for another near-fall. He goes for the Cutthroat Driver but Edwards reverses it to a belly-to-back suplex, and Richards gets the tag.

Mark tries a Uranage but Richards counters with a victory roll for two. Richards comes back with a handspring enziguiri while Mark stands there waiting for it. The Wolves finally go after Mark’s previously injured knee. Edwards hits a super duper Frankensteiner and Richards locks him in the Texas Cloverleaf. Jay tries to break the hold and Richards spits in his face. Everybody’s up now and throwing kicks and strikes, and all four eventually go down. Jay and Edwards wind up as the legal men in the ring, and Jay hits a big clothesline for two. The Wolves come back with double-teaming and Edwards locks Jay in the Half Crab until Mark breaks it up. They go for the superkick / German Suplex combo but Jay avoids it and hits the Jay Driller! Richards breaks up the pin, but then gets dumped to the floor. The Briscoes hit the Doomsday Device, but Richards breaks it up by dropkicking Paul Turner in the face. That’s enough for the disqualification at 18:07. The match was a lot of fun in spots, but it was pretty much just that, spots. Selling was really nowhere to be found, and the rules came and went as they saw fit. Still, to see four guys completely kick the crap out of each other it was pretty entertaining.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #7: ROH World Tag Team Championship Ladder War II – The American Wolves vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico, Glory By Honor VIII: The Final Countdown, 9.26.09

The Wolves have been champions since 4.10.09, and this is their ninth defense. Edwards is coming into the match with a broken elbow that he received in a street fight with Steen last night in Boston. The battle quickly spills to the floor. Steen and Generico are dominant in the early going. Edwards is definitely the weak link due to his injury. It doesn’t take long for a ladder to get involved and be used as a weapon, mostly by the challengers. Generico tries to climb up for the belts, but Richards stops him with a steel chair. The Wolves back body drop Generico on a ladder, bending it in half. Hagadorn hands Richards a pair of handcuffs and he handcuffs Steen’s hands behind his back. The Wolves then run a ladder into his face, and are just having their way with him. Hagadorn pulls out a table, and Generico returns to the ring a house afire. The Wolves put that fire out by hitting a German Suplex through said table. Richards has a chain now and wraps it around his foot before delivering the Kawada Kicks. Edwards tries to climb up for the belts but Steen knocks him over. Generico rejoins the ring with running Yakuza kicks for all. He grabs Hagadorn and steals the handcuffs key, and then unlocks his partner. He then sets up another table, and a ladder. Steen also sets up a table. Richards comes back with a tornado DDT through a table on the floor to Steen. Richards and Generico climb the ladder, with tables on either side of them. Generico hits a sunset bomb off the ladder through a table. He climbs back up the ladder and Edwards meets him up there. Edwards back body drops Generico off the ladder through the other table! The ladder falls over and Edwards falls as well. Hagadorn brings out a bigger ladder and Edwards sets it up. Generico dives through that ladder and over the top rope to wipe out Richards on the floor! Steen wallops Edwards in the head with a chair and starts climbing. Edwards recovers and shoves the ladder over, sending Steen through a table on the floor. He climbs up the big ladder, and Generico meets him there. Edwards pulls Generico’s leg through the ladder, and Richards hits him with a weak chair shot. He locks Generico in a half crab, and Richards retrieves the belts at 23:55. Of course it wasn’t as good as the first one, but props to Edwards for giving a hell of an effort. It’s hard to be innovative in ladder matches these days but they did cool spots and only a few of them were contrived.
Rating: ****

The Pulse: This is the bonus disc on “Champions Vs. All Stars” (which I haven’t reviewed yet), so sadly it’s not available as a standalone disc. If it was, this would be an easy recommendation for purchase. Out of seven matches, the lowest rated was ***½, and four of them are **** or higher. The disc is focused on the Wolves’ Tag Team Title reign and it does a great job of highlighting their best matches during the run. “Champions Vs. All Stars” is available Right Here.

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