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MATCH #1: GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title Match – KENTA vs. Low Ki, Final Battle 2005, 12.17.05
KENTA has been the Champion since 7.18.05. This is the first time the title has been defended in America, and the second time Low Ki has wrestled for it. They get aggressive with each other early on. Ki locks on an arm submission in the ropes but of course has to let it go. They chain wrestle back and forth, trying to establish dominance. Ki is the first to land some hard kicks but KENTA is quick to land some of his own. KENTA puts on a submission in the ropes, and then follows with a leaping lariat off the top rope for one. The fight spills to the floor and KENTA whips Ki into the barricade. Back in the ring KENTA hits the slingshot delayed kick to the head for a two-count. Ki responds with a rolling kick to the head from out of nowhere to take control. He knocks KENTA to the floor and follows him out with a dive. Back in the ring Ki resumes control as ten minutes have gone by. Jeez that was fast. Ki hits a double stomp out of a sunset flip for a two-count. He uses a bearhug on the mat and KENTA reaches the ropes. They go back to the floor and Ki drives KENTA hard into the barricade. Back in the ring Ki hits a hard double stomp to the back from the top rope. That was sick, but it only gets two. KENTA grabs Ki in a powerslam as 15 minutes have gone by.
The momentum has shifted and KENTA is firmly in control, hitting a series of kicks. KENTA hits a springboard missile dropkick for two. He follows with a butterfly suplex and turns that into a cross armbreaker. Ki reaches the ropes. KENTA hits a Falcon Arrow for a two-count. He puts Ki up on the top rope but that backfires, as Ki is able to hit the Warrior’s Way! Ki makes a late cover and only gets two. He lands a series of chops. KENTA fires back but Ki cuts him off with a springboard kick to the back of the head for a two-count. Ki goes to the top rope but KENTA hops up there and hits a super Falcon Arrow! That gets a two-count as 20 minutes have gone by. Both men get up and trade strikes. KENTA wins that battle and gets two again. He picks Ki up but then runs right into a Ki Krusher, which gets a two-count. Ki hits the Tidal Crush and calls for the Ki Krusher but KENTA counters to a bridging Tiger Suplex for two! KENTA hits a series of strikes but Ki cuts him off with a shotgun dropkick. Ki goes up top and hits a HUGE double stomp but it only gets two! He goes up top again but misses the Phoenix Splash. KENTA hits Go 2 Sleep (hey, that’s the title of this DVD!) and then follows with the Busaiku Knee Kick for the pin at 24:59. That was tremendous stuff from both men, and one of the fastest 25 minute matches I’ve ever seen. This one holds up well over time.
MATCH #2: KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji vs. Bryan Danielson & Samoa Joe, Best in the World, 3.25.06
Danielson and Marufuji start the match. They exchange holds back and forth at a rapid pace, much to the delight of the crowd. Marufuji backs Danielson into the corner and makes the tag. Joe is itching to get in the ring and fight KENTA. Danielson feigns a tag to Joe, just to be a dick. He then goes to work on KENTA’s arm, and KENTA takes a break to kick Joe right in the face! I don’t know where the heat between these two came from but it’s there. This time Danielson makes the tag and Joe is ready to go. Joe unloads with a series of brutal kicks and more strikes. KENTA backs Joe into the corner and tags Marufuji, who quickly jumps right into an STJoe. Danielson gets in on the fun by dropkicking KENTA to the floor. Joe hits Marufuji with the Big Joe Combo and makes the tag. Danielson goes to work on the knee, and Joe follows suit. Joe and Danielson keep Marufuji isolated from his partner, which is always good tag team strategy. Eventually Marufuji hits Danielson with a low dropkick to the face and makes the tag. KENTA hits Danielson with a big boot and then forearms Joe to the floor. That leads to a big brawl on the floor and KENTA throws Joe into the barricade! Now KENTA and Marufuji keep Danielson isolated from Joe. After many minutes Danielson is able to climb up the ropes off an Irish whip and hit a running forearm strike. He finally makes the tag. Joe is all over both of his opponents, but he seems to take particular joy in hitting a senton on KENTA for two. KENTA comes back with a belly-to-back suplex on Joe and he makes the tag. Marufuji goes to work on Joe but he can’t complete a slam or a suplex. Joe hits the snap powerslam for two and then cinches in the cross armbreaker. KENTA comes in to break it up and Danielson sends him to the floor.
Joe hits Marufuji with a powerbomb for two and turns it into the STF while Danielson plays defense on KENTA. I love that. Joe holds Marufuji in place for Danielson to hit the diving headbutt, which gets a two-count. Danielson hits Marufuji with a bridging German Suplex for two, and then goes for the Crossface Chicken Wing but Marufuji reaches the ropes. Marufuji tries the Shiranui but Danielson awesomely turns it into Cattle Mutilation. KENTA comes in to break it up and Joe pitches him to the floor. Marufuji hits a superkick and this time lands Shiranui for a two-count. Joe and KENTA take their fight to the floor as Marufuji puts Danielson in the Tree of Woe and nails a corner-to-corner dropkick. Marufuji goes for a super Shiranui (stop calling it Sliced Bread you idiots!) but Danielson counters to the belly-to-back superplex and both men are down. Tags are made and KENTA strikes first with kicks to the face. KENTA hits a springboard missile dropkick for two. He tries tornado DDT but Joe blocks it so he hits a top-rope lariat instead. That gets a two-count. Joe comes back with a gourdbuster. He tries the Muscle Buster but Marufuji breaks it up with a superkick. KENTA and Joe trade strikes now and Joe wins that battle with a huge lariat. Danielson gets the tag and quickly goes to work on KENTA with kicks. He hits a dragon suplex with a bridge for two, and then locks on Cattle Mutilation. Danielson turns it into a cradle for a near-fall. He hits a Regalplex with a bridge and Marufuji breaks it up so Joe pitches him to the floor and follows him out with an elbow suicida. Meanwhile KENTA hits Danielson with a super Falcon Arrow for two. After a series of reversals KENTA hits Danielson with Go 2 Sleep for the huge victory at 33:34. The action never stopped and the crowd was molten almost the entire time. I dare you to put any combination of these four guys out there and not get a great match out of it.
MATCH #3: KENTA vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe, In Your Face, 6.17.06
Danielson’s ROH World Title is not on the line here. This is KENTA’s first-ever three-way match, as they are not that common in Japan. All three men are a little cautious to start off. The Champ strikes first, on both of his opponents but he quickly pays for it by getting double-teamed. KENTA and Joe now tear into each other, with KENTA hitting an especially hard slap to the face, until Danielson gets back in the ring. Danielson goes after Joe but misses a cross body block when Joe casually steps out of the way. Joe hits KENTA with the snap powerslam and Danielson breaks up the cover. Danielson pitches Joe to the floor and goes after KENTA, who fires back with kicks. Joe gets back in the ring and gives KENTA a receipt with a hard slap to the face. Now Danielson and Joe trade slaps and Danielson wisely runs away. I think KENTA may have been legitimately knocked out. Joe backs Danielson into the corner and chops him down. He turns his attention to KENTA, who hits a springboard dropkick that takes down both opponents. Danielson is able to regain control and foolishly tries to headbutt Joe. Come on, he’s Samoan, what were you thinking? The momentum continues to shift as its tough for any one man to hold a sustained advantage. Danielson and KENTA battle to the floor and Joe wipes them both out with an elbow suicida. Joe grabs KENTA and throws him into the crowd, and this time it’s Danielson wiping them out with a huge dive from the top rope.
Back to the ring both Danielson and KENTA both try missile dropkicks and they both miss. Joe hits Danielson with the Big Joe Combo for a two-count. The action continues coming from all over the place. Joe finds himself on the top rope and KENTA leaps up to deliver the Super Falcon Arrow for two. Danielson is able to catch KENTA out of a springboard and locks on the Cattle Mutilation, which Joe breaks up. Joe sets up KENTA for the Muscle Buster but Danielson takes out Joe’s knee. KENTA hits Danielson with a Fisherman’s Buster for a two-count. Danielson fires back with a hard elbow strike for two. He follows up with a Regalplex for another two-count. Danielson puts KENTA up top for the belly-to-back superplex but that’s still not enough to get the win. He goes for the Cross-Face Chicken Wing but Joe breaks it up. Danielson forearms Joe to the floor and once again goes for the Chicken Wing. KENTA elbows his way out of it and hits a Tiger Suplex for two. Joe gets back in the ring and KENTA blocks a kick and traps him in a Texas Cloverleaf! Danielson breaks that up and traps KENTA in Cattle Mutilation and turns it into a cradle for a near-fall. KENTA scores with a combination of kicks and tries Go 2 Sleep but Danielson avoids it. Joe picks Danielson up and Danielson rakes his eyes, and then a blinded Joe throws him right into KENTA’s Go 2 Sleep! That’s a great spot. KENTA hits Joe with the Busaiku Knee Kick to knock him to the floor and then drills Danielson with Go 2 Sleep for the win at 20:23. All three guys went non-stop for 20 minutes and kicked the crap out of each other. They did some cool spots and the finish nicely set up what would turn out to be one of the best matches in ROH history.
MATCH #4: KENTA vs. Austin Aries, Chi-Town Struggle, 6.24.06
This was around the time Brad Garoon and I stopped going to every Chicago show. They take it down to the mat and exchange holds. KENTA strikes first with a hard slap to the face. He likes to do that. Aries quickly issues a receipt. They trade more slaps and then Aries lands a couple of Japanese armdrags. Aries uses a headscissors and KENTA counters into a front facelock. They continue trading holds on the mat, and KENTA tries a headscissors. You know what happens there. Aries goes on offense now, keeping KENTA on the mat. He even uses the Last Chancery but that move wasn’t quite established yet. KENTA reaches the ropes and then unleashes a series of kicks and a double stomp off the top rope. He goes on offense now, even taking Aries to the floor and whipping him into the barricade. Aries gets back in the ring and they trade strikes. KENTA wins that battle with a big boot to the face for a two-count. Aries fights gamely but KENTA is able to keep him at bay with more kicks and strikes. KENTA hits a springboard missile dropkick for a two-count. Aries gets sent to the apron, but that works out for him, as he knocks KENTA down and hits a slingshot twisting body press for two. He follows that with a quebrada for another two-count. KENTA comes back by trying a tornado DDT but Aries dumps him to the floor and follows him out with the Heat Seeking Missile. Aries traps KENTA in the Tree of Woe and dropkicks him right in the face. He follows that with a kick to the back and then a neckbreaker for a two-count. KENTA comes back with a bridging German Suplex for a two-count. A bridging tiger suplex also gets two. KENTA hits a series of strikes but misses the Busaiku Knee and Aries hits a huge lariat for two. Aries hits a Finlay Roll and goes up top but KENTA pops up for the super Falcon Arrow, which gets two. KENTA tries Go 2 Sleep but Aries counters with a crucifix bomb for a near-fall. After a series of reversals Aries hits the kick to the head and the Brainbuster but KENTA kicks out at two. Aries goes up top for the 450 but he misses and KENTA hits the Busaiku Knee Kick. KENTA follows with another one and then hits Go 2 Sleep for the pin at 20:50. That was better than I remember it being, just fantastic stuff from both guys.
MATCH #5: KENTA vs. Davey Richards, Fight of the Century, 8.5.06
Richards is KENTA’s American protégé. They start with some chain wrestling, and even though they’re training partners they’re not taking it easy on each other. Richards is ready for his mentor, and takes the early control with kicks and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He drops KENTA chest-first on the top rope, and then kicks him to the floor. Outside the ring they trade kicks, and KENTA reverses a whip that sends Richards into the barricade. KENTA then kicks Richards right into the audience. Back in the ring KENTA takes control and abuses Richards with hard kicks. KENTA hits a double stomp for a two-count. Richards comes back with a kneelift. He hits a running powerslam and a legdrop for two. Richards dumps KENTA to the floor with an exploder suplex, and then takes him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Richards hits a springboard missile dropkick and then more kicks. Richards hits a bridging German Suplex for two. He then jumps right into an Ace Crusher. KENTA then hits some kicks and the springboard missile dropkick for two. He traps Richards in the corner and hits a running knee strike and then a slap to the face for a two-count. Now Richards is back and they trade strikes. The American wins that battle and hits an exploder. KENTA tries another springboard dropkick but Richards catches him with a powerbomb and then locks on the Horse Collar, forcing KENTA to reach the ropes. They trade Kawada Kicks and then slaps. Richards hits the handspring kick but KENTA pops right up and hits the Busaiku Knee Strike. Both men are down. Back up Richards hits a belly-to-belly suplex and then a huge lariat for two. A series of reversals ends with a KENTA Tiger Suplex for two. Richards hits a gutbuster and a Liger Bomb but it only gets two. He goes up top for the Shooting Star Press but KENTA gets his knees up. Richards then hits the Busaiku Knee Strike for a near-fall. Richards almost puts KENTA away a couple of times but cannot do so. Meanwhile, KENTA hits Richards with Go 2 Sleep for the win at 19:26. These two are like mirror images and they put together a pretty good match. They would go on to bigger and better things.
MATCH #6: ROH World Title Match – KENTA vs. Bryan Danielson, Glory By Honor V Night 2, 9.16.06
Danielson has been the champion since 9.17.05 and this is his thirty-fourth defense. The crowd is white hot for this match from the get-go. KENTA backs Danielson into the ropes and slaps him across the face. They engage in a test of strength and Danielson wins that battle by locking in an arm submission, and when KENTA gets to the ropes Danielson knees him in the face. KENTA responds by kicking Danielson’s injured shoulder and the champion bails. Back in the ring KENTA once again goes after the arm and Danielson responds with fury. Naturally KENTA comes back by going after the injured shoulder. Danielson takes KENTA down to the mat while trying to protect his injured shoulder. He hits KENTA with a dropkick that sends him to the floor. He tries a slingshot dive but KENTA moves out of the way and maliciously attacks the injured shoulder. Back in the ring it’s more of the same as KENTA wears Danielson down, focusing especially on the shoulder. Danielson makes a brief comeback and tries a sunset flip but KENTA slaps the taste out of his mouth. KENTA goes right back to the arm. Danielson comes back with a knee to the midsection and then a cravat suplex. He lands a series of kicks in the corner and then hits a vertical suplex and then chokes KENTA for funsies. He goes for the Mexican Surfboard but can’t pull KENTA up because of his injured shoulder, so he stomps his knees into the mat. Danielson follows up with the Figure Four Leglock and uses the ropes for leverage. KENTA makes it to the ropes but Danielson isn’t letting up at all, catapulting KENTA’s neck into the bottom rope. Danielson whips KENTA into the corner and KENTA comes out with a vertical suplex and then a dropkick. The challenger wisely goes back to work on the champion’s badly injured shoulder. KENTA whips Danielson into the corner but the champ runs up the ropes and flips over KENTA. Danielson locks on a half crab and KENTA reaches the ropes. The champ hits some forearms and then hits a superplex for two. Danielson locks on a Crossface Chicken Wing and adds the body scissors, but KENTA is still able to reach the ropes.
The champ bodyslams KENTA and goes up top for the diving headbutt but KENTA kicks him in the face! KENTA goes for a springboard maneuver but Danielson dropkicks him out of the air and both men are down. They get up and exchange strikes and then up the ante to suplexes. Danielson hits a hard forearm and KENTA comes back with a hard clothesline and both men are down again. Back up once again KENTA clotheslines Danielson to the floor. KENTA charges and Danielson delivers a belly-to-belly suplex. Danielson knocks KENTA into the crowd, and then goes up to the top rope and leaps into the crowd to wipe KENTA out. Back in the ring Danielson hits a missile dropkick and goes for a roaring elbow but KENTA catches him in a Fujiwara armbar! Luckily for Danielson he reaches the ropes. KENTA tries a back suplex but Danielson slips out and lands on his feet. Danielson goes up to the second rope and leaps off, but KENTA catches him in the Fujiwara armbar again, and again Danielson reaches the ropes. KENTA tries a series of strikes but Danielson catches him in a Regalplex for two. Danielson takes KENTA up top for the super belly-to-back suplex and then locks on Cattle Mutilation! KENTA reaches the ropes. Danielson hits a front chancery suplex and goes up top. KENTA tries to hop up for the super Falcon Arrow but Danielson pushes him down. Then Danielson jumps right onto KENTA’s shoulders (what move was he even going for?) and gets hit with the Go 2 Sleep. I guess Danielson was going for a cross body block? Anyway Danielson is able to get his foot on the bottom rope at two and the crowd is going ballistic. KENTA hits a couple of knee strikes, and then Danielson is able to grab him in an O’Connor Roll with a bridge for two! Danielson bounces off the ropes and KENTA kicks him right in the face. KENTA goes for Go 2 Sleep again and Danielson counters with a crucifix for two! Danielson hits the elbows to the head but KENTA fires up! The champ tries Cattle Mutilation but KENTA rolls through for a two-count! Danielson pulls him back up and hits the Tiger Suplex for two! He’s then able to lock on the hold and KENTA finally taps out at 33:00!
What a match. KENTA went after the shoulder but when Danielson wouldn’t give up he abandoned that strategy and focused on hitting the Go 2 Sleep instead. Danielson’s strategy all along was pretty much just to survive with the title intact and he did. There was almost no slowing down for the duration of the match and the crowd was with them the entire way. This is the best KENTA match I’ve ever seen and one of the best matches in Ring of Honor history.
MATCH #7: KENTA vs. Matt Sydal, The Bitter End, 11.4.06
They take it to the mat and exchange holds a bit in the early going. Sydal takes the early advantage, as he’s aggressive and wants to make a good showing against the NOAH Superstar. KENTA fights back with a series of kicks to take Sydal down. He goes for a suplex but Sydal reverses it to one of his own. Sydal uses a bow and arrow, briefly. KENTA drops Sydal chest-first on the top rope and then hits a vicious double stomp off the top rope. He keeps up the pressure and sends Sydal to the floor. KENTA whips Sydal into the barricade. He follows with a series of kicks and then puts him back in the ring for a two-count. Christopher Daniels is at ringside to cheer Sydal on. KENTA locks on a Boston Crab and Sydal reaches the ropes. Sydal cuts KENTA off with a spin kick and then hits a clothesline. He follows with what I can best describe as an Asai Hog Log. I hope someone will get what I mean there. Sydal dumps KENTA to the floor and follows him out with a moonsault. Back in the ring Sydal tries a sunset flip but KENTA blocks it and drills him with a huge boot to the face. KENTA hits the springboard missile dropkick for two. He unloads with more kicks for another two-count. KENTA tries a Tiger Suplex but Sydal lands on his feet. Sydal sweeps the legs and hits the standing moonsault for two. He follows with a super headscissors. Sydal hits the Here It Is Driver for two. He goes up but misses the Sydal Press. KENTA hits a Buckle Bomb and the Tiger Suplex for a two-count. Sydal tries a headscissors but KENTA catches him with a sitout powerbomb for two. KENTA hits more strikes and the Busaiku Knee Kick for another two-count. He tries Go 2 Sleep but Sydal counters it with a hurricanrana for a two-count. Sydal hits a running clothesline in the corner. He goes up top but KENTA catches him with an Ace Crusher. KENTA then connects with the Go 2 Sleep to get the win at 16:46. Sydal was a notch below Joe and Danielson, etc. on the roster at this point so the crowd wasn’t as molten for this match as they were for previous KENTA matches, but this was still really solid stuff.
KENTA cuts a brief promo thanking the audience (this was his last appearance for several months), and Samoa Joe comes out to interrupt him. Joe tells KENTA to bring a message back to NOAH. He slaps KENTA across the face, igniting a huge brawl that has to be broken up by the locker room.
MATCH #8: KENTA vs. Rocky Romero, United We Stand, 6.22.07
They get all MMA in the early going, trading kicks and such. The hard strikes continue and Romero actually hits harder in the early going and takes control. Romero mixes some submission holds in with his strike attacks. AZUCAR! The gloating gives KENTA a chance to come back, and he drops Romero on the top rope and hits him with a flying knee off the top. KENTA continues the assault, working in strikes and submissions just as Romero did. After a few minutes Romero fights back with a tornado DDT. Both men are down. Back on their feet Romero puts on a guillotine choke and KENTA drives him into the turnbuckle to break it up. Romero then lands a hard DDT for a two-count. He goes for another move off the second rope but KENTA catches him with an Ace Crusher. Back on their feet they exchange blows and KENTA lands a big boot to win that battle. KENTA hits a springboard missile dropkick for a two-count. He goes for another springboard move but Romero pushes him to the floor and follows him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Romero is able to hit another swinging DDT for a two-count. Romero hits a Tiger Driver and then rolls over with a jackknife cradle for a near-fall. He tries a Fisherman Suplex but KENTA reverses to one of his own. They fight up on the top rope and Romero grabs the Diablo Armbar! KENTA is able to reach the ropes. Romero hits a Tiger Suplex but KENTA pops up and hits his own Tiger Suplex and now both men are down. They go back to the top rope and KENTA hits a superplex but Romero traps him in an inside cradle for two. KENTA responds with a Buckle Bomb and then a running knee strike. He this the Busaiku Knee Kick for a near-fall. KENTA calls for Go 2 Sleep but Romero counters with a rollup for two. They trade armbar reversals and KENTA is able to pick Romero up into position for the Go 2 Sleep! That’s enough to get the pin at 18:41. That was a lot like KENTA’s match with Sydal, but Romero seemed to get more offense in and looked like more of a threat.
MATCH #9: KENTA vs. Bryan Danielson, Driven, 6.23.07
Brad Garoon and I were at this show! Danielson and KENTA pick up where they left off at Glory By Honor V Night 2, with some aggressive chain wrestling. It doesn’t take long for things to really get heated, as they trade hard strikes. KENTA lands a big boot and Danielson takes a powder. Back in the ring KENTA continues to control Danielson, wearing him down. Danielson escapes out of a hold and they trade momentum back and forth a few times. KENTA has something to prove here after losing to Danielson back in September. Danielson viciously attacks the arm and throws in some hard strikes while he’s at it. He uses the surfboard and brings KENTA all the way back to his shoulders for a two-count. KENTA catches Danielson jumping off the second rope with an Ace Crusher. He follows with the springboard missile dropkick for two. A leg lariat gets KENTA another two-count. Danielson fights back with a German Suplex for two. KENTA comes back and tries another springboard move but Danielson cuts him out of the air with a dropkick that sends him to the floor. Danielson goes for a suicide dive but KENTA kicks him right in the face. They fight on the ring apron and Danielson belly-to-belly suplexes KENTA all the way to the floor! Back in the ring Danielson locks on the Crossface Chicken Wing and KENTA is able to reach the ropes. Danielson keeps up the pressure and is able to lock in Cattle Mutilation. Once again KENTA gets to the ropes to break the hold. They trade suplexes and pinning combinations, with neither man giving the other an inch. KENTA lands the Busaiku Knee Strike and both men are down. Back on their feet they trade some more reversals and KENTA ends up with the Cattle Mutilation! KENTA turns that into the Tiger Suplex for two. He goes up top and Danielson joins him, only to take a sunset Buckle Bomb. KENTA hits a running knee strike for two. He follows with more strikes and another Busaiku Knee Strike for a two-count. He then locks on the Crossface Chicken Wing, right in the center of the ring. Danielson powers out and hits Go 2 Sleep! KENTA just gets fired up and goes for Cattle Mutilation but Danielson reverses to the elbow strikes! That doesn’t keep KENTA down. KENTA goes for Go 2 Sleep, but Danielson counters that to a bridging Tiger Suplex for two. Danielson goes for the elbow strikes but KENTA picks him up and hits Go 2 Sleep for the win at 25:32. It wasn’t quite as good as their first encounter, but how could it be? This was still awesome, especially the last few minutes.
MATCH #10: GHC Heavyweight Title Match – KENTA vs. Mitsuharu Misawa, Glory By Honor VI Night 2, 11.3.07
Misawa has been the champion since 12.10.06 (his third reign) and this is his seventh defense. It would also turn out to be his last before dropping the belt to Takeshi Morishima in March. Oops, SPOILER ALERT! This is the second time the belt has been defended in ROH.
They immediately trade forearms and kicks. KENTA gets an armdrag and Misawa reverses to a headscissors and KENTA escapes. They standoff as the crowd goes banana. KENTA goes after the arm and then takes Misawa down for a chinlock. Misawa powers up and fights back with a hard forearm. KENTA fights back with slaps and that just angers the legend, so he strikes KENTA down with great vengeance and furious anger. Misawa hits more forearms and KENTA fights back with a series of kicks. KENTA drapes Misawa over the top rope and hits a knee drop to the back of the neck. He hits a back elbow and then takes Misawa down to the mat for a headscissors. Misawa rolls to the ropes to break the hold. Back on their feet they trade forearms, and KENTA takes Misawa down for more kicks. KENTA uses a reverse chinlock to wear Misawa down and gets a two-count of it. Misawa reverses a whip and forearms KENTA down to the floor. He follows KENTA out and whips him into the barricade. Back in the ring Misawa kicks KENTA down and hits a senton for two. Misawa wears KENTA down with a variety of strikes. KENTA fires back but Misawa cuts him right down. Misawa charges into him and KENTA hits a powerslam and both men are down. KENTA gets up first and hits a leaping forearm and more kicks. He goes up for a springboard missile dropkick for two. He goes for another springboard maneuver but Misawa knocks him to the floor and hits a dive. Back in the ring Misawa hits a Tiger Driver for two! Misawa goes up top and KENTA pops up and kicks him in the face. KENTA goes for the Falcon Arrow, twice, but Misawa forearms him down both times. Misawa jumps off the top rope but KENTA gets a knee up in his gut. KENTA follows up with a running knee strike and a Tiger Suplex for two. Misawa comes back and tries a Tiger Driver but KENTA counters with Go 2 Sleep but it only gets two! KENTA goes for another one but Misawa elbows his way out. They trade strikes and Misawa hits the Emerald Flowsion but KENTA kicks out at two! KENTA comes back with the Busaiku Knee and both men are down. They get up and Misawa hits a combination of elbows for a two-count. Misawa then hits a modified Emerald Flowsion to retain the title at 18:31. That was better than I remembered it. It was hardly a classic, but they worked a solid story and having great heat always helps make a match more entertaining. I probably should watch more of Misawa in his prime.
MATCH #11: KENTA & Kota Ibushi vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Katsuhiko Nakajima, Tokyo Summit, 9.14.08
This match features a wrestler from DDT (Ibushi), two from NOAH (Marufuji and KENTA), and one from Kensuke Office (Nakajima). Marufuji and Ibushi start it off with some back and forth action. They do the standoff audience applause spot. They each tag out to their partners, who trade stiff kicks, I would think to the surprise of no one. They do a standoff audience applause moment as well. KENTA tags Ibushi back in, and Marufuji and Nakajima isolate on him in their half of the ring. Ibushi makes a quick comeback and tags KENTA in, and he works over Marufuji. KENTA tags Ibushi back in he takes a couple of kicks before putting on a reverse chinlock. Nakajima comes in to break that up. KENTA comes back in and throws kicks at both his opponents. Marufuji dumps KENTA to the apron and Nakajima kicks him down to the floor. They get back in the ring and Nakajima continues to work KENTA over. All four men get in the ring and fight over a double suplex. KENTA and Ibushi suplex their opponents onto the top rope, and hit double flying knee strikes off the top rope. That gets a two-count on Nakajima and tags in Ibushi. He and Nakajima exchange kicks. Ibushi wins that battle and gets a two-count. Nakajima fights back and hits a nice missile dropkick and tags Marufuji. He hits a flying elbow for two. Marufuji takes Ibushi to the floor, where Nakajima kicks him down. He drops Ibushi head first on the ring apron and then whips him into the barricade. Ibushi takes several more minutes of abuse before making the hot tag to KENTA, who is on fire. Nakajima comes in and he and KENTA slug away at each other. This is all back and forth action; I can’t recap it all. Bobby Cruise announces that one minute is left in the time limit. And of course, the time limit expires with no winner at 30:00. The crowd wants five more minutes, and they actually get it. I hate that. Marufuji and KENTA start by kicking each other a lot, and KENTA hits a big clothesline. He follows up with a sit-out powerbomb for two. Marufuji comes back and hits the Shiranui but Ibushi breaks it up. He goes to the top rope and fights KENTA off, but then gets kicked in the head by Ibushi. KENTA runs back top and hits the Super Falcon Arrow and Nakajima breaks that up. Ibushi hits a Phoenix splash on Marufuji but he’s not the legal man. The 5:00 overtime period passes with still no winner. So thanks for adding the five more minutes, since it didn’t make a difference. A lot of people are going nuts for that match, but while the action was fun there was nothing to get emotionally invested in. The overtime period was pointless.
MATCH #12: ROH World Title Match – KENTA vs. Nigel McGuinness, 7th Anniversary Show, 3.21.09
They show clips of last night’s tag team match, in which KENTA & El Generico notched a victory over Nigel McGuinness & Davey Richards. Nigel has been the champion since 10.6.07, and this is his thirty-eighth defense. If he gets by KENTA, he will tie Bryan Danielson’s record for title defenses. It doesn’t take long for the challenger to start going after Nigel’s badly injured arms. He struggles to fight back but KENTA is just pin-pointing his kicks. Nigel is finally able to make a comeback and hits the Tower of London to the floor. I hate how that’s become a transition move. Back in the ring Nigel now goes to work on KENTA’s arm. Leonard notes that back on May 15, 2008 in Japan, Nigel beat KENTA and BJ Whitmer in a three-way match to retain the title, though he pinned Whitmer to get the duke. They were also teammates against Bryan Danielson & Takeshi Morishima at the first-ever ROH pay-per-view Respect is Earned on May 12, 2007. KENTA makes the recovery and both men are looking worn down. He goes right back to work on Nigel’s arm. The champion fights back and uses some of his usual offense, which is very hard on his injured arms. Nigel tries the Tower of London but KENTA avoids it and hits a powerslam. They fight up on the top rope and KENTA winds up crashing down to the floor. The challenger reverses the momentum and kicks Nigel into the crowd. He then follows up with an awesome double stomp off the top rope onto the guardrail. Nigel almost gets counted out and when he gets back in the ring KENTA is all over him. The Busaiku Knee gets two. KENTA tries the Go 2 Sleep but Nigel blocks it and goes for the Jawbreaker. That misses and the trade pinning combinations. Nigel locks on the London Dungeon and KENTA reaches the ropes. He hits the Tower of London but KENTA kicks out. KENTA tries a Sunset Bomb but Nigel avoids it, but can’t avoid the super Falcon Arrow. Nigel kicks out at two! KENTA hits a German Suplex with a bridge for two. He avoids the Jawbreaker and hits Go 2 Sleep but Nigel gets his foot on the bottom rope. They battle on the ring apron and Nigel hits a Super Tower of London onto the apron. Both men barely make it back into the ring at 19. They trade strikes and Nigel tries the headstand but KENTA counters with a Go 2 Sleep attempt. Nigel blocks that and tries the Jawbreaker, which KENTA ducks, but then Nigel hits his own Go 2 Sleep! KENTA kicks out at two. Nigel locks on the London Dungeon, which KENTA reverses to a rollup for a near fall. KENTA almost hits Go 2 Sleep but Nigel avoids it and once again locks on the London Dungeon and then stretches KENTA back across his knees and KENTA has to tap out at 25:19. For a guy as injured as he absolutely is, Nigel put on an amazing performance. KENTA more than held up his end, and there were some really creative counters and reversals, and it was just a damn fine match.
MATCH #13: GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title Match – KENTA vs. Davey Richards, Supercard of Honor IV, 4.3.09
Richards is accompanied by his fellow American Wolf Eddie Edwards. KENTA has been the champion since 3.1.09, this is his third reign, and I believe this is his first defense. Richards declines the handshake and here we go. KENTA was Richards’s mentor at one time, so these two know each other very well. The tempers flare early on and the strikes are coming in stiff. KENTA takes the first advantage and lays in the kicks. Richards comes back and goes to work on the leg, which is quite the smart strategy. KENTA comes back with a flurry of offense and heads to the top rope to hit a leaping lariat for two. He’s barely selling the knee, and Prazak is all but calling him on it. Richards comes back and sends KENTA to the floor. He charges out with a running dive through the ropes and pretty much misses KENTA as he crashes into the crowd. Back in the ring Richards hits a German Suplex for two. The crowd chants “this is awesome” and Richards basically breaks kayfabe to acknowledge their assessment. Richards goes for a superplex but KENTA knocks him back and hits the slingshot missile dropkick and two running boots in the corner followed by a dropkick. A sit-out powerbomb gets another two for KENTA. He follows up with a crazy double stomp to the chest off the top rope for two. He tries a rana off the top but Richards powerbombs him down and locks on the Texas Cloverleaf. KENTA reaches the ropes, and both men get up and start trading kicks. They nail each other in the head and both men are down. They get back up and start throwing bombs again. KENTA wins that battle and hits a Tiger Suplex for two. They fight to the ring apron and KENTA hits a nasty looking Falcon Arrow to the floor. The fans chant “F*ck WrestleMania,” which is ignorant and obnoxious. Back in the ring Richards flips KENTA off and gets smacked around for it. KENTA hits the Busaiku Knee for two. Richards blocks Go 2 Sleep and locks on the Texas Cloverleaf. KENTA reverses to a rollup for two. Richards hits the alarm clock and a clothesline. He hits the D.R. Driver but KENTA kicks out at two! KENTA comes back and tries Go 2 Sleep again but Richards counters it to a crucifix for two. Richards tries the cartwheel elbow, but KENTA grabs him in a Torture Rack and hits Go 2 Sleep! I haven’t seen him do that before. KENTA retains the title at 18:17. That was definitely the best match in ROH so far this year, but Shawn and Undertaker would eclipse this match and likely every other match so far or to come this year just two days later. But hey, the crowd didn’t know it, give ‘em a brake. Anyway, Richards has become so awesome and KENTA was his usual excellent self. The crowd wants Richards to shake hands, which to my great disappointment he does, and then bows to the guy who just beat him. Richards then gets on the mic to put over Ring of Honor, and everything after that match was completely out of character for Richards and that really upsets me.
MATCH #14: KENTA & Tyler Black vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Austin Aries, Take No Prisoners 2009, 4.4.09
Black and Aries start the match with some trash talking, and then Aries quickly takes it to the mat. Things get heated and Aries tags out to Nakajima. Black and Nakajima exchange fast-paced offensive moves, and then Black tags KENTA. They immediately trade kicks and forearms, with neither man budging an inch. KENTA actually counters a leapfrog attempt with a huge kick to the face, which is awesome. Nakajima pretty much no sells it and tags Aries. The crowd would like to see KENTA harm Aries, in so many words. They take it to the mat and Aries tries to escape a headscissors with a dropkick but KENTA avoids it. Aries slaps KENTA across the face, avoids a kick, and then rolls to the floor to gloat. Black doesn’t care for that, so he hits Aries with a running forearm off the apron and then throws him back in the ring. KENTA hits a series of kicks and tags Black into the match. Black is all over Aries, punching away and throwing him out of the corner with a huge biel. Over in the other corner he hits 10 mounted punches, and then a suplex for two. Black and KENTA double-team Aries for a two-count, and continue to work him over. Aries comes back by knocking Black to the floor and following him out with an axe handle off the top rope. Nakajima gets tagged in and now they go to work on Black. Aries goes for the Power Drive Elbow and the fans booing causes him to extend the move even longer, giving Black the chance to recover with a schoolboy rollup for two! Black follows up with a kick to the head and makes the hot tag! KENTA is all over Aries, delivering a series of kicks to the face and a Fisherman Buster for two. He locks on a Boston Crab until Nakajima breaks it up, and Aries makes the tag. Nakajima hits a leaping forearm, double-underhook suplex, and a DDT. He goes up top and hits a missile dropkick for another two. The offense is coming almost too fast for me to keep up with.
Nakajima goes up for a super brainbuster but KENTA drops him down chest-first to the canvas, and leaps off with a double stomp. KENTA tries the Go 2 Sleep but Nakajima counters with a rana and two superkicks, and KENTA manages to hit a big clothesline before selling the beating. Nakajima makes the tag to Aries, who prevents Black from getting the corresponding tag. Aries hits a running dropkick in the corner and goes for the brainbuster but KENTA reverses it to a German Suplex and makes the tag! Black comes in with a springboard lariat and a running forearm in the corner. The Paroxysm gets two. Black sort of hits a Northern Lariat and a standing shooting star press for two. He goes up top for the Phoenix but Aries moves out of the way and armdrags Black into the turnbuckles, and seamlessly rolls into the Last Chancery. KENTA breaks that up and Nakajima throws him to the floor. They take it to the floor while Aries has Black set up for a super brainbuster. Black goes for a sunset bomb but Aries reverses to a rana. Aries tries the running dropkick but Black catches him and drops him chest-first to the canvas. Black hits the Buckle Bomb but Nakajima comes in with three superkicks on Black, and KENTA hits him with the Busaiku Knee. Aries avoids a Pele kick and goes for the Brainbuster, but Black reverse it to God’s Last Gift to finally score the pin at 22:10. That was almost non-stop action from bell to bell, and a very good main event for ROH pay-per-view to bow out on.
MATCH #15: KENTA vs. Tyler Black, End of an Age, 6.27.09
KENTA is the GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, but the title is not on the line here. I expect a lot of offense in this one. Black hits the first big move, a nice dropkick to the face. KENTA comes back and stomps Black down in the corner. They continue to trade offense with neither man gaining a clear cut advantage in the opening minutes. KENTA uses a bevy of kicks, and Black absorbs them and tries using fast paced strikes and high flying maneuvers to gain an advantage. The first 10 minutes has been pretty back and forth, but I’d probably give it to KENTA on points. As I write that KENTA hits a superplex, and moments later hits a sick double stomp for a two-count. Moments later Black comes back and bodyslams KENTA all the way to the floor, and then follows him out with a somersault dive. Back in the ring Black hits an F-5 for two. The Paroxysm gets another near-fall. He goes for the Buckle Bomb but KENTA counters and hits a bridging Tiger Suplex for a two-count. They trade finisher attempts and it ends with Black hitting a weak looking DDT. He picks KENTA up and pays for it as KENTA hits the Go 2 Sleep but Black kicks out at two! Black responds with a superkick out of nowhere and then hits the Buckle Bomb. He goes for another superkick but KENTA blocks it and hits another Go 2 Sleep to get the victory at 17:49. That was non-stop action by two incredible athletes.
The Pulse: Of the 15 matches, 10 are four stars or more, and of the rest nothing is below three-and-a-half stars, so this is a great Best of. It features a good cross-section of ROH talent over the past few years, and does its best to make KENTA look like a big deal. I’d say Mission Accomplished. You can purchase this DVD at the ROH Store.
Tags: Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson, KENTA, mitsuharu misawa, Ring of Honor, ROH