A2Z Analysiz – ROH Japan’s Finest

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~DISC 1~

MATCH #1: Amazing Red vs. Ikuto Hidaka, Glory By Honor, 10.5.02

Both men get plenty of support from the crowd. They wrestle to a standoff, both men showing off their athleticism early on. Hidaka gets the first shot in with a dropkick to the back of the head. Lovey says that the team of Hidaka and Dick Togo will be back with ROH sometime in 2003, but he’s a liar! Meanwhile Hidaka and Red trade chops and then take the battle to the floor for some more chops. They agree to get back in the ring out of respect, and the crowd courtesy pops. They wrestle to a standoff once again, showing how evenly matched they are. Red hits a swinging DDT and Hidaka slides to the floor. He tries a slingshot dive but Hidaka dropkicks him out of the air. Back in the ring Hidaka takes control. Red tries to fight back but Hidaka cuts him right off with a DDT. Hidaka goes to the apron and tries a slingshot but Red kicks him to the floor. Red goes for a suicide dive to the floor and he barely makes contact, hitting the guardrail instead. Hidaka sells it anyway. Back in the ring Red locks on a Cross Armbreaker and Hidaka reaches the ropes. Red misses the Red Star Press but connects on a roundhouse kick. He charges into the corner but Hidaka avoids him and throws him up into the air for a dropkick. Red tries another DDT but Hidaka counters with a “falling spinning legbreaker.” Hidaka hits the knee with a springboard missile dropkick and a German Suplex, floating over into a leg lock. Red reaches the ropes and then hits an enziguiri. They do the fish out of water spot and of course no one gets a pin. They up the ante for an even more impressive series of reversals but still no one gets the pin. They each clothesline each other and both men are down. Back on their feet Hidaka catches Red with an Ace Crusher for two. Red comes back with a 718 to the midsection and hits a sunset bomb for two. He goes up top and hits the Infrared and the Red Star Press to get the win at 13:42. A close-up shows that Red really nailed Hidaka in the face with the Infrared. That’s a fun match and a definite product of its time.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #2: The Great Muta & Arashi vs. Christopher Daniels & Dan Maff, Final Battle 2003, 12.27.03

Muta and Arashi are defending the All Japan Double World Tag Team Championship here. The draw of this match is obviously Muta coming back to North America. I actually have no idea who Arashi is, but Brad Garoon says he’s out of the business now for getting busted with weed, which is a big deal in Japan. As for the match, it wasn’t great but the crowd was super hard for Muta so it was fun enough. Muta pins Daniels after the Shining Wizard in about 16 minutes.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #3: Kenta Kobashi & Homicide vs. Samoa Joe & Low Ki, Unforgettable, 10.2.05

Kobashi and Joe engaged in the ROH match of the year last night in New York. Jimmy Bower sneaks into the broadcast booth to call this match. Joe and Kobashi start it out. Joe actually dominates Kobashi to start. They trade insanely hard strikes and Kobashi refuses to let Joe hurt him. He rules. Low Ki tags in and goes after the arm of Kobashi. Homicide is in and now we have Rottweilers facing off. Bower says that Homicide is working injured. Joe gets back in and Homicide gets him with the Greco Roman eye poke. Kobashi comes back in and kills Joe with chops. Homicide and Ki are back in and they’re letting their tempers get the better of them. Kobashi has no problems beating up Ki outside the ring when he’s not legal. Good for him. Joe and Homicide get back in the ring and do some awesome stuff together. It’s about time they had another singles match. Kobashi hits the multiple chops on Joe again, so Ki tries to break it up but he ends up getting chopped a bunch of times. Then Kobashi goes back to Joe. Yeah, that rules. The crowd is just going ape shit. Then Kobashi drops Joe on his head with a big back suplex, and Low Ki gets the same treatment. Joe is undaunted though and he fight back and hits his patented powerslam and locks in a cross armbreaker. Then he hits the powerbomb into the STF. Joe hits a backdrop driver on Kobashi, allowing Bower to get his “dangerous” in there. Joe hits the Muscle Buster but Kobashi is able to kick out. Ki comes back in and hits the Black Magic Attack. They do some more cool stuff, and this match continues to rule. Ki locks on the Iron Octopus but Homicide breaks it up with an Ace Crusher. He goes for the Lariat but Joe cuts him off. Ki accidentally hits Joe with the Tidal Wave, and then Homicide nails Joe with the Tope Con Hilo to the floor. This is getting hard to follow. Ki goes for the Tidal Crush but Kobashi just swats him away. He nails Ki with a powerbomb that only gets two. Orange Crush by Kobashi but Joe breaks it up. Kobashi KILLS Low Ki with the lariat for the victory at 26:21. That match was awesome and everyone looked great. After the match Joe gets on the mic and puts over ROH as a wrestling company and thanks Kobashi for the ass kicking he received.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #4: AJ Styles & Matt Sydal vs. Dragon Kid & Genki Horiguchi, Dragon Gate Challenge, 3.30.06

Dragon Kid and Genki Horiguchi are members of the faction Do Fixer along with Ryo Saito, who we saw earlier. Matt Sydal is a member of Generation Next, AJ Styles is not. This is match #2 in the Dragon Gate Challenge. Horiguchi and Sydal start it off. They trade some stuff and then tag out to their partners. Sydal and AJ take control with some double team maneuvers and Sydal goes to work on Horiguchi’s arm. The fans chant “H-A-G-E” at Horiguchi, because apparently it is the Japanese word for balding, which he is. AJ doesn’t seem to be willing to sell for Dragon Kid. They all start doing high-risk stuff and the crowd is getting into it big time. AJ hits the Styles Clash on Horiguchi to get the win at 12:32. They did some really cool stuff there but AJ’s apparent lack of cooperation takes it down a notch. That evens up the Dragon Gate Challenge at one win per team.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #5: Do Fixer (Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi & Ryo Saito) vs. Blood Generation (CIMA, Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino), Supercard of Honor, 3.31.06

Blood Generation is CIMA, Naruki Doi, and Masato Yoshino; Do Fixer is Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi, and Dragon Kid. If you think I can keep up with this you’re nuts. The crowd is pretty excited for this one. Tomorrow night CIMA & Doi get a ROH Tag Team Title shot at Austin Aries & Roderick Strong. Blood Generation has some of the coolest double and triple team moves I’ve ever seen. At one point the two leaders, CIMA and Saito are in the ring together and the crowd is going nuts. This match is just sick. Dave Prazak says this action speaks for itself and I think they’re done trying to call this one. This match has the best false finishes, because everything is so sick looking. The crowd chants “please don’t stop,” which I think is a new one. Dragon Kid gets a super ace crusher and a dragon rana to get the pin on Doi at 20:32. This is your reason to buy the DVD right here. That’s one of the top 5 matches in ROH history. The appreciative crowd chants “Dragon Gate” for all six guys. The goofy “no tags needed” rule coupled with the fact that the babyface team still made “hot tags” and stuff keeps this one from going the Full Monty, but damn if it isn’tthisclose.
Rating: ****¾

MATCH #6: Colt Cabana vs. Kikutaro, Ring of Homicide, 5.13.06

Kikutaro calls Cabana a “homosexual” and pops for himself. Dave Prazak is joined by newcomer Jared David, who is subbing for the injured Lenny Leonard. They do some awesome comedy to start, and I don’t see them doing much more than that. They dance and do other assorted entertaining bits. Kikutaro “accidentally” low blows both Cabana and referee Mr. Duke. Another funny spot sees Mr. Duke clothesline Kikutaro. Moments later Cabana hits a powerbomb/folding press combination to get the pin at 6:56. That’s a fun way to start the show.
Rating: **

MATCH #7: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal vs. CIMA & Shingo, International Challenge, 12.22.06

Daniels and Sydal have been champions since 11.25.06, and this is their first defense. CIMA & Shingo earned this shot by being themselves, insofar as I know. Sydal teams with these guys while he’s in Dragon Gate, but he has to fight them tonight. Daniels and Shingo have a nice exchange and Sydal gets tagged in. He goes to work on Shingo’s arm. Shingo is able to tag out to CIMA, who gets a pop just for coming into the ring. Sydal showboats and it allows CIMA to take control but Sydal is still quick and tags out to Daniels. The heels soon take control and go to work on Daniels’s neck. Daniels comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and Sydal comes in and goes to work on CIMA. Sydal takes time out to yell CANNONBAALL before jumping off the ropes and he pays for it, as CIMA makes the tag to Shingo. They start doing some mean stuff to work on the back of Sydal. They beat on him for several minutes until he makes the hot tag to Daniels who does some creative things to his opponents. Daniels tries the Arabian Press to the floor but Shingo blocks it. Then Sydal gets involved and Shingo gets involved and I’m having trouble typing as fast as they’re moving. Sydal hits a big moonsault to the floor on everyone. He basically decides to stop selling the leg at all. Shingo hits a few power moves on Sydal and gets a near fall. Everyone’s in the ring now. Everyone hits some big moves and everyone is down. Shingo and CIMA recover first and almost get a pin on Daniels. Sydal breaks it up and Daniels hits a uranage and the Best Moonsault Ever and Sydal gets the Shooting Star Press to retain the titles at 23:49. That was pretty awesome in spots, but I wish Sydal would have sold the leg a little more consistently. That’s a minor complaint though in an otherwise very good match. On his way to the back, Daniels points at his belt and says “the road to greatness starts right here.” Wrestlers say the dumbest things.
Rating: ****

MATCH #8: CIMA, Susumu Yokosuka, Dragon Kid & Ryo Saito vs. Austin Aries, Delirious, Claudio Castagnoli & Rocky Romero, All Star Extravaganza III, 3.30.07

This may be one of those matches I don’t do much play-by-play for. The ROH team is assembled from random, as far as I know. Dragon Kid and Claudio Castagnoli make an interesting dynamic in the ring together. Lenny Leonard notes the irony of Castagnoli appearing on Team ROH, after he fought so hard against them during the CZW war. CIMA and Delirious have a go next, and Delirious goes nuts and very little contact is made. Yokosuka and Aries are next. Aries at first dominates everyone on the opposing team, but soon falls prey to their double, triple, and quadruple-teaming. Aries finally makes the tag to Delirious, who is a lizard-man on fire. Now the ROH team takes control on Dragon Kid, by far the smallest man in the match. Dragon fights back and make the tag out, but it soon turns into an all out brawl with everyone hopping into the ring whenever they feel like it. Everybody hits a bunch of moves for a while until the parade of signature moves starts. CIMA uses the Crossfire Bomb to pin Delirious at 27:52. That had a lot of cool spots and stuff in it, but it followed the exact same format as these types of matches all do. Not that that’s entirely a bad thing, but it did make me less emotionally invested.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #9: CIMA, Susumu Yokosuka & Shingo vs. Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito & Masaaki Mochizuki, Supercard of Honor II, 3.31.07

I don’t anticipate doing much play-by-play for this one, since I fully expect it to get out of control in a hurry. Prazak and Leonard talk about last year’s match and how no one quite knew what to expect and they ended up stealing the show, which is why they’re the main event tonight. I think Jacobs vs. Whitmer should have gone on last, but maybe that’s just me. Mochizuki and Yokosuka are making their ROH debuts this weekend, the rest have appeared several times before. This one starts off a little slower and has more tag team work than just spots. Prazak announces a huge main event for the Long Island show on 4.13.07, as Takeshi Morishima & Chris Hero will take on Nigel McGuinness & Doug Williams in what should be a good tag match. The next night in Edison, New Jersey, McGuinness will get his World Title opportunity against Morishima. CIMA’s team controls most of the early stages. Both teams are babyfaces in Dragon Gate; I think I remember Brad telling me that. As predicted, this one gets out of control and I know I can’t keep up with it. Plus, everyone knows what to expect from these guys now. The commentators take my cue and also stop play-by-play. The end finally comes when Dragon Kid tries the Dragon Rana on Yokosuka, but he reverses it to a sunset flip for three at 27:15. The finish was a little weak. Overall it wasn’t as mind-blowing as seeing this stuff for the first time last year, but it’s still a really good match with some insane action.
Rating: ****

MATCH #10: ROH World Title Match – Takeshi Morishima vs. Shingo, Good Times Great Memories, 4.28.07

Morishima has been the champion since 2.17.07, and this is his fifth defense. This is a NOAH vs. Dragon Gate match, which seems like it might be some kind of big deal. Shingo’s on his way back to Japan after this match and I must say that his stay in ROH was pretty fruitful for him. He’s wrestling the champion, he held the tag team titles, was on the shows in England, and even appeared in three main events. Shingo is the aggressor early on, as Leonard explains that Shingo will go back to Japan if he fails to win the ROH World Title tonight out of shame, so disregard what I said earlier. Morishima is giving Shingo a lot of offense. The champion shrugs off some strikes and hits a butt-butt. The champion then commences the beating. They get into a forearm exchange and Morishima obviously wins that one. Shingo fights back and stays persistent and finally hits a suplex on the champion. He hits a DDT on the ring apron and a DVD outside the ring. Back in the ring Shingo hits a Back Drop Driver on the champion for two. Sinclair tries to get Morishima to break and he pays for it. Shingo recovers and hits a superplex but Morishima just doesn’t care. Shingo hits the Last Falconry but Morishima kicks out. Big lariat by Shingo also gets two. Morishima comes back and hits a big lariat for two. Morishima tries a back drop driver but Shingo reverses it. Shingo hits a lariat and tries a powerbomb but ends up receiving an Earthquake splash. Another huge lariat by Morishima gets two. A big back drop driver is enough to get the pin at 15:22. Shingo really put it all out there for his last ROH match (as a regular anyway) and really made Morishima look great. Now if Morishima just had a little more natural charisma, he could start having four and a half star matches instead of just four star matches. It’s a big difference.
Rating: ****

~DISC 2~

MATCH #11: Naomichi Marufuji & Takeshi Morishima vs. Mitsuharu Misawa & KENTA, Glory By Honor VI Night One, 11.2.07

KENTA and Marufuji start the match and immediately trade forearms. They go 100 miles per hour briefly, and then pull back to reassess the situation. KENTA grabs a single leg and takes Marufuji down to the canvas. Marufuji reverses to a headscissors and KENTA rolls to the ropes. He backs KENTA into their corner and tags Morishima, who calls out the legend. Misawa officially enters his first American ring to thunderous chants. It takes a couple of shots to knock Morishima off his feet, and the former ROH World Champion rolls to the floor. Back in the ring Misawa takes Morishima down and locks on a chinlock. Misawa backs Morishima into the corner and tags KENTA, who reprises the chinlock. I’m surprised that Morishima is taking the heat. Just as I type that Morishima powers KENTA into his corner on the top rope and tags Marufuji, who hits a dropkick to the face. Marufuji works a sleeper, but KENTA breaks it with a back suplex and tags Misawa back in. Misawa continues working on Marufuji’s head and neck, and then levels him with a forearm for two. KENTA comes back in and he works Marufuji over with kicks. He drapes Marufuji over the top rope and hits a flying knee to the back of the head for two. He takes Marufuji back down and locks on a headscissors. Misawa comes back in and hits a monkey flip. Ten minutes have gone by.

KENTA switches up the strategy on Marufuji, taking him down into a leglock. Morishima comes in illegally to break it up. KENTA pays him back with a sizable kick to the face. Finally after a long time of getting beaten up, Marufuji makes the tag. Morishima blasts Misawa with a missile dropkick but only gets two. He signals for the Back Drop Driver but Misawa blocks it and the trade forearms. Misawa takes Morishima down with a spinning kick and then tags out. Morishima absorbs a couple of KENTA’s kicks and hits one of his own. KENTA comes right back with his own boot to the face and a leg lariat for a two-count as 15 minutes have gone by. KENTA tries a bodyslam but Morishima falls on top of him. Marufuji comes flying in from out of nowhere with a Frog Splash and then throws KENTA to the floor. He whips him into the barricade and hits an Ole Dropkick. Morishima goes to the floor as well and hits an Ole Butt-Butt. Back in the ring Marufuji and Morishima wear KENTA down and keep him away from tagging his partner. We cross the 20 minute mark as Morishima hits a side slam for two.

KENTA finally comes back with a hard kick to Morishima’s chest and finally makes the tag. Misawa goes up top for a diving forearm on Morishima and sets up for the Tiger Driver. Morishima blocks it and hits a Butt-Butt. Marufuji tags in and he gets some offense in. He hits a superkick and signals for the Shiranui but Misawa blocks it and hits a butterfly suplex. KENTA tags back in and he’s in control. Marufuji and Morishima regroup and send Misawa to the floor so they can double-team KENTA. It sort of backfires, but when KENTA tries a German Suplex, Morishima crashes down on him with all of his weight. Misawa gets back in the ring but Marufuji immediately nails him with a superkick to send him to the floor. The match is breaking down as 25 minutes have gone by. KENTA hits Marufuji with a Tiger Suplex for a two-count. Everyone hits a move on someone and all four men are down, as the time limit is winding down. KENTA and Marufuji are left in the ring and they trade kicks. Marufuji wins the battle and kicks KENTA’s face down in the canvas, and then nailing him with a hard superkick. He tries the Shiranui but KENTA counters it and hits Go 2 Sleep! Marufuji gets his foot on the bottom rope. Marufuji comes back with the Dragon Screw leg whip for a two-count. KENTA comes back with backslide for two, and an inside cradle for two as we’re down to a minute left. They exchange a series of pinning combinations but neither man can get the three-count. Tags are made and the big men trade forearms. Morishima hits a big lariat for two. Misawa comes back and sets Morishima on the top rope, and the 30:00 time limit expires. The crowd is not impressed with that finish, and neither am I. Why book a 30 minute draw in a one-off main event? Why couldn’t Marufuji job to Misawa or even KENTA? Other than that the match was pretty solid but nothing spectacular. The real draw of the match is Misawa’s mere presence, so if that does it for you, you’ll probably enjoy the match more than I did.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #12: BxB Hulk & Shingo vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico, Supercard of Honor III, 3.29.08

This is a bit of a dream match and it did a very good job living up to the billing. Shingo is amazing and he works well with Hulk, and they have great chemistry with Steen and Generico, a great team in their own right. The two teams went back and forth at a rapid pace throughout the match until Shingo was able to keep Generico down after two Pumping Bombers and the Last Falconry in almost 18 minutes.
Rating: ****

MATCH #13: Muscle Outlaws (Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino & Genki Horiguchi) vs. Typhoon (CIMA, Dragon Kid & Ryo Saito), Supercard of Honor III, 3.29.08

The annual Dragon Gate six-man has a reputation for a reason, and this match is a worthy entry in the series. It’s a rematch of the first match in 2006, but Horiguchi and CIMA have switched sides. This was fast-paced action from everyone just like you’d expect. It goes over 25 minutes but goes by extremely fast. Doi pins Kid after a Muscular Bomb. It’s not quite as good as the first but it’s very, very good.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #14: Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Austin Aries & Kota Ibushi, Tag Wars 2008, 4.18.08

This was the last ROH show I attended with former Cool Kid Sam Berman. Ibushi was on a four-show tour of the company, and this was his lone tag match. The Briscoes were the Tag Team Champions but the titles were not on the line here. I thought that foreshadowed a win for Aries and Ibushi, but the Briscoes got the pin on Ibushi after a Spiked Jay Driller in about 17 minutes. This was pretty good.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #15: Team NOAH (Takeshi Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji & Go Shiozaki) vs. The No Remorse Corps (Roderick Strong, Davey Richards & Rocky Romero), Southern Navigation, 5.9.08

I love everyone on Team NOAH. This is from ROH’s debut in Manassas, Virginia, and I believe Kevin Ford was there. Shiozaki, and Morishima spent a lot of time in ROH in 2007-2008, and Marufuji showed up frequently between 2005-2008. The No Remorse Corps was probably the most successful stable in ROH during the Stable Wars days. Marufuji gets the win for his team after hitting the Shiranui on Romero for the pin at about 28 minutes. This was a terrific main event.
Rating: ****

MATCH #16: Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Brent Albright & Roderick Strong, All Star Extravaganza IV, 12.26.08

Strong and Nakajima start it off. They take it to the mat, with Nakajima seeming to have the early advantage. They wrestle to a standoff, and then continue some back and forth chain wrestling and striking. Strong begs for Sasaki to come in the ring, and he unloads the chops to no effect. He goes over to tag in Albright. They quickly engage in a Greco-Roman Knuckle Lock, and Sasaki gets the first advantage. Albright powers back and they start trading chops. Both hit hard, so they decide to switch over to shoulder-blocks, and neither man can knock the other down that way either. Albright hits a dropkick for a near fall. Sasaki comes back with a powerslam and tags in Nakajima. He delivers a missile dropkick for a near-fall. He unloads a combination of kicks for another near-fall. He charges in and Albright catches him with a swinging backbreaker for two. Strong gets tagged back in and they double-team Nakajima as Albright forgets who the legal man is. Nakajima comes back on Albright and tags Sasaki back in. He suplexes Albright for a two-count. Nakajima comes back in to trade blows with Albright. He hits a knee in the corner and a series of slaps and kicks. Sasaki and Nakajima double team Albright, and Sasaki focuses on the knee. Strong tries to help his partner and eventually does break the hold. The NOAH team continues working over Albright’s wheels, tagging in and out to keep a fresh man in there. Sasaki whips Albright off the ropes and they clothesline each other. Both men make tags, and Strong is on fire. Sasaki makes his way back into the ring and halts Strong’s momentum. He hits a nice powerbomb for two and then locks on an arm submission. Strong recovers and tags in Albright. They double team for a moment, and then Albright hits the Air Raid Crash for two. They dump Nakajima to the floor but can’t put Sasaki away. Nakajima gets back in the ring and they brutalize Strong. He dumps Strong back to the floor and hits a dive over the ropes. Meanwhile Sasaki hits Albright with a lariat for a near-fall. Moments later the Northern Lights Bomb is enough to do the trick at 15:59. It took the fans a little bit to get into it, but they eventually did. The match just didn’t have any real flow, just moves going back and forth for a while. It was fine for what it was I guess.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #17: Jushin Liger vs. Austin Aries, SoCal Showdown, 1.29.10

This is Liger’s first appearance since the Weekend of Thunder shows over five years ago. The champ cuts a promo mocking both the fans and Liger. Aries gets all racist on him, so Liger grabs the mic and calls him an asshole. He punches Liger before the bell and takes control of the legend. He takes off his furry pink ring jacket and chokes Liger with it. Liger comes back with a quick palm strike, which sends Aries to the floor. He hits a baseball slide and then throws Aries into the barricade. Then Liger hits a nasty looking brainbuster on the floor. Aries is busted open, but still manages to climb back in the ring before the 20-count. Liger is in control now, and he locks on a surfboard. He continues to abuse the champion, who has a very important title defense against Tyler Black coming up in two weeks. Liger takes Aries up to the top rope, but Aries fights back and pitches Liger to the floor. Aries flies out with a double sledge off the top rope. He whips Liger into the barricade and follows him in with a spear. Back in the ring Aries hits a missile dropkick. Aries tries the IED but Liger kicks him out of the air. Liger hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He goes up top for a splash but Aries gets the knees up. Aries sends Liger to the floor and toes for the Heat Seeking Missile but Liger moves and Aries takes a nasty bump into the barricade. Back in the ring Liger hits the top-rope splash this time and gets a two-count. Liger goes for a Liger Bomb but Aries reverses to a hurricanrana. Aries backdrops Liger to the floor and this time hits the Heat Seeking Missile. Back in the ring Aries gets a two-count and then locks on the Last Chancery. Aries changes it up and hits knee strikes, and then goes for the brainbuster. Liger reverses it and hits a brainbuster of his own for a two-count. He tries another Liger Bomb but Aries avoids it. Seconds later Liger finally connects with the Liger Bomb for a near-fall. Liger takes Aries to the top rope and Aries sort of reverses it to a sunset bomb for two. Aries hits more knee strikes and once again locks on the Last Chancery. He breaks the hold himself and hits the shinbreaker / belly-to-back suplex combo. Aries hits the IED and the brainbuster. Liger kicks out at two! Aries goes up top for the 450 but Liger moves out of the way! Liger goes for a palm strike but Aries pulls referee Paul Turner in the way to avoid the blow. Aries hits a blatant low blow and nails another brainbuster to score the pin at 15:26. That was a really good back and forth match and I love the finish.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #18: Hiroyo Matsumoto & Ayumi Kurihara vs. Sara Del Rey & Serena Deeb, Honor Takes Center Stage Chapter 1, 4.1.11

Deeb and Matsumoto start the match. They exchange holds for a short time and then Del Rey tags in. Matsumoto wants to match strength with her but Del Rey has no interest in that so she boots her in the gut instead. Del Rey charges into a boot and Kurihara tags in. Kurihara gets a near-fall on Del Rey and then runs right into a hard kick. Del Rey follows with one to the back of the head for a two-count. Deeb tags in and Kurihara takes her down and locks on a brutal submission. Del Rey comes in illegally and breaks it up. The Joshi duo gets both of their opponents down on the floor and Kurihara wipes them out with a cross body block from the top rope. Back in the ring Kurihara goes for a monkey flip and Deeb cuts her off. Kurihara holds on though and locks on a cross armbreaker in the ropes. Del Rey breaks that up too. Back in the ring Deeb covers for two. Del Rey tags in legally and Team SDx2 keeps Kurihara away from Matsumoto. Kurihara fights back with a Codebreaker and makes the tag. Matsumoto is a house afire but and hits both Del Rey and Deeb with a cross body block for two. She follows with a gutbuster on Del Rey for a near-fall. The referee loses control and all four women are in the ring. Kurihara gets the best of it, knocking Del Rey to the floor with a missile dropkick and hitting Deeb with a nasty uranage. Matsumoto follows with the Back Drop Driver for the pin at 9:01. That was highly entertaining and felt short, always a plus.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #19: SHIMMER Tag Team Championship Match – Hiroyo Matsumoto & Ayumi Kurihara vs. Daizee Haze & Tomoka Nakagawa, Honor Takes Center Stage Chapter 2, 4.2.11

Haze & Nakagawa have been the Champions since 3.27.11, and this is their first defense. The champs disregard the pre-match handshake, since apparently they are heels. As someone who doesn’t follow SHIMMER, I’m glad they established that right away. Matsumoto and Nakagawa start the match with some back-and-forth action and Matsumoto uses her power to take control. Haze illegally interferes but Matsumoto counters them and hits a cross body block on both for a two-count. Kurihara tags in and goes to work on Nakagawa’s leg. Haze breaks that up and Nakagawa tags her in. The Haze is absurdly ripped here and the crowd picks up on it, cruelly chanting “eat a sandwich.” Kurihara puts on the Cross Armbreaker in the ropes and Haze tumbles to the floor to break it. Just like last night Kurihara goes up top but Nakagawa spits water in her eyes to take her down. The champs are back in control and they isolate Kurihara. After a few minutes Kurihara is able to make a hot tag and Matsumoto is a house afire. Nakagawa cuts her off with Sole Food. Matsumoto responds with a back suplex. Haze traps Matsumoto in a sleeper, and Kurihara traps Haze in a Guillotine Choke. Matsumoto drops her knees down on Nakagawa. That was cool, and it gets a two-count. Kurihara hits Nakagawa with a Codebreaker and then dropkicks her through the bottom rope. Nakagawa is able to make a tag and Kurihara hits Haze with a lungblower. Matsumoto tags in and the referee loses control. Kurihara hits Haze with the uranage and Matsumoto hits the Back Drop Driver but Nakagawa grabs the referee’s foot to stop the count. Haze comes back and hits Matsumoto with the Heart Punch and a Yakuza Kick. Nakagawa adds a step-up enziguiri and Haze hits a Tiger Suplex with a bridge to get the pin at 7:38. They packed a ton of action in there and it was fun.
Rating: ***

The Pulse: ROH has done an amazing job with their compilations this year and this is another great one. That’s been one thing missing from ROH since Gabe Sapolsky left – an influx of Japanese talent to freshen up the shows. This is a great collection of matches and a high recommendation to purchase. You can pick it up at the ROH Shop.

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