Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review of Honor: Fifth Year Festival; NYC

Review of Honor
Fifth Year Festival: NYC
2.16.07 | Manhattan Center in New York City, New York

Recently, I went and dug out by Ring of Honor DVD collection. I was huge into ROH for a long time and purchased a bunch of their DVDs, along with a lot of SHIMMER shows. I’ve decided to bring you some reviews of these shows that I haven’t seen in at least a long time. First up, we have a show that I had the pleasure of being at live. It was the first stop on ROH’s Fifth Year Festival.

We open to a shot of Rebecca Bayless, or the future Cookie in TNA, outside of the Manhattan Center. Man, I had a total crush on her during this time. After a short intro, Jimmy Rave cuts a promo. See, he’s the number one contender for the ROH World Title and gets his shot tonight.

Cut to the ring and Pelle Primeau comes out. You can see my brother and I in the front row during entrances, well mainly my brother. He gives Pelle the most ridiculous look like “who is this little guy?” Pelle issues an open challenge which is quickly answered.

Pelle Primeau vs. Takeshi Morishima
Takeshi Morishima is scheduled to make his ROH debut against Samoa Joe tonight, and he comes out to Joe’s “The Champ is Here” music. The pop is insane as the crowd thinks its Joe in his final New York ROH show. Morishima runs in, levels Pelle and hits the Backdrop Suplex to win.

Winner: Takeshi Morishima in 0:07
Can’t really rate this can I? NO RATING

Takeshi Morishima gets on the microphone and you can’t understand him. You can tell that he’s calling out Joe though, but Nigel McGuinness comes out to calm him down. After they leave, the biggest douche in history, Shane Hagadorn comes out with Adam Pearce. Pearce was good but I loathe seeing Shane’s stupid face. Before they can talk, Delirious’ theme hits to a pop.

Adam Pearce w/ Shane Hagadorn vs. Delirious
Delirious charges the ring and attacks quick as we finally get commentary from Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard. Adam Pearce brought a very old school heel vibe to ROH, which was welcome. Delirious takes out both he and Hagadorn with a somersault dive to the outside. Inside, Pearce slams him down as a “Repo Man” chant breaks out. For those unware, Pearce resembles the former WWF star. Pearce works some classic heel stuff to keep Delirious and the crowd out of it. Hilariously, Pearce tells Hagadorn “I’m gonna press this son of a bitch into the crowd” which obviously doesn’t happen. A drop toe hold from Delirious moves into a cobra stretch but Pearce gets free. They work the classic Ric Flair spot where Pearce takes a corner bump, climbs to the top and is slammed from there. Shadows over hell hits but Hagadorn distracts the official midway through the pin. I hate when that happens. Pearce uses brass knuckles but misses and hits Hagadorn. Delirious brings out his own pair, putting them in his mask and headbutting Pearce in a cool turn of events.

Winner: Delirious in 7:58
Not too shabby here. Adam Pearce worked his heel stuff and Delirious made a nice little comeback. Extra points for the finish being wise as it played into Delirious getting Pearce back for their past encounters. **¼

Adam Pearce blames Shane Hagadorn for the loss and shoves him. Being the manservant bitch that he is, Hagadorn gets to his knees to apologize and they hug.

Backstage, Christopher Daniels is standing by with his World Tag Team Champion partner, Matt Sydal. He is sporting a beard as he was just starting a heel run in TNA. Daniels says they aren’t getting enough credit as champions and does fine. Sydal struggles mightily through this whole thing. He stumbles through his stuff but is basically supposed to be a cocky jerk now that he won a title in Dragon Gate.

The Dangerous Angels vs. Alexa Thatcher and Daizee Haze
During the entrances, I again see my brother make a funny face, but this time because of how attractive he found Alexa Thatcher. Sara Del Rey remains the best female wrestler I have ever seen. They do a respectful handshake before the bell. We are told that Alexa is just 19 years old. The Dangerous Angels issued an open challenge to all females but I don’t think this went any further than this show. Allison Danger, sister of Steve Corino, starts with Haze and they have a fine exchange. WRESTLING! Del Rey is tagged only to be hit with a head scissors. Tag to Alexa, who gets a decent pop and they do a double dropkick. My heart skips a beat as Lacey appears. She pulls Daizee off the apron and they fight to the back. With Alexa alone, she is hit with a German suplex and the Royal Butterfly, ending this.

Winners: The Dangerous Angels in 3:16
Too short to be really good, but what we got was fine. Solid back and forth while Daizee was in there, while Sara Del Rey killed Alexa. This was here to get the Haze/Lacey feud over a bit more. Extra half star because of Lacey.

Four Way Fray
Jack Evans vs. Jimmy Jacobs w/ Lacey vs. Shingo vs. Xavier
Xavier is a former ROH World Champion and a replacement for the injured Davey Richards. I remember being hugely disappointed at it being Xavier. According to Dave Prazak, this is the first Four Way Fray in ROH. Unlike Four Corner Survival there are no tags and it is elimination. Shingo and Evans work together since they are in the same faction in Dragon Gate. Xavier turns Evans inside out with a lariat. He kicks Shingo, who takes them all because he’s a badass. Evans is up and misses a cartwheel corkscrew to the outside. Shingo continues to be a badass with a flatliner/DDT combo on Xavier and Jacobs. Xavier is working as the heel but eats a spear from Jacobs. He’s too small to have an effective spear honestly. Xavier hits a powerbomb rolled into an alley opp rolled into a piledriver! GOODNESS! However, a reverse hurricanrana and backslide lead Evans to eliminate him at 4:23. Shingo gets two with the Gallon Throw. Contra Code is blocks and Shingo follows with a vicious lariat to send him packing at 5:48. Lacey is pissed and so am I because it means she’s leaving. Goodbye my love. Interesting final two since they are getting a Tag Team Title shot the following night in Philadelphia. They shake hands and boot each other at the same time, which is funny. Evans is sloppy with a hurricane but makes up for it with a pretty Space Flying Tiger Drop. Inside, his handspring elbow is countered as Shingo tosses him and basically MURDERS him with a lariat. Somehow that only gets two. A German from Shingo also only gets two. Evans hits a series of strikes for two. The 630 is loudly called for, probably giving it away to Shingo. He stops him up top but still gets hit with knees that knock him back down. 630 connects and that’s all she wrote.

Winner: Jack Evans in 9:50
Yes that was a spotfest. But hot damn it was an absolute blast. It would have been better with someone besides Xavier in there as he only had one cool moment. Everyone did work hard though, which made for a better match than expected. ***½

Samoa Joe’s theme hits again and this time it is actually him. The crowd is rocking for his final New York appearance. If I haven’t mentioned it yet, Joe is on his farewell tour, working the first of his final six ROH shows. As he talks to the fans, they start a “fuck TNA” chant but he tells them to relax because they sign his checks. He puts over the company and how much they have grown since starting five years earlier. After getting the nice stuff out of the way, he says that he heard a “mop headed” Asian called him out earlier and he’s ready to fight. Instead of Morishima, he gets Nigel McGuinness who says “you don’t call out Morishima, Morishima calls out you.” Things get heated and bust out into a brawl that is broken up by Bobby Dempsey, Rhett Titus and other ROH grads wearing STAFF shirts. Good segment as Joe puts the company over and says goodbye. A brawl is always fun especially since they are about to work a tag match in a few weeks.

Tables Are Legal
BJ Whitmer vs. Brent Albright
This is not a traditional tables match as it has normal rules, except that tables are legal. Nothing else, just tables. As part of his entrance, BJ Whitmer poses on the top rope and Albright pushes him off and through a table! That’s how you start something like this! Albright pounds away on Whitmer for a bit and sets up a table in the corner. It backfires when Whitmer hits an exploder through it on Brent. The table doesn’t fully break so he does it again, which I appreciate. They continue to go for high spots as both guys crash through a table outside on a back suplex attempt. Whitmer hits a brainbuster inside but pulls Albright up because it’s not enough. He sets up two tables outside but Brent hits a German suplex and half nelson suplex before Whitmer hits a lariat and they both fall out. Albright Is up first and AWESOME BOMBS WHITMER THROUGH TWO TABLES to the outside. HOLY SHIT! Somehow, that only gets a near fall and Albright sets up a table over the ropes in the corner. The next table doesn’t cooperate so Albright stomps on it and flips it the bird. THAT’LL SHOW IT! He sets up two tables in the ring side by side and climbs to the one set up in the corner. He wants to powerbomb Whitmer from it, but BJ blocks and hits a SUPER EXPLODER THROUGH THE TWO TABLES! That is finally enough to put down the “Gun for Hire”.

Winner: BJ Whitmer in 13:56
Well fuck that was crazy. When you start with a table spot in the first five seconds, you have a lot of live up to the rest of the match and this did just that. Both guys put their bodies on the line and beat the hell out of each other. It’s not one for the psychology buffs, but the fact that each table spot got progressively crazier was impressive. ***¼

The ROH Shop is promoted next. I think it is cool as hell that ROH’s website sold DVDs for tons of promotions including WWE. That’s damn cool. I have some SHIMMER shows on DVD and even one FIP show that I may end up reviewing if I can find them.

ROH World Tag Team Championship
Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal (c) w/ Allison Danger vs. Austin Aries and Roderick Strong
At this point in time, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong had the longest reign as Tag Champions and were looking to regain them. Christopher Daniels starts with Strong and they have a good old fashioned INDY WRESTLING exchange. When it moves to Matt Sydal and Austin Aries, commentary says that Sydal will defend his Dragon Gate belt against Aries during this Fifth Year Festival, marking the first them a Dragon Gate title is defended on US soil. Their exchange is better due to their history from Matt’s time in Generation Next. The challengers try to double team Sydal but he counts, sending them outside before Daniels dives onto Roddy. The challengers turn things around and do some nice double teams moves on Sydal. Their chemistry was always fantastic. The moves are so crisp and perfectly executed, it’s a thing of beauty. Roddy turns a stalling vertical suplex into a gutbuster, which is nice. Sydal manages to hot tag Daniels in, who busts out some lariats. He targets Strong’s back in a show of irony. Sydal does a little dance before a dropkick just to showcase his cocky attitude. Daniels applies the Koji Clutch, one of my favorite moves ever, but Aries breaks it up. Now Strong is taking the heat that Sydal took earlier. Dueling tags come in and Aries is on fire, nailing Sydal with the heat seeking missile and looks like he nearly killed himself. He hits a corkscrew press for two and his Lionsault attempt ends badly as he lands on his neck. Somehow, he’s feeling the effects on his ankle instead. He is lucky. Sydal tries his gorgeous standing moonsault but Aries gets the knees up. Sydal hits a cannonball like move but the pin is broken with a kick to the face. Sydal tries to springboard off Strong’s shoulders but ends up in a gutbuster for two. The Gibson Driver is blocked before Daniels hits the Arabian Press. Continuing the work on Strong, Daniels drapes him on his knees while Sydal hits a standing shooting star press for two again. The challengers bust out their chop/brainbuster double team, which makes perfect sense before a rollup earns them a super close near fall. The action is really fast but Daniels hits a Death Valley driver followed by a Sydal Press and Best Moonsault Ever. That flurry is able to end this.

Winners and Still ROH World Tag Team Champions: Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal in 20:44
A really overlooked Tag Team Title match. It was damn good but I never hear it talked about and a lot of people haven’t even seen it. It might be because ROH’s tag team scene was on another level during this time. The crowd kind of fell flat after Aries’ near injury but were mostly hot. ****

The four men shake hands, but Christopher Daniels is still rather put off by Matt Sydal acting like a total dick. Davey Richards strolls out to badmouth Austin Aries, leading to Roderick Strong planting Aries with a backbreaker! HEEL TURN! Strong says he’s done being in the background and Davey announces this as the start of the No Remorse Corps. Jack Evans runs out because those are his friends. It’s cool that Strong has no issues with Jack and tells Davey to back off. Effective heel turn, and I was a big fan of the NRC.

Intermission time as Becky Bayley interviews Homicide about facing the red hot Jimmy Rave tonight. Homicide cuts a basic promo about winning tonight before Julius Smokes annoys everyone.

The Briscoe Brothers vs. Colt Cabana and Nigel McGuinness
The combined theme music for Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana is a thing of beauty. The Briscoes were red hot, sweeping Aries and Strong in a 2 out of 3 falls and winning GHC Tag Titles. They start early with double teams on Cabana. Cabana and Nigel fire back with stereo European uppercuts. Seeing the Briscoes heel it up is cool since most of the stuff I’ve seen from them is as faces. Mark even goes old school and uses the ropes for leverage on a submission. It’s the little things. Cabana springboard somersaults onto both Briscoes but it’s not as pretty as it sounds. Because he’s Colt Cabana, he pulls the nipple hair of Mark Briscoe. I can’t make this up. Nigel hits so damn hard, scoring two on some vicious lariats. We get some fun Cabana spots leading to a moonsault press. FLYING ASSHOLE into a stiff uppercut from Nigel. That’s cool as it plays off of Cabana’s fun style and Nigel’s aggressive one. The Briscoes bust out a double team neckbreaker though for two. They then hit impressive stereo frog splashes for two. Like the last tag match, the action is frenetic. Cabana and Nigel connect on a double tower of London but the count is broken. The Briscoes signal for the Doomsday Device but Nigel counters and they seem to kind of botch the next spot as a pin is broken but it’s awkward. The Rebound Lariat earns Nigel and Cabana the upset.

Winners: Colt Cabana and Nigel McGuinness in 14:34
There’s an odd dynamic with Nigel McGuinness as he’s a face here but kind of a heel with Samoa Joe. I think his dynamic with Colt Cabana is sweet though as the playful guy and the serious man nearly always works. Solid tag work here and a surprising result considering how dominant the Briscoes would be in 2007. ***¼

Samoa Joe runs out to get him some more of Nigel McGuinness but officials break this up. Takeshi Morishima is out next and we’re about to have us a fight.

Samoa Joe vs. Takeshi Morishima
These two got into a shoving match a few months prior in this building and the place went nuts. Here we have us a good old fashioned clash of the titans as two bigger fellas are just gonna beat the shit out of each other. Morishima makes the fans gasp with a CARTWHEEL BODY AVALANCHE! The cartwheel would make any Diva that has done it jealous. The fans legitimately don’t know who is going to win since it is Joe’s farewell but Morishima has a title shot 24 hours later. It’s strange to see Joe as the guy taking a beating early on. Morishima goes up top and hits a fucking MISSILE DROPKICK! Joe finally gets on the offensive and facewashes Morishima’s face. Morishima’s nose is bleeding, which is a recurring theme for the big fella. Joe knocks him outside, following with elbow suicida! Big OLE kick outside from Joe as the tide has turned. Inside though, Morishima hits a side slam and then just rolls over Joe, using his massive ass as a weapon. STJoe only gets two as this has been exactly what it should be. A jumping kick and DVD get Joe a near fall. Morishima climbs up top again but Joe greets him with slaps and a second rope enziguri! MUSCLE BUSTER hits but it’s not enough! The place popped hard for that. They now just trade huge shots that all sound like they hurt like hell. Morishima hits a series of moves like a urinage and his backdrop suplex but that isn’t enough. Joe ducks a lariat, hitting a half nelson suplex before going to a choke. Morishima breaks it with a jawbreaker, but Joe avoids it and locks it back in. Morishima keeps trying to get out, but Joe locks it in and Morishima passes out.

Winner: Samoa Joe in 18:06
This is how you book a heavyweight fight. The fact that a lot of ROH guys don’t fit the bill of these two gave this a different feel. Both guys beat the shit out of each other and showed off some incredible athleticism period, let alone for their size. The rabid crowd played a big part as the atmosphere was insane. With Morishima sticking around and Joe leaving, I think that maybe Morishima should have won, but knowing that he wins the title the next night and looked great here, it worked out well. ****½

A sweet video package airs showcasing some of the best feuds in Ring of Honor over the past year. Go watch it as it shows some fantastic stuff.

ROH World Championship
Homicide (c) w/ Julius Smokes vs. Jimmy Rave
Four months earlier, Jimmy Rave was struggling until he ended a losing streak by beating Homicide. It all comes full circle here. Rave wastes little time going after Homicide but ends up outside in position for Homicide’s signature dive. Smokes even gets in some chops. I spot Vlad the Superfan in the crowd, which is always appreciated. Rave comes back with a plancha to the outside, showing he’s giving his all tonight. Jimmy Rave has a more, I don’t want to say basic, but I guess calm style than a lot of ROH guys. His stuff is crisp but not showy. Homicide applies an STF which is a set up for the Cop Killa. Swinging DDT is blocked and Rave goes after the leg, setting up for the Heel Hook, which has been effectively built as he has used it to make big names tap out. As he works the leg, he steals Homicide’s “ghetto fork” from his boot. When the referee stops him from using it, Smokes hands Homicide another fork, which he uses to bust open the challenger. The action goes to the apron where Rave hits a nasty looking STO onto it, changing the momentum. Rave hits Ghanarea and a spear for two. Homicide fights back with the Three Amigos to “Eddie” chants before a second rope DDT and senton gets two. A top rope hurricanrana is blocked and Rave nails a second rope Styles Clash, which he stole during a feud with AJ. That only gets two. He goes for the Heel Hook but Homicide gets out and hits a top rope ace crusher. A lariat gets two, which surprises since it is the move that won him the belt. Cop Killa now gets countered into the Heel Hook. The tease of him tapping out is expertly done. He manages to roll through and hit the Cop Killa to retain.

Winner and Still ROH World Heavyweight Champion: Homicide in 18:52
I enjoyed this way more here than I recall doing live. They had the tough task of following the Joe/Morishima match but managed to deliver. Jimmy Rave doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his ability to work as a damn good heel. ***¾

Overall: 8/10; Great. I remember being a little underwhelmed being at this show live but I cannot figure out why. Maybe it’s because I have seen some seriously incredible shows live. Samoa Joe and Takeshi Morishima had a classic and nothing on the show was bad at all. It seemingly got progressively better and is a fun three hour watch with some really good matches.

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