In 2007 ROH saw many of its biggest stars pulled by TNA as it debuted on PPV. It also saw the elevation of new faces to the main event, and a surprising, large and in charge champion. Takeshi Morishima won the ROH title in his second announced ROH match, and was a monstrous force ROH had never seen before. Joe was big, but Morishima was bigger. This led the way for some of the most heated ROH title matches. The year was also defined by the epic tag title reign of the Briscoes, and the arrival of Kevin Steen and El Generico to challenge them.

1. Driven (A+)

This is difficult to rate, but as a DVD release it is easily ROH’s best. Driven was ROH’s second Pay Per View, and was the first to be made up of matches from two shows. The main show was filmed in Chicago, but the PPV main event pitting Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson for a title shot was filmed earlier in the month, in Philadelphia.

Pros: Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson is one of the best rivalries in ROH history, and this is one of their best matches. It is hard for many people to decide between this match, or their bout at Unified (or maybe from Rising Above, or the Anniversary show…) but either way, this match is tremendous. It features some of the most insane spots you will ever see, some brilliant psychology, and one of the best finishing sequences in ROH history. The head butts, the image of Danielson covered in blood, and the electric crowd all combined to create a fever pitch rarely seen in wrestling.

The DVD release also features a second fantastic Bryan Danielson match, this time against KENTA. This represents his third match with KENTA overall, and second in Ring of Honor. To me, it doesn’t reach the elite level of their first match, but it is still an excellent match. It follows the same basic story as the first match, hard kicks and arm work, but with some new twists as well, such as Bryan Danielson trying out the G2S.

Then there is the opener of the PPV, a fast paced six man tag between the Resilience and the No Remorse Corps. The match itself is great and a high energy opener, but what follows is more important. Austin Aries returned to ROH after a brief departure due to being pulled by TNA. The PPV continues at that same pace as Matt Sydal took on Claudio Castagnoli. Claudio is always a great base for high flyers, and against wrestlers like Sydal who have perfect execution and timing he is at his best. This match is short, but every second is wonderful. BJ Whitmer vs Naomichi Marufuji is probably the lowlight of the PPV, but even this is a good, solid match. It just doesn’t keep up the pace of the previous two matches. Two quick squashes follow, and the Chicago portion ends with the first tag title match between the Briscoes and Steen/Generico in a really good match. The funny thing is, it is probably the worst of their title matches! The non PPV portion is fun as well, with a good SHIMMER match, a good match up between Nigel and Hero, and an amusing Morishima squash of Adam Pearce.

Cons: None. Maybe the Pearce squash if two Morishima squashes on one show bores you.

2. Good Times, Great Memories (A+) This show represents the end of an era. This was, at the time the last ROH show featuring TNA talent. So Daniels, Homicide, the Motor City Machine Guns, Jim Cornette and Austin Aries seemed lost to ROH. Aries would soon return, but the rest would be gone for at least a year, and in Daniels’ case almost three. It also featured Colt Cabana bidding farewell to ROH, at least for the time being.

Pros: The first match between the Briscoes and the Motor City Machine guns is the best tag team match in ROH history to this point. Maybe the best ever. The pace these two teams set for a long match is absurd, and the match peaks at just the right time. If there is any downside to it, it is that it seems impossible that the Briscoes will lose, but the ring work makes it believable that Shelley and Sabin can pull off the victory. Overlooked on this show is Morishima vs Shingo. On paper this match didn’t get too many fans excited. But what followed was an epic power vs power struggle, with Shingo putting on the best singles match of his ROH run. You know a match is good when fans who a few months earlier saw little in Shingo wished he could stay longer after seeing this match.

Colt Cabana’s farewell couldn’t live up to CM Punk’s, but it was still a sad, and yet funny send off. His match with Pearce is nothing to write home about, but it is still amusing, and Colt’s goodbyes at the end are classic Colt, ending the show on a nice note. The show also began on a nice note with a hot Six Man Mayhem, featuring several wrestlers from CHIKARA. The entire show is frankly excellent top to bottom. Daniels and Stevens have a fine match that is overshadowed by Daniels cutting a great promo on the ROH fans, the 4CS is good, and Aries vs Romero is pretty good too! There’s just a great mix of high spots, hard hitting matches, and a bit of sports entertainment on this show.

Cons: I guess Payne vs Toland? I loved Toland though…

3. Man Up (A+) ROH’s third PPV was taped in Chicago and featured the Ladder War between the Briscoes and Steen/Generico. After 5.5 years, ROH finally had a ladder match. But, overall this represented ROH’s peak on traditional PPV. Bryan Alvarez went as far as to call it the best PPV for the money in the history of wrestling. You can’t get higher praise than that. However, it falls a bit lower than Driven as a DVD simply because the non PPV portion isn’t quite as strong.

Pros: The Ladder War is an absurd spectacle. Alvarez had a good description of the psychology, saying it built up to progressively crazier and crazier stuff, and bigger ladders. Crowd brawling, ladder bridges, GIANT LADDERS, this is a match that tops everything that came before it in ROH in terms of sheer insanity and violence. On top of this, it is followed up by one of the most memorable angles in ROH history. The Age of the Fall was born as Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, The Necro Butcher and Lacey assaulted the Briscoes and strung a bleeding Jay up over the ring. Jimmy then cut a promo under the bleeding Jay, creating one of the more disturbing images you’ll see in wrestling.

Morishima and Bryan Danielson had their second title match, a match that heavily played off of their first encounter and Danielson’s previous history with Chicago. Danielson’s orbital bone had been broken a month earlier in their first match, and Morishima swore he’d be honorable and not exploit the injury, only to do the opposite. Danielson gave another legendary underdog performance, and in the end fell victim to one of his own tricks. Morishima pounded his eye until the ref called the match in the same way Danielson had two years earlier in Chicago in his second match with Roderick Strong.

The rest of the PPV card is very strong as well. The opening four way is a fast paced multi man opener that sets up Nigel McGuinness’ title win. Matt Cross and Rocky Romero had about the best match two men could have in four minutes. Austin Aries and Davey Richards topped their previous two encounters with a hard hitting match, and Roderick Strong and Erick Stevens continued their rivalry with a brutal match. This one did not quite live up to their match in FIP, but they would go on to top that match later in the year. The non PPV portion isn’t bad either. Awesome Kong debuted in ROH in a very good tag match, and Matt Sydal bid farewell to ROH against Delirious in a match that is fine, but not as good as their previous matches. Sydal’s concussion likely played a role in this.

Cons: The in ring debut of the Age of the Fall could have been better. Their match against Evans and Irish Airborne is nothing special. The same can be said for a lamer stable as the Hangmen 3 didn’t have much of a match in this card either, taking on the YRR.

4. Supercard of Honor II (A+) The stars of Dragon Gate returned to ROH for Wrestlemania Weekend 2007, and this time in greater numbers. But, the show case of their return was still the Dragon Gate 6 man, and once again it more than delivered. However, the show was stolen by a brutal steel cage match between Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer.

Pros: After 15 months the feud between Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer ended in an absolutely absurd, brutal, and at times disgusting steel cage match. First of all, the unexpected winner helped, because most people did not see the finish going that way. The insane amount of effort put into the match, however is the real selling point. Both guys try SO HARD. Jimmy Jacobs suffered a major injury that put him out for 5 months and still managed to be there for the finish. They did things no one should do, like that exchange of spikes. You can’t help but cringe there. And in the end, this seemed like true hatred between two men, with one getting the better in the end and reaping the rewards.

The Dragon Gate Six Man was also tremendous. The men involved seemed to know they couldn’t duplicate the match from 06, and that if they did, why would anyone pay to see the same thing twice? So they did something different! There is still tons of crazy high flying, but this iteration featured more power from guys like Shingo, and more striking to give it a different vibe. For my money this is the best of the DG 6 Man matches done on US soil. Most don’t agree and put this second or third, but I think everyone agrees it is a fantastic match.

The rest of the show is a bit more of a mixed bag than the higher ranked shows. Austin Aries vs Roderick Strong is a really good match, but disappointing given their previous history. It is better than any of their FIP matches, but it didn’t seem like they had the chemistry one would expect. The opener is also quite good, with the amazing team of Jay Briscoe and Delirious taking on Daniels and Sydal the former tag champs. Delirious was replacing the injured Mark, and I hope at some point we see Delirious and the Briscoes as a regular trios team. Jack Evans got off to a much better start in his feud with the No Remorse Corps than Aries as he teamed with Doi in a good match against Romero and Richards. It was a pretty weird choice to have the NRC lose after debuting a new member, but who cares at this point. Nigel McGuinness vs Chris Hero was fine, but was more about the wacky antics going on around the match.

Cons: Claudio vs Yamato is a fairly non descript match. Yamato was still pretty green at this point and wasn’t close to the worker he has become, and wasn’t showing the crazy charisma he has now. Pearce and Albright vs Homicide and Cabana was also a pretty dull grudge tag in a feud that felt completely heatless at this point.

5. Fifth Year Festival Finale (A+) The Fifth Year Festival wrapped up with this show, and with it Samoa Joe’s tenure in ROH ended. The show is excellent top to bottom, with a really good mix of wrestling and the historic farewell. It’s hard to decide which of the England FYF shows is best, but I give the slight edge to this show.

BRISCOE VS BRISCOE. The Briscoe brothers had an excellent match in 2002, and wrapped up their feud at the 1st Anniversary Show in a good, but not great match. Four years later they finally squared off again in an ROH ring to MAN THE FUCK UP! This match is excellent. Jay plays a subtle heel, slowly taking more liberties in the match and bullying his brother. It slowly builds up to the finish, and when you get there it makes total sense. Beyond that this is exactly what you’d expect from a Briscoes match, it is hard hitting and just a bit crazy.

Samoa Joe vs Homicide is a bit of an odd match. I really liked it, it was different. They did some lucha inspired spots and generally just seemed like they were having fun. That is exactly what they should have done. Joe’s farewell was very emotional on top of that, and the crowd gave him a fantastic send off. Considering how many matches they had against each other in ROH, it was nice to see them do this match and have it feel like a change of pace. Especially when they had just wrestled two months earlier.
Nigel McGuinness and Jimmy Rave had an absurdly brutal Fight Without Honor. This was a great match that unfortunately left Rave with a broken jaw and gave the Jawbreaker Lariat its name. They did so many crazy things, Towers of London on stuff, both guys taking beatings, Nigel making a great comeback, and in the end Jimmy Rave nearly had his head taken off.

The rest of the show is great. BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs had a really good Falls Count Anywhere
match that started coming down from the balcony. They made great use of this somewhat unique venue, and helped have a different feel than the usual ROH crowd brawl and hardcore match. Doi and Shingo made the most of their short ROH tag title reign with a good match against the NRC. Colt Cabana and Delirious had the best comedy match in ROH in years, and Matt Sydal and PAC had a great high flying encounter.
Cons: Del Rey and Danger vs Jetta and Eden Black was a below average match. Jetta and Black did not seem like they were on the same level as Danger, and especially not Del Rey. It isn’t a bad match, but it seemed out of place on such an otherwise great show.

6. Fifth Year Festival Liverpool (A+) The first night of the Liverpool double shot got off to a great start. The crowd was hot, the matches were top notch, and there was a shocking title change. If you thought the FYF got off to a weak start, it sure ended hot.

Pros: Samoa Joe and Nigel McGuinness had a great match. The ending is odd, but it works. Joe goes over, but Nigel looks like a star for putting up such a valiant effort. It’s weird to see Joe be the more popular guy in his opponents hometown, and to see him go over on his last weekend, but he’s Samoa Joe. He was ROH for 4 years. This is by far their best match together, and Nigel feels like he’s on the same level as Joe here. The ending is particularly well done, and it is a shame ROH could not return to the UK because Nigel became an even bigger star on this night. The Briscoes faced Shingo and Naruki Doi to defend their tag titles for the first time, and lost them, shockingly. The match itself is a fantastic example of the Briscoes meshing with the Dragon Gate style, fast paced, stiff and near falls!

The show starts strong as well. Homicide faced Davey Richards, and the No Remorse Corps continued to get off to a very slow pace with another Richards loss. It became a running joke at this point, with Richards losing half a dozen matches in a row leading up to, and right after his heel turn. The match is still really good, and doesn’t try to do too much for an opener. Roderick Strong and Pac had a very good match for the FIP title, Matt Sydal continued his heeling ways in his 2/3 falls match with Delirious in another good match, and well, pretty much everything is at least good. Delirious/Sydal may not live up to their best match in terms of spots, but instead it improves the story telling and drama. While there is nothing bad, nothing quite lives up to the highlights of Finale, which is why it ranks a bit lower, despite having nothing that can be described as a “con.”

7. Manhattan Mayhem II (A) ROH decided to bring back the name of one of its best shows in the summer of 2007, running Manhattan Mayhem II. This match had a bit less mayhem than the first, but featured one of the best matches in ROH history. It also features another chapter in the feud between Kevin Steen and El Generico and the Briscoes.

Pros: Bryan Danielson vs Morishima stands as one of the best matches ROH has ever done. It tells one of the best stories in the David vs Goliath match up, and features tremendous crowd heat. Danielson brings in his new MMA oriented offense, peppering Morishima with leg kicks to cut him down to size, and after many leg kicks, one final one brings the big Japanese man down. This is honestly one of my favorite moments in an ROH match, because it just works so perfectly. What follows is an extremely hot closing stretch. What makes the match even more stunning is Danielson did it with a broken orbital bone and being half blind! That gives you an idea of just how hard these guys lay it in on each other.

The Briscoes vs Steen and Generico wasn’t the best match of the feud, and the ending doesn’t make a ton of sense, but the match is still pretty great. It is a 2/3 falls match, and the Briscoes had a streak of winning two straight falls in these matches. So, it would have made sense to have their fiercest rivals end that streak to set up a final match? Oh well. The match is crazy, and features an absolutely wild dive during the second fall and an important post match angle to set up the LADDER WAR.

The rest of the card is more uneven than the previously reviewed shows. The opener is fast paced, and a good showcase of both the Resilience and Quackenbush/Jigsaw. Austin Aries vs Jack Evans vs Roderick Strong is disappointing in the sense that you would expect these three to have a fantastic match… but, instead it is a storyline piece with lots of run ins and insanity. But for what it was, it is a lot of fun to watch and made it seem like this three way faction warfare might actually go somewhere good! Claudio finally got his hands on Hero in another good match, and Ruckus made his singles debut in what isn’t a good match, but is a good showcase for what he can do in the ring.

Cons: I saw this show live, so I’ll always remember how bad Davey Richards vs PAC was. This match dragged the first half of the show down live, but after editing it isn’t nearly as bad. It is basically just a below average match. If you go in fresh, it may even seem halfway decent! Jimmy Jacobs vs Mitch Franklin isn’t much of a match, but seeing Jimmy return as a babyface is pretty fun. But, as a match Jimmy wasn’t yet back in ring shape. Finally, the Hangmen 3 vs Delirious storyline pretty much sucked, and the six man tag on this show is pretty by the numbers.

8. Final Battle 2007 (A) Coming off the heels of the Rising Above 2007 PPV, Final Battle 2007 seemed like the least important Final Battle coming into the show. Coming out of it, it ended up being one of the most important Final Battle shows. Two title changes, an injury that ended up being worked into a major heel turn, and a debut that completely fizzled made this a show with longer term implications than the PPV that preceded it.

Pros: The ROH title was supposed to be defended in a 4 Way Elimination Match, but Nigel McGuinness suffered a concussion the night before. So it became a 4 Way Elimination match for a shot at the title between Chris Hero, Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries and Takeshi Morishima. This match is absolutely tremendous. It features some fantastic multi man spots, a bit of comedy, and yet another great encounter between Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries. Morishima being double teamed by Aries and Danielson is one of my favorite sequences in ROH history, especially as Chris Hero goofed off around them.

The 9 month title reign of the Briscoes also ended at the hands of the Age of the Fall. The Briscoes had a disappointing match against Jacobs and Necro 2 months earlier, but Tyler Black adds a lot to the chemistry of this match. It becomes more of an athletic contest than a grudge match, which doesn’t work as well in the storyline, but as a match it works. There are some absolutely fantastic nearfalls, with the Briscoes kicking out of a move so big it makes you assume they are winning, only to finally fall to the onslaught. The FIP title also changed hands with Roderick Strong and Erick Stevens chopping the crap out of each other. These is more to the match than just chops, like Stevens doing some great selling and mounting a great comeback. The crowd didn’t seem to care at first, but by the finish Erick Stevens made them care about him, which is the mark of a great match.

Marufuji and Richards faced off in another great match. As good as the match is, for me the highlight will always be Richards doing a crazy dive that left him in the crowd, leaping to his feet and embracing a young Asian woman, causing her to cry. Davey Richards is a great man. The Tables Are Legal Match returned, and this time the match was helped tremendously by having 6 men in the match, plus some run in antics and nuttiness. ROH is still bitten in the ass for using cheap tables, but it doesn’t hurt a really fun tables match. Jack Evans vs the Necro Butcher also had a fun hardcore match, and the opener of the Vulture Squad vs Fish and Cross is fun as well.

Cons: This show clocks in at 9 matches, and I have no idea why Romero vs Osiris was added to it. I know injuries changed the show, but this added to a long run time and contributed nothing. Sweeney beat Claudio via shenanigans to set up a new feud between his new charge Daniel Puder and Claudio. That would be fine, but the storyline was blown off a month later as a cost cutting move. It is a shame since Puder looked to be a tremendous heel, although not much of a worker.

9. Race to the Top Tournament Night 2 (A-) This is the best show. It doesn’t have the best matches, or a major title change, or even a title match! But I love it. It should be an A++ but I will try to be a reasonable person and rate it without bias. But this show is SO MUCH FUN. It has great matches, great skits, great promos and some upsets.

Pros: The 8 Man Tag Team match for $10,000 and the promos leading up to it were fantastic. Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness chose teams dodge ball style, and were such bitches to each other. Nigel was a tremendous babyface here making it seem absurd he didn’t get over as a face champion. They argue over Briscoes, over your mother jokes, and everything. Then the match itself was a ton of fun, with the Briscoes fighting briefly, taking everyone out and then going out drinking, and lots of other wrestling fun. Just watch it, words don’t do this match justice.

I’ll try not to spoil the tournament, since at this point it is 3 years old and some people may not know how it went down. Suffice to say, the two Semi final matches are pretty good, and the finals are tremendous. The match up is fantastic with both guys having absolutely absurd chemistry and it is a crime that they have wrestled so infrequently since. There is also a six man mayhem match between the losers of Night 1, and Kevin Steen shows more personality here than anyone had in a previous Six Man Mayhem match, along with the usual high flying spotfest. Throughout the DVD there are also skits featuring Sweet N Sour Inc helping Bobby Dempsey lose weight. They are too funny for words.

Cons: Brent Albright vs Jack Evans is really the only match on the card that doesn’t work. Even Pelle vs Davey manages to work as well as can be expected, but Albright vs Jack… they didn’t mesh and the finish just did not feel convincing.

10. Death Before Dishonor V Night 1 (A-) 2007 had some great double shots. ROH did the great FYF doubleshot in the UK, and then a great DBD doubleshot in the Northeast US. Night 1 is more uneven than Night 2, but the highs are much higher and it ends on an absolute spectacle.

Pros: Claudio Castagnoli finally gets his shot at the ROH World Title. He’s the tallest guy in ROH facing the giant Japanese mean guy, Morishima. He’s big and fat, wears a black diaper and does a missile dropkick. He’s awesome and scary. But so is Claudio! WHO WILL WIN? Claudio puts on the best performance of his life here. He is such an awesome babyface. He gets the crowd so amazingly behind him and against Morishima. Morishima deserves credit too since he got tremendous heat in almost all of his defenses. The work the two do teasing each other’s finishers is fantastic, and the final counter to the Ricola Bomb is one of the most inspired spots I have ever seen. It looks devastating, but it is in the end very simple. I LOVE THIS MATCH.

Now that we know what we know about concussions and wrestling, the street fight between the Briscoes and Steen/Generico is harder to watch. But, in its original context, this is one of the best street fights I have ever seen. They make crowd brawling interesting! They make use of every part of the building, and they cut some great promos on each other to set up the match backstage. Men are hit in the head with chairs, they go head first into objects, they fly over things, and it is amazing no one was injured.

Chris Hero vs Nigel McGuinness in a just world would be everyone’s MOTY. It’s less of a match than some of their encounters, but by virtue of PURE RULES it was wonderful. Hero turns all of Nigel’s old tricks against him, and they do some awesome comedy that actually works to further their feud. Tremendous entertainment.

Jack Evans and Davey Richards had a rematch of their Glory By Honor V match, which seemed to be living up to the quality of that first match before the DQ finish. The Six Man Mayhem is good, as is Lacey vs the Haze. The undercard is overall very solid, and overachieves in some cases.

Cons: The Resilience vs NRC feud continued to stumble as Aries and Stevens faced Strong and Romero. This match is very dull. Aries injured his leg during the match which contributed, but they just aren’t able to hide his limitations which can be done in a tag like this. As a result the match suffers a great deal.

11. Death Before Dishonor V Night 2 (A-) If you watched ROH DVDs closely in 2007 you’d see a series of Brent Albright promos hyping up an eventual title match. They are seemingly on every show. They aren’t any good, but they are there. Albright finally got his match on this show, and finally showed what he was really capable of in an ROH ring.

Pros: Brent Albright vs Morishima is a tremendous power vs power match up. Albright goes toe to toe with Morishima, and seems to be the perfect foil for Morishima. Claudio is a more muscular man, but his style is more refined and very European. Albright is pure American brute force, and it plays well with Morishima. There are some tremendous nearfalls in this match, to the point that they may have killed Albright’s half nelson suplex finisher. But, this is ROH and these things happen. It doesn’t reach the high level of the Claudio match, but it is still a grand contest.

The 8 Man street fight doesn’t live up to the previous night’s street fight either, but it is still really good. It has crazier highlights though! Matt Cross does a flagpole press off a lighting rig, and on top of that the most absurd dive I have ever seen. In the Armory where this was filmed, if ROH wasn’t doing a really big show they would only open half of the bleachers and set the crowd up for 1,000 instead of 1,500 or so. While folded up, the bleachers form a 10 or 12 foot wall. Cross did a dive from the top of this structure, except he also flipped off the wall above that to make it even more insane. Just watch it, then re-watch it. Rip it from the DVD and turn it into an animated gif so you can see it anytime you want. It is the greatest dive. The match eventually turns into a one on one contest between Strong and Stevens, and while this is good, it honestly can’t live up to what came before it. So basically, the match peaked too early.

The rest of the show is really good. Jay Briscoe faces Kevin Steen in a Lights Out match and El Generico faces Mark where Falls Count Anywhere. Both matches are on the short side with dirty finishes, but that’s what heels do! They fight dirty. They do a lot in the time they have, and they help give the challengers some credibility going into their rematch for the tag titles. Lacey challenged Del Rey for the SHIMMER title in a solid match, Bryan Danielson and Mike Quackenbush had a technical exhibition that while it wasn’t as good as their TPI match, it still was really good, and well… there’s only one match on this card that you don’t want to see.

Cons: Jack Evans vs Deranged is pretty bad. On DVD it is edited, which helps it come off decently. It’s still not good, but it’s more like Richards/PAC in that it becomes a below average match instead of awful. Rumor had it that Deranged was supposed to be the third member of the Vulture Squad and this match scuttled those plans.

12. Glory By Honor VI Night 2 (A-) Live, this stood out as one of the best ROH shows ever. On DVD, it is still really good, but not quite a “best ever” show. It has some historic matches, and any ROH fan should see it, but some booking problems hold it down. But it is hard to make a show where Misawa defends the GHC title, and NYC gets to see Morishima and Danielson go at it again anything but a great show.

Pros: Mitsuharu Misawa came to ROH, and given his untimely death this feels even more special now. No one expected a lot from his match with KENTA as his ring work had slipped badly in his last few years. But, he put out such an incredible effort in this match. He didn’t have to, but he did. He was drenched with sweat, but he had what is probably the best singles match from his last match with Kobashi through his death. He breaks out many of his trade mark spots, and even does some flying. KENTA does a great job as well, and this match could not have been any better.

Most people don’t like DQ finishes, myself included. But Takeshi Morishima vs Bryan Danielson had one of the best DQ finishes I have ever seen. The match itself is dramatic and awesome, with Danielson being beaten down just as badly as in his first match (although suffering no real life injuries) the highlight of which was Morishima repeatedly knocking him to the floor as Danielson valiantly struggled to get back into the ring and fight back. The actual ending saw Danielson repeatedly stomp the balls of Morishima for the DQ, giving him a loss, but showing he could beat down Morishima. It made you want to see more matches, and was a tremendous decision for the finish.

The rest of the show has its ups and down, but it is more ups than downs. The Vulture Squad vs No Remorse Corps is great multi man spot fest. Hero vs Generico is a tremendous opener, with Hero’s indy superstar character being at its zenith of heel antics. Hero had another good match with Aries later in the show, though it didn’t feel necessary on this show. Claudio and Marufuji had a great match that fused Claudio’s chemistry with smaller men with some excellent comedy. So, basically, there’s a lot of good stuff on this show. Why isn’t it ranked a bit higher?

Cons: There are eleven matches. ELEVEN! Two of those matches are Austin Aries vs Shane Hagadorn and Tyler Black vs Alex Payne. WHY? They just add pointless length to an already massive show. It is shows like this that give tiny hints as to why Gabe Sapolsky was eventually let go, because he never learned that less is more. Why not fit the stars without matches into a multi man match with the guys in the undercard tag? Did anyone need to see another tag in the Hangmen vs Delirious feud? It wasn’t a bad match, but it was just another match in a series of blandness.

13. Fifth Year Festival: NYC (B+) The epic six show Fifth Anniversary series started in New York City with the in ring ROH debut of Takeshi Morishima. It also featured Homicide’s first and only title defense in New York. On top of that this show witness the birth of the NO REMORSE CORPS… Sure they weren’t great, but Davey’s heel turn really started to show off his true potential. Even if he kept losing all the time.

Pros: Takeshi Morishima vs Samoa Joe is a great match. Some of Morishima’s best matches in ROH was power vs power, and this was no exception. It is a bit odd to have Morishima lose in his debut before winning the belt, but it is rumored ROH wanted to bring Joe back for a one night only title match that never happened. The match saw both guys throw giant bombs, and none of the bombs hold the other down. So, Joe was forced to result to the one advantage he had over Morishima, his submissions to choke him out. It told a nice story, and left room for a rematch. So it is hard to blame them for doing this finish, but in retrospect it seems odd.

Homicide had his best title defense, surprisingly against Jimmy Rave. Rave pulled out every trick he had in this match, but it just wasn’t enough to take down Homicide. He even pulled out the Rave Clash, which I thought was a really cool touch. Aries and Strong were finally bested by Matt Sydal, losing to the team of Sydal and Daniels for the ROH tag titles. Sydal and Daniels didn’t get a long reign, this was only their second of four defenses, but they showed a lot of potential as a team. The match is only “good” due to injuries limiting the match, but the turn after the match with Strong joining Richards to form the NRC is important historically. The feud ended up sucking, but it did break up Generation Next which had existed in some form since the summer of 2004, and the two men have never teamed since.

The best tag match on this show is actually a non title match with the Briscoes losing to Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana. Colt and Nigel were an underrated team with their European styles meshing really well to create a unique team. They had surprising chemistry with the more violent, and high flying Briscoes and this match is one of the forgotten gems of early 2007. Live I didn’t care much for Whitmer and Albright’s Tables Are Legal match. With a bit of editing, it became worth watching, but still nothing great.

Cons: The SHIMMER tag is decent, but honestly was disappointing at the time given that Danger and Del Rey was hyped up as a bit of a dream tag team. Delirious and Pearce was also a bit of a disappointment at the time. They had a fun match at GBH V, and then their matches just dropped in quality in their next two matches until they were just dull, lifeless matches. That’s so weird to say about a Delirious match, but it is oddly true.

14. Respect is Earned (B+) Ring of Honor made the move to PPV in 2007, taping shows that would air 2-3 months later. This move seemed like a huge deal at the time, and ROH’s early PPVs were treated like special events. The first PPV was a bit of an odd show, with nothing announced before hand, and a feeling of chaos all night.

Pros: The Briscoes vs Matt Sydal and Claudio Castagnoli was a stellar tag team match and close to the peak of the Briscoes in ring style. The match goes and goes and goes with incredible double team moves, crazy dives, and Claudio being awesome with high flyers. I have heard complaints that this match peaks too early and loses the crowd, but I honestly feel that it has as big of a reaction for the finish as anything else. But that may be the inner Briscoes mark in me. I admit a bias.

RiE was tag team wrestling night as the second best match of the night is the main event, a dream tag of Bryan Danielson and Morishima vs Nigel McGuinness and KENTA. This match does a lot of things right, especially considering Nigel is injured. This ends up playing wonderfully into the finish, with Nigel’s injured arm being absolutely brutalized by Morishima. The interactions between all four men really build for the future in general. Danielson shows he wants the title, as does Nigel, KENTA and Danielson build toward their rematch, and Morishima looks like a scary badass. Some of the moves didn’t look perfect live, but for the most part they were acceptable and look great with some editing.

There is also a short, but fantastically fun tag team scramble. It runs only 8 minutes but it features a super fast pace, tons of dives, and some great comedy from Adam Pearce. I honestly wish Adam Pearce would book himself into more spot fests. He was always great as the bigger guy who could abuse the smaller guys, and look appalled at the insanity going on around him. I loved this match live, and loved it on DVD.

Rocky Romero and Naomichi Marufuji also had a great singles match, one that got a shockingly large amount of time for its place on the card of a two hour PPV, and showed what Rocky can really do. It has the obvious spots such as the Diablo Arm Bar, but the match has a much better flow and coherency to it than many Romero matches probably due to Marufuji’s excellence. Some people went as far as to call it the best match on the show. Whitmer vs Morishima is an odd choice for a title match on this show. It lasts 3 minutes, but it isn’t a straight squash since Whitmer gets offense and a nearfall on Morishima. It’s fun while it lasts though. Delirious and Roderick Strong is the opposite of Romero and Marufuji. It is fine, but it gets too much time! Strong and Delirious never really clicked as opponents in ROH, and this match is just… a match.

Cons: Erick Stevens and Davey Richards also suffered from a shocking lack of chemistry. Both guys hit hard, Stevens sells well and Richards is a fun heel. But, their matches were boring. They went on forever and never seemed to click with the fans. Maybe it was the lack of crazy strike battles, or the size mismatch, but they just did not work as opponents. Brent Albright vs Tank Toland has some amusing comedy, but it is also a largely dull match that frankly makes Albright look bad. Toland was a comedy figure, and shouldn’t have been getting heat on a guy ROH wanted to put over as a monster. The main con is, the show was just extremely long live, and feels long on DVD.

15. Live in Tokyo (B+)

16. Fighting Spirit (B+)

17. All Star Extravaganza III (B+)

18. Fifth Year Festival: Chicago (B)

19. Domination (B)

20. Caged Rage (B)

21. Rising Above (B)

22. Fifth Year Festival Philly (B)

23. Glory By Honor VI Night 1 (B-)

24. Honor Nation (B-)

25. Battle of Saint Paul (B-)

26. Undeniable (C+)

27. A Fight At the Roxbury (C+)

28. Fifth Year Festival Dayton (C)

29. United We Stand (C)

30. Reborn Again (C)

31. Survival of the Fittest 2007 (C-)

32. Race to the Top Tournament Night 1 (C-)

33. This Means War II (D+)

34. Chaos At the Cow Palace (D+)

35. Battle of the Icons (D+)

36. Dedicated (D)

37. Live in Osaka (D)

38. Unscripted III (D-)

39. Motor City Madness 2007 (D-)

40. Reckless Abandon (F)

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