ROH Japan’s Finest Review By Ryan Rozanski

Posted: November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


We have been allowed to reprint this great review with the permission of the reviewer Ryan Rozanski so please follow him on twitter @RRozanski

Match #1: Amazing Red vs. Ikuto Hidaka (Glory By Honor – 10/2/02)
They have a fast exchange and find themselves at a stalemate. Hidaka connects with a basement dropkick. They trade chops on the floor but decide to take the action back into the ring. More stalemates ensue. Red hits a tornado DDT. Hidaka blocks a plancha with a dropkick and takes control. Red dazes him on the top rope with an enzuigiri but falls victim to a DDT. He recovers with a dive but slams into the guardrail. In the ring, Red locks in a cross armbreaker but Hidaka reaches the ropes. Red misses a shooting star press. Hidaka lays in a well-timed dropkick and hits a shinbreaker. He springboard dropkicks Red’s leg and applies a kneebar. Red reaches the bottom rope. They exchange pin attempts to no avail. They both attempt clotheslines and fall to the canvas. Hidaka hits a modified ace crusher. Red responds with a tiger feint kick and the Code Red for a nearfall. Red counters a sunset bomb, lands the Infrared, and follows with a shooting star press for the win at 15:02. These two threw a lot at the crowd. Fortunately, while some of the sequences failed, a lot of their exchanges came off smoothly. However, Hidaka’s leg work went nowhere and I think this is a match that hasn’t aged very well. A pretty entertaining fifteen minutes but only to a certain extent. ***

Match #2: All Japan Tag Team Titles: The Great Muta and Arashi © vs. Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff (Final Battle 2003 – 12/27/03)
Maff doesn’t fare too well against Arashi. Muta sprays some mist after an exchange with Daniels. The Prophecy appropriately take some time to regroup. They find an opening to work over Arashi. He fights off Daniels and tags in Muta. Muta connects with a powerdrive elbow on Daniels but Allison Danger prevents a moonsault. The Prophecy now isolate Muta. Arashi eventually enters the match with a huge dropkick. He hits a belly to belly suplex on Maff. Arashi gets shoulder-blocked into an STO from Daniels. Arashi fires back with a powerslam on Daniels. Muta hits a dragon screw leg whip on Daniels and synchs in a figure four. Maff breaks up the hold and brings a chair into the ring. Muta sprays him with the mist! Daniels misses the BME and Muta connects with a shining wizard for the victory at 16:10. The Prophecy undoubtedly did their best to highlight Muta and Arashi’s strengths but at the end of the day this match’s value mostly comes from its nostalgia. All Japan’s involvement with Ring of Honor was nonexistent after this show, so while this match wasn’t stellar, it still main-evented a forgotten show in ROH’s history and may be worth a watch. **¾

Match #3: Kenta Kobashi and Homicide vs. Samoa Joe and Low Ki (Unforgettable – 10/2/05)
Joe and Kobashi give each other clean breaks in the corner. Joe runs through a few chops and lands a dive to the floor. The crowd is already going crazy. Back in, they trade brutal chops. Low Ki does not give Kobashi a clean break and dares him to fight. Low Ki locks in a cross armbreaker in the ropes. Homicide and Low Ki square off despite being a part of the same stable. They have a nice exchange out of a knucklelock. Joe tags in and gets into Homicide’s face. Tempers start to flare between the Rottweilers as they trade kicks. Kobashi DDTs Low Ki onto the entrance ramp. Jesus. Joe decides to step in to stop the madness. Low Ki creates an opening by rolling through a sunset flip and connecting with a double stomp on Homicide. He also connects with a flying double stomp out of the corner. Joe and Low Ki isolate Homicide until he comes off the middle rope with a DDT on Joe and makes the tag. Kobashi just comes in and chops his opponents repeatedly. Lenny Leonard kept track – 71. Kobashi hits a sleeper suplex on Joe and a german suplex on Low Ki. Homicide saves his partner from a cross armbreaker. Joe hits a powerbomb on Kobashi and transitions into an STF. He adds a nasty saito suplex and the Muscle Buster for a nearfall. Low Ki catches Kobashi with various kicks. Homicide hits a swinging neckbreaker on Low Ki. Joe accidentally gets kicked by Low Ki. Homicide dives onto Joe. Kobashi chops Low Ki in the face and hits a powerbomb for a two count. He follows with the Orange Crush for a nearfall. Homicide knocks Joe out of the ring. Kobashi lariats Low Ki for the win at 24:34. What a war. Homicide, Joe, and Low Ki aren’t names that get talked about a lot today but they were putting on unreal performances in 2005. The crowd was electric for Kobashi and the finishing stretch was the same sort of spectacle that Joe/Kobashi was the night before. This was an excellent way to use Kobashi for his second appearance. ****¼

Match #4: AJ Styles and Matt Sydal vs. Dragon Kid and Genki Horiguchi (Dragon Gate Challenge – 3/30/06)
Sydal and Horiguchi have a quick exchange and trade armdrags. The crowd pops for Dragon Kid being tagged in. He snaps off a headscissors on Styles and teases a dive. Kid locks in an octopus hold on Sydal while Horiguchi keeps Styles at bay. Horiguchi connects with a flying double stomp on Styles. Sydal catches Horiguchi with his cannonball leg drop. Styles and Sydal isolate him until he hits a suplex on Sydal and makes the tag. Kid connects with a springboard dropkick on Styles and they botch deja vu. He recovers with the Bermuda Triangle. Horiguchi adds a dive of his own. In the ring, Styles hits a back suplex on Kid. Horiguchi catches Styles with a tornado DDT but finds knees on a moonsault attempt. Sydal lands a standing moonsault onto Horiguchi. Kid lands a double-springboard arabian press on Sydal. Styles german suplexes Horiguchi and drops him down chest-first. Kid snaps off the Dragon Rana on Styles for a nearfall. Sydal lands a dive to the floor onto Kid. Horiguchi tries the Backslide From Heaven on Styles for a nearfall. Styles hits the Styles Clash on Horiguchi for the victory at 12:31. They packed a lot of action into twelve minutes and aside from one moment of miscommunication, everything came off cleanly. While they probably could have had a twenty-five minute epic, this was the right call for its place on the card. The Blood Generation vs. Generation Next main event would top this quality-wise, but this match still holds up. ***½

Match #5: Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi, and Ryo Saito vs. CIMA, Naruki Doi, and Masato Yoshino (Supercard of Honor – 3/31/06)
This would be the original “Dragon Gate six-man” that has become so famous on WrestleMania Weekend. Kid snaps off a headscissors on Doi and teases a dive. Horiguchi hurricanranas CIMA to the floor. Yoshino showcases his speed with Saito before being dropped by a side slam. Do Fixer unleash some tandem offense on Yoshino. Blood Generation soon take over on Kid. Both teams continue to trade control. Do Fixer catch Doi with triple dropkicks. Blood Generation extenuate Horiguchi’s lack of hair with a series of “hairmares.” Horiguchi plays the babyface in peril for awhile. He suplexes Doi and makes the tag. Here we go. Saito overhead suplexes Doi. Kid hits deja vu on Yoshino. Horiguchi lands a dive to the floor. Kid follows with the Bermuda Triangle. Saito powerbombs CIMA and hits rolling fisherman busters. CIMA responds with a double stomp. Blood Generation hit a bulldog-DDT combination on Kid and Saito. Yoshino hits the Sling Blade on Kid and connects with a shotgun dropkick. Kid hits a stunner out of nowhere. Doi hits a gourdbuster on Kid. Horiguchi counters Doi 555 with an inverted DDT. Doi hits Doi 555 on the second attempt. Kid snaps off a big top-rope hurricanrana on Doi. Saito adds a top-rope splash for a nearfall. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard bow out. Horiguchi missile dropkicks Yoshino and DDTs CIMA. Saito hits a german suplex on Yoshino. Kid snaps off the ultimate hurricanrana on Yoshino for a two count. Horiguchi hits the Beach Break on CIMA. Blood Generation gain control with a triple-team sequence. CIMA hits the Schwein on Kid for a nearfall. Doi adds a Bakatare Sliding Kick. The crowd chants “please don’t stop.” Kid hits a super ace crusher on Doi. Kid follows with the Dragon Rana for the win at 20:34. Watching this match for the first time was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had with professional wrestling. While the in-ring work was phenomenal, the crowd really made this match by becoming increasingly vocal as the action progressed. Enough has been said about this match over the years, but if you have even the slightest interest in Dragon Gate, this is a must-see contest. ****½

Match #6: Colt Cabana vs. Kikutaro (Ring of Homicide – 5/13/06)
Cabana gives Kikutaro a clean break and high-fives him. Kikutaro tries to roll through a wristlock to no avail. They have a confusing exchange and start to tango. Kikutaro crotches Cabana as he reenters the ring. He tries to walk across the top rope and crotches himself in the process. Cabana connects with a series of bionic elbows and hits the flying asshole. Kikutaro hits a dragon screw leg whip and adds a shining wizard. Cabana uses the referee to help him out and hits a powerbomb for the victory at 6:55. I’m glad that Kikutaro snuck his way onto this compilation. This was a very good comedy match at worst.

Match #7: ROH World Tag Team Titles: Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal © vs. CIMA and Shingo Takagi (International Challenge – 12/22/06)
Shingo takes down Daniels with repeated shoulder tackles. The man is powerful. Sydal is able to keep Shingo contained with his quickness. CIMA and Sydal have a nice counter exchange. CIMA and Shingo are able to work over Daniels’ neck for awhile. CIMA finds himself in the wrong corner and the champions double-team him. Sydal misses his cannonball leg drop and eats a double stomp. CIMA and Shingo isolate Sydal and work over his leg. He catches Shingo with a DDT, dropkicks CIMA in mid-air, and makes the tag. Daniels hits an STO on Shingo, which causes him to DDT CIMA. He follows with a flying crossbody onto Shingo. CIMA hits a slingshot senton onto Sydal and lands a dive to the floor onto Daniels. Sydal contributes a moonsault to the outside. In the ring, Shingo blocks a hurricanrana and holds Sydal in place for a dropkick from CIMA. Shingo hits a bucklebomb on Sydal followed by a spinning gutwrench suplex. CIMA suplexes Sydal while wrenching back on Daniels’ leg. I wish Sydal and Daniels would have been switched there. Daniels hits a lungblower on Shingo and Sydal adds a top-rope splash. CIMA hits the iconoclasm on Daniels along with the Perfect Driver. Daniels responds with a death valley driver. He locks in the koji clutch on Shingo but CIMA breaks up the hold with the Mad Splash. Sydal comes off the top rope with a DDT on CIMA but walks into a huge lariat from Shingo. All four men are down. CIMA and Shingo hit a doomsday crossbody on Daniels. CIMA accidentally superkicks Shingo. Daniels lands the BME onto Shingo and Sydal adds a shooting star press. The champions retain their titles at 23:49. This match was a lot of fun to watch play out. Both teams have unique chemistry together and the action really seemed to flow down the stretch. Yet, for whatever reason, the crowd had difficulty becoming vocal. There was also the fact that Sydal’s leg injury was forgotten in the final minutes as well. However, those are two minimal complaints on an otherwise great match. ***¾

Match #8: CIMA, Susumu Yokosuka, Dragon Kid, and Ryo Saito vs. Austin Aries, Delirious, Claudio Castagnoli, and Rocky Romero (All Star Extravaganza III – 3/30/07)
The idea is that these men are the all stars of their respective promotions. I don’t necessarily buy the Ring of Honor team, but they’re all great wrestlers so I have no complaints. Romero throws some kicks at Saito and spits at him. Saito challenges him to mat wrestle. Romero locks in a boston crab and transitions into a bow and arrow. They find themselves at a stalemate. Kid snaps off deja vu on Claudio and teases a dive. CIMA seems hesitant to square off against Delirious. CIMA gets the better of him after a back and forth exchange ending with a dropkick. Aries armdrags every member of Team Dragon Gate and takes them out with the heat-seeking missile. In the ring, he hits a slingshot corkscrew senton on CIMA. Saito blocks a lionsault attempt and Aries gets isolated. He lands a lionsault onto Saito and CIMA and makes the tag. Team ROH catch Kid with strikes in the corner, culminating with the Panic Attack. They work over Kid until he connects with a springboard dropkick on Aries and makes the tag. Here we go. CIMA hits a lungblower on Romero. Saito overhead suplexes Aries into Romero in the corner. Kid lands the Bermuda Triangle onto Aries. Claudio connects with a springboard uppercut on Saito. Saito catches Delirious with a nice dead-lift german suplex. CIMA hits a backcracker on Romero, who answers with a fisherman buster. Romero connects with a knockout kick on CIMA, who fires back with the Perfect Driver. Romero locks in a cross armbreaker but Yokosuka breaks up the hold. CIMA finds knees on the Mad Splash. Aries finlay rolls CIMA and Delirious hits Shadows Over Hell. Aries hits a huge back suplex on Kid and Claudio connects with a european uppercut for a nearfall. Everyone unleashes a flurry of moves. Kid hurricanranas Delirious off of Saito’s shoulders. Aries punts Saito and hits a brainbuster. He follows with the 450 splash for a two count. CIMA superkicks Delirious and hits the Schwein. CIMA follows with the Crossfire for the win at 27:55. I’ve always thought that this has been an underrated match in Ring of Honor history. Everyone focuses on the Dragon Gate six-man tags (and rightfully so) but this was just as chaotic on many levels. I loved Aries being worked over after his lionsault was blocked and then him ultimately coming back with the same move. There was also the unique dynamic of each member of Team ROH trying to contribute their individual talents while Team Dragon Gate was more concerned with being a cohesive unit. An excellent showcase for both ROH and Dragon Gate at the time. ****¼

Match #9: CIMA, Susumu Yokosuka, and Shingo Takagi vs. Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito, and Masaaki Mochizuki (Supercard of Honor II – 3/31/07)
CIMA and Saito have a nice exchange out of a knucklelock. CIMA flips out of a hurricanrana and they find themselves at a stalemate. Mochizuki kicks away at Shingo, but he creates some space with a powerslam. Kid headscissors Yokosuka to the floor. Mochizuki goes back to kicking Shingo. Saito and Yokosuka trade forearms. CIMA’s team begin to work over Saito. He shrugs off double knees from CIMA and tags out. Mochizuki kicks CIMA off the apron and suplexes him back into the ring. Saito comes off the top with a splash as well. CIMA tombstones Kid onto Saito and makes the tag. Yokosuka hits an exploder on Mochizuki. Kid snaps off a springboard hurricanrana on Yokosuka. Shingo slams Kid down to the canvas and CIMA’s team isolate him. Kid hurricanranas CIMA off the middle rope and makes the tag. Here we go. Mochizuki cleans house with a series of kicks. Saito overhead suplexes Shingo. Kid snaps off deja vu on Yokosuka and hurricanranas him on the floor. Mochizuki judo throws Shingo and tries a cross armbreaker. Shingo elevates him into a powerbomb. Saito hits the fisherman express on CIMA, who responds with an implant DDT. Saito dropkicks CIMA and Kid locks in Christo. Yokosuka breaks up the hold. Yokosuka and Shingo hit the doomsday device on Kid. CIMA connects with a coast-to-coast dropkick on Saito. CIMA follows with the Schwein for a nearfall. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard bow out. Kid hits a tornado DDT on Shingo and Mochizuki kicks him once again. CIMA elevates Kid into the Schwein. Saito dead-lift german suplexes Yokosuka. Shingo hits a gutwrench suplex on Saito and the Last Falconry on Kid. Kid crucifix bombs out of the Schwein and hits a code red on Yokosuka. Yokosuka rolls through an ultimate hurricanrana and pins Kid for the victory at 27:14. While it would be nearly impossible to match the atmosphere of the original, I actually found this six-man tag to be more chaotic at times. It’s been said before, but I agree that the finish felt out of place after everything that came before it. Past that, this was more greatness from the Dragon Gate roster. ****¼

Match #10: ROH World Title: Takeshi Morishima © vs. Shingo Takagi (Good Times, Great Memories – 4/28/07)
Shingo sends Morishima to the floor with a shoulder tackle and follows out with a plancha. He chokes Morishima with a chair at ringside. Back in, Shingo hits a DDT and a senton. Morishima hits a flying hip attack and comes off the apron with a shoulder tackle. He rams Shingo into the barricade with hip attacks. Morishima takes control in the ring. Shingo comes back with a suplex of all things. The crowd pops for that. Both men are down. The action goes to the apron where Shingo hits a DDT. He follows with a death valley driver onto the floor! Back in, Morishima clubs away with forearms and pushes Todd Sinclair away. He connects with a corner yakuza kick. Shingo hits a superplex from the middle rope. Morishima is up! Shingo hits the Last Falconry for a nearfall! Pumping Bomber gets a two count. Morishima connects with a lariat and hits a uranagi. Shingo is up! Morishima takes him back down with a lariat. Shingo attempts a powerbomb but Morishima sits on him. Morishima connects with a lariat and hits the backdrop driver to retain his title at 15:22. Shingo went all-out to best Morishima and a unique and highly entertaining match was the result. It was interesting to watch Shingo attempt to dissect a bigger opponent and they brought the fight to each other in a different way than anything seen on this compilation thus far. I don’t know if anyone believed that Shingo could win this match, but you wouldn’t have known that from the crowd reactions. ***¾

Match #11: Naomichi Marufuji and Takeshi Morishima vs. Mitsuharu Misawa and KENTA (Glory By Honor VI Night 1 – 11/2/07)
Marufuji and KENTA waste no time going at each other. They trade control on the mat and are pretty even. Morishima and Misawa enter the ring. Misawa forearms him to the outside. KENTA lays in a series of kicks on Morishima. Marufuji dropkicks KENTA on the top rope. Misawa wins a strike exchange against Marufuji. This just looks like another day at the office for Misawa. Marufuji is isolated until he connects with a basement dropkick on Misawa and makes the tag. Morishima hits his cartwheel avalanche splash on Misawa and adds a missile dropkick. KENTA almost kicks Morishima’s face off, but he’s unsuccessful on a powerslam attempt. KENTA is worked over until he punts Morishima in the chest and makes the tag. Misawa cleans house with forearms but walks into a flying hip attack. Marufuji superkicks Misawa but falls victim to a butterfly suplex. KENTA connects with a springboard missile dropkick on Marufuji. He slams Morishima onto Marufuji. KENTA hits a tiger suplex and there are five minutes left in the time limit. Marufuji blocks the Go 2 Sleep and hits the Shiranui. Everyone unleashes some offense and all four men are down. Marufuji and KENTA trade kicks. KENTA hits the Go 2 Sleep for a nearfall. They try pin attempts as one minute remains. Morishima lariats Misawa. The time limit expires at 30:00. The match is ruled a draw. I really didn’t know what to expect from this contest, but part of me thinks that this was just meant to be a spectacle and nothing more. The time limit draw was extremely telegraphed, but if you can somehow ignore that, this was a fine overall package with some memorable moments between Marufuji and KENTA. ***¼

Match #12: BxB Hulk and Shingo Takagi vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico (Supercard of Honor III – 3/29/08)
Both of these teams would eventually dissolve and have memorable feuds against each other. Hulk snaps off a few armdrags on Generico and connects with a dropkick. He catches Steen with a spin kick. Steen and Shingo have a long shoulder block battle. Generico lands a double-jump dive to the floor onto Shingo. In the ring, New Hazard hit a nice dropkick-back suplex combination on Generico. Steen interjects himself and isolates Hulk. Shingo eventually receives the hot tag and hits a DDT-flatliner combination. He takes Steen over with a suplex. Hulk lands a standing shooting star press onto Generico. Steen elevates Hulk into a powerbomb and hits his pumphandle neckbreaker. Generico plants Shingo with a tornado DDT, who responds with a big back suplex. Hulk hits the EVO on Generico for a nearfall. Steen connects with a lariat on Hulk. Shingo lariats Steen. Generico lands a flying crossbody onto Shingo and all four men are down. Generico connects with a running yakuza kick on Hulk and Steen adds a swantan for a nearfall. Steen misses a moonsault and falls victim to the Bloodfall (no pun intended). Hulk hits the EVOP on Generico for a two count. New Hazard hit a doomsday spin kick on Generico but Steen makes the save. Hulk moonsaults to the floor onto Steen. Shingo hits the Stay Dream on Generico for a nearfall. Generico pops up after a Pumping Bomber, but Shingo hits the Last Falconry for the win at 17:49. These two teams worked excellently together, as expected. While not as chaotic as some of the other Dragon Gate stuff you’ll see on this compilation, the match was so well put together that it didn’t matter. Supercard of Honor III is one of the best ROH shows of all time and this match delivering is a substantial reason why that’s the case. ****

Match #13: CIMA, Dragon Kid, and Ryo Saito vs. Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino, and Genki Horiguchi (Supercard of Honor III – 3/29/08)
Saito and Horiguchi have an awesome fast-paced exchange to start the match. They have great chemistry together. CIMA and Doi trade armdrags and find themselves at a stalemate. Kid headscissors Yoshino to the floor and teases a dive. Kid headscissors CIMA into Doi. Typhoon catch Yoshino with triple dropkicks. CIMA connects with a flying double stomp on Doi. The Muscle Outlaw’z find an opening to isolate Kid. He connects with a tiger feint kick on Yoshino and makes the tag. Here we go. Saito hurricanranas Doi. CIMA hits the iconoclasm on Horiguchi. Kid snaps off deja vu on Yoshino and follows with the Bermuda Triangle. CIMA finds knees of the Mad Splash and Horiguchi hits a brainbuster. CIMA double stomps Doi and transitions into a backcracker on Horiguchi. Saito hits an overhead suplex on Doi. Yoshino double stomps Kid and hits a senton on Saito on his way down. Kid hits a springboard chinbreaker on Yoshino, who answers with the Sling Blade. Saito hits a dead-lift german suplex on Horiguchi. CIMA adds the Perfect Driver. Yoshino connects with his shotgun missile dropkick on Kid. Doi powerbombs Kid from the top rope. Yoshino follows with a Sling Blade from the middle rope. He hits the Lightning Spiral for a nearfall. Horiguchi lands a dive to the floor onto Saito. CIMA hits a super Perfect Driver on Yoshino for a two count. Yoshino fights back with the Torbellino but gets caught by the Schwein. Kid snaps off the ultimate hurricanrana for a nearfall. Doi hits super Doi 555 on Kid. Horiguchi hits the Beach Break on Kid and Doi follows with the Muscular Bomb for the victory at 25:46. I liked this more than the Supercard of Honor II six-man but less than the original Supercard of Honor six-man, so the rating falls somewhere in between. The Dragon Gate roster rarely disappoints and this was no exception. Honestly, there’s not much to say about these matches – they have the frantic spotfests down to a tee. ****¼

Match #14: Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Austin Aries and Kota Ibushi (Tag Wars 2008 – 4/18/08)
Ibushi gets the better of Jay to start. Mark catches Aries with a springboard elbow strike. Aries attempts a brainbuster to no avail and the Briscoes continue to punish him. Ibushi enters the match and takes down Mark with a series of kicks. He lands a standing moonsault. Jay just becomes angry at Ibushi, allowing the Briscoes to isolate him. Ibushi connects with a handspring pele kick on Jay and makes the tag. Aries finlay rolls Jay and lands the heat-seeking missile onto Mark. He connects with a missile dropkick on Jay along with the IED. Aries hits a DDT-flatliner combination on the Briscoes. Ibushi does his double moonsault onto Jay. The Briscoes hit a backbreaker-springboard knee drop combination on Ibushi. Aries dangerously gets back suplexed to the floor. Ibushi lands a moonsault to the floor onto Jay. Aries punts Mark but can’t hit the brainbuster. Everyone connects with strikes and all four men are down. The Briscoes hit the doomsday device on Aries. They follow with a spike Jay Driller on Ibushi for the win at 17:36. In my experience, Ibushi is highly entertaining if you only watch him every so often. It was fun watching the crowd react to seeing his offense for the first time. The beginning portions of this match were a bit pedestrian but the action quickly picked up. It’s amazing how versatile the Briscoes are in the ring. ***¾

Match #15: Takeshi Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji, and Go Shiozaki vs. Roderick Strong, Davey Richards, and Rocky Romero (Southern Navigation – 5/9/08)
Richards angers Shiozaki but manages to avoid his offense. Morishima towers over Romero so much it’s almost unbelievable. He knocks down Romero with a single forearm and does a hip swivel. Now that’s almost unbelievable. Strong chops Marufuji in mid-air but Marufuji responds with a dropkick. The No Remorse Corps isolate Shiozaki until he fights off Richards with chops. Both teams mock each other by copying the same spot. The No Remorse Corps now work over Marufuji after Strong hits an innovative backbreaker out of the corner. He connects with a basement dropkick on Richards and tags out. Morishima hits a double suplex on Romero and Strong. He lands a cartwheel splash onto Richards and follows with a missile dropkick. Romero knees Morishima into a german suplex from Strong. Richards adds a frog splash for a nearfall. Shiozaki hits a back suplex on Strong and they exchange chops. Romero lands a flying crossbody onto Shiozaki and kicks Marufuji in the face. Morishima levels Romero with a flying hip attack. Richards lands a dive to the floor onto Morishima. Strong and Romero hit a doomsday knee strike on Marufuji for a two count. Romero sends him to the floor with a springboard hurricanrana. Shiozaki hits a fisherman buster on Romero. Strong hits a gutbuster on Morishima. Romero plants Marufuji with a DDT. Marufuji responds with the Shiranui for the victory at 27:50. This match featured some great exchanges, but I didn’t feel as though the action flowed very well given the longer duration like the Dragon Gate six-man tags. Still, as a showcase main event, this more than sent the crowd home happy and is worth a watch to see the unique interactions (Morishima mimicking Romero’s dance). ***½

Match #16: Kensuke Sasaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Brent Albright and Roderick Strong (All Star Extravaganza IV – 12/26/08)
Nakajima and Strong dodge each other’s strikes and find themselves at a stalemate. Strong connects with a leg lariat. Sasaki enters the match and overpowers Strong. Albright and Sasaki battle over a knucklelock. Albright holds Nakajima in place while Strong dropkicks him. The Japanese duo isolate Albright until he knocks down Sasaki and makes the tag. Strong hits a backbreaker on Nakajima but gets caught by a boot. Sasaki spears him into the corner and lays in repeated chops. The match starts to break down. Nakajima superkicks Albright three times and lands a plancha to the floor onto Strong. Sasaki lariats Albright for a nearfall and hits a northern lights bomb for the win at 15:54. Unbelievably, there has been nothing else on the compilation thus far that matched this contest in terms of striking and stiffness. They delivered a solid undercard tag team match, although I would’ve liked to see more interactions between Strong and Nakajima. ***¼

Match #17: Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Austin Aries (SoCal Showdown – 1/29/10)
Aries gets in a cheap shot before the bell. Liger sends him to the floor with a punch and connects with a baseball slide. Liger hits a brainbuster on the floor, busting Aries open. In the ring, Liger applies a surfboard and takes over. Aries finds an opening to hit a double axe handle from the top. He spears Liger into the barricade and enters the ring with a missile dropkick. Liger blocks a corner dropkick and finds success with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Aries gets his knees up on a splash attempt. He sends Liger to the outside but misses the heat seeking missile. Liger is able to land his top rope splash now. Aries hurricanranas out of a powerbomb attempt and back drops Liger to the floor. Aries follows out with the heat seeking missile and synchs in the Last Chancery back in the ring. He adds some knee strikes but Liger responds with a brainbuster. Liger hits the Liger Bomb for a nearfall. Aries answers with a sunset bomb and goes back to the Last Chancery. He willingly breaks the hold and hits a back suplex. Aries connects with a corner dropkick and a brainbuster for a two count. Liger avoids the 450. Aries uses the referee to block a charge and sneaks in a low blow. Aries hits another brainbuster for the win at 14:58. This was exactly the match that Aries needed to have after the uninspiring hour draw with Black. The structure of the match was designed to put him over. Liger received a chance to showcase his offense while Aries persevered through his blood loss. The action throughout was fluid and they accomplished a lot in fifteen minutes. Liger can clearly still deliver in the ring. ***¾

Match #18: Hiroyo Matsumoto and Ayumi Kurihara vs. Sara Del Rey and Serena Deeb (Honor Takes Center Stage Chapter 1 – 4/1/11)
Matsumoto wins an armdrag exchange with Deeb. Kurihara connects with double knees on Del Rey and hits a snap suplex. Kurihara lands a dive off the top rope onto her opponents. Back in, Del Rey dropkicks Kurihara from the apron and she gets isolated. The SHIMMER Tag Team Champions, Daizee Haze and Tomoka Nakagawa, are watching this match from the entranceway. Kurihara hits a lungblower on Del Rey and makes the tag. Matsumoto lands a double crossbody and hits a gutbuster on Del Rey. Del Rey connects with a kappou kick on Matsumoto but gets caught by a missile dropkick from Kurihara. Kurihara hits a uranagi on Deeb and Matsumoto follows with a saito suplex for the win at 9:02. Matsumoto and Kurihara definitely made a good first impression, successfully generating intrigue in their match on the next show. These SHIMMER showcase matches could have actually been effective every once in while if they were treated with importance. **¾

Match #19: Hiroyo Matsumoto and Ayumi Kurihara vs. Daizee Haze and Tomoka Nakagawa (Honor Takes Center Stage Chapter 2 – 4/2/11)
Matsumoto lands a crossbody onto the champions. Kurihara blocks a charge from Haze and applies an armbar in the ropes. Nakagawa spits water into Kurihara’s face and the champions work her over. She catches Nakagawa with a dropkick and makes the tag. Matsumoto hits a back suplex on Nakagawa and a chinbreaker on Haze. Kurihara connects with shotgun knees on Nakagawa and follows with a lungblower. She hits a backcracker on Haze and connects with a missile dropkick on Nakagawa. Kurihara hits a uranagi on Haze and Matsumoto adds a backdrop driver for a nearfall. Haze connects with the Heart Punch on Matsumoto and hits a tiger suplex to retain the titles at 7:38. This was an incredibly energetic sprint and the most fun I’ve had watching women’s wrestling in ROH in quite some time. Both SHIMMER showcase matches on this weekend were worthwhile and had a part in making these two WrestleMania weekend shows seem more special. **¾

Overall: Quality-wise, this must be one of the best compilations that Ring of Honor has produced. Six matches crack four stars, with the Dragon Gate roster being a part of most of them. Another great thing about this compilation is that not only is there a wide variety of Japanese talent showcased, but you also get a decent sense of the ROH roster throughout the years. If you don’t already own most of these matches, there’s no reason you shouldn’t pick up Japan’s Finest.


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