Rising Above (DVD Review)

*** ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
December 29, 2007 – Manhattan, New York

INTRODUCTION: Parts of the “Rising Above” event were taped for a Pay Per View, so this DVD was specially produced with two sections – Pay Per View matches and Bonus matches and other material. Since I didn’t get to see this particular PPV (not available in Canada), it was all new to me. So let’s begin. The opening segment started out hot and heavy with the usual wild and crazy audience chanting “ROH! ROH!” as Dave Prazak & Lenny Leonard introduced the viewers to Ring of Honor, and said tonight ROH would prove why they are “rising above” other promotions. Get it? They said ROH had a special treat for the fans at home, saying they have placed cameras throughout the backstage area. At which point, we saw Kevin Steen & El Generico backstage doing their thing in front of a randomly placed camera.

Brent Albright vs. Delirious: Adam Pearce got the in-ring portion of the show started by challenging Delirious to come out and fight Brent Albright, who was wearing the Delirious mask which was stolen by the Hangman 3 at a recent ROH event. Delirious hit the ring with brand new ring gear from head to toe. He has swapped the lizard green (on black) with blood red (on black). That is going to take some getting used to. Albright wrestled with the green Delirious mask on until Delirious ripped it off of him! They fought passionately for ten minutes before Delirious scored a roll-up for the 1-2-3 to finally earn a victory over the Hangmen 3! Within seconds, Delirious was being quadruple-teamed by Albright, Pearce, B.J. Whitmer, and Shane Hagadorn. Before long, Kevin Steen & El Generico hit the ring to help out Delirious. Then suddenly the Age of the Fall hit the ring!

The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black) vs. The Vulture Squad (Jack Evans & Ruckus) vs. Kevin Steen El Generico vs. HANGMEN 3 (Adam Pearce & B.J. Whitmer): Then suddenly the Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, Necro Butcher, and the lovely Lacey) hit the ring and proclaimed that the revolution was alive in New York City! Jimmy Jacobs said they were there to take out every tag team in ROH, because the World tag team titles are their power and ROH is the platform for their revolution. I can’t do Jimmy Jacobs’ talking abilities any justice here in print. He is just awesome. The Vulture Squad answered the challenge and suggested that they have a Scramble match and include the Hangmen 3 and Steen & Generico (who were still fighting at ringside). I’m telling you right now, TNA should surrender their name to ROH right now because so far this PPV has literally been NON-STOP action. Thank God somebody had the good sense to tell B.J. Whitmer how stupid his bleach blond hair looked. Now he has black hair and looks like Shane Hagadorn’s twin. The action kept going and going and going, until Kevin Steen used a Package Pile-driver on Jimmy Jacobs to win the match. All of this craziness should put Team Steenerico back in line for another shot at the World Tag Team titles.

Sara Del Rey vs. Lacey vs. Daizee Haze: They skipped the ring introductions and joined this match in progress. I was starting to wonder how they were going to squeeze eight matches into a two hour time block, but short cuts like that will definitely help. You may choose to hit the pause button and take a five minute breather because ROH doesn’t provide any time to regain your senses. The “WTF” move of the night saw Del Rey apply the Royal Butterfly on both Daizee and Lacey at the same time! A few moments later, Daizee Haze used the Mind-trip to put Lacey away and improve her record to 2-0 on PPV.

Erick Stevens vs. Davey Richards: Another match “joined in progress,” and there is nothing wrong with how they did it. This match stemmed from an incident that happened at the 10/6 “Undeniable” PPV where the No Remorse Corps assaulted Erick Stevens and “injured” his arm. These guys are a couple of thick-skinned warriors desperate for a win to climb up the ranks of ROH. Announcer Dave Prazak noticed some distraction in the audience, and eventually cameras found former WWE Tough Enough winner Daniel Puder sitting in the crowd. He was sitting with a very healthy brunette. Erick Stevens seemed to be distracted by Daniel Puder’s presence in the arena. Stevens lost complete focus on the match, and began foolishly bad-mouthing Puder. Davey Richards took advantage of this lack of concentration and made Stevens submit to the Kimura (Arm submission). After the match, Erick Stevens addressed Daniel Puder, who was greeted with chants of “you can’t wrestle!” Stevens scolded Puder for disrespecting him and said Puder hasn’t proven anything to Ring of Honor, but maybe he’s looking for a fight! Stevens challenged Puder to jump over the guard rail and have a fight right now.

Larry Sweeney and Sara Del Rey made their way through the crowd to approach Daniel Puder with a business proposal. Sweeney buttered up Puder with compliments and offered him the “services” of Sara Del Rey. I’m not sure I respect that. Puder went backstage with Del Rey, and Sweeney said after Chris Hero beats Claudio Castagnoli he will sell Claudio’s contract. Castagnoli showed up and chased him into the ring desperately trying to get his hands on Sweeney. Tank Toland & Bobby Dempsey (wearing a “Survival of the FATTEST” t-shirt) attacked Claudio, but Castagnoli quickly turned the tables and got rid of them. Claudio then turned his attention to Larry Sweeney, but Chris Hero showed up to attack Castagnoli from behind and begin their match.

Chris Hero (w/Sweet & Sour Inc.) vs. Claudio Castagnoli: The stipulation of the match was that if Castagnoli won he would get a one-on-one match with Larry Sweeney. But if Castagnoli lost, then Larry Sweeney would win control of Claudio’s contract and he promised to sell the contract to WWE just to get rid of him (like he did to Matt Sydal). This rivalry feels like it’s been going on forever, but I am by no means bored of it. Quite the opposite, in fact. These guys are so evenly matched and share a unique chemistry when they are in the ring together. Claudio Castagnoli, who is a major fan-favorite, defeated his former Kings of Wrestling partner to earn a match with the cowardly Larry Sweeney the next night at Final Battle!

“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima: Bryan Danielson suffered a detached retina back in August at the hands of then ROH champion Takeshi Morishima. Fast forward to November when Danielson’s thirst for revenge led him to an assault on Morishima’s crotch (testicles) – citing a “ball for a ball” to justify his actions. For their final one-on-one confrontation, they decided to throw the rule-book out the window and try to put each other out of their misery. Within a few short moments, American Dragon was busted open and covered in his own blood! The Dragon was determined to win the war against his monstrous Japanese nemesis. After a while, Morishima stomped on Dragon’s crotch and threw the referee down for a disqualification. Referees and officials hit the ring to try to contain Morishima, who snapped and destroyed one referee. A bloody Danielson grabbed the wooden hammer from the time-keeper and tried to rip Morishima’s eye out of its socket but was eventually subdued by officials. After this double-shot weekend, Morishima wouldn’t be seen in an ROH ring for another five months!

The Briscoe Brothers vs. The No Remorse Corps) Roderick Strong & Rocky Romero): The Briscoes have been known to win two out of three falls match-ups in two straight falls. In fact they are 8-0 in their last four matches with a two out of three falls stipulation. The No Remorse Corp broke the streak by miraculously winning the first fall! This clearly put the Briscoes off their game, and put their reign as ROH Tag Team champions in danger! The Briscoes successfully recovered and tied it up by becoming the winner of the second fall. As they went into sudden death, the drama in the building began to escalate. A few minutes later, a Spike Jay-driller spelled the end of the road for the No Remorse Corps, and gave the dominant Briscoe boys another impressive victory! The Briscoes keep the ROH World Tag Team titles for one more day at least!

Nigel McGuinness vs. Austin Aries: The recently crowned “Ace” of Ring of Honor, Austin Aries, was looking to earn another crown – the ultimate crown – by challenging Nigel McGuinness for the ROH World championship. For some reason I thought this match was scheduled for Final Battle 2007. If Aries was able to win, he would make history by becoming the first ever two-time ROH World champion. Nigel McGuinness is still recovering from a torn left bicep which has kept him out of serious competition for several months. McGuinness would put his title and his personal health on the line to prove that he is not a fluke, and worthy of the Ring of Honor championship. Somehow the fans have turned Nigel into a semi-heel champion, but the man’s passion and respect for the wrestling business has to be admired by fans. Aries did a Tope Con Hilo to the floor and drove McGuinness’ head right into the guard rail and caused a laceration over the eye after colliding with the infamous steel banners. This, like many ROH main events, will get your heart pumping and make you want to stand on your feet to watch the awesomeness unfold before your very eyes. The bloody Nigel McGuinness successfully defended his ROH World title, using a devastating Lariat to crush Austin’s dream of becoming a two-time champion. Aries sold the Lariat (roaring clothesline) like he was struck with an atomic bomb. Nigel McGuinness has just begun to build on his ROH legacy.

(PPV) HIGHLIGHTS: They showed clips of stuff going on backstage throughout the show, including the Hangmen 3 preparing to go on a hunt for Vulture Squad members. Well the PPV ended with a series of clips of things that were going on backstage, including the Briscoes brawling with the Age of the Fall, then the Hangmen 3 and Vulture Squad joined in the chaos. It looked like a backstage battle royal!

Tammy “Sunny” Sytch: The irresistible Tammy Sytch, known to many wrestling fans as Sunny, made a special appearance just before the SHIMMER triple threat match. Sytch has really gotten her life together, not to mention recovering the body she had in the mid-nineties that we all fell in love with. Sytch praised Ring of Honor. Lacey seemed impatient and tried to get Sytch out of the ring as quickly as possible. After the match, Sytch praised the three SHIMMER athlete’s for putting on an impressive match. Lacey grabbed a microphone and went on a wild rant that became a instant hit on the Internet when it was posted on ROHVideos.com! Lacey went nuts on Sytch, basically “shooting” on the blond bombshell for not being known as a wrestler. Lacey said Sunny had never wrestled a match in her life, pointing out that the matches in the locker room don’t count! Lacey said that because of Tammy Sytch, any woman who wants a job on TV in this business has to surgically modify their body! True. Lacey said because of Tammy Sytch all the women in the wrestling business are looked at as tits and ass. True. Lacey said because of Tammy Sytch, when women bust their ass in the ring they get sh*t on. Not exactly true. Lacey said Sytch didn’t do anything to help women’s wrestling; she only contributed to the decay of society (she had to stick the Age of the Fall stuff in there). Lacey looked like she really believed what she was saying, and I don’t blame her. Tammy Sytch said she gave Lacey 100% of her respect after watching her match tonight. Sytch admitted that she was never a fan of women’s wrestling and that it was because Lacey doesn’t have a surgically enhanced body that she HAS to be a female wrestler because she could never make it as a Diva like her! Lacey screamed, “you better watch what you say; I will kill you, you whore!” Lacey charged Sytch, but Daizee Haze jumped in and stopped Lacey from getting her hands on ROH’s guest. Tammy Sytch did manage to get one bitch-slap across Lacey’s unmodified pretty face!

Bushwhacker Luke: In what has to be called an all-time low for Ring of Honor, the famous “Bushwhacker” Luke Williams made a special appearance to be the guest time keeper for the first match of the PPV but this part did not air. I’m really surprised that the hardcore ROH fans greeted Cousin Luke with such kindness. Luke was interrupted and attacked by Hangmen 3 members Adam Pearce & Brent Albright. Quick segment.

Necro Butcher vs. Jigsaw (w/Julius Smokes) vs. Matt Cross vs. Mitch Franklin: What the hell is Mitch Franklin doing in this match? Let’s face it, there was only one logical winner of this match and he is one crazy bastard.

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Naomichi Marufuji: This special contest was actually the main event, the final match of the night, when “Rising Above” was taped. Every time you see NOAH super star Naomichi Marufuji it is a special occasion. Castagnoli handed Marufuji a rare loss on November 3rd at Glory by Honor VI (Night 2), so this would be their rematch. Marufuji got his win back over Double C, but the fireworks happened after the match. Sweet & Sour Inc., including Daniel Puder, attacked Claudio Castagnoli until Erick Stevens showed up to confront Puder. Before a major fight could break out, the No Remorse Corps attacked Erick Stevens. Larry Sweeney dragged Daniel Puder away from the ring, choosing to fight only when the money is right. Roderick Strong cut a promo on Erick Stevens and threatened to give him a concussion so he wouldn’t be able to make it to Final Battle for their FIP World title match. Before any damage could be done, the Vulture Squad came down and attacked the Corps and electrified the crowd with double fippidy dippidy bombs off of the top rope – those are my words on theirs! Julius Smokes cut a promo telling the NYC fans that Ring of Honor was going to be around for a long time because only the strong survive. Nice way to end a wrestling show.


If you would like to purchase this or any other ROH DVD, please check out ROHwrestling.com —- if you need some convincing, you can check out streaming video of various ROH matches for free at www.ROHVideos.com