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*** Official ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
February 16, 2007 - FIFTH YEAR FESTIVAL: NYC - New York City, NY

This was the first of a six consecutive events scheduled to celebrate Ring of Honor's 5th year of existence. It would be a huge under-statement to say that ROH has come a long way since "The Era of Honor Begins" on February 23, 2002. They have done it all with class, dignity, pride, honor and flawless delivery - developing a home-grown franchise with a unique fan-base and a roster full of highly skilled individuals with pure honor in their hearts.

The DVD opened with Rebecca Bayless standing outside in the cold basically reciting a memorized script to hype the show. What a waste of money. They showed the line-up to get into the building and said they were standing in the cold since 4PM to get to see the show. Back inside, Jimmy Rave cut a promo to hype his ROH World title shot tonight. I don't know if he just started doing this, or I just haven't noticed, but Rave delivers his promos without looking into the camera. It looks like he's yelling at someone just off camera - it's a chilling special effect that enhances Rave's intense promo style. Jimmy Rave is definitely ready for Homicide tonight.

A pumped up Pelle Primeau kicked off the show standing in the middle of the ring issuing an open challenge to anyone in the back. Two seconds after the words left his mouth, I'm pretty sure Pelle was regretting it, because Samoa Joe's music was playing over the sound system. It went from bad to worse when Takeshi Morishima hit the ring instead of Joe and destroyed Primeau and pinned him in about ten seconds. Morishima wanted to fight Joe right then and there but Nigel McGuinness ran down to calm him down and guide him back to the locker room. Adam Pearce and Top of Class Trophy winner Shane Hagadorn came out to pick on the unconscious Pelle Primeau until Delirious made the save - which led to our first real match!

Delirious vs. Adam Pearce w/Shane Hagadorn: Delirious has been quietly feuding with Pearce and Hagadorn for several months but has yet to score a victory over Pearce in singles competition. Late in the match, Adam Pearce pulled out a set of brass knux and took a swing at Delirious but accidentally knocked Hagadorn out cold. Delirious pulled out a pair of knux himself and slid it into his mask - he then finished off Pearce with a head-butt with the loaded mask to finally score a victory over Adam Pearce ( 6 / 10 )!

Allison Danger & Sara Del Rey vs. Daizee Haze & Alexa Thatcher: SHIMMER Women Athlete's is in the house! Northeast-based wrestler Alexa Thatcher was a strange choice to represent SHIMMER, but I guess they needed someone to do the job. The issue between The Haze and Lacey boiled over as Lacey showed up during the match and brawled with The Haze. Alexa Thatcher didn't stand a chance as she was quickly finished off by Sara Del Rey in the ring ( 4.5 / 10 ). Way too short.

4-Way Fray - Jimmy Jacobs w/Lacey vs. Shingo vs. Jack Evans vs. Xavier: Here's a history lesson for some of you newer ROH fans; Low Ki (TNA's Senshi) was the first ROH champion, and Xavier was the second ROH champion - so it was nice to see Xavier return to the Ring of Honor. This was NOT the traditional Four Corner Survival normally presented by ROH. The "Four Way Fray" is Full Impact Pro's version of the 4-WAY, except they do it elimination style with all four men in the ring at the same time (no tags). Xavier was the first to be eliminated after having his bell rung repeatedly by Jack Evans. Jimmy Jacobs was eliminated by Shingo. Jack Evans had the crap kicked out of him but somehow managed to win after a 360 senton off the top rope ( 6.5 / 10 ).

Samoa Joe's music hit for the second time, but this time Joe came out from behind the curtain and went to the ring to give the first of several farewell speeches scheduled for his farewell tour. Joe talked about ROH starting in Philadelphia and now they are kicking ass in New York City. Joe thanked the fans and got everybody pumped up and chanting "ROH! ROH! ROH!" Joe then talked about getting a phone call earlier saying "some big Asian dude" was in the ring calling him out. Joe said he was there now and called out Takeshi Morishima. Nigel McGuinness came out and said Joe can't call out Morishima, only Morishima can call out Joe. Joe said if his Japanese sugar-daddy won't come out, he will kick Nigel's ass instead! They had a heated brawl and had to be aggressively separated by ROH security. The Joe/Nigel issue will have to be addressed before Joe' leaves.

Tables Are Legal Match: B.J. Whitmer vs. Brent Albright: Not five seconds into the match, Albright caught Whitmer off guard and launched him through a table at ringside. A few minutes later, Whitmer put Albright through a table twice with a pair of Exploder Suplex's. B.J. Whitmer proved to be the king of the crazy bumps by taking a scary Awesome-bomb over the top rope through two stacked tables on the floor! Albright failed to get the pinfall so he set up another table on the top rope in the corner. Albright got frustrated as the gimmicked tables kept breaking on him so he got pissed he kicked the table and it shattered into pieces. They showed some replays so I think they edited some stuff out. Albright set up two tables in the middle of the ring, and then stood on the table in the corner - Whitmer recovered and delivered an Exploder Suplex onto Albright through both of the tables! Whitmer covered Albright and got the 1-2-3 to win the match ( 8 / 10 ). The fans showed their appreciation by chanting for both men after the match.

ROH World Tag Team Titles: Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal vs. Austin Aries & Roderick Strong: Aries and Strong were arguably the greatest ROH Tag Team champions of all time - After all, they were the first to defend the belts outside of ROH. Since losing the belts to the King's of Wrestling back at "Dethroned," Aries and Strong have had several opportunities to reclaim the gold but failed on each attempt. Matt Sydal's gimmick is that he's become an arrogant prick since winning the ROH World Tag Team titles. Austin Aries hurt his ankle at some point during the match. The Daniels-Sydal combination are clearly the better team at this point - and they retained their championships ( 7.5 / 10 ). The previously dominant combination of Aries and Strong are not the well oiled machine they used to be, and there was a post match incident that proved that the party was definitely over for these guys.

Davey Richards showed up after the match and got the attention of Austin Aries. Roderick Strong then attacked Aries from behind and gave him a stiff back-breaker! Strong said he has carried Aries too long and now he's going to be the leader of a group in Ring of Honor. Davey Richards said that their new group would be called the No Remorse Corps (pronounced "CORE"). Jack Evans showed up to try to make peace, and Richards wanted to attack him but Strong wouldn't let it happen. Aries said that he and Jack Evans will fight Strong and Richards any time, but Evans said he doesn't want to fight Strong and promised to get to the bottom of things. It looks like a war of factions is on the horizon.

The Briscoe Brothers vs. Nigel McGuinness & Colt Cabana: More tag team action took the stage with the reformed team of Cabana and McGuinness taking on home-grown tag team specialists, the Briscoe Brothers. It was your typical ROH tag team match, with no strings attached, just a fight for an important victory. It was kind of sloppy but still very entertaining. Cabana and McGuinness scored the upset victory even though I didn't think they worked well as a team on this night ( 7 / 10 ). After the match, Samoa Joe ran out and attacked Nigel McGuinness in a heated altercation. The big man from Japan, Takeshi Morishima, showed up and the epic Joe-Morishima war began!

Samoa Joe vs. Takeshi Morishima: I'm pretty sure ROH would have rather waited a little bit longer to pull the trigger on the Joe vs. Morishima match but with Joe's impending ROH departure, I guess they wanted to do it in Joe's final NYC appearance. For me personally, the anticipation for this match was off the charts. I, like many ROH marks, craved this match since Morishima first showed his face in Ring of Honor. These two heavy-hitters laid it all on the line for the NYC fans with some hard thumps and stiff chops. Joe used some of his world famous Ole Ole kicks to bloody Morishima's nose. A few minutes later, Joe connected with an unbelievable Muscle-buster on Morishima but the big man kicked out! They turned up the heat and started exchanging some heavyweight kicks and forearms. Morishima connected with his Backdrop-driver and Joe also managed to kick out. Joe applied the Rear Naked Choke and Morishima passed out and the match was awarded to ROH legend Samoa Joe ( 9.5 / 10 ). Brilliant match. The crowd chanted "Thank You Joe!" and threw streamers into the ring as Joe became visibly emotional upon his exit. Takeshi Morishima was also given a heroes reception for pulling out the performance of a lifetime. That could very well have solidified Morishima's position in ROH.

They showed a really cool video package featuring some spectacular highlights from the past year that you'll probably want to watch twice when you watch this DVD - including the Whitmer/Jacobs/Lacey feud and the ROH/CZW war - plus a lot more.

ROH World Title: Homicide vs. Jimmy Rave: Homicide was in his hometown for the first time since winning the ROH World title and loving every minute of it. Jimmy Rave was as focused as ever and surely wanted to take Homicide to the limit to show the fans in the NYC what he's made of. Rave wasted no time in taking the fight to Homicide as streamers were flying into the ring in honor of the World champion. I've always said Rave is one of the most talanted guys in ROH but he'll never be a good World champion. This is a guy who has excellent matches with everybody, and should get a title shot once in a while, but be used mostly for getting everybody else over. All promotions should have a utility guy like Jimmy Rave on their roster. Some people are good enough to be over with the fans without winning championships - Rave is one of those people. Homicide knew he couldn't defeat Jimmy Rave in a fair fight so he introduced a ghetto-fork into the match while the referee wasn't looking. Homicide sliced Rave's forehead until he was bloodied and screaming. Rave made a come-back and hit a sick STO (Short-arm Take Over) right on the ring apron, putting a dent in the backside of the champion. The crowd was quiet and seemed zapped of their strength after the Joe-Morishima bout. Rave executed a flurry of offense on Homicide for several minutes before Homicide made a come-back. A few minutes later, Jimmy Rave nailed a Raves-clash off the second ropes - even though he was contractually BANNED from using that move since he lost the rights in a match with A.J. Styles. Homicide went for the Cop-killa, but Rave blocked it and applied the dreaded Heel-hook submission! Homicide reached the ropes and broke the hold - then he got up and finished Rave off with a Cop-killa to retain the ROH World title ( 8 / 10 ). Homicide now faces the biggest speed-bump on the Road of Homicide to date - an ROH World title match with Takeshi Morishima the following night in Philadelphia.

They cut backstage for a segment with Rebecca Bayless - like I needed to see her again. She was roaming around looking for someone to interview when she found Jack Evans unconscious on the floor, the unlucky victim of an assault by a "mystery" assailant. Who could it be? To be continued......

Final Thoughts: The Fifth Year Festival started off with a bang; let's hope they can deliver five more top notch events. The best parts about this DVD were the show-stealing "Tables Are Legal" match between Whitmer and Albright, the split between Aries and Strong, of course the Joe-Morishima match, and the Homicide-Rave match for the ROH World title was great too.

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