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*** Official ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
August 12, 2006 - UNIFIED - Liverpool, England

The DVD started with a good promo by Nigel McGuinness hyping the once in a lifetime unification match between he and American Dragon. Then Austin Aries and Roderick Strong found their stolen ROH Tag Team belts with a "cute little note" attached. They blamed the Briscoes and said tonight would be their last shot at the titles.

Colt Cabana came out to a wild and crazy reaction from the British ROH fanatics. It was a four corner survival match which included Cabana, Matt Sydal, the pint-sized Spud, and UK's own Jonny Storm. I was so happy to see Jonny Storm in ROH because he is cool as heck. Storm has changed his look since I last saw him; he now looks like a young Dynamite Kid. The crowd was unglued at one point chanting "This is Awesome!" -- Pretty darn good for the first match of the night! Colt Cabana was the crowd favorite but it was Matt Sydal who walked away with the victory after pinning Spud ( 8 / 10 ).

After the crowd showed its appreciation and all four guys returned to the locker-room, Chris Hero jumped the rail and hijacked the microphone. Colt Cabana ran back to defend the "ring" of honor and chased Chris Hero away. Cabana said that Hero's kind is not welcome in the building.

The crown jewel of the Embassy, Jimmy Rave, was accompanied by the highly-entertaining Prince Nana, when he tried for the third time to defeat his nemesis Davey Richards. Contrary to popular belief, toilet paper is available in the UK, because they showered Jimmy Rave with it before the match. There was a lot of stuff going on in the crowd during this match. I think I remember reading in a live report that a young girl was struck in the face by a roll of toilet paper during the pre-match excitement. Apparently promoter Alex Shane came out and gave her some merchandise to smooth it over and the crowd praised his professionalism. There was also a group of young kids up in the balcony who began to irritate the hardcore fans and became the victim of several clever chants including "past your bed-time!". For the third time in as many opportunities, Davey Richards managed to score a victory over Jimmy Rave in ROH ( 7 / 10 ). I'll be the first to admit Jimmy Rave will never be ROH World Champion material, but he is a fine talent and will deliver every single time in high profile matches. He's one of the most, if not the most, versatile wrestler on the ROH roster.

B.J. Whitmer took on one half of the Kings of Wrestling, Claudio Castagnoli, in a bout that was a spin-off from the ROH vs. CZW feud. Whitmer is on a mission to "tie up the loose ends." It quickly turned into an all out war as they spilled out of the ring and over the rail unnecessarily putting the fans at risk. I think it's highly irresponsible of any wrestling promotion to do physical harm to the ticket-holders. I cringe every time a wrestler is thrown into the rail and the metal frame is thrust into the knees of unsuspecting spectators. Just because they put a disclaimer on their ticket doesn't mean they can put the people in dangerous situations they have no control over. I love ROH with a passion but I don't approve of their reckless attitude. Okay, rant over. When Whitmer and Castagnoli actually made it into the ring, the fans were treated to some great action. B.J. Whitmer won with a roll-up to win ( 7 / 10 ).

Chris Hero hit the ring and the Kings of Wrestling briefly double-teamed B.J. Whitmer until Colt Cabana made the save. Cabana challenged Hero to a match and the fans cheered with approval but Hero refused so Cabana physically dragged him to the ring to get the match underway. It was a tremendous match, which ended when Colt Cabana connected with a back-breaker and scored the pin over Chris Hero ( 8 / 10 ). I can't wait until the Kings of Wrestling official join the ROH tag team division.

American Dragon cut a promo to hype the unification match and said Nigel McGuinness has done a lot of talking in the last few months but he will finally shut him up tonight!

It was time for an International Tag Team showcase when UK based wrestlers Doug Williams and Jody Fliesch took on Japan's SUWA and Go Shiozaki. I had never seen the two Japanese guys before so I was looking forward to this one. I think all four guys work for NOAH in Japan. Williams and Fleisch won the match, which concluded with SUWA turning on Go Shiozaki ( 6.5 / 10 ). I'm really interested to see more of SUWA and Shiozaki in the future, maybe a match with American Dragon or Samoa Joe.

Next up was ROH alumnus Chad Collyer challenging Robbie Brookside for the FWA Heavyweight title. Jimmy Bower briefly joined commentary and made it clear that Collyer was not a member of the ROH roster because he just wasn't good enough - I thought that was a strange way of putting a guy over. Robbie Brookside is a legend in UK wrestling and actually worked as a jobber on WCW Saturday Night in the 90s. He somewhat resembles Edge except ten years older and without the years of steroid abuse. Robbie Brookside retained his FWA championship with a victory over Chad Collyer ( 6 / 10 ).

As we got closer to the epic unification main event, fans were treated to the final installment of Bricoes chasing the ROH World Tag Team titles against Austin Aries and Roderick Strong. Aries and Strong were insanely over with the crowd, as were the Briscoes but in a classic heel kind of way. You could tell the British spectators were expecting a world class performance out of these heated rivals. Aries and Strong retained their belts in perhaps their hardest hitting title defense ever. Let's just say nobody was disappointed, except maybe the Briscoes ( 9 / 10 ). Just an amazing tag team match which MUST be seen to be believed.

Every time American Dragon and Nigel McGuinness go head-to-head I am left with my jaw hanging in utter amazement. The amount of time put into building this huge unification match has been so astonishing. It had a remarkable 'big fight atmosphere' that could never be duplicated by WWE or TNA in a million years. This was something special and everyone watching the match knew they were watching history unfold before their very eyes. The match was fought under pure wrestling rules, which I find very entertaining to watch. It didn't take long for both men to use up all three rope breaks, and then it got really interesting. It was an absolute classic in my opinion tainted by a few brief moments of unnecessary brutality. When the fight spilled to the floor, Nigel McGuinness had his forehead rammed three times into the ring post unprotected. Within seconds, one side of his forehead has blown up the size of a lemon and blood was streaming down his face - this was not a blade job. A few minutes later, the adrenalin kicked in McGuinness began to mount his comeback by repeatedly butting his skull into Dragon's head like two pissed off bulls.

McGuinness should have been unconscious at this point but he still fought back with a huge lariat. American Dragon applied the Cattle Mutilation but McGuinness rolled out of it. American Dragon began smashing Nigel McGuinness with an onslaught of stiff elbows to the head and face until McGuinness was out cold and the referee was forced to stop the match and award both titles to American Dragon! It was a truly historic match that will be remembered for many years to come ( 9.5 / 10 ). After the match, American Dragon put McGuinness over as his toughest opponent and offered him a rematch down the line. Just a few notes about Nigel McGuinness; What he did was absolutely phenomenal, and he went beyond the call of duty to add a major dose of drama to the story being told in the ring. However, in my opinion, he went a bit too far by risking his health and well-being. Yes, I'm sure the fans were there to shake his hand and say thank you, but they will not be there to push his wheel-chair around when he is old and retired. I certainly hope McGuinness thinks twice about doing such dangerous stunts next time.

Final Thoughts: The atmosphere was different than any ROH event I've ever seen. The British fans were extremely loud and vocal about finally getting to experience Ring of Honor live in person. They were a legitimately upset with the finish of the main event because I think they truly believed in their hearts that Nigel McGuinness was going to win the ROH World title. I certainly hope they realize the quality of wrestling they were lucky to experience that night. I would have to say with great confidence that ROH will be returning to the UK some day.

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