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By Stuart Carapola on 8/3/2010 9:00 AM
After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back with more Ring Of Honor DVD reviews! We kick back into action with From The Ashes, the first of two events ROH ran in Phoenix over Wrestlemania weekend. ROH's Wrestlemania weekend shows have traditionally been less heavy on major angles and more focused on just delivering strong in-ring action, and I hate to say it, but the 2009 WM weekend shows didn't exactly set my world on fire, but this year's cards look a hell of a lot stronger on paper and just by looking at them, they may come out as some of the strongest WM weekend shows ROH has ever done. So let's go ahead and jump right into the action...

From The Ashes - 3/26/2010

We open the weekend with a Six Man Mayhem that included Colt Cabana, Johnny Goodtime, Skullkrusher Rasche Brown, Human Tornado, and Embassy members Joey Ryan and Shawn Daivari. Human Tornado was actually scheduled for a run in ROH earlier in 2010, but abruptly announced his retirement, cancelling his planned (and already announced) matches and dropping off the face of the earth. I'm not quite sure why he's here now for this shot, but the live crowd sure seemed happy to see him. Daivari has gotten himself in unbelievable shape, he is looking as chiseled as I've ever seen him, to the point that he actually looks better (albeit proportionately smaller) than Muhammad Hassan ever did. The wrong guy sure got the spotlight in that pairing. Solid opener to get the crowd into it, with Rasche doing his thing as the big tough badass everyone runs away from, and Cabana got the Billy Goat's Curse on Goodtime to pick up the submission win.

The second match saw the Kings Of Wrestling taking on Scott Lost & Scorpio Sky, and I've spent enough time gushing over all four guys that I won't do it again here, but what I will say is that this reminded me of the Briscoes vs Steen & Generico match from the Fifth Year Festival, not so much because it was such a close match or Lost & Scorpio came close at all to beating the Kings, but it was similar in that they came in as a one shot deal and had a great showing against, with all due respect to the Briscoes, the best tag team in the company, and they were competitive and didn't come off like a couple of jobbers the Kings rolled over on their way to the Big Bang. At the end of the day, though, the KOW were getting the titles in about a week and put Lost away with the KRS-ONE to pick up the win.

Next up was a rematch from Final Battle between Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero. For those of you just joining us, these two were originally supposed to be on opposite sides of a tag match at Final Battle, but when Jack Evans and Teddy Hart arrived late because of travel issues, it was changed to a singles match on the fly, and one that had a funky finish that seemed awkward and may have been blown, but they went with it, and now we have the rematch. I've always liked both guys, I think Romero is a complete package because he can literally do it all whether it's wrestling, fighting, submissions, dancing, or whatever, and he has charisma oozing out of every pore of his body. It's too bad ROH can't get ahold of him more regularly because if he were in my company, I'd have a hard time finding reasons not to put my title on him. Koslov is good too and has a great look, but even though the hat dance thing is funny, I can do without it since it's one of those People's Elbow/Five Knuckle Shuffle type moves where the guy really shouldn't just be laying there for 30 seconds while Koslov does his thing. In any event, this was a much better match than the Final Battle match, and they even played off the finish of the first match as Romero got the Diablo Armbar, but Koslov rolled through and cradled Romero for the clean win. I love when people do spots based on stuff that happened in previous matches, it shows that they learned from the experience and came up with a counter for next time. Beautiful stuff, now all we need is match #3!

From there we go to the latest (and one of the final) chapters in the Necro Butcher-Embassy war, as Necro took on Bison Smith. I got the impression like Bison was going to be a regular in ROH when he first showed up in 2009, but his program with Danielson ended up getting dropped and he's only been in once in a blue moon since then. It's too bad, but since he's apparently not available on a regular basis, I think his role as the secret weapon of the Embassy suits him well because now you can just bring him in when Prince Nana really wants to take someone out. By the way, I've stood next to Bison Smith and the guy is HUGE and not a dude I would want to mess with. Just something in the water in Colorado, I guess. This is getting to the tail end of Necro's year long feud with the Embassy before deciding to join them, and he and Bison had wrestled once before on HDNet and it went to a non-finish, and I was hoping to see this get settled so we didn't have to wait another six years for Bison to come back to the company so they could do it again. They started fighting in the aisle before the match, then brawled around ringside, through the crowd, onto and across the bleachers, back through the crowd, and then Necro finally got into the ring with the ring bell and awaited Bison, but instead of getting in the ring, the rest of the Embassy held Bison back and herded him to the back, so the referee declared Necro Butcher the winner by forfeit. What is the point of bringing Bison in if you never actually do anything with him? Great, they brawled through the crowd, I've seen that a zillion times, I want to see these two have a MATCH. Is that too much to ask?

CANADA EXPLODES in our next match, as Kevin Steen took on Kenny Omega. For a while it looked like Steen was starting to trim off some of the weight he packed on in 2009, and I hate to say it, but it looks like he's getting bigger again and it really showed here. He's smartly adjusted to a more methodical wrestling style that puts less strain on the bad knee, but the weight isn't helping and I fear for the long term health of his career if he doesn't find a way to start cutting some of that weight. Omega's Japanese commitments unfortunately make him another guy who could be a bigger deal for ROH if he were around more, but his availability leaves him as another guy who comes in to work the odd weekend here and there and that's about it. At least he's not being buried since he is getting the occasional win and having great matches when he is around. Case in point: Steen gave Omega the Package Piledriver and Omega kicked out, I think becoming the first guy to do so in ROH, and then it took Steen immediately locking him in the Crippler Crossface to get the win. I did like how Steen was working the arm the whole match and then, when Omega was selling the arm when he made his comeback, because there have been a lot of times in the past where he's completely forgone selling injuries once he hits the babyface comeback spot.

We move on to the next chapter in the El Generico saga, as he takes on Steve Corino in a singles grudge match, and the thing that struck me as odd about this was that it was just a regular wrestling match and, other than a short brawl around ringside at the beginning, didn't get particularly violent. Generico should be so pissed at Corino that he would have come in and tried to kill the guy, but other than one spot where Corino (and I am not making this up) jammed his thumb up Generico's butt, they just had a standard match. On the bright side, Corino has gotten himself in much better shape compared to when he was in ROH in late 2006 and was getting somewhat Dusty-esque in his appearance, and whether you like him or not, he's a seasoned worker who knows how to have a good match and is a valuable guy to have around in a company like ROH that's got a comparatively young roster. Steen came to ringside and distracted Generico, allowing Corino to roll him up with his feet on the ropes for the win, then the two of them attacked Generico after the match until Colt Cabana came out to make the save. Cabana ran them off, then grabbed the mic and fired Generico up, getting him good and mad for their match with Steen & Corino at the Big Bang.

Next up was Tyler Black's Personal Challenge as he would take on first Austin Aries, and then Roderick Strong in two consecutive singles matches. Aries had Tammy Sytch with him, and please, please please please, stop trotting Tammy out and acting like she looks like she did in 1995. With all due respect, she looks like someone's middle aged, hairdressing mother and at this point, it just comes off like she's desperately clinging to her past and it's kind of sad to watch. There was one spot in the match where Tyler went up for the Phoenix Splash (in Phoenix), and Tammy got on the apron and starting groping him, and I was thinking that's what it must be like for your high school bus driver to come on to you. But getting to the match, the thing I really love about watching Aries and Tyler wrestle is that the fans always start cheering for Aries, and he goes out of his way to turn it around by acting as heelish as possible, but it just makes the fans cheer him more, and it's really funny to watch. The other thing that's really cool about watching these guys is that they've become one of those rivalries where they've wrestled so many times that they not only get to know each other's moves and have planned counters for them, but by this point you see counters to the counters because of their familiarity with each other. The only other feuds like that in ROH history that I can think of are Aries-Danielson and Danielson-McGuinness. In any event, Black wins with a rollup out of nowhere, and you might think "wait, these guys have gone 60 minutes and now Tyler beats him in 10 minutes with a rollup?" but that works too, because a)rollups and small packages are designed to catch people off guard and get a quick pin, and b)it drives home the point that anyone can win at anytime and there doesn't need to be a big dramatic finish.

So now we're on to the second match, with Tyler facing Roderick Str...oh wait, Aries is pissed that he lost and attacks Tyler, wrapping his arm around a ringpost and cracking it with a chair. Roderick comes in and lets Aries get a few last shots in before chasing Aries off and then tells the ref to ring the bell, and goes after Tyler's arm like a shark. Tyler did turn it around and start a comeback, and I have to point out that Roderick has gotten great at selling, he always used to be very bland but in addition to getting better on the stick (which I've pointed out before), he's gotten better at emoting when he's physically hurt too. Finish comes when Tyler hits the Buckle Bomb and superkick, and the referee counts three and then notices that Roderick got his foot on the ropes and calls off the fall, and as Tyler is arguing with the ref, Roderick regains his bearings and kills Tyler with a running boot and then a Gibson Driver for the win. Great booking where again, Roderick has proven that he's able to beat Tyler, but gets screwed every time he wrestles him with the title on the line. Really good stuff, and now we're going to do it all over again with Roderick as the Ironman the following evening.

Jerry Lynn took on Kenny King in a No DQ match in the semi-main, and I liked how Jerry Lynn came running out and went right after King, no posing, no high fiving the fans, he did what you're supposed to do when a guy tries to end your career: he went after him in a rage and tried to take him out. I wasn't so much of a fan of the ladder coming into play, it tells me they wanted to do a Ladder Match but didn't have anything to hang above the ring so this was how they worked around it. I was okay with the tables and chairs because those are a little more standard for streetfight type matches, but there were so many ladder spots that this was, for all intents and purposes, a Ladder Match that ended in pinfall or submission. Great spot to finish this one, as Lynn gave King a Cradle Piledriver through the table to get the win, and it made for a great climactic end to the match and Jerry Lynn's quest for revenge. Of course, the feud would continue and would end up including Delirious, Aries, and Titus, but that's fine because I was worried about what there was to do with Lynn after his quest for one last World Title reign ended, and I've been very happy with the Kenny King feud.

We finish off the evening with the American Wolves invoking their rematch clause and challenging the Briscoes for the ROH World Tag Team Title. You knew that the Wolves weren't getting the straps because, even though they were still occasionally teaming, they had pretty much moved on to singles careers by this point and Eddie was already the TV Champion, but that wasn't going to stop them from having another great match to follow up what they did in New York City at Final Battle. The funny thing about it is even though, from the moment the Wolves were formed, everybody thought of them as a makeshift team and were just waiting for them to split up and go back to singles, but they have gelled so well as a team that they're still a viable, competitive team and could believably take back the tag title at any time, and are undeniably on the same level as the Briscoes and Kings Of Wrestling. The only problem with keeping them as a team for now is that Davey has gotten so good that he outshines everyone he gets in the ring with, and everyone wants him to win the World Title so badly that they could turn on him getting another run with the tag straps. This was better than the Final Battle match, you still knew the Briscoes were winning, but this was a lot more competitive and fast paced and they threw in some new spots as well. Jay kicked out of the Wolves' finish, then Eddie Edwards kicked out of the Jay Driller, and then the Briscoes finally put Eddie away with the Doomsday Device to wrap up a great show.

* * *

This was a really good show, you had a lot of big name talent involved in marquee matches, and nobody held a thing back on the entire show. There was some great angle advancement with Tyler-Strong and Generico/Cabana-Steen/Corino (which is my favorite feud in ROH this year), and a really fun streetfight between Jerry Lynn & Kenny King. This show is an easy thumbs up.