Thursday, 8 May 2008

NECW The Best of 2006 - DVD Review

This edition of The Two Sheds Review sees us making a return journey to New England Championship Wrestling for the third of my DVD reviews, The Best of 2006, a two disc set featuring highlights from NECW and it’s sister promotion WWW throughout that year.

Disc one starts with Jason Blade against “Hurricane” John Walters. These two had apparently been going at it for months in a very heated feud, and this was evident by the fact that this match actually began in the locker room before a brawl through the crowd eventually brought them to the ring. Once the match really got underway, they spent as much time pulling off great wrestling moves in the ring as they did brawling around it, making it feel that these two really were going all out to hurt each other. In short, it’s a very good and very exciting match, filled with false finishes and a great storyline, with Walters reversing Blade’s victory roll attempt and holding on to the ropes as the referee made the three count. But things didn’t end there. Walters attacked Blade, taking him down with a Gory bomb. However, Walters’ attempted use of a ladder as a weapon failed when Blade recovered enough to counter with a dropkick, returning the favour by attacking him with the ladder, then finishing him off with a moonsault as Walters laid on the ladder, and not even two referees could keep Blade away from his enemy. Good stuff here, and a good example of building a feud with a match such as this.

Next, “Straight Edge” Brian Fury against “The Exotic” Kristian Frost. This was another match with a storied background. This was a more technical match than the opener, but still good nonetheless, with both wrestlers well suited to each other, and Frost doing his bit as the whining and cocky villain of the piece, doing all the things you expect a good villain to do. Fury also looked great in this one, playing the hero to perfection and looking good in his comebacks, earning the sympathy and praise of the crowd as he went along. The end came when Frost tried to clobber Fury with what looked like brass knuckles, with Fury countering with a roll-up for the winning pin. Frost wasn’t finished there though, as he decked Fury immediately afterwards. More good action here.

John Walters then make his second appearance of the collection, teaming with “The Human Nightmare” Evan Siks against the Sabotage combination of D.C. Dillinger and “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards, along with their manager Sean Gorman. This one has a special stipulation - at the time Waters was the NECW Champion, and Siks was the PWF Mayhem Champion, and if either of those men were pinned, they’d lose their titles. It’s a little slow to get off the mark, mainly because of all the jaw-jacking that’s needed to set the championship angle in place, but once it gets going it’s a good example of tag-team wrestling, with the team work from Dillinger and Edwards looking particularly good, although Walters and Siks had their moments too. So all of this combined makes for an exciting bout, which saw the referee take an accidental hit, and Dillinger clobber Walters with his own title belt before making the cover as the referee came to. A three count later and Dillinger was crowned the new NECW Champion. Afterwards Walters took out his frustration of manager Gorman, taking him down with the Gory bomb.

Two more second appearances follow as Jason Blade faces Kristian Frost, who has his manager T.J. Wild along for company. This one’s quite a technical battle between two evenly matched opponents. There’s no overly flashy moves here, just great solid action, and my only criticism is that it really didn’t last that long, coming in at a shade over ten minutes. Having seen these two in action now I’m sure that they could put on a good quality twenty or twenty-five minute match. All they have to do is get rid of the distracting manager at ringside and you’ve got the makings of a good match. But as far as this one goes, after a succession of false finishes, Frost got the win, rolling through a roll-up attempt and getting the pin with a little help from T.J. Wild. Why can’t we see more matches like this these days?

The first women’s match of the collection sees Ariel facing Cindy Rogers, with the PWF Mayhem Women’s title on the line. This match was actually from the World Women’s Wrestling debut show. A good little match here, and a good example of how women’s wrestling isn’t always about the “Diva” aspect that we get from a certain wrestling promotion. Both women put together some good combinations in this one, and Rogers in particular looked particularly impressive, even applying an Indian death lock at one point in the match. So, after nearly ten minutes of great technical wrestling, and tons of near falls, Ariel got the win with her rather unique submission hold. I’m not sure what the hold is called, but it looks similar to the cattle mutilation. No flashy moves here, just great solid stuff.

More title action follows, as Evan Siks defends the NECW Triple Crown title against Jason Blade. This contest between two fan favourites is a good example of how you can get an extremely good wrestling match without flashy moves and without one of the wrestlers resorting to underhand tactics. It’s a good, solid, old fashioned kind of wrestling match, with two wrestlers going all out in their attempt to retain or gain the championship gold, and the really good thing about this one was that they were given quite a lot of time to put together a goody storyline and match. In fact the only downsides here were the ignorant fans who chanted boring for a few moments. But then again, you can’t please all of the people…well, you know how that finishes, and the second downside was the interruption from John Walters via a taped-message that appeared on the video wall. But apart from that, Siks came out on top, catching Blade as he came off the top rope, putting him on his shoulders and then taking him with his Siks Sense finisher. Siks then found himself attacked by Eddie Edwards, before coming back strongly to dispense with the interloper.

The final match on disc one sees Nikki Roxx, now plying her trade as a voodoo queen in TNA, defending the WWW title against Jana. Those of you only used to her voodoo persona may be surprised by the fun-loving and very popular Roxx persona here, but it’s a persona that serves her well here, as she mixes good technical wrestling with a small piece of comedy, even dancing with the referee at one stage. Jana doesn’t do too badly in this one either, although she’s clearly not a patch on Roxx. In fact things were going well until Roxx’s rival Tania Lee came down to the ring for a spot of distraction, and the referee took an accidental low blow. In all the confusion, Jana clobbered Roxx with the title belt, but as she was trying to get the referee back on her feet, the first thing he saw was Roxx clobbering Jana with the belt, earning her an immediate disqualification. A disappointing ending to what was a fine technical contest.

Disc two begins with a street fight for the Triple Crown title, with Evan Siks facing D.C. Dillinger. As always, Dillinger brings along his manager Sean Gorman. However, the stipulations stated that Gorman would have to be hand-cuffed to Rick Fuller for this one, something which didn’t sit too well with the manager, who refused to go through with the stipulation until head honcho Sheldon Goldberg came out and told Gorman if he didn’t do what he was told then Dillinger would lose the match and wouldn’t get a title shot for another year. Reluctantly, Gorman obliged. So after the succession of great technical contest, it was a little refreshing to see a good old fashioned brawl. They basically hit each other with anything they could get their hands on, with Dillinger doing his own impression of the great Abdullah the Butcher by sinking a fork into the champion’s head. However, because this match has no rules, Dillinger’s running buddy Triplelicious comes down to the ring to help Dillinger, which brings Fuller, now disconnected from Gorman, into the match, and it isn’t long before more wrestlers hit the ringside area and even more of a mass brawl breaks out. Trip eventually leaves his friend high and dry, as Fuller sends Dillinger down to the mat with a choke slam, with Siks crawling over to make the winning cover. Not the best match on the collection, but good to see a different style of match.

Then it’s on to singles action with Eddie Edwards, with Sean Gorman, facing Brian Fury. Now this one actually took quite a while to get going, but when it did, it wasn’t that bad, and kind of reminded me of an old school 1980’s style of match. It slowed down a little in the middle, but sped up a whole lot towards the end, with Fury beating the pants off Edwards - literally, and some of the exchanges between the two were very good, especially when Fury caught Gorman off the top rope and turned the move into a sit power bomb. However, it was Edwards who secured the victory in this one, coming off with what could only be described as a somersault side slam off the top rope. It’s the sort of finisher that Paul Burchill used to use when he was on Smackdown, so hopefully you’ll know what I mean. Anyway, good match, even though the start was a tad slow.

It’s back to title action, with “The Talent” T.J. Richter, along with his assistant Nat Turner, defended the NECW Television title against “Big Guns” Frankie Arion. To get this match, Arion had to put his career on the line. This one starts off before the bell has even been rung, with Arion running into the ring and jumping Richter. Quite a nice little match here, with Arion in particular looking quite impressive, which also saw a ref bump, Turner getting evicted from the ringside area for interfering, a run in from Scott Reid, and Richter getting the title retaining win with an impressive pump handle slam, with Richter’s variation sending his opponent face first to the mat. And with that three count, Arion’s career was over.

The last woman’s match on the collection is a three way elimination match for the NECW Women’s title, featuring Nikki Roxx, Mercedes Martinez and Violet Flame. This one got off to a rather amusing start when, after Martinez announced that she didn’t have to work because it was an elimination match, she was dragged into the ring by Roxx and Flame who proceeded to do the beat down, until Martinez ran away from the ring and ordered a drink at the bar. She would return to the match a few moments later, and in something of a surprise, eliminated Flame after a brain buster, meaning that a new champion would be crowned. Now whereas things had looked a little messy when it was a three way, things got a whole lot better when it got down to a one-on-one between Roxx and Martinez, because it turned into a tremendous technical contest filled with great moves and hard hitting action, a fine advertisement for the skills of both women, with Roxx taking Martinez out with her Barbie crusher finisher to win the title. But Roxx’s celebrations didn’t last long, as she was attacked form behind by Missy Samson and Amy Lee, who would have put her through a table had Ariel not ran in for the save. But Ariel herself then attacked Roxx, and power bombed her onto a table (the table didn’t break by the way), before walking away with Roxx’s newly won NECW title belt.

The final match of the collection is a tag-team encounter, with the NECW tag-team titles on the line as the Canadian Superstars, Dave Cole and Jade Buster, managed by Brian Cairo, face the Dogs of the War, Matt and Kyle Storm, managed by Dave Padula, under hardcore rules. This match also had a special referee, former ECW referee Paul Richard, a specialist in hardcore matches. It starts off as a normal tag-team match, with the Canadians putting on a couple of arm wringers on the Storms, before the brothers leave the ring and walk backstage, only to return a couple of minutes later with a shopping trolley full of toys. They then proceed to beat the hell out of each other with whatever they can get their hands on - steel chairs, baking trays, rubbish bins, but no kitchen sinks, so, sadly, I can’t use that pun in this review. One good moment saw the Canadians put Kyle head first (and upside down) into a rubbish bin in a corner, before they both climbed to the top and came down with Van Terminator-like moves. Awesome stuff there. I have to admit though that while this match was quite entertaining, it did seem to drag on quite a bit, especially when the managers got into a fight between themselves in the ring while the wrestlers were fighting around the arena. In fact the only entertaining part of that little segment was when Padula lighted a fireball in Cairo’s face. So after an age of brutality, the Storms emerged victorious, winning the titles after Matt side-slammed Cole onto a bunch of thumb tacks, before his brother followed up with en elbow drop from the top rope. A three count later and the Dogs of War were the tag-team champions.

No extras on this collection, so let’s get straight to the ending.

In conclusion - although this release does have it’s bad points, mainly some matches being too short and some being too long, overall The Best of 2006 is a good advertisement for NECW and it’s sister company WWW. It shows that the company is capable of putting on a wide array of matches, from technical masterpieces to top women’s action to hardcore brawls. This double DVD set would be a welcome addition to any wrestling fan’s collection, and if, like me, you’re a relative newcomer to the NECW product, then it’s a good way to get you acclimatised to their brand of professional wrestling.

With thanks to Sheldon Goldberg and NECW for supplying a copy of this release. To order your copy, and to find out more information on New England Championship Wrestling, as well as their online TV show (which you can download and store on your computer!), visit www.NECWwrestling.com.