Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Eddie Edwards: Road to the Triple Crown - DVD Review

It’s time to step into Ring of Honor territory once again, but this time with a slight difference. We’re going to take a look at their latest compilation, a release that looks at the ROH career of the only man to have won all three of their current titles. The release in question is the two DVD Eddie Edwards: Road to the Triple Crown.

Disc 1
International Challenge: It’s a trip back to December 2006 as we take a look at Edwards’ ROH debut against Austin Aries.

It’s one of those short and sweet encounters, a staple of ROH shows over the years with Edwards, the local guy with the Road Dogg-like dreadlocks, looking to put in a good performance so he can earn a permanent spot on the roster.

It’s a pretty good match. Edwards gives it his all as he takes it to the former/future World Champion, but despite coming close to the win on many occasions Aries grabs the victory with his brain buster, finalising the deal with a 450 splash from the top rope.

Bedlam in Beantown: Forward to March 2008 as Edwards, now minus the dreadlocks, takes on Jigsaw, accompanied here by Mercedes Martinez.

It’s another of those short encounters, with the former masked man using his speed advantage to good effect early on before Edwards makes his comeback in this fast-paced back and forth affair.

There’s plenty of near falls here, but towards the end the late-Larry Sweeney, head of Sweet & Sour Inc, appears in the entrance way to distract Jigsaw. This gives Edwards the chance to take him down with the 2K1 bomb for the winning pin, with Sweeney revealing afterwards that Edwards is the latest member of his team.

Death Before Dishonor VI: Five months later in August 2008 and Edwards, accompanied by Larry Sweeney and Chris Hero, faces Roderick Strong.

Strong was looking to gain a measure of revenge here, with Sweeney having signed his tag partner Davey Richards to his stable.

It’s a nice pre-cursor for what was to come a few years later. Edwards and Strong put together a match full of fast paced action with plenty of high impact moves. Both guys put on great performances here.

There was the inevitable interference from Sweeney. It was while he was distracting the referee that Hero climbed into the ring and clobbered Strong with his loaded elbow pad. Edwards then connected with a springboard moonsault from the second rope for the winning pin.

ROH on HDNet Episode 11: Edwards, along with his American Wolves partner Davey Richards, challenges Kevin Steen and El Generico for the World Tag Team titles in a tables match.

If you’ve never seen just how intense the rivalry was between these two teams then this is a good place to start. It’s a match filled with tons of great drama, and tons of great action.

Apart from the hard hitting action there’s plenty of tables action, the best of which came near the end with Richards pushing Steen off the corner and somersaulting through two tables at ringside.

Generico then sought to put Richards through a table with a top rope brain buster, but a low blow from Edwards stopped this with a low blow before both men put the masked man through the table with a top rope bulldog, taking the title winning pin moments later.

ROH on HDNet Episode 15: Edwards and Richards, accompanied by Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Rey, put the World Tag Team titles on the line against Tyler Black and Bryan Danielson.

Having seen the Wolves in a rather frantic tables match it was nice to see them in more normal surroundings. The exchanges with Danielson were great to watch, and Black wasn’t that far behind the American Dragon in that respect, although as far as tag team continuity was concerned they couldn’t keep up with the champions.

Both teams pulled out all the stops as they went for the win in this one, but a moment of miscommunication between the challengers cost them in the end. After Danielson dragged Richards to one of the corners he told Black to go to the top rope for his finisher. But when the Dragon charged the ropes to knock Edwards off the ring apron he also knocked Black off the top rope.

The challengers then began to argue, Richards sneaked up behind Black, and while Edwards took care of Danielson Richards took the title retaining pin with a roll up.

A Cut Above: It’s April 2009, and Edwards, accompanied by Hagadorn, faces Danielson in singles competition.

This was a match that deviated from the norm as far as ROH shows go. It was the show opener, but they were given more than the usual ten minutes.

The extra time allowed the match to develop nicely. They began by exchanging holds and moves before Edwards lighted a fire under Danielson by bitch slapping twice, taking the intensity level up a notch or three.

From there the action moved at a fast pace. Both guys looked like they could get the pin on a number of occasions, but after all the flashy moves Edwards tried to get the win with a small package, only for Danielson to reverse the positions for the winning pin.

Final Countdown Tour: Boston: Five months later, and with the feud between their respective teams still as hot as ever, Edwards takes on Kevin Steen an anything goes match.

This one began when Steen pulled Edwards out of his locker room before he’d had the chance to get into his ring gear. They then began brawling through the crowd before the ring introductions could be made.

They then proceeded to brawl up into the cheap seats and around ringside before eventually making it into the ring. A few moments later Edwards would actually sustain a broken right elbow when Steen clobbered him with a chair as he attempted a suicide dive out of the ring.

Despite this Edwards continued and still put on a hell of a match, taking quite a few bumps, including when Steen took Shane Hagadorn out with a package piledriver right on top of him. A few moments later we also had a cameo appearance from Davey Richards, who took a ladder out of the ring before Steen could use it as a weapon.

The end came when Steen took Edwards out with a package piledriver on a pile of chairs which, ironically, Edwards himself had set up in the ring.

The most amazing thing to come out of this match though was the fact that Edwards, with a massive cast on his right arm and elbow, still competed in the ladder match against Steen and El Generico the following night.

ROH on HDNet Episode 46: It’s back to tag team action as the American Wolves, accompanied by Shane Hagadorn, take on Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks, with a shot at the Tag Team Championship on the line.

If you want to see a great example of 21st century tag team wrestling at it’s best then this is the match for you.

Both teams were at the top of their game in this one in a twenty minute match filled with tremendous action. I know I’ve said this a few times before but the Bucks looked a hell of a lot better here, unhindered by the restrictions that TNA would later put upon them.

There was so much great action here it would take too long to list everything. Richards and Edwards looked as excellent as usual with their no nonsense hard hitting style, while the Jackson’s high risk offence fitted in perfectly.

So after countless near falls what could be considered an upset occurred when Matt countered Richards’ DR driver attempt with a roll up for the pin, earning a title shot against the Briscoes.

ROH on HDNet Episode 55: It’s a battle of the partners as Edwards faces Davey Richards in the finals of the TV Title tournament, with Shane Hagadorn representing both men.

This starts off as a good natured battle, but after Richards suplexed Edwards and himself out of the ring the intensity level was turned up quite a few notches.

The Wolves then put on a highly entertaining encounter, with Richards working over the arm so he could go for a kimura while Edwards worked over the knee so he could go for the Achilles lock.

Indeed when Richards accidentally kicked the ring post during an exchange on the apron Edwards knew that the end was almost near, and even though he was derailed slightly when Richards went for a kimura Edwards countered with his Achilles lock, with Richards tapping seconds later.

As the title belt was brought into the ring Richards snatched it, and while many thought he was acting like a sore loser their tune soon changed when he put the belt around Edwards’ waist, crowning him as the first TV Champion.

Supercard of Honor V: May 2010, and Edwards, with Hagadorn in his corner, takes on Christopher Daniels.

This was Daniels’ second match back in ROH after his temporary hiatus for TNA, and it was another example of how certain wrestlers seem unhindered in their performances away from the Impact Zone.

The Fallen Angel proved that he was more then capable of keeping up with this generation of ROH stars as they both put on a great back and forth encounter. These two were equally matched in every department, and it was a joy to watch them exchange various holds before going for the big moves.

Towards the end Edwards looked like he was going to get the win with his Achilles lock until Daniels managed to escape. He then looked to put his man down with the 2K1 bomb, which Daniels also countered.

But after taking Edwards down with a urinage Daniels went to the top and came down with the BME for the winning pin.

Salvation: It’s now two months later and back to tag team action as the Wolves face El Generico and Colt Cabana in the first round of Tag Wars 2010.

Cabana began the match with his usual comedic stylings which infuriated the already hyper-intense Richards, and these getting under the skin tactics worked early on as Cabana dominated his foes.

Later on Generico took his turn to serve as the Wolves’ proverbial punching bag, but it wasn’t long before Cabana was back in the ring and taking it to his opponents, looking great as, with his masked partner’s help, he really took it to the former champions.

The Wolves looked like they were going to get the win on numerous occasions, especially when Richards and Edwards delivered a stereo kick to Cabana’s head, but the beloved baby faces soon came back into the match, and in what was considered an upset Edwards tapped out to Cabana’s billy goat’s curse submission hold while Generico held Richards at bay.

Disc 2
Champions Challenge
: It’s a battle of the champions in August 2010 as Edwards tackles World Champion Tyler Black in a non-title affair.

This was back when Black had recently signed a developmental deal with WWE, using his new status for a slow and gradual heel turn, with many speculating that he’d take the World title with him when he went down to Florida.

This was a highly competitive encounter, and proof that Edwards belonged in the main event scene as he easily held his own against the champion.

Black was heeling it up to good effect, even leaning over Edwards and doing the “you can’t see me” gesture at one point, as well as belittling the crowd when they began to chant for him.

In short this was a really good match, with both men pulling out all of their big moves and then some, including when Black used his buckle bomb move to send Edwards crashing into the ringside barriers.

Towards the end Edwards look like he was going to get the win when he applied the Achilles lock, but Black managed to escape to the ropes. Moments later it was all over as Black took the win with a roll up with his feet on the ropes.

Tag Wars 2010: One day later Edwards takes on Colt Cabana.

This one certainly brought a smile to my face. Although it only lasted about ten minutes those minutes were filled with tremendous wrestling action.

Cabana once again showed his love of the British World of Sport era by taking Edwards down to the may and out wrestling him early on. Edwards, however, showed that he had another side to his game when he kept up with Cabana, and seeing these exchanges brought back fond memories of when I first became a wrestling fan.

It wasn’t all mat wrestling though as these two brought out the big guns as well, giving this match even more appeal to this particular writer, and after all of that great technical wrestling it seemed fitting that Edwards took the pin with a roll up and bridge.

Fade to Black: One month later Edwards defends the TV title against Erick Stevens, accompanied here by the various Embassy cronies.

Although, like the previous match, this was a relatively short encounter they fitted in a ton of action.

Stevens looked incredible and absolutely brutal at times as he attempted to take Edwards apart, with a little help from his friends at ringside, Prince Nana and Ernesto Osiris. The action was fast paced and quite frantic at times, but it made for tremendous viewing.

Towards the end Edwards went for the Achilles lock, only for Nana to provide the distraction. After Edwards broke off the hold Stevens went to attack him from behind, only for the champion to counter with a backslide for the title retaining pin.

ROH on HDNet Episode 81: Edwards defends the TV title against another of Prince Nana’s Embassy boys, the Necro Butcher.

Necro had recently become the Embassy’s new crown jewel, although given my past experiences of his performances I would have described his as a rough diamond, and a fake one at that.

It’s the usual kind of performance from the Butcher here, one that I’ve been unimpressed with time and time again, and it took a distraction from Nana and Osiris for the Butcher to go back to his brawling ways early on.

Edwards put in a good effort here and sold like a you know what when Necro unloaded with his weak looking punches. Later on it looked as if the champion would get the win with the Achilles lock, only for Nana to distract the referee when the Butcher looked like he was going to tap.

The end of this thankfully short match came when Edwards countered Necro’s tiger driver attempt with a roll up for the pin.

And I just know that a certain guy called Flash is going to hate me even more for bad mouthing his beloved hero once again.

Final Battle 2010:
A week before Christmas Edwards faces the Playa from the Himalaya, Sonjay Dutt.

This was another of those short matches filled with a ton of action. Dutt looked great, far better than he did during his TNA stint, and he was more than a match for Edwards in this fast paced back and forth encounter.

We saw plenty of great moves and exchanges as these two went all out to get the win, with Dutt looking like he could get victory on a number of occasions, only for Edwards to bring Dutt down with a power bomb, sealing the deal with the 2K1 bomb for the winning pin.

World’s Greatest: It’s the first match from 2011, February to be precise, as Edwards faces one half of the All Night Express, Kenny King.

This was an evenly matched contest between two men with big title matches the following day. However, these guys weren’t looking past each other as they put on a great encounter.

It began with some nice mat wrestling before moving on to a faster-paced tempo as the two protagonists began to bring out their big guns, with King showing how far he’s come in the past couple of years, keeping up with one of the company’s main men.

But despite his great performance King didn’t get the job done, as Edwards was finally able to apply the Achilles lock for the submission win.

9th Anniversary Show:
One day later Edwards faces Christopher Daniels for the second time in this collection, but this time he’s challenging for the TV title in a best of three falls encounter.

As good as the other match between these two on this collection was this was a whole lot better.

For thirty minutes these two put on a tremendous piece of storytelling, with Edwards going all out to regain his title, and Daniels doing the same in an attempt to hang on to the gold.

The wrestling was so crisp in this one it was almost flawless as the action went back and forth, with each man coming close to getting the first fall, which didn’t actually happen until around the 20 minute mark when Daniels scored with a roll up.

It was then that we saw some excellent mat wrestling as they exchanged submission holds, and they even used each other’s favourite hold at one point, but it wasn’t long before Edwards evened the score as Daniels tapped to the Achilles lock with just a few minutes later.

Things began to get even more frantic, and Daniels was busted open after Edwards took him down with a top rope hurricanrana. A hip toss by Edwards then sent both of them crashing over the top rope to ringside, and although Edwards managed to make it back into the ring Daniels did not.

However, as the old saying goes, Daniels was saved by the bell as the time limit expired. The crowd began to chant for five more minutes, but given the state that the Fallen Angel was in it was obvious that he was unable to continue, with Executive Producer Jim Cornette ruling that the contest was a draw.

Defy or Deny: March 2011
: On the eve of the biggest match of his career Edwards faces Truth Martini’s resident monster, Michael Elgin.

This was the perfect way to lead into the World title match. Elgin put on an excellent display of sheer power early on until Edwards came back into the match using some hit and run tactics.

From there we saw a tremendous back and forth encounter. Elgin continued to put in an excellent performance as he looked to take Die Hard out, but Edwards kept coming back time and time again before finally taking the big man down with the 2K1 bomb for the winning pin.

Manhattan Mayhem IV
: One day later and it’s the biggest match of his career as Edwards challenges Truth Martini’s main man Roderick Strong for the World title.

Before the match began Strong showed that he had tremendous confidence by telling his manager he could go to the back with the words “I got this.”

It’s a term I’ve used many times before, but this really was one of those matches you couldn’t take your eyes off.

From start to finish two of the best wrestlers in the world today put on a classic, a definite match of the year candidate. They matched each other move for move and hold for hold as they put on a wonderful piece of storytelling, the likes of which we rarely get to see in the big two these days.

Strong and Edwards threw everything they had at each other, and the champion in particular became more and more frustrated at his inability to put his challenger away.

Eventually one of them was put away, but it wasn’t Edwards. After applying the stronghold Edwards countered with the Achilles lock as they jockeyed for position, with Strong delivering a series of kicks to the head while Edwards tried to reapply the hold, eventually taking the title winning pin with a simple pin.

In conclusion: Well, it took me a while but I eventually made it through six hours and 20 of Eddie Edwards’ greatest Ring of Honor matches.

And what a journey it was, from his dreadlocked debut against Austin Aries right through to his World title triumph against Roderick Strong almost every match delivered big time.

This collection proves that without a doubt, whether it’s as one half of the American Wolves or in the singles ranks Eddie Edwards is one of the best in the business today, and this well deserved collection is proof of that.

So in all this two disc collection gets the big thumbs up for me as the perfect stocking filler for the Eddie Edwards fan in your family.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Eddie Edwards: Road to the Triple Crown is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.