Monday, 21 May 2012

ROH Battle in the Carolinas Part 2: Northern Aggression - DVD Review

A few days ago we looked at the first part of Ring of Honor’s Battle in the Carolinas DVD box set, Southern Defiance. Now it’s time to take a look at the second part of the set as we go back to Greensboro, North Carolina for last December’s Northern Aggression.

The show began with Mike Bennett, still without his coach Bob Evans, taking on T.J. Perkins.

This was the usual ROH-style opener, a short and sweet affair between two of the best young stars in the company.

Bennett once again refused to adhere to the Code of Honor, and after Perkins turned his back the Prodigy attacked.

From there the match was a fast and frenzied affair with both guys pulling off some good moves and putting together some great sequences, with Perkins in particular looking very impressive.

Even though he was without his ringside helper Bennett still used underhanded tactics to get the win. When Perkins came over the top rope for a sunset flip Bennett countered with a pin attempt, using the ropes for extra leverage as the referee made the count.

Tag team action followed as Kenny King and Rhett Titus, the All Night Express, took on Lancelot and Harlem Bravado.

Before the match began Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks, attacked King and Titus as they made their entrance, targeting Titus’ previously injured knee, ramming it into the ringside barrier and causing further damage with a chair.

The Bucks soon ceased their assault, but with Titus unable to compete executive producer Jim Cornette left his commentary position and gave King the chance to take on one of the brothers in a singles match. The Bravados refused, telling King he’d have to forfeit. King was having none of this and decided to take them on in a handicap match.

King put in a good effort here, but it wasn’t long before the brothers took control, taking King down with a variety of double team moves. King had a few comebacks but they were few and far between.

Towards the end of the match a limping Titus, his knee heavily taped, came down to the ring and took his place in the corner. King made the hot tag seconds later, and despite his injured wheel Titus was able to take both brothers down before he tagged King back into the match. Seconds later it was all over after Lancelot was taken down with their blockbuster/powerbomb combination.

The only Proving Ground match of the show saw Adam Cole taking on TV Champion Jay Lethal. There were the usual stipulations for this one, with Cole getting a future title shot if he could beat Lethal or survive until the time limit expired.

This was good. For nearly 15 minutes Lethal and Cole put on a terrific back and forth encounter, a great piece of storytelling.

They exchanged moves and holds as they pulled out all the stops, and as the match went on Cole came very close to getting the win on numerous occasions, especially when he suplexed Lethal on the outside of the ring, the champion’s head smashing into the ring apron.

With the time limit getting close and closer both men went even further until Lethal took the win after taking Cole down with the lethal injection, and as they shook hands the crowd gave them a standing ovation, and rightfully so.

The Tag Team Challenge Match saw Matt and Nick Jackson of the Young Bucks making their second appearance of they evening as they went up against Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman.

Now this was impressive. Coleman and Alexander looked great early on with their double team moves before the brothers began to use Coleman as their personal punching bag, taking him down with a wide variety of moves.

Coleman eventually got the hot tag to his partner, and as the inevitable mass brawl happened we saw numerous false finishes until the brothers took Coleman down with a move I’ve never seen before, a double tombstone piledriver, for the winning pin.

The penultimate match saw the debuting Samson taking on Andy Ridge.

This power versus speed battle was basically a try out match for Samson. The big man took Ridge down with a variety of power moves, bloodying Ridge’s nose at one point. It was an impressive showing, although I couldn’t help but feel that I’d seen it all before.

Ridge looked great as he tried to take the big man down with his fast-paced offence, taking the pin with a sunset flip. And here was me thinking that move never actually worked.

The main event, the All-Star Elimination Tag Match, saw Jay & Mark Briscoe and Truth Martini’s Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin taking on El Generico, Eddie Edwards and Tag Team Champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team.

You will never see a Survivor Series match like this, I promise you. For just over 80 minutes we were treated to a match filled with tremendous moves, wild brawling and outstanding drama, with all eight men putting in fantastic performances.

It began with a simple enough plot as the Briscoes were reluctant to face Haas and Benjamin in the ring, only getting in there with them after Strong and Elgin had done the dirty work. When they did meet it instigated a massive ringside brawl that seemed to go on for an eternity. It only ended when one of the referees announced that the two legal men would be disqualified if they didn’t return to the ring.

Normal order was soon restored, but only for a few brief moments as a second brawl soon broke out, and after a second warning from the officials the protagonists soon went back into the ring. By this time there had been over 40 minutes of action without any eliminations. That was about to change though.

Benjamin was the first man to go, taken out by Mark Briscoe’s top rope frog elbow. Briscoe followed him moments later, pinned after Haas took him down with an Olympic slam.

Haas was next. Distracted by the Briscoes at ringside Strong came up from behind and connected with a kick to the head before rolling him up for the pin.

Martini ended up costing Jay Briscoe his spot in the match. Haas remained at ringside while Martini stood on the ring apron, arguing with the referee while Briscoe pinned Generico. The masked man then pushed Briscoe into the ropes, where Haas greeted him with a chair shot. A three count later and the other brother was gone.

It was a while before the next elimination. After plenty of near falls between them Elgin blocked Generico’s top rope brain buster attempt and took him down with a flying shoulder block from the top, sealing the deal seconds later with his sit down powerbomb.

This left Edwards, who had thrown up while recovering at ringside after a suicide dive, against Strong and Elgin, and after the House of Truth members used and abused Edwards Die Hard finally eliminated Elgin with a roll up after the Unbreakable one accidentally clobbered Strong in the corner.

Despite having been through a ton of punishment Strong and Edwards continued to go at it full force. Edwards barely made it back into the ring after Strong put him through the ringside table from the top rope, but Die Hard managed to come back into the match, and after taking care of Martini after his attempted interference Edwards locked in the dragon sleeper. Strong had no choice but to tap, giving Edwards the win.

DVD extras come in the form of the usual ROH Video Wire as well as interviews with the eight main event combatants.

In conclusion - this was a very good show. Although the Samson/Ridge encounter left me feeling a little disappointed the undercard certainly delivered, setting up the main event perfectly. The 80 minutes of tremendous action left me feeling exhausted just watching it, and it’s many twists and turns is the reason it gets my vote as match of the night.

I do have one small gripe though, and it’s a small technical matter. Over the course of the show symbols I was treated to the site of a low battery symbol in the middle of the screen, and at one point an insert memory card graphic appeared. This kind of annoyed me after a while, and it’s kind of inexcusable for the third biggest wrestling promotion in North America, although thankfully it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the show.

So with that minor annoyance out of the way this writer is going to give Northern Aggression the big thumbs up.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. ROH Northern Aggression forms part of the Battle in the Carolinas set, and is available to buy online at

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