Thursday, 21 November 2013

Christopher Daniels: The Fallen Angel - DVD Review

He's been one of the best wrestlers in the world over the past fifteen years, a man who can have five star matches with anyone, no matter what their size or skill set.

Now we're going to take a look at Ring of Honor's most recent tribute to one of their founding fathers. The man in question is Christopher Daniels, and the two disc set is entitled The Fallen Angel.

As is the custom with these things let's start at the very beginning with:

Disc 1
February 23rd, 2002
It's the very first Ring of Honor show, and our hero faces Low Ki and Bryan Danielson in three-way action at The Era of Honor Begins.

It feels a little odd when you think that this match was almost twelve years ago. It's certainly stood the test of time, and remains a classic to this day.

All three men put in tremendous performances here, setting the standard for what was to come in ROH. There was so much great stuff that the fans in attendance gave them countless standing ovations, with the first ovation coming in the first ten minutes of the match.

There are so many great spots here it would take too long to mention them all, but my favourite is still the moment where Danielson and Ki engage in a game of one-gunmanship to see who has the best kicks, with poor Daniels as the proverbial human kicking bag.

After over twenty minutes of action we finally got the winner. While Danielson had Daniels in the cattle mutilation Ki broke up the hold with a twisting phoenix splash off the top rope. He then took Daniels down with the Ki crusher for the three count and win.

March 30th, 2002
Our hero faces Bryan Danielson and Low Ki again, but this time it's in a three-way tournament at The Round Robin Challenge, with Danielson his first opponent.

It's a shame that the format of this tournament meant that they were only given a shade over ten minutes, but boy did they fill those ten minutes.

Once again these two put in a fine effort as Daniels worked over his man's neck, and as our esteemed commentators speculated that it was a set up for the angel's wings we would later learn that wasn't the case.

Danielson eventually made his comeback, but his now-injured neck meant that he couldn't execute simple moves like a suplex, and more importantly it meant that he couldn't go for the cattle mutilation. This suited Daniels perfectly when he reversed Danielson's next submission into a crossface, and as he had another opponent to face later in the evening he had no choice but to tap out.

A short while later our hero went on to face Low Ki in his second tournament match.

Like the previous match this was a short and very sweet encounter. It began with Ki hammering Daniels after he failed to observe the Code of Honor. Basically he took him to the proverbial woodshed with numerous kicks and blows to the head.

Daniels eventually shook off these moves and came back into the match, once again centring his attack on his opponent's neck. It wasn't enough to put Ki down though, and although he survived the angel's wings he didn't have enough strength to go for the cover after he took Daniels down with the Ki crusher.

A few moments later though he did regain enough of his senses to lock in a dragon clutch. Daniels had nowhere to go, so it wasn't long before the inevitable happened as the Fallen Angel tapped to give Ki the submission win.

And in case you're wondering, with each man winning one match each the tournament was tied.

September 21st, 2002
It's the early days of the Prophecy and the tournament to crown the first ROH Tag Team Champions as our hero teams with Donovan Morgan to take on Dick Togo and Ikuto Hidaka in the semi-finals at Unscripted.

I really enjoyed this one. Togo and Hidaka impressed the hell out of me as they doubled up to good effect on Morgan and then Daniels, with our esteemed commentators speculating that the visiting stars could be the tournament favourites.

Needless to say though that the Prophecy boys got back into the match by nefarious means, and as the action progressed and the bodies began to fly it really looked like it could go either way, especially when Hidaka was taking Daniels down with a wide variety of moves.

Then Daniels took Hidaka down with his STO, but as Daniels went for the pin and the referee made the count the Japanese star couldn't kick out because Morgan was holding his feet, which meant that the Prophecy had the winning pin and the spot in the tournament final.

That final happened a short time later as they went up against Bryan Danielson and Mike Modest.

This one had a lot of back story to it, with the pre-show brawl between old friends Morgan and Modest and the ongoing rivalry between Daniels and Danielson.

As for the action although it was good it wasn't as good as the previous match. Daniels and Morgan once again looked pretty good as a unit, but the fluidity between Danielson and Modest just wasn't there for me. Alone they looked okay, but together they looked a little rough around the edges.

This time around it was the Dragon's turn as the punching bag as our hero's team worked over his knee, and it would prove to play a pivotal moment later on when Danielson put Morgan in the cattle mutilation. By this time he was the proverbial one-legged man, which meant that he couldn't put his full weight into the hold. Mind you, even if he had been able to apply the hold properly he still would have been stopped by Daniels.

So after the match moved on to the all hell breaking loose segment Daniels took Danielson down with his last rites finisher. A three count later and ROH had their first tag team champions.

October 5th, 2002
Our hero returns to singles action as he takes on Doug Williams at Glory by Honor.

No matter how many times I see these two against each other it never gets boring. They've battled each other all over the place, and this match was a fine example of their rivalry.

Williams put on a near-flawless display of technical mastery as he took it to the Prophecy leader, but time and time again Daniels kept coming back, constantly countering the Anarchist's attempts to take his man down with his chaos theory.

After tons of great back and forth action, and a little interference from Daniels' ringside companion Simply Luscious Williams finally achieved his goal, but as he went for the pin Daniels grabbed hold of the bottom rope.

Frustrated, Williams began to argue with the referee a little. This left him open to a Daniels roll-up, and as he put his feet on the middle rope the referee made the three count, giving the Fallen Angel the win.

November 9th, 2002
It's back to tag team action for our hero as he joined by fellow Prophecy members Donovan Morgan and Samoa Joe as they defend the Tag Team titles against Low Ki, Homicide and Doug Williams at All-Star Extravaganza.

Now you're probably wondering why the Tag titles were being defended in a six man match. It's actually quite simple. Back then ROH gave their tag champs a trophy instead of title belts, and the plate on that trophy named the Prophecy as the champions. Upon seeing this Daniels discovered a loophole in the rules which meant that any members of that stable could defend the titles, and in any kind of match. Think of it as the old Freebird rule but amped up a little.

So with that explanation out of the way, let's get on to the match, which was pretty darn good. Billed as an all-star match, hence the name of the show, it was a joy to watch from start to finish. All six men put in great performances here, and the exchanges were top notch from start to finish.

ROH's dream team worked like a well-oiled machine early on as they took Daniels apart, but it wasn't long before the Prophecy boys isolated Williams and gave him a fair share of rough treatment.

The Brit eventually made it back to his corner, signalling the start of the mass brawl sequence, which included the obligatory everyone flying through the air moment, a moment topped off nicely when Joe ran the ropes and dived over the top, taking everyone out on the floor.

Numerous near falls followed until it got down to Joe and Homicide in the ring, and with everyone else occupied on the floor Joe took his man's back and locked in a rear naked choke. Homicide held out for as long as he could until he lost consciousness, giving the evil doers the title retaining submission win.

March 22nd, 2003
Our hero, now with the championship of Britain's Frontier Wrestling Alliance around his waist, defends the title against former champion and old rival Doug Williams at Night of Champions. Oh, and the #1 Contenders Trophy is on the line as well.

With the Prophecy's new cheerleader Allison Danger at ringside these two put on a match that was even better than their previous encounter. From start to finish it was filled with an absolute ton of great technical action.

It began with Williams working over Daniels' neck, and the variety of moves the former Anarchist came out with was great. Eventually Daniels worked his way back into the match so he could centre his attack on Williams' ribs in an attempt to cut off his air supply.

As the match progressed it became a very heated affair. Surprisingly Miss Danger didn't actually get physically involved as both men came close to getting the win with their various submission holds.

And as the end approached and with the crowd in the palm of their hand Williams managed to avoid the angel's wings so he could take Daniels down with his chaos theory suplex. A bridge and a three count later Williams had regained the FWA title and earned a shot at the ROH title.

April 26th, 2003
It's Round Robin Challenge II, and our hero faces two opponents in one night. The first man he has to deal with is the Amazing Red.

Fast-paced action was the order of the day in this encounter. Daniels spent much of the early going throwing his smaller opponent around the ring like a stuffed toy, but it wasn't long before Red made his comeback as he put his foot on the throttle and took Daniels down with his high-flying offence.

Even when Daniels re-took control the pace was still quite fast, but when Red took him down with a top rope hurricanrana it looked all over for our man. But as Red climbed to the top rope the fallen Fallen Angel kicked the referee into the ropes, crotching Red onto the top strand, and after he crashed to the canvas Daniels took him down with the last rites for the winning pin.

A short time later Daniels faced his second opponent in the form of Paul London, and with both men having defeated the Amazing Red this match was for all the marbles.

We had lots of stalling at the beginning of this one as both men tried to play the mind games card, and when the match eventually began London frustrated Daniels so much that the Fallen Angel took to the microphone to complain about London's apparent lack of respect.

When the action finally began in earnest it proved to be another outstanding affair. Daniels looked perfect as he worked over London's ribs, so much so that whenever London made a comeback he was virtually a one-armed man because he was using his left arm to protect hid ribs.

Things got even better when the big guns came out. To the amazement of everyone London managed to kick out after Daniels took him down with the angel's wings, and a few moments later London took to the top rope and took Daniels down with his shooting star press. But when he went for the cover ringside cheerleader Allison Danger distracted the referee so he couldn't make the count. London dealt with this particular threat with a lip lock before he back dropped Daniels onto her.

So with the threat of outside interference now gone London upped his game again as he prepared for another shooting star press. Second time wasn't a charm though, because as London came down Daniels raised his knees into those injured ribs. A quick comeback later saw Daniels  coming down with the BME for the tournament winning pin.

Disc 2
August 16th, 2003
It's a battle of the Prophecy running buddies as our hero takes on Xavier for the #1 Contenders Trophy at Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies.

This was Xavier's first match since losing the ROH title to Samoa Joe a few months before, and it began as a good natured technical affair until Xavier punched Daniels in the face. The former champ then looked a little dumbfounded when Daniels returned the compliment, and although it looked like peace would break out between them it wasn't long before they tricked each other into further fisticuffs.

From there we saw an excellent back and forth battle in which the heel/face lines were well and truly blurred as Daniels worked over Xavier's ribs and mid-section while Xavier worked over Daniels' neck before they kicked it into top gear with the high impact moves.

The tension level got even higher towards the end. Daniels tried to stop Xavier taking him down with a backslide by hooking his foot under the bottom rope, but when the referee saw this he kicked the boot away, inadvertently helping Xavier execute the move. The referee then saw Xavier's feet on the ropes as he made the pin, and when Xavier began to argue with the official Daniels came up from behind and rolled him up for the pin, grabbing a couple of handfuls of tights as the referee made the count.

September 20th, 2003
Our hero finally gets his championship match as he challenges Samoa Joe for the World title at Glory by Honor II.

Now this was a good match, but there was something about that just didn't feel right, and it didn't really hit me until the final few minutes.

It began with Joe dominating his challenger as he took him to the proverbial wood shed. This went on for quite some time, and it was only when Joe threatened to face wash Allison Danger in the corner that Daniels finally got in some meaningful offence.

Daniels looked good as he tried to take the champion down, but as the match progressed it occurred to me that something wasn't quite right, that Daniels, despite being the hated heel here, was actually wrestling like the plucky underdog, while Joe was coming across as the invincible champion, and gathering by the reaction of the fans that's they way they saw it too.

As the match neared it's conclusion Joe kicked out of the pin after Daniels' angel's wings, and despite Daniels throwing everything bar the kitchen sink Joe kept coming back, eventually getting Daniels in his rear naked choke. Daniels managed to make it to the ropes though, but when Joe took him down with the island driver that was it. A three count later and Joe had retained the title in a good but somewhat confusing match.

December 27th, 2003
Our hero teams with Dan Maff to challenge Japanese stars the Great Muta and Arashi for the All Japan Double Tag Team titles at Final Battle.

This may not be the best match in this collection but it was still pretty good. It began with former sumo star Arashi throwing big Maff around the ring like a rag doll, and the tension levels were turned up a notch or two when Muta squared off against Daniels, especially when the Japanese legend sprayed green mist into the air to try and intimidate the Fallen Angel.

Muta pulled off a couple of his trademark moves, and was about to go for a moonsault when Allison Danger distracted him. This led to a spot of doubling up on the masked man until he managed to get the tag on Arashi, who promptly took Maff down with a dropkick. Yes, you read that correctly. A former sumo wrestler executed a dropkick.

Ararshi soon made the tag to Muta, and after Maff dealt with Arashi at ringside he clobbered Muta with a chair as he ran the ropes. Then, as Daniels held Muta from behind, Maff tried to hit him with the chair again, only for Muta to spray red mist into his eyes.

With Maff out of the equation it wasn't long before Muta took Daniels out with a shining wizard. A three count later and the visiting stars had retained their titles.

July 16th, 2005
Our hero faces the debuting Matt Hardy at Fate of an Angel.

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few years you'll know about the events that led to Hardy leaving WWE, going to ROH and going back to WWE, and in a way it's a shame that he didn't have a longer stint in ROH back then, because this was a quality encounter.

They matched up extremely well. Hardy looked in top form throughout, certainly a lot better than he has in the past couple of years, and Daniels was the perfect foil as he looked to make his mark in his new company.

Both wrestlers brought out the big guns throughout as they came close to getting the pin on numerous occasions, and as they worked towards the end it still looked like either man could win.

Then World Champion C.M. Punk, who was feuding with Daniels at the time, came strutting down to ringside. His first act was to punch Allison Danger in the ring, and after Daniels avoided Hardy's twist of fate by pushing him into the referee Punk jumped up onto the ring apron and clobbered him with a chain-enhanced fist.

But that wasn't enough to put the Fallen Angel away. Hardy and the referee quickly recovered, and after Hardy took his man down with a twist of fate Daniels still kicked out, and it was only after Hardy applied his new submission hold that Daniels passed out to give Hardy the debut win.

August 20th, 2005
Our hero faces Samoa Joe once more, this time challenging him for the Pure title at Night of the Grudges II.

Sound technical wrestling was the order of the day in this one, but then again that's what the Pure title was all about.

Both wrestlers put in great performances, and even though it wasn't as heated as their World title encounter it was still very competitive, with Joe working over Daniels' neck before the Fallen Angel returned the favour by centring his attack on the big man's ribs.

The action moved along nicely as they went for a few submissions and used up all of their rope breaks. This proved to be disastrous for Daniels. Having put Joe on the top rope the champion blocked his move and applied a rear naked choke, using the ropes for extra leverage, and with Daniels' dangling in the air with his feet off the ground he soon tapped out to give Joe the title retaining submission win.

January 27th, 2006
Our hero faces another old rival in the form of Low Ki at Tag Wars.

Originally Daniels was meant to be facing Samoa Joe again in this match, but with Joe suffering from a staph infection and pulled out of the match old rival Ki was brought in as his replacement.

This was a whole lot more intense than their encounter a few years before. By this time Ki was firmly on the dark side, and he was somewhat more sadistic as he worked over Daniels' chest and mid-section with his hard-looking stomps.

Daniels managed to make his comeback though, and looked pretty good in doing so, but Ki kept coming right back at him. At one point he moved him on to the time keeper's table before climbing to the top rope. But when he came down with his trademark stomp Daniels had moved out of the way, and Ki went crashing through the wood head first.

Back in the ring each man tried to go for their trademark moves, but when Daniels went for the angel's wings Ki flipped him over into a pinning position while their arms were still connected, and a three count later Ki had the win.

Afterwards Daniels tried to make amends for the lack of respect he showed towards Ki by finally adhering to the Code of Honor and offering him his hand. It was an offer that Ki refused, the memory of their previous battles still fresh in his memory.

March 25th, 2006
Our hero faces a new challenge as he goes up against Alex Shelley at Best in the World.

Shelley, with he Embassy cohorts Prince Nana and Daizee Haize in his corner, began his night's work by spitting water in Daniels' eyes. A game of cat and mouse then followed as Shelley did all that he could to try and avoid his now-angered opponent.

Eventually the match settled down, and Shelley did a good job in taking his man down time and time again. The only problem was that his covers were somewhat arrogant to say the least, which made Daniels' kick out attempts quite easy.

Daniels soon managed to work his way back into the match, and with Nana jumping around the ring like a battery operated toy the moves and counter moves came thick and fast as they went for the big guns before Daniels finally took the pin when he took Shelley out with the angel's wings.

April 22nd, 2006
It's the final match of the collection, and our hero faces a future Real American in the form of Swiss star Claudio Castagnoli at The 100th Show.

Out of all the matches on this collection this was probably the best natured and most sporting. There were no face or heel divides here as these two went about exchanging holds and counters early on.

Indeed, it wasn't until a good few minutes in that one man got in any sustained period of offence, and that was when Daniels drop-kicked Double C's knee. He then worked over the injured limb for a number of minutes before Castagnoli returned the favour by drop-kicking Daniels' knee and putting the leg in a horse collar submission.

The Swiss offence didn't last very long though, and after another exchange of moves Daniels rolled his man up for the three count and win.

Then, it happened. After just over four years Daniels finally adhered to the Code of Honor and shook Castagnoli by the hand before paying tribute to ROH on their 100th show.

Now apart from all of these matches there are a few other things that will certainly wet your whistle, including segments featuring the Prophecy's feud with the Second City Saints, our hero's return to ROH in 2005, and highlights from 60 minute draw against World Champion C.M. Punk amongst others.

In conclusion - having read the last few thousand words I think you can guess how this review is going to end, because as I've said with other reviews of this kind, Ring of Honor have gone and done it again.

This is a tremendous collection chronicling the career of Christopher Daniels in ROH. There isn't one bad match here, which is not only a testament to the man himself but to his many opponents as well, against men who, like Daniels himself, have also graced the big two stages in American wrestling over the past decade.

This is just one of those collections I really can't speak too highly of, and if you haven't seen it yet then you should do, as soon as possible. Or get someone to buy it for you for Christmas.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do. Yep, you guess it. This collection gets the big thumbs up from this writer.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Christopher Daniels: The Fallen Angel is available to buy online at

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