Thursday, 15 May 2014

Colt Cabana: Chicago's Favourite Son - DVD Review

For me he's been one of the best things about the wrestling business over the past few years, a Chicago native who can grapple with the best technicians and punch it out with the best brawlers. He's also one of the nicest guys I ever met during my time in the business.

Now we're going to take a look at Ring of Honor's most recent tribute to the man, someone who has given us plenty of good times and great memories. The man in question is Colt Cabana, and the DVD set is entitled Chicago's Favourite Son.

As is the custom with these reviews let's start at the very beginning with.....

Disc One
December 7th, 2002
Our man goes up against another Chicago wrestler you may have heard of, his best friend and travelling companion C.M. Punk at Night of the Butcher.

Cabana's debut match for the company is one of those short and sweet encounters you just wish was given a bit more time. It's ten minutes or so filled with tremendous back and forth action between two guys going all out to impress the powers that be.

There was no heel/face divide here, and the fans lapped up everything they did, and for me one interesting moment saw Punk go a little "old school" when he grabbed Cabana's arm and walked across the top rope before jumping down to the floor and dropping his arm over the rope.

The end came after Punk had successfully fought against Cabana's Colt 45 finisher a couple of times before the inevitable happened and our man took him down with his move of choice for the winning pin.

March 22nd, 2003
Our man enters tag team competition as he joins Raven against Punk and his former mentor Ace Steel in a Raven's rules match at Night of the Champions.

The Punk/Raven feud was one of the hottest on the indy circuit back then, and they certainly tore it up wherever they went. This was a great example of their work together, with Punk playing the cowardly heel early on when he refused to get in the ring with Raven.

The toys were used in moderation at first, but after Cabana took the punching bag treatment and tagged Raven in the all hell breaking loose segment began, during which Cabana was taken out when he injured his knee when he took out Steel and Punk with a top rope moonsault to the floor.

This left Raven alone against both men, and although the Chicago boys came close to getting the win it was Raven who eventually triumphed, taking Steel down with the Raven effect DDT for the pin.

That wasn't the end of things though. When Punk refused Raven's request for a handshake Raven took Steel down with another DDT. Punk refused to get into the ring as he yelled at Cabana to stop the attack on his mentor, and when Punk eventually got back into the ring Cabana joined Punk in attacking Raven before Punk took him down with his own version of the Raven effect DDT.

April 24th, 2004
Our man teams with Punk as they challenge the Briscoes for the Tag Team titles at Reborn Stage 2.

To say that Punk and Cabana were over with their hometown Chicago crowd would be an understatement. In fact they loudly cheered everything they did, with Cabana getting the loudest cheers of all as they took the young brothers to the woodshed early on.

Punk then took the brunt of the punishment for the next few moments before coming up with one of the best counters I've seen. After Mark lifted him onto his shoulders in preparation for the doomsday device Punk caught Jay as he came off the top rope and took him down with a powerslam. It's one of those moves that you have to see for yourself just how good it was.

All of this was part of the all hell segment. Both teams came close to getting the win, and after Cabana stopped the brothers from taking Punk off the top rope with a double team move the straight edged on scored with a Pepsi plunge on Mark for the title winning pin, with the local boys getting a standing ovation afterwards.

The celebrations didn't last long though as B.J. Whitmer stormed the ring to attack Punk and Cabana, with Ace Steel making the save, clobbering Whitmer over the head with a steel chair.

July 24th, 2004
Our man goes for more gold as he challenges Samoa Joe for the World title at Death Before Dishonor II, Part 2.

Although he clowned around at the beginning it's a somewhat more serious Cabana here, once again challenging for a title in his home town, against a challenger looking to extend his sixteen month title reign.

In MMA terms you could describe this as the striker versus the grappler. Joe controlled the majority of the action with his usual hard-hitting offence, with Cabana coming back time and time again, but only really putting any sustained comeback together towards the end of the match.

But despite putting him down with a top rope frog splash and countering a rear naked choke attempt with a roll-up the Chicago fans didn't get the result they wanted, with Joe ending Cabana's spirited comeback with a muscle buster for the winning pin, with both men earning a standing ovation for their efforts.

December 4th, 2004
With Bobby "The Brain" Heenan in his corner, our man teams with Jimmy Jacobs against Jim Cornette guys Jack Evans and Roderick Strong at All Star Extravaganza II.

This match came about during the first ever in-ring confrontation between Heenan and Cornette. What started as a friendly meeting degenerated into a slanging match when Cornette stated that he was fed up with the constant comparisons between him and the Brain, and when he promised that he wouldn't hurt Heenan he promised that Evans and Strong would. Cabana and Jacobs quickly ran in for the save before Heenan made the challenge that Cornette quickly accepted.

I think the best way to describe this one would be fun. It began with the Brain's boys frustrating their opponents early on. Heenan, with his always calm demeanour, casually handed chains to both Cabana and Jacobs, much to the annoyance of an irate Cornette.

The somewhat comedic stylings eventually got too much for Cornette and his boys as he led them back towards the entrance way, but when he realised just what was at stake he and his boys quickly returned to the ring.

Things then got a little more serious as Strong and Evans doubled up on Jacobs to good effect until he managed to get the hot tag to Cabana, who quickly took Evans down with his colt 45 finisher, only for Strong to break up the ensuing pin.

Moments later Jacobs and Cabana took Evans down with a spinning slam-type thing, but with the referee trying to stop Jacobs and Strong from brawling Cornette came into the ring and clobbered Cabana with his trusty old tennis racket as he made the cover. But as he pulled Evans on top of Cabana Heenan got into the ring and clobbered Cornette with his own racket before helping Cabana cover Evans. A three count later and Heenan had led his boys to victory.

February 19th, 2005
Our man goes for the gold once again as he challenges Austin Aries for the World title at 3rd Anniversary Celebration Part 1.

The back story for this one concerned their previous match against each other a few weeks before. Aries took Cabana out with a brain buster on the steel ramp, and it looked pretty bad for Cabana for a while.

Eventually he crawled back to the ring, and after a final surge of adrenaline saw him almost pin Aries with a small package Aries finally ended the match after a brain buster and 450 splash off the top rope, with Cabana having to be helped to the back afterwards.

As for this match, do you remember what I said about how serious Cabana was in the Samoa Joe match? Well, take that, times it by three, and you've got how serious he was in this one.

The technical niceties went out of the window here as they brawled all around the cage, and it wasn't long before Cabana was wearing the crimson mask and was subjected to the cheese grater treatment as Aries raked his face across the fence.

Both men came close to getting the win on numerous occasions, with Cabana's best show coming with an inadvertent assist from Aries when the champion dropkicked him and almost sent him out through the door.

The champion soon joined his challenger in the blood letting department as they continued to beat the snot out of each other, and the end saw them engage in a race of sorts. After Cabana had knocked his man off the top rope he scaled the cage, but just as he made it over the top Aries found a sudden burst of energy and dived out of the door, claiming the title retaining win.

February 25th, 2005
Our man faces one of his biggest rivals in the former of Nigel McGuinness at 3rd Anniversary Celebration Part 2.

Good natured sporting action was the order of the day in this one. For just over ten minutes these two put on a match that could have come straight out of the World of Sport era. There was plenty of solid wrestling action as these two went hold for hold, mixing in a few comedy spots  in as well.

They had the fans eating out of their hands, clapping every thing they did, but eventually things took a slightly more serious turn when McGuinness began working over Cabana's arm. A few moments later though Cabana came back, using a couple of the Brit's own moves before scoring with a roll up for the winning pin, with both men earning a standing ovation for their efforts.

June 18th, 2005
Our man faces Samoa Joe once more, this time challenging for the Pure title at Death Before Dishonor III.

Although this wasn't as intense as their previous encounter it was still very competitive. Cabana began his evening by taking advantage of the Code of Honor, keeping hold of Joe's hand and dragging him to the ropes. The referee quickly ruled that Joe had used one of his rope breaks, much to the annoyance of the champion.

From there Cabana frustrated Joe with a lot of British-influenced moves, so much so that he headed out of the ring to get his head together. The brief breather worked as he took control and began working over Cabana's left arm.

But despite taking a pounding on his limb Cabana kept coming back, but in the end those comebacks weren't enough when Joe applied a cross armbreaker in the middle of the ring. Cabana was unable to use his final rope break and had no choice but to tap out as Joe took the submission win.

August 13th, 2005
It's another meeting between old friends and rivals as our man takes on C.M. Punk in a best of three falls match at Punk: The Final Chapter.

Originally this was meant to be for the World title, but with Punk having lost the belt to James Gibson the previous evening their trainer Ace Steel suggested that Punk's final ROH match should become a best of three falls encounter.

So with all of that in place what we have here is quite an emotional match for all concerned, with Steel taking a seat at the ringside table, Samoa Joe grabbing a chair at ringside to watch the proceedings, and their hometown Chicago crowd lapping up everything that was offered to them.

This match pretty much had everything, some friendly exchanges in the beginning which led to Punk becoming rather annoyed at his friend's comedic outlook on life, urging him to become more serious before taking the aggression levels up a notch or three. It's more or less how their relationship in the wrestling business played out over the years, and it's what made this contest so good. As for the falls.....

The first fall came after a little fooling around from Cabana. An infuriated Punk connected with a low blow when the referee's back was turned. He then added insult to injury by taking Cabana down with his own Colt 45 finisher for the pin.

The second fall came when Punk tried to get Cabana to take things more seriously, pushing his head with his foot before taking him down with a variety of moves. A few moments later as they ran the ropes Cabana suddenly came back with a lariat to score the equalising pin.

The third fall was the most emotional part of the match when they finally realised that they wouldn't be facing each other again. It was also the most serious. Fatigue was beginning to become a factor by this time as both men tried to go all out for victory. At one point it looked as if Punk was going to take his man down with the Pepsi plunge, but when Cabana countered with a Samoan drop off the top rope the tide began to slowly turn, and after a hard hitting exchange followed by a fast exchange of pin attempts Cabana took the win with a cradle.

Disc Two
August 20th, 2005
The rivalry isn't nearly as friendly as our man goes up against Nigel McGuinness again, this time in a soccer riot match at Night of the Grudges II.

You couldn't get a more different match from their previous encounter. This was a straight out fight, and quite a fun one at that, with Cabana dominating the early going as he dragged McGuinness all over the arena, beating the hell out of him with a little assistance from a couple of chair-wielding fans as well.

Our Nige came back into the match with a Greco Roman but shot, and even though they returned to the ring the action remained just as intense, the most intense of which being when McGuinness blasted Cabana with a clothes iron and sent him crashing from the timekeeper's table.

Cabana had a weapon up his sleeve though in the form of a clothes iron of his own, and after a spot of duelling with his opponent Cabana took McGuinness down with a lariat for the winning pin.

August 27th, 2005
Our man claims the prize for his victory in the soccer riot match when he challenges James Gibson for the World title at Dragon Gate Invasion.

Cabana had been all business in his previous World title matches, but this time around he added a little fun into the proceedings early on when he frustrated Gibson with his rather unique counter wrestling. It got to the point where Gibson pie faced his challenger, and from there it was all business for both men.

In essence this was a great technical exhibition. For nearly thirty minutes both wrestlers put in great stints in what was a nice little back and forth encounter. Each man worked over the other's neck, and at one point Cabana even tried to put Gibson away with the champion's own submission hold, the guillotine choke.

The tide turned in the favour of the champion with the Joey Styles OMG moment, an awesome looking top rope neckbreaker, and when Cabana survived his first guillotine attempt Gibson went for the move again a few minutes later for the submission win.

September 17th, 2005
It's the first of four matches against Homicide, with our man facing his next rival at Glory by Honor IV.

This feud came about after what could be termed as a little misunderstanding. Cabana invited Homicide onto his talk show segment at Dragon Gate Invasion, and when the notorious one though Cabana was being disrespectful he walked out. Later that night, and after Cabana's hard fought title match against James Gibson, Homicide attacked Cabana in the car park.

Cabana was all fund and games at the beginning of this one, engaging Homicide's buddy Julius Smokes in a noise making contest before trying to convince Homicide to engage in a wrestling match. The Rottweiler was having none of it though as he tried to start the match with a brawl, and although Cabana pulled off a few nice wrestling moves in reply it wasn't long before he retaliated in kind.

So with Smokes lending a hand every now and then Homicide basically beat Cabana up, trying to use as many underhanded tactics as possible, as well as threatening the referee. Cabana eventually came back into the match, but when Homicide introduced a chair into the equation and threw it at Cabana that was it for the referee as he immediately called for the bell, giving Cabana the win by disqualification.

That wasn't the end of the proceedings though as Smokes and Homicide attacked Cabana when he was down. Cabana fought back briefly, but when their mystery associate, Ricky Reyes, and Low Ki eventually joined the fray it became too much for Cabana until Samoa Joe ran in to make the save.

October 15th, 2005
Our man continues his feud with the Rottweilers stable when he faces Low Ki at Buffalo Stampede.

In all the years I've watched wrestling Low Ki has to be the most serious wrestler I've ever seen, which makes him the polar opposite to Cabana temperament-wise.

Which is why this match was so interesting, and extremely fun. Cabana controlled the majority of the action, mixing in some nice chain wrestling with his usual fun and games. It took Ki right out of his game, unable to use his usual hard-hitting offence because Cabana was always one step ahead of him.

Eventually Ki caught up though and took Cabana to the mat with a body lock and a head scissors, but when Cabana made his comeback Homicide appeared on the scene, microphone in hand, with a few choice words for his rival.

This was just what Ki needed. A rapid dropkick sent Cabana chest first into the turnbuckles, and a double stomp from the top rope seal the win, with an assist from his Rottweiler buddy.

November 19th, 2005
The feud heats up even more when our man takes on Homicide in a no disqualification match at A Night of Tribute.

To say that these two had a few heated encounters between matches would be an understatement. They included an arena-wide brawl, a superplex off some bleachers, and Homicide stabbing Cabana in the head with a fork before trying to cut out his tongue.

So as you can imagine the technical niceties went straight out of the window here. This was just one big fight between two guys who wanted to beat the proverbial out of each other. There were low blows aplenty, countless chair shots, and, of course, Homicide using his trusty old fork again.

Cabana almost got a measure of revenge at one point when he tried to use a metal pipe to take his man's eye out, only for Homicide to be saved by one of this unnamed thugs. Then, after Homicide put Cabana through the timekeeper's table with an ace crusher from the top rope he took the brutality up to eleven when he choked Cabana out with a wire coat hanger. There was nothing the referee could do under the rules of the match except call for the bell when Cabana passed out, giving the victory to Homicide.

But as is the case with these two things didn't end there. Homicide kept choking Cabana out, and it was only after several officials and referees came down to help that Homicide finally released his hold.

February 25th, 2006
With a feud so hot it could melt gold, our man takes on Homicide in a ghetto street fight at the 4th Anniversary show.

So you're probably wondering what led up to this match. Well, let's just say that Homicide tried to pour drain fluid down Cabana's throat and leave it at that. As for this match, no pins were needed, all you needed to do was to make your man say I quit.

This was basically a continuation of their no DQ match. Once again they tried to beat the proverbial out of each other, and once again Cabana was busted wide open, only this time Homicide added insult to injury when he used a disposable razor to open the wound even further.

Then came the trusty old metal coat hanger as Homicide wrapped it around Cabana's neck again, but with Cabana refusing to say the magic words this time the referee stepped in a called for the bell, giving Homicide the win.

That wasn't enough for Cabana though. As Homicide and his allies headed backstage Cabana grabbed the microphone and used some rather colourful language to inform his foe that he didn't actually say those magic words, and that he'd have to use a few extreme measures to get him to do so. He then ordered the referee to re-start the match.

A wrestling match then broke out for a few minutes when Cabana began to work over Homicide's previously injured shoulder, but the numbers game soon came into play as Homicide and his Rottweiler buddies tied Cabana to the top rope, and after Homicide threw a chair into his face a couple of times the referee called for the bell again, ending the match.

But it still wasn't enough for Cabana. Once he'd been freed he grabbed the microphone again. More colourful language followed as he challenged Homicide and his cronies to return to the ring, and after he sent Ricky Reyes and Julius Smokes packing he tried to put Homicide through the timekeeper's table. Smokes soon came to his man's aid so Homicide could pile drive him onto the unbreakable table. It was then that the referee stopped the match for the third time.

April 1st, 2006
It's the final match of the collection, and the final battle in the feud as our man faces Homicide once more, this time in a Chicago street fight at Better Than Our Best.

The best way to describe this particular match is brutal. A great piece of storytelling would be another way, because after everything that these two had been through together everything here made perfect sense.

To say that Cabana had been at a distinct disadvantage in their previous encounters wouldn't be underestimating things. Homicide had always seemed one step ahead of him. All of that ended here as Cabana finally took control, and right in front of his hometown crowd, in a near thirty-minute war.

The man was finally able to do to Homicide what Homicide had done to him. This time it was Homicide who bled buckets after Cabana stabbed him in the head with a fork. This time it was Homicide who was choked out with a wire coat hanger.

Both wrestlers put in tremendous performances throughout. Homicide, assisted as always by Julius Smokes, was at his brutal best, while Cabana was even more brutal as he went all out to get revenge.

And to add to the drama ROH had another re-enactment of a certain ECW scene when the fans threw dozens and dozens of chairs into the ring. It was then that Cabana superplexed Homicide onto them, while Homicide returned the favour a few moments later with a Pepsi plunge.

But despite everything they did to each other they still couldn't put each other away, not even when Cabana powerbombed his man from the top rope and through a table onto a barbed wire board. By this time though Homicide was completely worn down, and it took a lariat followed by a colt 45 to finally get the winning pin.

Then came one of the most memorable things I've seen in an ROH ring. After Cabana had been declared the winner Julius Smokes and Ricky Reyes brought out a hangman's noose, and just when they were about to hang him over the top rope Homicide stopped them, telling them to back off.

Then Homicide, with a chair in one hand and a microphone in the other, offered to give Cabana the peace he wanted. He dropped the chair, dropped to his knees, and extended his hand before saying "I respect you Colt Cabana". Although hesitant at first Cabana grasped his foe's hand as the fans in attendance gave them a standing ovation.

Mind you, most of them had already thrown their chairs into the ring, so they had no choice but to stand.

Disc two is where you'll find the bonus features, a few Good Times, Great Memories segments with Julius Smokes, Ace Steel, Dusty Rhodes and C.M. Punk.

In conclusion - so after several hours and over four thousand words we've finally reached the end, and I have to say it's been a hell of a ride.

At the beginning of this piece I said that Cabana had been one of the best things about the wrestling business over the past few years, and this collection confirms that.

The guy can compete in any kind of match. He can make you laugh with his comedy stylings, he can match the best technicians in the business, he can take to the air if need be, and he can also get deadly serious and brawl it out with the best of them. He's definitely one of the best all-round wrestlers I've seen during my lifetime as a wrestling fan.

In fact I'm glad that I don't give a match of the night-type award for compilations. I'd find it extremely difficult to pick one from here because they're all so good.

So with all that being said there's just one more thing to do, and that's to give this release the big thumbs up.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Colt Cabana: Chicago's Favourite Son is available to buy online at

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