Friday, 28 June 2013

Tyler Black: God's Last Gift - DVD Review

He’s currently causing a storm on Raw and Smackdown as one third of the Shield, but long before Seth Rollins existed Tyler Black was doing the same thing in Ring of Honor as part of the Age of the Fall, and later as World Champion.

Now his former employers have decided to pay tribute to the him with a two disc set named after his finishing move, Tyler Black: God’s Last Gift.

And as is the custom with these reviews there’s no better place to start than with…..

Disc One
September 15th, 2007
Our man teams with his Age of the Fall comrades Jimmy Jacobs and the Necro Butcher as they face Jack Evans and Irish Airborne at Man Up.

With the Age having made their memorable debut earlier in the evening this was originally meant to be a singles match between Black and Evans. It started off well for Black, but when Evans took the upper hand Jacobs and Necro came out to help their buddy. Their attack brought out the Crist brothers, who suggested turning this into a six man tag.

This duly happened, and what was originally a fast-paced singles encounter became a six man brawl, and a highly effective one at that. The fight took them all over the arena, especially when Necro and Evans brawled through the crowd before the Butcher buried his man under a pile of chairs.

They eventually made it to the ring as Necro took down one of the brothers with a backbreaker from the second rope onto the backs of two chairs. Black and Jacobs then took out their remaining opponents with God’s Last Gift and the End Time guillotine choke.

Necro then grabbed hold of the referee and sent him flying with a big right. A few seconds later the injured official called the match off and ruled it a no contest.

October 6th, 2007
Our man teams with Jimmy Jacobs as they faced Jack Evans and Ruckus at Undeniable.

With Julius Smokes’ Vulture Squad answering the Age’s challenge this short and sweet encounter featured a ton of great action. As Jigsaw and the Necro Butcher brawled all the way backstage our boys began to use Ruckus for target practice. They put together some nice double team moves before Ruckus managed to get the hot tag to Evans.

Thus began the mass brawl, and the best moment of the match as Black caught Evans as he came over the top rope before taking him down with a powerbomb into the guardrail.

This signalled the beginning of the end, and after a series of double team moves Evans tapped to Jacobs’ End Time to give the Age the submission win.

December 1st, 2007
It’s the first singles outing for our man in this collection as he faces Austin Aries and Unscripted III.

If it hadn’t been for Mother Nature this match wouldn’t have happened. A trios tournament had originally been scheduled for this show, but wintry storms meant that a lot of the wrestlers hadn’t arrived when the show began, which led to a complete restructuring of the card, with this as it’s opening match.

It’s a pretty decent opener. Black puts on a very good performance against the former and future World Champion in a match that prove he was more than capable of hanging with the greatest man that ever lived. As for Aries, it was his usual solid performance as he showed what a great storyteller he is.

Aries came out on top in this one. With both men having avoided each other’s finishers Aries eventually took Black down with the brain buster before sealing the deal with the 450 splash.

January 11th, 2008
Our man is now co-holder of the Tag Team titles with Jimmy Jacobs as they defend their crowns against the Briscoe Brothers, Brent Albright and B.J. Whitmer, and Jack Evans and Jigsaw in an Ultimate Endurance match at Proving Ground.

This was kind of like a Three Stages of Hell match, with the first part contested under scramble match rules, the second with a no disqualification stipulation, and the third as a normal tag match.

This certainly was an interesting encounter, especially with the stipulations being the way they were. While I was never really a fan of the old scramble matches back in the day I have to admit that that particular segment was pretty good, while the no DQ segment featured some nice spots and bloodletting, courtesy of the trusty old railway spike. As for the final segment they managed to keep the momentum they’d built as they put together some great sequences.

As for the eliminations, Jigsaw was the first man eliminated, taken out by Albright’s half nelson suplex. Albright was the next to fall, with Jay taking him down with the Jay Driller before Mark launched himself from a ladder at ringside, coming down with a big splash.

This left the Briscoes and the Age to contest the final fall, with both teams coming close to getting the pin during a frantic period of action before Jacobs took Jay down with the Contra Code and Black sealed the win after a top roe Phoenix Splash.

January 25th, 2007
Our man faces his biggest challenge yet in the singles ranks as he goes up against Bryan Danielson at Breakout.

Just over five years before their “first ever” match these two put on an encounter that had a simple storyline: Black’s lack of respect for Danielson.

After refusing to adhere to the Code of Honor Black spent the first part of the match pie facing and slapping Danielson. All this did was light a fire under Danielson, and it wasn’t long before the Dragon began to take the young upstart to school.

Black soon came back into the match though as he showed that he was more than capable of holding his own with the likes of the Dragon, even though he continued to show him a great deal of disrespect.

A few moments later Danielson almost got the win with the Cattle Mutilation. Black managed to survive this particular submission attempt, and even though he took his man down with a side suplex-thing Black fell to Danielson’s roll up immediately afterwards. A few seconds later the faithful paid their respects by giving both men a standing ovation.

March 16th, 2008
Having won a four corners match earlier in the evening our man gets a chance at the big prize when he challenges Nigel McGuinness for the World title at Take No Prisoners.

Despite being a member of a haunted heel group Black was a babyface by default in this one, mainly because the fans hated McGuinness more than him. But by the time the match ended he was the biggest babyface in the building.

The action began when the champion rammed his challenger’s shoulder into the corner post, and from there he worked over his left arm in preparation for his London Dungeon submission.

As the match went on and as Black made his comebacks the fans began to warm to him more and more, and his brief face turn was complete when he launched himself from the top rope onto McGuinness in the front row. The only problem was that McGuinness clobbered him with a chair as he flew over.

Eventually Black recovered enough to make it back to the ring, and that was when McGuinness really went to work. He threw everything he had at his challenger, but no matter what he did he just couldn’t put his man away.

Something had to give, and as McGuinness applied the London Dungeon for a second time Black screamed out in pain before he finally tapped out to give McGuinness the submission win.

March 29th, 2008
Our man is back with Jimmy Jacobs as they take on the Briscoes once more, this time in a relaxed rules match as Supercard of Honor III.

Essentially this was one big fight which was both brutal and highly entertaining. They wasted no time as they took the action away from the ring as they engaged in a brawl that took them through the crowd and around the hall. We saw numerous chair shots, numerous backdrops onto chairs, and the rather unique sight of Jacobs using an equipment case to surf towards his opponent.

The holy you know what moment came when Black and Jay were brawling near a table. Chris Hero then appeared for some unexplained reason Jay clobbered him and put him on the table. Mark then came down from the balcony to put him through that piece of furniture.

This left Jay alone against Black and Jacobs as they returned to the ring, and despite using a succession of double team moves they just couldn’t put him away. Jay’s resistance gave his brother time to recover, and a few moments after his return they went to take Jacobs out with the Doomsday Device.

But when Mark launched himself off the top rope Jacobs caught him with his End Time choke, and as they hit the mat he synched in the hold even tighter. Mark eventually passed out as the referee stopped the match to give Jacobs and Black the submission win.

May 9th, 2008
Our man faced Bryan Danielson again, this time at Southern Navigation.

This is what I really like about these compilations, one match is a big brawl and the next one is a technical master class. So you get to see two facets of a wrestler’s skill set within a few moments of each other.

Black began his work in a very aggressive manner, but it wasn’t long before Danielson slowed the match down and tired his man up like a pretzel. It was a beautiful display of technical wrestling as the Dragon went for submission hold after submission hold.

Black eventually worked his way back into the match as the pace picked up a little, but Danielson took everything his man had. He quickly went back to his holds, and when one heel hook failed Dragon simply switched legs and went for the hold again, and with the ropes out of reach Black had no choice but to tap out to give Danielson the submission win.

June 6th, 2008
It’s the finals of the Tag Team title tournament, and our man teams with Jimmy Jacobs against El Generico and Kevin Steen at Up for Grabs.

Steen and Generico came into this one with two distinct disadvantages: both of them were carrying injuries, and they’d had a lot more ring time in the previous rounds.

Things got even worse for them a few moments later when Generico’s injured left shoulder was rammed into the ring post. He was then checked over and helped to the back, leaving Steen to fight the battle alone.

Jacobs and Black proceeded to take Steen apart as they focused on his injured knee, but no matter what they did, no matter what hold they used they just couldn’t put him away. Steen had a couple of comebacks, but they ultimately led nowhere, as was evident when his knee stopped him from taking Black down with the package piledriver.

Then, to everyone’s surprise, Generico, his shoulder heavily taped. Appeared on the scene and quickly made the tag. Steen then took Jacobs down with his piledriver, but just as Generico was about to execute his brain buster Black, the legal man, came up from behind and took the pin and the titles with a roll-up.

June 7th, 2008
One day later, and our man joins with Jacobs in defending the Tag titles against Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson at Respect is Earned II.

This one had quite a bit of back story to it, with Jacobs having failed in his attempts to recruit Aries to his cause, with Aries responding by romancing Jacobs’ girl Lacey away from him, and with Jacobs scaring his old flame out of the wrestling business, and because of all this these two wanted to tear each other apart.

This match almost ended before it started. They began with a brawl around ringside, but when Jacobs and Aries clobbered each other with chairs in the ring the referee called for the bell. Danielson and Black then spent the next few moments trying to calm down their respective partners before the referee announced that he was restarting the match.

When the action finally began in earnest we were treated to an excellent encounter. Both teams put in top notch performances, and it was played out perfectly. Danielson played the part of the punching bag in this piece as the Age took him down time and time again, with Aries almost fuming on the ring apron because of Jacobs’ taunting.

Eventually all hell broke loose when Danielson got the hot tag to Aries. There was plenty of fast-paced action and near falls in this segment, the closest being when Danielson locked Black in a triangle choke.

Eventually things got too much for Aries and Jacobs as both men lost their cool and took their brawl backstage, leaving Black and Danielson to finish the action in the ring. Danielson almost won the gold with the Cattle Mutilation, but Black soon came back into the match to take his man down with God’s Last Gift before sealing the deal after a Phoenix Splash from the top rope.

Disc Two
August 1st, 2008
Our man and his partner Jimmy Jacobs defend their Tag Team titles against Japanese stars Go Shiozaki and Naomichi Marufuji at Fuelling the Fire.

It’s always a joy to see Japanese stars in ROH matches. The company always does a great job promoting them without giving them any racially stereotyped gimmicks.

Back to the matter at hand. This was an extremely enjoyable encounter. The power of Shiozaki and the speed of Marufuji made for a great combination as they showed how perfect they were for this kind of match. Early on they used a variety of moves to take Jacobs down, and it made for interesting viewing as he tried to match chops with the hard hitting Shiozaki. Moments later the visitors applied a rather unique abdominal stretch to Jacobs as Marufuji added a little more leverage to Shiozaki’s efforts.

The best moments came towards the end. The exchanges between Black and Shiozaki were excellent as they pulled out all the big moves as they attempted to put each other away, and after Jacobs speared Marufuji from the apron right into the ringside barricades Black finally put Shiozaki away after a Phoenix Splash from the top rope.

August 2nd, 2008
Our man joins Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli as they challenge Nigel McGuinness for the World title in a four-way elimination match at Death Before Dishonor VI.

When you look at the star power in this match it’s just amazing. You’ve got three guys who went on to even greater heights in WWE and another who would have had the same level of success in TNA had his career not been blighted by injury.

It’s the perfect match-up with a ton of great ingredients. You’ve got the cocky champion looking to continue his long-lasting title reign, his greatest rival, desperate to regain the gold and become a two-time champion, a disgruntled challenger desperate to win the title, annoyed at his previous failed attempts, and the up and coming young gun, who took the champion to the limit earlier in the year.

Castagnoli was the first man to go. After a ton of fast-paced action and numerous near falls from all four men Double C went for the pin after he took Danielson down with his pop-up European uppercut, but Danielson quickly reversed the positions to take the three count. Afterwards Danielson shook hands in a show of respect, only for Castagnoli to attack him from behind before taking him down with the Riccola Bomb. Several officials tried to restrain him, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from stomping a chair into Danielson’s head as he lay on the mat.

The second elimination soon followed as McGuinness sought to feed off the scraps left for him by his fellow European. He lifted the lifeless Dragon to his feet before taking him out with a lariat for the pin.

This left McGuinness alone with Black, and as with their last encounter the fans were finally behind the challenger, despite his affiliation to the Age of the Fall. For nearly ten minutes these two went at it in a segment even better than their singles encounter. It was one of those knock down drag out affairs with numerous pinfall attempts and a challenger that just wouldn’t say die.

McGuinness threw everything he had at him, including numerous lariats and uppercuts, the Tower of London and the London Dungeon submission hold, but he couldn’t get the job done, and with each and every kick out his frustration just grew and grew.

Black fought back with everything he had, but a final huge lariat from McGuinness finally put him down for the winning pin.

August 16th, 2008
Our man returns to the singles ranks as he faces El Generico at Night of the Butcher II.

Black was firmly back in the realm of heeldom here, so much so that he even garnered a “f*** you” chant before the match had even begun. When the action started he dominated the majority of it. It was a sound performance as he took the masked man down with a variety of moves.

They went up a few gears when Generico made his comeback. The frantic and fast-paced sequences were the best thing in this match, and when Black failed with his Phoenix Splash Generico connected with a Yakuza kick before finishing him off with a brain buster for the winning pin.

December 5th, 2008
Our man goes up against Austin Aries once again at Wrestling at the Gateway.

This was a pretty decent encounter between two evenly-matched opponents. There was plenty of solid action throughout as each man worked over the other’s neck in preparation for their signature moves. As far as performances go they looked pretty even, although my only gripe was that a near 15 minute match didn’t really do either man justice.

Aries looked like he was going to get the win towards the end, but his weakened neck meant he found it difficult to apply his Last Chancery submission, as well as the brain buster, and when he went for that move one last time Black countered with God’s Last Gift for the winning pin.

December 27th, 2008
Our man faces Austin Aries once more, this time at Final Battle, with a shot at the World title on the line.

To say that Black was over with the crowd, despite his affiliation, would be an understatement, and it rankled with Aries a little that his opponent was getting more cheers than him.

This was by far the best of the singles matches between these two on this collection. It began with some nice technical exchanges, with the tension levels going up a notch or two when Black used the move that Aries normally used to escape from a head scissors.

From there it developed into a great back and forth encounter. The exchanges on the ring apron and the floor looked particularly good, especially when Black took his man down with an F5-like on the apron.

A few moments later Black looked like he was trying to seal the win as he climbed to the top rope to set up for the Phoenix Splash until Jimmy Jacobs appeared on the ramp telling him not to use the move. Black went for the move anyway but ended up missing by a mile, giving Aries the chance to make his final comeback. A brain buster and 450 splash later and Aries had the winning pin.
The most dramatic moment came after the match. Jacobs got into the ring to berate Black, shoving him and telling him that he was meant to be the “chosen one”. Black retaliated by shoving Jacobs back, and for a few seconds it looked like they were going to patch things up until Jacobs connected with a low blow.

He then took Black out with the End Time choke before placing a chair around his head. But just as he was about to climb to the top rope Aries stormed the ring and took the chair. However, instead of attacking Jacobs Aries clobbered Black, busting him open. A few seconds later Jacobs joined Aries as the two former rivals did more damage before they left Black laying in the ring.

January 16th, 2009
Although he lost the number one contenders match our man gets another crack at Nigel McGuinness, albeit in a non-title match, at Full Circle.

Despite suffering from an arm injury McGuinness spent most of the early going trying to tie Black up in knots as he tried to set him up for his London Dungeon. It was a great display of skill from the champion, although Black’s display of heart frustrated him time and time again.

Black soon managed to take control of the proceedings as it became apparent that McGuinness’ injury was hampering him even more, and although he went for his submission at one point Black came back, taking his man down with a buckle bomb and a Superkick for the winning pin.

January 30th, 2009
With a win over the World Champion under his belt our man takes on Jerry Lynn at Motor City Madness.

Now this was good. Really good. And this isn’t me going into hyperbole mode here, because for twenty minutes these two put on one of the best ROH encounters of 2009.

It had everything, great storytelling throughout, a ton of great sequences, and tremendous performances by two guys who were so in synch with each other they could have been communicating by telepathy.

Each man gave everything they had to offer as they attempted to get back into the title picture, and even though Lynn had an edge in experience Black was more than able to match him in every department.

In fact they were so even neither man could get the job done, even though the big guns came into play, and when the time limit expired and the match was declared a draw the result just seemed right.

Afterwards the fans gave them a standing ovation as they raised each other’s hands. Some of them had called for five more minutes, but deep down they probably knew that this match had ended the right way.

February 6th, 2009
Our man faces one half of the American Wolves in the form of Davey Richards at Proving Ground Night 1.

This was an altogether more intense battle for Black. Mind you, considering who he was up against that wasn’t surprising. With his agent Larry Sweeney watching on from ringside Richards worked over his man’s bread basket after dropping him over the top rope, and with Sweeney offering a helping hand every now and then Richards maintained his control.

But when the referee caught Sweeney helping with a body scissors he banished him from the building, and with the agent gone these two turned the action up a notch as they went all out for victory.

As the end approached we saw a series of quick pins and reversals before Black took Richards down with a buckle bomb. A Superkick later and Black was able to take the pin.

ROH on HDNet Episode 1
It’s the final match of the collection as our man goes up against his former comrade Jimmy Jacobs.

As good as this match was I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. These two were meant to be heated rivals, but instead it was just a run of the mill television encounter.

It did feature plenty of great action though. Jacobs did a good job as he worked over Black’s mid-section as well, and although the watered-down cult leader wasn’t as brutal as he normally was it was still a pretty effective display.

Black put on a battling defence, but when he went for God’s Last Gift Jacobs countered with his End Time choke. Black tried to escape by barging him into a couple of corners, but when Jacobs dropped to the mat Black rolled over into a pinning combination to get the three count and win.

In conclusion - after over six hours of action spread over several nights I finally made it to the end. So what are my final thoughts on this collection, I hear you ask.

Well, I have to say that Ring of Honor have done it again, because this is a hell of a compilation.

This is the perfect chronicle of Tyler Black’s ROH career, from his early days in the Age of the Fall through to the early stages of his solo run. It’s a fine example of just why WWE signed him up. The only thing missing is his World title reign, but knowing ROH they’ll probably be releasing another collection sometime in the future.

It’s also another example of some of the great talent that has passed through ROH’s realm. If you count Black himself there’s a total of ten wrestlers who have competed for the current big two here, and that’s something to write home about.

So if you’re interested in finding out just why WWE took a chance on Tyler Black and moulded him into Seth Rollins that this is the collection for you, and that’s why I’m giving this the big thumbs up.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Tyler Black: God’s Last Gift is available to buy online at

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