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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Michael Elgin: Unbreakable - DVD Review

He's been one of the major highlights in Ring of Honor over the past couple of years, a powerful force of nature who's ploughed through his opponents and whose come close to winning the big gold. Now the powers that be have decided to pay tribute with a two disc set which is part shoot interview, part match compilation. The release in question is Michael Elgin: Unbreakable.

As is the custom with these things let's begin with....

Disc One
Filmed a few hours before Final Battle 2012 and his match with Roderick Strong, this is the story of how a young wrestling fan went on to achieve his dream of becoming a professional wrestler.

It certainly makes for interesting viewing. Elgin comes across extremely well throughout. He seems a likeable sort of chap, and one that's very passionate about the business he's chosen to make his living in.

Our subject talks openly about how he broke into the business in his native Toronto and the difficulties he had in getting matches there because he wasn't allowed to wrestle until he was 18, and how he had to travel across the American border for some of his early matches.

From there we hear tales of how he watched old All Japan matches and how he tried to add some of what he saw into his move set, something that actually earned him a reputation as a stiff worker among promoters, even though those he worked with had nothing but praise for him.

Then there's the ROH years, of his first stint with the company, and of how he changed his training regime, dropping a ton of weight to become the wrecking machine we all know today, and how it led to his success first as a member of the House of Truth and then as a singles guy.

Having seen all of this I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Elgin isn't one of those bitter veterans who spend shoot interviews constantly criticising his fellow workers, he's one of those guys who has nothing but praise for those he's worked with and who have helped him during his career, but perhaps if this had lasted longer than just under an hour then perhaps he would have been able to cover some of the things he discussed in more depth

February 25th, 2011
The collection begins with our man taking on TV Champion Christopher Daniels in a non-title match at World's Greatest.

This is a great example of Elgin's work, and of how well he did when he was put in early against the company's more established stars. The big man was more than capable of holding his own against a talent like Daniels, and together these two put on a very good match.

With his manager Truth Martini watching on from ringside Elgin controlled the early going by simply barging Daniels around the ring, with the veteran briefly taking control. But when the action spilled out to ringside Elgin looked particularly brutal when he slammed Daniels on the floor.

Back in the ring Elgin's terrific display of power continued, and as they took things up a notch he almost got the win after a brief distraction from Martini. However, the manager's final words of wisdom for his book didn't do much good, with Daniels countering a powerbomb attempt with a roll-up for the pin.

March 18th, 2011
Our man goes up against one of the American Wolves in the form of Eddie Edwards at Defy or Deny.

This was Elgin in his role as the House of Truth's enforcer. With Edwards facing Roderick Strong for the World title the following night Elgin was given a simple brief by Truth Martini, to take Edwards out.

The match itself was quite intense. There were some nice back and forth hard hitting exchanges, and once again Elgin looked great against a more established opponent. The only problem was that Edwards kept coming back, which didn't sit too well with Mr. Martini.

At one point it looked like Elgin had achieved his goal. With our man standing at ringside Edwards came off the ropes for a moonsault. Elgin caught him in mid-flight though, and after ramming him into the ring post he then delivered a powerslam on the floor, and afterwards Edwards barely made it back into the ring, frustrating Elgin as he looked for the count out win.

Moments later it looked like Elgin was going to take his man down with a top rope powerbomb until Edwards back dropped his way out of trouble. He then took the big man out with a 2K1 bomb for the winning pin.

April 1st, 2011
Our man faces future NXT star Sami Zayn, here in his El Generico guise, at Honor Takes Center Stage Chapter 1.

This was one of those short and sweet encounters that ROH does so well. With Truth Martini banned from ringside Elgin was forced to go it alone in what was a simple but highly effective power versus speed battle.

Elgin did a good job of grounding the masked man early on, but as the action moved along Generico began to get his rhythm back, and a few moments later he pulled off the move of the match, running along ringside and diving through the turnbuckles to take Elgin down with a tornado DDT on the floor.

But just as Generico was about to put Elgin away a black-clad masked man came out of nowhere and grabbed Generico's leg before dropping him throat first on the top rope. It gave Elgin the chance to take Generico out with a 360 sit-down powerbomb for the three count.

May 7th, 2011
It's multi-man action for our man as he competes with Grizzly Redwood, Andy Ridge, Adam Cole, Rhett Titus and Tommaso Ciampa in a double danger scramble match at Revolution: Canada.

The rules for this one were simple, no tags necessary, you can only get eliminated if you're disqualified, and you need two pins to get the win.

Fast-paced action was the order of the day here in front of Elgin's hometown Toronto crowd. Each man gave a good account of themselves, and there were some nice exchanges throughout, including the moment when Elgin joined the air show and took out all of the other combatants with a dive over the top rope.

As for the various pins, the first went to Ciampa. As Cole was about to fly over the ropes to attack Elgin Ciampa came in a rolled him up for the pin.

Titus scored next. Having taken the punching bag treatment from Elgin and Ciampa Ridge got the blind tag on Elgin. It didn't do him much good though when Titus placed his knee on the back of his neck and dropped down to the mat, the move earning him the second pin.

Then it was Elgin's turn. After everyone else went for numerous pin attempts Elgin showed how powerful he was by taking both Cole and Redwood down with an Alabama slam at the same time. He then pinned both men in quick succession to win the match.

July 8th, 2011
Our man teams with his House of Truth stable-mate Roderick Strong as they face World Champion Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards of the American Wolves at Tag Team Turmoil.

This is the second time I've seen this match, and once again I have to say that this was an awesome encounter.

In a match involving three men who were, at the time, the company's most recent World Champions Elgin showed that he really belonged in such company. It was a truly remarkable performance by our man. Mind you, it was a truly remarkable performance from all four men.

For nearly thirty minutes these two teams beat the proverbial out of each other. Elgin and Strong looked great as a unit, and as I watched them double up on both of the Wolves I couldn't help but think what would have happened if they'd been given a run in the tag division.

All four men took turns in taking the punching bag treatment, but it was when the match hit the all hell breaking loose moment that things got really heated. Even Truth Martini got involved when he stopped his men from tapping out while they were both in submission holds. Needless to say that Richards and Edwards soon sent him packing in a most physical manner.

As for Elgin he was almost the last man standing. As the action reached it's climax Richards threw everything but the kitchen sink at him. But no matter what he did he just couldn't put him away. Then Richards connected with a shining wizard-like kick to the head. That was it for Elgin, and Richards was finally able to take the winning pin.

November 18th, 2011
It's another multi-man match for our man as he faces Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, Eddie Edwards, Roderick Strong & Kyle O'Reilly in the Survival of the Fittest finals.

Jay Briscoe was the first man to go. After Edwards and O'Reilly took him down with a double superkick Edwards sealed the deal with his die hard suplex for the pin. His brother Mark followed seconds later, tapping out to Edwards' dragon sleeper.

Edwards had a hand in the next elimination as well. After the House of Truth boys accidentally collided with each other Edwards rolled Strong up for the pin. That was his last bit of success though, with Elgin taking him out with a lariat before taking the pin.

This left Elgin alone with O'Reilly, and what followed was the best part of the match. At first it seemed as if O'Reilly was going to be easy pickings, having just been knocked off the top rope and sent crashing through a table when Edwards knocked Truth Martini through the ropes, but for the next ten minutes he put on what could possibly be the finest performance of his ROH career.

Elgin basically threw everything at him, but no matter what he did he couldn't put his man away. O'Reilly came close to getting the win with a guillotine, and if it wasn't for Elgin's power the big man would surely have gone down.

But with his mentor Davey Richards having come down to the ring to urge him on, O'Reilly got his tenth wind and soon came out with his best move of the match. As Elgin was propped up on a chair at ringside O'Reilly launched himself from the ring apron and connected with an awesome looking missile dropkick.

That still wasn't enough to put our man away though, and a few moments later Elgin finally sealed the win when he took O'Reilly out with his sit-down powerbomb to win the tournament and a future World title shot. Afterwards, the ROH faithful gave both men a rightfully deserved standing ovation before Elgin stood nose-to-nose with Richards, telling him he was coming for his title.

Disc Two
January 20th, 2012
Our man begins disc two by facing off against future/former WWE talent Chris Hero at The Homecoming.

This was a nice little encounter. If I remember correctly this was Hero's final run in the company before his departure for Orlando, and his performance here was a good example of why WWE took a chance on him.

It's an interesting back and forth affair with good performances from all concerned. Hero threw everything he had at him, including several rolling elbows, but none of these were enough to keep the powerhouse down. Mind you, Elgin had the same kind of problems with Hero.

But with the time limit ticking ever so closer both men pulled out all the stops, and with just a few seconds remaining Elgin took Hero down with the buckle-bomb/sit-down powerbomb combination for the winning pin.

January 21st, 2012
Our man returns to tag team action as he joins Roderick Strong to face World Champion Davey Richards and his protégé Kyle O'Reilly at Underground.

With a shot at the Briscoe's Tag Team titles on the line these two teams put on over thirty minutes of great back and forth action.

It began with some nice exchanges between Strong and O'Reilly, and after some hard hitting from Elgin and Richards it settled down a little when O'Reilly began to take the brunt of the punishment from Truth Martini's boys. The youngster was certainly game as he took an absolute ton of punishment for close to ten minutes.

Eventually he made it back to his corner, and when Richards came in to clean house all hell broke loose as the bodies began to fly all over the place. Both teams came close to getting the win on numerous occasions.

But when Martini tried to interfere it led to his team's downfall. When O'Reilly had Strong in the guillotine Martini tried to break the hold with his Book of Truth, but when the referee stopped him and took his tome away he clobbered O'Reilly from behind. This forced O'Reilly to break the hold, and needless to say he wasn't too happy with what just happened.

As Martini begged off Strong came up on O'Reilly from behind as the manager removed his shoe. But at the crucial moment O'Reilly ducked out of the way as the shoe shot inadvertently hit Strong.  As Martini went out of the ring O'Reilly rolled Strong up with a jack-knife for the winning pin.

March 10th, 2012
Our man faces Kyle O'Reilly once more, this time in singles action on an episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling TV.

This was another of those short and sweet encounters. It began with O'Reilly battering the proverbial brick wall, and when he began to have some degree of success Elgin's buddy Roderick Strong came down to the ring to provide a momentary distraction.

This led to Elgin taking control with his impressive power-based offence, but as the match went on O'Reilly slowly worked his way back, his strikes taking Elgin off his feet on numerous occasions.

Then, just when it looked like O'Reilly was going to put Elgin away with the guillotine choke Strong jumped onto the apron again. This caused two things to happen. First, World Champion Davey Richards left his position at the commentary desk and began brawling with Strong, and while that was going on Elgin had recovered enough to take his man down with the buckle-bomb/sit-down powerbomb combo for the winning pin.

March 31st, 2012
Our man gets his shot at the gold as he challenges Davey Richards for the World title at Showdown in the Sun Day 2.

You know what? This may well be the best Michael Elgin match I've ever seen.

For well over twenty minutes these two put on a tremendous match. It was the perfect piece of storytelling, with the tough as nails champion going up against a seemingly unbreakable opponent, and it certainly ticked all of the right boxes.

Richards put on his usual hard hitting display, but it was the display of Elgin that really surprised me. Not only was he his usual bulldozing self, he showed a tremendous amount of technical skill as he went toe to toe with one of the best technicians on the planet.

There were countless pins as both men went all out in their effort to obtain victory, and as the match went on it became apparent to Richards and everyone in attendance that he'd have to do something special to put his man away, because no matter what he did Elgin kept coming back for me.

Their exchange of submission holds towards the end was a delight to see, with Elgin going for the crossface and Richards preferring the ankle lock, and even though the champ had more success with his hold of choice it still wasn't enough to put the big man down.

Richards then bombarded him with kicks to the head, and it still didn't get the job done. But with Elgin exhausted and on his knees it took one final strike from Richards to put his challenger away. A three count later and Richards finally had the win.

May 12th, 2012
Our man returns to his hometown as he faces Adam Cole at Border Wars.

Dubbed the battle of the breakout stars, originally I thought this would be one of those speed versus power battles. Instead what we had here was Cole going toe-to-toe with Elgin, and looking pretty darn good in doing so.

It was another of those never say die performances from Cole as he threw everything he had at the big man, and when Elgin took the upper hand with his power moves Cole kept coming back for more.

The most impressive move of the match came when Elgin, standing on the middle rope, lifted Cole, who was standing on the ring apron, into a middle rope falcon arrow. It looked all over after that particular move, but once again Cole kicked out of the pin.

Cole quickly recovered and went to the top rope for a flying bodyblock. Elgin was having none of this though and simply plucked him out of the air before taking him down with his sit-down powerbomb for the pin.

June 15th, 2012
Our man takes goes up against former TNA star Jay Lethal at The Nightmare Begins.

This relatively short encounter saw Elgin back to his bulldozing ways as he countered Lethal's speed with some powerful moves. He also had a little help from Truth Martini at ringside as he took the upper hand. But unlike Adam Cole Lethal didn't try to match power with his man, and he looked more than capable of getting the job done.

But when Lethal went to the top rope, intent on taking Elgin out with the Macho Man elbow Roderick Strong appeared on the scene to stop him. A kick to the head soon sent Strong crashing off the apron, but this little distraction didn't really help Elgin, especially when Strong got into the ring to after Lethal.

A brief argument between the two stable-mates ensued, which distracted Elgin enough so the former Black Machismo could take him down with the Lethal injection for the three count and pin.

June 30th, 2012
Our man returns to tag team action as he joins the man who he's been compared to the most, the man-beast Rhino, as they take on the Briscoes at Live Strong.

What we had here was two big guys beating the hell out of the best team in ROH history, and even though the Elgin/Rhino team showed a lot of promise for me it just wasn't as good as the Elgin/Strong unit, and it would have been nice to see them pull off a few double team moves.

That being said, this was a pretty entertaining encounter. All four men put in good performances, although there were no real stand outs here. Both teams had the advantage at one point, with the best action coming during the mass brawl at the end, with Rhino eventually winning it for his team after taking Jay down with the gore.

July 14th, 2012
Our man returns to singles action as he faces Silas Young at Brew City Beatdown.

For many of you reading this Silas Young may be the least recognisable of Elgin's opponents on this collection, but let me tell you, this guy can wrestle.

With his hometown fans behind him Young took it all to Elgin, and at times he even managed to match power with the big man. It was a very good performance for the man with no contract.

But as is his custom Elgin didn't like down for long. It was another great display of power from the Unbreakable one, although towards the end he didn't exactly have things entirely his own way.

Young came closest to the win after he countered Elgin's sit-down powerbomb with his version of the angel's wings. Close call number two came when he connected with a handstand springboard moonsault from the top rope. Elgin survived these scares though, and after battering his man with a few short clothesline he finally took him down with his buckle bomb/sit-down powerbomb combination for the winning pin.

October 6th, 2012
Our man faces another of the great up-and-comers in the company, Mike Bennett, at Killer Instinct.

Although this was nominally a battle of heels Elgin was becoming quite popular by this time. Of course it helped that he was having a little trouble with his manager Truth Martini.

Bennett tried to match power with Elgin early on, and he soon learned that this was a big mistake when they ran the ropes and Elgin power slammed him down to the mat. Elgin continued to control the early going until the action spilled out to ringside and Bennett rammed him into the barricades and connected with a spinebuster on the edge of the ring.

Back in the ring Bennett took control, although it wasn't long before Elgin came back into the match, but just when things were going well for him Bennett's girlfriend Maria Kannellis jumped up on the ring apron to provide a momentary distraction. It didn't save her man for long though because when Bennett charged at Elgin the big man pulled the bottom rope down, sending Bennett flying down to the floor.

Then we saw the evidence that Elgin and Martini weren't getting along. As Elgin ran the ropes in preparation for a dive he saw Martini putting the boots to Bennett. This didn't sit too well with Elgin and the two of them exchanged words, but by this time Bennett had recovered enough to take Elgin down with his box office smash on the floor, a move which almost gave him the count out win.

Elgin only just managed to make it back into the ring at time, and as he got his second wind he soon took Elgin down with the buckle-bomb/sit-down powerbomb combination for the winning pin.

October 20th, 2012
Our man now faces a man he previously teamed with as he takes on Rhino on an Episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling TV.

What we had here were two big guys, both of them House of Truth members, both of them looking to qualify for the Survival of the Fittest finals, beating the proverbial out of each other. And you know what? It was quite entertaining.

Basically these two were throwing each other around like rag dolls, and Truth Martini at ringside didn't look too happy. Everyone was unsure just who he was rooting for, but when their stable-mate Roderick Strong came down to observe the proceedings it was obvious that he wanted the man-beast to win.

The back-and forth action moved along nicely as the two big men brought out all the big guns, but just when it looked like Rhino was going for the gore Strong jumped onto the ring apron to distract the referee. It was then that Martini got into the ring and pleaded with Rhino not to take Elgin down. Rhino simply picked his manager up and sat him down on the top rope before he prepared for the gore again.

By this time Elgin had recovered, and after pushing Rhino into Martini he took Rhino down with a gore of his own before finishing him off with a sit-down powerbomb for the win.

October 13th, 2012
It's the final match of the collection, and our man challenges for the World title once again as he faces Kevin Steen at Glory by Honor XI.

Elgin was a man alone in this one. Roderick Strong had quit the House of Truth earlier in the show although he had taken a front row seat for this match, and Rhino had taken out Truth Martini, which meant that our man had nobody watching his back, not that he needed them anyway.

When I first reviewed this match I remember that I wasn't exactly impressed, mainly because I'd been used to World title technical classics, but having seen it for a second time I'm going to change my tune a little, because although it is a little overlong it isn't actually that bad.

For nearly thirty minutes these two big guys butted heads and pulled out all the stops. The majority of the action wasn't technical, it was just champion and challenger beating the hell out of each other.

Once again Elgin impressed everyone with his power as he took the bigger Steen down time and time again, while Steen, in the middle of his heel run, went against type a little and didn't take too many short cuts.

There was, of course, some interference from Strong when he slapped Elgin in the head when the action spilled out of the ring, but our man easily dealt with this distraction when he pulled Strong over the barricade and rammed him against metal before throwing him backstage.

The action got a lot better as they built towards the finish, with Elgin kicking out after Steen's package piledriver and Steen doing the same after Elgin's sit-down powerbomb. By this time both men looked exhausted, and it looked as if it would take one big move to get the job done.

That move was forthcoming. As both men jockeyed for position on the top rope Steen soon won out when he put Elgin into position for another package piledriver, and it took the added momentum of executing the move from the top rope to finally put Elgin down for the three count.

In conclusion - if you've managed to stay with me for the past four thousand words I think you can tell how this thing is going to end.

For me Michael Elgin has been one of the highlights in Ring of Honor from the first time I saw him. You could say that he's the total package, because he can do power moves, he can get technical, and he can even fly from time to time.

This collection if a perfect example of his work. There's not one bad match here, and even though those of you who don't follow ROH and who may not be too familiar with some of his opponents this is still a great way to introduce yourself to the man, not only via his matches but via his interview as well.

So with all of that being said there's just one more thing to do, and that's to say that if your loved ones gave you some cash for Christmas I would suggest getting this DVD, because this writer is giving this collection the big thumbs up.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Michael Elgin: Unbreakable is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.

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