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DVD Review: ROH "Live in Tokyo" (7-16-07), with Nigel-Morishima, Danielson-Shiozaki

Oct 30, 2007 - 5:17:07 PM

By Chris Vetter

Ring of Honor headed to Japan in mid-July for the first time, bringing a dozen of the top ROH wrestlers for the two-show event. This is a review of the first show, "Live in Tokyo," from July 16, 2007.

The crowd is about 1,500, but they are really quiet. I admittedly have watched very little Japanese wrestling. The complete lack of heat in many of the matches really hurt my enjoyment of this show. The matches were good, but at times, it felt like I was watching an "empty arena" match. It just threw me off. If you are fine with this crowd reaction, you'll undoubtedly enjoy this show a lot more than I did. However, I do want to make it clear -- the action on this show was quite good!

Dave Prazak & Lenny Leonard are back on commentary.

* The DVD opens with some Japanese fans greeting Nigel McGuinness as he walked into the building.

* Shingo cut a backstage promo in Japanese.

* Delirious hit the ring, and his goatee is really thick now. He cut a promo in his gibberish, but he ended it by "welcoming the crowd to Ring of Honor." Suddenly, the No Remorse Corp attacked Delirious. Jack Evans and K. Suzuki made the save. Evans got on the mic, and he spoke in Japanese! I was impressed. Delirious dove on Roderick Strong, and those two brawled to the back. Meanwhile, the first match was now getting underway!

(1) Rocky Romero & Davey Richards defeat Kotaro Suzuki & Jack Evans at 13:59.
Good opener. My first time seeing Suzuki; he wore blue pants and he has lighter-colored hair. Suzuki and Romero started with some quick reversals and a standoff. Evans hit a dropkick on Richards, then a nice headscissors takedown. Suzuki hit a nice dropkick for a nearfall on Richards. Evans hit a doublestomp on Richards' chest, then he hit a standing moonsault for a nearfall at 3:00. Evans hit a modified Reverse Rana. Romero hit a missile dropkick on Evans, then a kneedrop to the chest for a nearfall and some chops. I mentioned this already, but the crowd is quiet, and I'm just not used to this.

Lenny Leonard talked about how Evans has improved his physique and gotten bigger. Richards hit a snap suplex for a nearfall and a backbreaker over his knee, then he dropped Evans gut-first on the top rope, for a nearfall at 5:30. Romero hit a snap suplex for a nearfall and some spin kicks to the chest, then a running dropkick to the back as Evans was tied in the Tree of Woe. Evans hit a Pele Kick, and he made the hot tag to Suzuki. Suzuki hit a nice handspring-back-elbow, then some forearms on Romero and a basement dropkick to the face. Romero hit a Tornado DDT on Suzuki.

Richards hit a headbutt and some chops, and he went for his handspring-back-enziguri, but Suzuki caught him with a basement dropkick! Nice. Suzuki hit a German Suplex for a nearfall at 8:30. Suzuki and Richards traded forearm shots. Richards hit a pair of German Suplexes on Evans, then his Alarm Clock/flip-up kick to the chest, and another German Suplex for a believable nearfall. Richards couldn't get the DR Driver. Evans went for a Victory Roll, but Richards blocked it and got a nearfall. Evans hit his double kneedrop as Richards was tied in the Tree of Woe for a nearfall at 10:30.

Evans hit a Reverse Rana on Richards for a nearfall, but Romero made the save. Evans couldn't hit the 630 Splash. Romero & Richards hit front & back kicks on Evans for a nearfall. Romero hit a springboard kneestrike on Evans, then a second-rope DDT on Evans for a believable nearfall. Romero hit a Dragon release suplex for a nearfall. Richards hit a top-rope German release suplex on Evans at 13:30! Richards nailed a dive to the floor on Suzuki. Meanwhile, in the ring, Romero hit a German Suplex and three Tajiri-style spin kicks on Evans for the pin! Good match, but I wanted to see more of Suzuki, as I was unfamiliar with him.

(2) Shuhei Taniguchi defeats Akihiko Ito at 9:53.
They both wore plain, black trunks. Taniguchi is more muscular, and he seems to have an older-looking face. Ito has a light, almost orange, tint to his hair. They opened with intense lockups. Prazak said both men debuted in December 2005. Ito hit a dropkick, an armdrag, and a shoulder tackle. Jimmy (Gabe Sapolsky) Bower stopped in the booth to thank the fans, as Bower talked about how they had just 11 shows in 2002, and look at where ROH is now! Ito worked the left arm. Taniguchi hit a bodyslam for a nearfall at 3:30, and he twisted the left leg. This was just a bit slow. They traded chops and forearms.

Taniguchi applied a half-crab, but Ito reached the ropes. Prazak said that this DVD was being recorded by Samurai TV. Taniguchi hit a nice butterfly suplex for a nearfall at 6:30. Ito hit an overhead flipping neckbreaker and a spinebuster for a nearfall, but he missed a frogsplash. Taniguchi hit a powerslam for a nearfall, and they traded forearms. Taniguchi hit a Mafia Kick and a fisherman's suplex for a nearfall at 9:00. Ito got an O'Connor roll for a nearfall. Taniguchi hit a Mafia Kick, an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, and two German Suplexes for the pin. The action was alright, but I never cared who won, and the announcers didn't 'make me care.' Just no backstory here.

* Bryan Danielson was backstage, and he said that Go Shiozaki may be an ROH regular in 2008. Danielson said he's ready to face Go, but he also will be keeping an eye on the main event.

(3) Jimmy Rave defeats B.J. Whitmer at 10:09.
These two have had a few matches recently, and they just aren't clicking. Prazak said these two have the most ROH matches under their belt on the roster. Rave twisted the left leg. Rave claimed that Whitmer choked him, and he bailed. Prazak & Leonard talked about how Whitmer is frustrated lately and in a losing streak. Whitmer hit a kneerop on the arm and a powerslam at 2:30, some chops, and a snap suplex. Rave hit a running knee to the gut, and he was in charge as he hit some stomps and bit Whitmer's nose. Rave hit a back suplex for a nearfall, and he tied Whitmer in a pretzel, but B.J. reached the ropes at 5:00.

Rave suplexed both of them over the top rope to the floor, and they crashed to the crowd, but the crowd sat quietly, unmoved. In the ring, Whitmer hit an Exploder suplex, then a leg lariat and a spinebuster for a nearfall and a German suplex for a nearfall. Rave hit a spear for a nearfall, then a Shining Wizard for a nearfall at 8:30. Whitmer hit a basement dropkick to the knee and a running knee to the side of the head for a nearfall. Whitmer hit a Mafia Kick and a standing powerbomb for a nearfall. However, Rave nailed the Pedigree/Greetings from Atlanta for the pin. Surprising finish in that Rave won clean. Solid, above-average match, but nothing memorable.

* The Briscoes talked about how they were going to prove they are the best tagteam. They introduced their teammate for the evening, Marufuji!

(4) Bryan Danielson defeats Go Shiozaki at 26:40.
Excellent, excellent match. I've seen Go before when he was on the ROH UK shows; he is thicker with plain black trunks. They shook hands and had an intense lockup. Leonard reiterated that Shiozaki may be coming to the United States in 2008. Danielson tied Go in some knots, but he couldn't get on a cross-armbreaker. They avoided each other's moves, and they had a standoff at 3:00. Prazak said there are 1,500 fans here. They traded intense armholds. Danielson hit a nice dropkick, but he missed a plancha. Go hit some chops on the floor, sending Danielson into the crowd! Go whipped Danielson into the guardrail. In the ring, Go was now in charge, as he planted his knee in the back, and he hit a kneedrop on Bryan's face for a nearfall at 7:30.

Danielson hit some chops, but they had no effect. Go hit a chop that leveled Bryan! Danielson hit some European Uppercuts, and Go countered with more chops. Go missed a basement dropkick as Danielson was in the Tree of Woe. Moments later, Go hit the Hesitation Dropkick for a nearfall at 10:00. Danielson hit a dropkick as Go was on the top turnbuckle, and Go crashed to the floor! They fought some more on the floor. Go hit a German Suplex on the ring apron, and he went for a running move off the apron, but he crashed into the guardrail on the floor. Danielson began to work over an injured right shoulder in the ring, and he cranked on Go's wrist. Danielson applied a modified cross-armbreaker, but Go reached the ropes at 13:00.

Go hit some chops, but he sold the pain in his right arm. Danielson stomped on the wrist and he set up for the Surfboard, but he instead stomped on the back of the thighs. Danielson went back to the modified cross-armbreaker, but Go reached the ropes. Go applied a sleeper, and he hit a flying shoulder tackle at 16:00. Go hit some left-handed chops (selling that his right arm hurt too much!), and Go hit a second-rope kneedrop for a nearfall and a Fisherman's buster for a nearfall. Danielson hit a baseball slide dropkick to the floor, and Go went into the crowd. Danielson hit a springboard clothesline, flying over the guardrail, and hitting Go deep in the crowd at 18:00!

Danielson hit a missile dropkick in the ring, and he was fired up, and the crowd was hot. Danielson hit a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall, then a top-rope flying headbutt for a nearfall, and he went for the Crossface Chickenwing on the injured right arm! Go hit a top-rope swinging uranage for a nearfall at 21:00, and he hit some paintbrush open-hand slaps. Danielson hit a back suplex, but Go hopped up, hit a superkick, and they were both down. Danielson hit a German for a nearfall. Go hit some left-handed chops and a couple German Suplexes for nearfalls. Danielson hit a top-rope back suplex for a nearfall at 24:30!

Danielson hit some European Uppercuts. Go hit another Superkick, some slaps, a clothesline, but he missed a moonsault. Danielson applied the Cattle Mutilation/double armbar, but Go reached the ropes! Danielson hit a Tiger Suplex for a believable nearfall. Danielson began ramming elbowshots to the side of the head, then he again applied the Cattle Mutilation! This time, Go tapped out! The crowd chanted, "ROH!" Danielson got on the mic and said that whoever wins later tonight between Morishima and Nigel McGuinness, he wants a shot at the winner.

* Backstage, Ref Todd Sinclair attempted to interview Ricky Marvin, who only speaks in Spanish. Awkward segment.

(5) Delirious defeats Roderick Strong at 17:46.
Very good match; these two have met many times now, between ROH, IWA-MS and FIP, and it's always good action. At the bell, Delirious charged at Strong and hit some blows and the BAM leaping lariat. Strong hit some chops. Delirious hit a backbody drop and a basement dropkick that sent Strong to the floor. Strong hit some forearms and more chops, and he beat up Delirious on the floor. Delirious hit a top-rope flip dive to the floor at 3:30, and he bit Strong on the head. Strong picked Delirious up and tossed him into the ring post! Strong tossed a chair at Delirious, and he was in charge. In the ring, Strong hit a nice dropkick and a slingshot suplex for a nearfall at 6:30.

Delirious hit a hangman's neckbreaker in the ropes, and he went under the ring and got a ladder (this is NOT a ladder match). He bridged the ladder between the ring apron and the guardrail. Delirious shoved Strong into the ladder. Strong hit a top-rope superplex in the ring for a nearfall at 9:30, then a backbreaker over his knee. Strong did a pendulum with Delirious' arms, as Strong rammed Delirious' head into a chair wedged in the corner. Strong hit a nice butterfly suplex, and he brought the ladder into the ring. Delirious hit a drop-toe-hold onto a chair, then a Panic Attack/running knee. Delirious gave Strong a hiptoss onto the ladder at 12:30, and the crowd was hot. Delirious hit some clotheslines, and he slammed the ladder into Strong's head for a nearfall.

Strong hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall, and he dropped Delirious gut-first on an open chair. Strong nailed his Gorilla Press Gutbuster over his knees for a nearfall. Delirious bit Strong's leg, and he nailed the Bizarro Driver/modified Michinoku Driver for a nearfall. They fought on the ring apron, and Strong hit a sideslam onto the bridged ladder at 16:00! The crowd chanted, "Holy sh!t!", which made Prazak & Leonard laugh. Strong and Delirious fought in the corner. Delirious hit the Shadows Over Hell backsplash for a nearfall, and he applied the Cobra Stretch, and he turned that into a Cobra Clutch overhead suplex. Strong nailed his running boot. However, Delirious nailed the Chemical Imbalance II/flipping powerbomb for the clean pin! Good match.

* Nigel McGuinness talked backstage, saying that tonight is important to both ROH and to him. Nigel said he took Morishima to the limit before. He reiterated that it's time for him to start "winning great matches." Nigel said he has hit the Jawbreaker Lariat on Morishima before, and he can do it again.

(6) Jay & Mark Briscoe & Marufuji defeat Matt Sydal & Ricky Marvin & Atsushi Aoki at 22:36.
Another good match. My first time seeing Aoki (who replaced the injured KENTA), and he wore baby blue pants. Sydal and Marufuji started, with Matt hitting a headscissors takedown. Marvin tagged in and hit a headscissors takedown on Jay. Mark applied a Cobra Clutch on Aoki, and he nailed a kneedrop to the face, then a belly-to-belly suplex for a nearfall at 3:00. Aoki hit a dropkick on Marufuji. Sydal hit a running double kneeshot in the corner on Marufuji. Marvin hit a team X-Factor on Marufuji. Mark stood on Marvin's chest, with the rest of his team adding weight to crush Marvin! Jay hit a basement dropkick to Marvin's face for a nearfall at 5:30.

Marvin hit a German suplex on Mark Briscoe. Aoki hit a nice dropkick for a nearfall. The Briscoes hit some quick team moves on Aoki. Jay hit a nice dropkick for a nearfall, and Mark hit a catapult doublestomp. Marufuji hit a catapult elbow and a wrap-around dropkick for a nearfall at 9:00. The Briscoes & Marufuji hit triple kicks on the corner for a nearfall. Mark hit a second-rope flip senton for a nearfall and a back suplex. The Briscoes hit their team football shoulder tackle, but this match just has zero heat so far. The Briscoes team hit triple superkicks for a nearfall. Marufuji applied a modified Chickenwing, but Aoki reached the ropes at 12:00.

Mark hit a gutwrench suplex and a kneedrop to the chest for a nearfall. Jay hit a Death Sentence elevated guillotine legdrop. Aoki got a cross-armbreaker on Jay, but Mark made the save. Aoki hit a back suplex, and he finally made the hot tag to Marvin. Marvin hit a top-rope moonsault press for a nearfall on Jay, then a handspring-back-DDT on Jay. Marvin nailed a enziguri on Jay. Jay hit a headscissors takedown, then a Flatliner that sent Marvin into the turnbuckles. Marvin hit a top-rope headscissors takedown on Marfuji, and they traded forearms. Marufuji hit a basement dropkick, so Marufuji returned a basement dropkick. Marvin hit a Superkick, so Marufuji fired back with his own Superkick, and they were both down at 16:30.

Aoki entered and hit a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall on Marufuji. Mark hit a springboard dropkick on Aoki and some Karate thrusts, then a Superkick and a springboard twisting frogsplash for a nearfall. Mark nailed a top-rope moonsault press for a nearfall and a powerbomb for a nearfall on Aoki. Sydal (who has not been in the match virtually since it started!) made the hot tag at 19:30, and he hit an enziguri, a moonsault into his Floatover Famouser, a jump-up rana on Mark, but he couldn't get the "Here it is" Driver. Sydal hit a standing moonsault for a nearfall and a clothesline in the corner. Marufuji hit a double clothesline. Jay hit a running boot. Sydal hit a DDT on Jay, and all six men were down. Sydal got a cool rollup on Jay. The Briscoes hit a Doomsday clothesline on Sydal for the pin. Good match, but just no heat.

(7) Takeshi Morishima defeats Nigel McGuinness at 20:13 to retain the ROH World Heavyweight Title.
They shook hands (which to me, is a big deal, as Morishima rarely has done that in his title reign.) In a nice touch, several wrestlers crouched at ringside to watch this match. Nigel immediately went for the Jawbreaker (Rebound) Lariat, but he couldn't get it. Morishima couldn't hit the Back Drop Driver and they had a standoff. Nigel hit some headbutts on Morishima's shoulder, and he nailed a Divorce Court armbreaker. Morishima hit his buttdrop on the chest. On the floor, Morishima whipped Nigel into the guardrail at 3:00. Morishima hit an Ole-style kick on the floor and some Ole-style buttbump on the floor. In the ring, Morishima stood on the chest, and he applied a sleeper.

Morishima hit a flying shoulder tackle from the ring apron to the floor. Nigel hit his Rebound Lariat on the floor. Nigel hit a top-rope flying clothesline, and they were both down on the floor at 6:00. Nigel hit some spine kicks in the ring, and some slaps. Morishima hit some forearms that leveled Nigel and two of his rolling buttbumps as Nigel was sitting on the mat. Some fans began to boo Takeshi! Morishima choked Nigel in the ropes, but he missed his cartwheel splash in the corner. Nigel nailed his back kick & inverted DDT from the corner at 9:00. Nigel hit a running European Uppercut and a short-arm clothesline for a nearfall. He went for a headstand in the corner, but Morishima kicked him in the face. Morishima went for the missile dropkick, but Nigel cut him off, and Nigel hit the Tower of London/hangman's stunner!

Nigel hit his headstand mule kick. Morishima hit a missile dropkick, but Nigel immediately hit a clothesline for a nearfall. Morishima blocked the Jawbreaker Lariat, and he hit a Back Drop Driver, and they were both down at 12:00. Morishima missed a buttdrop. Nigel nailed three consecutive Superkicks. Morishima hit a clothesline that leveled Nigel. Nigel hit a second-rope clothesline as Morishima was straddling the top rope, for a nearfall. Nigel hit a Tower of London onto the ring apron, and they both tumbled to the floor at 15:00.

Nigel again went for a second-rope clothesline as Morishima straddled the top rope, but Takeshi avoided it. Morishima hit a sideslam off the apron to the floor, and he rolled Nigel in the ring and got a nearfall. Morishima hit a running clothesline in the corner, then some right & left blows, and he shoved the referee! Morishima nailed a Back Drop Driver at 18:00 for a nearfall. Nigel nailed the Jawbreaker Lariat for a believable nearfall, and the crowd was hot! Nigel fired up, and he blocked another Back Drop Driver attempt. Nigel got an inside cradle for a nearfall. they traded forearms, and Morishima nailed a clothesline that leveled Nigel for a believable nearfall. Morishima hit a Back Drop Driver, dumping Nigel on his head, for the pin. Excellent match.

* Bryan Danielson came to the ring, grabbed the title, and said to Morishima, "this is my belt, not yours!" Danielson slapped Morishima. Nigel hit Danielson, and Bryan bailed. Nigel then handed the title belt to Morishima, and they shook hands. Fans chanted, "ROH!" as Morishima celebrated with the title belt and a trophy in the ring.

* Backstage, the No Remorse Corps talked about the evening. Strong said he would finish off Jack Evans the next day. Richards said that he & Romero beat a "Dream Team" tonight, and they'll do it again tomorrow.

* In the final segment of the show, Brent Albright said he had heard that Morishima retained the title. Albright said that Morishima "didn't want me in Japan." Brent vowed to win the title.

* The brackets of the "Race to the Top" tournament were shown on screen.

Final thoughts:
DVD runs 2 hours, 42 minutes.

There are two incredible, standout matches here. I personally liked Danielson vs. Shiozaki the most here. The main event was superb as well, and Nigel had the fans thinking they possibly might see a title change.

I'll give third-best to another Strong-Delirious match. It was quite good, but I can't say it stands out really from their prior matchups, either.

The six-man tag was good, and earned fourth best. That said, the crowd wasn't that hot, and I really dislike six-man tags, as they always feel so 'formula' to me, and one wrestler (in this case, Matt Sydal) barely gets in the ring at all. Likewise, the opening tag match had good action, but the newcomer to me, Suzuki, barely got in the ring.

The negatives: After the opener, the next two matches did little for me. The Japanese students were solid, but not even Prazak & Leonard could pretend that the outcome of the match mattered. Rave vs. Whitmer was fine, but nothing great, and I've seen it before. In fact, that's one of the growing problems here in ROH ... Whitmer-Rave, Delirious-Strong, and Nigel-Morishima have been done before, and quite recently. While some of these matches were REALLY good, I'm really starting to have a sense of deja vu as I watch ROH shows. The same matches are happening over and over.

This show earns a thumbs up, but not a strong "must buy" recommendation. You've probably seen Delirious-Strong before, and you'll probably buy the rematch soon when Nigel again faces Morishima for the title. If you really dig the Japanese 'atmosphere', you'll probably enjoy this a lot more than I did, as well. This DVD is available at for $20.

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