Ring of Honor returned to Toronto, Ontario on August 3 with their debut show at the historic Maple Leaf Gardens. Toronto is one of ROH’s biggest and most reliable markets and they were keen to make a big impact in a new arena. The card looks strong with a Tag Title match and we finally get Paul London against Michael Elgin. So, did All Star Extravaganza V deliver? Let’s take a look.
The opener sees the latest man to sign an ROH contract, Adam Page, face Japanese standout Kushida. The NJPW regular is making his ROH debut and is the tag team partner of Alex Shelley. Page more than holds his own in this one before Kushida wins it with the Midnight Express (corkscrew moonsault). This was a perfect fast-paced opener that made Page look awesome. He was given the chance to shine and he did. Kushida would be more than welcome back in a higher profile match or maybe even alongside his tag team partner Shelley.
Next up is an ROH World Title tournament match as Silas Young takes on Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa once again gets a great reaction from the crowd, like he has each time since his return from injury. This was just two warriors knocking the holy hell out of each other and it made for great viewing. Both guys get good reactions from the fans and it led to a fun match which the crowd were really into. There was maybe a bit too much no selling from Ciampa as he gets the win with the Project Ciampa. Another good match that maybe could have lasted a little longer. These two always deliver.
The third match of the evening pits BJ Whitmer against Michael Bennett in another ROH World Title tournament match. The winner of this one will face Tommaso Ciampa in the next round. Pretty slow start to this one as BJ takes lots of punishment with Maria orchestrating Bennett’s attacks. Maria gets thrown out after trying to give Bennett a shoe to use as a weapon. BJ almost gets the win with a couple of near falls before the match is stopped after Bennett delivers a piledriver on the ring apron. Todd Sinclair instantly calls for the bell as Whitmer looks out of it. We wish BJ a full and fast recovery after what looked quite a nasty accident.
We continue things with another tournament match that sees ROH World TV champions Matt Taven battle Roderick Strong. Taven is accompanied, as always, by Truth Martini and the hoopla hotties. The World TV title is not on the line. Unlike most of his matches, Taven actually dominates most of the early goings in this one. Strong tries to fight back but is attacked with the book of truth. That leads to Taven accidentally kicking Martini in the face as Nigel tries to send him to the back. Strong eventually wins after a Sick Kick and backbreaker. The crowd went crazy at the end and it was a great back-and-forth match. Taven continues to improve and this was the match of the night so far.
Our fourth title tournament match now as Paul London takes on Michael Elgin in a contest that looks fantastic on paper. Elgin often works well with smaller guys so I’m hoping these two mesh together well. My hopes were answered as both guys gave all they had to help make a great match. London even made you believe he could win against a guy who many are tipping to be next World champ. He hits the shooting star press but only gets a near fall before Elgin comes back with a powerbomb off the top followed by the Elgin bomb to win. Fantastic match to end the first half of this one – just as we imagined. London showed he still has it and it would be great to have him back full-time. Definitely reached four star range and the crowd were completely into it.
The second half kicks off with the returning Young Bucks facing Adrenaline Rush and C&C Wrestle Factory. RD Evans is on commentary for this one so it should be great fun. The Bucks show early on why they shouldn’t have been let go by ROH as they heel it up and get a great reaction from the crowd. This was a bit of a spot fest but was nonetheless a brilliantly entertaining match. All three teams looked fantastic and Adrenaline Rush picked up the surprise victory as ACH hit a 450 splash on Cedric Alexander. Great start to the second half.
Brian Kendrick makes his ROH return next as he takes on Kevin Steen in the World title tournament. This is another interesting match up that could end up being great if they have good chemistry. Kendrick is playing the douchebag heel roll and tries to frustrate Steen by stalling and slowing things down. Something just didn’t really click with this one and I think the fact nobody bought Kendrick winning probably hurt it. Steen wins with the Sharpshooter which obviously got a good pop in Toronto. Decent enough but was expecting a bit more from Kendrick.
Quarter final match in the World title tournament next as Adam Cole faces Jay Lethal. Again, on paper this looks like an awesome contest. Kevin Kelly keeps talking about the ‘golden age of honor’ which is ridiculously cringeworthy. They did a great job of keeping your interest high with an incredibly even match just like it should have been with two of ROH’s best. It started off slowly with plenty of submissions and then escalated into a fantastic last five or so minutes. They didn’t go over the top with the kick outs and such as Cole won with the Florida Key to make him look very strong as one of the favourites to be the next World champion.
Our main event of the evening is for the ROH World Tag Team Titles as the Forever Hooligans defend against the American Wolves. This is Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov’s first defence after beating reDRagon for the belts on ROH TV. Davey seems to be heeling it up a bit, probably due to the fact that he’s hated in Canada (answers on a postcard please). These two teams work together well by mixing in a bit of comedy and the fact that the four men have history together also adds to the match. The Wolves pick up the shock win over Romero with the powerbomb into a backcracker combination. I’ve seen a few people saying this was disappointing and boring but I’d have to disagree. It wasn’t quite the classic I was hoping for but it was a really fun match between two great teams. The crowd may have let it down a bit and something kept it from reaching past four stars. Still a great match to finish off the show.
Overall Thoughts: The VOD also included three tournament matches from TV; Sonjay Dutt v Jay Lethal, Karl Anderson v ACH and Mark Briscoe v Adam Cole. I still don’t think the added matches justified the higher price of $17.99 – especially seeing as you normally get bonuses on DVDs for free. It was a good show without reaching the heights I thought it might before I watched it. There were a few entertaining matches but it was missing that one brilliant match to take it to the next level. I’d maybe wait for this on DVD due to the price increase and it being a bit weaker than a few of the other big shows ROH have done this year. I think they’re also going to have a problem distinguishing these ‘big’ shows from normal house shows with no iPPV. A higher price doesn’t necessarily make the show any better.