A write-up on any one of the nationally wide 2008 independently produced compilations can find a way to connect to what the promotion has in store for their faithful in New York City on Dec. 16, 2012. Stars of Honor, Best in the World, Bloodstained Honor and Ring of Honor’s Greatest Rivalries stand alone as the four different titles but based on what has been written in the play-book for Final Battle 2012; allow me to skip past unnecessary, foreshadowing rhetoric, and simply point out how El Generico and Kevin Steen developed, and will continue to develop their momentously significant rivalry that thrived and carried Ring of Honor for more than 365 days of company history. At Final Battle 2012 the rivalry continues for two men who have a bloodstained resume as two of the greatest stars of honor, all while becoming two of the best the world has to offer. Therefore, my look-back/review of ROH’s Greatest Rivalries 2008 DVD release shall honor two superstars, who would inarguably make it onto another potential rivalry based ROH compilation. All of the matches below occurred prior to 2008; however, throughout the text below you may find it easy to recognize how many great rivalries Ring of Honor has produced.
Dog-Collar Chain Match – CM Punk vs. Raven – “Death Before Dishonor”
If ROH has an old-school classic division, this bout helps to define it. Before things get under-way Punk tries to wiggle his way out of the match by offering up other options. Thankfully, that does not happen and this independent professional wrestling classic from the early 2000s commences. A brutal-brawl with an added stipulation that saw blood-shed between a heel and a face puts proof to the concept of a well-constructed professional wrestling rivalry. A clean and sober self-defined straight-edge egotistical superstar doesn’t appreciate Raven’s abusive past and opposing human-nature. Consequently, the tale is told and at Death Before Dishonor in 2003, the contention climaxes.
Match Rating: 4/5
ROH World Championship Match – Samoa Joe vs. Homicide – “Death Before Dishonor II”
As an honest account of what the meaning between this bout was, there is a minimal back-story being told here as Joe is in the midst of defining the company and defining the Ring of Honor World Title as champion. Homicide is in the midst of crazed-popularity of cosmic proportion. Thus implying the need to go out in the midst of competition to prove how good each other really are. Therefore implying how these two became bitter enemies, but it doesn’t come to a boiling point here whatsoever.
Match Rating: 3.5/5
Steel Cage Match – Jimmy Jacobs vs. BJ Whitmer – “Supercard of Honor II”
A steel-cage match. A year-long blood-feud between former Ring of Honor Tag-Team Champions. Love of women leading to paths of destruction. A display of cringe-worthy violent imagery that will forever be contested as one of the most wildly ridiculous matches in the promotion’s history; and that statement is to be interpreted in the best of ways. Need I say more but must see?
Match Rating: 4.5/5
ROH World Tag-Team Championship Match – Austin Aries and Roderick Strong vs. The Briscoe Brothers – “Unified”
The prestige of the Ring of Honor World Tag-Team Titles can often initiate a rivalry instantaneously. The Briscoe Brothers had two previous chances at the titles against the team of Strong and Aries and this match was scheduled to be their final opportunity against the current champions. This match is bounce off the walls crazy. That truly defines what you will witness here. This contest inarguably defines the promotions attempt at displaying the value of the tag-team titles. One of the best tag-team matches on the independent professional wrestling scene ever, one of the best Ring of Honor tag-team bouts ever, in front of one of the most electric crowds the company had ever seen; and there is no reason to not feel hard-pressed to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Match Rating: 4.5/5
Eight-Man No Holds Barred Anything Goes Match – TEAM ROH: Adam Pearce, Ace Steel, Colt Cabana, BJ Whitmer vs. TEAM CZW: Claudio Castagnoli, Super Dragon, Necro Butcher, Spyder Nate Webb – “Weekend of Champions”
This contest takes place throughout one of the most memorable inter-promotional rivalries the independent professional wrestling scene has ever produced. The complete blow-off between these two feuding promotions would occur inside of Combat Zone Wrestling’s own Cage of Death during Ring of Honor’s own Death Before Dishonor 2006 event. Despite this fact, this match is a generous chunk of the cake served up by these two promotions, and a frenzied fracas that really is all over the place, is sweet enough to have a taste of.
Match Rating: 3.5/5
FIP World Championship Match – Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens – “Final Battle 2007”
At this point in time in Ring of Honor, this match would have been labeled with expectations that do not exactly match-up to the rest of what the company tossed onto this disc. For some, in present day the feelings may be similar but the fact is, Strong and Stevens are in the midst of a heavy rivalry and deliver just as heavy here. They are known as two of Full Impact Pro’s best at this point in time, earning the honor and right to prove who is the better man, in what had been proven to be the promotion for the best. They know each other in the ring and Strong’s year-long Full Impact Pro Championship reign provides the reason why Stevens wanted to become so infatuated by Strong and his title. You can call this one strong-style and even-steven throughout.
Match Rating: 3.5/5
Match #3 in the best of a Three Match Series – Austin Aries vs. Bryan Danielson – “Glory by Honor VI”
The contention between these too can be left at what this promotion has vigorously attempted to be about, especially when it comes to building a rivalry in a wrestling ring. The tale told is simple as it displays the idea of who is the best in the world and most oddly enough, most importantly, who is the better man inside Ring of Honor. This feud came in the form of a trilogy and while one can argue that this is not the best of the three contests, you can easily appreciate the action given. With two former Ring of Honor Champions battling it out as two Ring of Honor veterans, this type of in-ring display is refreshing representation of what the Ring of Honor product has attempted to build their name on.
Match Rating: 3.5/5
First to hit their Finish Match – AJ Styles with Mick Foley vs. Jimmy Rave with Prince Nana – “Glory by Honor IV”
The protégé turns on the teacher and joins a heel faction. Can more be said to define the story? Styles brought in Foley to counter Prince Nana’s Embassy. Rave has been attempting to become more and more like Styles despite being the heel as he eventually invents the “Rave Clash” as their disputes go on. Sound familiar? From here on out, the loser of the bout looses the rights to use their finisher inside of a Ring of Honor ring. Other than noting both men would eventually become core pieces of the IMPACT Wrestling Roster, versatile booking provides a noteworthy bout.
Match Rating: 3/5
Overall Thoughts: Rivalries are more than any single professional wrestling contest. They tell the tale of contentious competition over a specific period of time. Ultimately they define and furthermore draw-out a viewer’s ability to understand the story of good versus evil, right versus wrong, the better versus the best and so on. As a fan, a battle within yourself takes place, as the guy you prefer versus the guy you want to see take the fall becomes exceedingly intense with each and every match/chapter; all the while knowing a story is being told that will eventually culminate into one final battle. Typing out 10/10 would simply be too easy here. The immense historical video library Ring of Honor has, that features some of the most memorable and stimulating visual rivalries professional wrestling has ever had to offer; selfishly allows me to declare the need and want for more to this DVD. Other than that as the final note to this piece, with some Sinclair dollars, another nationally released compilation like this may not be the worst business move Mr. Koff and company could make.