Thursday, 26 April 2012

Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team: The Anthology Volume 1 - DVD Review

They started off as Kurt Angle’s henchmen before showing what a great team they are in their own right, winning championships in both WWE and ROH, and now the promotion they call home, Ring of Honor, have released a DVD paying tribute to Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. The DVD in question is Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team: The Anthology Volume 1.

The release features a compilation of some of their best matches under the ROH banner. So what better place to start then at the beginning:

11th September, 2010: It’s debut time for Haas and Benjamin as they go up against Tag Team Champions the Kings of Wrestling, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero, at Glory by Honor IX.

In a way you could describe this as WWE past versus WWE future. When I saw this match before I just couldn’t believe how great it was, and my opinion hasn’t changed one bit.

Despite the fact that they hadn’t teamed much for a few years Haas and Benjamin performed like they’d never been apart, putting in an awesome performance. Mind you, the Kings was just as great.

For over twenty minutes these four men put on an excellent back and forth encounter with plenty of enthralling action, with two many great moments to mention in such a short space.

Both teams came close to getting the win, but when Haas locked in the Haas of pain on Castagnoli manager Shane Hagadorn jumped onto the ring apron to distract the referee. This gave Hero the chance to put on his vaunted elbow pad. One shot later and Haas was out of it, with the unconscious Castagnoli cover Haas for the three count.

Needless to say that Haas and Benjamin weren’t too happy with the nature of their defeat, and after sending the Kings running for cover they took out their frustrations on Hagadorn, stripping him down to his underwear and delivering a top rope elbow south of the border.

ROH on HDNet Episode 88: Haas and Benjamin take on the up and coming Bravado Brothers, Lancelot and Harlem.

This is basically a squash match for the boys on their ROH television debut. The brothers get in a few fleeting moments of offence before Haas and Benjamin take them apart, Haas getting the win by putting one of the brothers in the Haas of pain.

ROH on HDNet Episode 91: The boys take on Rhett Titus and Kenny King, the All Night Express.

A slightly longer match for the main event of this particular show. Both teams had their moments of domination, with the All Nighters looking particularly effective against Benjamin.

Haas looked like he was going to get the win when he was about to put Titus in his trusty submission hold until King came off the top rope and took him out. King then looked to do more damage until the Kings of Wrestling came out and attacked him, leaving Titus alone in the ring against both Haas and Benjamin, with Haas getting the winning pin with a bridging back suplex.

28th January, 2011: It’s re-match time as our protagonists meet the Kings of Wrestling once again at SoCal Showdown.

These four picked up where they’d left off a few months before. It wasn’t as long as their last match but they still managed to put in a hell of a lot of action.

What I liked about this match was the fact that it seemed completely different to the first encounter. While some would have just put together the same routines as before these two teams managed to put together something that felt fresh and new.

The only similarity came towards the end. After plenty of near finishes from both sides Haas put Castagnoli in the Haas of pain. Once again Hero grabbed his trusty loaded elbow pad as he prepared to come off the top rope to help his partner. This time though Benjamin stopped him, using his tremendous agility to jump up to the top rope so he could deliver a kick that sent Hero crashing to the floor.

Seconds later it was all over as Castagnoli tapped out, finally giving our boys the win over the Kings.

ROH on HDNet Episode 93: Eight man action as our boys team with Jay & Mark Briscoe to take on the Kings of Wrestling & the All Night Express.

This certainly was an interesting match. Early on the various teams just didn’t get along with each other, and as they went about their business there was no actual inter-team tagging, IE an All Nighter never tagged one of the Kings, etc.

Eventually an uneasy truce was called, especially when the heels began to use Haas as their proverbial punching bag, and although they worked well as a unit it didn’t last long.

A moment of miscommunication saw the Kings accidentally clobber the All Nighters, ending that particular truce. Titus and King proceeded to take the Kings apart before deserting them and returning backstage.

Then the truce between the Briscoes and the WGTT broke down as they couldn’t agree who would pin the fallen Hero. It wasn’t long before they began to argue, and when their relationship broke down completely and they had to be separated the referee called for the bell and ruled the bout a no contest.

25th February 2011: Six man action as Haas and Benjamin team with Davey Richards against the Kings of Wrestling & Roderick Strong at World’s Greatest.

This was basically the company’s champions taking on their top contenders, with the top contenders attempting to show they had what it took to dethrone the title holders.

I think the best way to describe this one would be awesome. From start to finish it was filled with tons of great action. All six men were outstanding.

The heels did a good job of isolating Benjamin and later Richards with a series of well executed moves, with their various cronies at ringside getting in a few cheap shots of their own.

When Richards managed to get the hot tag to Benjamin all hell broke loose with the six man brawl. All the big moves came out as Haas and Benjamin eventually brawled with Hero and Castagnoli around the ring and back to the locker room.

This left Richards and Strong in the ring, and after numerous false finishes from both men the American Wolf finally took his man down with a falcon arrow into a cross arm breaker. Strong had no choice but to tap out, giving his team the win.

26th February 2011: It’s one day later as the boys take on the Briscoes and the 9th Anniversary Show, with a shot at the Tag Team titles on the line.

This was the first time these two teams had gone against each other, and it’s another great outing from both teams, as well as being a nice precursor for their very heated future rivalry.

They certainly brought the best out of each other here. There were plenty of great sequences in this back and forth encounter, and for me this is one of the best matches I’ve ever seen from the Briscoes.

Although there was no bad blood between them at this point in time there was a little wild brawling outside the ring, including a brief incursion into the crowd. That was when we saw Mark live up to his crazy nickname, diving from the middle off the top rope and over the ringside barrier onto his opponents in the front row.

Despite this and many more athletic moments the brothers fell short as Haas and Benjamin took the pin after an assisted top rope blockbuster.

1st April, 2011: It’s the final match of the collection and the rubber match with the Kings of Wrestling, only this time the Tag Team titles are on the line at Honor Takes Centre Stage Chapter 1.

After their two previous encounters this match had a lot to live up to. Guess what. It succeeded.

The challengers singled out Castagnoli early on, focusing their attacking on his left knee in an attempt to negate his power advantage. It was a tactic that would go on to hamper the Swiss for the rest of the match.

From there the slow methodical approach saw both teams put on an excellent technical battle, with the action going up a notch or two after Benjamin took a ton of punishment and eventually tagged Haas into the match.

With both teams going full pelt they pulled out all of the big moves, with Castagnoli still hampered by his gimpy knee. It soon led to his downfall as we saw a repeat of their previous encounter. As Haas put Castagnoli in the Haas of pain Shane Hagadorn tossed the loaded elbow pad to Hero before he climbed to the top rope. Benjamin then showed his tremendous athleticism to take Hero out, with Castagnoli finally tapping out seconds later, giving Haas and Benjamin the win and the Tag Team titles.

No extras to speak off in this collection, so let’s cut to the chase.

In conclusion - even though Charlie Hass and Shelton Benjamin have only been in Ring of Honor about 18 months they’ve already made a tremendous impression and left their mark.

This collection is a testament to that fact. It’s a DVD filled with tremendous tag team encounters, the likes of which you sadly won’t find anywhere else on the main American wrestling scene. Watching these matches makes me think that Haas and Benjamin may really be “Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team”. Which is why this collection is getting the big thumbs up from me.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team: The Anthology Volume 1 is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.