One of the things I enjoy about reviewing Ring of Honor DVDs is their compilations, and although I do enjoy taking a look at their more shows there’s nothing better than seeing classic matches featuring some of the company’s legends.
Which is why I’m looking forward to settling down in front of the old goggle box as we take a look at another ROH tribute to a former World Champion in the form of the two disc Nigel McGuinness: In It To Win It.
And as is the custom with these things, let’s start at the beginning with…..
October 15th, 2005
Our man as the Pure Wrestling Champion as he defends his title against former champion Samoa Joe at Buffalo Stampede.
Before the match began McGuinness took to the microphone to compare Joe to a wrestling bear. He then offered him praise, saying he was the future of wrestling and that his career was already going places because he’d been offered the lead in Shrek 3.
This didn’t sit too well with the challenger as he launched his attack before the bell, and he was so enraged that McGuinness forced his hand and forced him to use two of his rope breaks early when he went for a couple of submission holds. He then sneakily placed Joe’s hand on the bottom rope when he went for a third, which meant that he’d lost all of his rope breaks within the first minute.
Joe then dominated the action as he took McGuinness apart. The champion has a few fleeting moments of offence, but the traffic was mostly one way as Joe took his man down time and time again.
Joe’s anger almost led to his downfall when the action spilled outside the ring. Having taken McGuinness down with one face wash against the barricade he went to the well again, but when McGuinness dodged the bullet Joe found his leg trapped in the barricade, and as the referee made his count it looked like McGuinness was about to get the count out win.
However, Joe managed to make it back into the ring, and although he managed to continue his onslaught McGuinness countered the muscle buster attempt and took his man down with the Tower of London for the winning pin.
April 26th, 2006
Our man defends his Pure title against one of the company’s founding fathers as he faces Christopher Daniels ad Weekend of Champions Night 1.
Now this was more like it. Instead of a somewhat one-sided affair this was an altogether more even contest filled with great technical action and two great performances.
It began with a nice spot of chain wrestling before they took it in turn to work over various soft spots, with Daniels working over his man’s neck and McGuinness returning the favour by working over his man’s arm, and as the action moved up a notch and they used up all of their rope breaks things began to get a little intense.
Daniels looked like he was going to get the win when he applied a cobra clutch/million dollar dream/call it what you will, and McGuinness grabbing the ropes meant nothing. The only way he could break the hold was by rolling out of the ring and taking Daniels out with him, and after they recovered their senses and got back to their feet they began to brawl as the referee neared the end of his twenty count.
McGuinness then went against the spirit of the contest when he pushed a ringside photographer into Daniels’ path to block him so he could get back into the ring and beat the referee’s count to take the title retaining win.
May 13th, 2006
Our man defends the Pure title against another former champion in the form of Jay Lethal at Ring of Homicide.
This was another one of those very enjoyable encounters. McGuinness put in a very good performance here, dominating the majority of the action with his sound technical offence, and mixing in the odd punch here and there.
Lethal had a few moments of offence, but he often found himself on the receiving end of the champion’s arsenal until he powered out of a Tower of London attempt and made his comeback with his high-speed hit and run moves.
They almost took him to victory, but like a bad cold McGuinness kept coming back, but he too became frustrated when Lethal kicked out after he was finally taken down with the Tower of London, and it took a second Tower to finally put Lethal away for the three count.
July 15th, 2006
Our man defends his Pure title against Tag Team Champion Roderick Strong at Death Before Dishonor IV.
Boy was this a hard hitting one. It began with Strong interrupting McGuinness’ pre-match speech with one of those hard chops of his, and even though the champion managed to avoid the next few attempts it wasn’t long before he was on the receiving end again.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though. McGuinness soon came back into the match as he worked over Strong’s arm, but the challenger showed some sound tactics with three stronghold attempts, forcing McGuinness to use all of his rope breaks.
Despite being at a disadvantage McGuinness kept coming back, as did Strong, and it got to the point where McGuinness took his man out to ringside and tried to stop him from getting back into the ring so he could get a double count out.
But try as he might Strong just wouldn’t give up, not even after McGuinness took him out with a DDT on the concrete, and it was only when he halted Strong’s final push and dived into the ring himself that McGuinness was able to take the count out win.
April 13th, 2007
Our man teams with fellow Brit Doug Williams as he takes on World Champion Takeshi Morishima and Chris Hero at This Means War II.
Despite having super agent Larry Sweeney and personal trainer Tank Toland at ringside this was a match very much in the Japanese style, which wasn’t surprising considering all four men were Pro Wrestling NOAH regulars at the time.
It was a pretty entertaining affair, with McGuinness looking to take it to Morishima on the eve of his World title shot. The Brits had some success early on until Hero and Morishima isolated Williams and used him for target practice.
Eventually the Anarchist made it back to his corner, thus beginning the mass brawl. Hero was quite good in this segment, using many of the trademark moves used by several NOAH stars, including an attempt at a move called the “go to sleep”. I think I’ve seen that somewhere before.
Both sides came close to getting the win, but when a quick series of moves ended with Williams pushing Hero into Morishima McGuinness quickly capitalized and took our the future Mr. Ohno with his lariat for the winning pin.
July 16th, 2007
Our man travels to Japan to challenge Takeshi Morishima for the World title at Live in Tokyo.
You won’t see many ROH World title matches like this one. With it’s slow, methodical approach, and with technical exchanges mixed in with hard hitting blows, you could say that this was more NOAH than ROH.
Our protagonists countered each other’s finishers early on, and after McGuinness worked over the champion’s left arm for a few moments they began bringing out some of their big moves, and in the case of Morishima they were big as he used his three hundred pounds to good effect on more than one occasion.
The hard hitting exchanges came a few moments later as they tried to beat the proverbial out of each other as McGuinness pulled out a few moves you normally didn’t see from him on American shores. This, mixed in with his usual stuff, made for some great offence, but despite his best efforts he just couldn’t put the big man away.
As the Japanese fans cheered him on McGuinness turned the action up a notch as they both went for their main moves once again. Each man kicked out of pins after the other’s finisher, but eventually it all got too much for the challenger when Morishima took him down with another backdrop driver to get the title retaining pin.
September 15th, 2007
Our man faces three other opponents in the form of Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli and Naomichi Marufuji in a four corners survival match at Man Up!
There was a definite contrast of styles between this and the last match. It was filled with plenty of fast-paced action, and it was pretty entertaining at that.
Not only did we have the great performances from McGuinness and Marufuji there was also the back-story between Hero and Castagnoli, with Hero having dumped his partner to join Larry Sweeney’s crew a few months before.
As expected it began quite normally, with tags needed to get in and out of the match, and with Hero quite reluctant to get in the ring with Double C unless it was to his advantage, and when the action spilled out to the floor and Marufuji took to the air it signalled the start of the all hell portion of the match.
So out came the big guns and the countless pin attempts as all four men came close to getting the one fall needed. For me the best exchanges were between fellow Europeans McGuinness and Castagnoli, and we also saw the move that has impressed many a WWE fan of late when Castagnoli spun Hero around the ring.
After nearly twenty minutes of intense action we finally got a winner, and once again it came about with the two Europeans when McGuinness took Castagnoli down with his lariat jawbreaker for the three count.
October 21st, 2007
Our man is now World Champion as he defends the title against Tag Team Champion Jay Briscoe at Chaos at the Cow Palace.
This one was the tale of two limbs. With Mark Briscoe watching on from ringside it began with McGuinness working over Briscoe’s left arm to good effect, but when the challenger noticed that the champion was limping it wasn’t long before Briscoe came back into the match and worked over McGuinness’ left leg, removing his knee pad at one point to reveal the bandage underneath.
As the match went on and as Briscoe worked over his leg McGuinness was becoming the proverbial one legged man in an ass kicking contest. He was able to pull off many of his moves but at a somewhat reduced pace, which meant that a lot of his blows weren’t as powerful as they normally were.
But as the action went up a notch of three both men began to bring out their big moves. Countless near falls resulted, but when McGuinness took his man down with his Tower of London on the ring apron it was all over bar the shouting. Back in the ring the champ applied the arm submission that would later be known as the London Dungeon, and it wasn’t long before Briscoe tapped out to give McGuinness the submission win.
December 29th, 2007
Our man defends his World title against another former champion in the form of Austin Aries at Rising Above.
This is possibly the most discussed and most controversial match in McGuinness’ career. Our man discussed it at length in his last DVD release, as well as the events that happened in the few days afterwards.
It began well enough as both men put on a good display of chain wrestling. Then McGuinness went out of the ring to jaw jack with some fans, and as he stood facing them Aries ran the ropes and connected with a suicide dive.
The impact smashed McGuinness’ head into the top of the guard rail, opening up a nasty cut above his right eye and giving him a concussion. The next few minutes are somewhat painful to watch. It’s obvious that McGuinness is out on his feet and has no idea what is happening, and in hindsight it would have been best to end the match there and then.
But the match continued. McGuinness eventually regained his senses, and considering what happened to him it makes his performance here even more incredible, because this match turned into a tremendous back and forth battle.
Both guys put on great performances, especially Aries as he attempted to become ROH’s first ever two-time World Champion. But no matter what they did to each other they couldn’t get the job done.
All the big moves were there, and McGuinness went close after taking Aries down with a lariat that sent him crashing from the top rope to the floor. That didn’t get the job done, and neither did the Tower of London onto the floor.
Eventually something had to give, and after they survived their new submission holds McGuinness connected with the jawbreaker lariat to finally get the pin.
January 26th, 2008
Our man faces Roderick Strong once again, this time in a World title defence at Without Remorse.
Hard hitting action was the order of the day in this one. Mind you, Roderick Strong was involved, so that was kind of inevitable.
They began by working over each other’s arms, with McGuinness constantly defending against Strong’s chop attempts. But eventually something had to give, and it wasn’t long before Strong was turning his man’s chest beet red.
It was brutal and compelling at the same time. They threw everything they had at each other, but still they kept coming back for me. But when McGuinness took Strong down with his Tower of London onto a steel chair at ringside it looked all over. Strong, however, had other ideas when he kicked out of the pin.
A fast exchange of moves followed, and when Strong connected with a yakuza kick that sent the champion into the ropes McGuinness came back with his jawbreaker lariat. A three count later and he had the winning pin.
Our man defends the World title against another future champion as he faces Kevin Steen at Return Engagement.
Steen began his night’s work by kicking the champion south of the border as he slid into the ring, and the ringside skirmish that followed lasted quite a bit until McGuinness took control after smashing Steen’s arm into the barricade.
Eventually they made it back into the ring, and the action there proved to be just as intense as both challenger and champion went all out to get the win.
It looked all over for McGuinness when Steen took him down with the package piledriver, but after McGuinness kicked out of the pin the action moved out onto the ring apron, and after Steen went for another piledriver there McGuinness countered with his kick to the back/clothesline combination, a move that sent Steen crashing through the timekeeper’s table.
It wasn’t over for the challenger though. Steen kicked out of the pin again, and after a hard hitting exchange of moves McGuinness finally connected with the jawbreaker lariat, taking the pin with a handful of tights a few moments later.
June 7th, 2008
Our man faces Japanese opposition once more in a World title defence against Go Shiozaki at Respect is Earned II.
Hard hitting strikes mixed with sound technical exchanges were the order of the day in this encounter, and as far as title matches go this was pretty darn impressive.
It began with some fast paced exchanges, but it wasn’t long before the hard chops came out. McGuinness’ chest soon turned a bright shade of red with dark red streaks, courtesy of the cuts Shiozaki had opened up.
The champion didn’t let this stop him though as he worked over Shiozaki’s left arm. The Japanese star had some brief moments of offence, but a swift blow to the injured limb always helped McGuinness regain control.
Things got even better as they brought out their bigger and trademark moves. Shiozaki almost took the win with his go flasher finisher, with our champion barely kicking out of the pin. A few moments later they engaged in a slapping contest until McGuinness rebounded off the ropes and took Shiozaki down with a jawbreaker lariat.
He could have probably taken the pin there and then, but within seconds McGuinness rolled his man over and applied his London dungeon armbar, with Shiozaki tapping a few seconds later to give him the submission win.
June 28th, 2008
It’s a non-title match for our man as he faces Jerry Lynn at Vendetta II.
This was Lynn’s first match in ROH in four years, and ironically his last match back then was a win over a certain Brit.
Lynn is one of those wrestlers I could watch all day, a guy capable of having a good match with anyone, no matter who they are. Mind you, you could say the same for McGuinness, which is why this match was so good.
Lynn frustrated McGuinness early on by using some cheeky veteran tricks, such as feigning injury so he could put McGuinness in a small package when he showed concern, or rolling him up from behind while he was complaining to the referee.
McGuinness soon got his bearings when he began to work over Lynn’s left arm and shoulder, but no matter what he did Lynn refused to stay down, and the best example of this came when the action spilled out to ringside. After back dropping McGuinness into the crowd Lynn took a few steps backwards and launched himself over the guardrail, connecting with a clothesline.
A few moments later they were beating the proverbial out of each other in the ring. McGuinness began to get more and more frustrated as lariat after lariat failed to put Lynn away. It was a fighting performance from the veteran, but eventually he fell to the champion when McGuinness trapped his legs and rolled him up for the pin.
September 14th, 2008
It’s another trip to Japan for our man as he defends the World title against the leader of the Age of the Fall, Jimmy Jacobs, at The Tokyo Summit.
Had this match taken place on American soil then this would have been an interesting heel versus heel battle, but with the Japanese fans firmly behind the champion what we got was a very interesting affair.
It was sort of like a hybrid of both the ROH and NOAH styles with plenty of technical exchanges and some hard hitting sequences, with Jacobs toning down his cult leader persona but still looking to take a few short cuts, which didn’t exactly sit too well with the crowd.
Overall both guys put in good performances here, with McGuinness out wrestling Jacobs at first, and Jacobs coming back into the match when the action spilled out to ringside. He then became increasingly frustrated when he couldn’t put the champion away, not even with his end time guillotine choke.
When everything else failed Jacobs took a chain out of his tights and wrapped it around his fist, clobbering McGuinness right in the middle of his forehead, and that didn’t even get the job done.
With the crowd firmly behind him McGuinness began to work his way back into the match, and even though he couldn’t seal the deal when he took Jacobs down with the Tower of London the jawbreaker lariat did the job.
November 7th, 2008
Our man faces three challengers to his World title as he faces Tag Champions Kevin Steen & El Generico, as well as Japanese star Go Shiozaki, in an elimination match at The French Connection.
This was a pretty good match. All four men put in great performances, especially during the early going when Steen and Shiozaki tried to engage in a game of one-gunmanship as they ran the ropes and tried to take each other down.
We also had the rather comical moment when Shiozaki and McGuinness tried to get Steen and Generico to fight, with the Tag Team Champions spending the next couple of minutes mocking two of McGuinness’ most famous moves.
As for the eliminations…..
Generico was the first man eliminated. After Steen had received the punching bag treatment from Shiozaki and McGuinness he managed to get the hot tag to his masked partner. Generico and Shiozaki put on some great exchanges, but just when Generico was about to take his man down with the brain buster McGuinness came back into the ring and kicked the masked man in the leg. Seconds later Shiozaki took him down with the go flasher for the pin.
Shiozaki was next. After Generico’s elimination it looked like Shiozaki and McGuinness were going to work as a team, until the champ insisted that the Japanese star put Steen away. What followed was a series of hard hitting exchanges, but Steen managed to foil most of Shiozaki’s attempts, as well as McGuinness’ attempts at interference, before putting Shiozaki in the sharpshooter, with Shiozaki tapping within seconds.
This left Steen alone with McGuinness, and once again these two put together some pretty good sequences. After both men exchanged sharpshooters McGuinness took his man down with the Tower of London on the ring apron. A few moments later, and after the referee was accidentally clobbered, McGuinness tried to use his title belt to execute the same move. This brought Generico back to the ring, and after he hit McGuinness with a yakuza kick he grabbed the belt and took it out of harm’s way.
Steen then came back and took McGuinness down with the package piledriver. The referee counted three when Steen made his cover, but quickly reversed his decision when he saw McGuinness’ foot on the bottom rope. The champion quickly recovered and soon took Steen out with the jawbreaker lariat for the winning pin.
December 6th, 2008
Our man faces Jerry Lynn once more, this time with the World title on the line at Southern Hostility.
This one was even better than their first encounter. It was a tremendous piece of storytelling, and the performances of both men were excellent.
Once again Lynn proved just how adaptable he is. He was the perfect foil for McGuinness, who kept taunting him, telling him he was past it.
As the match went on both guys pulled out all the stops, and it looked all over for Lynn when McGuinness took him out with the London Dungeon on the floor. You can imagine the champion’s response when Lynn barely beat the twenty count.
From there these two put on some great back and forth exchanges, and while McGuinness kept looking for his jawbreaker lariat Lynn hit him with his cradle piledriver. However, when he went for the pin McGuinness managed to get his foot on the bottom rope.
Numerous high impact moves followed in which both champion and challenger came close to getting the pin, but when Lynn went for another piledriver McGuinness countered with a couple of boots to the head. He then took him down and rolled him up, grabbing the ropes as the referee made the title retaining three count.
December 27th, 2008
Our man faces yet more Japanese competition as he defends the World title against Naomichi Marufuji at Final Battle.
As the old saying goes, this is wrestling. Once again McGuinness was able to put on a tremendous match against a Japanese opponent, and some say that they don’t come much better than Marufuji.
We began with an early exchange of various holds, but it was when the action went up a few gears that things really started to get going. Both champion and challenger were going all out here, and as good as the action in the ring was it was even better outside the ropes.
There were numerous high impact moves as well, such as when Marufuji took his man down with his sliced bread variation on the floor and later on the ring apron. Neither of these could get the job done though.
Later on it looked as if McGuinness suffered a legitimate injury to his right arm. It didn’t impede his performance one bit though as he continued to go all out, right up to the point when Marufuji hung him upside down in the corner and went coast to coast with a dropkick.
A couple of superkicks from the NOAH star followed, but a few seconds later McGuinness came back and rolled his man up. Marufuji managed to kick out of this attempt, but the momentum sent McGuinness backwards into the ropes, and when he came back with his jawbreaker lariat it was all over, the winning pin coming immediately afterwards.
January 31st, 2009
Our man faces El Generico once again, this time in singles action as he defends the World title at Caged Collision.
McGuinness was actually quite brutal in this one, attacking Generico before the bell and ramming his shoulder into the ring post. He then took the action to ringside when he connected with the Tower of London on the floor, before ramming his man’s head into the barricade.
His job done, McGuinness got back into the ring thinking he was going to get the easy count out win, but when Generico’s partner Kevin Steen arrived on the scene to offer encouragement the masked man sucked it up and beat the count.
What followed was another masterful piece of storytelling as the champion worked over his challenger’s arm. But no matter what McGuinness did to him Generico kept coming back, much to the frustration of the Englishman.
Generico came closest to getting the win when he took McGuinness down with the brain buster, only for the champion to kick out of the pin. They then exchanged a series of big moves until McGuinness went for the London Dungeon submission.
Generico almost made it to the ropes, and when McGuinness went to drag him back into the middle of the ring his inside cradle attempt almost brought him the winning pin. Another lariat from McGuinness followed before he applied the London Dungeon again, and this time Generico had no choice but to tap out, giving McGuinness the submission win.
March 21st, 2009
It’s the final match of the collection, and our man faces NOAH opposition again as KENTA challenges for the World title at the 7th Anniversary show.
To say that McGuinness was banged up going into this one would be an understatement. Having wrestled while rehabbing a right bicep tear he tore his left bicep in a tag match against KENTA the night before, so in essence what we had here was a no armed man in an arse kicking contest.
And that contest was pretty damn good. KENTA tried to put McGuinness in his place early on with a couple of hard slaps before working over his injured limb. McGuinness, out of instinct, tried to use his arms to take his man down a couple of times, and as he cried out in pain it looked like he wouldn’t be able to continue.
But continue he did, and as the adrenaline surged through his body he managed to take it to his challenger, and then some. The back and forth exchanges were excellent as both guys put in great performances.
McGuinness took KENTA down time and time again with his big moves, but his frustration grew at his inability to get the job done. It was the same for KENTA though, and not even the go to sleep could put the champion away.
Eventually, and despite the pain, McGuinness went for his trademark moves, and when these failed he even tried to a go to sleep of his own, and when that didn’t get the job done he went for the London Dungeon submission.
KENTA almost got the pin with a roll up when McGuinness pulled him away from the ropes and to the middle of the ring, but when McGuinness applied the hold again and fell backwards for more leverage it wasn’t long before KENTA tapped out to give McGuinness the submission win.
In conclusion – so, after over six hours and nearly five thousand words later, what’s the overall conclusion about this collection?
Well, they’ve gone and done it again. Ring of Honor’s latest tribute to their former champion is a worthy addition to their outstanding catalogue.
All nineteen matches on here deliver, and then some, and as with some of their other collections McGuinness’ opponents read like a who’s who of the good and the great of the wrestling business in the 21st century, and our Nigel belongs right up there with them.
It’s just a shame that his career has been cut short by injury. One can only imagine what might have happened if he’d been able to take the chance when WWE calling, or if he’d have had a better run in TNA after his initial feud with Kurt Angle.
But with all that being said, if you’re a fan of McGuinness then this is definitely one for your collection, which is why this writer is giving this the big thumbs up.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Nigel McGuinness: In It to Win It is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!