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Zen Arcade Reviews: ROH’s Bryan Danielson: Rise to Glory

December 11, 2012 | Posted by Jake St-Pierre
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Zen Arcade Reviews: ROH’s Bryan Danielson: Rise to Glory  

Yes, it is the much-sought-after DVD chronicling some of the best matches of the former American Dragon. In my not-so-humble opinion, Bryan Danielson is one of the best wrestlers of all time. His combination of charisma and insane wrestling ability make him one of the most complete packages since Eddie Guerrero walked the earth. His resume in ROH proves it, and he’s racking up some great stuff in WWE to compliment that. Let’s look back at some of his classics in Bryan Danielson’s Rise to Glory.

Best of the American Super Juniors First Round: Bryan Danielson vs. Spanky
This match is from the Best of the American Super Juniors Tournament on April 2nd, 2005. This is a controversial show in the annals of ROH history because of NJPW’s retarded booking of the tournament. I don’t exactly recall why exactly they were booking the show, but they did indeed book it and the whole thing just became a farce with the Dragon Soldier B debacle. But who’s here to drone on about that? It’s fuckin’ Spanky vs. Bryan Danielson!

This show is taking place in the same building that ECW used to run in Asbury Park, NJ. Spanky keeps up an armbar early, despite Danielson rolling through a couple of times. Danielson breaks Spanky’s hold on his arms by simply backing him into the corner, and Spanky gives him a clean break. Spanky doesn’t get much offense until he reverses an Indian Deathlock into a tentative side headlock. A lot of what follows is your usual feeling out process stuff, but Danielson is good at simple hold-trading so it’s rather engaging. Danielson gets sick of stretching Spanky, so he decks him with a mean European uppercut. Spanky boots Danielson out of the ring a couple of times, which pisses Danielson off enough to get him fired up. Spanky fires off a couple of chops onto Dragon’s chest, which earns him a kick to his chest. Danielson then follows that up with a surfboard to a big pop from this mediocre crowd. Spanky comes back with a stiff leg lariat and a back drop. Spanky drives Dragon face-first into the corner pad, and follows up with a pretty tope suicida. Spanky springboards onto Danielson, but Dragon counters to Cattle Mutilation. Spanky gets to the ropes rather quickly, but even the minuscule amount of time in the hold allows for Danielson to target Spanky’s arm. Danielson drops Spanky’s corpse with a flurry of kicks and a European uppercut, transitioning right back into a hammerlock. Spanky looks to buy himself some time with a hurricanrana, but Danielson counters into a butterfly guillotine. A butterfly suplex follows up as Danielson wastes no time in Airplane Spinning Spanky for 37 seconds. Spanky moves out of the way of a graceful diving headbutt and goes up top himself, only to miss a frog splash. SLICED BREAD NUMBER TWO! NEARFALL! FROG SPLASH! NEARFALL! Danielson puts in some kind of half Sharpshooter, and Spanky desperately tries to counter until he finally gets to the ropes. SUPER BACK SUPLEX FROM DANIELSON! Spanky looks for Sliced Bread #2, but Danielson counters. Regalplex gets Danielson the win and the advancement to the second round in 24 minutes. *** They were in total exhibition mode here, which didn’t exactly set the world on fire with heaps of excitement. They wrestled a fun technical match for most of it, but that’s about as far as I can go with any analysis. There wasn’t much to sink your teeth into.

ROH World Title: James Gibson (c) vs. Bryan Danielson
This is from Glory By Honor IV on September 17, 2005. If some of you don’t know who James Gibson is, he is the WWE’s Jamie Noble, one of the WWE’s biggest wasted opportunities. He does work there as a road agent now though, and if you have a guy like James Gibson helping guys put matches together, then I guess it can’t be that big of a waste. Gibson won the title from CM Punk at Redemption at the tail-end of the Summer of Punk. I’ve heard awesome things about this match, and I believe it’s Danielson’s first match in four months for ROH.

Gibson takes control of Dragon’s arm early, and dodges a dropkick. Danielson takes Gibson down and puts on a tentative crossface. Gibson finds his way to the ropes and Danielson gives him a sarcastic clean break. Danielson works for Cattle Mutilation, but Gibson realizes that and bails. Gibson gets a two count with a Northern Lights Suplex, but Danielson doesn’t let Gibson get very comfortable. Gibson counters with a back suplex and drops a Stone Cold elbow for a 2 count. Gibson pulls out a delightfully Southern “I HAVE TILL 5 REFEREE!”, but this notoriously stupid Long Island crowd meets that with apathy. Danielson sends Gibson out to the apron, but GIBSON SUPLEXES HIM TO THE FLOOR! Gibson keeps Danielson down with a running knee off of the apron. Gibson destroys Dragon’s chest with a couple of mean chops and takes control of him as they re-enter the ring. Gibson puts in a mean headscissors while Dragon’s back bends in the tree of woe. Man, James Gibson throws some nasty chops. Danielson starts coming back with some strikes of his own and hits Trouble in Paradise. Yeah, the kick. “But this is ROH so everything has to have a different name! You WWE MARK!” My reply to that? FUCK YOU. Danielson fakes a surfboard and instead stomps Gibson’s knees into the mat. Danielson finally gets the Surfboard on, but Gibson gets to the ropes. Danielson picks Gibson up for an Airplane Spin, for around 30 seconds. Gibson dodges a diving headbutt and nearly gets three with a cradle…GUILLOTINE CHOKE! DANIELSON COUNTERS WITH A RELEASE NORTHERN LIGHTS SUPLEX! Danielson reverses a sunset flip with an Ass Drop and HITS THE DIVING HEADBUTT! TWO COUNT! Gibson and Danielson counter German and Dragon suplexes until Danielson flips Gibson out of the ring and soars on top of him with a tope suicida. Danielson whips Gibson into the crowd and starts working his arm over the metal guardrail. MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE ARM FROM DANIELSON! They trade cradles as Gibson sells the arm, and Danielson maintains control even after a couple of nearfalls. Gibson gets a second wind and counters every attempt at his arm from the American Dragon, but Danielson still proves to be the fresher man. GOGOPLATA…COUNTERED INTO A CLOVERLEAF!! Danielson looks for a Tombstone, but GIBSON COUNTERS INTO ONE OF HIS OWN! DIVING LEG DROP! GUILLOTINE CHOKE! DANIELSON IS UP BUT GIBSON HITS A TORNADO DDT! TIGER DRIVER! NEARFALL! Running knee from Gibson, but DANIELSON DON’T GIVE A FUCK! ROARING ELBOW! DRAGON SUPLEX WITH A BRIDGE! TWO COUNT! CATTLE MUTILATION! GIBSON GETS OUT, BUT TAKES A TIGER SUPLEX! Gibson desperately tries to get out, BUT DANIELSON COUNTERS INTO A CROSSFACE CHICKENWING~! GIBSON TAPS! DANIELSON WINS! We have a new champion in 32 minutes. After the match, Danielson tries to congratulate Gibson for fighting even though he has a WWE contract. Some cocksucker in the crowd calls him a sellout, and Danielson pulls off a sweet ass one liner “If you call what he just did in this ring, then god damn it I’m a sellout too!” Danielson says that the ROH Title represents wrestling freedom and says that as ROH Champ, he will stay in ROH and not go to TNA or WWE. ****1/4 This is probably the most exciting game of chess I’ve ever seen. These two are world class wrestlers and they showed that in spades over the course of half-an-hour. Gibson started off tentative and when he finally got aggressive, that backfired as Danielson singled his arm out and picked him apart to a clean submission. Gibson played such a great babyface in this match and the more you see him in ROH, the more it kind of pisses you off that WWE squandered such an opportunity at a special in-ring talent. Such is wrestling though, and this match was fucking fantastic either way.

ROH Pure And World Title Unification Match: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness
This is from Unified in Liverpool, England on August 12th, 2006. This match will unify the Pure Title (which McGuinness holds) and the World Title (which Danielson holds). It will be held under Pure Wrestling rules, one of the more underrated match types I ever remember seeing.

Nigel gives Dragon a clean break early, and this usual awesome England crowd is PUMPED. Danielson does not give Nigel the same luxury, as he bitch slaps Nigel coming off the ropes. HUGE SLAP from Nigel, and he had some pizzazz behind that one. Nigel gets out of a run-of-the-mill wristlock and whacks Danielson in the back with a kick. Danielson starts to targets Nigel’s arm after dragging him off of the top rope. Nigel debates whether or not to use his first rope break, but he works his way out before he can make a decision. Danielson butterfly suplexes Nigel into a cross armbreaker, which causes Nigel to use his first ropebreaks. Nigel hits a Final Cut and starts to target Danielson’s arm in turn. Nigel decks Bryan with a running European Uppercut, and drops him with another one. Danielson brains Nigel with a mean enzuigiri and fakes a surfboard, taunting the crowd to some sizeable heat. Danielson hits a superplex and a diving headbutt in rapid succession before Danielson locks in Cattle Mutilation, causing Nigel to use his second rope break. Tower of London from Nigel! Nearfall, but Nigel PUTS IN CATTLE MUTILATION! Danielson uses his second rope break as he heads outside. Danielson chokes Nigel with the timekeeper’s table, but Nigel gets in the ring before the ref hits 20. McGuinness ducks a roaring lariat and HITS A LARIAT OF HIS OWN! TWO COUNT! Danielson decks Nigel with a roaring elbow and PUTS IN A CROSSFACE CHICKENWING! Nigel uses his last rope break and Danielson taunts the crowd. Danielson looks for a diving headbutt, but he eats Nigel’s boot instead. What follows is one of the meanest slap exchanges I’ve ever seen. Davey Richards ain’t got shit on this. Nigel crotches Danielson on the rope and HITS A HUGE DIVING LARIAT! Danielson gets his foot on the rope and uses his last rope break, so now the ropes are in play for both guys. CROSSFACE CHICKENWING ON THE TOP ROPE! NIGEL COUNTERS TO THE TOWER OF LONDON! We head to the outside where DANIELSON PULLS NIGEL’S HEAD INTO THE RINGPOST! NIGEL IS BUSTED OPEN HARDWAY! HUGE SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA INTO THE FOURTH ROW! NIGEL GETS IN AT 19! NIGEL MCGUINNESS DOESN’T GIVE A FUCK! BLOODY HEADBUTTS! REBOUND LARIAT OFF OF A HEADBUTT! Holy God, what a match. NEARFALL COUNTERED INTO CATTLE MUTILATION FROM DANIELSON!! HE CAN’T USE THE ROPES! HE COUNTERS BUT DANIELSON HITS TRAPPED ELBOWS! The ref stops the match as Nigel passes out, awarding Bryan Danielson the Pure Title and unifying the World and Pure titles in 26 minutes. ****1/2 Yes, this match is as good as everyone says it is. Yes, Nigel McGuinness rules. Yes, Bryan Danielson is the BEST IN THE MUTHAFUCKIN WORLD. I think what keeps this from five stars is the deflating finish after an insane, dynamic finishing stretch. I know it’s just nitpicking, but a big finish this was not. Everything before that though…whew, it’s a doozy. It’s one of those matches where they didn’t have to rely on nearfalls to get the crowd to go crazy. They used counters and violent moves to portray the story they were telling, and it shows just how good these two are at what they do. What a match.

ROH World Title: Bryan Danielson (c) vs. KENTA
From Glory By Honor V Night 2 on September 16, 2006. I’ve reviewed this match before and gave it five stars…will it hold up?

KENTA feigns a clean break with a bitchslap, and Danielson returns in kind. Danielson goes for KENTA’s shoulder and knees him right in the face for good measure, so KENTA kicks him right in Danielson’s bad shoulder, which was injured against Colt Cabana. KENTA hits Danielson’s shoulder again, which pisses Dragon off enough to fire off some mean left-handed slaps. Danielson drops KENTA with a dropkick, sending the NOAH star out of the ring. Danielson goes out with him, but KENTA goes to work on his shoulder on the floor. KENTA resumes the armwork in the ring AND HITS ONE OF THE MOST VICIOUS SLAPS I HAVE EVER SEEN HOLY FUCK! Danielson comes back with a cravat suplex and a mean back heel kick in the corner. Danielson looks for a surfboard, but his bad arm won’t let him. “You fucked up!”, KNEE STOMP, “I DON’T EVER FUCK UP!” Danielson puts on a Figure Four and uses the ropes for leverage, but KENTA rolls through and gets the ropes. KENTA hits a springboard dropkick for a two count. Danielson stops a Fisherman’s Suplex, but KENTA puts in a cross armbreaker, but Danielson counters to a Single Leg Crab! It’s with Dragon’s bad arm though, so KENTA gets to the ropes with relative ease. Superplex by Danielson! Danielson looks for a Crossface Chickenwing, locks it in, but KENTA gets to the ropes. Diving headbutt from Danielson meets KENTA’s boots hard, but DANIELSON DROPKICKS KENTA IN MID-AIR TO RESPOND! Danielson brains KENTA with a couple of headbutts, and soon after he and KENTA trade German suplexes. ROARING ELBOW FROM DANIELSON! ROARING LARIAT FROM KENTA! We head to the outside, where Danielson suplexes KENTA on the floor! Danielson throws KENTA over the guardrail and HITS A HUGE SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA ON HIM INTO THE THIRD ROW! ROARING ELBOW…COUNTERED INTO A FUJIWARA ARMBAR BY KENTA! Danielson barely gets to the ropes. KENTA cutters Danielson out of mid-air and GOES BACK TO THE FUJIWARA! DANIELSON GETS TO THE ROPES! REGALPLEX BY DANIELSON! NEARFALL! Back Superplex from Danielson, TRANSITIONED INTO CATTLE MUTILATION! KENTA gets the ropes, so Danielson goes up top but KENTA CATCHES HIM IN MID-AIR INTO GO 2 SLEEP!~! ONE, TWO, THR–NO! DANIELSON GETS HIS FOOT ON THE ROPES! That nearfall gets me every time. KENTA hits a couple of Busaiku knees, but DANIELSON REVERSES THE BIG ONE INTO AN O’CONNOR ROLL! NEARFALL! ELBOWS FROM DANIELSON! KENTA POWERS UP! CATTLE MUTILATION COUNTERED INTO A PIN! NEARFALL! TIGER SUPLEX! CATTLE MUTILATION! ELBOWS! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! KENTA TAPS! Danielson retains his title in 32 minutes. ***** When I reviewed this a few months ago, I boldly said that I considered this the best match ROH ever put on. I’m not sure that’s true anymore (considering that I’ve seen Elgin/Steen & the Supercard of Honor 6-Man more than once since then) but nevertheless, it’s still a phenomenal match. The story of Danielson’s arm carried the match, as Danielson had to power through it in order to win the match, even though it probably hurt him a lot more in the long run. His persistence helped him win, but at what cost? KENTA used his usual repetoire of moves, but he tried to modify them so they connected with Bryan’s bad shoulder. It’s those little things that make a good match into a great match, and a great match into a classic. This was a classic, pure and simple. It shows why so many wrestling fans have long considered Bryan Danielson to be the Best in the World. Yeah, CM Punk is great, but he’s still not Bryan fucking Danielson.

ROH World Title: Takeshi Morishima (c) vs. Bryan Danielson
This match–from Manhattan Mayhem II on August 25, 2007–was voted the Wrestling Observer Match of the Year for 2007 and is infamous for being the match where ‘Shima busted Danielson’s retina, which Danielson theorizes that years of sneezing with his eyes open (he can actually do it, watch Wrestling Road Diaries) weakened his retina so much that Morishima busted it with a punch.

Danielson opens with a couple of leg kicks to try and ground Morishima early. Morishima catches Dragon momentarily and clubs him a bit, but Danielson uses his speed to get away and work with more kicks to the thigh. Danielson backs Morishima up in the corner and goes to work with more leg kicks and stiff forearms. Morishima gets pissed and clubs away at Bryan in the corner, and the last punch of the barrage busts Dragon’s retina. Morishima is just being a dick after injuring Danielson, stomping his face in and hitting a mean Yakuza Kick. Morishima chucks Danielson out of the ring and hits an Ole Kick of all things. Danielson avoids Morishima’s ass and shoves him over the guardrail, and TAKES HIM OUT WITH A SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA IN THE THIRD ROW! He hit that better with a fucked eye than most guys do with 20/20 vision. MORISHIMA NO-SELLS A MISSILE DROPKICK! KIP UP BY DANIELSON! HUGE LARIAT FROM MORISHIMA! Huge forearm to the eye from the champ, but Danielson dodges a Butt Butt and PUTS AN ACHILLES LOCK ON! Morishima powers out and spikes Danielson with a German, and he gets 2 on a Urnagi. Danielson swats Morishima out of mid-air during a missile dropkick and goes back after Morishima’s knee! Morishima gets out and nails a Lou Thesz Press, but DANIELSON ROLLS THROUGH INTO A SINGLE LEG CRAB! Morishima knocks Danielson down with a boot, but HE SMALL PACKAGES MORISHIMA! KICK OUT! SCHOOLBOY! KICKOUT AGAIN! ASS SPLASH BY MORISHIMA! GERMAN SUPLEX FROM DANIELSON! TWO COUNT! TRAPPED ELBOWS! Morishima tries to power up but his leg gives way! STOMPS TO THE FACE BY DANIELSON! CATTLE MUTILATION!!! Morishima gets out so Danielson looks for a back Superplex, but MORISHIMA TWISTS OVER AND FALLS ON DANIELSON IN MID-AIR! KICK FROM MORISHIMA BUT DANIELSON DON’T GIVE A FUCK! HUGE LARIAT FROM SHIMA! NEARFALL! BACKDROP DRIVER OF DEATH! Morishima retains his title in a wild 20 minutes. ****1/2 Holy hell, this match was awesome. What’s even better about it is that even though Danielson got his eye busted, they still stuck with a story of the quicker Danielson using his speed to try and outwork the much larger Morishima. Danielson used a lot of leg kicks and whatnot to try and break the champion, but the power that Morishima possessed was simply too much for the American Dragon. It’s such a simple story, but it was worked to perfection here. Add on some awesome NOAH-esque exchanges down the stretch and you have an absolutely phenomenal bout to add to Danielson’s resume.

Bryan Danielson vs. Tyler Black
This match is from Breakout on January 25th, 2008. This show is called Breakout because of Tyler Black’s performance in the match. Boy, they fucked his push up big time didn’t they? My personal favorite Tyler Black match is either his 30-Minute Iron Man with Dean Ambrose in FCW or his classic with Davey Richards at Death Before Dishonor VIII two years ago. That Ambrose match is only hampered by a terrible crowd. Other than that, it’s a legit MOTYC for 2012. I’m rambling, but fuck that FCW crowd.

Black pie faces Danielson after denying a handshake, so Danielson goes to work with his usual technical stuff. Black backs Dragon into the corner and bitchslaps him and keeps doing it after Danielson misses a slap of his own. You just fucked up, Tyler. Danielson throws Black into the corner and UNLEASHES A BARRAGE OF SLAPS! You do NOT fuck with the American Dragon. Danielson counters a leapfrog in mid air into a Surfboard position, but Tyler won’t give up his arms. Danielson finally gets him up after a valiant fight and takes control of Black from there. Danielson is pissed, as he bitchslaps Black numerous times to pay him back for his misdoings. Slingshot suplex gets two for Dragon, and Danielson transitions into a rear chinlock. Danielson goes to hit the ropes, but Tyler pushes Dragon out and snap suplexes him on the floor! Danielson tries to fight back, but Black whips him hard into the guardrail to stop it. Black drags Danielson back into the ring with him and works Dragon over in the corner. Black gets too cocky a few times, slapping the American Dragon. YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH BRYAN DANIELSON YOU LONG HAIRED DOOFUS. Danielson gets tired of all that shit and decks Black with several European uppercuts to send him to the mat. Dragon backflips off of the top turnbuckle like he usually does and missile dropkicks Black out of the ring, and he NAILS A PICTURE PERFECT TOPE SUICIDA! They fight on the apron until Black SUPLEXES Danielson to the floor. HUGE BACKFLIP SENTON OUT OF THE RING! Oh hey, look, it’s Dave Prazak being a monotone dipshit like usual. Although I wouldn’t expect the guy who shook off Dan Maff going through a barbed wire board to be excited over a cool flip. Yes, I still hold a grudge over that butthole. The Wall of Death connects for Black, but he only gets a 2 count. The two trade nearfalls and do the double clothesline spot to big applause from the Dayton crowd. Danielson puts in Cattle Mutilation after a slight struggle! Tyler gets up and tries to ram Danielson into the corner, so Danielson puts him on the top rope and hits a back superplex! Trapped elbows from Danielson, but a cover only gets 2. Cattle Mutilation! Black powers out again and BRAINS DANIELSON WITH AN ENZUIGIRI! PAROXYSM! TWO COUNT! HUGE PHOENIX SPLASH! HE CONNECTS BUT DANIELSON REVERSES INTO A SMALL PACKAGE FOR THREE! Danielson picks up a lucky win in 23 minutes. **** I’ve seen people rate this match close to five stars and while this isn’t even close to that good, it’s still a perfectly good match to start Black’s push to stardom. The crowd wasn’t as hot as I would have liked them to be though, as a NYC crowd could have brought this up to MOTY levels. That’s nitpicking though, as this was about as good a match as you could have with a guy as young as Tyler Black was. Good stuff to close the disc on, but I REALLY wish they closed it out with Danielson’s Fight Without Honor against Morishima. Such is life, I guess.

The 411: Oh come on, look at the match listing. Do anything in your power to get this DVD, man. It's one of the best single discs ever assembled.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.5   [  Amazing ]  legend

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