RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S ROH DVD REVIEW SERIES: "Rise of Generation Next" - in-depth look at new ROH release covering early stages of Aries & Shelley & Strong & Evans faction
Nov 14, 2012 - 3:21:10 PM
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By Sean Radican, Torch columnist
RADICAN’S ROH DVD REVIEW SERIES
“THE RISE OF GENERATION NEXT”
BY SEAN RADICAN, TORCH COLUMNIST
Ring of Honor’s “The Rise of Generation Next" chronicles the birth of the standout heel faction in 2004 to the climax of their feud with The Embassy at Steel Cage Warfare at the end of 2005. ROH needed a shot in the arm in 2004 after the Feinstein incident had stripped them the ability to use TNA contracted talent, including mainstays like A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels.
Although Samoa Joe would be a huge part in helping keep ROH alive with his epic run with the World title, the debut of Alex Shelley, Roderick Strong, Austin Aries, and Jack Evans as a faction got people talking.
Shelley, Strong, Aries, and Evans had limited exposure in ROH before they debuted on “Generation Next” May of 2004. None of them were established, but when they crashed “Generation Next” and put an end to what was supposed to be a one night tournament of matches between up-and-coming talents where fans would vote on their favorite performers, people began to buzz.
The DVD does a good job of capturing the impact Generation Next made when they debuted. Strong & Aries & Evans vs. Special K got the crowd buzzing, especially when they hit their triple finish with leader Alex Shelley standing at ringside. Shelley’s heel mic work combined with Aries technical ability, Strong’s power, and Evans high-flying made for an exciting combination as all four men promised to take the spots of others in ROH. Eventually Generation Next took on the Briscoes & John Walters & Jimmy Rave in a fantastic 8 Man Tag match that set the crowd on fire.
Unfortunately, Generation Next feuded with names like Walters, Stryker, and Special K after debuting and the first disc focuses on several of those matches. It wasn’t very excited to relive those matches from the period shortly after they debuted. Another thing missing is the rise of Aries as a singles competitor and his performance against Bryan Danielson at Survival of the Fittest and Testing the Limit. At that time, it was clear Aries had a rocket strapped to his proverbial backside, but there was still more to Generation Next than just Aries.
Another feud covered is Generation Next vs. Ricky Steamboat. They attacked Steamboat at “ROH Reborn: Completion.” C.M. Punk ended up turning face after feuding with Steamboat and made the save, which set in motion a number of singles and tag matches. The matches included from that feud aren’t too exciting and it’s puzzling why they were used. Shelley began feuding with Jimmy Jacobs during this period, but that is barely touched on this set.
Another thing missing from this disc is some of the really good matches featuring the team of Evans & Strong, which formed a great tag team given Strong’s power and Evans’s high-flying ability. Colt Cabana & Jimmy Jacobs vs. Roderick Strong & Jack Evans from “All Star Extravaganza II” and Strong & Evans challenging Ricky Reyes & Rocky Romero for the ROH Tag Team Titles from “Weekend of Thunder: Night 1” would have made great additions to disc 1.
Despite those gripes, disc one closes with a very good Aries & Strong vs. Punk & Steel match from “Weekend of Thunder: Night 2” that is a nice preview of their run as a top tag team in 2006.
The DVD does chronicle Aries winning the ROH World Title from Samoa Joe at “Final Battle 2004” with highlight clips and also touches on Aries ejecting Shelley from Generation Next. Aries went on to have a solid reign with the ROH World Title during the first half of 2005 before dropping the strap to C.M. Punk. Aries’s only title defense included is from Manhattan Mayhem when he faced Alex Shelley in an excellent match in front of a red hot crowd.
Meanwhile Shelley was a man without friends during the first half of 2005, as he tried to find some friends to help him take on Generation Next, who were still working as a heel faction. Including some of his backstage skits from this period would have been a good addition, as nobody wanted to help him out.
Roderick Strong also became a player as a singles wrestler in 2005, but that isn’t touched on much. During the first half of the year, Strong had some really good matches against the likes of A.J. Styles at “Fate of an Angel” and James Gibson at “Unforgettable.”
The real strength of this release is how well it chronicles the Generation Next vs. Embassy Feud. That saw Generation Next work their first high-profile feud as faces. Prince Nana had already recruited Jimmy Rave as the crown jewel of the Embassy and Rave got over as a heel in that role. Shelley ended up cutting a promo at “The Homecoming” in July saying he was joining the Embassy and it gives viewers another glimpse of his promo ability and how well he works as a heel.
With Jack Evans out of action, Generation Next brought in Matt Sydal as the new high-flyer in the group to feud with the Embassy and although he didn’t have the charisma that Evans had, he certainly was an exciting performer in the ring.
The four matches from the Generation Next-Embassy feud are well-worth checking out if you’ve never seen them before. Nana was at his peak here as a chicken s—t heel and he brought in Abyss to compliment the duo of Shelley and Rave. The Embassy continually got the best of Generation Next and they built a Steel Cage Warfare match at “Steel Cage Warfare.”
The Steel Cage Warfare match featured Aries & Strong & Sydal & Evans vs. Rave & Nana & Abyss & Shelley. It was contested under elimination rules with the Embassy having a numbers advantage throughout the match.
The match tied together all of the different aspects of the storyline. Watching it again, there are some really incredible spots in the match and it was so well put together by former ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky. Evans coming into the match last for Generation Next when they looked to be down and out provided some jaw-dropping spots, including Evans running into the cage and hitting a double moonsault off the top to the floor to wipe out the Embassy.
Overall score: (8.5) – While the first disc doesn’t feature a lot of great action, disc number 2 features some really great matches covering the development of Generation Next during their early stages. It’s a blast to see Aries defend the ROH World Title against Shelley in front of a red hot crowd in Manhattan.
If you’ve never seen the Generation Next vs. Embassy feud, this DVD is a must buy. The feud featured some red hot multi-man tag matches in front of some of the better ROH crowds in 2005. Shelley, Aries, Evans, Sydal, and Strong all made a name for themselves in the business and the formation of the Generation Next stable was a launching point for all of them.
You can purchase this release at ROHWrestling.com
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