Throughout the 2000s Ring of Honor was able to hang its hat on their fantastic tag team division, the crown jewel being the Kings of Wrestling–the team of Chris Hero, who recently made his return to WWE’s NXT, and Claudio Castagnoli, who competes in the WWE as Cesaro. The duo were royalty from their beginnings almost always having the match of the night. Both wrestlers were so unique and so skilled that their partnership became one of the best parts of every ROH show during their time together. When I first started watching wrestling, the Kings were my favorite. They set the standard for tag team wrestling. I have always felt that the Kings were the greatest tag team in ROH history and this DVD compilation only furthers my claim. This DVD focuses from their reunion at Final Battle 2009 until their final match on ROH television in 2011.
Final Battle 2009
The Briscoe Brothers had just defeated the American Wolves for the ROH World Tag Team Titles, when Claudio Castagnoli hit the ring to stare down the new champs. Chris Hero then emerges from the crowd to deliver an elbow and to pose with his former Kings of Wrestling tag team partner. This signified their reunion to the ROH crowd. This was a short clip to start off the DVD and I am happy they included it. Hearing such a passionate crowd at a Ring of Honor show highlights how significant the promotion used to be. The crowd immediately started a “Kings of Wrestling” chant filled with excitement to see these two fantastic performers to work together again.
Kings of Wrestling w/Shane Hagadorn vs. The Briscoe Brothers (c) for the ROH Tag Team Championships (The Big Bang! 4/3/10)
Kings of Wrestling def. The Briscoe Brothers***
The match opens with some fantastic chain wrestling sequences, every move in this match looks fantastic, everything is so smooth and physical. This match is a very good example of the ROH workrate focused style, every move and strike is done with a purpose. The pace of the match is very good, it is just fast enough to keep you excited, but also takes the time to let the big spots land and give the teams a rest. The Kings show laser-like focus during this match, they really give the feel of world class warriors in the ring. a long part of the match is spent building to a dull Jay hot tag. The Kings really outshine the Briscoes in this match, KOW is in another class compared to them. This match falls victim to the “too many near-falls” curse, there were many times when the match could have ended and I would have been happy but it continued for a bit too long. Finally Chris Hero pulls out the lucky elbow pad and the Kings become the new ROH tag team champions. Immediately after the match Jay begins to vomit at ringside, that’s the opposite of how I feel about this match, it wasn’t perfect but certainly was a fine example of what the Kings are capable of.
Kings of Wrestling w/Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Rey (c) vs The Motor City Machine Guns For the ROH World Tag Team Championships(Supercard of Honor V 5/8/10)
Kings of Wrestling def. The Motor City Machine Guns***1/2
This match is the first appearance of Sara Del Rey as the “Queen of Wrestling”, Sara is probably my favorite women’s wrestler of all-time and she is a very good addition to the Kings as a manager and as a partner. The Motor City Machine Guns are a perfect foil for the Kings. The clash of styles really works in this match, as the Guns do a great job of selling for the bigger and stronger Kings, while the Kings do well getting frustrated by the faster pace of Chris Sabin and Alex Shelly. There is a loud “F**K TNA” chant about five minutes into this match, as is standard with matches featuring former X-Division stars in ROH. The crowd is on fire from bell to bell, and both teams are terrific of playing off of their excitement, this match has a wonderful energy. Sabin almost falls neck first to the mat and was “saved” by a Claudio uppercut, all of the big spots were wild in this match. The finish is a giant slap in the face, just before Hero can hit Shelly with the loaded elbow, the Jean Capris claded Briscoes run out and cause a DQ finish. Jay eventually hits Sara with the Jay Driller. The crowd is very angry at this and so am I. Even the poor finish could not completely sour this match, as two of the best tag teams in ROH’s history put on a perfectly paced spectacle.
ROH on HDNet #61
A quick break from a match, a segment from ROH’s TV show at the time shows Chris Hero berating the second most famous “Papa” in pro wrestling, Papa Briscoe. Hero has the most fire roast of 2010 when he calls Papa Briscoe the “Proud Patriarch of the missing chromosome clan, known as ‘dem Briscoes”. Eventually Papa Briscoe jumps the barricade and eats a stiff Chris Hero elbow, The Briscoes run out and the Kings retreat. This is a cool segment, I forget that Hero is a very good promo, and it really makes me miss the ROH on HDNet stage.
Kings of Wrestling (c) vs The Briscoes NO DQ For the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championships (Death Before Dishonor VIII 6/18/10)
Kings of Wrestling def. The Briscoes****
This match takes place in my hometown of Toronto, I actually could have gone to this show but I had a football game that day. The match was delayed via the Briscoes being stopped at the Border. The crowd has major disdain for the Kings, loud boos and at one point a sprite bottle gets thrown into the ring. Suddenly the Briscoes run through the crowd and into the ring and a streamer laced brawl begins. The No DQ stipulation allows both teams to exercise their hatred for one another. Mark eventually turns into a faucet of blood and the forehead becomes an immediate focus for the Kings. At this point in their rivalry both teams have great chemistry, the storytelling of two brothers defending their family honor is a tremendous backdrop for the vicious motivations of the Briscoes. The Kings win this bloody war with the Big swing/Dropkick combo. A very good intense brawl with both teams looking great.
Kings of Wrestling & Sara Del Rey vs The Briscoes & The Amazing Kong (Hate: Chapter II 7/23/10)
Amazing Kong & The Briscoes def. Sara Del Rey & The Kings of Wrestling**3/4
This intergender six person match sees Sara Del Rey joining The Kings of Wrestling as The Amazing Kong joins forces with The Briscoes. This match brings two rivalries together, Briscoes versus The Kings, and Del Rey versus Kong. Kong and Del Rey are perfect additions to the match as they are so skilled that it actually improves on the Kings/Briscoes match up. Kong is so good here, she does more than hold her own in this match she excels. It starts off with a very good sequence of brawling on the outside, usually brawling in multi-man matches is just time filled but this time it just seemed a little bit better. Del Rey is very fluid with all of her movements here, she is very comfortable in her role in this match. The Kings break out some very creative triple teams, but it feels as if the Briscoes are taking the heat forever. Once Kong steps in the match starts to pick up, she is the spark plug here for sure. The match ends when Jay rolls up Hero, I felt this had a lot of potential but was filled with a lot of filler. Kong is definitely the MVP here, a great showcase of what she is capable of.
The Kings of Wrestling w/Sara Del Rey & Shane Hagadorn (c) vs. Generation Me For the ROH Tag Team Championship (Salvation 7/24/10)
The Kings of Wrestling def. Generation Me***3/4
This match was similar to the one against the Machine Guns, as the much stronger Kings attempted to keep the Generation Me grounded. The underlying story of this match was the Kings underestimating the much younger team. It is very strange watching Max and Jeremy work underdog babyface, it does not feel right but they do an alright job in this spot. This match feels like an early season college football game, the Kings are so dominant with Gen Me only getting short moments of offense in. There are several creative tag spots in this match, like Max tagging Jeremy while he is in the big swing. This is a decent match with both teams finding creative ways to get their big spots in, two skilled teams getting the job done.
The Kings of Wrestling (c) vs The Briscoes vs. The All Night Express vs. The Dark City Fight Club Ultimate Endurance for the ROH Tag Team Championship (Tag Wars 2010 8/28/10)
This match is loaded with a lot of interesting characters. The All Night Express, yeah that tag team you hate right now of Rhett Titus and Kenny King, they were over at one point and were formidable challengers. The Dark City Fight Club, the team you probably forgot existed until reading this of Jon Davis and Kory Chavis, they also were in this match for some reason. Of course the Briscoes continuing their feud also stand in the way of The Kings retaining their titles. An ultimate endurance match is an elimination fatal-four-way tag match with a new set of rules for each fall. The first fall is a straight up pinfall or submission victory, it is a lot of basic filler with teams taking turns putting heat on each other. A pretty funny comedy spot happens when both Kings get tagged in the match and they run around the ring trying to tag out. Like I said, a lot of filler. Finally The All Night Express pin Jon Davis and the second fall will be contested under Texas Tornado rules. Business finally starts to pick up as all three teams begin a fast paced brawl filled with dives. Jay starts bleeding profusely, Jay’s performance while bleeding is underrated. Kenny King is a fantastic athlete, it’s a shame TNA or ROH couldn’t find a spot for him as a singles wrestler. The All Night Express are eliminated by a Briscoes doomsday device, the final fall is an extreme rules match. It lasts about 10 seconds as Hero immediately hits Jay with the loaded elbow and the Kings retain. A solid match, everybody did their job very well it was perfectly timed as well, a very good showing by all four teams.
The Kings of Wrestling vs. Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin (Glory by Honor IX 9/11/10)
The Kings of Wrestling def. Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin****
The World’s Greatest Tag Team of Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin make their ROH debut at the Hammerstein Ballroom to take on the Kings in a non-title match. The Kings get a live entrance from the guy who raps their theme song, I like that song but with 2010 ROH sound equipment it does not sound too great. Haas and Benjamin are probably the only two who match up with The Kings in terms of in-ring ability. This is a hard hitting match, Hero looks like a monster here, Hero runs through Haas like he’s nothing so many times incredible explosiveness from him. Haas puts on one of the best performances of his life, he sells everything so well you really feel the wear and tear he experiences in this match. All four men have incredible chemistry, these are two of the finest tag teams in the world at this time and the true scope of their abilities is on display perfectly. The match ends after the ref missed Claudio tapping to the Haas of Pain and Charlie eats a loaded elbow for the Kings victory. This dream match live up to the hype, everything was so good here, nothing missed the crowd was on fire and both teams looked like absolute stars.
The Kings of Wrestling (c) vs. Davey Richards & Christopher Daniels for the ROH Tag Team Championship (Allied Forces 10/15/10)
The Kings of Wrestling def. Davey Richards and Christopher Daniels**
The unlikely partners of Davey Richards and Christopher Daniels pair up to take on The Kings for their titles. Richards and Daniels at the time were in a rivalry to see who can one up to other. Daniels is so good he makes a hip toss look innovative. This isn’t Richards finest performance, but for the most part his moves look good. I wasn’t a big fan of two challengers who have never teamed before dominating the champs for so long. This match is very boring, very little happens. The Kings win with their KRS1, the first time their tag finish works on this whole DVD. Bland match with a pretty average final five minutes, certainly not the best match the Kings had been in.
The Kings of Wrestling (c) w/Sara Del Rey & Shane Hagadorn vs. The Briscoes for the ROH Tag Team Championship (ROH on HDNet #79)
The Kings of Wrestling def. The Briscoes***
Once again the Briscoes and The Kings meet in a championship match. This is your standard TV main event, pretty standard format that is well executed by both teams. The Kings do well gaining working the crowd in this match, but the Briscoes look like the badasses here. Del Rey has one of the best hissy fits for being thrown out of a match I have ever seen, lots of jumping and even tears. Both Jay and Mark do a great job while in control of this match, something about the aggression they display makes this seem different. When the Kings take over it is a different story, in this match they work a lot slower. All of their movements are much more precise and calculated, the way they can switch styles throughout this collection of matches is extremely impressive. The Kings win after a Shane Hagadorn low blow. After the match Papa Briscoe attacks Hagadorn and the Briscoe clan clears the ring. Solid match with nothing particularly bad. Both teams did their jobs and did their jobs well.
The Kings of Wrestling w/Shane Hagadorn & Sara Del Rey (c) vs. The American Wolves for the ROH Tag Team Championship (Tag Title Classic II 12/17/10)
The Kings of Wrestling def. The American Wolves***3/4
Davey Richards makes his second appearance on this DVD, first with his usual tag team partner Eddie Edwards. This match has an interesting dynamic as Hagadorn was once the manager for The American Wolves. The Wolves are crazy over tonight and the crowd hates The Kings and Shane. They love Sara though, rightfully so. There is something special about Davey when he is teaming with Eddie, his performance is so much better and his ideas are less dumb too. Every time I have seen Claudio do a headlock on this DVD it has stood out as more than a rest hold, he has a way to make that move look like a finisher. Richards is the human incarnation of Scrappy Doo, he does a lot of yelling and running but rarely does anything at all. Claudio has a fun time in this match just throwing Davey around like he’s nothing, he can be seen laughing a lot during this match. Hero is throwing the best elbows of the life in this match, as three consecutive death elbows finishes off Eddie. A good match by both teams, as well as an extremely solid performance by both teams.
The Kings of Wrestling & Shane Hagadorn w/Sara Del Rey vs. The Briscoes and Papa Briscoe (Final Battle 2010 12/18/10)
The Briscoes def. The Kings of Wrestling*3/4
It has been a full year since The Kings reunited, to celebrate they have to face the Briscoe clan in a non-title six man tag team match. Shane Hagadorn has to compete in this as well. The New York crowd does not like The Briscoes too much, at the time this was seen as a silly use of the Kings for the biggest show of the year. This promo starts with Papa Briscoe calling out “pecker-head” or Hagadorn to step in with him toe-to-toe, he is actually solid on the mic. It really makes this match to hear the Hammerstein hate every movement of The Briscoes, Claudio is treated like a God and he plays off it perfectly. Papa Briscoe kissed Sara Del Rey and it was awful, the crowd got super awkward during the spot, she then gets ejected and once again the crowd hates it. There is a small “Papa Briscoe” chant after this unfortunately. Papa Briscoe took some pretty solid bumps here including a brutal elbow and uppercut, he also does a pretty good stunner on Claudio. The Briscoes win with the doomsday on Hagadorn with Papa Briscoe doing the clothesline. I didn’t like this match when it happened, and I still don’t. It was way too silly for a Final Battle PPV. It offered very little comeuppance for the Kings as that was the end of the Briscoe feud, and they still have their titles!
The Kings of Wrestling (c) vs. The All Night Express for the ROH Tag Team Championship (9th Anniversary Show 2/26/11)
The Kings of Wrestling def. The All Night Express****
Since we last saw the All Night Express, Titus and King have become a much more serious babyface tag team. They no longer wear bowties and hand out hotel room keys, instead they have the most “meh” match on the card every night guaranteed. ANX has some fantastic double team sequences, they give the appearance as very formidable challengers. Rhett Titus looks like Chris Hero if Hero didn’t work out. Kenny King is such a natural in the ring, he showcases his true talent for pro wrestling throughout the whole match. Rhett sells for the Kings really well here, it’s another example of the Kings looking like the much more skilled team. Claudio spends a lot of time angry at the Chicago crowd for chanting “hey!” at him with his every movement, it’s hard to think anybody ever said he doesn’t have natural charisma. ANX does such a good job in this match, the pain they experience at the hand of the expert champions is felt from bell-to-bell. Kenny King did a shooting star press and the crowd was stunned silent, both teams captivated their audience it greatly enhances this match. The finish comes when Hero hits Kings with the loaded elbow while King held Claudio in a fallaway slam position. Kings retain in one of their best matches, both teams did everything they needed and more. Great timing, fantastic action, and a creative finish.
The Kings of Wrestling (c) vs Wrestling Greatest Tag Team For the ROH Tag Team Championship (Honor Takes Center Stage Night 1 4/1/11)
World's Greatest Tag Team def. The Kings of Wrestlingn/a
For some reason this is only a short clip of this match. The rematch between The Kings and Haas and Benjamin. From what is shown the crowd is absolutely on fire, there is even a loud “Haas!” and “Haas of Pain” chant to my surprise. Claudio taps out to the Haas of Pain and new ROH Tag Champions are crowned. I am not going to judge this match as I didn’t see all of it, but the title change ends a year long run by the Kings and arguably one of the best in ROH history. The Kings always represented themselves as champions, I wish they spent less time feuding with the Briscoes, but every match they had during their reign was a match of the night and definitely something to go back and watch.
The Kings of Wrestling vs. Future Shock (Honor Takes Center Stage Night 2) (4/2/11)
The Kings of Wrestling def. Future Shock***1/2
A young Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly take on The Kings less than 24 hours after losing their ROH Tag Team Championships. This match has a great dynamic of an angry Kings wanting to murder the two young punks that stand across from them. The Kings seem angry the whole match, I actually feel bad for Cole and O’Reilly watching both of them get clobbered by two pissed off Kings. This match makes me sad knowing that ROH dragged their feet on O’Reilly as their champ for two whole years when he was ready, only to lose it in a month because he didn’t resign. That being said, both members of Future Shock show so much brilliance during this match, you can really see the raw talent both wrestlers have its no surprise they both became major players wherever they go. Babyface Cole is so awkward to see after watching him be the most dastardly heel in wrestling the past few years. The strikes in this match are phenomenal, Cole’s superkicks look deadly and Hero’s elbows look great with Kyle and Cole selling for him. The Kings win, and gain some momentum back after a double boot to Kyle O’Reilly. Future Shock looked great here, The Kings are a great matchup for them. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced sprint filled with some awesome spots.
The Kings of Wrestling w/Shane Hagadorn & Sara Del Rey vs. The American Wolves (Revolution: USA 5/6/11)
The Kings of Wrestling def. The American Wolves***3/4
This match took place on my dad’s birthday, so Happy Birthday Dad. Similar dynamic to the Future Shock match, The Kings are angry and they are going to kill because of it. The Kings come out like a house of fire quickly with elbows and uppercuts on then ROH world champion Eddie Edwards. Davey is wearing the worst T-shirt I have ever seen that says “Wolf By Nature” on it, I am disgusted. Another great example of the ROH workrate style, both teams doing a lot of moves in fast order but it works. Everything is done with a purpose not just to do the move, workrate isn’t everything but it can help the match a lot. The Wolves, despite being a tag team for years aren’t wearing matching gear so already I hope they lose. Chris Hero does Roman Reigns’ drive by kick to Eddie Edwards in this match so make your own joke there. Claudio does the UFO to Davey for well over thirty seconds, he just loves throwing this little man around. Hero and Edwards are building to a title match so they have a lot of time with each other and it is fantastic. They both have such a good feel for one another all of their sequences are extremely impressive to watch. Hero pins Eddie after an accidental Richards knee and a death blow. Very good match, both teams are so good together, almost non stop acting from bell to bell, just a good exciting tag team match.
The Kings of Wrestling w/Sara Del Rey and Shane Hagadorn vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (c) for the ROH Tag Team Championship (ROH Wrestling on SBG #1)
Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team def The Kings of Wrestling**
The final match of this DVD collection is also the final time The Kings of Wrestling would team together in a televised match. The first ever edition of ROH on Sinclair Broadcasting is a rematch for the Tag Team Championships. Funniest part of this match is that the production values have barely changed from the first episode to now. Nigel Mcguiness’ sunglasses are extremely distracted at ringside. This is very slow, not a lot of action it is about your average slow TV tag match. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team win with Wrestling’s Greatest Finisher. This match was nothing, nothing of worth happened here. The match started and ended, nothing good happened but nothing bad happened I guess.
The Kings of Wrestling brought an aura of prestige to every match they competed in. The ring was their kingdom, they ruled with an iron first. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli were two world class wrestlers to create THE world class tag team. During their run together, no team captivated audiences and had as many great matches as them. Any tag team that had the pleasure of being able to compete against The Kings had an opportunity to have a match of the night, The Kings were consistent greatness, and I hope they have a chance to rule together again. I would highly recommend this DVD collection to any fan of Claudio, Hero, or anybody who appreciates quality tag team wrestling. Regardless of how good the match is, Hero and Castagnoli’s performance will always reign supreme.