Eddie Edwards: Road to the Triple Crown
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
For those following the indy scene, Davey Richards is at the top of the list of current greats. But his partner for so many years, and also one of his toughest opponents, is fellow American Wolf, Eddie Edwards.
While Richards currently holds the ROH World Championship, his partner held it first. While Richards is notable for also holding half the Junior Tag Team Championships of New Japan, his partner gained fame from seizing the ROH TV Title (and beating none other than Davey Richards for that belt). Both are obviously responsible for some great Tag Team matches in ROH, especially in regards to the Ring of Honor Tag Team belts, and that division is the most stacked in the business.
As great as Davey Richards is, Eddie Edwards has mostly been there, done that or been there in the heated battles, or done so at a comparative level.
Edwards was already working in Pro Wrestling NOAH before he debuted in ROH. Edwards was already touted as “Die Hard”, as a top notch wrestler, as a future prospect and as someone destined for greatness.
Watching twenty of his most significant matches only reinforces the underlying greatness of the man.
Furthering the comparison between Richards and Edwards: Eddie has a little less intensity (his is a more laid back attitude, but his reputation, his moniker, is more of endurance than tenacity, although he lacks only in that quality in comparison to the current ROH Champion!); Eddie is a little taller, but a little softer; Eddie is equally creative, adept at both submissions and high flying, and confident in the ring.
A career retrospective of Eddie Edwards is neither premature nor lacking in great examples of his work.
From his debut in ROH, when he was sporting dreadlocks and challenging former ROH Champion (and awesome talent) Austin Aries, to his greatest accomplishment – defeating Roderick Strong for the ROH World Title, there are significant qualities, whether tangible or intangible, that establish Eddie Edwards as a player in the game of professional wrestling.
From that debut, it was obvious that this man had the confidence, the ring presence and the talent to hang with a guy (Aries) that exudes all those qualities in spades. While the result could hardly be called positive, the impact was more important. The commentary cemented the perception that Edwards was making a first showing, but by doing so against the top of the food chain in ROH, he was making a statement that he was there to stay.
Three years later, that statement rings true.
Commentary on 20 matches is not something I want to tackle, but Edwards certainly deserves the review. But I’ll defer to writing niceties and try to keep this review under wraps, yet containing the talent of an Eddie Edwards in words and phrases is nearly impossible, which is why I recommend this compilation for fans who want to see not just the future, but the present, of the sport.
There’s a bittersweet (and sour) presence in the second match, with the alignment of Edwards with the late, great Larry Sweeney, and the establishment of the Superagent as a maker of names, and a man who helped put Eddie Edwards’ name on the marquee.
The images in those early matches are certainly interesting: Edwards with dreadlocks, while his current look is clean-cut, an rather out-of-place with his mostly villainous bent. Even his Vulture Squad opponent, in the match where he associated with Sweet-n-Sour Inc, was a bit jarring: Jigsaw without a mask?!?
How does CHIKARA handle that one?
The underlying efforts are all about Double E, Die Hard, ½ of the American Wolves, Champion (TV, ROH World, Tag Team) and all-around experienced and top notch talent of the American Indy Scene, as well as many Japanese tours…. Eddie Edwards.
From street fights to technical expertise, from the backpack chinbreaker to the 2K1 bomb, from the submissions skills to the ‘never say die’ efforts, it’s all in there. As are the top notch challengers, beginning with the aforementioned Davey Richards, and including powerhouses like Michael Elgin, Erick Stevens and Roderick Strong; tracing through awesome talents like Aries, Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels; and featuring the future of the sport in Tyler Black (aka Seth Rollins) and Kenny King.
And of course, the ROH Stalwarts are there, Kevin Steen and El Generico, Colt Cabana, The Necro Butcher, and the now returned Young Bucks.
But how does one describe the essence of Eddie Edwards?
Tag Team Champion, TV Champion, World Titlist: Edwards achieved the Triple Crown of ROH, and while that Triple Crown is not exactly the same as the famed Triple Crown of All Japan Wrestling, there’s an accomplishment of notoriety involved, an establishment of greatness, a legacy of excellence that is well deserved.
Edwards has toiled in the shadow of his more readily acknowledged tag partner, Davey Richards, and thus his achievements are almost invariably understated.
And yet, watching his “Best of” matches, there’s no doubt that his talent is anything but understated.
“Resilient” is the world that jumps out from the back cover of this DVD. Edwards has been the ‘other guy’ for so long, and yet he’s currently challenging for the top gold in ROH, and in many similar storylines, the ‘other guy’ gets a short mention, a perception of second-best, a sense of being thrust into the picture just because, just because.
Here, that’s anything but the case.
Eddie Edwards has had the benefits of associations throughout his career, if we pay heed to storylines and take actions in the ring at face-value. Sure, he gained victories from distractions, from the knock-out power of Chris Hero, from the tactics of Larry Sweeney, from the influence of Davey Richards.
But in the ring, on his own, and through his own efforts, the resiliency of Eddie Edwards is fully on display in these 20 matches.
Edwards has taken the worst from Kevin Steen and Necro Butcher in street matches. He’s traded mat wrestling with Danielson, Daniels and Richards. He’s flown high with Matt and Nick Jackson, El Generico and Jigsaw. He’s been, with the American Wolves, the measuring stick of tag team greatness in a promotion where tag team matches aren’t a joke.
And he’s proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is a Champion in the ring.
If you want Tag Team Wrestling at its finest, whether the finest is spot-fests, tornado rules and double teaming, like in the match where the Wolves wrested the gold from Steen & Generico; or the excellence of the Wolves taking on the makeshift but awesomely talented Black & Danielson; or the amazing displays of Wolves vs The Young Bucks.
Yet this is no American Wolves compilation, this is a look at Eddie Edwards at his finest, alone (well mostly) in the ring, doing what he does best, which is wrestling. Pure and simple: wrestling.
If you want “Match of the Year” candidates, there here. Take a look at Edwards vs. Tyler Black, Edwards vs Richards for the World TV Title, Edwards vs Roderick Strong for the ROH World Title.
Admittedly, Eddie Edwards has often been that ‘other guy’ in my mind. But watching matches like these, realizing the effort, the essence and the …. Yes, I will call it greatness of his body of work, I’m long done with that overlooking, and looking forward to seeing Eddie Edwards taking on Davey Richards at Final Battle 2011, in five short days (December 23rd @ 7:30) , emanating from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, and available on iPPV (see ROHWrestling.com, GFL.com for details)