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Thread: Re-watching Ring of Honor 2002-2007

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    Re-watching Ring of Honor 2002-2007

    After watching through all of 2003 ROH I want to start from the beginning and try to work all the way to the end of 2007, and watch all of ROH's golden age.


    We’re where it all began, in Philadelphia, for THE ERA OF HONOR BEGINS, February 23rd, 2002. Da Hit Squad has a long segment pre-show hanging out with the fans who came down from New York.

    The very first segment of an ROH show starts off with the Christopher Street Connection and Allison Danger coming down to the ring, kissing fans and licking the edges of the barricades. The commentary freaks out over them being gay in public. Buffy gets on the mic and says that this is not longer Ring of Honor, but “Ring of Homosexuals.” Out comes Da Hit Squad and we have our very first ROH match, THE CHRISTOPHER STREET CONNECTION vs. DA HIT SQUAD. Yes, really. It’s a total squash, and as far as total squashes go, Da Hit Squad hit some high impact moves so it’s kind of fun. Dan Maff finishes it with a Burning Hammer. Steve Corino proclaims that by squashing the Christopher Street Connection, Da Hit Squad have “saved professional wrestling.” I guess I’ll call it *3/4? It’s not worth rating since it was so short, but I feel like the first official ROH match has to have a rating, and for a squash it at least had high impact moves and a hot crowd. Da Hit Squad but Allison Danger through a table post-match. Well, ROH really was made to be a successor to ECW, and this was a very, very ECW segment.

    JAY BRISCOE vs. THE AMAZING RED is the first ‘real’ ROH match. This match isn’t very polished, but they put in a lot of effort and the crowd is very, very appreciative of everything. Some nice looking moves here, especially Jay’s Muscle Buster. Red ends up winning with a twisting legdrop off the top followed by his standing Shooting Star Press for a big pop. **3/4

    XAVIER vs. SCOOT ANDREWS is next. Less visually impressive than the previous match but a bit more polished. Solid match overall. There’s a nasty botch where Xavier picks Andrews up and, I guess he tries to hit some kind of powerslam, but he just rotates Andrews and drops him right on the top of his head. Scoot hits a nice sit-out front piledriver but Xavier gets his foot on the ropes. Once he’s back in the ring, Xavier is able to avoid the move for the second time and get the win with a Rick Rude style neckbreaker. **3/4

    THE BOOGIE KNIGHTS vs. THE NATURAL BORN SINNERs. The Natural Born Sinners are the team of Homicide and Boogalou. The referee is LOC, soon to be of the Carnage Crew. This is a total squash for the Sinners. The Boogie Knights get about three moves of offense. The Sinners take them apart and spend a lot of time doing it. They hit an awesome lariat/tiger suplex combo at the end. But then they bring out a rubber chicken and Homicide beats the Knights with the rubber chicken until Loc disqualifies them. The Sinners attack Loc post-match. **1/4

    QUIET STORM vs. CHRIS DIVINE vs. JOEL MAXIMO vs. JOSE MAXIMO vs. BRIAN XL vs. AMAZING RED in an elimination match. Mikey Whipwreck is the referee, all but Brian XL being his students. They start of with a nonstop run of spots. Ambitious, but lacking polish. Mostly entertaining though for this early portion. Once they settle down a little the match starts to drag, though there are some nice spots here and there, particularly Brian XL hitting a nasty Code Red on Red. Red gets eliminated first when Jose traps him in a backslide. Brian XL goes next from a Spinal Shock from Quiet Storm. The SAT hits Chris Divine with the Spanish Fly but while Joel covers Divine, Quiet Storm catches Jose in a German Suplex, both Divine and Jose getting eliminated at once. After some back and forth Quiet Storm takes it with a Storm Cradle Driver. **1/4

    PRINCE NANA vs. TOWEL BOY ERIC TUTTLE next. Total squash, Nana flattens Tuttle and ends it with a nice looking arm-trap suplex. *3/4

    MICHAEL SHANE and OZ vs. SPANKY and IKAIKA LOA. Competent but very basic match, despite a few botchy moments. They do end up having a pretty nice homestretch though. Michael Shane hits a beautiful top rope elbow drop. Oz hits a nice German Suplex on Spanky. Spank ends up winning with with the Sliced Bread #2 on Loa. **1/2

    SUPER CRAZY vs. EDDIE GUERRERO for Eddie’s IWA Intercontinental Championship. Good, evenly worked match. Eddie hits a nice brainbuster on the floor and Crazy comes back with a cool dropkick sequence and a quebrada moonsault. Eddie hits two brainbusters in a row and goes for the Frog Splash, but Crazy moves out of the way and counters a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into a small package for the win. ***

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. LOW KI vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS is our first ever Ring of Honor main event. This has been regarded as a classic since it happens and it definitely holds up. Great match, non stop action, all three guys constantly involved. Lots of creative spots and really hard hitting, especially between Low Ki and Danielson. Low Ki and Danielson work together a lot throughout the match, though it’s really more through incidental spots than through conscious strategy. The crowd is absolutely on fire for the entire match. The iconic ending has Low Ki breaking up a Cattle Mutilation with a beautiful Phoenix Splash and finishing off Daniels with the Ki Crusher. Perfect match to begin ROH. Great athleticism, lots of nearfalls, all action, super hot crowd, lots of creativity and ambition in working the match. ****1/4

    The undercard is very, very unpolished. The ROH style is definitely present, but its present in its inception, and it would take about a year and a half before the wrestling started to look really polished up and down the show. Still, almost every match at least had its moments, and the crowd was really, really hot for everything all night and genuinely appreciative. The main event still holds up as a classic and a MOTYC quality match. The fact that it’s ROH’s first show and successfully set the tone for what was to come, it’s worth the generous rating of 7/10.

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    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    That Phoenix Splash on the Cattle Mutilation was sick. I can't believe Bryan went for it. Makes Ki seems sadistic. Fantastic thing to see in wrestling.

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    World Champion Murphy's Avatar
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    I'll look forward to your take on 2006. God I loved it. Have almost the entire DVD collection from the year in my loft. One day, I might actually get round to re-watching them. The ROH/CZW feud, Danielson's epic title run, anything with Generation Next and whole load of greatness on the undercard. McGuinness, Aries, Strong, Richards, Hero, Sydal, Evans, Joe, Daniels, Styles etc etc. Epic roster, brilliant main storyline.

    In to 2007 was pretty great too.

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re still in Philadelphia for THE ROUND ROBIN CHALLENGE, March 20th, 2003. After the three way main event last show, Low Ki challenged Daniels and Danielson to a round robin tournament on the second show, and here it is. The three men will each face each other throughout the night. This also happened to be the first ROH show I ever watched.

    CHRISTOPHER DANIELS vs. BRYAN DANIELSON starts us off. This is an awesome match. Good mat work to start off, and Danielson even locks in the Yes Lock. Danielson works Daniels over with headlocks, but when after he hits a beautiful dropkick and tries to follow it up with another headlock takeover, Daniels immediately hits a big back drop driver dropping Danielson on his head. Daniels works over the neck for the rest of the match and it’s great. Danielson’s selling is really good, and he’s awesome switching up in offense. When he can’t support Daniels’ weight in a vertical suplex, he hits a great snap double-underhook suplex instead to spare his neck; he can’t do a bridge for the Cattle Mutilation, so he tries a Rings of Saturn instead. Great back and forth with the intensity steadily rising, and also some nice chop exchanges. Eventually Daniels hits a big piledriver, then the Last Rites, and follows it up by wrenching back on a crossface for the submission win. Great opener. Daniels goes 1-0, Danielson 0-1. ****

    Prince Nana, Simply Luscious and Eric Tuttle come out and Nana cuts a rambling promo that’s mostly incomprehensible over the terrible early-ROH acoustics. Da Hit Squad have had enough so come attack them and we have PRINCE NANA and ERIC TUTTLE vs. DA HIT SQUAD. Solid squash. Maff hits a NASTY, Goldberg-level spear on Tuttle. They also hit a great looking wheelbarrow suplex-lariat combo and finish him off with a Burning Hammer. **. The Christopher Street Connection come out but Da Hit Squad throws poor Eric Tuttle over the top ropes onto them, almost killing him, giving Simply Luscious the same treatment afterward, though she doesn’t take quite as nasty a fall.

    JOEY MATTHEWS and CHRISTIAN YORK vs. CW ANDERSON and ELAX. Elax is a member of the ring crew, Anderson chose him as a partner to show he’s good enough to win with anyone. Decent enough match, nothing special. Anderson is in control for most of it. Elax actually hits a nice top rope dropkick. York and Matthews take out Elax and hit a double team elevated DDT on Anderson for the win. **

    JAMES MARITATO vs. XAVIER. Maritato is Little Guido/Nunzio, dropping the Italian stereotype gimmick and rebranding as a shoot style submission master. Decent enough match. Fast paced, lots of back and forth, not too long. Xavier ends up winning with a rollup. **1/4

    THE BOOGIE KNIGHTS vs. THE NATURAL BORN SINNERS in a rematch from last show. Very short, straightforward squash. Homicide hits a nasty double stomp. They finish it with their tiger suplex-lariat combo. **

    LOW KI vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS in our second tournament match. Low K dominates early on, hitting some nice stiff kicks and quickly cutting off any of Daniels’ attempts at offense. Daniels is able to hit some high impact moves but Low Ki comes back with a nice springboard kick. Daniels hits the Angels Wings but Low Ki kicks out, and soon after reverses a powerbomb attempt and is able to hit the Ki Crusher. Daniels goes for the Last Rites but Low Ki rolls through it and locks in the Dragon Clutch for the win. Good, quick competitive match. ***1/4. Low Ki is 1-0 and Daniels finishes 1-1. Post-match, Daniels again says that Low Ki beating him in his second match of the night means nothing, and that he won’t face Low Ki against unless the Ring of Honor Title is on the line, the first time such a title has been mentioned.

    PAUL LONDON vs. CHRIS MARVEL next. Paul London gets all the offense here, and then he hits an Asai moonsault but Marvel’s leg gives out while trying to catch him and twists and looks badly broken. Match is called off, London winning by stoppage. Not worth rating.

    SPANKY vs. JAY BRISCOE. The match starts off a bit dull with Spanky in control for most of it, although Jay does hit a nice slingshot Oklahoma roll. The match really picks up when Jay pushes Spanky into the ringpost, busting him open, and following it up with a nasty German suplex. Spanky is wearing the crimson mask for the rest of the match, which helps accentuate the transition as Jay goes on offense. Spanky hits a cool double springboard dive. Jay hits a nasty powerbomb back in the ring but Spanky is shortly after able to hit the Sliced Bread Number Two for the win. **3/4. Post-match, Mark takes Jay to task for developing a losing streak.

    There’s a great backstage vignette in Gabe’s offense with him looking at the ROH website on AOL on his 2002-era computer.

    CHRIS DIVINE and QUIET STORM vs. AMAZING RED and BRIAN XL vs. THE SAT in an elimination match. These early ROH spotfests are often pretty rough but this is just about the worst I’ve seen. Lots of blown spots and uncoordinated exchanges. A couple good spots but very few, when normally even if the match is very unpolished to say the least, there are a decent number of nice individual spots thrown in. Divine Storm get eliminated when Red hits a standing SSP on Quiet Storm, and then Red gets pinned with a rollup to give the SAT the win. *1/4

    LOW KI vs. BRYAN DANIELSON in the final match of the tournament. This was considered by many the best ROH match ever during the first several years of the promotion, and it totally holds up. The first half of the match is all matwork and it’s some of the best matwork of all time. So tight and lots of struggle, every submission has to be fought for and looks good. They throw in plenty of stiff strikes also, and I really mean stiff. Nasty crossfaces from Danielson and Low Ki is hitting all kinds of stiff kicks and knee strikes from all kind of angles. Before they even hit one ‘regular’ wrestling move, this match feels epic and they’re both selling exhaustion. Once they start trading big moves, every one feels like a big deal. Low Ki hits a series of moves and is able to hit the Ki Crusher, but Danielson kicks out. He fights back hitting a big top rope back suplex that they both sell like death. He tries to hit another one but Low Ki fights back from the top rope and turns it around into a top rope Ki Crusher! Both guys are out and Danielson is able to slowly roll out of the ring to the floor. Low Ki has to slowly crawl over to roll him back in the ring to cover, but Danielson is able to get his foot on the rope. Now that’s how you allow a guy’s top rope finisher to not be the end of the match without killing the move. Low Ki hits Danielson with stiff kicks and chops and is about to finish it with the Tidal Wave kick, but Danielson catches him in mid-air, hits an awesome Regal-style leg-trap suplex, and floats right over in a Cattle Mutilation that he wrenches on until Low Ki passes out. Both men, along with Daniels, finish 1-1. ****1/2

    An all-time classic to end the show, a legit great opener also, and the Low Ki/Daniels match is very good, too. Other than that, it’s a characteristically weak and unpolished undercard. Still, most of the undercard matches were short, and they’re starting to get some storylines going so some at least felt like they served a purpose. The Round Robin tournament was a great was to organize the card and all three matches delivered. Good show overall, though uneven. 7/10

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    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    Spanky proved to be quite a bleeder that night...

    I didn't like the Round Robin matches much, although I would have trouble saying what was wrng with Ki/AmDrag...

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    i remember being really underwhelmed with dragon/low ki when i first saw the show after hearing hype about it, but that was in septemberish 2004 before i had even really gotten into any japanese wrestling other than what was on the benoit dvd, and i just couldn't appreciate the mat-based, borderline shootstyle work at that point. what was the real revelation on the re-watch that danielson/daniels, which never stuck out at me before but i loved this time.

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    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    I thought the matwork was a little too rare and the rest of the match a little too raw, but I might think a lot differently if I saw it today. I like their other matches from that era, but the ROH match stands way out, especially with Shamrock in the Steamboat position.

    Daniels/Danielson I thought was near perfect, but I wanted it to be longer and I hated Daniels for tapping out Danielson, but what can you say, he earned it.

    I never noticed that Ki/Daniels never really happened again. I guess Triple X in Tna put me to sleep on that...

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    edit: misread, thought you said it was danielson/ki that never happened again

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    We’re back in Philadelphia for NIGHT OF APPRECIATION, April 27th, 2002. The show is named in tribute to Eddie Guerrero, who is having his last show with ROH, having already re-signed with WWE but finishing up his obligations on the indies.

    Pre-show, Loc welcomes Davito to ROH, and the Carnage Crew have arrived. They beat up some ring crew guys for fun. Brian XL has some conflict with his traveling partners Chris Divine and Quiet Storm.

    DA HIT SQUAD vs. THE CRISTOPHER STREET CONNECTION vs. PRINCE NANA and SIMPLY LUSCIOUS opens up. This is a big clusterfuck with all kinds of stuff going on. Both teams are able to get some offense on Da Hit Squad but they’re mostly in control, and end up killing everyone and hitting a Burning Hammer on Simply Luscious for the win. Post-match they put her through a table again. Fun enough squash and had a hot crowd. **

    JAY BRISCOE vs. TONY MAMALUKE next. Jay Briscoe is on a two-loss win streak and desperate for a win. Mamaluke is wearing the old ECW FBI tights and commentary talks up how James Maritato won’t be happy about that. This is another pretty unpolished match, as their chain wrestling and submission work isn’t too solid. They move on to trading moves and strikes and eventually Jay rolls through a backslide into a nice Jay Driller to pick up his first win. Crowd pops big for Jay’s win. The match was quick at least and had a significant ending. **. Mark still isn’t happy with Jay, because he still “almost lost.” Backstage, PAPA BRISCOE tries to mediate their conflict while James Maritato takes Mamaluke to task for trying to continue to FBI gimmick.

    CHRIS DIVINE and QUIET STORM vs. CHRISTIAN YORK and JOEY MATTHEWS. These guys work hard and have a decent, fast paced match. While York is out on the floor, Brian XL runs in and hits him with a dive while the ref isn’t looking. Divine and Storm are mad at him for breaking the code of honor and yell at him to go backstage. Back in the ring they all trade some moves and Quiet Storm gets Joey Matthews in a leg submission for the win. **1/4

    XAVIER vs. JAMES MARITATO vs. SCOOT ANDREWS next. Xavier has beaten both men throughout the first two shows. The three-way spots are really botchy and awkward for the first half or so of the match, but it does improve a little bit. Andrews hits his sit-out piledriver on Xavier but Maritato breaks it up, and shortly later catches Xavier coming off the top rope in his Fujiawara armbar and gets the submission win. *3/4.

    LOW KI vs. AJ STYLES in Styles’ much-anticipated ROH debut. The match starts solid but a little bit underwhelming, until Low Ki turns the stiffness on and AJ returns it, and the match gets really good. They trade big moves and everything looks great. Styles hits one of his nicer looking springboard backflip DDTs, as well as an awesome DDT from a Dominator position. Low Ki hits a nasty powerbomb and follows it up by killing Styles with kicks. Both guys miss the Phoenix Splash and Spinal Tap respectively. Low Ki turns a Styles Clash attempt into a roll up in a sort of lame finish, but the last three-fourths of the match were really good. ***1/2

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. DUNN AND MARCOS next in both teams’ debuts. Dunn and Marcos don’t have any kind of gimmick yet, they’re just generic jobbers and the ring announcer calls Marcos “Marcus.” Total squash. Carnage Crew win it with a powerbomb-neckbreaker combo and beat them up with hubcaps afterward. **

    DONOVAN MORGAN vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS. Morgan works the headlock for a while early on. They trade moves back and forth for a while and it’s alright. Morgan actually ends up winning with a spinning fisherman’s suplex. Big win for Morgan over Daniels. Kind of boring match honestly. **1/4. After the match Daniels gets on the mic and says that he won’t shake Morgan’s hand, because the Code of Honor is a farce, but he respects him because he beat him fair and square. He says if Morgan ever needs anything, he has his back.

    Next up in the Texas Wrestling Academy Gauntlet. They actually only show clips of the first match, Paul London vs. John Hope. London wins with the Shooting Star Press.

    PAUL LONDON vs. MICHAEL SHANE is the first full match of the gauntlet. It’s a very short match but a fun sprint while it lasts. They trade big moves until London misses a SSP and Shane follows it up with a top rope elbow drop for the win. **3/4

    MICHAEL SHANE vs. SPANKY next. They open with a chop exchange. Spanky rams Shane’s head into the ringpost and busts him open. Spanky works over the cut for a while until Shane is able to fight back with a nice twisting senton, following it up shortly after with a flip over the top rope. They trade moves and do a spot that’s cool in theory where Michael Shane goes for the top rope elbow drop, but gets dizzy and falls to the mat. Commentary sells it as due to the blood loss which is a cool idea, but the blade job wasn’t really enough to sell it. Shane is able to fight back with a superkick but Spanky soon hits Sliced Bread Number Two for the win. Pretty good match. **3/4

    SPANKY vs. BRYAN DANIELSON is the final of the gauntlet. The match starts out good with Spanky looking pretty impressive, hanging in there with Danielson with the stiff strikes and matwork. As the match goes on Spanky sort of starts to look exposed. There’s a couple minutes where he seems totally lost in control, so Danielson takes control and hits some nice big moves to get the match back on track. Spanky hits a Sliced Bread Number Two out of nowhere and Danielson takes it right on the back of his head, but is able to kick out. Danielson comes back with a big rolling elbow and Dragon Suplex for two counts. He goes for the top rope backdrop suplex but Spanky turns it into a Sliced Bread Number Two off the top rope for the win. Spanky getting a big push, adding a win over Danielson to his winning streak. ***

    Spanky gets on the mic post-match talking about the ROH title, which brings out just about everyone in the company saying they want it too. Low Ki comes out and announces a title tournament next show.

    EDDIE GUERRERO and AMAZING RED vs. THE SAT is our main event. The crowd pops huge for Eddie, who comes out wearing the WWE IC title. SAT are in control for most of the match. They work over Eddie, Red gets a hot tag, but shortly after Jose hits him with a nasty powerbomb and gets back in control. Eddie gets the hot tag for a big pop and is really aggressive once in the ring. The ending at least is great with Eddie launching Red into a top rope hurricanrana on Jose, Red follows it up with a dive on Joel, Eddie goes for a frogsplash but Joel moves out of the way, only for Eddie to catch him right in a sit-out powerbomb for the win. **1/2

    As the roster comes out the bid Eddie goodbye, BRIAN XL interrupts and challenges Eddie to a match. Eddie hits three suplexes and finally hits the Frog Splash to the delight of the crowd and pins him in twenty seconds. He then gets on the mic and gives a farewell speech.

    This was definitely the worst show I’ve seen on this rewatch so far. Low Ki/AJ was very good and the ending was nice feel good stuff, and they also advanced some storylines pretty well, but man was this undercard rough. 4.5/10

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    The funniest bit of that whole Round Robin Challenge show was Guido/Nunzio/Maritado coming out for his match, and the literal second his toe steps through the curtain, some mutant yells "ECW!!!" loud enough to hear it from space.

    Also, wasn't the main event refereed by Ken Shamrock, or is that a different show?

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    yeah, danielson/low ki is main evented by shamrock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tainted Eclipse View Post
    yeah, danielson/low ki is main evented by shamrock.
    Fun fact -- That was the first Ring of Honor show I ever watched.

    Hell of a way to start being a fan. Weirdly enough though, the entire undercard is a gigantic blank spot for me. Unless the DVD cut a lot of the underneath stuff down? I loved all three of the Round Robin matches and Spanky/Briscoe. Never would have imagined American Dragon being a big deal anywhere except a rec center in 2003. I thought Christopher Daniels had the biggest upside and the best potential for a major WWE run. Boy, I was wrong.

    Love these recaps bro, keep up the good work.

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudz Mackenzie View Post
    Fun fact -- That was the first Ring of Honor show I ever watched.

    Hell of a way to start being a fan. Weirdly enough though, the entire undercard is a gigantic blank spot for me. Unless the DVD cut a lot of the underneath stuff down? I loved all three of the Round Robin matches and Spanky/Briscoe. Never would have imagined American Dragon being a big deal anywhere except a rec center in 2003. I thought Christopher Daniels had the biggest upside and the best potential for a major WWE run. Boy, I was wrong.

    Love these recaps bro, keep up the good work.
    there was a distribution company or something that released some of ROH's early shows with a lot of the undercard edited down, they were sold in some stores unlike the ROH direct releases so you might have seen it from buying that. that's how i saw it first too.

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    Back in them days, it was said that if you wanted to be a wrestler, you couldn't just be a great in-ring performer, you had to have a gimmick... a personality... like Spanky

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    We’re back in Philadelphia for ROAD TO THE TITLE, June 22nd, 2002. This show features of tournament with four four-man man blocks, two rounds each, with the four block winners advancing to a four-way hour-long ironman match for the ROH Title next show.

    BIOHAZARD vs. BRYAN DANIELSON starts us off. Quick, energetic match, good to start a tournament. Biohazard is in control early utilizing his size advantage, but ends up in over his head when he challenges Danielson to a strike exchange. Danielson gets the advantage, hits some strikes, then hits a reverse suplex into a Cattle Mutilation for the win. Danielson advances to the Block C finals. **1/2

    PAUL LONDON vs. SPANKY next. Good competitive match where pretty much everything looks really good. They start off with good, fast faced chain wrestling with some athletic dropkicks, armdrags and headsissors mixed in. Spanky does a particularly great looking hurricanrana. They start to trade bigger moves, neither man getting the advantage, until they botch some sort of spot off the top rope and London falls down on his head. Spanky tries to follow it up with a suplex but it looks like there was still some miscommunication and London sort of falls on his head again. Spanky goes for a moonsault but London avoids it, Spanky ducks a spinning heel kick and hits the Sliced Bread Number Two for the win. Fun early tournament match. Spank advanced to the Block B finals. ***1/4

    JAY BRISCOE vs. DOUG WILLIAMS. Commentary hypes up Williams as a big name in the UK. Williams show off his technical superiority and generally is in control for most of the match. Briscoe is able to hit a powerbomb and a top rope legdrop, but Williams responds with stiff European uppercuts and then hits his Chaos Theory, the rolling German suplex for the win. Big pop for the move. Solid, short tournament match. Williams advanced to the Block C finals where he’ll meet Bryan Danielson. **1/2. Mark Briscoe isn’t happy that Jay takes another loss.

    JONNY STORM vs. JODY FLEISCH next. Fun spotfest, good length for what they were doing. Lots of fast rope-running exchanges, a couple big dives, a roll-up trading sequence, and then they move on to a couple big moves. There are some awkward botches but nothing that detracts from the match too much. Jonny Storm hits a nice backward springboard hurricanrana from the second rope. Fleisch follows it up with his 720 DDT but Storm gets the ropebreak. Storm goes for the same hurricanrana but Fleisch turns it into a powerbomb for the win. Fleisch advances to the finals of Block B to face Spanky. ***

    PRINCE NANA vs. LOW KI next. Nana ambushes Low Ki as he gets into the ring and dominates for the first couple minutes, hitting some big ass strikes to the head. Low Ki dodges one and follows up with a NASTY jumping kick to the head. Nana is out and the ref calls the match as people come from the back to attend to Nana. Very short match with a big ending. Low Ki advances to the Block D finals. **

    XAVIER vs. AMAZING RED. This is a super fun sprint. Just big move after big move, but it’s really well put together and everything looks great. Xavier is actually pretty impressive with the power moves, tossing Red all the way across the ring to start off and later hitting a nasty powerbomb. Red’s big spots almost all come off without a hitch, which is certainly not always the case. Red hits a Trouble in Paradise style spin kick, follows with a big twisting senton off the top rope where he lands nasty on Xavier, and then a standing SSP for the win. Good stuff. Red advances to the Block D finals to face Low Ki. ***1/4. Backstage, Christopher Daniels is very disappointed in Xavier, who he hoped would take out Low Ki.

    CHRSTIPHER DANIELS vs. SCOOT ANDREWS next. Pre-match, Daniels gets on the mic and for the first time announcer that he’s putting together a group called The Prophecy to destroy Ring of Honor, and announced Simply Luscious as the first member. Andrews storms the ring and attacks Daniels to start the match. Andrews hits some moves and generally has the advantage, but Daniels catches him in the STO and hits the Triple Jump Moonsault for the win. Decent, fast match. Daniels advances to the Block A finals. **1/4

    After the match, Simply Luscious gets in Scoot Andrews’ face and dares him to hit her; Andrews says that The Black Nature Boy would never hit a woman, but introduces Sumie Sakai. So, SIMPLY LUSCIOUS vs. SUMIE SAKAI is an impromptu match. The match isn’t very good, but at least it’s short. Sumie wins with a moonsault. *1/2

    AJ STYLES vs. JERRY LYNN is our last match of round one. This is the longest match of the first round at around fifteen minutes. They work hard and have a solid enough match, but it’s not very exciting. AJ works the arm for a while and does hit some cool looking Dragon Screw-type moves on the arm. They trade moves for a while including a long roll-up sequence. Styles hits the Spiral Tap but Lynn kicks out. About a minute later Styles reverses a Cradle Piledriver attempt into the Styles Clash for the win. Styles advances to the Block A finals to take on Christopher Daniels. **1/2

    SPANKY vs. JODY FLEISCH in the finals of Block B. Good, quick, short match. Lots of counters and rope running and such. Fleisch hits a crazy springboard moonsault to the outside and takes out a barricade. He goes for the 720 DDT but Spanky avoids it, follows up with a roll-up for the nearfall and then hits the Sliced Bread Number Two for the win. Spanky advances to the ROH Title match next show. At only about five minutes this feels more like a short early-tournament match than one of the four finals, but I kind of like that in the sense that it’s unexpected, and it was a fun match. ***

    DOUG WILLIAMS vs. BRYAN DANIELSON in the finals of Block C. They work this as a face off between two technical masters, with Williams even having something of an advantage in the area which is usually Danielson’s advantage. Later into the match they have a good strike exchange and are really selling the exhaustion well. Doug Williams is able to hit the Chaos Theory, but Danielson kicks out! Once back on his feet, Danielson is able to hit two big kicks and a top rope back suplex. He tries to follow it up with the Cattle Mutilation but Williams powers out of it into a reverse suplex and rolls it over into a pin for the win. In something of an upset, Doug Williams advances to the ROH Title match. ***1/4

    AMAZING RED vs. LOW KI in the Block D finals. This is a legendary match for the first minute or so of action, and very deservedly so. They have an insane exchange martial arts movie style strike exchange sequence that puts to shame all the highly choreographed counter and reversal sequences you see in wrestling today. But even beyond that this match is outstanding. Just great spot after great spot, and not only are they spots, but they’re set up well, executed beautifully and they actually make it feel like a competitive fight. Low Ki is a killer with his strikes and Red is great getting his ass beat and occasionally hitting the big hope spot. Even when Low Ki whiffs a major spot, they’re actually able to recover it and turn it into something even better. Low Ki ends up getting the win with a Ki Crusher off the top rope. I especially like how Low Ki was himself laying on the mat for several seconds before he could crawl over and cover Red, but still got the win; another great way of putting over a top rope finisher. Classic match. Low Ki advances to the ROH Title match. ****1/4

    AJ STYLES vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS in the finals of Block A. They start off slow until while they’re fighting on the apron, Daniels hits a low blow on Styles and shoves him into the barricade, busting him open. Daniels works over the cut for a while before they starts trading big moves. They have a good home stretch with some nice counters, Daniels countering a Styles Clash into an ankle lock was an especially good spot; Styles also takes a nasty bump off an STO. Styles hits the springboard backflip into the reverse DDT attempt, but Daniels turns it around into a Last Rites for the win. Good main event. Longest match of the night and they worked it in a big match style. Christopher Daniels advances to the ROH Title match. ***1/2

    To close the show, Spanky, Doug Williams, Low Ki and Christopher Daniels gather in the ring to see the unveiling of the ROH Title belt.

    This was definitely the best ROH show of 2002 so far. We had a real classic in Red/Low Ki, a number of other good matches, and even the matches that weren’t all that good were part of a tournament, and I always love a tournament; and nothing was bad, most matches were at least short, fast paced, fun tournament matches. 8/10

  16. #16
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    What a stacked show. One dream match after another. Even Briscoe/Williams would one day be a main event calibre match.

  17. #17
    World Champion Murphy's Avatar
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    I sold that DVD on eBay about 3 months ago. Got £3.

  18. #18
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Philadelphia again for CROWNING A CHAMPION, July 27th, 2002.

    PRINCE NANA and JACOB LADDER vs. CHRISTIAN YORK and JOEY MATTHEWS stats us off. Nana and Ladder attack York and Matthews right at the bell and get in some offense. York and Matthews hit Nana with a double team enzighiri and Nana bails, leaving them to finish off Ladder with a sort of double team legdrop for the win. Nothing match. *1/2

    MICHAEL SHANE and BIOHAZARD vs. PAUL LONDON and DON JUAN, with the winner of the fall getting a contract with ROH. This match is sort of a mess. London smacks the floor hard on a dive and seems sort of out of it for a while. Shane pins Don Juan while London pins Biohazard at the same time, but the ref awards the match to Michael Shane. *3/4. Shane and London fight post-match. London misses an SSP and Shane misses an elbow drop before the rest of the TWA break them up.

    DA HIT SQUAD vs. CHRIS DIVINE and QUIET STORM next. These teams had words on the last show so they have heat. Divine actually hits some good power moves on the much larger members of Da Hit Squad, including a great looking spinebuster on Maff. Maff later squashes him with a frog splash off the top rope. Maff spears Quiet Storm out of the ring leaving Monsta Mack to counter a headsissors attempt by Divine into a powerbomb for the win. Decent enough match. **1/4

    JAY BRISCOE vs. JAMES MARITATO. Seems to take a while for these guys to get on the same page. Maritato has some pretty amusing selling of some big moves later in the match. Mark Briscoe walks out while Jay is in control. Jay gets distracted and Maritato hits the Kiss of Death for the win. Just not a very interesting match. **

    THE NATURAL BORN SINNERS vs. THE CARNAGE CREW in a Bunkhouse Brawl. The Sinners attacked Loc on the first show, so he’s called in Devito to get even. Finally, something good on this show! Really fun brawl. All four guys are busted open about a minute. STIFF chair shots all around. Homicide and Devito are the stars of this match, having an awesome brawl with each other on the outside. Devito puts some barbed wire over Homicide and hits him with a moonsault. Homicide comes back with his tope con hilo onto Loc and Boogalou wraps barbed wire around the mouth of Devito and pulls back for the submission win. Good garbage brawl. ***1/4

    AJ STYLES vs. DAVID YOUNG vs. ADAM JACOBS, elimination three way for AJ’s TNA X Division title. Decent spotfest, just move after move after move. Starts off well. David Young hits a nice Asai moonsault for his size. Styles eliminates Young with the Spiral Tap. Styles block a top rope hurricanrana attempt from Jacobs and hits the Styles Clash off the second rope for the win. **1/2

    LOW KI vs. SPANKY vs. DOUG WILLIAMS vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS in a four-way ironman match to crown the first ever ROH Champion. This match has a point system, where the man winning a fall gets two points and the man losing a fall loses one point. This is an ROH style four-way with two men legal at once. They open the match doing technical exchange with each other, Doug Williams having some particularly good exchanges with Low Ki, Spanky and Daniels in a row to start out. Daniels is constantly evading Low Ki, tagging out whenever they’re in the ring together and occasionally taunting him or hitting a cheap shot while he’s on the apron. Spanky and Williams start to work over Low Ki’s leg and Daniels finally starts tagging in with Low Ki in the ring, but only to go after his leg and quickly tag out. Spanky tags in Low Ki while Daniels is legal, Daniels quickly turns to try to tag out to Williams but Williams hops off the apron. Low Ki finally has Daniels in the ring and unloads with stiff strikes, but Daniels ducks one and hits a nasty chop block. Williams and Spanky get in the ring and the four trade some of their big moves back and forth for the first time. Low Ki goes for the Tidal Wave kick on Daniels but Daniels again counters it with a nice chop block and hits the Last Rites to score the first fall about twenty-five minutes in. Daniels is at 2 points, Low Ki at -1, Williams and Spanky at 0. The match slows down and does get a bit dull for a while after this. Low Ki is out on the floor recovering and the other three go back and forth. Williams hits the Chaos Theory on Spanky but Daniels breaks it up. Daniels gets Williams in the Koji Clutch and Low Ki reintroduces himself into the match by breaking it up with a double stomp. The match picks up again from here with Low Ki and Williams having a good exchange. Spanky sneakily tags Williams without Williams’ noticing. Williams goes for the Chaos Theory but Low Ki backflips out of it, right into a Dragon Clutch onto Spanky who was standing behind them! Low Ki wrenches back on it and Spanky taps. Nice spot. Low Ki gets the second fall at about forty minutes. Daniels is still at 2 points, Low Ki now at 1, Williams at 0 and Spanky at -1. The selling is good in the last minutes. All three guys go back and forth trying to get another fall. Spanky hits the Sliced Bread Numbers Two on Williams but Daniels breaks up the pin. While Daniels and Spanky are fighting, Low Ki capitalizes and hits the Phoenix Splash on Williams and gets the third fall at around fifty minutes. Low Ki is now at 3, Daniels at 2, Williams and Spanky both at -1. All four guys trade big moves back and forth toward the end. Spanky hits Williams with a dive over the top and Williams responds with a big DDT on the floor, leaving Low Ki and Daniels alone for the last couple minutes. They go back and forth and in the last minute Daniels catches Low Ki in his own Dragon Clutch. Low Ki struggles and teases a tap, bringing the crowd to their feet. As the last seconds count down, Low Ki flips Daniels over and hits him with his own Last Rites as time expires. Low Ki wins the match on points and becomes the first ever ROH Champion. Really good match. It stayed entertaining for almost the whole match, good sense of progression, some good moments. Never really super exciting but it kept the crowd’s attention and went by fast for an hour. ***3/4

    The main event was good, as was the Bunkhouse Brawl, and crowning the first ROH Champ is a big deal so the show has historical value. But man, much of the rest of the show was not good at all. Even though the matches were short it dragged. But still, more than a third of the show was the main event, which was good. 6/10 is about right overall.

  19. #19
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    18 years after ROH began and Homicide is still being congratulated for "garbage" brawling

  20. #20
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    i love good garbage brawling and wish it would come back. when was the last time we saw a good garbage style brawl in a major promotion? that one random multi-man tag match with tommy dreamer on RAW a few years ago?

  21. #21
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    Seth and Becky went all out on Corbin and Lacey Evans last year, but that was mostly those cheap singapore canes that break real easy.

    Nowadays the big "weapon" is a door set up on chairs instead of a table. It's quite garbage, no pun intended.

    In January Casanova Valentine pulled out a nail studded dildo on Homicide. Everyone should see what Homicide did to him for pulling that shit...

  22. #22
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    For the very first time we’re venturing outside of Philadelphia to Wakerfield, Massachusetts for HONOR INVADES BOSTON, August 24th, 2002. With around 500 fans in attendance, this is also ROH’s biggest crowd yet.

    AMAZING RED vs. QUIET STORM starts us off. This is a truly historic match. Not only is it the first ever ROH match outside of Philadelphia, but it is, as far as I know, the first ever attestation of the Canadian Destroyer, which Quiet Storm hits on Red. Fun enough match, more smooth than most of these lucha-inspired early ROH matches tend to be. Still pretty cooperative looking, but a decent, short opener. Red wins with the Infrared followed by the standing SSP. A very hot crowd reacting to everything helped this as well. **3/4.

    Post match, both men are attacked by SPECIAL K, making their first appearance in ROH as a group. The SAT and Chris Divine come out to save Red and Storm, leading to DIXIE, IZZY and BRIAN XL vs. THE SAT and CHRIS DIVINE. This is the first of the Special K scramble tags which would go on to be a mainstay of the ROH undercard for a long time to come. It would take them a couple months to really polish this kind of match, and this being the first it’s prone to the flaws these matches were full of for a while. Lots of sloppiness and botches, lots of over-ambitious spots that they don’t have the skill to pull off. Still, as usual, there are a number of visually impressive individual spots here. Izzy hits a beautiful springboard twisting shooting star press to the outside. After a series of big moves from the top rope the SAT win it with the Spanish Fly on Brian XL. Again, the crowd was really appreciative of everything and hot for the whole match. **1/4

    After the match, Chris Divine gets on the mic and says he wants to test himself and find out just how good he is – he asks Low Ki for an impromptu non-title match. Low Ki comes out and we have CHRIS DIVINE vs. LOW KI. Divine gets a couple chops off early on but Low Ki fires back with kicks, the Tidal Crush, and the Dragon Sleeper for the submission win in just under a minute. Not worth rating, but I like how it establishes a hierarchy with the ROH champ being clearly several levels above an undercard guy.

    DUNN AND MARCOS vs. THE CHRISTOPHER STREET CONNECTION next. CSC work pretty stiff on Dunn and Marcos, in between suggestively fondling them. Dunn and Marcos get a little bit of offense before getting cut off again, and CSC hits the Gay Basher on Dunn for the win. *3/4

    SCOOT ANDREWS vs. MIKE TOBIN next. Pretty much a competitive squash. Andrews is in control for a while, Tobin gets a bit of offense, and then Scoot finishes it with the pumphandle piledriver. *1/2

    Xavier comes out afterward and challenges Andrews to finally settle the sort of rivalry they’ve had since the first show. XAVIER vs. SCOOT ANDREWS. Quick match, they keep it entertaining enough by busting out some big offense. Xavier debuts his crazy dive where he jumps off the top rope into an asai moonsault to the outside. Back in the ring they go back and forth until Xavier hits a Razor’s Edge followed by the 450 splash for the win. **1/4

    MICHAEL SHANE vs. PAUL LONDON next. Since winning the ROH contract, Michael Shane has been cocky, acting like he’s above all his TWA comrades. This is the most London’s been showcased so far and he comes across really well, hitting a nice backflip dropkick and a really good tope. Shane pushes him off the top rope and he takes a wild bump to the outside, crashing down and breaking one of the barricades. They go back and forth in the ring for awhile until London hits a great looking asai front flip to the outside. Shane pretends to have a leg injury, playing off when London hit a dive on someone on one of the first shows and the guy ended up breaking his leg catching him. London rolls Shane into the ring but the ref backs him up. Rudy Boy Gonzalez checks on Shane and calls from the trainers to come out to assist him – but with everyone distracted, Shane grabs a small package on London for the sneaky win. Great heat for that ending. The match itself was pretty good, but the whole thing with the angle at the end did a lot of Shane and London as characters. **3/4. Simply Luscious comes out afterward with an offer from Christopher Daniels for Shane to join the Prophecy. But Shane superkicks her, then superkicks Rudy Boy, and hits a top rope elbow on London for good measure.

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. DONOVAN MORGAN next. Good, competitive technical match. They have a good technical exchange in the beginning and the match gets more and more hard hitting as it goes on. The big moves they bust out toward the end of the match all look good. Danielson kicks out of Morgan’s swinging fisherman’s buster and is soon later able to lock in the Cattle Mutilation, but the fifteen minute time limit expires! ROH’s first time limit draw. The crowd chants for five more minutes but they don’t get it. A clean win over Christopher Daniels and then a draw with Danielson, Morgan is getting put over really strong in his first two matches. ***1/4. Danielson goes for the post-match handshake, but Morgan hits him with the Angel’s Wings, being a member of the Prophecy now.

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. DA HIT SQUAD in a Boston Massacre Match. A very fun garbage match, as you could expect from these guys. Barbed wire comes into play early and all guys bleed. Devito and Maff face off for much of the match and are really good together. The Carnage Crew drive Da Hit Squad out of the ring with chairs. DHS walks down the entrance way through the curtain to boos from the fans, but emerge carrying two plywood boards covered in barbed wire. They set them up in the ring corners and tease spots around them for a while before Monsta Mack is whipped into one. Shortly after, Maff spears Devito through the other in a nasty spoke, Maff really dives headfirst into the barbed wire. Maff works his way up and finds Loc to hit him with a Burning Hammer for the win. ***

    BIOHAZARD vs. DON JAUN next. Short match. The moves were executed decently enough, but the whole thing felt like two trainees having a practice match, which I guess it sort of was. *1/2

    MAVERICK WILD vs. ALEX ARION next. These are two local New England guys given a showcase by ROH. This starts off with a very, very, very slopping rollup exchange. The execution gets more competent as the match goes on, but it never really gets good. Arion ends up winning with a forward rollup. *1/2

    JAMES MARITATO and TONY MAMALUKE vs. THE NATURAL BORN SINNERS next. The Sinners actually work technical to match Maritato and Mamaluke for the whole match. There are some decent moments here but overall I found it boring and too long, but competently executed. Homicide pins Mamaluke with the Cop Killa. **

    MARK BRISCOE vs. JAY BRISCOE next. This has been building up for the whole year. Mark is still only seventeen so can’t wrestle in Pennsylvania; he’s been accompanying Jay to the ring but has been expressing his frustration with his brother’s losing streak. After walking out on Jay’s last match causing him to be distracted and lose, Jay challenged him to this match in Boston where Mark can legally wrestle. They start trading slaps right after the opening handshake and work a nice mat wrestling sequence. Mark does a really sweet amateur wrestling style move when Jay goes in for the leg, and Jay later hits some stiff crossfaces. They fight on the outside and Mark gets control, busting Jay open on the ringpost. Mark works over the cut for a while, and back in the ring hits an awesome spinning heel kick followed up by a great looking hurricanrana into mounted punches. Jay works over the right hand when he’s back in control – I really like that idea, working over the right hand of the guy who’s working your cut over with punches. Jay starts to work over Mark’s leg and Mark is really great selling it, working some good spots where it affects his ability to dive and hit springboard moves. The homestretch is really good, they hit their big moves really well and work some smart sequences. Very evenly matched and the selling is very good. They go back and forth teasing their finishing moves but Mark is able to evade the Jay Driller and hit the Cutthroat Driver for the upset win in his very first match. Really good match. These guys definitely distinguished themselves above everyone else on the midcard in ROH at this point. ***3/4

    LOW KI vs. AJ STYLES in the first ever defense of the ROH Title. These guys had a match on the third show with Low Ki winning in controversial fashion, with a roll-up that AJ arguably kicked out of right before the three count. They open up with really good match wrestling, very tight and competitive with some creative stuff. They mix in some stiff kicks and strikes. When they start trading bigger moves this is like a better version of their match earlier in the year, with a feeling more of a real competitive fight than just an exhibition of great looking moves, though the moves still do look great. Lots of stiff strikes and the selling is really good, they’re really able to make this feel like a match that does justice to being the first ever title defense. AJ hits a really nice jumping forearm to Low Ki who’s hung upside down in the corner. The ending is great with AJ unleashing a furious series of stiff strikes on Low Ki, whipping him off the ropes and goes for a hurricanarana, but Low Ki turns it into a brutal powerbomb. He tries to follow up with the Dragon Sleeper but AJ struggles with it, trying to counter it, but Low Ki ends up with AJ in the Ki Crusher position and hits it for the win and the first successful title defense. ***3/4

    This show really could have cut a lot of fat off of the undercard and been a lot better for it. Still, the undercard comes off better than it seems on paper because it flowed well enough, had a decent variety, and was in front of a very appreciative crowd. Still, a lot of it could have been done without. Still there were a couple good matches on the undercard, and the show ends on a very high note with two great matches. This show also got a lot of angles advanced. 7/10

  23. #23
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    Oh Michael Shane, shunning handshakes and dropping elbows for good measure, why couldn't mr. HIggenbottom get you a good job w/ WWE (where many men flounder)?

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re back in Philadelphia for UNSCRIPTED, September 21st, 2002. This show will feature an eight team tournament to crown the first ever ROH Tag Team Champions. Also on this show the commentary team that has been with us thus far of Steve Corino and Donny B is replaced with the team that will man the booth for a long time going forward, Gabe Sapolsky under the name Chris Lovey, and Ray Murrow.

    The show opens up with Paul London in the ring. He was schedule to compete in the tag tournament with Spanky as his partner, but Spanky was unable to make it to the show. He says Bryan Danielson will be his partner instead. Danielson comes out, but soon afterward does Michael Shane as well, who gets on the mic and badmouths London. Shane slaps London and London fights back, driving him out of the ring, and then ascends to the top rope and hits a wild shooting star press to the outside. The crowd goes nuts for that. London apologizes to Danielson, because he’s now skipping the tournament to challenge Michael Shane to a street fight. He tells Shane to bring whatever he wants, because he’s bringing this – and brings out a ladder from underneath the ring. He sets up the ladder and climbs to the top, taunting Shane. Crow is going crazy and chanting London’s name. Talk about getting over.

    THE SAT vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS and DONOVAN MORGAN is the first match of the tag tournament. The SAT run wild at first but Daniels and Morgan slow it down by getting in control and working over Joel. Three men end up on the outside and Joel goes for a running dive, but gets tripped up by Simply Luscious. Some random woman I can’t identify comes out from the back and climbs up to the top rope to hit a moonsault onto Luscious and Daniels, then carries Luscious out to the back. Back in the ring the SAT get in control, setting up Daniels for a Spanish fly. Morgan pulls Jose off but Joel is still able to hit the move. Morgan breaks up the pin and throws Joel outside. Daniels hits Jose with an enzighiri and Morgan follows up with a sit-out pedigree type move for the win. Daniels and Morgan advance. Decent opening tag. **1/2

    JAMES MARITATO and TONY MAMALUKE vs. DICK TOGO and IKUTO HIDAKA in a tournament match. Maritato and Mamaluke are still in conflict over whether they should embrace or reject their old FBI roots. Maritato and Hidaka have a good opening sequence. Maritato does a lot of fun bumping throughout the match. Mamaluke hits a really great looking dragon screw on Hidaka. Unfortunately Togo isn’t in the match as much as I wish he were, but his stuff looks good whenever he is. All four men trade moves toward the end until Hidaka takes Maritato out and Togo hits Mamaluke with the pedigree followed by top rope senton for the win. Togo and Hidaka advance. ***

    Gary Michael Capetta comes out to interview Mamaluke and Maritato about their differences. The two end up arguing. Maritato challenges Mamaluke to a match at the next show, but Mamaluke says why wait. So we have TONY MAMALUKE vs. JAMES MARITATO. Match starts off quick with Mamaluke hitting a belly to belly suplex and going for a Russian legsweep off the apron, but Maritato holds onto the ropes and Mamaluke takes out the guardrail. Outside Maritato goes after Mamaluke with the ringbell, but Mamaluke drop toeholds him into it, busting him open. Maritato gets some offense back in the ring but Mamaluke hits him with a low blow and rolls him up. Maritato is able to grab the ropes but the ref is out of position and counts him down anyway, giving Mamaluke the cheap win. Very short match and they kept things moving. **1/4

    CHRIS DIVINE and QUIET STORM vs. BRYAN DANIELSON and MIKE MODEST in the tag tournament. Modest is a gaijin from NOAH. Danielson does some technical wrestling with Divine and Storm to start off and the two do not turn in good performances. Danielson is able to work a nice sequence around an arm scissors with Divine though. Modest tags in and kills Divine with stiff forearms and the match gets better from here. Danielson and Storm have a decent strike exchange on the outside while Divine and Modest fight in the ring. Divine hits a great brainbuster and goes to the top rope, but Modest cuts him off and hits a bridging Fisherman’s Suplex from the top rope for the win. **1/2

    DA HIT SQUAD vs. THE NATURAL BORN SINNERS is the next scheduled match in the tournament, but the Carnage Crew attack Da Hit Squad on their way to the ring and lay them out with chair shots and hubcap shots. They had also attacked the Sinners in the back. The Carnage Crew are angry they’re not part of the tournament. The match can’t take place, so it’s ruled a no-contest with Danielson and Modest advancing to the finals automatically.

    CHRISTOPHER DANIELS and DONOVAN MORGAN vs. IKUTO HIDAKA and DICK TOGO in the semi-finals. Good match. They go back and forth for a while in the beginning until Daniels and Morgan isolate Hidaka. Hidaka comes back with a springboard DDT and tags in Togo and they all have a really good homestretch. Lots of big moves and nearfalls. Daniels hits the Angel’s Wings on Hidaka but he’s able to kick out. After some more spots, Danielson catches Hidaka with the STO near the ropes – close enough for Morgan who’s on the floor to hold down his legs allowing Daniels to get the cheap win off the STO. Daniels and Morgan advance. ***1/4

    ALEX ARION vs. DUNN next. Dunn in a singles match! This was supposed to be Dunn and Marcos vs. Arion and Nana, but Nana still can’t wrestle due to the concussion he got from Low Ki. Quick squash, Arion wins with a top rope splash. Not worth rating. Nana offers Arion the opportunity to be his servant post-match, but Arion superkicks him instead.

    LOW KI vs. XAVIER for the ROH Title. Xavier? Well, before the match at Crowning a Champion, Xavier asked Low Ki if he would give him a title shot if he won, and after Low Ki defended against AJ Styles on the last show, Xavier reiterated his challenge in the back. Xavier’s had a pretty solid record starting out, and has respected the Code of Honor, so Low Ki accepted his challenge. This match actually starts out pretty good as they trade very stiff chops, kicks and other assorted strikes. Eventually the match becomes very unfocused, and they go very long, so the match definitely deteriorates. But still, Low Ki busts out a super stiff kick or chop every now and then, so it stays interesting to some extent. About twenty minutes in, Christopher Daniels slowly and quietly walks down the entrance way. Xavier focuses his attack on Low Ki’s injured ankle, but misses a 450 Splash. With Xavier down, Low Ki notices Christopher Daniels. He walks up to Daniels to confront him, but Xavier comes from behind and takes his knee out with a chop block. Xavier and Daniels stare at each other for striking a post together. They’re in cahoots! Daniels sets a big concrete slab used to hold the ring barricades on top of Low Ki’s body and Xavier drives it into Low Ki’s ribs with a chair. Low Ki slowly, and I meanly slowly, crawls back into the ring while coughing up blood. Once he rolls his body under the ropes and into the ring, Xavier comes off the top with his 450 Splash – and wins! XAVIER is the new Ring of Honor Champion! The crowd is in stunned silence, a few booing, a few cheering. Simply Luscious and Donovan Morgan come out with an ROH banner and drape it over Low Ki’s lifeless body while Xavier poses over him with the ROH belt. Well, the match wasn’t good, and Xavier winning the title is an infamously strange move. But it sure is a big moment. **

    TAKAO OMORI vs. SONNY SIAKI next. Kind of a dull match. Probably well placed because the crowd was going to be distracted after that title change, so put on a match that’s really just extraneous to any of the angles going on without any full time ROH guys. Omori ends up winning with a piledriver variation. *1/2

    CM PUNK comes out to the ring, making his first appearance in ROH. The crowd chants his name as he’s already hot on the indies. Punk’s glad wrestling is back in Philadelphia and announces that he’s debuting in ROH in November. Colt Cabana comes out an announces he’s coming to ROH too.

    JAY BRISCOE vs. AMAZING RED in a rematch of the first official ROH match. In a pre-match interview Jay is DETERMINED not to lose in ROH anymore. Mark offers to manage Red, but Red superkicks him before heading out to the ring. The first half of this match is BAD. They do some mat wrestling, rope running exchanges and strike exchanges, and boy are they not on the same page. Bad, awkward looking stuff. The match gets a bit better when Red hits a tilt-a-whirl reverse DDT, but it’s still not very good. The match redeems itself at the very end though. Red hits a Code Red off the top rope and a standing SSP for a big nearfall. Crowd goes crazy for that. Red tries to follow it up with another Code Red but Jay blocks it, flips Red forward onto the back of his head, hits a nasty powerbomb and then a Jay Driller for the win. Really good ending but a really rough match before that. **. Post match Special K come in to attack Red, but the SAT come out to take out Special K, and hit Elax with the Spanish Fly.

    PAUL LONDON vs. MICHAEL SHANE in a Street Fight. London starts off hot but Michael Shane spears him while he’s trying to skin the cat in a cool spot. London gets a chair out from under the ring and Shane dives over the top rope and flips onto London holding the chair. They go back and forth with the big spots from here on out, both men bringing out ladders and hitting each other with them. London headsissors Shane through a table on the outside. It’s a fine enough spotfest for most of the match but it’s the last couple minutes that make this one of the legendary matches of Golden Age ROH. London hits a crazy move, running up a ladder leaning against the turnbuckle and hitting a flip off of it to the outside. Huge pop for that one and one of the spots that ROH would have on highlight videos and such for a long time to come. Back in the ring London tries to leapfrog off a ladder onto Shane but Shane catches him in a powerbomb in another great looking spot. London kicks out of Shane’s elbow and Shane kicks out of London’s Shooting Star Press. Shane hits an elbow off the top of a ladder but London kicks out again. Shane tries to ascend the ladder again but London knocks him off it with a kick, and then ascends up the rickety, twisted ladder himself as the crowd famously chants “please don’t die,” and comes off the top of it with a Shooting Star Press for the win. Crowd goes absolutely nuts for that finish and give both guys a long standing ovation post-match. In one night London went from a low-profile TWA guy on the undercard to maybe the hottest guy on the indies and established a crowd connection that made him arguably the most popular ROH wrestler until he signed with WWE next year. The match is a solid spotfest with some outstanding spots at the end, but the implications of this match make it special. ***3/4. Post match Shane pretends the shake London’s hand and congratulate him, but instead attacks him to big heat.

    CHRISTOPHER DANIELS and DONOVAN MORGAN vs. BRYAN DANIELSON and MIKE MODEST in the finals to crown the first ever ROH Tag Team Champions. Pretty good final. Daniels and Morgan work over Danielson in the beginning and go after his knee. Morgan gets the hot tag and all four guys trade some moves. Daniels hits a beautiful Arabian press; Danielson hits him with a tope right after but Danielson hurts his knee more off of it. Back in the ring the four guys trade more moves and nearfalls. Danielson sets Daniels up on the top for a back suplex, but Morgan grabs his leg, allowing Daniels to land on top of him. Danielson bridges out of the pin but he bridges right into position for Daniels to hit the Last Rites for the win. Daniels and Morgan are the first ever ROH tag champs. ***. Post match, Danielson and Morgan destroy the trophy presented to Daniels and Morgan. But The Prophecy, led by Christopher Daniels, still now control all the titles in Ring of Honor.

    One thing you can’t say about this show is that it was uneventful. This wasn’t a great show by any stretch of the imagination, but damn did a lot happen. XAVIER becomes ROH champion, the first tag champs are crowned in a tournament, London and Shane have one of the legendary matches of ROH history making London an instant star, CM Punk makes his first appearance, the commentary team that would be with us for a long time to come also debut. This show felt LONG, though it’s the same length as all the other shows so far. Not necessarily in a bad way, just the way the show is paced combined with all the stuff going on. 6/10

  25. #25
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    As junky as a lot of ROH cards had a tendency to be, this one seems indie as all get out. Modest and Morgan in the main event seems like something that was supposed to be memorable, but Xavier, London, and Shane totally stole the show. I honestly can't remember anything else on the show, even Dick Togo in ROH seems like a blur. Mamaluke vs Maritato on the undercard? Seems like all this was missing is Scoot Andrews. Where the hell was Scoot?

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    Scoot might be pretty much gone at this point. I think he just showed up once in an inconsequential undercard performance through all of 2003. Gabe on commentary kept pushing the “unscripted” title of the show because of all the problems they had getting the show together, which could explain the especially jankiness of this one.

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    Bruce Prichard ruined Dick Togo for me.

    Not that Dickie's a bad wrestler. But ever since I heard Brother Brucie call him "Dick To Go", I can't help but have to laugh. Hard to take him seriously.

  28. #28
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    I don't think Togo takes himself that seriously either. Honestly I was scared as hell when he and the gang kept attacking TAKA (and I didn't really believe Bradshaw could save him). If Togo wanted, he could probably muscle his way to the top of any promotion. Dick To-go should be huge in the States...

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re still in Philadelphia for GLORY BY HONOR, October 5th, 2002. This is the first of any of the events that would go on to be ROH’s yearly big shows and is being billed as the biggest ROH show yet, scheduled to feature the much-hyped debut of Samoa Joe, as well as Steve Corino’s in-ring debut.

    THE SAT vs. CHRIS DIVINE and QUIET STORM vs. IZZY and DIXIE vs. HOMICIDE starts us off. Homicide is alone because his regular partner Boogalou got taken out last show. A usual opening scramble tag. Pretty good spotfest, less botches than normal for these kind of matches at this point. Non stop moves and spots. Good dive sequence featuring a wild corkscrew moonsault from Izzy. Homicide ends up hitting Izzy with the Cop Killa and then locking the STF on Dixie for the submission victory. Homicide wins the match by himself, setting him up for his transition to becoming one of the top singles wrestlers in the company. **3/4

    After the match, the Backsteat Boyz run in through the crowd! The crowd pops big as they’re top stars in CZW. ROH and CZW have started promoting shows together, but Gabe says there isn’t any talent exchange agreement, so this might be the only ROH vs. CZW match ever. The Backseats say they wanted to challenge the winner of this match but Homicide doesn’t have a partner. Homicide says he’ll team with anyone in the back willing to come out, and out comes Steve Corino. So we get THE BACKSEAT BOYZ vs. HOMICIDE and STEVE CORINO. Good match. No tags as it’s somewhat being contested under CZW rules. Fast pace, lots of back and forth, non stop action. Homicide hits a beautiful tope con hilo on Trent. All four guys trade lots of moves and nearfalls. Corino hits Kashmere with a suplex off the top rope and Homicide follows it up with a headbutt off the top and covers him, but Corino pushes him off because he wants the pin for himself! Kashmere kicks out. Right after this, Kashmere ducks as Homicide goes for an elbow strike and he hits Corino by mistake! Corino responds with a superkick to Homicide and walks out, leaving him alone for the Backseat Boyz to hit the T Gimmick for the win. ***. The Homicide/Corino feud begins.

    CHRISTOPHER STREET CONNECTION and ALLISON DANGER vs. CHRISTIAN YORK, JOEY MATTHEWS and ALEXIS LAREE. Very gimmicky match but not really entertaining. Laree eventually gets some offense on the CSC but they are able to get back in control and hit her with the Gay Basher and let Allison pin her for the win. *1/4

    JAMES MARITATO vs. TONY MAMALUKE next. Maritato has a promo pre-match where he talks about his history with the FBI gimmick and how his career can only advance if he leaves it behind him. The match is for control of the FBI gimmick, if Mamaluke wins it continues, but if Maritato wins it’s dead forever. This match is not good. The technical/mat wrestling stuff they start out with is bad, and as the match progresses it just stays dull with a lot of awkward spots. These guys just weren’t on the same page at all. Mamaluke wins it with a superplex into a front guillotine. *1/2

    IKUTO HIDAKA vs. AMAZING RED. These guys have a good, fast paced match. Lots of high flying spots, some don’t come off too well, but enough do for it to be good and have a nice competitive feel. The ending couple minutes are really good. They have a good roll up sequence. Red hits a really cool Code Red where he slingshots over the ropes into it. Hidaka goes for a powerbomb but Red turns it into a facebuster, hits the Infrared and his heel comes down right on Hidaka’s face, immediately swelling it. Red following it up with the standing SPP for the win. ***1/4

    FAST EDDIE vs. DON JUAN for Eddie’s EWA TV title from TWA. Unexpectedly good three or four minute sprint. Fast Eddie looks especially good with a nice spinning heel kick, German suplex and big Asai moonsault. Don Juan takes a big bump through the ropes to the outside. No downtime here as they just trade moves back and forth, but they’re able to make it feel like a fast paced competitive match. Eddie wins with a backflip fall away slam off the second rope. **3/4

    After the match, Michael Shane and Biohazard come out to attack Eddie and Juan. Rudy Boy Gonzalez gets in the ring to back Shane and Biohazard off, but out comes Steve Corino. Corino had been badmouthing Rudy Boy on commentary all year, and now runs him down on the mic. Rudy grabs the mic and challenges him to a match, leading to STEVE CORINO vs. RUDY BOY GONZALEZ in a Texas Death match. Rudy Boy attacks Corino with the mic and Corino bleeds big right away. Rudy Boy is bleeding soon after as they fight on the floor. Good brawl with nice strikes and plenty of blood. Rudy Boy takes some nice bumps on the floor. Corino eventually gets Rudy Boy in the Cobra Clutch. Rudy Boy’s hand falls three times and he then can’t answer the 10 count under Texas Death Match rules, giving Corino the win. ***. Corino, Shane and Biohazard continue to attack him post-match, but Pula London comes out with a ladder to defend him. London sets up the ladder on the turnbuckle and again hits his run-up front flip to the outside on Shane and Biohazard. London takes a crazy bump, flying over the guardrails. Shane wants to get back at London, but Corino holds him back, saying the time isn’t right.

    SAMOA JOE vs. LOW KI in a Fight Without Honor. Joe is coming in as The Prophecy’s hired assassin to take out Low Ki. This is a brutal match, they just kill each other with chops and kicks. Joe hits Low Ki with just about the stiffest slaps you’ve ever seen. They go toe to toe with the strikes all match, mixing in submissions and a couple big moves. Low Ki hits a great Tiger Suplex on Joe, and a nasty back suplex dropping him on his head later in the match. At the end Low Ki just unloads on Joe with kicks and clubbing strikes to the head until Joe collapses and Low Ki is able to cover him for the win. Great stiff match that debuts Joe in a big way. ***3/4. Even though Joe is with The Prophecy, Joe respects Low Ki so much after that fight that he shakes Low Ki’s hand.

    JAY BRISCOE vs. XAVIER in a non-title match. They work even with the mat and technical wrestling for a while until Xavier gets into control. Briscoe comes back with a great looking Death Valley Driver, but missed a dive to the outside. The match is pretty average up to this point, but does get good toward the end as they trade some big moves. Xavier hits a big powerbomb and lifts Jay back up for another one, but Jay slips out and hits the Jay Driller to pin the ROH Champion! **3/4. Daniels and Samoa Joe come out and they and Xavier attack Jay until Low Ki and Doug Williams come to his recue.

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. DA HIT SQUAD in a Street Fight. Really fun garbage brawl. Da Hit Squad come in through the crowd and come in the ring with a section of the barricade, attacking the Carnage Crew with it. Maff hits a HUGE tope onto the other three guys on the outside, taking out an entire side of barricades and a section of seating. They brawl throughout the crowd for the rest of the match, hitting each other with stiff chair shots and throwing each other through the seating. Devito hits an elbow drop off of a chair. DHS tease a powerbomb off an elevated stage through a table, but the Carnage Crew fight back and hit Maff with a spiked piledriver off the stage through the table for the win. ***1/4

    MICHAEL SHANE vs. PAUL LONDON vs. SPANKY in a three way elimination match. Decent enough match at first. They go back and forth with spots pretty evenly. Nothing too noteworthy. London hits Shane with an SSP off of Spanky’s back in a pretty cool spot. Later London jumps over Shane off the top rope trying to his an SSP on Spanky, but Spanky moves and hits London with the Sliced Bread Number Two. Shane hits Spanky with a superkick and covers London to eliminate him himself. Crowd boos for London’s elimination. With London out, Shane and Spanky really don’t have much chemistry for a while and the crowd is pretty out of it. The crowd gets a bit more into it as the match goes on getting behind Spanky, and the match picks up a bit toward the end. Shane ends up winning with the superkick followed by the top rope elbow. This whole thing felt very long. **1/4

    CHRISTOPHER DANIELS vs. DOUG WILLIAMS is the main event. If Daniels wins, Williams can never shake hands in Ring of Honor again. They have a decent enough technical back and forth to start off. The match gets sort of bogged down for a while and not very interesting, but they do pick it up a bit toward the end. Daniels counters the Chaos Theory a bunch of times. Williams finally hits it up Daniels gets the ropes. Right after, Daniels trips Williams and covers him with his feet on the ropes for the cheap in. **3/4. Dick Togo, with crutches, and Jay Briscoe come out post-match to beat up Christopher Daniels.

    I really don’t know why they decided to bill this as their biggest show yet. The ROH title isn’t even defended, but the champion loses clean in a non-title match. The main event is a totally unremarkable thirteen minute Christopher Daniels vs. Doug Williams match. Low Ki vs. Joe is great and Joe’s debut is a big deal, but that’s the only thing at all remarkable about this show. Maybe they just decided they wanted four big shows a year and they wanted one of them in October. 5/10.

  30. #30
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    Corino and Homicide were a team? I thought their beef was offstage and deep. Man, they hated eachother!

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    We’re still in Philadelphia for ALL STAR EXTRAVAGANZA, November 9th, 2002. This show features Shinjiro Otani and Masato Tanaka from ZERO-1 in the main event, facing off against Corino and Low Ki. Corino and Homicide argue in the back about last show in the pre-show segment.

    SAT vs. DA HIT SQUAD vs. DIXIE and JOEY MATTHEWS vs. CHRIS DIVINE and QUIET STORM starts the show. The first couple minutes of this are kind of rough but this turns out to be a very fun match, definitely the best of these scramble tags so far. Da Hit Squad are a nice addition to the match, hitting big moves and taking some big bumps themselves. Maff actually sells quite a bit for Dixie. The match is fast paced and doesn’t go too long. Good string of big moves and spots mostly pulled off well. The SAT hit a cool double-team rolling German suplex spot on Dixie, and later end up hitting him with the Spanish Fly for the win. ***

    Christopher Daniels cuts a promo with The Prophecy backstage. Now that they have all the titles, no title match in Ring of Honor will take place under the Code of Honor. Samoa Joe lets him know that he’s part of the Prophecy because he’s getting paid by Daniels to take care of business, but he won’t compromise his integrity by breaking the Code of Honor.

    CM PUNK vs. MICHAEL SHANE in Punk’s debut match. This is the first match of a number one contender’s gauntlet. Punk is already very over with the crowd, being one of the bigger names on the indies outside ROH. They have a competently enough executed match but it’s not really all that exciting. Long and competitive and makes Punk look like a big deal right off the bat, though. Shane ends up reversing a roll up and grabbing the ropes for the cheap win to big heat from the crowd. **1/2

    PAUL LONDON vs. MICHAEL SHANE is the next match in the gauntlet. Shane throws London to the floor early on and throws him through a guardrail and hits a suplex on the floor. Back in the ring Shane continues to work over London. Shane hits a gutbuster on London and London sells it big, selling that he’s injured. This lowers Shane’s defenses and when he walks over to pick London back up, London springs up and hits a big DDT for the win. **1/2. Shane gets on the mic, outraged at what he calls a cheap win from London, telling London he refuses to shake his hand. Shane walks backward down the entrance way taunting London, but backs up into none other than TOMMY DREAMER. Big pop and ECW chants. Dreamer forces Shane back in the ring and says he won’t stand for Shane disrespecting the Philadelphia fans. Dreamer gives a long speech praising Ring of Honor. He says that maybe in a couple years WWE will try to take all the talent from ROH just like they did from ECW, but until that happens they should appreciate that they have something special. When Dreamer drops the mic, Shane hits London with a superkick, so Dreamer hits him with a Dreamer DDT to a big pop and raises London’s hand.

    AMAZING RED vs. PAUL LONDON is the next match in the gauntlet. They start off with a nice sequence ending up with Red hitting London with a spinning DDT on the floor. Back in the ring they do some more fun fast paced spots, including a big hurricanrana from Red with both guys standing on the top rope. London hits a sit-out slam followed by the SSP for the win. **3/4.

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. PAUL LONDON next in the gauntlet. Danielson dominates starting out, on the mat and also laying into London on the feet with nasty European uppercuts and chops. London fights back in the DDT and a couple big moves, and flips out of a top rope back suplex attempt to hit a Russian legsweep on Danielson off the second rope. He goes up for the SSP but Danielson cuts him off and hits a superplex. London is able to fight off a Dragon Suplex attempt with a roll-up, but a minute later Danielson hits the Dragon Suplex and follows it up with the Cattle Mutilation for the win. Good match. It was clear Danielson was carrying it, but London is noticeably improving. ***1/4. The finals of the gauntlet will take place later in the show, with Danielson and AJ Styles facing off for the Number One Contender’s Trophy.

    CHRISTOPHER DANIELS, DONOVAN MORGAN and SAMOA JOE vs. LOW KI, HOMICIDE and DOUG WILLIAMS for the ROH Tag Title. Yes, a six-man tag for the tag titles, held by Daniels and Morgan. It isn’t specified which two men would become champions if the other teams wins. Low Ki and Joe tease starting out the match after their legendary stiff-fest from the last show, but Daniels tags in to fuck with Low Ki. Joe doesn’t appreciate it, teasing more dissension between them. Joe and Low Ki actually never face off for the entire match. Good match, lots of action. Joe and Williams end up having a good opening sequence. Non-stop back and forth. Really good dive segment later in the match, ending with Joe coming over the top rope in a twisting dive. Everyone hits their finishers and big moves back in the ring for an extended homestretch. Joe and Homicide end up alone in the ring and go back and forth, but Joe blocks the Cop Killa, hits Homicide with a powerbomb, and turns him over to choke him out and keep the titles with the Prophecy. ***1/2. Joe shakes hands post-match, but to the chagrin of Daniels and Morgan.

    ALLISON DANGER vs. ALEXIS LAREE next. Gabe is extremely creepy and lecherous on commentary. Pretty much a squash. Danger gets some offense toward the end but Laree quickly wins with the reverse DDT. *. Mace from the Christopher Street Connection attacks Laree post-match.

    THE RING CREW vs. THE CARNAGE CREW. This is the Carnage Crew vs. about six ring crew guys. Total squash, not competitive at all. Short though. Carnage Crew pin Marcos with the second rope spiked piledriver. Not worth rating.

    XAVIER vs. JAY BRISCOE for the ROH Title. Xavier’s first title defense. Jay earned a shot by beating him clean in a non-title match last show. They gradually build the match by doing some even back and forth on the mat and with basic moves. Not bad but nothing noteworthy. The match picks up when Xavier throws Jay outside and hits his awesome Arabian press moonsault to the outside by jumping off the top rope. That move is definitely the coolest thing Xavier ever does. He kicks a chair into Jay’s face and Jay is busted open. Xavier works over Jay’s cut for a while. Jay comes back with some big moves. As the match wears on Jay is really good selling, even when he’s on offense, collapsing while trying to hit a Jay Driller, and only barely getting Xavier up for a powerbomb and collapsing himself as he slams him down. They trade their big moves for a while and Jay goes up for a moonsault, but Simply Luscious crotches him on the top rope. Xavier capitalizes with a hanging X-Breaker Rick Rude style neckbreaker for the win and a successful defense. ***.

    AJ STYLES vs. BRYAN DANIELSON for the Number One Contender’s Trophy. Classic match. They start off with an excellent scramble on the mat, one of the better ones you’ll see. The match it super hard-hitting throughout, uppercuts, chops, slaps. Danielson gets busted open hardway somewhere on his eyebrow and he’s not bleeding a ton, but it just looks nasty and makes the match feel even more hard-fought. They do an awesome test of strength spot, with Danielson hitting headbutts and AJ blocking one with an elbow out of the tie-up position. They do a good job teasing some of their bigger moves early on into the phase of the match where they’re starting to bust out the moves, and then paying them off in the final minutes. Danielson kicks out of a Styles Clash but comes back with a Dragon Suplex. He locks on a Cattle Mutilation and tries to turn it into a cradle in an awesome spot, but AJ kicks out. Danielson goes up top but AJ crotches him, snatches him off the top rope in position for the Styles Clash, rams his head into the turnbuckle and slams him on the mat a couple of times until Danielson is weakened enough for AJ to hit the second Styles Clash for the win. ****1/4

    STEVE CORINO and LOW KI vs. SHINJIRO OTANI and MASATO TANAKA is our main event. Crowd goes nuts for Otani. This is really the first time a really major Japanese star appears in ROH. Really fun match. Crowd loves everything Otani does, and goes crazy for his bootscrape spot. Otani and Tanaka take most of the match. Corino is good selling for then. Low K is surprisingly unremarkable throughout the match, though he does his a nice Tidal Crush kick. Corino makes a comeback and hits some big moves, but when holding up Tanaka for Low Ki to kick, Tanaka moves and Low Ki takes him out. Otani capitalizes with his springboard dropkick to Corino for a big pop, and follows up with a spinning powerbomb for the win. Really fun crowd-pleasing main event. ***1/4

    In the post-show segment, Homicide attacks Corino with his GHETTO FORK. Da Hit Squad freak out about him breaking his parole and hustle him out of the building. The big Homicide/Corino feud is underway!

    This is probably the second best show of the year. Strong if unremarkable undercard, a match of the year candidate in Danielson/Styles, and a really fun main event with a Otani’s appearance feeling like a big deal. 7.5/10

  32. #32
    What the fucks up Dennys! Nash Diesel's Avatar
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    I remember these days. I was still neck deep in wrestling magazines as Youtube wasn't a thing yet and I was poor as fuck so ordering tapes or anything like that was out of the question. I remember reading about Chris Hero, CM Punk, and Homicide wrestling for IWA Mid-South I think, doing some crazy ass TLC shit. I just remember being very interested in CM Punk because my initials were CM. I never even saw the guy, just read about him in the PWI 500 or some super small recap of indy events that PWI or whoever would cover.

    ROH....I felt like Kurt Cobain reading about the Sex Pistols and being a fan without ever hearing the music. I remember reading about ROH and not seeing a match until Morishima was the World champion but always a fan. Thank God for TNA, they had that working relationship with ROH so I was able to see Aries, Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal, and many others including mainstays in TNA like Styles and Daniels so I had an idea of what ROH was capable of.

    These early years are insane. I have some old shit on DVD, these "best of" type DVD's or Year 1, 2, 3, etc. Love it, especially the 2nd-3rd year stuff when like Joe was just getting to the top as well as Punk.

  33. #33
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    Back in the day, the boards had a thread where people used to upload matches on Mega Upload and Rapidshare. Then WWE hit them with a C&D letter and everything was fucked for a while.

    That was largely the first place I ever saw any Ring of Honor.

  34. #34
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re out of Philadelphia for the second time, back in Wakefield, Massachusetts for SCRAMBLE MADNESS, November 16th, 2002.

    JAY BRISCOE and AMAZING RED vs. MARK BRISCOE and CHRISTOPHER DANIELS is our first match. Daniels is Mark’s mystery partner, and declares before the match that Mark is the newest member of the Prophecy. Jay protests but Mark attacks him from behind to start the match, ignoring the Code of Honor. All four guys go back and forth to start off until in a cool spot, Daniels bends through the ropes while Mark Irish whips read and backdrops him to the outside. Mark and Daniels work over Red for a long while. Red is able to hit a reverse DDT on Daniels, but after being worked over for so long, is so out of it he tries to tag in the wrong Briscoe! Mark comes in a hits him with a big powerbomb. Shortly later Red is able to hit Daniels with a hurricanrana and final make the hot tag to Jay. Jay runs wild on Daniels and Mark. Red tags back in and Jay clotheslines Mark over the top rope, and the two fight on the floor while Red hits Daniels with some big moves in the ring. Daniels is able to reverse one of Red’s moves into the Last Rites, though, for the win. Good opener. ***1/4

    ALEXIS LAREE vs. MACE next. Mace of Christopher Street Connection. Gabe informs us Buffy has left Mace because he’s found someone better. Very sad. Quick, not too entertaining comedy squash with Laree winning. *

    Steve Corino cuts a promo with a patch over his eye from Homicide’s fork attack. He says he hates the ROH fans, and Homicide will pay for what he did.

    XAVIER vs. JEREMY LOPEZ in a non-title match. Xavier is against a no-name guy in a non-title match because the Prophecy says the Boston fans don’t deserve to see a title match. This looks like it’s going to be an extended squash for Xavier, but after a while Lopez actually gets a run of offense and looks pretty decent. He hits a nice top rope dropkick and a tornado underhook DDT into a Tiger Drive. They trade some big moves and nearfalls before Xavier hits the X-Breaker followed by the 450 splash for the win. **1/2

    DA HIT SQUAD vs. TOMY MAMALUKE and MAT THOMPSON. Thompson is a super skinny, super tall rookie who Gabe says is in only his fourth or fifth match of his career. He’s legal briefly in the beginning and hits a nice springboard cross body, but otherwise is very, very obviously green. Most of the match after that is Da Hit Squad working over Mamaluke. Eventually the crowd starts to cheer and chant for Mamaluke to tag in Thompson. They pop big when he does, and Thompson hits a nice top rope springboard moonsault when he comes in. But other than that still seems very awkward. Mamaluke gets Maff in a guillotine choke but neither of them are legal. Monsta Mack hits Thompson with the Burning Hammer for the win. *1/2

    SAT, CHRIS DIVINE, QUIET STORM and AMAZING RED vs. DERANGED, IZZY, SLIM J, ANGEL DUST and JOEY MATTHEWS in what is being billed as the biggest scramble tag ever. This turns out to be a really fun match with a super hot crowd. These matches sort of always aspire to be an MPro multi-man tag, and this is definitely the closest they’ve gotten yet to really attaining that feel and quality. Lots of crowd-pleasing multi-man spots. Special K hit a wild five-man dive on all of their opponents. SAT and Quiet Storm hit top rope powerbombs on four of the Special K guys while Red hits a dive on Matthews over the top. Matthews then comes back in, low blows SAT and Quiet Storm, and the four Special K guys hit them all with top rope moonsaults. Crowd goes nuts for some big spots like all of the faces hitting Deranged with dropkicks while he’s in the tree of woe over and over again, and later in the match Joel killing Angel Dust with repeated powerboms. There are still some botches here, but much less noticable than usual as the match is worked at a very fast paced and something new is happening all the time. Red ends up winning it with an Infrared on Deranged (who is making his debut). The best of these matches they’ve done so far easily. ***1/2

    DUNN AND MARCOS vs. SAMOA JOE. Total squash. A pretty fun one, Joe dishes out a nice beating and Dunn and Marcos take it well. Joe pins Dunn with the Island Driver. **

    PAUL LONDON and RUDY BOY GONZALEZ vs. MICHAEL SHANE and BIOHAZARD in a Street Fight. These guys work hard but the match never really comes together. Rudy Boy putting Michael Shane in a tarantula is definitely the highlight of the match. They brawl around, Shane gets knocked off the top rope through a table, they do a couple very basic spots with a ladder. London lifts Biohazard up to Rudy Boy on the top rope and they hit him with a double top rope powerbomb for the win. **1/4

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. FAST EDDIE, DON JUAN and ALEX ARION next. This is the first appearance of Masada as the third man of the Carnage Crew. With Hernandez replacing Arion, in 2003 these teams would have some awesome brawls, but this is much more of a standard wrestling match. It’s actually quite good, everything is executed well and the match flows well. Even though it’s mostly wrestling, Loc still hits Arion with a chair for a nearfall. Eddie does some nice high flying including a great asai moonsault on the outside and jumping off a kneeling Arion to hit Masada with a hurricanrana off the top. Carnage Crew ends up hitting Eddie with the second rope spike piledriver for the win. **3/4

    SAMOE JOE vs. HOMICIDE in Homicide’s first ROH singles match. Really good hard hitting match. Lots of stiff strikes throughout. Homicide going toe to toe with Joe like this and trading big strikes and moves really starts his singles push off right. There’s a great spot early on where Homicide tries to lock in the STF, but Joe crawls to the outside while Homicide hits him with crossfaces as Joe’s crawling out, and then with Joe still disoriented on the floor, Homicide comes out with the tope con hilo. They bust out some big moves back and forth. Some HUGE slap exchanges toward the end. Joe locks Homicide in the choke but Homicide is able to get to the ropes. Shortly later, Homicide reverses a lariat attempt by Joe into a rollup for the win. ***1/4

    AJ STYLES vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS for AJ’s Number One Contender Trophy. Daniels wants to win so he can just make sure Xavier never has to defend his title and it stays with the Prophecy. These guys have a very competently executed but not very entertaining match. Daniels takes the majority of the match. AJ comes back with an inverse DDT toward the end and then after a series of reversals ends up with Daniels in position for the Styles Clash and hits it for the win. **1/2. Xavier comes out post-match and they team up on Styles. Red and the SAT come out to even the odds. Styles hits Xavier with the Styles Clash. They’ll face off for the ROH Title next show.

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. DOUG WILLIAMS in a thirty minute Ironman match is our main event. Really great opening matwork for the first ten minutes or so. Very competitive and hard fought with lots of great little moments. Really cool spot where Williams has Danielson in a leg-split, and Danielson hits up, grabs Williams in a cravat and tosses him through the bottom ropes to the outside. They very gradually start to mix in some hard strikes and basic slams to progress the match. Williams locks in a really cool Gory Special variation. They start to trade bigger moves and after a long series of reversals, Danielson hits a Dragon Suplex for a near fall. With Williams still dazed, Danielson immediately hits a second Dragon Suplex for the first fall around 18 minutes in. Williams is able to block a third Dragon Suplex and a Cattle Mutilation attempt and hits Danielson with a slam, and follows it up a bit later with a nice suicide dive. Williams gets some offense in and they trade big moves, selling the fatigue really well. Williamson gets in control again and hits a Chaos Theory for the near fall. Williams unloads on Danielson with the clock running out, hitting another Chaos Theory but Danielson gets the ropes. Danielson survives a brainbuster and starts to fight back while laid out on the mat and on his knees. He’s able to hit a top rope back suplex with about a minute left. Williams it able to get a cradle for a nearfall and locks in a crossface. He wrenches on it but the clock expires and Danielson wins 1-0. This went by really fast for thirty minutes. Great technical match and a real hidden gem for early ROH. ****

    Good show overall. Good opener and great main event. Mostly good undercard. Decent undercard. 7/10

  35. #35
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    I don't remember any of this. I know I've heard of the Iron Man match, but I gotta see this one. I love old Briscoes. And the ISLAND DRIVER~!

  36. #36
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re back in Philadelphia for NIGHT OF THE BUTCHER, December 7th, 2002. The name is in honor of Abdullah the Butcher, who will appear in the main event.

    MICHAEL SHANE vs. JEREMY LOPEZ is our opener. These two have a profoundly boring match. It feels long and nothing at all noteworthy happens. It’s not bad in the sense of being poorly executed, having botches, etc., it’s just very boring. Shane wins with the top rope elbow. *1/2

    CM PUNK vs. COLT CABANA next. Early ROH CM Punk can be really, really unpolished, but he’s much smoother than normally for this stage of his career here, probably because they know each other so well. There’s a cool spot where Punk turns a powerbomb into a monkey flip. Punk surprisingly even hits a reverse hurricanrana, which wasn’t something that got hit all too often back in 2002, compared to now when you see it every other match in every promotion. The match goes a bit too long but is still good overall. Colt hits the Colt 45 and wins! Punk is starting off his ROH career on a losing streak. ***. Gary Michael Capetta comes out post-match and announces that next show Punk and Cabana will have a rematch, with an ROH contract on the line.

    PAUL LONDON vs. EZ MONEY in the first match of a four-man tournament taking place tonight for the Number One Contender’s Trophy, now vacant since AJ is challenging Xavier later. These guys have a pretty good back and forth match with lots of acrobatic stuff, though the crowd never seems too into it. London wins with the leg-trap DDT. **3/4

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. CHAD COLLYER in the second first round match of the number one contender’s tournament. Very technical match. A lethargic crowd holds it back a bit, as well as going a bit too long. But it’s still good. Lots of technical wrestling to start off, Danielson looking very good. Collyer hits a butterfly suplex and Danielson sells that he landed on his knee wrong. I do like spots where a guy sells a body part getting injured even if that part isn’t the ‘main focus’ of the move or spot that just happened. It’s the kind of injury that would actually happen in a real fight environment. Collyer works over the knee for a while. Danielson fights back and hits some of his big moves. Danielson survives Collyer’s Texas Cloverleaf and ends up hitting Collyer in the back of the head with a rolling elbow and follows it with a Dragon Suplex for the win. Danielson advances to face Paul London for the Number One Contender’s Trophy. ***1/4

    DA HIT SQUAD vs. SAT vs. AMAZING RED and JAY BRISCOE vs. JOEY MATTHEWS and DERANGED for the number one contendership for the tag titles. After a really good scramble match last show, this is more a return to early ROH scramble tag form – lots of botches, sloppiness, and going way too long. This match is almost 25 minutes. To its credit, this is definitely the match the crowd is most into of the night so far. Big spot of the match is Amazing Red superplexing Deranged off the top onto a pile of everyone else on the outside. The match does pick up toward the end. Red hits Joel Maximo with an F-5! Joel then comes back to hit him with rolling piledrivers. SAT end up winning with their gimmicky double team submission that’s a sort of Gory Special-camel clutch combination to two guys at once, locking it in on Matthews and Deranged for the submission and the win. **1/2

    JEFF STARR and SHOCKWAVE vs. QUIET STORM and CHRIS DIVINE. This is just about the most jobbery match-up on paper in ROH history. Pretty nothing of a match. Storm ends up killing Starr with the Storm Cradle Driver for the win. **. CW Anderson comes out and commentary treats it like a big deal, that he was fired and this is presented as a worked shoot. This was supposed to play into Corino’s stable that will be teased early in 2003, but never panned out. CW SHOOTS on Gabe! CW and Gabe scream at each other backstage and Gabe’s high pitched yelling is hilarious.

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. PAUL LONDON for the Number One Contender’s Trophy. Their match a few shows ago saw Danielson dominate London, but here they’re evenly matched. They stand toe to toe with strike exchanges to start off. Danielson gets in control for a little bit but London fights back and they trade big moves. Danielson hits a big straightjacket suplex. There’s a really cool spot where they’re exchanging chops on their knees and London ducks one and turns it into a rollup. Danielson hits London with a big top rope back suplex for a nearfall and then locks in the Cattle Mutilation, but London gets to the ropes. Danielson puts London back up on the top rope for another back suplex, but London fights it off with elbows. Danielson keeps trying to run back up the ropes to pull off a big move, but London finally fights him off with forearms and headbutts. Danielson falls off the ropes right into position for London to hit the Shooting Star Press for the win. London is the number one contender. ***1/2

    XAVIER vs. AJ STYLES for the ROH Title. Styles attacks Xavier at the bell and hits the Styles Clash right away, but Simply Luscious puts Xavier’s foot on the ropes. Alexis Laree takes out Luscious for the rest of the match. Once Xavier gets back into the ring these two have a competitive, back and forth match, but something about it just doesn’t click. The crowd is really not into it at all. At one point they do a long roll-up sequence and the crowd is almost eerily silent. It’s still not a bad match, and they try hard. Styles hits a Styles Clash off the second rope but hurts his knee. It takes him a while to make the cover, and when he does Xavier again grabs the ropes for a two count. Back on their feet, Xavier kicks AJ’s knee out from under him. Xavier then crosses AJ’s legs in a figure four type position and turns it into a jackknife pin for the win. **3/4

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. HOMICIDE and ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER in a Bunkhouse Brawl. Abdullah is extremely limited in mobility. He shuffles around ringside taking his fork the Loc’s forehead for the first several minutes of the match while Devito and Homicide fight in the ring off-camera. Eventually Abby starts to match up against Devito in the ring. Homicide goes through a table after missing a tope con hilo, the the Carange Crew double team Abby briefly before Homicide makes his comeback and ends up pinning Loc with the Cop Killer. Very dull match, but at least there was blood. *1/2

    Pretty mediocre show. The main event was bad, but other than that there wasn’t much bad. There were some good matches on the undercard, but nothing too noteworthy either way. 5.5/10

  37. #37
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Philadelphia once again for FINAL BATTLE 2002, December 28th, 2002. Our last show of the year.

    CM PUNK vs. COLT CABANA starts us off. The winner will get an ROH contract with flights and expenses paid for. The crowd is totally dead for this. This match is actually quite good for a while early on, they trade some pretty nice moves including a really cool spot from Punk where Cabana tries to slam him out off the corner but he turns it into a sunset flip, and Cabana hits a nice gutwrench powerbomb. As the match goes on it degenerates though, and they seem to lose focus and get sloppy. Punk ends up winning with the Pepsi Plunge. **1/2

    Homicide comes across the Backseat Boyz backstage, who are now with ROH as regulars. They make peace from the incident as Glory by Honor.

    Christopher Daniels and Simply Luscious come to the ring and complain about Alex Laree taking out Luscious last show. Laree comes out and we get SIMPLY LUSCIOUS vs. ALEXIS LAREE as an impromptu match. Laree dominates but Luscious distracts the ref while Daniels comes in a hits Laree with the Last Rites for Luscious to win. Not worth rating. Pretty lame segment. Then Steve Corino comes out to confront Daniels. Corino says that when ECW closed down he was broke and his career almost over, but he became a big star in ZERO-1. Now he’s putting a group together to fight The Prophecy and take over ROH for themselves. They’re going to take all the ROH titles from The Prophecy in order to do that. Daniels leaves the ring and Corino calls out HOMICIDE. Corino and Homicide brawl. Homicide brings out the fork but Corino bails.

    DA HIT SQUAD vs. BACKSEAT BOYZ vs. DERANGED and ANGEL DUST next. Fun match, a needed change of pace to the lethargic beginning of the show thus far. Deranged and Acid have a strike exchange that ends in a surprisingly cool spot where Deranged goes low for a leg sweep but Trent hits him in the face with a quick low dropkick. Big dive sequence with big dives from Deranged and Angel Dust, a big tope from Maff, and Monsta Mack powerbombing Hyrdo – Jay Lethal making his Special K debut – over the top rope to the outside on everyone else. Da Hit Squad and the Backseats go back and forth in the ring for a while. Da Hit Squad get the advantage and beat down Special K, including Monsta Mack hitting a double German suplex on both Angel Dust and Deranged at once, but the ref gets distracted and the rest of Special K interfere to attack Maff, allowing Deranged and Angel Dust to both roll him up for the win. ***

    CHRISTOPHER DANIELS and DONOVAN MORGAN vs SAT in a two out of three falls match for the ROH Tag Titles. These guys are really not on the same page early on; Morgan seems especially sloppy for a while. The match gets more polished a couple minutes in but it still doesn’t click. Daniels and Morgan isolate Jose and use their heelish tricks to stay in control. Joel gets the hot tag and hits a nice step-up crossbody during his comeback. Daniels dumps Joel outside and Daniels and Morgan hit a powerbomb-neckbreaker combo on Jose and pin him to win the first fall, even though he isn’t the legal man. Daniels and Morgan stay in control throughout the second fall. Joel makes the hot tag to Jose and they hit Daniels with the Spanish Fly for the second fall. In the third fall, Jose tries to lead off of a kneeling Joel to do a flip onto Daniels and Morgan on the outside, but he doesn’t get enough speed and ends up falling onto the apron. Everyone stands around for a while not knowing what to do. Back in the ring everyone hits their big moves for nearfalls until Daniels get Joel with a Last Rites for the win. These guys just had no chemistry at all. **1/4

    AMAZING RED vs. JODY FLEISCH next. Match starts out fun enough with an acrobatic exchange and some big dives. Then Special K wander down to the ring and wander around ringside. Kind of takes the crowd out of the match. Red and Fleisch exchange moves for a while. Special K pull Fleisch out of the way of an Infrared and Fleisch hits the 720 DDT for the win. Short match, around seven minutes. **1/4. Commentary sells this as a travesty as a match that should have been a classic is ruined by Fleisch joining Special K. SAT come down to help Red but Special K has the numbers. Da Hit Squad and JT Smith come down to even the odds but SLUGGA comes out through the crowd as Special K’s muscle and he and Special K beat everyone down. Pretty lame, doesn’t even get heat really, just apathy from the crowd. For a Final Battle this show sucks so far.

    XAVIER vs. PAUL LONDON for the ROH Title. Xavier cuts a brief, decent heel promo before the bell to get heat. He ambushes Paul London early on. London fights back and they go back and forth for a while. Solid enough match, but the crowd is really into booing Xavier and cheering London. Xavier is in control for a while and the crowd keeps booing him. London makes a comeback and hits an SSP to the outside. Back inside he misses his Shooting Star Press off the top and Xavier rolls him up for a nearfall. The crowd get really into the final minutes. London plays possum and surprises Xavier with his leg-hook DDT, for a three count!!! Big pop! But the ref notices Xavier’s foot on the ropes and doesn’t call for the bell. Crowd chants bullshit. Xavier locks in the Cobra Clutch. London kicks off the turnbuckle to turn it into a rollup, but Xavier rolls through and hits the Cobra Clutch Suplex. He follows it up with the X-Breaker for the win. Pretty good match. Crowd was really into London and wanted him to win and Xavier to lose, so this definitely had the best atmosphere for any match on the show so far. ***1/4

    STEVE CORINO vs. SAMOA JOE vs. LOW KI vs. BRYAN DANIELSON for the Number One Contender’s Trophy. Homicide was supposed to be in this match, but Corino takes him out and gets added to the match. The opening is really good with Danielson and Low Ki facing off and having a great, intense mat exchange reminiscent of their classic back in March. Joe and Corino trade some big strikes afterward with Joe coming out on top. The rest of the match just isn’t very good. It’s not too boring since guys are tagging in and out regularly so it never gets bogged down, but it’s just not really noteworthy. Everyone just trades moves with each other in a pretty mediocre match. There is one cool spot where Danielson has Joe in the Cattle Mutilation and Low Ki strikes to double stomp Danielson, but Danielson maintains the bridge. All four guys trade big moves as the last two minutes count down. Low Ki hits Joe with a Ki Crusher and locks Corino in the Dragon Clutch but the forty-five minute time limit expires a second before Corino taps out, ending the match in a time limit draw. ***

    Like at Glory by Honor, ROH kind of shits the bed on what’s supposed to be one of their big shows of the year. Pretty lackluster undercard and a lackluster main event. Xavier/London, the highlight of the show, wasn’t even that great of a match and was mostly carried by the crowd reaction toward the end. But other than that match, the crowd was really lethargic for the whole show. A rather ignoble end to ROH’s first year. 5/10

  38. #38
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    2002 ROH YEAR IN REVIEW

    Top 10 all around MVPs:

    1. LOW KI - Pushed as the top star in the promotion. Most protected guy. Lots of charisma, super intense presence, feels like a real main event star and a step above everyone else on the roster. Tons of great matches. Over with the crowd.

    2. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS - The lesser ring worker of the founding trio, but definitely feels like the top heel. The biggest angle in the company revolves around him. Still a good worker with lots of very good matches throughout the year. Strong promo.

    3. BRYAN DANIELSON - Even in 2002, it's obvious he's on a different level from everyone else in the ring. Of the top three, he's gotten the least push and feels like less of a star. In 2002 his charisma hasn't really developed yet, and he still feels like he lacks a personality. But he's the best wrestler in the promotion, had tons of great matches, and over with the crowd as a top guy.

    4. AJ STYLES - Great worker, good charisma, feels like a big star, over with the crowd. Lots of good matches. Doesn't feel like a main eventer on the level of the top three but after them, he's a step above everyone else on the roster for sure.

    5. AMAZING RED - Most over guy on the undercard. Very flawed as a wrestler but has had good matches and moments and the crowd likes him a lot.

    6. JAY BRISCOE - With Red, the other undercard guy who is decidedly below the main eventers in the pecking order, but shows a lot of promise. Is involved in a prominent angle with Mark. A number of good matches. Shows lot of promise and is reliably on almost every show.

    7. PAUL LONDON - It took him until Unscripted, but once he got over he got over big, and totally organically. In 2002 he's not the level of ring worker he'll end up being in 2003, but you can see him improving every show. Natural connection with the crowd.

    8. SAMOA JOE - Didn't come in until September, but made a big splash when he did. Thanks to his style, size and charisma, he already feels comfortable as a main eventer.

    9. XAVIER - Hey, they gave him the world title. He can get heat at least. He's doing the job they gave him to do and working hard.

    10. MICHAEL SHANE - Pushed as one of the top heels in the promotion. He'll peter out in 2003 and it's not like he's lighting the world on fire in 2002, but he's been booked prominently throughout the year.


    Top 10 matches of the year:
    1. Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson, Round Robin Challenge
    2. AJ Styles vs. Bryan Danielson, All Star Extravaganza
    3. Low Ki vs. Amazing Red, Road to the Title
    4. Low Ki vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Bryan Danielson, Era of Honor Begins
    5. Christopher Daniels vs. Bryan Danielson, Round Robin Challenge
    6. Bryan Danielson vs. Doug Williams, Scramble Madness
    7. Low Ki vs. Samoa Joe, Glory by Honor
    8. Paul London vs. Michael Shane, Unscripted
    9. Low Ki vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams, Crowning a Champion
    10. Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe, Honor Invades Boston


    Top 5 shows of the year:
    1. Road to the Title
    2. All Star Extravaganza
    3. Round Robin Challenge
    4. Scramble Madness
    5. Era of Honor Begins


    Reviews of the 2003 shows can be found in this thread: https://forums.rajah.com/showthread.php?t=154370

    Next, we move on to 2004.

  39. #39
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re into 2004 and in Wilmington, Ohio for THE BATTLE LINES ARE DRAWN, January 10th, 2004. There’s an awesome pre-show segment where Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson compete over who can better apply submissions to two poor young boys in the ring. They stare each other down afterward. Even though they’ll be team players tonight to challenge the Briscoe Brothers for the tag belts, Danielson refuses to shake Joe’s hand – he’s not going to be shaking Joe’s hand until they face off in an ROH title match, and after he wins it.

    MATT STRYKER vs. ALEX SHELLEY is our opening match. This is contested under Pure Title rules, with the first Pure Division Champion set to be crowned at a tournament next month during the second anniversary show. The rules are: 20 count outside the ring, no closed punches, and each wrestler has a limit of three rope breaks, after which rope breaks will not break up a pinfall or submission. They start off with some mat work. Shelley instinctively breaks an arm scissors with a rope break and is frustrated when he realizes he lost one. He later uses his second to break up a pin attempt off of a powerslam. Stryker hits Shelley with a dragon screw off the second rope and works over the knee. Shelley comes back and works over Stryker’s neck. Shelley applies a guillotine choke in the ropes – the ref breaks it up, but controversially charges Stryker with one rope break for doing so. Shelley climbs to the top rope but his leg gives out and he falls over. Stryker puts him in the Stryker lock and he’s forced to use his last rope break. Stryker re-applies the Stryker lock and even though Shelley crawls to the ropes, he’s out of rope breaks and has no choice but to tap. Solid opener and a good introduction to the Pure Division rules. ***

    NIGEL MCGUINNESS vs. CODY HAWK for Nigel’s HWA title. Damn, this match was a pleasant surprise. They start out with some nice British style technical wrestling, Hawk really makes it feel rough as he keeps hitting Nigel with stiff kicks to the ribs whenever he has him in a wristlock. Nigel springboard backflips out of the wristlock and breaks it with a sweet spinning back below. They trade some stiff strikes including a nasty headbutt. On the floor Hawk actually pulls McGuinness’ head into the ringpost just like in the classic 2006 match vs. Bryan Danielson, busting Nigel open. Back in the ring Hawk hits him with a stiff headbutt right in the cut and Nigel is really bleeding now. Hawk unloads his moves on Nigel, with Nigel only able to fight back with intricate roll-up attempts. He finally trips Hawk with a drop toe-hold and rolls him up for the quick pinfall. Really good, stiff match. ***1/2

    Cabana and Ace Steel are having on Good Times Great Memories goofing around, but Punk storms in, pissed off. He tells them they need to be ready to fight the Prophecy tonight to get revenge for Lucy. Tracy Brooks is the new woman with the Second City Saints.

    CHRIS SABIN vs. JIMMY JACOBS next, with the winner getting a spot in the Pure Title tournament at the second anniversary show. There are a couple guys in the crowd who keep heckling and they are really starting to get intolerable. These guys have a mostly unremarkable match and forth match. Nothing really wrong with it. There’s a nice spot at the end where Sabin gets his knees up on a Jacbos senton attempt and Jacobs really lands on them bad. Sabin wins with a sort of sit-out Death Valley Driver from the top rope. Gabe gives it the DANGEROUS treatment but it really doesn’t look that impressive. **1/2

    JIMMY RAVE vs. TODD SEXTON vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN vs. RAINMAN. What a jobberish lineup. Rainman looks ridiculous, with an oversized Red attire and a big sports-jersey shirt that says RAINMAN on the back. The crowd “ironically” gets behind Rainman and cheers for his offense, which is pretty funny. This ends up being a pretty amusing match. A really nice springboard crossbody to the outside from Jimmy Rave, and everyone hits a nice dive in this match. Back in the ring they all trade big moves until Rave reverses a sunset flip from Sexton and hits the Shining Wizard for the win. **3/4. In the back, AJ Styles is proud of Jimmy Rave for finally winning a match. Styles says Rave in finally ready – for a match with him.

    AJ STYLES vs. HOMICIDE next. This match starts off really well. Every move and spot flows really well one into the next, and everything is executed really well. Styles works over Homicide’s ribs, including giving him a nasty kick while Homicide is on all fours. Homicide goes for the tope con hilo but flies over the guardrail. He’s lying on the floor looking like he’s dead. People come out from the back to check on him but he wants to continue. It’s clear his right shoulder is really hurting. They try their best to wrap up the match in a couple minutes. They hit some big moves and strikes. Styles goes for a hurricanrana, Homicide rolls through into a pin, but Styles turns it into the Styles Clash for the win. ***1/4

    CARNAGE CREW and DUNN AND MARCOS vs. JOEY MATTHEWS, DIXIE, SLIM J and HYDRO. This was a fun clusterfuck. Slim J hits Devito with a hard shoulderblock to the back off the ropes and Devito responds by stiffing the hell out of him. Lots of nice dives. Devito gets busted open by being drop toe holded into the edge of a chair and brawls around ringside. Carnage Crew are about to win it but ABYSS comes out! Abyss hits Devito with a backbreaker and Slim J pins him for the win. ***. Devito goes after Abyss post-match but Abyss hits him with the Black Hole Slam, then takes out Dunn and Marcos. Abyss is Special K’s new hired muscle.

    THE BRISCOE BROTHERS vs. SAMOA JOE and BRYAN DANIELSON for the ROH Tag Titles. Joe continues his quest to take the titles from the Briscoes. Danielson and Joe dominate each Briscoe early on with strikes and on the mat. Danielson is great stretching them out and hitting stiff uppercuts. The Briscoes are able to get a little bit of offense when they can pull off some double team trickery, but it’s all Danielson and Joe. Danielson busts out the airplane spin followed by the big headbutt. He tries a top rope back suplex on Mark but Jay comes in and they turn it into a Doomsday Device. Briscoes finally have the advantage, working over Danielson and not giving him any breathing room. Really good job emphasizing that the Briscoes have the advantage with teamwork, even though Danielson and Joe are a level above both of them individually. Danielson hits Jay with a big rolling below and Joe gets the hot tag and cleans house. Great home stretch. Briscoes try the Doomsday Device again but Danielson turns it into a rollup. He hits a Dragon Suplex on Jay but Mark breaks it up with a big double stop from the second rope. Joe throws Mark outside and takes him on a tour around ringside hitting Ole Ole kicks as Danielson and Jay fight in the ring. After a series of reversals Jay is able to hit the Jay Driller on Danielson! Joe tries to break up the pin but Mark is able to hold onto him to keep him from getting in the ring and the Briscoes retain. Awesome tag match. ***3/4

    CM PUNK, COLT CABANA and ACE STEEL vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS, DAN MAFF and BJ WHITMER is our main event. Last show, Whitmer was revealed as the newest member of The Prophecy, and responsible for taking out Lucy. Even though this is supposed to be some gang warfare, the match is very tame. Punk keeps heelishly avoiding Daniels. The crowd is way more behind The Prophecy, though if anything they’re being booked as the heels. The match is fine, just nothing special. Maff gets busted open on the ringpost and is worked over for a while. The Saints hit him with three moves off the top rope but he kicks out at one and hits a big lariat on Punk to comeback. He makes a hot take to Daniels. Everyone trades big moves and dives for a while and the match starts to heat up. Allison Danger and Tracy Brooks fight. Punk tries to break it up and Whitmer goes after him with a chair, but Punk ducks and Whitmer takes out the ref. Another ref calls off the match. The teams fight all around ringside and the Saints get he advantage. They take out The Prophecy and Punk hits Daniels with a Pepsi Plunge through a table. ***

    Good show to start off 2004. Almost every match was good and nothing was bad. Main event went really long and was underwhelming, but still a solidly good match. The tag title match was awesome and the story of Joe trying to take the tag titles from the Briscoes with different partners is cool. 7.5/10

  40. #40
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    I wonder if that was the beginning of Homicide's neverending shoulder trouble. Must have been although I only vaguely remember that match. Styles Clash had to have hurt that night.

    Matt Stryker even being in the Pure title tourny seems sad now. It should have been he and Collyer all over again for the gimmick's sake.

  41. #41
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    he should've won it after styles had to vacate. or at least should've gotten john walters' reign.

  42. #42
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Baltimore for THE LAST STAND, January 29th, 2004. The event is so named as Joe is going to have his very last chance challenging the Briscoes for the ROH Tag Titles, teaming with Jerry Lynn.

    JOHN WALTERS vs. CHAD COLLYER to start. Three rope break rule is in effect. Kind of a boring match. Both guys instinctively waste their first rope break in the first few minutes. They got back and forth with technical stuff. There is one cool moment where Collyer hits a German Suplex and rolls it into a Gedo Clutch. Walters keeps going for the Sharpshooter and forces Collyer to use his last two ropebreaks. He then locks on a Boston Crab between the ring ropes and Collyer taps out. Cool ending using the rope break rules makes up for a match that was rather dull. **1/2

    CHRIS SABIN vs. SLYK WAGNER BROWN vs. JACK EVANS vs. HYDRO vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN vs. SONJAY DUTT. Fun clusterfuck. Sabin and Dutt have a nice, acrobatic exchange in the beginning. Huge dive segment with Evans doing a crazy flip. Lots of six-man spots and then everyone trades their moves until Sabin pins Hydro with a sit-out Death Valley Driver. ***

    Colt Cabana comes out and does an intentionally lame comedy routine. He calls out Dunn and Marcos and berates them. Maff and Whitmer attack Cabana. Dunn and Marcos try to save him but Maff and Whitmer kill them. This segment was very, very long and not good.

    JUSTIN CREDIBLE and LOC vs. BACKSEAT BOYZ vs. SPECIAL K in a No DQ three way. Pretty much all Special K members are treated as legal. The Carnage Crew and Backseats just beat up Special K all around ringside and in the ring. Special K get a couple offensive moves in now and again but this is mostly just a beating. Justin Credible and Loc hit Dixie with a spiked tombstone off the second rope. Special K pull Justin Credible outside, leaving Loc in the ring for the Backseats to hit with the T Gimmick to win. **1/4

    BJ WHITMER vs. DAN MAFF vs. XAVIER vs. MATT STRYKER for the Number One Contender’s Trophy. Whitmer and Maff work together as members of the Prophecy. Xavier and Maff have a nice chop exchange. Pretty average match. Maff, Xavier and Stryker hit consecutive to the outside on everyone else. Everyone trades their big moves. Maff accidently hits Whitmer with a forearm. Maff takes out Stryker with a lariat. Whitmer gets to his feet and hits Maff with a superkick for payback. Maff collapses on Stryker, Whitmer covers Stryker too and they both get a two count, and are declared the joint winners. **1/2. Maff and Whitmer have a heated argument backstage. Maff and Whitmer will face Joe in a three way match at the anniversary show for the title.

    ALEX SHELLEY vs. JIMMY JACOBS next. They do some pretty nice matwork to start off. The match kind of meanders for a while after that, though the crowd is pretty into both guys. Shelley hits a cool back suplex with Jacob’s leg hooked over his neck. Shelley gets his knees up for Jacobs’ senton and his the Shellshock followed by the arm hook crossface for the submission win. **1/2

    CM PUNK vs. HOMICIDE. Punk avoids Homicide heelishly, bailing to the outside. Then they go a bunch of mirror spots where they both do similar sequences of moves to the other, and then retreat to their respective corners. Punk still struggles in a technical wrestling match. They have a pretty good home stretch at least. Homicide catches Punk with an Ace Crusher and follows it with the Cop Killer for the win. **3/4. Maff and Whitmer come out and attack Cabana on the outside. They try to attack Punk but Homicide and Julius Smokes ward them off.

    THE BRISCOE BROTHERS vs. SAMOA JOE and JERRY LYNN. Jim Cornette is accompanying the Briscoes. Cornette heckles from ringside all match long. Match starts out with some basic back and forth. Mark interrupts Joe attempting an Ole Ole kick on Jay with a dive over the top in a pretty cool spot. Cornette distract Lynn allowing the Briscoes to get the advantage and work him over. Mark misses a Shooting Star Press allowing him to make the hot tag. Joe comes in and unloads on the Briscoes. Cornette distracts Joe allowing Jay to hit him with Cornette’s racket for a controversial three count where Joe kicks out right at three, but the ref still calls it as a Briscoe victory. **3/4. Joe hits the ref with the Island Driver. Joe’s furious backstage, but it doesn’t matter, his opportunities at the tag titles are through. Joe challenges Jay to a Cage Match for the ROH World Title at the Wrestlemania weekend show.

    This is a really weak show. There isn’t anything I’d really call bad, but not much that’s very good. Really feels like an ROH house show. 5/10

  43. #43
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Braintree, Massachusetts for the SECOND ANNIVERSARY SHOW, February 14th, 2004. Tonight will feature an eight man tournament to crown the first ever Pure Champion. Pure Title rules will only be in effect in the finals.

    CM PUNK vs. JOHN WALTERS in the first round of the tournament. Punk comes out to Christopher Daniels’ music disguised in Daniels’ entrance attire to mock the fans. He then cuts a pre-match heel promo. Actually gets the crowd really behind Walters, and they’re very into cheering him and booing Punk throughout the match, which helps it a lot. Match is a bit boring at first but gets better when they start to trade bigger moves. Punk hits a nice looking Michinoku Driver. Walters hits a nice cross body off the top. Walters hits the Hurricane DDT, but Punk gets his foot on the ropes. Walters tries it again, Punk slips out, Walters goes behind and rolls Punk up and bridges backward to secure the rollup, but Punk grabs Walters’ arms in a chickenwing and turns it into his own Tiger-Driver-style pin for the victory. Cool ending. Punk advances. ***1/4. Probably a pretty generous rating, but the crowd was really into the match and I really liked that ending.

    CHRIS SABIN vs. DOUG WILLIAMS in a first round match. They do some good matwork to start off, Williams looking really good and dominating. Williams works over Sabin’s neck. Sabin makes his comeback with his lightheavyweight style offense. He does a good job selling his neck during the comeback – he can’t lift Williams for a suplex, so turns it into a twist and shout style neckbreaker. Sabin hits his sit-out Death Valley Driver but Williams kicks out. Williams catches Sabin in the Chaos Theory for the win. Williams advances. Fun, quick match. ***1/4

    MATT STRYKER vs. JOSH DANIELS in a first round match. Josh Daniels’ ROH history is having had a shitty match with Steve Corino a couple months beforehand. The crowd tonight is so good they still give him a good response though. They have a nice, snug, competitive match. Really hard hitting. They have a great strike exchange, really stiff chops, forearms and uppercuts. They trade a couple months for nearfalls. Daniels tries to Irish whip Stryker but Stryker hangs onto the ropes. Daniels chops him over and over, trying to get the Irish whip, but Stryker holds on. Daniels decides to hit the ropes to come at Stryker but Stryker springs into action and trips him up, immediately locking in the Stryker Lock for the win. Stryker advances. Another really fun match. ***1/4

    AJ STYLES vs. JIMMY RAVE in the last first round match. For the last several months, Styles has taken Rave under his wing, dishing out tough love in response to each of Rave’s loses. They do some cool counters early on, Rave demonstrating that he has some of Styles’ signature moves and spots scouted. Styles still has the advantage though. Styles goes for his quebrada DDT but tweaks his knee on the landing. Rave is tentative about continuing, but Styles tells him to fight. So Rave goes right after the leg, attacking it and locking Styles in a leg lock. Styles gets to the ropes. Rave hits the ropes and comes at Styles, but Styles smashes him with a spinning lariat for the win. Styles advances, but his knee is compromised – and he’s facing Matt Stryker with the Stryker Lock next round. Another good first round match. ***1/4. Backstage Rave apologizes for targeting the leg, but Styles tells him he did what he was supposed to do.

    SPECIAL K vs. THE CARNAGE CREW in a Country Whipping Match. This is the three man Carnage Crew with Justin Credible, and it seems like pretty much every member of Spcial K is involved. Carnage Crew attack Special K with whips and they all brawl around ringside. Almost everyone bleeds. Devito absolutely kills Dixie, beating the hell out of him. Dixie bleeds big time, wearing the Crimson mask. Carnage Crew get the advantage in the ring but Cloudy of Special K walks down the entrance way with an unknown girl. Devito and Justin Credible immediately drop what they were doing and rush after them – it’s Devito’s daughter, seduced into the raver lifestyle! Loc is left in the ring and Special K attack him, hit him with moves off the top, and hit him with a piledriver off the apron through a table. They roll him back in the ring for the win. Really fun clusterfuck. ***

    Gary Michael Capetta is in the ring and calls out Julius Smokes for an interview. He wants to know where Homicide is, who has been out of communication with ROH since the end of the last show. Smokes says he doesn’t know either.

    CM PUNK vs. DOUG WILLAIMS in the second round. I would not have expected these guys to have good chemistry but they really do. Punk struggles with technical wrestling at this point in his career, but in this match his styles comes across more gritty and competitive than sloppy and awkward. Williams does a lot of cool technical wrestling to start off. Punk is able to get the advantage by luring him to the outside. He works over Williams for a while. Williams is able to hit a Chaos Theory out of nowhere but he’s taken too much damage to hit it properly with the bridge. Williams tries to follow up with a knee drop off the top rope but Punk moves. Punk works over the leg. He puts Williams in a tree of woe and attacks the leg. He runs at Williams looking for a shoulder block on Williams in the tree of woe position, but Williams lifts himself up, rolls off the turnbuckle right into position to hit a Chaos Theory. He can’t pull off the bridge with his knee, though, and lands his Punk above him and his shoulders on the mat – Punk lifts his shoulder up at two while Williams stays down, giving Punk the win. Punk is really putting in a great heel performance in this tournament. This kind of ending can sound lame on paper but it really works in practice here. Punk advances to the finals. ***1/2

    MATT STRYKER vs. AJ STYLES in the second round. They start off with some tentative exchange until AJ suddenly explodes and unloads offense on Stryker. AJ is great in this match, everything he does really has some extra pep in it. Styker becomes more and more heelish as the match goes on, complaining to the ref, jawing with the fans, taking shortcuts. During the homestretch he uses an eyepoke effectively as a big spot. Stryker gets in control working on AJ’s knee. They have a great home stretch with big moves and a lot of cool spots and counters. Stryker gets a big nearfall with the Gedo Clutch after avoiding AJ’s quebrada DDT, and a near submission with the Stryker lock. Really hard hitting the whole match. Stryker tries to run up to catch AJ on the top rope with a move, but AJ pushes him off, leaps down to the apron and comes off with a springboard 450 splash for the win. AJ advances to face CM Punk to crown the first Pure Champion. Really great match. ****

    THE BRISCOE BROTHERS vs. BACKSEAT BOYZ for the ROH Tag Titles. They pretty much go right to the homestretch. Pretty fun exchange of moves. Trent hits a really nice springboard DDT. Mark takes out Trent with a tornado DDT from the top rope through a table on the outside. Back inside they hit Kashmere with a spiked Jay Driller for the win. **3/4

    SAMOA JOE vs. LOW KI vs. BJ WHITMER vs. DAN MAFF for the ROH World Title. This is Low Ki’s first appearance since August 2003, when he legit knocked out Maff with a stiff springboard kick to the head. Low Ki and Joe tease a show off at the beginning but Maff tags himself in off of Low Ki. Maff and Whitmer work as a tag team throughout the match, each facing off against Joe and Low Ki. Joe hits a big elbow strike tope on Whitmer and they all fight outside for a bit. Somehow Joe gets a nasty cut on his hand and is bleeding everywhere. The ref tapes it up. Maff attacks Joe’s injured hand and he and Whitmer work over Joe for a while. Low Ki tags in unloads on Whitmer and Maff, hitting Maff with the same springboard kick that knocked him out in August. Maff sells it great. Low Ki goes for a Tidal Crush crush on Maff but Maff moves and Joe catches him with a stiff slap. Joe and Low Ki finally face off and have an brief, awesome strike exchange. Low Ki catches Maff in the Dragon Clutch while Joe has Whitmer in the Choke. They stare each other down with their opponents in their submissions, and break the submissions to go after each other. They trade two stiff kicks and face off against each other as the crowd goes crazy for more, but Maff out of nowhere tackles Low Ki out of the ring. Whitmer goes after Joe but Joe hits him with a urinage and locks on the Choke for the submission win. Really good title match with a good story and hot crowd. ***1/2

    CM PUNK vs. AJ STYLES in the finals to crown the first ROH Pure Champion. Pure Division rules are in effect, three rope break limit and a twenty count on the outside. In the first minutes Punk grabs the top rope to backflip out of a wrist clutch, but the ref calls it as a rope break. Controversial! While Punk is arguing with the ref, AJ rolls him up and lifts him into Styles Clash position, but reverses it into a leg lock forcing AJ to use his first rope break. They fight on the outside to get over the twenty count. Back inside AJ tries his kip-up hurricanrana but Punk turns it into a Boston Crab, forcing AJ to use his second rope break. Punk puts on another leg submission forcing AJ to use his third. AJ leaps onto Punk’s shoulders and Punk backs up into the ropes, AJ bends backward and turns it into a choke on the ropes. Ref breaks up the submission, but calls it as a rope break for Punk! Commentary gets over that Punk got screwed on that call. Punk grabs at the ropes in another submission and uses his last ropebreak. Punk puts AJ in a modified Texas Cloverleaf. AJ crawls to the ropes but he’s out of ropebreaks, so he has to climb up the ropes and kick Punk off. Punk goes for a Shining Wizard but AJ turns it into a Styles Clash, but Punk kicks out. Punk comes back with a big DDT and goes for the Pepsi Plunge, but AJ gets out, hits the Pele Kick, climps up the ropes and hits Punk with a second rope Styles Clash. Punk gets his foot on the ropes but it doesn’t matter, he’s out of rope breaks, controversially, so the ref counts three. In some ways the weakest of the tournament matches, but they made it interesting with the rope breaks. ***1/4. AJ Styles is the first ever Pure Champion, but not without controversy.

    This is the best show ROH has done so far. It just barely edges out Death Before Dishonor 2003, which felt bigger and more memorable, by being super consistently good. Add to that a tournament, which is always nice, a good, story-driven World Title match with Low Ki’s return, a four-star match in AJ/Stryker, and a hot crowd all night, and it’s the best ROH show ever up to this point. 9/10

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Elizabeth, New Jersey for AT OUR BEST, March 13th, 2004. These really are the best of time and worst of times for Ring of Honor. This is ROH’s first Wrestlemania Weekend show, taking place right outside of NYC the day before Wrestlemania 20, and drawing by far their biggest crowd yet of 1800. At the same time, just a bit more than a week before this show the infamous Rob Feinstein scandal broke. Feinstein, ROH’s owner, was caught soliciting sex online from who he believed to be an underaged boy, but was a member of an organization dedicated to exposing online sexual predators. Feinstein resigned from his position at ROH, but there are many questions whether he can truly untether himself from the company, and if ROH can survive without RF Video back, which has led to many figures in wrestling distancing themselves from the company. But for now, the show goes on.

    AMAZING RED vs. SONJAY DUTT vs. TEDDY HART vs. JIMM RAVE vs. JACK EVANS vs. MARK BRISCOE is our opener. This is Red’s first match since July 2003. Perfect opener. Super fast paced, non stop spots, really, really hot crowd. There are a couple botches in the beginning but the match quickly recovers. Everyone hits crazy dives to the outside and Red goes to put the cherry on top with a dive of his own, the crowd is super hyped for it, but Jimmy Rave breaks it up to massive heat. He shortly later wins the crowd back by locking Teddy Hart in a Sharpshooter after Hart attempts an SSP and misses by a mile. Everyone hits big moves. Jack Evans hits a 620 senton on Dutt and lands with his whole center of mass crashing into Dutt’s ribcage. Nasty move. Red hits Dutt with a DVD and follows it up with the standing Shooting Star Press to a big pop for the victory. Great, high energy opener with a crowd pleasing ending. ***1/2

    GMC is in the ring and calls out Julius Smokes for a Homicide update. Smokes knows where Homicide is, but he’ll only say that when Homicide comes back, he wants a title shot against Samoa Joe.

    None other than RICKY STEAMBOAT, the special guest ref for the AJ Styles/CM Punk Pure Title rematch tonight, clarifies the Pure Title rules with AJ and Punk. Punk bitches a bit and then walks off. Styles quips as Punk walks away, “He’s never gonna change.” Well, he’s got him there.

    XAVIER vs. SLYK WAGNER BROWN next. They have a solid enough back and forth match, nothing special, nothing really wrong with it, though it does get a little sloppy right at the end. Xavier wins it with the FULL NELSON, which has to be a point in the match’s favor. **1/2

    NIGEL MCGUINNES vs. JERRY LYNN next. These guys really had no chemistry, and Lynn can’t really hang with Nigel on the mat. Match is pretty boring and awkward for a while, totally losing the crowd. They win the crowd back toward the end when they start trading moves and nearfalls. Lynn fakes out Nigel with a leapfrog to catch him in the Cradle Piledriver for the win. **

    MATT STRYKER vs. JOHN WALTERS for the Number One Contender’s Trophy. Solidly executed match but not too interesting. Crowd isn’t too into it either. Still, well executed. Stryker continues to act subtly more heelish. Stryker hits a really nice German Suplex toward the end. Walters puts Stryker in the Stryker lock. Shortly after, Stryker puts Walters in the Stryker Lock. Walters gets the ropes but Stryker drags him out to the middle of the ring and Walters passes out in the submission. **1/2

    COLT CABANA and ACE STEEL vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF. No traditional tag structure with tags and legal men, just a free for all. Good match. Maff hits Steel with a nasty turnbuckle powerbomb. They fight around ringside and trade moves. Whitmer, Steel and Cabana brawl over the guardrail and Maff hits a tope over the guardrail into them. They start brawling with chairs and the ref throws out the match, since this is a regularly sanctioned match with normal rules. ***1/4. The locker room has to empty to break up the brawl.

    AJ STYLES vs. CM PUNK for the Pure Title. Much better match than their last two. The opening matwork wasn’t too good but the match really kicks off when Punk slaps AJ and AJ responds by backing Punk into the corner and unloading with stiff slaps and chops. The match gets really, really good for a while. They bust out a lot of really cool spots. The match sort of slows down as it nears the end. AJ uses up all his rope breaks, using his last to break up a pin when Punk hits him with his own Styles Clash. Punk gets him in a sleeper and AJ can’t break it with the ropes. Steamboat checks AJ’s hand and its drops three times, but he notice AJ coming back to life as he goes to ring the bell. Punk screams that his hand dropped three times so it should be over, but AJ comes back and rams Punk’s head into the turnbuckle to break the sleeper. He hits two big lariats on his comeback for nearfalls, the sends Punk into the ropes and hits his big spinning lariat for the win – but it looks like Punk’s shoulder is up! Steamboat doesn’t see it and counts the three, AJ retains, again controversially. Poor CM Punk. Although I don’t know if the shoulder up on the pin was actually intentional, since Punk doesn’t protest after the match. ***3/4. Punk confronts Steamboat post-match and goes after him, but Steamboat reverses an Irish Whip, hits a big chop and an armdrag. Massive pop from the crowd. Great feel good moment.

    SAMOA JOE vs. JAY BRISCOE in a Cage Match for the ROH World Title. Jay starts off running for the door, trying to get the easy win. Joe keeps blocking him and throwing him around. Joe rams Jay into the cage and then pulls out a chain to padlock the door shut. When Joe turns back to Jay, he’s bleeding and boy is he BLEEDING. Jay’s bladejob in this match is one of the legendary blade jobs in wrestling history. Blood all over the place, the darkest, thickest crimson mask you’ve ever seen. Blood literally dripping from Jay’s face all match long. It totally makes the match. Joe hits a big back suplex off the top rope, Jay hits an Ace Crusher off the top rope. Joe dominates Jay, his blood flying all over the place with every kick and slap. Joe hits a series of Ole kicks with Jay in the corner, after one he busts a hole in the cage and Mark tries to help Jay crawl through it for a big pop. Joe pulls him back in the ring and Jay fights back and hits the Jay Driller. Crowd is really going crazy for the Joe toward the end. Jay is out and can’t make the cover. When he recovers he tries to climb over the top, but Joe catches him and hits a Muscle Buster off the top for the win. Legendary match for the blade job, which added a ton of drama. ****

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. SPECIAL K in a Scramble Cage Match. This is the four-man Carnage Crew. Special K were supposed to be limited to 4 participants with each team adding a man every minute, but that structure breaks down real quick and everyone gets in the ring. Just a totally, totally disorganized spot fest. Fun enough. Lots of big dives off the cage. Spots with ladders. Dusty Rhodes comes out to help the Carnage Crew but OX BAKER comes out to attack Dusty Rhodes. Masada hits a crazy 450 Splash from the top of the cage to the outside. Carnage Crew win by hitting Angel Dust with a spiked piledriver off the top of the cage through two tables. ***

    Great show. Two top notch matches, fun enough clusterfuck of a main event, awesome opener. ROH is having a great 2004 so far. 8/10

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    We’re in St. Paul, Minnesota for REBORN: STAGE ONE, April 23rd, 2004. In the fallout of the Fienstein Scandal, TNA has pulled AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels from all ROH shows indefinitely, a huge blow to the company, especially as Styles was the reigning Pure Champion and they looked to be building toward a big champion vs. champion feud with him and Joe. Daniels has been one of the top 3 guys constantly since Day 1 of ROH. So ROH is launching the REBORN tour, a double-shot weekend in the Midwest with a bunch of new talent and bigger opportunities for some guys who have been in the midcard. CM Punk joins us on commentary, and the ring has red white and blue ring ropes! Truly a momentous show.


    MATT STRYKER vs. NIGEL MCGUINNESS is our opener. Stryker is sporting a different look, having shaved the unibrow and cut his hair. Can’t say I approve. Crowd is crazy hot for this match. Good technical opener. Nice chain wrestling to start off. Stryker goes after Nigel’s leg. They go back and forth trading moves and submissions. Nigel gets Stryker in a cool, fancy wrist-lock submission, but Stryker attacks the leg to break it. Nigel backdrops Stryker, Stryker hands on and Nigel tries to bridge up, but he keeps failing because of his knee. Finally on the last bridge attempt Styker grabs Nigel’s knee and turns it into a cradle for the win. Nice ending. Good match that the very enthusiastic crowd added a ton to. ***1/4

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. DUNN AND MARCOS next. Surprisingly competitive match. Actually, it’s straight up fifty-fifty for the whole match, they really go back and forth toe to toe. By far the most competitive, legitimate match Dunn and Marcos have had in ROH so far. I guess they really aren’t gonna take it anymore. Ends up being pretty fun. Carnage Crew wins with a nasty spiked piledriver off the second rope on Marcos who lands straight on his head. **3/4

    Colt Cabana has a pretty funny comedy routine in the back, introducing the debuting Havana Pitbulls, Rocky Romero and Ricky Reyes.

    JUSTIN CREDIBLE vs. JOHN WALTERS next. Man, the crowd tonight really is great, because this match is boring but they’re still hot for it. They have a pretty dull back and forth match. Nothing really wrong with it, just uninteresting. Walters slips out of That’s Incredible and hits his Backstabber for the win. **

    ALEX SHELLEY vs. JIMMY JACOBS vs. MASADA vs. JACK EVANS vs. DANNY DANIELS vs. JIMMY RAVE. Very fun spotfest. All action, crowd really into, everyone gets a chance to look good. Jacobs and Daniels actually have a really good exchange with each other early on. After a bunch of spots, Evans takes out a pile of guys with a crazy flip off the ropes to the outside. Shelley capitalizes with Jacobs on the mat in the ring and everyone down on the outside and puts Jacobs in his arm-hook crossface for the win. ***1/2

    COLT CABANA vs. BJ WHITMER next. Ricky Steamboat is scheduled to be the guest ref, but Punk attacks him before the match and runs his head into the post. A regular ref has to take over. Punk goes “back” to commentary and Gabe’s fake outrage is hilarious. Honestly I love Gabe on commentary. This match is not good though. They start off with a terrible roll-up exchange. The match does improve when they brawl through the crowd and whip each other into chairs. Back in the crowd though everything is still stilted and awkward. These guy are just having a really off night. In spite of it all, the crowd is still great though. Whitmer wins with a Wrist-Clutch Exploder off the top rope. *1/2

    MATT SYDAL vs. DELIRIOUS in both men’s debut. Both guys feel pretty green. Not a bad match, but really feels more like a collection of spots. This mostly comes across as an exhibition for Sydal, he hits his big moves including his great spinning heel kick. Delirious gets big air off of a monkey flip. Sydal wins it with a backflip belly to belly off the top. **1/4

    THE HAVANA PITBULLS vs. THE BRISCOE BROTHERS in the Pitbulls’ debut, non-title. This match really doesn’t click, and it’s the first match of the night the crowd doesn’t get into. They just don’t have any chemistry and nothing gels. It is nice whenever Reyes busts out some stiff kicks though, and he throws a couple very stiff ones. There’s also a couple good minutes where they all just decide to stiff each other with chops for a little while. Commentary really puts over the Pitbulls as a big addition to the roster, and this being a long, competitive match does establish them well. Briscoes end up winning with a spiked Jay Driller. **1/2

    CM PUNK vs. BRYAN DANIELSON next. Ricky Steamboat comes out and says that he’s refing this match. Punk freaks out. Punk is awesome playing to the crowd here, and he and Steamboat have great chemistry. This is a long, slow, gradually building match, and it’s very good. Beginning starts with a lot of heeling from Punk, lots of working the crowd. They closely ease into the match. Danielson starts to target Punk’s ribs early on. They have a good extended home stretch with lots of good stuff. Danielson does a super fast airplane spin. While they fight on the top rope for a superplex, the crowd starts a YES/NO dueling chant, which Gabe even makes note of on commentary, proving the existence of something like “fate.” Danielson gets the big superplex. They trade moves back and forth until Danielson catches Punk coming off the top rope with a nice dropkick to the ribs, hits a Dragon Suplex, and follows it up with an abdominal stretch for the win! Danieslon wins with the abdominal stretch. Awesome. ***3/4. Punk argues with Steamboat post-match and Cabana attacks him from behind. They go a great spot where Steamboat almost hits both of them, but they each block for the other and double team him. Big heat until the Briscoes make the save. The Punk/Steamboat angle is really good. Punk sure can work an angle.

    SAMOA JOE vs. HOMICIDE for the ROH World Title. Homicide had gone off the grid after The Last Stand back in January, until Julius Smokes challenged Joe for the title on his behalf. Homicide is making his return here, but it’s a different Homicide. He’s wearing all red attire, he gets very aggravated and freaks out at the fans throwing streamers for Joe, he grabs the title during introductions and teases walking out with it. When Joe gets the better of him early on he throws and chair into the ring and almost attacks someone in the audience. Joe stays in control though. Homicide is so desperate he bites at Joe’s ear! But Joe stays in control. Homicide gets a few spurts of offense, hitting a nice piledriver and later a tornado DDT, but each time Joe quickly gets back on top. Homicide finally hits Joe with an Ace Crusher and lariat, and goes for another lariat but Joe goes to block, they fight over it and Homicide ends up with a roll up – the ref accidentally counts three although Joe kicked out. The bell rings but the ref says the match isn’t over, that it was a two count. Homicide can’t accept that he didn’t win. The ref tells him it was a two count so Homicide attacks the ref! Joe goes after Homicide but the lights go out and Homicide FIREBALLS Joe! The match gets tossed out. Some of the work wasn’t too good but it was a good story-driven match ***1/4

    A bunch of people come out to help Joe but Homicide attacks all of them until the locker room empties to restrain Homicide. Punk and Cabana jump the Briscoes amid the chaos. Big brawl and a bunch of dives to close out the show.

    Very good show. Some weak matches on the undercard but Punk/Bryan and the six man match were very good. Main event was a good story driven match with a big ending. Very angle-heavy show for ROH and they all worked. 7.5/10

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    We’re in Chicago Ridge, Illinois for REBORN: STAGE TWO, April 24th, 2003.

    BJ Whitmer and Ace Steel come out for the opening match, but the Briscoes attack Ace before the bell, hitting him with the spiked Jay Driller. They get on the mic and say they’re not gonna lose the titles in a shit hole like Chicago. Punk and Cabana come out to chase them out of the ring. Punk cuts a babyface promo and the crowd is super into him. Briscoes grab Punk from out of the ring and double team him but Colt hits an asai moonsault. They brawl to the back. Whitmer says he came here to fight and challenge Ace to still have their match, which Ace accepts.

    BJ WHITER vs. ACE STEEL. Whitmer dominates for the first several minutes. He’s not too interesting on offense, Whitmer just seems to be having a bad weekend on this tour. Ace comes back when Whitmer goes for a superplex but Ace turns it into a sunset flip powerbomb. Ace runs through some offense until Whitmer hits the Wrist-Clutch Exploder for the win. Match improved once Ace got on offense and the crowd was hot for the hometown guy. **1/4. Whitmer lays out Ace with a nasty chair shot post-match.

    MASADA and JUSTIN CREDIBLE vs. DELIRIOUS and SHAWN DAIVARI next. The Carnage Crew B-Team. Masada and Credible are in control for a while, Daivari and Delirious team up to take control for a while. Solid enough match, not too interesting. Daivari gets a big pop for the Magic Carpet Ride, a splash off the top rope with a Persian rug. Credible takes him out with That’s Incredible and Masada hits Delirious with a fisherman’s buster onto his knee for the win. **

    JOHN WALTERS vs. CHAD COLLYER next. Good technical match. Collyer looks good here. I hope he shows up more for the rest of the year. Collyer goes after Walter’s knee throughout the match. Walters survives a Texas Cloverleaf. They exchange some stiff chops before Collyer gets the win with a nice rollup. Good match. ***

    NIGEL MCGUINNESS vs. AUSTIN ARIES vs. JIMMY RAVE vs. ROCKY ROMERO next. Aries’ debut. Really good match. Everyone matches up with each other well to start off. Rocky really throws some great kicks all match long, including a stiff inside leg kick to Nigel and a nasty face kick to Rave. Nigel shows off a really nice British style sequence with Rave and gets a big pop. Aries is really over as a Midwestern guy. Rocky and Aries work over Rave, focusing on his arm. Nigel tags in and they have a really good homestretch, lots of good moves and spots. Romero has Rave in the armbar but Aries breaks it up with a legdrop off the top. Aries and Rocky fight while Nigel takes the opportunity to lock Rave’s hurt arm in his fancy new wristlock submission for the win. ***1/2

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. HOMICIDE next. This is actually one of the first ROH matches I ever saw. They start out with a lot of mat wrestling. Homicide throws chairs and flips over a ringside table when Danielson gets the best of it. They fight outside and Homicide attacks Danielson’s neck with a chair and a ring bell. He puts Danielson against a barricade and goes for a punch but Danielson moves and Homicide punches the steel. Danielson works over Homicide’s hand for a while, which is cool. Danielson gets the big airplane spin. They go back and forth with bigger and bigger moves. Homicide hits a beautiful piledriver and follows it up with the STF, but he can’t lock his hands. Danielson gets the Cattle Mutilation but he can’t bridge because of his neck. Homicide fights to his feet and gets Danielson in Cop Killa position. Danielson flips out, but Homicide grabs the ref to distract him while he hits Danielson with a mule kick low blow and follows it with a HUGE lariat for the win. Great match. Really good job at getting over Homicide’s heel turn through the match, the hand/neck work was really cool, and a great ending. ****

    DANNY DANIELS vs. RICKY REYES next. Not a good match. Daniels really has a bad night. Luckily it’s very short. Reyes wins with a knee bar. *1/2

    DUNN AND MARCOS vs. THE CARNAGE CREW vs. ALEX SHELLEY and JIMMY JACOBS vs. MATT SYDAL and JACK EVANS. Another great spotfest. All action, never a dull moment, everything gets his really well. Dunn and Marcos again are very competitive. Shelley busts out a lot of cool submissions on Dunn and Marcos, their size making it easy for him to lock in some fancy stuff. Huge series of dives at the end, including Devito hitting a moonsault to the outside. Back in the ring the Carnage Crew hit a nasty spiked piledriver on Jacobs, but they get pulled out of the ring allowing Evans to hit his 630 senton where he lands with all his bodyweight right on the ribs. So much nastier looking than Riccochet’s. ***1/4. Shelley attacks Jacobs after the match.

    SAMOA JOE vs. MATT STRYKER for the ROH World Title. Solid, hard-hitting match with Stryker holding his own, but Joe very clearly the superior man. Lots of stiff slaps from Joe throughout the match, a big chops from both men. Stryker tries to go after the legs, but Joe always fires back to keep him from focusing on them for too long. Stryker eventually gets the Stryker lock but Joe gets to the ropes. Joe fights back and hits Stryker with knees, but Stryker grabs a knee and hoists Joe up into the Death Valley Driver. Big pop for that and the crowd really bites on the nearfall. Stryker tries to continue targeting the legs but Joe fights back with an enzighiri and jumps into grabbing a triangle choke for the submission win. Good, solid match, though the crowd wasn’t too into it. ***

    THE BRISCOE BROTHERS vs. CM PUNK and COLT CABANA for the ROH Tag Titles. Punk and Cabana are super over in Chicago. They really work this like an old school southern tag with Punk and Cabana as the babyfaces, and it’s great. Cabana and Punk run wild in the beginning, lots of cool crowd pleasing spots. The Briscoes get in control and work over Punk for awhile, and the Cabana hot tag spot in great. From that point they go into the homestretch and do lots of great spots, some really cool intricate four-man sequences. Cabana kicks out of the Jay Driller in a big nearfall. Briscoes try to double superplex Punk but Cabana crotches Mark on the ropes, Punk pushes Jay to the outside, and hits a Pepsi Plunge on Mark with Mark falling straight down on his head. Punk and Cabana win the tag titles to a big pop. Parts of this match weren’t exactly polished but overall it’s mostly executed well and was very well laid out, and the crowd really makes it work. Felt like a special match. ****. BJ Whitmer attacks Punk and Cabana post-match but Ace Steel comes out and gives him a receipt from the beginning of the show with a nasty chair shot. The Second City Saints all celebrate together to end the show.

    Another great show from ROH. Two four star matches, big ending with the hometown favorites winning the tag titles, some good angles throughout the show, and genuinely feeling like a major show throughout. 8/10

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    We’re in Lexington, Massachusetts for ROUND ROBIN CHALLENGE III, May 15th, 2004. ROH’s longest running yearly themed show to date! This year we have a tag team round robin tournament, consisting of CM Punk and Colt Cabana, BJ Whitmer and Dan Maff, and the Briscoe Brothers. Every match the tag champions are in tonight will be a title match.

    CM PUNK and COLT CABANA vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF starts us off. Punk and Cabana are the champs, so this is also for the ROH Tag Titles. Whitmer and Maff attack Punk and Cabana during their entrance. This is just a brawl for the whole match, no one ever tags or anything. High energy, fun enough. Whitmer hits Punk with a belly to belly suplex in the crowd, sending him through chairs. Punk and Cabana grab the belts and act like they’re walking out of the match, but RICKY STEAMBOAT comes from behind the curtain and forces them back. Maff hits them with a tope and rolls Cabana back in the ring. Whitmer hits Cabana with the Wrist-Clutch Exploder for the win. Whitmer and Maff are the new ROH Tag Team Champions. Fun enough match, went by fast. **3/4. Punk and Cabana attack Steamboat after the match and Punk legdrops him through a table.

    ALEX SHELLEY vs. MATT STRYKER next. They go back and forth with technical wrestling for a while, Shelley does a particularly cool fancy submission. Stryker is able to hit Shelley with the Death Valley Driver after a series of reversals, but Shelley immediately rolls to the outside. Stryker gets him back in the ring and puts him in the Stryker Lock, but Shelley makes the ropes. Stryker lifts him back up but Shelley immediately locks him up in a rollup for the win. Big win for Shelley. **3/4

    THE CARNAGE CREW and DUNN AND MARCOS vs. PRINCE NANA, JOSH DANIELS and DA OUTKAST KILLAZ. Not much to say about this match. They just go back and forth trading moves, it never really gets interesting, crowd isn’t into it. Carnage Crew end up hitting a bunch of moves in a row on Diablo Santiago for the win. *3/4

    RICKY REYES vs. SAMOA JOE in a non-title match. Reyes comes out with Homicide and Julius Smokes. The Pitbulls are now part of the Rottweilers. GMC tells Homicide he needs to leave the ring because ROH officials won’t let Joe out if he’s out there, too. Homicide freaks out but ends up going backstage. Joe debuts his The Champ Is Here theme in this match, and comes out from behind the curtain brawling with Homicide. They fight through the crowd and the locker room has to empty to pull Homicide in the back. Joe gets in the ring and Reyes attacks him with stiff kicks. He hammers Joe with kicks and knees and tries to lock in some submissions. Joe fights back with a nasty slap. Joe is in control for a while. Reyes fights back with a triangle choke and some more strikes. Reyes hammers Joe with some more kicks but he comes back with another big slap and hits the Island Drive for the win. Pretty good, hard hitting match and a nice angle. ***

    BF WHITMER and DANN MAFF vs. THE BRISCOE BROTHERS for Maff and Whitmer’s newly won ROH Tag Titles. Match starts off quite hard hitting. Whitmer hits Mark with a NASTY headbutt, producing an almost Shibata-like sound. Maff drops Jay on his neck with a nasty German Suplex. Whitmer fights with the Briscoes on the floor and when Jay is back in the ring he’s busted open. Whitmer and Maff work on Jay for a while. Mark gets the hot tag and runs wild, but slips when attempting a springboard crossbody. Whitmer covers it up well by taking advantage and targeting the ribs. Whitmer and Maff work over Mark’s ribs. Jay gets the hot tag and the team exchange some moves, including a cool spot where Mark breaks up a Whitmer jacknife pin with a springboard double stomp. Mark is able to push Maff into a Whitmer elbow, Jay drags Whitmer out of the ring and Mark rolls Maff up for the win. Briscoes are the new tag champions, and the first ever two-time champions of anything in ROH history. ***1/4

    GMC is backstage interviewing the returning SPANKY! Spanky is jumping right back into the competition, challenging Homicide tonight.

    JOSH DANIELS vs. DIXIE next. Daniels’ second match of the night. Commentary gets over that since their loss at the At Our Best show, Special K have been depressed and not their usual happy go lucky selves. During the match, Ox Baker comes out and tells Dixie he has help him. Daniels wins a very unnoteworthy match with a Fisherman’s Buster. *1/2

    RODERICK STRONG vs. JOHN WALTERS vs. HYDRO vs. IZZY vs. MASADA vs. TREND ACID. Just a big disorganized spotfest, not very polished. Felt like one of those 2002, early 2003 scramble tags. Goes on too long, too. There are some good spots, like Hydro hitting Masada with a nasty spider Dragon Suplex, and Trent reverse suplexing Masada out of the ring. Walters wins after hitting Izzy with a Dominator off the top rope. **1/2

    SPANKY vs. HOMICIDE next. Spanky’s first match since 2002. Homicide focuses on Spanky’s neck early on. They fight outside and Homicide tries to use a chair. The ref yanks it away and Spanky capitalizes to hit the Sliced Bread Number Two on the outside. Back in the ring Spanky gets a run of offense. The home stretch is really good. Some nice reversal sequences. Julius Smokes interferes twice, trying to push Spanky off the top rope and later pulling the ref out of the ring after Spanky hits another Sliced Bread Number Two. Gabe FREAKS OUT on commentary over it. Homicide gets the win with the Lariat. ***1/4. Post-match, Homicide calls out Joe. Joe charges to the ring but Smokes and Ricky Reyes attack him. Homicide and Reyes hit Joe with piledrivers.

    THE BRISCOE BROTHERS vs. CM PUNK and COLT CABANA in the last round robin match for the Brsicoes’ newly won titles. Match starts out kind of lame for the first few minutes, but really picks up when Cabana catches Mark with a beautiful gut buster. Cabana and Punk work over Mark and it’s honestly an excellent face in peril segment. They really focus on the ribs and they do some great spots where they cut off Mark’s tag attempts. A nice sequence sees Mark take out Punk and Cabana and finally tag Jay. They go back and forth trading moves. Punk hits a bridging Tiger Suplex on Jay and Mark comes off the top to break it up with a Shooting Star Press. Cabana pulls the ref out of the ring to save the match. Cabana hits a nice sliding dropkick through the ropes on Jay. Punk tries to Pepsi Plunge on Mark but Mark pushes him to the outside. Mark tries to hit a crossbody on Cabana but Cabana catches him on his knee and goes up to hit a frog splash on the injured ribs for the win. New tag team champions for the third time, back where they started with Punk and Cabana. Everything starting with Punk and Cabana working over Mark’s ribs was great. ***3/4

    Decent show. Not bad, not too good either. Great main event, so-so mid-card. Good work advancing the Joe/Homicide angle. 6/10

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    For the first time in 2004, we’re in Philadelphia for GENERATION NEXT, May 22nd, 2004. ROH’s booking at the National Guard Armory got screwed up somehow so this show is being held outdoors under an impromptu tent. This show is all about the young talent, featuring eight up-and-comers facing off against each other: Alex Shelley, Hydro, Izzy, Austin Aries, Jack Evans, Jimmy Jacobs, Nigel McGuinness and Roderick Strong. After the show the fans in attendance will vote by ballot on who impressed them the most. That’s the plan, anyway.

    Dunn and Marcos and the Christopher Street Connection are about to face off in the opener, but out come Alex Shelley, Roderick Strong, Austin Aries and Jack Evans. They take out Dunn and Marcos and the CSC! Alex Shelley gets on the mic and say that there won’t be any voting tonight. THEY’RE Generation Next, and they’re taking over this show.

    Special K’s music hits and we get an impromptu opener of AUSTIN ARIES, RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS vs. ANGEL DUST, IZZY and DIXIE. Fun match. Fast pace, good showcase for everyone. Izzy actually looks particularly good, doing some nice acrobatic stuff and hitting a big dive. Evans hits him with a really nice reverse hurricanrana. Each member of Generation Next gets to show off and look good. Eventually Aries hits a 450, Strong hits a backbreaker and Evans hits his 630 on their own respective member of Special K and they all get the three count at once. Fun opener as a match and an angle. ***1/4

    Alex Shelley gets on the mic and says he’d challenge one of Special K to a singles match, but they don’t have any real wrestlers in the group. Hydro takes exception and steps up. ALEX SHELLEY vs. HYDRO next. Crowd is really into both guys, loud dueling chant. Shelley gets the advantage and focuses on his fancy submissions, targeting Hydro’s neck. Hydro makes a brief comeback and seems sort of lost. After a couple long reversal sequences Shelley hits the Shell Shock for the win. Pretty much a competitive squash. **1/2. Post-match, Shelley says Hyrdo impressed him, and says Hydro knows where he belongs, namely, with Generation Next. Hydro turns him down and rolls out of the ring. Shelley says it doesn’t matter, tonight is still their night.

    The four-man Carnage Crew comes out, but before a match can get started Masada attacks Loc! He turns on the Carnage Crew! Trent Acid and Danny Daniels come out and join him and we settle into DEVITO, LOC and JUSTIN CREDIBLE vs. MASADA, TRENT ACID and DANNY DANIELS. Acid has ditched the baggy silver trash bag pants and gotten a pair of long jorts, making this one of the few times in history that a long pair of jorts proves to be a significant fashion improvement. Match is sort of a mess but it’s fast pace, things keep happening and it adds to the chaotic atmosphere. Carnage Crew take control and set up Acid for the second rope piledriver, but Daniels distracts the ref and Masada hits Devito with a chair. Masada works over Devito’s leg and Trent hits Loc with a Yakuza Kick for the win. Decent match, another fun angle. **3/4

    Jimmy Rave and John Walters are about to have their match but Generation Next comes out again. Shelley says they’re taking Rave and Walters’ spots, and the other three attack them from behind. Generation Next lays them out.

    JIMMY JACOBS vs. NIGEL MCGUINNESS in the only scheduled match of the Generation Next format that actually takes place. Jacobs sort of struggles to work Nigel’s technical style at first but the match picks up when they start trading moves. Nigel debuts his Tower of London in a cool spot for a nearfall. Crowd popped big for the move. They trade moves back and forth and Nigel ends up submitting Jacobs with his wrist lock submission. ***

    CM PUNK and COLT CABANA vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF for the ROH Tag Titles. The match starts off really hot, all four guys mixing it up and everything clicking. Unfortunately it doesn’t stay that smooth. Punk and Cabana work over Whitmer for a while, and once Maff gets the tag it’s an extended homestretch with a good bit of sloppiness and awkward moments. Crowd is into it though, and actually really into Maff. They brawl outside the tent onto the open field, which is kind of neat for the novelty but the visibility is very bad. All four men end up fighting on the turnbuckle, Whitmer headbutts Colt off the ropes, Punk pushes Maff through a ringside table, and then Punk hits the Pepsi Plunge on Whitmer for the win. Entertaining enough, but very unpolished. ***

    Backstage with GMC, Special K is having an existential crisis. They’re always getting their asses kicked, and they say it’s time for a change.

    THE BRISCOES vs. DA OUTKAST KILLAZ next. Pretty much a competitive squash for the Briscoes. Mark hits the Cuthroat Driver as Jay hits the Jay Driller and they win in a couple minutes. **

    Generation Next come out to confront the Briscoes, they’re after their spots, too. But Rave and Walters come out, they want revenge from early. Leading to THE BRISCOE BROTHERS, JIMMY RAVE and JOHN WALTERS vs. ALEX SHELLEY, RODERICK STRONG, AUSTIN ARIES and JACK EVANS. This is a long match, over forty minutes, giving all four Generation Next guys a chance to show off. It starts slow, everyone mixing it up with everyone else. They slowly start increasing the intensity and throwing out more high impact moves. Strong and Jay have a great chop exchange. Aries and Walters have a really good segment. There’s a cool inner-match story of Shelley avoiding Rave’s knee strike. The crowd is really on Rave’s case by the way. Generation Next works two longish face in peril segments against Jay Briscoe and John Walters. Strong is hitting great chops and some cool slams and backbreakers, but other than that he seems really green. Still this is a really good showcase for Generation Next. A couple big dives from Evans. Some big moves and spots during the homestretch. Shelley ends up hitting a double stomp off the top rope to Walters’ injured neck and locks on the Border City Stretch. Walters’ teammates try to break it up but the other three Generation Next guys restrain them and Walters taps. Overall a really good match and a great way to get Generation Next over. ***3/4. Crowd chants match of the year post-match, I feel like it’s a match that could have been at that level, but needed some polishing here and there.

    CM Punk and Ricky Steamboat come to the ring for a faceoff. Punk cuts a promo saying he respects Steamboat. Steamboat says he came for a fight. Punk says he doesn’t want to fight, he wants to shake Steamboat’s hand. Steamboat goes in for the handshake and Punk attacks him! Punk beats him down, Steamboat occasionally firing back with a chop. Steamboat reverses an Irish whip and lifts Punk up into his double-arm choke and throws Punk down. He goes up to the top rope for the crossbody, huge pop as he climbs the ropes, but Cabana comes out and shoves him off. Punk drives a ring bell into his throat! Maff and Whitmer comes out to run Punk and Cabana off.

    SAMOA JOE vs. HOMICIE for the ROH World Title. Joe has yet to uncontroversially defeat Homicide. In their first title match, Homicide almost had it won until he got distracted by Low Ki and Julius Smokes arguing at ringside. Homicide later challenged Joe to a Street Fight, which Homicide won by choking him out with a noose. Back in St. Paul, the match was thrown out when Homicide fireballed Joe. Match starts off really hot, crowd throws streamers for Joe and they just start fighting through the streamers. Joe kicks ass early on, beating up Homicide and Smokes. Smokes bumps and sells great for him. Homicide makes his comeback by biting Joe’s ear and slamming him off the top rope. Really hard hitting match. The ref basically throws the rules out as Homicide attacks Joe with chairs and his ghetto fork, busting Joe open and working over the cut. Homicide misses a tope con hilo and goes through a table. They have an awesome headbutt exchange. Great homestretch, both guys getting nearfalls with their big moves. Homicide focuses on Joe’s neck with a piledriver and neckbreaker and then locks in the STF. Joe gets the ropes but Homicide brings his fork back out and viciously stabs Joe, you can actually see the fork making a big cut on Joe’s forehead. Nasty. Joe’s pissed and comes back with a HUGE slap and hits the Island Driver. Homicide comes back with a big Lariat to the back and goes for the Cop Killa, but Joe reverses, hits a big lariat, and then hits a brainbuster for the win! I like the unexpected ending with a move he never finishes with, sort of ads to the chaotic tone of the match. This was awesome, definitely their best match together so far. ****

    This was a really good show. Last two matches were awesome. Undercard was good, but more than that it was very eventful. Very angle heavy show and they all got over really well, crowd was very hot throughout and the tent added a cool atmosphere. One of the more noteworthy-feeling shows ROH has done, actually. 8/10

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    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    I totally blanked out all of this Masada in ROH. Forgot about most of this show honestly, but I remember things really picked up at this point.

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Dayton, Ohio for WORLD TITLE CLASSIC June 12th, 2004.

    THE NEW AND IMPROVE CARNAGE CREW vs. DUNN AND MARCOS starts us off. The New and Improved Carnage Crew are Masada and Danny Daniels. Decent enough match. Dunn and Marcos are pretty competitive. They hit a nice dropkick into a crucifix pin early on. Masada and Daniels take most of the match. They end up winning with a sort of double lifting backbreaker thing. Not really an impressive double team finisher. **1/2

    Four no-name geeks are out for a tag match but HOMICIDE shows up. Dave Prazak gets in the ring and asks why Homicide is out here, Homicide says he wants to kill somebody. One of the geeks takes issue with Homicide interrupting their match, so he beats the shit out of all of them. He takes his ghetto fork to one of them. Homicide gets on the mic and says he’s going to do something DISRESPECTFUL to this company tonight. No justice, no honor, he says.

    JIMMY JACOBS vs. DELIRIOUS vs. MATT SYDAL vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN vs. LOC vs. RAINMAN next. Jacobs and Delirious do some comedy to start off, then everyone just starts trading moves for the rest of the match with no tags. Rainman actually does a pretty nice dive over the top rope. A couple good spots and the crowd is pretty into. Went a bit too long though. Jacobs pins Loc with the Contra Code off the top rope. **3/4

    Generation Next comes out followed by Matt Stryker. Stryker and Shelley are supposed to have a match, but Generation Next attacks Styker, busting him open. John Walters and Jimmy Rave come to his aid. They fight off Generation Next and Walters powerbombs Jack Evans over the top rope, Evans takes a NASTY bump on the floor. Walters and Rave say they’re here to fight. Matt Stryker comes back to join them leading to ALEX SHELLEY, AUSTIN ARIES and RODERICK STRONG vs. JOHN WALTERS, JIMMY RAVE and MATT STRYKER. Really good match that the crowd is really into. Gabe says on commentary that ROH officials have told Rave if he loses again before he wins his next match, he’s out of Ring of Honor. The faces start off working over Roderick Strong. Strong makes a comeback and Generation Next starts working over Rave. They work a long face in peril segment with Rave. Rave makes two tags to Stryker that the ref doesn’t see and the ref has to force him out right as he begins his comeback. Awesome spots and the crowd is really into them. Rave finally comes back against all of Generation Next and gets the tag to Matt Stryker who cleans house. Rave has Strong in a crossface but Aries comes off the top breaking it up with a 450 on Rave, then puts him in the Rings of Saturn for the submission. Great six man and a really good angle. I think I actually liked this better than the long 8 man tag on the Generation Next show. ***3/4

    HYDRO vs. CHAD COLLYER vs. RAY GORDY vs. SUPERSTAR STEVE is joined in progress. Last minute or so is shown, Hydro gets the submission with on Collyer, which is treated as a big deal. Hydro looks like he’s getting serious.

    SAMOA JOE vs. CM PUNK for the ROH World Title. Before the match, Les Thatcher presents Joe with a new ROH World Title belt. The story early on is that Punk is trying to tire Joe out. He’s willing to take a lot of damage and try to defend himself while hoping Joe punches himself out, while grabbing headlocks whenever he can. It’s really well done. Joe’s strikes are awesome, and really everything Joe does in this match looks great. As the match goes on, Punk looks to be more and more in control and Joe looks more and more tired. They go a lot of cool spots with teases and callbacks. Around thirty minutes in the crowd realizes they’re going super long and gets really into it. The crowd is on their feet for the entire second half of the match. Both guys are worn down and slugging it out. Punk hits a couple moves off the top rope that feel like big deals. The crowd starts to get really into every nearfall, submission attempt and even 10 count. Joe starts to attack Punk’s legs. They fight on the top rope and Punk hits the Pepsi Plunge to a huge pop, but the impact on his knees causes him to roll out of the ring. Back inside they go back and forth, each hitting some big moves. At the very end they get into a big strike exchange and Punk hits a DDT as the final ten seconds count down. Joe kicks out of it and then the 60 minutes expire. Joe retains in a time limit draw. This match definitely felt special. The crowd was really into it the whole time and they had a lot of good ideas. The match did peak around the 45 minute mark though, and in the last ten minutes or so the match felt like it was running out of steam. There was also a lot of REALLY obvious spot calling. But definitely a great match, and there’s a lot of promise that they could do an even better hour match, we’ll see in a couple months. It went by really fast for an hour too. ****. After the match as the crowd chants five more minutes, Homicide comes out and attacks Joe, the ref, and Dave Prazak, and steals the new title belt.

    JACK EVANS and AUSTIN ARIES vs. THE BRISCOE BROTHERS vs. DAN MAFF and BJ WHITMER vs. COLT CABANA and ACE STEEL in an Ultimate Endurance Match. This is an elimination match, the first fall a submission match, the second fall a scramble tag, the third fall anything goes. God knows why they booked this after the Punk/Joe draw and the big angle afterward. Match starts off pretty low-key, everyone works over Jack Evans’ back and he gets submitted with a Boston Crab. The scramble portion is pretty quick, everyone trades moves for a while until Maff and Whitmer hit Mark with a Doomsday Device knee strike and eliminate the Briscoes. When it comes down the Maff/Whiter vs. Cabana/Steel it’s a brawl. Cabana and Steel bust open both their opponents and they fight around ringside for a while. The match gets bogged down after they fight through the crowd until the end, which has Whitmer hitting Steel with an Exploder off the top rope through a table, and then Maff hitting Cabana with a NASTY Burning Hammer for the win. This match was pretty lumbering, but the crowd did get into the later portion. I’d rate this lower if it weren’t for the sick burning hammer that ended it. ***

    Overall a good show because of two great matches, Joe/Punk feeling like a genuinely special, legendary match. Other than that the undercard was pretty weak, and the main event was kind of a chore, but at least ended on a high note. 7/10

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    Ray Gordy? Would that happen to be Ray Gordy aka "Jesse" of "Jesse and Festus" fame?

  52. #52
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Philadelphia for SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, June 24th, 2004. This show will feature six singles matches, with the six winners facing off in the main event in a six-man elimination match.

    ALEX SHELLEY vs. MARK BRISCOE is our first qualifying match. Starts off with some nice matwork and Briscoe starts to work the knee. Crowd is really into Shelley. Briscoe stays on the knee all match and Shelley sells it all match. Good match that builds in intensity as it goes along. They trade big moves back and forth and eventually Shelley goes for the Border City Stretch, but Mark reverses it, grabs onto the legs looking for a Texas Cloverleaf, but when he can’t roll Shelley over he jacknifes into a pin for the win. Cool ending. ***1/4

    TRENT ACID vs. COLT CABANA in the second qualifying match. They have a really fun comedy segment to open up. The match kind of struggles after that. Not but, they’re just not really clicking. Gabe is on commentary saying Cabana’s been talking about debuting a new move that no one can kick out of. Trent hits some big moves and then Cabana puts Trent in a very convoluted roll-up for the win. **3/4

    Austin Aries and John Walters are supposed to have the next qualifying match, but Generation Next attacks Walters again. Josh Daniels is supposed to be Walters’ replacement, but Generation Next attacks him too, insisting Aries advance by default. Walters comes back out and we end up with JOHN WALTERS and JOSH DANIELS vs. AUSTIN ARIES and RODERICK STRONG, where the winner of the fall will advance. Walters and Daniels work over Strong for a long while early on, until Strong pulls Walters out of the ring and he and Aries work him over. They work over Daniels for a while, with Walters getting a phantom tag spot. They have a pretty nice home stretch, with some great chops, ending with Strong powerbombing Daniels and Aries following it up with a 450 for the win. Aries advances. ***1/4

    HOMICIDE vs. JAY BRISCOE in the fourth qualifying match. Good, gritty-feeling match. Homicide works over Jay’s neck, hitting a good piledriver. He screws with Mark by ringside while working over Jay, grabbing Jay in a hammerlock and forcing him to flip off his brother manipulating his fingers. Briscoe comes back with a nice Blue Thunder Bomb. Jay’s selling is really good in this match. Smokes interferes allowing Homicide to hit the Ace Crusher off the top followed by a big Lariat for the win. Jay takes a nasty bump on his neck off that Lariat. Homicide advances. ***1/4

    JACK EVANS vs. BRYAN DANIELSON in the fifth qualifying match. I love this match-up on paper and it was a lot of fun, I just wish it went longer. Danielson stretches the fuck out of Evans early on, really contorting him. Evans comes back with some kicks and a big flipping dive to the outside, but Danielson quickly KILLS him with an uppercut once they’re back in the ring and puts Evans in this nasty, super-deep Boston Crab for the win. Really fun match, wish they went longer. Danielson advances. ***1/4

    SAMOA JOE vs. MATT STRYKER in the last qualifying match. The crowd is really against Stryker tonight. Joe is in control early on, hitting a brutal tope on Stryker. Stryker is able to hit the Death Valley Driver, but without being able to hook the head, for a two count. He follows it up with a superplex and then goes for another DVD, but Joe knees him in the head, hits a big leg sweep and then the Island Driver for the win. Joe advances. ***

    Post-match, Punk comes out to confront Joe, he wants his rematch. But in the back of the building is Homicide with the new ROH belt he stole, taunting Joe. Joe and Homicide fight through the crowd. Backstage with GMC, Joe says that in July at Death Before Dishonor, it’s going to be Joe vs. Homicide for the last time.

    CM PUNK vs. DUNN AND MARCOS vs. THE OUTKAST KILLAZ vs. HYDRO and DIXIE for the ROH Tag Titles. Punk and Cabana comes out together but Punk gets on the mic and runs down the other three teams, and tells Cabana he can take care of this on his own so Cabana can rest up for the main event. Punk hangs out on the apron for most of the match as the other six guys just have a fast paced match hitting move after move. Not bad, nothing special. The ending is actually really cool as Hydro hits a double Dragon Suplex on Dunn and Marcos at once, Punk then tosses out Hydro and covers both Dunn and Marcos for the cheap win. **1/2.

    After the match, Hydro gets on the mic and challenges Punk to a one on one match. Punk blows him off but Hydro calls him a pussy and he takes the bait, so CM PUNK vs. HYDRO is an impromptu match. Hydro follows the code of honor! This is a great star making performance for Hydro. Punk gives him a lot early on and the crowd is really into it. When Punk gets in control he’s great as a condescending prick working him over. Hydro fires back with some stiff chops now and again but Punk keeps him shut down. Hydro makes a quick comeback and goes for the Dragon Suplex that just ended the last match, but Punk fights out of it and hits the Shining Wizard. But Punk pulls Hydro up before the three count! Unfortunately they go on too long after this, the match sort of loses steam. Punk pulls Hydro up again after hitting his leg-hook DDT. Hydro finally gets the Dragon Suplex but can’t make the cover in time and Punk kicks out. Punk soon after rolls up Hydro for the win. The first two thirds of this match were a lot better than the last third, but those first two thirds were really, really good. This was a big match for Hydro and Punk was awesome as the heel giving an up and coming babyface a spotlight match. ***1/2

    MARK BRISCOE vs. HOMICIDE vs. AUSTIN ARIES vs. BRYAN DANIELSON vs. COLT CABANA vs. SAMOA JOE in the elimination Survival of the Fittest match. Starts off good and high energy with everyone matching up against each other. Homicide avoids and taunts Joe. Joe and Aries have some nice exchanges. Cabana does a fun spot where he tags in with Joe the other legal man, gets all hyped up to face off against the champion, then slyly tags out and bails. Mark Briscoe gets his leg worked over for a while, including Danielson putting him in a sweet leg submission I’ve never seen anywhere else. Everyone gets in the ring and trades moves, Daniels and Aries hit dives to the outside, Joe goes to follow them up with a tope but Cabana comes in over the top rope and rolls up Joe in a sunset flips as he’s running into his dive, and pins the World Champion clean! Cabana is the first man to win a fall over Samoa Joe in 2004! Crowd is shocked and commentary and all the others guy really sell it as a big deal. Cabana is riding high but gets hit with a Lariat by Homicide and then Mark hits him with an SSP to eliminate him. Mark and Homicide faces off, Mark ends up hitting a German Suplex but because of his injured leg he can’t hold the bridge and both their shoulders are counted down, eliminating them both. Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries are left to duel it out. And holy shit what a match do they have. Danielson controls Aries to start with super tight mat work. He pulls out, I think for the first time, his “I have ‘til five” while clawing at Aries’ face. He’s just merciless working him over. Aries has to bite at Danielson’s hand to fight back. Danielson goes up top but Aries hits a springboard dropkick. Danielson falls over with his foot stuck in the ropes, hanging upside down, and Aries hits a nasty running dropkick to his head. They go back a forth with nasty strikes, somewhere Aries gets his chin split open. Aries suplexes Danielson over the ropes to the outside and follows it up with a Cactus Jack elbow. Back in the ring Danielson fights back with NASTY uppercuts, elbows and a big clothesline. His hits a Dragon Suplex into the Cattle Mutilation, but Aries fights out of it into his fishhook, then into his Rings of Saturn. Crowd is going nuts at this point. Danielson knees out of it a couple times, but Aries finally hits a beautiful brainbuster. Danielson gets his knees up on the 450 attempt. At this point Aries is almost out of it. He’s able to fight back here and there with some big elbows, a headbutt exchange, and a great small package nearfall, but Danielson wears him out with some of the hardest bodyslams you’ve ever seen and lots of stiff strikes. He finally locks in the BEARHUG! Aries tries to battle out of it but Danielson cuts him off with a stiff headbutt. He lifts up Aries and turns him over into a bearhug-Boston Crab combo. Aries fights and fights but is forced to tap. Wow! What a match. This match doesn’t get nearly enough hype. For me, this is the best match ROH has put on thus far. ****3/4

    Awesome show. All-time classic main event, mostly thanks to the incredible 20+ minute Aries/Danielson ending, but the rest of the match was really good too. Really strong undercard with a show-long theme. Star-making angle for Hydro. Aries is also now a made guy after that main event. And Cabana pinning Joe is a huge story. 8.5/10

  53. #53
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    Totally forgot that awesome Punk/Hydro match. I guess becoming Jay Lethal washed out the run he was already on. Seems like he always was Jay to me.

    Survival of the Fittest was totally the coolest thing to happen in wrestling. Qualify+compete is a truly novel concept and those guys were fit for the job that night. Aries broke out and stole the show with Bryan, but it was a Peak in rare gimmick (multi-man/elimination) matches.

  54. #54
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    that punk/hydro match really highlights something that ROH at this stage is doing SO much better than AEW is right now: hierarchy. they have a real hierarchy. it really feels like punk is on a totally different level than hydro. he's a much bigger star, so when they wrestle, it actually looks like punk outclasses hydro. so when hydro has a competitive match with him, it doesn't just feel like two guys having a random 50/50 match, but it feels like a big deal for hydro, that he's doing something he *shouldn't* be able to do, which is hang with punk. it genuinely elevates him, at the same time as it makes punk look like a big star by comparison.

    compare this to how the top guys in AEW will have totally 50/50 matches with lowercard guys. omega having a 50/50 match with joey janella. cody having a 50/50 with marq quen. if everyone's on the same level, nobody's special.

  55. #55
    OBJECTION Psycho666Soldier's Avatar
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    That Aries/Danielson match is a fucking masterpiece. The rest is good, too, but Aries/Danielson is where it's really at.

    This whole show is a treasure. It also taught me that Bryan Danielson is a horrible human being, and he should feel awful for everything he's ever done to a man in the ring.

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    this rewatch has really solidified for me that danielson is the #1 greatest of all time. he's been on a different level from everyone else since day one, and it shows on every show.

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    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    ROH actually has the whole main event uploaded on youtube. must watch.


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    Hydro is the current day Jay Lethal, right?

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    indeed he was.

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    I know its a little off-topic, but I can't believe WWE has never tried to pick up Jay Lethal.

    He's the kind of guy who seems like the ultimate company loyalist. He's stuck with Ring Of Honor since they were playing to VFW halls and High School gyms. He'll be the last rat off a sinking ship at some point. Not calling him a "rat" in a pejorative sense, its just a turn of phrase.

    I respect sticking it out with the company that "made you", but he'd be a big deal elsewhere.

  61. #61
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Elizabeth, New Jersey for REBORN: COMPLETION, July 17th, 2004. The idea of this show is that it’s the culmination of ROH’s reborn/rebuilding process that started after the exodus of TNA talent three months ago. Joe cuts a pre-show promo about the main event tonight, and afterward Hydro walks into the room, saying he’s been told Joe wants to talk to him. Joe shows him some tough love, telling him he needs to get his act together, or he’ll lose his potential. CM Punk joins us on commentary, thankfully, as the last several shows had seen the execrable Mark Nulty on commentary with Gabe.

    DIXIE and IZZY vs. RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS is our opener. Special K look much less upbeat than usual on their entrance, which has been a progressive theme since they got killed in the Scramble Cage match back in March. Really fun, fast paced match. I love Evans and Strong as a team. Izzy does some impressive spots early, including a nice pop-up headsissors. Both Izzy and Jack hit big springboard flipping dives to the outside early on. Evans and Strong work over Dixie, Strong killing him with chops. Evans and Strong do an awesome double team spot where Strong lifts Izzy up in a torture rack position on his shoulder with Dixie on the mat in front of them, Evans comes off the ropes, hops off Izzy and moonsaults onto Dixie. Crowd goes nuts for that move. Izzy and Dixie come back a bit, including Izzy hitting a big reverse hurricanrana, a move still rare enough to get a big pop, but Strong hits Izzy with a powerbomb into a backbreaker and Evans follows it up with his 630 for the win. Nice opener and super hot crowd. ***1/4. After the match, Generation Next beats down all of Special K. Strong even gives Becky a backbreaker! Alex Shelley says Generation Next will make sure tonight goes down in infamy.

    JAY LETHAL vs. JOHN WALTERS vs. NIGEL MCGUINNESS vs. DOUG WILLIAMS next. This is the first of two four way matches, the winners of which will face off later tonight for the vacant Pure Title. Lethal is shedding the Hydro moniker for the first time. Crowd is really into Lethal but he doesn’t get a lot of offense. Nigel and Williams work a fun British style exchange early on. Pretty good match, but it gets pretty messy when all four men start trading moves toward the end. They try a very intricate four man spot that totally botches to the point where I really have no idea what they had in mind. Williams hits Lethal with a nasty wheelbarrow suplex, dropping him right on his head. Lethal also gets hit with the Tower of London. Williams ends up hitting Lethal with the Chaos Theory for the win. Lethal sure took a lot of abuse in this match. Williams advances to the Pure Title match. ***

    LOC and DEVITO vs. MASADA and DANNY DANIELS next. The Original Carnage Crew vs. The New and Improved Carnage Crew. The losers much disband. Fun rough and tumble brawl. Everyone bleeds and lots of weapons get involved. Masada takes a nasty bump through a table. Loc and Devito put a trashcan over Danny Daniels and whack him with bats for the win. ***

    CM PUNK vs. ALEX SHELLEY vs. AUSTIN ARIES vs. MATT STRYKER in the second qualifying match for the Pure Title match. Shelley cuts a promo on Punk and Stryker pre-match, where he sarcastically calls Stryker “Captain Charisma.” This is in July 2004, and I believe Christian debuted the Captain Charisma moniker in October 2004 in the WWE. Did he steal it from Alex Shelley? Shelley and Aries work as a tag team in this match, forcing Punk and Stryker to tentatively work together too, though they take a shot at each other now and then. The match gets really messy at the end, lots of awkward moments. Punk rolls up Aries as Shelley rolls up Stryker, but the ref counts the fall for Shelley. Shelley advances to face Doug Williams for the Pure Title. **1/2. Punk gets on the mic, mad that the ref counted the fall for Shelley but not him. Punk says that if Generation Next wants people’s “spots,” he’ll give them Raven’s and Christopher Daniels’ spots, and run them out of ROH just like he did them.

    BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF vs. COLT CABANA and ACE STEEL in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Kind of a tepid brawl, but at least they go into the crowd quickly. The climb up into a balcony and tease falling off either side of it. Crowd is at least really into this part. Cabana falls off the back side of the balcony, but the way the camera is set up in reality he probably only fell like three feet, but he goes out of view and Gabe sells it on commentary like he’s dead. Maff hits Steel with a spotlight and Whitmer and Maff both hit him in the head with chairs and Whitmer pins him for the win. **1/2. Allison Danger comes out after the match. Last show, Maff and Whitmer decide they’re just their own tag team, not part of “The Prophecy” anymore. Allison Danger says she owns their contracts, somehow, and she’s going to bring in people to take them out.

    Prince Nana comes out with The Outkast Killaz. He says that he’s emptied his Swiss bank accounts to bring in the best money can buy for The Embassy to finally take off. It’s revealed to be Jimmy Rave! JIMM RAVE vs. TRENT ACID next. Trent is very high energy tonight and the crowd is really into him. He gets almost all the offense in the match, but Rave ends up winning with the STYLES CLASH! Big heat for that. **1/2

    DOUG WILLIAMS vs. ALEX SHELLEY for the Pure Title. They starts out with a lot of fancy mat work and submissions. They get way too cute with it at times, but it’s pretty good. Williams starts to work on Shelley’s arm, forcing him to use up all his ropebreaks with arm submissions. Shelley is able to fire back with a doublestomp to the back of Williams’ dead followed by the Shellshock, but Williams kicks out. Williams wraps Shelley up in a rope-assisted hammerlock submission and with no ropebreaks left, Shelley has to tap. Williams is the new Pure Champion. ***1/4

    CM Punk and Ricky Steamboat have what’s being billed as their FINAL CONFRONTATION. They come out to the ring and fight. They trade strikes, Punk hits Steamboat with a piledriver, Steamboat comes back by launching him off the ropes. Steamboat lays out Punk and cuts a promo on him, saying he has talent, but he needs to stop being a smartass. Generation Next come out and attack Steamboat! Punk gets on the mic and teases joining Generation Next, but then attacks them. Punk and Steamboat run wild on Generation Next, clearing the ring. Big CM Punk chant. Punk and Steamboat fist bump in acknowledgement. Feels like a big face turn for Punk.

    HOMICIDE, RICKY REYES and ROCKY ROMERO vs. SAMOE JOE and THE BRISCOE BROTHERS is our main event. Before the match, Julius Smokes hands Homicide a cell phone and he stalls for a minute talking to someone. This match is over thirty minutes long and just absolutely non-stop, fast paced action. Joe and Rocky match up against each other and are awesome, just killing each other with stiff strikes. I really want to see that singles match. The Briscoes and the Pitbulls work against each other most of the match and it’s a lot better than the actual tag match they had against each other a couple months ago. Big dive sequence ending with Joe doing a corkscrew dive over the top. Long homestretch with everyone hitting move after move. Mark goes for a Shooting Star Press put lands right on the back of his neck. Homicide tires to FIREBALL Joe again but Mark Briscoe gets in the way and takes the fireball to the face! The ref calls the match off. Great, high energy main event. ***3/4

    The Rottweilers beat down Joe and Jay. Gabe freaks out on commentary, begging Punk to go help them, which Punk passes on. Homicide gets on the mic and says that no one is going to stop them – and LOW KI’S music hit! Crowd goes crazy as Low Ki returns for the first time since February. Low Ki backs the Rottweilers off of Joe and argues with Homicide. He picks up the ROH Title and gets on the mic, saying that he worked to make that title mean something, and no one’s going to disrespect this title – except him! He attacks Joe! Low Ki is the newest member of the Rottweilers. All four men plus Julius Smokes attack Joe and drape an ROH banner over him, posing over his motionless body.

    This was a very eventful show. Very angle-driven, one of the most ‘sports entertainment’ ROH shows ever, and in that sense it really worked. The undercard was on the weaker side of solid, but the main event was great. All the big angles make this a must see show and one of the more significant ones of the year. 7.5/10
    Last edited by Tainted Eclipse; August 4th, 2020 at 2:31 PM.

  62. #62
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    We’re in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin for DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR II: PART ONE, July 23rd, 2004.

    ACE STEEL vs. TRENT ACID vs. MATT SYDAL vs. DELIRIOUS is our opener. Pretty average four way match. Some fun spots, but really unpolished in places. The crowd is really appreciative of everything though. Acid hits an asai moonsault that sends him totally over the barricade, and towards the end Sydal hits a beautiful dive over the top rope on Ace. Trent pins Delirious with a high-angle lifting reverse DDT. **1/2

    DOUG WILLIAMS vs. ALEX SHELLEY for the ROH Pure Title. I really liked the mat work in the beginning, better than their last match. The middle portion of the match feels kind of weak but it picks up toward the end. Shelley hits a really nice swinging Fisherman’s Buster. They work a number of nice, fast paced reversal sequences. Williams ends up winning with the Chaos Theory. ***1/4

    BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF vs. LOW KI and ROCKY ROMERO. Huge pop for Low Ki’s theme. This match starts out very promisingly when Maff hits Low Ki with a monster chop and Low Ki responds by hitting him with a gamengiri right in the mouth. But after that the match really goes south. It’s either messy or just lethargic. It does pick up a bit right at the end, and Julius Smokes actually takes an awesome bump off of Maff’s spear. Decent enough home stretch ends with Low Ki breaking up a Burning Hammer attempt to Romero, and Romero putting Maff in an armbar for the submission win. **1/2. Allison Danger badmouths Maff and Whitmer post-match and tries to entice Low Ki and Romero into joining The Prophecy, but Homicide comes out and hits her with the Cop Killa to a big pop.

    CHAD COLLYER vs. DANNY DANIELS next. These two have an exceedingly mediocre match. Not much to be said about it. Collyer wins with the Texas Cloverleaf. **

    AUSTIN ARIES, RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS vs. JOHN WALTERS, MATT STRYKER and JIMMY JACOBS next. Ricky Steamboat accompanies the faces. All the faces start out by hitting armdrags on Generation Next. GN gets in control with an awesome spot, Strong flapjacks Jacobs into the air and Jack Evans comes off the top rope and dropkicks him mid-air. They work on Jacobs for a while, and Jacobs is a great guy to get worked over, especially since he’s the local favorite. Jacobs’ comeback is awesome, he avoids Strong flapjacking him into the air again and launches Evans off the top rope onto Strong and Aries. Great spot. Walters and Stryker come in to clean house. Shelley tries to interfere but Steamboat fights him off, and the faces put all the heels in submission moves and they all tap. Really good match, held back by a lot of botches and awkward moments. But the good stuff was really good. ***1/2

    SAMOA JOE vs. HOMICIDE for the ROH World Title. Homicide is accompanied by Julius Smokes, Low Ki and Rocky Romero. They interfere so much in the first minute that the ref ejects them. This is a very strike-based match. Whenever Joe gets the advantage, Homicide goes for a cheapshot with a poke to the eyes. Joe unleashes some nasty strikes. Homicide goes for the Ole Ole kick to mock Joe, but Joe cuts him off with a belly to belly on the floor and Homicide sells it beautifully. They fight more back in the ring. Homicide hits three Lariats for a nearfall. Joe fights back. Homicide kicks out of a Muscle Buster and an Island Driver in a row. Joe hammers him with kicks and then locks in the Choke. Homicide passes out and Joe retains. This was a very good match overall, but disappointing for what it was. As the culmination of a feud that’s taken up most of the year, Homicide’s last chance at the title, and after the great match they had at Generation Next, I was hoping for something more memorable. The crowd was pretty lame for this match too. ***1/2. Joe keeps the Choke on, and the Rottweilers come out to attack him. Homicide recovers and they all go after Joe. They grab the ROH Title and spit on it! Gabe is outraged, and says that they are “raping the belt of its dignity.”

    CM PUNK and COLT CABANA vs. THE BRISCOE BROTHERS in a 2/3 Falls match for the ROH Tag Titles. The first fall is very tedious. They clearly want to go long so they spend a lot of time mat wrestling and it just isn’t coming off well. Punk and Cabana work over Mark for a while, then the Briscoes work over Punk for a while. Punk finally gets the hot tag but for some reason Cabana immediately tags Punk back in, and Punk gets hit with the Jay Driller to give the Briscoes the first fall. Punk is out of it for the whole second fall. Cabana is able to fight off the Briscoes for a while, but they end up in control before long. The work in the second fall is definitely better than the first fall, though still not great. Cool ending as Mark hits a backbreaker on Cabana and keeps him draped over his knee for Jay to come off the top rope with a leg drop, but Cabana reaches up and pulls Mark’s head down in the way of Jay’s leg drop. He then follows that up with a fancy rollup on Jay to win the fall, tying it up. Cabana is still the worse for wear into the third fall and the Briscoes reestablish control. They hit the springboard Doomsday Device but Punk finally rushes in to break it up. Cabana makes the hot tag to Punk and they go into the home stretch. Decent home stretch, again nothing special. Mark hits an SSP to the outside followed by a Cabana Asai Moonsault. All four guys trade some of their big moves until Punk hits the Pepsi Plunge on Mark again for the 2-1 win. Overall, this was a good match, but definitely not as good as their first match. They tried to have a long, old school style tag match and didn’t really pull it off. Still, though they didn’t pull off what they wanted, it was a good, mostly well laid out match. ***1/4

    Good show overall. The last three matches were all good. The main event did have something of a big match feel even though it didn’t live up to how the four guys wanted to work it. There were a couple weak matches on the undercard but overall a good show. 7/10

  63. #63
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Chicago Ridge, Illinois for DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR: PART TWO, July 24th, 2004.

    ROCKY ROMERO vs. CHAD COLLYER is our open. Really good technical match. Nice matwork to start out. Everything is just worked really well in this match. Romero is going for the armbar constantly throughout the match. Toward the end Romero gets up big armbar spot followed by Collyer getting a big Texas Cloverleaf spot, and the crowd really buys both as possible match enders. Soon after Romero is able to hit a hurricanrana into an armbar for the submission win. Great opener. ***1/2

    ALEX SHELLEY vs. JIMMY JACOBS next. Last time ROH was in Chicago, Shelley turned on Jacobs, so Jacobs wants revenge. They start out with a lot of chain wrestling, Shelley gets the advantage. Jacobs makes his comeback and they start to trade bigger moves. This isn’t a brawl or anything, but they do a good job making it feel like a grudge match. Some of Jacobs’ offense is a little too cutesy though. Jacobs hits Shelley with his own Shellshock and later hits a nasty senton off the top rope, coming down on him with all his body weight. Shelley counters the Contra Code into a sort of Regalplex and rolls it over into the Border City Stretch for the win. Good match. ***1/4

    Generation Next attack Jacobs post-match, but Steamboat comes out and says he has two guys behind the curtain to even the score, leading to RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS vs. MATT STRYKER and JOHN WALTERS. Stryker and Walters clear house with some big moves and get in control, working over both guys. Evans and Strong get in control and work over Walters for a while. Evans botches a couple moves, not too badly though. Walters comes back with a double backstabber and they go into the homestretch. Evans and Roderick hit their awesome double team moonsault. They go back and forth and Walters and Stryker end up putting them both in their submission moves, but Shelley baits Steamboat down the aisle and Aries attacks him from behind. Seeing this, Stryker runs out to help leaving Walters alone with both guys to get double teamed. Strong hits Walters with the Spinal Shock for the win. Really good, classically laid out tag match with a hot crowd. ***1/2

    TRENT ACID vs. MATT SYDAL vs. DELIRIOUS vs. DANNY DANIELS vs. SHAWN DAIVARI vs. THE GREAT KAZUSHI next. Trent is calling himself the king of the multi-man match now. Just a non-stop, very messy spotfest. Not particularly good at all, but they at least do have one great highspot where they do the classic three man sunset flip-German suplex combo but off the top rope. Acid pins Daivari with his lifting reverse DDT. **

    DOUG WILLIAMS vs. AUSTIN ARIES for the ROH Pure Title. The Pure Title has now codified the closed fist rule: the first closed fist a wrestler throws will get a warning, any more from then on will cost them a ropebreak. As the ref is handing the belt to the timekeeper, Aries hits Williams with a cheapshot punch, Williams responds with one of his own right as the ref turns around and gets a warning. Aries puts Williams in a headlock and starts punching him when he has him angled so the ref can’t see; Williams reverses it and punches Aries, costing him a ropebreak! Nice heel work by Aries. They do some fun spots with Williams outwrestling Aries. Aries ends up using all his ropebreaks as Williams works over his arm. He goes up for the 450 but Williams cuts him off, wraps him up in a armbar submission on the top turnbuckle and Aries taps out. There were some parts of this match that didn’t really come off too well, but I really liked the beginning and how they effectively worked the rope breaks into the story of the match. ***1/4

    LOW KI vs. MARK BRISCOE next. Low Ki’s first singles match in eleven months. Low Ki is very heelish here, cheating, taking cheap shots, making cocky covers. Low Ki controls the match for a long time and is very “methodical,” which is to say kind of boring, but at least he throws out a stiff chop or kick now and then. Match picks up toward the end as Mark starts to come back and they go back and forth. They spend a couple spots teasing a German suplex so it’s cool when it’s finally pulled off, and it’s a great looking one too. Julius Smokes cheapshots Mark allowing Low Ki to hit the Tidal Crush and follow it up with the Dragon Clutch for the win. Good last couple minutes. ***

    HOMICIDE vs. JAY BRISCOE to follow up. Jay comes in hot but Homicide cuts him off and works him over for a while. Jay comes back with a top rope belly to belly and a nice sit-out Razor’s Edge style powerbomb. Good back and forth action. Smokes distracts Jay, allowing Homicide to hit a double underhook suplex off the top rope and follow it up with the Lariat for the win. ***

    SAMOA JOE vs. COLT CABANA for the ROH World Title. Back at Survivor of the Fittest, Cabana became the only man in 2004 to win a fall over Joe, catching him with a surprise rollup. Crowd is really into Colt as the hometown guy, but they love Joe, too. Joe controls a lot of the match early on, until Cabana comes back by cutting off an Ole Ole kick and hitting one of his own. They go back and forth for the rest of the match. Joe ends up winning with the Muscle Buster. Good match, though the outcome was never in doubt and they never really got the crowd to bite on any false finishes for Cabana, but the crowd was still into it. ***1/4. The Rottweilers are out post-match to attack Joe, but the Briscoes come to his rescue and chase them off.

    CM PUNK and ACE STEEL vs. DAN MAFF and BJ WHITMER in a Street Fight. This is billed as the end of the SCS vs. Maff/Whitmer/Prophecy feud once and for all. All four guys are in street clothes. The match is actually a bit tepid for the first couple minutes but picks up once Maff and Whitmer get in control with chair shots. For a while the match is really, really good, just a nice bloody brawl. Then they start to rely more on foreign objects and setting up spots with a barbed wire board, tables, etc., and although it’s still good after that point, I much prefer a straight up fight for a brawl rather than a succession of set up spots. But, like I said, it’s still good, and the match is befitting the end of a major feud. They do hit some pretty nice spots. Ace Steel ends up hitting a tombstone off the second rope through a table onto Whitmer for the win, giving the Saints the victory in the feud. ***1/2. After the match, Generation Next attacks Punk and Steel. Cabana and Ricky Steamboat come out but Generation Next still get the better of them, standing all at the end of the show.

    Very, very solid show. Almost every match was good, a couple matches were very good. Very consistent. It’s lacking any really great matches to put it into show of the year level, though. 8/10

  64. #64
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Philadelphia for TESTING THE LIMIT, August 7th, 2004. The main event will feature a rematch from Survival of the Fittest with Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries squaring off one and one; and not in just any match, but in a two out of three falls match where each fall has its own one hour time limit, opening up the possibility of the match going as long as three hours. CM Punk is on commentary.

    JOHN WALTERS vs. NIGEL MCGUINNESS is our opener. The winner will face Doug Williams for the Pure Title at a later date. Starts off with a really nice chop exchange. This is a very short match, and it isn’t bad, but it feels like instead of trying to have a good five minute match, they tried to have a very, very condensed fifteen minute match in five minutes. Nigel kicks out of the Lungblower and Walters kicks out of the Tower of London. Walters ends up winning off of a strange rollup. **1/2

    RODERICK STRONG vs. IZZY next. Izzy starts off hot with some acrobatic offense, but when he goes for a hurricanrana on the floor Strong catches him and smacks him into the barricade and then into the ring post, nasty spot. Strong controls the rest of the match for the most part, barring two comeback moves from Izzy. Strong hits some nasty chops and some nice backbreakers, but still looks green at times, not exactly sure what to do and weak on transitions. Strong wins with the Spinal Shock. **1/2

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. DAN MAFF and BF WHITMER next. Allison Danger signed this match to punish Maff and Whitmer, since she still somehow “owns” their contracts. This starts out as a nice brawl around ringside, everyone chopping each other, whipping each other into barricades, very good start. Back in the ring Devito misses a moonsault and they all trade moves for a little while. Maff goes up top but Allison Danger sneaks out and crotches him on the turnbuckle, allowing the Carnage Crew to hit a spiked piledriver for the win. ***

    2 COLD SCORPIO vs. ALEX SHELLEY vs. ACE STEEL vs. JAY LETHAL next. Shelley tries to convince Lethal to join Generation Next again before the match, but he again declines. They start out fighting with each other. After this the match becomes very, very boring. It just lumbers along and is never any good. Even the novelty of Scorpio in there is limited. Shelley ends up pinning Lethal with the Shellshock. **. Scorpio puts Lethal over on the mic after the match.

    HOMICIDE and LOW KI vs. THE BRISCOE BROTHERS next. Starts off really high energy, everyone fighting back and forth. It settles down as Homicide and Low Ki work over Jay. Mark gets the hot tag and cleans house, going into the home stretch. Low Ki hits some stiff Kawada kicks on Mark, but Mark avoids the last one and hits a NASTY Regalplex. Jay ends up taking Homicide out with the Jay Driller, Low Ki tries to hit Jay with the Ki Crush but Jay turns it into a small package and pins Low Ki! That’s Low Ki’s first clean pinfall loss in ROH history, his only other clean loss being a pass-out TKO to Bryan Danielson in the second ever show. Big feather in Jay’s cap. Good match. ***1/4. Big post-match brawl that takes the locker room to break up.

    CM PUNK and COLT CABANA vs. RICKY REYES and ROCKY ROMERO for the ROH Tag Titles. Boy, this match is just a mess. Nothing gels at all, the crowd isn’t into it, and it goes twenty minutes. Not good. Reyes ends up pinning Cabana with a small package to win the Pitbulls the ROH Tag Titles. Too bad for a title change to take place in such an inauspicious match. *3/4

    About thirty seconds of Samoa Joe vs. Trent Acid for the ROH World Title is shown in clips. Acid badly injures his ankle in the first spot of the match when he tries to dive on Joe. Joe pins him with the Island Driver.

    BRYAN DANIELSON vs. AUSTIN ARIES, 2/3 Falls. Danielson debuts his maroon trunks in this match. They start off spending a lot of time on the mat, clearly signaling they’re going long. Decent mat work. Danielson hits Aries with a gutbuster off the top rope and focuses on his ribs for a while. Aries comes back with a dive and then they start trading them moves back and forth. They hit most of their big moves. Danielson is starting to really lean into the heel roll, gouging at Aries, taking advantage of the five count, even escaping a submission by biting Aries’ thigh. Aries eventually hits his Crucifix Bomb into the Rings of Saturn, Danielson fights out of it but Aries transitions into Danielson’s own Cattle Mutilation! Danielson taps to his own move to give up the first fall a bit more than forty minutes into the match. Danielson works over Aries leg to start the second fall. He goes for a tope but Aries moves out of the way and Danielson crashes on the floor. They sell Danielson as being potentially knocked out. Danielson lays on the floor for several minutes. Aries takes advantage of it and hits a top rope Cactus Jack style elbow drop. Eventually Aries gets him back in the ring. He hits some moves and tosses him outside, and goes for a running elbow strike but Danielson moves and Aries smashes his elbow against the post. Danielson now works over Aries’ arm for a while. Back in the ring Aries is able to fight back a little, but Danielson locks in the Cattle Mutilation. Aries doesn’t submit, so Danielson turns it into a cradle for the pinfall win the score the second fall a bit over an hour into the match. Most of the second fall was quite dull but I really like that ending. The third fall is the best of the three. They do a really good spot where they trade bodyslams and exchange bearhugs, recalling their last match. They trade strikes and are both almost spent. Aries hits a Brainbuster off the second rope but Danielson kicks out. Aries follows up with two more Brainbusters and then hits a 450 Splash for the win at around an hour and twenty minutes. Massive with for Aries. I appreciate the ambition, but going this long was definitely a mistake. They could have had a much better 20-30 minute match. A lot of this match was boring, it was very drawn out. The crowd wasn’t really into it at all, and it’s just felt like a chore to get through at times. That said, there was a lot of really good stuff in the match, and it feels huge for Aries. ***1/2

    Definitely the weakest show of the year. Very poor undercard. The main event has to be called a very good match for the good stuff that was in it, but it went way too long. The crowd was pretty lethargic the whole night. 5/10

  65. #65
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Braintree, Massachusetts for SCRAMBLE CAGE MELEE, August 28th, 2004.

    JAY LETHAL vs. ALEX SHELLEY opens up. Lethal starts off hot, getting a big run of offense on Shelley and hitting a big dive. Shelley comes back by targeting Lethal’s leg. Shelley works over the leg for a long time. Lethal hits his full-rotation Drag Suplex which is being billed as his finishing move, but takes too long to make the cover. Shelley continues to focus on the leg. He hits a really awesome double stomp off the top rope to the leg with Lethal in a kneeling position and follows it up with a figure four. This actually would have been an awesome ending, but Lethal gets the ropes. Lethal tries to fight back but Shelley stays focused on the leg. After a series of reversals, Shelley gets a rollup and a handful of tights for the cheap win. Good opener, crowd is really into Lethal. Actually a rare case of a guy getting over when his push is mostly him losing. The match could have been better with some time trimmed off, but still good. ***1/4

    JIMMY RAVE vs. ANGEL DUST next. Really effective match for both guys. Rave is on top for most of the match and they do a good job making it look like Rave is just outclassing Angel Dust at every turn. He’s really natural in the smarmy heel role already. He throws in an eyepoke and low blow here and there. Angel Dust has a good run of offense towards the end but Nana gets on the mic and starts running down Angel Dust and hyping Rave. Angel Dust gets distracted and Rave makes a comeback, hitting the knee strike and following it up with the Rave Clash for the win. ***1/4. Really effective for getting over both Rave’s new character and the new direction of Angel Dust and the other Special K guys.

    RODERICK STRONG vs. ACE STEEL. Starts out as a surprisingly nice, rugged fight. Lots of hard chops and clubbing blows. Not a lot of big moves and spots so the crowd doesn’t really get into it, but it’s a nice slugfest. Strong’s greenness is still shining through though. In a lot of ways he’s the most unpolished guy in ROH right now. It’s clear he has a high ceiling and does a lot of things well, but he’ll really look lost out there sometimes. Last third or so of the match isn’t as good as the first two thirds or so. Steel ends up winning but hitting a sort of powerbomb into an arm submission for the win. ***

    Generation Next attacks Ace Steel after the match but Cabana comes out to defend him, leading to COLT CABANA vs. AUSTIN ARIES. Match starts out good with Cabana hitting a painful looking dropkick to Aries’ body and then doing some fun outwrestling semi-comedy spots. Match kind of falls apart when Aries goes on offense though, just nothing is gelling, and the crowd is really not into it despite being really hot for the first two matches. Cabana gets busted open after being run into a guardrail. Aries works on Cabana’s shoulder. Cabana tries to make a comeback but Aries gets the submission with his Rings of Saturn. There was a good match in here straining to get out, but it didn’t get out. **1/2. Post match, Generation Next wraps a chair around Cabana’s shoulder and Aries comes off the top with a 450 Splash onto it. Punk and Steel come out to Cabana’s aid. Punk cuts a promo on them, saying he’s coming after Generation Next.

    RICKY REYES and ROCKY ROMEO vs. IZZY and DIXIE for the ROH Tag Titles. Good match, story is that Special K look way more competent than expected. Izzy and Dixie are in control early on, Izzy hits a really sweet springboard spinning frontflip dive to the outside. Reyes and Romero get in control for a while until Izzy makes a nice comeback. Pretty good home stretch ends with Reyes and Romero taking out Dixie with a backbreaker-kneedrop combination. ***. Special K fights among themselves after the match.

    DOUG WILLIAMS vs. JOHN WALTERS for the ROH Pure Title. Samoa Joe comes out before the match and says that they should both know that the Pure Title means nothing compared to his World Title. The match starts out with some very uninteresting mat work for a long stretch of time. Walters goes after William’s knee and makes him use his three rope breaks, which comes off as kind of lame because none of the leg submissions he used looked particularly impressive. The match does improve in the last couple minutes as they have some good nearfalls, including Walters kicking out of a Chaos Theory. Walters ends up tying Williams up in the ropes with a leg submission for the win to become new Pure Champion in his hometown. Pretty good pop for that at least, but another title change in a disappointing match. **1/2

    SAMOA JOE vs. CM PUNK vs. HOMICIDE in a non-title match. Three way with the top three guys in the company. Kind of takes a while to get started but the middle portion is really good, mainly being built around Joe and Homicide going at it. Homicide brings out his fork but it ends up being used against him. In the final minutes they start hitting each other with the others’ moves, which rarely comes off good. Punk ends up hitting Joe with the Pepsi Plunge but Homicide takes him out with a Lariat and picks the bones by pinning Joe for the win. Second fall Joe has dropped this year. I really like that ending, Joe looses to Punk’s big move but Punk didn’t score the fall on him. Adds intrigue to their eventual rematch. ***1/4

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. DAN MAFF and BJ WHITMER vs. DUNN AND MARCOS vs. OMAN TORTUGA and DIABLO SANTIAGO vs. ALTAR BOY LUKE vs. TRENT ACID vs. JACK EVANS in the Scramble Cage Melee. The rules are that you eliminate someone by diving off the top of the cage onto them. Just a total clusterfuck. Devito eliminates Maff and Whitmer by hitting a moonsault off the top of the cage. Alter Boy Luke eliminates the Carnage Crew with a Swanton style dive off the cage into the floor. Fast Eddie hits Marcos with a backflip fall away slam off the top of the cage that ends up eliminating Tortuga, Santiago, Dunn, Marcos, Luke, AND himself since he injures his ankle, leaving only Evans and Acid. Evans ends up hitting a nasty looking 630 off the cage onto Acid for the win. Fun enough spotfest for what it is. ***

    Solid show. Nothing special, but enjoyable enough for a C-level show, and had a good crowd. Plus the ending of the triple threat match is pretty significant. 6.5/10

  66. #66
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Elizabeth, New Jersey for GLORY BY HONOR III, September 11th, 2004. Despite being the first every of ROH’s Big Four events, Glory by Honor has never been more than a mediocre at best show. Will they finally have a genuinely good one tonight? The big attracting for this show is the appearance of Mick Foley in ROH. CM Punk is on commentary.

    JIMMY RAVE vs. DIXIE starts us off. Just a quick squash. Dixie gets limited offense. Nana gets on the mic again to distract Dixie allowing Rave to hit the knee strike and follow it up with the Rave Clash for the win. **1/4. After the match Nana gets on the mic and says he’s introducing the newest member of the Embassy: MICK FOLEY! Some music plays but no one comes out. Nana tries again but again no one comes out. Nana says he’ll bring Foley out later.

    MATT STRYKER vs. JAY LETHAL next. If Stryker loses, he loses his plane tickets to the East Coast shows. If Lethal loses, he’s dropped from the roster. Samoa Joe gives Lethal a tough love pep talk before the match in the back. Another short match. The crowd is very behind Lethal and very anti-Stryker. They have a really nice chop exchange toward the end. Stryker locks in an Ankle Lock but Lethal turns it into a nice modified small package for the win. Poor Stryker, I liked him a lot as a very solid midcarder throughout 2003, but he just didn’t do enough to stand out as the roster started getting more stacked and more talented. **1/2

    TRENT ACID vs. ACE STEEL vs. FAST EDDIE vs. ANGEL DUST vs. IZZY vs. KAHAGAS next. Kahagas is TERRIBLE. This is a very sloppy spotfest. But at least its not boring, and the crowd gets really into it towards the end. Lots of dives, lots of spots, fast paced, doesn’t go too long. Acid ends up pinning Angel Dust with his Reverse DDT. **3/4

    AUSTIN ARIES vs. CM PUNK. Match starts off good with Punk focusing on Aries’ arm and outwrestling him at every turn. But it soon deteriorates. After the opening minutes nothing gels, and it feels like they’re just meandering directionlessly. This is one of those matches where Punk’s lack of technical skill is exposed, and Aries’ inexperience is exposed along with it. They go for about twenty minutes and try work a big match style but not much comes together, and the crowd is really not into it. It’s not really bad, though. Eventually they do a ref bump spots, Strong and Evans interfere, Ace Steel chases them out, but then Alex Shelley comes out and Shelley and Aries double team Punk, but out comes STEVE CORINO to help Punk! He chases Shelley off and Punk grabs a roll-up on Aries for the win. **1/2. Crowd pops big for Corino. Homicide comes out after the match and cuts a promo on Corino. The crowd boos him so he freaks out and rampages around ringside. Felt like a kind of pointless segment really.

    CHICANO and SLASH VENOM vs. DAN MAFF and BJ WHITMER next. Yes, Chicano and Slash Venom. They’re from Puerto Rico and Allison Danger brought them in to force Maff and Whitmer to wrestle two matches tonight. This is actually the best match on the show so far, not that it’s all that good. Short, quick brawl which features some nice chair shots, a big springboard dive over the guardrail, and ends with Whitmer hitting his Wrist-Clutch Exploder onto an open chair. **3/4

    Whitmer and Maff are about to attack Allison Danger, but out comes MICK FOLEY! Massive pop. He cuts a funny, crowd-pleasing promo until The Embassy comes out. They ask him to join, and try to attack him when he declines. He fights them off but Rave hits him with a low blow. The Embassy beat him down and Generation Next comes down to join them. Maff and Whitmer come back up to run them off. Foley then cuts a long promo putting over ROH. Fun, crowd pleasing segment.

    ALEX SHELLEY vs, BRYAN DANIELSON next. Awesome beginning as Shelley flippantly slaps Danielson, followed by Danielson doing his kip-up escape from an arm wrench, and finishing it with a slap of his own which Shelley sells beautifully. Danielson controls most of the match, working over Shelley’s arm. Shelley does a good job selling it and Danielson working over Shelley is as fun to watch as it almost always is. Shelley comes back with a Shellshock for a two count and then works over Danielson’s neck in preparation for the Border City Stretch. Shelley locks it in but Danielson fights up turning it into a Regalplex, and then locks in the Cattle Mutilation for the win. Very good match. ***1/2. Danielson gets on the mic and issues two challenges: to Samoa Joe, and to Jushin Liger, who will be coming to ROH in November.

    JOHN WALTERS vs. NIGEL MCGUINNESS for the ROH Pure Title. Starts off with some good technical wrestling, mostly carried by Nigel. Really good match. Nice, hard fought contest that really made the Pure Title feel important. Nigel hits a huge cross body off the top rope to the outside. Both guys get down to only one rope break left. Walters ends up hitting three really great looking Lungblowers in a row and holds onto Nigel’s arms to lock in a sort of cross-arm choke for the submission win. ***1/2

    SAMOA JOE vs. DOUG WILLIAMS for the ROH World Title. Match starts out good with some good technical wrestling and some hard hitting back and forth, but around a third of the way through they really seem to get lost and lose the crowd. Match is really pretty dull from that point on. Ending at least is cool, with Williams kicking out of the Muscle Buster, then Joe picks him up, hits some slaps, and then a big lariat for the win. **1/2

    RICKY REYES and ROCKY ROMERO vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF vs. RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS vs. THE CARNAGE CREW for the ROH Tag Titles. Ultimate Endurance Match, elimination style. First fall is submission only. Pretty fun fall. Maff just kills Strong with chops, and is good overall. Lots of energy and the crowd is really into him. Hits a nasty chairshot on Loc. Maff and Whitmer attack Devito’s knees with chairs and put him in a two-man Boston Crab for the submission win, eliminating the Carnage Crew. Second fall is anything goes, but it only lasts a couple minutes. Evans misses a dive to the outside and then Maff finishes him with the Burning Hammer. Third fall doesn’t have a gimmick, just that the titles are now on the line. The crowd is really behind Maff and Whitmer in the second fall. Maff almost kills himself off a tope. Whitmer gets some good nearfalls on Romero but after a big strike exchange Romero hits a big knee to Whitmer’s head for the win to retain the titles. Good match. ***1/4

    There were three good matches but a lot of this card was really weak. Foley showing up was cool though, and the crowd was super into it. But overall this is another average show, three years in a row for what ROH is at this point pushing as their number one big named show of the year. 6/10

  67. #67
    What the fucks up Dennys! Nash Diesel's Avatar
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    The peak of the golden era of ROH imo. This is shortly before TNA and ROH start working heavily together and we start seeing Joe, Aries, Lethal, etc. popping in. I loved that shit where they'd have fans vote on 3 ROH wrestlers to come challenge the X Division champ. I think Roderick Strong won once.

    At this time I was still only reading about the promotion online and in the magazines. I didn't really start watching until Nigel and Morishima were the World champions. Where you're at now, most of this I went back and watched as much as I could. Definitely a great time for the indies.

  68. #68
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Philadelphia for THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS REUNION, October 2nd, 2004. This show will feature, you guessed it, a reunion of the Midnight Express, along with Jim Cornette. We also have a massive main event, which will see Bryan Danielson get his first ever ROH World Title shot against Samoa Joe.

    RICKY REYES and ROCKY ROMERO vs. IZZY and ANGEL DUST for the ROH Tag Titles opens. Good match, fast paced, flows well. A couple awkward spots but most of the stuff in the match comes across good. Special K continues to be more serious in the ring and put on more impressive performances, but the dissension in the ranks is only growing thanks to Lacy. Special K is on a roll of offense, but Julius Smokes pulls Izzy out of the ring, allowing Reyes and Romero to hit their backbreaker-knee drop combo on Angel Dust for the win. ***. Lacy, now Izzy’s girlfriend, blames Angel Dust for the loss and she and Becky almost get into a fight.

    JIMMY RAVE vs. TRENT ACID vs. JOSH DANIELS vs. BJ WHITMER next. This match is very, very average for most of it but really comes alive for the home stretch. Nice sequence of everyone hitting their finishers. A couple big dives a nearfalls. Whitmer takes out Daniels with a Wrist-Clutch Exploder, Acid takes out Whitmer with the Yakuza Kick, and then Rave hits the Rave Clash on Acid for the win. ***. The Carnage Crew attack Whitmer post-match, putting a trash can over hit head and whacking the trash can with bats.

    LOW KI vs. JAY LETHAL. Crowd is super into Lethal. Lethal gets a big run of offense to start off. Low Ki cuts him off and works him over for a while. Julius Smokes starts arguing with Lethal’s mom who’s in the crowd, and Low Ki starts to trash talk her while beating up Lethal in the ring. Lethal makes some brief comebacks but Low Ki stays in control. Low Ki takes Lethal outside and starts chopping him in front of his mom. He spits on Lethal’s mom! Big heat for that. Lethal comes back with punches and his mom gets a slap on Low Ki! Back in the ring Lethal goes for his Dragon Suplex but Ki is able to avoid it by grabbing at the ref and Julius Smokes. Ki hits a big kappo kick, CURBSTOMPS Lethal on the bottom rope and locks in the Dragon Sleeper. Crowd chants please don’t tap, but Lethal has to give it up. Really fun match and a great performance for Lethal. ***1/2

    NIGEL MCGUINNESS vs. HOMICIDE. A real clash of styles here. Nigel controls a lot of the match with his technical style. He works over Homicide’s arm for the whole match, and some of the arm work looks really nasty. Homicide is able to hit some high impact moves throughout the match. Nigel hits a great looking Tower of London. Homicide hits is Lariat, but with his injured arm so he wasn’t able to get all of it, allowing Nigel to kick out. Nigel locks in his arm submission but then turns it into a rollup for pin Homicide! Big win for Nigel. Match was kind of rough at times, but overall pretty good. Crowd pop’s big for Nigel’s big win. **3/4

    ALEX SHELLEY, AUSTIN ARIES, RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS vs. CM PUNK, ACE STEEL, JOHN WALTERS and JIMMY JACOBS in an elimination style tag next. Steamboat is accompanying the faces. The match kind of struggles to start off, none of the multi-man spots they work really come off too well. Generation Next works over Jacobs for a long while, eventually Aries hits him with a chair while the ref is distracted and Shelley takes him out with a Shellshock. Generation Next stays in control working over CM Punk. Eventually Punk gets a hot tag to Walters, Walters cleans house, then brings in Ace Steel who hits a Spinal Shock on Jack Evans to eliminate him. Almost immediately after, Aries eliminates Ace Steel with his Crucifix Bomb, although the ref kind of botches the three count. The match sort of meanders for a while. Strong brings in a chair to try to use but Punk cuts him off, takes the chair, and takes out Generation Next with it, leaving the ref to disqualify him and eliminate him. John Walters is left to face Shelley, Aries and Strong. Walters fights off Generation Next and is able to hit a string of Lungblowers on all three of them, then hitting three in a row on Strong to eliminate him. Roderick Strong tries to attack Walters with a chair, but Steamboat takes him out. Walters tries to keep up the fight but Shelley and Aries overwhelm him. He survives a Shellshock by getting his foot on the ropes, but Aries follows it up with a 450 to take him out and win the match for Generation Next. This went over thirty minutes. It was pretty good, but definitely disappointing compared to the better Generation Next multiman tags. ***. Alex Shelley gets on the mic after the match and warns Samoa Joe that he’s coming for the title – but Aries interrupts him, and informs Joe that HE’S coming for the title! Shelley says they both know there’s only one top spot, and we’ll see who ends up with it. They seem to end the promo on good terms, or do they?

    Cornette, Condrey, Lane and Eaton come out for the Midnight Express Reunion. They reminisce for a while. Prince Nana and the Embassy come out. Nana brings out Ricky Morton. They all go back and forth on the mic until Morton and the Embassy try to attack Cornette and the ME, but the ME gets the advantage. Condrey and Lane launch Eaton off the top rope into a splash on Nana. The segment kind of dragged on tape, but I’m sure it was a lot of fun live.

    SAMOA JOE vs. BRYAN DANIELSON for the ROH World Title. Hard to believe, but this is actually Danielson’s first ever shot at the ROH title. They start off with some basic back and forth mat wrestling, and then Danielson focuses in on Joe’s leg. Joe fights back with strikes, but Bryan is able to avoid a lot of them and stay focused on the knee. Eventually Joe connects with some big shots. He brings Danielson outside and goes for the Ole Ole kick, but Bryan catches him, slams his leg against the guardrail, then goes in the ring and hits a great springboard frontflip onto Joe. He hits two Ole Ole style dropkicks on Joe. He brings Joe back in the ring and works over him for a while. This is definitely the most dominant anyone’s looked against Joe during his title reign. Joe is able to fire back with some big moves. Joe finally hits two big Ole Ole kicks, but back in the ring Danielson fight back by going back to the knee. The ending couple minutes are great as both guys bust out their big offense. Danielson hits an awesome Regalplex. His Cattle Mutilations get big pops from the crowd. At the end they both trade big knee strikes to the head, but Joe gets the better of it and hits some big, nasty ones of Danielson, and then locks in the Choke for the win. Great match. This went about forty minutes, and while it was great, it probably would have been even better if it were around twenty five minutes, as there were periods of time that it dragged a little bit. ****

    The show ends with a big brawl featuring Joe, Danielson, Punk, Generation Next and the Rottweilers. Danielson tries to break up Joe and Low Ki fighting, but Joe elbows him away, so Danielson takes out Joe with rolling elbows. Danielson announces that Low Ki will be his tag partner to face Jushin Liger and Samoa Joe next month.

    Very good show overall. Great main event, strong undercard. Good return to form after a run of shows that had been well below the ROH standard for this year. 7.5/10

  69. #69
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Dayton, Ohio for GOLD, October 15th, 2004. This is ROH’s 50th show.

    CM PUNK vs. HOMICICE starts us off. Pre-match, Punk cuts a promo hyping his rematch against Joe tomorrow night in Chicago. Homicide comes out with the belt he stole from Joe back at World Title Classic. Punk starts off hot. He backdrops Homicide into the crowd and then suplexes him back over the railing, dropping him on top of some open chairs and the edge of a ringside table. Damn that looks like it hurt. Punk hits a big powerbomb back inside the ring and a crossbody on both Homicide and Rocky Romero. Romero distracts Punk allowing Homicide to hit him with a neckbreaker on the outside. Homicide works over Punk’s neck for a while. Punk makes a comeback, and his fiery babyface comeback needs a LOT of work. Romero distracts the ref and Homicide hits Punk with the belt. Surprisingly big pop for the kickout. But soon later Homicide hits Punk in the back of the head with a chair and then hits his Lariat to the back of the neck for the win. Good match, but sloppy at points. ***1/4

    TRENT ACID vs. MATT SYDAL next. This is Sydal’s first ROH match that doesn’t also feature Delirious. Well damn this was unexpectedly very, very cool. It’s far from perfect but has multiple awesome spots. Sydal crotches Acid on the ring ropes, Acid hangs off the side, and Sydal comes off the top rope with a double stomp. Trent catches Sydal on the outside and hits a running powerslam into the guardrail. Sydal hits an awesome corkscrew lionsault. Trent really leans into the heel role here. The end is nice as Sydal reverses Trent’s Reverse DDT attempt into a really cool looking cover. Super fun match. ***1/2. Sydal celebrates the victory and the crowd and commentary treat it like a big upset.

    DIXIE and ANGEL DUST vs. JIMMY JACOBS and DELIRIOUS next. Special K comes out without music, and even shakes hands before the match! Momentous occasion. Fun match. Jacobs and Delirious go some goofy double team stuff that the crowd gets into. Long control segment on Delirious and Special K amusingly oversells Jacobs’ offense when he gets the hot tag. They go back and forth toward the end. Both teams score a potentially match-ending move, but end up trying to pin a nonlegal man so don’t get the fall. Jacobs and Dixie end up going for their finishers but Jacobs gets the Contra Code for the win. Fun match, but would have been better shorter. ***

    JAY LETHAL vs. CHAD COLLYER. Collyer wrestles in his robe for the first minute or so. This match is really, really boring for a while but at least it picks up toward the end. Lethal does a good job selling the leg. Lethal has a big run of offense toward the end but Collyer cuts him off with a Dragon Screw and locks in the Texas Cloverleaf for the win. **1/2

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF. Immediately they grab chairs and start swinging at each other, but this isn’t a No DQ match, so the ref disqualifies them. MICK FOLEY comes out to a big pop and says he didn’t come here to see a double DQ, so he declares this a hardcore match with him as the special guest ref. Fun brawl. They brawl around the outside of the ring, lots of stiff chairshots and everyone bleeds. I think Maff is the GOAT at going headfirst into a guardrail. Back in the ring they trade nearfalls, Maff cannonball splashes Devito through a table, and Maff and Whitmer put a garbage can over Loc’s head and beat on him with chairs, covering him for the win. ***. Ricky Steamboat comes out and tells off Mick Foley, saying he wants to ruined ROH by bringing in garbage wrestling. Foley defends the merits of the hardcore style. They both trade harsh words. Foley challenges Steamboat: the next night in Chicago, Foley will bring a team of hardcore wrestlers and Steamboat brings a team of pure wrestlers to face off and settle this. Steamboat struggles to keep up with Foley on the mic but it’s a fun segment and the crowd is really into it.

    JOSH DANIELS vs. MATT STRYKER vs. RODERICK STRONG vs. NIGEL MCGUINNESS next. Stryker starts off with some nice mat exchanges with Nigel and Daniels. Strong keeps trying to tag in but whenever he does, the other guy immediately tags himself back in, frustrating him. Strong finally gets a real tag and the other three guys team up on him. They all go back and forth for a while. The match is mostly good, but there’s a period of a couple minutes toward the end with a lot of awkward botches. They put it back together for the last minute or two and do some cool sequences ending with Nigel hitting the Tower of London on Daniels for the win. ***. Crowd chants for Nigel after the match and it feels like he’s really getting some momentum.

    SAMOA JOE vs. ROCKY ROMERO for the ROH World Title. They trade kicks and submission attempts to start out. Romero increases the intensity of the leg kicks and Joe fires back with some more powerful strikes to the head. Joe hits two big Ole Ole kicks. Romero unleashes a flurry of slaps and then a jumping knee strike, the ref actually counts three but Joe had his hand on the ropes so the match continues. They go back and forth, and Joe hits a powerbomb and rolls it into his STF for the submission win. Good match, but I expected better from this match up. ***

    ALEX SHELLEY, AUSTIN ARIES and JACK EVANS vs. CM PUNK, ACE STEEL and JIMMY JACOBS. Good, classic heel vs. face tag match. The faces run wild to start out. There’s a great spot where Jacobs no sells Evans ramming his head into the turnbuckle and then hits him with a nasty spear. Generation Next works over Jacobs for a while. Punk gets the hot tag but soon gets cut off and Generation Next work him over for a while also. Finally Steel gets the hot tag and a big comeback. The teams trade some moves, Evans hits a big springboard dive to leave Aries and Punk alone in the ring. Roderick Strong tries to interfere with a chair, but Ricky Steamboat takes him out, leaving Punk to hit Aries with the Pepsi Plunge for the win. Good main event ***1/2

    Very solid show. Nothing special or remarkable really, and this definitely feels like a B-level show, but for a B-level show it was very solid and consistent. 7/10

  70. #70
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re outside of Chicago for JOE vs. PUNK II, October 16th, 2004. The rematch so big the whole show is named after it. Back in June, CM Punk took Samoa Joe to a sixty minute time limit draw. Tonight he gets his rematch, and in his hometown no less. Last month, Homicide pinned Samoa Joe off of CM Punk’s Pepsi Plunge, so we know Punk’s big move can keep Joe down. Joe’s epic title reign has now lasted over a year and a half, and this might be his greatest challenge yet.

    TJ Dalton and Davey Andrews are about to have the opening match, but the Carnage Crew comes out and attacks them.

    JAY LETHAL vs. DELIRIOUS is the real opener. Solid opening match. Lethal’s forearm strikes are terrible in this match. Toward the end Lethal goes for a diving headbutt but Delirious pops up and catches him in an Ace Crusher, then hits his top rope back splash for a big nearfall. Nice spot. Delirious hits some more moves but as he goes to run off the ropes, Lethal grabs him and hits his full rotation Dragon Suplex for the win. Good last couple minutes. **3/4

    TRACY BROOKS vs. DAIZE HAZE next. The first women’s match in ROH in over a year. It doesn’t make me want to see more. Bad match, very awkward and sloppy. But the crowd is very kind to it. The commentary really talks it up. But still, not good. *1/2

    TRENT ACID vs. MATT SYDAL vs. JOSH DANIELS vs. ANGEL DUST next. Pretty uneventful and short four way. They trade moves, do some dives. At the end Trent hits his Reverse DDT on Sydal right as Daniels hits Angel Dust with a bridging German Suplex, but the ref counts Daniels’ pin instead of Acid’s and Daniels gets the win. **1/4

    Ricky Steamboat and Mick Foley have another long promo segment. They go back and forth dissing the others’ respective wrestling style and SHOOTING on each other. Foley also gets some SHOOTS in on Ric Flair, with whom he was having a public feud at this time. It’s a fun segment. Leads to NIGEL MCGUINNESS and CHAD COLLYER vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF, the former representing Steamboat, the latter, Foley. McGuinness and Collyer dominate the beginning with their technical finesse. Then the Carnage Crew come out and try to attack Foley, and then jump Maff and Whitmer. Steamboat runs them off. With Steamboat gone, Foley gets on the mic and turns this into a hardcore match. Maff and Whitmer now dominate, beating McGuinness and Collyer through the crowd and hitting them with chairs. Steamboat comes back out and tells McGuinness to forget the hardcore stuff, go back to the pure wrestling, and then McGuinness puts a long series of tricks and reversals on Whitmer ending with a rollup for the win. Quite a clusterfuck of an entire segment but fun. ***

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. TJ DALTON and DAVEY ANDREWS. Andrews and Dalton get a run of offense at first but the Carnage Crew quickly shut them down. Andrews makes a brief comeback attempt later but Carnage Crew again easily cut it off and hit Andrews with their second rope spiked piledriver for the win. **

    HOMICIDE and ROCKY ROMERO vs. RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS next. Heel vs. heel, but Strong and Evans kind of structurally play the role of the faces, while the crowd is actually more behind Homicide and Romero, so that’s all pretty funny. Evans starts out strong, hitting a nice Pele Kick on Homicide and then Homicide’s own tope con hilo. Homicide and Romero work over Evans for a while and the crowd is really into Evans getting his ass kicked. Strong and Evans do some nice double team moves throughout the match, I really like Evans and Strong as a team. They have a long homestretch and it’s mostly good, but for a couple minutes there it suddenly feels like they lose their step and don’t know what to do. But they get it back together for the last minute, with Homicide taking out Strong with a Lariat but Evans coming off the top with a 630 on Romero for the win. ***1/4. Homicide pretends to compliment Evans after the match, but hits him with the Cop Killa.

    ALEX SHELLEY vs. JIMMY JACOBS in an I Quit Match. Back in April in Chicago, Shelley turned on Jacobs and they’ve been feuding ever since, coming to a head here. Jacobs starts off hot but Shelley cuts him off on the outside and hits a Shellshock into the barricade. Shelley hits a bunch of high impact moves on the outside. In the ring Jacobs brings a spike into play and Shelley brings a kendo stick. Shelley ties Jacobs’ hands to the ringpost and beats him with the kendo stick, but Jacobs gets out. A bunch of back and forth spots, each guys getting near submissions. Lots of spots with weapons, this is very much a WWE-style weapons spots hardcore match, which really isn’t my favorite kind of hardcore match. Shelley ends up forcing Jacobs to quit with the Border City Stretch. Good, not great. ***1/4

    SAMOA JOE vs. CM PUNK for the ROH World Title. This has a great atmosphere right off the bat. The best big match atmosphere any ROH match has had thus far. Punk scares Joe with a quick rollup right at the beginning. Joe gets the better of most of the early chain wrestling, until Punk starts sticking to his gameplan of going for the headlock. He keeps putting Joe in headlocks and seems to have all his moves scouted. They do a really great job of making it feel like Punk is successfully enacting a specific strategy, and he’s on top of the match for a while. Crowd is totally behind him and pops big when he locks on a headlock. Punk starts to work on the arm as well. Eventually Joe fires back and his power is able to overcome Punk’s attempt to stick to his strategy. They have an awesome segment on the floor where the battle with strikes and each hit their own Ole Ole kick. Really intense stuff. They trade spending some time in control. Around the forty minute mark they just start unloading their offense. Nearfall after nearfall, both guys pulling out all their moves. Crowd gets really into it. Joe misses a top rope splash and Punk locks in the Anaconda Vice I think for the first time. Punk hits a really great Shining Wizard toward the end. In the final minutes Punk struggles for a Pepsi Plunge, knowing it can keep Joe down for the count. Their fight over it on the turnbuckle is really intense and the crowd is into it, totally buying that Punk can win the title if he hits it. Joe is able to fight Punk off and superplex him. Punk tries for it again but Joe again fights it off and hits a top rope Muscle Buster right as time expires. Another sixty-minute draw. Punk survives Joe yet again, but Joe can say that he was just seconds away from beating Punk. Surely he couldn’t have survived that top rope Muscle Buster if there were just three seconds left in the time limit? But still, neither man could get it done. This is a great match, and a much, much more polished version of their June match. I actually think the June match had higher highs, but this match was really consistent. They did a great job with the narrative of the match, both guys playing their roles very well. The fight over the Pepsi Plunge at the end was definitely a dramatic climax. Not as superlatively great as this got the buzz of being at the time, but still definitely a very great match, and it’s clear why it generated the buzz that it did. ****1/4

    In the post-match promos, Punk says he and Joe need a no time limit match. But Joe says Punk isn’t getting a second chance. He needs to beat him, not survive him, and he had two chances to beat him but failed.

    Definitely a one match show, although that one match is a must-watch. The main event was really the only thing the crowd was into, too. Not that the undercard was bad, it was just superfluous. But a legendary main event warrants a decent rating. 7/10

  71. #71
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re outside of Boston for WEEKEND OF THUNDRED: NIGHT ONE, November, 5th, 2004. This is the first of two double-shot shows which will feature Jushin Liger in the main events. CM Punk is on commentary.

    JIMMY RAVE vs. ACE STEEL is the opener. Nana cuts a great promo pre-match ripping on the crowd. Rave is accompanied by a valet, whom he makes get on her hands and knees and serve as a footstool so he can enter the ring. Steel gets the better of Rave for a while at the beginning. They trade some moves and Steel looks to be on the verge of winning, when Nana gets on the mic and starts encouraging Rave. This distracts Ace, allowing Jimmy to crotch him on the top rope and lift him off into a Rave Clash for the win. Very average opener. **1/2

    HOMICIDE vs. ANGEL DUST vs. FAST EDDIE vs. DUNN. Dunn in singles competition! Homicide kind of blows off the match at first. He really beats the shit out of Angel Dust. Angel Dust hits a nasty front flip dive on him, sandwiching him between the guardrail. Eddie and Dunn join in with some dives of their own. They all run through their moves for a while and Homicide ends up hitting the Cop Killa on Angel Dust for the win. Fun match. ***. Homicide cuts a promo running down the Red Sox. A fan jumps the guardrail and runs into the ring and gets his ass kicked before being dragged out. Looks like a work but they sure do lay the boots to him.

    BJ WHITMER and DANN MAFF vs. THE CARNAGE CREW in a Boston Street Fight. I’m really easy to please when it comes to brawls as long as they keep it short, spill some blood, and make it more about fighting than convoluted spots. They did that here so I’m happy enough with it. Maff hits a beautiful German Suplex on Devito. Allison Danger comes out but Maff throws a chair at her and Whitmer chases her to the back; with Maff left alone, the Carnage Crew hit him with a double trashcan shot for the win. ***

    LOW KI vs. CHAD COLLYER next. With how rare Low Ki matches are these days, it’s weird that they give one to Collyer. They actually do some really nice technical wrestling for the first two or three minutes. Low Ki seems to injure his ankle and the match falls apart. The ref is about to stop the match and Collyer is spotsmanly helping Low Ki to hit feet, but Low Ki attacks him. He was faking! Gabe is OUTRAGED, calling Low Ki a motherfucker and a son of a bitch! Unfortunately the match is still pretty sloppy and awkward after this point. Low Ki heels it up to the crowd a lot. Collyer threatens Low Ki with the Texas Cloverleaf but the Rottweilers interfere, allowing Ki to hit a big Double Stomp for the win. **1/2

    JOHN WALTERS and NIGEL MCGUINNESS vs. SAMOA JOE and JAY LETHAL. Joe and Lethal teaming up for the first time. CM Punk hypes up the prospect of a third rematch with Joe really well on commentary. Match is pretty unexceptional for a while but picks up toward the end. Highlight of the match is Nigel doing his turnbuckle handstand and Joe just killing him with a running big boot. Lethal and Joe are on a roll toward the end. Lethal takes on McGuinness in the ring while Joe beats up Walters outside the ring. But McGuinness catches Lethal with a Tower of London and then locks on his arm submission for the win. ***1/4

    DA OUTKAST KILLAZ vs. DAVEY ANDREWS and SHANE HAGANDORN. Very uninteresting squash for the Killaz. At least it’s only about three minutes. *

    AUSTIN ARIES vs. CM PUNK next. Huge Fuck TNA chant when Punk comes out. TNA and Punk were in a big public spat at the time. Match starts really slow and gradually, both guys going back and forth evenly. On the outside Punk goes for the Shining Wizard but Aries moves and Punk hits his leg against the ringpost. Aries works over the leg for the rest of the match. Punk gets bursts of offense here and there but Aries is firmly in control by focusing on the leg. Punk hits the Pepsi Plunge but can’t cover right away because of his leg, and when he does crawl over Aries gets his foot on the rope. Aries ends up hitting his 450 on the leg and the locking in a half crab for the submission victory. Huge win for Aries, totally clean. This match was laid out to be better than it ended up, but it just lacked energy throughout. ***. Aries says he deserves a title shot against Samoa Joe.

    RICKY REYES and ROCKY ROMERO vs. RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS for the ROH Tag Titles. These guys felt really green in this match, as they seemed to have some good ideas but couldn’t execute a lot of them very well, and there were a lot of awkward moments. Generally it just didn’t flow well, though there was a number of cool spots throughout. The ending though is awesome, as Evans hits Reyes with the 630 for a nearfall so close the timekeeper rings the bell, but the ref says it was a two count. Roderick Strong lifts up Romero into the torture rack and Evans goes to leap from the top rope into him, but he moves and Evans lands feet first on Roderick’s head and neck. Reyes then hits Evans with a Tombstone for the win. **3/4

    JUSHIN LIGER vs. BRYAN DANIELSON is our main event. MASSIVE pop for Liger’s entrance. This isn’t a classic or anything, but an effective, crowd pleasing match acting as a good showcase for Liger. Danielson plays the heel hard. Liger busts out all his big moves and the crowd loves it. Danielson works over Liger for a while and hits all his big moves, but Liger comes back with a Brainbuster, hits the Koppo kick, the Liger Bomb, and then the top rope Bainbuster for the win. Good, effective match. ***1/2

    More than a one match show, this was a one man show. The whole point was Liger in the main event. As a match, it was very good, but nothing too memorable. But Liger’s appearance is what mattered. The undercard was really pretty solid, but a low-level solid. Just for the virtue of Liger’s appearance I’ll give this a generous 6.5/10.

  72. #72
    Main Eventer Horatio's Avatar
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    Who was the better wrestler: Liger or Danielson?

  73. #73
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    I think Danielson is my all time #1 now.

  74. #74
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Elizabeth, New Jersey for WEEKEND OF THUNDER: PART TWO, November 6th, 2004. One of ROH’s biggest-ever crowds is on hand to see the climax of Liger’s visit to ROH. CM Punk is on commentary.

    NIGEL MCGUINESS vs. CHAD COLLYER opens up. Good opener. Collyer plays heel and the crowd is super into Nigel. Good technical wrestling and some funny comedy spots. Match heats up toward the end with good back and forth action. Nigel locks in his wrist lock submission, which still doesn’t have a name, but Collyer turns it into a Texas Cloverleaf in a nice looking reversal. Collyer drags Nigel to the center of the ring and it looks like he might have to tap, but the fifteen minute time limit expires instead. ***1/4

    THE CARNAGE CREW vs. DAVEY ANDREWS and ANTHONY FRANCO. Fun competitive squash. Franco is good selling and bumping, much less good during his limited time on offense. Andrews and Franco get an effective near fall with a small package, but the Carnage Crew then hit Franco with a nasty second rope spiked piledriver for the win. **1/2. Allison Danger tries to get the Carnage Crew to join here to fight Maff and Whitmer again, but Devito says that unless she’s here to give them a lap dance, to shut her mouth.

    TRENT ACID vs. JACK EVANS vs. FAST EDDIE vs. IZZY next. Fun spotfest. Special K whiff catching Acid’s moonsault off the top to the floor, then whiff catching Fast Eddie when Evans pushes him off the top rope, but luckily catch Evans’ crazy corkscrew frontflip off the top rope. Big sequence of moves in the ring which all hit really well. Eddie hits his backflip fallaway slam off the top rope to the outside on Evans onto a pile of Special K, leaving Izzy to hit Acid with a top rope Sliced Bread Number Two for the win. ***. Special K celebrates Izzy breaking their losing streak.

    JAY LETHAL vs. JIMMY RAVE. Prince Nana cuts a great promo on the crowd for smelling bad, and the Embassy gimmick is really, really coming together. Nana and Rave are fantastic. The crowd throw a couple streamers at Rave. Not quite the toilet paper yet. Good back and forth match, really feels like a match between two promising midcarders with serious upward potential. They trade some really nasty chops. Rave hits a beautiful Twist and Shout style suplex, Lethal hits a hard lariat. Nana distracts the referee allowing Rave to get out of Lethal’s Dragon Suplex attempt with a beautifully blatant low blow and then hit the Rave Clash for the win. ***1/4. Nana starts to cut a promo post-match but Lethal interrupts him and takes out all of the Embassy with slaps, leading to resounding “You Got Bitch Slapped” chants. Fun stuff all around.

    AUSTIN ARIES and RODERICK STRONG vs. CM PUNK and ACE STEEL, No DQ Match. Punk and Steel attack Aries and Strong from behind, coming through the ring. Awesome chaotic opening, featuring Punk hitting a beautiful Michinoku Driver on Aries. They fight back and forth and before long Jack Evans interferes with a ladder, making it basically 3 on 2 for the rest of the match. Some really painful looking bumps on the ladder. All the guys are doing moves they don’t usually do, or spots slightly differently than they usually do, adding to the improvisational no DQ feel. Some good spots with a table on the outside which refuses to break, but just ends up making the spots look nastier. Eventually Ace finally breaks it by taking out Evans with a sit-out powerbomb from the apron. The match really does go on way too long. There’s a lot of great stuff here, but the match would end up a lot better if it were significantly condensed. Still, it’s really good. Punk hits an appropriately sloppy looking Pepsi Plunge on Roderick Strong onto a ladder set up between the ropes for the win. ***1/2

    After the match, Punk sends Ace to the back and grabs a mic. He’s calling out Samoa Joe. Joe is ducking him, and he deserves one last title shot – this time, with no time limit. He sets up a chair in the middle of the ring and says he’s not going anywhere until Joe comes out to confront him face to face. Mick Foley comes out to a big pop. Mick and Punk go back and forth on the mic, dissing WWE and TNA. Somewhat amusing and the crowd enjoys it, but it goes on too long and feels pointless. Foley tries to call out Joe, too, but Joe still doesn’t come out. Foley says Joe must be softcore, and leaves the ring, leaving Punk sitting alone again.

    Over intermission, Nigel and Collyer agree to team up to face the Rottweilers for the Tag Titles next show, and Prince Nana freaks out when Sean Price tries to interview him. Punk is still in the ring, flipping through Foley’s book when we come back. The ref and ring announcer try to start the next match, but Punk stays in the ring. Dunn and Marcos and Special K come out. Instead of starting the match, Punk starts reading from Foley’s book. Finally Joe’s music hits. They trade some words and Joe accepts Punk’s challenge. Joe shoves Punk down and gets in his face, but Punk smiles and laughs, having gotten his last title shot. Good angle.

    DUNN AND MARCOS vs. ANGEL DUST and DIXIE. Solid match. Fast paced, short. They hit some nice spots at the end. Angel Dust hits a nasty One Winged Angle on Marcos, and Marcos comes back with a beautiful swinging DDT. Dunn and Marcos hit a string of offense at the end and the Dunn tosses Marcos off of his shoulders into a senton on Dixie to get the win. **1/2

    JOHN WALTERS vs. HOMICIDE for the ROH Pure Title. Match starts out kind of weak. Mediocre mat wrestling and then a couple awkward exchanges. Homicide slips going for a superplex and takes a nasty bump to the outside. It takes him a while to get back in the ring. When he finally does the match is hot for about two minutes, as Walters frantically unloads offense sensing the win and the crowd is very much behind Homicide. I think at this point they realize Homicide really can’t continue, as Walters locks in a Boston Crab, Julius Smokes suddenly gets in the ring and attacks Walters, and the tape very quickly cuts to the next segment. Walters retains by DQ. **1/2

    RICKEY REYES and ROCKY ROMERO vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF for the ROH Tag Titles. Good match. The Rottweilers really aren’t over at champion level and the crowd has really been behind Maff and Whitmer lately, so they really should switch the titles. But it’s not to be tonight. Solid action throughout the match. Nice ending sequence as Maff goes for a top rope Wrist-Clutch Exploder on Romero but Romero floats over to turn it into a crossbody mid-air. Maff tags in and hits the Burning Hammer, but Smokes pulls the ref out of the ring. As Maff goes to confront Smokes, Reyes switches places with Maff and plays possum; when Maff goes to lift him off the mat, Reyes turns it into a small package for the cheap win. ***

    JUSHIN LIGER and SAMOA JOE vs. BRYAN DANIELSON and LOW KI is our main event. Just look at that match on paper. It’s like an over-the-top dream match, one of the most dream-matchy looking dream matches that ever actually happened. The crowd is, obviously, wild for Liger, and hot for everything in this match. Starts off with a brief Joe/Low Ki tease before Danielson and Joe have a nice opening exchange. Joe and Liger run wild much to the delight of the crowd. Low Ki and Danielson get in control working over Liger and it’s awesome. Liger is, obviously, a super sympathetic babyface and Low Ki and Danielson are incredible together as a heel team, getting great heat. Liger makes the hot tag and Joe runs wild, going after Low Ki. Joe and Liger both hit Ole Ole kicks to Low Ki on the outside, awesome crowd pleasing spot. Back in the ring they all trade moves, really awesome homestretch. Tons of action, all the different pairings are good and have their own significance, and everything is executed perfectly. Danielson scores some big moves and Liger and Low Ki and Danielson get back in control, but Liger ducks a roaring elbow from Danielon which takes out Low Ki. Joe and Liger hit a lariat and koppo kick respectively on Danielson and Low Ki, and Joe picks up Danielson and shoves him into a big Liger Bomb from Liger for the win. Incredible match. You had the big match feel, lots of crowd pleasing stuff, classic tag team formula, lots of different stories going on, and fantastic action. ****1/2

    Definitely one of the best shows of the year. Solid undercard, big angle with Joe/Punk, and capped off with an all time classic. 8/10

  75. #75
    too big to fail Tainted Eclipse's Avatar
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    We’re in Elizabeth, New Jersey for ALL STAR EXTRAVAGANZA II, December 4th, 2004. On paper, this is probably the biggest show ROH has ever done. Up there with 2003’s Death Before Dishonor. The show is headlined by maybe the biggest match in ROH history up to this point, Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk III. Joe’s defeated every challenge who’s crossed his path, but CM Punk has taken him to the limit with two straight one-hour draws. Their last match in Chicago received superlative praise, many calling it one of the greatest matches of all time, and garnered a five-star rating from Dave Meltzer. Tonight, this is Punk’s last chance. He won’t have the excuse of an hour long draw to claim another rematch, because this match has no time limit. There must be, and will be, a winner. The card is stacked besides that. Bryan Danielson and Homicide face off in a big rematch. Low Ki and Austin Aries battle for a title shot at Final Battle. Bobby Henan and Jim Cornette are scheduled for a live, verbal debate in the ring.

    DAVEY ANDREWS, MATT TURNER, SHANE HAGADORN and ANTHONY FRANCO vs. IZZY, DIXIE, DERANGED and ANGEL DUST is our opener. Short, simple match. Special K take most of the offense. Angel Dust hits a wild move and Davey Andrews where he lifts him up like for a big suplex,but throws him high into the air and drops him down into a kind of piledriver. Looked like a botch, but it was a nasty spot. The ROH trainees run wild a bit at the end before Special K get back in control, but then Angel Dust accidentally knocks Izzy into a roll up from Davey Andrews, and the ROH trainees win it! Easy to watch opener, but very basic match. **

    Special K argues after the match – and Deranged and Izzy turn on Dixie and Angel Dust! Lacey joins them and attacks Becky! Deranged and Izzy lay out Dixie and Angel Dust. Special K is no more, after being one of ROH’s staple acts since 2002.

    JAY LETHAL vs. THE WEAPON OF MASKED DESTRUCTION. Yes, The Weapon of Masked Destruction. A hired gun brought in by Prince Nana to take out Lethal. Gabe on commentary says Nana raised taxes in Ghana to get the money to bring The Weapon of Masked Destruction into ROH, which cracked me up. Weapon is in control early on and is actually pretty good on offense, and the crowd is really behind Lethal. Lethal fights back and after a series of reversals, hits his Dragon Suplex for the win. Short, surprisingly effective match. Crowd was really into it and it was a compact formula pulled off well. **3/4. Prince Nana gets on the mic and runs down Weapon for losing, and then says he’s going to raise taxes in Ghana (Gabe stole his line!) and force the people to give them half of their $25-a-week pay to bring in someone to end Jay Lethal once and for all at Final Battle. This whole segment was a lot of fun.

    THE OUTKAST KILLAZ vs. DUNN AND MARCOS vs. BJ WHITMER and DAN MAFF vs. THE CARNAGE CREW in a Scramble Tag. This match is nuts. Carnage Crew attack Maff and Whitmer during their entrance and the whole match is worked like a four-way tornado tag. Just non-stop stuffing going on all over the place, brawling on the outside, trading big moves in the ring, dives, comedy spots. It just never lets up. There are some fun spots where different members of Maff/Whitmer and the Carnage Crew accidentally work together to beat up the other teams. Maff and Whitmer and the Carnage Crew start to fight through the crowd, leaving the Killaz and Dunn and Marco in the ring to trade moves until the Outkast Killaz win the match with a sort of dropkick-supex combo. This match way over-delivered. Entertaining, felt chaotic, and the crowd was really into it. ***1/4

    JOHN WALTERS vs. JIMMY RAVE for the ROH Pure Title. Match starts off with some nice, fast sequences. There’s a cool spot where Rave does a leapfrop-drop down sequence, but Walters turns it into an O’Conner roll. Rave lures Walters into punching him, earning Walters his first warning, and then fakes being punched by Walters, costing Walters a rope break. Rave then demands the ref check the time for him, and hits his own punch on Walters behind the ref’s back. Great heel work. Good back and forth match as they trade a lot of moves and slowly lose their rope breaks. Rave loses all of his, allowing Walters to hold onto a Sharpshooter, and even roll out onto the floor with it still locked in. Walters keeps the Sharpshooter locked in on the floor until the 17 count, and then runs back into the ring, retaining the title by countout! First countout finish in ROH history! I’ll give it ***1/4, a generous rating, but bumping it up for Rave’s heel work and the memorable finish.

    LOW KI vs. AUSTIN ARIES for the Number One Contendership. They start off with some even scrambling on the mat and chain wrestling until Aries explodes with a big run of his signature offense. Low Ki gets in control with some nasty stikes, and hits the tree of woe double stomp for I think the first time in ROH. Low Ki is in control for most of the rest of the match, playing strongly heel, but Aries fires back from time to time with some big moves. Everything Aries does looks really good in this match. All of a sudden, the ring announcer announces that only one minute remains in the 20 minute time limit. Low Ki goes for a Ki Crusher but Aries turns it into the Crucifix Bomb. As the ring announces counts down from fifteen, Aries goes up top and hits the 450 Splash, but time expires half a second before the ref’s hand hits the mat for the three count, ending the match in a draw. Really, really good match. Crowd was really into Aries and this is probably the second best he’s looked in ROH after the first Danielson match. ***3/4. GMC comes out and says that ROH management has decided to give this match five more minutes IF the fans want it. Fans go crazy chanting for five more minutes, but Low Ki refuses. Crowd gives Aries a standing ovation after Low Ki walks out.

    RICK REYES and ROCKY ROMERO vs. NIGEL MCGUINNESS and CHAD COLLYER for the ROH Tag Titles. This starts off really good with some great technical wrestling back and forth. Reyes and Romero start working over Nigel and the middle of the match is really a big step down, lots of awkward moments. But once Nigel gets the hot tag and they go into the home stretch it really picks up again. Lots of good back and forth, cool double team spots and submission near-finishes. Collyer almost kills himself off of a tope. Collyer has Reyes in the Texas Cloverleaf but gets distracted by Julius Smokes, allowing The Rottweilers to hit their backbreaker-knee drop combo on him for the win. ***1/4

    Jim Cornette comes out and talks up Ring of Honor, before introducing Bobby Heenan. Big pop for Bobby, who was at this time recovering from his first major bout with cancer. Bobby cuts a promo about how impressed he is with ROH, and then is about to leave, but Cornette stops him. Cornette says he has something to say, and then cuts a scathing promo on Bobby. He’s tired of being compared to Heenan, tired of people telling him he’s the best manager of all time – other than Bobby Heenan. He says Bobby should have the courtesy to DIE already so Jim Cornette can be known as the best manager alive. Big heat. Cornette also cuts a promo against the fans. Bobby fires back. Cornette says normally he’d hit Bobby with the tennis racket and bust him open right now, but he’s not going to do that tonight – because that’s what THEY’RE for, he says, as Roderick strong and Jack Evans walk to the ring. Strong grabs Bobby but out come Jimmy Jacobs and a returning Colt Cabana to save Heenan. Heenan gets on the mic and challenges Cornette: he’ll be Jacob and Colt’s manager tonight, Cornette can be Strong and Evan’s manager, and the teams can face off to decide who the best manager truly is.

    JERK JACKSON vs. TRENT ACID next. Yes, Jerk Jackson. Jerk attacks Acid as he’s distracted kissing girls by ringside. Jackson drops Acid from a gorilla press onto a set-up chair on the outside, and then hits a big dropkick on the floor. Jackson goes for a 450 but Trent moves, hits the Yakuza Kick, and then a nasty lifting reverse DDT that drops Jackson right on the top of his head for a win. For a meaningless three minute squash, not bad. **

    JIMMY JACOBS and COLT CABANA vs. RODERICK STRONG and JACK EVANS with Cornette and Heenan at ringside. Awesome comedy beginning. Heenan helps Cabana and Jacobs with the hide-the-chain spot on Evans and Strong. Cornette goes crazy. Cornette challenges Heenan in the ring, and Bobby lays down for him, forcing Cornette to miss an elbow drop and sell it big. Lots of comedy spots that Cabana and Jacobs get the advantage of. Strong and Evans end up in control on Jacobs and really beat him up. Finally Jacobs gets the hot tag and Cabana and Jacobs run wild. They take out Evans with a series of big moves. Cornette breaks up a cover by hitting Cabana with the tennis racket, but then Heenan gets the racket and smacks Cornette, who takes a big bump. Cabana covers Evans for the win. Awesome comedy match and the crowd was into it big time. ***3/4

    HOMICIDE vs. BRYAN DANIELSON next. Danielson is in all black, and looking like he’s come for a fight. He wants to avenge the cheap loss Homicide handed him back in April. They start off with a really nice test of strength. Danielson ends up dominating almost all of the match. He lights up Homicide with stiff strikes. Homicide is only able to make brief comebacks when Julius Smokes distracts Danielson. At one point they fight outside and Danielson slams Homicide onto the steel entrance ramp, and Homicide sells it like his ankle landed badly and sells the ankle for the rest of the match. Not sure if the injury was legit or not. Danielson continues to mostly dominate the match. Julius Smokes takes off Homicide’s boot to try to tape up the ankle. The ref tries to get him away, allowing Homicide to whack Danielson in the head with his boot. Big nearfall. Homicide hits his mule kick low blow and goes for a lariat, the same way he beat Danielson in April, but Danielson ducks, goes behind, Homicide goes for the low blow again but Danielson blocks it and wrestles him down into the Cattle Mutilation, but turns it into a cradle for the win. Really awesome ending. Match was good but strangely uncompetitive, and in that sense a let down. But what they did they did well. ***1/2

    SAMOA JOE vs. CM PUNK for the ROH Title. The biggest match in ROH history. Joe’s beaten everyone decisively, but Punk has taken him to one-hour draws twice. Tonight, there will be no draw: there must be a winner. Great big match atmosphere during the entrances. Punk tries to go back to his headlock strategy early on, but Joe has it scouted, avoiding them at every turn and hammer Punk with big chops. Punk gets frustrated and then decides to taunt Joe and lure him into making an uncontrolled strike – Punk ducks it and catches Joe with a rollup, and then is finally able to lock in the headlock. You know it’s a good match when a sidelock takeover is an extremely effective spot. Punk grinds Joe down with headlocks just like in their first two matches, and peppers Joe with grounded dropkicks and stomps to the head and neck. Joe fights back with some strikes but Punk comes back stronger, knocking Joe off his feet with a big slap. Punk looks to be firmly in control, but Joe fires back with huge knee strikes, and then a massive stiff kick to the head. Punk rolls out to the floor and when he’s back up to his feet, he’s busted open. Joe capitalizes and kills Punk with stiff strikes and works over the cut. Punk is wearing the crimson mask now. Crowd is really behind Punk as he’s getting worked over. Joe hits an Ole Ole Kick, but Punk cuts him off with an elbow when he tries a second, and his a desperation drop kick off the apron. Back in the ring, Punk’s strategy is out the window. There’s now way he can last an hour wearing down Samoa Joe with headlocks in the state he’s in, so he has to go all out. They both go back and forth trading big moves. Great work and the crowd is really into it, and the match feels huge at this point. A standout spot is Joe hitting a hurricanrana on Punk and following up with a stiff lariat. Punk goes for his Pepsi Twist clothesline but Joe ducks it and locks in the Choke. The ref thinks Punk is out, but Ricky Steamboat, who’s watching by ringside, stops the ref from calling the match when he notices Punk’s arm is still up. Crowd goes wild for this spot, and Punk is awesome pumping them up as he works his way to his feet. Punk tries anything to get out of the Choke, but Joe holds on. Finally Punk pushes off against the turnbuckle into a rollup and Joe is forced to release the choke. Punk hits a bunch of rollups in a row but Joe survives. At this point the match is feeling bigger and bigger by the minute. Joe tries to pin Punk with his feet on the ropes! Gabe freaks out on commentary and the crowd is aghast, chanting “Fuck You Joe.” Joe goes for a splash off the top rope but overshoots Punk. Punk goes for a reverse cradle but Joe immediately turns it into the Choke! Punk fights up but Joe releases the choke to hit a big German Suplex, rolls it over into a Dragon Suplex, and then locks on the Choke again. The crowd chants “Please Don’t Tap” at Punk, but Punk goes out and the ref stops the match. Joe survives his greatest challenge yet. This match felt HUGE. Honestly, one of the big ‘big match feels’ I’ve ever seen. Definitely the biggest match in ROH history up to this point. They played off their last two matches, everything was done well, tons of drama, awesome layout, great homestretch, tons of memorable moments. Easily the best of their trilogy, and an all time classic. From a pure move to move perspective, Aries/Danielson from Survival of the Fittest was better. But this wasn’t far off, and it had an unmatched atmosphere and memorability. Enough so that I’ll call this the best match ROH has put on up to this point. ****3/4

    Definitely one of the best ROH shows. It had a very strong undercard, lots of memorable moments and lots of angles advanced. Two really, really good undercard matches in Low Ki/Aries and the Heenan/Cornette tag. Also had great segments with Heenan/Cornette, and a really cool interview with Punk reviewing the first two Joe matches before the main event. And then there was the main event: the best match ROH has put on thus far, and an instant legendary classic. The show also had a great sense of progression, with the matches getting bigger and bigger, all building to the main event. 9/10

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    We’re in Philadelphia for FINAL BATTLE 2004, December 26th, 2004. The last show of ROH’s biggest and best year by far up to this point. It’s been a huge year for ROH, with lots of successes, a one major setback in the Rob Feinstein scandal – but one they came out of stronger than ever. After a legendary year reigning on top of the promotion, Samoa Joe defends against maybe the hottest rising star in ROH, Austin Aries. We also have a major rematch schedule, Bryan Danielson takes on Low Ki for the first time since their all-time classic at ROH’s second ever show.

    TRENT ACID vs. JIMMY JACOBS is our opener. Fun beginning, with a really fast pace, some comedy spots, and a big spot in Trent hitting a running powerslam on Jacobs into the guardrail. The match slows down for a bit with Acid in control, and kind of veers off course at points. Acid hits a big Yakuza Kick and tries to follow up with his Reverse DDT, but Jacobs flips out and hits the Contra Code for the win. **1/2. Acid gets on the mic after the match and announces that he QUITS!

    DERANGED and LACY vs. ANGEL DUST and BECKY. Special K collides! Match starts out with a long sequence between Deranged and Angel Dust, good cruiserweight style action, some crazy double stomp spots. Deranged gets in control and tags in Lacy, who hits some cheap shots on Angel Dust. Lacy and Becky eventually get tagged in and Becky unloads on Lacy. Deranged hits Becky, Angel Dust takes him out, and after a forearm exchanged, Lacy hits an Implant DDT on Becky for the win. Pretty fun angle-driven match. **3/4. The Special K members who have aligned with Lacy and Deranged are about to attack Becky post-match, but DUNN AND MARCOS come out and make the save.

    HOMICIDE vs. JOSH DANIELS next. Pretty generic match. They go back and forth, Homicide works over Daniels’ arm and plays heel. Daniels gets some offense toward the end but Homicide comes back and ends up submitting Daniels with a Kimura. Pretty cool ending at least. **¼

    JOHN WALTERS vs. JIMMY RAVE for the ROH Pure Title. Rematch from last show. Match starts off with them going back and forth, solid enough but nothing special. It really picks up for the home stretch though. Good action with some really nice spots. They both use up all their ropebreaks. Rave gets a nice nearfall off a rope-assisted roll-up. Walters wraps up Jimmy Rave on the turnbuckle and wrenches back on his arm and neck on the outside of the ring. The ref asks Jimmy if he wants to tap while he counts out Walters, who’s standing outside using the edge of the ring for leverage in his submission. At the 19 count, Rave submits. Cool idea but really made Rave look like an idiot. ***1/4. After the match, Nana invited Walters to join the Embassy – and he accepts!

    DAN MAFF and BJ WHITER vs. THE CARNAGE CREW in a Fight Without Honor. Solid weapons brawl, but not too much energy, and the crowd isn’t really too into it. Commentary is amusing, though. Foley comes out after all four guys take spills off of ladders and empties a Christmas stocking full of thumbtacks onto the mat. The four guys fight over the thumbtacks for a while before Loc takes out Maff through a table on the outside, and Whitmer hits the Wrist-Clutch Exploder on Devito onto the pile of thumbtacks for the win. **3/4. Mick Foley puts over the four guys post-match, and then Ricky Steamboat comes out and he and Foley have another faceoff. Steamboat again berates him for bringing garbage wrestling for ROH; Foley shoots back accusing Steamboat of hypocrisy, since he just took a job with WWE – namedropping the likes of Heidenreich, Luther Reigns and Snitsky. Foley talks about the good Steamboat might be able to do in WWE; he mentions Triple H, prompting a “Fuck Triple H” chant. Steamboat and Foley make nice. Foley calls Joe out, since Joe had disrespected him on an earlier show. Foley runs Joe down and they says he wants to make up. They shake hands. Joe offers a hug but then drops Foley with a right hand. Joe tells Foley to let him know when he’s ready to settle the score in the ring. This was one long segment.

    JAY LETHAL vs. WEAPON OF MASKED DESTRUCTION 2. Weapon is none other than El Generico/Sami Zayn making his ROH debut. Given that, they unsurprisingly have a good, very solid six minute match. Back and forth, quick pace, good execution from both men. After a series of reversals, Lethal hits his Dragon Suplex for the win. ***

    CM PUNK and STEVE CORINO vs. ALEX SHELLEY and RODERICK STRONG. Fun beginning stuff as they do a lot of comedy around Punk and Corino being dysfunctional. Shelley and Strong work over Punk for a while, Corino gets the hot tag, then they work over Corino for a while. Decent enough hot stretch leads to Shelley tapping out to the Anaconda Vice. Decent layout but never really had much energy to it. **3/4. Austin Aries comes out after the match. He cuts a promo on Shelley, saying that Shelley came into ROH talking a big game, but that he’s been distracted by his other commitments – that being TNA. He says before he takes the top spot tonight by beating Joe, he’s taking Shelley’s spot, too, as the leader of Generation Next. Shelley is about to answer him but Aries cheap shots him. Roderick Strong breaks up the scuffle but then hits a backbreaker on Shelley! Shelley is out of Generation Next, with Aries the new leader.

    LOW KI vs. BRYAN DANIELSON. The big rematch of the main event of the second ever show, a match that has a claim to being called the greatest ROH match of all time. Starts off with some solid technical wrestling. They do a cool low kick exchange spot. Low Ki bites Danielson’s hand to get an advantage during the grappling and then starts working over his arm. Danielson sells the arm fantastically, selling it as being dislocated. Though Danielson’s selling is great, Low Ki is kind of lethargic on offense and the crowd isn’t too into it. Danielson suddenly fires up and starts daring Low Ki to hit him as hard as he can. Low Ki obliges but Danielson makes a big, vicious comeback. Danielson was awesome here and got the crowd really into it. They go back and forth a bit and spill to the outside while Danielson attempts an airplane spin. Danielson airplane spins Low Ki through the crowd. While the brawl a little through the crowd, Homicide and Julius Smokes run in to attack Danielson. The match is called off. Definitely very disappointing considering it was their first meeting since the all-time classic on the second show. They just really didn’t try to have the classic match you know people wanted out of them. It was definitely a very good match, though, but fell well short of what it should have been. ***1/2. Low Ki demands the referee announce him the winner since Danielson can’t compete. The ref refuses, so Low Ki punches him out! He chokes the ref with a belt. The ref does a pretty darn good job selling it.

    SAMOA JOE vs. AUSTIN ARIES for the ROH Title. The final match of ROH biggest year in its history thus far sees Samoa Joe attempting to cap off an entire calendar year as ROH World Champion. Even though the undercard has been somewhat underwhelming for a Final Battle caliber show, and Austin Aries would have to be considered a secondary-level challenger for Joe’s belt compared to the likes of CM Punk, Danielson, or Homicide, the crowd is really hot for this. Lots of dueling chants from the very beginning. Aries starts off hot, taking the fight right to Joe. Really hard fought beginning, lots of struggle, stiff strikes, everything about this match just doesn’t feel standard. Lots of cool, unique spots. Joe eventually gets an extended period of control and lays into Aries, dominating him with strikes and hitting a series of Ole Ole Kicks. Aries turns the table and hits some running dropkicks on Joe outside. Back in the ring they go into the home stretch and it’s great. Crowd is going nuts for everything, both guys get big nearfalls off of their big moves. The crowd really starts to buy Aries’ chances and seems to be rooting for him. Some particularly great spots include Aries spiking Joe on his head with a hurricanrana out of a powerbomb attempt, and hitting a sunset flip on Joe while he’s trying to do a dive, for a big nearfall. Joe finally has Aries up for the Muscle Buster, but Aries turns it into a huge Crucifix Bomb, dropping Joe right on his head. He follows it up with a big series of strikes, takes out Joe’s knee, hits a stiff kick right to the head – finally hits his brainbuster! Crowd is going absolutely wild for this flurry of offense. They go even crazier while he ascends the ropes, and comes off hitting his 450 Splash … for the win! Austin Aries has dethroned Samoa Joe! Enormous pop and ovation for both men. Truly feels like a monumental occasion. One of the best endings to a match ever, and really one of the best title changes ever. And an outstanding match to boot. ****1/4. Joe tells Aries to carry the belt with respect, and they both shake hands. Joe puts the belt around Aries’ waist and the crowd gives it up for both men as the show ends.

    Massive moment to end 2004. Joe’s title reign put ROH on the map, and made the ROH belt a truly valuable prize. This is really in the handful of most significant-feeling title changes in wrestling history. All time big pop. It helps that Aries would be a totally unexpected choice to take the belt off Joe. Aries has a lot to live up to, but this totally worked in the building. Another great touch is that Punk is on commentary, and he goes totally silent after Aries gets the pinfall. Hard to think of a better way to close the book on 2004.

    The undercard overall was definitely disappointing. Low Ki/Danielson was very disappointing. For a Final Battle type show, this feels like close to a dud, until the main event more than makes up for it. Classic match, one of the best of the year, and an unforgettable ending. 7.5/10

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