ROH Ė THE ERA OF HONOR BEGINS Ė PHILADELPHIA, PA Ė 2.23.02
Going back and reviewing all the old ROH shows is something Iíve wanted to do for a while, so here I go, with their first ever show.
We start with a video package of clips from the show weíre about to watch. Thatís an odd tactic to get a person excited about the show. Most of these guys I would not have recognized at the time, outside of Eddy Guerrero, Super Crazy, and Steve Corino.
We cut to Da Hit Squad, Mafia and Monsta Mack, getting the fans that came from New York on a bus hyped up for the show tonight. Spanky is on the bus too. Da Hit Squad talks about how Ring of Honor will not be sports entertainment, but will just be wrestling. This just goes on and on for a while, just meandering nowhere.
We finally go the arena, where The Christopher Street Connection and Allison Danger are coming out, to the shock of commentators Eric Gargulo and Steve Corino. The Connection really plays the gay part well, even kissing male fans at ringside. Buff-E gets on the mic and the crowd starts the obvious chant. They declare ROH the Ring of Homosexuals and then make out. This brings out Da Hit Squad and the first match ever in ROH is an impromptu tag match.
MATCH #1: Da Hit Squad vs. The Christopher Street Connection
Mafia and Monsta Mack come out guns blazing and hit a bunch of suplexes and slams on the gay team. The Connection gets no moves in, and Mafia ends the match with a Burning Hammer on Mase to get the victory at 1:12. Allison Danger gets in the ring and they super bomb her through a table. So they hate gay guys and women, and theyíre big babyfaces. Also, they had to run a sports-entertainment segment just to tell everyone they wonít be doing sports-entertainment. Thatís not the beginning I would have chosen.
We cut backstage to very young looking Briscoe Brothers, with Jay promising to prove the worth of the Briscoe name. Amazing Red then says Jay should expect the unexpected.
MATCH #2: Jay Briscoe vs. Amazing Red
They do some mat wrestling to start, and the crowd is very excited to watch this match. More mat wrestling and chain stuff at a fast pace ends when Jay tosses Red over the top rope to the floor. Jay tries a dive but I think he missed it, the camera angle on it made it hard to tell, but Redís in control now back in the ring. Red hits a dropkick to knock Jay down, and then he lets him get up. Jay feigns a handshake but punches Red in the face instead. Thatís more like it. Jay hits what looks kind of like a muscle buster, but it only gets two. Red comes back and works on the arm and levels Jay with some kicks. Jay comes back with a big kick to the face of his own. Mark looks impressed by his brother. Jay tries the Jay Driller but Red counters it. Jay reverses that and tries it again and NAILS it. The crowd chants ďHoly ShitĒ for that one. Jay crawls over for the cover but Red gets his foot on the ropes. Thatís preposterous to have Red kick out of the Jay Driller. Jay goes up top and hits a forearm off the top on Red. A half-nelson suplex and doesnít go for the cover. Jay tries a senton but he misses, and that allows Red to climb up and hit the Red Alert and follow it up with the Red Star Press (such a weak finisher) but it gets the win for Red at 8:31. That was a solid opener, but I do think itís ridiculous for Red to kick out of the Jay Driller. Red and Jay shake hands.
Low Ki cuts the first of what is sure to be many silly sounding promos. All the noise in the background makes this seem pretty bush league too. His catch phrase is absolutely terrible.
Next we cut to Homicide walking through his old neighborhood where he used to deal drugs, do drive-bys, and stuff like that. Heís bringing his boy from the South, Boogalou, up to Ring of Honor. Theyíre known as The Natural Born Sinners. Heís got a rubber chicken and they wear masks to the ring. I donít get it.
Back in the arena, Xavier offers some encouraging words to some random kid. The kid brushes off the words of Xavier.
Scoot Andrews then claims that 2001 was a great year for him, but 2002 will be HIS year. He apologizes to Xavier, but it had to be someone he reasons.
MATCH #3: Xavier vs. Scoot Andrews
Both guys start off by going after the arm. They match each other move for move and no one gets an advantage in the early going. Xavier goes for a tilt-a-whirl headscissors but Andrews face plants him. Andrews hits a nice dropkick for two. Double underhook suplex gets two as well. Xavier almost makes a comeback but Andrews hits a heel kick. They trade some more moves and Xavier manages to blow a pretty easy spot and land Andrews sickly on his head. That could have been much worse. Andrews regains the control and hits a few big moves, but then misses one from the top rope and Xavier takes control. He backs Andrews into a corner and hits a series of forearms and knee strikes to the face and body of Andrews. Andrews comes back and hits the Force of Nature but Xavier has his foot under the bottom rope so no pin for Andrews just yet. Xavier rolls to the outside, and when Andrews puts Xavier back into the ring he tries a pin but it only gets two. Andrews goes for another Force of Nature but Xavier blocks it and hits the X-Breaker to get the pin at 10:02. That was mostly competent outside of a few blown spots (one very bad), but was never all that engaging.
A bunch of guys run into the locker room just to get away from Homicide and Boogalou, who are both wearing masks and brandishing a chainsaw.
MATCH#4: The Boogie Knights vs. The Natural Born Sinners
The Sinners take the early advantage with a surprising prowess for mat and chain wrestling. Boogalou is particularly adept. ďThe Extreme OfficialĒ HC Loc is the referee on record for this match. Danny Drake and Mike Tobin are the Boogie Knights, and Gargulo and Corino are dumping on them every chance they get. The fight spills to the floor, where Homicide hits the Tope Con Hilo. This is a very long squash. The rubber chicken gets involved, and Loc calls for the disqualification at 7:43. That was insanely dull and uneventful. After the match the Sinners take issue with Loc, who is beaten and bloodied by the Sinners.
The Knights are shown exiting the building, in super-stealth mode.
The Christopher Street Connection is lamenting their loss tonight. Spanky is in the background, and Buff-E assumes that he is gay. Is he thin, single, and neat?
MATCH #5: The Ultimate Ariel Elimination Match Ė Joel Maximo vs. Jose Maximo vs. Amazing Red vs. Quiet Storm vs. Chris Divine vs. Brian XL
Mikey Whipwreck is the guest referee here, since he trained everyone in the match except for Brian XL. It looks like the Maximos and Red are teaming up while Divine Storm is teaming up with Brian XL, but itís actually every man for himself. In a huge shocker, it starts of as a big spot-fest, with everyone just hitting big spotty moves. I never really cared for these matches and time has done nothing to make them any more interesting. This is Redís second match of the evening, by the way. I think Quiet Storm may be one of my least favorite wrestlers of all time. They do a bunch of stuff. Jose Maximo accidentally pins Red at 10:05 to eliminate him. Red seems upset, but it is a six-way, not a six-man tag. Divine Storm then eliminate Brian XL at 10:33. Quiet Storm pins Jose Maximo, and Joel Maximo pins Chris Divine, so weíre down to two. I hate how Storm calls out for the Storm Cradle Driver. I remember a reviewer who used to call that move the Storm Cranal Driver. That was always frustrating to read. Storm hits the move in question anyway to get the pin and win this sham of a match at 15:00. This is going to be the worst part of reviewing the early shows, because this goes on for most of the first two years.
The Natural Born Sinners are in the back upset about their loss. They yell at the camera man to leave, but that just makes me wonder why they let him inside in the first place.
Prince Nana makes his first appearance backstage, and Rob Feinstein makes an appearance on camera to tell Nana that he has an opponent. He goes and grabs The Towel Boy, Eric Tuttle.
MATCH #6: Prince Nana vs. The Towel Boy
Towel Boy makes sure to wipe the ropes down before the match, and Nana thanks him with a clothesline. Not long after, Nana hits what looks like a double underhook brainbuster to get the pin at 0:50. Iím not sure what the point of that was, but Iím a big Nana fan, so anytime I can see him in ROH is great.
Michael Shane, Spanky, Ikaika Loa, and Oz are backstage talking about their tag team match tonight. The winner of the fall will get a Ring of Honor contract. I know nothing about Loa and Oz.
MATCH #7: Michael Shane & Oz vs. Spanky & Ikaika Loa
Oz and Spanky start it off, and Spanky looks like a star already. I wish WWE let him show more of his personality. They go for a little bit and then tags are made to both Shane and Loa. Shane also stands out when placed against Loa. Now Spanky is back in and he and Shane clearly donít like each other, as they get aggressive. Spanky and Shane donít seem to be too interested in tagging out to their partners. Loa eventually does get tagged back in, and apparently heís wrestling with herniated discs. Shane and Spanky get back in the ring and match gravitates back towards respectability. Oz and Loa just arenít very good. Spanky eventually hits the Sliced Bread #2 to get the pin on Oz and win the contract at 12:31. That was pretty decent when Spanky and Shane were in there, but Oz and Loa really dragged it down.
In the back, Mikey Whipwreck is yelling at all of his trainees. He brings Super Crazy in to help him translate to the Maximos. Whipwreck is just terrible. It appears as though a match has been made for next month.
HC Loc is on the phone with a buddy of his. He says heís fed up and humiliated. The person on the other end of the line wants to get the Sinners. Loc is not happy being the Extreme Official anymore. He doesnít want to pay any more dues; he wants to make his own spot.
MATCH #8: IWA Intercontinental Championship Match Ė Super Crazy vs. Eddy Guerrero
Iíve actually reviewed this match before, back when Brad and I were doing bonus matches, but Iíll just go ahead and re-do it. The IWA Intercontinental Title looks just like the classic WWE Intercontinental Belt. This is a pretty big deal for a company running its first show to have Eddy Guerrero on it. Eddy was just about to make a big WWE return, and he looks to be in really good shape here. Sadly it would take Crazy another three plus years to make it there. Theyíre moving quickly in the early going, with Eddy taking control. Crazy fights back but Eddy the crafty veteran cuts him off. Crazy makes a comeback, but when the battle spills outside Eddy hits a brainbuster on the floor and a slingshot somersault back in the ring for two. Crazy finally makes a big comeback and hits a dropkick to the back of the head and follows up with an Asai Moonsault for two. Eddy comes back and hits a sideswipe powerbomb for two, and follows it with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddy hits two straight vertical suplex and climbs up top. Crazy moves out of the way and is able to trap Eddy in a small package to get the surprise pin at 10:41. That could have gone 5-7 more minutes, but I know they didnít want to overshadow the main event, so it was the right thing to do. Not that what they gave us wasnít good; it was very entertaining for its short duration.
Backstage everyone congratulates Super Crazy on his victory except Christopher Daniels. He just stands there looking disgusted.
For some reason Low Ki gets another promo, and he basically just repeats what the main event is for tonightís show.
MATCH #9: American Dragon vs. Low Ki vs. Christopher Daniels
Daniels is announced as being from Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is where I live. All three try to get in a few moves in the first few minutes, and we get a stalemate. Daniels seems to be the most adept at picking his spots. Dragon tries the Cattle Mutilation early on but it gets broken up. Corino puts over Christopher Daniels huge. Low Ki unleashes some of his brutal kicks on Dragonís head. No one can take an advantage, and everyone is fighting everyone. Dragon and Ki take turns kicking Daniels really hard in the back to try and prove whoís tougher. The action in this is really hard to follow because they donít really stop moving for very long. They do some submissions on the top rope, which is pretty neat. They continue to do some pretty neat stuff, and Corino and Gargulo are tripping over themselves talking about how great this match is and how everyone should buy it from RFVideo.com. Back to the action, Dragon has the Cattle Mutilation on Daniels, and Ki breaks it up with a twisting Phoenix splash. Ki hits the Ki Krusher on Daniels and that ends it at 20:05. That was pretty great and obviously blew away everything on the show prior to that. It may not be the greatest match Iíve ever seen, as Corino was telling me it was, but it was a great main event to a first show and a great match.
Dragon gets on the microphone after the match and reminds Ki that he beat Daniels, not Dragon. He challenges Ki to a match for next monthís show. Daniels sounds like heís being respectful, but then he tells Dragon and Ki to both go to Hell. He claims that he could beat both of them in singles matches in one night. Corino screaming ďsomebody book thatĒ is pretty irritating. Ki puts the pieces together for the first-ever Round Robin Challenge tournament. Daniels refuses to shake hands after the match, which doesnít jive with the Code of Honor.
Eddy Guerrero is backstage undoing his wrist tape. He puts over the concept of Ring of Honor and says that this is a company about balls, not money or angles. He says that his loss tonight said heís either not hungry enough, or not on his game. He says Ring of Honor can give him the Eye of the Tiger again.
We close the show with a highlight video of the show we just watched. They very last thing we see is footage of Christopher Daniels walking out of the area disgusted.
The 411: While not everything was great, there was enough good stuff to call this an excellent start to a promotion. I donít care for things like Da Hit Squad or Divine Storm, the main event really delivered, and having Super Crazy vs. Eddy Guerrero on the undercard is pretty nice. It looks like Jay Briscoe, Amazing Red, Xavier, Spanky, and Michael Shane will be guys to watch, as well as the main event trio. This one gets an easy recommendation for historical reasons, but is pretty easy to sit through as well.