Bayless’ Look Back: Ring of Honor – Era of Honor Begins

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Ring of Honor – Era of Honor Begins
February 23, 2002

From the Murphy Recreation Center in Philadelphia, PA

Your hosts are Steve Corino and Eric Gargiulo

This is Ring of Honor’s debut show. The promotion was put together by RF Video due to the company needing a promotion to replace the sales they were making from ECW, who went under and had the brand name rights purchased by the WWE. After failing to get aligned with CZW, RF Video owner Rob Feinstein started RoH and sold the tapes and merchandise exclusively through his company.

The DVD starts with Da Hit Squad (Mafia & Monsta Mack) greeting fans who came down to Philly in a bus from New York. They talk about how RoH is about wrestling, not sports entertainment, as this goes on for several minutes and drags badly.

Christopher Street Connection w/ Allison Danger vs. Da Hit Squad

The Christopher St. Connection were a flamboyant homosexual team and their valet, Allison Danger, is the real-life sister of Steve Corino. They kiss each other before the match, prompting the fans to derogatory chants towards them as the announcers are also. Da Hit Squad then run out as we have an impromptu match with the Hit Squad suplexing the guys all over the place as the fans go nuts. Mafia then squashes Mace with a senton before finishing him off with the Burning Hammer (1:12) DUD. After the match, they grab Danger and tease hitting her with a clothesline before realizing that it would be more fun to put her through a table then place Buff E on the table as Mafia powerbombs Danger from the top rope through Buff and the table. Mafia then grabs the mic as the medics check their opponents as he lets them and the fans know that RoH is not about stupid gimmicks then pumps them up some more before leaving.

Thoughts: I guess the purpose of this was to show how gimmick wrestlers will get destroyed by the actual wrestler in RoH. However, Da Hit Squad were nothing special at all in the ring. The crowd did like seeing the CTC get destroyed though. Personally, I didnt think that this segment came off well at all but the fans disagreed. Both teams would spend a couple of years in RoH. Mafia would go on to be known as Danny Maff and stayed until he left in 2005 after an unknown incident involving his trainer, Homicide. Mack, I believe, still stays active on the independent scene.

Jay Briscoe w/ Mark Briscoe vs. Amazing Red

Jay turned 18 years old a month before this match as Red was a little bit older at 19 years of age. They shake hands before the match. They take it to the mat and it gets a bit sloppy but they then have a pretty sweet fast-paced Irish whip sequence that ends with Briscoe tossing Red to the floor. Red sidesteps a pescado and rolls Briscoe back inside. He hammers away but runs into a leg lariat. Briscoe then cheapshots Red after he offered a handshakebut Red comes back with an enziguiri that gets two. Red fails at a tornado DDT attempt and Briscoe kills him with a muscle buster, drawing a mild “holy shit” chant from the crowd. Red catches Briscoe with a kick as he comes off the top rope then gets two off of a brainbuster. Red kicks him hard but Briscoe kicks him back right in the face. Red counters the Jay Driller (double underhook piledriver) but Briscoe connects on the second attempt. Red is able to get his foot underneath the ropes to break the count. Red knocks Briscoe off the top, who comes back with a spear. He then hits Red with a half nelson suplex but goes up top and misses the cannonball senton. Red climbs up top and hits the Red Alert (swinging reverse STO) before getting the win with the Red Star Press (8:32) **1/4. Both guys shake hands after the match too.

Thoughts: Not the best match, but both guys at least showed some impressive stuff out there and considering their age, the match was solid. A lot of this was just setting up for spots but nothing was botched and the crowd to a liking to both men.

Low Ki cuts a promo and says that he will be ready.

Homocide takes us to his neighborhood where he used to sell drugs and commit drive-by shootings. He also use to eat chicken that his mom cooked too. He then carries a mask, as does his partner, Boogaloo, stating that they are the Natural Born Sinners and we will find out why they are bringing the ghetto to RoH.

Xavier is shown telling some young kid to keep his head up.

Scoot Andrews tells us that in 2001 he made a name for himself on the national scene then says that 2002 is his year and tells Xavier that he is his stepping stone.

Xavier vs.  “The Black Nature Boy” Scoot Andrews

Andrews’ gimmick was of a black Ric Flair and he had been kicking around the indies for several years before this. The crowd starts an “AC Slater” chant at Xavier. Match starts with both guys working the arm. Andrews hits a slam and that starts a sequence that ends in a stand off. Andrews counters a headscissors into a facebuster then dropkicks Xavier. Powerslam gets two. Spinning heel kick gets two. He then beats on Xavier in the corner and they trade moves until Xavier completely fucks up a go-behind then proceeds to drop Andrews right on his head. He punches Andrews in the corner but gets caught and Andrews hits him with the Alabama Slam, getting two. Xavier comes back with chops but gets his head taken off with a clothesline. He hits a slam then jaws at the fans before going up top, where he misses a sitdown splash. Xavier knocks down Andrews then drops an elbow. Forearm smash gets two. He then destroys Andrews with knee strikes in the corner before hitting a pumphandle toss. Andrews is able to counter a sunset flip by spinning out and pulling up Xavier by his arm and hitting an inverted DDT that gets two. Andrews then hits his finisher, the Force of Nature (Pumphandle reverse piledriver) but Xavier gets his foot on the ropes then Andrews yells at the ref for a while before covering again, which gets two. He yells at the ref again and Xavier rolls him up for two. Andrews hits him and tries his finisher again but Xavier counters and puts him away with the X-Breaker (straight-jacket neckbreaker) for the win (10:02) *1/2. After the match, Andrews begrudgingly shakes Xavier’s hand.

Thoughts: Bland match. I never got RoH’s infatuation with Xavier, who played a prominent role in the company during it’s infancy. He wasnt that great in the ring and never cut any memorable promos. He actually has gone on to fight in MMA but just lasted two fights and quit after getting knocked out. Andrews didn’t impress here if you ask me. He looked slow and lacked charisma.

The Boogie Knights vs. Natural Born Sinners

The Knights consist of Danny Drake & Mike Tobin, two guys I know nothing about. They were billed as from the Bronx. I also know nothing about Boogaloo other than the announcers tell us that he was a state champion wrestler in Florida, but he and Homicide come to the ring wearing masks and carrying chainsaws while Homicide holds a rubber chicken. The Sinners take turns working the arm of both members of the Boogie Knights. They beat the fuck out of Drake, with Boogaloo hitting a few nice power moves, until they take Drake out of the ring as Homicide hits him with a tope con hilo. They continue to destroy the Knights as Boogaloo works the gator roll as Homicide comes off the top with a double stomp. The announcers put over the official, HC Loc, and how the Sinners try to bully everyone and will probably do the same to him. Drake fights back and gets a nearfall with an inverted DDT. He hits the Sky High and tags Tobin, who overshoots a springboard senton but covers anyway and gets two as Homicide broke up the count. Boogaloo comes back with a suplex and then tags Homicide, who runs wild. They murder Drake with a clothesline/German suplex combo then Boogaloo beats on both guys with a rubber chicken as the ref rings the bell for the DQ (7:34) *. After the match, the Sinners argue with the ref, who is bigger than both guys. However, Boogaloo hits him from behind then Homicide stabs Loc with a spike, prompting Gargiulo to yell that this is attempted murder. They bust him open some more then Homicide hits him with the Cop Killa.

Thoughts: An extended squash match. Boogaloo looked decent out there when hitting his power moves. The Sinners’ gimmick didn’t do it for me and was too over-the-top to take seriously (like beating your opponent with rubber chicken). The Boogie Knights were two generic indy guys with average builds and little talent. At least they could take a shit-kicking.

Backstage, the Christopher St. Connection are hurt in the locker room with Mase crying.

Ultimate Aerial Elimination Match
Brian XL vs. Chris Divine vs. Quiet Storm vs. Amazing Red vs. Joel Maximo vs. Jose Maximo

Mikey Whipwreck is the guest referee for this match. The match starts with a bunch of moves at a rapid pace, with nothing at all sticking out. It looked way too choreographed and half of it featured arm drags. Now, everyone takes turn hitting each other with missile dropkicks and that leads to a car crash spot outside and again, nothing stuck out but the fans applaud as Mikey pumps up the crowd. In the ring, they do another choreographed spot that looked ridiculous. Back to the rapid pace as they are blowing spots left and right. XL slows things down with a cross armbreaker on Joel then everyone else comes in and they are on the mat working submissions hold as this match is getting ridiculous. The SATs blow a bunch of spots trying double-team moves as the crowd seems burned out. Also, I have no idea why everyone is using double-team moves in an elimination match. Jose then pins Red with a backslide (10:05) as we finally have our first elimination. Divine then eliminates Brian XL quickly after that (10:29). The guys left are teams: Divine Storm and the SATs. As the SATs hit Divine with the Spanish Fly, Joel covers but at the same time, Storm hits Jose with a German suplex and both are eliminated (11:36). A pinfall reversal sequence begins then Joel works a cross armbreaker that Storm reverses into an STF. Storm yells a lot until Joel clotheslines him then chops away. Blue Thunder Driver gets two as Quiet Storm, all 5’1 of him, rises up and is pissed then hits him with the Storm Cradle Driver (15:56) 1/2*.

Thoughts: There was no reason at all for this match to be close to sixteen minutes long. Everyone came out of this looking bad too. Somehow, the SATs wound up in TNA for a year and managed to blow spots left and right there too. Brian XL looked bad and the XL part of his name I take it was due to the shorts he was wearing which looked at least one size too big for him. Divine Storm also wound up in TNA for about a month but the rumor was that they ran Divine off after he was roughing up his girlfriend at the time, Trinity, and he ended up quitting wrestling altogether.

Backstage, Prince Nana yells at Rob Feinstein for an opponent tonight. A few seconds later, Feinstein sees “Towel Boy” Eric Tuttle and tells him to get in the and get himself over.

Prince Nana vs. “Towel Boy” Eric Tuttle

Before the match, Tuttle wipes the ropes then walks into a clothesline. Nana avalanches him in the corner then puts him away with a double underhook brainbuster (0:53).

Thoughts: No idea what the point of this was supposed to be. Tuttle was the towel boy in ECW and several years ago, severely injured himself attempting a moonsault to the floor at an indy show and had to have rods placed in his legs.

Michael Shane & Oz vs. Spanky & Ikaika Loa

Spanky’s team comes out to “Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera. He was released by WWE Developmental several months prior after they cut ties with Memphis and decided against sending him to either OVW or HWA. All four guys are from HBK’s Texas Wrestling Academy but I have no background info on Oz or Loa, who are both bigger guys. Whoever scores the pinfall will get a RoH contract. Spanky toys around with Oz until he eats a kick to the face. He then gets clotheslined as the announcers put over the rivalry between Spanky and Shane. Tag to Shane, who kicks around Loa until he tags Spanky. Shane and Spanky lock up then they trade chops in the corner before trading arm drags. Shane and Spanky have been by far the best two workers in the ring at this point in the show. Shane gets two after a powerslam then hammers away after that. Shane goes up top but gets shoved off by Loa. He tags in and hits a clothesline. Loa works at a very slow pace. He hammers away then drops an elbow for two. Spanky tags and chops Shane, who fights back. Spanky hits him with a leg lariat then applies a bow-and-arrow lock. Shane escapes and they go back and forth until they clothesline each other. Loa tags in and knocks Oz off the apron. He then hits a few suplexes for nearfalls before going back to his brawling offense. Loa places Shane up top, who knocks him off then hits a dropkick as both men are down. Hot tag to Oz who runs wild on Spanky. Loa comes in and Oz tosses him outside. Oz is a bit faster than Loa. The match breaks down as everyone disrupts the pinfall attempts. Oz & Shane double team Loa until Spanky makes the save. He goes for Sliced Bread #2 but runs into a super kick from Shane, who then get tied up with Loa and that allows Spanky to quickly hit Oz with the Sliced Bread for the pin and the contract (12:29) **1/4.

Thoughts: This match was really good when it was Shane vs. Spanky but Loa was awful. He moved around in the ring like he was Ted Arcidi and dragged everything down. Oz, by comparison, looked okay but he was another slow, lumbering big guy. Shane was the first guy tonight that came out and looked like a star. I am a bit surprised he didnt make it to the WWE. During his shoot interview, Kendrick said that Shane most likely never made it because he is an “asshole” and he said that after stating he liked him.

Whipwreck is in the locker room, screaming at the SATs. He then brings in his Spanish translator, Super Crazy, who also yells at them.

HC Loc is on the phone and says he is fed up with doing the “extreme official bullshit.” He says fuck paying dues and that he is going to make his own spot.

IWA Intercontinental Championship Match
Super Crazy vs. Eddy Guerrero

The title is vacant and the match will air on Puerto Rico TV, where the IWA program originates. A huge chant for Guerrero here. This match was the result of Guerrero’s shoot interview with RF Video when he said his dream match would be against Super Crazy, so they put it together. Guerrero is playing a heel and looks pissed off, slapping Crazy as he extended his hand. The announcers talk about Guerrero fighting his personal demons as he beats on Crazy. Guerrero works a side headlock as the crowd chants for Crazy. He escapes and they slug it out until Guerrero hits a back suplex then works a chinlock. Crazy comes back with a few armdrags then hits some mounted punches in the corner. Guerrero ducks outside but is able to pull Crazy off of the apron then rams him into the post. Guerrero then hits him with a brainbuster on the floor before rolling him back inside. Fallaway slam gets two then he applies an abdominal stretch. Dropkick gets two. Crazy fights back and hits a slam, setting up a moonsault. Spinning heel kick gets two. Crazy climbs up top but Guerrero cuts him off and takes him down with a hurricarana, getting two. Guerrero comes back with some knees then flattens Crazy with a powerbomb and that only gets two. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two. He then hits a pair of brainbusters then heads up top but rolls through as Crazy gets out of the way. He catches Crazy with a tilt-a-whirl but  he turns that into a small package and Crazy gets the win and the title (10:46) ***1/4. After the match, both men show each other respect and shake hands. The camera shows them walk into the back as the “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels does not look too impressed.

Thoughts: Good match that felt like it ended prematurely. The fans were into both guys, especially Guerrero who a few months prior got released by the WWE after a DUI. He would go on to return to the company about five weeks after this show. A really nice match and it was a pleasure seeing two guys who knew how to build a match in the ring on this show.

American Dragon vs. Low Ki vs. “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels

Dragon (Daniel Bryan) was also like Spanky in that he was released from WWE Developmental when they dropped their affiliation with Memphis. Ki and Daniels were known from squash matches on WWE television at this time, with Daniels making a name for himself on the West Coast. Corino puts him over on commentary throughout the match. This begins with Ki and Dragon attacking Daniels before trading kicks. Now, everyone trades kicks and it ends in a stalemate. Everyone takes turns on offense, which is all fast-paced and crisp. Dragon tries for the Cattle Mutilation on Ki early but that is broken up quickly. Daniels then has Dragon in a Boston Crab and Ki in a chinlock at the same time, in a visually cool spot. Ki goes nuts in kicking Dragon in the face until Daniels breaks that up and goes after both guys. Ki comes back and goes after Daniels until Dargon hits him from behind and chops both guys. Dragon works a submission hold on Daniels then Ki kicks him repeatedly while Dragon maintains a leg hook. Dragon fights him off and goes back to the hold before chopping the piss out of Ki. Daniels breaks up a pinfall but Dragon goes to work on his arm. Ki kicks him and Dragon gets up and is pissed. He and Ki are in each other’s face and try to out-do each other by kicking Daniels as hard as they can, with the fans going nuts. They now kick Daniels at the same time then he moves away and they kick each other in the shins. Ouch. Ki starts to destroy Dragon with chops until Daniels takes control of the match. He puts Ki in the Boston Crab until Dragon breaks that up with a forearm smash. Daniels then hits both guys with a neckbreaker/DDT combo after he escaped a double suplex attempt. He heads up top but they cut him off and kill him with chops. Daniels eats a double Yakuza kick then Dragon turns on Ki and kicks him down for a nearfall. Daniels hits Ki with a belly-to-belly that gets two. Ki then fights back and hits Dragon with a tornado DDT then a springboard kick to Daniels. He places Dragon up top but he elbows Ki off the Daniels climbs up from behind and puts him in an abdominal stretch. Ki kicks Dragon off and climbs up before putting Daniels in the Hanging Dragon. Daniels and Ki go back and forth until Dragon breaks them up. Dragon then gets hit with a enziguiri by Ki and walks right into a Blue Thunder Driver from Daniels, which gets two. Ki misses the Tidal Wave and Daniels places him up top. Ki shoves him down but Dragon hits him with a flying forearm and this ends up in a tower of doom spot as everyone is down and the fans are going wild. Dragon is up first and DDTs Daniels then hits a Dragon Suplex for two. Ki knees down Dragon and puts him in the Dragon Clutch until Daniels breaks that up. Ki and Daniels trade blows until Daniels hits an STO. He then hits the Best Moonsault Ever but Dragon breaks that up. Ki hits the Tidal Wave on Daniels as the crowd chants his name. Dragon kills everyone with forearm smashes and puts Daniels in the Cattle Mutilation but Ki breaks that up with a Twisting Phoenix splash then hits Daniels with the Ki Krusher for the win (20:15) ****1/2. The crowd gives the guys a standing ovation after the match as the announcers hype the shit out of this match. The crowd then starts a “Ring of Honor “chant. Then, the American Dragon grabs the mic and tells Low Ki that he didnt pin him to win the match and challenges him to a singles match at the next show. Daniels grabs the mic and tells both guys if they want a singles match…they can go to hell and starts to rant about how he would not lose a singes match to these guys and challenges them both to matches at the next show. This ends with all three guys facing each other in a round-robin tournament for the next show.

Thoughts: Incredible match. All three guys looked great in the ring. Daniels was the more polished guy, which makes sense seeing as he was a ten-year veteran at this time. A match that is definitely worth going out of your way to see.

Eddy Guerrero is shown in the hallway cutting a promo about how he saw a lot of young and hungry guys tonight and says that there was no shame in losing to Super Crazy. He was very intense here.

Final Thoughts: Not the greatest show on the planet and it did drag in the middle but the last two matches are worth seeing, especially the main event. Debut shows are tough and you almost at times have to throw stuff against the walls to see what sticks and use that going forward. The prodcution values were not very good, the camera work was unimpressive. Also, the venue was tiny and the company banner was hung on the backboard of the basketball net that was seen in the background near the middle of the ring. Anyway, another promotion made their debut later this year, NWA-TNA, and that debut was worse than this, although they had higher expectations.

Author: Brian Bayless