ROH: The Era of Honor Begins
ECW was dead to begin with. Prior to its demise, one of its main distributors for tapes of its events was RF Video, run by Rob Feinstein, who had made a fair amount of cash distributing video of events of independent wrestling promotions, including ECW (which became their biggest seller). To boost revenues following , Feinstein started a new promotion to fill the gap left by ECW’s demise, using both ECW alumni who were not currently under exclusive contract with WWE (or other promotions) and young candidates from wrestling schools like Shawn Michaels’ Texas Wrestling Acadamy. As a change from the ECW style, and to differentiate itself from the WWE, and from promotions local to South Philadelphia which had co-opted the ECW style (CZW, XPW*) central to the concept of Ring of Honor was the “Code of Honor” rules which, Kayfabe-wise, all wrestlers were supposed to follow, be they faces or heels.
Now, not all wrestlers did this, and at least one wrestler made it his gimmick not to follow it. However, this was ROH’s big thing at first, they run it down in the event, so I might as well get it out of the way now before I start the summary.
The Code of Honor (as of Era of Honor Begins)
- You must shake hands before and after every match.
- No outside interference — no interfering in others’ matches or having others interfere on your behalf.
- No sneak attacks
- No harming the officials.
- Do not get yourself disqualified
Now that I got that out of the way, time for… The Event
ROH: The Era of Honor Begins
Arena: Some High School Gymnasium
Da Hit Squad (Mafia and Monsta Mack) start out OOC, getting ready for a meet-and-greet on the bus with the New York Fans who came by tour bus to see ROH’s debut. They then get in character, on the bus, and shoot (sort of) on WWF, and start what is, perhaps, the first filmed ROH chant, and we learn that they are “The Stiffest Players In The Game.” I guess that’s a shoot? Brother?
Da Hit Squad then goes and hangs with the Boston fans and basically does the same short of thing, leading to the start of the actual show.
Our announce team is Eric Gargulo on Commentary and “The King of Old School” Steve Corino on color.
The Christopher Street Connection (Buff-E and Mace) come out to “YMCA” with their manager, Allison Danger. They are, judging from the announce team’s reaction, heels, as they “Don’t stand for respect, which is what Ring of Honor is all about.” From their ring attire, body language, and dialog, I’d say their gimmick is that they’re supposed to be gay. However, from the audience reactions, I’d say the audience loves ’em.
I can’t really say I get the point of having characters be heel because they’re gay, especially since they’re getting a bit of face fan reaction from the audience, at least during their entrance. Once they step in the ring, though, we get a chant of the other-f-word from the audience, to which Buff-E responds “I may be gay, but you’re queer.” Witty. Steve Corino is shocked by this admission. I, on the other hand, don’t see the point of having characters be Heels based on their sexual orientation. Buff-E declares RoH to stand for “Ring of Homosexuals”, and starts making out with Mace. Da Hit Squad runs in for the save, and we finally have a match at 13:22 into the DVD.
I wish I was kidding with that time stamp.
Da Hit Squad vs. Christopher Street Connection
This is an outright squash match. Christopher Street Connection gets in no offense, DHS gets in much, much more.
Winner: Da Hit Squad with a Burning Hammer at 1:22.
Rating: * – all I can say for this match is that DHS’s workrate looks good.
After the match, Da Hit Squad gets the tables and puts Allison Danger, and Buff-E through ’em with a sit-out power bomb, Pitbulls style. So, from what I gather, Da Hit Squad are like Public Enemy but with workrate of the Pitbulls, in that they can do suplexes and power bombs. DHS puts on another promo while the Refs clean the Christopher Street Connection out of the map.
Jay Briscoe of the Briscoe Brothers cuts a cut a quick promo backstage with Mark, saying he can deliver in both singles and tag competitions.
The Amazing Red cuts another promo, basically saying he begs to differ.
Jay Briscoe (w/ Mark Briscoe) vs. The Amazing Red
Apparently the Briscoes aren’t using “Gimmie Back My Bullets” yet for their entrance music. Also, as a side note, Mark apparently isn’t old enough to legally wrestle in the state of Philly, so he’s just at ringside as a manager.
We start with some chain mat wrestling, as well as speed moves from Jay and Red, swapping holds back and forth, ending with Red being sent over the top rope to the outside. Jay goes for a pescado and misses. Red sends Jay into the ring and delivers a series of right hands. Red sends Jay into the ropes, Jay counters with a leg lariat. Chain running stuff leading to Red booting Jay in the face. Jay pulls the old fake handshake trick (punch variant). Jay goes for an arm-wringer, Red reverses with a boot to the gut, followed by an enziguri. Series of reversals into the corner, into a Muscle Buster by Jay for a 2-count. We get our first “Holy Shit” chant of the evening. Jay looks to go for the top rope. No idea what Jay was trying to do, but Red blocks it and hits Jay with a vertical suplex. Series of punches followed by hard kicks to the head and shoulder of Jay. Jay counters with a boot of his own. Jay goes for the Jay Driller (double underhook piledriver), Red counters for a bridging pin, which Jay breaks out of. Jay goes for Jay Driller again, but You Can’t Powerbomb Kidman Piledrive Red… except Jay hits the Jay Driller. Red sells it like Rock sells the Stunner. Red gets a foot on the ropes at 2. Jay goes up top again, Red hits the ropes to crotch Jay. Jay gets back up again. Red goes for a springboard kick off the ropes, but Jay’s flying forearm has priority.* Half-nelson suplex by Jay. Jay goes back up again, either hoping 3rd times’ the charm or showing a distinct lack of pattern recognition. Cannonball Senton… misses. Red goes up top and connects with the Infrared* (corkscrew senton), and the Red Star Press (standing shooting star press).
Winner: Amazing Red w/ the Red Star Press at 08:07
Rating: *** – Much better, why couldn’t we have gotten this match earlier! Rather then that annoying squash with Da Hit Squad.
* Eric mis-calls the move as the “Red Alert”
Low-Ki cuts a promo back stage, telling American Dragon and Christopher Daniels to be ready. Yeah, that’s his catch-phrase
The Natural Born Sinners (Homicide and Boogalou) cut a promo about being from the streets. So, they’re The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa), but with actual wrestling talent? Okay.
Xavier tells… somebody to keep their chin up, and then Scoot Andrews cuts a promo on Xavier, promising Xavier will be his stepping stone.
Xavier vs. “The Black Nature Boy” Scoot Andrews
For the record, I’m just guessing with these match times, as apparently ROH can’t be arsed to buy a ring bell at this time.
Chain mat wrestling from Xavier and Andrews, focusing on the arms. Xavier and Scoop trade body slams, and then get back into trading holds. Xavier goes for head-scissors, Scoop trades into a facebuster. Double-underhook suplex by Scoop for 2. Scoop goes for some big chops in the corner, Xavier counters into what was supposed to be a running power bomb (or atomic drop or something), but blows it and drops Scoot on his head. Xavier gets a bit of offense in and but gets countered into a hard power bomb. They trade chops for a bit, and then Scoot cuts Xavier in half with a clothesline for 2. Scoot goes up top for a big leg drop, and misses. Xavier forearms, knee strikes, and elbow drops the crap out of Scoot, and then hits him with a belly to back suplex for 2. They trade moves for a bit, and Scoot gets a 2-count off a reverse DDT. Scoot hits a few more moves, and then goes for the Force of Nature (pump-handle piledriver), but only gets the 2 off that before Xavier gets his foot on the rope. Xavier rolls to the outside while Scoot argues with referee John Finnegan (yes, ECW’s John Finnegan). Scoot finally goes, and rolls Xavier in the ring, and gets the 2 count. Scoot argues with John again, Xavier goes for a school boy for 2. Scoot goes for the Force of Nature again, Xavier slips out of it for a neckbreaker and the 3.
Winner: Xavier by neckbreaker at 10:11.
Rating: *** – More solid wrestling, and I have to say I liked the chain wrestling here a bit more than the chain wrestling at the last match. I’m noticing a trend here with the 2-counts on the finishers, which doesn’t do much for the finishers in question.
Backstage, the Natural Born Sinners are scaring the crap out of people with a chainsaw, and are wairing masks (a Michael Meyers from Halloween mask for Homicide, and a Hannibal Lecter mask for Boogaloo.)
The Boogie Knights (Drake and Tobin) vs. The Natural Born Sinners (Homicide and Boogalou)
Official is HC Loc (another ECW alum – this will come up later).
Both sides spit in their hands for the handshake. Drake starts for the Knights, Boogalou starts for the Sinners. Chain submissions between the two. Boogalou tags in Homicide, and Drake does his Ricky Morton impression for a bit, until Boogalou clotheslines Drake to the outside and starts taking him out at ringside. Drake gets seated in a chair, and Homicide gives him a swanton tope. Tobin counters with a pescado onto the Sinners. The Sinners send Tobin into the ring post, Drake back into the ring and nail Drake with a suplex and double-stomp. Drake gets control with a Rishi bomb, followed by a springboard swanton by Tobin for 2. Tobin makes it back in control for 3 seconds, before Boogalou takes him out as well. Tobin and Boogalou tag out, Homicide and Drake tag in. Homicide cleans house, and then double teams Drake again. The Sinners deliver a series of rubber chicken shots on the Knights, leading to a disqualification by HC Loc.
Winners: The Boogie Knights by DQ at 8:00.
Rating: *** – Decent match until the finish. You’d think they’d get disqualified for the use of a decent foreign object, like a chair, or a bat, or kendo stick or something.
After the match, Natural Born Sinners beat up HC Loc, including spiking him in the head repeatedly, busting him open, giving us our first blade job, followed by Loc getting hit with the Cop Killer (Reverse double underhook piledriver).
Backstage, the Boogie Knights decide now is a very good time to leave, and the Christopher Street Connection commiserate over their injuries they got from Da Hit Squad, and Buff-E thinks Spanky is hot.
In the ring Towel Boy (ECW vet) cleans the ropes for the next match.
Ultimate Elimination Match: Quiet Storm vs Joel Maximo vs Jose Maximo vs Brian XL vs Chris Divine vs The Amazing Red
Our special referee is Mikey Whipwreck (another ECW vet).
We start with Brian XL and Joel Maximo in the ring. This using Lucha Libre tag rules (no physical tags required, one man leaves the ring, another comes on). I’m not even going to try to keep track of the moves, as they’re going to come too fast and too furious. I guess you could call this Aerial Chain Wrestling. We get a bit of Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better with missile dropkicks and tope suicidas, leading back to a series of aerial chain wrestling and big spots. Basically this match is a big, almost mindless spot fest. However, it’s a fun big mindless spot fest.
Jose Maximo eliminated The Amazing Red at 10:49
Chris Divine eliminated Brian XL at 11:20
Joel Maximo eliminated Chris Divine at 12:31
Quiet Storm eliminated Jose Maximo at 12:31
Quiet Storm eliminated Joel Maximo at 16:01 with the Storm Cradle Driver.
Rating: **** – This match was fast, furious fun, which gets a lot of the high-flyers over with the fans.
After the match, Steve Corino heads backstage while Quiet Storm and Joel Maximo shake hands.
Backstage, The Natural Born Sinners realize that the use of a rubber chicken in their match against the Boogie Knights was not such a bright idea, and then they chase the camera man out of the locker room. Meanwhile, Rob Feinstein gives Towel Boy (whose real name is Eric Tuttle) his shot… against Prince Nana. Steve Corino tells Towel Boy to “get himself over.”
Prince Nana vs. Towel Boy
Prince Nana doesn’t believe this. To give you an idea, Prince Nana weighs 235 lbs. Towel Boy, I figure, weighs 165 lbs, soaking wet. Towel Boy wipes the ropes, and then Prince Nana clotheslines Towel Boy inside out, then gives ’em a big splash in the corner., followed some Flair Chops in the corner. Towel Boy goes for a German suplex, Nana reverses it for 3. Squash match.
Winner: Prince Nana with a suplex at 1:10
Rating: 0 – It wasn’t even good for a squash match.
After the match, Nana shakes Towel Boy’s limp, unconscious hand. I think Towel Boy’s gonna need last rites.
Backstage we see the wrestlers from the Texas Wrestling academy chit-chatting, with Spanky dancing for the camera.
Texas Wrestling Academy Challenge for a ROH contract: Michael Shane & Oz vs. Brian “Spanky” Kendrick & Ikaika Loa
All 4 of these wrestlers are from the Texas Wrestling Academy. This is a standard tag match, with the caveat that whoever gets the pin gets an ROH contract. And no, Oz is not Kevin Nash. They are accompanied to the ring from trainers from the Texas Wrestling Academy, including Rudy Boy Gonzalez (who trained Shawn Michaels himself)
Spanky and Oz start. Apparently Loa has an herniated disc or two. Chain submission wrestling. Spanky back-flips out of hold, showboats, and gets a few forearms and a boot to the mush for his trouble. Spanky reverses out of another move, tries to go for another speed mood, but gets another boot instead. Loa tags in, Oz tags in Shane and double-teams Loa. Shane gets a head scissors on Loa for 2. Suplex for 1. Loa tags in Spanky. Spanky and Shane lock up, move to the corner and trade forearms, moving into chops, and finally Spanky gets a side headlock after a knee to the gut. Shane breaks out and they trade deep armdrags. Spanky and Shane trade reversals for a bit, Spanky goes for a ‘rana, Shane reverses into what looks to be a spinebuster for 2. Spanky keeps playing… heel in peril? Shane goes up top for a senton and misses. Spanky tags in Loa. Loa dominates Shane. Elbow drop for 2. Loa tags in Spanky. Spanky goes with some punches in the corner, Shane reverses, delivers some punches of his own. Spanky counters a lariat with a… weak drop kick (only one foot connects) for 2. Spanky surfboards Shane. Shane reverses an Irish whip. Spanky blocks a kick, goes for a lariat, only to be hit by Shane’s lariat as well. Spanky revives first and tags in Loa, who continues to dominate Shane, who realizes that while he’s HBK’s cousin, at the moment he might as well be named Morton. Loa gets a belly to back, but the ref is distracted by Oz. So the Ref only gets there in time to count 2. Loa gets a vertical suplex for 2. Loa puts Shane on the top turnbuckle. Loa goes for a Super German Suplex, but Shane elbows him off. Shane goes up – missile dropkick. Both men down. Shane and Loa get the tag, and Oz is an House! En! Fuego! Fisherman’s suplex for 2. Loa runs in for the save but Oz sends Loa to the outside (with his head pinballing between the mat and the bottom rope on the way down – ow). Boot to the head by Oz for 2. Flying Elbow by Shane, for 2. Loa returns into the ring, and Shane and Loa trade chops in the corner. Shane whips Loa coast to coast, goes for the big corner splash and misses. Spanky is in the ring. Running double boot in the corner, and he signals for the Sliced Bread #2, but fails to notice Oz. German Suplex from Oz for 2 (Loa makes the save). Oz and Shane flapjack Loa and grape-vine him. Spanky makes the save with a double dropkick, goes for the Sliced Bread #2 on Oz, but Shane counters with a super-kick. Oz gets 2, and Loa makes the save. Shane clotheslines Loa out of the ring, and Spanky finally lands the Sliced Bread #2 on Oz for 3.
Winner: Brian “Spanky” Kendrick with the Sliced Bread #2 (Shirauni, or springboard backflip three-quarter facelock diving reverse DDT) at 12:30.
Rating: **** – a much better tag match than The Natural Born Sinners vs. The Boogie Knights.
Backstage, there is dissension amongst the disciples of Mikey Whipwreck, leading to Mikey having to chew ’em out. Mikey gets Super Crazy to translate to those who speak English as a second language. This does precisely no good. Considering it’s mostly shouting, I’m not surprised. HC Loc is on the phone with someone… and is not pleased with being the “Extreme Official” and is going to make his own spot.
IWA Intercontinental Championship match: Super Crazy vs. Eddie Guerrero
*Pours a root beer on the curb for Eddie*
I shouldn’t have to tell you that both are ECW vets. Eddie was getting ready at this time for his return to the WWE after being fired for a drunk driving arrest. The crowd’s pleased as punch to see Eddie, Eddie’s reaction is… subdued. Somber. What I would give to know what Eddie was thinking as he stood in the ring right then. John Finnigan is the ref, and if we had Joey Styles on commentary we might as well have been in ECW.
Super Crazy goes for an additional handshake, and Eddie slaps him. Chain submissions, and Eddie takes control quickly. Vertical suplex for 1. Eddie and Super Crazy exchange head-drags into head-scissors a few times. Belly-To-Back for 2. Eric and Steve shill the Eddie Guerrero Shoot Video (which I really should pick up if I can find a copy). Eddie locks Super Crazy in a sleeper. Crazy breaks out and delivers a series of arm-drags, into a mounted 10 in the corner (thus allowing the fans to demonstrate their knowledge of Spanish.) Eddie roles to the outside, Crazy goes for a Asai Moonsault but Eddie blocks it, and works crazy over on the outside, hitting Crazy with a stalled Vertical Suplex on the concrete (which Eddie kind of struggled to hold.) Eddie rolls Crazy back into the ring and delivers a slingshot senton for 2. Fallaway slam for another 2. Eddie tries to wear crazy down in… a submission hold, I forget the type. Crazy gets control back, goes for an Lionsault for 2. Crazy goes for a missile dropkick for another 2. Crazy goes back up top, Eddie blocks it and hits the Top Rope Rana for 2. Eddie whips Crazy, Crazy reverses it and hits a spinning heel kick for 2. Eddie reverses a brainbuster into a powerbomb for 2. Eddie hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, and moves into the Three Amigos (3 vertical suplexes) or rather 2 of them.. Eddie goes up top, misses a senton. Eddie goes for another tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Crazy reverses into a small package for 3.
Winner: Super Crazy with the Small Package at 10:41.
Rating: *** – I would have liked to rate this higher but Eddie wasn’t quite at 100% here. I would have loved to have seen these two go at it at a One Night Stand, or a rematch or something, but I can’t quite give it a 4-star rating.
After the match, Super Crazy celebrates in the ring with his belt. As Crazy heads back stage, Christopher Daniels looks on in disgust. Low Ki introduces the main-event for you.
Triple Threat Match: “American Dragon” Brian Danielson vs. Low-Ki vs. “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels
Dragon and Ki team up on Daniels right away, and then lock-up. Daniels breaks up the lock-up with a drop kick. A Low Ki chant starts. This is going to be a pain in the butt to recap. Daniels dominates. Tor start. Daniels suplexes Dragon into a tree of woe in the corner, and Low Ki drop-kicks Dragon. Ki hits Daniels with a series of kicks, but Dragon comes in and locks Ki in the Cattle Mutilation (Bridging grounded double chickenwing). Daniels bodyslams everyone (and everyone on top of everyone else). Daniels locks Dragon in a Boston Crab and Ki in a Camel Clutch… at the same time. Dragon starts working Daniels’ shoulder over. Ki takes the momentum over with a series of kicks on Dragon, followed by Daniels suplexing Ki. Daniels lands a gutwrench suplex on Dragon for 2. Ki gets a series of kicks on Daniels for 2. Dragon chop the crap out of everyone and locks Daniels in an amalgam Cattle Mutilation and Scorpion Deathlock. Ki breaks Daniels out of the Cattle Mutilation, but Dragon holds on the deathlock. Belly-to-belly on Ki for 2. Dragon rolls over Daniels for a 2 count pin, before breaking the hold. Low Ki and Dragon trade kicks, to see whose better, before deciding to play a round of Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better, with kicks, on Christopher Daniels’ back. This goes on for a bit, before Ki and Dragon try to kick Daniels at the same time, miss (because Daniels has collapsed), and kick each others legs. Low Ki recovers and continues wailing on Dragon. Daniels recovers and decides to show his appreciation for their kicks earlier, and locks Low Ki in a Boston crab. Daniels lands a neckbreaker-DDT combo on both Ki and Dragon for the 2 (or rather 3 two-counts in a row.) Daniels goes up top, but Ki and Dragon counter with some chops and a double-arm drag. Dragon gets control, but Ki takes over with a kick for 2. Daniels vultures Dragon for 2, and then a suplex on Ki for another 2. Daniels goes for a slam on Ki, but ends up partially setting Ki on Dragon, then lets Ki go so he can get a Tornado DDT. Low Ki lands a Tidal Wave (Sprinboard kick to the head) on Daniels for 2. Daniels goes for a super-belly to back suplex, Dragon counters. Daniels goes up top, and locks dragon in an Abdominal stretch. Ki breaks the hold with a kick. Low Ki locks Daniels in the Hanging Dragon (Tree of Woe Abdominal Stretch). More chain wrestling. Ki enziguris Dragon into a Blue Dragon Driver from Daniels for 2. Low Ki and Daniels trade blows in the corner, leaving Ki dazed on the top rope. Dragon goes for a superplex on Ki. Daniels adds a belly-to-back superplex of his own, leading to a triple-super-plex..Daniels appears to be up first, but Dragon lands a Dragon DDT, and a Dragon Suplex for 2, with Ki making the save. Low Ki locks the Dragon Clutch on Dragon, and Daniels makes the save. Daniels lands the Triple Jump Moonsault on Low Ki for 2, with Dragon making the save. Dragon, Ki and Daniels continue to trade blows, with Dragon seeming to be in the best position. Dragon locks Daniels in the Cattle Mutilation again, but Low Ki breaks it up with the Twisting Phoenix Splash (corkscrew shooting star press). “Holy Shit” chant from the audience. Ki Crusher (fisherman driver) on Dragon for 3.
Winner: Low Ki with the Ki Crusher at 20:05.
Rating: **** – Very good match, an excellent main event. ROH had many better matches to come, but this match really helped set the stage for what ROH would later deliver.
After the match, we get our first “Ring of Honor” chant, and I believe I heard a “That Was Righteous” chant. Dragon gets on the mike, and calls out Low Ki for a one-on-one next time, because even though Ki pinned him, he didn’t beat him.. Daniels grabs the mike and provides a bit of a correction – in the form of telling Dragon and Ki to go to hell, as they didn’t pin him, and they couldn’t pin him one-on-one, and says even if he had to wrestle both of them in singles matches on the same night, he’d win both. This would later become the Round Robin Tournament at the next event (which I don’t have on DVD). Low Ki accepts the challenge and sets up the round-robin tournament. Low Ki and Dragon shake hands, and then turn to Daniels… who extends his hand, runs it across his head, flicks off sweat, and rolls out of the ring and goes back stage. Of course, you realize… this means war…
After the show, Eddie puts over Ring of Honor, we get a recap video, and we get some brief video after the show has wrapped and everything has been packed up with Daniels leaving, saying dismissively “Ring of Honor… Jesus.”
Overall Rating: **** – Very good show, with some very good matches. Definitely worth a look.