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022 ROH Death Before Dishonor 7/19/2003

ROH 022 – Death Before Dishonor – 19th July 2003

This is, beyond question, Ring Of Honor’s biggest show up to this point. It’s their debut in the famous RexPlex, with it’s capacity of well over a thousand people. That means the new summer spectacular will be held in front of the biggest ROH crowd to date. And since it’s the biggest show to date, it’s only fitting that the card is totally loaded. Paul London bids farewell by challenging for Samoa Joe’s World Title. The Punk/Raven war intensifies in a Dog Collar Match. We’ve got the final AJ/Red vs Briscoes match for the Tag Titles, what should be a hard-hitting #1 Contenders Trophy Match, pure wrestling with Doug Williams and Tom Carter, hardcore wrestling with the Carnage Crew, Low Ki returns after a couple of months out injured…and some guy called Jeff Hardy is here as well. Anybody heard of him? We’re in Elizabeth, NJ. On commentary will be Chris Lovey and Ray Murrow.

TOP 5 RANKINGS
1) Paul London (awarded the trophy after draw with AJ Styles – gets title shot tonight)
2) CM Punk (back to back wins over Raven in tag matches shoot him up the rankings)
3) Christopher Daniels (maintains his spot as he didn’t lose the fall against the Saints at Wrestlerave)
4) Dan Maff (drops to 4th after losing a World Title match in Philadelphia)
5) BJ Whitmer (somehow makes the Top 5 despite the fact he’s won like 2 matches…ever)

CM Punk opens the show by calling tonight the most important in his life. He compares not killing Raven at Wrestlerave to saving his unconscious father from choking to death on his own vomit. In comes Colt Cabana to goof off. Despite crying during My Girl, he’s going to win the #1 Contenders Trophy tonight and put it ‘next to his hopscotch trophy’ on the Cabana mantle.

SIDENOTE – Punk didn’t seem so angry at his father at Punk The Final Chapter. Is the deal with his father for real or just a work?

RF Video decide to put in another one of those idiotic video packages where they give away everything that happens on the show inside 3 minutes. How stupid is that?

Special K interrupt the pre-show and decide to continue where they left off at Wrestlerave – i.e. taking over the whole arena and partying. They’ve got a LOT of people representing them tonight.

Gary Capetta comes to talk to Samoa Joe about his defence tonight. Joe says it’s going to be a special night for him tonight, not Paul London. He seems nervous though, almost reassuring himself.

Continuing his backstage exploits after more raver scenes, GMC finds Homicide and Julius Smokes. Showing his usual level of awareness, Homicide calls him Michael. Anyway, they refuse to talk about what happened with Low Ki at the end of the last show. Cide also calls out Steve Corino.

The show officially starts in front of reportedly over 1200 fans – but Special K are still raving. They don’t let Stephen D’Angelis start the show, but are eventually interrupted by the Christopher Street Connection. They demand some disco music, whilst being possibly the only people in wrestling history to encourage a ‘you suck dick’ chant. Special K kick the sh*t out of them and continue their rave. That is, until their music stops again…and is replaced by Low Ki’s. That gets a MONSTER pop. Ki scatters the whole faction with his mere presence. In the end only Hi-jinx, Cloudy and Deranged are idiotic enough to stay in the ring. B*TCHSLAP for Cloudy. DRAGON CLUTCH on Hi-Jinx, and he taps like a pussy. Deranged tries to attack him from behind…and we’ve got an impromptu match.

Low Ki vs Deranged
Given that this match has been given all of 10 seconds build I don’t have too much to say about it. It’s Ki’s first in-ring appearance since injuring his shoulder at Frontiers Of Honor in May – returning ahead of schedule apparently. He’s had issues with Special K before though. He spent March wrestling them and trying to beat the respect into them. That didn’t work, so now he’s just here to kick some ass.

Deranged mocking Low Ki’s posing is hilarious. He tries a moonsault press and gets caught, but he shows some nifty ability by swinging into a lucha armdrag. Running headscissors then a corkscrew enzi keep Ki on the mat. The commentators big up Deranged’s wrestling ability since he tries to work the shoulder. Low Ki send to the floor, and Deranged dives at him with a SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT! Back in with a springboard dropkick and Deranged has been totally dominant here. He tries to mock Ki again with a Tidal Krush but gets caught. KAWADA KICKS OF TOTAL DEATH! HOLY SH*T! He batters Deranged in the corner with a running capo kick and the crowd are going mental. His face is already swelling. TIDAL KRUSH! Slugger comes in and tries to grab Ki but he gets brought to his knees with a TESTICULAR CLAW! Ki grabs Deranged again. KRUSH RUSH! SPINNING KI KRUSHAAAA! DRAGON CLUTCH! Deranged taps at 06:36.

Rating – ** – How much fun was that? I’d like to register the complaint that Deranged got in way too much offence, but at least he hit all his spots clean and as a result he got the rub as one of the top guys in Special K. It didn’t really matter though, since the whole thing was build up for the sickening finale of violence. Ki sent the crowd wild with his demolition job. That was a hell of a way to start a show.

Christopher Daniels calls Allison Danger (“off camera”) from Japan on Koji Kanemoto’s phone. He orders her to offer ‘him’ a spot in The Prophecy, then launches into a promo. Daniels gloats that he’s not on Ring Of Honor’s biggest show to date, but takes credit for them drawing over 1000 fans anyway. He has words for Low Ki, and wants a #1 Contenders Trophy match if Maff doesn’t win it.

They air a commercial for the forthcoming Field Of Honor – featuring footage of a BJ Whitmer vs Matt Stryker match that doesn’t actually take place for another 2 shows. RF Video sucks…

Jimmy Rave vs Matt Stryker
Rave has jobbed to AJ Styles on High Impact TV and made his first main show appearance at Do Or Die in a fourway with Chris Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and CM Punk. Stryker hasd broken into the Top 5 Rankings, but has since dropped out again after tapping out to Chad Collyer for the third time at the last show. Neither has reached especially great heights in ROH, and they are being treated as such. They are at the bottom of the card and now have to earn their way upwards.

Jimmy is on full-on shiny baggy pants bland babyface mode. Stryker gets the better of him on the mat so Rave hurricanrana’s him into a cross armbreaker. They run through a nearfalls sequence which is all pretty clean and gets due applause. Stryker gets the better of a test of strength but Jimmy kicks his way free and attacks the arm again. As usual Matt then attacks the arm, despite the fact his finisher works the leg. Rave with an STO backbreaker then a bridging back suplex for 2. Stryker boots him down and finally tries to attack the leg. Rave counters him though and puts him in a cobra clutch. Nice power from Matt to escape as he stands up and walks Rave to the corner. SPIDER BELLY TO BELLY SUPERPLEX by Rave. The fans like that, but he takes too long freeing himself. ROPE RUN BELLY TO BELLY BY STRYKER! They tee off on each other with forearm strikes, with Rave getting the advantage then getting a 2 with the Crappy Wizard. Stryker hits a powerslam and looks for his DVD but Jimmy slides down his back. Satellite Crossface applied, and Rave has worked the arm earlier in the match. Stryker escapes and picks up a victory at 08:46 with a DVD.

Rating – ** – I’ve been highly critical of Matt Stryker after his last two matches (Chance Beckett in Boston, Chad Collyer in Philly). His plodding, aimless “pure wrestling” bouts have bored me to tears and had severe flaws. To that end I’ll credit Jimmy Rave here because he came in, worked a faster tempo than Stryker normally works and got a far more enjoyable match out of him. For a 9-minute undercard match these guys did fine and the crowd were into it. They couldn’t do much more.

Carnage Crew vs Hotstuff Hernandez/Fast Eddie/Don Juan/Rudy Boy Gonzalez – Weapons Match
This issue started at the First Anniversary Show when the Carnage Crew battered the TWA chaps with their hubcaps. The follow up at Round Robin Challenge 2 was a hugely entertaining brawl where everyone emerged with a lot of credit. Now it’s time for the feud-ender. It’s got the added talent of the newest CC member – Justin Credible. It’s also got the added baked potato factor of Rudy Boy. Look for more blind lunacy from Fast Eddie, more awful haircut-ism from Don Juan and for Hernandez to hit the exact same moves he’s done in every single match since he started. Thank god he got better before TNA signed him and put him in the LAX thing.

The TWA reps run down the aisle and get the fight started straight away. Eddie takes a sick header into the guardrails inside the first minute…blind idiot. DeVito then breaks a cane over his back. Hernandez drops Masada over the top rope and they SCREW UP a mid-air double Van Daminator. That looked awful. Fast Eddie landed square on his head again. Rudy Boy and Credible engage in some weak crowd brawling, whilst at ringside Blind Eddie scales the ropes for a MOONSAULT to the floor. Don Juan dives to the floor as well. Eddie grabs Masada for a GERMAN SUPLEX ON A CHAIR! On the floor Loc has Juan – SAITO SUPLEX THROUGH A FENCE! Eddie gets caught on the top rope. SPIDER GERMAN SUPERPLEX THROUGH AN OPEN CHAIR! The place went wild there. Masada misses a moonsault double stomp whilst Gonzalez whips Justin into a ladder with sick velocity. He suplexes DeVito into the same ladder. Loc sends Don Juan through another chair with a neckbreaker. Want another chair broken? That’s fine. Don Juan suplexes Masada off the top rope through one. Fast Eddie isn’t dead by the way – he’s climbing a ladder. Juan still has Masada though. NECKBREAKER OFF THE APRON THROUGH TWO CHAIRS! LOC SUPERPLEXES EDDIE OFF A LADDER! This is totally insane stuff. Loc and DeVito have Don on the apron. SPIKE PILEDRIVER THROUGH A TABLE! Hotstuff grabs Fast Eddie and simply throws him over the top rope at one of his opponents. BIG MAN SUICIDE DIVE to follow that. Justin Credible is apparently injured. Can’t say I’m surprised given the nature of this match. Hernandez POWERBOMBS Masada through more chairs. The TWA are victorious in this war. 12:04 is your time.

Rating – *** – The RRC2 match was better in that there were less botches, and Rudy Boy wasn’t in it. However, a lot of the crazier bumps were in this one so I’ll split the difference and give it the same rating. Fast Eddie could’ve died like five times during this match, that’s how nuts it was. Credit to all the TWA guys (and I include Masada in that) for taking some suicidal bumps.

Outcast Killaz vs The Purists
Is this the first time the Killaz have made it onto a main card as a team? They’re faced with the new team of John Walters and Tony Mamaluke. Basically they’ve both looked pretty impressive on recent shows so Gabe decided to have them form a team in order to give them something to do. They’ll get a squash victory here since Diablo and Oman are ROH’s new resident jobbers – since Dunn & Marcos got too over to effectively fill that role on a regular basis. The Purists’ entrance is beyond horrible.

Serious Tony looks ultra-serious tonight. He does his usual dull as hell mat work on Tortuga to start the match. Santiago and Walters in next and they’re a little more interesting – and get a round of applause as a result. Santiago tries a leg drop which Walters catches and turns into an anklelock. The point is that he’s a purist and can counter anything an opponent tries. The Killaz hit some double teams on both their opponents, ending with a sandwich dropkick to Mamaluke. Walters drops Oman with the lungblower for 2. Submission on both men by the Boston-native. Mamaluke comes in and puts Tortuga in a super-serious cobra clutch. Neckbreaker on Santiago over John’s knee for 2. He tries to mount a comeback but it lasts as long as it takes Mamaluke to knee him in the face. Santiago does manage a blockbuster on Walters. I get the point, they’re plucky underdogs…but for f*cks sake they’re going to lose so can we just get on with it? Tortuga gets a generic hot tag. Walters dropkicks Santiago to the floor. Inexplicable double submission on Oman and he taps at 08:30. Despite the fact that the finish wasn’t actually legal since it was a double team hold.

Rating – DUD – That sucked. It went on WAY too long to be an effective squash, but it was still so one-sided that it did nothing for the OCK either. All we learned from it is that Mamaluke and Walters can look like a decent team against two guys who are in there with the specific purpose of making them look good. I think I’ll reserve judgement on their new team until I’ve seen something more meaningful.

Dunn & Marcos arrive to laugh at their ring crew colleagues for losing. The Outcast Killaz just don’t rock…LIKE A HURRICANE. At this point Xavier walks through the curtain to make his first appearance since dropping the ROH Title to Samoa Joe at Night Of Champions. The RCE think he wants to air guitar…but in fact he just wants to beat them up. Dunn gets dropped on his head with the Cobra Clutch-plex, whilst Marcos eats mat from the Kiss Your X Goodbye. In classic awful-Xavier promo fashion he announces that he’s in the Field Of Honor tournament.

Tom Carter vs Doug Williams
Hey look, Tom Carter managed to show up without having some sort of last-minute emergency. He’s about as regular on the ROH roster as Doug Williams is right now – and considering how much further Doug has to travel to get to shows that’s pretty sad. Anyway, last time we saw him he lost a competitive match to Matt Stryker at Do Or Die. However, he looked so good there that Chris Daniels invited him into The Prophecy – an offer Carter refused. Doug’s last appearance was losing an ROH Title match at Round Robin Challenge 2, but since this is the promotion’s biggest show to date it’s only natural they’d bring Williams back. He’s been one of the top guys since he debuted in June 2002.

Commentary bigs up the desire these two men have to compete and prove themselves against one another. The opening matwork mirrors that as they go back and forth quite beautifully. Doug is simply fantastic at this sort of thing but Carter does his best to hang in there with him. He looks to be softening up Williams’ arm, and in the end is so successful with that tactic that Doug leaves the ring. He comes back and tries to Euro uppercut The Technician down in aggressive fashion. Neckbreaker gets 2, and that’ll work to soften Reckless up for the Chaos Theory. Carter grabs the arm again though. He wrenches it hard then looks for a cross armbreaker, but Williams is a big guy and it’s hard to keep him down. The Anarchist goes to the floor again and is forced to get even more aggressive to defend his injured arm. He shunts Tom into the metal rails to get himself more respite. Back in the ring he nails a stalling vertical suplex then the Revolutions DDT for 2. Gabe’s doing a great job on commentary of pointing out which body part each man is working. Williams goes for a back superplex, but Carter blocks it with a kimura on the ropes! NORTHERN LIGHTS SUPERPLEX from Williams in order to get Reckless Youth away from him. Carter gets up strong though and finds a 2 count with a quebrada press. Doug uses his trademark knee combo then the BOMB SCARE but Tom kicks out again. He stays on Carter’s head and neck with more knee strikes. Shellshock by Carter then running knee strikes to the face for 2. He preps for a Frog Splash but Williams tries to block…TORNADO DDT FROM THE TOP! FROG SPLASH…but Williams kicks out! Carter has the arm again, this time in a triangle choke. Doug shows his strength by lifting him into the corner. CHAOS THEORY…BUT HE CAN’T HOLD THE BRIDGE! Carter uses the arm to cradle Doug into a pin. That’s good for the win at 14:20.

Rating – *** – Really really sound technical match from two highly proficient pure wrestlers. I’m sure if Doug was based in the US or if Carter had been more reliable we’d have seen one of these two get the “Matt Stryker” push through the remainder of 2003. I’m not telling you this was perfect because it wasn’t. There were a couple of selling issues from both guys but for a sub-15 minute match of this type it worked very well. Stryker needs to get himself the tape of this match and study it hard. Both these guys really put him to shame. I think this was Carter’s last appearance though sadly. He brought the goods whenever he was booked but clearly just wasn’t compatible with ROH management.

Allison Danger arrives to offer Tom Carter a spot in The Prophecy for the second time. He rejects it again though. Just as well since he’s not coming back…

Colt Cabana vs BJ Whitmer vs Dan Maff vs Homicide – #1 Contenders Trophy Match
At this point in time these were four of Ring Of Honor’s bigger-name midcard acts so throwing them all together in one match is a pretty big deal. Maff and Whitmer are both in the Top 5 Rankings hence are in this one. Homicide wants a rematch after taking Joe to the limit at Do Or Die. He’s also got heat with Maff since ‘The Prophecy’s Assassin’ turned his back on his former trainer at Epic Encounter. Cabana, meanwhile, gets a rare chance to step out of CM Punk’s shadow and shine on his own. He pinned BJ Whitmer at Night Of The Grudges. Repeating that feat here gets him a title shot. The winner here receives their ROH World Title match in August at the first ever Dayton show.

Maff acts like he’s going to start with Homicide but chop-tags out to Whitmer instead. Those two do some classic Homicide-2003 fast-paced hold-for-hold stuff. Cabana’s comedy games don’t impress Dan Maff and he gets back suplexed ON HIS HEAD! Maff misses a diving headbutt and is clobbered with a lariat. No need to sell that head drop then. Homicide dropkicks BJ to the floor…TOPE CON HILO! How the f*ck does Homicide not die on that spot? He practically missed BJ and got the rail instead then. He gets up for more but Whitmer catches him in a powerslam. Colt’s act is so entertaining opposite three other really intense guys. He starts dancing on the ropes before hitting a tornado snap suplex. Whitmer and Cide stiff each other and Dan wants no part of it. He eventually sweeps his former-trainer’s legs and drags him to the floor. He sends Whitmer out as well…TOPE SUICIDA INTO THE FRONT FREAKIN’ ROW! That’s just wild. ASAI MOONSAULT by Cabana to add to the carnage. Maff and Whitmer reprise their stiff chop war from Do Or Die. HEAD DROP GERMAN BY BJ! He tries it on Homicide but the Notorious 187 lands on his feet. Maff is up…HALF NELSON SUPLEX on Whitmer. Homicide drops Maff with the Ace crusher. BJ has managed to drag his semi-conscious body to the corner, but Homicide runs at him with a SICK knee strike. CANNONBALL SENTON by Mafia as well. Maff grabs Colt for a German suplex but doesn’t realise that he’s got Homicide as well. GERMAN SUPLEX ON CABANA INTO A FISHERMAN BUSTER ON CIDE! Everyone is down with the crowd going nuts. Colt tries to give Whitmer the Colt 45, but BJ blocks it and drops CC with a version of Daizee Haze’s Mind Trip. Homicide can’t hit the Cop Killa but does ground BJ with his lariat. Maff misses a second cannonball attempt. Cabana has Homicide…TOWER OF LONDON! That gets 2. Maff has Colt…BURNING HAMMER! WHITMER BREAKS THE PIN! EXPLODER SUPLEX ON MAFF! Homicide is on hand to ensure that’s not the finish either. Cabana must be dead as Homicide drags him upstairs. Whitmer is still in there as well though. GERMAN SUPERPLEX ON HOMICIDE! AVALANCHE WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER ON CABANA! WHITMER WINS! 13:43 is your time…and I am exhausted from doing play-by-play.

Rating – **** – Let’s see. Anyone know who the legal man was? Yeah…thought not. That was just crazy fun. The stiffness, the speed and the repeated headbumps had the crowd in raptures. It’s not an all-time classic and I’m sure there’ll be some purists (critics – not the Mamaluke/Walters team) who absolutely hated it. In my mind, however, that could well be a total showstealer. It was just such unrelenting excitement.

Everyone gets a standing ovation there…and Maff spoils the moment by spitting on Homicide then storming off. Smokes gets his ass out which just isn’t pleasant.

“Off camera” Chris Daniels is contacted by Allison Danger again. Neither of them knew about Xavier’s return. Rather hilariously he then begins a promo (“on camera” now) pretending that he knew and X’s return was a cunning plan. He’s also not impressed by Carter’s continued refusal to join him.

INTERMISSION – Low Ki is interviewed by Cary Capetta. Ki is happy to be back in the ring and is eager to get his hands on Dan Maff for joining The Prophecy. Just like Homicide and J-Train though, he remains tight-lipped on the Wrestlerave incident. It’s good build but it never lead to anything.

SAT/Backseat Boyz vs Special K – Scramble Match

Special K are Mikey Whipwreck, Hydro, Angeldust and Dixie. Their opponents today are two of the more popular outfits in ROH, and they are joining forces in order to combat a common enemy. The SAT are still pissed that Mikey turned his back on them at the First Anniversary Show, whilst the Backseatz got put through a table at the last show – an act which kick started the infamous Special K rave. Tough Enough 3’s Scott Chong appears to be a member of Special K now. Deranged is also out there despite the disgusting beating he got at the start of the night.

Hydro and fat Mexican Maximo start. Angeldust f*cks up a springboard dropkick inside the first minute. He then tries to give Kashmere drugs. Mid-air spear by Johnny, then a figure 4. Brian XL breaks that with a springboard elbow drop…despite the fact he wasn’t even announced as being in the match. He gets it on with Jose Maximo and Murrow points out these two have been fighting since the first show. Mikey powerbombs Acid into a facebuster then Dixie runs in. OK so is it 5-on-4? HORRIBLY MIS-TIMED 8-MAN SUPLEX SPOT! Unsurprisingly Angeldust was pathetically out of time again. Human Taffy Machine on Dust and Hydro. Fat Joel then blows himself up like usual with the super-run up dropkick. Angeldust drops Jose with a springboard blockbuster for 2. Whipwreck holds Jose prone for all his partners to hit double stomps from the top rope. He then drops him on top of his lard ass partner. X-Clamation Point on Jose. Brian then tries a Dragonrana on Joel…but it’s countered with a MAXIMO EXPLOSION. Dixie takes out fatty with a swinging DDT. CRADLEBREAKER from Kashmere to Dixie. Acid blocks the Whippersnapper and drops Mikey with the YAKUZA KICK. SPANISH FLY on Hydro. Fat Joel accidentally enziguri kicks Trent in the head though. WHIPPERSNAPPER! Mikey takes advantage and wins it for Special K at 08:21.

Rating – * – Messy and ridden with errors, but at least it was borderline exciting. It gets to a point where you’ve seen these guys do the same spots so many times over…and it’s just not so entertaining anymore. Instead things like Angeldust screwing up 90% of the things he tries or Joel Maximo being generally sh*t become a real laugh to watch. Brian XL looked pretty good though. Maybe he should be brought in to represent Special K more. He is like the founding member after all (remember, he brought Izzy and Dixie in at Crowning A Champion to party after Divine Storm ditched him).

The Backseat Boyz don’t seem amused. If I was Trent Acid I’d definitely be pissed off. He stole the show and beat Homicide at Wrestlerave. Now thanks to the SAT he’s jobbing in a lame Scramble. Acid and Kashmere put a beating on the Maximos and I cheer loudly. DOWN WITH THE SAT.

Krazy K vs Joey Matthews vs Jeff Hardy
Cynics would probably say this match is the reason ROH has drawn over 1000 fans. Jeff Hardy is easily the biggest name to appear in the promotion since Eddie Guerrero at the start of 2002. I think it’s inevitable that his name brought in some extra ticket sales…but listening to the reaction he gets from the fans, there is absolutely NO way he is the sole reason the attendance is so high tonight. Anyway, you’ve probably heard of this one. It’s infamous for the super-hostile fan response to Jeff. Turns out a building full of smart-mark fans had no desire to see a guy who openly didn’t care about wrestling anymore brought in to ROH. Krazy is a protégé of Jeff Hardy (which is worrying), and wrestles today under the name Kirby Mack. Joey Matthews (is he still in Special K?) is more famous for his run in MNM as Joey Mercury. He’s a friend/rival of Jeff’s going back to their days in the OMEGA promotion. However, both of those two are irrelevant. The fans spend the duration of their entrances booing Hardy anyway.

Any chance Jeff had is shot when he botches his own f*cking pose in the corner. Yes, that pose in the corner he’s been doing since 1999 when you first noticed him…he f*cked that up. The fans are absolutely ruthless. ‘Who gives a sh*t’ – fan. ‘F*ck you Hardy’ – NJ. We also get chants of ‘Hardy Sucks’, ‘You Got Fired’ and ‘We Want Matt’…and this is all before the match even starts. Jeff tries to wrestle in his ridiculous Willow The Whisp mask, and Matthews gets a massive pop for going after it. Joey keeps throwing K away because he wants to fight Hardy. Jeff finally removes the stupid mask and hits the double leg to the groin. K and Hardy clobber Matthews to the floor to fight amongst themselves. Krazy K is seriously awful. He and Jeff f*ck up a DDT spot which just sends the crowd into another fury. He manages to haul his green ass to the top rope for a corkscrew plancha to the floor. The fans just aren’t paying attention to the match at all. Jeff tries to set Krazy up for Poetry in Motion…but K botches it. He then messes up a roll-up. This kid is lousy. Hardy looks for a Swanton Bomb but Joey shoves him off the top rope – and gets one of the biggest pops of the show. Matthews gets shoved off ropes too. Swanton Bomb scored…fans don’t care. Double leg pin on K and Hardy wins at 06:35. Thank god that’s over…

Rating – DUD – It’s an awful match, but it’s still a historic moment in ROH history that I’d say most people should really see. The passionate and fervent hatred of this crowd is legendary. Personally I feel a little sorry for Jeff. He actually called ROH and asked them if he could work a show for them. Admittedly he looked awful (and probably drugged up) here, but pretty much everything he botched was actually Krazy K’s fault. Krazy K is legitimately one of the worst pro-wrestlers I’ve ever seen. I hope to god that he’s better now and that the size and hostility of the crowd just got the better of him here. As for Jeff…who looks legitimately hurt by some of the abuse he’s getting, thankfully this would be his only appearance in ROH. I’d love to see him back though – he’d make a KILLER heel.

After the match the line is crossed pretty badly as Jeff is cool enough to hug some of the screaming girlies that have come to see him whilst people are literally trying to jump the guardrail to get at him. It’s pretty disgusting to watch by this point…and for me, what at first was funny quickly became despicable. Seriously, some of those fans should feel ashamed of themselves…

After a highlight package of significant moments from the Punk/Raven feud thus far (including Punk’s epic Wrestlerave promo in full) Punk makes his way to the ring. This is the first time he used AFI’s ‘Miseria Cantare’ as an entrance theme and it works splendidly. He gets on the stick and runs down the crowd – including former ECW wrestler Danny Doring who is watching from bleachers.

CM Punk vs Raven – Dog Collar Match
Where to start here? These two have been feuding since Raven’s debut in ROH at Expect The Unexpected, because they’re such polar opposites. Punk is Straight Edge…Raven is a reformed alcoholic/drug addict. They had a fantastic match at Expect The Unexpected, and since then have clashed again in tags (Punk/Steel vs Raven/Cabana; Punk/Cabana vs Raven/Whitmer; Punk/Cabana vs Raven/Daniels). No matter what happens Raven can’t seem to finally get a decisive victory over Punk, the man that is so determined to drive him out of ROH. Can he settle the score here?

Punk attempting to weasel out of the Dog Collar stipulation is an amusing way to get the match started. He eventually does accept that he’s getting collared and it doesn’t take long for Raven to lay waste to him with the chain. Outside the ring Punk takes a similar beating, including a Russian legsweep into the railings, and it doesn’t take long before he’s bleeding. The former-ECW Champion lugs Punk in the head with the bell and slides a table into the ring before continuing the assault. We’re almost 5 minutes in before Punk finally manages some offence – and it’s a low blow. He gets knee’d in the head but still whips Raven through the table in the corner and all of a sudden the match is pretty even. Using the dog collar to his advantage, he wraps the chain around his knee to inflict extra punishment on a knee drop. To the floor again but this time it’s Punk hammering on his opponent, trying to open up a laceration on his forehead. Raven gets sent into the front row but he manages to drag Punk over as well, kick-starting a brawl in the crowd.

It spills all around the RexPlex with both guys using chairs to get the advantage. With the assistance of a few fans it’s Raven that gains control – and pauses to do a trademark pose on top of the bleachers. PUNK DRAGS HIM DOWN WITH THE CHAIN! He fell face-first down like four rows there and you know it had to hurt so much. Punk flogs Raven with the chain, driving him back into the ring. He grabs the microphone to taunt Raven whilst continuing the beating. A version of Allison Danger’s Shimmering Warlock keeps him down, enabling Punk to relax on the top rope still dishing out insults on the mic. ‘Is that all you got Flamingo’ – Punk. Raven finally explodes with punches and chain-enforced clotheslines. Drop toehold on the chair scores, and the build to Raven’s comeback is such that people LOVE that spot. That gets 2, so Raven looks for a chair shot. Punk moves…REF BUMP! The ref took the full force of that. RAVEN EFFECT ON PUNK! Obviously there’s nobody to count it though. Colt Cabana charges the ring and DDT’s Raven on the chair. That’s not popular…BUT DANNY DORING GETS INTO THE RING! He fights Cabana off, but in the midst of that Punk has managed to get an arm over the fallen Raven. He wins at 18:42.

Rating – *** – The match was good, although a little long. The initial Raven beating on Punk segment seemed to drag a little, as did the crowd brawling. However, it is undeniable that the contest built magnificently to its crescendo with the Raven comeback and effective finish (yes, overbooked finishes are effective when used sparingly – as ROH do). The Expect The Unexpected match was better though. It’s the angle which follows which is truly awesome though.

Punk tapes Raven to the ropes so he can continue beating on him and tries to add insult to injury by force-feeding him beer. Somebody has other ideas though…TOMMY DREAMER IN THE HOUSE! DREAMER DDT ON PUNK! He tapes Punk to the ropes then frees Raven. Raven and Tommy hug in the middle of the ring to a massive pop. I still get goosebumps watching this. Raven then pours beer in Punk’s mouth ensuring that this feud is set to continue. ‘Man In The Box’ plays us out. This is one of my all-time favourite Ring Of Honor moments.

3+ hours in and it’s time to switch to DVD 2. Paul London cuts his final promo in ROH, but he’s at a loss for words. He goes through all of his memorable moments, and promises one more tonight.

AJ Styles/Amazing Red vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – ROH Tag Title Match
The Briscoes have failed to win the belts from AJ and Red on two previous occasions – Night Of Champions and Epic Encounter. Both those matches were superb though and they’re getting one last title shot tonight. Red’s knee was pretty much shot by this point so him competing is a testament to his guts. Enjoy it, because it’s his last “good” match before he lost it. Styles is still NWA Champion, and the defending champions still have Alexis Laree in their corner.

Jay and Styles start by forearming the sh*t out of each other. They tumble to the floor BUT KEEP THROWING FOREARMS! Mark takes out Red as he sets out for a dive but MISSES a springboard plancha to the floor. AJ throws Mark into the railings, then gets dumped himself by Jay. SLINGSHOT CODE RED on Jay gets 2. Mark springboards in wiping out both champions. He runs at AJ in the corner but gets flattened with a sick lariat. Styles Clash blocked by the younger Briscoe so AJ throws him into the turnbuckles instead. Stereo enzis get the champs a 2. Styles follows it up with the traditional dropkick and a swinging neckbreaker. Lovey makes a good point that Red is using more kicks in this match to protect his knee. Mark negates all that by dropkicking him in the knee. Jay gets the tag and goes right to the knee as well. Mark slaps on a half crab, with the Briscoes clearly desperate to take the belts in their final shot at the current champions. Jay dumps Red with an impressive powerslam then uses his own half crab complete with taunting directed at Styles. He chokes Red with the ref’s back turned as well. Red can’t even run the ropes with such a bad knee, so Mark takes him down again with a dragon screw. AJ calls Jay a ‘faggot’ as he tries a cheap shot. Meanwhile poor Red rolls to the floor he’s in such pain. Back inside Red messes something up but that works since you can put it down to the injured knee. Mark powerbombs him for 2 anyway. They re-run the spot and it’s Red with an AIR RAID CRASH. Hot tag to AJ who is basically now 2-on-1 against the Briscoes. Mark drops him with the urinage suplex. Red sets up for a Red Star Press but Jay saves with a brutal mafia kick. Styles and Mark go to the top but Jay tries to powerbomb AJ off. STYLES GRABS MARK FOR SUPERPLEX…AND RED ADDS TO IT BY POWERBOMBING HIM! That was a sweet multi-man spot. Jay and Red are left standing…and they’ve been fighting since Era Of Honor Begins. JAY DRILLER! AJ throws Mark into his brother to break the fall. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE on the NWA Champion…but he kicks out at 2. He takes out Mark with the Phenom DDT. Jay Driller…BUT RED SAVES WITH A SHINING WIZARD! HE SACRIFICED THE KNEE! STYLES CLAAAAASH! AJ and Red retain at 14:29.

Rating – **** – I frequently change my mind as to whether this one or the Night Of Champions match is my favourite of the trilogy between these two teams – but either way this one is still damn good. It doesn’t quite have the frenetic excitement of the first match, but it tells a much better story – that of the Briscoe’s desperation to finally beat AJ and Red, and willing to do anything to make that happen. I love the pay-off to all the knee work with Red hitting an all-or-nothing Shining Wizard to save his partner. Another fantastic bout between these four – proving that the Briscoes have been setting the standard for tag team wrestling in Ring Of Honor for a long time.

Jim Cornette (with awful sound quality) talks about the speculation surrounding his pending ROH debut. He doesn’t confirm or deny anything, but promises answers at the next show in Dayton.

Samoa Joe vs Paul London – ROH World Title Match

As you’re well aware by now, this is Paul’s last ROH appearance before heading to the WWE. He’s #1 contender despite only drawing a match with AJ Styles for the #1 Contenders Trophy – having been awarded the trophy due to a higher position in the Top 5 (i.e. he was in them). It’s the culmination of a wonderful spell in ROH where he went from a total nobody to one of the most over guys in the company. Check out the First Anniversary Show, where he’s in there with AJ and Low Ki and is still the most popular wrestler out there. He deserves all the applause and respect of the fans in Elizabeth. He’s vowed to leave with one last special moment – winning the ROH World Title. But Joe, who’s on a hell of a streak of his own right now, wants to make Death Before Dishonor HIS moment, and send London packing with one final defeat.

Joe starts things off quick with shoulder tackles but London fires back with a drop toehold. Joe with a waistlock, but London kicks away from that and they break. Paul with an armdrag then a dropsault, but Joe is able to take the advantage with a single forearm strike. But his susceptibility to the flash pin almost comes back to haunt him as London nearly steals the match with a schoolboy. Joe to the floor and London dropkicks through the ropes at him. But fighting on the floor with Joe is always dangerous. MOONSAULT OFF THE RAIL! That’s one way to protect yourself from Joe’s brutality. Back in the ring London abandons the speed game in favour of striking. He then tries to run at the Samoan in the corner. ST-JOE almost sends him through the ring. London does his best to avoid getting facewashed in the corner but he tries a springboard crossbody and gets caught. Joe tree of woe’s him so he has no choice but to get his dirty face cleaned. He still manages to sit up and escape the running bootscrape. He tries a slingshot crossbody to the floor, but gets caught AGAIN and slammed into the ringpost. CRAZY OLE OLE KICK nailed. Joe just drags him up and does it again. Rather incredibly the Samoan scales the ropes. MISSILE DROPKICK BY JOE! I’ve hardly ever seen Joe do that. He follows it up with a German suplex for 2. Island Driver countered and Paul once again uses his speed for a few nifty roll-ups. London hits a dropsault, then goes back to Final Battle 2002 by slapping the turnbuckle to trick his opponent into believing he’s injured. LEGSWEEP DDT scores and he goes to the top. LONDON STAR PRESS…BUT JOE KICKS OUT! London tries to go up top again but Joe drags him back into the ring with a CHOKE! Paul manoeuvres into a pinning position to break it. DRAGON SUPLEX gets the World Champion a 2. Joe KILLS Paul with a lariat, but he kicks out. The fans are right behind him now. KNEE STRIKES…CHOKE! PAUL FIGHTS IT BUT JOE HOLDS ON! The crowd beg Paul not to tap…but he’s choked unconscious at 14:13.

Rating – **** – Joe was a little less brutal than usual, and Paul was noticeably working within himself as well – but with Vinnie Mac waiting in the wings nobody could really afford an injury here. Despite all that they still worked such a gripping match. The cat and mouse dynamic was superb with Paul using all of his speed, agility and guile in his attempts to overcome the sheer power of the champion. He really plays the underdog every bit as Shawn Michaels did back in the day. And Joe went the extra mile to make Paul’s big last night memorable – including that amazing missile dropkick. Thanks for the memories Paul. I wish him all the success in the WWE…but if it doesn’t work out it’d be great to see him back in a Ring Of Honor ring one day.

The locker room empties to pay tribute to London. Everyone is on their knees to show their respect, and London gives an emotional speech thanking everyone for everything (including comic jibes at AJ Styles’ expense). Wonderful end to an amazing show.

Cut to a Raven promo, and he’s still bitter that he hasn’t got a win over CM Punk in this feud. Despite what he and Dreamer did to him, he wants more revenge. He wants a cage match (which explains the chainlink fence he’s cutting the promo behind) and he guarantees victory.

Carnage Crew now, and they’re discussing some party at Loc’s house where they bailed on Loc’s fat wife and her great chicken for a nudie bar. They claim victory in the war against the TWA kids. They’re still pissed at Special K for being dicks though.

Chris Daniels is still in Japan though…and he declares AJ Styles, Amazing Red, Samoa Joe and all the ROH Titles are The Prophecy’s prime targets. He’s also stepping up his own game when he gets back.

Feinstein wants a promo from Punk. He shoves Feinstein over and accepts Raven’s proposal of a Cage Match…and he swears revenge for the beer…

Tape Rating – **** – In my opinion this is ROH’s most complete show to date – if not their best. It’s one of my favourite shows ever so. From Ki obliterating Deranged to open the show, hardcore brawling with the Carnage Crew and the TWA, technical brilliance from Williams and Carter the insanity of the #1 Contenders fourway, Jeff Hardy’s controversial appearance, the memorable Raven/Punk/Dreamer stuff, AJ/Red and the Briscoes bringing great tag team wrestling before the big Paul London send off. Whilst nothing is MOTYC good, It’s a varied, constantly entertaining show showcasing numerous different styles of wrestling. It’s a ppv-quality show…although no ppv company in their right mind is going to give a wrestling company a 4 ½ hour time slot. This is a long ass show…

Top 3 Matches
3) Samoa Joe vs Paul London (****)
2) BJ Whitmer vs Colt Cabana vs Dan Maff vs Homicide (****)
1) AJ Styles/Amazing Red vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (****)

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