Ring of Honor: Year One

Disc One

Low Ki vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Bryan Danielson
“The Era of Honor Begins” – Philadelphia, PA – 2.23.2002

This is the main event of the first ever Ring of Honor show. Ki and Danielson take down Daniels so they can fight it out amongst themselves. Daniels dropkicks them while they’re in a lock-up. A strike exchange occurs between all three competitors, leading to a stand-off. Daniels breaks another Danielson/Ki lock-up. Ki dropkicks Danielson as Daniels drops down. Daniels puts Danielson in a tree of woe. Ki dropkicks him. Ki gives Daniels a Koppu Kick and a few kicks to the chest. Danielson goes for Cattle Mutilation on Ki but Daniels breaks it. Daniels ties them up in a Boston Crab/Camel Clutch combo momentarily. Danielson kicks away at Daniels’ arm. Ki Kawada kicks Danielson. Daniels hits a leg lariat on Ki. Daniels gut wrench suplexes Danielson for two. Ki wins a chop battle with Daniels in the corner. Danielson chops both guys. Danielson puts Daniels in a modified Muta Lock. Ki kicks Danielson’s leg to stop him. Ki kicks Danielson while Daniels’ legs are still locked. Danielson Northern Lights suplexes Ki for two. He then turns Daniels up to his shoulders for another two count. Danielson back elbows Ki for two. Danielson arm whips Daniels to the mat. He twists Daniels’ fingers until Ki kicks him in the back. Danielson and Ki take turns kicking each other in the back. They both kick Daniels in the back as well. Ki and Danielson accidentally kick each others’ shins. Daniels gives both of them a neckbreaker. Daniels puts Ki in a Liontamer. Daniels DDT’s Danielson and gives Ki a neckbreaker at the same time. Both men kick out of his pin attempts. Ki and Danielson throw Daniels off the top rope. Danielson Kawada kicks Ki. Ki kicks Danielson in the head from the apron. Daniels belly-to-belly suplexes Ki for two. Ki tilt-a-whirls from Daniels into a tornado DDT on Danielson. Ki hits Daniels with the Tidal Wave for two. Danielson fights Ki off the second rope. Daniels puts Danielson in an abdominal stretch on the top rope. Ki shoves Danielson down and puts Daniels in a dangling Dragon Sleeper. When he releases, he manages to get a two count. Daniels goes for Last Rites. Ki fights out of that. He kicks Danielson into a Blue Thunder Bomb from Daniels. Danielson kicks out. Danielson goes to superplex Ki. Daniels joins them for a tower of doom. Danielson suplexes Daniels. He hits a Dragon suplex and Ki breaks the cover. Ki puts Danielson in a Dragon Sleeper. Daniels breaks it. He gives Ki an STO and calls for the BME. He hits it but Danielson breaks the cover. Daniels turns Danielson inside out with a lariat. Ki cartwheel roundhouse kicks Daniels in the corner. Danielson elbows Ki to the floor. He puts Daniels in the Cattle Mutilation. Ki breaks it with a Phoenix Splash on Danielson! Ki gives Daniels the Ki Krusher for the pin at 20:04. I am totally impressed with how well this match holds up. It was a gutsy move to main event ROH’s first show with this match instead of Eddie Guerrero and Super Crazy, but it turned out to absolutely be the right move. Not only was this match incredible, but it helped set the foundation for ROH right away. What an impressive debut main event. ****1/4

After the match, Daniels tells both guys to go to hell. He says he would have easily beat either of them in a singles match. He challenges both guys to singles matches on the same night. Ki and Danielson accept. Daniels refuses to shake hands, breaking the Code of Honor right off the bat. Daniels would proceed to not shake hands until ROH’s 100th Show, where he shook the hand of Claudio Castagnoli.

Low Ki vs. Bryan Danielson
Special Guest Referee: Ken Shamrock
“Round Robin Challenge” – Philadelphia, PA – 3.30.2002

This is the final match of the Round Robin Series. Earlier in the evening, Ki defeated Christopher Daniels, while Danielson lost to Daniels. Danielson goes for an early cross armbreaker. Ki grabs the ropes right away, so Danielson goes for the neck. Ki throws a flurry of punches while taking the mount. Danielson turns Ki into a pendulum stretch. Danielson goes for a rear naked choke. Danielson turns that into a headlock. Danielson throws crossface forearms at Ki’s face. Ki drives his knee into Danielson’s head while grabbing a front facelock. Danielson shoves Ki to the ropes. Danielson goes for a cross armbreaker again. When Ki turns it into a bodyscissors chinlock, Danielson throws headbutts. He powerbombs Ki to totally break free. Danielson hooks Ki’s leg while applying a chinlock. Ki kicks Danielson in the head where he got cut earlier. This disorients Danielson and sends him to the floor. Danielson is able to hold his own back in the ring. He key locks Ki’s legs and stretches out Ki’s back and arms. He then grapevines the leg. Ki escapes and begins throwing Kawada kicks. Danielson rolls to the floor and we see he’s busted open above his eye. Danielson aggressively grabs the cross armbreaker when he comes back in. Ki gets the ropes. Danielson suplexes Ki after utilizing a full nelson. Ki kicks Danielson in the head when Danielson goes for the Cattle Mutilation. Ki gives Danielson a hard kick and chop to the back. Ki puts on a rear naked choke. Danielson rolls to the floor to break the hold, but Ki holds on. Shamrock seems okay with this. He releases when Danielson grabs the ropes. Ki goes for the Ki Krusher. Danielson gives him a rolling elbow and a Dragon suplex for two. Danielson comes off the top rope with a headbutt. Ki hits a cartwheel gamengiri in the corner. He Dragon suplexes Danielson for two. Ki puts on the Cattle Mutilation himself. Danielson slides through and puts on the Dragon Sleeper with a bodyscissors. Ki puts his foot on the bottom rope. Danielson suplexes Ki out of a cravat. Danielson gets two with a Northern Lights suplex. Danielson dropkicks Ki to counter the Tidal Wave. Ki gives Danielson a brainbuster. Ki throws some kicks before calling for the Ki Krusher. He hits it, but Danielson kicks out. Ki goes up top for a Phoenix Splash. Danielson gets his knees up to counter it. Danielson gets a two count after a Dragon suplex and again with a superplex. Danielson and Ki fight on the top rope. Ki hits an Avalanche Ki Krusher! Danielson wisely rolls to the floor so Ki can’t cover him right away. Danielson gets his foot on the ropes once Ki gets him back in the ring. Danielson captures Ki with a Regalplex for two. He finally puts Ki in the Cattle Mutilation. Ki passes out at 32:10. These guys could not stick with a story. Really what it came down to was Danielson refusing to give up, which admittedly did make him look good. While there was plenty of good, cool action, the lack of focus takes this down a notch in my book. It’s still a pretty damn good match in spite of that. ***3/4

Low Ki vs. AJ Styles
“A Night of Appreciation” – Philadelphia, PA – 4.27.2002

This is Styles’ ROH debut. Ki and Styles stand-off after trading control on the mat. Ki kicks Styles’s legs while locking knuckles. Styles kicks Ki in the ribs. They both throw kicks at each other’s legs. They end up kicking each others’ shins. Ki tackles Styles into a front facelock. Styles puts on a reverse chinlock. Styles fights out. Ki kicks and chops Styles in a lock-up. Styles cradles Ki for two. Ki punts him in the face. Ki kicks him in the back of the head too. Styles huracanrana’s Ki from the apron. He gives him a spinning clothesline for two. Ki kicks Styles as he follows him into the corner. Ki throws a chop. Styles enzuigiri’s Ki to the floor. Styles superkicks Ki twice on the floor. Back in the ring Styles gets two with a brainbuster. Ki gives him a Koppu Kick. He sends Styles out with a running boot. Ki puts Styles in the Dragon Sleeper in the ropes. Ki goes for the Ki Krusher. Styles counters it with a DDT. Styles blocks a Dragon sleeper. He quebrada’s into a reverse DDT. Ki blocks a huracanrana with a powerbomb. Styles kicks out. Ki throws some chest and Kawada kicks. Ki Tiger suplexes him for another two count. Styles German suplexes Ki into a facebuster. Ki gives Styles a gord buster so he can recover. Ki hits a cartwheel enzuigiri in the corner. Styles gets his knees up to block the Phoenix Splash. Styles holds up Ki in a Razor’s Edge position, then drops him into a DDT. Ki kicks out! Styles misses the Spiral Tap. They trade blows as they come back to their feet. Ki wins the exchange with an enzuigiri. Styles picks up Ki in another Razor’s Edge. Ki rolls up Styles for the pin at 18:13. This is in a lot of ways was like the previous match. The biggest difference was that this crowd was going ape for everything Styles did. That seemed to be the goal, and boy did Styles ever accomplish that. Again, a lack of focus knocks this down a peg, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy watching these two beat each other senseless. ***3/4

Eddie Guerrero & The Amazing Red vs. The SAT (Joel & Jose Maximo)
“A Night of Appreciation” – Philadelphia, PA – 4.27.2002

Red and Jose start off. Jose shoulder blocks Red. Red snaps off a huracanrana and a pair of armdrags. Guerrero blind tags in and helps Red send Jose out with a headscissors. Guerrero gives Joel a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Guerrero hammers on his arm. Guerrero rolls so Joel will get off his leg. Joel huracanrana’s him for a one count. Guerrero rolls through sunset flip and puts on a sharpshooter. Joel grabs the ropes. Guerrero hits a slingshot senton for two. Joel backdrops Guerrero before tagging in Jose. The SAT drop toe hold him into a Parachute stretch/Dragon Sleeper combo. Jose throws Red to the floor and dropkicks Guerrero while Joel still holds onto him. Although it looks like the SAT are about ready to take control, Guerrero gives Jose a superplex and tags in Red. Red tilt-a-whirls him into a DDT. Red gets two with a standing shooting star press. Joel blocks Red’s huracanrana with a powerbomb. The SAT do a better job keeping Red isolated. Red however catches Joel coming off the second rope with a tornado kick. Guerrero tags in and wallops Jose with punches. He gives Jose a brainbuster for two. Jose counters a Razor’s Edge with a huracanrana. That fails, as does his prawn hold. Guerrero clotheslines Jose and heads up top. Joel cuts him off. The SAT set up for the Spanish Fly. Red dropkicks Joel to the floor and dives after him. Guerrero pops Red up so he can huracanrana Jose off the top rope. He dives onto Joel. Guerrero notices Jose moving, so he rolls off the top. He drops Jose with a Razor’s Edge for the pin at 13:12. Guerrero was so on point in this match. Seeing him in ROH is still pretty cool, and a true novelty at the time. They kept things basic, so this gets more points for novelty than execution. ***

Low Ki vs. The Amazing Red
“Road to the Title” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.22.2002

Red throws a punch which puts a smile on Ki’s face. Red ducks a kick and throws a sole butt. Ki throws some rapid fire punches and stomps but Red blocks them all. The fans fire up as they stand off. Ki brings Red to the corner in a lock-up. He Judo throws him into a double knuckle lock. Ki elbows him back to the corner. Ki dragonscrew leg whips Red to the mat. He unloads some chest kicks. Red sweeps his legs and hits the standing shooting star press for two. Red comes off the second rope with a neckbreaker for two. Red hops over Ki in the corner. Ki throws Red off his shoulders and delivers a Koppu Kick. As Ki goes for a cartwheel kick, Red dropkicks him from the second rope. Ki kicks Red in the ropes. Red ducks a Tiger feint kick. Ki Koppu Kicks Red off the second rope and into the barricades. Ki can’t get a pin back in the ring. Red is able to take him down with a tilt-a-whirl DDT. Red dropkicks Ki off the ring apron. Ki knees Red in the face to block his suicide dive. Ki goes for the Ki Krusher. Red reverses into a cradle for a two count. Ki blocks a huracanrana. Red however lands a reverse rana instead. Red misses the Infrared. Ki blocks another reverse rana. He puts Red in the Ki Krusher position and throws Ki head first into the corner. Ki rolls through his Phoenix Splash when Red moves. Red tornado kicks Ki on the top rope. Red goes for a super huracanrana. Ki counters with the Super Ki Krusher for the pin at 11:16. I’m starting to notice a trend; Ki has a match with a guy, wins, but it still makes the guy a bona fide ROH star. This is exactly what happened here. This was so much fun, and the crowd was with them from the opening bell. I can’t think of a better singles match Red had in his ROH tenure. ***1/2

ROH Championship – 60 Minute Iron Man Match
Christopher Daniels vs. Low Ki vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams

“Crowning A Champion” – Philadelphia, PA – 7.27.2002

This match will decide the inaugural ROH Champion. Points work like this: you get two points for scoring a fall (pin, submission etc) and lose one point if you’re the victim of a fall. Daniels does not wish to start with Ki. Williams will start with Ki however, and actually does a great job wearing him out on the mat. Spanky tags in. They each get in a straight-jacket choke. Daniels tags in when Williams backs Spanky to the corner in a wristlock. Williams throws Daniels’ shoulder into the corners while hammerlocking the arm. Spanky also does some work to Daniels’ arm. Daniels suplexes Spanky, turning the fight in his favor. Daniels chops Ki to tag him in. Ki throws strikes at Spanky until Spanky dragonscrews his leg. He and Williams take turns damaging up Ki’s leg. Spanky slides out of Ki’s Dragon Sleeper attempt. With Ki weakened, Daniels decides to come in and deliver his own shots. Just when Daniels has Ki where he wants him, Ki stumbles back so Williams can tag in. Williams once again goes after Daniels’ arm. Spanky becomes his partner for the time being, until Daniels gives him a neckbreaker. Daniels tags Williams in. He stretches out Spanky but gets his eyes raked. He tags in Ki. Williams smartly goes back to working over his leg. Once again, Spanky is the one trusted by Williams to help him out. He takes out Ki’s leg as well. Ki kicks him in the head. Daniels does the same from the apron. Ki kicks Spanky in the ropes. Daniels blind tags in, stomps Ki, and goes after Spanky. Spanky gives Daniels a cravat facebuster across his knee to escape. He tags in Ki, causing Daniels to go for a tag. Williams jumps off the apron to leave Daniels on his own. Ki gives Daniels a Koppu Kick and some chest kicks. Daniels chop blocks Ki’s leg. Daniels brings in Spanky and goes for the Last Rites. Williams stops him. All four men are taken down with a series of moves. Daniels chop blocks Ki to block his cartwheel kicks. Daniels gives Ki the Last Rites to score the first fall of the match at 25:30. Daniels is in the lead with 2 points, Ki has -1 point, and Williams and Spanky are at 0.

Spanky stops Daniels from going for an immediate cover. Ki hangs out on the floor to recover his knee while the other three fight it out. Ki begins to recover on the apron while Williams is wearing down Daniels’ arm some more. Daniels gives Williams a spinebuster to counter a tornado DDT. Spanky quickly goes for some quick covers on Williams, ultimately failing. Daniels rakes Williams’ eyes from the apron to break his sleeper on Spanky. Daniels knocks Ki off the apron so Spanky can’t tag him in. Spanky instead delivers a neckbreaker and tags in Williams. You guessed it, he goes back to the arm. Daniels gives Williams a backbreaker. Spanky flips in onto Williams. Williams fights them both off. He hits the Chaos Theory on Spanky but Daniels breaks the pin. Daniels puts Williams in the Koji Clutch. Ki stomps Daniels to break it. Williams slams Ki into the corners three times. Ki ends up putting on the triangle sleeper. Williams tries to powerbomb his way free, but Ki turns it into a cradle for two. Spanky blind tags in. Williams goes for Chaos Theory and ends up tossing Ki into Spanky. Ki puts on the Dragon Sleeper, and Spanky taps out at 42:00. Daniels is still in the lead with 2 points, but now Ki has 1. Spanky is at -1 while Williams holds tight at 0. Daniels aggressively goes after Ki so he can keep his lead. Spanky comes in with a frog splash. He gets two with a spinning pedigree. Williams slams Spanky’s face into the mat three times in a wheelbarrow position. Ki stops Spanky from hitting Sliced Bread #2. He wears down Williams’ neck with headbutts and chops. Daniels gives Williams an STO and hits the BME for two. Ki wiggles out of a suplex and puts Williams in a Dragon Sleeper in the ropes. Spanky gives Williams Sliced Bread #2. Daniels breaks the count. Daniels and Spanky spill to the floor, leaving Ki to hit the Phoenix Splash on Williams for a pin at 48:45. Ki now leads with 3 points, Daniels trails with 2, and Spanky and Williams both have -1. As you would suspect, Ki and Daniels are the two battling it out in the ring after that fall. Spanky goes for Sliced Bread on Ki. Ki counters with a tombstone for two. Daniels gives Spanky a reverse DVD but Williams had already blind tagged in before he could go for a pin. Everyone is desperate for a pinfall as the clock runs down. Williams and Spanky are fighting on the floor while Daniels is on offense with Ki in the ring. Daniels has Ki close to submitting with a Dragon Sleeper. Ki flips Daniels over to hit the Last Ries, and the clock expires at 60:00, making Ki the first ever ROH Champion. I give this Kudos for being interesting almost the entire time. They lost a little bit of steam near the end, but considering they were in a sweltering hot building and went one hour I can be forgiving. All four guys did a terrific job in their roles and really made this a special, inaugural ROH title bout. ****

Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe
“Honor Invades Boston” – Boston, MA – 8.24.2002

A few slaps in the face kick this match off. Mark elbows Jay in the corner. Mark paint brushes the back of his head and snapmares him into a cross armbreaker. Jay escapes and clobbers Mark with forearms in the face. Mark rolls Jay’s headlock into a parachute stretch. After an ankle lock exchange, Mark key locks Jay’s legs and sits back on them. Jay bars Mark’s arm after a fireman’s carry. He sends Mark to the mat with an arm twist. Mark ducks a clothesline and delivers a Northern Lights suplex. Mark’s shoulder blocks have no effect. Jay shoulder tackles and big boots Mark to the floor. Jay and Mark exchange chops. Mark throws Jay into the ring post. With Jay busted open, Mark throws a few punches to the open wound. Back in the ring Jay takes control with a dropkick and clothesline. Mark spinwheel kicks Jay in his cut to turn the tide. Mark gets two with a DDT. Jay ducks a clothesline and kicks out Mark’s knee. He stomps on Mark’s right hand. Jay climbs to the top rope. Mark gives him a springboard super Ace Crusher for two. Mark gives Jay a tombstone piledriver. Jay dragonscrews his leg after Mark misses a knee drop from the top rope. Jay dropkicks Mark in a tree of woe. Mark blocks a lariat with an exploder suplex. Jay rolls to the floor. Mark goes for a pescado. Jay catches him with a throat thrust and Mark lands on his bad leg. Mark low blows Jay and throws him back in the ring. Mark foolishly hits a springboard dropkick. Jay ducks a clothesline and goes for the Jay Driller. Mark slips out. Jay drops him with a powerbomb. Mark kicks out and fights for a German suplex. Mark Dragon suplexes Jay for two. He misses a moonsault. Jay lariats him. He gets two with a Death Valley Driver. Jay gives Mark a modified Emerald Frosion. He misses a back senton. Mark is already up. He gives Jay a Cut-Throat Driver for the pin at 16:46. You might as well call Mark BxB Hulk considering how much the selling of his leg came and went. Speaking of selling, these guys took so many suplexes and head drops with seemingly no consequence. Talk about annoying. It was cool to give Mark a debut in his first match over his brother but this match is nothing more than a spectacle that isn’t all that spectacular anymore. **3/4

Disc Two

ROH Championship
Low Ki (Champion) vs. Xavier

“Unscripted” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.21.2002

Neither man gets control from the initial lock-up. Ki breaks a headlock and kicks Xavier in the back. Xavier shoulder blocks Ki, who pops up seemingly unharmed. Both guys throw kicks to the ribs. Xavier throws knees in the corner. Chops and punches are thrown. Ki drops an elbow before kicking Xavier in the back again. He goes for the cross armbreaker. Xavier reverses it. Ki kicks his way free. Xavier brings Ki to the mat in a double knuckle lock. Ki kicks Xavier to try and get him to break it. Xavier turns him into a headlock. Ki kick out Xavier’s knees and kicks him in the chest twice. Xavier blocks a third, but Ki kicks him in the side of the head anyways. Ki snapmares him into another back kick. Xavier throws some back kicks which don’t affect Ki at all. They slap each other in the face. Xavier botches a slam and gives him a modified Samoan Drop. Xavier goes for the X-Breaker. Ki escapes and hits a Koppu Kick. Xavier gets Koppu Kicked off the apron and to the floor. Ki slams him on the floor and drops an elbow. Back in the ring Ki gives him Mongolian chops. Xavier powerbombs him in the corner. Xavier butterfly suplexes Ki into a Full Nelson Death Grip. Xavier releases and gets a two count. Xavier drops a knee for two. Ki blocks a baseball slide. He throws some kicks from the floor. He comes off the top with an elbow drop for two. Ki goes for the Ki Krusher. Xavier counters with an O’Conner Roll for two. Some sloppy pin reversals take place. Xavier catches Ki with a powerslam for two. Ki puts Xavier in a tree of woe Dragon Sleeper. He releases before the five count, but keeps the hold on. Xavier picks up Ki and slams him to break it. Xavier blocks a springboard kick with a facebuster. Christopher Daniels makes his way ringside. Xavier takes out Ki’s leg. He begins to work on Ki’s knee. He misses a 450 splash. Ki throws some Kawada kicks. Ki signals for the Ki Krusher until he notices Daniels. Ki limps after him. Xavier chop blocks Ki from behind. Xavier places a pole with a concrete slab on Ki’s stomach. Daniels holds it so Xavier can hit the pole into Ki’s chest with a chair. Daniels yells at Ki as he slowly crawls back towards the ring, coughing up blood. He makes it back in, and Xavier hits the 450 splash for the pin and the title at 25:42. What a piece of crap this match was. It was dull, sloppy at times, and had a totally deflating finish. That’s how you crown a new champion? If people are complaining about ROH now, I can’t imagine how annoyed they must be rewatching this match. *1/2

Street Fight
Paul London vs. Michael Shane

“Unscripted” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.21.2002

Shane charges before the bell. London ducks and unloads with his own punches in the corner. He hits a spinwheel kick and a dropsault. He sends Shane to the floor. London crotches Shane on the top rope. He gets two with an enzuigiri. Shane hip tosses London to the apron. When he tries to skin the cat, Shane spears him to the floor. Shane throws London into the barricades. A table gets set up ringside. London picks up a chair and holds it in the air. Shane tope con hilo’s the chair into London’s face! He only gets a two count from that. Shane rakes his eyes when London begins to fight back. Shane whips London to the corner. London throws Shane face first into a chair set up between the middle and top rope in the corner. Shane is now bleeding from the forehead. Shane grabs a ladder under the ring. London kicks it into his face. Back in the ring London goes for a dive. Shane catches his leg as he’s coming down. The ladder is set up in the corner. Shane belly-to-belly suplexes London onto it. Shane takes his time on the apron. London recovers and headscissors Shane off the apron and through the previously set up table. London brings a taller ladder into the ring. London sets the ladder up in the corner. London backdrops Shane onto it. Shane heads to the aisleway for a breather. London walks up the ladder and somersault sentons onto Shane! London sets up another ladder in the corner. London leapfrogs over the ladder, but gets caught with a powerbomb from Shane. London somehow kicks out. London crotches Shane as Shane goes up top. Shane fights London off the ropes. He hits a top rope elbow drop for two. London ducks a bicycle kick and hits a superkick. London hits the London Star Press for two. London climbs the tall ladder, even though it’s literally bent out of shape. Shane elbows him off. He climbs the ladder and comes off with another elbow drop. London kicks out. Shane climbs the ladder again. London jumps up and quebrada kicks Shane off the ladder. Wow that ruled. London climbs the ladder, getting a “Please Don’t Die” chant from the crowd. London hits the London Star Press off the ladder to get the pin at 20:38. Sure, this had its wonky moments, but these guys really made it seem like they were willing to kill each other to win. They kept escalating the violence as the match progressed and made it seem like it was a really special match. Years later, this is still one of the more iconic Street Fights in ROH history. ****

ROH Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals
Bryan Danielson & Michael Modest vs. Christopher Daniels & Donovan Morgan

“Unscripted” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.21.2002

The winning team becomes the first ever ROH tag team champions. Modest controls Daniels in a hammerlock. Daniels shoulder blocks him to the mat and tags in Morgan. Morgan snapmares him into a shoulder kick. Modest does the same. Modest tags in Danielson after a shoulder block. Danielson stretches out Morgan’s back. He gets two with a crucifix pin. Morgan shoves Danielson to the corner so Daniels can tag in. Daniels dragonscrews Danielson to the mat. He and Morgan go to work on Danielson’s leg. Danielson enzugiri’s Daniels and makes a tag, but the referee doesn’t see it and makes Danielson continue to fight. Daniels puts Danielson in a crab in the ropes. Morgan whips Danielson into the guardrails twice. In the ring, Danielson gives Morgan a Saito suplex so he can finally tag Modest in. Modest huracanrana’s Daniels off the top from a headstand position. Modest gets two with a diving headbutt. Daniels whips Modest to the corner. All four men are knocked down from a series of strikes. Modest whips Morgan into the guardrails. Daniels Arabian presses onto both men. Danielson suicide dives onto Daniels and lands on his bad knee. In the ring, Modest gives Daniels and exploder suplex for two. Same goes for a fisherman’s buster, thanks to Morgan breaking the pin. Morgan gives Modest the Golden Gate Swing. Modest clotheslines him in the back of the neck. Danielson works over his neck some more before deliver the Regalplex. He hooks on Cattle Mutilation, but with his bad leg in the air. Daniels breaks it. Morgan gives Danielson a super Rydeen Bomb. Daniels hits the BME and Morgan covers him for two. Daniels also gets two with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Danielson chops Daniels in the neck. Daniels drops Danielson with a Complete Shot into the Koji Clutch. Modest breaks it and Morgan attacks him in the corner. They go to the floor. Danielson enzuigiri’s Daniels for two. Morgan grabs Danielson’s leg as he goes for a superplex. He falls off, and Daniles hits the Last Rites for the pin and the titles at 14:42. This really felt like Daniels and Danielson did all the work while Morgan and Modest put in a minimal effort. It’s a good thing Danielson and Daniels are tremendous, or otherwise this could have failed miserably. Although this didn’t feel like a big time match-up, it was solid enough and set up the Prophecy as the major heel stable in ROH. ***

Fight Without Honor
Samoa Joe vs. Low Ki

“Glory By Honor” – Philadelphia, PA – 10.5.2002

This is Joe’s ROH debut match. It’s also technically the first “Fight Without Honor”, though it does not have the same meaning as today’s Fight Without Honor does. Basically, Joe is Daniels’ hired assassin to take out Ki, so the Code of Honor will obviously not be upheld. Things start out okay with a feeling out process, but then some pretty heavy blows are thrown on the mat. Joe puts on a half crab to block Ki’s arm submission. The math devolves into a slap fight. Joe kicks Ki to the ropes. Ki ducks a yakuza kick and chops up Joe’s back. A jumping gamengiri and a Koppu Kick take Joe down for just a one count. Joe fires up from Ki’s Mongolian chops. Joe nails a clothesline. Joe puts on a cross armbreaker and transitions into a crossface. He releases to throw some chops. Joe enzuigiri’s Ki in the corner and gets two with a German suplex. Ki puts on a standing Fujiwara armbar but Joe escapes it quickly. Ki does land an enzuigiri for two. Ki also gets two with a Tiger suplex. They smack each other silly until Ki hits another enzuigiri. Joe boots Ki in the corner. He gives him the facewash kick. Ki wears down Joe’s arm. Ki chops Joe before giving him a Saito suplex. Ki puts on the Dragon Sleeper. Joe powers him up into a Death Valley Driver. Joe hits the Island Driver for two. Ki kicks Joe in the arm he was previously working over. A back kick does nothing to Joe. Joe’s kick does nothing to Ki. They take off their wrist tape and pull down their knee pads to show they mean business. Slaps and running kicks ensue. Ki throws Kawada kicks. Some knee strikes and elbow strikes knock Joe down long enough for Ki to get the pin at 16:27. That was a pretty epic fight. It’s still disappointing ROH never did a one-on-one rematch between them, and I can’t figure out why. They had plenty of opportunities. Regardless, this was pretty crazy stuff and really fun to watch. ***1/2

#1 Contenders Trophy
Bryan Danielson vs. AJ Styles

“All Star Extravaganza” – Philadelphia, PA – 11.9.2002

The winner of this match gets an ROH title shot on December 7th. Styles trips Danielson but Danielson pops up rather quickly. They vie for control on the mat but neither man gets it. Danielson shoulder blocks Styles quite violently. Danielson grabs a front chancery even with Styles moving around. Styles leapfrogs over Danielson and delivers a dropkick. Danielson drop toe holds Styles to the floor. Styles ducks a baseball slide. Danielson uppercuts him. Styles hops over the barricade when Danielson whips him. He superkicks Danielson from the crowd. In the ring Styles strings a backbreaker and gut buster together. Danielson and Styles monkey flip each other while holding onto double knuckle locks. Danielson kicks Styles’ arm away. Danielson stretches out that arm. He headbutts the arm as Styles grabs the top rope. Styles sunset flips Danielson for two. Styles counters a suplex into a chancery. Styles goes for a reverse DDT. Danielson counters into a fisherman’s suplex for two. Somehow, Danielson got busted open above his eye. He forearms Styles to the apron. Styles gives him a brainbuster. He puts on the Muta Lock. They roll into a double chinlock, fighting for who has the pressure in the hold. The referee forces them to break it. Danielson gets two with a wheelbarrow suplex. He heads up top after a DDT. Danielson comes off the top with a headbutt to Styles’ arm. Styles hits the B Flat for two. Danielson superplexes Styles, possibly on his neck! Styles gets his foot on the ropes to stop the pin. They knock each other back down with stereo discuss forearms. Styles moonsaults off the second rope into a reverse DDT. Danielson kicks out. Styles lands the Styles Clash for two. Danielson gets two himself with a Dragon suplex. He turns a Cattle Mutilation into a seat belt pin, only getting two. Danielson shoves Styles off the top rope. Styles elbows him. He takes Danielson off the ropes and rams him into the corner. He powerbombs Danielson twice before hitting the Styles Clash again. That gets him the pin at 22:29. That was just great back and forth wrestling from start to finish. Two awesome wrestlers doing their best for over twenty minutes; can’t complain about that. ****

Low Ki & Steve Corino vs. Shinjiro Ohtani & Masato Tanaka
“All Star Extravaganza” – Philadelphia, PA – 11.9.2002

Ki kicks Tanaka from a headstand position. Tanaka gives Ki a Blue Thunder Bomb to send him to the floor. Ki suplexes Tanaka when he comes back in. He puts Tanaka in an Octopus Stretch. Ohtani tags in after helping Tanaka escape the submission and puts Ki in a tree of woe. He baseball slides Ki as Tanaka holds him in place. Ki bites Ohtani’s fingers so he can tag in Corino. Ohtani backs Corino to the corner and gives him some chops. He drop toe holds Corino into an elbow drop from Tanaka. Tanaka puts Corino in a Camel Clutch so Ohtani can dropkick him. Corino backs Tanaka to the corner so Ki can yakuza kick him. Tanaka escapes a headscissors and puts on a Camel Clutch. He throws Ki into Ohtani’s boot. Ohtani snapmares him into a bodyscissors chinlock. Ki gets his foot on the ropes. He chops and uppercuts Ohtani to his corner where Corino tags in. Corino back elbows him for two. Ohtani bites Corino’s hand to escape a cross armbreaker. He gives Corino some boot scrapes and a facewash kick. Ohtani misses a yakuza kick and Corino kicks him low. He chokes Ohtani with his wrist tape. Ohtani sends Ki to the apron where Ki puts on a rope assisted Dragon sleeper for four seconds. Ki misses a kick off the second rope. Ohtani spin kicks Ki and tags in Tanaka. Ki gives him a Koppu Kick right away. He follows with the Tidal Crush. Tanaka spears Corino. He gives Corino a stunner and Ki a DDT simultaneously. Tanaka frog splashes Ki for a two count. Tanaka misses a corner splash, allowing Ki to deliver some Kawada kicks. Corino hits a leg lariat. Tanaka lariats Corino. Ohtani comes in and gives Corino a tornado DDT. Tanaka does as well. Corino gives Ohtani an exploder suplex. He gets two with a brainbuster. Tanaka breaks Corino’s pin after the Old School Expulsion. Corino gets two with a fisherman’s buster while Ki and Tanaka fight on the floor. Corino calls Ki back in. He accidentally kicks Corino. Tanaka lariats Ki. Ohtani missile dropkicks Corino. He drops Corino with a spinning powerbomb for the pin at 15:25. Not much to this aside from the novelty of having the ZERO-ONE guys in the match. It was fun for what it was, but by and large fairly hollow. ***1/4

Scramble Match
The Amazing Red, The SAT (Joel & Jose Maximo), Quiet Storm & Chris Divine vs. Special K (Joey Matthews, Deranged, Slim J, Izzy & Angeldust)

“Scramble Madness” – Boston, MA – 11.16.2002

Hopefully I can keep the name of all these jagaloons straight. Deranged and Jose start. Jose gets the ropes when he grabs a sleeper hold. Deranged rolls out after a snap slam. J and Red come in. J holds onto the arm to block an armdrag. Red turns him inside out with a clothesline. Joel and Izzy tag in. Even though Izzy gets in a few rana’s and such, Joel ends up taking him off the apron with an enzuigiri. Divine and Angeldust engage in a Lucha exchange. Divine nails a missile dropkick. Matthews grabs a headlock on Storm. He gets made fun of for this on commentary. Matthews throws Divine to the floor. Special K dive onto everybody. Deranged falls victim to tandem moves from everybody on the opposing team. Deranged gives Divine a tornado DDT for two. Matthews and the rest of Special Ki isolate Divine from his partners. Divine catches Angeldust with a Samoan Drop for two. J runs up the ropes and comes down with a hurcanrana for two. Red gives J a modified brainbuster. Izzy gives Red a facebuster and a dropsault. Jose takes out Izzy and Deranged. Joel powerbombs Deranged for two. Matthews takes Joel out but Storm comes back in. He gives Matthews the Spinal Shock. Red dives onto Matthews on the floor. His other four partners powerbomb Special K members off all four corners for two. Matthews low blows all of his opponents. Special K hit four stereo moonsaults for two. Deranged gets some momentum for his team. Red gives him a spinebuster. Red boots J in the face and hits the Tiger Feint kick. Storm follows with the Storm Cradle Driver. Izzy breaks the pin. Divine gives Izzy a spinning Gory Special. Matthews breaks the pin. Matthews sends Divine to the floor. Jose powerbombs Derganged four times. He gives him a Beach Break to finish. The SAT give Angeldust a Doomsday DDT. Red follows up with the Infrared for the pin at 17:40. If you can ignore how completely contrived these kind of matches are, you will enjoy them a lot more. It was fun to watch but these type of matches definitely need to stay in 2002 and not be recreated. ***

ROH Championship
Xavier (Champion) vs. AJ Styles

“Night of the Butcher” – Philadelphia, PA – 12.7.2002

Xavier spits his gum at Styles right away. Styles unloads with forearms and hits the Styles Clash right away. Luscious puts Xavier’s foot on the bottom rope. She gets in the ring, but Alexis Laree runs out to dispose of her. Styles and Xavier fight in a double knuckle lock. Xavier brings him down in a side headlock. Styles suplexes Xavier onto his head. He sends Xavier to the floor after hitting a dropkick. Styles comes out with a twisting pescado. In the ring, Xavier ducks a spin kick and slams Styles. Styles breaks out of a headlock and eats a back elbow. On the floor, Styles blocks a whip to the barricades with an enzuigiri. In the ring Xavier recovers and gives Styles a belly-to-back suplex. Styles superplexes Xavier, leaving both men laying. A chop exchange ends with Styles hitting another enzuigiri. Styles moonsaults into an inverted DDT and gets two. Xavier counters the Styles Clash with a waterwheel slam. They go for quick pins but both men are unsuccessful. Xavier wheelbarrows Styles into a German suplex. Xavier rams Styles’ shoulder into the corner. Styles fights for a piledriver and gets it. Xavier goes to work on Styles’ knee. Styles kicks him to the corner. Xavier hits Kiss Your X Goodbye for two. That’s seriously the worst name for a wrestling move ever. EVER. Xavier heads up top for the 450 splash. Styles moves out of the way. He superkicks Xavier to the corner. Xavier goes for a superplex. Styles positions him for a super Styles Clash and nails it! Styles’ knee is too hurt for him to get an immediate cover. When he does cover, Xavier grabs the bottom rope to break the cover. Xavier slips out of a regular Styles Clash. He kicks out Styles’ leg. He locks the legs and cradles Styles for the pin at 17:07. A very underwhelming finish for a very mediocre title match. Styles’ knee should have been worked over much longer than five seconds if it was going to be such a pivotal point in the decision. They had some nice sequences and false finishes but not a lot to hold it together. ***

#1 Contenders Trophy
Bryan Danielson vs. Paul London

“Night of the Butcher” – Philadelphia, PA – 12.7.2002

The winner of this match gets an ROH title shot at Final Battle 2002. Earlier in the night, London defeated EZ Money and Danielson defeated Chad Collyer. Danielson chops London against the ropes. London chops Danielson in the corner. London gets two with a monkey flip. Both men chop and slap each other after neither gets control on the mat. London armdrags Danielson and goes for a cross armbreaker. Danielson throws forearms to London’s face while locking his legs. London backs Danielson to the corner. London snapmares him into a chinlock. He Magistral cradles Danielson for two. Danielson fights his way out of a double knuckle lock and rolls to the floor. He lights up with London with chops upon re-entering the ring. Danielson locks London’s legs and leans back to add pressure. He locks his arms too. London hits a couple dropsaults after ducking Danielson’s clothesline. He comes off the second rope with a flying forearm. London gutwrench suplexes Danielson and hits a standing moonsault for two. Danielson comes back with a cross armed German suplex. Danielson gets two with a flying headbutt. London drops him with a side neckbreaker. Danielson goes for a suplex. The momentum causes both men to spill over the top rope and to the floor. London hits a superkick before bringing Danielson back inside. London only gets two with a flying crossbody. Danielson and London chop each other on their knees. London cradles Danielson for two. Danielson stops London from climbing the ropes. Danielson superplexes him. He puts on the Cattle Mutilation. London gets his feet under the ropes. Danielson uppercuts him for two. Danielson again goes after London on the top rope. London fights him off twice. He hits the London Star Press for the pin at 18:36. While this wasn’t the classic their match at “The Epic Encounter” ended up being, it was still really good. You really can’t put these two together and go wrong. I really don’t know how much more detailed an explanation I need to give. ***1/2

ROH Championship
Xavier (Champion) vs. Paul London

“Final Battle 2002” – Philadelphia, PA – 12.28.2002

Xavier takes control at the get go. London forearms Xavier and hits a standing moonsault onto his back. London dishes out some armdrags and a hip toss. He sends Xavier out with a huracanrana. London keeps forearming Xavier when he tries to re-enter the match. Xavier misses a slingshot senton. London clamps down on a side headlock. Xavier cheap shots London after backing him to the corner. London comes out of the corner with a spinwheel kick. Xavier stops a headscissors and slams London onto his face. Xavier thumbs London in the eyes to end a chop battle. Xavier forearms London in the back of his neck for two. London gets two with an O’Conner Roll. Xavier retakes control with a lariat. He slams London a few times and stretches his back out across his knees. He earns a two count with a gutwrench suplex. London throws some knee strikes. Xavier shoulder blocks him in the corner. London fights out of a powerbomb. Xavier German suplexes him for two. Xavier snaps London’s neck on the top rope. He comes off the top rope with a clothesline to the back of his neck. Xavier heads up top. London stops Xavier and looks for a superplex to the floor. Xavier instead slams London’s face across the top turnbuckle. London crotches Xavier on the top rope. London dropsaults Xavier into the corner for two. He gives Xavier a powerbomb. After a slam, London heads up top. Xavier rolls out to avoid the London Star Press. London however just decides to hit it anyway while Xavier is standing on the floor! Back in the ring, London misses the London Star Press. Xavier rolls him up in a Magistral Cradle for two. London drives Xavier into the canvas with a modified neckbreaker. Xavier tries throwing London into the turnbuckles. He fails, but London slaps the turnbuckle to make it seem like it worked. Xavier picks up London, who drops him with a DDT. Xavier gets his foot on the bottom rope just in time. London kicks off the turnbuckle to try and break a Cobra Clutch. Xavier suplexes London out of the Cobra Clutch. He polishes London off with the X-Breaker at 17:01. The psychology in this match was terrific. Xavier relentlessly went after the neck and it paid off in the end. London did an amazing job making it seem like he had the victory twice in the end and the crowd really bought into it. Probably Xavier’s best title defense. ***1/2

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