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ROH YEAR THREE ARCHIVE: LOOKING BACK AT RING OF HONOR'S MOST CONTROVERSIAL YEAR

By Mike Johnson on 2004-12-28 20:40:00


ROH WEEKEND OF THUNDER NIGHT ONE

RING OF HONOR WEEKEND OF THUNDER NIGHT ONE IN REVERE, MA LIVE REPORT & NOTES
by Mike Johnson

Ring of Honor drew an estimated 650-700 fans last night for their debut at the Greater Boston Indoor Sports Center in Revere, MA featuring the debut of New Japan Pro Wrestling's Jushin "Thunder" Liger.

The crowd was absolutely there to see Liger as there were "We want Liger" chants throughout the night. Liger received the biggest pop of the night as he emerged from the locker room curtain and went on to hit all his signature spots in a very good New Japan Junior Heavyweight style match against American Dragon Bryan Danielson. The crowd was solidly behind Liger, clapping along and rallying him through the match. ROH champion Samoa Joe worked Liger's corner while Danielson, who may be the top in-ring performer in the United States right now, worked alone. They went back and forth with Liger hitting his top rope brainbuster for the win. The crowd was familar with all of Liger's spots, as he hit his palm strikes and the place went nuts. A really fun match to top the show. A large group of fans remained after the show for a post-event autograph signing as well.

The show opened with Jimmy Rave defeating Ace Steel in an OK match. Rave has really come into his own as a heel with Prince Nana as his mouthpiece. They added Angel Williams (Mid-Western worker who has done some TNA matches) as his valet. In a funny bit, Nana told her she knows what to do and she went to her knees, then on all fours...so Rave could use her as steps to enter the ring. Too funny! I don't get the bit with Nana talking during Rave's matches, but that's me. Nana's delivery is great. Rave got the pin with the Styles Clash. Steel seems to have lost some of his charisma with his recent haircut and Raw appearance but his work is solid.

Homicide defeated Angeldust, Fast Eddie, and Dunn in a Four Way after a nasty Cop Killer on Angeldust. Homicide ripped on the Red Sox, saying that next year, the Yankees will win and it'll be back to losing for Boston. Homicide ripped the corner pads off the ring and threatened to throw it to the crowd. They did a series of dives at one point where Angeldust hit a tope to the outside, followed by Dunn's stage dive off the top, then a corkscrew from the top to the floor by Eddie. Eddie's work has noticeably improved. Homicide continued to rail against Boston after the match, which led to a "fan" hopping the rail and getting totally destroyed by the Rottweilers. Low Ki completely wrecked the poor kid. Homicide ended up with a knot from something during the match. Izzy was booked for the match but was unable to get to the show so Dunn was substituted. Decent match with some fun stuff.

In a fun Boston Street Fight, The Carnage Crew defeated BJ Whitmer and Dan Maff after bashing Whitmer with trash cans, conchairto style, at the same time. All four bled and brawled around the ringside area. Loc and Whitmer ended up in the front row for a moment. Allison Danger brought the trash cans out but for some reason was unable to get them to toss over the ropes into the ring. If it wasn't a spot, it looked like one. After the match, Danger pleaded with the Crew to keep beating up Maff and Whitmer but they blew her off. Maff and Whitmer now have a loss going into their title match tonight in Elizabeth, so if there is a title change, they have a ready made first challenger set.

Low Ki pinned Chad Collyer with a double stomp off the top rope. Low Ki's work since his heel turn has been nothing less then superb. They did a spot where he acted as if his ankle was blown out, which brought out several ROH staffers. Collyer helped him up and as they got to the ropes, Ki ambushed him with a kick to the stomach. It was a great twist on a spot seen a million times, because ROH management even thought it was legit injury. I could imagine Gabe Sapolsky internally freaking out because his dream tag match for Elizabeth was ruined. This was OK, but didn't stand out compared to some of Ki's other recent bouts, like Jay Lethal in Philadelphia.

In a really fun tag match, Nigel McGuinness & ROH Pure champion John Walters defeated ROH champion Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal as Nigel forced Lethal to tap out as Walters neutralized Joe to keep him from interfering. This was a really good back and forth tag with the idea that it was the "World" title vs. the "Pure" title. They teased Walters vs. Joe for a long time. Since Walters is a hometown boy, the crowd was behind him although they weren't against Joe and Lethal by any means either. There was a great spot where McGuiness went for his handstand on the turnbuckle, but Joe kicked him in the face while he was upside down. Joe destroyed a guard rail with an Ole Ole kick on the floor. McGuiness forced Lethal to tap out to a sick looking armbar submission. Joe, who's delivery on the mic makes him come off like a smooth badass monster, challenged McGuiness to a singles match when they return to Revere on 1/15.

After intermission, The Outkast Killaz defeated several ROH students, who's names I didn't catch. Killaz are underrated as a team

Austin Aries defeated CM Punk with a half crab in a good back and forth match. A fan wearing a TNA shirt began bickering back and forth with Punk during his entrance, which led to a "F*** TNA" chant. Punk got on the mic and said that he respects the fan for wearing whatever he wants because he paid for a ticket and that's his right, but then ripped on the guy's haircut. The story of the match was Aries wearing down Punk's leg. Aries' work is really strong and he's a name that a lot of people will see more and more over the next 12 months. He's in a position similar to AJ Styles was in 2002 in many respects. He hit Punk with a 450 splash on his leg and finally forced him to tap with the crab in the center. One thing that ROH is good at is building their performers to the next level and that's shown recently with Aries (going toe to toe with Danielson, defeating Punk) and Jay Lethal (recent Low Ki bout). Aries demanded a title shot after the win, which is at least the second time he's done so.

ROH Tag Team champions The Havana Pitbulls defeated Jack Evans and Roderick Strong in an awesome match. I hope every ROH fan reading this starts to take a collection for Evans' healthcare later in life as he is taking more and more hellacious bumps every time I see him work and at some point, it will catch up to him. He is just awe-inspiringly awesome in that regard and in his high flying. In many ways, Strong and Evans remind me of a 2004 version of the Taz & Sabu tag team with Strong hitting all these crazy backbreakers instead of suplexes and Evans in the Sabu role of suicidal high spot specialist. This was an awesome back and forth match, only marred by a near fall that looked like three count the way referee Sean Hansen counted it. The crowd totally called it, chanting "Bulls***t" Beyond that, this was as awesome a tag match as you will see anywhere.

Notes: The promotion has added a small entrance ramp to their set, which gives them a bit more of a professional feel for the entrances....There was a problem with the lighting as the power blew out several times, including during the CM Punk vs. Austin Aries match. Gabe Sapolsky had one of his patented fits when that happened....The venue is absolutely awesome for sightlines, although if they fit a few sets of bleachers into it, it would be perfect. It reminded me of a larger scale version of the old Champs Arena in Sewell, New Jersey that CZW used to run. That said, The building was beyond freezing. It seems like anytime ROH runs Boston, you have your choice of Hoth or Hell for a climate....One thing I noticed at the show and was completely blown away by it, even though it's been this way for months, is that the promotion has tons of product for sale with over 50-70 DVDs, books, action figures, etc. It's hard to believe the company hasn't even been around for three years yet...The promotion returns on 1/15 (that place in JANUARY? Ouch!) with ROH champion Samoa Joe vs. Nigel McGuiness, Mick Foley, Ricky Steamboat and more....The promotion broke its attendance record for Friday events (which have been a hard draw for them) as as well as merchandise sales in the Boston area last night....There were fans from Japan, Great Britain, Canada, and Washington State at the show tonight as well as fans from up and down the Eastern seaboard....ROH debuted the first issue of its magazine last night. It's a nice little publication and worth checking out if you are a fan of the promotion.

Mike Johnson can be reached at Mike@PWInsider.com.

SECOND ROH WEEKEND OF THUNDER NIGHT ONE LIVE REPORT

Ring of Honor in Revere, MA
November 5, 2004
James Brown Reporting

*Jimmy Rave defeated Ace Steele with the Styles Clash. Nana cut a promo saying what trash Boston was and the air was unbreathable. So the Outkast Killaz used scenting spray to clean the air for when Jimmy Rave entered with his new valet Angel Williams. Steele used the headlock very nicely at the beginning, and the crowd was mildy into it. Sloppy at two points, and the finish came out of nowhere, when Ace was on top and seemingly lost Rave and got crotched leading to the Styles (or Ravers) Clash.

*Homicide defeated Angeldust, Fast Eddie, and Dunn (Cop Killa on Angel Dust). Homicide used cheap Boston Red Sox heat, and the crowd ate it like a box of doughnuts. There were people from all over including NY. Angeldust looked really really lost, as did Eddie at times. There was a cool spot where Angeldust hit a tope to the outside, followed by Dunn's stage dive, followed by a corkscrew from the top to the floor by Eddie. Cide later nailed the Cop Killa onto Angeldust. After, a plant ran in with a Red Sox hat which most people thought was for real. Too bad I've seen this kid sit inside the rails every show!

*The Carnage Crew defeated BJ Whitmer and Dan Maff with a conchairto using trash cans. Fine brawl which lasted roughly ten minutes. Alison Danger came out with trash cans and twice could not throw them into the ring leading to a big "You f****d up" chant. Maff even threw a chair at her, which was obviously supposed to miss, but nailed her anyhow to the crowd's delight. Maff got pinned and BJ & Maff go into tomorrow nights tag title match with a defeat.

*Low Ki defeated Chad Collyer with a double stomp off the top rope. This match was really disappointing. I was expecting better knowing it was Ki, and by seeing Collyer/Romero from July I had high hopes. Ki did the old "fake an injury" bit, but it was really well done. The ref threw up the X and out came Gabe Sapolsky and company to check on Ki. After about 3 minutes, being helped out by Collyer, Ki turned and nailed a kick. Interference galore by the Pitbulls, leading to the finish.

*Nigel McGuinness & John Walters defeated Samoa Joe & Jay Lethal (Nigel over Lethal via tap). By far, simply match of the night. For my section, this saved the show, because the fans felt this wasn't a caliber ROH show. This match had everything, and Joe simply stands out as being far above anyone else on the ROH roster. Nigel went for his pattened handstand in the corner, and Joe totally destroyed him with a kick while being upside down. The finish came when Walters/Joe were going at it outside, while Nigel had Lethal in a arm submission for the tap. After the bout, Joe challenged Nigel 1-on-1 next time in Boston on Jan. 15th. Nigel accepted and cut a very odd promo. He seemed like a little kid almost. He is "In it, to win it" ladies and gentlemen.

Intermission

*The Outkast Killaz defeated 2 ROH students. The crowd didn't care, but the students were given a mild applause for their efforts.

*Austin Aries defeated CM Punk with a half crab. Aries has super potential. Punk went at it with my buddy wearing a TNA shirt which led to the whole crowd turning on the guy. Pretty funny. The lights went out midway through the match, causing Gabe to go ape sh**. This match was also very good, with Austin working over Punk's leg the entire match. Aries hit a 450 on Punk's injured leg, and led it to the half crab for the tap. Aries demanded a title shot in the near future.

*The Havana Pitbulls retained the ROH Tag Titles over Jack Evans and Roderick Strong. Again, a very solid match and the second half was better than the first half of the show by far. It seemed as if Strong and Evans were going to win, the ref counted 3. The bell was rang, and Hanson says it was a 2 count after Evans hit a 630 splash. The crowd chanted bullsh**, and the Pitbulls retained of course.

*MAIN EVENT TIME! Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Bryan Danielson with a top rope brainbuster. This is what the crowd really came to see. Japanese sensation Jushin Liger had one of the biggest reactions in ROH History. He got the streamer treatment, and the crowd ate it up. He hit all of his signature moves such as the rolling kick, palm strikes, Liger Bomb, tilt a whirl, and brainbuster. The match was very solid with Liger winning with the top rope brainbuster. The crowd chanted "Liger, Liger" until midnight when the show came to a close.

OVERALL: At times sloppy, but the crowd was obviously there to see Liger. There were some very solid matches, no match of the year candidates in my opinion, and they pushed hard about the return date on 1/15 with Rick Steamboat and Mick Foley. A lot of people really didn't care though. Goodnight from Revere!

You can order ROH Weekend of Thunder Night One at ROHWrestling.com.


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