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


by Mike Johnson

Ring of Honor returned to Elizabeth, New Jersey on Saturday 11/6, drawing 1,000-1,100 fans for a dream tag team match featuring New Japan Pro Wrestling's Jushin Liger teaming with ROH champion Samoa Joe against Low Ki and American Dragon Bryan Danielson, a special appearance by Mick Foley that even caught ROH management by surprise, and the announcement of the debut of Bobby Heenan.

As with the night before in Revere, MA, the ROH fans were completely into Jushin Liger and familiar with all of his signature moves. The match itself was a great back and forth match with everyone looking extremely strong. Ki wore his Japanese tights and let it all hang out, as he was tremendous mocking Liger and playing off the crowd. His turn has completely reinvigorated him. The place went nuts when Ki and Liger tagged in against each other for the first time ever. The finish of the match saw Danielson accidentally strike Ki, who was knocked outside of the ring. Liger hit a sitout LigerBomb to score the pin at 21:18. After Liger and Joe left the ring, Ki and Danielson had words. The Havana Pitbulls and Ki attacked him, with Liger and Joe making the save. It ended up with Julius Smokes left in the ring, where Joe whipped Smokes into a Liger palm strike. Liger and Joe shook hands with Danielson and raised his hand after the bout. This sets the stage for Danielson vs. Low Ki at ROH's 12/26 event in Philadelphia, going back to one of the matches that first helped build the company in 2002. This was easily one of the most fun matches in ROH company history and a great moment to watch unfold. It was a rare match that lived up to and surpassed the hype going in.

The show opened with Nigel McGuinness and Chad Collyer going to a legitimate 15 minute draw. There was a great comedy bit where McGuiness hurt his hand and went to the outside, where he got a female fan to kill it and "make it better." After a few minutes, he took a shot to the face and had her kiss his cheek. Well, Collyer took a low blow and asked for it to be "kissed" as well to comedic results. McGuiness did his trademark headstand on the turnbuckle offense. Collyer, who was trained by Dean Malenko, had McGuiness locked in a Texas Cloverleaf when the bell rang for the end of the match. This was a solid match based on where you were sitting (ringside it was good, but it seemed that the farther back you were, the less you thought of the match based on reactions I've heard) that sets up the two becoming a tag team down the line.

The Carnage Crew defeated Davey Andrews and Franco, who were ROH school graduates in 4:07. The match was designed almost as a way for Andrews and Franco to pay some dues inside the ring and was entertaining. The Crew hit their top rope piledriver for the win. Allison Danger came to the ring trying to get the Crew to agree to let her manage them, but they blew her off. They tried to get her to give them a lapdance before sending her on her merry little way. Danger's promos are really good in her role of a completely delusional person who's obssessed with the demise of Dan Maff and BJ Whitmer. A fun, entertaining segment. The Crew looks like they are having so much fun kicking the crap out of their opponents that's the feeling is infectious. The students were trying really hard as well.

Izzy defeated Trent Acid, Fast Eddie, and Jack Evans in an incredible Four Corners Match in the best 8:20 of a match you could ever imagine. Acid is no longer using the Midnight Express theme. I was sorry to see that go. There was way too much back and forth and aerial stuff to recount, but when the night was over, this was easily one of the highlights. Jack Evans severely frightens me as he is a bump machine with no regard for his body whatsoever. Eddie's work has gotten really stronger in the last few appearances. They are doing a dissension bit with Special K where Dixie and Angeldust are trying to be serious wrestlers while the rest of the group just wants to party. The members at ringside do a really good job interacting with the fans. This one is worth going out of your way to check out.

Jimmy Rave defeated Jay Lethal in 10:02. Lethal is going to be remembered in the same vein as Benoit and Guerrero when the book of his career is written if he keeps improving at the rate he has the last few months. Rave has really come into his own as a heel. Angel Williams was working as Rave's valet again and they were doing a deal where she wanted to get involved rallying Rave but the evil Prince Nana delegated her to standing away from the ring. Williams has some good facials and was trying hard. Rave hit the Styles Clash for the finish, which received a round of boos. There were also fans chanting "We want AJ." Another solid match. After the bout, Nana tried to talk on the mic and Lethal, showing a ton of fire, told him to “shut the hell up.” He slapped Nana. The Outcast Killaz tried to attack him but he slapped them both, and then Rave, jumping out of the ring. The crowd chanted, “You got B**ch slapped” and loved the moment.

Gary Michael Cappetta came out for a special announcement, which turned out to bea letter from Jim Cornette stating that he has accomplished everything he has ever wanted to in his career, except for one thing - and that is stand across the ring from the only person who could challenge his claim to being known universally as the greatest manager of all time, Bobby Heenan. Cornette's letter then announced that on 12/4 when the company returns to Elizabeth, New Jersey that he and Heenan, with dueling microphones will be on opposite ends of the ring. ROH later announced that that will be the “Great Managerial Debate.” There was a huge pop for that. ROH approached Heenan several weeks back about coming in, as they were originally going to do something in April that went out the window where Heenan pulled out due to the issues of the time.

CM Punk and Ace Steele defeated Roderick Strong and Austin Aries in an amazing 20:02 No DQ match. Jack Evans brought a ladder to the ring, which ended up being used for a number of insane spots that were beyond crazy. Steel set up a table at ringside, where he later did a sitdown powerbomb off the apron through it on Evans. At one point, Aries went for a 450 splash on Punk, who was on the ladder, but Punk moved and Aries ate ladder. Completely nuts. The match ended up with Punk hitting the Pepsi Plunge (Pedigree off the ropes) onto a ladder that was propped across the second rope. This was an absolutely off the charts match that would have been good enough to fit snugly on any ECW PPV. Just tremendous work from all five (including Evans, who again continued to abuse his body as if he was a rag doll.)

After the match, Punk asked Steel to leave as he needed to do something alone. Punk cut a promo talking about his two one hour draws with ROH champion Samoa Joe and claimed that Joe was ducking him because Punk is the only person in the world that Joe can’t say that he defeated. Punk sat in a chair inside the ring, drinking water and said that he wasn’t leaving until Joe answered his challenge and demanded a no time limit match when ROH returned in Elizabeth.

Well, Joe didn’t come out but Mick Foley did, carrying his new children’s book. Foley was completely unannounced so the building went absolutely crazy. As it turned out, ROH didn’t even know he was coming. Foley had mentioned possibly coming by but it was never confirmed and he showed up, unbooked, 30 minutes before he went through the curtain. ROH actually got word to Punk that Foley was there as Punk was about to head to the ring, so everything out there was completely improvised. If there was ever solid proof for WWE creative that not everything on a show should be scripted, this is it, as Foley and Punk played off each other and had a great back and forth segment. Foley mentioned that he came on his own and wasn’t being paid for his appearance, which was also true. I can’t think of a better endorsement of ROH then Foley showing up, for free, on his day off, looking to contribute.

Foley said that he thought the Samoa Joe-CM Punk matches were one of the best bouts he’s ever seen, and he’s seen a lot. He said that he’d like to take the match to WWE (admitting the crowd was going to hate him). The crowd booed. Punk responded, “At least it’s not TNA”, which got a huge reactiom from the crowd, who then chanted “F*** TNA.” Foley seemed to get a kick out of that, as later on when Triple H was brought up and the crowd booed, he used the same line to get a pop. Foley said that as his status as “hardcore legend” (making fun of himself), he was going to use his influence to get the match signed. He introduced Samoa Joe, who didn’t come out. Foley tried again and when Joe didn’t appear, Foley said that perhaps Joe was feeling a case of “Steamboat-itus” and that Joe might be "softcore like Steamboat.”

Foley left the ring, but Punk remained. Intermission began and the house lights came up, but Punk remained sitting in the ring, reading Foley’s book and bantering with the fans. In a funny moment, one fan tried to trade him the Foley book for Jerry Jarrett’s book, but he turned it down.

When the show started again, Punk remained in the ring as the particapents for the next match came to the ring. They were actually about to start Dunn & Marcos vs. Special K with Punk in the center of the ring when Samoa Joe’s music hit and out came Joe. Joe accepted the challenge for 12/4, and noted that Foley was watching from the balcony of the building (where ROH has their hard camera setup) and told him that, “until you’re crippled a** comes and works for a real wrestling promotion, you’re opinion doesn’t mean anything.” Joe and Punk left the ring, so we finally were able to watch....

Dunn and Marcos defeated Special K’s Angeldust and Dixie in 4:45. K came out to no music since they are in a slump and refuse to party until they get a victory. This was a good back and forth bout to get the crowd back into the show. The rest of K walked out on Angeldust and Dixie after the loss.

ROH Pure champion John Walters defeated Homicide via DQ in 18:35 when Julius Smokes interfered during a pinfall attempt. One thing that stood out early in the match is how intense Homicide is with everything he does and his entire facial expressions. He’s literally channeling Terry Funk in terms of that aspect of wrestling. Homicide had gone into the match after taking a bad hit to the head the night before, and smashed his head hard on the canvas during the match. They went to do a superplex, and Homicide ended up falling to the floor. The referee began counting him out but he somehow got back in at 19. Homicide was obviously in no condition to continue but then jumps right back into the match and takes a DDT. He then backs off again as ROH officials tried to talk to him and you could see in his face that the lights were on but he wasn’t able to go. The crowd realized it immediately and quieted down concerned. After they went to the finish, the Havana Pitbulls came out and they laid out Walters but the crowd seemed more concerned with Homicide who amazingly walked out under his own power. I don’t believe he went to the hospital and hopefully will be OK once he’s rested up as it was a really scary situation. One had to feel for him as it was obvious he still wanted to go, but that would have been the worst thing he could have done for himself at that point.

ROH Tag Team champions The Havana Pitbulls defeated Danny Maff and BJ Whitmer in 16:13. This match was in a bad spot because the crowd was deflated waiting for Homicide and also was in the position of being last before Jushin Liger’s appearance, which is what everyone wanted to see. There was a funny bit with Maff doing The Rock’s People’s Elbow motions, but dropping a senton splash that Dick Togo would have been proud of instead. This was a match that anywhere else, the crowd may have been more into, but circumstances hurt it. The work was decent but the crowd wanted Liger.

Notes: The promotion returns on 12/4 with ROH champion Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk with no time limit, Jim Cornette vs. Bobby Heenan, and Homicide vs. Bryan Danielson announced. The promotion again broke its advance ticket sales for the show when they went on sale, which is a great sign....The promotion did record merchandise sales for Elizabeth last night as well....Jushin Liger signed for about 100 fans after the show....As one can probably guess, I really loved the show. In fact, I think this was probably one of the top three shows the promotion has put together. The only downsides were the Tag Title match which I don’t fault anyone for and the unfortunate injury to Homicide. Beyond that, all the angles clicked, the work was good, and the crowd got to see what they wanted to see – a dream match main event with four exceptional wrestlers. One can’t ask for a better night then last night when it comes to a live product....Special thanks to Paul Sosnowski for providing the match times.

Mike Johnson can be reached at

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