Two unidentified men throw ring crew guys around before the show: Now I say "two unidentified men" because they're not given name keys, but I assume this is the referee who got beat up by Natural Born Sinners at Era of Honor Begins and his buddy. They throw a ring crew guy into a row of chairs (ouch) and shove another down. But they're jovial, so, yay them?
The intro looks much more polished, despite using the same format.
Divine Storm and Brian XL stretch backstage: One of Divine Storm wants to try submissions on Brian XL, but Brian refuses. Brian badmouths him as he walks away, much to the annoyance of the other member of Divine Storm. This was bad, Brian XL sounds like a 10 year old kid who's been given too much sugar and has just learned how to curse, and I never want to hear him again
Christopher Street Connection rile up fans: These segments in general are trying on me, but at least I enjoy the CSC in terms of characters when they're being gay heels as opposed to doing bad gay comedy. The CSC are doing this to one up Da Hit Squad The people seem begrudgingly entertained by them, until they start kissing. Then, Da Hit Squad show up because how dare two gay men be affectionate in 2002, and run them off. Then they blatantly rip off Roddy Piper quotes, and then do their same shit.
One of Divine Storm tells American Dragon to teach his partner submissions: American Dragon is entirely too gleeful to do this, not thinking he could be used as a pawn in this petty feud.
Brian XL and the other member of Divine Storm at the mats again: Brian XL is literally saying the same things as he said in the first segment, presumably having done so over and over again for the past several minutes. The following exchange occurs.
Brian XL: Why we gotta do submissions
Divine Storm Guy: Bro, it's wrestling, everything goes into wrestling.
Brian XL: He a beeyotch; Beeyotch Beeyotch Beeeeyooootch!
I will never besmirch anyone's promo's skills again as they can't possibly be worse than Brian XL. This bullshit ends with Dragon stretching Brian and making him tap. I kind of was hoping Dragon would snap his neck.
Boogaloo segment: We find out Homicide will be in Japan, and thus not here. Referee's friend shows up to talk shit.
Frank Talent hypes up the locker room: Weird. He's weirdly sweet to all the guys, and super proud of Eddy, but pops off at Spanky for wearing headphones.
Huh. It looks like each match gets a little hype up package. Hooray for jumps in quality!
Christopher Street Connection vs Da Hit Squad vs Prince Nana and Elax w/ Simply Luscious - DUD
Da Hit Squad jump the ring and call out CSC, then CSC come out and get their asses kicked. Then Allison Danger shows up and announces the three Way Dance, then Nana and his team jump Da Hit Squad. Why is a rich prince hanging out with a ring crew guy? Anyway Da Hit Squad squashed everyone, and it's implied that Danger wants to bang Luscious, which flusters Corino as one is his IRL sister, and one is his IRL girlfriend. The Hit Squad are horribly stiff and unsafe.
Jay Briscoe montage: Great. Simply tells us that Jay has lost at the last two shows and needs a win against Tony Mamaluke.
Briscoe Bros promo: Excellent. Jay starts the stereotypical wrestling promo, sounding much more like the Jay Briscoe we all know and love, but Mark butts in and points out that Jay is 0-2 in Ring of Honor. Jay correctly points out that he hasn't even wrestled so he needs to shut his mouth. Jay leaves without Mark. The thing that I liked about this is that Mark's facial expression indicated he was upset, but thinking about what Jay had said.
Jay Briscoe w/ Mark Briscoe vs Tony Mamaluke - 6.5/10
Tony Mamaluke gets announced in liquid ounces. The two start out with some out of synch chain wrestling, but they slow it down and get it together. They get tied up in the bottom rope which gains some points from me, and Mamaluke falls out of the ring. The commentator goes on a ridiculous tangent about how Tony is still wearing the FBI gear and not being a serious wrestler like James Maritato. He's wrestling a serious match so far, and it's incredibly hypocritical to say when you have The CSC and Da Hit Squad open every show. This match has some nice sequences , and a few good near falls, but Corino decides to ramble on about ROH rules and new tag rules. The finish sees Jay roll through a backslide and hit The Jay Driller to win. This was cool.
Post match: Jay proves he's the ultimate babyface by reviving Mamaluke. Jay offers a handshake, but Mamaluke doesn't respect the code and bolts. Also of note is that Mark looks upset and doesn't celebrate with Jay. Hmm... Papa and Mama Briscoe are backstage. Mark voices why he's upset with Jay, but I couldn't understand what he said. Similarly James and Tony get into an argument in which Tony wants to keep the gimmick going, and James is pissed about it. These were good segments.
York and Matthews promo: meh. They rip off the Impact Players pose
York and Matthews vs Divine Storm (w/ Brian XL) - 4/10
I don't know who the babyfaces and the heels are. Why are Divine Storm hanging with XL if XL got kicked out of the Whipwreck crew? Brian XL breaks one of the Codes of Honor by interfering and Divine Storm are pissed. We know he's a certifiable idiot so why did they come out with him? Divine does a playing possum spot right after York and Matthews tag team finisher. However, we do get a flash submission win, with the logic being Matthews would rather just tap and fight another day that risk getting his ankle broken. I wish this was something addressed more often. This was a meh match with a finish that was good on paper, but flawed in execution.
Scoot Andrews, Xavier, and James Maritatio pre-match hype: We get a video package saying we're getting a three way dance so that Scoot and James can get revenge on Xavier. I'm lumping the promos by James and Scoot in here because they basically say the same thing.
Three Way Dance:
Scoot Andrews vs Xavier vs James Maritato - 6.5/10
Xavier gets back-dropped by both Scoot and James while they're in a lockup which I thought was crazy impressive. We get a lot of innovative three way sequences, including the most organic Tower of Doom spot I've ever seen. We also get a super stiff sounding Missile Dropkick from Maritato, which I didn't even know you could do stiffly. Some more interesting sequences, but James catches Xavier off the top rope into a Fujiwara for the submission victory. I didn't like that Xavier took the loss here. The guy is so uniquely talented, and it's very clear he should be up there with guys like Ki and Dragon.
Simply Luscious confronts Rob: Luscious isn't happy about managing Nana, and Rob promises they'll have something for her next month. Something about Rob repeatedly telling Luscious "trust me" makes the hair on my neck stand up
AJ Styles promo: Insane to think that this marble-mouthed country boy would go on to hold the WWE Title for a year.
AJ Styles vs Low Ki -
Much like Ki vs Dragon at Round Robin Challenge, you get the vibe that every single move is being fought for. It also had a similar structure of a shoot grappling half of the match, and a striking half. But whereas Ki vs Dragon was more Japanese strong style based, and thusly more transparently choreographed, Ki and Styles beat the holy shit out of each other. Like, I saw moves such as standing elbow drops and enzuguris, moves you take for granted in wrestling, thrown like they're meant to hurt. AJ hitting moves that send Ki slumping out of the ring and kicking as hard as him, enough to actually hurt him, is the best imaginable showcase for AJ Styles. I also adore the added story that Low Ki means "demon" and they put him in the ring with the Christian Styles because the owner and booker are both Jewish, so they didn't know the mythology. Ki hits the most horrific looking Mafia kick I've ever seen in my life. Ridiculous DDT counter out of a Ki Crusher. The crowd reacts to the Moonsault/Reverse DDT combo like seeing Michael Jackson do the moonwalk for the first time. They go so hard that invincible karate warrior Low Ki has to roll AJ up for a win. They shake hands after. The crowd seems lukewarm to a Ki win, but I think this is the right choice. Ki, Dragon, and Daniels are your top performers, but now we have a fourth, AJ Styles
I'm not going to give this match an /10 rating, because they would put a limit on how amazing this match was
This is the best match of all time
Christopher Daniels promo: weird. He bitches about having to wrestle in Triple Threats and Round Robin tourneys, but puts over Donovan Morgan like they're partners. I think this was meant to make sense for people who were following West Coast indies, but this would seem out of place for everyone else.
Marcos and Dunn vs The Carnage Crew - Squash
The Carnage Crew were the guys from the beginning of the video, the former ref is HC Loc, and his friend is Devito. They come out with what are later explained to be Boogaloo's hub caps, and beat the holy shit out of Marcos and Dunn with the same intensity as Da Hit Squad, but they actually look like they're trained, and are aping The Road Warriors in style instead of the Dudleyz. Marcos and Dunn even look good with the little they're given. Carnage Crew's disgusting looking Razor's Edge/Neckbreaker finisher nets the win. ROH clearly has some great tag teams, and I really want to see NBS, Hit Squad, and Carnage Crew interacting, and ROH stop feeding them jobbers
Donovan Morgan promo: bad. Basically having to thank Chris Daniels makes this promo bad, but Donovan's delivery made it worse.
Donovan Morgan vs Christopher Daniels - 4.5/10
From a booking standpoint this was a bad idea. If Donovan is friends with the heel Daniels, his first match in the company shouldn't be against a guy he wouldn't do anything heelish to. Similarly, wrestling a cold match against a friend is a waste of top heel Daniels' time. It also didn't help matters that Morgan didn't look super impressive. Like, I can see how in a differently booked match he would look great. He's clearly a big strong dude who can hit hard and move fast, but he didn't get to show that off against Daniels. As there was no heat to this match, there was no story. At the very least, Morgan got the win, which popped a down crowd
Post match: Daniels calls Morgan into the ring to shake his hand, but elects not to as the Code of Honor is a farce in his word. Daniels offers to watch Morgan's back, which is HUGE for a top heel to do for you. Morgan nods and walks off. This was very intriguing, This makes Daniels' actions in the match and in the proceeding promo make sense.
TWA Gauntlet hype up package: The video package asks "who is the best TWA student" when the video package basically makes an argument for Spanky or Dragon exclusively.
Rudy Boy Gonzales pep talks the guys back stage: Spanky says that they all look like "Dingaling jabronies". And considering this promo is conducted on a stairwell, he's both hilarious and right. They all look like a high school volleyball team being lectured by a PE teacher. For guys like Shane and Hope, this promo is important for establishing them as babyface to standing up to the asshole Spanky. But like....why is Dragon here? He's one of the pillars of this whole promotion! He looks like a goof evening being around these kids. Anyway, Rudy says he'll determine the order of the gauntlet. Someone protests this, but it isn't clear who. Spanky is a suck up, and amazing at it. I'm conflicted because this elevated Spanky and dragged Dragon down
TWA Gauntlet match
Spanky vs American Dragon vs Paul London vs Michael Shane vs John Hope - 8/10
John Hope vs Paul London, we only get clips of this because John Hope probably sucks. London wins with a shooting star press.
Paul London vs Michael Shane, the guys did moves, and Paul missed a shooting star press for Shane to hit another move to win win. This is on its way into "generic X-Division match" territory.
Michael Shane vs Spanky, Luscious (who is on commentary) says that Shane and Spanky hate each other and shoot in practice. And I believe her, hard looking strikes are abound, and Michael establishes himself as the babyface by juicing, and Spanky working the head. Shane fires back but eventually falls off the top rope due to blood loss. This warrants a 2 count. Shane fights back but Spanky gets a rope break. Spanky hits the Sliced Bread out of nowhere for the win.
American Dragon vs Spanky, It's weird to see Dragon in long tights. Anyway, these guys have a crazy good match that showed Spanky as an intelligent wrestler who uses comedy as front. Spanky wins with a top rope Sliced Bread
Post match: They try to announce the tournament for the ROH title and subsequent Iron Man match in the finals while Spanky is talking. Spanky is completely unlikable here, sounding like a goblin, demanding Dragon shake his hand, and calling himself "The Showstopper" Dragon says that he's in on the title tournament if Spanky is too. Daniels, Scoot Andrews, Jay Briscoe, Nana, Xavier, and Low Ki also show up to announce their intentions to enter. Scoot calls Daniels a pedophile. which holy shit, , and Low Ki cuts a promo on everyone in the ring individually after knocking out Nana. He ends by cutting a brutal promo on Daniels. Daniels leaves while Low Ki tells the other men "All you can do is be ready" This was an awesome segment.
The SAT vs Eddie Guerrero and Amazing Red - 7/10
It's amazing to see the WWE Intercontinental Title in an Ring of Honor show. This was a fun lucha match, but I don't really believe the SAT's are a threat to Eddie Guerrero Eddie and Red of course, win, but this also was Red's best showing.
Post match: Eddie Guerrero is shaking hands with all the guys until Brian XL comes out and bitches. Eddie calls him Little Bow Wow and hits his signature moves on him. Eddie then cuts a promo thanking he fans and other wrestlers. This was great
A fun show from Ring of Honor, where you can see important elements popping into place for ROH