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The following was originally published on PWTorch.com 15 years ago this week…
Ring of Honor: “Death Before Dishonor”
July 19, 2003
Elizabeth, N.J. at The Rexplex
Report by Allan St. John, PWTorch.com correspondent
ROH’s biggest show was full of surprises, some of them from the crowd itself! Jeff Hardy was booed out of the building the moment he came through the curtain, and it got downright ugly when a few spots got blown. The crowd never let up on him. Both Danny Doring and Tommy Dreamer made surprise appearances, with the three biggest crowd explosions of the night were ”ECW” chants. Two and a half years after its last show, ECW is still something people in this area think of very fondly.
The show started when members of Special K coming out and turning the show into a rave. Ring announcer Stephen DeAngelis tried to start the show but he was pushed down. The Christopher Street Connection and Ariel came out to break up the party but were laid out. This is where the first big pop of the night took place, as Low Ki came out and destroyed several members of Special K. This turned into some ECW style booking, as Low Ki then had a singles match with Deranged.
(1) Low Ki beat Deranged via submission with the Dragon Clutch. Low Ki’s kicks looked to many like complete shoot kicks.
(2) Matt Stryker pinned Jimmy Rave in a disappointing match.
(3) Rudy Boy Gonzales & Hotstuff Hernandez & Fast Eddie & Don Juan defeated Justin Credible & HC Loc & Tony DeVito & Masada. A weapons match is unusual for ROH. But considering the limits of the people involved, it was smart booking. I feel the need to point out just how bad Justin Credible looks now. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but only Jeff Hardy looked more burned out or banged up.
(4) Tony Mamaluke & John Walters defeated The Outkast Killahs. A team known as The Ring Crew Express came out. This lead to Xavier hitting the ring, and he took out Marcos and Dunn. Former ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta conducted an interview. At this point, the show was falling apart. No one could follow what was going on. The show was getting too chaotic.
(5) The wrestler formerly known as Reckless Youth, Tom Carter pinned Doug Williams in a match that slowed down the show, which was not a bad thing. People started settling in.
(6) B.J. Whitmer defeated Homicide, Danny Maff, and Colt Cabana. Homicide split open Whitmer with a stiff kick.
(7) Special K (w/new member Scott from Tough Enough) & Mikey Whipwreck defeated The SATs and The Backseat Boyz in a Scramble Match when Whipwreck pinned Trent Acid with a Stunner (The Whippersnapper). Whipwreck looks awful. He’s fat, really out of shape, and just looks washed up. I hate saying that, because he was one of my personal favorites in ECW. Well, after the match, the SATs were attacked by the Backseat Boyz to keep their feud going. While I like the SATs and also the Backseat Boyz, this match was not needed on the show, at least Whipwreck was surely not needed.
(8) Jeff Hardy defeated Joey Matthews and Krazy K when Hardy pinned Krazy K. For some reason, Jeff came out wearing a mask and trenchcoat, but he was booed to the heavens the moment he came out. He looked terrible and missed a lot of spots. It was a lot like watching Sabu nowadays, in that he really worked hard, but is totally washed up and just looks like his body can’t do what he wants it to do, and the injuries have really taken their toll. There was a chant, which the whole crowd picked up on, aimed at Hardy, “Go Get Well.”
Next came the most intense crowd reactions of the night. CM Punk ripped on former ECW tag team wrestler Danny Doring, who was in the crowd. The crowd started a ECW chant. This was the prelude to the next match.
(9) C.M. Punk pinned Raven in a Dog Collar Match. Both wrestlers bled badly and brawled all over the building. The ref got clobbered, and Colt Cabana attacked Raven with a chair. Doring jumped over the rail and brawled to the back with Cabana. Yeah, I didn’t understand it, either. But this left Punk alone in the ring with a downed Raven, and Punk scored the pin. Punk then Punk taped Raven’s arms to the ring ropes and was screaming at Raven about Raven being an admitted substance abuser. Punk started pouring beer down Raven’s throat. All of a sudden, Tommy Dreamer hit the ring in street clothes, and DDT’d Punk, which lead to a thunderous “ECW” chant. The Innovator of Violence taped Punk to the ropes, and untangled Raven. Dreamer and Raven stared at each other, and then hugged. This was the loudest pop of the night, and an “ECW” chant that was just deafening. Somewhere in New York, Paul Heyman had to be smiling, as Vince McMahon may not respect Paul’s booking, but ROH fans sure remember one of the best booked feuds of all time. There was still more. It kind of got weird , and a little too long, here. Raven got on the mic and admitted Punk made him fall off the wagon, but Raven wasn’t trying to stay on the wagon too hard anyway.Dreamer and Raven then poured beer down Punk’s throat, and then Dreamer and Raven left to Dreamer’s old ECW music, “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains. Why they had a WWE wrestler (Dreamer) be so effective against the promotion’s hottest heel is beyond me. They should have ended the segment with the hug and leave people wanting more.
(10) ROH Tag Team Champions A.J. Styles & The Amazing Red defeated Marc & Jay Briscoe. In a match billed as their “final” meeting, Styles pinned Jay with the Styles Clash. Very solid work by all four.
(11) ROH champion Samoa Joe choked out Paul London. Word had gotten around the crowd this would be London’s last match in ROH and he was headed to the WWE. Streamers were thrown into the ring before the match. Nice visual. The crowd did not get into the choke out finish. It just didn’t work. The crowd was silent for the finish. However, no one would boo London, as this crowd had gotten all the booing out of its system with Jeff Hardy. Plus, everyone was respectful towards London. After the match, he gave a speech, again a bit too long, thanking ROH and all the wrestlers. Very nice and genuine speech, but it was too long. In a classy move, London stayed at ringside and shook hands and also spoke with everyone who wanted to meet him, even as the ring crew broke down the ring.
Notes: A decent show, certainly not the best ROH show I’ve been to. It was a good show, though, and I would go to their next show without hesitation. If there is anything to learn from this show, it’s that the promotion needs to make the chaos a little more meaningful, and for a promotion that used to have no run-ins, they are getting away from what made them different. While the ECW reunion of Dreamer and Raven got, by far, the biggest reaction of the night, ECW is still something that invokes a lot of emotion in people. The Ring of Honor promotion should realize it was built on solid workrate and really good matches, and they need to get back in that direction before straying in the direction of angles, run-ins, and chaos.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS PREVIOUS ROH FLASHBACK: 10 YRS AGO – ROH in Hartford, Conn. (6-6-08): Owens/Steen, Generico/Zayn, Tyler/Seth, Nigel, Aries, Daniel Bryan, Claudio/Cesaro, Jacobs, Edwards, Hero/Ohno