Elizabeth, New Jersey – July 19, 2003
MATCH #1: Low Ki vs. Special K
Ray Murrow and Chris Lovey are on commentary. Special K comes out early to start their rave. They splice in some backstage interviews to kill time, but when the show is officially supposed to start they’re still in the ring raving. Ring announcer Steven DeAngelis tries to start the show but has no luck. The Christopher Street Connection’s music hits and they change it to a disco party. Special K attacks Buff-E, Mase, and Ariel. Then out of nowhere Low Ki’s music hits and the crowd goes ballistic. Special K scatters as Low Ki gets in the ring. Ki grabs the microphone and says he came here for a fight. Cloudy, Hijinx, and Deranged are the only ones who stay.
Ki slaps Cloudy hard across the face as Hijinx laughs. Of course that ends badly for Hijinx as Ki takes him down and locks on the Dragon Clutch to get the win at 1:25. Deranged attacks Ki from behind and then mocks him. There’s no bell to start this match, so I assume it’s just a continuation. Deranged actually maintains some offense and gets a near-fall. He goes to work on Ki’s recently injured shoulder. He knocks Ki down to the floor and follows him out with a springboard moonsault. I’m shocked at how much offense Deranged has gotten. Back in the ring Deranged hits a springboard dropkick to the back of the head. Deranged tries a cartwheel move in the corner but Ki comes out and blocks it, and then proceeds to lay waste to Deranged’s head with a series of brutal kicks. Ki hits a running kick in the corner. He then lands a couple of chops and hits the Tidal Crush. Special K comes back to try and save Deranged. Slugger gets in the ring and squeezes Ki, allowing Deranged time to recover. Ki breaks the squeeze hold by squeezing Slugger’s balls. He then hits two Krush Rushes and the Ki Krusher. Finally he locks Deranged in a sick looking Dragon Clutch for the tap out win at 8:30. That was an interesting way to open the show, and quite the entertaining squash.
MATCH #2: Matt Stryker vs. Jimmy Rave
All I’m saying is that Michael Pitt will have to play Rave in the ROH movie. Both men start by going for arm submission holds. Rave grinds away with a headlock. Stryker comes back by going after the arm again. They trade holds and go back and forth to a standoff. Ah yes, 2003 Ring of Honor, how I’ve missed thee. Rave tries using some high flying maneuvers but Stryker is able to keep him grounded. Stryker works the arm for a bit until Rave fights back with a bridging back suplex for two. Rave sets Stryker up top and hits a super belly-to-belly. Stryker responds with a pop-up belly –to-belly suplex. Rave comes back and hits a running knee to the face (not a Shining Wizard). Stryker comes back and hits a powerslam for two. He signals that the end is near but Rave slips out of his grasp. Rave executes From Dusk Till Dawn bur Stryker powers out of it and hits the Death Valley Driver for the pin at 8:46. Stryker was on the verge of a big push at this point and this match allowed him to look good without burying Rave, who would get his push much later.
MATCH #3: Weapons Match – The Carnage Crew vs. The Texas Wrestling Academy
The Carnage Crew is represented by Masada, Loc, DeVito, and Justin Credible. Masada is by far the most talented member of that team. The Texas Wrestling Academy Team is represented by Rudy Boy Gonzalez, Fast Eddie, Don Juan, and Hotstuff Hernandez. Gonzalez and his boys charge the ring and it’s obviously a big brawl from the get-go. Watching Hernandez and Masada go at it makes me wish they had fought in a singles match at some point. Maybe they have somewhere? The brawling continues, as Gonzalez and Credible are the first ones to take the fight into the crowd. Back at ringside the TWA is control, hitting dives off the top rope to the floor. Weapons start working their way into the match, including chairs, a ladder, and a fence. Masada hits a German Suplex on Eddie off the top rope through a ladder. That looks like it killed him. Of everyone out there Loc appears to have the least regard for his opponents. Eddie goes up to the top of a ladder while Juan hits Masada with a neckbreaker off the apron through two chairs on the floor. DeVito hits Eddie with a superplex off the ladder. Outside the ring Masada blasts Hernandez with a chair. A table gets set up outside the ring and Loc and DeVito hit Juan with the Carnage Driver from the apron through the table to the floor. Lovey lets us know that Gonzalez and Credible are “brawling in the lobby.” Lazy bums. Meanwhile Hernandez hurls Eddie over the top rope to the floor onto Loc. Hernandez follows out with a big tope on Masada. Gonzalez makes his way back to ringside, apparently after injuring former ECW Champion Justin Credible in the parking lot. Back in the ring Hernandez hits the Border Toss on Masada through a pile of chairs. That’s enough to win the match at 12:05. These guys are all absolutely nuts, resulting in a fun, sick brawl.
MATCH #4: John Walters & Tony Mamaluke vs. The Outcast Killaz
Mamaluke and Walters are collectively known as The Purists. The Outcast Killaz is comprised of Oman Tortuga and Diablo Santiago. Mamaluke and Tortuga start the match as Lovey absolutely buries the Outcast Killaz on commentary. I don’t understand the point of that. Anyway they take the match right to the mat and Mamaluke goes for the arm. Tortuga gets to the ropes to break the hold. They wrestle on the mat some more and then make tags. Walters and Santiago also wrestle on the mat and Santiago keeps up with Walters. Santiago hits a bodyslam and goes for a legdrop but Walters catches the leg and locks on an ankle lock; Santiago reaches the ropes. Tortuga gets tagged in and the Killaz use plenty of illegal double-team moves (because they go way past the count of five). Walters comes in and hits Tortuga with the lungblower for two. Santiago gets back in the ring and Walters gets them both in a ridiculously contrived submission. Mamaluke comes in and it’s a pier-six brawl. When the match calms down Mamaluke is working Santiago over. Walters gets his share of offense on Santiago as well. Finally a sort of hot tag is made and Tortuga is on fire. The Purists grow weary of the Killaz Outcast, and then lock Tortuga in a dual submission, wrenching is entire body and he quickly taps out at 8:30. That was a fine way to introduce the Purists, but I think they had maybe one match after this so it didn’t mean much.
After the match the Ring Crew Express, Dunn & Marcos, come out to laugh at the Killaz. Then out of nowhere, Xavier returns, making his first appearance since losing the ROH Title in March. He beats everyone up.
MATCH #5: Doug Williams vs. Tom Carter
Doug Williams is awesome. Lovey has this hilarious habit of imitating people asking him questions and then answering the question. In a huge shock, they go right down to the mat and start trading holds. Williams seems to have the upper hand early on, but Carter isn’t backing down. Lovey says that Carter has been “unrelentless” so far in going after Williams’ arm. Carter gets an advantage and Williams takes a powder. Back in the ring the match turns heated and Williams takes Carter down with a head scissors. They continue trading holds and counters, with Williams throwing in some European Uppercuts as well. Carter keeps his focus on the arm, and Williams takes another powder. Williams pills Carter to the floor and throws him into the barricade. Back in the ring Williams hits a stalling vertical suplex for two. Williams hits a tornado DDT for another two-count. He hits a knee drop to the face and hits a modified superplex. Both men are down. Carter comes back with a dropkick and an Asai Moonsault for two. Williams comes back with a couple of knee drops, and then goes up top and hits the Bomb Scare for a two-count. Carter fights back with an overly complicated Shellshock. He follows up with two Shining Wizards but Williams kicks out at two. He goes up top and Williams joins him. Carter is able to hit a very dangerous looking tornado DDT, and then follows up with a Frog Splash for a very close near-fall. He goes back to the arm with a Triangle Choke and Williams fights his way out. Williams hits the Chaos Theory but he can’t hold the bridge because his arm is too damaged. He goes for a vertical suplex but Carter counters with a rollup to get the pin at 14:20. That was an excellent technical match, with the awesome selling by Williams bumping it up a notch.
MATCH #6: Four Corner Survival – Colt Cabana vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Dan Maff vs. Homicide
Maff and Whitmer are ranked number four and number five in the ROH Top Five, while Cabana and Homicide are not ranked at all. So why are these guys fighting for the Number One Contender’s Trophy? The winner of this match gets a shot at the ROH World Title on August 9 in Dayton. I think Dan Maff may be my least favorite wrestler of all-time. There is nothing I like about him. Maff and Homicide start the match, but before any contact can be made Maff aggressively tags Whitmer. Homicide and Whitmer are running at a fast pace early on here, looking pretty evenly matched. Whitmer tags Maff back in at Homicide’s urging. This time Cabana blind tags himself in on Homicide. Cabana and Maff go back and forth; Cabana tries to use wrestling while Maff uses power. In fact, Maff uses a back drop driver as a transition move. Then Maff tries a diving headbutt and misses, and Cabana hits a big lariat. Maff tags Whitmer and before much can happen, Homicide blind tags Cabana. Homicide hits a dropkick that sends Whitmer to the floor, and then he follows him out with a sick Tope Con Hilo. Back in the ring Homicide tries a high cross body off the top rope but Whitmer catches him with a powerslam and then hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Cabana breaks it up and then tags himself in. The action is getting hard to follow here, as none of these guys seem interested in resting. Maff pulls Homicide to the floor and throws him into the guardrail. He gets in the ring and backdrops Whitmer to the floor. He goes for a dive but overshoots both Homicide and Whitmer and sails into the crowd. Sadly Maff sells it for about eight seconds before popping back up. Cabana wipes out all three opponents with an Asai Moonsault. Whitmer and Maff are the first two back in the ring and they unload on each other with chops. Homicide joins them, and he ends up working with Maff briefly to destroy Whitmer. Cabana gets back in the ring and he gets double-teamed as well, and everybody winds up knocked out. The crowd is super into it. Cabana gets up first and goes for the Colt 45 on Whitmer but it gets reversed to a DDT variation that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen elsewhere. Homicide tries the Cop Killa on Whitmer but has to settle for a Lariat. Maff breaks up the cover and goes for the Cannonball. Cabana hits Homicide with a tower of London (really) for two. Maff hits Cabana with a low blow and then drills him with the Burning Hammer. Whitmer breaks up that fall. He hits Maff with a t-bone suplex and Homicide breaks up the cover. Homicide knocks Maff to the floor and goes up top for a superplex on Cabana. Whitmer instead grabs Homicide and hits him with a Super German Suplex. He then goes up top for a Super Exploder and Whitmer earns the title shot in Dayton at 13:45. Talk about going 100 mph for an entire match. Sure there wasn’t much selling and lots of head-dropping moves, but this was the kind of match that the first time you saw it you had to tell your friends about. It’s still ridiculously fun to watch, and they had a lot of subplots going on in the match that played out nicely.
MATCH #7: Scramble – The Backseat Boyz & The SAT vs. Special K
Special K is represented tonight by Mikey Whipwreck, Brian XL, Angeldust, and Hydro. Hydro and Joel start the match and as usual for these types of spot-fests I don’t expect to do a lot of play-by-play. Angeldust tries to offer Johnny Kashmere pills but the Backseat Boy won’t take them. Everyone gets in the ring and the good guys hit a quadruple suplex. Angeldust hits a springboard Diamond Dust on Jose and Special K brings him over to their corner to wear him down. I think other members of Special K are coming into the match illegally, like Dixie for one. Hydro gets caught on the top rope and the SAT hits him with the Spanish Fly. Joel accidentally kicks Acid in the head, and Whipwreck hits the Whippersnapper to get the pin at 8:21. Unlike the previous match, this was all spots with nothing tying them together, and no one involved in this match was particularly good at this time. The Backseat Boyz turn on the SAT after the match and get cheered for it.
MATCH #8: Three Way Match – Jeff Hardy vs. Joey Matthews vs. Krazy K
This is quite the infamous and hilarious match. Many in the crowd are booing and chanting “Fuck You Hardy” and “Hardy Sucks” before Hardy even comes out. Many of the girls are screaming. Hardy proceeds to trip while trying to stand on the second rope, earning even more boos. Now the crowd chants “You Got Fired” and “We Want Matt.” Now there’s something you don’t hear every day. Matthews becomes the de facto babyface, because who the hell is Krazy K? Apparently K is a student of Hardy’s. For some reason Hardy is wearing his Will-O-The-Wisp mask and a long black cloak. The crowd is openly hostile to just about everything Hardy does. Hardy and K clothesline Matthews to the floor and they try to have a match together. It doesn’t go well, so Matthews comes in and pitches K to the floor. Matthews goes out and clears the crowd out of the way so he can throw K out there, but then he swerves the people and throws K back in the ring. Hardy dropkicks Matthews and joins him on the floor. K hits a tornado plancha off the top rope to wipe out both men. Back in the ring Hardy and K try to work over Matthews, but between the blown spots and the crowd booing it’s more of a comedy show. Hardy catches K in a powerbomb and then takes his shirt off on his way to the top rope. Matthews pushes him down to the floor to a big pop. He then hits K with a hard inverted DDT for two. He puts Hardy on the top rope but gets knocked down. Hardy hits the Swanton on Matthews. He then hits K with a lariat and then the legdrop to the back of the knees with the rollup thing that he does to get the pin and end this disaster at 6:36. The crowd reactions totally make this match, but also watch Matthews and see what a good time he is having, knowing he’ll get cheered doing whatever the hell he wants.
MATCH #9: Dog Collar Match – Raven vs. CM Punk
They show a lengthy video package detailing the feud, which started back in February at the One Year Anniversary Show. Punk cuts a pretty amazing promo, even taking shots at Danny Doring of all people, who for some reason is in the crowd tonight. Raven cuts Punk off and comes down to the ring with the dog collar already around his neck. Punk is reluctant to join him.
He finally does and immediately tries to distance himself from Raven but that’s hard to do when you’re joined at the neck by a dog collar. The fight spills to the floor pretty quickly and Raven is in total control. Punk is busted open early. Back in the ring they set up a table in a corner, and Punk is able to take control and whip Raven through the table. The bloody Punk uses the chain to work Raven over and they take it to the floor again. Punk dumps Raven into the crowd and takes a quick breather. He pays for it, as Raven pulls the chain towards him, which pulls Punk into the guardrail. They fight through the crowd as Punk maintains the advantage. Raven comes back with a clothesline and they make their way back to ringside. That doesn’t last too long before they make their way back into the crowd. Raven gets the audience involved. Raven has been busted open at some point as well. He looks to jump off the bleachers onto Punk, but Punk pulls the chain and Raven comes tumbling down. They get back to ringside again and Punk slams a garbage can onto Raven. Back in the ring Punk hits a back elbow. Punk brings the microphone into the ring to taunt his nemesis. He hits a vertical suplex and a stepping enziguiri. He then uses the chain to deliver a vicious low blow. He goes to the top rope and Raven pulls him down. Raven makes the comeback with a series of jabs and then clotheslines. He hits a kneelift for a two-count. He hits the drop toehold into a chair for another two. He spits in Punk’s face and then picks up the chair. Punk ducks the chair shot and referee Paul Turner gets blasted. Raven hits Punk with the Raven Effect but there’s no referee! Colt Cabana runs out to help his teammate and hits Raven with a DDT. Danny Doring runs in out of the crowd to dispatch of Cabana. While the camera is focused on Doring and Cabana, they almost miss Punk making the cover and getting the pin at 18:42. The match certainly has its flaws (the finish a big one), but as a part of the bigger story it was an important piece. Plus the hatred was there and they did some cool spots with the chain. This match and angle definitely helped both men, who were at very different points in their careers.
What really makes the match legendary though, is that after the match Punk tapes Raven to the ropes and pours beer down his throat (Raven being a recovering alcoholic). Then out of nowhere Tommy Dreamer runs out and KILLS Punk with a chair shot to a thunderous pop. Punk gets to his feet and gets flattened with a DDT. Dreamer tapes Punk to the ropes and then unties Raven. Former bitter rivals Raven and Dreamer shake hands and hug, to the delight of the crowd. Raven then pours beer down a hysterical Punk’s throat. This is some of the best storytelling Ring of Honor has ever done and easily one of the most important moments in company history. It’s really too bad the feud continued on after this, because this would have been a perfect ending.
MATCH #10: ROH Tag Team Title Match – AJ Styles & Amazing Red vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe
Styles & Red have been the champions since 3.15.03 and this is their third defense. The previous two defenses were also against the Briscoes, at Night of Champions and The Epic Encounter, so yes it’s been over three months since they’ve made a defense. The champions are accompanied by Alexis Laree. Styles is also the NWA World Champion at this time.
Jay and Styles start it off. The rematch clause is waved no matter who wins this match. Things get heated pretty quickly as they take the fight to the floor. Mark and Red get involved as well and the referee completely loses control. The legal man and five-second rules mean nothing at this point. The Briscoes take over on Styles, working him over in a corner. Styles comes back with a lariat on Jay and then catapults Mark into his corner. Red gets tagged in as the champions continue working on Mark. Styles blasts Mark with a dropkick for a two-count. He hits the spinning neckbreaker for two. Red is tagged back in and hits a kick to the face for two. Mark comes back with a quick shot to the knee and now the Briscoes go to work on Red’s injured leg. Lovey gets distracted by Laree at ringside as the Briscoes dissect Red’s knee. Finally after several minutes of abuse Red makes the tag to Styles, and he is a house afire. The match breaks down once again with all four men in the ring. They do a Tower of Doom spot that results in a double pin but neither team can get the win. The Briscoes hit Red with the Spiked Jay Driller but Styles kicks Mark back into Jay to break the cover. The challengers are undaunted though, and hit Styles with the springboard Doomsday Device and Styles kicks out! Styles comes back on Mark with the flipping inverted DDT. Mark takes a powder, leaving Jay alone. Jay goes for the Jay Driller but Red stops him with a knee to the face. That allows Styles to hit the Styles Clash for the pin at 14:29. That had tons of action and was fun to watch, but if they could have done more with the story of Red’s injured knee they would have had a better structured match.
MATCH #11: ROH World Title Match – Samoa Joe vs. Paul London
Joe has been the champion since 3.22.03 and this is his fifth defense. The champ scores the first knockdown and they start out hot and heavy. London comes back and they wrestle to a standoff. He locks Joe in a headlock, grinding away at the champion’s head. Joe escapes but London hits him with a spin kick. Even so, Joe pops up and hits a clothesline. London gets a quick schoolboy for two and Joe powders. The challenger dropkicks Joe through the ropes, sending the champ crashing into the barricade. Joe reverses a whip and sends London into the barricade. He runs into a boot to the face and London follows with a moonsault off the guardrail. Back in the ring London hits a slingshot splash for a two-count. London whips Joe into the turnbuckle, and Joe comes out with the STJoe. Now Joe works London over, stomping him down in the corner. London fights back and tries a springboard something, but Joe catches him and drops him on the top rope. Joe puts London in the Tree of Woe and goes for an upside down face wash but London does a sit up and Joe crotches himself. London goes for a slingshot dive to the floor but Joe catches him and slams him into the ring post. Joe hits two Ole Kicks. Back in the ring Joe hits a missile dropkick! Joe follows up with a bridging German Suplex for two. He goes for the Island Driver but London avoids it and tries a series of pinning combinations but only gets two-counts. London hits the Dropsault and charges into the corner. Joe moves out of the way and London pulls the old decoy, slapping the pad to make it sound like he hit his face on it. Joe looks a little stupid because it took a few seconds for London’s face to hit, but hey, it’s the heat of battle. London hits the leg capture DDT and then goes up top for the London Star Press but Joe kicks out! He goes to the apron again and Joe catches him in the Choke and drags him back in the ring. London sort of reverses it into a pin cover for two. He misses a spin kick and Joe hits a Dragon Suplex for two. Joe tries a lariat but London ducks and gets a backslide for two. On his next attempt Joe blasts London with a lariat for two. Joe once again goes for the Choke and London can’t even low blow his way out of it. The champ takes the challenger down to the mat and locks on a body scissors. London is unconscious at 14:12. That wasn’t quite as epic as it could have been, but I think they hurried just a little bit because the show ran so long. It was still a very good match and a big win for Joe.
The locker room empties to say goodbye to Paul, showing him incredible respect. He gives a nice speech about how much he appreciates everybody and all of that, and the crowd loves it. London was the first guy to get the high-profile departure treatment.
Raven cuts a promo behind a steel cage about his match with CM Punk tonight, and then he challenges Punk to fight him in a cage match.
The Carnage Crew is backstage talking about how much they hate their wives or something. They talk about nudie bars and Special K and stuff. I guess Masada didn’t want to hang out with them.
Christopher Daniels, who has been checking in from Japan all night long, is back for a recap. He promises that they’re going to win back the ROH Tag Team Titles, and then he will win the ROH World Title.
Rob Feinstein wants to get a promo with Punk, and informs him about Raven’s challenge. An angry Punk accepts the challenge, and we fade out.
The Pulse: This was at the time the best show Ring of Honor had ever done, and it still holds up really well as a great show today. It’s a little long, but there’s something for everyone between the title matches, the dog collar match, the weapons match, and the Carter versus Williams match; not to mention the fun of watching a match self-destruct the way Jeff Hardy’s did. If you’ve never seen this show, I highly recommend you find a way.