December 7, 2002
From the Murphy Rec Center in Philadelphia, PA
Your hosts are Jeff Gorman & Chris Levy
In the locker room, Divine Storm & Trinity run into Da Hit Squad and they decide to train together before the match. When they leave, Joey Matthews and Special K come in and throw a rave.
Michael Shane is backstage talking about how much he loves the “Code of Honor” as the man he beats has to look at him and shake his hand. He then tells his opponent for tonight, Jeremy Lopez, that his fate will be shaking his hand after he loses. Shane then states that 2002 was a great year for him as he pinned Spanky and that he carried Paul London to a “match of the year candidate” in their streetfight before talking about all of the cliques in the Ring of Honor. Shane then says that Bio-Hazard lost the streetfight for them last month and that he will no longer associate with him and that he will become champion in 2003.
Divine Storm, Trinity, and Da Hit Squad return to the locker room and see Special K raving and start to flip out. Special K respond by leaving before their buzz wore off.
Jeremy Lopez vs. Michael Shane
Lopez starts off the match by working the arm of Shane as the announcers mention that he will touring Japan for six months with the Osaka Pro promotion after this match. The announcers mention how Shane is an “asshole” as Lopez works a hammerlock on the match. Lopez locks on a full nelson as Shane tries to break the hold by putting both of his feet on the top rope but Lopez responds by dropping him to the mat. Shane takes a breather on the apron then works a side headlock. Lopez comes back with a neckbreaker for a nearfall. He follows that with a roaring elbow that sends Shane to the floor to whiffs on a baseball slide and gets rolled into the ring. Shane hits a couple of suplexes then chokes out Lopez with his boot in the corner. Shane now works a chinlock as the crowd rallies behind Lopez, who comes back with a crucifix then turns that into a crossface. Shane comes back and hits a backbreaker before going back to the chinlock. Lopez breaks and hits Shane with a backdrop then some mounted punches in the corner. Lopez hits a double underhook DDT then rolls through that and hits a Tiger Bomb for a nearfall. Lopez then goes for his finisher, the Elevated DDT, but Shane escapes then outsmarts Lopez and catches him with a super kick for a nearfall. Shane goes up top but Lopez cuts him off and they fight up top until Shane shoves him off and drops the Picture Perfect elbow drop for the win (10:50) **1/4.
Thoughts: Slow-paced match. Lopez was decent on the mat but that was about it as he had the charisma of tree bark. Shane performed down to the level of his opponent here.
Colt Cabana vs. CM Punk
At the time, these two had a feud going in the Midwest Independent scene. Punk looks like the definition of an “Indy Geek” here. Match starts off with the guys trading armdrags and all sorts of counters, some of which looked sloppy. Punk comes back with a hurricarana then hits a ropewalk armbreaker as he focuses on the arm of Cabana for a bit. Colt comes back and boots Punk to the floor then follows out with a quebrada. They slug it out on the floor then inside, Cabana hits a frog splash onto the back of Punk for two. Cabana targets the back of Punk then they trade rollups. Cabana hits a snap suplex then they trade moves without rhyme or reason. Cabana counters a Pepsi Plunge but Punk comes back with a backbreaker for two as the announcers talk about Punk’s Pepsi tattoo as he gets caught in a bearhug as he flew off of the top rope. Cabana then hits him with an overhead suplex and that gets two. Clothesline gets two. Punk comes back with a hurricarana from behind that gets two. They trade chops until Punk catches Cabana with a dropkick for a nearfall. Punk then blocks a reverse rollup and nails Cabana with a Shining Wizard for two. Punk gets the fans into the match then slips out of the Colt 45 twice but the third time Colt hit it for the win (12:29) **.
Thoughts: There were some nice moves but no flow to the match at all. Punk was not good in 2002 and Cabana looked better all-around to be honest.
Gary Michael Cappetta comes into the ring and says that on the December 28th show, the promoters have booked a rematch between Punk and Cabana, with the winner getting an RoH contract as the company can only afford to fly out one guy per show from Chicago, with the other one having to drive. Punk said that if he wins, he will still drive in with Cabana, who says he is flying if he wins. Punk’s character was terribly grating here as guy who panders to the indy fanbase was so lame.
RoH #1 Contender’s Trophy Tournament Match
EZ Money vs. Paul London
The RoH debut for Money. There is a mini tournament for the trophy as AJ Styles is facing Xavier tonight. They start off with a back-and-forth sequence that ends in a stalemate. Money puts London in a Pendulum Swing then they have another sequence of counters that ends with the Money Clip (springboard somersault clothesline). Standing moonsault gets two. Money stretches out London but misses a charge in the corner then takes a breather outside. London climbs up top and hits a somersault plancha. Back inside, London takes him over with a headscissors then hits a few kicks for a nearfall. Money comes back with a slam for two. He works on London in the corner then plants him with the EZ Driver. Money hits a handspring elbow drop then catches London with a Blue Thunder Driver for two. Money goes to put London over his shoulders but he slipped out and London catches him with the legsweep DDT for the win (7:27) **.
Thoughts: Alright match. Money stood out in RoH as he was jacked and taller than just about everyone here. He did okay in the ring here as he spent most of the match on offense. Well, that was the formula for London (take a beating then come back and hit high-flying moves until he hits the SSP).
#1 Contender’s Trophy Tournament Match
Chad Collyer vs .American Dragon
The RoH debut of Collyer. Levy talks about how the WWE cut Collyer from developmental because they do not like matwork and just want those who can cut promos. Guess it wasn’t Collyer’s distinct lack of a personality then. Collyer works the arm to start. Dragon now works a side headlock then they start to go back and forth on the mat as Levy plugs the RoH DVD’s. They keep locking up and ending in stalemates. Dragon then hurts his knee on a butterfly suplex then rolls out for a breather. Back inside, Collyer targets the knee for a long time as Dragon finally is able to muster some offense. However, Collyer takes him down and goes back to work on the leg. Dragon hits some European uppercuts and a clothesline then uses his hurt knee for a smash. German suplex gets two. They mess up a pop-up powerbomb then Collyer tries to turn over Dragon for the Texas Cloverleaf and gets it right in the middle of the ring. Dragon escapes then shortly after that hits a Dragon Suplex for the win (19:33) ***.
Thoughts: I appreciate good matwork but too much of this was on the mat and there was not enough excitement near the finish. The matwork was very good though. If you are not a fan of this style of match, it will be like torture for you. This sets up for London/Dragon for the #1 Contender Trophy match.
Joey Matthews & Deranged w/Izzy & Angel Dust vs. Jay Briscoe & Amazing Red & Spanish Announce Team w/ Trinity vs. Da Hit Squad
This is another match under Scramble Rules. Also, the winner will become the #1 Contender to the Tag Team Titles. Jose and Jay start it off going back and forth in a decent sequence. Matthews and Mack are in now as Special K acts all fucked up on the outside. Matthews bails when Mack gets pissed as Deranged and Mafia are in the ring. Mafia demands Deranged shakes his hand but he doesn’t and takes off his shirt so Mafia chops him hard. Deranged using his speed and hits an enziguiri that has little effect as Mafia overpowers him. Not a whole lot is happening as this has not been filled with action. Joel and Red pick up the pace but most of what they do looks bad. Special K then beat up Trinity and drag her backstage. Joel puts Deranged in a figure four. Jay now beats on Joel as this is just painfully dragging. Jay and Mafia then beat the shit out of each other as this wakes the crowd up. Deranged tries to break it up but gets tossed. Red is in and Mafia drops him on a powerbomb attempt and Da Hit Squad beat on Red for a bit. Matthews & Deranged then run in and clear the ring and this sets up for an incredibly contrived spot where Red superplexes Deranged onto everyone else on the floor. Just watching the other guys set up to break the fall was terrible. Mafia then dives out and almost breaks his neck with a tope as his momentum took him over the guardrail. Back inside, they all have a series of dives. Jay has Deranged up for the Jaydriller but Mafia breaks that up with a spear. Red then hits Joel with an F5 then a Red Star Press but Jose breaks that up and hits rolling piledrivers that ends with a facebuster. Deranged comes in and the SAT’s beat on him until they make him tapout to the Taffy Machine (23:33) **1/2. After the match, the big Black Guy comes out and slams the referee before going his spot in the back of the arena.
Thoughts: Another “spotfest” that started off very slowly. Too slowly in fact. It got a lot better near the end luckily as the action picked up. The scramble format is starting to get tiresome though.
We get clips ofthe RoH High Impact TV tapings. We Paul E. Normous destroying Mase, Paul London beating Angel Dust from Special K, Da Hit Squad beating the Outkast Killaz, AJ Styles beating Jimmy Rave, and the American Dragon beating the piss out of Marcos for the RoH High Impact TV tapings. These were all squash matches. AJ got attacked by Mark Briscoe and Xavier after his match until London and Dragon made the save
Divine Storm w/ Trinity vs. Jeff Starr & Shockwave
Starr & Shockwave jump Divine Storm from behind but get beat down soon after that. Storm hits Shockwave with three straight Northern Lights Suplexes then both men tag out as Divine puts Starr in a Texas Cloverleaf then Storm puts Shockwave in a crossface while hanging from the ropes when he tried to make the save. The match breaks down then Shockwave gets a nearfall with a Swanton Bomb. Divine comes back with a handspring forearm smash then hits a DDT from the top rope but Starr breaks that up. Storm then hits Shockwave with the Spinal Shock then finishes this off with the Storm Cradle Driver (3:40) 1/2*.
Thoughts: The match was filler and only designed for the post-match angle. Starr & Shockwave did not impress and Chris Divine is terrible and no one cared.
After the match, CW Anderson makes his RoH return and beats down Starr & Shockwave. Cappetta runs in and asks Anderson what he is doing here. Anderson takes the mic and says he is back in RoH after being fired and calls RoH a “piece of shit indy promotion” as we get a worked shoot angle. He then runs down booker Gabe Sapolsky for being a “Paul Heyman wannabe” and calls him “Program Boy” because he used to sell them in ECW. Anderson runs down Sapolsky some more then talks to Rob Feinstein, who was come out and looks angry, then asks him to bring down Gabe. Da Hit Squad and Joey Matthews come out with Feinstein as we are breaking kayfabe now. They walk backstage as Gabe is throwing a shit fit. Worked shoots are usually terrible and this was the case here. Who cares enough about CW Anderson to put him in a worked shoot feud anyway? Oh yeah, Gabe Sapolsky.
#1 Contender’s Trophy Match
American Dragon vs. Paul London
Winner of this gets to face the champion at the “Final Battle” show on December 28th. They start off the match aggressively as they are not breaking cleanly and getting into each other’s faces. London comes back with a monkey flip as the announcers let us know that Dragon will now be going by his real name, Bryan Danielson. I’ll call him Dragon for the rest of this match though to make it easier. They fight over a backslide then trade chops and slaps. Dragon headbutts London then hits him in the corner. London floats over and catches Dragon with an armdrag. He works the arm of Dragon, who reverses the hold then starts wailing on London with crossface shots. He puts London in a chinlock but that gets broken up and London starts chopping Dragon in the corner before applying a chinlock. London then cradles Dragon before applying an armbar as the action has been good so far. Dragon rolls outside after London drove his knees into him when he attempted a bridge. Dragon then chops London repeatedly in the corner until he falls down. Dragon gets two with a slam then gets pissed when the fans chant for London. He then puts London in a few different stretches then knocks him down with a few European uppercuts. Dragon is definitely the heel in this match as he is using boot scrapes to London’s face as he is down. London fights back with a pair of dropkicks and a springboard forearm smash. He hits a gutwrench suplex then gets two with a standing moonsault. Dragon comes back to hit him with a crossarm German suplex that looked awesome as he takes back control of the match. Diving headbutt gets two. London comes back with a neckbreaker then both guys end up spilling out to the floor. Dragon blocks a quebrada attempt but ends up getting drilled with a super kick. Back inside, London gets two with a flying body press then they end up trading chops from their knees until London catches him with a nifty rollup for two. London hits a scoop slam then heads up top but Dragon cuts him off and hits a super back suplex, almost slipping off in the process. Dragon sells the knee afterwards, from his match earlier in the show, and covers but only gets two. He locks on the Cattle Mutilation as London is able to stick his foot on the ropes. Dragon chops London down then sets up for another super back suplex but London knocks him off. Dragon goes back up top but London knocks him down again. Dragon goes back up for a third time but London sends him back down then follows with the Shooting Star Press for the win (18:40) ***3/4.
Thoughts: Really good match. The over aggressive Dragon getting increasingly frustrated at London for coming back told a good story. It also gave London a high-profile victory as he was becoming the most popular face in the company. It also left the door open for a Dragon heel turn.
After the match, London grabs the mic and puts over Dragon for being the best technical wrestler in the entire industry, perhaps of all-time. He then puts over Dragon some more. Dragon now speaks and says that London showed more heart than him and that the victory belonged to him. London stops Dragon as he leaves to offer a hand shake and Dragon accepts as the crowd applauds. London then jokes about now it is between him and “A.C. Slater.”
RoH Championship Match
AJ Styles w/ Alexis Laree vs. Xavier (Champion) w/ Simply Luscious
Xavier starts by slapping AJ, who responds by beating the shit out of him. AJ hits the Styles Clash as Luscious puts Xavier’s foot on the ropes then gets in the ring and yells at AJ until Laree comes in and hits her with an inverted DDT. Mark Briscoe helps Luscious to the back as Xavier is now outside catching a breather. The announcers mention how Morgan, Daniels, and Joe are not here tonight (They were in Japan). Back inside, they take it to the mat. Xavier works a side headlock for a few minutes as the announcers run down the upcoming shows. Xavier tries a bulldog by climbing the ropes but AJ catches him with a back suplex mid-move in an awesome spot. AJ hits a clothesline and a dropkick before sending Xavier to the floor. AJ climbs up top but gets knocked off. He then knocks Xavier back to the floor and hits a twisting pescado before rolling him back inside. Xavier comes back with a slam for two then beats on AJ. He puts AJ in a chinlock after an overhead suplex but AJ breaks out. Xavier then knocks AJ out of the ring and mocks him by shoving the title belt in his face. AJ comes back with an enziguiri after Xavier was busy flipping of a fan. AJ hits a dropkick but Xavier fights back and rolls him back into the ring. Back suplex gets two. Xavier hits another suplex then climbs up top but took too much time as AJ cuts him off and hits a superplex as both men are down. They get up and trade chops until drills him with an enziguiri. AJ fights back with forearm smashes then slips out of an X-Driver attempt and hits the Phenomenon. AJ signals for the Styles Clash but Xavier counters with a Waterwheel Slam for two. AJ counters a powerbomb with a rana then they have a pinfall reversal sequence that the fans applaud. AJ comes back with a crossbody block but Xavier hits a back suplex out of the wheelbarrow position. The fans rally behind AJ as Xavier sends him in the corner and targets the back. He puts AJ in the Camel Clutch then sets him up on the top rope. AJ tries a sunset bomb and that triggers a reversal sequence that ends with AJ hitting a piledriver. Xavier fights back and now targets the knee but gets kicked into the corner. Xavier comes back with a gutbuster then hits the Kiss Your X Goodbye for two. He goes up top for the 450 splash but rolls through then eats a super kick. Xavier gets pushed off of the top rope then goes back up as AJ blocks a rana and hits a super Styles Clash but hurt his knee. He covers but Xavier was able to put his hand on the rope. Xavier slips out of a Styles Clash then dropkicks AJ’s knee before using the figure four jackknife rollup to get the pin and retain the belt (17:06) ***1/4.
Thoughts: Good match. It was slower paced, which was typical for a match involving Xavier, but AJ held things together. Xavier also held up his end of the match too. The finish was anti-climatic as AJ’s knee was barely worked on before he sold it after hitting his finisher but everything before that was rock solid.
Carnage Crew vs Homicide & Abdullah the Butcher
The fans chant for Abby during his entrance. Abby & Homicide stall for a minute outside of the ring until the match begins. Abby already has his fork out and carves up the forehead of Loc. In the ring, Devito misses a moonsault and looked to be within inches of kneeing Homicide in the head. Outside of the ring, Abby continues to carve up Loc as that is all he can really do at this point. Abby switches things up as he uses a chair but goes right back to the fork. Loc is getting carved up as his face is covered in blood. Everyone is busted open now as everyone is on the floor. The camera zooms in on Abby sticking the fork into Loc’s forehead as this is quite sick. Homicide is using trash cans and hubcaps on Devito as the announcers point out the ECW regulars in the crowd, such as “Carlos” and Mike Johnson from PWInsider.com fame. Homicide rolls Loc into the ring as Abby carves him up some more with the fork. Homicide props up a table against the guardrail then sets up Loc but misses a somersault plancha and crashes through the table. Loc comes back with chairshots then goes inside as Abby is now carving up DeVito. Its two-on-one against Abby…for about two seconds until Abby knocks them down. Homicide is in but Loc slips out of the Cop Killa then hits Abby with a chair but it gets swatted away then Abby stabs Loc with the fork and Homicide finishes him off with the Cop Killa (9:19) 1/2*. Abby then goes nuts as the jobbers in the locker room run out and prevents him from killing Loc but end up getting knocked down. Da Hit Squad run out to beat on the jobbers before joining Homicide in telling Abby to stop. That went on for way, way too long.
Thoughts: A garbage brawl with a big, fat, useless Abby stabbing people with forks. The crowd was not into this that much and who could blame then with Abby looking pathetic.
Backstage, Homicide tells us that he proved himself tonight as the “King of the Bunkhouse match” and next week will porve that he is the “King of Strong Style.”
The Carnage Crew are backstage and say that their match was worth it and call Abby pathetic as he could barely move. They laugh at Homicide for crashing through a table then at Abby for only being able to use a fork as they look in a camera and say that they had fun and used to love the business but the idiots on the message board don’t realize that they love to kick ass before talking about their “nagging kids and ugly wives” as they are the type of guys at the corner bar who get wasted because their lives suck but in the ring, they can let out all of their frustrations, piss people off, and give misery to others. DeVito declares more blood, violence, and carnage in 2003 as they talk about pissing off the “Smart marks” by not chain wrestling. Big talk from a couple of idiots who get a spot on the card because they are willing to get stabbed by a fat guy wielding a fork.
We are shown Cabana and Punk in the car the day after the show as Cabana pisses off Punk with his non-stop talking. Punk then responds by pulling over the car and tells off Cabana, who hates driving, because he was going to give Cabana his plane ticket if he won the rematch and drives him all of the time to begin with. Punk finishes by telling Cabana to drive home as he walks away.
Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan, and Simply Luscious are backstage. Daniels & Morgan run down the SAT’s, who will be facing them in a Best of Three falls match next show for the belts. Morgan then tells the SAT’s that each time they pin their shoulders to the mat, they will get a free taco, just how the San Francisco Giants give their fans one when a home run lands in the water. Luscious brings up how the SAT’s are creative then Daniels cuts her off and reminds her that the Prophecy is in control and that they run Ring of Honor.
Final Thoughts: Not much of a show. It was basically a stopgap until the “Final Battle” show. A lot of the top talent was touring Japan as the lesser names got spots on the card. London/Dragon is worth tracking down but that was about it and the worked shoot stuff was as bad as when Russo did it in WCW and TNA. This was not the worst RoH show of 2002 but it was certainly not the best.