ROH expanded a great deal in its second year. They ran nearly twice as many shows, ran several new cities, and saw crowds sometimes twice as large as their 2002 records. However, many of the problems of 2002 remained. Production values are still rough, and the cards are very long with a lot of lousy filler for the most part.

1. Death Before Dishonor (A)

It is hard to put any show above Death Before Dishonor 1. DBD is a show that has quality wrestling up and down the card, and one of the biggest angles in ROH history. It also sees ROH’s most infamous debut (and one night stand) in Jeff Hardy, and a farewell to Paul London.

Pros: Raven vs CM Punk put on an intense, well booked dog collar match with a finish and post match angle with Tommy Dreamer that isn’t on the KOCH vision release. Paul London vs Samoa Joe in a good, although not great match and his emotional farewell. A hard hitting four corner survival, and another super fun match between the Briscoes and Amazing Red and AJ Styles. Plus several other rather good matches including a very entertaining weapons match.

Cons: There really aren’t any as this is one of the best top to bottom cards ROH would put on until DBD II weekend and then well into 2005. The only thing I can think of is fans who do not like seeing hard hitting, big move and big kick out matches in the middle of the card may hate the Four Corner Survival. If you don’t find Jeff Hardy being booed out of the building and having a terrible match to be hilarious, I suppose that is a con as well.

2. Night of Champions (A)

Night of Champions nearly matches DBD in terms of historical value and match quality.  Night of Champions features three title matches, and two title changes on a night where ROH only had two titles of its own! HOW CAN THIS BE!

Pros: Samoa Joe wins the ROH title in an OK match, but in terms of historical value this is through the roof. Plus the card has match quality through the roof elsewhere. Doug Williams wins the FWA Title from Christopher Daniels in a fantastic match, one of the best ROH would put on in 2003. The Briscoes vs Amazing Red and AJ Styles is an astounding spotfest, especially for its time. But it holds up well even today.  Low Ki and Jody Fleish put on a good match, and the Raven vs CM Punk feud heats up with a heated, quality tag match and the formation of the Second City Saints.

Cons: The main con is the undercard which can’t match DBD in quality.  The first three matches are just there. If you are expecting a great match out of Joe, you’ll be let down as I said above.

3. One Year Anniversary Show (A-)

Now, I can’t really call this a top to bottom great show. It is however a show with some historical significance as the seeds of the Raven/Punk feud are planted, The Briscoes have their last singles match for 4 years, and ROH runs in Queens for the first and only time in a venue ECW made famous. The infamous riot is also one of the most talked about ROH angles ever.

Pros: Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson have their second ROH singles match, and while it is shorter than their more famous matches at MXR and Fight of the Century, it is great for what it is. Briscoe vs Briscoe doesn’t live up to the HIB match, but is very good. Low Ki vs AJ Styles vs Paul London is one of the most eye popping spot fests I’ve ever seen. If you love high flying crazyness this will rank up as one of your favorite ROH matches ever. The title match that follows is also very good. CM Punk vs CW Anderson is also a good bout. And then there is the riot that is caused by Steve Corino vs Homicide. First of all, the riot is a work.But it is still a crazy, intense scene to behold that got so much attention, and nearly scared people in the building into leaving.

Cons: There is more crap on the show than the previous two shows, and not just in the undercard.  The undercard is mostly inoffensive, but that just may be because the main event is so bad. The main event of this show is one of the worst matches in ROH history, maybe the worst. It is a scramble featuring about 20 people, Mikey Whipwreck making a useless heel turn halfway through, a ton of sloppy dives, Gabe burying the match on commentary, and a match that drags on and on and on and on and just plain sucks. If you like watching bad movies, THIS IS THE MATCH FOR YOU! If not, it is a drain on your soul.

4.  Main Event Spectacles (B+)

This is a fairly clear step down from the previous shows in terms of historical importance, but not so much in overall quality.

Pros: AJ Styles and Bryan Danielson have my favorite non gimmick match in 2003 ROH. These guys have so much chemistry, and ROH starts a tradition of the announcers shuttig up and  letting the action speak for itself for its best matches.Homicide and BJ Whitmer has a great strong style challenge that well, you can guess from the name what it is like. The first scramble cage is a fun spot fest and Jack Evans impresses. Teddy Hart’s post match stupidity is cut from the release however. The Briscoes win their first tag titles in ROH, and Steve Corino takes his gimmick of long ring introductions to a new level with a 10+ minute ring introduction, following a fun, though slightly disappointing Four Corner Survival with Joe, Daniels and Punk.

Cons: The Field of Honor continues its underwhelming run. Maff just wasn’t good as a singles competitor, and Cabana hadn’t developed into the wrestler he’d become either. If you hate spot fests, the scramble cage is NOT for you. If you hate indy strong style, Homicide/Whitmer is not for you. And the Four Corner Survival is not as good as you’d guess, so if you are expecting a classic you will be let down.

5. Final Battle 2003 (B+)

Final Battle 2003 is basically two shows in one. (Which is sort of funny since they also held a Convention Card that weekend.) The first half of the show features ROH matches and is stellar. The second half of the show features ROH vs AJPW matches, and isn’t so stellar.


Pretty much the entire first half of the show. The opener Bryan Danielson vs Jay Briscoe is one of the best openers in ROH history, and is a great wrestling match. This really showed off how much deeper Jay’s game was than skinny kid who flies and throws hard kicks. Mark Briscoe also has a good night, taking on Joe in a good  title match, although not quite on the level as the two Jay vs Joe title matches.The real highlight of the first half is Xavier vs John Walters in a Fight Without Honor. This is a crazy match, and pretty close to a ladder match without something hanging from the roof. This is a crazy, crazy match and both guys do some insanely stupid things for your entertainment! Add in a huge angle where Punk confronts Daniels about Lucy and you have one hell of a first half. The second half of the show isn’t so good.  AJ Styles vs Kaz Hayashi is fairly good, and the ROH Tag Title match is fine as well, but Homicide vs Kojima is a let down. It starts out great, but Homicide suffers a concussion halfway through and the match falls apart. Not either guy’s fault though, and the first half is rather good. The main event isn’t much, but seeing Muta in ROH is fun.

Cons: Depending on how you look at it, most of the second half of the show. As I said, the concussion makes Cide/Kojima fall apart, and the rest of the second half isn’t stellar. So if you have no interest in Muta, this isn’t much. Also, Whitmer vs Stryker is a very boring match to cap off a very boring Field of Honor tournament.

6. The Conclusion (B)

This is a fairly overlooked show, but a significant one. Part of the reason it is overlooked is because it was the first half of ROH’s first double shot, and seemed less important than War of the Wire the next night. However, this show still features the blow off of the Raven vs CM Punk feud,  and a big dream tag title match as well as an interesting young guns vs established roster series.

Pros: First of all, the ROH Tag Title Match pitting AJ Styles and Samoa Joe against the Briscoes is fantastic. It sets up the Joe vs Styles match the next night, a match that in my opinion isn’t on the level as this tag. In fact, other than the Joe vs Jay Steel Cage match, this is better than anything else produced by the Joe vs Briscoes feud.  Other than that match, the Raven vs Punk cage match blow off is quite good, although not on the level of their dog collar match.  Homicide continues his excellent 2003 with a match against John Walters in an underrated match. The Punk/Lucy storyline continues to build with Punk confronting several wrestlers throughout the night.

Cons: While nothing on this card is really wretched, the rest of the card is non descript.  I really don’t have alot to say about it, as there’s a throw away scramble, and the new guys vs regulars matches are pretty decent or advance angles, or both.

7. Round Robin Challenge II (B)

The return of the Round Robin Challenge, one of 2002’s better shows, and which produced some of its best matches. This show is actually a step up in overall quality, although a step down from the best matches of the RRC.

Pros: Paul London and Christopher Daniels have a great match in the RRC, and London vs Red and Red vs Daniels are both good as well. The shocker from this show is the Four… well Five Corner Survival with Michael Shane vs Matt Stryker vs Chad Collyer vs Donovan Morgan vs BJ Whitmer turned out to be a damned good match. CM Punk also introduces Lucy, and has a good match with Homicide, although in 2003 a good match was below Homicide’s average!

Cons: Really, there’s not alot of cons to this show. Like The Conclusion pretty much everything is just there if it isn’t good. The only real let down on this show is Joe vs Doug Williams. Doug was so hot in 2002 and early 2003, but this match is mostly to establish Joe as champion. As a match it is pretty good, but you’d expect more, ya know?

8. Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies (B-)

Well, it doesn’t have the best name in the world, but Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies is a strong show with a lot of significance because it marks the first time Homicide and Steve Corino would be able to have a real match against each other. Their previous matches never really got going due to RIOTS, but they have an amazing, brutal match here. It is also significant because the slap Corino receives early in the match costs him his hearing in that ear. This is also the show where Dan Maff gets knocked out by Low Ki, and Joe and Punk have their first match that isn’t a World Title Classic.

Pros: First of all, Homicide vs Steve Corino is possibly the best ROH match of 2003. There is a reason people were let down by their Steel Cage Warfare and Bitter End matches, this match set expectations skyhigh, as did War of the Wire, and they really didn’t have anywhere to go afterwards.  Want a shocker? The next best match on this show is Matt Stryker vs BJ Whitmer and it is really good. Seriously, watch this match. It is damned good. Better than Joe vs Punk. There is also a good little scramble and 4CS bout on this show. Joe vs Punk however is a let down, because a year later they’d have three classics. But in this match both of them come in injured, and while it is pretty good… for Joe vs Punk, you are expecting gold, even if that is unfair.

Cons: The other let down is Xavier vs Chris Daniels. Alot of people hate Xavier, but he was a capable wrestler and Daniels is Daniels. There is also a clipped Dunn and Marcos match that we can just assume sucked. I don’t know whether to put Maff vs Ki as a pro or a con. It was looking good… but Maff gets knocked out and it ends. So, it is more of a middle ground.

9. Wrestlerave ’03 (B-)

I did a write up of this in my sleeper show’s section so I’ll keep this shorter than usual.

Pros: Most of the show really. Collyer/Stryker is good, Maff/Joe is actually one of Maff’s best singles matches and one of Joe’s better 2003 defenses. The 4CS is good. Sabin vs Styles is a ton of fun.

Cons: The seemingly endless series of matches between the Carnage Crew and Special K is on here, and it isn’t much. Raven and Punk have a nothing tag match, and then there is the rave. To me, the rave is hilarious. If you hate the idea of a rave at an ROH event… you might hate this.

10. War of the Wire (C+)

The first no ropes barbed wire match in ROH history. Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles. The Prophecy vs the Briscoes. This show must rule right? Well, maybe not.

Pros: The barbed wire match between Steve Corino and Homicide is excellent. This is a strange match, it isn’t an ROH style athletic contest, and isn’t a indy death match gore fest. Instead it is an intelligently worked and well paced barbed wire match where both guys really sell the importance and hatred. This comes after Joe vs Styles which is a hard hitting athletic sprint, so the upper card has a good mix of wrestling. Other than this, the show really only features a good tag title defense between the Briscoes and the Prophecy, but it isn’t really anything to write home about.

Cons: Stryker vs Whitmer! What happened here… Oh, I guess the fact it is in a gauntlet match. I hate gauntlet matches, and this one just isn’t anything special, and in fact it outright stinks some of the time. The rest of the card is quite weak as well.

11. The Epic Encounter (C+)

One of the best matches in ROH history, Paul London vs Bryan Danielson 2/3 falls.

Pros: Notice how I’ve used “One of the best” to describe matches a few times? Not here. London/Dragon is the best match of 2003 in ROH, and I’d argue in the US, although Child Murderer vs Insane Drug Addict from the Royal Rumble is awesome too. This 45 minute match eats up a pretty big chunk of the show, so even if the rest of the card completely stunk it would be hard to rate this show too low. This isn’t a one match show though. The Briscoes vs AJ Styles and Amazing Red trilogy has its second leg. While I would argue this is the weakest of the three, it is still quite enjoyable. Joe has a fun semi squash against Hernandez and also joins in a 4 Corner Survival which is a one of the better 4CS matches of 2003.

Cons: The rest of the show. Cide/Daniels is a disappointment. The scramble is full of stupidity. The Bunkhouse I Quit match is pointless. The opener is just kind of there.

12. Do or Die (C-)

This is a rather famous show because of Homicide vs Joe and the start of the Do or Die concept, but isn’t really that important or notable otherwise. I guess since it has been out of stock for awhile it has gained a bit of a name for itself since new fans can’t see it, but figure it must be good because of the main event.

Pros: Joe vs Homicide is very good, but maybe not even the best match fo the night. Tom Carter (Reckless Youth) faces Matt Stryker has has a damned good match. I really wish Carter had been around ROH during the Pure Title era, because with matches like this the title would probably still be around. Or at least 2004 would have been more interesting once Walters got it. Joe vs Homicide has a crazy finish, but I just don’t think it lives up to this sleeper. Beyond these two, the 4 Corner Survival is quality, but everything else… not so much.

Cons: Well, Iceberg. He sucks, the fans asked him nicely to not wrestle in ROH ever again. The 4 way tag isn’t very good, The Backseat Boys aren’t very good, and John Walter’s debut against Andy Anderson is bland as hell despite earning Walters a job. MAFF AND WHITMER EXPLODE (before ever being a team) in a bland bout, and Mamaluke shows up and does not impress.

13. Night of the Grudges (C-)

The show that blows off the lousy Prophecy vs The Group feud, but is known for another match. Paul London vs AJ Styles for the #1 Contender’s Trophy.

Pros: Some people argue that London vs Styles is the best ROH match of 2003. I disagree, but it is an excellent match that makes it easy to see why London was signed by the WWE. The match goes to a double pinfall, but an intelligently done one. ROH really only ran that finish twice that I can think of, and both times it made sense. After this match there is a steep drop off. Raven and CM Punk face off in another decent tag, and the Group/Prophecy blow off is a fairly good match….

Cons: The rest of the card blows. Nana has a singles match. Carnage Crew vs Christopher Street Connection. Jobbers. Justin Credible. The SAT vs Special K… not good times.

14. Revenge on the Prophecy (C-)

Incorrectly known as “Revenge of the Prophecy” this show features the first time Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson would square off in a singles match. It would also mark Low Ki’s attempt to get some revenge on the prophecy.

Pros: I honestly cannot review this match other than the fact I liked the Prophecy vs Styles/Ki match that is shown on the Styles/Daniels shoot. I’ve heard Joe/Danielson is excellent.

Cons: I’ve also heard the rest of the card is pretty bad. I’ve seen enough reviews to rank it in here, but don’t take my word for it, I’m just adding it for completeness’ sake.

15. Wrath of the Racket (D+)

A fairly important show. ROH debuts in Dayton. Jim Cornette debuts in ROH. Amazing Red gets injured and ends his ROH run for the most part.  LUCY IS ATTACKED!

Pros: The ROH tag title match between AJ Styles/Homicide and The Prophecy. An excellent match with a bit of an old school vibe. As a last minute sub for Red, Homicide does really well here and jives well with AJ. The other stand out match of this show is BJ Whitmer challenging Samoa Joe for the ROH title in his hometown. Whitmer puts up a surprisingly good challenge to Joe here, and it is funny how Joe’s 2003 went. You’d think his defense against London would be his best given London’s 2003. Or maybe the Williams defense. But no, this Whitmer defense tops both of those, and the Maff defense, coming close to the Daniels defense we will discuss later on.

Cons: Credible and Stryker is actually better than I expected, but still nothing much. There’s yet another scramble to open the show, and it isn’t much although I did enjoy the attempt to restart the rave only for Cornette and the Prophecy to break it up. Basically, other than the top two matches there isn’t a whole lot to the show besides Cornette and the Lucy angle.

16. Beating the Odds (D+)

Beating the Odds is pretty much the opposite of your typical early ROH show. With most early ROH shows the undercard is terrible or at best average and the main event(s) really elevates the card. With Beating the Odds, the main event is actually one of the worst matches on the show.

Pros: Homicide vs Trent Acid have a rematch Fight Without Honor, and the best match on the show. I don’t think it quite lives up to the Wrestlerave ’03 match, but it is quite the spectacle. The Four Corner Survival is really good, with the at the time shocking result of Jay Briscoe pinning Samoa Joe to earn a title match. The Briscoes have a good night match quality wise, as Mark Briscoe has quite a good match with BJ Whitmer as well. Other than that, there’s an above average Field of Honor match between Stryker and Walters, and a crazy scramble that is ok.

Cons: First of all, ANOTHER GOD DAMN CARNAGE CREW VS SPECIAL K MATCH. I hate this feud, I hate their matches, and this feud would continue into 2004! There’s really not much else to say there. Cabana and Rave have a dull match that is interrupted halfway through and makes both guys look worthless. Also, one of the Outcast Killas is in a singles match. At least it is pretty short. Anyway, onto the main event. First of all, this match is heavily clipped. Live it was said to be seemingly endless and terrible. Here it is just long and fairly dull, so they did a hell of a job with the editing. After the match a fairly memorable angle happens where Punk crucifies Raven on a giant X, symbolizing that Punk is making an eXample out of Raven for his lifestyle choices! Ha. Basically, this is a show that has a high point that you’ve seen before in the Fight Without Honor, and ends on a low one with the Clockwork Orange House of Fun match.

17. Tradition Continues (D+)

The grand tradition of ROH continues! ROH invades Maryland, and I’ve heard a variety of reasons why they didn’t continue running here. This show is most notable for the first singles match between Joe and the Briscoes, and Prince Nana almost becoming ROH champion!

Pros: Joe and Jay start off their feud with a really good match, although their feud was kind of an odd one. The Briscoes were mostly heels in this period, managed by Cornette, but Joe was an utter dick to them, including attacking Mark post match. AJ Styles and CM Punk also have a good match, but really that is where the quality stops. Cabana vs Whitmer is ok, as is the Four Corner Survival, but nothing else is worth going out of your way for.

Cons: One thing early ROH had was long shows with too many matches, many of them being pointless. Early in the show Nana comes out and gets squashed by Joe in what Joe recognizes as a title match. It’s a squash, but what good does it do? The crowd knows Joe is a badass. Justin Credible and Raven have a nothing match, Maff and Jimmy Rave don’t look good either, and overall ROH’s debut in Maryland just is not a good show. Plus, this is the show where Special K wins the tag titles. Not a great night for tag team wrestling in ROH.

18. Glory By Honor II (D)

The second Glory By Honor, ROH’s signature event, and the last show in the Murphy Rec Center. This must be a big show right? You would expect great event with a blow away match like the first GBH. Well, as you can guess by its placement on the list, it isn’t.

Pros: This is the definition of a one match show. Christopher Daniels vs Samoa Joe was a highly anticipated match and a defense where it seemed like the title might change hands. And it was indeed a really good match with a memorable moment as Daniels got a very close nearfall that saw the time keeper ring the bell. This is a supposedly unplanned moment and really made the crowd buy the possibility of a title change, so it is one of those mistakes that really adds to the match. But the match really ends too quickly after that, although it may just be that after a long dull show, the first real greatness would feel too short no matter what. This show also features the farewell to Alexis Laree (Mickie James) which is nice for what it is.

Cons: Well, the rest of the night. BJ Whitmer vs Jimmy Rave features a near decapitation on a superbomb. Terry Funk and CM Punk have an average, or dull terrible match depending on who you talk to. Raven and Steve Corino also have an average match. And the Carnage Crew face off with Special K in a match made worse by the fact that it is the start of a gauntlet match, and as you would expect it is not a good gauntlet match.

19. Expect the Unexpected (D-)

A show notable that was really notable only for Joe becoming the #1 contender as well Xavier getting a concussion. This is the same injury that would hamper his match with Joe, and his tag on this show according to Daniels’ ROH shoot. Well, that and the real kickoff to Raven/Punk feud, so I guess there is some history here!

Pros: Raven and Punk start their feud off right with a darn good Raven’s Rules match that Punk picks up the win in a LONG match. If you didn’t think Raven could still go in a long drawn out match, you need to see this one. The main event tag where the Prophecy loses the tag titles is good, but Xavier who had a concussion accidentally makes the save during the finish, confusing the crowd and well, the guys in the match too! It is still a good match, but hampered by the finish. Elsewhere the only other good match is really the 4 Corner Survival where Joe earns his title shot, however Da Hit Squash and Low Ki actually have a fairly entertaining match against Special K.

Cons: AJ Styles wins a tag scramble all by himself! This is pretty silly. Paul London was injured, and Amazing Red was taken out after his match, so AJ Styles wins the tag scramble to get a tag title shot that he and Red would take later that night. Since it is a 4 team scramble it somewhat makes sense that AJ could win it with everything that is going on, but still. Stryker and Collyer’s match is a step down from their previous match, and Slim J and Red don’t have much of a match either. There’s also a lousy short tag on this card, and that is about it.

20. Empire State Showdown (F)

This is ROH’s debut show in Upstate New York, and not one of their best debuts. Although it does feature possibly the most epic installment of Steve Corino’s ring introductions… Well, that and Homicide’s big No Holds Barred match with Joe.

Pros: Steve Corino and CM Punk are great men. Steve Corino and CM Punk exchange dueling long ring intros. It is quite hilarious, and they follow it up with a good match. However, that is pretty much it. Joe vs Homicide is ok for what it is, and the finish with Homicide choking out Joe is fairly crazy, but for the matches they are capable of having this is quite a let down.

Cons: Pretty much everything else. This is just a poor show. Maff and Whitmer start things out with an uninteresting match. Walter and Daniels is ok, but honestly could have been much better. The scramble is a mess. Special K and Carnage Crew have ANOTHER MATCH, this time for the tag titles and it is not good. This is one of those ROH shows that isn’t bad for ROH, it is just a bad show.

21. Frontiers of Honor (F)

ROH debuts in England! Well, sort of. This is not an official ROH show since it was co-promoted by FWA. It did get an official ROH release, but is not counted by ROH, which prompts questions of why the 100th show is the 100th show when if you count FoH it is the 101st! Really, there’s a reason why this show isn’t counted, it sucks.

Pros: Joe vs Zebra Kid is ok, and features the debut of the Ole kick, and is also historic for being the first international defense of the ROH title. The only real stand out match of the night is Jody Fleish vs Chris Daniels in the main event, which is indeed a good  match. London is good in the opener, but the match isn’t really that great. The show goes downhill from here, although I did get a laugh from Paul Burchill vs Double Dragon.

Cons: Basically, the ROH guys were just better than the FWA guys and it shows. There is a really obvious difference  and the matches suffer. Then there are the FWA only matches, especially the hardcore intergender match which just isn’t any good. The production is also especially bad for this show, although I believe the official FWA release is better than the ROH one.

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