2004 was a big year for ROH in good and bad ways. Rob Feinstein was busted by Perverted Justice trying to have sex with what he thought was a teenage boy. The TNA wrestlers were pulled. But there was a lot of fantastic stuff. The Joe vs Punk Trilogy. Generation Next. Aries ending Joe’s title reign, and on and on. However it is also a difficult year to grade. There are a lot of shows that have good stuff, but also are just very long and thus have conflicting opinions. I try to note these so you can have a better idea of the opinions out there.

1. Death Before Dishonor II Part 2 (A+)

This is one of the best shows in ROH history, but as I said in the sleeper list it really doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

Pros: First of all, Punk and Steel vs Maff and Whitmer is the best street fight ROH put on from its inception to the CZW feud. It is disgustingly brutal with some absolutely crazy spot and ROH’s first chair riot. The main event is capped off by an angle I won’t spoil, but is good stuff. The rest of the card is stellar as well. Cabana vs Joe is a fun match where Cabana frustrates Joe to a degree of success with his antics, and while not one of Joe’s best defenses it is definitely worth seeing. The Briscoes face the Rottweilers in two excellent singles matches. Doug Williams and Austin Aries had a good Pure Title match. And in the big surprise of the night, Chad Collyer and Rocky Romero had the best opener in ROH in 2004.

Cons: The only real con is the Six Man Mayhem, and 2004’s Con of the Year: Trent Acid. Well, Allison Danger also cuts an impossible to understand promo before the main event, but it leads to barbed wire, so, huzzah.

2.  Generation Next: (A)

One of the most historic shows in ROH history, and also one of the best of 2004. This is the night Generation Next formed and turned ROH on its head. CM Punk and Ricky Steamboat also escalated their feud having their first extended “confrontation.”

Pros: Everything Generation Next related. They interrupt the opener, beat the shit out of people, and lay claim to ROH. They then beat Special K in a fun little match, and Shelley then follows that up by beating Hydro (Jay Lethal.) Later in the night they run in on another two matches setting up the main event, a very long, fantastic 8 Man tag pitting Generation Next against The Briscoes, Jimmy Rave and John Walters. It is probably the best match of two of those guys’ careers, it isn’t too hard to guess which. The CM Punk/Steamboat confrontation while it can’t be called a match is heated and great watching. And in what is one of the best matches of Joe’s reign, and in my mind the best match of their series Joe defeated Homicide in a relaxed rules match. This is the match you’ll see footage of in ROH video packages of Joe and Homicide brawling through streamers. The show ends on another good note as Homicide flips out and Jimmy Bower screams EVACUATE!!!!

Cons: Basically anything that isn’t a pro. There’s a lot of matches on this card, and while most are either Gen Next related or the title match, there is unfortunately the New and Improved Carnage Crew vs the Carnage Crew Six Man which features TRENT ACID! Oh and just so you know how much this feud sucks, the NaICC started it by crapping in the bags of the Carnage Crew. Gabe, you had some dumb ideas from time to time.

3. Death Before Dishonor II Part 1 (A)

While this show isn’t as historic as the second night, it is a fantastic show, and ROH’s only show in WI.

Pros: Homicide and Samoa Joe have another great title match, although no streamer battle. It is kind of a toss up as to which is better, but I slightly prefer the GN match. In another match where it is a toss up if it is the best of their series, Punk and Cabana vs the Briscoes is a fantastic 2/3 falls match for the Tag titles. I honestly cannot tell you if this is better than their Reborn Stage 2 match, but it doesn’t really matter. Generation Next has a poor night in terms of their win-loss record, but good stuff match quality wise. Shelley gets a rematch with Doug Williams, and it is on par with their first match. In one of what seems like an endless stream of six mans from GN in 04, they have a good match against Walters, Stryker and Jacobs.

Cons: TRENT ACID STRIKES AGAIN! The opening 4 Corner Survival is not good. Great Kazushi vs Daivari isn’t either. Danny Daniels vs Chad Collyer does nothing for me as well.

4. Joe vs Punk II (A-)

Joe vs Punk II almost didn’t happen. Well, the show would have happened, but not the match. It was originally scheduled to be Corino challenging Joe for the ROH title, but he had a scheduling conflict and cancelled a week in advance. So an injured Joe and Punk threw some shit together and had a match you have probably heard of if you are reading this article. This show isn’t nearly the top to bottom effort as the previous three, but when you have the top this show does you do not need to be.

Pros: Well DUH. CM Punk vs Samoa Joe is one of the best matches in ROH history. It is one of the best American matches of the decade. The Joe vs Punk series is a testament to simplicity, which is sort of weird for ROH which can be so full of moves and complexity. A 60 minute draw dominated by headlocks somehow works so very damned well. This isn’t the only match worth seeing though.  Jimmy Jacobs and Alex Shelley have a ridiculous I Quit match. It is violent with disturbing moves done onto chairs, and Jimmy Jacobs taking a beating he wouldn’t take again until the cage match with BJ Whitmer. Jack Evans and Roderick Strong continue to emerge as a great team with one heck of a match against Homicide and Rocky Romero. Delirious and Jay Lethal is also a quality match, with Jay Lethal continuing his ascendency from Special K goof to SERIOUS WRESTLER!

Cons: There is a real surprise in here. Mick Foley and Ricky Steamboat have a turd of segment. Foley’s promo is not very good, and Steamboat actually cuts a pretty good heelish promo, but I just didn’t buy this feud. The match that follows is way too long and dull as well. Nigel and Collyer vs Whitmer and Maff isn’t likely to set the world on fire though. The Carnage Crew have a squash, Trent Acid is in another below average multi man match, and there you have it.

5. Final Battle 2004 (A-)

Final Battle has been one of the better ROH shows of the year starting in 2003 and has maybe gotten better each year. Final Battle 2004 has a lot of star power, a historic title change, angle progression, etc. It basically has everything an earlier ROH show can have.

Pros: SPOILER: AUSTIN ARIES BEATS SAMOA JOE TO WIN THE ROH WORLD TITLE. So if you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read the previous sentence. Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe is a special moment in ROH history. The way the crowd comes alive in the waning minutes of the match and rallies behind Aries is just amazing. Hell, the way Aries goes from #2 in the Generation Next stable to leader and champion by the end of it is amazing. Then there is the Generation Next vs Corino and Punk tag where the aforementioned ascension of Aries to leader happens. Corino and Punk are hilarious here. Jimmy Rave has the second really good singles match of his ROH career on this show, also against John Walters for the Pure Title! Finally, Low Ki and Bryan Danielson have one hell of a match without a finish.

Steamboat and Foley also have a confrontation that leads to Joe getting involved and the Joe vs Foley feud, but I’ll just mention that. My own feelings towards Joe and Foley was it ended up being a waste, so I’m too biased to really say if it is a pro or a con.

Cons: There is a bad Fight Without Honor on this show. Amazing? No, it is between the Carnage Crew and Maff and Whitmer. Lethal takes on the Weapons of MASK Destruction, and Trent Acid is in a typically not good match.

6. Reborn: Stage Two (B+)

Rob Feinstein was outed as a pedophile, and TNA pulled their talent from ROH. So ROH had to go through a rebirthing process. I’m not sure if it was as good as the one on Tom Goes to the Mayor, but this show is darned good.

Pros: Bryan Danielson vs Homicide is on this show. I’ve heard a few people who don’t like this show, but they don’t count. This match is so, so good. It was so good that ROH decided “Hey let’s do a series of five matches between these guys!” Those matches were mostly let downs (except for the cage match) but this match… it was such a great WRESTLING match. Bryan Danielson works over the fingers of Homicide at one point, which is pretty great in and of itself. The main event of this show features the Second City Saints winning the tag titles in another great match, and a post match celebration that is one of Cabana’s funniest moments. The ROH World Title match isn’t so notable, but is pretty good. That match is Matt Stryker cashing in his Field of Honor win and taking on Joe in a match no one thought he had a chance of winning. Elsewhere on the card Jimmy Rave, Austin Aries, Rocky Romero and Nigel McGuinness had a good 4 way that was notable because until 2007 people would reference it and say “Wow, all of these guys are still in ROH!”

Cons: A Justin Credible match. Ace Steel vs BJ Whitmer (Wow, the Saints-Prophecy feud sure took a nose dive after it was sure Daniels wouldn’t be back eh?) and Ricky Reyes vs Danny Daniels are the only real lowlights. And none of these are really that bad, just below average.

7. Survival of the Fittest: (B+)

The first Survival of the Fittest tournament was one heck of a show. In terms of importance Bryan Danielson earned his first ROH World Title shot and Austin Aries shot up the card. A yearly tradition (Until 2008 due to a cancellation) began. Samoa Joe began a yearly tradition of sucking ass at the SoTF tournament. This show could honestly be higher on the list, so if the card looks better to you than Reborn, go for it.

Pros: The Survival of the Fittest match. This is one of the finest matches of 2004, and no SotF finals has reached the level of this match. By normal standards this 45 minute match would be considered long, but considering the first two matches of the Joe vs Punk trilogy, and Cibernetico, this match actually doesn’t seem that long. What makes the match is the Aries vs Danielson battle in the finals of this finals. This is what would start their long, epic rivalry, and it is wonderful. There is some other goodness on the undercard. Mark Briscoe and Alex Shelley have a really good qualifier with a surprising result, and Jay Briscoe and Homicide have another quality qualifier. The tag qualifier is also a good match.

Cons: I’m not really sure if this is a major con because Punk was in the middle of a huge push, but him defending the tag titles by himself against 3 teams in a short, lousy tag scramble does nothing except devalue the tag titles. A match like this had already been won by AJ Styles, and the match makes it so that one guy can basically beat teams by himself logically. So we’re left with a nothing match that is for the tag team titles. Punk then goes onto beat Hydro/Jay Lethal in an above average match, (which isn’t really a con, but also not a pro, so since I’m talking about Punk I’ll put it here.) Danielson stretches Jack Evans for awhile, but going back to it this match really isn’t that interesting to watch. Trent Acid and Cabana have an uninteresting qualifier as well, but considering half of the qualifiers are good it isn’t a big deal.

8. All Star Extravaganza II (B)

The trilogy comes to an end. Jim Cornette and Bobby Heenan face off. Austin Aries faces Low Ki, Ricky Steamboat appears! Why isn’t this show higher? Well… it is a super long show and there is some absolute crap on it. Sometimes less is more. However you cannot doubt the historical value and entertainment value that the good stuff brings.

Pros: Most obviously, CM Punk vs Samoa Joe. Depending on when I watch it, this can be my favorite of the three. It is obviously much faster pace since it isn’t a draw, but I think the ending is utterly fantastic. A lot of people don’t like Steamboat’s involvement, but it doesn’t change the ending of the match, it provides a fantastic false finish and it wraps up the story that started the Steamboat/Punk feud when Punk claimed that Steamboat screwed up reffing his Pure Wrestling title match with that finish. Second on the list in my mind is the interaction between Jim Cornette and Bobby Heenan. Heenan is dressed like a pimp and they have a fun mic battle with Cornette getting in some vicious attacks. But the real treat comes when they manage opposing teams and both guys try to cheat their asses off for their teams, ending with Heenan out heeling Cornette, despite being the babyface in this match! Awesome.  Low Ki and Austin Aries have a match that is quite good but seemed to foreshadow excellence in their future when they’d be allowed to have matches with decisive finishes, but it never happened. They had another match on this level at The Future is Now, but then Ki was done with ROH before they ever faced off again. Their TNA matches never really reached their potential because of booking, alas. Rave has the first really good singles match of his career trying to bring gold home for the Embassy against Walters (who would end up in the Embassy) and starts showing what Gabe saw in him. Last but not least, McGuinness and Collyer have a quality tag title match challenging the Havana Pitbulls, and honestly the Pitbulls didn’t have too many quality defenses.

I can’t count it as a pro, but the Homicide vs Bryan Danielson feud really kicks off on this show, and while it isn’t a con either… well you’ll see when you watch the match.

Cons: This show kicks off with a Shane Hagadorn match. He still sucks TODAY, imagine what he was like in 2004! At least this is an 8 man tag… although it is against Special K. Suffice to say it isn’t good. Lethal faces the first Weapon of Masked Destruction in a nothing match in a feud that would end in a nothing match against a hurt John Walters. What has to be the lowlight of the show is a tag scramble featuring The Outcast Killaz, Dunn and Marcos, The Carnage Crew, and Dan Maff and BJ Whitmer. Because when you think Tag Scramble you think of three of those teams. Finally Jerk Jackson vs Trent Acid. The match sucks, what a shock.

9.  Reborn Stage One (B-)

The first half of the Reborn shows, with ROH debuting in Minnesota. This show has a weird mix of good matches and good angles, but doesn’t quite have the blow away matches of Stage Two. Nor does it have the historical title change.

Pros: The World Title match may not be the best match on the show, but the fireball angle that follows, and the crazy locker room clearing brawl turned Homicide heel and provided lots of crazy ass spots. Best match honors to me is a tie between Briscoes vs Pitbulls and Bryan Danielson vs CM Punk. Punk and Danielson have a wonderful little match, and if you like this make sure you check out their work in FIP. The Briscoes and the Pitbulls have a match that was kind of shockingly awesome. The Pitbulls were debuting in ROH at this point, and this was just a non title match the night before the Briscoes big defense against Punk and Cabana. But this match is really an example of both teams at their best, and a level the Pitbulls really wouldn’t match as a unit in ROH. There are some other strangely good matches on this show, starting with a Six Man Mayhem. Danny Daniels vs Masada vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Alex Shelley vs Jack Evans vs Jimmy Rave. Four of these guys ended up being pretty damned important to ROH, and this is a fun little match. Delirious and Matt Sydal also would be important, and make their debut in ROH against each other in a very short, but fun match. The show also opens with a strong match as Matt Stryker and Nigel McGuinness face off in a really nice technical match with some good body part work from Stryker. If the dude only had some charisma… Oh, and Good Times, Great Memories is on this show and is great.

Cons: The least bad con on this show is the Carnage Crew against Dunn and Marcos, and honestly it isn’t a bad match, just a bit below average. Ditto for Justin Credible vs John Walters. If you are a fan of Credible, CC or Dunn and Marcos, these matches will be more than watchable for you. I am not, so I found them below average. But, since I’m biased I’m sure other people may enjoy them. To be honest there isn’t anything bad on this show. The only other match is BJ Whitmer vs Colt Cabana, and it is another below average, but not bad match. Really the only bad thing on this show is the Carnage Crew promo. What keeps it from being higher on the list is that the best matches just aren’t on the level of the best stuff of 2004.

Midnight Express Reunion (B-)

ROH is known for their wrestling. For the most part their sports entertainment segments are either bad, or if they are good they don’t get as much attention as the matches. But this show features one of the best pieces of sports entertainment ROH has done, and one of the best matches it has put on.

Pros: Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson have either the second or third best match in ROH in 2004. Maybe the best if you aren’t a big Joe vs Punk fan. This match had been building since the winter, and is Danielson’s first shot at the belt. I really can’t say enough good things about this. It is just an awesome match featuring Danielson trying to take out the knees of Joe, and Joe trying to fight back after being handicapped. This is just great stuff and a change of pace from Joe’s more dominating bouts. But my second favorite part of this show is the Midnight Express Reunion. This is just a super fun segment with a twist I don’t want to spoil. Suffice to say it is hilarious and plays nicely on the history of the group. Low Ki and Jay Lethal had a good match, but a match that isn’t remembered for the wrestling. Instead it is remembered for Jay Lethal’s mom at ringside. Seriously, this is NOT a bad thing. Finally Nigel and Homicide face off, and despite me not being a fan of Nigel early in his career for the most part, this is a really good match, maybe his best singles match until he faced Austin Aries at Unscripted II.

Cons: It is rare in 2004, but Gen Next was a con on this show. When a squad has so many multi man tags in one year one is bound to be bad. This elimination tag is just too long and to me quite boring. I know a few people like it, but honestly, they have done so much better as a unit in that month alone! The Pitbulls vs Special K is also not very good, but… that is to be expected.

11. World Title Classic (C+)

Most people reading this probably already know this, but this show almost wasn’t called World Title Classic. Originally the main draw of this show was ULTIMATE ENDURANCE! But then CM Punk took advantage of a drunk Samoa Joe and got him to agree to do one of those stupid one hour draws. This show is historic for other reasons, because it marked the birth of hatred of Todd Sinclair!

Pros: I can’t say much more about the Joe vs Punk series that hasn’t already been said. The first match is important to see because in this match Punk almost puts away Joe but gets unlucky, while in the second match Joe almost puts away Punk, but time runs out. So just in general, both matches do build up to different conclusions even if they are draws. The second also plays off the first wonderfully, and you can’t see that if you don’t watch the first match! The WTC match also has an important post match angle as Homicide steals the new ROH title before it can be handed to Joe, a title we would only see one other time before it would vanish forever. I guess it was actually a cheap piece of shit so ROH didn’t have any choice, but I’ve never heard confirmation of that. Generation Next takes on Matt Stryker, Jimmy Rave and John Walters in a really good six man, but this match is notable for Todd Sinclair being a dumbass. He sees the heels cheating. He sees the faces make a tag and then has to pretend he doesn’t. This pisses off the crowd and causes them to shit on him, and is the main reason people started booing Sinclair in every city. It just sort of caught on after Dayton hated him so much for this match, and is my favorite ROH tradition behind TP for Jimmy Rave. Six man Mayhem is also pretty fun, odd for a match with TRENT ACID in it! Oh wait he’s not, no wonder this is good!

Cons: Ultimate Endurance is a nearly 40 minute match. The action is pretty good, the crowd is into it… but it is just TOO LONG. I was really bored by this match. Maybe it is because it follows an excellent 60 minute draw. Maybe it is because the gimmick has just never really worked as well as it should.  It isn’t bad, it is just slightly above average, and when a match is this long that isn’t any fun to watch. The New and Improve Carnage Crew squash Dunn and Marcos in the opener, not a great way to open the show. There is also a 4 Corner Survival on this show, but only a minute of it is shown. Supposedly this was really, REALLY bad and the live crowd absolutely hated it.

12. ROH Gold (C+)

ROH’s 50th Show. It is most notable for being the 50th show, since it came the night before Joe vs Punk II and was totally overshadowed by that match. Overall it is a solid show featuring Punk working twice and a really good six man tag. However it is a show without a blow away match and in 2004 that is a problem.

Pros: CM Punk wrestles twice! This is good! His match against Homicide is quite good and is the opener. ROH put it up in their short lived Vaulted Classics series on ROHvideos.com. It should still be there if you want to watch it. Samoa Joe and Rocky Romero face off for the World title in what to me is an underrated match. Or maybe just overlooked. It happens in between Joe vs Danielson and Joe vs Punk II, so really there is a good reason for it being overlooked. But it is a good match and I think their styles meshed really well here. In what I feel is the best match of the night Punk, Steel and Jimmy Jacobs took on Generation Next in a really, really good six man tag. After a not so good six man at MXR, GN really bounces back here. Jay Lethal and Collyer also have a good match, although Lethal losing feels kind of pointless because ROH would never do anything with Collyer. Delirious and Jacobs vs Izzy and Dizie is also surprisingly good.

Cons: Maff and Whitmer vs the Carnage Crew… Again.  I hate this feud. If anyone out there likes it, good for you… but I will never understand your love. Besides this only the 4 Corner Survival is below average. The only thing that keeps this show from being higher is that most of the matches are merely “good” and nothing is a MOTYC as the shows above it mostly have.

Steamboat and Foley also have an argument over hardcore wrestling on this feud. If you’ve liked their stuff, you’ll like this. If not, this will bore you.

13. Second Anniversary Show (C+)

Normally when I hear this show talked about it is negatively. People bitch about AJ Styles not selling in the tournament mostly. They bitch about his match with Punk sucking. But this is a show with some really good wrestling that has been somewhat forgotten.

Pros: Pretty much the entire Pure tournament. The Styles matches are not as good, I admit. His selling in later matches is lacking. But Doug Williams has a good match against Sabin, and then a great one against Punk. Punk’s opening round match against Walter is also pretty good.  Styles does not have a bad match, and the finals against Punk are fine in my opinion. The biggest win for this show is the ROH Title match however. Joe vs Maff vs Whitmer vs Low Ki is excellent. It is a 4 Corner Survival match where if anyone pins Joe they win the title, and if they pin anyone else they get a one on one match. Maff and Whitmer try to work together to win the belt for the Prophecy, and Joe and Ki have some epic exchanges. Joe also cuts his hand on the guard rail which is pretty disgusting. But this is one of the forgotten gems of Joe’s 2004 run, and a pretty unique defense for an ROH Title match. Throw in a good little Briscoes vs Backseats match and you have a lot of good stuff on this show.

Cons: Yes Styles forgets to sell the leg, shut up. At worst he has an average match against Stryker. Whatever. Daniels vs Stryker is also average, maybe the match is Stryker’s fault and not AJs? Who knows. Who cares. The really bad stuff is MORE CARNAGE CREW VS SPECIAL K BULLSHIT. Yes they have ANOTHER match. It is bad. It has a dumb stip. The Crew gives a dumb promo connected to it.

14. Reborn: Completion (C)

Here is a tough show to rank. A lot of people love it. A lot of people think it is way too long, and way too boring. There’s a lot of crap, and there’s also one of the most important angles in ROH history.

Pros: The Briscoes and Samoa Joe vs Homicide, Rocky Romero and Ricky Reyes is a great six man tag. It ends in a DQ, but who cares. The way that Joe and the Briscoes have to come together to face a common foe is really cool, and the match is great. But the post match angle where Low Ki returns to ROH, joins the Rottweilers and disgraces the ROH title is amazing stuff. The Pure Title also returns on this show, and Doug Williams becomes the second… first champion by beating Alex Shelley in a great match. Doug was only on a handful of shows in 2004, but he sure had a lot of really good matches. It wasn’t a match, but Punk and Steamboat settle things, and Generation Next get involved setting up two big feuds for them. In a way, this segment would finally lead to Punk winning the ROH title almost a year later because the Saints/GN feud led to his title match.

Cons: This is hard to do. I’ve seen people who like the 4 Corner Survivals to decide who is involved in the Pure Title match. However, I found them dull, and kind of a stupid concept. Why would you set up a Pure title match with two multi man matches? Second Anniversary might not have Pure rules in the tournament, but at least those are singles matches. The rest of the show is less controversial. Everything else on the main show is just pretty darned bad, or a squash. One notable thing is Rave beating Acid and becoming the Crown Jewel.

15. At Our Best (C)

ROH’s tradition of WM weekend shows didn’t start in 2006 with Dragon Gate. The day before WM 20 ROH held At Our Best, and while Better than Our Best might be one of ROH’s best shows, At Our Best isn’t. It isn’t a bad show, but it is a poorly thought out show.

Pros: After going at it for about 6 months Samoa Joe and Jay Briscoe end their rivalry in a Steel Cage. Joe wants to teach the Briscoes respect, and Jay will do anything to win the belt. This is one of the best cage matches of the decade and one of the most innovative. By chaining the door shut Joe mostly ends any easy escapes and makes Jay’s escapes over the top that much more compelling. A facewash that breaks the cage also leads to a great moment as Jay almost escapes UNDER the cage as Mark pulls it back and Joe barely keeps him from getting out. This is one of the most infamous matches in ROH history as well, because Jay bleeds in a disgusting manner. Anytime Jay bleeds in ROH it is really bad (Man Up, A New Level) but this… blood hangs off of his face. When Joe hits him, blood flies outside the cage. Nasty. The post match angle sets up a Joe vs AJ, World vs Pure title feud that would never happen. AJ retains said Pure title in a rematch against CM Punk that is a significant improvement over their first Pure title match at Second Anniversary, and features a controversial finish involving Ricky Steamboat that sets up their feud. Teddy Hart makes his return to ROH after the Main Event Spectacles debacle in a fun Six Man Mayhem that also features Amazing Red, and Teddy Hart trying a Shooting Star Press that misses the nearest wrestler by about 5 feet. Nigel McGuinness faces Jerry Lynn nearly 5 years before it would really mean anything in another good match, and Stryker vs Walters is decent as well.

Cons: You’d think that Joe vs Jay in a cage, which promised to be epic and blew off 6 months of feuding would be the main event. It isn’t. Scramble Cage II is. Scramble Cage II featuring the blow off to the Special K vs Carnage Crew feud. There are crazy spots, but mostly it is just a million guys inside a cage doing stuff. It is an absolute mess and leaves things off on a sour note, especially when most of the card is good. The Second City Saints vs Prophecy feud continues to sputter here as Maff and Whitmer vs Saints ends in a No Contest in a below average match. Finally, Xavier defeats Slyk Wagner brown in a nothing match. Really there isn’t a lot that is terrible on this show, but the main event being what it is really takes away from the show in my mind.  If everything else on the show appeals to you, then try to find a copy and just stop before the scramble.

16. Testing the Limit (C-)

This is a hard show to judge a huge portion of it is taken up by Danielson vs Aries 2/3 falls and it is a great match. However, there is still other stuff on here and with one exception it is not good. A long great match gives it a boost above several ROH shows, but it still in the bottom half of what ROH produced in 2004.

Pros: RODERICK STRONG VS IZZY BITCHES! Ok, maybe not. (It is a fun squash though.) The reason you are interested in this show is Austin Aries vs Bryan Danielson in a 2/3 falls match that was set up by SoTF. This isn’t quite the match it could have been, but it is an epic 75 minute contest. I say it isn’t as much as it could have been because Bryan Danielson botches his tope and crashes and burns, knocking himself out for several minutes. The match itself is wonderful especially if you want to see two guys just wrestle. There is a very long feeling out process that for me is wonderful to watch. As good as the rest of the match is, just seeing these two guys go out there and mat wrestle for twenty minutes is my favorite part. Other than this match, there is an intense segment featuring a good Briscoes vs Homicide and Low Ki match that leads into an intense riot-like brawl that sees Joe and Punk get involved.

Cons: Most of the card is poor. It is cool to see 2 Cold Scorpio in ROH, but he doesn’t really impress in the ring, although Shelley ragging on him is great. The match isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but considering that he’s had some good matches in IWA MS, and that the match has Lethal, Shelley and Steel in it as well, I’d expect more. The Maff and Whitmer vs Carnage Crew feuds begins here, and as you’d expect it is a bad match. But at least it is short. Walters vs McGuinness is also a perplexingly short match. It may be the opener, but it is just strange that two guys who wrestle this style would be given so little time. The Second City Saints lose the tag titles to the Havana Pitbulls in an average match, which is a shame since once again you’d expect more!

17. Weekend of Thunder Night 1 (C-)

Boston gets a taste of Liger! It is kind of funny what a slut ROH was for Puro companies early on. In 2002 they worked with Zero One. In 2003 they worked with All Japan. Now in 2004 they bring in New Japan (and get screwed by then in 05) then start working with both NOAH and Dragon Gate in 05. At least they got into a steady polyamorous relationship from 06-08.

Pros: Jushin Liger vs Bryan Danielson isn’t on the level of the tag match they would have the next night. But it is still excellent, although maybe not even in Danielson’s top 5 for 04. Seeing Liger in ROH is just fun and I am jealous of some friends who got to see these shows even if they aren’t blow away shows overall. I like how this show finally pays off Joe’s hatred of the Pure title that started back in 04. Joe and Lethal face Walters and McGuinness (interesting note: Walters was the current champ, Lethal the next champ, Joe won it off Lethal and then McGuinness won it off Joe) Joe had bad mouthed the belt for the entire year, and he loses a really good tag match against the Pure champion. Poor baby!  Aries and CM Punk have a good match as well, a notch above their GBH bout. Finally the Havana Pitbulls face Roderick Strong and Jack Evans in a pretty good tag title match (although not nearly on the level of what Strong and Evans were capable of even in 2004.)

Cons: SHANE HAGADORN MATCH ALERT! Luckily it is just a squash against the Outcast Killaz… I’ve never said Luckily and that team together in the same sentence. Maff and Whitmer vs The Carnage Crew is a stupid boring brawl that continues to build up their feud with Danger involved. I hate this feud a lot, and hate this match. Even if you like hardcore matches, I can’t see you liking this either, especially when ROH had much better hardcore matches in 2004. Low Ki has maybe his only subpar ROH match of 2004 against Chad Collyer, however that is a style clash so I can understand it.

18. The Last Stand (C-)

While this show’s grade isn’t that much higher than The Battle Lines are Drawn, I do think it is much more satisfying to watch. Considering both shows accomplish pretty much the same things, if you want to get one of the two I’d say The Last Stand is a much better purchase.

Pros: This show is actually a lot like GBH III which we will get to next. There are quite a few good matches, but nothing really must see, and a bunch of lousy stuff as well. The best match of the show is in my mind Alex Shelley vs Jimmy Jacobs, and what a January for Shelley in ROH! I know they had done this matchup many times before in other places, but chances are most ROH fans have not see these matches, especially if you are reading a guide on what shows to buy. Just below this is Homicide vs CM Punk, and Homicide also manages to have a heck of a month following up his great 2003. Samoa Joe and Jerry Lynn vs The Briscoes with Jim Cornette is a significant improvement on Joe’s last tag title shot, and nicely sets up the Jay vs Joe cage match to end the rivalry. The one thing this show doesn’t do as well as TBLAD is Pure rules, but even that match is pretty good. A final pro: Colt Cabana does an in ring GTGM.

Cons: A wretched three way No DQ match between Special K, Credible and Loc of the Carnage Crew and the Back Seat Boys. Did you expect anything less? This match is thankfully pretty short on DVD. This is one of Gabe’s dumbest ideas as four Special K members are involved. The match is barely a match, it is just a bunch of stuff that happens. A Six Man with Sabin, Dutt, Lethal/Hydro involved ends up being sub par which is a let down, and reminds us of ROH’s lame Top 5 system for determining challengers. The finish (with the winner getting a spot in the top 5) never even gets a payoff because of the TNA pull out. The four corner survival is also lame, and is for the #1 Contender’s Trophy which makes me wonder why the spot in the top five was even important, why they’d pin Stryker coming off his FoH win, and why Gabe thought the finish was a good idea. At least it sets up an excellent 4CS at Second Anniversary.

19. Glory By Honor III (C-)

This is a show I remembered being a lot better than it is on second look. There are some very good matches in the second half, but not nearly on the quality of the bouts topping most of the late 04 cards. It does have Foley’s debut in ROH which is pretty historically important, so if you are a Foley fan it is worth a look.

Pros: Alex Shelley and Bryan Danielson meet for the first time in ROH and have quite the match. It isn’t close to Danielson’s best match of 04, but it continues a streak of excellent stuff from Shelley and really gives him a chance to show what he can do against one of ROH’s biggest names. Following his loss to Walters, Doug Williams gets a shot at the ROH title and produces a better match than he and Joe had in 2003. While it isn’t great, it is an interesting match for how Williams style works in a match with Joe. John Walters and Nigel McGuinness have a good Pure title match as well, although not close to Walters match against Williams. Finally Austin Aries and CM Punk have a solid match, but a bit of a let down given where both guys were at this point of 2004. Finally Ultimate Endurance is a step up from the first one, but not nearly main event quality, despite being the main on this show.

Cons: A sloppy six man mayhem continues Trent Acid’s year of sub mediocrity. Stryker’s fall from grace continues as he and Lethal have a sub par match, which is pretty odd since Lethal was really showing improvement in this period. Rave and Dixie have a short match, but it is mostly a showcase for Rave to get an easy win, but honestly Rave isn’t the guy who works that well in squash type situations. Finally the Allison Danger vs Maff and Whitmer feud continues, and seriously this feud sucks. The match isn’t any good either, but it does give Foley a chance to debut.

Also, a con to ROH for cutting Homicide’s quote that he wished the crowd had died on 9-11. (GBH III happened on 9-11-04)  He’s a heel and it didn’t really insult 9-11 victims, instead Cide is saying he wishes these people died in their place! That is kind of a positive… sort of.

20. Weekend of Thunder Night 2 (D+)

Jushin Liger invaded ROH for a weekend and delivered in spades facing off against Bryan Danielson. However, the rest of the cards really didn’t support this huge guest that well, but really did they have to?

Pros: Bryan Danielson and Low Ki vs Jushin Liger and Samoa Joe is one of the best tags in ROH history. It is just excellent stuff, and the specialness of seeing Liger in ROH, and the post match angle makes for a lot fun, a lot of nostalgia and just great watching. However, the rest of the card just doesn’t match up. Chad Collyer vs Nigel McGuinness is pretty good. Jay Lethal vs Jimmy Rave is a fine match (Rave really began to shine from November leading into his big feuds that began at 3rd Anniversary Celebration.) but after this the card is just average or terrible.

Cons: The Carnage Crew vs Students. This match lasts almost five minutes, when it really should have been under two. It also sets up the worst Fight without Honor in ROH history. Joy. The four corner survival is surprisingly average given it has Trent Acid in it, and has amusing commentary with Punk doing his usual mocking of Nulty. The shock of the night is that Ace Steel and CM Punk vs Strong and Aries is a below average match. It is a long, sloppy no DQ match, and considering Punk was on fire, Steel had just had a great match of this type, Aries was having a hot second half, and Strong was improving this is shocking. Dunn and Marcos face Special K in a match you can imagine the quality of, Homicide has an uninteresting Pure title match (What was him and not meshing with Pure rules?) and finally the tag title match is just there.

Mick Foley has an appearance on this show as well. I don’t enjoy his WWE bashing and shtick, but if you do this is pretty good stuff, so call it a toss up.

21. The Battle Lines Are Drawn (D+)

This is a really hard show to judge. On one hand the upper card is a total let down. On the other hand the undercard is full of solid or good matches. However, with ROH there are plenty of shows with lots of solid matches and blow away main events, so it is hard to defend a show where everything is just decent. In fact, since the tag title match happened with 3 of the 4 participants on the next show and was better, that drops this card down another notch. However, if you want a show with a lot of solid wrestling, this show isn’t a bad choice.

Pros: As I said before, the undercard. The opener is the debut of Pure Wrestling rules and is one hell of a showcase for Alex Shelley. Nigel McGuinness and Cody Hawk have an above average match to follow, and is followed by a good Chris Sabin vs Jimmy Jacobs match. (Imagine how good this would be today?) Things really pick up for Homicide vs AJ Styles. I believe Homicide gets injured near the finish, and the final stretch isn’t quite as good as the rest, but it is a really good match by any standard. Finally there is the tag title match. I can’t call this a bad match because it isn’t. But Bryan Danielson and Samoa Joe vs The Briscoes should be a classic, and this isn’t. It is nearly half an hour long and just never really kicks into high gear. It isn’t a bad way to spend half an hour, but it felt longer and that is never a good feeling.

Cons: There are really three. The four corner survival is below average, but a lame 4CS isn’t really a surprise. The tag scramble is really bad and continues the awful Special K vs Carnage Crew feud. Again, not a surprise. What drags the show down is the Prophecy vs Second City Saints main event. There’s some dumb kick outs, but the big problem is the match goes on forever and ends up being thrown out. And this is on top of another really long match, so it feels like a chore after awhile. The post match angle with Daniels taking the Pepsi Plunge through a table is notable since it puts Daniels “out of ROH” but doesn’t save this show.

22. Scramble Cage Melee (F)

Scramble Cage had a nice ROH debut at Main Event Spectacles, and quickly devolved into my least favorite gimmick match in the company. So as you can imagine from the title of this show that using the scramble cage as the draw of a show might not be the best idea. Luckily for this show it also had CM Punk vs Samoa Joe vs Homicide, and that had to be great!

Pros: John Walters vs Doug Williams for the Pure title is an excellent match, and a nice ending to Doug’s short but high quality title reign. It is a good start to Walters below average reign that really killed the belt’s momentum, although it really wasn’t his fault. This is easily the highlight of the show, and you can guess how good it is when ROH put it on a bunch of their early shoots to highlight the company’s workrate. Jay Lethal vs Alex Shelley is a good opener, and it is a shame they haven’t really had a chance to have a substantial match since. Then there is Joe vs Punk vs Homicide. This match is pretty good, but for these three guys you expect so much more. The ending is at least well done as Punk hits the Plunge on Joe only to have the pin stolen by Homicide. Punk proves his move can beat Joe, but doesn’t get the pin to earn his immediate rematch to aid the original plan to hold off Joe vs Punk II until December. Homicide gets a cheap win over Joe after suffering three losses in a row to him.

Cons: The fucking scramble cage. It starts off pretty well and is fun for the first few minutes, but absolutely falls off a cliff near the end, becoming absolutely wretched when Acid gets injured and he and Evans still have to pull off the finish. It is really, REALLY bad. This was something of a show of let downs as the big three way wasn’t alone. Aries vs Cabana was a below average match from two guys who had so many good matches in 04 (although Cabana had more good tags than singles.) and would go on to have a really good cage match in 05. The other Saints/GN match is also below average as Steel and Strong don’t do much, but it’d be silly to expect much as Steel is mostly just a solid hand and Strong had not yet broken out. Jimmy Rave vs Angel Dust is actually a surprisingly average match, but nothing more.

23. Round Robin Challenge III (F)

I have heard Gabe recently posted a blog where he wrote about his favorite streak of shows, and this was included. I am starting to think the whole Gabe firing is just a work. For what reason I do not know. Anyway, this is the third RRC, and this is one of the worst shows in ROH history. It is a bad idea on paper, and in execution. Why? Well first of all the tag team titles are on the line in the RRC, so in theory the titles could change hands three times in one night! But ROH could never be that dumb…

Pros: The Round Robin Challenge has one big highlight, The Briscoes vs CM Punk and Colt Cabana. This is a very good match, but by far the worst of their trilogy. So, while not a black mark against this show, the best part of this show has been done much better on other, better shows. Spanky vs Homicide is also a good match, but after that there is really only an ok six man mayhem and Shelley vs Stryker opener left on the “pro” side.

Cons: The rest of the show starting with the fact that the tag team titles change THREE TIMES IN ONE SHOW. Saints vs Prophecy for the titles is total Prophecy domination, which ends up being meaningless when they then lose the belts to the Briscoes. (And Maff’s tears of joy look really silly in retrospect.) To top it off Briscoes vs Prophecy is the worst Briscoes tag match of 04, so Maff and Whitmer lose the titles the same night in a bad match. Joe vs Reyes is average, which is damned bad for a Samoa Joe match in 2004. The rest of the show is nothing matches like Daniels vs Dixie and Embassy vs The Carnage and Ring Crews that are rather bad. Also, there’s just a lot of backstage stuff with the Prophecy that gets old after awhile. A very bad show.

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