ROH has had some fantastic, compelling feuds in its 7+ years. But given that they are a promotion that reaches such a small audience, and one that for the most part has followed a DVD distribution business model it can be difficult for fans to follow feuds, or understand feuds that happened in the past. This guide attempts to write a brief history of ROH’s best feuds, and help you follow them on DVD, PPV and now TV.

This is only Part 1, I will be frequently updating this so please do not email me asking why Briscoes vs Steen/Generico, ROH vs CZW, Homicide vs Cabana, etc are not on here.

The Prophecy vs Low Ki

When ROH debuted, the Code of Honor was created with it. Wrestlers had to shake hands before and after matches to show respect to their opponents, they had to refrain from assaulting officials, running in on matches, and all sorts of other dishonorable activity. At the end of the first show, Era of Honor Begins Christopher Daniels refused to shake hands following the three way main event. Despite being the first show, the crowd did not like this.

This continued at the Round Robin Challenge with Daniels refusing to shake hands once again, despite again losing in a match to Low Ki. Daniels wouldn’t show his opponents respect until the next show Night of Appreciation following his match with Donovan Morgan, the tentative start to the Prophecy as a group. Low Ki and Daniels would meet again at Crowning a Champion in the 60 Minute Iron Man Match with Low Ki again winning to become the first Ring of Honor champion. Daniels now decided the Prophecy had to take the title from Low Ki at all costs, and keep the belt. Daniels unveiled his plan at Unscripted. He and Xavier revealed they were in cohoots during the match, and attacked Low Ki with a concrete crowd control… thingy. This was a pretty big deal since there had not been a run in during ROH’s brief history, and of course cost Low Ki the ROH title. Following the match Ki was buried under the ROH banner, which Low Ki would remember at Reborn Completion when he would do the same to Samoa Joe. Daniels had now taken control of the title without ever even beating Low Ki, and to keep it unleashed the Prophecy’s new hitman Samoa Joe on Low Ki at Glory By Honor. Low Ki won the Fight Without Honor against Joe, but his team would then fall to the Prophecy in a six man for the Prophecy’s tag titles at All Star Extravaganza.

The feud basically came to an end at the aptly named Revenge on the Prophecy where Low Ki and AJ Styles got… revenge on the Prophecy. Ki and Styles (who had also faced Daniels and Xavier in several matches) took on Xavier and Daniels in a no holds barred street fight. Though Ki would not get so much as a title shot from it, (He would get a #1 contenders match with Styles and Londo) Ki tapped out Xavier to the Dragon Clutch which followed Daniels taking the Styles Clash through a table. After this The Prophecy became involved with infighting and feuding with The Group, leaving Low Ki to knock out Dan Maff n stuff for the rest of 2003.

CM Punk vs Raven

This is the feud that really put CM Punk on the map, and to a lesser extent gave ROH some extra exposure. (It didn’t hurt Raven to have a bunch of good matches and a hot feud either.) Raven was announced as debuting in Ring of Honor on the One Year Anniversary Show. CM Punk took offense, believing that ROH was a place for new, upcoming talent not washed up old drug addicts. They faced off at Expect The Unexpected after a heated promo in which Raven challenged Punk to a Raven’s rules match. The match was surprisingly a very long match (Raven was fresh out of WWE, and Raven’s Rules matches are rarely that long) that CM Punk came out on top of. The feud continued on the next show: Night of Champions where CM Punk teamed with trainer Ace Steel against Raven and Colt Cabana who had been in a rivalry with Punk in ROH. Raven and Cabana won the match, but Raven did not manage to hit the Raven Effect DDT on Punk (and get some revenge on the guy he actually hates), causing Raven to try to take out Ace Steel after the match. Cabana then joined with Punk to save his trainer, and the Second City Saints were formed.

The feud resumed in the early summer in a pair of tag team matches at Night of the Grudges and Wrestlerave ’03. Raven’s team lost both matches, but this didn’t stop him from challenging Punk to a Dog Collar Match at Wrestlerave. One of the most memorable moments in the feud occurred backstaged as Punk launched into his THIS IS STRAIGHT EDGE promo, comparing Raven to his father who he claimed was an alcoholic failure. The dog collar match at Death Before Dishonor is easily the apex of the feud. While the match itself is very good, it is the post match angle featuring Tommy Dreamer helping Raven subdue Punk (after Punk’s lackey Cabana had run in to cost Raven the match) and force him to drink his first beer.

The feud would continue until November, but it was a shadow of itself at this point. Raven finally got a big singles win over Punk in a Clockwork Orange House of Fun match at Beating the Odds but the match was a bomb live and needed to be heavily edited down for the DVD. Following the match Raven was crucified on a giant X, and in three days he rose from the dead, now straight edge. Raven and Punk got to select their rivals’ opponents for Glory By Honor II, resulting in matches with Terry Funk for Punk and Steve Corino for Raven. (Punk won, Raven lost.) The feud finally came to an end at The Conclusion. Fans were asked to select between several gimmicks, and an Old School Cage match won the vote, and Punk won the match and the feud.

Samoa Joe vs Homicide

Samoa Joe vs Homicide is either the longest, or one of the longest feuds/rivalries in ROH history. It began in 2002 at All Star Extravaganza in a six man tag, but began in earnest at Scramble Madness when Homicide got a surprising win over Joe with a flash pin, the first of several Joe would suffer in ROH. They would interact next at Expect The Unexpected in a Four Corner Survival for the #1 contender’s trophy, but their next singles match would not be until Do or Die when Homicide challenged Joe for the title. It took an avalanche Muscle Buster to do away Homicide, and only after a distraction caused by tension between Julius Smokes and Low Ki. It became a blood feud after this, seeing the two men face off in a non title Anything Goes match at Empire State Showdown that saw Homicide choke out Joe with a noose. He would get a title rematch at Reborn Stage One and up the violence once again. After a nearfall he thought would give him the title, Homicide went insane, throwing a fireball at Joe and causing a violent scene. Homicide got another rematch at Generation Next losing in a relaxed rules match, but following this loss Homicide would assault Joe at World Title Classic and steal the new ROH title, (which he would only taunt Joe with once, at Weekend of Thunder, otherwise it vanished.) Homicide, Ricky Reyes and Rocky Romero faced Joe and the Briscoes at Reborn: Completion and saw the match end in a DQ, but the post match angle is what was important. Low Ki came out and shockingly joined the Rottweilers, destroying Joe and burying him under an ROH banner, disrespecting him and the title. Homicide then received one final shot at Joe at Death Before Dishonor Part 1, but once again came up short. Homicide got an elusivie pin on Joe at Scramble Cage Melee where he stole CM Punk’s pin in a three way, but this was as close to a decisive win over Joe as Homicide would get in 2004. Joe would also get involved in the near riot following Homicide and Low Ki’s match with the Briscoes at Testing the Limit. Oh and he beat Homicide’s lackey Romero in a title match at ROH Gold too. He’d also face Low Ki in a tag with Jushin Fucking Liger where Low Ki teamed with Bryan Danielson. But for the most part, Homicide and Joe’s feud was on hold until 2005.

Joe’s Trios team faced Homicide’s team at Trios Tournament 2005 in a preview of the tags that were to come. Low Ki began to feud with Joe’s little buddy Jay Lethal, so Joe had to get involved, and of course Homicide did too! An impromptu main event at Manhattan Mayhem was fought between Homicide and Low Ki and Joe and Lethal, a fairly short match with an epic finish. Homicide hooked Jay Lethal for the Cop Killa, and Low Ki nailed him with a top rope double stomp, putting Joe’s little buddy out of competition for a month. The two sides met again at The Homecoming in a six man tag, this time Homicide, Reyes and Romero against Joe, Lethal and James Gibson. The real highlight of the match was Punk on commentary, calling Joe a fat loser. The final real match of their feud happened at Punk: The Final Chapter and resulted in a crazy brawl. Low Ki and Homicide were DQed against Jay and Joe, but the two teams then brawled around the arena in an absolutely crazy brawl.

The feud ended here, but Joe and Homicide would have two more matches against each other. After an alliance against the Briscoes in 2006, Joe challenged Homicide for the World Title at Battle of the Icons. Despite being friendly, Homicide was desperate to retain his title, and went as far to piledrive Joe onto the exposed concrete floor three times. Joe’s final match in ROH was against Homicide at Fifth Year Festival: Finale and Homicide once again did his all to win, but the feud was not rekindled either time, and Joe left to a friendly farewell, not a fireball.

Samoa Joe vs The Briscoes

The shortest of the feuds we’ve looked at so far, Samoa Joe’s feud with the Briscoes lasted a mere eight months. It began simply enough, Joe was in a Four Corner Survival at Beating the Odds. The rules were if Joe pinned anyone in the match they could never get a title shot against him. If they pinned him they got a title shot. Jay Briscoe won the match and earned a title match at Tradition Continues. Joe disrespected the Briscoes in a promo before the match, and again after the match, and the feud began to heat up.  Jim Cornette would then turn on Joe and begin managing the Briscoes adding a bit more intrigue. For beating Jay, Joe was given a tag title match at The Conclusion and tagged with AJ Styles against the Briscoes. A miscommunication led to AJ hitting Joe and then the Briscoes getting the pinfall on Joe and retaining the titles.

Since Joe got a tag title shot for beating Jay, Mark was given a World Title shot at Final Battle 2003. Joe still lacked any respect for the Briscoes, and defeated Mark, and going on to face them in another tag title match, this time choosing Bryan Danielson as his partner at The Battle Lines Are Drawn. The match was a bit of a letdown given the quality of the teams, but the Briscoes once again emerged the winners and retained the tag titles. For whatever reason, Joe got yet ANOTHER shot at the next show: The Last Stand. Jim Cornette proved to be the deciding factor in this match where Joe teamed with Jerry Lynn, as Cornette whacked Joe with his loaded racquet and Joe was again defeated by the tag champions.

Joe was livid about this loss and demanded to face Jay in a cage. Cornette agreed only if escape rules were added, and Joe agreed for a World Title Cage match on At Our Best. Joe and Jay had a brutal, bloody cage match that saw Jay lose disgusting amounts of blood, to the point where it began clotting as it hung from his face. Jay managed several near escapes, including a final attempt at the end where he got his entire body save one leg over the top of the cage. But Joe caught Jay’s leg and dragged him back in for an avalanche muscle buster. Despite Jay having lost 99% of his blood, Joe cut a promo about how much he respected the Briscoes and how tough they were.

CM Punk vs Samoa Joe

The most famous period of this feud was less of a feud and more of a rivalry. But it is so important, and did eventually lead to a bit of an actual feud in the Summer of Punk that it must be included. Their first match in ROH actually happened in 2003 at Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies but that bout isn’t very relevant to the actual trilogy. The actual trilogy is important for several reasons. The first is that the first match came three months after the Feinstein scandal that gave ROH a huge black eye. (It also came right after Generation Next and ROH looked to be on a roll.) Secondly, Joe vs Punk II was rated ***** by Dave Meltzer, the first American match to receive that rating since HBK vs Undertaker in the first Cell match. That got ROH a lot of extra attention and buzz. Finally it came at a point when Joe’s reign could have run out of steam. Joe had held the belt for 15 months and nearly had run out of challengers. He still had one big match left against Homicide, and an obvious match against Danielson, but nothing else seemed to promising since Ki was seemingly out of ROH, and a promising feud with AJ Styles had dried up with the TNA pullout.

Samoa Joe and CM Punk faced off at World Title Classic in a match that went to a 60 minute draw. Before this nearly all of Joe’s title matches went less than 20 minutes. Punk’s strategy was to try and extend the match and tire Joe out with headlock after headlock. Punk didn’t manage to put Joe away, but did come close with a Pepsi Plunge. However, Punk was propelled out of the ring after hitting the move and could not make a cover.

Punk stated he was sure he could beat Joe, and was put into a three way with Joe at Scramble Cage Melee. Punk once again hit Joe with the Plunge, but Homicide managed to steal the pin. Now Punk was sure he could beat Joe with the Plunge, he just needed a one on one match for the title. He got his rematch at Joe vs Punk II and this match turned the tables. Punk took Joe to the limit again, frustrating and wearing him out with headlocks. He also changed up things Joe had seen in the first match. But when the match was over, Joe was the one who had hit his finisher on Punk and was denied the pinfall by the bell. Punk stated post match he knew his finisher could beat Joe but Joe did not know if his could, but it was fairly clear Punk’s headlock strategy just would not beat Joe. Joe said he had given Punk his rematch and closed the door on any future rematches.

Punk was never one to take no for an answer and staged a sit in at Weekend of Thunder Night 2. He refused to leave until he was given another rematch. Joe eventually came down and agreed to a No Time Limit match, and then punched Punk for being such a little bitch.

The No Time Limit match at All Star Extravaganza II provided a seemingly obvious set up for a very long match. But, instead both guys worked a fast paced 30 minute match. Punk teased the headlocks early, but it quickly became a very different match up. Joe looked to have put Punk away with the choke only for Ricky Steamboat to see CM Punk’s arm still moving to keep the match going when Sinclair wanted to call for the bell for a huge false finish. Although that wouldn’t stop Joe from putting Punk away for good moments later.

That seemed to be the end of it. That is until Punk won the world title and threatened to take it to WWE. Joe would haunt Punk throughout the Summer of Punk, including cornering his little buddy Jay Lethal at Sign of Dishonor but did not get a match one on one vs Punk. Punk openly mocked him as stated above at The Homecoming but would have to deal with Joe at Redemption in a 4 way elimination match. Punk would get lucky, eliminating Joe after a blow up with Christopher Daniels, and would in a way be the ultimate winner of the feud with Joe.

Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson

Here is another really long ass feud. This began rather simply in 2004 with Bryan Danielson finally earning a world title shot. After teaming with Joe against the Briscoes, Danielson made his intentions known to win the world title, including taking over the segment “Samoa Joe’s Ring” on Reborn Stage Two.

Danielson earned his shot at Survival of the Fittest but did not receive it until October at Midnight Express Reunion. Danielson wrestled Joe for over 30 minutes and employed a strategy only Matt Stryker had tried before. You would think this would keep Danielson from using it, but nonetheless he went after Joe’s legs and nearly crippled his movement. Joe managed to win the match, but when Punk was lobbying for a third match, Danielson argued that he had come closer to beating Joe and that HE deserved the rematch.

The two would not meet up in the ring for the most part until 2006, although Danielson during an airplane spin palooza at Trios Tournament 2005 did nearly put Joe in an airplane spin. Anyway, Joe began calling Danielson out during his title run. They teamed at Best in the World against KENTA and Marufuji, and Danielson ended up being pinned after a Go 2 Sleep. Their feud began in earnest at Destiny. Joe was injured and declared himself guest ring announcer for the match between Homicide and Danielson for the world title. He insulted Danielson and called him pale, and in retaliation Danielson chop blocked him, starting the BRYAN DANIELSON SUMMER CHOP BLOCK TOUR 2006! The next stop was in New York at In Your Face where the two took part in a three way, also involving KENTA. Danielson was again pinned by a Go 2 Sleep. For the good of ROH the two agreed to be on the same team at Death Before Dishonor IV in the CAGE OF DEATH against CZW. But here Danielson revealed his true colors, and that this was ANOTHER STOP ON THE SUMMER CHOP BLOCK TOUR! With Hero up in the Muscle Buster, Danielson chop blocked Joe and then brutalized Joe’s leg to soften him up for their match at Fight of the Century.

It also became clear what the feud was about. Samoa Joe was the “ROH Legend.” He was the most popular guy on the roster despite also being in TNA. Bryan Danielson took offense, since he claimed to be the best wrestler in the world, and the guy who turned down both TNA and WWE. Danielson valued his ROH title more than anything else, and would do everything, including abandoning his company in the Cage of Death to retain it. He followed up on all of these attacks on Joe’s leg in the match, spending the middle 1/3 of the match assaulting Joe’s leg with every hold, strike and move he could come up with. In the end it was barely enough as Danielson survived 60 minutes, passing out in the choke a second after the time limit expired.

Joe, despite not being convinced that Punk drawing him was enough to earn him a rematch now was firmly in the camp that a 60 minute draw required a rematch. Danielson was not convinced. The two faced off in a non title qualifier for Survival of the Fittest 2006 with Danielson declaring he would not defend against Joe unless Joe could beat him. The qualifier went to the 20 minute time limit, and Danielson who already had a defense for October scheduled told Joe to fuck off. Joe was given another chance to earn his title match, this time in a No Holds barred match at Irresistible Forces. I really love this match. Imagine Bryan Danielson trying to work his style of a match, but also incorporating weapons and crowd brawling. It is such fun… although in the end Joe disrespected Todd Sinclair by stealing his belt and using it to choke out Danielson to earn his title match… in a steel cage.

Joe’s title match came at The Chicago Spectacular Night 1 and he choked in an epic way. (We’ll get to why there is a pun in there.) He and Danielson had a great cage match, but Danielson eventually made his big escape attempt. While held in the choke, Danielson got his entire body outside of the cage, and then managed to drop to the ground. Danielson hit the ground like a sack of potatoes, but his feet hit the floor and Joe was a big fat loser pants.

Bryan Danielson vs Homicide

This is a weird, weird feud. Danielson and Homicide had a great match at Reborn Stage Two, but it wasn’t a heated brawl, it was mostly a technical match that saw Danielson work over Homicide’s fingers at one point, and Homicide win after a lariat, a move not involving the fingers. The fans demanded another match, and in the fall they got one. At All Star Extravaganza II they faced off again and Danielson won, but Homicide had the Rottweilers beat Danielson down. Danielson then faced Low Ki at Final Battle 2004 and was given the win by DQ after the Rottweilers again got involved.

So ROH needed a way to settle this issue between Homicide and Bryan Danielson. One match didn’t seem enough,  so they had a five match series. Each match was given a different gimmick. A tap out match was held at It All Begins. A taped fist match followed at Third Year Celebration Part 1. Homicide won both of these matches. Bryan Danielson then won a Falls Count Anywhere match at Third Year Anniversary Part 3. The series was then tied up at Stalemate when Danielson won a lumberjack match. To this point, the series was somewhat disappointing. None of the matches were bad, but they were mostly above average or pretty good. And with the talent of the two guys involved the fans expected more. They got more at The Final Showdown in a steel cage. Both guys saved the best for last, having a great, intense cage match that finished in a way only Bryan Danielson could finish a match. He used a 100 rotation airplane spin to beat Homicide.

Both guys then didn’t meet up again for a full year. Bryan Danielson won the world title and the fans wondered when the feud would begin again. That happened at Destiny and Danielson got away with the title by the skin of his teeth by using the MMA elbows to get a referee stoppage that caused Homicide to flip the fuck out. Homicide threatened to quit ROH, but was talked down and eventually earned his rematch by helping ROH win Cage of Death at Death Before Dishonor IV. After spitting at Jim Cornette for not reinstated Low Ki, Cornette decided to make Homicide’s life hell before that title match, and since Homicide had promised to win a title before the end of 2006 made the title match for Final Battle 2006, the last show of the year. Homicide ran a heel gauntlet of the Briscoes, Adam Pearce and Steve Corino before he got his match, but had to face Danielson one more time in a non title four corner survival at International Challenge.

Final Battle 2006 was the big match. Homicide had to win the title to stay in ROH. Well, that or be a big liar pants. Either or. In an absolute masterpiece, it looked like Homicide’s career might be over when Shane Hagadorn and Adam Pearce ran down to cause a DQ, but Todd Sinclair would have none of it and re-started the match. Despite that, people still boo him. Danielson got his feet on the ropes after the Cop Killah, but was not able to escape THE LARIAT, LARIAT KOJIMA!

Generation Next vs The Embassy

This is a difficult feud to chronicle. It didn’t start off this way. At Final Battle 2004 Austin Aries assumed leadership of Generation Next, kicked Alex Shelley out of the group and won the world title. Alex Shelley swore revenge. Shelley got a tiny bit of revenge at Third Anniversary Celebration Part 3 by beating GN’s tiniest member: Jack Evans. At Stalemate Shelley interjected himself in the aftermath of the Aries/Gibson double pinfall, setting up his title match at Manhattan Mayhem, which he would lose. Shelley then defeated Strong at The Final Showdown but had very little luck finding a partner for the next night’s tag match against Strong and Evans. He had fucked over a lot of people during his time with GN, and had even fucked over James Gibson when he got involved at Stalemate, so he had no allies. That is until the start of Nowhere to Run where he found he had common ground with Delirious… the color green. It didn’t help too much because they lost the match. Shelley didn’t fare any better at New Frontiers, losing to Strong.

So basically, Alex Shelley needed allies. He needed a group. He needed… The Embassy. At The Homecoming Alex Shelley needed another tag partner and his partner was Fast Eddie Vegas of the Embassy. Shelley got the big win over his hated rivals, and turned heel again in the process, while Generation Next had for turned face in the previous two months. Generation Next recruited Matt Sydal and took on the Rave, Shelley and Abyss at Redemption, proving I suppose that Fast Eddie is a better partner than Abyss. Also Prince Nana talked about shrimp cocktail. Puma proved to also be no Fast Eddie as he and Jimmy Rave then lost to Generation Next at Night of the Grudges II. Spanky however WAS a Fast Eddie because he and Rave defeated GN at Dragon Gate Invasion. If you can’t tell, the feud was in a bit of a holding pattern with random tags happening until the next phase could begin.

The last match in this holding pattern was a Survival of the Fittest 2005 qualifying match where Aries defeated Rave. Roderick Strong’s defeat of Jimmy Rave at Joe vs Kobashi signaled that new phase where Strong convinced Jade Chung to leave the Embassy. Chung had been abused by the Embassy, humiliated and forced to be Rave’s footstool. Generation Next pulled off the coup here in getting here out of the Embassy, and Strong then challenged the Embassy for STEEL CAGE WARFARE. That wouldn’t be until November.

In the mean time the Embassy finally won some damn matches. Wait no, Sydal beat Jimmy Rave at Unforgettable. Then the Embassy started getting some big wins! Yep, at Enter The Dragon Abyss beat Jack Evans! THE EMBASSY FOREVER! Ok, it was a 3 minute match, but it was one of my favorite 3 minute matches. The Embassy then got an actually impressive win taking down GN in a Six Man No DQ match at Buffalo Stampede. Generation Next found their Fast Eddie at Showdown in Motown when AJ Styles teamed up with Matt Sydal to defeat the Embassy. The feud took a novel turn at Vendetta where the coin flip was on the line in an 8 man tag. Basically, the winner got the advantage in Steel Cage Warfare. Guess what? The heels won. In what might be the most meaningless and forgotten heel turn in ROH, Daizee Haze turned heel, helping the Embsassy get the advantage.

The feud was really made in its blowoff, as things should be. Steel Cage Warfare was main evented by the first Steel Cage Warfare match, a 4 vs 4 elimination War Games esque cage match. This match is Gabe Sapolsky’s storytelling at its best. Every entrance is timed perfectly, the match is long and has an epic feel to it. And it comes down to one thing, hubris. The Embassy should win this easily. They have Abyss who is nearly a foot taller than every member of Generation Next. They eliminate Matt Sydal early on. But no. Shelley still wants revenge. Nana wants to show off. They still hate Jade Chung. It all leads to them pissing their advantage away when Jack Evans makes his entrance. He hits two absolutely crazy spots and Abyss is gone and Generation Next makes their comeback. And it all leads to Aries and Strong getting Nana alone and making him pay.

The two factions would have two more notable matches, first the finals of Trios Tournament 2006 at Tag Wars 2006. The Embassy beats the Gen Next B team and earns a bunch of title shots. Then Rave and Shelley eventually become a successful tag team and face Aries and Strong, the A team for the tag titles at Weekend of Champions Night 2. Guess what? The Embassy loses.

Tyler Black vs Pinfalls

Tyler Black discovered a hatred of pinfalls at an early age. But the feud did not really erupt until at Take No Prisoners where Tyler Black continually decided to spit in the face of pinfalls. Pinfalls were eventually victorious but Black put up a valiant fight. Things cooled off for awhile, but at Death Before Dishonor VI Black once again took pinfalls to the limit, but again came up short. Tyler Black finally showed pinfalls what was what at Injustice II when he beat pinfalls the only way you can, by going to a time limit draw with Nigel McGuinness. Someday Tyler Black will have to settle his issue with pinfalls, or else he will never be able to pin Nigel for the title. Or I guess he could learn a submission. With Nigel out of the picture, pinfalls began championing Austin Aries, and once again Tyler Black suffer a humiliating defeat to pinfalls at Manhattan Mayhem III.

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