Before I get back to the year by year guide to ROH shows, I wanted to make a list of great shows that ROH has put on that don’t really get talked about anymore. I’ll do a part 2 in a week or so after I have had a chance to look back at 2008, and get feedback about how I overlooked Destiny or some other shows.

Honor Invades Boston

I listed this high in the 2002 guide, and for good reason. Mark Briscoe vs Jay Briscoe is astoundingly good for a 19 year old vs an 18 year old. Hell, it is astounding to wonder how too pick up truck driving, shotgun shooting rednecks got so into 90s All Japan, because from this match you can tell they watched alot of it.  AJ Styles vs Low Ki is another overlooked classic from 2002, possibly because Styles did so much crazy stuff in TNA during this period that his ROH run really didn’t get the attention it deserved. I won’t retread what I said in the 2002 guide, but suffice to say this is a really good show.

Why is it overlooked? It is hard to say, but I’d guess because most people who watch ROH in 2002 do so for the historic moments. Eddie in ROH, the RRC, the first champion, the first tag champions and the London Street fight, Ki vs Joe, etc. Honor Invades Boston isn’t a very historic show. While it is Ki’s first defense as champion, he had several other, better matches in 2002. The Briscoes acheived more fame as a tag team than for their singles feud, and overall there wasn’t that big historic moment for ROH fans to look back on.

Wrestlerave ’03

2003 had some great shows, and some really forgettable shows. This makes the great shows pretty easy to remember, they stand out and have big moments. Wrestlerave ’03 has a memorable moment in the rave, and the Punk promo, but really seemingly was forgotten in terms of being a good show. It isn’t on the level of One Year Anniversary, Night of Champions or Death Before Dishonor, but it is a show well worth searching out. Punk’s “THIS IS STRAIGHT EDGE” promo is reproduced elsewhere, but on this show works spectacularly well. Maff vs Joe is better than it had any right to be considering Maff’s less than stellar singles career in ROH. Sabin vs AJ Styles for the NWA title is short, but alot of fun for as long as it lasts. The biggest highlight of the show is the Trent Acid vs Homicide Fight Without Honor which has to be the best match of Trent Acid’s career and turned the Fight Without Honor from what Joe and Ki did to a crazy weapons brawl.

Why is it overlooked? The biggest reason is it was sold out on the ROH site for over 2 years. So unless you bought it early on, or on ebay you just didn’t have this show. So how the hell could people remember a show they never saw?

Death Before Dishonor II Weekend

Death Before Dishonor part 1 and 2 is the best double shot ROH did until Nowhere to Run and The Final Showdown, and even now ranks in the top five. These are probably the two best top to bottom ROH shows of 2004, but they are really never talked about. It is really sad because both shows are awesome, have some really stellar moments, and blow off some important feuds. Samoa Joe vanquishes Homicide. The Second City Saints beat the Prophecy and finish off the Briscoes to retain the tag titles. Then look at the matches. The Briscoes take on Punk and Cabana in an excellent 2/3 falls match. Joe and Homicide have one of the best matches of their series. Doug Williams and Alex Shelley have another great Pure title match on Part 1.

On Part 2 the Briscoes and Homicide and Low Ki have two great singles matches, Joe and Cabana have a fun title match, as do Doug Williams and Austin Aries. Then in the main event Punk and Ace Steel have a classic street fight with Maff and Whitmer, chock full of brutality, crazy spots and a chair riot.

Why are they overlooked? If I had to guess I’d say it is because this double shot comes in the middle of some of the most famous matches and angles ROH did in 2004.  The show before Low Ki returned and turned heel. A month before that Generation Next formed, Survival of the Fittest happened, as well as World Title Classic. Just over a month later Foley would debut, then Danielson vs Joe and the Midnight Express Reunion followed by Joe vs Punk II and III, and the title change to Austin Aries. So when these shows happened everyone was talking about what had just happened and came out on DVD, and when they came out, big happenings had trumped them in importance. Add in that the Prophecy/SCS blow off couldn’t include Christopher Daniels and you get an idea of why it was overlooked.

Third Anniversary Celebration Part 3

The Third Anniversary shows represented a strong string of three shows for ROH, and compared to ROH’s anniversaries shows that aren’t really talked about, especially when you look at the quality of Night 3. First of all, Heenan and Cornette return and have another hilarious exhibition of their managerial prowess in a match that is high on antics and nearly as fun as the first showdown at All Star Extravaganza II. Alex Shelley destroys Jack Evans in a super fun match that sees Evans stretched, pounded and slammed in the entertaining ways only he can. James Gibson continues his hot start to his ROH career against Puma, the Rave/Punk feud begins, and Aries and Joe have an excellent rematch. Top to bottom this is a very entertaining card at a time when ROH still had some huge stinkers in the under and mid card.

Why is it overlooked? I’m not sure. Possibly because Part 2 is of the same quality and featured the return of AJ Styles, and Part 1 while not as good of a show had a cage match and the “blowoff” to the Joe/Foley feud. It might also be because ROH started off 2005 in a bit of a slump. The Homicide/Danielson series had some good matches, and one of them is on this show, but until the cage match in May none of them lived up to the excellent match they had at Reborn Stage 2. So besides the Joe/Aries rematch there wasn’t anything on this show that screamed MUST SEE, and even that was a rematch that wasn’t quite as good as the first match and didn’t seem to have much chance of a title change.

This Means War

This is a tough one. When it came out people talked about Curry Man and Roderick Strong vs Bryan Danielson, but after awhile this show fell off the map. That is a shame, because it is the best show ROH has run in Connecticut. Alex Shelley and Claudio Castagnoli start the show off with a really good 20 minute draw. It’s such a shame we never got to see more between those two. Kikiutaro is hilarious in the 4 Corner Survival, and Curry Man vs Jay Lethal is close to the pinnacle of non Kikutaro comedy wrestling in ROH.  Aries and Styles have a good match, but the highlight of the show is Roderick Strong and Bryan Danielson beating the shit out of each other with a finish that had people asking “Was that a shoot?” This match is one of the best ROH put on in 2005, and is so close to the Vendetta match in quality that it is hard to argue which is better.

Why is it overlooked? Probably because ROH had a Strong/Danielson rematch a  week later on an even better show. Or maybe because Kenta Kobashi came into ROH earlier in the month. It is hard to tell, but this show just did not come out at a good time to really get the credit it deserves.

Tag Wars 2006

This is a seriously fun show. All three Trios Tournament matches are fun. Alot of fun. Especially the interaction between Alex Shelley and Abyss. I really wish Abyss had stuck around ROH, because it seemed like he and Shelley were going to have a fun feud once he broke away from the Embassy.  Low Ki and Christopher Daniels have a really good match, although not quite on the level that one would expect from these two. Although considering it was a midcard match, what were they supposed to do, blow away the crowd for the rest of the show? The ROH/CZW war EXPLODES as Hero and Necro invade and Cornette freaks out.  But the highlight of this show is the fantastic Tag title match with Bryan Danielson and Jay Lethal challenging Roderick Strong and Austin Aries. This isn’t as fast paced and full of high flying as most of Generation Next’s best title defenses, but it is a wonderful match featuring some really great tag wrestling and logic not always seen in ROH’s tag division. It was probably also the first ROH Tag Title match of this quality since The Second City Saints vs the Briscoes.

Why is it overlooked? It came right before the Milestone series and right after Steel Cage Warfare and Low Ki vs KENTA. Once the Milestone series began the ROH fanbase and reviewers really didn’t talk about much else. Also during this period you had the one night only return of CM Punk and all of the speculation that led up to it, further burying talk of this show. There is also the fact that the first Trios Tournament in ROH on Trios Tournament 2005 was one of the worst shows ROH has ever run, so people weren’t that willing to give the second one a chance.

Ring of Homicide

This is one of the best shows of 2006, but never seems to be mentioned in those conversations. Glory By Honor V Night 2, Final Battle, Better than Our Best, Supercard of Honor and Death Before Dishonor IV all get mentioned, but not Ring of Homicide. And that is a huge shame. It starts off with a wonderful Colt Cabana vs Kikutaro comedy match.  Jay Lethal returned to challenge Nigel McGuinness in an impromptu and surprisingly good Pure Title match. Delirious got his rematch with Bryan Danielson and they had one of Danielson’s best defenses of the first half of 2006, and one of the most exciting. We who were there live seriously thought Delirious might pull it out for a second. Add in really good matches in Matt Sydal vs Christopher Daniels and The Briscoes vs Aries and Strong and you have one hell of a show already.

But in the main event is where the show becomes epic. Samoa Joe and the Necro Butcher start things out, but it eventually becomes a wild multi man brawl, and eventually comes down to a singles street fight between Homicide and Necro Butcher featuring a chair riot. The CZW war really took off in match form here, following months of run ins and crowd brawls and a couple short, disappointing matches.

Why is it overlooked? It fell on the opposite end of the Milestone Series, and was sandwiched between that and the KENTA tour of ROH and Death Before Dishonor IV, plus the announcement that ROH was going to England. Furthermore, nothing was really settled on this show. The CZW war continued on, Sydal and Daniels continued their rivalry, the Briscoes and Generation Next had two more matches, and even Danielson and Delirious had another singles match. Plus, as great as Homicide vs Necro Butcher was, what people wanted to see was Joe vs Necro, a match that had a lot of buzz because of their IWA-MS encounters.

Race to the Top Tournament Night 2

This is one of the most fun ROH shows I have ever seen. The tournament is full of good matches such as Quackenbush vs Claudio to awesome matches like Generico vs Claudio. The DVD also features an awesome series of skits featuring Chris Hero and Larry Sweeney helping Bobby Dempsey lose weight, which is Chris Hero at his best.  There’s also a fun Six Man Mayhem match with the folks eliminated in night one of the tournament. Oh, and the greatest promo battle ever between Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness as they choose teams for the 10,000 Dollar 8 Man Tag match, argue over which Briscoe is which, and try to upstage each other. The 8 Man tag itself is also amazing fun, and I won’t spoil anything that happens in it.

Why is it overlooked? I really don’t know. There’s no ROH Title match as Takeshi Morishima was back in Japan, which is why ROH ran a tournament instead. The best answer I can come up with is that ROH had just moved to Pay Per View, so the PPV events were still a novelty and got a lot of buzz. Just a couple of weeks later Death Before Dishonor weekend would occur, and  Bryan Danielson vs Morishima would happen at Manhattan Mayhem II,killing off RTTT’s buzz.

Proving Ground

Proving Ground was ROH’s first show of 2008, and traditionally the first few shows of the year are weak. Proving Ground, however was not. In fact, all four January 2008 shows were above average.  But Proving Ground seems tragically overlooked for how good it was. First of all it features Erick Stevens’ first FIP title defense against Austin Aries in an excellent, dramatic, long match. The crowd came in now caring about Erick, and left loving him. It also features the only singles match in ROH between Bryan Danielson and Brent Albright and it delivers with some really good mat work and an overall good mid card match. You also get a brutal street fight with Kevin Steen vs Necro Butcher, a match I liked a lot more than their Boston Massacre match later in the year. The finish, to me was very clever although unprotected chair shots need to stop. Roderick Strong and El Generico also have a good match. The big selling point of this show however is Ultimate Endurance. The Briscoes vs Whitmer/Albright vs Evans/Jigsaw vs Age of the Fall is just an incredibly fun match. The scramble fall is all out insanity. The anything goes fall sees a call back to the Jacobs/Whitmer feud, and the use of the SUPER LADDER from the Ladder War. The final fall between the Briscoes and AoTF is just great stuff, and I love this match.

Why is it overlooked? Probably because ROH was coming off Final Battle Weekend, the classic Nigel/Aries match, and would have another 3 shows in January. It also didn’t have Nigel McGuinness on it as he was in Japan, so you have the formula for a show most people won’t talk about. No foreign star, no champion, and on top of that, the tag titles would change hands in another Ultimate Endurance later in January.

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