Hello readers. My, it has been a while, hasn’t it? And for that I can only apologise. It’s been a hectic few months here at C!FA towers I can tell you, what with starting a stand-up comedy double act with an esteemed comrade, getting a new job, gleefully quitting my horrible old job, moving house and going up to the Edinburgh festival to perform with aformentioned comrade I’ve barely had time to think, let alone write several thousand overwraught, flouncy words relating to videogames or professional wrestling. Well that all changes today, chums. I’m back on a work rota that allows me some free time in which to write, and I’ve had a few ideas for articles over the past few months, the first of these being a nice long wrestling DVD review in the vein of December to Dismember from way back when. (Largely to appease longtime reader and wrestlepal Neil Cathan, who whenever I speak to him implores me to write some more wrestling posts. Your wish is my command, Neil!)
Recently I’ve acquired on eBay the first three Ring of Honor shows on DVD, so my thinking was to review them as a trilogy, perhaps breaking up the endless wrestletalk with a couple of videogame posts in between. We’ll see, anyway. It might pan out in strange and fantastic ways none of us could ever have imagined.
So Ring of Honor, then. I believe I’m correct in saying this company was started by a wrestling video distribution company called RF Video, when they realised that after ECW closed in 2001 they were going to need something to replace what had been their biggest selling tapes, and so decided to cut out the middle man and put on shows starring the best wrestlers on the American independent scene themselves to film and sell on their website. I believe they also had a phoneline you could call to order videos and DVDs, because it was 2002 and such an option was, adorably, still neccessary. The Era of Honor Begins, our subject here, was the first of these.
As with December To Dismember, what follows is the notes I made as I watched the show for the first time. I will confess however that I watched a little bit of the next show, Round Robin Challenge, a few months ago, so I am at least passingly familiar with some of the more… obscure performers here. Commentary is provided by Eric Garguilo (your guess is as good as mine) and Steve Corino. Unless otherwise stated, stuff in quotation marks is usually the commentators. OK! Preliminaries over with! The Era of Honor Begins, begins! (I am inordinately proud of that pun)
- Nice house music on the menu. Might just listen to this forever.
- Nice white writing/black background, ‘Ring of Honor Philadelphi 2.23.02’ typed out all slowly. Like in The Terminator. Oh, you know what I mean.
- Video package of wrestlers entrances. (Same great music as the menu)
- Oh man, this looks like the most indy wrestling thing ever.
- Oh Chris Daniels. You dude.
- Oh nice! Way to ruin the start of the main event in the intro package, ROH.
- More writing. This is crazy 90s.
- Who’s this? Is it ‘Da Hit Squad’?
- This is just a home video of them messing about in the street!
- Oh, now they’re on a bus, just promo-ing at some poor people who just wanted to get to the show without being shouted at and expected to cheer. I’m guessing. This is America after all, they might enjoy this sort of thing.
- Already ragging on ‘Sports Entertainment’.
- Someone’s dad is on the bus, so I’m uncomfortable with all this swearing.
- How are Da Hit Squad so popular?
- Getting the fans on a bus to chant “ROH!” before the first show even starts? Nice.
- Oi! AJ Styles isn’t on this one! I’ve seen the back of the DVD! You are lying!
- Both Hit Squad members wearing jean shorts? I expected nothing less.
- Fear/disbelief in the eyes of Boston fans as Da Hit Squad shout at them in the street. Why is this on here? Were they mates with someone at RF Video? Why did they think this was a good way to open their first ever show?
Christopher Street Connection vs. Da Hit Squad
- ?? Huh?
- Hooray! Gay bashing!
- (Upon Buff-E and Masse of the CRC getting into the ring and kissing) “Do they have to do it in public?” Really? The first thing you do on your first show is this? Okay.
- “Ring of Honor told people they were gonna have no gimmicks” (etc) Was the beginning of ROH hyped online then? Marketed straight at the IWC? Seems to have worked.
- Anti-Sports Entertainment again.
- This is awful. Let this end. The assumption being that being gay is wrong/disgusting and that everyone who could possibly be watching the wrestling show feels the same way. I honestly thought early ROH wasn’t this bad.
- Aaaand here come the straight men to police their gender through violence. The crowd cheer as they batter two gay men. The message being that its ok to attack people for the crime of being homosexual. Appalling.
- “Da Hit Squad representing everyone here at ROH!” Depressingly, that’s probably true.
- Wait was this an actual match?
- Both commentators relishing Da Hit Squad attacking a woman. Again, this is absolutely indefensible.
- Da Hit Squad: “Ring of Honor is not about stupid gimmicks!” Fine, but you could’ve made that point very easily without resorting to bigotry.
- This is pretty much the same promo as on the bus.
- Commentary: “It’s not about bashing anybody, it’s about the Ring of Honor, representing Ring of Honor” Firstly that makes absolutely no sense, and secondly it absolutely was about bashing gay people, you complete hypocrite.
- Thinking back to that minor scandal a year or two ago where Jay Briscoe made some appallingly homophobic statements on Twitter, is it any fucking wonder? The Briscoes were how old when they appeared on this show? 17/18? And at a fairly young age their peers are showing them that not only is homophobia acceptable in wrestling, but that playing up to this violent, abhorent bigotry is an easy way to become popular. And now, as I type this, Jay Briscoe is ROH’s World Heavyweight Champion. Sometimes I just… I don’t know.
- And speaking of Jay Briscoe…..
Jay Briscoe vs. Amazing Red
- Amazing Red looks seriously 14 years old.
- Wearing a massive black t-shirt. I’m guessing he’s not exactly ripped.
- “Both under 20 years old” oh MAN I feel old.
- The wrestling here is so, so fast. Almost too fast.
- Nice cover by Briscoe as Red doesn’t get enough momentum for a tornado DDT, so he just plonks him back on the top turnbuckle. Logical and believable.
- BRUTAL fishermans buster from Jay Briscoe.
- Briscoe struggling to bridge out of a pin there.
- Again has to use his strength to cover for Red.
- The Jay Driller is brutal, but oversold by Red. No need to shake like you’re having a fit.
- Of COURSE he kicks out at 2. Just after selling like you’ve been hit by a taser. *sigh*
- Mad spear across the entire ring.
- Jay misses a cannonball senton and has to scoot on his bum to get in position for Red’s corkscrew moonsault and shooting star press. Sloppy.
- “Jay Briscoe and Amazing Red set the standard, set the pace for the night!” and for every ROH match for the rest of time, what with all the kicking out of finishers.
- Homicide is angry because his neighbourhood has been knocked down? And he has a rubber chicken?
- Xaiver tries to cheer up a teen. Because.
- Scoot Andrews does a promo from the 70s.
Xavier vs. Scoot Andrews
- ‘The Black Nature Boy’ Scoot Andrews, eh? We’ll see, shall we?
- Nice hold for hold stuff.
- “Xavier was a security guard for a wrestling company, but instead of worrying about saving people, he watched the wrestlers” Well then he wasn’t a very good security guard, was he? Plus isn’t that just saying “Xavier has watched some wrestling”? Oh never mind.
- Nice hard clothesline by Scoot.
- I am now sick of hearing the commentators say the words ‘Scoot Andrews’. It is a stupid name.
- Another piledriver-type finisher kicked out of.
- Oh heavens there is an exceedingly pretty photographer ringside.
- That was a very bland match.
The Boogie Knights vs. Natural Born Sinners
- The Boogie Knights have great music (‘You’re The Best Around’ by Joe Esposito, if anyone is interested)
- One of the Natural Born Sinners has a chainsaw! That can’t be allowed!
- “That’s not a gimmick! That’s real life!” No its not. It’s definitely a gimmick. Why couldn’t Da Hit Squad come out and batter the Natural Born Sinners? Surely ‘carrying rubber chickens and chainsaws and pretending to have escaped prison’ is a gimmick? Because they’re ‘tough’? Surely that would’ve made more of a statement?
- So NBS have all these sporting achievements that you’re listing, they can’t have missed much school and spent much time on the streets then can they? Either they’re legit athletes, or they’re gangsters. Not much crossover there.
- (Re. the referee) “They don’t call him the extreme official for anything!” So… they don’t call him the extreme official? These two are kind of terrible. When does Dave Prazak arrive?
- Hold on is one of The Boogie Knights Mike Quackenbush?
- Oh no never mind.
- “Boogaloo calls that the South of Heaven! “Looks more like a one way trip to Hell!” UGH. Did you even think about that for… UGH.
- No gimmicks, but you’ll hit people over the head with a rubber chicken and they’ll sell like they’ve been hit by a chair? Hmm.
- Brian Kendrick doesn’t realise he’s still on camera, bless ‘im.
- A boy is cleaning the ropes and being cheered. Say what you like about this crowd, they are enthusiastic.
Quiet Storm vs. Chris Devine vs. Brian XL vs. Joel Maximo vs. Jose Maximo
- Mikey Whipwreck! Hey Mikey! Nice flame print shirt. Yes, I was aware it is 2002.
- This lot are all your students? That is cool.
- Oh, and Red’s back. (130lbs? Oh man he is tiny)
- Nice concept, they all train together, they all ride together, they want to see who’s the best. Cool. I am now more invested in this. Nice work.
- Lots of suicide dives.
- So many counters.
- Standing Shooting Star Press starting on top of the guy by Brian XL. Mad.
- A little sloppy logically, guys not going for pins/helping each other when they’re all supposed to be competing against each other.
- “Prince Nana, he’s a real prince from Ghana, it’s not a gimmick!” It obviously is, stop saying that.
- Oh! The towel boy is an actual wrestler called Towel Boy Eric Tuttle. And now he’s wrestling after Steve Corino told him to get himself over. Huh?
Prince Nana vs. Towel Boy Eric Tuttle
- It’s started!
- And it’s over!
Michael Shane & Oz vs. Spanky & Ikaika Loa
- All from Shawn Michaels Texas Wrestling Alliance. Is the one of the points where he wasn’t in the WWE? I can’t remember.
- Oh man Spanky’s entrance music is Genie in a Bottle ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
- Is he wearing spotty PJ bottoms?
- “This isn’t the independents, this is Ring Of Honor!” Oh be quiet.
- An awful lot of Northern Lights Suplexes tonight. Not that i’m complaining.
- Spanky struggling to wrestle his gimmick, there’s very much a disjoint between how charismatic he is on his entrance and how when he starts wrestling that’s all he does, no more character work. This sort of thing takes experience, obviously.
- This lot are quite accomplished actually. Not half bad. Nice one Shawn and Rudi.
- Lovely flying elbow from Michael Shane. He’s Shawn Michaels’ cousin, you know.
- HC Lowke on the phone to…. someone? We’ll see, I guess.
Super Crazy vs. Eddie Guerrero
- Apparently this is for the IWA Intercontinental title (from Puerto Rico)
- Super Crazy’s music is great.
- Eddie’s using that song by Santana. Oh, you know, that one.
- This should be GOOD.
- The evil look in Eddie’s eyes, holy crap. Doesn’t care that the whole place is going MENTAL for him, he’s working heel so he’s working heel. What a pro.
- Only Eddie could pull off a mullet in 2002.
- Counting in Spanish on the ten punches in the corner, very nice.
- Eddie deadlifts Super Crazy for an outside brainbuster. Madness.
- This is just really really good. If you were to watch any match from this show, make it this one. Makes the others so far look like absolute crap.
- Super Crazy wins the title. Not that it really matters, but it occured to me that I’ve not really been mentioning who’s been winning these matches, so I thought I’d better.
American Dragon vs. Low Ki vs. Chris Daniels
- Low-Ki’s music is ace. I was expecting generic traditional Japanese stereotype stuff, I got Hi-NRG. Happy happy happy.
- Steampunk Chris Daniels is very cool.
- Is Low Ki only 170 pounds? Gosh I feel fat.
- First speeding up clap of the night. These work better when they aren’t done every match, y’know?
- Fast-paced stuff, but not too fast. Allows you to appreciate everything.
- It’s odd that he’s just called ‘American Dragon’, not Bryan Danielson.
- Chris Daniels with a Boston Crab on Danielson and a Camel Clutch on Low-Ki at the same time. Brill.
- Low-Ki holds Danielson’s hair and just kicks him in the face over and over and over.
- Chris Daniels is already ten years into his career at this point? Man!
- Low-Ki kicks Chris Daniels in the back. Danielson: “That’s not how you do it!” *CRACK* Lovely.
- Again, nothing much to say except that was really really good. Oh, err… Low-Ki won and Chris Daniels got annoyed and refused to shake the others hands and they all said they’re the best one which set up the round robin challenge next time.
- Speaking of which, the Code of Honor is described here as if people have already been told about it. No definitive “this is what the Code of Honor is” bit at the start of the show, it’s just mentioned in passing as if everyone watching show already be aware of it. Where did the inital information come from? The internet? I’m guessing the internet.
So yes. That was the first Ring of Honor show. The last two matches were excellent, the rest of the card was a bit sloppy, and the first segment was possibly the most uncomfortable and angry I’ve ever felt while watching wrestling. It’s just completely awful and unacceptable that “They’re gay” is, in this promotions eyes, a legitimate reason for one wrestler to attack another. I almost don’t want to carry on and watch the next one, but looking at the DVD the Christopher Street Connection don’t appear, so at least we can hopefully avoid a lot of massive homophobia and me becoming incredibly annoyed and ranting for several paragraphs. Which is what we all want in the end, I think.