With Ring of Honor on its way to Cedar Rapids television in just a few weeks, the Examiner will spend a few weeks covering some of the highlights and lowlights of the promotion’s history.
Ring of Honor made its debut on February 23rd, 2002 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the simply entitled “The Era of Honor Begins”. The show did much to set the tone for future ROH products.
A brief note: The Takedown Masters edition of “The Era of Honor Begins” has clipped two matches out of the show: The Natural Born Sinners (one half of whom, Homicide, would gain much notoriety in coming shows) over the Boogie Knights, and Prince Nana (still a regular wrestler at the time) beat “The Towel Boy” Eric Tuttle.
The show opened with a straight out attack (no pun intended) on sports entertainment as the “gay” team of the Christopher Street Connection (with Allison Danger) were utterly destroyed by Da Hit Squad (Monsta Mack and Mafia). At the time, Da Hit Squad were one of the biggest teams on the east coast, but they would soon disband with only Mafia (using the name Dan Maff) remaining in ROH.
The Amazing Red beat Jay Briscoe in an absolutely brutal match which saw both men hitting each other with pretty much every move in their arsenal. Jay was only 18 at the time and somewhat green, but much of what fans would see in the Briscoe Brothers was already well on display. Mark accompanied Jay to the ring but as he was only 17, could not wrestle yet on the show.
Xavier beat Scoot Andrews in the only real robbery of the night. Scoot was one of the hardest working men in the independent scene during the early 2000s, but never quite reached the pinnacle of other competitors at the time (such as the three men in the main event). Scoot worked hard to make Xavier look absolutely like a million bucks in this match.
The aerial styles of early ROH were on display next as Quiet Storm, Brian XL, Divine Storm, The SAT, and Amazing Red fought in an Ultimate Aerial Elimination Match. Somewhat surprisingly, Quiet Storm walked out the winner.
Brian Kendrick, then only known as Spanky, teamed with Hawaiian star Ikaika Loa to beat Michael Shane and Oz in a Texas Wrestling Academy feature match. This would be Loa and Oz’s only appearance in ROH as far as this Examiner is aware. The match was for a single “ROH contract” for one worker to be flown to shows instead of driving, and Spanky won after pinning Oz.
ROH truly marked where their focus stood as the semi-main event was the finale of a series of matches for the IWA Puerto Rico Intercontinental Champion. The match pitted former ECW high flyer Super Crazy against “Latino Heat” Eddie Guerrero, then only a few weeks away from his return to WWE television after getting clean from drugs and alcohol. Crazy would walk out the winner after a quick roll-up.
In the final match of the night, three indie stalwarts would start their push to fame. Low Ki would come out on top in a 20+ minute hard hitting contest against Christopher Daniels and “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson. In many ways this was a coming out match for the three men, especially for Danielson and Low Ki.
All in all, “The Era of Honor Begins” is a solid independent show, and the emphasis on fair conduct makes for solid wrestling action. However, the focus of the promotion had yet to come in to the heavy mat game that would gain ROH its most notoriety, instead focusing much of the night on hardcore and high-flying action. It would be a few more months before the stronger wrestler talent of early ROH shows would make their debuts and truly work to cement the future of Ring of Honor.
Amazingly, Ring of Honor has let this and several other early shows go out of print in recent years. Though their reasons behind that decision is unknown, “The Era of Honor Begins” usually can be found quite easily is used form on Ebay. The abridged version reviewed here is still available for sale at Amazon, both new and used.