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ROH YEAR TWO ARCHIVE: AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT RING OF HONOR'S SOPHOMORE EFFORT

By Mike Johnson on 2004-12-24 00:31:00


ROH/FWA FRONTIERS OF HONOR

FWA-ROH FRONTIERS OF HONOR LIVE REPORT FROM UK
By Vikram Sangar

FWA & ROH Present
“Frontiers of Honor”
From The York Hall
Bethnal Green, London UK

The electric atmosphere of the legendary York Hall in Bethnal Green was the backdrop for Britain’s biggest wrestling event of the year on Saturday night 5/17 as the rising stars of the Frontier Wrestling Alliance went head-to-head with Philadelphia’s amazing “Ring of Honor” promotion.

The venue was practically sold out with early estimates of there being anywhere between 1000-1200 fans at Saturday’s show. The set design was fairly impressive too with separate entrance ways for FWA and Ring of Honor competitors. Right from the opening bell, the fans erupted and were rarely out of voice throughout the night in what proved to be another fantastic advertisement for British Wrestling.

Announcer Jane Childs read out the rules for tonight’s event stating that the “Code of Honor” will be in effect for all inter-promotional matches, meaning competitors would have to shake hands before and after their match. Furthermore, every victory will earn their wrestlers’ respective promotion a point, meaning either the FWA or ROH will be crowned the overall winner by the end of the night.

FWA vs. ROH Match - James Tighe vs. Paul London

Fantastic ovation for both men, who kicked off the event in style with a breathtaking opener. To put on the match they did showed just how far both wrestlers have come along in the past 12 months. Few could have expected this to be the “Match of the Night” but that’s exactly what it was- as both men exhibited a wonderful mix of high-flying action and submissions.

The crowd were very vocal in their support for both men and after an early exchange of arm-drags and headlocks- Paul London hit a beautiful standing moonsault which set the tone for what was to follow. After more back and forth action, Tighe gained the advantage by pushing London off the top rope and onto the outside to which the crowd exploded with chants of “Holy Shi*!” As the fight moved around the ring, London pulled off one of the moves of the night, a running Shooting Star Press off the apron and onto his opponent! Tighe (pronounced “Tie”) fought back well however and hit a modified “Razor’s Edge” in the ring for two. Tighe followed that up with a German Suplex but again only managed two as London yet again kicked out.

Following more offense by Tighe, London began to fight back well, and with the crowd now behind him went for a top-rope Shooting Star Press, but missed. Tighe captured the opportunity by hitting his finisher, a modified version of “The Perfect Plex” known as the “Tighe-tanic” for the victory. A simply amazing match from start to finish capped off with a huge standing ovation for both men.

Winner: James Tighe for the FWA!
Score: FWA 1-0 ROH

FWA vs. ROH Match - Jack Xavier vs. Mikey Whipwreck

One of the biggest ovations of the night was reserved for former ECW star Mikey Whipwreck who to my mind was making his UK debut. His opponent tonight can only be described as another incarnation of Mikey himself- Jack Xavier who is practically the same size, same stature and pretty much the same weight as Whipwreck (although Mikey looked in great shape tonight.)

As chants of “Mikey! Mikey!” died down, Jack Xavier took the early advantage with a sweet Tilt-a-Whirl Facebuster, proving to Mikey this would be no easy ride. As Mikey went to the outside to recover from the move, Jack tried an apron dive but missed Whipwreck and landed on the outside mat. Mikey tried to hit Jack with a Splash, but missed and landed in the crowd who were quick to help their hero onto his feet. Mikey then brought out a steel chair and set it up next to the crowd barrier. After taking down Xavier, Mikey picked him up by his legs and swung him around, hitting a very painful looking facebuster onto the chair! This only seemed to entice the twisted Mikey to come up with more things to torture Jack Xavier with!

Back in the ring, Jack fought back well and hit a nice neckbreaker and a modified version of Kanyon’s finisher, “The Flatliner”. A 9 count later and both men are up fighting to the finish. Jack hits his finisher but Mikey kicks out at 2! Mikey too hits his finisher straight after but Jack shows his resilience to kick out at 2 as well! As Mikey tries to roll-up his opponent, Jack reverses and holds on to get the pinfall victory!

Winner: Jack Xavier for the FWA!
Score: FWA 2-0 ROH

The Duke of Danger and his butler Simmons came out for the next match. Biggest chants of the night were for the butler who is one of the most “over” guys in the company. The Duke got on the mic and stated that unfortunately due to the arm injury he suffered recently, he would be unable to compete tonight. But he arranged something special for Birchall, and that was the duo of Raj Ghosh and Russ Jordan- now collectively known as Double Dragon.

A familiar music hits over the speakers and out comes “The Twisted Genius” Dean Ayass. Dean was the ex-leader of the “Old School” faction in the FWA. After being expelled from the FWA many months ago, Dean returned to a welcoming ovation on Saturday night. He got on the mic and stated that he may have been expelled from the FWA has the leader of the “Old School” but all good managers have a “Plan B”- and that “Plan B” being none other than the mighty Birchall!

Paul Birchall vs. Double Dragon

Birchall made his “official” FWA debut tonight although he has been interfering in matches for many months now. The 6’4” monster is built like a heavyweight but has the agility of a cruiserweight which makes him such an exciting prospect! Immediately Double Dragon attack Birchall, from the opening bell but the offense makes little impact on Paul who proceeds to lift up Jordan and Vertebreaks him! Birchall then turns his attention to Ghosh who is Powerbombed into oblivion. As Birchall makes the pin, Simmons pulls out the ref by the legs at the count of 2!

After Birchall finishes chasing Simmons and gets back into the ring, he grabbed both Ghosh and Jordan, and hit an awesome Belly-to-Belly suplex carrying BOTH men! Birchall placed the tag-team at one corner of the ring and after receiving instructions from his new manager Dean Ayass, attempted a top-rope moonsault but missed as his opponents moved. As Birchall recovered, he ran across the ring and Somersaulted OVER the top rope and onto Double Dragon onto the outside!! Amazing manoeuvre! As he dragged both members back into the ring, He Samoan drops Jordan before hitting 2 standing moonsaults on the poor guy! He grabbed Ghosh too and spike slammed him, leaving the ref to count for a Double KO.

Winner: Paul Birchall

FWA vs. ROH Match - “Wonderkid” Jonny Storm vs. A.J. Styles

A huge standing ovation greeted A.J Styles as all the fans chanted “Welcome Back!” in unison. There was a strong ovation for Storm too despite his new “heel” persona. This match was last year’s British “Match of the Year” and the amazing in-ring chemistry between the two was evident for everyone to see again tonight.

Jonny began the match with a left-leg take down and roughed up Styles on the mat to a mixed reaction from the crowd. A.J. retaliated and takes down Storm by his arm and slaps the back of his head to a huge pop! The crowd then began getting on Jonny’s back and began chanting on the nature of his sexuality- which I won’t go into detail here, but needless to say, it was amusing for the fans as it really pissed Jonny off!

The match quickly went to the outside after AJ missed a dive. A superb superkick later and AJ is back in control and hits a “Scorpion Deathdrop” on Storm but only gets 2. AJ tries to manoeuvre Storm on the top rope but Storm fights him off and hits a roundhouse kick of his own, from the top rope. Jonny follows up with a “Juvi Driver” and a standing moonsault- but only gets 2.

This back and forth match again swung back in AJ’s favour. After a nice gutbuster, AJ held Storm high in a suplex position for a good 30-45 seconds before hitting a superb brainbuster with added “snap”. Ouch! That had to hurt! The match again goes onto the outside and Storm hits AJ with a back body drop onto the rampway. AJ gathered himself and was about to powerbomb Storm onto what looked like the rampway, but instead powerbombed Storm onto his KNEE! Great move by A.J!

As both men returned to the ring- we see a close set of “two counts” for the first time in the match as both men reverse each other’s pin attempt. Storm gets up and hits a hurricarrana but only gets 2. As Storm attempted another one, AJ manoeuvred him into the “Styles Clash!” which Jonny somehow kicked out of at 2! As A.J. went for a repeat, Storm countered into a back-body drop and pin for another 2! Storm hit his Rewind Hurricarrana finisher but AJ kicked out a two! Unbelievable action as both men are down recovering from a breathtaking set of moves! Both men get up and Jonny tries to throw AJ out of the ring, but he remains on the outside apron. After fighting Storm off, AJ hits an unbelievable 450 from the outside apron onto Jonny for the victory!

The gloss was taken off the finish slightly as ref Steve Lynskey looked to have counted 3 and called for the bell, but no one rang it. Everyone looked confused in the ring and the ref too was trying to make sure it was actually the planned finish. The crowd booed at the thought of it only being a two count and eventually the bell rang after what seemed the longest 30 seconds ever. A.J. Styles had gained revenge on his defeat last year and received a huge standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.

After the match, Jonny reluctantly shook A.J’s hand but attacked him soon afterwards. He proceeded to beat down A.J and went onto the outside to get a steel chair, just before he could hit Styles with it, Storm’s former best friend Jody Fleisch ran down to make the save for AJ. Jonny walks away from the ring cursing Jody all the way to the back.

Winner: A.J Styles for Ring of Honor
Score: FWA 2-1 ROH

30 Minute Interval

Announcer Jane Childs announced the following inter-promotional match would be a “Non-Title” match. Great ovation for Zebra Kid, who despite being a heel, has developed a great fan-following. ROH Champion Samoa Joe then entered the fray and received a great ovation from the crowd, many of whom would be seeing him in action for the very first time. Loud chants of “Joe! Joe! Joe!” erupted from the rafters as the champ got on the mic. He stated “I’m a fighting champion and I didn’t come all the way from the U.S. just to have a non-title match!” Joe said “So for this match, the Ring of Honor title WILL be on the line!” to which the crowd popped instantly.

FWA vs. ROH - Ring of Honor Title Match: The Zebra Kid challenges Samoa Joe

Another contender for “Match of the Night” as two fighting warriors gave it their absolute all in a really enthralling contest. Zebra Kid literally “kicked it off” as he hit Joe hard with a number of stiff kicks. The early showing was all Zebra as he started like a man possessed- hitting Joe with a suicide dive to the outside and following that up with an impressive elbow drop onto Joe, who was strategically placed on a steel chair. As the match went back in the ring, on the back foot and out of nowhere, Joe hit a superb “Rock Bottom” out of the corner on the Zebra Kid. Samoa followed this up with a relentless attack on Zebra, who was placed in the corner of the ring. Running knee after Running Knee rained in on the Zebra Kid as the crowd now got behind Joe.

As Zebra rolled out to try and get a breather, Joe placed him on the steel barricade and hit him with another running knee to the face! Samoa could feel the crowd behind him and began singing a famous English Soccer chant, “Ole Ole Ole Ole! Ole! Ole!”- Suddenly 1200 people burst into the chant and got completely behind Samoa Joe! It was only later I found out it was a bet Samoa Joe had with some of the guys in the back, but nevertheless it worked and the entire crowd embraced the ROH Champion! Joe even did a sliding “Goal Celebration” to a huge pop from the crowd! All credit to Joe for being such a great character and tremendous champion!

Back in the ring, Zebra Kid got a second wind of sorts and came out with all guns blazing, hitting Joe with stiff kick, after stiff kick all over his body!! The crowd exploded at that flurry and it looked as though Zebra had the chance for victory! He covered Joe but only managed two! Zebra followed up with a top-rope DDT on Joe but again only managed 2! Again Zebra goes to the top rope and hits a dropkick, but only gets two! Finally he signals for his elbow drop finish, and goes to the top. Zebra could sense victory and as he took off to hit the elbow, Joe somehow reversed the move into a crossface submission which he held onto for quite a while! The now weakened Zebra Kid was hit with more knees to the head before a tremendous combination of moves ended Zebra’s dream. Samoa Joe hit a fantastic German Suplex and held on to deliver a second, almost neckbreaking Full-Nelson Suplex before finally pinning Zebra with a German Suplex and Bridge! A great ending to a fantastic match! Samoa Joe had become an instant hit with the fans and will be welcomed back with open arms!

Winner: Samoa Joe for Ring of Honor!
Score: FWA 2-2 ROH

6-Person Hardcore Tag-Team Match
The Family vs. Alex Shane, Ulf Herman & Nikita

All 5 members of The Family entered the arena with Burning Crosses. Their manager Greg Lambert got on the mic to speak but was drowned out by the noise of the crowd telling him to shut up. Alex, Ulf and the gorgeous Nikita ran in and cleared house with a series of double clotheslines and slingshots.

The match itself started with some sort of structure but degenerated into an all-out brawl. Scott Parker, “The Messiah” Brandon Thomas and “Righteous” Paul Travell were the 3 members representing The Family and all others not directly involved in the match had to leave the ringside area. This match had everything, staple guns, steel chairs, trash cans- you name it, they used it!

Scott Parker was the first to experience pain as he was actually KO’d from what looked a “safe” move by Alex Shane. Parker was removed from ringside and remained on the ground for about 5 minutes before groggily returning to his feet. I was told later he couldn’t remember the match at all and carried on purely on instinct!

There were many memorable spots throughout the match- the most breathtaking of all was the 20ft balcony dive by Nikita! Bethnal Green, as you would expect, was aptly renamed the “Holy Shi*!” capital of the world after that spot. Other memorable moments included Ulf breaking a stick over the head of Scott Parker and following that up by breaking a toilet seat with the same stick, over his groin! Travell also hit Alex with an amazing Tornado DDT off the top of the entrance set and onto the rampway!

Another member of The Family, Ashe returned to ringside and attempted a Van Terminator but slipped on the rope and fell, to chants of “You F**** Up!” Scott Parker tried his best to cover the move by hitting the move himself on the hapless Ulf. The finish finally arrived when Nikita was KO’d by Ian Da Siple who ran in and hit her with the belt while the ref too was knocked out. He then made the pin himself (even though he wasn’t involved in the match) for the tainted victory. After the match Ulf smashed a phone over the head of the ref who awarded the match against them.

Winners: The Family

FWA vs. ROH Match - Flash Barker vs. Low-Ki

Jane Childs announced that this match would determine which promotion would win tonight’s tournament. The scores were level at two-all between the FWA and ROH, so this would decide the winner. Amazing ovation for Low-Ki, who was making his second trip to the UK. Flash has been heavily touted as being the next Brit to be given a chance in Ring of Honor and this match, although maybe not to everyone’s taste, went someway into possibly securing him that opportunity.

The match was more of a MMA style fight rather than a wrestling match, with stiff exchanges of punches, kicks and submission holds. Both men tried to end the bout early with submission pins; however the opponent always reversed or got out of the hold. Flash hit Low-Ki with a powerful clothesline but Low-Ki fought back with a strong kick to the mid-section and a lethal kick to the face of Barker which got Low-Ki a two count. More kicks to the face by Low-Ki were capped off with a superb roundhouse kick off the top rope!

As both men exchanged chops, Low-Ki kicked Flash in the head and proceeded to hold Barker in a “Tarantula” type submission hold on the ropes. Flash fought back well and hit a superb hurricarrana on Low-Ki, an incredible feat for such a big man. More punches and submission holds followed by Barker, until Low-Ki kicked Barker in the head again and pulled off a superb crucifix submission hold. Just as Low-Ki looked as though he had Barker in a UFC style arm bar submission hold, the ref called for the bell as the 20 Minute Time Limit had expired! The crowd booed heavily at the decision by “heel” ref Steve Lynskey and began to chant “Five More Minutes!” Low-Ki got on the mic and said “I didn’t fly all the way from New York just to have a F’N Draw!” Flash agreed and said 5 more minutes should be given- but the ref stated his decision was final and walked off. Low-Ki and Barker agreed they would meet again at another time, another place.

Decision: Time Limit Draw
Score: FWA 3-3 ROH

Since the last match was a draw, Jane Childs announced that the main event would now decide which promotion won tonight’s tournament.

FWA vs. ROH Match - “Phoenix” Jody Fleisch vs. “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels

One of the biggest ovations of the night was saved for the returning Christopher Daniels who received huge chants of “Fall-en Angel!” Chris got on the mic and immediately turned on the fans as only he can “I know who I am, and don’t need your help to remind me!” Mixed reaction from fans as half booed and half cheered at his “heel” persona. Jody made his way to the ring to a great ovation from the crowd. Daniels stated he does not represent “Ring of Honor” and only represents himself and “The Prophecy.”

As the bell rang, Daniels refused to shake Jody’s hand and slapped it away to which Jody slapped Daniels on the face! The balcony section burst into a chant of “You Got Bitch Slapped!” to which Daniels played up to immediately and threatened to walk away if they didn’t stop chanting. Once back in the ring an excellent match ensued as both men began by exchanging arm-locks and close pin attempts.

What detracted from the match slightly was the small number of fans that were leaving the arena to catch trains home- as the event over-ran slightly. I would have assumed the finish time would have been 11pm but the main event did not start till shortly after that time. It was a small glitch in an otherwise glorious night.

Back to the match and Jody hit a superb top-rope moonsault onto Daniels, who was on the outside. Jody maintained his advantage by suplexing Daniels on the rampway, the following up with a superb hurricarrana off a steel chair and onto the rampway! Daniels soon fought back in the ring however and a powerful clothesline turned Jody inside out. “The Fallen Angel” hit a superb T-Bone Suplex followed by not one, but two tilt-a-whirl backbreakers! In a beautiful finale to the combination, Daniels hit his patented 3-rope moonsault on Jody, but only managed a two count.

In an exciting finish there were nearly 15 close falls attempted by both men in quick succession, but neither man could get the victory. Jody finally hit his Springboard Somersault Plancha but only managed a two! Finally, as Jody went up to the top rope once again, Jonny Storm attacked Fleisch from behind with a steel chair and Daniels made the cover for the pin and victory for Ring Of Honor!!

Winner: “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels for Ring of Honor!
Final Score: FWA 3-4 ROH

After the match, Jonny and Daniels continued their assault on Jody until the entire “face” FWA roster came out to make the save. Daniels and Jonny were up at the rampway until Dino Scarlo came out and threatened to punish Storm for what he had done tonight. Daniels and Storm attacked Scarlo and busted him open with a steel chair shot to the face. The roster ran from the ring to make the save yet again and remained there to get the deserved standing ovation from crowd for the end to a fantastic night’s entertainment.

All-in-all, an absolutely amazing night of wrestling and one of the best, if not THE best show the FWA have ever put on. All credit to the ROH guys for coming over and making the event happen. I’m sure it’s certainly an experience and atmosphere none of them will ever forget!

Match of the night was difficult to judge as many of the performances were simply awesome! However James Tighe vs. Paul London was on everyone’s list as being up there as one of the best. If Tighe does not get an opportunity with ROH after this performance- then I’m sure nothing will! The match has to be seen to be believed…

There’s talk already of another joint show being planned as early as October which will certainly be welcomed by all British Fans. This was definitely one of the best Indy events of the year and I’m sure ROH will be looking to get more heavily involved in the next one. Speaking to many of the ROH wrestlers and Rob Feinstein, there were genuinely taken aback by the affection and atmosphere of the crowd and the quality of the event.

It was a truly memorable night for British Wrestling in every sense of the word and one the FWA certainly hope to repeat in the very near future!

ROH Frontiers of Honor can be ordered at ROHWrestling.com.


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