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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

In the second of our three part Archived look at Philadelphia’s Ring of Honor promotion, we find an independent promotion that was just starting to carve its niche.

ROH’s first true homegrown stars, names that couldn’t lay claim to being known independent talents nationally when the promotion was born a year earlier (something that Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson, AJ Styles, and Low Ki could claim) were being nurtured and burst into the imagination of ROH fans in a big way with at first, Paul London, then the likes of CM Punk and Samoa Joe.

London would exit the company in July 2003, getting a huge sendoff before a then-record ROH crowd. Joe and Punk have since become twin pillars of ROH’s success. It was 2003 that helped them set the foundation for that importance to the promotion, as Joe won the ROH championship and raised the prestige to the highest of any independent wrestling promotion since the advent of ECW’s World title. Punk and his Second City Saints morphed into main event players, partially in thanks to names such as Raven and Terry Funk came into the company, seeking to bring CM Punk to a new level but instead took ROH into a totally different direction as the promotion began slowly moving away from presenting only great in-ring athletics but also compelling pro wrestling storylines.

As new stars were cultivated, the promotion itself also morphed into a new demon with the use of better lighting and a DJ providing mixed music to give the shows a “rave effect” that actually ended one od the shows in one of the best ROH event endings to date. A new entranceway and barriers featuring sheet metal for the crowd to bang on led to unique fan interactions as they banged on the barriers in response to their heroes, at times to the tune of the competitors’ theme music. ROH’s fans also helped give the promotion a different dimension, creating chants (“Let’s Go London, Let’s Go Dragon”) that have found their way into the pop culture of wrestling fans across the nation.

Ring of Honor also began attempting to expand into new areas including Pittsburgh, New York, and New Jersey also testing what would happen when outside names (The Great Muta, Jeff Hardy) were injected into the ROH bloodstream. While most independents would be happy with simply one town to run, ROH consistently strived to expand the company. Looking back over their second year sees them finding mixed results outside of Philly, with New Jersey and New York being legitimate success stories, but other markets not as tremendous from a box office point of view.

2003 was the year that forced members of the wrestling media and wrestling fans alike who weren’t keeping tabs on the company to start to pay attention. It will go down as one of the most important years for Ring of Honor from an evolution standpoint, as the company was trying to find its niche, develop its stars, and strive to survive during one of the hardest time periods ever to keep an alternative product alive.

The Ring of Honor 2003 Archive features the following events:

PAGE 2 – ROH REVENGE ON THE PROPHECY
PAGE 3 – ROH FIRST ANNIVERSARY SHOW/NYC DEBUT
PAGE 4 – ROH EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
PAGE 5 – ROH NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS
PAGE 6 – ROH EPIC ENCOUNTER
PAGE 7 – ROH RETRIBUTION: ROUND ROBIN CHALLENGE II
PAGE 8 – ROH/FWA FRONTIERS OF HONOR
PAGE 9 – ROH DO OR DIE
PAGE 10 – ROH NIGHT OF GRUDGES
PAGE 11 – ROH WRESTLERAVE
PAGE 12 – ROH DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR
PAGE 13 – ROH WRATH OF THE RACKET
PAGE 14 – ROH BITTER FRIENDS, STIFFER ENEMIES
PAGE 15 – ROH BEATING THE ODDS
PAGE 16 – ROH GLORY BY HONOR II
PAGE 17 – ROH TRADITION CONTINUES
PAGE 18 – ROH EMPIRE STATE SHOWDOWN
PAGE 19 – ROH MAIN EVENT SPECTACLES
PAGE 20 – ROH THE CONCLUSION
PAGE 21 – ROH WAR OF THE WIRE
PAGE 22 – ROH FINAL BATTLE 2003


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