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Murphy Recreation Center – Philadelphia, PA – Saturday, November 9, 2002

Chris Lovey and Jeff Gorman are on commentary.

MATCH #1: Scramble Rules – Special K vs. SAT vs. Divine Storm vs. Da Hit Squad

Joey and Dixie are representing Special K, and they have Izzy in their corner. Chris Divine and Quiet Storm have Trinity with them. Storm and Joel Maximo start the match. They go back and forth at a fast pace. Joey and Jose tag in and they quickly spill to the floor. Divine and Monsta Mack come in and Mack dominates. Dixie and Mafia come in and Dixie actually takes Mafia down with a roaring elbow. That’s surprising. All eight men get involved for a huge Tower of Doom spot. The match quickly goes back to being a crazy brawl. Mack hits Jose with Greetings From Asbury Park off the top rope but Jose is not legal so the referee won’t count. How he can keep track I have no idea. I can barely keep track of what’s going on let alone who’s legal. Action continues to be crazy in and out of the ring. The SAT are able to get Dixie alone on the top rope and they hit him with the Spanish Fly to get the win at 10:13. That was a fine enough way to open the show, as the action never stopped and the crowd was hot.
Rating: **½

MATCH #2: Number One Contender’s Trophy Gauntlet Series

~Michael Shane vs. CM Punk~

This is Punk’s very first match in Ring of Honor. They lock up to start and take it to the mat. Punk takes control and goes to work on the arm. Shane fights back with a back suplex and now he goes to work. He keeps Punk on the ground, which is always wise strategy. Punk tries to fight up but Shane cuts him off with a spear. The resilient Punk comes back again and immediately goes back to the arm. Shane lands an enziguiri to take Punk down again. That gets a two-count. Punk replies with a cross armbreaker and Shane reaches the ropes. He slams Shane down and goes for a split-legged moonsault but Shane gets his knees up. Shane tries to follow up but Punk catches him with a jawbreaker. Punk tries a cross body block but Shane slices him out of the air with a superkick for two. Shane goes up top and misses the Picture Perfect Elbow. Punk hits a Shining Wizard for a two-count. He goes for an O’Connor Roll but Shane reverses it and grabs onto the ropes for leverage to score the pin at 13:04. That was solid if unspectacular. Don’t worry, I think this Punk guy will turn out okay.

~Michael Shane vs. Paul London~

These two have a long-standing grudge so the match starts off hot and heavy, says Lovey. Shane throws London to the floor and they trade chops. London lands a kick to the head and tries a whip into the guardrail but Shane reverses it and London crashes through. Shane hits a suplex and then throws London back in for a two-count. He hits an over the shoulder backbreaker for two. Shane hits a powerbomb and turns it into a Samoan Crab. London is able to get a quick sunset flip for two, but Shane cuts him right off with a clothesline. Shane hits a floating DDT for a two-count. He hits a gutbuster and jaws with the fans. Shane gets a little cocky and London hits a leg trap DDT to score the quick pin at 4:38 (17:42 total match time). That was short but spirited. These two bring out good things in each other.

Shane gets on the microphone and says he doesn’t want to shake London’s hand. He walks toward the back and from out of nowhere Tommy Dreamer walks out! Dreamer, who was in WWE at the time, tells Shane to get back in the ring. He tells Shane there is no way he’s leaving this ring without shaking hands. Dreamer puts over how special ECW was, and says that ROH reminds him of that. Shane shakes Dreamer’s hand and then shakes London’s hand as well. He then sucker shots him with a clothesline. Dreamer doesn’t appreciate that and hits Shane with a DDT!

~Paul London vs. Amazing Red~

These two start fast and furious as well, but with respect rather than hatred. Red hits London with the 718 and then tries an Asai Moonsault but London catches him so Red counters with a DDT! He gets back in the ring and tries a baseball slide but London catches him and swings him into the guardrail. Back in the ring London covers for two. London hits a delayed vertical suplex for a two-count. Red comes back with roundhouse kicks and a dropkick to the back of the head. He’s able to take London down and hits a quick Red Star Press for a near-fall. They fight up on the top rope and Red hits a huge hurricanrana but it only gets two! London catches Red with a Rydeen Bomb and then finishes him off with the beautiful Shooting Star Press at 5:44 (23:26 total match time). These two are fun together, and after a little sloppiness in the beginning they did good stuff.

~Paul London vs. American Dragon~

They take it down to the mat and Dragon seems to have the advantage, which makes sense because London has already had two tough matches. Dragon hits a butterfly suplex and throws London to the floor. Outside the ring Dragon continues the abuse. London has gotten almost zero offense in the first five minutes. Dragon ties London up on the ropes and unleashes chops and a dropkick. He covers for two. London thinks about fighting back and Dragon strikes him right back down and gets another two-count. Dragon whips London into the corner and charges but London gets his elbow up. London goes for a moonsault off the second rope and Dragon cuts him out of the air with a dropkick. Dragon nips up and covers for two. Finally London is able to fight back and hit a DDT. Both men are down. Back on their feet London hits the dropsault and a back body drop. A standing moonsault gets two. Dragon reverses a whip into the corner and drills London with a clothesline for a two-count. They fight up top and London flips out of a suplex attempt and hits a super Side Russian Legsweep. London goes up top and Dragon knocks him down. Dragon hits a superplex and crawls over for the cover and gets two. London gets a victory roll from out of nowhere for two. Dragon cuts him off with a clothesline and then hits a release Dragon Suplex. He locks on Cattle Mutilation and London has no choice but to tap out at 10:10 (33:36 total match time) to send Dragon on to face AJ Styles later in the evening. This was one of the better gauntlets ROH has ever done, even to this day. They had a wide variety of talent and used them effectively. London comes out looking especially great, but everyone looked good here.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #3: ROH Tag Team Title Match – The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan & Samoa Joe) vs. Low Ki, Homicide & Doug Williams

The Prophecy have been the Champions since 9.21.02, and this is their first defense. They try to psyche out the challengers to start and they pay for it. Morgan and Joe get sent to the floor and Daniels gets triple-teamed briefly before taking a powder to join his partners. This is when the ROH Tag Team Champions walked around with a trophy instead of belts. Morgan and Ki start the match proper. Joe tags in because he wants another piece of Ki after their encounter at Glory By Honor. Daniels tags in, much to Joe’s chagrin, and then tags Morgan in before any contact is made. Morgan and Ki take it down to the mat. They go back and forth a bit and then Williams and Joe tag in. Not long after that Homicide and Daniels tag in, with both teams trying to establish dominance. The challengers take control and isolate Daniels. After several minutes Joe grows weary of this and comes into kick Williams right in the face. Now the Champions are in control and they focus on Williams. Daniels hits a uranage slam and the Best Moonsault Ever but only gets two. Finally Williams is able to take Daniels and Morgan down and he makes the hot tag. Homicide is a house afire and he cleans house on the Champions. Ki and Williams join him and the referee has lost control. Williams dives onto Morgan on the floor with a clothesline off the top rope. Daniels hits Williams with an Arabian Press. Homicide hits Daniels and Morgan with the Tope Con Hilo but they catch him. Ki hits a springboard dive to take everyone out. That leaves only Joe in the ring. Joe joins the party with a corkscrew plancha to take everyone out. He takes Williams in the ring for some kicks and a bridging Dragon Suplex for two. Joe goes for the Island Driver but Williams avoids it. Morgan comes in and hits Williams with a Back Drop Driver for two. He hits Homicide with the Golden Gate Swing for another two-count. How can everyone by legal??? Homicide puts Morgan in the STF and Daniels breaks it up. The referee continues having no control of the action. Ki comes in to fight Daniels and they go back and forth. They fight on the top rope and Daniels brings Ki down with a rolling prawn hold. That gets a two-count. Everyone starts going for finishers but someone breaks them all up. Ki puts Morgan in the Dragon Clutch but Daniels breaks that up. Daniels and Morgan hit the powerbomb / neckbreaker combo for two. Williams hits Daniels with the Chaos Theory but Morgan breaks it up. Morgan hits Williams with the Golden Gate Swing and Homicide breaks it up. Homicide hits Morgan with a Brainbuster and Joe breaks that up. Joe hits Homicide with Kawada Kicks. Homicide fights back with a couple of clotheslines. He goes for the Cop Killer but Joe fights out and hits the powerbomb into the STF. Joe turns that into The Choke and Homicide is finished at 23:27. That was tremendous action from six of the top names in ROH at the time. Seeing the titles defended in a six man tag seems like a weird idea but they made it work by sheer force of awesome.
Rating: ****

MATCH #4: Allison Danger vs. Alexis Laree

Danger has Mace in her corner. Laree foolishly turns her back and Danger attacks. Danger almost gets a pin and that just makes Laree angry. Laree throws Danger around a bit so Danger takes a powder. Mace tries to console her but Laree dropkicks her into the guardrail. Laree then knocks Mace off the apron just for fun. She takes Mace out with a dive off the top rope. That gives Danger the chance to take control. Back in the ring Danger hits a neckbreaker for two. Danger plants a kiss on Laree just for fun. The crowd of course loves that. Danger then suggestively crawls over Laree and celebrates about it. Laree gets mad and hits a Spear. She throws Danger around and hits her with an inverted DDT to get the pin at 3:22. That was short and pretty ugly.
Rating: ¾*

Mace attacks Laree after the bell and hits her with an exploder suplex. Referees come out to check on Laree and herd Mace and Danger to the back.

MATCH #5: Bunkhouse Rules – Carnage Crew vs. The Ring Crew Express

The Ring Crew Express is Dunn, Marcos, and a bunch of other dudes. Loc and DeVito are representing the Carnage Crew. They attack the Ring Crew with steel chairs and hubcaps. This is just a slaughter. The beatings continue on everyone with various strikes and suplexes. Finally they hit Marcos with the Carnage Driver to end the massacre at 2:27. That was just to give the Crew a warmup before facing Homicide & Abdullah the Butcher on December 7 at Night of the Butcher. At least it was short.
Rating: ½*

MATCH #6: ROH Title Match – Xavier vs. Jay Briscoe

Xavier has been the Champion since 9.21.02, and this is his first defense. Xavier has Simply Luscious in his corner, and she even handles his ring introduction. This match is happening because Jay defeated Xavier with the Jay Driller in a non-title match at Glory By Honor.

They lock up intensely to start and jockey for position. The Champion and the challenger look evenly matched in the early going as they trade holds back and forth. Xavier targets the leg and Jay responds in kind. They switch it up and target each other’s arms. Things get heated and they trade some strikes. Jay tries an early Jay Driller but Xavier rolls out and takes a powder. Back in the ring Xavier asks for a test of strength. Xavier appears to win that battle but Jay fights back and starts gaining momentum. Jay clotheslines Xavier and they both tumble to the floor. They briefly fight outside and then up on the apron. Xavier suplexes Mark from the ring all the way to the floor. He follows him down with a Cactus Elbow. The Champ throws Jay into the barricade then rams his back into the post. Back in the ring Xavier methodically works Jay over. Luscious takes cheap shots when the referee has his back turned. Jay fights back and hits a seated gourdbuster for two. Xavier catches Jay with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for a two-count. Luscious trips Jay from the floor and that costs the challenger dearly. Xavier knocks him down and hits an Arabian Press to wipe him out. He slams Jay’s head into the ring post. Xavier sets a chair against Jay’s head and delivers a running kick, busting Jay’s head wide open. Back in the ring Xavier targets the head. Xavier goes to the second rope and misses an elbow drop. Jay tries the Jay Driller but Xavier counters to the Alabama Slam. They fight on the top rope and Jay tries a sunset bomb but can’t complete it. Jay recovers and hits a huge superplex. Both men are down. Back on their feet Jay hits a bridging German Suplex for two. Xavier tries Kiss Your X Goodbye but Jay counters to a Death Valley Driver. Jay goes up top and hits a guillotine legdrop for two. Luscious throws a chair in the ring and the referee throws it out. Okay then. Jay goes for the Jay Driller but Xavier escapes and hits a Cobra Clutch Suplex. Xavier hits Kiss Your X Goodbye but Jay kicks out! The Champ goes for the X-Breaker but ay counters to a powerbomb. Jay goes up top as Luscious throws another chair in the ring. The referee gets rid of the chair and Luscious knocks Jay from the top rope. Xavier then hits the X-Breaker from that position to get the pin at 20:48. They could have cut a minute or two out but for the most part it actually went by pretty fast. It’s weird to see two guys who are not even close to the biggest stars on the show fighting for the ROH Title, but they were going for something different with ROH.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #7: Number One Contender’s Trophy Match – AJ Styles vs. American Dragon

The winner of this match faces ROH Champion Xavier on December 7. They start with some tense back-and-forth mat wrestling and the crowd loves it. These two are very evenly matched, but Dragon is a bit better grappler and AJ is a bit better high-flyer. Dragon also has the power advantage, and he uses that by knocking AJ down with a hard shoulder tackle. The back-and-forth continues and AJ cuts Dragon off with a dropkick. Dragon drop toeholds AJ to the floor and then follows him out for more abuse. He tries to whip AJ into the guardrail but AJ jumps over it and lands a superkick. AJ drops Dragon on the guardrail, and then takes the match back into the ring. He starts working the back and Dragon responds by going after the arm. AJ comes back and tires the flipping inverted DDT but Dragon catches him and hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Dragon has been busted open somehow. He goes for a suplex but AJ counters to a brainbuster. AJ continues working Dragon over, hitting the suplex into the neckbreaker for two. Dragon fights back with a bridging German Suplex and a sort-of DDT. He goes up top and hits the diving headbutt for a two-count. AJ fights back with a roundhouse kick. He hits the Styles Suplex Special for another near-fall. AJ goes up top but Dragon knocks him down and hits the belly-to-back superplex for two. Back on their feet they trade strikes and knock each other out with simultaneous clotheslines. Back on their feet Dragon goes to work but AJ counters with the flip-over inverted DDT for two. AJ goes for the Styles Clash and hits it but Dragon kicks out! Dragon hits the Dragon Suplex for a two-count. He locks on Cattle Mutilation and turns it into a pinning combination for two. Dragon goes up top and AJ knocks him down. AJ pulls him out of the corner into a powerbomb. He hits another powerbomb and then hits another Styles Clash to get the pin and win the #1 Contender’s Trophy at 22:29. I couldn’t believe the match was already ending, it went by so fast. This was fantastic stuff and an easy MOTYC for ROH in 2002.
Rating: ****½

As Dragon goes through the curtain he is attacked by The Prophecy! Daniels, Xavier, and Morgan come out to the ring to attack Styles, who puts up a hell of fight before succumbing to the numbers. Dragon and Jay Briscoe come out to make the save.

MATCH #8: Masato Tanaka & Shinjiro Ohtani vs. Steve Corino & Low Ki

Corino has Samoa Joe with him. Tanaka and Ki start the match. They do some fast-paced back and forth, and Tanaka hits an early pump handle powerbomb that sends Ki to the floor. Back in the ring they mat wrestle a bit as Chris Lovey announces that Konnan will be at the show on December 28. Tanaka takes Ki down and makes the tag. Ohtani uses a chinlock so Ki bites him and then makes the tag. Corino puts the boots to Ohtani, who was the first WCW Cruiserweight Champion, by the way. Ohtani fights back and tags Tanaka. The Zero-1 team double-teams Corino briefly. Corino then backs Tanaka into his corner and makes the tag to Ki, who goes to work. That doesn’t last long before Ohtani tags back in. No one has had control of this match for more than 90 seconds, tops. Ohtani works over Corino until the King of Old School uses some questionable tactics to take control. Ki tags in and goes for the Ki Krusher but can’t hit it so he tries the Dragon Clutch instead and Tanaka breaks it up. He goes for the Tidal Crush but Tanaka ducks it and hits a hard superkick. Tanaka tags in and runs right into a Koppo Kick. Ki then hits the Tidal Crush for two. Tanaka responds with a Spear and a suplex into a Stunner. That looks cool. Tanaka follows with a Frog Splash for two. Ki fights back with Kawada Kicks and makes the tag. Corino hits a leg lariat but Tanaka fights right back with a clothesline. Ohtani tags in and hits a leg lariat and a tornado DDT. Tanaka grabs Corino and hits another tornado DDT. Corino comes back with an exploder suplex and then the Three Amigos for a two-count. Meanwhile Ki and Tanaka are fighting on the floor. Corino hits the Old School Expulsion for two. He follows with the Old School Bomb and gets another two-count. Ki comes back in the ring and accidentally hits Corino with the Tidal Wave. Tanaka takes Ki out with a lariat. Ohtani hits Corino with the springboard missile dropkick and then the Spiral Bomb for the win at 15:25. That was fine enough but there was no internal story to the match, just a bunch of moves.
Rating: ***

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