Since it's inception in 2002 Ring of Honor has become known for it's outstanding technical classics featuring the likes of Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Nigel McGuinness and many, many more.
But there are times when a rivalry becomes so heated that a technical straight up wrestling match just won't do. This is where encounters such as street fights, barbed wire matches, cage matches, last man standing and even a Cage of Death match come into play, and ROH has held many of these matches over the years.
Now they've chosen 19 of these matches from deep within their archives for a two disc set, so they'll probably be crimson masks aplenty as we take a look at Ring of Hardcore.
And as is the custom with such releases, let's start at the beginning with....
August 24th, 2002
The collection begins with tag team action as the Carnage Crew, Loc and Devito, face Da Hit Squad, Mafia and Monsta Mack, in a Boston Massacre Match at Honor Invades Boston.
As the footage began the words "the Code of Honor has been waived!" appeared on the screen. That much was obvious when these guys began brawling all around ringside as soon as the bell sounded, and it wasn't long before the crimson began to flow when the Crew's Devito and the Squad's Mafia took it in turns to wrap their fists in a piece of barbed wire.
About halfway through Mafia and Mack called a proverbial time out and left the ring, only to return a few moments later with two massive barbed wire boards. This brought smiles to the faces of Loc and Devito as the match resumed. This big men soon found themselves trying to avoid the wire at all costs before Mafia was whipped into one and Devito was speared into the other. Mack then took Loc down with a burning hammer driver for the three count.
November 29th, 2003
It's a no rope barbed wire match as Homicide takes on Steve Corino at Born to be Wired.
The first thing that was noticeable about this match was the ring attire, because while Homicide was dressed in an overall Corino went to the dance in his traditional wrestling attire.
As for the match, I think brutal is the best way to describe it. Both guys adopted cautious tactics at the beginning, but the wire soon came into play with Homicide to the first to suffer. However, he soon upped the ante a little by busting Corino open and inflicting further damage with numerous fork shots.
As the action progressed both men found themselves whipped into and tangled up in the wire on numerous occasions. They also went through a barbed wire table in one of the corners. But perhaps the most brutal moment came when Corino suplexed Homicide through a barricade in the middle of the ring.
It looked all over there and then, but Homicide soon recovered enough to lock in an STF, only for the hold to be broken when Corino's corner man threw medical alcohol into his face. Not only did it sting his eyes it also had the same effect on his open wounds, and those of Corino was well.
But with the damage done Corino sucked it up one last time, and after putting on a pair of safety gloves and wrapping his man up in wire he applied his cobra/camel clutch combination. Homicide held out for as long as he could, but with the wire digging into his throat his corner man Julius Smokes had no choice but to throw in the towel, saving his man from further punishment and giving the win to Corino.
March 13th, 2004
It's onto to championship action for the next match as Tag Champ Jay Briscoe challenges Samoa Joe for the World title in a steel cage match at At Our Best.
As you can probably tell from the date that the Jay Briscoe in this match was quite a lot different to the Jay Briscoe we know and love now. These days he'd stand and trade with the likes of Samoa Joe. Back then he began the match by trying to escape from the cage.
Needless to say that Joe soon dragged him back into the ring and took him to the proverbial woodshed. The champ was at his absolute brutal best here as he took Briscoe apart, busting him open when he speared him head first into the cage and opening the wound up further with a face wash in the corner.
But with Briscoe continued attempts to gain an early exit Joe negated this strategy by taking a lock and chain he'd hidden in one of the corner pads and using it to lock the door. This didn't exactly sit too well with Jay's brother Mark at ringside.
As the match went on the blood began to flow ever more freely from Jay's head, and although Joe controlled the majority of the action Jay kept coming back, eventually taking his man down with the Jay driller. He also almost found a unique way to escape when another Joe face wash broke the cage open in one of the corners. Jay tried to escape until Joe dragged him back into the ring.
Eventually the battle took them to the top rope, and after they struggled there for a few moments Joe took Jay down with a big muscle buster for the winning pin.
Also on the same show the Carnage Crew took on Special K in a scramble cage match.
The rules for this one were similar to the War Games and Lethal Lockdown matches, but even with the likes of Justin Credible joining Loc and Devito against the stoner kids the rules were thrown out of the window and the numbers were completely against them as the entire K faction entered the match.
This turned the proceedings into one massive brawl, and at one point even Dusty Rhodes entered the match to help his fellow common men against the rich kids. He delivered a few bionic elbows before the stoners, including the future Jay Lethal, ganged up on him. It was then that Ox Baker, yes, that Ox Baker, made his way out and dragged Rhodes out of the cage before the two old timers brawled their way backstage.
A few moments later the bodies began to fly as the brawl spilled to the outside as Special K's Slim Jim jumped down from the platform on the top of the cage onto the brawlers below.
Eventually some of those taken down recovered enough to start brawling again, and as Devito and Credible stacked up some tables in the ring Loc chased Angel Dust onto the top platform. It was then that Devito climbed to the platform, and with a little help from his regular partner he took the stoner down with a piledriver through two tables for the winning pin.
July 24th, 2004
It's back to two-on-two action as the Second City Saints team of C.M. Punk and Ace Steel take on Dan Maff and B.J. Whitmer in a Chicago street fight at Death Before Dishonor II Part 2.
This proved to be a particularly brutal encounter. For over twenty minutes these two teams beat the proverbial out of each other with anything they could get their hands on as the faithful ate up everything they saw.
Punk and Steel were the first ones to bleed in this one, and at one point the former Prophecy members were whipping their boys like government mules. But the Saints soon came back into the match with some brutal shots of their own, and it wasn't long before items such as a barbed wire two by four and a barbed wire board were brought into the equation.
Eventually, having used all of their toys, they reached a stand off of sorts. All four men stood in the ring with chairs in hand as they took it in turns to clobber each other. Punk and Steel won this particular battle, but when they went to get more chairs from the fans we had an ECW-like moment as the fans threw all of their chairs into the ring. Sadly there was no Joey Styles-like "oh my god!" moment from the commentary team.
As the end neared Punk took to the sky and took out Maff with a big splash from the top rope while Maff was on a ladder perched between two guardrails. Back in the ring Steel and Whitmer jockeyed for position on the top rope for a few moments before Steel took his man down with a Tombstone through a table and onto a pile of chairs for the winning pin.
November 5th, 2004
It's a quick return for Maff and Whitmer in this collection as they face the Carnage Crew in a Boston street fight at Weekend of Thunder Night 1.
The former Prophecy members were quick to move on to another brutal feud, and although this was a rather short encounter compared to the bloodbath against the Saints it served it's purpose.
It basically began with the two teams beating the hell out of each other around ringside, and unlike the aforementioned other match they did so using good old fashioned fists and boots.
Maff and Whitmer had the upper hand when their former stable-mate Allison Danger came down to ringside with two rubbish bins. She had some trouble trying to throw them into the ring so Loc and Devito could use them, but the distraction was enough because after Maff threw a chair at her Whitmer tried to chase her backstage.
This meant that Maff was left alone in the ring with Loc and Devito, and they soon took the winning pin after clobbering Maff with the bins at the same time before clobbering Whitmer with the same weapon.
December 26th, 2004
The feud between the Carnage Crew and Maff and Whitmer continues in a Fight Without Honor at Final Battle 2004.
Now this was a little more brutal. As Allison Danger screamed and stalked around ringside these two teams beat the snot out of each other, and this time around the weapons came into play quite early, as did the blood letting.
There were tons of chair shots, ladder shots, kendo stick shots and more, but after they'd been battling for just over ten minutes none other than Mick Foley came down to the ring with a Christmas stocking. He then took to the microphone and said that there was just one thing missing from this match. He then proceeded to empty the stocking's contents into the middle of the ring, a big pile of thumb tacks. (Although we Brits call them by their proper name, drawing pins.)
What followed was several attempts by all four men to use their new weapons, the most successful being Whitmer's wrist clutch exploder suplex on Devito as his team took the winning pin.
April 1st, 2006
It's time for another Chicago street fight, this time between Homicide and Colt Cabana at Better Than Our Best.
Cabana is normally known for his happy go lucky comedy-style matches, but this encounter showed that he has a nasty streak in him as he tore shreds off the man who, at one time during their feud, tried to pour drain cleaner down his throat.
So after reading that you've probably realised just how heated this match was. The opening exchanges were quite brutal, but that brutality level got turned up a notch of three when they introduced the weapons into the match. The blood letting in this one came when Cabana used Homicide's very own fork against him, and the way he went about stabbing him in the head made me wonder if he'd been taking lessons from good old Abdullah. The wounds Homicide was now suffering from were made even worse when Cabana sprayed rubbing alcohol into them.
It wasn't all one way traffic though. Homicide, with a little help from his buddy Julius Smokes, had his fair share of brutal moments as well, and he even tried to introduce some more drain fluid into the match. Thankfully Mr. Cabana didn't even let him open the bottle.
Mention must also be made of another re-enactment of that certain ECW moment as the Chicago natives, at Homicide's urging, once again threw their chairs into the ring. At least this gave us a holy you know what moment when Cabana superplexed his man onto a pile of steel in the middle of the ring.
Cabana had several attempts at the end to put his man away. The first was a powerbomb from the top rope through a table and onto a barbed wire board, the second a good old fashioned lariat. But with neither of these getting the job done Cabana took him down again with an over the shoulder backbreaker to finally secure the winning pin.
July 15th, 2006
It's inter-promotional war time as Team ROH take on Team CZW in a Cage of Death match at Death Before Dishonor IV.
Now I've seen a few Cage of Death matches in my time, but I've never seen one like this before, mainly because it was actually quite entertaining.
Beginning with Samoa Joe against Claudio Castagnoli this one was contested along the lines of Lethal Lockdown or War Games. ROH had the one man advantage here, and it wasn't long before B.J. Whitmer joined the battle, followed a short time later by Chris Hero for CZW.
But when Bryan Danielson entered the fray as ROH's third man the tide turned dramatically as he and Joe took their men apart. Then came the double cross as Danielson attacked Joe, clobbering his knee with a steel chair. Dragon then left the cage, and with Joe unable to continue Whitmer was left in a three-on-one situation when Nate Webb entered the match.
But as the numbers increased and the blood flowed readily ROH were down five to three. Ace Steel and Adam Pearce had joined Whitmer, but Hero and his boys had been joined by Necro Butcher and Eddie Kingston.
The CZW boys were certainly having some fun as they enjoyed their two man advantage, but that all changed when Homicide entered the fray, and even though ROH were still a man down Homicide's entrance into the match rejuvenated his team-mates, especially when he handed them forks so they could stab their opponents in the head.
So although all hell had broken loose half an hour before it got even looser as the holy you what and the sick you know what came thick and fast.
Eventually something had to give, and with all the barbed wire inspired weapons handing around it was inevitable that particular item would be involved. It was also inevitable that Homicide have the final say, because as he jockeyed for position with Webb he soon won out and took the Spider man down with the Cop Killer on a barbed wire board for the winning pin.
July 28th, 2006
Having already beaten the hell out of each other in the Cage of Death B.J. Whitmer and the Necro Butcher now go at it in a barbed wire match at War of the Wire II.
It's no secret that I've never been a fan of the Necro Butcher (and I know that annoys the hell out of a certain half-wit in Swaffham), but even in his specialist environment I found his performance to be somewhat lacking.
As with the previous cage match this was a brutal affair, and it had many of the same hallmarks as well, with the two combatants jockeying for position as they tried to push each other into the wire. Necro was the first to achieve his aim when he pushed Whitmer in chest first. He was also the first to draw blood when he clobbered his man with a chair.
As they turned the action up a marginal notch the sick moments came into play. Whitmer took a pair of wire cutters that Necro tried to use on him to cut away the wire from one side of the ring, with the intention of power bombing Necro into the barbed wire-topped table at ringside. His play went a little awry though when Necro countered the move and put his own body on the line when he executed a sit-down powerbomb through the aforementioned piece of furniture. Afterwards Whitmer had to be cut from the wire because of his long lustrous locks.
The sick moments soon came thick and fast, particularly when thumb tacks were introduced into the mix, and when Necro put Whitmer through another barbed wire-topped table with a fireman's carry. After he was cut out once again Whitmer returned the favour by taking the massive barbed wire board and turning it upside down so he could place it on a prone Butcher. The next thing he did was hammer the board with a chair before climbing to the top of a ladder and coming down with a big splash. But despite this he couldn't get the job done, and it was only when he took Necro down with an exploder suplex on the tacks that he finally got the winning pin.
December 9th, 2006
It's back to steel cage action again, this time with Homicide and Adam Pearce at Chicago Spectacular Night 2.
Now this was a lot better than the previous match. It began with both men trying to throw each other into the cage before it turned into a part-brawl, part-grappling encounter, although the grappling went out of the window a little when Homicide wanted to use a fork, and when a fan threw one into the ring the referee quickly confiscated it.
A few moments later Pearce called his buddy Shane Hagadorn down to the ring. Hagadorn gave his friend a leather strap, but when Homicide went after him the future manager slammed the door into his head, busting him open.
A short time later Homicide finally got his request with regards to the fork. With the referee dazed after an accidental meeting with Pearce's elbow Homicide went to check on his condition, although his real intention was to retrieve the fork from the official's pocket. He then proceeded to stab Pearce in the head with it as he joined Homicide in the blood-letting stakes.
Pearce almost took the win with a figure four, and a few minutes later, after both men struggled for position on the top rope, Homicide took Pearce down with an Ace crusher, and two lariat clotheslines later he had the win.
January 27th, 2007
It's another outing for B.J. Whitmer as he takes on his old tag partner Jimmy Jacobs in a last man standing match at Battle of the Icons.
This may not have been as brutal as some of the matches on this collection but it sure was one compelling encounter, especially when you consider the long and storied history between these two.
It began with Whitmer clobbering Jacobs with a chair as he made his entrance, and after a brief foray into the ring it wasn't long before they were brawling in the crowd and throwing chairs at each other.
Eventually they made it back between the ropes, and with his crazed and manipulative girlfriend Lacey screaming orders from ringside Jacobs took control when he brought his trusty railway spike into the match so he could relieve Whitmer of a few quarts of blood.
The best spot of the match came when Whitmer was intent on putting Jacobs through a ringside table. It never happened. Instead Jacobs ran the ropes and speared Whitmer off the table and into the ringside barrier, although the table did break in the process.
As the match neared the end, and after both men had beaten the ten count on numerous occasions it looked like Jacobs was going to take the win, but when he went to spear Whitmer through a table old BJ hit him in the head with a chair as he came forward. He then lifted Jacobs onto the top rope and took him down with a superplex.
The referee then began his count, but just as he was about to hit 10 Whitmer stopped him, intent on power bombing him through the table propped up in the corner of the ring. It proved to be his undoing, because just as he was about to execute the move Lacey's hired gun Brent Albright stormed the ring and attacked before putting him through the table with his own move, the exploder suplex.
So as Albright helped Jacobs to his feet and propped him up on the ropes the referee began his count, and just as Whitmer was about to get back to his feet Albright put him down again just as the referee reached ten, giving the somewhat tainted win to Jacobs.
August 11th, 2007
It's time for a mass brawl as Roderick Strong, Rocky Romero, Davey Richards and Matt Sydal take on Austin Aries, Delirious, Erick Stevens and Matt Cross in a Philadelphia street fight at Death Before Dishonor V Night 2.
This was the culmination of the feud between Strong's No Remorse Corp and Aries Resilience faction, with long-standing rivals Sydal and Delirious added into the mix. Basically what we had here was one big fight that took in the entire arena. It was absolutely brutal at times as they hit each other with tables, ladders, chairs, and anything else they could get their hands on.
The holy you know what moment actually came quite early on. Sydal and Cross had been battling away atop some stacked away bleachers, and as they tried to put each other away with various moves Cross sent his man crashing down onto the other combatants below. But that wasn't the move I was talking about, because Cross then took a long run-up and launched himself off the wall as he dived down and onto those below.
Eventually, as bodies lay all over the place, Strong and Stevens were left to duke it out in the ring, and after a brief struggle on the top rope Strong took his man down with a half nelson suplex onto a ladder perched between two chairs. He then applied his stronghold finisher, and with Stevens out of it the referee called for the bell and gave the No Remorse Corp the submission win.
September 15th, 2007
It's title action time with El Generico and Kevin Steen challenging the Briscoes for the Tag Team titles in a Ladder War match at Man Up!
The beauty about this match is that you will never see anything like it in either WWE or TNA. You may eventually see those here in ladder matches there, but they won't be anything like this.
For nearly thirty minutes these two teams beat the hell out of each other. It began when the Briscoes threw a ladder into the ring as they made their entrance, and it wasn't long before they were clobbering each other with chairs and throwing each other into stacks of the things.
When they made it to the ring the action got even better. There were numerous oh my gawd! moments, the best of these being when the brothers used a high hip toss to send Generico crashing into a ladder in the corner, the impact of which bent the thing in half. It certainly was a high impact move, and the ladder moves here were so high impact that every other ladder in the match was damaged beyond repair.
Eventually the brothers called for the maintenance ladder at the back of the hall. It was a big old thing, and it took several men to actually carry it into the ring, and the introduction of this apparatus took the action level up another notch. Both teams wedged what was left of two of the other ladders between the new ladder and the corners, and moments later Steen used one to take down Mark with his package piledriver before Jay used the other to take Generico down with the Jay driller.
This left Jay to grab the belts, and after twice fighting off the advances of Steen he eventually grabbed the belts to claim the title retaining win for his team.
Of course this collection doesn't include what happened immediately after this match, the memorable debut of Jimmy Jacobs' Age of the Fall faction, but it does lead rather nicely to the next encounter.
March 16th, 2008
The Briscoes are at it again, and this time they're taking on the Necro Butcher and Joey Matthews in a street fight at Take No Prisoners.
These four men didn't even wait to get into the arena before they started brawling. The action actually began in a corridor backstage, but it wasn't long before they took the fight into the hall through a side door, and once they got there blood was quickly drawn when Necro clobbered Mark in the side of the head with a shovel.
With that one move it was obvious that this would be a wild and crazy encounter, so crazy in fact that the back-ups for both teams, Daizee Haze and Lacey, engaged in a brawl themselves, and there was one moment when they outshone the brawl through the crowd with their exchanges in the ring.
But that was soon forgotten once they took their brawl backstage and left the guys to beat the proverbial out of each other as they tried to hit each other with anything that wasn't nailed down. It was kind of fun to watch, and another example of why Necro is better in this kind of environment than in a straight wrestling match.
Once again there were several holy you know what moments, but the best of these came near the end when Necro and Mark were brawling through the fans again. As they neared the entrance-way Mark put Necro on a table. He then climbed to the top of the scaffold and came down with a big splash, putting the butcher through the table. It was all the more impressive considering that this wasn't the steady entrance scaffolding that WWE uses.
While all of this was going on Jay was getting it done in the ring. After putting Matthews through a table in the corner with a Death Valley driver he took his man out with the Jay driller to end the brutality and take the win, putting one over the Age of the Fall. And speaking of that particular faction.....
April 4th, 2009
The Age of the Fall are on their way out as former comrades Jimmy Jacobs and the Necro Butcher face each other in a no disqualification match at Take No Prisoners.
Jacobs attacked his man as soon as he entered the ring, but as soon as the fight spilled out to ringside the Butcher took control as he dragged his former mentor through the fans and up through the bleachers. Try as he might Jacobs just couldn't get any offence going, and it was only when they went back to the ring and took a screwdriver to Necro's head that he was able to gain control.
From there they exchanged control, and the holy you know what moment saw Jacobs taking Necro down with a superplex from the top rope to the floor. Necro was so out of it that Jacobs had to get a few other guys to help roll him back into the ring. It didn't help him get the pin though.
The Butcher quickly recovered, and after putting Jacobs through a table with a Death Valley driver he looked to put him away with a choke slam onto a pile of chairs. Jacobs countered this with a kick south of the border before taking his man down with a DDT onto the furniture, turning it immediately into his guillotine choke. It looked like Necro was going to tap at one point, but he managed to get back to his feet and break Jacobs hold. He then quickly took him down with a sit-down powerbomb onto the chairs for the three count and the win.
March 26th, 2010
The no disqualification action continues with a veritable battle of the generations between Jerry Lynn and Kenny King at From the Ashes.
This may not have been as heated as some of the matches on this collection but it was still pretty entertaining. These two put together some great sequences from start to finish as Lynn showed once again that he was capable of having a good match with anyone.
King looked particularly good as he sought to add to the damage that he and his partner Rhett Titus has inflicted on Lynn a few months before. The only problem was that the old dog wasn't going to lay down and die, and he put up a hell of a fight.
Lynn was the first one to go through the wood when King sent him through a table that was propped up in a corner after connecting with the shotgun knees. This didn't keep Lynn down though, and after the two men jockeyed for position on the top rope Lynn tried to take his man down with a sunset flip powerbomb through a table. He succeeded in executing the move, but the only problem was that the table didn't break. He then improvised by repositioning the table so he could put King through it with a cradle piledriver for the winning pin.
ROH on HDNet Episode #80
It's on to one of my favourite feuds in all of wrestling in recent times, with Kevin Steen and Steve Corino taking on Colt Cabana and El Generico in a steel cage match.
These teams had some quite brutal matches against each other, and while some of them were better than this match it was still a worthy addition to this collection.
It began with a brawl around ringside, and when the referee eventually ushered them into the ring and chained the door shut Steen took the key from him and hid it in the leg of his tights.
It was then that the really big brawl began, and it came as no surprise that Corino was the first man to spill blood here after Cabana and Generico rammed him head first into the wire.
After a few more moments of brutality Cabana and Generico took the upper hand, and with both of their foes lying prone on the mat the masked man climbed to the top rope. But just when he was about to fly Cabana urged him to go higher to the top of the cage.
This gave Steen and Corino the chance to recover as they attacked Cabana and knocked Generico off the top of the cage, and with Steen holding the key this meant that Cabana was more or less done for as they took out weapons they had secreted in the turnbuckles, and after Generico failed in his attempts to get back into the ring Steen applied a crossface to Cabana, and when Corino stabbed him in the head with a fork at the same time it wasn't long before the official called for the bell to give the bad guys the submission win.
September 17th, 2011
It's the final match of the collection and another ladder war as Kenny King and Rhett Titus of the All Night Express take on Jay and Mark Briscoe at Death Before Dishonor IX, with the winner getting a shot at the titles.
Out of all the matches on this collection this is probably the bloodiest. It's also one of the most compelling to watch.
For well over 20 minutes these four men put their hearts and souls on the line in one of the best ladder matches I've ever seen. It had everything, a long-standing rivalry for the back story, terrific storytelling throughout, and four men willing to go that extra yard to put on an excellent encounter.
As with many of the other matches these two hit each other with anything they could get their hands on, which was mainly tables, ladders and chairs, and it got to the point where the fans complained that King was the only one who wasn't bleeding.
There were also so many oh my gawd! moments that it would take too long to list them all here, but the best of them was when Mark climbed to the top of the biggest ladder they had and put Titus through a table with a big splash.
However, the most memorable moment came when the brothers launched King through the air with their double hip toss. As soon as he hit the ladder in the corner the crowd erupted with a "you killed Kenny!" chant.
So after all that brutality and blood letting it was down to King and Jay to fight it out on top of the ladder. The two of them exchanged blows until Jay was sent crashing to the canvas. Seconds later King grabbed the contract hanging above the ring to claim the title shot and win the match.
In conclusion - so after several days viewing and several thousands words, as well as a sore left hand and elbow we've finally reached the end of this hardcore highway that ROH has built for itself.
Overall, it's a pretty good collection. It shows that the good men of Ring of Honor are more than capable of taking the brutality levels up a notch or three when the need arises. It's also a good way to see how the company developed since the early days.
So having spent too many late nights going through this collection there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give this thing the big thumbs up. If you're an old ROH fan, or a newbie looking to explore their past then this is one of the many collections you should get you hands on.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. ROH Ring of Hardcore is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.