We're all big professional wrestling fans here, and what better way to celebrate our love for the sport of kings than to check out some matches? In this edition, we take a look back at a few matches from the glory days of Ring of Honor, including the very first match in the company's history. As many people are well aware, a significant amount of WWE Superstars either made their name in or passed through, Ring of Honor at some point in their pre-WWE careers. Of the 8 men in the 3 matches below, 6 of them are current or former WWE employees.
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Nigel McGuinness - ROH Pure Title (Dragon Gate Invasion, 8/27/2005)
With Ring of Honor set to reintroduce the popular but short-lived Pure Title to their promotion with a two-day tournament this April, it seems fitting to look back at a match between two of the best wrestlers to ever grace a ring in the modern era, Ring of Honor or otherwise. Current WWE Superstar Samoa Joe defended his title at Ring of Honor's Dragon Gate Invasion event in August 2005 against Nigel McGuinness, a member of the NXT commentary team. McGuinness was synonymous with the Pure Championship, holding it for nearly one year before losing it to Bryan Danielson (WWE's Daniel Bryan), at which point the championship was retired. Check out this match to witness the beginning of McGuinness' 350-day reign.
KENTA & Tyler Black vs. Austin Aries & Katsuhiko Nakajima (ROH Take No Prisoners, 4/4/2009)
KENTA, probably known better to the western audience as the injury-addled Hideo Itami from NXT and 205 Live, was a standout in the Pro Wrestling NOAH promotion for most of his career and made frequent trips to the United States to wrestle for Ring of Honor. He recently returned to Japan and is competing for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, where he just made an unsuccessful bid to win both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships from the current double champ, Tetsuya Naito.
In this match he teamed with former Ring of Honor World Champion Tyler Black, known now, of course, as former WWE Champion and Universal Champion Seth Rollins. They would square off against former ROH World Champion and WWE Cruiserweight Champion Austin Aries and his partner, Japanese sensation Katsuhiko Nakajima, who was only 21 at the time of this match. He was a part of Pro Wrestling NOAH along with KENTA at the time of this match, and continues to be a mainstay of the NOAH promotion, even though he has wrestled all over Japan throughout his career.
There are no titles on the line in this match, but it's a fast-paced affair that is more than worth your time.
Jay Briscoe vs. Amazing Red (The Era of Honor Begins, 2/23/2002)
Jay Briscoe, along with his brother Mark, is an ROH lifer. The men have been mainstays in the company since its birth on February 23, 2002. While Mark was too young to wrestle in Philadelphia at the time, his 18-year-old brother, Jay, was allowed to compete, and he did just that in the first-ever match in Ring of Honor history. Briscoe's opponent was independent wrestling legend Amazing Red, who is a pioneer for much of the high-flying wrestling you see all over the world today, on the independent scene and on television. Red has retired more than once (sound familiar?) but spent a lot of time in the ring in 2019 and it will continue into 2020, as he will be making his long-awaited return to Ring of Honor on April 4th at Supercard of Honor XIV.
The match above is the first match in the history of Ring of Honor. It very clearly set the tone for what the promotion was going to be about, and about what ROH was planning to provide to fans who wanted something new in the wake of the death of WCW and ECW and the difficult-to-swallow InVasion angle that had recently ended in the WWF.