I always thought that ECW One Night Stand was a really unique and cool idea, because rather than a tribute to a wrestler or a city with a ton of wrestling historylike we’d seen in the past, this show was dedicated to honoring an entire company and recreating its one-of-a-kind atmosphere for one night. No other company had ever warranted something like that, but it connected with diehard ECW fans, many of whom hadn’t watched wrestling at all since ECW went out of business, but wanted the closure they never got when ECW abruptly went out of business in 2001.
Since I’ve been watching a lot of old ROH shows from 2005-06 lately (still ROH’s golden era), I decided it would be fun to fantasy book a similar show paying tribute to the company that was not only the spiritual successor to ECW, but also forged its own identity by focusing more on in-ring action than the hardcore brawls ECW was known for.
Well, I came up with enough ideas that I decided the only way to fit it all in was to expand it to two nights with eight matches each, consistent with ROH’s standard doubleshot weekends, running shows on back-to-back nights in two reasonably nearby cities (at least unless you ask the ring crew). I think I put together a good mix of revisiting classic matches or feuds, final showdowns for feuds we never got a true blowoff for, and dream matches that, for various reasons, never had a chance to happen back in the day.
These shows would happen now, in July of 2021, so in order to make this workable (and watchable), we’re pretending that any other companies the wrestlers might be under contract to have given their blessings to work these shows without restrictions. However, I did set some ground rules for myself as far as making this somewhat realistic.
First, the “source” timeframe we’re drawing from runs from the first ROH show in February of 2002 up until the Sinclair purchase in June of 2011. The wrestlers involved have to have made their mark prior to that cutoff, so if they were there but didn’t matter YET, they’re not eligible. That means no Silas Young, Matt Taven, Adam Page, or anyone else who was techincally there but hadn’t really accomplished anything of note yet.
I’m also not using anyone who was there but was never really an ROH guy, in the sense that they never did anything notable or gained acceptance as something other than legacies of their work elsewhere. Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, Joey Ryan, Petey Williams, Sonjay Dutt, D-Lo Brown, and Rhino are all examples of what I mean.
I’m also leaving out the Dragon Gate guys: they had some memorable matches, but all they ever really did was matches. Other than SHINGO (who is included), they were all just occasional attractions. I did include NOAH guys, however, since they were a lot more integrated into ROH storylines than the Dragon Gate guys ever were, and were usually around a lot more often.
Anyone who is firmly retired (as opposed to merely inactive) is out of the running. This means no CM Punk, Necro Butcher, Erick Stevens, or Takeshi Morishima. Anyone currently working full-time in a backstage capacity counts as retired for our purposes, which disqualifies Jimmy Jacobs, Jerry Lynn, Nigel McGuinness, BJ Whitmer, Steve Corino, and Adam Pearce as well. Also ineligible is anyone who is dead, medically unable to wrestle, or has other real-life circumstances that would prevent them from participating.
With all that in mind, let’s get into the shows! We’ll start with the opening match and work our way up to the main event like an actual live show, so without any further ado, let’s hit the countdown and Locomotive Breath, and dive into the action…
Reunion of Honor: Night 1
Havana Pitbulls vs All Night Express
We’re kicking it off with two solid midcard heel teams who both got title runs, but never crossed paths since they were in ROH at different times. Both teams can go, which is why I put them here to give us a hot opener as per the classic formula most ROH shows followed, which I tried to adhere to when designing both cards.
Roderick Strong vs Eddie Edwards
Next we kick things up with a war between two of the hardest hitters to ever grace an ROH ring. These guys had great chemistry as both partners (which they sadly never got to do in ROH) and opponents. Each had this way of drawing the other’s purest selves out as workers, and they never held back because each knew the other could take it as well as they could dish it out.
Fight Without Honor: Homicide vs Eddie Kingston
There are probably other names you expected Homicide to be matched up with, but since I had other plans for everyone else who would have made sense, I thought Kingston worked for a few reasons. For one, they have a very long history as both partners and opponents, including facing off in the ROH vs CZW Cage of Death match in 2006. I also wanted to get a Fight Without Honor on the shows since it’s an ROH trademark match, and there aren’t two guys better suited to do it and do it well.
Recognition Ceremony: Simply Luscious, Lacey, Daizee Haze, Sara Del Rey, and Allison Danger
Women’s wrestling wasn’t a major part of ROH in the 2000s, and the five women named above are basically the only ones who really mattered until the Women of Honor division came along years later. All of them are LONG since retired, making them ineligible to compete, but I did want to recognize their contributions. Since ROH occasionally did ceremonies like this, I decided it would be a good way to give them their moment in the sun for what they brought to the company at a time when women’s wrestling wasn’t really being taken seriously, and also setting the stage for women’s wrestling breaking through a decade later.
Jay & Mark Briscoe vs Kevin Steen & El Generico
This was one of the matches I decided on before I even started putting the available roster together. It’s simply the greatest tag team feud in ROH history, nothing else comes close, so doing this one more time was a no brainer.
AJ Styles vs Naomichi Marufuji
No history here, just a straight up workrate dream match. Obviously everyone knows how good AJ is, and Marufuji is one of the smoothest workers I have ever seen. If he had ever been full-time in ROH, I absolutely would have been in favor of him getting a run with the title. This could be the workrate match of the weekend…but then again, I have some other good stuff planned, so maybe not.
At this time, we’ll take a brief intermission (that will probably last for 45 minutes). While you’re waiting for the action to resume, go get your t-shirts, hats, hoodies, Straight Shootin’ DVDs, and more from Ross at the gimmick table!
Four Corner Survival: Steve Mack vs Azrieal vs Deranged vs Grimm Reefer
Like the Fight Without Honor, Four Corner Survival matches were another mainstay on nearly every ROH show, so we’re coming back from intermission with this bout featuring four of Homicide’s trainees. None ever became more than journeymen mostly working the NY area, but all played important supporting roles in ROH: Mack of course opened the first ROH show as part of Da Hit Squad, Azrieal and Deranged were members of Special K, and Mack and Reefer were later part of the Rottweilers during Homicide’s feud with Colt Cabana.
Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries
Danielson was either getting Austin Aries or Nigel McGuinness, nobody else was ever in the conversation, and since Nigel is ineligible, it had to be Aries. Their rivalry spanned YEARS and put them together in every conceivable scenario: both defended the ROH World Title against the other, they were the final two men in the first Survival of the Fittest tournament, they battled over the tag title as well when Aries and Strong were champions, they did a best of three series, and they were even a tag team themselves for a while. Danielson and Aries were inextricably linked, and now they get to write the final chapter of their story.
Low Ki vs Davey Richards
Back into dream match territory, as we put together two guys we can only wish were ever in ROH at the same time. I’ve seen this match twice in other companies, and both times they blew the roof off the place, it was everything you could imagine and then some. It’s one of the greatest matches to never happen in ROH, and that’s why it’s main eventing Night 1.
And with that, the first night of the Reunion of Honor is in the (fantasy) books, so we’ll give the ROH Wrestling School guys the night to break down, load up the truck, head to the next town, and probably carry the ring piece-by-piece up stairs, through narrow doors, and around corners in buildings that were never meant to host wrestling shows so we can enjoy the fruits of their labor at Reunion of Honor: Night Two!