A look back at the first year of Ring of Honor.
ROH World Championship Scene:
The June 22nd show was dedicated to crowning the first ROH Heavyweight Champion. The tournament involved sixteen men. Spanky, Douglas Williams, Low Ki and Christopher Daniels won their respective semi-final matches which would lead to a 60-minute Ironman match at the July 27th show.
At the July 27th show, Low Ki won the ROH Heavyweight Championship by earning three points while Daniels had only two and both Spanky and Douglas Williams had negative one. You earned a point for a pin fall and two points for a submission. You lost a point for a submission.
Low Ki successfully defended the ROH Heavyweight Championship against AJ Styles on August 24th. However, his championship reign came to a shocking end when he lost the championship to Xavier on September 21st, 2002. Xavier ended up turning heel during the bout and joined the Prophecy led by Christopher Daniels (which will be explained later).
Xavier’s reign starts off on the wrong foot when he lost to Jay Briscoe in a non-title match at the October 5th show. They would have a rematch on November 9th, which Xavier won. At the same show, AJ Styles became the number one contender after beating Bryan Danielson in a match of the year candidate.
The leader of the Prophecy, Christopher Daniels fought AJ Styles at the November 16th show, but wasn’t able to beat Styles. After the bout, Styles hit the Styles Clash on Xavier leading into their December 7th showdown.
Xavier picked up the biggest win during his title reign when he pinned AJ Styles to retain the championship. Leading into the match, Styles had been attacked several times by the Prophecy, as if to weaken the challenger.
Also on December 7th, Paul London became the number one contender after he defeated Bryan Danielson in another incredible match. Yet again, Danielson came up short in his quest in getting a championship match. So, at Final Battle on December 28th, Xavier will defend the championship against Paul London.
At the biggest show of the year for ROH, Xavier was able to retain the ROH World Championship. Xavier would have the best match of his ROH career with London. Xavier closed the year having defeated the likes of Low Ki, AJ Styles, Jay Briscoe and Paul London.
ROH World Tag Team Championship Scene:
The ROH World Tag Team Championships were determined on the September 21st show. The tournament consisted of six teams. Christopher Daniels and Donovan Morgan became the first champions when they defeated the team of Bryan Danielson and Michael Modest.
Donovan Morgan has a heavy work schedule in Japan during this time so they didn’t defend the ROH World Tag Team Championships much. Their first defense was against the Maximo Brothers on December 28th in a best two out of three falls match. Daniels and Morgan had defeated the Maximo Brothers in the first round of the tournament. The champions won the match two falls to one to retain the championship to close the year.
- Eddie Guerrero worked a few shows for Ring of Honor in 2002. He was on the first show where he lost to Super Crazy. He would return to the company on April 27th as the WWE Intercontinental Champion when he teamed with Amazing Red to defeat the Maximo Brothers.
- Spanky won a ROH contract by earning a pin fall in a tag match where he teamed with Ikaika Loa to take on Oz and Michael Shane during the first show.
- Prince Nana debuted on the first show. Nana is a rich man looking for competition in ROH. He won his first match in the company.
- Christopher Daniels is one wrestler who doesn’t acknowledge or follow the Code of Honor in the company because ROH is just another indy company. On April 27th, Daniels lost to the debuting Donovan Morgan but after the match offered to team with Morgan who would accept the offer.
- Jay Briscoe started off his ROH career with a few losses to Amazing Red and Spanky. So, his younger brother Mark Briscoe ripped on Jay for losing to him. Even when Jay wins his first match on April 27th, Mark still doesn’t give him credit. Jay would get fed up with Mark on July 27th and challenged him to a match next month, which Mark agreed to. Mark would get the ultimate bragging rights by beating Jay in his first match on August 24th. It was revealed on November 16th that Mark Briscoe joined the Prophecy.
- DeVito and HC Loc formed a tag team on April 27th. They would be known as the Carnage Crew. They had a blood feud with the Natural Born Sinners which would climax in a bunkhouse match on July 27th which the Sinners won. The Carnage Crew would turn their attention to Da Hit Squad for getting involved in that feud as well. Da Hit Squad would win a match between the two teams the next month. Carnage Crew would get a victory over Da Hit Squad after a piledriver off the stage through a table on October 5th.
- AJ Styles made his ROH debut on April 27th against Low Ki.
- Michael Shane and Paul London had a disagreement on July 27th over which man is the real Showstopper. This would lead to a match the next month. London lost the match after Shane faked an ankle injury and rolled him up for a win. Shane declined a spot in the Prophecy after the match as well. These two would compete in a incredible street fight on September 21st, which London won.
- CM Punk and Colt Cabana made their first appearances for ROH on September 21st when they came out to tell the fans that they would be in ROH very soon. Punk made his debut on November 9th but lost to Michael Shane. Colt Cabana made his debut on December 7th by defeating Punk. CM Punk would beat Cabana on December 28th to win a ROH contract.
- Trent Acid and Johnny Kashmere known as the Backseat Boyz made their debut for ROH on October 5th to prove they are the best tag team on the independent scene. Their debut was against the team of Homicide and Steve Corino, which saw Corino turn on Homicide and allow the Backseat Boys win the match. Homicide would attack Corino backstage at the November 9th show with a fork considering he is pissed about what Corino did to him previously. Corino attacked Homicide on December 28th to prevent him from working the main event of the show.
- Samoa Joe made his debut for the company on October 5th to wrestle Low Ki in a Fight Without Honor. Ki managed to win an incredible match and Joe showed him respect after the match. Considering Joe was brought in by the Prophecy, he turned his back on the group that brought him in.
- Masato Tanaka and Shinjiro Ohtani made their debuts for ROH on November 9th where they defeated Steve Corino and Low Ki in the main event.
- Abdullah the Butcher competed for ROH on December 7th teaming with Homicide to wrestle Carnage Crew. Butcher would win the match for his team, of course.
- Steve Corino revealed on December 28th that he had a stable of guys to take over ROH. Corino ended up dumping Simply Luscious for being part of the Prophecy. By the end of the night, Luscious revealed she left the Prophecy and joined Corino’s group.
— Bob Colling (http://wrestlingrecaps.com)