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By Luke Dorsch @Luke_Dorsch
Tomorrow afternoon Ring of Honor will make their return to my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Ring of Honor has a pretty extensive history with Baltimore going back to the extremely early days of Ring of Honor. Thru the years several venues have hosted ROH, I’ll take a brief look at the venues and the events and my memories of these events. My very first ROH show was waaaaaay back in 2003 when Ring of Honor was still owned by the infamous Rob Feinstein, they began to expand to other Mid Atlantic territories and luckily for me that included Maryland. The title of the show was ROH The Tradition Continues, this was held in October of 2003 at Michaels 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie, MD. Looking back on that card, it’s amazing that several of the wrestlers who worked that card are actually still in Ring of Honor, just to name a few; Chris Sabin, Colt Cabana, the Briscoe’s, and BJ Whitmer.
At that time, Samoa Joe was unstoppable and he worked two matches that night, one against Prince Nana, and the other was the main event which saw Joe successfully defend his ROH World Championship against future champion Jay Briscoe. Other notable performers or matches from that card were; AJ Styles defeating CM Punk, ECW alumni Raven defeating Justin Credible, and Xavier defeating Homicide, John Walters, and Mark Briscoe in a four corner survival match. I am not ashamed to say, that I instantaneously became a huge fan of ROH and it reignited my love of independent wrestling. This was my first exposure to CM Punk, who for many years was the “darling” of independent wrestling around the world.
The promotion would return in just a few short months in January of 2004 and luckily I happened upon this show by complete accident. This was way before Sinclair Broadcasting owned the company, and this was before HD.Net TV show as well, so this was strictly independent wrestling, being promoted the old fashioned way. This show was called ROH the Last Stand, the show received its name from the main event which saw the team of Samoa Joe & The Great Jerry Lynn getting one last attempt at the ROH Tag Team Championship held by The Briscoe’s. Joe and Lynn were unsuccessful that night at Michael’s 8th Avenue. CM Punk was defeated that night as well, this time by Homicide.
Unfortunately for myself, I was forced back into the military at that time, due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so I missed whatever shows there were in Baltimore for several years, but at the 2013 Best in the World PPV Ring of Honor was back in Maryland and at its new albeit temporary home the Du Burns Arena. This show, still to this day is one of my favorite wrestling shows I’ve attended live. It was June 22, 2013 and it was my introduction to some of the absolute best talent in the world of professional wrestling. Names such as: The American Wolves Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards, Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Tommaso Ciampa, Kyle O’ Reilly, and the fantastic Kevin Steen. The main event that night was ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe defending the strap against his brother Mark Briscoe, in a really solid match. Before becoming afflicted by his CONDITION Matt Hardy faced and defeated the aforementioned Kevin Steen.
In October of 2013 they would return to the Du Burns arena for the Charm City Challenge, in the main event we had Adam Cole in his first run as ROH champion successfully defending against Roderick Strong, who performed double duty that night also competing in and winning a four corner survival match w/ Caprice Coleman, Antonio and Tadarius Thomas. Kevin Steen defeated ACH, and reDRagon successfully defended the Tag Team Titles against Jay Lethal and Michael Elgin.
The following April after the closure of the Du Burns Arena, Ring of Honor would come to their current home in Baltimore; the William J. Myers Pavilion which just so happens to be about 3 blocks from my house. This show was for TV tapings and it was called “Second to None” and the main event was Michael Elgin defeating The Phenomenal AJ Styles in their second encounter. All the greats performed on this show; Roderick Strong, Jay Lethal, the Briscoe’s, Adam Cole, Kevin Steen and of course the great AJ Styles. This was my first TV tapings for ROH, and my first trip into the pavilion since I played soccer there as a child. This is a great place for ROH to do TV tapings as there is literally not a bad seat in the house. Ring of Honor would hold a Pay Per View there in July of 2015 the annual Death Before Dishonor which had one of the most memorable ROH championship matches since the Bryan Danielson days, we had ROH World and Television Champion Jay Lethal going to a 60 minute time limit draw w/ Mr. ROH Roderick Strong. One of the absolute best professional wrestling matches I’ve ever seen live. There was also one hell of a tag team title match which saw then champions The Addiction defeating reDRagon, War Machine, and The Kingdom in a four corner survival match. Not to be outdone, former champions The Briscoe’s had a classic match w/ Roppongi Vice and it was also my very first experience w/ The Party Peacock Dalton Castle as he faced former champion Adam Cole. It was great PPV, topped off w/ the fantastic ROH World Championship.
The last time Ring of Honor ventured into Baltimore was in October of 2016 for the Road to Final Battle TV Tapings. We were treated to some great action as several talents from CMLL (Ultimo Guerrero, and Hechicero) were in action, local boy the ridiculously good Lio Rush was in action against newly signed Jonathan Gresham, and what made the whole show worth-while for me was the pre-show meet and greet where I got to mark out and meet Mrs. Wrestling Candice Lerae. All in all throughout the years I have attended over 50 Ring of Honor in Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia meeting great athletes and future hall of famers from all of the wrestling world, but when one of your favorite shows is literally holding a show in your proverbial back yard nothing can be sweeter. This time around we’re going to have one of my favorites in Pro Wrestling current ROH TV Champion “The Villain” Marty Scurll, Adam Cole, THE YOUNG BUCKS, Dalton Castle, Cody, and current ROH World Champion Almighty Christopher Daniels all scheduled to appear. Even though, it’s not a PPV event I could not be more excited to once again spend time w/ Ring of Honor; my first live ROH show was over thirteen years ago and it’s been my privilege to watch this great promotion grow and showcase the best Professional Wrestlers on this planet.