As ROHWorld.com looks forward to this weekend’s tenth annual ‘Glory By Honor’ spectacular, Dave Wood looks back at the rich history of the event.
No match did more to put ROH on the map than the classic that took place, at the inaugural Glory By Honor event, on October 5th 2002.
Samoa Joe made his debut, as the hired assasin of fellow West Coast wrestler Christopher Daniels, to take on Daniels’ nemesis Low Ki. Despite the bout being contested under the relaxed rules of a Fight Without Honor, it featured little in the way of foreign objects. Instead the two combatants unloaded on one another, with a series of vicious martial arts strikes.
In defeat, despite his association with the self-righteous Prophecy faction, Joe shook the hand of Low Ki. It was a sign of ultimate respect.
This match not only earned, future Champion, Joe, a regular ROH deal but it set a tone for the ROH product that still resonates today.
One year on, at Glory By Honor II, now holding the World Title, Joe staged an unforgettable defense, against his former associate, Daniels.
Earlier in the year, Joe had defeated The Prophecy’s Xavier for the top prize in the company and, in one of the most thrilling defenses of Joe’s epic run, Joe and Daniels fed off their personal issues to put on an exhibition of high workrate wrestling at it’s finest.
The match had a shocking finish, with the timekeeper accidentally ringing the bell, following an extremely close near-fall by Daniels. Whilst all hell broke loose around him, Joe had the wherewithal to execute a decisive Island Driver.
After this near miss, his 645-day title reign would stretch on for a further three months.
Fast forward to 2006 and ‘Glory By Honor V: Night II’. This show was recognised as the “Best Wrestling Show of the Year”, by the prestigious Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
This prize was bestowed in no small part due to a clutch of classic title bouts. Which included Naomichi Marufuji’s successful defense of the GHC Heavyweight gold, against Nigel McGuinness, and an international war of attrition between, arguably the greatest wrestler in ROH history, Bryan Danielson and Pro Wrestling NOAH phenom KENTA.
Moving on to November 2007 and, on back-to-back nights, Danielson showed his versatility, putting on two completely different matches – nevertheless both classics in their own right.
First the ‘American Dragon’ faced fellow ROH icon Austin Aries, in the rubber match of their classic Best of Three series, falling victim to Aries’ trademark 450 Splash, in the quest to become recognised as the “Ace of ROH”.
On night two of ‘Glory By Honor VI’, Dragon lauched himself into a frantic, arena-wide war with the dominating Japanese superheavyweight, Takeshi Morishima. Again, the Washington native came up on the losing end, after repeatedly stomping on the testicles of the big man. However, despite the consecutive defeats, Danielson’s incredible talent shone through. He had cemented his legacy, as a company legend.
Subsequent ‘Glory By Honor’ events have been remembered for, perhaps, the most underrated defense of the record-breaking reign of Nigel McGuinness, against El Generico (GBHVII) and the climax of a violent feud between Chris Hero and perennial counterpart Eddie Kingston, in which Kingston’s head was drilled into a barricade by way of an inverted Super Liger Bomb (GBHVIII).
Continuing the theme of must-see matches, ‘Glory By Honor II’ played host to twin “Pick Your Poison” stipulation matches, which furthered the star-making Raven vs. CM Punk feud.
The first match saw Raven take on Punk’s hand-picked opponent of Steve Corino. The two former ECW veterans worked an engrossing, old school masterpiece.
This match was followed by the ROH debut of Terry Funk – who Raven had selected to take on, the up-and-coming antagonist, Punk. Punk, showing a complete disregard for the result, made it his mission to permanently injure the 60-year-old’s knees and would have succeeded, with assistance from Colt Cabana, if not for the intervention of Tommy Dreamer.
The evergreen Funk would later return, to ajudicate the Tyler Black vs. Roderick Strong World Championship match, at the ‘Glory By Honor IX’ event.
On September 11th 2004, at ‘Glory By Honor III’, another hardcore legend made his ROH bow.
Impressed by the physicality of the promotion, Mick Foley arrived to involve himself with ROH figurehead Samoa Joe. Foley coined the term “Ring of Hardcore” and avoided the advances of the devious Prince Nana in an angle that showed much promise but was, ultimately, hamstrung by the plaid-connoisseur’s commitments elsewhere.
After sporadic appearances, Foley said goodbye to ROH, one year later, at ‘Glory By Honor IV’.
Over the years, the stars have continued to come out for the showpiece event.
At the fifth and eighth instalments, respectively, household names Bruno Sammartino and Bret Hart appeared, both declaring that they’d had their passion for wrestling reignited by the Ring of Honor product.
At the two-night ‘Glory By Honor VI’ came the incredible spectacle of the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory and the Manhattan Center each being bathed in green light. ROH welcomed Mitsuharu Misawa, the most critically-acclaimed wrestler of all time, to the United States.
His fellow countryman Kensuke Sasaki appeared at ‘Glory By Honor VII’, to match brawn with Claudio Castagnoli, whilst also bringing over his impressive protege Katsuhiko Nakajima, who would wrestle a cutting-edge Junior Heavyweight bout with Bryan Danielson.
In one of the most historically-significant moments in ROH history, ‘Glory By Honor II’ marked the company’s final show at Philadelphia’s Murphy Recreational Center. A spectacular 18-month residency was celebrated by a series of video retrospectives, interspersed with the night’s action, as part of a special five-hour DVD package.
At ‘Glory By Honor IV’, which came at the end of a period that has gone down in ROH folklore as the ‘Summer of Punk’, Bryan Danielson submitted James Gibson, using a Crossface Chickenwing to finally win the ROH World Title.
After unseating CM Punk, Gibson had a brief, one-month, run that culminated in him following Punk to the WWE.
After winning the gold, new champ, Danielson, made a passionate promise that he would not sign for either WWE or TNA, as long as he was holding the ROH World Championship.
At ‘Glory By Honor V: Night 2’ controversy reigned supreme, as former Team CZW members the Kings of Wrestling ruined Generation Next’s record-setting title run. Chris Hero pinned Austin Aries, after Claudio Castagnoli had assaulted him with a Halliburton attache case. Not only did this act bring GenNext title reign to an end but it also forced Ring of Honor to sign Chris Hero to a contract. Hero would go on to become on of the most significant figures in company history.
Another unforgettable tag team moment, to occur in the Manhattan Center, came at ‘Glory By Honor VIII’. This show featured fan favourites Kevin Steen & El Generico in a feud-ending Ladder War, against the American Wolves.
One night prior to the contest, Eddie Edwards had broken his arm, whilst in singles competition with Steen. Against doctors orders, the Bostonian took part in the brutal bout, in doing so creating an indellible visual – climbing the ladder, with his right arm in a cast.
At this year’s event, Richards and Generico will renew their acquaintance, in a main event fight, over the singles World Title.
Another Championship match on this weekend’s card will feature Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin meeting the challenge of Kenny King & Rhett Titus. This bout takes place just over a year on from Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team’s memorable debut, at ‘Glory By Honor IX’.
The annual ‘Glory By Honor’ events have also become known for their emotional farewells.
2003’s event featured the final ROH appearance of Alexis Laree, who would go on to worldwide fame, in the WWE, as Mickie James.
Former WCW ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta hosted a send off ceremony for the female competitor, which led to her defeating (ROH randomer) Hijinx of Special K, in one-on-one action.
However, in perhaps the most poignant moment in ‘Glory By Honor’ history came in 2009. At ‘Glory By Honor VIII’ inseparable rivals Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness wrested one final match against one another, before leaving the promotion in which they made their names.
The match ended with Danielson firing off a series of elbows, whilst trapping McGuinness in a triangle choke. Following the decision, the entire locker room emptied and surrounded the ring, paying tribute to the immeasurable contributions that both men had made to Ring of Honor history.
ROH will continue to make history, as ‘Glory By Honor X’ emanates from suburban Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, November 19th.
Tickets can still be purchased here, to be picked up on the door, on the night. Prices begin at $20.
For those unable to attend, the event will be made available to purchase, in DVD format, in the coming weeks.