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From January to July 2006, rival Philadelphia-based promotions Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling were involved in an interpromotional feud. The two promotions were natural rivals with their different style of wrestling, ROH being based on traditional and scientific wrestling, while CZW was known for their “ultraviolent” hardcore matches. The feud was well received by fans and critics alike, and is considered by many to be the greatest feud in ROH history.
When Ring of Honor was founded in 2002, Combat Zone Wrestling was the dominant promotion in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The two initially tried to work together, with CZW’s owner John Zandig appearing in ROH to announce a double-shot between the two promotions in November 2002. While ROH would spend the next few years expand into other states, becoming the top independent promotion in the process, CZW would continue to run mainly in Philadelphia. Throughout this time, several wrestlers would make their way from CZW to ROH, and vice versa, including Alex Shelley, Jimmy Jacobs and The Backseat Boyz.
In September 2005, Bryan Danielson, one of the originally stars of Ring of Honor, won the ROH World Championship. In an effort to prove he was the "best wrestler in the world", he began to send open contracts to different promotions to have their best come to ROH to challenge for the title. Danielson would go on to face wrestlers from Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Pro Wrestling ZERO1-MAX and Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Chris Hero began his career in 1998, going from wrestling locally in Ohio to competing around the world. But despite being one of the top independent wrestlers, he had never competed for Ring of Honor. Hero did, however, compete regularly for Combat Zone Wrestling. The self-proclaimed "Savior of CZW", he was the second longest reigning CZW Iron Man Champion in history, one half of the CZW Tag Team Champions with Claudio Castagnoli, his partner in the Kings of Wrestling, and, in 2005, was involved in a bitter feud with Eddie Kingston and BLK OUT.
At CZW's Cage of Death 7 on December 10, 2005, Hero and Castagnoli successfully defended the CZW World Tag team Championship against Kingston and Sabain of BLK OUT. After the match, Hero cut a promo talking about how CZW was running an afternoon show on January 14, with the reason they were running in the afternoon was because Ring of Honor going to hold a show that evening in Philadelphia, and "everything must stop for them". Hero then challenged Bryan Danielson to come to CZW and defend the ROH World Championship.
Fifteen days later, Hero again challenged Danielson and ROH, this time via his Live Journal:
"Just as many wrestlers before me were intimidated by the "big and bad" reputation of the Necro Butcher, just as many individuals have been browbeaten into actually believing that the "big and bad" promotion, Ring of Honor, is the end-all and be-all of Independent wrestling…I didn't back down from Necro Butcher and I will not back down from Ring of Honor…After my match at Cage of Death 7, I verbally brought salvation to the Combat Zone. I stood directly in front of the impending danger and destruction and I said what everyone else was afraid to say. As the Savior, I represent CZW wholly. My skills are unmatched and I know I am the best they have to offer. I am CZW's David to ROH's Goliath and my challenge is 100% firm. I have nothing to be afraid of. Bryan, if you have the guts, you know where to find me on January 14. And if you don't have the guts, I am fully prepared to walk through the fire to meet you and take what is rightfully mine. And once I have that title, I will bring it to the Combat Zone and demonstrate my very best Jimmy Jacobs impression. John Zandig will have the trash can ready for me."
Chris Hero would post another Live Journal entry on January 3, again lashing out at Ring of Honor and Bryan Danielson:
"Who would ever thing that Jim Cornette, someone of such alleged esteem, would even mention CZW by name, let alone send them an entire package? Well, he did, so you can be assure when Chris Hero is involved in something, the unthinkable can, and will happened.
What was in the package? Well, it wasn't ticking, so that was a good sign. The first thing I pulled out was an open contract for a ROH heavyweight title shot on January 14. Said contract was already signed by, one, Bryan Danielson. Before I say whether or not I signed this open contract, let me point out how IDIOTIC of an idea it was for Bryan to allow Mr. Cornette to send this contract to CZW. Bryan's signature is at the bottom of the document, right next to a blank slot, titled "Challenger." Hmm, I could have just went though the entire Combat Zone locker room and had anyone sign it. That's how ridiculous this is. How about Bryan Danielson versus the Necro Butcher? How about American Dragon versus Super Dragon? Imagine how many ROH fanboys would rip their hair out if Bryan accidentally got himself into a title defense against the father of CZW, John Zandig? Hell, I could have had Frank Talent sign the damn contract if I was that vindictive. I think Danielson's ego is getting in the way of rational thought. Yes, Chris Hero cast the first stone, but now, in desperation, Bryan Danielson is throwing every rock he can get his hands on without stopping and thinking to aim.
How poetic it'll be when the wrestler that was never good enough for Ring of Honor walks away from the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Philadelphia,the new and undisputed Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Champion"
Danielson vs. Hero
On January 14, 2006, Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling held their first shows of the year, with CZW running the New Alhambra Arena in the afternoon, and ROH running the Pennsylvania National Guard Amory in the evening. At CZW’s event, An Afternoon of Main Events, Chris Hero was set to team with his Kings of Wrestling partner Claudio Castagnoli and Super Dragon to face BLK OUT, consisting of Eddie Kingston, Ruckus and Sabian. Before his match was scheduled to being, Bryan Danielson, there to answer Hero’s challenged, jumped the guard rail and took control of the ring. He began to cut a promo, running down CZW and its fans, saying they didn’t deserve to see him defend the ROH World Championship in CZW and would have to come to ROH. Hero, taking exception, walked to the ring and began to get in the face of Danielson.
Danielson the began to back down, saying he wasn’t going to fight Hero right then because he wasn’t getting paid for it, and began to leave, but turned around and shoved him. As the two started to brawl, ROH Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness came in threw the crowd and went after Hero, but was cut off by Claudio Castagnoli, whom he was feuding with in ROH. The four continued to brawl until ROH Tag Team Champions Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, a former competitor of CZW, also came in threw the crowd, which resulted in the majority of the CZW coming and chasing the four out of the arena.
Later that night at ROH’s Hell Freezes Over, Chris Hero, along with Necro Butcher, Nate Webb, Adam Flash and CZW referee Bryce Rumsberge, showed up to challenge Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Championship. Hero refused to enter through the back, choosing to come through the crowd with CZW’s theme music playing. Much like Danielson did at CZW’s event, Hero began to give a promo, running down ROH for never booking him, and saying he was going to take the ROH World Championship back to CZW and throw it in the trash. Before Hero could finish, however, he was cut off by Danielson’s entrance.
After thirty minutes of wrestling, Danielson forced Hero to submit to a Crossface Chickenwing, the same move he used to win the ROH World Championship. Throughout the match on commentary, Hero was buried by commentator Jimmy Bower (in real life ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky), who said the reason Hero had never been booked in ROH was because “he isn’t good enough”.
Hero would respond to Sapolsky in his Live Journal::
"Fact: Chris Hero, headlining the January 14th ROH show in Philadelphia, OUTDREW the NOAH Superstar, Kenta Kobashi, in the same town and same exact building. Did I get any credit for such an accomplishment? Did I get a thank you card for pumping some much needed life back into the Philly Indy scene? No. You know what I got? Buried on commentary. I've discovered, thanks to a very reliable source, that if you pick up the "Hell Freezes Over" DVD you'll hear Mr. "Booker of the Year" himself, talking about how terrible of a wrestler I am and how awful my look is. Apparently I don't belong in an ROH ring and it was a disgrace having me on the show. I guess selling tickets and generating interest in a stale product has no place in the wrestling "business." Also, the match is cut down, so you won't have to worry about hearing those pesky CZW chants! Earth to Gabe: When you bury someone's ability and following, and it takes YOUR champion almost 35 minutes to defeat that very person, you're telling everyone that YOUR champion struggled to beat a no talent, no look, piece of trash wrestler."
The invasions begin
Two weeks after being defeated, Chris Hero would return to Ring of Honor. At Tag Wars 2006 in Dayton, Ohio, Hero, along with Necro Butcher, appeared in the crowd and began to heckle the wrestlers. While some wrestlers managed to ignore Hero, including his frequent tag team partner outside ROH, Claudio Castagnoli, one wrestler would not: Ace Steel. During his match against Sterling James Keenan, Steel became so aggravated that he stopped the match. Instead, he cut a promo on Hero, saying he wasn’t good enough to be in ROH, and Necro Butcher, saying he was nothing but a "garbage wrestler". The two rushed to the guard rail, where they were held back by security while Steel continued to verbally bury the two. After having enough, Hero and Necro jumped the guard rail, resulting in the entire ROH locker room rushing out to eject them from the building. During the melee, Jim Cornette, the commissioner of ROH, was hit in the mouth and lost a tooth. Thinking it was caused by the CZW wrestlers, he stormed to the ring and began a cut a promo, laced with obscenities, burying Hero, Necro, CZW and hardcore wrestling. He then dared them to show up at any other Ring of Honor event if they want to get beaten again.
The following night at Dissension, the show started with Adam Pearce defeated newcomer Jay Fury in the opening match. Pearce, having made his debut a few months earlier and had been pestering Jim Cornette to give him better opportunities and bigger matches, grabbed the microphone after the match and said he would not leave the ring until Cornette came out and talked to him. Cornette did come out, but said he had to say something before he spoke to Pearce. Cornette began to apologies for his language the night before, but stopped when he saw Necro Butcher in the audience. He then began to lash out Necro, saying that even though he wasn’t a wrestler, he’d fight him, because Necro isn’t a wrestler either. Pearce tried to calm down Cornette, before running over the guard rail and pulling Necro over, starting another brawl, with Necro once again being thrown out of the building. Afterwards, Cornette thanked Pearce for his help, and shook his hand.
Chris Hero would comment on the invasion on his Live Journal, announcing his reign of terror would not stop:
"You see, the fun and games are over. Happy go lucky Chris Hero died in 2005. It's 06 and I'm all about destruction. The IWA Mid South title belt, smart ass fans that think they're hard and it just so happens that Ring of Overrated Honor is next on the list. They have all these "milestones" coming up. The fourth anniversary show, the Wrestlemania Weekend triple shot, their 100th show and it's all going to come crumbling down. In Dayton the curtains were the only thing that came down. That was only the beginning. I will not rest until ROH is exposed for the garbage that it is and I get the recognition and credit that I deserve. My broken hand will look like a hangnail in comparison to all the carnage I'll bring with me. Just as I blasted that fan in the face, I will blast any and everything that stands between myself and ROH. Gabe Sapolsky, your life is about to become a living hell. You will forever regret the day you buried Chris Hero."
February 25 was to be one of ROH’s biggest event of all time, has the held the Fourth Anniversary Show, celebrating four years in business and the start of the Milestone Series. One of the matches was to feature Christopher Daniels vs. BJ Whitmer in a grudge match, stemming from Whitmer resentment of Daniels leaving ROH and The Prophecy in 2004, and Daniels resentment of Whitmer’s treatment of Allison Danger after he left. During the match, the two brawled to floor, and later the crowd. As the brawl continued on the floor, Chris Hero, Necro Butcher and a six other CZW ran in through the crowd and took control of the ring. Whitmer and Daniels stopped their fight and made their way back to ringside, where they were joined by the rest of the ROH locker room, who were kept at bay by the CZW wrestlers while Hero mocked them. After several attempts to enter, Adam Pearce successfully entered and tackled Hero to the ground, causing the CZW wrestlers to focus on him, and allowing the ROH wrestlers to enter, starting a massive brawl. After several minutes of fighting, Hero made his way back to ringside, bragging that no one could stop him. Samoa Joe, the longest reigning ROH World Champion in history and the wrestler most recognized as the face of ROH, made his way to the ring to answer Hero’s challenge. After several more minutes, Ring of Honor won the battle against Combat Zone Wrestling, and ejected their wrestlers from the arena.
March 11 - The feud becomes a war
After the success of the first double-shot in January, Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling scheduled another one March, this time with both shows taking place in CZW's home, the New Alhambra Arena, better known as the former ECW Arena. The shows were planned before the actions of Chris Hero and Necro Butcher, and the day of the event tensions between the two companies were at an all-time high. The crowd for the event was split down the middle, with ROH fans sitting on one side and CZW fans sitting on the other. Two interpromotional matches had been scheduled for the events, with CZW's Necro Butcher appearing on ROH's show to face BJ Whitmer, and a six-man tag team match with Generation Next appearing on CZW's show to take on BLK OUT. Conspicuoius by his absences at the event was Chris Hero, who was on a tour of Mexico with Claudio Castagnoli.
After the opening match of ROH's Arena Warfare, Whitmer stormed to the ring and called out Necro Butcher to start their match. However, when Necro, who hadn't arrived at the arena yet, failed to show, Whitmer went to the back. After the following match, he again went to the ring and called out Necro, and this time he appeared. The two began to brawl, but just when Whitmer appeared to gain the upper hand, CZW's Super Dragon ran out to the ring and attacked him, giving him a Curb Stomp. The two continued to attack Whitmer until several students of the ROH Wrestling Academy came to his aid. The rest of the show went off without any incidents from CZW, except for their fans, who heckled the ROH wrestlers. During his match against Bryan Danielson, Alex Shelley became so annoyed by a fan chanting "boring" that he got on the microphone and told him to wrestle Danielson if he thinks he can do any better. The main event of the ROH show was to be Christopher Daniels vs. Colt Cabana vs. Samoa Joe in a Three-Way Dance, which was eventually won by Joe. After the match, BJ WHitmer again stormed to the ring, this time calling out the entire CZW locker room.
The resulting brawl was one of the largest in Ring of Honor history, and was scatterd from the ring, to the crowd to the parking lot. The two sides battled evenly, until CZW owner John Zandig, armed with a baseball bat wrapped in barbed-wire, and Wifebeater, armed with a weed whacker, enterted the melee. While most of the ROH wrestlers managed to get away, one did not: BJ Whitmer. Vastly outnumber, Whitmer was tied to the ring ropes and tourtured by the CZW locker room, who had also begun destroying the ROH set and spray painting "CZW" over the ROH logo in the ring. Zandig, after stapling tickets to the ROH show to Whitmer's back and forehead, threatened to break his neck if he wasn't given a microphone.
After his promo, CZW began setting up for their event, When 2 Worlds Collide. Before his scheduled defense of the CZW Iron Man Championship against Super Dragon, Kevin Steen, who competed for ROH during 2005, gave promo saying how wrestlers were having to take sides in the feud. He then began to beg ROH to take him back, and even offered to give them the CZW Iron Man Championship, because he hated Combat Zone Wrestling. Steen would retain the title against Dragon fate BJ Whitmer interfered, costing Dragon the match. While Whitmer contineud to attack Dragon, Steen cut an other promo, saying what Dragon and the CZW wrestlers did to Whitmer was most disgusting thing he'd even seen. He then challenged anyone face him and Whitmer at the next CZW show, a challenge which was answered by Necro Butcher, who came to the ring and began to brawl with the two. Whitmer and Steen out numbered Necro and attempted to break his leg, until BLK OUT came to his aid.
The main evnet of CZW's show, and the entire evening, was to see Austin Aries, Roderick Strong and Matt Sydal of ROH's Generation Next take on Eddie Kingston, Ruckus and Sabian of CZW's BLK OUT. However Sabian was removed from the match by CZW Commissioner Lobo, as he previously competed in a Six-Way Ladder match in an attempt to regain the CZW Junior Heavyweight Championship, and they didn't want to pay him for two matches. BLK OUT wouldn't back down from Generation Next, and decided to compete in the match despite being down one member. However, they were quickly outnumbered by the three ROH wrestlers, until Necro Butcher came out to be their partner. After a legnth match, Generation Next won the match for ROH when Sydal hit a Shooting Star Press on Kingston. Generation Next continued to attack the three, until John Zandig, Nick Gage, Justice Pain and Lobo came out to give CZW the advantage. As Generation Next retreated through the crowd, Lobo told them they may have beaten the "boys" because Kingston "dropped the ball", but challenged them to come back and face the "men".
|December 10, 2005||Cage of Death 7||CZW||Chris Hero called out Bryan Danielson, challenging him to come to CZW and defend the ROH World Championship.|
|January 14, 2006||An Afternoon of Main Events||CZW||During the event, Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong jumped the guard rail, starting a brawl with the CZW locker room.|
|January 14, 2006||Hell Freezes Over||ROH||Chris Hero, representing CZW, challenged Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Championship.|
|January 27, 2006||Tag Wars 2006||ROH||Chris Hero and Necro Butcher jumped the guard rail, starting a brawl with the ROH locker room.|
|January 28, 2006||Dissension||ROH||Adam Pearce began a brawl with Necro Butcher, who was again in attendance.|
|February 25, 2006||Fourth Anniversary Show||ROH||Chris Hero, Necro Butcher and six other CZW wrestlers tried to hijack the ring, resulting in a huge brawl between them and the ROH locker room.|
|March 11, 2006||Arena Warfare||ROH||The feud escaltes into an all out war, with BJ Whitmer becoming ROH's "sacrofishal lamb".|
|March 11, 2006||When 2 Worlds Collide||CZW||Austin Aries, Roderick Strong and Matty Sydal of Generation Next defeated CZW's Necro Butcher & BLK OUT (Eddie Kingston & Ruckus) in an interpromotional match.|
|March 30, 2006||Dragon Gate Challenge||ROH||Feud continued.|
|March 31, 2006||Supercard of Honor||ROH||Feud continued.|
|April 1, 2006||Better than Our Best||ROH||Feud continued.|
|April 15, 2006||Any Questions?||CZW||One month after denouncing CZW and begging ROH to take him back, Kevin Steen teamed with BJ Whitmer in a losing effort to Necro Butcher & Super Dragon.|
|April 22, 2006||The 100th Show||ROH||Feud continued.|
|April 28, 2006||Weekend of Champions: Night One||ROH||Feud continued.|
|April 29, 2006||Weekend of Champions: Night Two||ROH||Feud continued.|
|May 13, 2006||Best of the Best 6||CZW||Feud continued.|
|May 13, 2006||Ring of Homicide||ROH||Feud continued.|
|June 3, 2006||Destiny||ROH||Feud continued.|
|June 10, 2006||Strictly CZW||CZW||John Zandig challenged ROH to a Cage of Death match.|
|June 17, 2006||In Your Face||ROH||Feud continued.|
|June 23, 2006||Throwdown||ROH||Feud continued.|
|June 24, 2006||Chi-Town Struggle||ROH||Feud continued.|
|July 15, 2006||Death before Dishonor IV||ROH||ROH won the feud against CZW after defeating them in a Cage of Death match.|
|July 28, 2006||War of the Wire II||ROH||BJ Whitmer defeated Necro Butcher to end their feud.|
Ring of Honor
- Ace Steel
- Adam Pearce
- Austin Aries
- BJ Whitmer
- Bryan Danielson
- Christopher Daniels
- Colt Cabana
- Jim Cornette
- Matt Sydal
- Roderick Strong
- Samoa Joe
Combat Zone Wrestling
- Bryce Rumsburge
- Chris Hero
- Claudio Castagnoli
- Eddie Kingston
- John Zandig
- Nate Webb
- Necro Butcher
- Super Dragon