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BANK ON HISTORY #5 - Homicide & The FIP Heavyweight Championship: Full Impact Pro "Emergence"

In this edition of BANK ON HISTORY, I decided to take a look back into 2004.

I was going through my old DVD collection and I noticed that I had a copy of the inaugural Emergence event from Full Impact Pro back on September 25, 2004 in Tampa, FL.

I had always enjoyed FIP, as it had an old school Memphis vibe, mixed in with the legacy of Florida wrestling and the modern-day performers from ROH and the independents. Going back and watching this DVD, I discovered how much talent was on this card and the different directions their careers would take.

Also, I wanted to revisit “The Notorious 187” Homicide’s journey to the championship. Homicide never truly gets the props he ever deserved for his body of work during the 2000s. He is one of the foundations of modern-day independent wrestling.

Ladies and gentlemen, BANK ON HISTORY: Homicide & The FIP Heavyweight Championship.


2004 was a wild year for Gabe Sapolsky.

Throughout the first half of the year, Mr. Sapolsky was involved keeping Ring of Honor afloat throughout a turbulent ownership change from RF Video to Cary Silkin. With such a public transition, Sapolsky creatively put ROH through its own “Reborn” saga, establishing new talents and philosophies, including the aforementioned Homicide, Low Ki, Julius Smokes, and the Havana Pitbulls as a destructive force in the Rottweilers, the formation of Generation Next with Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, and Jack Evans, the first of three incredible ROH World Title matches between CM Punk and champion Samoa Joe, the feud between Punk and former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat, and the beginning stages of separating Hydro from Special K.

Also, Mr. Sapolsky was heavily involved with the shifting of DVD production from the RF Video studios to the World Wrestling Network, run by Sal Hamaoui. The immense workload from Sapolsky was admirable, in spite of circumstances completely out of his control.

Speaking of Mr. Hamaoui, he was also involved in the foundation of a small independent wrestling promotion called Full Impact Pro, based out of Florida. 

Holding its inaugural show on August 2, 2003, FIP held twelve events throughout July 2004. It had its fair share of brawling, including matches with former ECW alumni New Jack, the Sandman, and Balls Mahoney, and an interpromotional war with Ricky O’s Jersey Championship Wrestling.

A few weeks before the Stars, Stripes, and Slams event on July 24, 2004, there was a shift in the way FIP would be presented. According to the FIP website on July 6, the following was posted:

It is with great excitement that we at Full Impact Pro (FIP) announce that we have come to terms with Ring of Honor (ROH) Booker Gabe Sapolsky!  Gabe will be taking over all FIP booking duties as of August 2004. We all here at FIP would like to take this opportunity to welcome Gabe onboard.

The night after the aforementioned Stars, Stripes, and Slams show in Arcadia, FL, this was mentioned on the FIP main page:

Full Impact Pro will be relaunching in September under the management of Ring Of Honor's Gabe Sapolsky. World Wrestling Network, FIP's parent company, will be continuing to use the current FIP roster and angles under the banner of "Florida All Pro Wrestling". Mr. Sapolsky will be relaunching FIP with a clean slate using only the best Florida, ROH and TNA talent. 

The hype continued through press releases sent through the internet regarding the inaugural Sapolsky booked events. As per a press release sent out via the vintage Declaration of Independents website:

Full Impact Pro is set to be relaunched with a new direction with shows on Friday, September 24th and Saturday, September 25th at the USF Sun Dome Corral. Tickets will go on sale this week at the USF box office and all Ticketmaster locations.

This will be a historic weekend as FIP will crown its champion. The first night will feature 16 athletes competing in eight qualifying matches. The eight winners will advance to the second night where they will battle in a one night tournament to determine the new FIP champion.

In the September 20, 2004 ROH Newswire, Mr. Sapolsky continued with the build-up to the double shot Emergence weekend.

Full Impact Pro, which is unofficially a sister promotion to ROH and will be a big part of ROH merchandise, is going to be relaunched with a two night 16 man FIP title tournament this weekend in Tampa, FL. The first round matches will take place on Friday night and the remaining eight competitors will be in a one night tournament on Saturday night. Go to for info. First round matches are: AJ Styles (only appearing Friday) vs. Homicide, Lex Lovett vs. Joshua Masters, Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong, Slim J vs. Jerrelle Clark, CM Punk vs. Vordell Walker, Gangrel with Luna Vachon vs. Justin Credible, Rainman vs. Jason Cross and Scoot Andrews vs. Kahagas. FIP DVDs will be available exclusively right here at for the first couple of months after they are released.

An interesting note on the Friday only booking of AJ Styles. If he won on Friday to advance to Saturday, how would he gain an opportunity at the gold if he would miss Night 2?

According to the press release sent out, the answer was given:

Please note that Styles will only compete the first night and if he defeats Homicide he will be awarded with the first FIP title shot.

Another note given was how FIP would unofficially be a sister promotion to ROH. Glimpses of that was already seen over the past few months, as Joshua Masters and Rainman appeared on the Do or Die afternoon event during Reborn: Completion on July 17, and Kahagas performed at Glory By Honor III in a Six Man Mayhem on September 11. With both men competing in the FIP Heavyweight Championship Tournament, this little ROH exposure got me invested in the possibility that they could walk out titleholder.

Looking at the back of the DVD, I noticed that Gangrel was replaced in the tournament by “Roughhouse” Ralph Mosca. I couldn’t find anything on why the leader of the Brood was no longer on the card. However, Mosca was more than a suitable replacement. He performed in hardcore style matches in the original FIP against New Jack, Supreme, and, most notably, “the American Dream” Dusty Rhodes in a Texas Bullrope match!


FULL IMPACT PRO “EMERGENCE” Night 1 - September 24, 2004

One note I wanted to mention prior to the results was that Matt Pike, a close comrade of ROH commentator Jimmy Bower, and wrestling historian Mark Nulty were the commentators of this entire event. The audio was “recorded” inside the FIP Mobile Studio, which even threw Nulty for a loop. Also, Lenny Leonard was the emcee for both nights, standing in front of an FIP entrance way, introducing the performers and providing the wrestlers the microphone to cut an interview in front of the live crowd.


Kahagas beat the “Black Nature Boy” Scoot Andrews in a fun opener. It was great to see Scoot in action, especially after always reading about him in Pro Wrestling Illustrated back in the day, as well as the inaugural ROH event The Era of Honor Begins back on February 23, 2002.

Joshua Masters defeated Lex Lovett. Lovett, an established Florida independent veteran, held his own, but the deranged Masters picked up the victory. Before the match, Masters said words to the effect that a Revolution was coming. A little later on, we would see what he meant.

“Mr. 630” Jerrelle Clark defeated Slim J in a battle of light heavyweights. Nulty, in particular, was incredibly harsh of Slim J on commentary, saying he shouldn’t have been trying high impact moves for a smaller competitor. The wrestling geek in me believes that maybe Nulty hated Slim J’s old rich rave kid past in Special K in ROH, but regardless, Clark him up for the three count.

CM Punk faced Vordell Walker in the next contest, and Masters’ prophecy came to light. Punk proclaimed that he was starting The New Dawn and bringing all of the misfits and outcasts alongside him as he would win the tournament and possess the FIP World Heavyweight Championship. In spite of an awesome performance by “the Shooter” Walker, “the Second City Saint”, with help from the aforementioned Masters, cheated to pin the young upstart. The New Dawn started to rise in Full Impact Pro.

In a battle between power and high-flying, “the Soul Assassin” Rainman defeated Jason Cross in a great match. Rainman showed why he was the meanest badass on the FIP streets.

For 2004, watching Austin Aries face Roderick Strong was wild, as both men were in Generation Next in ROH. However, in the FIP universe, it was all about the championship. Aries made Strong submit in a great match with the Fish Hook submission, complete with the taped pointer finger reaching out and yanking “the Messiah of the Backbreaker” back by the mouth. Another small intricate thing was that in ROH, Aries’ Fish Hook was illegal, while in FIP, the hold was a viable yet controversial submission. “The Wrestling Machine” used it to his advantage for a tap-out win.

In a brawl around the USF Sun Dome Corral, Justin Credible defeated Ralph Mosca. The 2004 Credible came out dressed like he did in his Carnage Crew run in ROH, complete with fresh Timberland boots, and used his World Championship experience to defeat the tough-as-nails “Roughhouse” to advance.

“The Notorious 187” Homicide defeated “the Phenomenal” AJ Styles by disqualification in the final first round match.

There were several things to really ponder here in this match. For starters, this was the first time since the ROH/TNA issues in the Spring of 2004 that Styles, a signed TNA talent, was booked by Gabe Sapolsky. Secondly, watching a clean-cut AJ and a rule-abiding Homicide do battle made me feel like I was in Bizarro World, especially with the way “the Notorious 187” was running roughshod in ROH at the time.

By the end of the match, the New Dawn of Punk and Masters ran out to the ring when referee Todd Sinclair was accidentally knocked down. Both men used a chair on Homicide and Styles, but when AJ recovered and chased the New Dawn away with said steel chair, Sinclair saw “the Phenomenal” with the weapon and believed he used it to cheat on his downed opponent. The referee signaled for the bell, and Homicide advanced to the second round.

In my opinion, I thought this was a solid first night of FIP. Emergence gave an opportunity to showcase some old school wrestling and the performers the chance to gain some microphone time, alongside some character development from the beginnings of the New Dawn, Aries’ Fish Hook, and the ending to Homicide and Styles.

It was a small crowd in Tampa for Night 1, but in research of this article, the event was running in the middle of a tremendous storm. Hurricane Jeanne was a Category 3 event that hit Florida hard, especially after the hard-hitting Hurricane Ivan earlier in the month. Major props to the fans that appeared on both nights in spite of the weather.


FULL IMPACT PRO “EMERGENCE” Night 2 - September 25, 2004


Homicide, still pissed off over the attack from the New Dawn the night before, quickly laid out Joshua Masters with a Lariat and pinned him. Punk tried to attack Homicide after the match, but “the Notorious 187” fought him off.

Rainman overcame the hard strikes from Kahagas to pick up a big win to advance to the semi-finals.

Austin Aries tapped out Jerrelle Clark with the Fish Hook. One funny bit before the match had Leonard asking Aries about his taped right pointer finger, which Aries alerted him that it was due to a hangnail. Throughout the match, Aries had to deal with a broken nose along with the hangnail, and despite Clark’s best efforts, Aries won with the controversial submission.

In a match that would take on bigger precedence two years later, CM Punk defeated Justin Credible under auspicious circumstances. Beating the former ECW World Heavyweight Champion gave Punk serious momentum, while providing the fans more reason to see his downfall.


In a hard-hitting battle, Homicide pinned a hurt, but very game Aries. “The Wrestling Machine” tried to power through a bloody nose, but the relentless onslaught by Homicide was too much to overcome.

On the other side of things, a disappointed Punk let the fans in the Sun Dome Corral know that because of Homicide’s lariat earlier in the evening, Joshua Masters was taken to the hospital. Punk was now seemingly on his own, prepared to face Rainman. In spite of the hunger-for-gold “the Soul Assassin” possessed, the leader of the New Dawn won the match after a disrespectful low blow.

Afterwards, Punk demanded the microphone and called out Homicide for the finals right then and there. As “the Notorious 187” made his way out to the ring, he was attacked by a miraculously healed Masters, setting off a two-on-one assault.


Roderick Strong defeated Vordell Walker, Jason Cross, and Slim J in the first ever Four Way Fray. Unlike the Four Corner Survival in ROH, where tags are needed to come in the ring and gain a victory, the Four Way Fray had all four men in the ring at once, with the last man standing only happening after everyone else was eliminated. The Florida native Strong overcame three different styles to gain some momentum after losing the night before.


Homicide and CM Punk tore the house down in the main event. Both men brawled across the Sun Dome, actually entering the lobby of the building, and risking their own lives by fighting outside DURING A HURRICANE. Ultimately making it to the ring, “the Notorious 187” overcame repeated shenanigans from Punk and Masters, ducking a Pepsi Twist from the leader of the New Dawn, and delivering a Lariat for the three count to become the first ever FIP Heavyweight Champion!


After reading the results of Emergence from the ROH website, there were bits and pieces that I found interesting.

There were other matches on the card that didn’t make the DVD. Florida independent standouts such as the 7-foot RYZE, Aaron Epic, Sedrick Strong, the Heartbreak Express of Phil and Sean Davis, and Brian Gamble all competed on the show. Over the next year, they would find their way onto future FIP cards, with the Heartbreak Express in particular becoming mainstays for the next several years.

Also, it looked as if Slim J was going to continue his rivalry with Jerelle Clark, as according to, Slim J jumped Clark from behind after his match and challenged him to a rematch in a future FIP event. However, Slim J never made another appearance in the promotion. In fact, he never made another appearance on another Gabe Sapolsky booked show until EVOLVE 122 on February 16, 2019.


Full Impact Pro, although unofficially, became the true breeding ground for the next generation of Ring of Honor, until 2008, when both men went their separate ways shortly after Mr. Sapolsky’s release from ROH on October 25. FIP still runs events locally in Florida to this day as a part of the World Wrestling Network.

Homicide held the FIP Heavyweight Championship until January 2006, when he lost the title to “the American Dragon” Bryan Danielson in a three-way match including Roderick Strong at ROH’s Hell Freezes Over in Philadelphia. His list of opponents during his successful run include former ECW World Tag Team Champion Tony Mamaluke, Colt Cabana, James Gibson, Azrieal, Antonio Banks, and Rocky Romero.

Emergence was the beginning of establishing Full Impact Pro as a steady Florida independent. Over the years, the unproven talent on these cards, especially Rainman, Jerrelle Clark, Vordell Walker, and Kahagas, all made their names outside of Florida over the next decade. Furthermore, CM Punk, Homicide, Austin Aries, and Roderick Strong all eventually became ROH World Champions. This event really was the proving ground for the next generation of independent talent.

I truly believe I will be writing about FIP more in BANK ON HISTORY over time. The quality of content over the mid-2000s is vastly underrated and deserves to be viewed more by hardcore independent wrestling history buffs. 


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