BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #10 - The Weapon of Mask Destruction #1, #2, and #3
In the mid-2000s, there was no better manager in Ring of Honor than Prince Nana.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy he’s currently signed to Tony Khan’s ROH and is the manager of the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions of Brian Cage, Kaun, and Toa Liona.
But in 2004, the Ashanti prince from Ghana, West Africa was at the peak of his powers.
In the wrestling-heavy, less gimmick style of ROH, Nana was a breath of fresh air. Many fans believe that he single-handedly established and elevated Jimmy Rave as a top level bad guy. The duo were a perfect fit for one another - Rave as the steak, Nana as the sizzle.
With the Embassy, Rave was “the Crown Jewel”, the face of the group, while the Prince hired people to protect his investment. The Outcast Killaz of Diablo Santiago and Oman Tortuga were Nana’s first henchmen, combining their own careers with performing their tasks within the group, including sanitizing and purifying the air that the dirty ROH fans sullied.
Rave started on a long winning streak, beginning at Reborn: Completion on July 17, 2004 against Trent Acid. Angel Dust and Dixie also fell victim to “the Crown Jewel” via the Rave Clash, his take (and according to him, his innovation) of the Styles Clash. He even won a Four-Corner Survival against Josh Daniels, the aforementioned Acid, and former Tag Team champion BJ Whitmer at the Midnight Express Reunion event on October 2.
However, our story starts to take shape at the Weekend of Thunder Weekend in the first week of November.
After beating Ace Steel at Night 1 in Revere, MA on the 5th, the Embassy traveled down to Elizabeth, NJ at the world renowned RexPlex. Elizabeth’s own Jay Lethal was Rave’s opponent.
Lethal, only 19 years old, was in the beginning stages of a long, successful career. After getting caught in the partying lifestyle with Special K, a crew of rich kid ravers, Lethal quit the group, got serious as a performer, and went under the learning tree of then-ROH World champion Samoa Joe. Quite a foundation to build off of.
Lethal and Rave had a hell of a contest, but as Lethal was about to hit his Dragon suplex, Prince Nana grabbed the microphone and distracted the referee and Lethal. Rave then low-blowed Jay, delivered a picture perfect Rave Clash, and got the three count. Rave’s win streak continued.
As Rave went to sarcastically uphold the Code of Honor, with Nana going wild on the microphone, Lethal snapped. He grabbed the microphone from the evil Prince and told him to shut the Hell up. After some biting remarks to Rave and the Embassy, Lethal slapped the bejesus out of both Outcast Killaz, Rave, and Nana himself! Lethal booked it out of the ring and up the ramp.
Prince Nana was incensed. Fuming, in fact. Lethal embarrassed the Embassy in front of his hometown fans. Revenge was due.
ENTER THE WEAPON OF MASK DESTRUCTION.
Rumblings started to infiltrate via the ROH Newswire about the evil Prince looking for revenge on Lethal, including bringing over a “weapon of mass destruction” to finish off the 19 year old prodigy.
However, the Newswire from November 23, 2004 fully vindicated and elaborated Nana’s intentions.
“Prince Nana has stated that ROH officials have it all wrong and the reason why they can’t find Ghana, West Africa’s weapons of mass destruction that are targeted on Jay Lethal is because there really aren’t any. Nana says ROH officials are stupid because he has “weapons of MASK destruction” from Ghana to take out Lethal. Nana recently passed a tax on the citizens of Ghana to help pay for these very expensive weapons.”
Taking a chunk from Ghana taxpayers, as well as out of the Ghana military budget, Prince Nana promised that Lethal would be destroyed by his Weapon of MASK Destruction at All Star Extravaganza II, again at the RexPlex, on December 4.
Jay Lethal waited in the ring in his hometown for what the Embassy had in store for him.
What came out was a sight to behold. Prince Nana led out his Weapon of Mask Destruction to the ring. A tall man rocking a red mask with a phoenix in the center, red short trunks, and black boots sauntered into the squared circle.
Not a lot of people knew what to make of Nana’s WMD, but with military funds utilized to develop this talent, you had to know he was set to one mode: DESTROY.
Both men went back-and-forth for seven minutes. After withstanding most of the Weapon’s bruising offense, Lethal nailed him with his Dragon suplex for the three count.
NANA WAS PISSED.
The Prince grabbed the microphone and went off, calling his Weapon a massive failure. He said that he was going to get another weapon: bigger, badder, better. And that at Final Battle 2004, it would be Lethal’s “final battle”.
On December 26, 2004, in Philadelphia, PA, Lethal prepared for a second Weapon of Mask Destruction.
This time around, Nana created a slightly smaller, more agile Weapon for Lethal. #2 wore a green mask with gold and black trim and black athletic pants. This Weapon was also more of a hold-for-hold wrestler, which had to be a little off-guard for the 19 year old prodigy.
After another solid back-and-forth, Lethal surprised the Weapon once again with the Dragon suplex and pinned him in the center of the ring.
In hindsight, Nana’s strategy to take out Jay Lethal was unique; however, it failed miserably. The two Weapons of Mask Destruction actually emboldened Lethal to get tougher and more aggressive. After these two matches, Lethal ran through the Embassy one-by-one, ultimately defeating John Walters on March 5, 2005 at the Trios Tournament 2005 event to become ROH Pure Wrestling champion.
This saga helped “make” Lethal into the athlete we see today.
This should’ve been the end of the Weapons experiment in Ring of Honor. However, Prince still had one more loaded in the chamber.
All because of CM Punk.
During the Third Anniversary Celebration - Night 3 event in Chicago, IL on February 26, 2005, Jimmy Rave cheated to pin CM Punk after spraying him in the eyes with air freshener. After the Embassy took out his girlfriend Traci Brooks, while he was blinded on the canvas, Punk became a man possessed, looking for revenge.
In the first round of the aforementioned Trios Tournament, the Embassy of Jimmy Rave and the Outcast Killaz were linked up to face Steve Corino, Colt Cabana, and Punk.
When Diablo Santiago went down with a concussion and a fractured foot at a USA Pro event on the weekend before the Tournament, an opening for a third man became available. Quickly, Nana went to the Ghana military and got another Weapon prepared.
Similar to the second one, this was a drastically different Weapon of Mask Destruction. #3 was dressed in full black regalia, from pants to shirt, draped in an Embassy tee. His mask was gold with black trim. The Weapon was ready to protect “the Crown Jewel”...
AND instantly failed as Punk ran up the aisle and tackled Rave in the entranceway.
Once the action ended up back in the ring, #3 barely had any offense within the match. Rave ran off through the crowd with Nana, leaving the Weapon as a sacrificial lamb. Punk hooked him in an Anaconda Vice and got the tap out victory.
Sadly, Prince Nana finally learned his lesson, at least in this stage of his career, and ended his Weapons of Mask Destruction saga.
The Weapons of Mask Destruction were never meant to be long-term characters in the world of ROH; however, their role was perfect for what the Embassy provided, while helping establish Prince Nana further as the evil dictator from Ghana.
Off and on for the past decade, the Embassy has lasted in different eras of ROH, with the Prince at the helm. In my opinion, he’s never gotten the proper due he’s ever deserved. I’m happy to provide that for him here.
Time for some shrimp cocktails.
LINKS: https://web.archive.org/web/20050405010609/http://www.declarationofindependents.net/doi/pages/diablo.html - Diablo Santiago injury
https://web.archive.org/web/20050125035900/http://rohwrestling.com/latestnews.asp?intCategoryID=1&intArticleID=122 - ROH Newswire 12/23/04