NJPW/ROH Honor Rising
February 27 2017
We’re in Korakuen Hall for ROH’s tour show, night two. I actually watched half of night one before heading to London for Progress. Bucks vs. War Machine was all kinds of great but I’ve not had time to finish it. Instead I’m skipping into night two. Hosts are Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero.
Silas Young & Jado vs. KUSHIDA & David Finlay
Silas asks the crowd to stand up and show him respect. Seeing as there’s no respect for the Last Real Man he takes it out on Finlay’s beautiful second generation face. Jado goes one worse and hits his hanging DDT on KUSHIDA, which is uncomfortable viewing knowing that he’d seriously injure Tomoaki Honma with the same move. Jado’s stuff is goofy and the match is a total waste of KUSHIDA. Silas looks decent and nails his springboard moonsault in the corner before winning with Misery on Finlay.
Final Rating: **1/4
Delirious, Dalton Castle, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
Taguchi is cosplaying Dalton Castle, bless him. His attempts to out-weird Hiromu doesn’t work though. Nothing freaks Hiromu out.
LIJ are great at these multi-man tags and they’ve got plenty of talent to work with across the ring. The variety makes matters fun. It’s a big chaotic mess, which LIJ revel in. Naito takes particular pleasure in messing with Delirious’ tassels. The match focuses on Hiromu vs. Taguchi with Takahashi selling how scared he is of the anklelock, which helps to set up a natural storyline in their forthcoming title match. Delirious, who usually speaks in jibber-jabber, manages to pop Kevin Kelly (and myself) by saying “he’s heavy as hell” when lifting EVIL. They squeak past the ten minute mark when EVIL beats Delirious with the STO. LIJ’s dickery includes Naito pulling Tiger Mask’s mask off and throwing it into the crowd. Liger is not impressed.
Final Rating: ***
War Machine vs. Guerrillas of Destiny
War Machine killed it against the Bucks the previous night and having a good match with GOD is no longer an uphill struggle, as long as Tanga doesn’t tag in much. Basically what I’m saying is seeing GOD on a match listing no longer gives me nervous ticks about how terrible it’ll be. Tanga isn’t completely useless and he’s even showing signs of improvement. It is about time! He’s washed out of WWE and TNA already. War Machine’s crazy power moves are even crazier when they’re doing them on a medium sized team like GOD. These are cruisers they’re throwing around. Hanson, for a big man, does ridiculous things like the cartwheel lariat.
Ray blocks the Gun Stun and jacks Tama up to take the Fallout. War Machine go 2-0 on the tour! Post match Ray says War Machine are in New Japan because they want the IWGP belts.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal & Juice Robinson vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi)
NJPW have made it pretty clear they’re not interested in using Lethal on a regular basis so he’s on autopilot here and Tanahashi doesn’t do anything on these undercard tags. So Juice is all “I’ll take this one my brothers!” Fale promptly snaps him in half. Fale is a fucking scary dude. If he wanted to hurt you, he just would. That’s how big he is. So poor Juice takes a beating.
Then Tana strolls in and takes all the pops. I don’t blame Tana for cruising through these tags but he works hard for about 90 seconds in this. Hangman gets the Afterburner (Adam’s Apple) on Lethal for the win after Fale prevents the Lethal Injection.
Final Rating: **
NEVER Openweight Championship
Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Punisher Martinez
As I’m not a regular viewer of ROH this is my first look at Punisher Martinez. He’s big, standing well over six feet tall, and has a decent in-ring presence. It’s on Goto to carry the match with his experience and ability to work face. Martinez reminds me of a smaller Giant Gonzalez, although obviously with greater mobility. His legs are disproportionally skinny and his voice is ridiculously deep. When he wants to freak people out he certainly can though and the dive over the turnbuckle is suitably insane. No one of that size should be able to do that. Goto does a fine job of playing dead, virtually having to hauled up off the mat after being hit with moves. Goto works from underneath before hitting GTR for the win. There was a lot of sizzle from Punisher Martinez but it was Goto who was the real star.
Final Rating: ***1/2
ROH World Championship
Adam Cole (c) vs. YOSHI-HASHI
The crowd get very into the “Adam Cole BAYBAY” bit. Let’s face it, that’s basically all Cole does to make himself stand out.
YOSHI-HASHI’s response garners a few chuckles. The Japanese crowd are always weird at these American shows and here they’re chanting for Cole, who’s working solidly heel, and even boo Y-H for doing the “BAY BAY” business. And yet when Cole is over working for NJPW he generally wrestles in front of audiences who are largely disinterested in his antics. YOSHI works from underneath despite all the Cole chants, taking a tonne of big spots. It’s all relatively fluid and if I was more into Cole as a worker I’d probably love it. The problem with YOSHI-HASHI is that New Japan did a marvellous job of building him up during G1 last year and he’s still riding on the crest of that wave. That was 7-8 months ago. It’s the same story here with him looking strong and nearly beating Cole several times but unable to hit Karma. Cole does some good work with an exposed knee, making it mean something, before winning with the Last Shot. This was really good, although I wasn’t invested in it and never thought Tacos was winning.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks & Cody Rhodes) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & The Briscoe Brothers
This is only the second match for Kenny in Japan since New Year Dash.
He’s very popular because of his absence and excellence at Wrestle Kingdom. Speaking of which, we start with Kenny vs. Okada. They’re destined to tangle again at some point. Not now though as Okada refuses to wrestle Kenny! Ospreay once again looks excellent and he has a whale of a time doing flipz with the Bucks. He’s seen a slight de-push during the early months of 2017, despite the Shibata match. There’s no doubt New Japan will use him in high profile matches going forward though. The stuff he does with the superkicks and being thrown back in by Omega and Cody is gold. It’s silly but the whole match is silly. I can live with silly. Okada brings the same level of joy by yelling “suck it” at the Bucks. Basically the Young Bucks have been in the two best matches of the weekend and it’s not even close. They build up to Okada-Omega with Kenny looking like scoring the elusive pin on Okada that he couldn’t get at WK. The crowd even boo Okada when he poses, looking for the Rainmaker. There’s a groundswell of support for Kenneth. Admittedly this is a show aimed at fans of American wrestling and that will alter fan reactions somewhat. The finish comes when Cody spots Ospreay going for the Oscutter and counters into the Cross Rhodes for the win. This was a lot of fun.
Final Rating: ****
A decent show from ROH on tour. It wasn’t the greatest of cards but the main event delivered and a few undercard bouts were better than expected. The standard was fairly consistent even in matches that didn’t shine creatively. ROH is a company that makes itself hard to like, a huge contrast to its phenomental heyday. Compared to an accessible promotion like New Japan it’s tough to get into their long term booking goals. So I’ll probably only ever see them as a New Japan touring act and occasional supershow promotion. I think I saw four ROH shows in the entire of last year. I may see even less in 2017.