NJPW ROH G1 Supercard
April 6 2019
Hosts are Ian Riccaboni, Kevin Kelly and Colt Cabana.
Winner gets an ROH title shot. #1 is Kenny King. #2 is Minoru Suzuki. They actually dub music over the entrances for reasons. The crowd still drown it out with the sing-a-long. I can’t believe Suzuki is here for a battle royal. #4 is Beer City Bruiser. ROH is so bad. What must Minoru Suzuki be thinking here? #6 is Shingo Takagi. Yep, they flew Shingo over to be on a pre-show battle royal. This is so weird. I know I’m more of a New Japan fan than an ROH one but so many of these opening battle royal guys would have been better in matches than the ROH nerds on the main show. That said ROH’s battle royal nerds are even worse. The ring is full of guys and the match is dying on its ass. People aren’t even counting down the entrants. #10 is Rhett Titus. The parade of ROH scrubs continues. Oh hey, let’s do an angle with Rhett Titus! That’ll get over. *Absolute silence*. The ring is full of wrestlers. It finally gets good with Coach Taguchi organising a train of clotheslines headed up by Romero. Cheeseburger does the Kofi Kingston survival spot while Milonas and Fale look at each other. Thrilling stuff. It’s a full on 30 man Rumble too. We get about twenty deep and it’s still awful. Jushin Liger, entering at #22, gets the biggest ovation of the match. Give him the ROH title in my opinion. Who comes in after him? TK O’Ryan. ROH is the gift that keeps on getting returned the shop unwanted in the new year. Tomohiro Ishii also wakes the crowd up a bit. Again, just put the ROH title on him. Worked a charm for Rev Pro. Don’t give me that ‘ROH is a big promotion, blah blah blah’ business. Toru Yano also gets a big pop but he gives his spot to Colt! Yano takes over spot on comms.
They should have him on comms more. #29 is Haku! “Very scary” – Yano.
#30 is GREAT MUTA! A few jaws hit the floor but he was in town. They could have had Masato Tanaka and Shinjiro Otani while they were at it.
It finally gets good at this point with two great surprise entries and Ishii & Suzuki taking a moment to hit each other in the face while everyone else hangs out in the background. They decide to book the match around the Kingdom. Hahaha.
Final Four: Muta, Liger & the Kingdom. ROH realise that the Kingdom stink right? They get rid of the dead wood and oh good god; Liger vs. Muta! In 2019! I’m screaming! Then Kenny King appears from outside the ring and throws them both out to win. Huh. This had a few moments; the Taguchi organised attacks, the surprise entrants and the legends squaring off but ROH are pretty clueless. This was long too. So long.
Final Rating: *1/2
Video Control kicks us off with tape of wrestlers talking about Madison Square Garden and how it this unreachable, untouchable dream and now it’s real.
NEVER Openweight Championship
ROH TV Championship
Will Ospreay (c) vs. Jeff Cobb (c)
It’s odd that both belts are on the line but I could make cases for both men winning. Neither belt means very much.
Putting these guys out first sets the tone for the night though. It’s a hugely entertaining flier battling a great powerhouse wrestler. They set a hearty pace too. Ospreay taking big bumps and big risks. Cobb basically does a load of spots he’s been doing to almost no reaction on the indies for years and they’re getting popped huge. So he’s broken out, finally. They mesh really well and that’s a credit to both guys style. Ospreay tries to match Cobb for power, as he’s moving up to heavy soon, but can’t so he switches to sneaky hook kicks and flips. The Tour of the Islands counter into the Code Red is sick. Ospreay is so creative when it comes to counters. Cobb catching the Oscutter, throwing Ospreay into the buckles and then Ospreay bouncing back and hitting the Oscutter is a fantastic sequence. Tour of the Islands off the top, to block a super Stormbreaker, sets up the Tour of the Islands and Cobb wins the NEVER strap. Cobb off to Japan though. Probably to replace Elgin. Double win for New Japan.
Final Rating: ****
Dalton Castle vs. Rush
The building looks incredible by the way. MSG is a special venue and I’m thrilled they did a job on it. Imagine watching ROH back in 2002 from the fucking Rec Center and being told that 17 years later they’d be running a show in MSG? When I say that wXw might one day run the Koenig Pilsner Arena I’m not kidding. Dream big guys. Rush batters Dalton from the bell and beats him in twenty seconds. I guess Castle is still injured. Post match Castle kills one of the Boys. Bangarang for the other one. Is it weird they gave him the big “Mania” entrance and then jobbed him in seconds?
Final Rating: NR
Women of Honor Championship
Mayu Iwatani (c) vs. Kelly Klein
ROH’s women’s division is an example of what happens when WWE sign up a lot of Indie talent and there’s slim pickings for the secondary market. It’s less evident in men’s wrestling where there is a deeper pool. The women’s divisions? Yeah. Iwatani is one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world but she works for Stardom.
Kelly Klein? Let’s just say I’m not a fan. Everything good about the match comes from Mayu’s devil-may-care attitude and her big selling. Klein sums up her skill level with the bump on the reverse rana. At one point she blows a lateral press. I know there’s not a lot of women’s wrestlers to pick an ace from but ROH, guys, you can do better. Klein wins, because she’s the one under contract, and we’re done here. If you’re interested in seeing some good Mayu Iwatani matches watch her in Stardom. If you’re interested in women’s wrestling don’t watch ROH.
Final Rating: *
Post Match: Angelina Love and Velvet Skye turn up. Yeah, that’ll fix your division! Neither of these guys have been relevant in five years. Mandy Leon then strolls down and turns on Kelly Klein. Ah, it’s getting worse! I’m laughing out loud at the state of this division.
Bully Ray’s Open Challenge
With Juice Robinson being attacked backstage it’s left to Flip Gordon to answer Bully’s challenge. I literally don’t give a shit. Why would anyone want to watch Bully Ray wrestle in 2019? Shane Taylor and Silas Young show up to beat Flip up. The lights go out. It’s Tazz! No, it’s Mark Haskins.
Bully Ray, Shane Taylor & Silas Young vs. Juice Robinson, Mask Haskins & Flip Gordon
A prime example of how mediocre ROH is. Juice is New Japan. Haskins got plucked out of the thriving UK scene. Gordon is over from hanging out with the Elite. The heels all suck. Heels not being very good is a massive problem in wrestling. Essentially wrestling, at it’s very core, revolves around hate and overcoming evil. I do like Flip trying to no sell the cane shots. He no sells the Silas one with ease but then Shane fucking kills him. Flip takes a beating here but it doesn’t make the match any good. Shout out to Haskins, who lives just down the road from me, for getting a match at MSG though. Worcestershire represent! Especially as he hits a wassup headbutt to Bully Ray’s balls. Remarkable. The stuff of dreams.
Final Rating: **1/2
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. Dragon Lee vs. Bandido
Alright, we’re back on course! Three excellent juniors who will no doubt do the flips. Dragon Lee does his crazy dive over the top rope rana to the floor. Ishimori does some excellent work with the ropes and they fly through this at high speed. I love it. The card has been sluggish since the opener and it needed waking up. I get briefly sad in mid-flow because I realise Hiromu Takahashi would have been in this match if he was fit. Bandido is a notch below the other two in terms of familiarity in Japan so I’m pleased he has the chance to showcase himself. I generally don’t love triple threats but there’s so much crazy stuff here it’s easy to watch. They do some absolutely wild shit and Dragon Lee comes away with the belt. Interesting they switched to the CMLL guy not the ROH guy…in ROH. But hey, it was fun. I feel bad for Ishimori who’s almost been treated as an afterthought of late but New Japan have a lot of guys.
— Arn (@ArnoldFurious) April 7, 2019
Final Rating: ***1/2
IWGP Tag Team Championship
ROH Tag Team Championship
EVIL & SANADA vs. Briscoe Brothers vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs. PCO & Brody King (c)
Did I write the entrants down in that order because I couldn’t remember who the tag champions were in either company? Maybe. PCO gets the big entrance and his comeback over the past two years has been one of the extraordinary things in my personal experience of wrestling. PCO murdering Mark Briscoe on the apron with the cannonball is one of the best parts of the match too. I almost buy into PCO winning the IWGP tag titles. What a time to be alive!
Jake Roberts: modern wrestling is so bad, nobody sells anything now
— Arn (@ArnoldFurious) April 7, 2019
Then he gets powerbombed to the floor, dies, comes back to life, dies again and GOD win with a Superbomb on Brody. Yano steals the IWGP belts but GOD are double champs.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship
Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
You can tell this is ROH production because they don’t even get Tanahashi’s turnbuckle pose. They even cut away just before he does it. Shocking.
Sabre’s transitions, as always, are magical. Even when Tanahashi is doing Tanahashi things, like skinning the cat, Sabre gets him in an armbar with a bodyscissors. Tanahashi holds his own, mostly, because he’s an excellent technician but part of the appeal of Sabre is that he’s so unique. It’s been a long show already but people are still into his artform. Sabre ties Tanahashi in knots and he quits. This was great but I felt like their previous matches in Japan were a little better.
Final Rating: ***3/4
IWGP International Championship
Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Kota Ibushi
This has potential to not only be a showstealer but be up among the best matches of the weekend. They just had a ****3/4 match in the New Japan Cup so that bodes well.
There’s two hours left on the show and it’ll take most of that for Naito to take his trousers off.
Some security dickhead gets in the way of Naito running Ibushi into the rail and boy does he ever get the stink eye for it. Naito counting the count out in his tranquilo pose is pretty great. Both guys are aware they’ve been put out here to have the work rate match and Kota lands on his head about six minutes in. Kota obviously feels that’s not quite enough because he hits a ridiculous rana off the apron to the floor that is downright scary. They also do the scary German suplex off the apron spot and Naito lands dead on his upper neck and the back of his head. Naito might be a bit woozy because right after that he drops Ibushi square on his head. Compared to some of their more outstanding matches it’s all a bit sloppy. Or deliberately dangerous. I’m not sure which is worse/better. They do little bits of dangerous wrestling before the stretch but in the stretch it’s even more extreme. Ibushi using his body as a weapon. Kamigoye finishes and we have another title change.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Jay Lethal (c) vs. Marty Scurll vs. Matt Taven
Why? We have a main event to get to gentlemen, please get out of the ring. The only good thing in this match is Scurll doing the Chickenwing on top of the ladder and even that doesn’t go anywhere. I also like that Marty is too short to reach the belt. This is supposed to be The Match for ROH on this show and it’s just long. They set big spots up where I’m left questioning why the third guy isn’t involved and everything just takes so long. It’s like they wanted to do a TLC kind of match but those matches need a lot of moving parts to pay off. You can’t do a big two guys fall through a table spot and then have the third guy climb because the match should be over but they do that here and I hate it.
Then Jay Lethal takes a horrific bump through one of the stupid pre-set up ladders and they put the belt on Matt Taven. Matt. Taven.
Final Rating: DUD
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Jay White (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada
This is now a very tough spot because that last match was so bad it’s near impossible to follow. If I’d seen it live I wouldn’t want to watch more wrestling afterwards. It does not help that it’s methodical and deliberate. I’m very glad I didn’t watch it live. We get fifteen minutes in and not a lot happens. It’s very much a story of Okada having regained his composure as a main eventer and drawing Jay into his kind of match. Which is fine as a story but at the tail end of a long show, on a long weekend it’s a little tedious. After that Okada starts to get into a rhythm of just dismantling Jay. John Woo’s, the Savage Elbow, the big Rainmaker pose. I love that Jay just sits down to block the Rainmaker. That’s ingenious. The match continues to feel a little cold going into the later stages but they start to get into the Rainmaker counters and Okada throwing dropkicks and it starts to get really good.
The atmosphere is that everyone came to see Okada win the title and they’re waiting for the finish. Which makes the Rainmaker kick out so good because everyone is on their feet for that. If they were super smart they’d have done that earlier. Have a longer hotter stretch. You have to remember when this show was first announced the plan was Okada-Omega. Bit of a switch. The stretch is excellent as the crowd suddenly come to terms with the possibility that either man could win. The backslide/finisher missing into dropkick sequence is fantastic. I like that they don’t do a load of near falls. Instead teasing and countering around the big spots. Rainmaker puts Jay away and they certainly finished hot here. I felt the whole thing was a bit ponderous and only came to life after the big near fall Rainmaker spot but it was still better than that shitty Cole/Gargano match.
Final Rating: ***3/4
I feel like this was a good show for New Japan but a bad show for ROH. Does that make sense? Sure it does. Ring of Honor sucks. Interspersed with bad ROH stuff was a strong New Japan card. When they announced they were running MSG I really hoped it was just New Japan but Sinclair probably got the venue so here we are, their dirty laundry mixed in with New Japan’s fresh underwear drawer. Obviously the show was way too long but you trim out all the ROH fat and it would have been great.