Friday, February 19, 2016

ROH/NJPW Honor Rising Night One Review

ROH/NJPW Honor Rising Night One
January 19th, 2016 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

Usually, the ROH/NJPW joint events are held in the United States but that was different today. They held the first part of a two night event in the hallowed Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. Top stars from both promotions would compete against and with each other throughout the evening.

Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Matt Sydal def. Dalton Castle and Ryusuke Taguchi in 8:22
The New Japan crowd was certainly intrigued by Dalton Castle and the Boys. Credit to Ryusuke Taguchi, who fit right in and even donned a pair of wings like Dalton. Like their match on ROH TV last year, the interactions between Liger and Castle were so much fun. Liger even posed with the Boys once again. Castle and Taguchi kind of make sense as a tag team. Both teams got opportunities to get their stuff in, with Sydal hitting his athletic stuff, Taguchi using ass attacks, etc. In a bit of a disappointment, Sydal pinned Castle with the Shooting Star Press. I understand wanting the guy with a title to win but I think Taguchi could have eaten the pin, unless Castle isn’t returning. All four men shook hands after the match. Relatively fun opener. **¾

Delirious def. Gedo in 7:53
It’s a battle of the bookers! One overbooks his matches with a lot of interference and the other loves American wrestlers and does tons of random title switches for no real reason. When did Delirious start wrestling barefoot? I don’t like it. The fans were unsure of what to make of Delirious’ bell ring gimmick. They worked at a decent pace but it never really got going. Delirious won with a pinning combination. The match was about as good as their booking ability.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA def. Kazarian in 9:47
Kazarian has always been an interesting case to me. It’s like, he’s good but he’s never been able to wow me. With the right opponent, like a KUSHIDA, he can deliver. Unfortunately, it kind of felt like Kazarian phoned it in a bit. KUSHIDA was great as always, holding nothing back and even hitting a great front flip dive to the outside. After some relatively uninspired back and forth, KUSHIDA made Kazarian tap out to the Hoverboard Lock. This worked fine as a showcase for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, who should be in for a massive 2016. I found this to be solid enough but nothing more. **½

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Moose, Michael Elgin and Tomoaki Honma def. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Cody Hall, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi) in 11:38
It’s odd seeing Moose come out and not having the whole crowd do the trademark “MOOSE” chant. They do get a little bit into it when the bell rings though. I may not like the Bullet Club at all, but their theme is pretty great. Moose and Fale had a good hoss battle and it ruled because Moose is like the only guy I’ve ever seen match Fale’s size. This turned into a brawl at one point, with all eight men fighting outside. Elgin got to do his trademark big moves that the Japan crowd loves. Tanahashi was his usual self and Honma was super over as always. If I had to pick one guy, I’d say Moose was the star here. Helped along by Tanahashi and Honma doing the “MOOSE” chant and his work in the ring, he won over the crowd. He ran up the turnbuckle before hitting a cross body and then connected on the Spear to beat Cody Hall. Best match of the night so far. Just an enjoyable match where everyone got a chance to do their thing and the crowd was way into all of it. ***¼

The Bullet Club (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks) def. NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata and reDRagon in 10:16
Shibata and reDRagon is pretty much my dream team. One of my favorite singles guys teaming with the best tag team on the planet. Going in, I just knew that if Shibata got to kick the shit out of the Young Bucks enough, I’d get exactly what I wanted from it. Kudos to Omega, who showed no fear of Shibata. It further cements that he is a heavyweight that won’t be intimidated. It’s like, for every good thing I see from Omega, he messes it up with his next action or something. He did hit a nice dive outside, while I enjoyed seeing reDRagon and Shibata apply triple armbars. Seeing O’Reilly counter the One Winged Angel into a guillotine was pretty sweet. The interactions between Shibata and Omega were great, but the stuff from reDRagon and the Bucks kind of bored me. What they do isn’t bad, but we’ve seen it a million times. It’s NJPW’s version of the old never ending Del Rio/Sheamus feud. Kyle fell to an Indytaker and One Winged Angel. Good match but I wish we got more of Shibata kicking the shit out of the Bucks. ***¼

The Briscoes def. Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson in 8:23
Karl Anderson pointed out his wife in the front row during his entrance. Props to him. The Bullet Club members attacked before the bell. Gallows even brought a steel chair into play outside at one point. Mark took the heat and Jay got the hot tag, with both guys playing their roles well. Gallows and Anderson teased a win a few times, but Jay had the Gun Stun well scouted. He couldn’t hit the Jay Driller either, instead going with a neckbreaker before Mark won it with Froggy Bow. Pretty good tag match between two of the best teams out there. I feel that it could have been more though. Gallows and Anderson got a good hand from the crowd on their way out. **¾

ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and Tetsuya Naito w/ BUSHI, EVIL and Truth Martini def. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI w/ Gedo in 12:56
Naito again messed with the commentator whose name I don’t know, demanding he hold the ropes open for him. There was some surprising “let’s go Lethal” chants early on. He started with Okada and both men went for their finishers early on. Lethal and Naito were the perfect dick heels. Okada did his usual stuff. We got a tease of Okada/Naito, but I wish we saw more. I truly think that Naito should be the one to take the title from Okada. Chaos started to look for the win as Lethal failed to use the Book of Truth. EVIL shoved YOSHI-HASHI off the top while Naito laid out Okada with the book. YOSHI took the Lethal Injection and the right guy ate the pinfall. They teased tension between Lethal and Naito after the match, but they shook hands and bumped fists. Naito gave Lethal his Los Ingobernables hat, while Lethal handed him the Book of Truth. Another solid match featuring good action. ***

ROH World Television Championship: Tomohiro Ishii def. Roderick Strong (c) in 20:07
This is a match I’ve wanted to see for a while since both guys wrestle a style that I really enjoy. Roddy was an asshole from the start, playing up his new heel persona which he’s kind of mastered from what I’ve seen oh his PWG work. He targeted the back, slamming it into both the apron and the guardrail. Ishii gave zero fucks, even spitting at Strong after getting chopped. Strong grew frustrated that, despite his best efforts and backbreakers, couldn’t keep Ishii down. Ishii’s selling in this match was top notch, proving again that he’s one of the best in the business when it comes to that aspect. Ishii started to fire up, leaning into forearm shots from Roddy. He survived an onslaught from Strong before capturing the title with a Brainbuster. The crowd popped hard for this surprise victory. Last year, Strong vs. NJPW guys made it to my Top 100 Matches list three times (Okada, KUSHIDA and Nakamura), but this might have been better than all three of those. An excellent main event. ****¼

Overall: 7/10. Like most shows that I have seen this year so far, this was pretty damn good. It started a bit slow and none of the matches, outside of the great main event, are anything I would consider must see. However, nothing outside of the second match is something I would consider bad. It’s an easy to sit through, enjoyable show that gets some bumped up cool points for giving us intriguing and rare matchups at times.