Monday, February 27, 2017

NJPW/ROH Honor Rising Night One Review

ROH/NJPW Honor Rising Night One
February 26th, 2017 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,636

Last year, the two Honor Rising events were solid but didn’t blow me away. Only one match from those shows (Ishii/Strong) made my year-end list. I don’t expect better this time around. ROH is in shambles, losing star after star on a consistent basis. It’s honestly in the worst shape I’ve seen it in. Still, I’m an “expect the worst, but hope for the best” kind of guy and would love to see this shows deliver despite their cards. The shows mark the return of Kenny Omega after missing every show since New Year Dash.

To gain a better understanding of the state of ROH, Silas Young was the fourth highest billed ROH guy in the show’s intro. Side note, I watched this show with the English commentary team of Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero.

David Finlay, Juice Robinson and KUSHIDA def. Gedo, Jado and Silas Young in 9:59
Silas Young’s team came out with shirts that said “REAL MAN” on them. Silas cut a promo before the bell saying the real men like his team have been disrespected. They jumped the faces but ended up taking a powder. Finlay got in trouble, taking the heat. They did a lot of standard heel work on Finlay. KUSHIDA came in hot and did his thing for a bit. Young tried his signature moonsault spot but he didn’t seem to account for the different turnbuckles in Japan and messed it up, falling badly. Juice came in next and got most of the final run. He might’ve broken his nose at one point but still put away Gedo with Pulp Friction. Fine opener. I wish KUSHIDA got to do more but Juice again impressed. He’s been strong in 2017 so far. **½

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Los Ingobernables de Japon (c) (BUSHI, EVIL and SANADA) def. Delirious, Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask IV in 10:34
I appreciate a random NEVER Six Man Tag Title match to spice up an undercard. If only they were booked better. EVIL mostly no sold Delirious’ bell ringing antics. He went nuts as usual and tagged Liger before tagging back in, which got a chuckle from the crowd. LIDJ slowed things down and beat up the challengers in and around the ring. They continued to get heat by going after the masks. Liger took the heat which was kind of a double edged sword. On one hand, he’s the best guy to get sympathy but he’s also the best guy period on his team. The very mild tag went to Tiger Mask before Delirious got a slightly warmer one. He escaped Skull End and got several flash pins for near falls. Delirious took a chair shot behind the referee’s back and Skull End made him tap. Horrible finish. Why protect Delirious? He barely wrestles anymore and LIDJ should’ve ran through these fools (not counting Liger, who rules). **¼

CHAOS (NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay and YOSHI-HASHI) def. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, The Guerillas of Destiny and Yujiro Takahashi) in 11:05
I didn’t miss the Bullet Club (except Omega) at all. I definitely didn’t miss the never ending CHAOS/Bullet Club matches. It’s the Bullet Club B-Team. Commentary discussed Okada’s bruised leg after the Suzuki match, which only served to remind me of that debacle. Bullet Club jumped them before the bell and the teams brawled around the ring for a while. Inside, Ospreay took the heat, being the smallest guy on his team. Tanga Loa didn’t curse enough in this match to be entertaining. It was a good idea to let YOSHI-HAHSI be the guy who did his thing down the stretch considering his title match tomorrow. There was a cool spot where Okada launched Ospreay over and out onto Fale. YOSHI pinned Yujiro with Karma. Another fine match. About what I’ve come to expect from CHAOS/Bullet Club matches. YOSHI looked good though. I’d be totally cool with YOSHI beating Cole tomorrow. **½

War Machine def. The Young Bucks in 12:05
I like one of these tag teams. The other are the Young Bucks. Anyway, they hold the ROH Tag Team Titles. War Machine controlled early by throwing the Bucks around. I like it. After taking a beating for a bit more, the Bucks responded with a flurry of offense. Nick hit a rather impressive springboard rana, followed by more high flying offense. More Bang for Your Buck was cut off and Hanson came in, squashing both Bucks in the corner. The Bucks hit two 450 splashes on Hanson but only got two. The Meltzer Drive was cut off, leading to Hanson telling them to SUCK IT! The Bucks survived a popup powerslam, leading to “this is awesome” chants. Nick got in some kicks but was taken out with a splash and powerbomb. Matt was left alone and fought both guys. He showed fire but ate a knee strike and fallout to take the pin. Best match so far, with the Bucks fitting in War Machine’s type of match well. They were less grating than usual, while War Machine continued to impress in Japan. I think they’re the most valuable thing NJPW could use from ROH, since they’ll bolster the dull tag division. ***¼

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi, Punisher Martinez and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito def. Dalton Castle, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Ryusuke Taguchi in 11:46
Tanahashi and Taguchi came out dressed as the “boys’, which was damn funny. Naito spit at Rocky Romero on commentary and they nearly fought. Kelly almost made mention of Cody having strong words for Naito in an interview. Also, Kelly kept calling him “Punishment Martinez.” Martinez refused to join the LIDJ fist bump. Martinez looks like a big Uso. He and Castle started off with some uninteresting back and forth. The entertainment picked up when Tanahashi did Castle like mannerisms against Naito. Naito and Takahashi took over, wearing down Tanahashi and refusing to tag Punisher. Taguchi got the tag and came in hot. They previewed the upcoming Hiromu/Taguchi match. Punisher tagged himself in and it came down to he and Castle. Punisher won with a chokeslam. I’d call this my least favorite Naito worked multi-man tag in a long time. He and Takahashi were fine and the faces had fun but Martinez is just so bland. His win was to give intrigue to his match with Goto tomorrow but I’m not feeling it. **¼

Post-match, Naito flipped off Punisher.

RPW British Heavyweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata and Jay Lethal def. Cody and Hangman Page in 14:06
Lethal wanted Cody for what went down at Final Battle but Cody demanded Shibata. Cody hyped up stuff with Shibata but their interactions here fell way flat. Page took over and Cody only wanted Lethal when he was already down. That led to Lethal taking the heat segment. It was a lengthy segment highlighted by Page’s apron shooting star press. Cody and Shibata tagged in at the same time and Cody met him with a dropkick. Shibata sat up like nothing and brushed it off. He spent the next bit kicking Cody’s ass. Cody applied the American Nightmare submission but Shibata obviously didn’t tap. While Cody went at it with Lethal, Shibata came in with a vicious Penalty Kick. Lethal Injection connected on Page to score the pinfall. I believe they wanted to set up Cody/Shibata but their interactions didn’t do much for me. If anything, I’d more interested in Hangman/Shibata. Lethal was kind of just there too. **¾

ROH World Champion Adam Cole and Kenny Omega def. The Briscoes in 22:00
It’s good to see Kenny Omega back. He had a great 2016 and went from a guy I hated watching as a Jr. Heavyweight, to a highlight on a lot of shows. Cole doesn’t impress me much though. Cole and Mark started, doing a lot of nothing. The fans wanted Kenny and got him within the first two minutes. Things progressed into a brawl outside and through the crowd. Omega hit a moonsault off the guardrail, which was cool. Jay got worked over the Bullet Club for a while. Omega cut off the tag, so Jay had to stay in a bit longer. Mark’s hot tag saw him go redneck wild. The teams traded back and forth for the next portion of the match, with Kenny easily getting the best pop. Both teams teased winning until the Doomsday Device got cut off. Jay slipped free of the One Winged Angel but Omega countered the Doomsday Device with a powerslam. V-Trigger and Last Shot kept Mark down for the count. Pretty good main event that went too long. It felt like they were mostly going through the motions. That might be fine for Kenny, who could still be taking it easy before ramping up for the New Japan Cup, but the ROH guys needed to perform big time and they didn’t. There was no drama and it was kind of just there. **¾

After the match, Kenny Omega got on the mic and said 2017 would be his year. Adam Cole cut him off, saying Omega forgot about him and that it’ll be the year of Cole. Omega backed off, leaving him to celebrate. It sets up Cole leaving the Bullet Club later but I pray Gedo doesn’t plan on wasting Omega on a Cole feud.

Overall: 5/10. About what I expected from this show. ROH is in rough shape and that was clear at times here. Parts of the show were fun (Castle’s boys being a highlight), but only one match got three stars. War Machine/Bucks was good tag wrestling but the two main events lacked. They weren’t technically bad but they were missing something to make them stand out. Like a lot of ROH stuff these days, this was a painfully average event.