NJPW Reviews ROH

NJPW & ROH Honor Rising Night 2 Review (2/20/16)

After a Night 1 full of ups and downs, featuring Roderick Strong being defeated for his ROH World Television Championship by Tomohiro Ishii, as well as Team MMA (Katsuyori Shibata & reDRagon) taking on the illustrious Team ELITE, I myself look at this card and think worse thoughts than I did coming in, and wondering if it will be better than Night 1; but the good or bad thing about these shows is that you don’t know. The card doesn’t confirm anything, as shown by the main event of Night 1 being simply good and not the insane qualified dream match orgasmic battle we once thought it could be on first exposure. None the less, it’s time to get into the second and last Honor Rising show for 2016’s loop of Japan with ROH’s extended branch of talent. I’m sad I won’t be able to watch on Samurai TV as there’s no exclusive airing this time around. It’s back to potential buffer landmine’d NJPW World! Fun fact: Cheeseburger’s merch sold out at Night 1, yet he isn’t on the tour.

Same cheesy Americanized video package leads us into the show like last time. And if you’re living under a rock, we’re still emanating from Korakuen Hall.

David Finlay vs. Jay White

I will never not be excited for these guys working each other. It’s always so much fun to start a show off like this. This might have been the fastest paced and most ‘spotty’ match the two have done in their tenure as young lions vs. each other. That isn’t a bad thing, and was refreshing to see. Back and forth was basically the dynamic of this match, with no further story being told. White was worked over and hit a lot, but he came back, fired up as per usual with the crowd more behind him as the match went on. The crowd lit up with claps as Jay managed to survive the very Crab that’s beaten him before, but it’s also a move he knows so well because he’s a young lion himself! A beautiful roll through cradle pin counter saw White lock Finlay into the move he’s perfectly ‘more’, the single leg crab — than transitioning that into the double leg full crab that tapped Finlay out. One of boys’ best match vs. each other so far, and one that was simple, fast paced, meaningful, and easy to take in.

Finlay refused to shake hands post-match. Interesting. Jay White is now up in their televised match series 2-1.

Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Matt Sydal vs. Gedo & Delirious

This was bizarre to say the least. It’s nothing I’m going to remember waking up later today. As my friend and fellow staffer Morten brings up, this at least had so many interconnecting webs even if the in-ring action was short and for comedy. Sydal is continuing to team up with his idol and innovator of the Shooting Star Press (in which Sydal got the win on Gedo), Jushin Liger. Sydal and Delirious continue their age old rivalry, and so do Gedo and Liger. Delirious brought out his entire wild side here, and ran around ringside, stole a women’s purse to use as a weapon, named tons of ROH roster names, and ended up bringing down the booker’s team because of such, with Gedo having to put up for himself but hard to handle Delirious. Nothing much else happened, everything was formulaic sans Delirious’s stuff, and as aforementioned Sydal got the rub with the Shooting Star Press. OK.

Dalton Castle vs. Frankie Kazarian

Time for the WHY IN GOD’S NAME WAS THIS BOOKED ON THESE CARDS?! match. No use of cross-promotion, poorly put together because of a leave in Adam Cole, an awkward placement on otherwise solid cards. This is an ROH TV match being shown at a premium. This was mostly catered to the live crowd, but they seemed to have fun, and reacted fairly neutral in terms of their reactions to Castle as a face and putting over ROH but then seemed to fall off a cliff when it came to giving Kazarian heel heat. Castle let the record spin (record entitled Best of Dalton Castle), and it was fun to see unfold in front of a Japanese audience with the boys more involved than ever, who weren’t actually the boys in case you didn’t know. When Kazarian pushed both boys over, he started to garner some decent heat from Korakuen, but he didn’t really follow suit with his moveset and way he geared his offense. At times aggressive, but mostly going through the pace with Dalton there to be put over — whilst still guiding him through everything. After a mean dive to the outside, Kazarian was brought back in and hit with Bang-a-rang for the win. Not bad yet not good. At least it wasn’t as bad as how it came about. This match still shouldn’t have been booked in the first place.

Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

This is Karl Anderson’s last match in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as well as Doc Gallows. The four came out in special shirts, and Tama in red/white facepaint. Team MMA plus struggling Goto is to be sure a hoot. Kyle O’Reilly dedicates this match to his grandma, who recently passed away. This was arguably the match of the weekend so far, up to this point. Everything clicked and went incredibly well. There were so many things I liked about this match. This match was special for known reasons and reasons that popped up. This set-up things for the future but served as a goodbye to a tag team that’s done wonders in New Japan. First off was the fact that Fale was limited to the point where he essentially only helped in team situations. Gallows & Anderson got so much time in the ring, with Tama getting time too. Team MMA worked its magic yet again, especially Shibata coming through with a major performance, complete with the biggest kick to Goto yet! After a grand amount of spots and matchups, as well as Gallows looking health wise the best he ever has, and looking crisp in-ring, he could only fend off Shibata for so long. A PK put Gallows away as the best match of both shows came to an end. It’s a shame Gallows & Gun were so spotty during their entire run, but they’ve always been fun to watch. Thank you guys. Best of luck in the WWE.

Post-match the four had a curtain call and Gallows & Gun bowed down in the middle of the ring, showing their appreciation and respect for their fans over the years, and most importantly the promotion.

KUSHIDA & Moose vs. Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI

This match has the potential to be great. KUSHIDA & Moose is a team you didn’t know you wanted until it’s plotted on paper. Naito & BUSHI > Naito & EVIL, so that explains the other side of things. This was very fun and short to the point. KUSHIDA & Moose worked so well together; I was satisfied with what we got out of this midcard tag. Naito bantered Moose often, parodying the Moose chants after doing the fake dive tranquilo center of the ring attention grab~! BUSHI and KUSHIDA’s chemistry is dynamic and continues to grow everytime they touch up in matches. The hot tag to Moose was well done because of not only the dynamic, but the help of EVIL with the extra pressure put on the situation. Headbutts and all, Moose was there to save his little buddy and get the crowd going. The largest reaction of the weekend happened when Moose called his top rope dropkick like Babe Ruth and hit Naito off of such with it. KUSHIDA then got on his shoulders and wobbly leaped off onto Naito & EVIL. Moose won the match with a spear on BUSHI. Moose is over, being pushed hard, and is awesome to watch no matter where he is. The aura is only multiplied in Japan and with an excellent worker/small guy for a partner. It doesn’t matter if Los Ingobernables lose. Perfect scenario, really.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada

The last of the non-title matches for this show, and it’s a helluva stacked trios one. This was a consistent tag in which everybody brought their (at least) B-game. Tanahashi is still healing, so it was acceptable that he was the only one without a heavy active role in the match. Roderick Strong, Michael Elgin, YOSHI-HASHI, and Tomohiro Ishii were the main four that seemed to be involved and go their hardest, yet Okada was solid in his role and tended to banter a lot, especially with Big Mike. I don’t have a lot to say regarding the match, as even though it was the longest match on the show thus far, still not a lot of things happened, especially during the first half and beyond. Some of the combinations we got were cool like Elgin/Okada, Elgin/YOSHI-HASHI killing it and going in harder than their singles match at the G1 Finals, and etc. The match ended after an awesome finishing sequence where YOSHI-HASHI actually got people to bite on a pinfall of his, as well as equal offense until a last Buckle Bomb/Elgin Bomb combo for poor YOSHI-HASHI. Another positive added on the show.

Post-match we got more Roderick Strong and Tomohiro Ishii build, with Tanahashi, Elgin, and Strong eventually standing tall after a minor pull apart situation, and Strong got to hold the title once again even though it wasn’t his. It’s been interesting to hear the crowd chant “ACE!” like “Moose!”

Kenny Omega comes out in a New Day shirt. How about that. He calls Austin Creed out and says they’re coming for the New Day. WHAT?! Plus the other half of ELITE is here with Cody Hall.

(NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship) Toru Yano & The Briscoes (Jay & Mark) (c) vs. (The ELITE) Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks

Not only will this match be fun, but it’ll be interesting to see who wins this. The ELITE have formed into a special group that I want to see wrestle as much as possible. I love these guys, and they’re a match made in heaven in comparison to the AJ & Bucks team that never quite made it to this level. It’s to the point where I want to buy an ELITE shirt ASAP. Their goofiness, in-ring styles, and more suit up perfectly alongside all other dynamics of the stable, and their matches are entertaining everytime around. This match was supposed to be fun and it was that and some — a mega hoot! Between Yano being worked over in the most ridiculous ways, The Briscoes not being able to put up with ELITE, spray being used again but hitting Cody Hall in the eyes, nearly costing ELITE the match, and all of the banter (New Day pre-match included), this is a recommended watch for sure. What’s even better than everything aforementioned? The ELITE are your neeeewwwww NEVER Openweight 6-Man Champions. I love the title switch so much. I love the trio so much. I love their new moves and improvements. Yano was the star of this match for being so active in the ring and putting the guys over. A Double IndyTaker on The Briscoes sent them away, and finally a triple More Bang For Your Buck was hit for the win.

Post-match, Kenny Omega and co. tried to make a belt chain to swing around like a jump-rope, but unfortunately it dismantled right away so that was it for that.

Lethal finally has new ring gear and came out with the Ingobernables hat he got yesterday to boot. Nice little touch.

(ROH World Championship) Jay Lethal (c) vs. Tomoaki Honma

It’s time to find out whether or not this match is successful. Indeed it was. Those who doubted it were proved wrong. This match was crisp, economical, and even though not having a world title match presence at times, the match was a pleasure to watch. The most important thing about the build in this match, is the fact that Honma built up his Kokeshi offense strong. This sometimes doesn’t get the chance to happen right out of the gate as he misses a pre-mature one. As we dove deeper into the match, Honma was hitting all his variants, hitting all his counters. This is how an underdog is built not only in front of the local crowd, but to those viewing at home. What better way to make a challenger have hope than to build up his strengths and show weakness in the champ which will result in something happening that’s cheap later on? That’s what I mean by the ‘smarts’ factor in the match. When Truth Martini got involved, it really mattered that he had to. The peak of the match was the point where Tomoaki Honma, hopefully regretting such, hit his top rope doomsday Kokeshi. With everything to prove to ROH and nothing to lose, Honma continued to hit his Kokeshi’s, until he went one too far, went for a third in a row, this time off the top rope, and missed. From this point on, Lethal had the advantage. Honma may have tried to gain back momentum, but then the ref bump occurred. Los Ingobernables ran-in and even though Honma showed more fighting spirit, Naito gave Honma a low-blow which allowed for Lethal to hit the Lethal Injection for the win. We didn’t need multiple of the injections, we just needed the one as a put away. I loved a lot about this match, and although it was still short, a lot was packed into it, and for once a NJPW/ROH interference spot felt absolutely natural. This was at least a Top 3 match for the weekend of shows.

Post-match, Lethal went for a handshake with Honma, but ducked as soon as they made contact as BUSHI sprayed Honma to add the finishing touches to the embarrassment. A series of promos are cut by multiple heels, and this all leads to Lethal becoming an official member of Los Ingobernables. I love it. I love it. I love it. This show was awesome.

New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor, for the most part, struck gold with this show. I enjoyed every minute of it, and getting through it still felt like a breeze at around 2 hours and a half. The undercard was alright, filled with fun young lions stuff, Dalton vs. Kazarian which was better than expected, an incredible Team MMA & Goto vs. Bullet Club farewell match/an actual good match in itself (it could be the best of the weekend), KUSHIDA & Moose killing it as a first-time team to take on Naito & BUSHI, a better than usual put together 6 man tag with champs and all-stars, one of my favorite things in wrestling The ELITE winning more gold, and lastly, a brilliant main event with interference that worked and I thoroughly enjoyed. To cap it all off, Jay Lethal is now an official Ingobernable. That does it for 2016’s Honor Rising shows. Thank you for joining us for our coverage. Until next time.

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