Ring of Honor & New Japan Pro Wrestling
War of the Worlds – Night 1
May 12, 2015
2300 Arena – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The returning Adam Cole opens the show, he’s got a mic and something to say. Cole says he was going to make his in-ring return tomorrow night against the Bullet Club but that’s not going to happen. Aww…. Instead he’s going to come back tonight against A.J. Styles~! Yay! Cole says his doctors, Ring of Honor management and all his friends & family told him to wait, not rush his return but nuts to that, Cole is back BAY-BAY!
Gedo vs. Delirious: War of the Worlds kicks off with NJPW and ROH’s respective bookers battling. While Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino made reference to a “true battle of NJPW vs. ROH” and some other insider wink-winks, it wasn’t outwardly advertised as booker vs. booker. That’s fine in my book. It rewards the fans that know who these guys are and for people that don’t, who cares? It’s still a wonky matchup between a New Japan rep and a Ring of Honor guy.
Delirious was his normal unhinged self while Gedo was the dickhead we’ve come to know and love. Gedo sent Delirious into “Red Shoes” (referee) on an irish whip attempt, kicked Delirious below the belt, drop kicked the shin and rolled Delirious up in the Gedo Clutch for the 1-2-3. Matches like this are why my co-host Joe Lanza calls Gedo one of the 10 best wrestlers in NJPW right now. **½
KUSHIDA vs. Roderick Strong: The standard has been set. Just two matches into the four-show ROH/NJPW run and we may have seen the best yet. A well-paced but lengthy battle between two equals. Match started with KUSHIDA on the advantage using his speed and ground expertise, Roddy slowed things down and worked over KUSHIDA’s back, KUSHIDA came back for another high-flying run of his own before Roderick finally won with the Strong Breaker. This was really something special and honestly probably worth the $19.99 I paid for this VOD. We also had another nod to the “smart” fan as at one point Strong locked in the Tarantula — an ode to KUSHIDA’s trainer Tajiri. Go out of your way to see this. ****½
ROH TV Championship – Jay Lethal vs. Takaaki Watanabe: This way over delivered my expectations. I love Lethal’s character but sometimes his in-ring work can regress depending on his opponent. I thought Watanabe would be one of those opponents. Whoops, I was wrong. Watanabe came out firing with a series of beautiful looking suplexes, stiff chops and hard clotheslines. He’s a New Japan boy through and through. Lethal eventually settled the match down and won with the Lethal Injection but this was a solid little TV title match. ***
After the match, ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe ran down and confronted Lethal.
The Young Bucks vs. The Addiction vs. The Kingdom: Battle of the “THE”s. I went in with fairly low expectations (100% because of The Kingdom, everyone else is great). Silly me, this turned out pretty good. The first ⅔ of the match dragged a bit as it was mostly Kingdom and Addiction. There wasn’t a lot of silly Addiction antics, it just dragged and the crowd was lagging too. It really ramped up in the last ⅓ as the Young Bucks got more involved and you started to see more interactions between the three teams. The Bucks eventually won with the Meltzer Drive which nearly blew the roof off the 2300 Arena and made Corino blow a gasket. Good job, good effort. ***1/2
Moose and his entourage make their way down to the ring. Kevin Kelly insinuations that it was perhaps Moose that was the TBA in the AJ Styles title match, not Adam Cole. Veda Scott demands Moose gets a ROH Title shot from Nigel McGuinness. There’s also some dissention between “Ramon” (SHOOT NAMEZ~!) Stokely Hathaway & Veda Scott.
Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito: The Philadelphia crowd’s utter discontent for Elgin really hurt this match. This may have been the least entertaining match on War of the Worlds thus far but that’s relative as we were treated to another solid match. Elgin worked as the big man to Naito’s high-flying underdog. Elgin controlled most of the match while Naito would seem to gain momentum for a quick moment using his speed and athleticism but time and time again Elgin would chop him down to size. The ending came out of nowhere as Naito rolled Elgin up after a Buckle Bomb attempt to get the 1-2-3. After the match, Elgin extended his hand but Naito tossed him to the outside. Each guy played their role perfectly and this was yet another great match from what’s turning out to be a spectacular show. ***
reDRagon vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Hiroshi Tanahashi: Have I died and gone to heaven? Liger is treated like a fucking god and easily the most over NJPW wrestler thus far. Tanahashi got a nice reaction too but nothing like Liger. If you don’t think PWI was important, just look at Liger. Sure, he had some WCW runs that no doubt help but that dude JUMPED off the pages of kayfabe magazines throughout the 90s and it still resonates with fans today.
Liger was the star of the match as well, beginning by stretching Kyle O’Reilly like a 50-year-old Japanese superstar should do. Tanahashi clearly took a backseat in this match, presumably to rest his body for the next night against Roderick Strong. Overall there wasn’t too much exciting here, just a typical, solid tag match that would fit on any New Japan show. reDRagon won with the Chasing the Dragon here. Solid match but very basic and by-the-books. **½
A.J. Styles vs. Adam Cole: War of the Worlds is the gift that keeps on giving. This was an incredible main event-style match worked at a great pace. Neither man went insane with spots or moves at any point, instead each motion was done with a deliberate, calculated pace. Adam Cole had a few legit “Oh shit” nearfalls including hitting Styles with the Styles Clash but in the end Styles was just too much. Towards the end of the match Cole was favoring his shoulder and was having trouble lifting Styles — this, of course, is a great story to tell as Cole rushed back from rehab to return for this match. We wondered in our preview if it was the right thing for Cole to take a loss here but with the caveat of the not quite all the way healed shoulder, it absolutely was. Cole can get a rematch down the line, when he’s truly 100%. Great, great match. Still hasn’t topped KUSHIDA vs. Strong for me but right on the cusp. ****
The Briscoes vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada: This wasn’t a Match of the Year contender by any means but still a well-worked, fun main event and the perfect way to cap off a spectacular event. Okada was super over and came to the ring with Okada Dollars falling from the sky. Then Nakamura came out and while he didn’t get the pop Liger did, he was damn close. The Briscoes were heels here as they came out to a tepid reaction and boos throughout the match.
Not a ton of highlights in this one, just a solid match from four really good workers. The Briscoes started playing to the crowd who, again, seemed to turn on them in favor of the traditional heel Japanese imports. No problem, these are pros so The Briscoes got as heel as you can go even having the temerity to rip an Okada Dollar. That’s some nerve.
The finish saw Okada hit a dropkick, Nakamura slide in with a Boma Ye and finally a Rainmaker to finish Mark Briscoe off. The crowd went ape shit for the finish and they were so glad to see the Japanese guests get the win here. The next time The Briscoes come out they’ll be mega babyfaces but they had no chance here tonight. Great, great match to finish an absolutely awesome event. ***3/4
Final Thoughts: Go to ROHWrestling.com and give them your $19.99. You won’t be disappointed. This is a true contender for Best Major Show of the Year and is absolutely worth your three hours. If you were turned off by the Global Wars iPPV and thought it was disappointing, watch this and regain your faith in wrestling. Seriously, buy this now.