Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling
War of the Worlds – Night Two
May 13, 2015
2300 Arena – Philadelphia, PA
Adam Page vs. Watanabe: Do not scoff at this match. Page and Watanabe have very good chemistry together and this was the best Watanabe performance I have seen — he was a suplex machine. The outside interference from The Kingdom stablemate Colby Corino was kept to a minimum and did not detract from the match. Page won with his Reverse Piledriver following an assist from Corino. **3/4
Watanabe got his revenge on Steve Corino’s eldest son after the match and laid him out with hellacious haymaker.
Michael Elgin vs. KUSHIDA: Rarely does a crowd reaction factor into my ratings but this is a rare exception. Elgin and KUSHIDA worked hard. The problem was the crowd just did not care during the middle portion of the contest. A match that went as long as this one needs a hot crowd to keep the performers going and the fact is without that both guys looked like they were through the motions. Thankfully, Philly woke up for the closing stretch, which was great, and I was equally glad to see Elgin get the win. ***1/4
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Tetsuya Naito: Naito and O’Reilly worked straight comedy early in the match. It. Was. Awesome. Mr. Naito has much more personality than thought and I think an extended stay in North America would help him come out of his shell.
Once things got serious each competitor reverted back to their familiar persona. Naito flew around the ring and O’ Reilly worked the arm. In the end, flight trumped grappling as Naito defeated O’Reilly via pin in a competitive match. ***
Jushin Liger vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Jay Lethal: The flow of this match was odd. At times it felt like a tag match or several short singles. The interaction between Lethal and Nakamura was good but outside that I feel this match was a waste of the talent involved. Nakamura got the win but the finish was as dispirited as the match. **
Cheeseburger came out to throw free merchandise to the crowd. “Brutal” Bob Evans ruined the fun by jumping his former protégé and attacking him.
Roderick Strong vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: Twitter blew up over this match and for two weeks I waited to see if it was the classic the internet claimed it to be. The first half of the match left me skeptical. To be fair, the wrestling was solid and Roddy working Tanahashi’s back was the logical story to tell. Nothing screamed classic to me.
Then Roddy got busted open. Later it opened up again. Through all that Strong refused medical attention and kept fighting. One of his signature flurries of offense produced the best near fall of 2015. It made Steve Corino and Kevin Kelly jump out of their seats.
From those points on the passion and viciousness of both wrestlers ratcheted up several notches as did the volume of the crowd. When Tanahashi finally beat Strong with the High Fly Flow the crowd at the former ECW Arena came unglued and so did I.
Honestly, if it was not for the slow start I would have pulled out the five for the first time in a review. Still ****¾ is nothing to sneeze at.
The Addiction vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo: Do not expect much of “The Rainmaker” in this match. Expect a battle of SLEEZE. Daniels, Kaz and Gado had a three man battle to see who could take the most short cuts. I promise you will not have more fun watching any other match during this entire show. The Addiction may have picked up the win but the real victors were the fans who got to witness a contest that reminds us all of how excellent the lighter side of wrestling is. **¾
Okada laid out The Addiction following the bell. Daniels ate a Rainmaker which got a huge pop from the live crowd.
ROH World Championship Match, Bobby Fish vs. Jay Briscoe ©: Pre-match was a great moment for Bobby Fish. The crowd was loudly chanting his name and he got a huge streamer bath once he hit the ring. For a guy who toiled in the shadows for much of his career only to find success late in it the adulation shown by the Philly crowd was much deserved.
The best ROH title matches always had the crowd firmly in the pocket of the challenger. Philly was in Fish’s camp from get go and gave the match an old school ROH vibe.
The story early in the match was Fish being too conservative and giving the champion the room to take the advantage. Briscoe spent the next few minutes methodically wearing Fish down. Every so often Fish got a strike or two in on the Briscoe’s knee. The chance strikes snowballed into a momentum changing moment when Briscoe collapsed in pain after reversing a Vertical Suplex attempt.
From then Fish worked the knee but did not push the pace and stayed patient. After a near fall Fish had his opening and locked in a kneebar. Briscoe made it to the roped and gradually took control for good. It took a DVD on the ring apron and two Jay Drillers but the champion managed to retain by the skin of his teeth.
An incredible atmosphere and a well told in-ring story make this the best defense of the ROH World Title in 2015 thus far. ****
Following the bell Moose came out to stare down Briscoe and left him on the canvass following a spear.
The Kingdom vs. The Bullet Club: A fan cannot ask for a much better trios match than this. Both teams have incredible chemistry as a unit. I cannot say enough good things about the triple team maneuvers in the bout they were beyond excellent. Several moments in the match may end up being a little to meta for some fans I enjoyed them. Even the wonky finish worked well. Great main event. ***3/4
Final Thoughts: Give ROH your money for this show! The undercard is a light watch but the match quality is good. The ROH title match told a fantastic story. The main event was good fun. Finally, Tanahashi/Strong should be sought out by everyone, it is going to be in the top five of a lot of Match of the Year polls.