Ring of Honor & New Japan Pro Wrestling
ROH Honor Rising : Japan 2016
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
February 19, 2016
Watch: NJPWWorld.com

Ring of Honor, in association with New Japan Pro Wrestling, again brings its brand of pro wrestling to Japan on February 19 & 20. Available on NJPWWorld.com, the events will stream live in association with NJPW. Dalton Castle, Roderick Strong, Jay Lethal, the Briscoes and more will represent Ring of Honor in an ROH ring, and Voices of Wrestling has your match list and previews right here!

Your preview team includes…

  • John Carroll (@toshanshuinla): VOW’s Dragon Gate correspondent & Host of Open The Voice Gate.
  • Taylor C. Mitchell (@MrTCMitchell): VOW Match of the Month columnist.
  • Aaron Bentley (@AaronBentleyVOW): VOW television reviewer and chief legal counsel.
  • Joe M. Lanza (@JoeMLanza): Pillar of the community, King of Banter, and Internationally Acclaimed Broadcast Journalist™.

Matt Sydal & Jushin Thunder Liger vs Ryusuke Taguchi & Dalton Castle

John Carroll: DALTON CASTLE IN JAPAN. How can you possibly not be excited for that? Obviously his team is losing here but still, I’m #hyped. Matt Sydal & Jushin Thunder Liger

Taylor Mitchell: Taguchi has been a welcome “variety show” aspect to the NJPW undercards that adds some spice to shows. The perfect addition from the ROH roster for him is Dalton Castle. This match will be nothing short of comedy gold. Sydal and Liger will pick up the win here, but not until after a lot of fun filled laughter. Matt Sydal & Jushin Thunder Liger

Aaron Bentley: There is no way Liger and Castle in the same ring falls short of entertaining. The intrigue, such as there is in an opener on this kind of show, is whether Taguchi or Castle eats the loss. Maybe Gedo believes in Peacock Power and wants to protect Castle for a G1 run! OK, probably not, but a Sydal Shooting Star Press ends this one. Matt Sydal & Jushin Thunder Liger

Joe Lanza: I can’t wait to see how Korakuen responds to Castle, and pairing him with Taguchi was nothing short of brilliant. This should be a ton of fun, and it really doesn’t matter who wins, but neither Sydal nor Liger figure to take a fall. Matt Sydal & Jushin Thunder Liger

Delirious vs Gedo

John Carroll: Booker Battle 2: Electric Boogaloo is goin’ down at Korakuen. Everyone else seems to think Delirious is getting his win back here, so I’m gonna be all contrarian and pick Gedo to win again. Down with even-steven booking!!! Gedo

Taylor Mitchell: Complete Package vs. Lizard Man II. Another “fun” match on the card with a wink, wink to the hardcore fans watching the two bookers of their respective promotions do battle. Gedo gets the win here after very audibly calling Delirious a “Mother F***er” like only Gedo can. Gedo

Aaron Bentley: Perhaps I built it up irrationally, but I remember being a little disappointed after their first match. Hopefully Delirious seeks to redeem himself here but I doubt he’s that concerned. Regardless, Delirious gets his win back from the stateside ROH/NJPW supershows. Delirious

Joe Lanza: Gedo won the first wink nod meta inside bookerman battle between these two, so I’ll go with Delirious here. It’ll be short, but both of these guys are crafty workers. Gedo is almost always very good, so how entertaining this winds up being depends entirely on how hard Lizard Man chooses to work. Delirious

Frankie Kazarian vs KUSHIDA

John Carroll: Frankie Kazarian is the definition of “just a guy” at this point in his career, an enormous step down from Adam Cole to be sure. I’m sure this match will be fine, but anyone expecting it to rise above that will likely be disappointed. KUSHIDA will work hard, per usual, and Kazarian might be fired up to be there, but it’s tough to see how this really overdelivers. KUSHIDA

Taylor Mitchell: KUSHIDA will work his tail off to deliver a serviceable match here against “past his prime” Kazarian. With a win here, KUSHIDA continues to try and solidify his role as the Junior ACE of New Japan at a time when the junior heavyweight landscape couldn’t be more exciting. KUSHIDA

Aaron Bentley: I just don’t really care about Frankie Kazarian in 2016. KUSHIDA is great but I’m not sure he can push this beyond a three-star affair. I like the opening tag match but if I could rearrange this card a little, KUSHIDA vs. Dalton Castle is the match I’d like to see. KUSHIDA

Joe Lanza: Kazarian was serviceable during the World Tag League tour, but will be put in a position to have a quality singles bout here against junior champ KUSHIDA. This’ll be non title, but why? There was no real reason not to label this a title bout to help beef up KUSHIDA’s championship resume. There was no chance he was losing either way, so why not? KUSHIDA

Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Moose & Michael Elgin vs Cody Hall & Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga

John Carroll: I’m really excited for this one, perhaps even irrationally so. I love atomicos matches, and this one has lots of big dudes in it who will do big dude things to each other. Moose vs. Cody! Moose vs. Fale! Elgin vs. Cody! Elgin vs. Fale! I’m down with all of that. Tough to see how the BU-BU-BULLET CLUB pulls this one out, just because who do you pin? Honma the night before his World Title shot? Yeah, no. Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Moose & Michael Elgin

Taylor Mitchell: The big hoss tag team battle of #BIGMoose vs. Fale and Cody Hall could be a lot of fun. Then throw in the others for some flavor and you get an exciting match that will be sure to have some fun spots that this Korakuen Hall crowd will be sure to eat up. Bullet Club is losing this one with my favorite New Japan Young Lion, Cody Hall, making his ROH debut by taking the fall. Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Moose & Michael Elgin

Aaron Bentley: Joe is right about this one but, in another context, this would be a good chance to get Tonga a win over Honma as NJPW builds to Tonga’s IWGP tag championship challenge. Of course, in this context, Honma is set for an ROH World title shot the next night so he can’t lose to Tama Tonga. Apart from that, this match has me pumped to see Moose and Cody Hall face off but perhaps I’m mark for tall, athletic, green guys. Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Moose & Michael Elgin

Joe Lanza: The Bullet Club B-team is 100% losing this, but there is some intrigue in seeing Moose match up with Bad Luck Fale for the first time. Honma, Tanahashi, Moose, Elgin

Katsuyori Shibata & reDRagon vs Kenny Omega & Young Bucks

John Carroll: If this gets even like 15 minutes it should be amazing. and anything above that it could be incredible. reDRagon vs. the Bucks is literally never not good, and then you throw in Omega and Shibata on top of that and what do you get? **** easy, I’d wager. Could see either team winning but you’d think it’s ultimately gonna be the BULLET CLUB here, just because they’re getting the trios title shot the next night. BULLET CLUB

Taylor Mitchell: The bad ass shoot style wrestlers of New Japan vs. Bullet Club: ELITE. This is a rare New Japan multi-man tag team match where “who’s taking the fall?” is not an easy question to answer. Take that and throw in the fact that you have 6 of the best wrestlers on the planet and you have the makings for a great trios match. Bullet Club wins because Kenny Omega has a jetpack strapped to him. Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks

Aaron Bentley: There is no reason this should be anything other than awesome. Sure, we’ve seen reDRagon and the Bucks match up a million times but there have not been many interactions between Omega and O’Reilly or Omega and Shibata. Potential MOTN depending on how much time it gets and how the main event goes. Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks

Joe Lanza: This looks incredible on paper. Shibata & reDRagon is my trios dream team, and had Omega & The Bucks not been announced for a NEVER Openweight trios title shot for the next night, this would’ve been a true 50/50 coin flip bout. Since Shibata is very unlikely to lose as NEVER champ, reDRagon could drop a very rare fall here (they’ve only lost two falls during their entire NJPW run). I’m looking forward to the interactions between Shibata and Omega, which figure to be awesome, and could potentially plant seeds for a New Japan Cup or G1 match. Omega & The Bucks

Briscoe Brothers vs Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows

John Carroll: Guns & Gallows are having a hell of a farewell tour and I expect their great work of late to continue here against the Briscoes, who are always fired up to work in Japan. The Briscoes are the obvious winners in what I’m expecting to be a very good match. The Briscoes

Taylor Mitchell: Guns and Gallows have become workhorses since Wrestle Kingdom. Too little too late, but at least they are going out in style. The Briscoes have been tearing up New Japan and will get their win back from these teams previous match at War of the Worlds 2014. Briscoe Brothers

Aaron Bentley: Yes, I understand Guns & Gallows have picked up on their work during their finishing up period but they long ago burned any goodwill they had with me. Jay Briscoe always brings it so I’m sure the match will have its bright spots but I certainly wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to it. Briscoes are sticking around and Anderson/Gallows are leaving so your winner is fairly obvious. The Briscoes

Joe Lanza: This is a real sleeper match. The Briscoes are having the times of their lives in New Japan, and always work incredibly hard. Anderson & Gallows have done their best work since Wrestle Kingdom as they presumably finish up with the company with this mini tour. The Briscoes will go over here as Guns & Gallows do the honors for another team on the way out. The Briscoes

Tetsuya Naito & Jay Lethal vs YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada

John Carroll: For some reason I kind of expect Naito & Lethal to be great together, just because in a lot of ways their characters are pretty similar. Both of them are old-school heels who, well, take their time in the ring and out of it. I think they could surprise us with some really great chemistry. YOSHI-HASHI is getting pinned and stuff but I’m really psyched to see Okada in there with Lethal (battle of World champions is always fun!) and, especially, Naito (is this the first tease of an Invasion Attack main event?). Tetsuya Naito & Jay Lethal

Taylor Mitchell: With any great joint promotion wrestling show you have to give fans the opportunity to see the top champions square off. Okada vs. Lethal could be an exciting mini-match within this one, but expect Lethal to pick up the win over YOSHI-HASHI to continue to win the crowd over as a respected champion. Too bad ROH isn’t sending theiir commentators over. I’d love to see Naito give Kevin Kelly the Nogami treatment. Tetsuya Naito & Jay Lethal

Aaron Bentley: Poor YOSHI-HASHI. I was sort of excited for him after he had a good match with Big Mike at the G1 final but it’s since been back to obscurity for the low man on the CHAOS totem pole. If they want to protect the ROH title, they are going to have to take real care here to present Lethal in such a way that he doesn’t look bad next to the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. To me, that dynamic is the most interesting thing in this match. Tetsuya Naito & Jay Lethal

Joe Lanza: YOSHI-HASHI is almost certainly taking a Lethal Injection to help get Lethal over for his main event the next night, but there is a lot to unpack here. What kind of chemistry will Naito & Lethal have? More importantly, is this the beginning of the build for a Naito vs Okada title match? Naito & Lethal

ROH Television Championship
Roderick Strong vs Tomohiro Ishii

John Carroll: There’s really no way these two don’t tear the house down, especially given that house is Korakuen. Strong will probably work subtle heel and the crowd will be super-hot for Ishii challenging a foreign champion, which should be a great combination. Honestly, if things go really well, this could be a potential Match of the Year candidate. That’s really the ceiling for this match. Even if it doesn’t quite reach those lofty heights, this should be a hell of a capper on what’s really a great card. Roderick Strong

Taylor Mitchell: There aren’t a lot of “dream matches” on the Honor Rising tour, but this one more than makes up for that. You will be hard pressed to find two wrestlers more consistently great than Ishii and Strong have been over the last 2-3 years. I would love to see Ishii come away with the ROH TV title here and defend it in Las Vegas on the 26th against Hirooki Goto, and then defend it through the four joint ROH/NJPW shows in May. That’s a pipedream, but I am going with it, because we didn’t disagree enough in this preview. Look for this match to finish well in my February Match of the Month column (CHEAP PLUG!). Tomohiro Ishii

Aaron Bentley: Roddy is at his best in full-on PWG heel mode. Korakuen’s love affair with Ishii gives Roddy the ability to play heel here, if he wants. That could add something to his appeal if he does show up in this year’s G1. Strong is already doing great work but, as it did with Elgin, the promise of a New Japan tour may inspire Strong to perform at an even higher level. He has the perfect opponent in the perfect building to show off his ability. And since he’s likely to go over, New Japan fans may see him as a big deal when he shows back up in August. Roderick Strong

Joe Lanza: Putting Ishii & Honma in the main events of these two shows against American unknowns was pretty smart, as the hardcore Korakuen crowds are guaranteed to be hot for both matches. This match should rule, and had Ishii been facing anyone other than Goto in Las Vegas on the 26th, I would’ve been able to construct an unlikely case for a title change. This appears to be a “get Roddy ready for G1” match, with Ishii likely getting his win back in August. Roderick Strong

Ring of Honor & New Japan Pro Wrestling
ROH Honor Rising : Japan 2016
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
February 20, 2016
Watch: NJPWWorld.com

David Finlay vs Jay White

John Carroll: Man New Japan really is deep in the young lions huh? They send away two of the best we’ve seen in many years and then still have these two to open shows with. Talk about your embarrassment of riches. I literally flipped a coin to decide who’s winning, by the way. Came up heads. Jay White

Taylor Mitchell: Finlay vs. White show openers will always be welcome in my book. These two are going to be big time stars in the future so appreciate their black trunks battles now. White goes over, because he seems to being given the favor lately. Jay White

Aaron Bentley: This will be awesome. Don’t skip it. Jay White

Joe Lanza: Much like Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka, these two dudes are way too good to be young lions (and are probably even better than the Japanese pair). This will only get seven minutes but it’ll still be great. David Finlay

Jushin Thunder Liger & Matt Sydal vs Gedo & Delirious

John Carroll: So is Ricochet not able to work this because it’s co-branded ROH or what? I don’t get it. Anyway, Liger/Sydal is winning this, obviously. Sorry I don’t respect you, bookermen. Jushin Thunder Liger & Matt Sydal

Taylor Mitchell: This is going to be a lot of fun to watch, but don’t expect the selfless bookers to win this one. Jushin Thunder Liger & Matt Sydal

Aaron Bentley: I wish they would’ve given Sydal more to do on these shows but I guess Ricochet’s absence made it somewhat difficult. This should be fine, if forgettable. Jushin Thunder Liger & Matt Sydal

Joe Lanza: The bookermen team together one night after facing each other. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be a fun bout, as Sydal goes 2-0 on the tour with his surrogate tag team partner, as Liger steps in for the M.I.A. Ricochet. Liger & Sydal

Dalton Castle vs Frankie Kazarian

John Carroll: Like seemingly everyone else I have no idea what this match is doing here. Korakuen will probably sleep through it which won’t help matters. Kazarian wins just to annoy me even more. Frankie Kazarian

Taylor Mitchell: Castle could be the surprise of the tour by winning over the crowd with his gimmick. That is the only chance this match has of surviving a terrible death. Castle goes over, because…. why not? Dalton Castle

Aaron Bentley: Why is Frankie Kazarian getting two singles matches on these shows? I don’t get it. Like his previous opponent, Castle is capable of having great matches but I’m not sure he’s capable of carrying Kazarian to one. Dalton Castle

Joe Lanza: The most puzzling booking on the tour. Why pair up Castle with another ROH talent in Tokyo? This should be Castle vs Ryusuke Taguchi, especially since Taguchi isn’t even booked for the show. Castle

Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata & reDRagon vs Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale & Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

John Carroll: I guess Guns and Gallows are getting pinned here, right? Fale never loses falls and it would be incredibly stupid to pin Tonga right before his IWGP Tag Title challenge, so that pretty much means one of them is looking up at the lights on their way out. Not sure I like their last NJPW date (?) being an eight-man tag, but at least this should be pretty fun. Goto will still probably be mopey, though, so that could drag it down a little. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata & reDRagon

Taylor Mitchell: This match should be action packed with Meiyu-DRagon chopping down the HOSS side of Bullet Club. Guns and Gallows will take their bows and wrestle for their last time in Japan (until WWE Beast in the East II) in a losing effort. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata & reDRagon

Aaron Bentley: Is this where Tonga gets his win to give a little push ahead of the tag title challenge? I say yes, mainly because I’m tired of agreeing with Joe. With reDRagon likely to take a rare fall at the previous show, it seems impossible they’d take another one, but that’s what I’m going with! Some Bullet Club shenanigans give Tonga a chance to get the pinfall on Kyle O’Reilly, as the junior member of reDRagon. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale & Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

Joe Lanza: I expect another Guns & Gallows job on the way out, with Tonga needing to be protected for his upcoming IWGP tag title match, and Fale almost never taking falls in these situations. Goto, Shibata, O’Reilly, & Fish is pretty much the coolest atomicos team ever. Will Tonga & Fale turn on Anderson & Gallows post match? Will Tonga’s new partner debut here as part of a potential beatdown? Goto, Shibata, & reDRagon

KUSHIDA & Moose vs BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito

John Carroll: KUSHIDA and Moose has to be up there for most random tag pairing you could produce on this show, I guess with maybe only something like Dalton Castle and Katsuyori Shibata topping it. I think they’ll be a surprisingly effective team, though, especially if we get some big man/little man double-team spots. I dunno why everyone’s acting like this is a hard one to call though: Moose is pinning BUSHI, the end. KUSHIDA & Moose

Taylor Mitchell: Moose will use this match to get ready for his big test against Kazuchika Okada in Las Vegas at the end of the month. It will be fun to see Moose toss around BUSHI while Naito does his Los Ingob. thing. Los Ingobs pick up the win here, with BUSHI earning the fall in route to receiving another title shot against KUSHIDA. BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito

Aaron Bentley: Will they protect Moose for his matchup with Okada at the 14th Anniversary show or assume there are two different audiences watching those two cards? A Moose win over Naito would certainly accomplish that but I find that an unlikely result. I expect a little help from EVIL or mist or both to let BUSHI get the victory. BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito

Joe Lanza: The result here will tell whether KUSHIDA is moving away from the BUSHI feud, since I don’t think Moose or Naito will lose. A BUSHI win would set up a second junior title challenge. KUSHIDA & Moose

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

John Carroll: Strong & Tanahashi on the same team is intriguing to me, speaking as someone who was there live for their awesome, awesome match in Philly last year. The CHAOS trio has their obvious fall guy which makes this one not particularly difficult to predict, but I think it should be a great deal of fun. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong

Taylor Mitchell: This match is predictable in nature (YOSHI-HASHI is taking the fall), but the real story is the continued booking of Roddy Strong. Is this tour and the subsequent NJPW North American tour being used to build Strong up for a G1 debut? Let’s hope so! In that case Strong sends Chaos packing with the victory over Loose Explosion. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong

Aaron Bentley: This will probably be fun but it seems like a throwaway. Strong is likely to be motivated to go really hard here and could easily steal the match with his performance. YOSHI-HASHI seems set to take another fall. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong

Joe Lanza: This is the sleeper match of night two, featuring a bunch of dudes who always work hard. Naito being opposite of Okada on night one but not on night two makes the night one match even more intriguing. Had they been matched together both nights, it would have been a sure sign that they were building a singles match. Two wins for Strong on the tour would be a good sign for a potential G1 booking. Tanahashi, Elgin, Strong

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Toru Yano & Briscoe Brothers vs Kenny Omega & Young Bucks

John Carroll: Why can’t Omega have two belts at once? I mean, if you’re trying to get the guy over as a new top heel that would help a little bit, right? If the Bucks were still junior tag champs I’d give this team way less of a shot at winning, but since they’re not, I think it’s very possible they take these titles here and have a little run with them. It would make sense considering they’re the ELITE and all too. So yeah, I’m going with the BULLET CLUB here. Three title changes in a week and a half, huzzah! The match will probably rule by the way. BULLET CLUB

Taylor Mitchell: The NEVER 6-man tag titles have been a fun addition to the mundane multi-man tag portions of NJPW shows. They have already set the precedent of having these tag straps be unpredictable in nature, but NJPW rarely lets a guy hold two titles and Omega is already carrying the dirty white belt around his waist. Yano rolls ups a Buck for the win. Toru Yano & Briscoe Brothers

Aaron Bentley: This is my sleeper MOTN. The Bucks and Yano are guaranteed to bring entertaining hijinks and Omega and Briscoe should have some great interactions. I can’t imagine Omega carrying the IC title and the NEVER trios title at the same time. Plus, it seems like the Briscoes/Yano threesome are going to be at the top of this division for sometime. Toru Yano & The Briscoes

Joe Lanza: Yes! I love love LOVE that these titles are defended constantly. This will be the second crack at the belts for the Bucks, who lost with Bad Luck Fale at New Year Dash in January. They figure to lose here too, but with these titles you can never be 100% certain. Yano & The Briscoes

ROH World Championship
Jay Lethal vs Tomoaki Honma

John Carroll: Again, Korakuen will blow the roof off for one of their cult heroes up against an American champion, so that should help a lot. Lethal’s heel stalling and stuff means this probably won’t be as good as Strong-Ishii from the night before (which in a way is a reflection of how I feel about the two cards overall; night 1 is obviously stronger on paper, I think) but I’m still expecting a very good match here. Overall Lethal ending the weekend on top is probably the way to go if you want to build more ROH participation and future joint shows in Japan (and given these two shows sold out so fast, I would assume we’ll see this again, maybe even expanded into more of a full yearly tour a la Fantasticamania), so ending with this match was a good call overall. Jay Lethal

Taylor Mitchell: Jay Lethal in Japan has been an interesting story in 2016. This match will be the truly test if Jay Lethal can get over in Japan. Lethal has picked up some nice wins over Michael Elgin and Juice Robinson in NJPW, now we will see if that put him over in the eyes of these fans. If a guy can’t get the crowd stirred into a frenzy in a match against the beloved Tomoaki Honma, then he ain’t getting over. Jay Lethal puts down the lovable loser with the Lethal Injection. Jay Lethal

Aaron Bentley: I love Jay Lethal. I was really bummed after the Lethal/Elgin match at Wrestle Kingdom because it didn’t do anything to show what Lethal does well. This match should be the opposite of that. I don’t know if NJPW has any interest in bringing him in for a tour but if this match goes like I think it might, Lethal could make NJPW fans very happy to see him again. Jay Lethal

Joe Lanza: This was the perfect opponent for Lethal. A singles loss doesn’t hurt him at all, and Korakuen is guaranteed to be rocking for a Honma main event. Any Honma match has the potential to be great, and if the crowd is hot for this, this has a chance to be the best match of Jay Lethal’s career. Lethal

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