Ring of Honor & New Japan Pro Wrestling
Honor Rising : Japan 2016
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
Night 1 – February 19, 2016
An important show, this was not. Sure, it had some cool moments, and a pretty important title change, but overall this was weaker than last year’s US version of the ROH/NJPW supershows. This event was presented live on NJPWWorld without commentary, furthering the feeling that this was your slightly above average house show event. The second half did outshine the first half by a large mile, so if you wish to pick and choose what to view, I’d say start there.
I don’t wish to demean the entire event, it was still pretty fun. The ELITE six-man tag was fantastic, Moose appealing to the Japanese crowd was awesome, and the unexpected change of the TV Title was stunning. ROH Honor Rising probably won’t send shockwaves through Japan, or create anticipation as much as CMLL does with Fantasticamania, but the company should feel nothing but pride for their first night of a two night run in Tokyo.
Matt Sydal & Jushin Thunder Liger def. Dalton Castle & Ryusuke Taguchi
The match was at its best when Matt Sydal was in, which sadly wasn’t much. Dalton Castle, showing Tokyo for the first time what he was all about, was solid enough in his debut despite it being obvious that the crowd didn’t know how to take him. While they applauded certain showmanship actions, they were relatively quiet for much of his act – a fact that wasn’t much of a surprise. Going just over eight minutes, the bout was a solid, but not splashy, way to make ROH’s return to Japan a reality. **
Delirious def. Gedo
Countering last year’s defeat at the hands of Gedo in the United States, Delirious got his revenge with a victory over the NJPW matchmaker at Korakuen Hall. Delirious played the clear antagonist from the get-go – using classic tropes such as complaining to the referee of hair pulling, biting Gedo’s finger, and hitting cheap shots. The audience was rather silent to almost everything Delirious did, but applauded Gedo when he was on the up and up. Perfectly placed, Delirious’s defeat of Gedo was a classic “second-match on the show.” *1/2
KUSHIDA def. Frankie Kazarian
Winning with the hoverboard lock, KUSHIDA looked to put out the first really good match of the night. Unfortunately, he was in there with Frankie Kazarian – a last minute replacement for Adam Cole, who was unable to appear due to a personal issue. I don’t have anything against Kazarian, I’ve just never personally found his wrestling style entertaining. It’s a shame, because it’s obvious he tries hard. His talent just doesn’t equal his effort. Then, there are some times where he appears to not be putting in full effort, which doesn’t help. If you’ve ever gone to a local indie show with no well known names on the card, you might know what I’m talking about here. Kazarian comes off as the one, somewhat good-bodied guy on a show full of backyarders, fat guys, and twenty year old Shawn Michael wannabes. You can tell Kazarian is the best of the bunch, but you also know he’s ready to go back to his job substitute teaching in the morning. In a way, I admire Kazarian more for what he’s done in wrestling becaue of this. He’s made a pretty great career, worked for all the top promotions, and appears to be having fun doing it. He’s a wrestling success story if there ever was one. **1/4
— Jocay (@Jocay19) February 19, 2016
Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Moose & Michael Elgin def. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Hall)
After being apathetic to Castle and Delirious earlier, this crowd came alive for big Moose. Having Hiroshi Tanahashi on your side to provide some credibility didn’t hurt, but this was another in a long line of signs that Moose has the potential to be a big star. It won’t be with ROH, though. His kind of potential can only be unwrapped in a place like NJPW or WWE. In no surprise, an 8-man tag with the Bullet Club broke out into an all-out brawl at one point. Hiroshi Tanahashi continued to face Bullet Club attacks on his injured shoulder, including getting cracked in the injured area with chairshots from Takahashi. In the end, Team Tanahashi was saved by the resident big man, Moose. Sure, he was a bit sloppy, as he’s been. But one of the highlights of the entire card was Moose quickly jumping to the top rope and hitting a dive onto Cody Hall before his spear for the victory. **3/4
the ELITE (Kenny Omega & Young Bucks) def. Katsuyori Shibata & reDRagon
Easily the best match of the night to this point. The Young Bucks and reDRagon made my mouth water for a hopefuly IWGP Jr Heavyweight title match between the two. Kyle O’Reilly was a man possessed – one of tonight’s top performers. Kenny Omega came across as both the new Heavyweight star he is, but also a legitimate workhorse for the company. Then, Shibata, amazingly an afterthought in some ways in the ring throughout, was at his best going opposite Omega. Shibata vs Omega is a match with potential to be a major deal over the next two years in NJPW, right up there with what Okada vs Styles was last year. Omega’s near future is packed, with Shibata, Ibushi, and a remach with a healthy Tanahashi all on the horizon. If you’re a fan of Kenny Omega, you’re set for some awesome stuff coming up. If you’re not an Omega fan, well you’re set up with some classic mind-changing material. Be open to it! ***1/2
— Jocay (@Jocay19) February 19, 2016
Briscoe Brothers def. Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows
Doc & Karl took the fight to the Briscoes before Jay & Mark’s entrance was fully complete. That backfired, however, as the Briscoes came out firing and took out the departing tag team rather easily early on. Karl Anderson, who during his entranced told the camera, “I love this place,” looked like a guy trying to leave it all in the ring. Ho wasn’t going out light, saving himself for the WWE deal. A true pro at the end, Karl wanted to have the match of the night. It may not have ended up being so, but it was pretty fun nonetheless. Going a surprisingly light eight minutes, though, I can’t help but wish… amazingly… that we had more time for a Doc & Karl tag match. **3/4
Tetsuya Naito & Jay Lethal def. YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada
YOSHI-HASHI is often the extra wheel. He’s often there to lose. He’s often in with stars much more important than him. He’s not often completely out of place, though. Tonight, he was. His work was out of place, as well. Tetsuya Naito and Jay Lethal worked together, in a way, to defeat YOSHI-HASHI and Kazuchika Okada. In a way, of course, because Naito is not one to try very hard when he’s teaming with those who aren’t Los Ingobernables. Sticking with the house show theme, this match, which went thirteen minutes, was the second longest of the night. Going against the house show theme, Tetsuya Naito treated this as a showcase in some ways for himself. He worked his hardest, and most sincere, when in the ring with Okada. Here’s a guy who wants back in that slot of meaningful title challenger to the current IWGP Heavyweight champion. **1/4
After the match, Jay Lethal offered to shake Naito’s hand in victory. Naito agreed, appearing to work together truly for the first time all night. Naito then offered Lethal his Ingobernable hat. Returning the favor, Lethal gave Naito the Book of Truth. Like a kid on Christmas, Naito happily accepted the book and read it throughout his walk to the locker rooms. All is well in the Ingobernables/Truth household.
Oh, look! Todd Sinclair out to referee the main event…
ROH World Television Championship
Tomohiro Ishii def. Roderick Strong ©
“Let’s go Roddy!” chants inside Korakuen Hall. What a time to be alive! Roderick wore down, or attempted to wear down, Ishii with chinlocks and stretches early one. When Ishii would attempt to get up or come back, Strong would kick him right back down. But then, Roderick made a mistake. He began chopping Ishii. Yes, mistake. Ishii, slowly getting more into his element, chopped right back at Strong. Before you knew it, this evolved from a slow paced surgery to a swift, tough battle. Swift, tough battles are Ishii’s specialty.
Surprising almost every pundit who had thought Lethal and Strong would escape Tokyo with their championships secure, Tomohiro Ishii pinned Roderick Strong after a sit-down lariat followed by the brain buster. Wanting to rub it in everyone’s face, Ishii then slowly held up the ROH TV Championship while standing over the defeated Strong. Yes, Ishii is coming to America with the belt. Can anyone take it from him before he leaves? ***3/4
— Deathlock (@shellydeathlock) February 19, 2016
The Las Vegas PPV and TV Tapings at the end of this month just got a bit more interesting. Will the Las Vegas cards be altered at all to feature a TV Title match against someone who is an ROH regular? Is it possible that Ishii could hold the TV title all the way until the May Global Wars events!? This was a quick, fun, easy to watch ROH house show held in Japan. One of the most fun results – What the heck happens to the ROH TV Title now?