Ring of Honor / New Japan Pro Wrestling
ROH 14th Anniversary
Las Vegas, NV
Watch: ROHWrestling.com

ROH, in association with NJPW, celebrates its 14th Anniversary in Las Vegas this Friday night – The show airing live on iPPV at ROH’s website. Triple Threats take the stage, as both the ROH World Championship and Television Championship will be on the line in 3-Way matches. First, Jay Lethal looks to fend off both Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole, while new ROH Television Champion Tomohiro Ishii defends against Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish.

Your panel for the ROH 14th Anniversary preview…

  • John Carroll: VOW’s Dragon Gate correspondent & Host of Open The Voice Gate.
  • Aaron Bentley: VOW Legal Counsel, TV reviewer, and Lanza Unfiltered’s first guest.
  • Rob McCarron: Host of the popular Shake Them Ropes podcast.

Hirooki Goto vs Dalton Castle

John Carroll: Depressed Goto vs. Peacock Castle is an, um, weird dynamic, to say the least. I guess there’s no guarantee Goto is in full woe-is-me mode as we’ve seen in New Japan since he lost in yet another IWGP Heavyweight Title match. It’s possible he ignores that just to have a normal match in America, but I hope he sticks close to his character work of late. Anyway, I have literally no clue what to expect out of this one. It could be great, it could be an awkward styles clash (which means Chris Jericho will show up and kick out of it, I guess), or it could be somewhere in-between. Let’s just hope for the best. Winner: Hirooki Goto

Aaron Bentley: This is intriguing, right? What the hell kind of match are these two going to have? Honestly, I’m expecting it to be great. Castle excels when he works a stiff, hard-hitting style. HELLO. I’m not sure what kind of characterizations are going to be in play here but there’s no doubt in my mind that these two workers can put on a hell of a match that any ROH or NJPW fan will love. Winner: Hirooki Goto

Rob McCarron: The ROH fans appreciate Dalton Castle much more than the NJPW fans seemed to last week at Honor Rising. Sure, his character may take a minute or two to understand and appreciate, but he’s finally at home in Vegas. Unfortunately for him, Hirooki Goto is in the weird place of being a semi-regular title match failure, but also a top tier heavyweight in NJPW. No way Goto loses, unless NJPW is just done with him as a top tier guy for the near future. A Dalton win would speak volumes to Goto’s placement within NJPW. Winner: Hirooki Goto

Kazuchika Okada vs Moose

John Carroll: Hell yes! The dropkick battle to end all dropkick battles! Seriously, I don’t wanna meet the person who isn’t hyped for this. My girlfriend is hyped for this and she only barely even tolerates my crippling graps addiction at all. Okada-Moose is the kind of match that absolutely, positively needed to happen (especially given we all live with the ever-present knowledge that Moose will be signed away by those bastards up north eventually). Moose is the rare guy in ROH who has the kind of natural, physical charisma that Okada has; he can stand in there while Okada’s doing his Rainmaker pose and go face-to-face with him without you thinking “what is this geek doing getting in the real star’s face”, which is a rare quality honestly (lord knows Goto doesn’t have it…). Anyway, the crowd will go nuts for all of this, Moose will look like a million bucks even in losing, and Stokely Hathaway will make awesome faces like this. Basically a fun time will be had by all. Winner: Kazuchika Okada

Aaron Bentley: After this, the Moose haters (I’m looking at you, Rob Reid) will no longer be able to deny his greatness. This match is going to be fantastic and it won’t be an Okada carry job. In all seriousness, Moose needs it to be great. If he delivers, he will prove he can hang in the main event scene. I’ve always wanted Moose to be the person to dethrone Lethal. If my title match prediction is wrong and Moose rises to the occasion here, that wish could still be fulfilled. AND DROPKICKS!!!!! Winner: Kazuchika Okada

Rob McCarron: Moose in there with NJPW’s IWGP Heavyweight Champion – Greatness. Moose’s star has risen rapidly in the last two years, and this is the chance to prove to ROH fans, and NJPW fans alike, that he belongs in the heavyweight title mix. This isn’t just about gaining credibility as a wrestler, it’s about building credibility as a singles star for the future. That future might just be approaching this year. Winner: Kazuchika Okada

BJ Whitmer vs Adam Page

John Carroll: THE DECADEPOWERS EXPLODE!!! Okay, look, we all need a chance to refill our adult beverages and/or pee out adult beverages already consumed, right? My apologies if you’re actually really excited for a BJ Whitmer match here in the year of our lord two-thousand and sixteen, but yeah. I sorta like Adam Page though so let’s just say he wins and never speak of this again. Winner: Adam Page

Aaron Bentley: I like Adam Page but I just cannot care about anything involving BJ Whitmer. This match will suck. Page will win and hopefully be forever unyoked from BJ. Winner: Adam Page

Rob McCarron: Adam Page can be something. Until then, he’s stuck with Whitmer. I love BJ Whitmer. He’s great, but he’s been around since the beginning of ROH. Longer than Roderick Strong, even. Briscoes have sustained credibility and freshness by reinventing themselves every so often (Jay more than Mark), but BJ has always been the same guy. It hurts Page, as he isn’t going to be anything in the fans’ eyes until he’s moving on. Winner: Adam Page

Alex Shelley vs Christopher Daniels

John Carroll: Chris Daniels is basically the textbook “I loved him 10 years ago but he does nothing for me now” guy. I respect everything you’ve done for independent wrestling, Chris! Sure wish you’d wear less vaguely-Nazi-looking outfits, but y’know, whatever. Anyway, this will probably be pretty watchable. I’m gonna go with Shelley here because it seems like Daniels loses all the time nowadays. Winner: Alex Shelley

Aaron Bentley: I was excited when Daniels came back to ROH but, at this point, the thrill is gone. This match will be entirely inoffensive but I won’t feel bad if I get distracted with something else in the middle of it. Mostly, I just hope Shelley escapes uninjured. Winner: Alex Shelley

Rob McCarron: This match should just be fun. Two old-school TNA & ROH guys, going out there in a nice, crisp ten minute match. Regardless of what role Chris Sabin plays in the match, the Shelley vs Daniels encounter is going to be one of my more anticipated matches of the night. Winner: Alex Shelley

Briscoe Brothers vs Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin

John Carroll: The TanaElgin International Bromance is a touching tale, one of two men separated by a language and cultural banner but brought together by their love of graps and justice. Elgin carrying out the Young Bucks during the Tanahashi-Omega IC Title match was legit one of my favorite spots of the year so far, and I’m more invested in this totally platonic relationship than literally any WWE romance in history. Anyway! This is a tough one to pick: obviously Tanahashi isn’t getting pinned, but they protect the Briscoes (especially Jay) a lot in ROH as well. I guess either Mark or Elgin could take the fall, but I’ll go with TanaElgin just because I <3 them. Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin

Aaron Bentley: I’m honestly stumped. The Briscoes rarely lose. Tanahashi never loses. Elgin just signed an exclusive deal with New Japan and should be protected. I like Rob’s point below that Tana and Big Mike are teaming up at the TV tapings. that’s enough of a tipping point for me. Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin

Rob McCarron: This match doesn’t have much in the way of storyline significance, but it is an adding to the Tanahashi & Elgin dimension. Especially if those two are on a crash course to meeting in the New Japan Cup. Tanahashi & Elgin are set to team up on Saturday’s TV tapings, here, so a win sets them up as a legitimate ROH team heading into Global Wars. Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Kenny Omega & Young Bucks © vs KUSHIDA & Matt Sydal & ACH

John Carroll: The most prestigious championship in wrestling is on the line on an ROH show?! What a coup! Okay, so maybe not, but I love these goofy NEVER trios belts. I’m firmly in the Joe Lanza “just defend these belts all the damn time” camp so I love what they’re doing here. Anyway, this match will probably be something. It should be spot-filled chaos that I guess you’ll either love or hate depending on how you feel about these types of matches. I’m interested to see how the ROH crowd reacts to Omega; granted, it’s been a while, but he got over like a wet fart his last time. I’m thinking he’ll do better this time around just on recent reputation and the fact that he’s gotten over in New Japan. Anyway, the champs are retaining. Winners: the ELITE

Aaron Bentley: I was not at all sure about these NEVER 6-man titles but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t add some juice to this match. I would probably have been pumped for it anyway but now I’m all in. Is there any way this isn’t great? These multi-man matches always seem to be a little bit better on ROH shows than on New Japan shows. I’m not sure why but I will take it. Since ACH hasn’t been taking the flight to Japan, I think it’s safe to assume Omega & The Bucks keep the straps. Winners: the ELITE

Rob McCarron: Omega and the Bucks, the ELITE of the Bullet Club, are bringing the belts back home to Japan… where they’ll likely lose them during the New Japan Cup tour. Can’t hold on to the hot potato forever. Kenny Omega just can’t defend the NEVER titles on NJPW PPV, as he has a slightly more important belt to defend. With NJ Cup finals being an important, but relatively small show, I see the ELITE losing them then. Maybe, just maybe, ACH is headed to Japan, though. Unlikely. Winners: the ELITE

ROH Television Championship
Tomohiro Ishii © vs Roderick Strong vs Bobby Fish

John Carroll: I’m hyped for this one folks. How could you not be? Strong will make up for his disappointing performance in the TV Title change (he just worked way too heelish and methodical, not at all like he looked for most of last year against the New Japan guys) with a much better one here in front of his own crowd, and I’m guessing we get some truly sick strike exchanges between he and Ishii. And Fish will be here to kick people in the chest because that’s kind of what he does. I’m picturing something like an all-action 15-minute affair that’s basically a spotfest, and I’m gonna love every minute of it. I’m picking Fish to take the belt here, kicking off an excellent night for reDRagon. Winner: Bobby Fish

Aaron Bentley: I was quite looking forward to Strong vs. Fish for the title. I would also look forward to an Ishii vs. Strong rematch for the title. But this three-way feels odd. Yes, it seemed before that Fish was a good candidate to take the title from Strong but it’s hard to imagine Ishii selling on the outside while Fish pins Strong. I like Ishii to win, which would give time for ROH to set up something much more interesting for Global Wars. Winner: Tomohiro Ishii

Rob McCarron: I think it was Bobby Fish’s time before the Ishii title win at Honor Rising, and I still think it’s his time now. While a cool story could be made of Ishii retaining here, then going all the way to Global Wars as the champion, it seems most likely that Fish wins over Strong to win the belt. The only surprising result would be a scenario of Strong beating Ishii to win back the championship; anything else is on the table. Winner: Bobby Fish

ROH World Tag Team Championship – No DQ
War Machine (c) vs All Night Express

John Carroll: Hi friends, I’m sorry but I don’t care. As the “only watches ROH occasionally/is ordering this PPV because I’m a New Japan fan” voice on this panel, I really don’t see why you’re sticking this match so high up on the card (presumably second-from-the-top, at least based on the order we have here). War Machine is okay and the ANE are whatever (and my understanding is it’s not even like hardcore ROH fans are crazy about them), and with the gimmicks and stuff I’m sure this match will be fine, but this belongs further down the card on such a special event. I can tell you from attending the Best in the World PPV last year live, the thing that dragged the most the entire night was the reDRagon-Addiction No DQ tag title match; the crowd just did not care about seeing a weapons brawl in the middle of their awesome wrestling show, and they would have been far better served putting that crazy BULLET CLUB-Kingdom 6-man tag or the Strong-Elgin-Moose 3-way higher up on the card instead. Anyway, let’s say War Machine retains because why not. Winners: War Machine

Aaron Bentley: After a relatively long build to War Machine’s coronation, I expect them stay on top for some time. That will be difficult because the ROH tag division is relatively stacked (and 100x better than the vaunted NXT tag division) but it’s the right move. War Machine has legs in a way that no other team does. They can be a top team for ROH for the foreseeable future. Of course, the promotion seems higher on All Night Express than I’ve ever been but perhaps their placement has simply been a good way to build up a team for War Machine to take down. Winners: War Machine

Rob McCarron: All Night Express coming back into the ROH Tag Team Championship scene was quite the treat, but War Machine’s rise has been just as much so. The Briscoes, Young Bucks, and reDRagon all have other things going on, so War Machine and ANR battling back and forth for the titles throughout the spring is a real possibility. What the heck… Winners: All Night Express

ROH World Championship
Jay Lethal (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole

John Carroll: I smell a title change here. Lethal has had the big belt since last summer but he’s also been a champion even longer than that when you add in his TV Title reign, so one would think he’ll be moving on to something else eventually. You’ve got a big show on live PPV that presumably will have a larger-than-usual audience, so that seems like the right place to crown your new champion, right? Cole has been champ before, so I think it’s finally Kyle O’Reilly’s time to shine. Kyle has star potential and he’s done about everything he can in ROH as a tag wrestler, so let’s give him the belt and let him have a run here. Also he’s booked in a tag match on the Saturday night TV tapings show opposite IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, so it would kind of make sense if he won here and you had the two champions facing off on TV. Anyway, that’s my rationale and I’m going with it: O’Reilly wins the strap in what I’m expecting to be a fantastic match. Winner: Kyle O’Reilly

Aaron Bentley: Let’s face it: the Jay Lethal World Championship reign has been a huge disappointment. When he conquered Jay Briscoe, I thought it was going to be a legendary ROH run. Instead, the booking has robbed Lethal of what made that build and payoff special. O’Reilly has long seemed the heir apparent, though their match at All-Star Extravaganza VII was better set up for an O’Reilly victory. Despite that, Lethal is starting to feel stagnant and ROH needs a shot in the arm. I’m not bullish on O’Reilly as champion but it’s certainly worth a shot. Winner: Kyle O’Reilly

Rob McCarron: If the ROH Championship changes hands in Vegas, it would be only the second time in ROH history that a title change takes place in a Triple Threat match. Given just how huge Jay Lethal’s stage has been since coming back to ROH, I’d be disappointed for him to lose the title in a 3-way. That isn’t to say that a new champion wouldn’t make sense here, because it does. Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish are both going for singles belts, and they both very well may run the table. With the Global Wars PPV in May coming up, the ROH Champion at the time might just be in a non-title ROH vs NJPW type match. With Kyle O’Reilly being a Junior Heavyweight in NJPW, that creates some interesting possibilities as ROH Champion, as well. I’m going with my gut on this one, as I think it isn’t the right circumstance yet for Lethal to lose. Winner: Jay Lethal