This past Saturday, I travelled to New York City to witness the last show of this year’s ROH/NJPW May crossover events, War of the Worlds ’16: Night 2. This was my fourth time seeing ROH live, and the third time it’s been one of these crossover shows with New Japan. Before I go into the card, I just would like to make note of some things I noticed once I got to the show:
- Ring of Honor COO Joe Koff was out mingling with people as they came in the door, which I thought was pretty cool. The Addiction were also at the merchandise stand, selling their comic book. Speaking of which, for those of you who were wondering, I did see a large number of people wearing Bullet Club themed gear.
- There’s been a lot of debate about Terminal 5 as a venue ROH since the company started running the building in 2014. For me, this was my first time seeing ROH here, as the other ROH events I’ve seen in NYC were both at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Honestly, I liked Terminal 5. Now I may be a bit bias, because I was sitting on the ground level (on the stage specifically), but I really enjoyed the venue as a whole. It is small, but everyone on the ground level is so close to the ring that it creates this really intimate vibe that I thought was pretty cool. I was sitting in the front row on the stage, and in my opinion, those were the best seats in the house. If I ever go to see ROH in Terminal 5 again, I’ll definitely be picking up those seats. Overall, you can consider me to be firmly in the “Pro-Terminal 5” camp.
Joey Daddiego & Juan Francisco de Coronado vs. Cheeseburger & Davey Vega
There was one pre-show match that was taped as an internet exclusive, and it featured some interesting names. I was really surprised to see CHIKARA’s Juan Francisco de Coronado. I’ve enjoyed some of his work, but I never imagined he would show up in a ROH setting. It was very cool to see him get this opportunity. The other name of note was Davey Vega, who’s been a standout on the independent scene in the Midwest (particularly with AAW & AIW). Interesting enough, it was hear that I found out that ring gear Vega was wearing was the same gear ACH wore in his match with Shinsuke Nakamura last year in Toronto (if you’ll recall, ACH lost his luggage on the way to Toronto, and had to use another wrestler’s gear, which turned out to be Vega’s). As far as the match goes, it was a fine. Daddiego & Juan Francisco de Coronado would isolate Vega until the eventual tag to Cheeseburger, who picked up the win for his team after pinning JFDC. After the match, Daddiego attacked JFDC, and got showered with “Baby-tista” chants. **1/2
The All-Night Express vs. reDRagon
The show officially kicked off with tag team action. Kenny King & Rhett Titus are doing this new gimmick during their entrance where they use tiny megaphones. Ironically enough, nobody could hear them. I thought this was a fine opener. I always enjoy seeing reDRagon, and seeing Fish as the new ROH World TV Champion was pretty cool as well. They didn’t go all-out here, but this was an enjoyable opener. Fish & O’Reilly got the win, and Fish joins the commentary team (Kevin Kelly & BJ Whitmer) for the next match. ***1/4
Lio Rush vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs. Moose vs. Dalton Castle
I mentioned in my preview of this show that I was really looking forward to this match, and it completely exceeded my expectations. I thought this match was awesome! A big factor was that the crowd was into everyone. Castle was one of the most over acts of the entire night. Moose & Elgin got a lot of “Big Mike” & “Moose” chants, respectively, and Rush got a lot of chants in by the end as well. Of course, the match had a ton of great action! People were reacting to everything, and it was just a ton of fun from start to finish. On a show with a lot of big name New Japan talents, these four managed to put on what I considered to be the best match on the entire show, until the top two matches happened. There were some awesome sequences, and every person in this match had a chance to really shine. Dalton Castle would get the win here after pinning Rush. Everyone was over in this match, even Rush, who got put over by Elgin (not verbally, but he let Rush have a moment in the ring to soak up the glory after the match and encouraged everyone to chant for him), and the action was just fantastic. Definitely check out this match!! I loved it when I saw it live! ****
KUSHIDA vs. Silas Young
This was a pretty big opportunity for Silas Young. I think this is the first time we’ve seen him interact with a “major” New Japan talent. Young cut a promo before the match, saying that he wasn’t impressed by what he’d seen from the New Japan talent thus far on this tour. This was a solid match. The highlight (if you could call it that) was Young’s trunks getting pulled down by KUSHIDA, exposing his ass for a good minute. Basically, it standard undercard singles match. Honestly, for a KUSHIDA singles match in ROH, it was a little disappointing, but the fact that I’m calling a match of his that was ***1/4 a slight disappointment just shows how good KUSHIDA is. Of course, the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion picks up the win here. ***1/4
CHAOS (Trent Beretta & Gedo with Rocky Romero) vs. The Motor City Machine Guns
Rocky Romero must have been injured, as he was originally scheduled for this match, but ended up being replaced by Gedo. This was a pretty standard tag team match that started slow, but actually picked up a bit towards the end. Sabin & Shelley got a reaction when they came out, but it wasn’t an amazing reaction by any stretch. It’s more of a polite “Oh look, The Motor City Machine Guns are here” kind of reaction, and not a “Yeah! The Motor City Machine Guns are awesome!” kind of reaction. Romero actually interfered quite a lot in this match (while also doing commentary). Sabin & Shelley would get the win here. Again, this was a pretty standard tag team affair. After the match, we did see some dissension within CHAOS, as Beretta & Gedo nearly came to blows, with Romero in the middle, but they did the old Forever Hooligans spot, and hugged. ***1/4
The Bullet Club (Adam Page & IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Guerrillas of Destiny) vs. The Briscoes & Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Seeing The Briscoes & Jushin “Thunder” Liger on the same team was actually really cool. Of course, The Guerrillas of Destiny are IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, and Adam Page joined The Bullet Club on the Dearborn event this past Monday. He’s now billed as “The Hangman”, and brings a noose with him to the ring. I thought this was a fine trios match. There was a wild brawl to start, before the heels then beat up Liger to build up to the hot tag. Mark Briscoe would eventually get the pin on Tama Tonga, so The Briscoes are definitely getting a title shot against Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa at some point (I’m guessing Dominion in June). Another thing I noticed about this match is that Adam Page did next to nothing in his match. Literally, I think the only offensive move he hit inside the ring during the entire match was his flip-in clothesline. It was very strange. ***1/4
During intermission, Mandy Leon was hanging out with fans at ringside (I guess trying to promote the Women of Honor) when she got attacked by Taeler Hendrix, who hit her with a DDT onto a chair. It’s nice to see that they’re doing something to actually build towards a match in the Women of Honor division after months of just (seemingly) random matches
Before the second half could officially begin, BJ Whitmer took the mic and tried to cut a promo, but kept getting interrupted by the chorus of boos and heckling. Say what you will about BJ Whitmer, but he gets heat, and lots of it. I honestly couldn’t hear what he was saying, at any point, until Steve Corino came out. No brawl broke out, but Corino called Whitmer a bitch for not wanting to fight him now, and Whitmer bailed. These two are finally facing off at the next ROH PPV, Best in the World ’16, and even though people are tired of this feud, I thought the segment was fine for what it was trying to do.
Donovan Dijak vs. Cedric Alexander
This is Cedric Alexander’s last ROH match, as he’s moved on from the company. He’s making appearances in Evolve next month and is a name that has been heavily rumored to be a part of the upcoming WWE Cruiserweight Classic. I might have liked this match a little more than most. They really did a lot of stuff here, and while the reaction may not have been there as much as I would have liked, compared to other matches on the card, I liked it. There were some really good spots in this match from both guys. I have to say that it’s really cool to see Prince Nana back in a manager role in ROH. I’ve always enjoyed him. Dijak would get the win here after hitting Feast Your Eyes. After the match, Cedric Alexander got “Please Don’t Go” & “Thank You Cedric” chants. It looked like he very sad to be leaving. It’s really unfortunate, as he could have been so much more in ROH. ***1/2
ROH World Tag Team Championships
The Addiction (c) vs. War Machine
Here’s something interesting about this match: When War Machine came out, they got a smattering of cheers, with a few scattered boos. When The Addiction came out, they weren’t universally loved, but they definitely got more cheers than War Machine. Very interesting. The match itself was actually going along fine. Hanson & Ray Rowe dominated most of the early portions of the match, but The Addiction would fight back. Then Todd Sinclair got taken out, and the title belts became involved. Eventually, Daniels used one of them for the DQ. If you’ve even been to a WWE House Show with a WWE Title Match in the main event that has a heel champion defending against a babyface challenger, this basically ended up the same way, with the heel champion getting himself (or in this case, getting themselves) DQ’ed. War Machine beat up The Addiction after the match. I guess the idea is to keep Hanson & Ray Rowe strong without beating them, but I have no idea what their direction is going forward. **3/4
Matt Sydal vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
This was one of the more positive additions to the card, after the changes were made on Friday. I thought this match was pretty good, but it wasn’t amazing, or anything special. I don’t want to say Tanahashi was on autopilot here—because it’s hard to do that in a singles match compared to a multi-man tag—but I was expecting more from this match. I’d say Tanahashi worked it like a mid-card match, but then again, his match with Strong last year was right after intermission. Maybe he was doing safer stuff because he was banged up? I’m really not sure how to put what I want to say into words. The match was solid, but given who was involved, it could have been much better. That’s not to say it wasn’t good. I really enjoyed it for what it was. There was a really nice exchange near the end where both the High Fly Flow & Shooting Star Press were countered. Tanahashi (obviously) would get the win here over Sydal. ***1/2
ACH vs. Tetsuya Naito
ACH had his One Piece gear on tonight. I didn’t find this out until I got home, but apparently Naito was fighting both a high fever and nagging elbow injury, so major props to him for not only going through with this match in the first place, but still being able to put on one of the best of the night, without question. Naito actually gave ACH a lot here. It was a very even match between the two. I’d say this was definitely better than ACH’s match against Nakamura last year (and that match was really good), and it was also better than both of Naito’s matches against Kyle O’Reilly. This was great, plain and simple.
I heard some people say it was the Match of the Night, but I think it was right on-par with the main event. Naito eventually picked up the win with Destino. He also stepped on the IWGP Heavyweight Title after the match. Not sure if he’s actually done that before (obviously he’s thrown the belt around but I don’t know if he’s actually stepped on the title belt like Kevin Owens did with the U.S. Title last year), but I saw that as being a pretty big deal. ****1/4
The Bullet Club (Adam Cole & Matt Jackson) vs. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii) vs. ROH World Champion Jay Lethal & Roderick Strong
Nick Jackson came through the normal entrance way, while Adam Cole & Matt Jackson came through the crowd. If you watch the VOD later, and I look like a noob during Ishii’s entrance, it’s because I was trying to open my Okada Dollars so I could “Make It Rain” during Okada’s entrance (feel free to pile on). Lethal & Hendrix had amazing reactions when they came out on the stage and paused next to a fan in a red New Japan tracksuit, who was making funny faces. Hendrix pie-faced him. It was pretty funny. The match itself was pretty awesome. There were actually some really funny moments, like Okada stealing the “Suck It” and “Adam Cole Bay Bay!” taunts (Okada Bay Bay!), and then Cole & Matt Jackson trying to attack Ishii to no avail. There were a ton of unique interactions in this match (like Lethal/Okada, Cole/Ishii, etc…) which were really cool to see. Of course, the action in this match was great, especially ending sequence. That was pretty awesome. Of course, the big takeaway here was that Roderick Strong pinned Ishii clean as a sheet in the middle of the ring. I was legitimately shocked when that happened. Obviously it’s a huge moment for Roderick Strong, and for Team ROH in general, especially with the talk of the ROH vs. NJPW matches being too one-sided in favor of the latter. Strong mentioned in a post-show video with Kevin Kelly & Veda Scott that he wants a one-on-one rematch with Ishii down the line, so hopefully we get to see that again. ****1/4
This marks the third ROH/NJPW joint show that I’ve seen live. The first was War of the Worlds ’14 in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and the second was Night 2 of War of the Worlds ’15 in the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. Out of those three shows, I’d this was, overall, the weakest.
There was no amazing standout match like reDragon/Young Bucks or Strong/Tanahashi, but that’s not to say the show was bad by any means. It was a long card, with eleven matches, but it was pretty good for the most part. Aside from the ROH World Tag Team Title Match, this show was incredibly consistent, with a ton of matches in the ***1/4 to ***1/2 range, and three legitimately great matches in the ****+ range (The Four-Corner Survival Match, ACH/Naito, and the main event). I’d say this show is definitely worth checking out on VOD for those three matches. Overall, I had a great time at this show. I got to meet some cool people (including some on the Voices of Wrestling staff) and I got to watch a fun night of wrestling.