The stars of Ring of Honor & New Japan Pro Wrestling come to Dearborn, Michigan, where a shocking title change takes place and The Bullet Club gets a new member.
ROH/NJPW War Of The Worlds 2016: Night 1
May 9, 2016
Ford Community & Performing Arts Center
We kick off the show with an in-ring promo from The Bullet Club. It’s actually a relatively short promo, with Adam Cole, the group’s newest member talking about what they did the night before at Global Wars, and how they’re aren’t afraid of repercussions because the likes of The Briscoes, Colt Cabana, & ROH World Champion Jay Lethal don’t scare them. Cole then says that they’re not done with their attacks, and go after Bobby Cruise, before being interrupted by The Briscoes.
Jay Briscoe says The Briscoes & The Bullet Club are both popular, but that The Briscoes just worry about getting business done in the ring, and don’t fool around on the internet. He then says that The Bullet Club are “d*ck riding b*itches”. The Motor City Machine Guns then come out, to a pretty big reaction (as you would expect). Chris Sabin talks about how tough people from Detroit are, and suggest to The Briscoes that they join forces to take on The Bullet Club. Cole scoffs at this, questioning how they could take on The Bullet Club with only four guys. This brings out Adam Page, who steps up to the plate and says he’ll be the fifth man alongside The Briscoes & The Motor City Machine Guns. He says he wants the match now, but The Bullet Club bails, and Matt Jackson says that they’ll see them in the Main Event, as The Bullet Club doesn’t jerk the curtain.
I thought this segment did a good job of setting up the main E=event. It sucks that we weren’t going to get Briscoes/MCMG III, but that match being changed was pretty much telegraphed as soon as the card was announced. What I also want to add is that I felt this was a hundred times better than most RAW opening promos that go about 20 minutes, sometimes even 30 minutes, long. This segment proved that you can do short, and effective, opening segments that don’t drag whatsoever.
ACH & Matt Sydal vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser
It’s kind of weird that we have a regular ROH match on such a big tour. This feels more suited for a normal ROH live event, but I guess there was a purpose to this match (which I’ll get to in a minute). This was a fine tag team opener. They told a simple story here, as Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser isolated Sydal, which built up to an ACH hot tag. There were some good spots here, though ACH seemed to come up a bit short on his Air Jordan dive (I’m not sure if ACH just didn’t go far enough, or if The Beer City Bruiser was out of position. Based on what I saw, I’m leaning towards the latter). Sydal was actually taken out on the outside after this, which forced ACH to actually fight off his two opponents by himself. Eventually, Sydal would recover enough to get back into the match, and ACH would hit the Midnight Star on The Beer City Bruiser for the win.
After the match ACH cut promo where he basically said that, while he was thankful for the help Sydal has offered him over the last year or so, he now realizes that he needs to go on his own. ACH & Sydal shake hands, and their team has an amicable split.
I find it funny that as the match was going on, Kevin Kelly kept saying how the ACH/Sydal team “had only scratched the surface”, which was a statement that obviously setup what happened after the match. However, I think now was the best time to break these two up. They’ve been a really solid team, and always really have good to great matches, but they hadn’t done much of anything during their time as a team. It got to the point where they actually split off to do their Best-of-Five Series late last year. I’ll be interested to see what ACH & Sydal do now that they’re firmly singles competitors. ***
Roderick Strong vs. Lio Rush
Rush is a late replacement for Jushin “Thunder” Liger, who got dropped on his head by The Addiction at Global Wars the night before. While I was disappointed that we didn’t get Liger vs. Strong, I’m happy to see Lio Rush get this opportunity. Strong cut a promo before the match basically calling Liger a pussy, adding that he didn’t expect much of a challenge from Rush. As far as the match went, I thought it was really good. I always enjoy these matches where Strong is facing a smaller opponent, as it enables him to play the bully and toss people all over the place (and that’s exactly what he did with Rush here in the early part of this match). Rush did fight back, and we got some really good back & forth action between the two. Rush actually did get a fair amount of offense in on Strong, which was nice to see. While the match was very good, I think it could have been even better if not for some rough patches (particularly a messed up reverse-rana from Rush). Strong would eventually get the win in this very good contest. ***1/2
After the match, Strong continues to taunt Liger, until Liger runs out and hits Strong with his Palm Strike. He talks briefly with Lio Rush before joining the commentary team!
ROH World Tag Team Championship
War Machine (c) vs. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada & Gedo)
This was originally going to be a non-title match, but War Machine cut a promo before the match saying that they wanted to put their titles on the line, so now we have a title match! I have to say that this match was WAY better than I thought it would be. I was expecting it to be good, but not as good as it ended up being. All four guys worked very hard, and while there really wasn’t what I would call an “amazing, standout spot”, the action from start to finish was just really solid. This was much better than the match Okada & Gedo had with The Addiction last year (which I saw live). Also, I thought Jushin “Thunder” Liger added a lot to commentary, even though I couldn’t understand him half the time. He really helped make this match more enjoyable. Hanson would get the win for his team after hitting the Spin Kick of Doom on Gedo. ***3/4
War Machine’s post-match celebration is interrupted to The Addiction. Kazarian makes fun of War Machine’s beards (calling them ZZ-Flop), and says that War Machine never beat The Addiction. Daniels brings up the fact that The Addiction was never pinned when they lost the ROH World Tag Team Titles, and challenges War Machine to a title match for NYC that Saturday. Hanson takes the mic and brings up how Daniels & Kazarian haven’t won in over two months, and act like sore losers after the fact by attacking their opponents (including the likes of Lio Rush, Sabin, Shelley, & Liger). Rowe then says that War Machine will defend the titles against The Addiction tonight, and The Addiction evidently accepted.
KUSHIDA vs. Dalton Castle
I’m really happy to see Dalton Castle get this opportunity against KUSHIDA (who apparently has had some really good things to say about Castle on a number of podcasts he’s been a part of). This was a really entertaining match. There was some fun comedy moments, like both Castle & KUSHIDA fighting over The Boys, but there was also some really good wrestling here. KUSHIDA is just so good, and Castle showed a lot here against the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. I really hope Castle does get opportunities in New Japan, as I think he could do very well for himself. Also, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, once again, does a good job at commentary, and added a little bit to this match as well. What’s interesting to note here about the finish is that KUSHIDA got the win on a flash pin. Even though he got the win, he didn’t definitively beat Castle, which is very interesting. ***3/4
The All-Night Express vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin
This match brings us back from intermission. It was pretty solid, but it’s not a match you’re going to remember a week from now. There was some fine action, but there were a few clunky parts as well. For Elgin & Tanahashi, it was probably their weakest performance of the tour, and honestly, it’s not a total surprise that it came against Kenny King & Rhett Titus. Again, the match wasn’t bad by any means, but it wasn’t very memorable. Titus gets pinned after eating a High Fly Flow from Tanahashi, and then a big splash off the top rope from Elgin. ***1/4
Moose vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Here we have the first of two big singles matches on this tour for Moose. He’s taking on Tomohiro Ishii, who is just coming off losing the ROH World TV Title to Bobby Fish at Global Wars the night before. Now I was very interested to see how this match turned out going in, and it turned out to be an awesome match!! Easily the best match on the show, and possibly the best singles match Moose has ever had (no surprise that it came against Ishii). These two just went after each other right from the opening bell, and never let up. Ishii threw everything he had against the much bigger Moose, who was very impressive in his own right. In a way, this match was reminiscent (to me, at least) of the matches Ishii would have in the G1 Climax against guys like Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and (to an extent) Bad Luck Fale, but in a ROH setting. This was just awesome, and a blast to watch from start to finish. Ishii wins after (somehow) getting Moose up for a brainbuster. ****1/4
ROH World Tag Team Championship
War Machine (c) vs. The Addiction
So this match was very similar to the one these two teams would have a few days later in NYC. War Machine pretty much dominated the entire match, with The Addiction on getting in small bits of offense here & there. Even though their match in NYC ended in a DQ, I would still say that match was better than this initial match. The Addiction would get the win, and the ROH World Tag Team Titles, after Kazarian hit Ray Rowe with one of the title belts, and later a belt of bullets (which I believe is part of the entrance gear for either Daniels or Kazarian, I’m not sure which).
I find it interesting that both of The Addiction’s title wins have come when the team was at their “lowest point” (their was talk of splitting them up last year before the first title change and the KRD reveal, and this year it was after an embarrassing loss to Cheeseburger). Still, I feel like this title change might have been the most egregious booking decision of the entire tour. War Machine finally gets their big win over The Briscoes, and then immediately loses the titles to The Addiction the next night. The only explanation I could come up with is that they want to get the titles on Sabin & Shelley (it seems like The Addiction/MCMG is the next title program), without having them be the ones to beat War Machine. Other than that, I’ve got no explanation. **1/4
reDRagon vs. Tetsuya Naito & Jay Lethal
Lethal & Naito formed a partnership during the Honor Rising shows back in February, and they’re teaming up here to take on Bobby Fish, the new ROH World TV Champion, Kyle O’Reilly, who is the only person in this match not holding the title. I have to say, it’s pretty cool to see the IWGP Heavyweight Champion & the ROH World TV Champion on the same team here. This is another match that featured some funny moments, mainly surrounding the kissing of hands (don’t ask), but there was also a ton of really solid action throughout this match. Naito was incredibly popular with the crowd, as well as reDRagon. Lethal was still very much a heel here (which is interesting, considering what happened the night before). There were some very good exchanges towards the end, and eventually, O’Reilly would get the pin on Lethal after he & Fish hit Chasing The Dragon. Very notable that O’Reilly pinned Lethal here, as it sets up O’Reilly for another shot at the ROH World Title down the line. ***3/4
Bullet Club (Adam Cole, The Young Bucks, & The Guerrillas of Destiny) vs. The Briscoes, The Motor City Machine Guns, & Colt Cabana
Adam Page was originally going to be on Team ROH, but he doesn’t come out, and Cole says that Page was invited to an early Superkick Party. The match starts off as 5-on-4 for a minute or two, until Colt Cabana comes out, cleaning house, and taking the 5th spot on Team ROH. I thought this was a pretty solid Ten-Man Tag Team Match, though by comparison, I would say that the Team ROH vs. Bullet Club Ten-Man Tag Team Match from Global Wars last year was significantly better. I mean, it was a fun match, but it wasn’t nearly as crazy or insane as the Ten-Man Tag from last year. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that he made the save early, Cabana didn’t do much in this match. Of course, the big moment came at the very end, when Adam Page came out and attacked Jay Briscoe with a chair, before hitting him with the Right of Passage on a table, which didn’t break. The Bullet Club got the win, and Adam Page officially becomes their newest member. He also solidifies his new persona as “The Hangman” by taking a noose and hanging Chris Sabin over the top rope. ***1/2
Now, for those who were confused (as was I) by this move, it was apparently Gedo who made the call to have Adam Page join The Bullet Club, and the rumors are that when he does go to Japan later this year, he’ll play a role similar to what Tama Tonga and Cody Hall have done in the past (basically the group’s fall guy). It’s a weird move, but this does have a chance to help out Page’s career going forward. I actually find Adam Page’s path in ROH to be very similar to Caleb Konley’s path in Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE. Both guys spent a long time in a lower card heel act that was very unpopular (The Decade & The Scene, respectively), before eventually getting away from the group to become a babyface. However, both wouldn’t do much during their brief babyface runs, and would soon join more powerful heel groups. Say what you will about The Premiere Athlete Brand, but joining them did help elevate Konley’s spot on the card. I think the same could be true for Adam Page when it comes to his spot in ROH, but time will tell. Honestly, almost two weeks after the fact, this move really doesn’t bother me as much as did others.
I thought this was very similar to the show I saw live in NYC a few days later. It was a very consistent show from start to finish with The Addiction vs. War Machine being the only real outlier. While this show didn’t have nearly as many “great” matches as the show in NYC did, we did have one great match in the form of Moose vs. Tomohiro Ishii, which is definitely worth checking out. There were also a number of matches on the undercard (War Machine vs. Okada & Gedo, KUSHIDA vs. Castle, & reDragon vs. Lethal/Naito) that were really good and also worth checking out. While this show did feature some of the strangest booking decisions in recent memory (The Addiction winning the ROH World Tag Team Titles, and Adam Page joining The Bullet Club), the match quality overall is still pretty strong, for the most part. One final thing I’ll add is that I think both this show, as well as the show in NYC a few days later, were both (in my opinion), better than the Global Wars PPV.