New Japan Pro Wrestling/Ring of Honor
Honor Rising 2017: Night 2
February 27, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Silas Young & Jado def. KUSHIDA & David Finlay

This was originally scheduled to be a six-man tag, but it became a traditional tag team match after a recent injury suffered by Henare. While it’s unfortunate that he’s on the shelf, the silver lining is that we did get to start of the show with something different compared to the night before. I’m not exactly sure why they had Jado in here instead of Gedo, but it’s only the opener, so it doesn’t matter that much. Young cut a pre-match promo that was similar to the one he did the night before, which led to him & Jado getting the jump on KUSHIDA & David Finlay. This was an entertaining opening contest. It was actually a little bit better than I was expecting, considering Jado was involved. All four guys did a fine job, and it proved to be a good way to start the show. As I mentioned in my review of Night 1, it sucks that Silas Young was basically given nothing of value on these shows, but at least he managed to get the victory here, as he pinned David Finlay after hitting Misery. ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon def. Dalton Castle, Delirious, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Tiger Mask

Some of the young lions were playing the role of The Boys here, while Taguchi did his own take on Dalton Castle’s entrance and poses. This was a relatively fun ten man tag. As you would expect, there was a fair amount of focus placed on Hiromu Takahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi at various points, since they have a title match coming up, and the exchanges they did have were good. At the same time, everyone else had their moments to shine. Some highlights included BUSHI & Tiger Mask going after each other’s masks, and Naito using the tassels on the mask of Delirious to tie the lizard man to a railing. It was by no means a memorable match, but it featured some solid action from start to finish and served its purpose well. For the second night in a row, EVIL got the last laugh on Delirious, as he pinned him following his signature STO to win the match for LIJ. ***¼

In an interesting post-match note, one of the members of LIJ managed to rip off Tiger Mask’s mask, and Naito tossed it into the crowd (who then kindly gave it back to Tiger Mask).

War Machine def. The Guerillas of Destiny

These two teams had a very good match during the World Tag League a few months ago, and they managed to equal that effort here with another entertaining tag team encounter. It’s amazing to see how far The Guerrillas of Destiny have come since their initial debut as a tag team last year. At one point, they were seemingly unbearable to watch, but now they’ve improved by leaps and bounds, and it seems like they’re at their best when they go up against teams like War Machine. There was plenty of good action throughout this one, and both teams looked impressive. After a very good closing sequence, War Machine managed to hit Fallout on Tama Tonga to score the victory and, it a post-match promo, made it very clear that they have their sights set on the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, regardless of who the champions are. I mentioned this in some of my World Tag League reviews, but War Machine are a perfect fit for New Japan. There’s been some speculation in the last few months regarding the future of War Machine (particularly Ray Rowe), but I do hope that they end up working in New Japan on a more regular basis, because they could inject some life into the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title picture. ***1/2

The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, “The Hangman” Adam Page, & Yujiro Takahashi) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal, & Juice Robinson

In what was probably the most shocking result of the night, The Bullet Club managed to get the win after Adam Page pinned Jay Lethal. There really isn’t a lot to say about this tag team match as a whole. It was fine, but not memorable in any way. The fact that Page scored the fall on Lethal here makes me think that there’s something planned for him down the road, but time will tell whether New Japan, or Ring of Honor, actually follow up on it. **3/4

NEVER Openweight Title
Hirooki Goto (c) def. Punishment Martinez

When the cards for both of these shows were announced, this was the match that stuck out like a sore thumb. Most people haven’t even seen Punishment Martinez before, and even if you’re someone who follows the ROH product, he really hasn’t had that many singles matches, since he’s been spending most of his time as a partner for BJ Whitmer. It was pretty obvious that Goto would be retaining here, but the big question was just how this would turn out. When the dust settled, this title bout really managed to exceed expectations. Things did get off to a slow start, but they managed to gradually pick up the pace from there. These two seemed to work very well, and Punisher Martinez looked pretty good. This was easily better than anything he’s done since he made his debut in ROH, and I’m sure the fact that he was in there with a guy like Goto was a big reason for that. His current character might be a little over-the-top for some, but as a wrestler, you could see that he definitely has potential. Again, the outcome was never in question, but this was definitely an impressive outing for Punishment Martinez. ***3/4

ROH World Title
Adam Cole (c) def. YOSHI-HASHI

YOSHI-HASHI earned this title match by pinning Adam Cole in a six-man tag back at New Year Dash. As a whole, this was a very strong match. There were some lighthearted moments early on, such as YOSHI-HASHI stealing Cole’s taunt, but once things got more serious, there was some really fun back and forth action. They seemed to work well together, and their respective characters played off each other nicely. Obviously YOSHI-HASHI had no chance of actually winning the title here, but as he showed during the G1 Climax last year, he’s perfectly capable of delivering good performances when he’s a spot like this. As far as Adam Cole is concerned, this was one of his best outings in New Japan to date. I know that he’s fallen out of favor for some in the last year or two, but Cole showed here that he can definitely turn it up a notch when the situation calls for it. The closing sequence was particularly, as YOSHI-HASHI kept fighting, but ultimately, Cole got the win to retain his ROH World Title. This was one of the best ROH World Title defenses we’ve seen in New Japan thus far. ****

The Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks & Cody) def. The Briscoes & CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay)

Despite the fact that this show had two title matches, this eight-man tag was probably the most anticipated match on the card, and in the end, it definitely delivered. This was a great main event, and easily the best match of this two day mini-tour. It was packed with a ton of action, as we all expected, and it was incredibly entertaining to watch from start to finish. Everyone got a chance to shine at one point or another. Even Cody had a few moments, such as a massive superplex on Will Ospreay from the top rope onto everyone else on the floor. In many ways, this was a very PWG-esque match, and that wasn’t a bad thing at all. There were a number of cool spots throughout, and the crowd in Korakuen Hall was really into the action. Cody ended up scoring the win for his team after hitting the Cross Rhodes on Will Ospreay. Something interesting that I picked up in the match was that, in the few moments when Okada & Omega were in the ring together, Okada was actually got a smattering of boos. It could mean nothing in the long run, but I thought that was something worth nothing, especially if there’s going to be a rematch between the two down the line. ****¼

Kenny Omega cut a promo after the match saying that good guys and bad guys, heels and babyfaces, don’t matter. There is only the best and second place, with The Elite falling under the former, and Omega proclaimed that 2017 would be their year. They then showed another promo from The Elite & Cody once they got backstage. It was here that Omega called out Tanahashi, and The Young Bucks talked about their upcoming match with The Broken Hardys in ROH. They also mentioned how The Young Bucks are taking a step back from Japan to focus on stuff in the United States, so it would appear that (at least for the time being) we won’t be seeing The Young Bucks in New Japan for a few months.

Final Thoughts: 

Night 2 of Honor Rising was definitely a step up from Night 1. The undercard was (for the most part) solid, the two titles matches exceeded expectations, and the main event was fantastic. You don’t need to watch the entire show, but definitely check out the second half.