ROH/NJPW War Of The Worlds 2017
May 12th, 2017
Hammerstein Ballroom
New York City, New York

Watch: / PPV

Before I get into the PPV itself, I should make note of a number of events and matches that took place prior to the main card.

The first of two pre-show contests saw The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia with the injured TK O’Ryan) pick up a win over The Tempura Boyz. I didn’t get to see this match in full, as I was still in line for merchandise, but from what I saw, it was a pretty standard tag team encounter.

Then, in a six-man tag, The Rebellion of Kenny King (making his return after taking part in the new season of The Bachelorette), Shane Taylor & Rhett Titus defeated the team of Cheeseburger (who was very popular with the crowd, as always), Gedo & Will Ferrara after Taylor absolutely squashed poor Cheeseburger with a splash from the second rope. It was a solid match, a little better than The Kingdom vs. The Tempura Boyz, but it wasn’t too memorable. I would imagine these matches either find their way onto ROH TV, or they’ll be reserved as exclusives for YouTube and/or the DVD release.

After those two pre-show bouts, there was a special in-ring segment with Kevin Kelly, George Carroll Jr., Tiger Hattori, Joe Koff, Cary Silkin, and a New Japan representative.. They announced that a Round Robin Tournament would be held at the NJPW G1 Specials in Long Beach, California to crown the first-ever IWGP United States Champion, and confirmed Jay Lethal as the first official entrant.

Lethal came out to cut a brief promo before he was interrupted by Adam Page who (probably) will be in the tournament as well. Presumably, this title will be used in the new territory that New Japan is looking to set up on the West Coast of the United States, though I wouldn’t be shocked if it ends up being defended in New Japan proper. I’m not crazy about the title design itself, but I don’t totally hate it either. The most intriguing element to this is how they’re actually crowning the champion, It seems really odd that they’re holding a round robin tournament on just these two shows in Long Beach. That would lead me to believe it’s a very small tournament with only four guys in it (similar to how EVOLVE had their Style Battle Tournament set up before Style Battle became its own promotion), but I’m sure we’ll find out more details once we get closer to those shows.

Fatal Four-Way Match
Dalton Castle def. Bobby Fish, KUSHIDA & Silas Young

You know it’s a ROH PPV when Dalton Castle has an army of boys with him for his entrance. Meanwhile, KUSHIDA came out wearing a New York Yankees jersey.

Young takes the mic and berates him for pandering to the NYC crowd, and jumps him to get the match started. I’m probably the high person on this one, but from a live perspective, this was an incredibly entertaining contest. It only went eight minutes or so, but all four guys worked hard, the match was wrestled at the right pace (for an opener), the crowd was hot for it, and there were some great near falls in the second-half. I believe this was originally billed as a Four-Corner Survival Match, but they really didn’t use tags much at all, so this was essentially a normal Fatal Four-Way. There’s really not much else to say, other than it was the pretty much the perfect opener. Dalton Castle got the win after hitting the Bang-A-Rang on Bobby Fish, which makes sense, since Fish is on his way out. ***1/2

“The Hangman” Adam Page def. Frankie Kazarian

So this match came about after Kazarian essentially used Page (during Kazarian’s brief stint with The Bullet Club) to earn a shot at the ROH World TV Title.

Since then, “The Hangman” made it a mission to get revenge on Kazarian, attacking him in a parking lot and costing him a number of matches. I wasn’t looking forward to this going into the show—mainly because I find Kazarian to be a boring singles wrestler—and while it definitely was the worst bout on the card, it wasn’t that bad. It had a fair amount of intensity to it, as these two treated this like a legitimate grudge match. The fact that it only went about five or six minutes helped out as well.

On a packed three-hour PPV card like this, certain matches will need to be short, and these two didn’t need to go any longer than it did. Five or six minutes was the perfect length for this one. The one thing that didn’t work here was the copious amounts of spitting. It’s disgusting whenever Sami Callihan does the spitting routine, but these two took the art of spitting in wrestling matches to a whole new level, trading saliva multiple times, and I think it ended up with Kazarian spitting in Page’s mouth—one of the grossest things I’ve seen on a wrestling show.

Anyway, Page escaped with a victory after turning a sunset flip attempt into a pin, while holding the ropes. The right person won here, though I assume the finish means that a rematch will happen down the road. **3/4

Triple Threat Tag Team Match
War Machine def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA), and Search & Destroy (Chris Sabin & Jonathan Gresham)

Getting to see EVIL’s entrance live was pretty cool. It still amazes me that I got to see EVIL in the 2300 Arena nearly two years ago when he was still Takaaki Watanabe. Aside from his hair, he’s completely different.

Seeing SANADA live for the first time was cool as well, though I have to say that his hair looks even taller in person. Seriously, it’s that big.

Meanwhile, War Machine (who had new entrance music) came out wearing the same badass gladiator helmets that they wore at Wrestling Dontaku. Anyway, while this didn’t get a lot of time—it only went about nine minutes or so—it was really good. They packed a lot of action into the short amount of time they were given.

War Machine showed off their power, Gresham got to showcase some of his technical skills, Sabin was very solid (and played more of a heel towards the end), and LIJ did their usual shenanigans, which included a spot with two chairs that saw Tiger Hattori nearly taken out by one of the chairs. Similar to the opening contest, there’s not much else to say other than that. It was very entertaining, perfect for what it was, and crowd was definitely into it. My only wish was that it got a few more minutes, but that’s just me. War Machine got the win after hitting a double team popup powerslam on Sabin. ***1/2

Will Ospreay def. Jay White

These two were on opposite sides of a tag team encounter back at Supercard of Honor XI in April, but this was their first singles encounter.

What a way to start. This was absolutely awesome contest that ended up being match of the night by a pretty significant margin.

Insane action from start to finish, with some incredible moves and close near falls, and the crowd was on fire in those closing minutes. This match featured so many crazy spots that it’s almost impossible to single out just one. For my money, White dropping Ospreay head and neck first on the apron after catching Ospreay on a dive attempt was the craziest of them all. That was just one of many spots here where the “Aerial Assassin” got dropped on his neck by White. He’s a guy that’s known for the incredible things he can do in a wrestling ring, but some of the bumps he takes are just as insane, especially from a live perspective.

Ospreay was awesome here, and that shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but the big story in this one was Jay White. He’s always been really good, both as a young lion in New Japan and in his current stint with ROH, but before this night, he had yet to produce a truly awesome match. That changed here, as White had the best match of his entire career.

Years from now, when White becomes a much bigger star, we’ll all look back on this bout as his first truly amazing performance. This was incredible to watch live, and as I already mentioned, the crowd was going crazy in the closing stages. The atmosphere was electric, and it was easily one of the best matches I’ve seen live.

Even though Ospreay ultimately emerged victorious—after an insane Shooting Star Press to the floor, followed by an OsCutter—this was truly a breakout performance for Jay White.

If you haven’t seen this match already, you need to go out of your way to watch it. I’m not sure how it will come across on the VOD replay, but it was awesome to watch live. ****1/2

After the match, Ospreay & White were shaking hands, but Punishment Martinez came out through the crowd and attacked both men. White defeated Martinez on a recent show in Hopkins, Minnesota, so it wasn’t a completely random attack. I’m guessing we’ll be getting a rematch between these Martinez and White at the next PPV—Best In The World—which has the potential to be a good match.

ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles – No DQ Match
The Briscoes & Bully Ray (c) def. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Roppongi Vice)

Bully Ray entered through the crowd, and cut a promo—which he does before every match, it seems—where he announced that this would be a No DQ Match. It was definitely a nice change of pace compared to what we had seen already, and for the most part, it was very enjoyable.

The Briscoes & Bully Ray thrive in this type of environment, and Roppongi Vice worked hard, as they always do. As for Hirooki Goto, his involvement was limited, but when he was in there, he was perfectly fine, and had some moments to shine. There weren’t a ton of weapons involved, but they still did a good job with the stipulation.

They brawled on the outside, and utilized chairs at various points. We did see some chairs thrown at people’s heads, and that was a point of controversy with some. It was a little disconcerting, but I wasn’t too bothered by it. When it comes to hardcore wrestling, my view has always been that it’s their bodies, and that they can do whatever they want with them, as long as they know the potential repercussions. It’s 2017, so the risks of doing stuff like this are obvious by this point. Besides, people likes The Briscoes and (recently) Beretta taking these bumps shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Anyway, speaking of Beretta, he got powerbombed off the second rope through a table by Bully Ray, and soon after, Rocky Romero ate a Triple 3D, which secured the win for The Briscoes & Bully Ray.

A very entertaining hardcore brawl. ***½

ROH World TV Title
“The Villain” Marty Scurll (c) def. Matt Sydal

Sydal recently made his return to ROH after a long absence following his marijuana arrest in Japan last fall.

This was probably the most predictable matches on the entire card, since Sydal worked the Impact Wrestling TV Tapings a few weeks ago, but it still had the potential to be great, considering just how good both guys are. It was actually very intriguing to see how the crowd reacted to these two. Of course, Scurll was mad over with the crowd in NYC. His entire presentation (especially his entrance) makes him look like a huge superstar, and that’s even more apparent when you see him live. He has the crowd in the palm of his hands before the bell even rings.

As for Sydal, he got a rather timid reaction when he came out. Part of that probably has to do with his new music (which isn’t good), but in general, the crowd wasn’t that receptive towards Sydal.

As for the match itself, it was good, but disappointing overall. The wrestling throughout was very solid, and there wasn’t anything technically wrong with the match, but it just never reached the level of some of the other bouts on this card. This would’ve worked as a main event on ROH TV, but as a title defense on a PPV, it definitely underperformed. Sydal got a smattering of boos here and there, but for the most part, the crowd seemed indifferent towards him.

The closing stretch was good, and the action was very clean throughout but this didn’t meet my expectations. One of Scurll’s weakest title defenses to date. ***1/4

ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Young Bucks (c) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)

As I mentioned in the preview for the PPV, The Bullet Club really haven’t interacted that much with LIJ in New Japan, so this was truly a unique and fresh matchup.

Naito was very popular, and of course, the crowd was on fire for The Young Bucks as soon as they came out. With regards to BUSHI (who came out wearing a cool Venom-inspired mask), he had his supporters, which included this woman sitting next to me who had to be the world’s biggest BUSHI fan.

This was a very strong tag team encounter that featured some entertaining back and forth action. Even though it was far from their best outing in ROH this year, The Young Bucks always deliver when they’re in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and this was no exception. Naito had a number of bright spots here, while BUSHI had his moments as well.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a BUSHI match without the green mist, and Matt Jackson who was on the receiving end. This led to a funny spot where Matt superkicked everyone, including his brother Nick and referee Paul Turner. The closing stages of this one were particularly good, and at one point, Naito to a nasty DDT on the ring apron that spiked him right on his head.

The Young Bucks eventually retained after hitting the Meltzer Driver on BUSHI. I probably enjoyed this a little more than most, but it was super fun to watch live. ***3/4

Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Adam Cole

Something that I was really looking forward to on this show was hearing Tanahashi’s “Go Ace” theme for the first time. It’s grown on me a little bit, but I still prefer his classic “High Energy” theme.

Cole got a big reaction when he made his entrance. Even though he’s certainly fallen out of favor in the eyes of many, there’s no doubt that he can garner huge reactions, particularly in a place like New York City.

As for the match itself, this is another one that I probably enjoyed a little more than most (maybe that’s just because of my live perspective). This was a very good singles encounter that featured some very solid back and forth action throughout. It was by no means spectacular, but you know that Tanahashi is always going to work hard in a singles environment, and Cole’s cocky heel persona was a good foil for him. The outcome was never in question, but that didn’t hurt the match for me that much. The final few minutes were particularly strong, and ultimately, Tanahashi hit the High Fly Flow for the victory. I’ve seen Hiroshi Tanahashi live four times, and interestingly, all of them were singles matches. This was nowhere near as awesome as his war with Roderick Strong in Philadelphia with two years ago, but it was definitely better than his infamous match with Michael Bennett in 2014. I’d say this was on par with the match he had with Matt Sydal in Terminal 5 last year. It was really good, though far from great. ***½

Of course, the biggest news to come out of the show involved what happened Cole’s defeat at the hands of Tanahashi.

Cole got a massive ovation from the crowd, who chanted “Thank You, Adam”. The Young Bucks came out, and they teased superkicking him, but it was a tease, and they all embraced in the ring. The lights then went out, and Kenny Omega appeared on the screen. He announced that Adam Cole was officially fired from The Bullet Club, and Marty Scurll appeared by his side. When the lights came back on, Marty Scurll appeared. He revealed a Bullet Club umbrella, and that was the signal for The Young Bucks to hit Cole with a double superkick. Scurll then cracked Cole with his umbrella, and choked him with it while The Young Bucks gave Cole a final kiss goodbye.

That segment was incredible to see live. The crowd went nuts when Omega showed up on the video board, and I particularly LOVED his promo. His tone throughout was just awesome, as he came off like a cool supervillain or an old school mafia boss delivering a final judgment to an unruly subordinate.

The reveal of Scurll as the newest member of The Bullet Club was very well done (and I’m sure Bullet Club umbrellas would sell very well, if they ever became available). In hindsight, it does make a lot of sense, especially since the upcoming Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament didn’t have a single Bullet Club member in it until Scurll joined the group on this show. It was a spectacular exit for Adam Cole, as The Bullet Club welcomed “The Villain” into the fold. Aside from Will Ospreay vs. Jay White, this segment was the best thing on the PPV.

ROH World Title – Triple Threat Match
Christopher Daniels (c) def. Cody & Jay Lethal

As a whole, the match was relatively good, but similar to Marty Scurll vs. Matt Sydal from earlier in the night, it would’ve been a much better fit as a main event of ROH TV. The wrestling throughout was solid, but the crowd wasn’t into it that much initially. Things did pick up in the second-half.

Daniels got put through a table, and there was a good exchange between Cody & Lethal, which included a very nice spot that was a callback to the finish of their match back at Final Battle. That back and forth battle ended with Cody hitting the Cross Rhodes on Lethal in what ended up being a great near fall. Daniels appeared to be down and out, and it seemed like everyone (myself included) thought that was the finish, but alas, Lethal kicked out.

Soon thereafter, we got the finish, which was creative. Cody had Lethal locked in the Figure Four, and Daniels took this opportunity to hit Cody with BME. With the Figure Four still locked on, Cody couldn’t kick out, and Daniels pinned “The American Nightmare” to retain his title.

A perfectly solid match that just didn’t work as the main event of this PPV. ***1/4

Final Thoughts

This show was very similar to ROH’s 14th Anniversary PPV from 2016 in a number of ways. Both events had a nine match card, and featured one standout contest that really lifted each respective show up in a major way. In this case, it was Will Ospreay vs. Jay White that was stole the show. The rest of the show was filled with a number of really good bouts, but it definitely suffers (as a PPV card) if you take away Ospreay vs. White. You did have the phenomenal angle with The Bullet Club, which will probably go down as the most memorable moment from this event. As a whole, War Of The Worlds 2017 continued the strong run of PPVs that ROH has put on over the last several months.

Additionally, I should mention that, if you’ve never seen a wrestling show in the Hammerstein Ballroom, you need to. It’s a fantastic venue for wrestling, and with the NYC crowd, you’re always going to get a lively atmosphere. This was my fourth time seeing ROH in this venue, and it never fails to be an awesome experience.