It’s amazing to see how much Ring of Honor’s relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling has evolved over the last few years.
When the partnership first started in 2014, it consisted of just two joints shows in North America (one in Toronto, and one in New York City). They were seen as truly special events in the moment, and to this day, that first War of the Worlds event in the Hammerstein Ballroom, which I saw live, was an incredible experience.
Slowly, the number of ROH events billed as “joint shows” with New Japan expanded.
In 2015 (arguably the peak of the relationship), there were four events in the span of a week, with two shows each in Philadelphia and Toronto, with a few New Japan talents returning in August for a pair of events during SummerSlam (one of those being Field of Honor at MCU Park in Brooklyn). New Japan involvement in ROH events expanded ever further in 2016, with several of their talents appearing on a number of ROH PPV events, in addition to the annual tour in May. At this point, while it was cool to see all of these awesome talents in unique matchups, it seemed like ROH was relying more and more on the New Japan names to draw for their bigger shows, especially with the talent exodus we’ve seen over the last year.
It’s now 2017, and we’re now approaching the third ROH/New Japan “joint tour” in North America in less than ten months. First, there was the annual War of the Worlds Tour in May. Then, just two months ago, we had the War of the Worlds UK Tour, with talents from CMLL and RevPro involved as well.
Now, this coming weekend, ROH is putting on a four night Global Wars Tour, hitting a number of secondary markets before the tour culminates in Chicago. The fact that ROH has seemingly tripled down on their partnership with New Japan this year is very fascinating. Their calendar has become increasingly dependent on these joint events, while status of the relationship becomes increasingly murky with New Japan’s expansion plans in North America starting to come to fruition. It’s gotten to the point where ROH would be in dire straits without New Japan involvement.
There’s no denying that they’ve expanded their fanbase to a larger audience over the last few years (even if those of us in “the bubble” have seen the product over the last year plus as being very cold), but let’s be honest for a second. Could ROH draw a majority of the big crowds they’ve been able to get without these New Japan names? I don’t think they’d be able to (I’d classify Supercard of Honor XI in Florida during ‘Mania Weekend this past year as an anomaly in that regard, as I would put that more on The Hardys). ROH has no shot of filling that nearly 10,000 seat venue in New Orleans next year without help from New Japan, and that’s why Hiroshi Tanahashi is being brought in for that card.
With all of that being said, the cards that are coming up this weekend do contain a number of exciting matchups, and as a whole, there’s a ton of potential. Now before I dive into the four events, I need to make some important distinctions regarding how you’ll be able to see these shows.
The first night of the tour in Buffalo, New York (on Thursday Night) is a live event only, so if you’re not able to see that show in person, the only way you can see it is when the VOD comes out later. The events on Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Columbus, Ohio (respectively) are going to be shown on iPPV at rohwrestling.com, for free (yes, for FREE), but only for Ringside Members. If you’re not a Ringside Member, the only ways you can see those shows are live at the venues or later on VOD.
Finally, the last event of the tour in Chicago, Illinois is going to be available to everyone on iPPV (via rohwrestling.com) for $19.99. With that cleared up, let’s take a look at these cards!
Global Wars 2017: Night 1
October 12th, 2017
7:00 PM EDT
Buffalo, New York
- Six-Man Tag – Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & The Killer Elite Squad) vs. Mark Briscoe & War Machine
- Will Ospreay vs. Punishment Martinez
- Six-Man Tag – The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan)
- Christopher Daniels vs. Hiromu Takahashi
- The Bullet Club (Cody & “The Villain” Marty Scurll) vs. CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano)
- “The Hangman” Adam Page vs. KUSHIDA
- Jay Lethal vs. Frankie Kazarian
- Coast-2-Coast (Shaheem Ali & Leon St. Giovanni) vs. The Dawgs (Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara)
- Mandy Leon vs. Jenny Rose
This first night of the tour in Buffalo has probably the weakest lineup, but it still features a couple of intriguing bouts.
The two six-man tags of Suzuki-gun vs. Mark Briscoe & War Machine and The Elite vs. The Kingdom both have the potential to be really good. The former continues the KES/War Machine feud that’s been going on for over two years at this point (their first match together was at a ROH TV Taping in April 2015), and seeing Suzuki interact with them, along with Mark Briscoe, should be pretty cool.
As far as the latter is concerned, I can see a lot of people having trepidations about this one (as The Kingdom hasn’t done anything spectacular since their formation last year). Fortunately, they’re going up against Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks, so this does have the chance to be The Kingdom’s best match as a trio to date. I’m not sure how good it’ll end up being, but whenever The Elite is involved, it could end up being great.
Elsewhere on the card, there are a couple of cool singles matches scheduled. The most prominent is probably Will Ospreay vs. Punishment Martinez. Of course, Ospreay is coming off a huge victory at King of Pro Wrestling when he captured the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title from KUSHIDA. This has the potential to be great. We all know how awesome Ospreay is, and he can always deliver in a singles environment, but don’t sleep on Martinez. He’s been one of the biggest surprises of 2017, putting on a number of strong performances, most recently against Jay White at Death Before Dishonor XV. It’ll definitely be a styles clash, but this could be the best singles outing to date for Martinez. You also have Christopher Daniels vs. Hiromu Takahashi and Adam Page vs. KUSHIDA, which should both be very solid. The latter is particularly notable, because the first time we saw KUSHIDA in ROH was All-Star Extravaganza V in 2013 against a younger and much more inexperienced.
The rest of the card doesn’t have anything else notable, aside from a tag team match pitting Cody & Marty Scurll of The Bullet Club against the CHAOS duo of YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano. Jay Lethal vs. Frankie Kazarian, Coast-2-Coast vs. The Dawgs, and Mandy Leon vs. Jenny Rose are more ROH centric undercard bouts.
Global Wars 2017: Night 2
October 13th, 2017
7:00 PM EDT
Watch: Free iPPV (Ringside Members Only), VOD
- Six-Man Tag – The Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Cody & “The Villain” Marty Scurll) vs. CHAOS (Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano)
- ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Motor City Machine Guns vs. The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan) vs. The Young Bucks
- Non-Title Match – IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Killer Elite Squad vs. War Machine
- Non-Title Match – NEVER Openweight Champion Minoru Suzuki vs. Silas Young
- Jay Lethal vs. Jay White
- The Addiction vs. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta)
- Mark Briscoe vs. Hiromu Takahashi
- Proving Ground Instant Reward Six-Man Mayhem – ROH World TV Champion Kenny King vs. “The Hangman” Adam Page vs. KUSHIDA vs. Matt Taven vs. Josh Woods vs. Punishment Martinez
- Britt Baker is scheduled to complete.
Pittsburgh is being treated to a much better overall card compared to Buffalo. The only major question mark actually surrounds the main event. It’s another chapter in the Bullet Club/CHAOS rivalry, but on this night, Kenny Omega, Cody & Marty Scurll (who New Japan has apparently christened as “The Luxury Trio”) going against the CHAOS team consisting of Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano. It could be good, but considering some of the competitors involved, I can easily see it being….well….not quite as good. However, there are a ton of strong matches on the undercard that totally make up for the unpredictability of the main event.
Suzuki-gun is split up into separate matches for the only time on the entire tour, as KES clashes with War Machine once again, while Suzuki will go one-on-one with Silas Young (both of those matches are non-title). After seeing them in three-way tag team bouts over and over again for the last month, it’s nice to see KES and War Machine going back to basics with a straight tag team match. These two teams always work well together, and this time should be no different.
As this is non-title, I could see War Machine getting the win to (potentially) set up a title challenge for Power Struggle. As for Silas Young, his match with Suzuki is easily one of the biggest of his career. I’m not sure how it will turn out, as far as quality goes, but Young is going to work very hard to have the best match possible. Suzuki will probably win in the end, but a strong showing from Silas Young could go a long way.
The rest of the undercard is more ROH focused, but there’s still a lot to look forward to. The Addiction vs. Best Friends and the three-way for the ROH World Tag Team Titles involving The Motor City Machine Guns, The Young Bucks, & The Kingdom could both be exciting tag team affairs. You also have a pair of singles matches with Jay Lethal vs. Jay White and Mark Briscoe vs. Hiromu Takahashi, which both could be very solid. The card rounds with a Six-Man Mayhem where the winner (if it’s not Kenny King) will receive an instant shot at the ROH World TV Title, and a Women of Honor showcase featuring Britt Baker.
Global Wars 2017: Night 3
October 14th, 2017
4:30 PM EDT
Watch: Free iPPV (Ringside Members Only), VOD
- ROH World Title – Cody vs. KUSHIDA
- Six-Man Tag – The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) vs. Flip Gordon & Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta)
- Six-Man Tag – CHAOS (Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI, & Toru Yano) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & The Killer Elite Squad)
- Jay Lethal vs. Hiromu Takahashi
- The Addiction vs. Search & Destroy (Jay White & Jonathan Gresham)
- The Bullet Club (“The Hangman” Adam Page & “The Villain” Marty Scurll) vs. ROH World TV Champion Kenny King & Mark Briscoe
- Non-Title – ROH World Tag Team Champions The Motor City Machine Guns vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser
- Shane Taylor vs. Josh Woods
- Holidead vs. Sumie Sakai
The third night of the tour features the only ROH World Title defense of the weekend, as KUSHIDA steps up to the plate to challenge Cody. Now we all know that, thus far, Cody’s track record as ROH World Champion (and on the independents in general) has been spotty at best. However, we all know that if he’s given the right opponent, such as Okada or Will Ospreay, he’s capable of having great matches. We all know that KUSHIDA is one of the best wrestlers in the world, so there’s a strong chance that this will end up being great. If not, well then….that’s on Cody.
Columbus also has a very strong undercard. In what will presumably be in the semi-main event spot, Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks go up against the team of Flip Gordon, Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta. This easily has the potential to steal the show. The Elite are an amazing trio, as we all know, and while they’re a makeshift trio, Flip Gordon & Best Friends are a perfect matchup for them. Don’t be surprised if this turns into a PWG style six-man tag.
Speaking of six-man tags, there’s another one on this card, as Minoru Suzuki & The Killer Elite Squad go up against the CHAOS trio of Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano. Much like the advertised main event on the Pittsburgh show, this could be good, but it could also be very uninteresting, especially if you’re someone who’s sick and tired of Suzuki/Yano interactions.
This show is very heavy on tag team matches, and that trend continues in a big way throughout the undercard, with three two-on-two encounters. Those bouts are The Addiction vs. Jay White & Jonathan Gresham, Adam Page & Marty Scurll vs. Kenny King & Mark Briscoe, and The Motor City Machine Guns vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser in a non-title bout. It feels like ROH’s tag team division has lost some steam in the last year, but cards like this show that there are still a number of opportunities in the division (even if some of the teams, in this case, are makeshift). The only other standout match is Jay Lethal vs. Hiromu Takahashi, which should be a really good match.
Global Wars 2017: Night 4
October 15th, 2017
8:00 PM EDT/7:00 PM CDT
Odeum Expo Center
Villa Park, Illinois
Watch: Live iPPV, VOD
- Eight-Man Tag – The Bullet Club (Cody, The Young Bucks & “The Hangman” Adam Page) vs. Search & Destroy (The Motor City Machine Guns, Jay White & Jonathan Gresham)
- IWGP United States Title – Kenny Omega vs. YOSHI-HASHI
- “The Villain” Marty Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi
- Six-Man Tag – Jay Lethal, Mark Briscoe & ROH World TV Champion Kenny King vs. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & The Killer Elite Squad)
- Will Ospreay vs. Flip Gordon
- Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta) vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser
- Colt Cabana vs. Toru Yano
- The Addiction vs. KUSHIDA & Cheeseburger
The fourth and final show of the tour is not only the most prominent, but it will also be taking place in front of one of the largest crowds of the year, as at least two thousand are expected to turn out (around that range is the last note I’ve seen on the potential attendance).
Kenny Omega’s first defense of the IWGP United States Title on North American soil against YOSHI-HASHI has grabbed a lot of attention, but many people have mixed feelings on this one. In the eyes of some, YOSHI-HASHI’s stock has fallen a bit after breaking out in 2016. While there’s certainly something to that (he hasn’t had the best year), we can’t forget that YOSHI-HASHI has had great matches with Kenny Omega in the past, most notably their clash in the 2016 G1 Climax that saw YOSHI-HASHI get the victory.
Even though the result of this one really isn’t in doubt, the opportunity to see Kenny Omega in singles action, in a title match, is still a rare event (especially in North America), and there’s no doubt he played a big role in drawing the crowd that will come out to see this show.
While the IWGP United States Title bout has been the most promoted match on the card, that might not be the main event, as ROH is currently listing the eight-man tag pitting The Bullet Club against Search & Destroy in the top spot. That might have the same amount of attention as Kenny Omega vs. YOSHI-HASHI, but it does have the potential to be an exciting spotfest, especially when you consider all the names involved.
Two other notable matches on the undercard include Marty Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi and Will Ospreay vs. Flip Gordon. The former should be an excellent clash between two of the top contenders in New Japan’s junior division, while the latter is a big opportunity for Flip Gordon as he goes up against the new IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion.
The rest of the show is a mixed bag.
Minoru Suzuki & The Killer Elite Squad vs. Jay Lethal, Mark Briscoe & Kenny King, as well as Best Friends vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser, should both be entertaining tag team affairs. Colt Cabana vs. Toru Yano is one of the most unique matches on the tour, and while I’m sure Cabana views Yano as a dream opponent (of sorts), it remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to deliver an enjoyable comedy match. Finally the card rounds out with The Addiction vs. KUSHIDA & Cheeseburger in a bout that won’t set the world on fire, but should be entertaining nonetheless.
Another quick note I need to make before finishing up is that Jay Briscoe & Bully Ray are noticeably absent from all of these cards. Since both of them are nowhere to be seen, this could be playing up the storyline of their recent split on the last PPV, but nobody really knows for sure. It would’ve been awesome to see Jay Briscoe on this tour, but alas, that won’t be happening.