New Japan Pro Wrestling/Ring Of Honor
Honor Rising 2018: Night 2
February 24, 2018
Watch: NJPW World
Something that I neglected to mention in my review of Night 1, with regards to the setup, was the fact that there were Pac-Man logos and characters on the ring skirts. I guess New Japan picked up a new sponsor, but seeing Pac-Man next to the ROH logo was very strange.
The Beer City Bruiser def. Toa Henare
After having one of the best outings of his career the night before against Hirooki Goto, The Beer City Bruiser went up against the young Toa Henare to kick off Night 2 of Honor Rising. This match was pretty short, clocking in at just over four minutes, but it proved to be a fun little opener. The Beer City Bruiser spent the first minute or so yelling at Henare to fight him, and this led to a quick chop exchange between the two. Henare was able to mount a comeback after The Beer City Bruiser had the edge, but it wasn’t enough to put the big man away. Bruiser got the pin after squashing poor Henare with a splash off the top rope. Again, this was pretty short, but it was fun while it lasted. **1/2
Jay Lethal, Juice Robinson & David Finlay def. The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Hikuleo)
It was a little weird to see Jay Lethal do essentially nothing of significance on these two Honor Rising shows. That’s not to say I expected Lethal to be in a big spot, but I would’ve thought he’d be doing a bit more besides two Six-Man Tags. Anyway, his side was able to pick up the victory over this Bullet Club C-Team after Lethal pinned Hikuleo following his Hail To The King Elbow Drop. This was another relatively quick match (lasting just under seven minutes), but much like the opener, it was entertaining for what it was. I honestly wasn’t expecting to use the word “entertaining” to describe this bout (considering some of the guys on the Bullet Club team), but that’s exactly what this was. It was wrestled at a quick pace, with fine action throughout, and there was never a dull moment. Everyone looked solid here, and Hikuleo in particular did a good job. This was perfect for it’s spot on the card. It was quick, and it was fun. ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) def. Flip Gordon & Ryusuke Taguchi
Flip Gordon picked up (arguably) the biggest win of his career the night before when he pinned Hiromu Takahashi in a Triple Threat Match that also involved KUSHIDA. With such a big win in his New Japan debut, it’s almost a certainty that he’s in this year’s Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament. Unfortunately for Flip Gordon, he didn’t have the same kind of luck here on Night 2, as he got pinned after a Doomsday MX double team finisher that looks absolutely brutal. This was a pretty good tag team encounter that had some nice back and forth action throughout. Gordon had some nice exchanges with Hiromu in the opening minutes, and in general, his performance here was a bit cleaner (in terms of execution) compared to Night 1. Plus, the fans were into him, and for a guy making his debut in New Japan, that’s nothing but positive. Taguchi was perfectly fine, while the LIJ juniors looked very solid. They were the obvious picks to win this one, but it made even more sense given that they’re getting a shot at the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles at New Japan’s Anniversary Show in March. Aside from a brief brawl into the crowd, this was yet another entertaining contest on this card. ***1/4
NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles
The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & The Guerrillas of Destiny) (c) def. Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Cheeseburger, & Delirious
Nobody was expecting a title change here (and we didn’t get one), though I was interested to see how the match would play out. This was an average affair, in terms of in-ring quality, but it still had its moments. The crowd was firmly behind the challengers, and they certainly had moments to shine (Cheeseburger in particular), but The Bullet Club was just too much for them, and The Guerrillas of Destiny pick up the win for their team after hitting Cheeseburger with Guerrilla Warfare. This was never going to be a bout that set the world on fire or anything. It was a perfectly acceptable match, given the guys involved. **1/2
Afterwards, Tama Tonga took out Cheeseburger with a Gun Stun. Katsuya Kitamura then hoisted Cheeseburger up and carried him to the back.
The Bullet Club (The Young Bucks & “The Hangman” Adam Page) def. CHAOS (“Switchblade” Jay White, Chuckie T, & YOSHI-HASHI)
On Night 1, we saw a surprise result in the form of Flip Gordon scoring a pinfall over Hiromu Takahashi in a Triple Threat Match. We saw another shocking result on this show, but this time, Adam Page picked a HUGE victory over the current IWGP United States Champion Jay White, further cementing his claims as the #1 Contender for that title. Of course, Page only pinned “Switchblade” after an assist from The Young Bucks in the form of a double superkick (which led to the Rite of Passage), but a win is a win, and as we all know now, Jay White vs. Adam Page for the IWGP United States Title is now set for Strong Style Evolved in Long Beach. The finish of this Six-Man Tag was obviously very important, but the rest of the bout was really good. It was easily the best on the card, up to this point. There was a lot of solid back and forth action throughout, and it was a very enjoyable match to watch. Nothing much to complain about with this one. ***1/2
After the match, Adam Page grabbed a chair and went after the CHAOS team. The Young Bucks initially stopped Page from giving White a chair shot to the head, but after they left, Page took another chair, and hit White with the Rite of Passage onto the chair. “The Hangman” then stood tall with White’s IWGP United States Champion.
ROH World Title – Triple Threat Match
Dalton Castle (c) def. The Beer City Bruiser & Beretta
Jay Lethal (who will be challenging for the ROH World Title at ROH’s 16th Anniversary Show in a few weeks) joined Kevin Kelly & Don Callis on the English Commentary. This was originally scheduled to be a singles bout, with Beretta challenging Castle, but before the bell rang, The Beer City Bruiser came out and demanded that he be added to the match. Specifically, he said that he had promised his “nag wife” back in the United States that he’d bring back championship gold. It seemed like this was done to make things a little easier for Beretta, who came into this match all banged up from injuries he suffered at a recent PWG show (the specific injuries were a torn bicep and a torn pec, on different sides of his body).
With the addition of The Beer City Bruiser, I really wasn’t sure how this one was going to play out, but it ended up being a surprisingly great match. There was strong action throughout, a couple of awesome near falls, and the crowd was very much invested. All three guys worked hard, and their efforts paid off. As impressive as The Beer City Bruiser was the night before, this outing from him might’ve been better. He did a fine job targeting Beretta’s injuries, and showed off more of what he can do at his size (including a Castle Jack clothesline on Castle to the floor, which I’ve never seen him do before). A ton of credit has to go to Beretta, who gutted his way through this match, and still took a few crazy bumps, despite his multiple injuries. He even managed to lift The Beer City Bruiser up for a piledriver, which was insane. Castle was also very impressive, and eventually got the win after hitting a delayed bridging German Suplex on The Beer City Bruiser. I wasn’t expecting that to be the finish, but that feat of strength from Castle got a big reaction from the crowd in Korakuen Hall. There’s no way that this should’ve been as great as it ended up being, given a variety of different factors, but these three managed to pull it off. ****
The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) def. The Bullet Club (Cody & “The Villain” Marty Scurll)
I forgot to mention this in my review of Night 1, but Marty Scurll’s hair has turned gray due to all of the stress he’s had to endure with this Bullet Club turmoil. On paper, this had the potential to be the best match on either of these Honor Rising events, and when the dust settled, it didn’t disappoint. This was a fantastic main event that featured incredible action from start to finish. If the Six-Man Tag from the night before was just a preview of what the reformed Golden Lovers can do, we saw them at full force in this match. They were absolutely awesome. The crowd was totally behind them (as expected) and they worked so well together. At the same time, Cody & and Scurll played their respective roles well. Cody continued to antagonise the crowd (once again breaking up a tag between The Golden Lovers early on) as well as Omega and Ibushi themselves. The best example of this was when he forcibly kissed Ibushi. Cody’s heel work was great, and he got a lot of booes from the Korakuen Hall crowd. Marty Scurll also seemed more sure of himself compared to the night before. He was more willing to go after the Golden Lovers, and when he had the chance to snap Omega’s fingers again, he didn’t hesitate. We saw some a number of crazy spots throughout this one, including a big dive from Omega early on where he went over the barricade and onto Cody (that’s interesting because he usually only saves that for his big time singles matches).
The only rough point in the bout occurred when Cody had an awkward landing on a springboard dive to the outside. He seems to be ok, but it could’ve gone a lot worse for him. When you combine the great wrestling action with the continuation of all the various stories involved, and a hot crowd that’s invested in these characters, you’re guaranteed to have a fantastic match, and that’s exactly what we saw here. The Golden Lovers would score the victory after hitting Scurll with their double knee strike, called The Golden Trigger. ****½
Afterwards, Omega took the mic and said that this was the happiest weekend of his life, because The Golden Lovers are back together. Omega thought that he had peaked in 2017, but now his dream to be a team once again with Ibushi has come true. He proclaims that The Golden Lovers are the best tag team in the world, but that comment caught the attention of The Young Bucks, who then came out to the ring. Matt Jackson took the mic and mentioned how Omega and Ibushi came to their hotel room a few weeks prior (on Being The Elite) with a peace offering which they had accepted. Matt proclaimed that The Young Bucks are the best tag team in the world, not The Golden Lovers, and went on to announce that as of that moment, The Young Bucks are moving up to compete in the heavyweight tag team division. He told Omega and Ibushi that they’ll “see them around”, and The Young Bucks departed. The Golden Lovers then cut a brief promo in Japanese to close the show. We would soon find out the that dream tag team match between The Golden Lovers & The Young Bucks would indeed be taking place, as it was announced for the Strong Style Evolved event in Long Beach. That has the potential to be a Match Of The Year Contender, and in front of that crowd, I can’t see those two teams having anything less than a spectacular tag team encounter.
Night 2 of NJPW/ROH Honor Rising 2018 proved to be about on the same level as Night 1, but each show had certain features that the other lacked. While Night 1 was a little more consistent, in terms of match quality across the entire card, Night 2 peaked higher, and didn’t have the slow start on the undercard that Night 1 had. The Golden Lovers vs. Cody & Marty Scurll was a fantastic main event, and the Triple Threat Match for the ROH World Title was surprisingly great, especially considering that Beretta was nowhere close to 100%.
This was a very easy show to watch, clocking in at just over two hours, and every single bout from the undercard to the main event was enjoyable to watch. I used the words “fun” and “entertaining” a lot in this review, but they were the perfect words to describe this show. It was very easy to sit through, and it never really lost my attention.