For the sixth year in a row, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling will join forces for their annual War of the Worlds Tour. The 2019 edition of the tour features an interesting lineup of talents from New Japan, but it’s also the first time that we’ve had an ROH/New Japan joint tour with the recently-depleted ROH roster. Of course, there was a massive exodus at the end of last year, as The Elite and SoCal Uncensored left ROH to form All Elite Wrestling. Since then, ROH signed a plethora of new talent (some of them better than others), and many of them are featured on these cards against the stars of New Japan.
Speaking of which, we’re getting two fresh faces on this tour from New Japan, as Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima will be coming over. While it’s the first ROH appearance for Nagata, the opposite is true for Kojima, as he defeated Homicide in a singles match back at Final Battle 2003. It’s really cool that North American fans are going to get the chance to see these two in person. If you ask me, it’s long overdue. Other names from New Japan on this tour include Guerrillas of Destiny (the current ROH World Tag Team Champions and IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions), Hirooki Goto, EVIL, SANADA, Hikuleo, and the three young lions from New Japan’s LA Dojo. Katsuyori Shibata will also be on some of these shows making autograph appearances.
The first three stops on this tour will be available to watch live on Honor Club. The fourth stop of the tour, on May 12th in Chicago, is a Television Taping. I would guess the stuff from that show will start airing on ROH TV starting in late May or early June.
War Of The Worlds 2019: Night 1
May 8th, 2019
7:30 PM EDT
Buffalo, New York
- ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Guerrillas Of Destiny (c) vs. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham
- Bandido vs. Flip Gordon
- ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles – Villain Enterprises (“The Villain” Marty Scurll, Brody King, & PCO) (c) vs. ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb, Satoshi Kojima, & Yuji Nagata
- RUSH vs. Silas Young
- Lifeblood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
- Hikuleo vs. Shane Taylor
- Alex Coughlin vs. PJ Black
- The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan) vs. Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks
The first stop of this year’s War of the Worlds Tour takes up to the Buffalo Riverworks in Buffalo, New York. This location has seen a number of ROH/New Japan joint shows in the last few years, and 2019 is no different. The main event will see The Guerrillas of Destiny defend their ROH World Tag Team Titles against Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham. While Lethal and Gresham spend most of their time in the singles ranks, they’ve proven to be a very good tag team over the last several months. They earned this title shot after defeated the Lifeblood duo of Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams in a 30-Minute Iron Man Tag Team Match at the Masters Of The Craft event last month.
Meanwhile, The Guerrillas Of Destiny are coming off a successful Dontaku Tour, as their retained their IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against the Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe and Toru Yano). As far as this match goes, the result is all but a certainty, as G.O.D. are on a collision course with The Briscoes in Chicago on the final stop of the tour. Despite the lack of mystery with the result, this should still be a very fascinating tag team encounter. I’m not totally sure how these two teams will mesh from a stylistic standpoint, but I have confidence that this will deliver.
Villain Enterprises will be taking part in the second title match on the card, as they defend their ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles against Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, and the current ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb. Marty Scurll had publicly lobbied on Twitter for a match (of any kind) with Yuji Nagata on this tour, and his wish was ultimately granted. This should be a very entertaining trios match. Brody King and PCO just had a really fun match against Kojima and Nagata in the first round of the Crockett Cup Tournament. When you throw Jeff Cobb and Marty Scurll into the equation, then this has a ton of potential to be one of the best matches of the night.
While that trios match has a ton of potential, the match that should steal the show is Bandido vs. Flip Gordon. This was originally scheduled to take place on the live event in Baltimore back in March (the weekend before the MSG show), but now that it’s taking place several weeks later, we now know that it’s a Best of the Super Juniors preview match. Bandido was one of the best talent acquisitions by ROH during their talent signing spree a few months back, and he quickly won over ROH means. As for Flip Gordon, he’s been a rising star in ROH over the past few years, and he’s just getting back into the swing of things after returning from the knee injury he suffered in January. I fully expect these two to have a great match, and while the winner could go either way, I would go with Bandido to take the win here.
Aside from RUSH vs. Silas Young (which should be a pretty good match, and another easy win for RUSH), the rest of the undercard features New Japan talents in some form or fashion. EVIL and SANADA vs. Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams has the chance to be a very solid tag team bout. The duo from Lifeblood will certainly be working hard to put in an impressive performance against one of the top teams from New Japan, though LIJ will likely get the win here. I’m not totally sure what to make of the booking of Haskins and Williams on this tour. They’re coming off a loss to Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham, and it certainly seems like they’re set up for more defeats on this tour. Hopefully, this isn’t a trend.
The final three matches aren’t that interesting, and the winners seem obvious in each case. Shane Taylor will likely pick up a win over Hikuleo. That has the chance to be a very ugly bout, though who knows? Maybe Hikuleo will surprise us. PJ Black vs. Alex Coughlin is a good opportunity for Coughlin, though he’ll likely lose to Black. Finally, The Kingdom will be taking on the Clark Connors and Karl Fredericks. Here’s hoping those young lions can get something good out of Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan, but they’ll definitely be looking up at the lights by the end of it.
War Of The Worlds 2019: Night 2
May 9th, 2019
7:30 PM EDT
Ted Reeve Arena
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- ROH World Title – Matt Taven (c) vs. ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion PCO
- Jay Lethal vs. Satoshi Kojima
- Four-Corner Survival – ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb vs. ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion Brody King vs. Hirooki Goto vs. Shane Taylor
- The Briscoes vs. Lifeblood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams)
- Silas Young vs. Yuji Nagata
- The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
- RUSH vs. PJ Black
- The Bullet Club (The Guerrillas Of Destiny & Hikuleo) vs. Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, & Karl Fredericks
Night 2 sees ROH and New Japan make their annual stop in the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto. On paper, this is probably the strongest of the four lineups. While New Japan talents are scattered throughout the card, the main event is an ROH World Title bout, which will see Matt Taven defend against PCO. How did PCO earn this title shot? Well, at the Masters Of The Craft event on April 14th, Villain Enterprises retained the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles against The Kingdom when PCO pinned Matt Taven. I really enjoy this kind of build because it’s so simple, and not convoluted in any way. A future challenger pinned the champion in a multi-man tag team match, and we’re off to the races. New Japan has done this plenty of times, and I like that ROH did the same thing here. Not only was the buildup pretty straightforward, but the location of this ROH World Title bout is perfect as well. If you’re going to have PCO get a big title shot, then it should be in Canada! It would be even better if it was in Quebec (ROH has run shows there in the past, but not in many years), but Toronto works just as well. Now while the result of this one really isn’t in much doubt (Taven will likely retain), I fully expect PCO to go all out. This will probably be the biggest match he has during this ROH stint, so you know he’s going to be extra motivated (which probably means he’s going to do things that are even crazier compared to what he normally does). Don’t be shocked if we get some smoke and mirrors in this match, but I’m sure both guys will be working really hard.
Meanwhile, the main talents from New Japan Pro Wrestling are scattered throughout the card in a variety of different matches. Satoshi Kojima and Yuji Nagata will be getting their only singles bouts of the tour in Toronto, as they face off against Jay Lethal and Silas Young respectively. It’s nice to see that both of these New Japan Dads are going to be in one-on-one bouts, especially since their roles in New Japan have been diminished in recent years as their careers start to wind down. While the Yuji Nagata vs. Silas Young is a first-time ever matchup, this isn’t the first meeting between Jay Lethal and Satoshi Kojima. Lethal successfully defended the ROH World Title against Kojima at the G1 Climax Finals in 2016. Both of those matches have the chances to be very good.
Another noteworthy bout is a Four-Corner Survival Match that should be an extremely fun hoss fight. Jeff Cobb, Brody King, Shane Taylor, and Hirooki Goto are all big, mean dudes that like to beat the crap out of their opponents. They seem like perfect fits for a match like this, and I’m sure it’ll be very entertaining to watch. Now while this listed as a non-title match, Shane Taylor has apparently demanded that Jeff Cobb’s ROH World TV Title will be on the line. Whether that title is on the line or not, this could be a dark horse contender for match of the night.
Elsewhere on the card, the LIJ team of EVIL and SANADA take on Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan from The Kingdom. These two stables have had a couple of altercations in the past several months (on joint shows here in North America as well as in Japan), so this bout serves as a continuation of that feud. Another tag team bout will see The Briscoes take on the Lifeblood team of Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams. This will probably end up being the best tag team match on the card, though I’m a little unsure as to who will come out on top. With a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles coming up, The Briscoes would seem like a slam dunk. However, if Haskins and Williams are coming off of a loss the night before to LIJ, then it might be a good idea to give them the win here.
The final two matches on the card have results that are pretty much set in stone. RUSH will likely pick up a victory over PJ Black in what should be a fine undercard mean. Then, The Bullet Club team of The Guerrillas Of Destiny and Hikuleo will most certainly pick up an easy victory over the young lions from the LA Dojo. It’s like something you would see on your typical New Japan Korakuen Hall show, but with the American young lions instead of the Japanese young lions. While they’re usually expected to lose, it’s always cool to see these three young lions pop up on ROH events. They’ve been impressed throughout the year, and it’ll be interesting to see how they do against this dangerous trio of brothers.
War Of The Worlds 2019: Night 3
May 11th, 2019
6:00 PM EDT
Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Jay Lethal, ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, Satoshi Kojima, & Yuji Nagata vs. Bully Ray, The Briscoes, Silas Young, & Shane Taylor
- Mark Haskins vs. ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion PCO
- Women Of Honor Title – Kelly Klein (c) vs. Stacy Shadows
- The Kingdom (ROH World Champion Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan) vs. The Bullet Club (The Guerrillas Of Destiny & Hikuleo)
- #1 Contender’s Four-Corner Survival – Eli Isom vs. PJ Black vs. RUSH vs. Tracy Williams
- The Bouncers (Brian Milonas & The Beer City Bruiser) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
Cheeseburger vs. Clark Connors
- Coast 2 Coast (LSG & Shaheem Ali) vs. Alex Coughlin & Karl Fredericks
While Night 2 in Toronto looks to be the strongest lineup of the tour, Night 3 in Grand Rapids looks to be the weakest lineup on the tour, by far. The only redeeming elements of this show are the top two matches. The ten-man tag in the main event feels like something straight out of a “Road To….” event from Korakuen Hall, but with a ROH twist. An awesome team of top ROH stars and New Japan veterans take on the unnamed heel group that is (seemingly) led by Bully Ray. Now, this heel unit has spent much of the year feuding with the likes of Lifeblood and Villain Enterprises, but this could be their toughest challenge to date. Even though I’m not expecting this to be an incredible match, it should still be a very good main event (given who’s involved). It could go either way, but if ROH had intentions of building up this heel movement even more, then I could easily see them winning by pinning one of the New Japan Dads. I’m sure all of us would prefer if the face team wins, but we’ll see what happens come May 11th.
The only other match that looks really interesting is Mark Haskins vs. PCO. ROH has noted that PCO will defend the ROH World Title here if he is successful in Toronto, but as I mentioned in my preview of the Toronto event, Matt Taven will probably retain his title in that match. This also has the chance to be really good. It’s certainly a big opportunity for Mark Haskins, who really hasn’t had a ton of high-profile singles matches since signing with ROH. This feels like a PCO rebound win, but a Haskins win could set up a shot at the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles for Lifeblood. If I was forced to pick a winner, I would say PCO.
The rest of the undercard leaves a lot to be desired. The Women Of Honor Title match doesn’t look interesting at all, and it wouldn’t shock me if we get some angle with Kelly Klein and The Allure after the fact. While The Kingdom vs. The Bullet Club is a feud that’s been going on, in some form or fashion, for a number of years (dating back to the days when Adam Cole led The Kingdom), this is probably the weakest variation of that feud. You have six guys in this match who aren’t seen as really good wrestlers by different circles of fans (though I believe those thoughts aren’t necessarily true with regards to Matt Taven and Tama Tonga), and I could easily see those people being easily turned off by this one. Then there’s The Bouncers vs. LIJ. That has the chance to be a solid undercard tag team bout, but it could also be a situation where EVIL and SANADA take the night off. Hopefully what we get is the former.
There are certainly parts of the undercard that look grim, but there are also some other undercard bouts that have the chance to be pretty decent. The three young lions will be in action one again, as we’ll see Clark Connors vs. Cheeseburger, and Coast 2 Coast vs. Alex Coughlin and Karl Fredericks. I’m not expecting much from Clark Connors/Cheeseburger (part of me is actually anticipating a no contest when a heel….probably Bully Ray….comes out and beats up both of them), but the tag team bout actually has the chance to be good. Even I don’t think it’ll reach match of the night territory, I definitely see it as a sleeper match. If given time, these young lions are more than capable of having really solid matches (see the tag team bout vs. CCK on the RevPro event from WrestleMania Weekend in New York City).
The final match on the undercard is a #1 Contender’s Match, where the winner will receive a shot at the ROH World Title. Now my initial reaction was that RUSH seemed like a lock to win this, since a Matt Taven/RUSH bout for the ROH World Title seems inevitable, especially given their history together in CMLL. However, the winner of this match is getting their title shot on one of the two upcoming live events in the Pacific Northwest next month. I don’t see them doing the Matt Taven/RUSH match there, so Tracy Williams seems more likely to earn a title shot in this one (probably pinning Eli Isom).
War Of The Worlds 2019: Night 4
May 12th, 2019
7:00 PM CDT
Villa Park, Illinois
- Four-Corner Survival – Jay Lethal vs. ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb vs. ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion PCO vs. RUSH
- ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Guerrillas Of Destiny (c) vs. The Briscoes
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata
- NWA National Title – Colt Cabana (c) vs. James Storm
- NWA Women’s Title – Allysin Kay (c) vs. Marti Belle
- Hirooki Goto vs. Hikuleo
The final stop on the tour will be a TV Taping at The Odeum in Villa Park, Illinois. This venue has become ROH’s Chicago home over the last few years, and while a full card hasn’t been announced yet, there are a number of interesting matchups are already confirmed. A massive Four-Corner Survival Match is being advertised as the main event, at it features four of the top stars in ROH. Jay Lethal, Jeff Cobb, PCO, and RUSH is certainly a star-studded lineup (by 2019 ROH standards), and it should be a really good match. It’ll be interesting to see who takes the fall in this one. By process of elimination, the obvious choice would appear to be Jay Lethal, and that’s something I thought I’d never say. The other three are all heavily pushed commodities in ROH right now (the three of them have never been pinned since they came into the company, as I type this), so it looks like Lethal will be eating a pinfall. The only thing left to find out if who will be the one to pin him.
Another big match on this card will see The Guerrillas Of Destiny defend their ROH World Tag Team Titles against The Briscoes. Even since G.O.D. won the titles at the G1 Supercard event at MSG, these two teams have been going back and forth with some fantastic promos.
A message to an old friend.. an old promotion.. and 2 clowns trying to stay relevant pic.twitter.com/5bLdj7G0NZ
— The Briscoe Tweeter Hub (@jaybriscoe84) May 3, 2019
It’s become one of the most interesting feud in ROH, and oddly enough, it was the worked-shoot angle with Enzo and Big Cass at MSG that caused all this. While this tag team bout has the chance to be good, I feel like we’re getting a non-finish here. The reason I say this is that I think we’re heading towards a Briscoes/G.O.D./Enzo and Cass Three-Way for the ROH World Tag Team Titles at the next ROH PPV in June. There’s been a lot of speculation regarding the future of Enzo and Cass in ROH, after Dave Meltzer reported that the duo might already be done with ROH. However, the controversial tag team has gotten involved in the online promo battles between G.O.D. and The Briscoes. Enzo and Big Cass being involved in these exchanges leads me to believe that they’re not done with ROH, and the two of them could easily show up here to set up that PPV three-way. People won’t like it, but that’s my prediction.
Something interesting that caught my attention with these cards was a pair of New Japan vs. New Japan matches. Those types of matches are extremely rare on these joint shows with ROH, but unless they change anything, it looks like we’ll see a couple of them in Chicago. One of those bouts will see the LIJ duo of EVIL and SANADA go up against Satoshi Kojima and Yuji Nagata. This could be a really solid tag team encounter. I don’t think it’ll blow anyone way, but all four of these guys are awesome wrestlers. There’s no reason why these two teams can’t have an enjoyable tag team bout. The other New Japan vs. New Japan match will see Hirooki Goto go up against….Hikuleo. Yes, this is a match that’s happening. It doesn’t look that appealing on paper, but I’m actually very intrigued by this bout. To my knowledge, it’s the first time that we’ve seen Hikuleo in a one-on-one environment against a notable New Japan star. It’s a big opportunity for him, and his performance here could be a big indicator of how far he’s come since his return from injury.
Finally, these TV Tapings will feature a couple of titles matches from the NWA. Colt Cabana will be defending his newly won NWA National Title against James Storm. Yes, that James Storm….from TNA. This was actually set up on the Crockett Cup show a few weeks ago, when James Storm came out and challenged Colt Cabana shortly after winning the title from Willie Mack. I’m not sure what to expect from that one, since I haven’t seen Storm wrestle in a long time, but I would expect Cabana to retain. I can’t see Cabana losing the title so quickly after winning it (though maybe Willie Mack was meant to be champion this whole time, so who knows?). The other title match from the NWA will see Allysin Kay defend her newly-won NWA Women’s Title against Marti Belle. I fully expect the champion to retain here, and this probably won’t be a good match.