Ring Of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling
War Of The Worlds 2019: Night 1
May 8, 2019
Buffalo Riverworks
Buffalo, New York

PJ Black def. Alex Coughlin

With the three young lions from New Japan’s LA Dojo on this tour, it’s no surprise that matches involving them would serve as at the openers on these various cards. On this first stop on the tour in Buffalo, Alex Coughlin got an opportunity in singles competition as he went up against PJ Black. The result was never really in doubt, but this was a very solid bout, and a good way to kick off the show. This was actually my first time seeing Alex Coughlin, and he definitely looked impressive. Early on, he went toe-to-toe with Black during a chop exchange, and later on, he managed to hoist the veteran up for a gutwrench suplex. Despite Coughlin’s best efforts, PJ Black ultimately got the win after hitting an awesome moonsault double stomp. This was pretty much what you expected. The young lion came up short, but he looked good throughout. ***1/4

Women Of Honor Title
Kelly Klein (c) def. Kate Carney

This was an unadvertised title defense from Kelly Klein. Apparently, Klein was supposed to face somebody else (at least that’s what I think Ian Riccaboni said on commentary), but they were unable to make it, so Kate Carney (who got a massive reaction from the crowd when she was announced as being from Buffalo) filled in. The Allure came out to join the commentary team, and this allowed Carney to go on the offense early. She actually dominated the early minutes of this match, and the Buffalo crowd seemed to be really behind her. Kelly eventually regained control and put away Carney after hitting K Power. This was easily the worst match on the card, and it was completely ignored on commentary as The Allure ran through all of their accolades and accomplishments. You can totally skip this. *1/2

Afterward, Kelly Klein called out The Allure. The trio teased that they were going to answer Klein’s challenge, but then they back off and left.

The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan) def. Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks

Even though Marseglia and O’Ryan aren’t exactly an exciting tag team, I was actually looking forward to this one. I got to see Clark Connors and Karl Fredericks have a very strong tag team bout against CCK (the Chris Brookes/Jonathan Gresham variation) at the RevPro show during WrestleMania Weekend. My hope was that they would have a good tag team match with The Kingdom, and when the dust settled, this bout proved to be a solid one. Connors and Fredericks actually seemed to have the edge over The Kingdom early on, but the inexperience of the young lions allowed Marseglia and O’Ryan to gain the advantage. After The Kingdom isolated Connors for a bit, the hot tag was eventually made to Fredericks. Even with a late comeback, the young lion team still came up short, as The Kingdom won in decisive fashion after hitting House Of A Thousand Horses on both Connors and Fredericks. Much like the opener, this was your typical young lion affair, but in a tag team setting instead of a one-on-one match. I’ve really enjoyed this Clark Connors/Karl Fredericks pairing on the few occasions that I’ve seen them. Any team that is able to have a good match with Marseglia and O’Ryan gets two thumbs up in my book. It’s going to be fun to follow these guys as their careers progress. ***1/4

Shane Taylor def. Hikuleo

While there was a big reaction for the Bullet Club’s theme, that reaction seemed to die down a bit once Hikuleo came out. The best thing that I can say about this match was that it went pretty quickly. There was no reason for this to go longer than four minutes, and action within that short period was relatively decent. These two brawled for most of the bout, and Hikuleo took the fight to Shane Taylor early on. He showed some impressive feats of strength (which included lifting Taylor up for a Samoan Drop) but Taylor ultimately got the win after hitting his “Greetings From 216” finisher. Even though this isn’t really a match you need to seek out, it was exactly what it needed to be. It didn’t go too long, and they made the most of that time. **1/4

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) def. Lifeblood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams)

Up to this point (four matches in) the show was doing ok, but it really needed a strong bout in the worst way. Fortunately, we finally got that match in the form of LIJ vs. Lifeblood. I knew that this was probably going to be really good, but it was a lot better than I was expecting. At just under nineteen minutes, this was an incredibly entertaining tag team encounter from start to finish. It was a little slow to get going, and it wasn’t entirely smooth at points, but beyond that, I don’t have that many complaints. The second half of this bout was particularly exciting, as we got some great back-and-forth sequences between the two sides. One of my worries was that EVIL and SANADA would take it easy on this tour, but they certainly didn’t take a night off on this show. As for Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams, this was a big opportunity for them, and even though they came up short, they stepped up and put forth a very solid performance. The closing stretch of this match was awesome, and we were treated to some incredibly close and believable nearfalls, including one that came after EVIL hit Williams with a chair while the referee was distracted (in the moment, I thought that was the finish for sure). Even though I knew from the very beginning that Lifeblood weren’t going to win, the fact that they were able to get me a couple of times on those nearfalls just speaks to how well that closing stretch was put together and executed. EVIL and SANADA did get the win in the end (as was expected) after hitting the Magic Killer on both opponents. If you have the time, this tag team bout is definitely worth checking out. ****

RUSH def. Silas Young

Before this match got started, Dalton Castle came out and sat at ringside so he could observe RUSH. Of course, Castle is now a full-fledged heel, and it seems like we might be getting a Castle/RUSH rematch sometime in the near future. As far as this match is concerned, RUSH continued his undefeated streak as he picked up a win over Silas Young. This didn’t go very long (only about seven minutes or so) and while I would say it was a good bout, it wasn’t much better than the young lion matches from earlier. After spilling out to the floor early, Young went after one of RUSH’s knees, and went on to control the bulk of the match. This continued until Young sent RUSH into the steel post with a chair wrapped around his head (I believe he slid another chair into the ring to distract the referee). Once RUSH was able to beat the count, he fired up, threw Young into the barricades a bunch of times, hit him with a garbage can, hit the Bull’s Horns, and that was it. Again, the match was by no means stellar, but it was perfectly fine for the time it got, and served its purpose. ***

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles
Villain Enterprises (“The Villain” Marty Scurll, Brody King, & PCO) (c) def. ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata

How cool is it to see Satoshi Kojima and Yuji Nagata in ROH? I talked about this a little bit in my preview of this tour, but those two coming over stateside for War Of The Worlds or Global Wars has been long overdue. On this first stop of the tour, they teamed with ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb to challenge Villain Enterprises for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles. This was a great match that was packed with action throughout. Everyone involved had moments to shine, and the fans in Buffalo were into it right from the opening bell. We saw some cool tandem offense from the different members of Villain Enterprises, particularly Brody King and Marty Scurll (this included an awesome 619/Cannonball combo). I noted in my review of the Crockett Cup that Brody King and PCO have really gelled together as a tag team. Well, the same thing can be said about Villain Enterprises as a trio. It’s incredible to see how well they work together, even though the stable’s only been around since December! The challenging team certainly gave the champions a run for their money, even if the result was never in doubt. Yuji Nagata had some good interactions with Marty Scurll, Jeff Cobb got to show off his awesome power, and Satoshi Kojima had very entertaining exchanges with PCO in the closing stages. In the end, Villain Enterprises retained after PCO pinned Kojima following a moonsault. This was a very enjoyable match to watch, and it proved to be one of the best matches on this card. ****

Afterward, The Kingdom hit the ring and started to attack PCO. ROH World Champion Matt Taven (who had been on commentary) made his way down to the ring and joined the assault with his stablemates. However, once PCO got fired up following this attack, Taven bailed. This was a fine segment that helped to build up their title bout the following night in Toronto.

Before the next match got started, Kenny King joined the commentary team. Over the last several weeks, King has been played up the fact that he was “blinded” by The Great Muta’s mist at MSG. I’m not entirely sure where this is going, but we’ll see where it leads, I suppose.

ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) def. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham

The semi-main event on this first stop of the 2019 War Of The Worlds Tour featured another title bout that had a pretty predictable conclusion. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham have been a very solid tag team over the last several months, but with The Guerrillas Of Destiny scheduled to face The Briscoes in Chicago for the ROH World Tag Team Titles, the chances of the challengers winning here weren’t likely (even though Ian Riccaboni did a good job explaining what would happen if Lethal and Gresham did win). From start to finish, this was a fairly good tag team affair, though it was certainly a step below the LIJ/Lifeblood match and the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Title bout that came before it. G.O.D. jumped Lethal and Gresham to get this one started, but the challengers quickly fought back and connected with a series of dives. They connected with some slick tandem offense before G.O.D. managed to regain control. The two brothers worked over Lethal for a few minutes before he was finally able to make the hot tag to Gresham. For the most part, the closing stretch was pretty solid. The only negative occurred right before the finish, when Tanga Loa distracted the referee so Tama Tonga could hit Jay Lethal with one of their title belts. Gresham went after Tama Tonga right after this happened, and countered the Gun Stun with a German Suplex. That was a really cool spot. While Gresham was able to dodge the first Gun Stop, he couldn’t avoid the second one, and The Guerrillas Of Destiny got the win to retain their titles. This wasn’t the best match on the card, but it was definitely in that upper echelon. ***1/2

Afterward, The Briscoes come out onto the stage, and promised that they will beat the crap out of G.O.D. in Chicago. This leads to the two teams getting into a brawl in the ring that needed to be separated by security and the young lions. There’s been some great buildup between both sides on Twitter (through various promo videos), and the buildup continued here in the form of a brawl. I’ve got no complaints with this segment.

Flip Gordon def. Bandido

Ian Riccaboni stated earlier in the night that this was placed in the main event slot by “popular demand”. A couple of days ago, I would’ve called this a Best Of The Super Juniors preview, since both of these guys were in the same block. Unfortunately, we recently learned that Flip Gordon won’t be able to make it to Japan due to visa issues. This singles encounter didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it was still a very good match. There’s no denying that these two performers are incredibly talented, and we saw a lot of that talent on display in this match. They both worked very hard, and there were awesome exchanges throughout. That being said, this went entirely too long. Despite the fact that it clocked in at just under twenty-six minutes, the bout felt like it was over a half-hour. After the opening minutes, Flip managed to take control and slowed the pace down a bit before Bandido regained the advantage. Then Bandido slowed the match down a bit and had the edge as he targeted Gordon’s knee (the same knee that Gordon injured earlier this year).

They eventually got to the closing stretch (with was awesome), but it certainly took them awhile to get there. The issue was that these two don’t really have a ton of experience when it comes wrestling the style that you would expect with a big time, main event singles match. In fact, when you really think about it, I would wager to guess that the number of main event singles bouts these two have had (both in ROH and in other promotions) is on the low side. This should’ve been cut by at least seven or eight minutes (maybe even ten), and it should’ve been worked more like a sprint. That kind of bout would’ve been a much better fit for their respective styles. Even with that major issue, these two still worked their asses off, and I can’t knock them that hard if they put forth a ton of effort in the match. In a bit of a surprise, Flip Gordon managed to pick up the victory here after hitting Bandido with the Flip 5 (his version of the F-5). Realistically, this could’ve gone either way, but if I was betting on it, I would’ve put my money on Bandido. This was ultimately a very good bout, but it had the potential to be much better. ***3/4

Afterward, Mark Haskins took the mic (he and Tracy Williams were in Bandido’s corner during the main event), and congratulated Flip Gordon on this victory, before getting the crowd to cheer both guys for their efforts. Haskins then extended an invitation for Flip Gordon to become the newest member of Lifeblood. My guess is that Gordon will ultimately join the group. Lifeblood hasn’t been doing that well as a group after that initial first month. Yes, they did get a victory in MSG, but they’ve lost two members since February (David Finlay is currently out with an injury while Tenille Dashwood left ROH altogether). Gordon would be a good addition to fill out the ranks of Lifeblood. Plus, that would mean he could join forces with Bandido again, and as we saw with their outing against Team CMLL at the Crockett Cup, they make a pretty good tag team.

Final Thoughts

Night 1 of the ROH/NJPW War Of The Worlds 2019 tour was ultimately a very solid show from start to finish. There was really only one match that I would consider bad (the Women Of Honor Title bout), and while another match was certainly on the lower end of the scale (Shane Taylor vs. Hikuleo), it was short, and went exactly the way it needed to go. Aside from those two bouts, the rest of this card ranged from good, to really good, to great. The two matches that really stood out were LIJ vs. Lifeblood and Villain Enterprises vs. Jeff Cobb, Satoshi Kojima, and Yuji Nagata for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles. I honestly couldn’t decide which one of these two I preferred over the other. Outside of those two bouts, G.O.D.’s title defense against Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham was very good, and the two young lion matches were both really solid. As for Bandido vs. Flip Gordon, I’m sure opinions of that match are going to vary, but even with issues I talked about, those two still put together an entertaining main event. Nothing on this card was amazing, but it proved to be an enjoyable show as a whole.