Ring Of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling
War Of The Worlds 2019: Night 3
May 11th, 2019
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Coast 2 Coast (LSG & Shaheem Ali) def. Alex Coughlin & Karl Fredericks
The young lion pairings got mixed up a little bit on this show, as Alex Coughlin teamed with Karl Fredericks here on Night 1 after Clark Connors teamed with Fredericks back on Night 1 in Buffalo. Even though the end result was a foregone conclusion, this was a pretty solid opening contest. The young lions took to Coast 2 Coast early, but then Coughlin got isolated. This built up to a hot tag to Fredericks, which led into the closing stretch. During that sequence, Coughlin locked LSG in a Boston Crab, and Shaheem Ali had to make the save for his partner. This was pushed as a heel move by Ian Riccaboni on commentary, but I’m not sure why. Doesn’t stuff like that happen in pretty much every tag team match in the world? An odd bit of commentary there, but the point is that spot led to Coast 2 Coast getting the win shortly thereafter. This wasn’t quite as good as some of the young lion matches from Night 1, but it was still a fine way to get this show started. ***
Women Of Honor Title – Kelly Klein (c) def. Stacy Shadows
Kelly Klein had her second successful title defense of this tour, as she picked up the win over Stacy Shadows in just under five minutes. Shadows went right after Klein to get this one started, and they went back and forth for a bit before Klein put Shadows away with a knee strike. There was some ok action, but as a whole, this wasn’t very good. The only real positive about this one is that it was kept short. It seemed like this was here mainly to set up the angle that occured after the fact. *1/2
Following the match, Stacy Shadows shook hands with Kelly Klein. Then, after Klein had left the ring, The Allure ran out and attacked Shadows. Klein returned to make the save, and they brawled until the young lions and some of the ROH dojo students came out to separate the two sides. We’re obviously building to a match, but I have no idea which member of The Allure they’re going to put against Klein. I couldn’t tell you which of those three combinations would be the best option, because they’re all pretty bad choices.
Triple Threat Match – Dalton Castle def. Cheeseburger & Clark Connors
This was originally scheduled to be a one-on-one affair with Cheeseburger and Clark Connors, but Dalton Castle interrupted the proceedings. The former ROH World Champion claimed that he wanted to see something more exciting, and demanded that Cheeseburger and Connors leave the ring. Cheeseburger called for the match to be changed to a Triple Threat, but after Castle initially refused, Cheeseburger remarked that he would probably beat Castle as quickly as RUSH did if they were to wrestle. This made Castle angy, and he accepted Cheeseburger’s challenge.
Castle wrestled in his street clothes for this one. The match clocked in at just under ten minutes, and it ended with Castle scoring the victory after hitting the Bang-a-Rang on Cheeseburger. That was an interesting result, as you would’ve figured that Clark Connors (as a young lion) would’ve been a shoe-in to take the fall. The match itself was actually pretty entertaining. Castle dished out some of his big suplexes, and we saw a more vicious side to him in general (which makes sense, given his recent heel turn). There were a couple of good spots here, and both Cheeseburger and Connors had moments to shine. In particular, Connors had a nice sequence towards the end, as he locked Castle in a Boston Crab following a spear. Alas, he came up short, as all young lions typically do. This bout was by no means outstanding, but it was enjoyable while it lasted, and it helped to get Castle’s new heel persona over. ***1/4
The Kingdom (ROH World Champion Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan) def. The Bullet Club (The Guerrillas Of Destiny & Hikuleo)
This might be hard to believe, but The Bullet Club and The Kingdom have been feuding (in some form or fashion) since 2015. I wasn’t really looking forward to this one, but fortunately, it ended up being a relatively fine six-man tag. It got off to a very slow start as Matt Taven and Tama Tonga both tried to play mind games in the form of stalling. From there, we got some decent action, with the occasional attempts at chicanery mix in. While these two teams are technically heels, The Bullet Club side were certainly the favorites with this crowd. Towards the end of the bout, G.O.D. took a shot at The Briscoes by hitting The Doomsday Device, which is one of their signature moves. The Briscoes came out almost immediately, and confronted G.O.D. in the entranceway. This distraction allowed Matt Taven to hit Hikuleo with the ROH World Title belt, and Vinny Marseglia rolled him up to score the win for The Kingdom. This wasn’t a bad match, but it wasn’t very memorable either. It mainly served to continue the build towards the G.O.D./Briscoes match. **1/2
The brawl between The Briscoes and G.O.D. continued to the backstage area as The Kingdom celebrated in the ring. Mark Haskins soon interrupted The Kingdom, and noted how his match with PCO was now off because of what The Kingdom did in Toronto (it was explained a little earlier in the show on commentary that PCO wasn’t medically cleared to compete after The Kingdom used an axe and a spike to open up a big cut above one of his eyes). Haskins issued a challenge to Taven, and wanted him to put the ROH World Title on the line. Taven initially refused, but after Haskins made a comment about Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis taking Taven’s balls with him when they left, Taven’s tone changed. He accepted the challenge, and an impromptu ROH World Title bout was set up for later.
Flip Gordon def. Rhett Titus
The previous segment was followed up by another impromptu match, as Flip Gordon picked up a victory over Rhett Titus. This originally started as Titus showing off some of his poses, but he was soon interrupted by Gordon. Of course, with Gordon not being about to go over to New Japan for Best Of The Super Juniors due to visa issues, he became available for these shows. For a sub-four minute match, this was perfectly fine. While Titus did get some offense in, this mainly served as a showcase for Gordon, who got the win via submission with a STF. It seems like that might be a new finisher for him, and I liked how they established that as a finisher in this match against a lower-card guy. Straight out of the New Japan playbook. **
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) def. The Bouncers (The Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas)
The Bouncers offered beers to LIJ before the match got started. They accepted the beers, only to just spit it back in their faces. This continued the string of very average matches on the middle portion of this card. The Bouncers were able to hit some moves here and there, but this seemed to serve mainly as a showcase for LIJ. At one point, Milonas got taken out of the equation after EVIL did one of his signature chair spots. He made a brief comeback before he got taken out again with a big double suplex. LIJ then hit Magic Killer on The Beer City Bruiser, and that was it. Nothing much else to say about this one. EVIL and SANADA picked up their third victory in a row on this tour, and I’m curious to see if that will lead to them getting a title shot (perhaps at the ROH World Tag Team Titles) at some point in the future. A string of wins on this tour last year led to EVIL getting a shot at the ROH World Title, so it’s entirely possible. **1/2
#1 Contender’s Four-Corner Survival – Tracy Williams def. Eli Isom, PJ Black, & RUSH
The winner of this match would receive a shot at the ROH World Title at the TV Tapings in Kent, Washington on June 1st. Originally, I thought RUSH was an easy pick to win this, but since they’re probably saving his eventual title shot for a much bigger event, it made this one a little more wide open, in terms of the result. Ultimately, Tracy Williams was able to score the win after hitting Eli Isom with a piledriver. Up to this point, this was easily the best match of the show. It only went about ten minutes or so, but there was entertaining action right from the start, and all four competitors had moments to shine. In the final few minutes, RUSH was able to connect with a big dropkick from the apron to the floor onto PJ Black, and that took both of them out of contention to win. Going with Williams was the right move here. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to waste the RUSH title shot at a TV Taping, and out of the remaining three names, Williams seemed like the best option. Anyway, if you’ve got some free time, and you want to watch a fun ten minute match with a lot of fun action, this four-way would be a very solid pick. ***3/4
ROH World Title – Matt Taven (c) def. Mark Haskins
Matt Taven tried to attack Mark Haskins with the ROH World Title belt before the bell rang, but Haskins was able to avoid it, and connected with a big suicide dive to the floor to get this bout underway. This ended up being a great World Title bout that easily captured match of the night honors from the Four-Corner Survival that came before it. While it was on the longer side, this match featured some really strong back-and-forth action between these two. Early on, Haskins worked over the legs of Taven, but Taven was soon able to turn the tables, and worked over one of Haskins’ arms. This set the stage for the second half of the bout, as both men played their roles (Taven as the heel champion and Haskins as the underdog babyface) very well. Taven could’ve done a better job selling his leg, but Haskins did a fine job selling his injured arm, as he seemed to struggle with it at points. In one standout moment, he had to alter the usual application of his signature armbar due to his injured arm. The closing stretch of this match was great, as Haskins fought as hard as he could. He got a big reaction from the crowd after kicking out a series of big moves from Taven (this included Taven hitting The Climax on the apron). Haskins was eventually able to lock in a sharpshooter, and it looked as if he was on the verge of victory, but Bully Ray came out with a mic and made a comment about Haskins’ wife. Haskins broke off the submission hold, and with the referee distracted by Bully Ray’s presence, Taven connected with a low blow, and hit The Climax again to score the win. The involvement from Bully Ray was a real downer in what was otherwise a great match, but the one positive thing I’ll say about his involvement is that it led to some awesome reactions on commentary from Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana. The emotion, and later the disgust, shown from those two in that moment was awesome. Even with the finish, this was a strong outing for both Taven and Haskins (especially the latter). I hope Haskins gets more chances like this to shine in the future. ****
Afterwards, Matt Taven gloats about being the ROH World Champion. He’s interrupted by PCO, who goes after Taven and eventually takes him out with a moonsault. Looks like we might be getting another match between these two at some point.
Before the main event, we got a promo from Kenny King on the stage before he joined the commentary team. He basically tried to get over the fact that his senses have been heightened after getting blinded by The Great Muta’s mist at MSG.
Jay Lethal, Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, Satoshi Kojima, & Yuji Nagata def. The Briscoes, Bully Ray, ROH World TV Champion Shane Taylor, & Silas Young
On paper, this felt like the ROH version of the kinds of multi-man tag we see on every New Japan “Road To” event in Korakuen Hall. In practice, that’s pretty much what we got. This didn’t equal the previous two bouts, in terms of quality, but it was still a solid main event. Everyone involved had opportunities to shine, and the action throughout was very good. Jeff Cobb and Shane Taylor continued their feud, Silas Young got into it again with Yuji Nagata after what happened in their singles match on Night 2, and we saw a fun opening exchange between Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe. Now throughout the bout, Bully Ray had been antagonizing Satoshi Kojima, as he knocked him off the apron a few times. He got some comeuppance midway through when Kojima went to town on him with machine gun chops, but what Bully Ray had done earlier would come back to haunt him here. After everyone else started brawling on the floor (much like your typical multi-man tag in New Japan), Bully Ray went to use his chain on Kojima. However, Mark Haskins came out and took the chain from him. This led to Bully Ray taking moves from all five of his opponents, and he got pinned by Kojima after a lariat! I know we all dislike Bully Ray in ROH, but it’s nice to see that he actually loses. It was so cool to see Kojima get the winning fall in a main event, especially since he’s lost in all of his recent stateside appearances (dating back to the Crockett Cup several weeks ago). An enjoyable ten-man tag team bout as a whole. ***1/2
In my preview of this year’s War Of The Worlds Tour, I mentioned that Night 3 (out of the shows on the tour that were streaming live on Honor Club) definitely had the weakest card. While it met those expectations (in some regards), it still had some really good matches on it. If you’re short on time, I would recommend checking out the final three bouts. Matt Taven/Mark Haskins was awesome, while the Four-Corner Survival match and the main event were both very solid. Unless you want to check out the three-way from the undercard, you don’t need to watch the rest of the show. There’s only one bad bout to speak of (the women’s match), but the rest of the matches range from decent to incredibly average.
I would normally end my review here, but since the Guerrillas Of Destiny/Briscoes match from Chicago streamed live on Honor Club, I’ll provide a quick review of that as well!!
ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Guerrillas Of Destiny (c) def. The Briscoes
Of course, the tension between these two teams has been building and building since the MSG show back in April. The Guerrillas Of Destiny became double champions (winning the ROH World Tag Team Titles while retaining the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles), but their moment was overshadowed by a worked-shoot angle that immediately followed the bout, which involved The Briscoes fighting with Enzo Amore and Big Cass. That massive black mark from the MSG show inadvertently opened the door for this feud between The Briscoes and G.O.D., as the two teams began going back and forth with online promos that were shared on their Twitter accounts. This led to a match at the TV Tapings in Chicago being announced, with the ROH World Tag Team Titles up for grabs. Now this was scheduled to be taped for TV (and it still might air on TV in the future), but ROH make a great decision by deciding to air it live for Honor Club subscribers. They did the same thing last year when they live streamed the match where Jay Lethal won the ROH World Title, and I applaud ROH for doing this again.
As a whole, this was a really good tag team bout. The crowd in Chicago seemed pretty excited for this one, and these two teams didn’t waste any time. As soon as the match got started, they spilled out to the floor and a brawl broke out. Then both teams took turns being in control (it was during these control periods that both teams broke out some dirty tactics to gain a better advance). It didn’t take long for the match to break down once again, and they went back to brawling on the floor. The closing stretch was actually very entertaining, as both teams nailed some of their big moves. At one point, Mark Briscoe managed to survive a diving headbutt/top rope splash combo from the sons of Haku. A few moments later, Mark nearly scored the win after a Froggy Bow. The finish came when The Briscoes went for the Doomsday Device on Tama Tonga. Tanga Loa shoved Mark Briscoe off the top rope and into the ropes. Todd Sinclair went to check on Mark, and with Sinclair being distracted, this gave G.O.D. the chance to steal the victory. Tanga Loa hit Jay Briscoe in the back with one of the ROH World Tag Team Titles belts, and Tama Tonga rolled him up for the three count.
The finish wasn’t a total surprise, since G.O.D. retained their titles in a similar manner against Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham in Buffalo (though that finish was slightly cleaner). If I had to guess, we’re getting another match between The Briscoes and G.O.D., especially since G.O.D. are going to have to lose the ROH World Tag Team Titles at some point. Again, the match itself was pretty good, aside from the finish. There was very solid action throughout, and the hatred that was on display between these two teams in their promo battles certainly carried over to this match. In that regard, the way they worked the match perfectly fit the story they were telling. I would say the biggest surprise is that Enzo and Big Cass were nowhere to be found. The fact that ROH decided to stream this match meant it was a big deal (and the online promo battles were a big reason why it was perceived that way), but if Enzo and Big Cass were doing another run in, this would’ve been a great spot to do it, in theory. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, as there was no outside interference of any kind. One still has to wonder whether they are showing up again (as The Briscoes and Tama Tonga did reference/go after them in their promo battles), but only time will tell, I suppose. ***1/2