Kenny Omega returned to action as New Japan’s annual tie-in with Ring of Honor kicked off on Sunday in Tokyo, with the first night of Honor Rising.
There’s been plenty said about the seeming decline of ROH in the last year, but with the fly-ins for today’s show including such luminaries as Delirious, Punishment Martinez and Silas Young, you can perhaps see why some feel that this is a bit of a downgrade. Of course, the Bullet Club crew were back, which meant that we got to see folks who regularly appear for both groups, such as the Young Bucks and Adam Cole.
Silas Young, Gedo & Jado vs. KUSHIDA, Juice Robinson & David Finlay
So, Silas, Gedo and Jado jumped their opponents after a brief promo, but the tables turned and the heels were sent packing. They returned as Jado again cheapshotted Finlay, but again that barely lasted as Finlay came back and peppers Jado with back elbows and uppercuts that eventually led to a Flair flop.
Gedo and Silas hit the ring as they started to wear down Finlay in their corner, but after a long period of offence, Finlay managed to hit back, scoring a dropkick to Young as KUSHIDA tagged into play. Silas catches a kick, but KUSHIDA comes back with a hiptoss and a cartwheel dropkick, before taking care of Gedo and Jado with a springboard back elbow. A missed springboard from KUSHIDA almost leads to a German suplex, but he blocks that and goes into a Hoverboard lock on Young, who fights out and lifts up KUSHIDA into a Finlay Roll.
Young then goes for a headstand into a springboard moonsault, but he misses as Juice Robinson gets the tag in, taking out Silas with some Diamond Dust and a corner cannonball for a near-fall. Juice blocks an O’Connor roll, but has no answer for a knee strike and an Ace crusher, before a series of kicks and knee lifts from Gedo and Jado get another two-count for the CHAOS trio. Those kicks busted open Juice’s nose, so of couse, Gedo punches it some more, before Juice replies with some Dusty punches. A fireman’s carry into a gutbuster almost gets Juice the win, before Finlay and KUSHIDA take out everyone else with dives, allowing the Pulp Friction to get the win. A fun opener, with Juice continuing to shine. **¾
NEVER Six-Man Championships: Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Delirious vs. EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI (c)
Delirious did his whole “go nuts when the bell goes” gimmick, but EVIL quickly grabbed his beard and kicked him in the thigh, before Delirious came back with an arm wringer and repeated arm breakers. Which looked hokey as hell.
Tiger Mask comes in and gets distracted instantly, which allowed SANADA to try and loosen his mask, before a t-shirt choke from BUSHI was reversed. Liger returns with a superplex attempt that EVIL stops, putting the Ingobernables trio back on top. Liger comes back out of the corner with a Shotei to EVIL, then a tiltawhirl backbreaker to BUSHI as Tiger Mask tagged back in. A top rope armdrag takes BUSHI down, as Tiger Mask scores with a tombstone piledriver, only for EVIL to press slam him off the top rope.
BUSHI comes back with a spinning neckbreaker for a two-count, but he falls to a Tiger Driver that can’t be capitalised on, so he tags in Delirious who does his best Tama Tonga rope running for a clothesline and a near-fall. A fireman carry into a pancake, followed by a DDT gets another two-count for Delirious, who then rakes SANADA en route to a cobra clutch… but Delirious gets flattened by the Ingobernables corner charges, only for a back suplex to be broken up at the count of one.
With EVIL and BUSHI taking care of the New Japan veterans, SANADA went for the Skull End, which Delirious rolls up for a series of near-falls. SANADA flips out of a German suplex, before sending Delirious into the ropes – and a chairshot from EVIL – as the Skull End forced an instant submission. A decent, almost comedy-ish six-man tag, and Los Ingobernables finally get a successful defence of those titles! **¾
After the match, SANADA tied up Hirai Kawato in a knot, to further mock Milano Collection AT. I badly want that to happen after he was harangued by Naito on and off for all of last year…
Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Will Ospreay
The usual Bullet Club jump start sees the Guerrillas of Destiny instantly focus on Goto, cornering him with chokes and stomps in the opening stages.
Tonga takes an over-the-knee neckbreaker before Goto tags in Ospreay who clears the ring with dropkicks, before unwisely going after Fale. A shotgun dropkick rocks Tonga, who’s caught in a modified Octopus hold, only to wander into the ring ropes for a clean break. Tanga Loa and Fale counter Ospreay’s handspring by grabbing his hands and dragging him to the outside – a unique counter – as we had some more brawling around the ring.
Back inside, Tonga headbutts Ospreay, who quickly gets beaten down in the Bullet Club corner, ending with a massive Tanga Loa spinebuster that would have won the match, had Goto not rushed in to break up the pin. A handspring into an overhead kick finally takes down Fale and Loa, before Okada tags in… only to be quickly cut-off by Fale.
A series of right hands and a back elbow stagger Fale for an eventual bodyslam, but Fale knocked him down before bringing in Yujiro Takahashi. Just because. A Fisherman’s buster gets a near-fall on Okada, before YOSHI-HASHI comes in and lays into Yujiro with chops and a dropkick in the ropes for a near-fall. The Guerillas return to lay out YOSHI-HASHI with charges in the corner, before a Fale avalanche and a diving dropkick from Yujiro almost ended it.
Takahashi busted out a spin-out death valley bomb, before the parade of moves continued as Goto snuck in an ushigoroshi. Okada gets a dropkick to Loa, then dropkicks out of a Grenade by Fale, as Ospreay was popped up into a tornillo to the outside! Takahashi kicks away from YOSHI-HASHI, who came back with a lariat and a pumphandle driver, and that’s enough for a CHAOS win! A fun multi-man tag – but otherwise your typical Korakuen Hall midcard outing. ***¼
Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. War Machine (Rowe & Hanson)
Rowe starts by lifting Matt onto the top turnbuckle like he was nothing, before a shoulder block led to a pair of tags. Nick tells Hanson to “suck it”, before he gets thrown back into the corners, eventually using his speed to get an advantage, with some double-team dropkicks ensuring that the Bucks got their signature stuff in.
A pair of topes was caught with ease as the Bucks were Snake Eye’d into each other, which put War Machine back on the offensive back in the ring. Nick gets cornered and squashed with an avalanche from Rowe, then a diving cross body from Hanson for a near-fall, before Matt countered out of a pop-up powerslam into a DDT as the Bucks tried to stay in the game.
A diving dropkick from Nick to the outside, followed by a Shiranui on Rowe inside led to some superkicks on the floor, before his crossbody back inside gets a two-count over Rowe. More superkicks followed, because of course they did, before Nick landed a double jump senton to the floor onto War Machine.
The Bucks come close with a standing moonsault and a springboard splash, before a sit-down double stomp from Hanson cut-off a Superkick party. Matt fought out of the Fall Out, before Nick landed a springboard ‘rana to Hanson, as the Bucks held up Rowe for a rope-hung senton. Rowe throws the bucks into each other, then brings Hanson back in for a series of corner-to-corner lariats, but of course, superkicks comes into play as the Bucks make Hanson give a sit-out tombstone to Rowe.
A pair of 450 Splashes get the Bucks a near-fall, before they tried for a Meltzer Driver… that’s blocked, as are a pair of superkicks to Hanson, who counters with powerbombs, then a pop-up powerslam gets a near-fall as Matt flies in off the top rope. Nick blasts the War Machine pair with a series of kicks, but he’s caught in a series of backbreakers and a gutwrench power bomb as a Hanson splash off the middle rope looks to lead to some Fall Out…
Matt tries to fight back, firing up with superkicks, but he’s caught with a judo throw, a knee strike then the Fall Out as War Machine get the W. A fun tag outing, with the Bucks trying in vain to spam the superkick to get the win, only for War Machine’s sheer size to count in the end. ***¾
The interval contained my favourite thing: match graphics on a card, since I guess the person who does the on-screen graphics had a day off?
Dalton Castle, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Punishment Martinez, Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito
Ohmygod, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Ryusuke Taguchi dressed up as Dalton Castle’s boys! We had Punishment Martinez as an “odd one out”… not for the match, but the entire import line-up, and he refuses to do the Ingobernables salute, so I guess he’ll be taking the fall?
Dalton starts by using the referee as a human shield to shy away from Martinez, before some tags take us to Tanahashi and Naito. Tanahashi hits a back elbow and a crossbody to the Intercontinental champion, then tags in Taguchi for some hip attacks. Tanahashi throws some of his own in, before Dalton Castle comes in for a fanned-up hip attack too.
The Ingobernables duo take over on Tanahashi with a snapmare and a diving dropkick, as Taguchi and Castle are laid out on the apron, and it seems like Naito and Takahashi aren’t too keen to tag in Martinez. A figure four leglock keeps Tanahashi at bay, but he quickly scurries to the ropes to force a break, before Naito came back with a Dragon screw.
Another teased tag angers Martinez further as Takahashi and Taguchi squared off… with a lot of rope running and hip attacks as Taguchi softened up the Junior heavyweight champion. Takahashi dives to the bottom rope to avoid an ankle lock, before he tried to wheelbarrow out of a Dodon. They trade enziguiries, and my feed dies… it comes back to see Dalton Castle giving Martinez a German suplex, before the Punisher comes back with big boots and a roundhouse kick.
A diving spinning heel kick off the top rope knocks down Castle, who blocks a chokeslam attempt before elbowing away at Martinez… only to dive off the middle rope into the chokeslam anyway, and that’s it! A surprising result, as Martinez – the least over of everyone on the team – actually won this match… then got flipped off by Naito afterwards. Huh. ***
Katsuyori Shibata & Jay Lethal vs. Cody & Hangman Page
With all due respect to the Hangman, one of these things is not like the other… Cody didn’t care about Jay Lethal, as he wanted to face Shibata instead. So Cody got his wish from his list, and they started off by trading waistlocks, before Shibata grabbed an armbar that forced Cody (Redacted) straight into the ropes.
An attempted PK saw Cody back away as both guys tagged out to the pairing that, lets just say, was the least interesting…Lethal wanted Cody, but that just acted as a distraction as he had to go through the Hangman first, scoring a cartwheel dropkick for a near-fall… but he kept going after Cody, which didn’t work out for him!
Page comes back with a snapmare, then a back senton, as Cody now wants in with Lethal on the mat. Shibata just stares through Cody’s blown kiss, before Cody randomly rolls to the outside to take a tope. The Bullet Club pairing outsmart Lethal, who was finding Shibata to be of little use this time, as Cody threw in a kick from the apron as Page kept the referee tied up.
Cody works over Lethal’s arm, then stomps away on the former ROH champion, as Page came back in. Lethal makes a comeback of sorts, missing an enziguiri, before Page deadlifted him up into a half-nelson fallaway slam for a near-fall. That was impressive! More stomping from Cody, before a low bridge and a shooting star headbutt from Hangman cuts off another Lethal comeback.
A draping DDT gets a near-fall for Cody as Shibata finally gets involved, and gets tagged in… to take a missile dropkick from Cody. Shibata just sits up and invites extra shots, which ended up with him absorbing them before decking Cody with a diving dropkick of his own in the corner.
Cody kicks out at two from a butterfly suplex, before Page broke up an Octopus hold, which led to the tables turning as Cody (Redacted) caught Shibata in an Indian deathlock. Jay Lethal dives in to break that up, who then gets tagged back in as the two fresher men renew acquaintances. Page whips Lethal into the ropes, who decides to dive onto Cody outside for the hell of it, before scoring with a roll-up on Page.
A Lethal Injection is blocked, as is the Cross Rhodes, as Shibata runs in and blasts Rhodes with a PK instead. Page just about makes the rolling lariat to Shibata, but he has no defence to the Lethal Injection which is enough for the win… as Cody and Shibata continue the fight on the outside. Eh, this was a match – very sluggish in places, and without being too harsh, very Cody-ish. ***¼
Briscoe Brothers (Mark Briscoe & Jay Briscoe) vs. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Adam Cole)
This was Kenny Omega’s first match back here since New Year Dash, but he starts on the apron as Mark Briscoe and Adam Cole start us off. There’s a massive egg on the forehead of Cole, who heads out to play to the crowd (bay bay) quite a bit.
Omega tags in, but gets rolled to the mat by Mark who grabs a side headlock, before an armdrag kept Kenny at bay. That advantage didn’t last as Mark was kept isolated for a spell… until the Briscoes came in to drill Kenny with a pair of boots in the corner, before the camera missed a Blockbuster off the apron onto Omega.
All four men brawled around ringside, which leads to a spot where the mats outside are peeled away as they teased a spike Jay Driller onto the floor, but Cole came in to make the save as instead we saw a moonsault off the guard rails into the Briscoes (in the crowd) from Omega, as Cole just posed on the apron rather than leap in himself.
Omega did the big boot spot in the corner, where Jay Briscoe’s head was thrown into his boot… which apparently hurt Omega more than it did Jay, as Kenny had to walk off the pain before using the same boot to choke at a grounded Jay.
A plancha from Omega wipes out Mark Briscoe on the floor, but also seemed to crack Kenny’s forearm as well, before he slingshotted back in… and took a death valley driver from Jay. The Briscoes came back though, with Jay peppering Omega with some jabs before a forearm from Mark knocked down Cole, who then took a deadlifted German suplex. Mark counters a Last Shot from Cole and lands a Fisherman’s buster instead for a near-fall, before hitting another death valley driver en route to a Froggy elbow attempt, but Cole gets up first and eventually superkicks him off the apron. A diving knee gets Cole a near-fall, only to lose out when Jay comes in, landing a big dropkick and a vicious neckbreaker on the ROH champion for another two-count.
A Jay Driller attempt is blocked as Cole charges into the corner, before a pair of superkicks takes down Jay hard. Omega comes in to trade strikes, scoring with a low dropkick and a reverse leg lariat for a near-fall as my feed (on-demand!) freezes. Briscoe fights out of a Dragon suplex, but runs straight into a knee to the midsection as Omega lands a Finlay roll… then tastes knees as he went for a moonsault. Mark tells Cole “he likes it” after a series of chops escalated into slaps, before the reversals ended with an enziguiri from Cole, who looked for the Panama Sunrise. Jay backdrops out, and we spark a parade of moves that ended with Cole taking a dropkick into the corner as Mark’s superplex went awry… as did the Panama Sunrise, which proved to not be the ending to this contest.
Cole places Jay sitting into the middle turnbuckle, but instead of landing a superkick, he follows up by teasing a Panama Sunrise off the top rope. That’s blocked as Jay goes for a superplex, and sends the ROH champion in hard before a Froggy Elbow from Mark gets another near-fall. The Briscoes tease a Doomsday Device, before opting for a double stomp to break the pin as Cole scored a victory roll.
A tope from Jay Briscoe sends Cole and Omega into the guard railings, before they went back to the Doomsday Device, this time with Omega crotching Mark up top before a bicycle knee stunned Jay. Omega counters a Doomsday Device into a powerslam somehow, as Jay eats a Shining Wizard from Cole… a knee trigger from Omega , then the Last Shot to from Cole ends up being enough as Mark Briscoe takes the fall. A fun main event, without too much of the usual Bullet Club hokeyness. ***¾
After the two shows (our night two review’ll follow later tonight), this was the weaker of the pair… but don’t take that the wrong way. In no way was this a bad show, but if you need to cherry pick, then catch the Young Bucks vs. War Machine match as well as the main event. Perfectly good wrestling, even if it didn’t build to too much in the immediate future.