Korakuen Hall played host to the second half of the annual New Japan/ROH tie-in, featuring some weird title matches, and a bloody great main event.
Silas Young & Jado vs. KUSHIDA & David Finlay
Silas gets another promo, and he uses it to rip into the crowd for their lack of respect for “real men”. That disrespect gets a jump start, but the babyface pairing overcome as Silas and KUSHIDA partner off… all whilst David Finlay and Jado head into the crowd, it seems.
KUSHIDA lands his cartwheel dropkick to Young, who heads to the outside into the path of a tope con hilo, all whilst wearing a hoodie! Jado tries to get involved, and he lands a tornado DDT off the middle ropes. That puts KUSHIDA on the back foot, at least until Jado comically goes got a big splash, only to fall into KUSHIDA’s boot and stops himself from a Flair Flop! Young comes in with a back rake as KUSHIDA remains on defence, before finally breaking free as David Finlay comes in for a bunch of running uppercuts. A diving uppercut gets a two for Finlay, and my feed freezes! It recovers as Silas hits a Finlay roll, then a headstand in the corner into a moonsault for a near-fall, with KUSHIDA breaking up the pin.
Whilst Jado took care of KUSHIDA, Finlay fought out of a full nelson, but had no answer to the Misery (TKO) as the Last Real Man picked up the win. A fun opener, and now Silas can put away those co-branded NJPW/ROH trunks for another year! **¾
Jado started a “thank you Silas” chant, which actually caught on for a brief moment.
Dalton Castle, Ryusuki Taguchi, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask & Delirious vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA)
Ten-man Ingobernables tags are always wacky… this time, Dalton’s got some of the New Japan Young Lions dressing up as his Boys, including Tomoyuki Oka, whilst Taguchi got his own Castle-esque intro. God bless wacky Taguchi!
After Delirious did his usual shtick, we opened with Dalton and SANADA, with the latter flipping out of a gutwrench suplex in the early going. SANADA ties up Castle in the ring, a la Jack Gallagher (and Milano Collection AT back in the day), but Castle gets kicked free before he dumps the spiky-mohawked one with an overhead belly-to-belly.
The match breaks down as the Ingobernables stop a Tiger Mask powerbomb, and this somehow heads to Delirious being dragged into the crowd by the tassles on his mask, with Naito tying him to the crowd railings! Tiger Mask gets isolated for a while, with an EVIL back senton flattening him for a near-fall, before Tiger’s caught by Takahashi up top… only to come back with a weird armdrag off the top rope.
Taguchi comes in after a Tiger Driver, and it’s hip attack central, before he tries for an ankle lock on Takahashi… who scurries across the ring extra quick to avoid it. Hiromu avoids a Dodon, but runs into an enziguiri, before he drops Taguchi with a belly-to-belly suplex into the corner.
Delirious comes in and speaks some English, noting that EVIL was “heavy as hell” during a Fireman’s carry, as the match again headed to the outside. Referee Tiger Haguchi tries to remove a chair as EVIL looked for retribution from last night, before instead getting a few near-falls from roll-ups and backslides. An EVIL lariat almost ends it, but the EVIL STO is enough to get another win over Delirious. Well, Ingobernables tags are always fun, and this was no exception! ***½
We miss the unmasking of Tiger Mask (yet again!), with the action continuing long after the final bell, as Naito throws Tiger’s mask into the crowd, all whilst Takahashi comically hops away screaming from a Taguchi ankle lock.
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Rowe)
This has the potential to be a show stealer – especially after War Machine tore the house down with the Young Bucks 24 hours earlier.
More NO SOUND NOW for War Machine’s intro, which leads to us missing a conversation between Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero since I guess nobody clued them in on that. Tama Tonga takes an impressive German suplex from the apron to the ring from Rowe, which is where War Machine take over as Hanson’s slammed onto Tonga for the start out of our Guerillas of Pottymouth segment.
Hanson rubs his beard on Tonga, before Tanga Loa comes in and clears the ring with some clotheslines. A spinebuster gets him a near-fall over Rowe, before the Guerrillas hit a combination of neckdrops, legdrops and splashes for another two-count. A comeback starts when Hanson tags in, eventually taking the Guerrillas into opposite corners for a bunch of avalanche clotheslines, before almost killing them with a double Bronco Buster to the former tag champs.
A missed Decapitation springboard lariat helps Tonga get a wheelbarrow roll-up for a near-fall, as the Guerrillas went for their double-team neckbreaker, only for Rowe to hit a pop-up powerslam on Tonga as Hanson flattened Loa with a tope! War Machine look for Fall Out, but Loa knocks Hanson off the top as Tonga hits a DDT on Rowe instead, leading to a swandive headbutt and a frogsplash for a near-fall.
Hanson makes a save from the Guerilla Warfare double-team DDT, but then my feed taps out… I resume to see a uranage from Rowe on Tonga, before Loa gets a big boot, then a sit-down splash. A massive cartwheel clothesline flips Tama Tonga inside out, before Tonga avoids the bicycle knee… only for his Gun Stun to be blocked. Rowe hoists him up, and that’s the cue for Hanson to leap in with the Fall Out for another impressive win. The GOD have really turnd the corner after some meh performances last year, and as for War Machine… can they stay in New Japan, or at least be more regular? ***½
After the match, Rowe took the mic and declared themselves “ichiban”, before demanding a shot at the IWGP tag titles next time they’re over. YAY!
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Jay Lethal, Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi
You know what this means… squashed announcers! One day they’ll learn…
Page and Lethal start us off, and it was all Lethal early on, taking down Page with a snapmare and a dropkick before bringing in Juice Robinson’s Broken Nose. Which Page instantly goes for. Well, that was smart… Fale shoulder tackles Takahashi and Juice, and I’ve lost track of who’s legal as it’s Juice who gets whipped HARD into the guard railings. Rest in Peace Juice’s spine. Back in the ring, Takahashi takes over on Robinson, grabbing the nose again, then drilling Juice with a big boot. Are they looking for more juice from Juice?
A simple left hand from Robinson knocks down Takahashi, but Hangman Page comes in to prevent a tag out, only for Juice to come back with a spinebuster to Yujiro as he eventually tagged in Tanahashi. The feed dies yet again, and after refreshing the page it seems we’ve lost a decent chunk of the English feed, returning as a Hart Attack Slingblade gets a near-fall.
Page boots Lethal whilst Tanahashi and Robinson are taken to the outside… Fale blocks a Lethal Injection, and that distraction allows Page to slingshot into the ring with a lariat for the win. A fun match, but hurt badly for me by the stream issues… ***¼
NEVER Openweight Championship: Punisher Martinez vs. Hirooki Goto (c)
See what I mean by “weird title matches”? Particularly when Martinez has done precious little in ROH, but hey, who are we to judge who ROH sends on this tour?
Goto shoves the much taller Martinez, who responds with a shoulder tackle, before a Yehi-esque stomp misses its target. Another roar from Martinez just gets him some shots from Goto, who replies in kind, then low bridges the big man to the floor. Martinez lands on his feet and leaps up back into the ring, as he starts to utilise his size advantage, booting Goto to the floor.
Martinez whips Goto HARD into the guard railings as Hirooki tries to out-do Robinson for back damage, before a leaping leg lariat gets him a near-fall back inside. They trade avalanche strikes in the corners, before a back elbow from Goto gets a near-fall as the pair go back to trading forearms with each other. Goto came back with an ushigoroshi, only for a double clothesline to end weirdly, as Martinez’s clothesline had more effect!
Another roundhouse kick knocks down Goto for a two-count, before a Falcon arrow also got Martinez another near-fall. Martinez gets another spinning heel kick, this time off the top rope for a near-fall, so he goes for the South of Heaven chokeslam which Goto tries to counter into a GTR, before settling for a headbutt instead. A kick from Goto’s caught and met with a forearm to the throat, as Martinez tries for the chokeslam again, but Goto leaps out and lands the GTR instead for the win. Well, I’d hardly seen Martinez before this pair of shows… ultra impressive, but you just know that ROH will barely capitalise on this. ***½
ROH World Championship: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Adam Cole (c)
Boy, Adam Cole (bay-bay) is over in Japan… and so are the initials “ROH”.
YOSHI-HASHI’s taken to the corner from the opening tie-up, and we get a clean break from that, just so Cole can do his shtick. The favour’s returned, and we get a “YOSHI-HASHI BAY-BAY” to pop the crowd repeatedly… and it actually catches on!
Cole takes the fight to the outside, where YOSHI takes the guard railings in a less violent way than Messrs Robinson and Goto, before Cole repeats it in the ring, replacing guard railings with turnbuckles. YOSHI-HASHI finally gets some separation with a kick, before countering Cole’s Last Shot suplex neckbreaker into the Bunker Buster. A flipping neckbreaker follows from the challenger, who chops away at Cole before going for the rope-hung dropkick to get a near-fall.
A powerbomb’s punched out of by Cole, who came back with an enziguiri and a Shining Wizard for a near-fall. He followed up with a pump kick and an ushigoroshi to force another kick-out from YOSHI-HASHI, who almost stole it with a roll-up. YOSHI-HASHI came back with a tombstone shoulderbreaker, then a flipping powerbomb for another two-count, before Cole got his knees up to block a senton bomb.
Out of nowhere, YOSHI-HASHI catches Cole in a butterfly lock after some trash talking, but Cole sinks to the mat… and manages to get his foot on the rope just before the referee waved it off! Cole rebounded with a pump kick and a superkick, but the latter is blocked and met with a sleeperhold as YOSHI-HASHI again tried to force a submission, finishing off with a back cracker instead. From there, the challenger heads up top for another senton bomb… but Cole kicked out at two!
YOSHI-HASHI tries to finish off with the Karma (pumphandle driver), only for Cole to push free and come back with a couple of superkicks, before the Panama Sunrise (leaping Destroyer) left Cole bemused as YOSHI-HASHI kicked out at two once more! A Last Shot’s countered into a small package for another two-count, but Cole comes back with more superkicks, before the Last Shot gets the win. Another good match, with plenty of back and forth as YOSHI-HASHI almost scored the upset, but in the end Cole just about snuck the win. ***¾
Bullet Club (Cody, Kenny Omega & Young Bucks (Nick Jackson & Matt Jackson)) vs. Will Ospreay, Kazuchika Okada & Briscoe Brothers (Mark Briscoe & Jay Briscoe)
They did the staggered entrance gimmick again, but we don’t start with Okada and Omega, with the former tagging in Mark Briscoe after deciding that Kenny “had had his chance”. So Omega tags out too, and we end with Cody instead.
Mark chops away at Cody, then sends him flying with some armdrags, before Jay comes in to try his luck… only to get dropped by a basement uppercut from Cody and a pop-up dropkick from Nick Jackson. Some Dusty-esque punches from Jay, then a headbutt, rocks Nick, as Ospreay tags in, flipping over a springboard armdrag, only to be clocked from behind by Matt Jackson.
Ospreay rebounds off the ropes to hit a rebound double armdrag on the Bucks, who then apparently kicked the crowd barriers, before turning a caught crossbody from Ospreay into a Meltzer Driver attempt… which he got out of. Flippy stuff from Will gives way to an aborted plancha, as he’s caught in a headscissors/dropkick combo that gets the Bullet Club back on top.
Ospreay stays in as the Bullet Club isolate him, with Omega ragdolling him into a backbreaker for a near-fall, before he’s thrown into the corner repeatedly for multiple big boots. That leads to a chant of “six boots” as they find a way to hang themselves upside down for the spot (which works), before Ospreay leaps over and dives for a tag… but the CHAOS team were yanked off the apron as Kenny Omega declared that they were “smart… S-M-R-T”. Simpsons references!
Finally Ospreay gets himself free with some flippy stuff, before eating some superkicks as Cody and Kenny popped him back onto the apron for more, ending with an apron-hung senton, then a moonsault/big splash combo for a near-fall. Omega gets a snapping elbow drop for a near-fall on Ospreay, before he wrenches away with a side headlock that almost forced a submission… until Will fought back up.
Ospreay landed a satellite DDT as my feed froze (again!), and finally tagged in as we got Okada and Cody… until the Bucks cut off the champion with pokes to the eye. A double flapjack works, but Okada kipped up into a Disaster Kick from Cody, who went for the Cross Rhodes, only for that to get countered into a neckbreaker slam. Mark Briscoe comes in and flips out of a backdrop from one of the Bucks, then decked Omega with a Pele kick, before Jay lands a big clothesline as the Briscoes went to town on the Bullet Club.
Matt Jackson eats a corner dropkick/big boot combo, as Mark followed up on the outside with a diving elbow off the apron. Ospreay sends Omega to the outside with a dropsault, then followed him out there with a fantastic Space Flying Tiger Drop, before Okada went up top… only to get caught as Cody looked to superplex him to the floor. Okada dropped down, then was saved by Ospreay who went for that move himself, only for Cody to reverse it and drop Will into the pile instead!
We finally get Okada and Omega again, with a big bicycle knee laying out Okada, before the One Winged Angel is fought out of… and Okada’s Rainmaker ends with him taking a pair of Bucks superkicks and a snap-Dragon suplex instead. A trio of superkicks knock down Okada, before the Bucks are taken down with an Ospreay cross body, only for him to fire back with an overhead kick.
The parade of moves continues, ending with an Okada dropkick to Omega… a superplex from Jay Briscoe leads to a froggy elbow from Mark, then an Okada elbow that actually draws some boos from the Korakuen crowd. Omega ducks a Rainmaker, then delivers a ripcord knee strike, only for Ospreay to come back in with a standing Spanish Fly that looked to kill Kenny’s shoulder.
NOW we go back to tags, as Okada tags in Ospreay, but Cody gets the tag too and lands a Goldust basement uppercut, before Ospreay came back with a corner dropkick, then a Falcon arrow for a near-fall. Cody takes a diving corkscrew kick, but he comes straight back as he turns an OsCutter into the CrossRhodes, and that’s it! Another win for the Bullet Club, and that was a hell of a main event my friends! I’m never going to be totally sold on the Young Bucks silliness, but they played their part here, and Will Ospreay damn near got killed in selling all of this. A fine, fine finale to Honor Rising, even if the match only had one team that was ROH born and bred! ****¼
(Yes, I know the Bucks are ROH tag champions, but in my mind I don’t class them as ROH guys…)
After the match, Omega cuts a promo saying that heel and face don’t matter; what does matter is the difference between first place and second place. He noted that “today was Monday, you had work, you are tired”… but today was a party, before declaring that 2017 will be Bullet Club’s year!
This was a fantastically good show from top to bottom here, and whilst there were some niggles (dying feeds, announcers talking over videos and being unaware that they were totally silenced), this was a fun slice of wrestling. In spite of some clearly empty seats, it’s a show that you should go out of your way to watch – especially if you’ve any affinity to New Japan or ROH!