ROH & NJPW Honor Rising Night One Review (2.19.16)

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ROH & NJPW Honor Rising Night One Review (2.19.16)
Location: Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan inside Korakuen Hall

These shows were announced as part of New Japan’s initiative to do more with their partners. Along with Ring of Honor now having a slot on Samurai TV in Japan, (which is a TV station that’s dedicated to showing wrestling shows 24/7.) Ring of Honor gets some extra exposure in Japan, very much like what they’ve done yearly with the Fantastica Mania shows for CMLL. In exchange, NJPW gets some buys for NJPW World and it helps them when several of their stars participate on the ROH 14th Anniversary show and the subsequent TV tapings next week or the ROH & NJPW War of the Worlds/Global Wars shows in May.

However, unlike Fantastica Mania, Ring of Honor are defending their two main titles against NJPW talent, which makes for interesting possibilities seeing as they meet again very soon. Especially in a building like Korakuen Hall that will probably know a lot of the ROH talent, but will also be firmly behind Tomohiro Ishii in the main event.

These two shows also serve as the farewell of Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, as they are leaving Japan, a place that Karl Anderson has called home for almost eight full years, and heading to WWE. Will the Bullet Club treat them like they did AJ Styles? Or will this be a much more amicable send-off for the two.

So, if you add everything together that I’ve said previously, there is plenty of intrigue before even getting into this show and hopefully there is just as much of it coming out of the show as well.

Match 1: Jushin Thunder Liger & (IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champion) Matt Sydal vs. Dalton Castle w/ The Boys & Ryusuke Taguchi

Winners: Liger & Sydal (After Sydal hit a Shooting Star Press on Castle)

Everyone is a known NJPW commodity except Dalton Castle, but that’s by design to make him the focal point. If you’ve never seen Dalton Castle before, you pretty much got him in a nutshell here. He does comedy and he uses The Boys to fan himself, but if you stick around, you’ll see why he’s so loved by the fans, because he can wrestle with the best of them. The pairing here was absolutely perfect and even though the fans in Korakuen didn’t know how to take to Castle at first, Liger and Taguchi made it easier. Taguchi coming to the ring with his own green peacock feathers was great and Liger getting The Boys to fan him during the match was comedy gold. Castle at one point picked up Taguchi and used Taguchi’s butt as a battering ram and he also did a Hip Attack of his own to show he could equal his partner.

If you care about the wrestling, it was best when Sydal was involved, as he was the serious man here and he had a great exchange with Castle leading up to the finish. Castle got to show his power with the Delayed German and a wicked Nothern Lights Suplex too. Sydal shined with his stiff kicks and flying prowess that he’s certainly known for as well. All in all, I found it to be a fun match that accomplished its goal of giving everyone a glimpse of Dalton Castle. ** and ¾ *

Match 2: Gedo vs. Delirious “Battle of the Bookers”

Winner: Delirious

It was fun seeing the Korakuen crowd awkwardly laugh and many times just be silent for Delirious being insane. Both guys trying to out heel each other was funny for the first minute, but it quickly grew tiresome. Gedo kept yelling things in English the whole time and there was a sort of “wink wink” with the handshake after the match, which was cute. This was largely boring though. ½ *

Match 3: KUSHIDA vs. Franke Kazarian

Winner: KUSHIDA (After making Kazarian TAP OUT with the Hoverboard Lock)

Adam Cole was supposed to have this spot on the card, but due to a family issue he couldn’t make it to Japan. The work was good, there was certainly good wrestling here, but not a whole lot else. This was almost an extended squash for KUSHIDA in my view. ** and ¼ *

4. 8-Man Tag Team Match: Moose, Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion) Tomoaki Honma vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale, & Yujiro Takahashi (All Bullet Club)

Winners: Team Moose (After Moose Hits a Spear on Cody Hall)

Moose received quite a few chants from the Korakuen crowd and people were having fun doing his Moose gesture. Bullet Club B Team dragged this down in the middle with the brawling, but at least they focused attention on Tanahashi’s shoulder and Yujiro even took to the injured limb with some chair shots. They did a fun spot where the faces knocked Bullet Club out of the ring and they all did the Elgin posedown at the same time. Moose had his moments where he looked good, like in the closing sequence where he hit his Springboard Crossbody and at other times he had an awkward exchange with Cody Hall, where Hall almost dropped him and it wound up in an awkward eye poke in mid-move. Overall a fine outing that served as a test to see what Moose could do. ** and ¾ *

5. Young Bucks & (IWGP Intercontinental Champion) Kenny Omega (The Elite) vs. ReDragon (ROH) & (NEVER Openweight Champion) Katsuyori Shibata

Winners: The Elite (After Omega hits an awkward One Winged Angel on Kyle O’ Reilly)

Kyle O’ Reilly was the standout here, as he ran wild, threw the Bucks around at certain times, and he looked good against Omega as well, including a long reversal spot where he had Omega in a Dragon Sleeper, while Shibata had one of the Bucks in a Sleeper. Omega taunted Shibata before the match by shoving the IC Title in his face, almost as a “I have the bigger title than you, take that Ha ha ha.” Shibata took Omega all the way out past the seating area, but Omega turned the tide at the last minute and shoved Shibata into some rolling carts. They had good interactions throughout and you have to wonder if these two will meet up in a match at some point.

The Young Bucks seemed a bit off, they did many of their usual things, but they weren’t hitting them with the crispness that we usually see. That awkwardness even came through in the finish, where Omega tried to catch O’ Reilly into a One Winged Angel, but he had some trouble lifting him, so O’ Reilly turned it into a sort of Armbar and then Omega was able to get enough to do the move. *** and ¼ *

6. The Briscoes vs. Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows (Bullet Club)

Winners: The Briscoes (After Neckbreaker and Froggy Bow Combo)

All the guys worked hard, but Mark once again took it upon himself to pull out all the stops. Each team had some near falls, but the match felt rushed and like they were trying to get things in quickly. Nonetheless, it never dragged and kept the theme going of Anderson and Gallows giving it their all on the way out. ** and ¾ *

7. Tetsuya Naito w/ BUSHI & EVIL (Los Ingobernables de Japon) & Jay Lethal w/ Truth Martini vs. YOSHI-HASHI & (IWGP Heavyweight Champion) Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS)

Winners: Naito & Lethal (After a Lethal Injection to YOSHI-HASHI)

The story here is that Naito did not become fast friends with Lethal immediately, so you have tag partners at odds, while you have Yoshi and Okada who have been a tag team numerous times in the past. Lethal had to prove to Naito that he could be counted on and it took a while before Naito would actually get involved in the match. Yoshi took the long heat segment, as Lethal and Naito beat him down, until Okada got the hot tag.

The crowd was really into the Okada and Naito portion of the match, which was almost 60/40 Naito as far as fans chanting. Korakuen is sort of like the Philadelphia or Chicago of Japan. Okada even sold for Lethal’s offense for a bit, until Okada hit his patented Dropkick and Yoshi was tagged in for the interference filled finish. EVIL and BUSHI got involved in the match, along with Truth Martini so this seemed like a match made in heel heaven. The match was decent and Naito seemed enamored with the Book of Truth afterwards. Perhaps there is a partnership brewing here. ** and ½ *

8. MAIN EVENT: ROH World Television Championship Match: (Champion) Roderick Strong vs. Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS)

Winner AND NEW Champion: Tomohiro Ishii (After a Brainbuster)

The absolute shock ending to close the show with Ishii winning the title emphatically over Strong and then shoving the title belt in his face as an insult. Strong worked on the back and neck of Ishii a bunch in this match with several Back Suplexes to the barricade and the ring apron on the outside. This caused Ishii to turn up the intensity with his Chops and Lariats and Strong even kicked out of the Super Brainbuster and Sliding D. These two worked very well together, they built it up slowly and then turned it into a sprint of back and forth action. If there is one thing from this show that you need to watch, it is this match right here. ****

OVERALL RATING: 7.0 There wasn’t a whole lot here that was outstanding, but overall this was a fun show, with only a few matches I’d say you can just skip. It was a breeze to sit through for the 2 and a half hours it lasted, and it built things well to the next show. Omega and the Bucks look strong for their title shot on the Saturday show, Truth and Naito have something interesting going on, Anderson and Gallows are one night away from their last match in Japan, and Ishii and Roddy put on one heck of a main event to finish the show out in strong fashion. The second half certainly makes up for the so-so first half and when squashed together make for a very nice introduction to Ring of Honor for the Japanese audience.