ROH & NJPW Honor Rising Night Two Review 2.20.16

ROH & NJPW Honor Rising Night Two Review 2.20.16
Location: Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan inside Korakuen Hall
After the shock ending of the previous night with Tomohiro Ishii winning the ROH World Television Championship, what could possibly be in store for night two? Could Jay Lethal suffer a repeat of the same fate? Is there something more going on with Lethal and Los Ingobernables de Japon? Can Moose cement his fist pump into Korakuen Hall lore? (Ok, I’m joking with that one, but you have to admit it’s really hard not to follow along with him.) Will the Bullet Club turn on Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson after they finish their final match in Japan? Will Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks continue the tradition of making the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag belts switch hands? I guess you have to read on to find out.

One thing I can say is that someone close to Michael Elgin informed a select few of us shortly after this show aired, (and before all the websites got a hold of it) that Michael Elgin had been signed to a two year contract by New Japan. All I can say to that is, congratulations and I hope this means we get to see him rise up the card in the promotion. There is no doubt he’s made a huge splash since debuting at last year’s G1 Climax 25, and he’s been receiving great reactions to his in-ring work everywhere else in Japan since then.

I forgot to make note of this on the Night One review, but neither of these shows had commentary. So, you got the New Japan regular camera work, but you could hear the crowd more and it felt like you were in the arena with them, which I always appreciate. I just wanted to say that before getting started, so no one thinks they will hear Kevin Kelly or even the Japanese commentary team, just in case you decide to seek out these shows.

Match # 1: Jay White (Young Lion) vs. David Finlay Jr. (Young Lion)

Winner: Jay White (After making Finlay TAP OUT to the Lion Tamer)

It is really hard not to overstate how food these two are. New Japan really has been blessed with a great crop of Young Lions and what makes them special is they each have their own personality, even though they are only wearing black boots and black trunks. Jay White is the consummate baby face that shows the fire, while Finlay has that hard edge and uses his father’s stiff moves and even some of his facial expressions. Both of them do the little things, which help their matches stand out. Finlay kept wearing down Jay, even getting him in the Boston Crab, but it was White who would eventually turn the Crab into the Lion Tamer and get the win. ***

Match # 2: Gedo & Delirious vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Matt Sydal

Winners: Liger & Sydal (After Sydal hits Gedo with a Shooting Star Press)

This tag match was tons more interesting than the drivel from the night before. At one point, Liger and Sydal kept taking turns wrenching Gedo’s arm and Liger literally had to hold Gedo’s arm, as they both had this WTF look on their faces because Delirious kept crawling underneath them on all fours yelling his gibberish. I joined the crowd in laughing at this. Delirious grabbed a purse from a lady sitting close to the recently retired Japanese Legend Genichiro Tenryu and hit Sydal with it. Liger and Sydal gave the bookers Palm Strikes, Sydal kicked the crap out of Gedo, and the finish happened. Some harmless fun is what this was. * and ½ *

Match # 3: Dalton Castle w/ The Boys vs. Frankie Kazarian

Winner: Dalton Castle (After hitting the Bang-A-Rang)

They did some comedy at the beginning, with Kazarian prancing around mocking Dalton Castle and yelling “I’m a Peacock” and later Kazarian gets frustrated at The Boys because they wouldn’t fan him. Castle of course did his usual bit and it was glorious like always. These two work a good match, with Kazarian firmly establishing himself as the heel by pushing The Boys down on the outside. This is what was missing from the KUSHIDA match the night before. Kazarian showed much more interest in this and it came off so much better. Castle showed off his strength with a great delayed T-Bone Suplex and some of his other trademark stuff. The crowd also responded to him much better here and got into the match. Castle actually did his finish here and got the pin on Kazarian. This is one of those matches I was not expecting much from when the bell rang and it wound up delivering more than I thought it would. ***

Match # 4: 8-Man Tag Team Match: Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Tama Tonga, & Bad Luck Fale (Bullet Club) vs. Meiyu Tag (Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata) & ReDragon

Winners: Meiyu Tag & ReDragon (After Shibata Hit Gallows with the Penalty Kick)

The crowd was hugely into this and they chanted for not only Karl Anderson, but also Doc Gallows (trust me, I was just as shocked as you.) There were even “I love you” chants in English. Everyone worked hard here and there was more story told with Goto being depressed. Shibata gave him one hell of a kick to the back, which seemed to wake up Goto. Goto did hit an Urushi-Goroshi (Fireman’s Carry Driver to the knee) at one point, but it wasn’t enough, as Shibata still had to get the win for the team. You have to imagine this will lead to a match between the two high school friends. There was emotional stuff once the match ended, as Gallows and Anderson did the four corner bow and huddled up with Tonga and Fale to say good bye. It was hard not to be moved by what was happening and you have to feel for both guys, especially Anderson who had made Japan his life. His “Hot Asian Wife” as he calls her was sitting in the front row and I’m sure this will be hard for him. He says he wants to prove he can be a big star and will be doing that along with Gallows in WWE shortly. This was another good match and probably best that they did this before intermission, as to get all of the “feels” out of the way and then get serious after the break. *** and ¼ *

Match # 5: Moose & (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion) KUSHIDA vs. Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI w/ EVIL (Los Ingobernables de Japon)

Winners: Moose & KUSHIDA (After Moose Hit BUSHI with a Spear)

Korakuen once again was into doing the Moose fist pump, as KUSHIDA walked to the ring doing it as well. Fun fact, KUSHIDA and Moose once shared an apartment together. Moose got things going early with his impressive Springboard Crossbody, KUSHIDA would have to take a nasty Suicide Dive from BUSHI into the barricade on the outside, Naito and BUSHI teamed up for a Dropkick into a Flip pin, while Moose accidentally distracted KUSHIDA. Moose and KUSHIDA would get their revenge later as Moose held KUSHIDA on his shoulders so that he could dive on BUSHI and EVIL. Right before this, Moose hit his impressive Dropkick that got a big reaction from the crowd, as his isn’t as majestic as Okada’s, but Moose can get some height on that thing. Moose was booked super strong here and it seems like NJPW is certainly a fan of him. Naito and BUSHI got most of their offense on KUSHIDA, while Moose took it to them for the most part. This adds another one to the string of good and fun to watch matches. ***

Match # 6: Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Roderick Strong vs. YOSHI-HASHI, (ROH World Television Champion) Tomohiro Ishii & (IWGP Heavyweight Champion) Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS)

Winners: Elgin, Tana, & Strong (After Elgin Hit YOSHI-HASHI with the Elgin Bomb)

There was so much fun stuff in this match. Tanahashi even pulled out a Moose fist pump just to add onto the Moose craze at Korakuen. However, instead of chanting “Moose,” the fans chanted “Ace” when Tana did it. Elgin was the star of this one, as he took it to Okada early and he went for his Delayed Suplex spot, with both Yoshi and Ishii trying to stop him, so Tanahashi and Strong grabbed them and it turned into a neat Triple Suplex spot. The three also joined together to do the Elgin posedown too. Strong got some interactions with Ishii and got in quite a bit of offense on him as well. Tanahashi tried to headbutt Ishii at one point, but Ishii fired back with Headbutt to the throat. Elgin took over at the end of the match with a Whirling Facebuster on Yoshi, he picked up Tana and threw him into Okada and Ishii on the floor, then he took out Yoshi for the win. Just a very good six man match that made Elgin look super important, you got some nice things with Tana and YOSHI-HASHI, and it furthered Strong vs. Ishii too. Things got heated between Ishii and Strong after the match, as they went at it for a bit, before being separated. *** and ¾ *

Match # 7: NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Match: (Champions) Toru Yano (CHAOS) & The Briscoes vs. Young Bucks & (IWGP Intercontinental Champion) Kenny Omega w/ Cody Hall (The Elite)

Winners and NEW Champions: The Elite (After The Tiger Hattori)

Kenny Omega came out wearing a New Day T-Shirt (I’m not joking,) as he and Austin Creed (Xavier Woods) have a feud going on through his Up Up Down Down video game channel. This was certainly the best match we’ve seen yet with these NEVER Six Man Titles on the line. The Bucks and Omega dominated early, but The Briscoes fought back with some dives to the outside. Omega had this great spot where he had Yano in the Octopus Stretch and Matt and Hall held hands, as Hall grabbed the barricade to increase the pressure on Yano. Yano tried to do his break routine and Matt Superkicked him, Yano literally used a turnbuckle pad to fend off The Bucks Superkicks, (if you didn’t enjoy that, you don’t have a sense of humor.) They would get in the Triple Superkick spot, but Jay broke up the count. Another great spot is Yano sending all three Elite members into the exposed turnbuckle, Omega tries to use the freeze spray on Yano, but he ducks and the spray goes into Cody Hall’s face, which also gets Yano a near fall with a roll-up. Omega and the Bucks pick up the win after a Double Indy Taker and a Triple More Bang for Your Buck, (which Matt has dubbed “The Tiger Hattori.”) Very good match here with some great spots and fun work from everyone involved. This is exactly what you want to see from these NEVER Six Man Title matches. *** and ½ *

I just want to go onto a little tangent here before getting to the main event. This is also the third title switch in less than two weeks. Somehow there are people online complaining about that and sometimes I wonder if there is no pleasing people. These titles exist as a means to combat the hate everyone gives to the over reliance NJPW has on the six man matches. Yes, does NJPW do them a lot, sure, but complaining about the company not taking these belts seriously right off the bat is silly. These are meant to be defended on house shows, smaller shows like this one, and the big shows. Just the existence of these belts has made legit teams spring up everywhere and with The Elite winning them, it means we could really see some fun combinations go for these titles. Shibata & ReDragon, Team CHAOS, Elgin, Tana, and someone, the possibilities are endless for this and now it kind of makes you pay attention to the six man matches a bit more. The title switches make it unpredictable and also, The Briscoes aren’t going to be at these Road-To shows to defend the belts, so they had to switch them again. That being said, I do hope The Elite keep them for a while because it increases the match quality, not to mention, it gives The Bucks and even ReDragon something else to do besides go for the Jr. Tag straps. This may also make Gedo get a bit more serious with the Jr. Tag belts and start having two on two tag matches for them. So, stop whining and just enjoy these belts for what they are.

Oh yeah this happened and the internet has already exploded about it…

Match # 8: MAIN EVENT: ROH World Heavyweight Championship Match: (Champion) Jay Lethal w/ Truth Martini vs. (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion) Tomoaki Honma

Winner AND STILL Champion: Jay Lethal (After hitting a Lethal Injection)

Honma did what he could to fend off Truth Martini, but I just had this feeling the whole time that there was just going to be a clustered finish and of course it comes right when the match was about to hit that extra gear. This match was going pretty well, Lethal hit Three Suicide Dives in a row to Honma on the outside against the barricade, he also hit the Lethal Combination on him. Honma did a Kokeshi to the outside on Truth, Honma had already had his moment of missing the Top Rope Kokeshi in the ring and then Honma knocks the ref out and here we go. Los Ingobernables hit the ring, BUSHI whacks Honma with the Book of Truth, Naito low blows Honma, and we get the Lethal Injection. Afterwards, BUSHI sprayed Mist in Honma’s face and Naito also officially added Lethal and Truth into Los Ingobernables de Japon with a strong promo to end the show.

I really do appreciate that at least Los Ingobernables try to actually distract the referee, unlike Bullet Club who will just do stuff with the referee staring at them, but this just wasn’t needed at all. Honma’s whole deal until recently was that he lost singles matches. He’s a tag team champion that is going for ROH’s major title and he couldn’t just lose clean after having one of those great Honma matches? I totally get this is Jay Lethal’s thing, but it is ok to let him win some of these title matches himself without a huge amount of help. I just knew this would happen and I couldn’t get invested because of it. It sucks because Honma and Lethal could have had a great match without all of that. ***

Overall Rating: 7.5 As a whole, the show was much better than Night One, but it really leaves a sour taste in your mouth to see it end the way it did. I guess it wouldn’t be a ROH show without it. Getting away from the finish though, you still had plenty of things to enjoy here. The Young Lions delivered their usual goodness, Castle and Kazarian put on something unexpected, you get the emotional goodbye of Gallows and Anderson, Moose and Michael Elgin shine, and The Elite win Six Man Tag Titles. There was nothing bad on the show either and time flew by quickly watching it as well. Ring of Honor shined at Korakuen Hall on the two nights and it will be interesting to see if anything that happened here translates onto the 14th Anniversary PPV that ROH have next week. New Japan has brought it with every show that we’ve seen on NJPW World in 2016 and that looks to continue with New Japan Cup right around the corner. However, before we head into that, it is time for the young and old stars of the company to shine against Pro Wrestling NOAH talent on the first ever Lion’s Gate show on Thursday.