This week’s ROH was taped last month at Global wars, meaning that it reflects none of the results from this past Friday’s PPV–normally I’d mock them mercilessly for this amateur hour move but ROH was FUCKING AWESOME this week, so they get a pass. Shinsuke Nakamura, The Bullet Club, RPG Vice, and Kazuchika Okada are our special New Japan guests this week for the final crossover episode. There is a crazy amount of wrestling in this week’s episode so let’s get started with…
“Mr. ROH” Roderick Strong vs Shinsuke Nakamura
This is one hell of an opener. Nigel compares the streamers Nakamura gets to…the falling of cherry blossoms. Is that like the only thing you know about Japan Nigel and you just wanted to force the comparison? Feeling out process to start with Roddy working the arm. Roderick tries a snapmare but Nakamura cartwheels to land on his feet! Strong gets a one count of a dropkick. Strong tries to hook a Bow and Arrow but Nakamura’s limbs prove as lanky as they are charismatic and he fucks it up–he does roll right into a headlock and covers it pretty well though. Olympic slam gets two. Nakamura rolls to the apron and suckers Roddy in for some knees to the head. Nakamura takes Strong and sets him up on the barricade for a running knee into the crowd as we fade to…
Back with both guys in the ring trading STIFF forearms–Strong even gets busted open. Nakamura gets dumped and dropped by a baseball slide. Shinsuke ends up in the corner where he takes a jumping knee and and a running elbow. A beautiful double knee backbreaker gets two. Strong tries the Stronghold but can’t hold it as it is reversed into a sleeper. Right When it looked like Roddy was going to power out of the sleeper Nakamura hit a back-stabber. Strong dodges a Bomaye and Shinsuke goes up. Roderick brings him back down with a jumping knee and a backbreaker on the top turnbuckle that earns a two count. Nakamura knees out of a suplex and gets a diving knee (that I thought was a bomaye live but the announce team *really* undersold it if it was). Nakamura can’t make the cover and both guys are down. Nakamura rises fist but his Bomaye attempt is turned into the stronghold. Nakamura makes the ropes to break the hold and they start trading those stiff forearms again. Strong gets the better of the exchange and nails a Sick Kick to set up the End of Heartache which gets a near fall. Strong hits a bunch of strikes and tries for the End of Heartache again but Nakamura slips out and rolls thorough to hit the Bomaye. It only get one! Roddy fires back with a Jumping knee but his Sick Kick is cut off with another Bomaye that ends his night at 17:05
Rating:**** This match was edited a little for time, but what we saw was great. Roderick Strong continues his career year with another “Strong” performance and Nakamura is one of the greatest wrestlers on the planet. Some of the spots were a little rough around the edges but this is just about the best wrestling one can expect to find on free TV. telivising a loss right after Strong earned himself a title match on Friday isn’t the best way to build his credibility as a challenger, but the loss was to the King of Swagstyle himself–That shouldn’t even count!
“Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs Gedo
Gedo is the head booker of New Japan and an accomplished Jr. Heavyweight. Elgin gets a hometown welcome of crushing apathy. This guy had nuclear heat in Toronto this time last year, and now he’s got nothing. Elgin bullies Gedo around with his power and dares New Japan’s head booker to try and shoulder tackle him. This goes as well as you’d expect and Elgin backfists him. Elgin plants his feet and Gedo can’t Irish whip him so he just pokes the Canadian in the eyes. Elgin swings wild and gets poked in the eyes again. Gedo can’t make anything of his advantage and gets Samoan dropped for two. Elgin misses an elbow and Gedo escapes to the apron for a moment, but Elgin pulls him back in with a delayed suplex and gets a near fall. Elgin goes up for the twisting senton he tries every match despite hitting it maybe twice in his career. Gedo predictably prevents being turned into an Okonomiyaki by rolling out of the way while Kelly Kelly plugs the PPV that already happened. 11/10 promotion there ROH. Some punches, a jawbreaker, and a superkick get two for Gedo. They trade reversals until Elgin gets an O’conner Double Stomp. Bucklebomb into the Elgin Bomb finishes at 8:58
Rating:** This was really more of an extended squash than anything and this deep into the taping no one in the audience gave a damn. Still, it was serviceable, and Gedo must have been happy because he booked Elgin as a competitor in the G-1 tournament which starts in July. As one of the few who still likes Elgin it makes me sad to see his Torontonian star sink faster than Rob Ford’s political career did. I maintain hope leaving for a couple months to wrestle in Japan will do something to revitalize Elgin’s stalling career.
“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada and RPG Vice (Rockey Romero and Trent Barretta) vs The Bullet Club (AJ Styles and the Young Bucks)
Okada and RPG Vice are all a part of the CHAOS stable, whose members have had continuing issues with the Bullet Club. Okada’s most recent IWGP world title reign was ended by AJ Styles and RPG Vice recently lost the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles to the Young Bucks. We cut straight to commercial after entrances and miss the awesome moment where each guy in the ring got individual chants from the audience INCLUDING Red Shoes the referee who got the biggest pop of the whole TV taping for posing on the turnbuckle. The constraints of an hour long program I guess. The match opens with Aj and Okada feeling each other out. They trade two counts off victory rolls and both the Syles Clash and the Rainmaker are both blocked. Nick Jackson and Trent are tagged in respectively. They have a crazy sequence that ends with Trent? turning a springboard DDT from Nick into a Northern Lights suplex. Tag to Romero and RPG Vice double team Nick for a near fall. Trent is tagged back in and he starts egging the crowd on by runngin back and forth on the apron until Matt comes across the Ring to superkick him (#superkick counter:1). Matt gets tagged in and the Jackson brothers hit a neckbreaker/backbreaker combo that in turn sets up a springborad forearm from Styles. I don’t know of any trio that triple teams better than these three Bullet Club members. Matt spits on Okada who has to be restrained by the referee. Nick is tagged in so he hits a senton before tagging in AJ. Trent finally looks to fight back until AJ casually suplexes him into the corner. That looked like it sucked for Trent. I empathise with the aching in Barretta’s neck and back as we fade to…
We return with Trent fighting off all three Bullet Club members and driving Nick down hard into the mat with a double stomp. He tries to make the tag but Matt Jackson pulls his partners down of the apron before he can! Some Chaos erupts at home and I miss CHAOS getting the hot tag but Romero is a house of fire catching both Young Bucks in a double hurricanrana. Okada is tagged in and he scores a two count against AJ following a flapjack, DDT, and basement European uppercut. AJ tries his springborad moonsault inverted DDT but Okada counters. AJ fires off a snapmare but Okada shows some freaky athleticism and frontflips to land on his feet. Nick Superkicks Okada to the floor (2) and things get to fast to call again. Ultimately it ends with RPG Vice hiting a Knee based Doomsday device on the floor to incapacitate Nick Jackson. Syles and Okada are left alone in the ring and Styles connects with a Bloody Sunday but the Styles Clash is reversed into a tombstone Piledriver, no cover because the tombstone is just the set up for Okada’s real finish, the super deadly Rainmaker LARIATOOOOOO. Said super deadly Rainmaker misses the mark however and Nick makes the blind tag and takes down Okada who tags in Romero. Nick hits Romero with a springboard facebuster before sliding out to moonsault onto Okada outside. Bucklebomb/enzugiri combo and a hangman senton set Romero up for the finish but Trent makes the blind tag in the process of the Young Bucks delivering More Bang For Your Buck, and he blocks the move by german suplexing Mat of the top rope mid move! Okada comes in from off screen with a diving elbow drop for Matt. Okada misses with the Rainmaker again and Styles comes flying in to take him out with a flying forearm. Rocky gets superkicked into a sunset bomb (3) but before AJ can finish with the Styles Clash Okada hits one of his famed perfect dropkicks to break up the move. Now all six guys are in and trading shots. The Bullet Club hits three superkicks (6), one for each opponent, which chases RPG Vice but Okada no sells and hulk’s up some fighting spirit! Okada fights all three opponents untill they hit a triple superkick (9) to end his night. Trent ends up being the last unlucky bastard in the ring alone with the Bullet Club. An assissted tombstone, Meltzer Driver, Double Superkick (11), and then finally a Styles Clash kills Trent dead at 17:25
Rating: ****1/2. This was incredible. I never cease to be amazed by the seamless teamwork of the Young Bucks, and AJ Styles has managed to tap into their wave length every time they’ve wrestled as a trio. Innovative offense, near perfect timing and execution, a killer finishing sequence, eleven superkicks–I don’t know what else you could ask for out of a Six man tag really. I usually refuse to go above **** for multi-man clusterfuck matches because of their inherent preference of spots over storytelling, but you can’t argue with wrestling this crisp.
Final Verdict: Far and away the Best episode of ROH TV on Destination America thus far. There were actually no angels or promos on this episode as it was the only way to fit in all the wrestling. A wholly satisfying conclusion to the New Japan crossover, this episode is worth seeking out immediately. The only minor critique is that the Elgin match was a little long for what it was, but it never got boring. While it is frustrating that ROH couldn’t address the results of Best in the World this week, the show was of far to high quality for anyone to be seriously upset given that things will be back to normal next week. It was announced at Best in the world that Okada, Nakamura, and Kushida will be returning to ROH in August, so it seems that New Japan talent may be appearing more often in ROH than we thought. This can mean nothing but good things for fans of either product.
I’ll see you all next week as we find out what the Fallout will be from Best in the World. It’s the beginning of the Jay Lethal era, and I couldn’t be more excited.