Ring of Honor – War of the Worlds 2017 Preview

Howdy!

Tonight, it’s time for another Ring of Honor PPV! This time out, it’s the annual War of the Worlds event, which traditionally includes mixing the stars of ROH with the stars of NJPW, and this year is no different. The event itself leads to matches not seen the rest of the year in ROH and is normally tremendous fun. So let’s see what the card looks like and if I can convince any of you guys to plunk down a couple of bucks to check it out!

Let’s preview some wrestling, shall we?

There are 9 matches on the card, so it’s going to be a full one. Let’s jump right in.

Bobby Fish vs Dalton Castle vs Silas Young vs KUSHIDA – Fatal 4-Way match

Who are these guys? – Bobby Fish is a former ROH TV champion & ROH Tag team champion (with Kyle O’Reilly as reDRagon). Dalton Castle is the most flamboyant wrestler in ROH, a throwback to glam stars like David Bowie, who is accompanied to the ring by scantily-clad men he calls his ‘boys’. Silas Young is billed as the ‘Last Real Man’ in ROH, and is a mustachioed brawler. That leaves KUSHIDA, the former ace of the NJPW juniors division, where he is a multi-time NJPW Juniors champ. He’s awesome.

What’s the issue here? – While not stated as such, normally the winner of these matches ends up in line for a title shot down the road, be it against the TV or World champ. There’s a few buried issues here, most of them involving Silas, who had a long feud against Castle and started one with Fish at the last PPV. KUSHIDA is mixed in as part of the NJPW contingent.

Who wins? – Fish is on the edge of leaving ROH at this point, as he’s working without a contract. Pretty sure that leaves him out for the time being. The other 3 are basically a pick ‘em, although Meltzer has been saying that Castle has been making noise about leaving when his contract expires in August. Who knows if that will happen, but he’s the right choice to win this thing. KUSHIDA shouldn’t win, as he’s been losing in NJPW recently, a trend that I expect to continue until the Best of the Super Juniors tournament starts (although, a long storyline of him having a bad BOSJ and having to fight up to get the WrestleKingdom title shot would be admittedly really cool), and I don’t see too much of a point in putting Young over with Castle in the match.

Your winner: Dalton Castle

Frankie Kazarian vs Hangman Page

Who are these guys? – Frankie Kazarian is one-half of the Addiction with ROH World champ Christopher Daniels, and the two are former ROH World tag team champs as well. “Hangman” Adam Page is a member of the Bullet Club, where his nickname comes from him ‘hanging’ guys with a noose that he brings to the ring with him. And he’s crazy and stuff.

What’s the issue here? – Kazarian had faked out joining the Bullet Club to help his partner Christopher Daniels defeat Adam Cole for the ROH World title back at the 15th Anniversary show. Page, as a member of the Bullet Club, was less-than-pleased with this development, and ruined Kazarian’s TV title shot in retaliation. Finally, they’re just going to fight. A simple story, done well.

Who wins? – Adam Page, while not my favorite wrestler in the world, is clearly someone they see big things for in the future. He’s been put over Jay Briscoe, been put in the Bullet Club; someone in charge thinks he’s a star in the making. Kaz can take a loss here to strengthen a heel, which is going to be needed more and more if wrestlers start to take their leave of ROH, something I’ll be talking about later in this thing.

Your winner: Hangman Page

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Sanada) vs Search and Destroy (Chris Sabin & Jonathan Gresham) vs War Machine (Raymond Rowe & Hanson) – 3-way dance

Who are these guys? – EVIL & Sanada are part of the top NJPW heel faction that is Los Ingobernables de Japon; Sanada especially has serious future potential with his seemingly effortless work. Search and Destroy is Chris Sabin of the Motor City Machine Guns & Jonathan Gresham (YAY JONATHAN GRESHAM!), which came about as Sabin and Alex Shelley started mentoring the newer members of the ROH roster. War Machine are the former ROH World tag team champs and the current IWGP tag team champions, and they’re quite awesome.

What’s the issue here? – This is one of those matches where they mixed in the NJPW guys and decided to go with it. There are no personal issues between the wrestlers that I’m aware of, outside of War Machine being tag champs in Japan and Los Ingos perhaps wanting said straps.

Who wins? – SIGN JONATHAN GRESHAM worked so well for me, that I might start a new one, PUT JONATHAN GRESHAM OVER. Regardless, I don’t think it’s happening here. This match feels tailor-made for the NJPW guys to go over, specifically having one of the Los Ingos guys pin one of the War Machine guys. That’s what I think should happen, as it allows them to stretch the issue back to Japan between the two teams, which is a good idea.

Your winner: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Sanada)

Jay White vs Will Ospreay

Who are these guys? – Jay White is a former NJPW Young Lion who has been working ROH for almost a year; he went on a 9 month undefeated streak during that time, but ROH didn’t do nearly enough with it. Will Ospreay is one of the top high-flyers in the world and is the defending BOSJ champion, having won the tournament last year. Will is also a member of the CHAOS faction, who will have a match later in the show.

What’s the issue here? – See the previous match. No personal issue, just ROH wanting to put on the best match they could.

Who wins? – Jay White has been mishandled severely by ROH, in that they gave him a 9 MONTH match winning streak and basically did absolutely nothing with it. It goes to show that it’s not about winning matches, it’s about what you do after you win the matches that counts. Regardless, I think he wins here. Ospreay is a bigger star, yes, so if you want to help White, you put him over the bigger star, as Jay is staying and Will is not (although Will is ‘signed’ with ROH, his primary commitment is to NJPW).

Your winner: Jay White

Bully Ray & The Briscoes (Mark & Jay) vs CHAOS (Trent Beretta, Rocky Romero, & Hirooki Goto) – Ring of Honor 6-Man tag team championship match

Who are these guys? –Bully Ray is one half of the Dudley Boys, former tag champs in just about every company they were ever a part of. The Briscoes are a pair of redneck brothers who have been part of ROH since day one and are multi-time former ROH World tag team champs. They are the current ROH 6-Man tag champs. CHAOS is an NJPW faction and it’s representatives here are the tag team Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Romero) and former NEVER openweight champ Goto.

What’s the issue here? – This is a title match for the ROH 6-man titles, but don’t be fooled; unlike the NJPW versions, these titles have actually had successful defenses! Other than that, no personal issues are here.

Who wins? – This one is probably an ROH victory over NJPW. With Vice focusing on the IWGP Jr tag titles that they hold, it seems unlikely they’ll be taking the titles here. Bully Ray has actually been a welcome addition to the Briscoes, as he plays off them extremely well. I still think that we’re due for a Jay Briscoe heel turn at some point in 2017, but for right now, they’re having fun and I expect them to retain here.

Your winner: (and STILL ROH 6-Man tag champs) Bully Ray & The Briscoes

The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) – Ring of Honor World tag team championship match

Who are these guys? – The Young Bucks are the current ROH World tag team champs. One of the most polarizing teams in the wrestling world, the Bucks are real-life brothers who use double-teams to set up killer moves and spots. They are members of the Bullet Club. Los Ingobernables, as stated earlier, are the top Japanese faction in NJPW. Here, we have BUSHI, who is a masked luchador who spits mist at his opponents in the style of the Great Muta, and is a former NJPW Jr heavyweight champ. His partner is Tetsuya Naito, my pick for the current best all-around wrestler in the world. The current IWGP IC champ, he is also a former IWGP Heavyweight champ as well, not that his character cares one whit for the championships he holds. He’s a charismatic wrestler who commands the attention of the crowd when he’s in the ring.

What’s the issue here? – This is a match for the ROH tag titles, along with the tension that normally comes when 2 factions face off, as the Bullet Club and Los Ingos are competing groups in NJPW. Nothing beyond that.

Who wins? – This is slightly trickier than the 6-man title match, if only because the Bucks are huge stars over in NJPW and could conceptually drop the belts and then regain them later relatively easily, but I don’t think that will happen. BUSHI is in this match to take a pinfall, and that is what he shall do.

Your winner: (and STILL ROH tag champs) The Young Bucks

Adam Cole vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

Who are these guys? – Adam Cole is a current member of the Bullet Club and the only man in history to win the ROH World title 3 times; considering the lineage of the title, it’s impressive. That may pale in comparison to Hiroshi Tanahashi, who is one of the biggest stars in NJPW. A 7-time former IWGP Heavyweight champ, he also has held the IWGP IC title and the tag titles.

What’s the issue here? – This is another ROH/NJPW match. With Cole being a member of the Bullet Club, there is a natural tension between him and Tanahashi, but no personal issues.

Who wins? – Cole is in an interesting spot at the moment. The ROH world seems to be closing around him; he recently dropped the World title to Daniels, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to capture the TV title from Marty Scurll at Supercard of Honor, and this run is beginning to resemble the end of Kevin Steen’s run in the company. His contract expired recently and he is considered one of the most sought-after free agents in the wrestling world, with the WWE notably chasing him for NXT according to rumors. His recent tensions with the Young Bucks and with Kenny Omega seem to indicate that his time in Bullet Club might come to an end soon; all in all, Cole might potentially be making his final appearance on an ROH PPV. And I expect it to be in a losing effort. Tanahashi is due to challenge Naito for the IC title soon, and a win here feels appropriate with that in mind.

Your winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi

“The Villain” Marty Scurll vs Matt Sydal – Ring of Honor World TV title match

Who are these guys? – The Villain! Marty Scurll has laid claim to being the top indy wrestler in the entire world at this point, having worked for ROH, PROGRESS, PWG, and soon, NJPW. He is the current ROH TV champion, and his persona as the rule-breaking villain has been a fan favorite in ROH. He’s been booked strongly in Ring of Honor, winning the TV title his first weekend in the company from Will Ospreay and keeping a stranglehold on it ever since. Matt Sydal, formerly Evan Bourne in the WWE, is a top high-flyer who had most recently worked for NJPW before some, ahem, problems prevented that relationship from continuing; he recently made his TNA debut as well.

What’s the issue here? – Sydal returned to answer a challenge from Scurll after being away from ROH for a good while. On ROH TV, after Sydal defeated Flip Gordon, Scurll attempted a blindside attack that Sydal repelled, and we have ourselves a match.

Who wins? – Marty Scurll has been one of the brightest parts of Ring of Honor in 2017. He’s been booked strongly and has gone over most of the top contenders, and in doing so has elevated the TV belt in a way that hasn’t been seen since Jay Lethal held that title. It would not at all surprise me to see him challenging for the ROH World title sometime in 2017. He’s not losing here.

Your winner: (and STILL ROH World TV champ) “The Villain” Marty Scurll

Christopher Daniels vs Cody Rhodes vs Jay Lethal – Ring of Honor World title match

Who are these guys? – Christopher Daniels, aka “The Fallen Angel” is one of the most renowned independent wrestlers of the last two decades and is the current ROH World champion. He’s spent time in ROH since day one, but also in TNA and various other companies, winning titles all over the globe. Cody Rhodes is the son of Dusty Rhodes, and left the WWE to tour the independents, working for ROH, TNA, & PWG, while also joining the Bullet Club as ‘The American Nightmare’ over in NJPW. Jay Lethal is the former ROH World champion, having had an impressive run of more than 500 days with a title in ROH between the TV and World titles.

What’s the issue here? – This one turns on Cody. First, Cody’s debut in ROH saw him facing Lethal at Final Battle last year, where Rhodes turned heel and defeated Jay after a low blow. Since then, Rhodes has mocked almost every aspect of Ring of Honor and its fanbase. They had a rematch at Supercard of Honor, an excellent bout that was a bullrope match and was won by Lethal to seemingly end the feud. Later on that same night, Cody attacked a victorious Christopher Daniels and laid claim to the ROH World title. Meanwhile, Lethal recently won a #1 Contender 4-Way match to also get a title shot, so we’ve got a 3-way dance for the championship.

Who wins? – This is the toughest match to predict on the card. I can make a case for any of these guys winning. Rhodes, while not an elite worker, is unquestionably better in ROH than he is anywhere else, especially in NJPW; his slimy heel character is a perfect way to rile up ROH fans, and he’s been cutting great promos doing it. Daniels is only a few title defenses in, but age is a factor with him and how long they want his reign to last. And Jay Lethal is going to get that title back someday, that’s all but a guarantee. Recent rumors around Cody are swirling that he has indeed signed with ROH, something that he has denied, but still – I’m gonna go with my gut here.

Your winner: (and NEW ROH World champ) Cody Rhodes

That should just about do it! This card is STACKED up, and I expect a great time tonight. I hope you all check it out; I’ll be back hopefully by Sunday with my review!

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter