Honor Rising – Night 2

Howdy!

We’re back for Night 2 of Honor Rising….really late! Sorry about that, but life kept getting in the way; I started this show 3 different times; when one of the reasons that it didn’t get finished is that my mother-in-law cut of part of her thumb, I started to think that maybe I wasn’t meant to. Different combinations tonight, with the main event being Jay Lethal defending the ROH World title against Tomoaki Honma. Obviously on Night 1, we had a pretty shocking upset as one week before the ROH 14th Anniversary PPV, Roderick Strong dropped the World TV Title to Ishii; could we be in for more?

Night 1 is available here, if you want to read it: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/02/19/honor-rising-night-1/#more-19102

Now then, Friday’s show was fine, if a bit underwhelming. Upon rewatch, I would probably switch the ratings of the 6-Man Tag & Strong/Ishii with each other. Other than that, I’m happy with where I had everything. Let’s see if they can blow us away today.

Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Jay White vs David Finlay 

White has been training at the NJPW Dojo since January 2015, debuting against Alex Shelley at Road to the New Beginning. David Finlay is the son of Fit Finlay. Finlay controls early with a wristlock after a wrestling sequence. White reverses and yanks Finlay’s fingers apart, making the crowd wince a little bit. Finlay plays the heel and goes to the eyes, then settles into a chinlock. This is fine, but it’s really dry, technical stuff. Almost exhibition-like. White goes on the offense and ignores the arm Finlay’s been punishing for the last few minutes, and that’s where they lose me. Finlay does throw some nice European uppercuts, but he’s a Finlay, so I assume he came out of the womb with that ability. They exchange Boston Crabs, and White turns his into a Lion Tamer for the submission. Fine work in a technical sense, but no real story. **1/4

Jushin Thunder Liger and Matt Sydal vs Delirious and Gedo 

On Night 1, Delirious and Gedo fought each other, tonight they’re teaming with each other. Alright, back to Dock or Ioan for another query; is Liger more of a ‘special attraction’ type wrestler these days than anything? He’s been working the early openers in these shows, and I can’t remember the last time he was in a high-profile match. Is this just a case where he’s near the end of his career and he’s out there having fun? Not a criticism, mind you. Just curious. Delirious does his goofy bullshit at the beginning of the match, and I’m over it, to be honest. I know it’s part of the character, but I’m glad he’s the bookerman nowadays and not one of the main stars of ROH. Gedo and Liger start, Gedo gives him a clean break off the ropes, which is enough to convince Liger to shake his hand; after he does, Gedo cheap shots him. Ha! Liger and Sydal work Gedo’s arm over for awhile, but Delirious comes in and runs all over the place, distracting Sydal who gets hit with an errant dive by Liger. Delirious works him over on the outside and in a pretty funny bit, grabs the purse of a woman in the front row and hits him with that. I’m not sure that woman was in on it, to be honest, as she looked pretty not okay with him grabbing her purse. They work Liger over in the heel corner, but he escapes and tags in Sydal. Gedo comes back in briefly regains control, but it breaks down again with all 4 guys. Liger tosses Delirious and they work over Gedo with palm strikes and a jumping knee before Sydal finishes with the Shooting Star. Straight comedy match all the way, and a lot of your enjoyment might depend on your tolerance for Delirious, who was ‘wacky’ all over this match. I might have watched ROH too long, because I’m not as into that anymore. *1/2

Dalton Castle (with the Boys) vs Frankie Kazarian 

Much like last night’s Briscoes/Bullet Club showdown, this match involves all North American wrestlers. Hopefully Kaz will be more comfortable and have a better match tonight. The Boys fan Castle off, and Kazarian wants the same treatment, which doesn’t sit well with Dalton. “Those are my boys!” “You share!” Funny, Frankie. Kaz looks about a million times more comfortable out there than he did the previous night against Kushida. Straight up comedy match again (that’s two in a row), but this one holds together well due to the sheer charisma of Dalton Castle. Frankie hides behind one of the Boys to take control for awhile, but Castle comes back and get a deadlift German for two. Kazarian gets an Electric Chair with a bridge for two. Frankie goes outside the ring and SHOVES ONE OF THE BOYS DOWN! The crowd gave a very nice “ooooooo” to that one. Kazarian all but misses a springboard dive to the outside that could have gone very, very badly if he had missed by much more. Castle get a tope of his own, and tosses him back in for the Bangarang to finish. Call me crazy but I enjoyed this, as they both seemed comfortable in their roles and knew the buttons to push on the crowd. Workrate wasn’t much to write home about, but these are two guys who know their characters very well. **3/4

Bobby Fish, Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata and Kyle O’Reilly vs Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson and Tama Tonga) 

As we found out later, this is the final appearance in NJPW of Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows, and from the beginning, you can see that Karl is having a hard time holding it together. The Bullet Club attacks before the introductions for the faces are even done, clearing the ring except for Anderson and Kyle. O’Reilly gets the advantage and tags in Goto, so Anderson tags in Fale. Doc yanks Goto from the ring and we head outside again, with Goto being sent to the barricade as they try to stop Goto from getting back in the ring before the 20 count; Goto beats it in at 19. Doc gets tagged in and gets a nice pop, so I’m assuming that most people knew that Anderson and Doc were leaving. Karl comes back in and continues the beatdown, and I’ll offer a bold prediction; Anderson is going to need some luck to succeed in the WWE, if only because he looks pretty much like everyone else. He’s good in the ring and good on the mic, but there’s nothing truly unique about his style that’s going to get him over in Vince-land. Tonga in now, and Shibata has to come in and save Goto from getting pinned, after which he kicks Goto himself to try to wake him up from the shitkicking he’s taking. Fish tags himself in as Goto stares down Shibata, and Kyle comes in the other corner of the ring as reDRagon gets the 2-Man Smash Machine, forcing the save from the Bullet Club. It breaks down again with Shibata and Anderson facing off. Anderson fires forearms at Shibata and then dares him to hit Anderson, so Shibata does and Karl goes flying off one shot. Funny as hell. Suplex/Neckbreaker from Gallows and Anderson, but the faces save and we’re back to a pier-6 brawl. Goto and Anderson do a very nice sequence that ends with Goto getting the fireman’s carry neckbreaker on Karl. Shibata and Doc end up in the ring after all the carnage happens, and Shibata escapes a suplex into a sleeper, followed by a Shining Wizard by Shibata to pick up the win. The Bullet Club exchanges hugs and bows after the match with Gallows visibly crying; Tonga and Fale leave the ring to Karl and Doc so they can bow to the crowd for the last time as the crowd chants “Bullet Club!” Anderson takes one last look as he exits, and he’s damn near tears. Hell, I don’t have enough knowledge about their time in Japan to be affected by all this, and I’m almost in tears myself. The match was fine and I’m probably overrating it, but there was some real emotion out there for those guys. ***

Intermission. Damn right, that’s a good place to take a break on I’d say.

Kushida and Moose vs Los Ingobernables de Japón (Bushi and Tetsuya Naito) (with Evil) 

Naito is a spectacular dick, forcing the ref to open the ropes for him, and when he does, Naito tells him it’s not wide enough and forces him to stand on the second rope to do it. Moose carries Kushida to the ring, Prince Devitt style. Moose dominates with power early, so Naito fakes him out over the top rope and mocks his arm motion in the middle of the ring. Bushi sneak attacks, but Moose takes both of them out with a springboard crossbody. Kushida comes in but Evil pulls him out and the heels work him over on the outside. Back in, Kushida plays Ricky Morton as the heels cheat like nuts, gloriously so. Naito is a such a great jerk, it’s a wonder they ever booked him as a babyface. Kushida makes the hot tag to Moose, and he cleans house on the heels, sending Naito to the outside off the top with a dropkick. Kushida dives onto Evil and Naito from Moose’s shoulders, leaving Moose in the ring to spear Bushi for the pin. Moose’s involvement was minimal; he was there to get the hot tag and the pin, basically. Moose was crazy over as a result, the crowd was into him. Basic tag formula, but there’s a reason it works; match really needed at least a few more minutes to be much more than average, though. **1/2

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong vs Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi) (with Gedo) 

I suspect that this will be match of the night, if I were a betting man. Ishii and Strong immediately go nose to nose after last night, but it’s Elgin and Okada starting us off. They trade off offense for a few minutes, then Elgin gets the delayed suplex on Okada, with Ishii and Hashi both trying to break it up to no avail. They make another go of it, which brings in Strong and Tanahashi, and they all suplex Chaos at the same time. Tanahashi vs Yoshi now, and they trade strikes, with Yoshi sliding out on an Irish whip and pulling Tanahashi to the outside, sending him to the barricade to take over for awhile. Ishii in now, and he puts Tanahashi in a single leg crab, Strong tries to break it up but Ishii no-sells the chops and kicks Strong out of the way. Strong looked like a pussy there. Chaos works over Tanahashi for a few minutes, but Tana gets away from Ishii with a dragon screw and tags in Strong. He takes out most of Chaos and gets some nice shots in the corner on Ishii and a 2-count off a gutbuster. Ishii gets a powerslam, but Roddy get a jumping knee and Okada is forced to save. Yoshi and Elgin come in now, and Elgin dominates. Chaos attempts a triple-team; Elgin fights them off, but the numbers are too much and Tana is forced to stop the pin. Everyone pairs off and brawls, and Elgin gets the superplex from the apron to the ring on Yoshi, with Okada barely saving the match. Elgin presses Tanahashi onto Okada and Ishii on the outside, and finishes Yoshi off with a buckle bomb and an Elgin bomb. Best match on the show so far. ***1/2

Post-match, Strong and Ishii have to be stopped after they brawl several times.

The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (with Cody Hall) vs Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe and Toru Yano 

This match is for the 6-man titles. Omega is wearing a New Day shirt and basically challenges them on the way to the ring. Cody Hall clotheslines the Briscoes from behind on a handshake, and that leaves Yano alone with the Elite. They beat him up and pose, but the Briscoes are back now and they’re pissed. They get a double hiptoss over the far ringpost on Nick Jackson, sending him flying into Cody Hall. Omega and Yano look to start us off, but Cody interferes and the Elite toss Yano to the outside after taking out the Briscoes, followed by stereo dives by Omega and the Jacksons. In case you were unclear as to who the heels were, Matt Jackson scratches Yano across the back and chokes him on the second rope. Omega and Nick both join in the fun as Yano is YOUR face-in-peril. He finally comes back by taking the turnbuckle pad off and taking out all 3 members of the Bullet Club with it, then hot tag to Mark Briscoe. Jay comes in after, followed by Omega; I would like to watch Jay and Kenny hook it up one on one. I think that I would very much enjoy that match. The Bucks get their swanton on Mark and that gets two for Kenny. Dragon suplex and a triple superkick on Mark, but Jay makes the save. Tag to Yano, and he sends the heels to the exposed corner 1 by 1, including a drop toehold into the second buckle on Kenny. Yano lowblows both Bucks, and then Omega after Cody Hall tries to hold him for the aerosol spray and almost steals the win from that off a rollup. It breaks down into a pier-six, and the Elite get a double Indytaker on both Briscoes. Omega teams up with the Bucks for More Bang for Your Buck, and that’s enough to get a pinfall as Kenny adds to his belt collection. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have new NEVER 6-Man tag team champs! Decent enough match, but there’s just something about the Bucks for me that doesn’t totally work, which I’ve been open about before. On the other hand, if you’re going to push Omega, you may as well go all the way with it, and that appears to be what they’re doing. WWE, take note; keep putting a guy over for belts, then he looks like a big deal and therefore becomes a big deal when perception becomes reality. ***

Jay Lethal (c) (with Truth Martini) vs Tomoaki Honma

Lethal is wearing the cap Naito gave him on Night 1. I’ll be straight up here; Honma has never impressed me, not even a little bit. I think that if I were into NJPW a little more, I’d ‘get’ his character and like him, but I’ve never gotten there. I do think he’s a decent enough worker, and I’ve been told that if I watched his stuff with Ishii (who I like a lot), I’d probably change my tune. They trade armbars to start things off, but we hit a stalemate pretty soon. Lethal gets stomps in the corner, Honma comes back with a couple of shots, but Truth Martini grabs him from the outside and Lethal takes over with a dropkick and a tope. Then a second tope, and a third. Honma gets back in before the 20 count, so Lethal takes him to the corner with chops. He tosses Honma to stop a comeback and sends him to the barricade. Back in and Lethal goes to a modified surfboard and rolls him over for two. Honma comes back with a blockbuster for two, but Lethal gets the Lethal Combination for two on his end, then the Savage elbow for two. Jay goes for the Lethal Injection, but Honma breaks it up with a headbutt to the back to send Lethal to the apron. They slug it out there, and another jumping headbutt sends Lethal to the floor. Honma goes up and does a CRAZY falling headbutt to the floor from the top rope, and now I get his character – he’s batshit crazy. Honma tosses Jay back in at 16 and covers for two. He keeps working him over and going for covers, but can’t put him away. He goes wild with headbutts, but misses one from the top and Jay gets a breather. Honma charges, but Jay moves and the ref gets bumped. Bushi and Evil attack, holding Honma up for Truth to take a shot with the Book, but Honma no-sells it. He clears the ring, but Naito is in now, and he gets the Pop-Up Kick to the Balls, followed by Lethal hitting the Lethal Injection for the pinfall to retain. It was going fine until the nonsense kicked in, although I never REALLY felt like Honma was going to win it. Still, one of those matches that was again solid to good but not much more, with an overbooked ending that really didn’t need to be there, at least not to me. **3/4

Final thoughts: These shows were both very decent, but could have been so much more. Too many matches on the card and too much filler (Gedo and Delirious both could have taken these shows off and given the time to matches that could have used them) means that while I’d say that there’s stuff worth watching on both nights, with Night 2 having the last match for Anderson and Gallows, along with a very fun 6-man tag as the keepers from that show. Overall, I’ll give them both a thumbs up with a nod to the middle, but I hope that the 14th delivers on a bigger level than this.

Thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter