Ring of Honor – April 26th, 2016

Howdy!

Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way here….

Notable news from around the world of ROH this week:

–The Global Wars PPV card continues to be filled out, as we’ve added new matches this week! Current card looks like this:

Jay Lethal defends the ROH World title against Colt Cabana
War Machine defends the ROH World tag titles against the Briscoes
Tomohiro Ishii defends the ROH World TV title against Bobby Fish
The Addiction vs Jushin Liger and Cheeseburger
Kyle O’Reilly vs IWGP Champion Tetsuya Naito (Non-Title)
Michael Elgin/Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada/Moose
The Motor City Machine Guns/Matt Sydal/KUSHIDA vs The Young Bucks/Guerillas of Destiny

Stacked up as usual. The O’Reilly/Naito match is a rematch from last year’s War of the Worlds, in which Naito beat Kyle. I assume that justice will prevail this year. We’ve also added another Elgin/Tana tag, this time against Okada and Moose. And of course, the 8-man spotfest tag is in as well to round out the card. You may notice the glaring omission of one Kenny Omega on the show; he is still working out his visa issues with the United States, and is scheduled to appear at TV tapings in Canada on May 11th. There’s a little something for everyone here; I’ll have your PPV preview as usual before the event. Global Wars takes place in Chicago on Sunday, May 8th.

–ROH COO Joe Koff was a guest on the Ross Report with JR this week. Some interesting tidbits were in there, as he took Twitter q’s. When asked about moving to prime time on Wednesdays with Comet, he pretty much said that they’re looking at it, but nothing on the horizon at this time. He puts over Delirious as a booker pretty strongly, stating that as the COO, he doesn’t have to get involved in booking decisions since Delirious is so good. He dismisses worries over talent raids, saying that they’ve managed to keep some talent that the WWE has gone after, and it’s flattering how well ROH guys are doing in WWE. He pretty much dismisses the idea of Women of Honor being a significant part of the show, but says that he could see one match per show. He says there’s been some conversation about going to two hours weekly, but nothing concrete yet. He talks about the ROH archive, saying that it’d be fun to put it on the WWE Network if they were interested, since they need content, right?

Overall, a mostly solid interview, but a lot of self-congratulatory stuff with Joe. No bombshells dropped, but he comes off like a real wrestling fan, especially talking about being a kid in the old territories, etc. Check it out if you get the time.

–Will Ospreay has apparently signed with NJPW full-time. He was working a handshake agreement with them, but apparently the show-stealing match with KUSHIDA at Invasion Attack (it’s f------ AWESOME) put him over the top and got him a longer, formal contract. This is good news for ROH fans, as there is hope now that one of the best high-flyers in the world will be coming stateside as part of the talent sharing program. One can only hope.

Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Ring of Honor TV – 4/27/16

We are still in Japan this week, as coverage continues from Honor Rising. With Global Wars coming up, it does make sense to showcase these guys that are going to be appearing on the PPV, although with a PPV coming up in a few weeks that has no NJPW guys in the main event, it’s a bit suspect to not at least push Colt Cabana’s return a little stronger. As a reminder, these shows were taped back in February and are available in full on NJPWworld. I would suspect that we’re going to be with these shows through the Global Wars tapings, so let’s settle back and enjoy.

We are TAPED from Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan! Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and the disembodied voice of Steve Corino in Mr. Wrestling 3’s body. Tonight, our main event is a six man tag team match, with reDRagon and Shibata against The Elite! But we’re going to start off with a regular tag team match, as Tetsuya Naito makes his way to the ring, followed by Jay Lethal and Truth Martini! And now, here comes Yoshi-Hashi and the (now former) IWGP Champ, Kazuchika Okada!

Jay Lethal (w/ Truth Martini) & Tetsuya Naito vs Yoshi-Hashi & Kazuchika Okada (w/ Gedo)

Naito and Lethal argue about how to work together, which would become a running thing in this match. Code of Honor is declined, as if there was a doubt about that, and we’re going to start with Okada and Lethal. Crowd is solidly behind Jay, which gives credence to Dock’s assertion that the crowd was full of Japanese smarks that were going to cheer the ROH guys. Lockup and they trade wristlocks. They do it again and Okada goes to a wristlock, Jay snapmares him over and tries for a chinlock, but Okada held onto the hammerlock and cranks it. Lethal gets out into a standing side headlock, Okada shoots him off but Jay runs right through him with a shoulder. Off the ropes and Jay gets a kick to the gut, and signals for the Lethal Injection, but that’s just a BIT early as Okada catches him and goes for the Rainmaker; Jay ducks it and we’re stalemated. They go face to face and Jay shoves him, so Okada fires back with forearms. Lethal catches Okada coming off the ropes and gets a hiptoss followed by a seated dropkick. That gets one. Lethal takes Okada to the corner and wants a tag, but Naito isn’t interested; why doesn’t Naito want to tag in? Let’s see if we can figure out why during these great ads!

We’re back with a tag to Naito, who lays into Hashi with kicks and ushers Lethal out of the ring….only to tag him back in as soon as Jay steps through the ropes. Now, I didn’t really have a handle on Naito’s character when I watched this the first time, but now that I’ve seen a little more of it, he’s a spectacular asshole. And I mean that in the absolute most complimentary way. Very nice belly-to-back suplex from Lethal gets two. He drags Hashi back over to the corner and tags in Naito. Naito sends Hashi to the corner and comes off the ropes, taking a shot at Okada on the apron in the middle of it. He jumps over the top in the corner, sweeps Hashi off his feet to a sitting position against the buckles, and springs back in with a kick to the face. Nice stuff. He covers and gets two. Hashi fights back, Naito levels him with a forearm and looks to grab him by the foot, but Hashi spins out and kicks Naito. Hashi with a Codebreaker on Naito to put him down. This match is technically well-executed, but there’s just something missing that I can’t put my finger on. Yoshi makes the hot tag, and here comes Okada. He runs wild on Naito and takes a shot at Lethal to send him to the floor. Big boot to Naito, Lethal comes back in and tries to take out Okada but gets flapjacked as a result and rolls out. Okada splashes Naito in the corner and DDTs him. He gets a running European uppercut on Naito for two. Okada slams Naito and goes up, Naito up so Okada leaps over and rolls through, but he charges at Naito in the corner and eats some feet. Naito gets to catch Okada coming off the ropes with an inverted atomic drop, followed by a tornado DDT. Naito rolls to the corner and tags in Jay, who slams Okada and goes up. He comes off and Okada tries a kick, but Jay catches him and catches him with a Discus punch. Cross-corner and Jay eats boot on a charge, but he avoids Okada’s attack and gets the Lethal Combination. I’ve actually enjoyed the Lethal/Okada parts of this match much more than any other parts; they’ve got a good chemistry to them. Naito back in and they try to double-team Okada, but Okada avoids a Lethal charge; Naito catches him in a full-nelson, but Okada moves and Naito eats a Lethal superkick. Okada pounds away at Lethal’s back, off the ropes, dropkick by Okada! No one does it better. Lethal crumples to the mat and both guys are down. Tag to Hashi and he runs wild on Jay, ducking a clothesline and just throwing Jay to the mat. Suplex into a neckbreaker by Yoshi gets two. Okada back in now and they double-team Lethal, Okada sending Hashi into him in the corner, then an Okada splash as well. Lethal tries to reverse a cross-corner whip, but Okada holds him in place and Yoshi comes off the top with a blockbuster. 1,2, Naito makes the save! Okada tosses him and follows him to the floor, sending him to the barricade. Yoshi looks for a powerbomb, but Jay backdrops out. Lethal’s got the Book of Truth, but Hashi ducks the shot and turns Jay inside-out with a clothesline. Slam and Hashi goes up, but Truth grabs him by the leg. Now look, I get that Jay’s the heel here, but he shouldn’t be having problems beating Yoshi-Hashi to the point where he needs Truth’s help. Okada, yes. Hashi, no. Anyway, Hashi kicks Truth off and sends him to the barricade, but now Evil is out and he tosses Yoshi off the top rope while Naito levels Okada on the outside with the Book of Truth. Lethal Injection puts an end to it. (Jay Lethal/Tetsuya Naito over Kazuchika Okada/Yoshi-Hashi, pinfall, 10:31)

WORTH WATCHING? I don’t know, man. I mean, there was some nice stuff in this match, but I just couldn’t shake the fact that it didn’t feel all that interesting given the talent that was involved. I’m going to say YES, the chopped up version is worth a look, but only barely. And that finish was atrocious, just atrocious.

Post-match, Naito beats on Yoshi with the Book of Truth, then he and Lethal look like they may come to blows as well…but Lethal offers the handshake instead, and Naito rears back…and accepts it. They all fist bump to Naito’s pose, and Naito gives Lethal his baseball cap! Lethal, not to be outdone, gives Naito the Book of Truth. And all was right with the world. Up next, it’s Frankie Kazarian/Kushida! But really up next? These ads!

We’re back to the music of Frankie Kazarian! This match was originally supposed to be Adam Cole vs Kushida, but Cole had some family issues and didn’t make the trip. And here comes Kushida! Easily my favorite wrestler in Japan over the last few years, he’s got the kind of charisma that can’t be taught. I’m a giant mark for him and would probably have his children if requested and were biologically able to do so. I did not particularly love this match on initial viewing, so let’s see how a second time out works.

Frankie Kazarian vs Kushida

No Code of Honor, and we’re off. Test of strength to start, won by Frankie. He bends Kushida over to the mat and puts his knees on Kushida’s chest. Kaz tries for it again, but Kushida catches him with the legs and goes for the Hoverboard Lock, with Frankie immediately scooting to the ropes. Kaz comes back in and they trade go-behinds with Frankie tossing Kushida to the mat. Kushida recovers quickly with a hammerlock and a front facelock, holding on as Kaz tries to spin him out, then spinning on top of Frankie’s body and ending with some slaps to the head. Frankie looks confused as to what to do, but we’re not confused; we need to take an ad break!

We’re back with Kaz on the ring apron. Kushida charges him, but Frankie ducks it, goes to the eyes and snaps Kushida’s neck on the top rope. Frankie springs back in with a DDT on Kushida. He sends Kushida to the corner and comes out with a running side Russian legsweep. These guys just feel awkward together in the ring for some reason. Kaz drapes Kushida on the bottom rope and stands on him, choking him down. He sends Kushida crotch-first to the buckles, hanging him on the second rope and getting a backstabber out of the corner. That gets two. Frankie puts the badmouth on Kushida, and that NEVER works, Frankie! I mean, I think it worked one time for Karl Gotch, but that was a LONG time ago. Kushida considers them to be fightin’ words and he fires away at Frankie, Kaz sends him off the ropes, Kushida goes over and looks for a sunset flip. Frankie pinwheels his arms to avoid going down, then he turns Kushida over and drops a knee on the back of Kushida’s neck. He sends Kushida to the corner but eats boot when he charges in. Kaz charges Kushida up against the ropes, but Kushida gets a bicycle kick on Kaz that sends him to the apron, Frankie charges again but Kushida gets a kick from the apron to the face of Kaz. Springboard missile dropkick from Kushida sends Frankie outside! Kushida goes up, flipping dive from the top rope onto Kazarian on the outside! Awesome. He tosses Frankie back in, charges, but Kaz goes to the apron and Kushida hits the buckles. Frankie kicks him in the gut from the apron Kaz tries to spring in again from the apron, but Kushida catches him by the arm and applies a cross-armbreaker. He turns it into a triangle as Frankie rolls the wrong way, but Kaz goes to the eyes to break it. They trade shots back on their feet and Frankie tries to get the better of it, but Kushida just starts kicking him in the left arm to break. Irish whip is reversed and Kushida tries a back handstand off the ropes, but Frankie catches him and drops him with a bridging electric chair for two. Frankie puts Kushida on the top rope as the commentators have this really weird meta conversation about Japanese baseball players and why Kelly always takes Corino to Japan, why doesn’t he take Mr. Wrestling III? Man, I’ll be happy when this angle is over with. Frankie looks for the Flux Capacitor, and then when he can’t get that he tries for a suplex, but Kushida blocks both and takes him down with the arm in a spot that looked pretty painful. Kushida kicks him in the left arm and comes off the ropes, Frankie tries for a tilt-a-whirl, but Kushida isn’t having that s--- and goes for the Hoverboard Lock. Frankie tries to fight it, but Kushida rolls him over to the middle and sinks it in, and that’ll do it here. (Kushida over Frankie Kazarian, submission, 9:42)

WORTH WATCHING? I haven’t seen that many Kushida matches that aren’t worth watching. Yet this was solid but not spectacular, so I’ll give it a YES, it’s not a bad ten minutes, but it sure as s--- isn’t great either. I gave it *** in my initial review, I’d probably bump it about ¼ * upon rewatch, but that isn’t setting the world on fire or anything. They didn’t mesh well, but Kushida is almost always worth a look.

Post-match, Kushida celebrates as we’re told that our main event is up next! But first, how about some ads!

I swear to God, I don’t even like Cheeseburger. But this ad is hilarious enough that I kind of want to buy the damn shirt.

We’re back to….oh lord, they gave Mark Briscoe a microphone and set him loose on the streets of Japan. He’s apparently looking for Godzilla, he tells a passerby that he stops to ask for help. What follows is actually the funniest thing that I’ve seen on ROH TV in awhile, but then I’m easily amused, as Mark tries to decide what to eat (“The noodles, the noodles, the noodles, the noodles, the rice, the rice, the noodles, the rice, the rice, the rice, the noodles, the noodles, or the rice?”), gets hypnotized by a ramen bowl, drops some little-known facts on us (“The historic Mount Fuji was actually named after the historic wrestling manager Mr. Fuji”), demonstrates some red-neck Kung Fu outside the NJPW store, and finally sees an ad featuring some chickens and asks how to say ‘home’ in Japanese. This was seriously one of the funniest things they’ve done on this show in ages. Mark Briscoe is a national treasure. Let’s ponder it all during these ads!

We’re back to the music of The Elite of the Bullet Club! Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks are making their way to the ring, and they’re followed by the music of Katsuyori Shibata! He is, of course, followed by those young whippersnappers that are reDRagon, and we’re ready for our main event!

reDRagon/Katsuyori Shibata vs The Elite (Kenny Omega/Nick Jackson/Matt Jackson)

The teams come together in the ring for the Code of Honor, but Omega piefaces Shibata instead and it’s ON. Shitaba sends Kenny to the floor and follows while the Bucks and reDRagon pair off. Shibata tries to sends Omega to the backstage area, but Kenny reverses and tosses Shitaba into the barrier instead. Meanwhile, the Bucks go to the eyes of Fish and Kyle to break up some reDRagon offense. They shoot the boys off, reversed by reDRagon, the Bucks go over for stereo sunset flips but Kyle and Bobby just shrug and drop down into cross armbreakers on both Bucks. Hearing the Bucks scream in pain brings a tear of joy to my eye. Omega tries to come back and break up the armbreakers, but Shibata comes back in and now Omega joins the armbreaker recipient club. Membership: 3. Anyhow, Kyle gets powerbombed by Matt onto Fish to break the holds, and Omega further powerbombs Shibata onto O’Reilly onto Bobby, and the faces roll out. Dropkicks by the Bucks to the outside on both members of reDRagon, but Shibata moves when Kenny tries it and he fires away on Omega with a European uppercut. Shibata gets back on the apron, but the Bucks are waiting and they get the headscissors/dropkick combo to send Shibata back to the floor. The Bucks get a running start and get stereo topes onto reDRagon on the outside, and now Omega is back in the ring. The Bucks bang the mat in unison to wake up the Terminator, and Omega wants to fly now, hitting a GORGEOUS somersault plancha onto reDRagon on the outside. The Elite are in control, but we’re not in control of taking this last ad break!

We’re back with Kenny Omega choking away on Bobby Fish. Nick Jackson takes a turn as well, and now Omega is back over to the corner and tags in Nick. Kenny with a backbreaker on Fish, and he hands Bobby off to the Bucks, who get the neckbreaker/backbreaker combo for two. Nick rakes the back of Bobby and lays into him in the corner with kicks, alternatingly telling Bobby, the crowd, and the referee to ‘suck it’. Lovely. Tag to Matt, and they send Fish to the corner. Bobby avoids a charging Matt and gets a kick to the mid-section, followed by one for Nick. Fish ducks a clothesline from Matt and gets an exploder, taking Nick out as well. Tag now to Kyle, and here comes the Two-man Smash Machine, culminating in the kneedrop/backbreaker combo. That gets two. Chasing the Dragon time, but Fish gets pulled to the outside as Matt goes over the top to get a jawbreaker on Kyle. This match has been tremendously fun to watch. Tag to Shibata, tag to Omega, and Shibata just clobbers Omega with a forearm when he comes in. He turns Kenny to mush in the corner with elbows, but attempts to go cross-corner and Kenny follows him in with a jumping elbow. Now HE tries to elbow Shibata into submission, and when Shibata tries to get up and get in Kenny’s face about it, Omega just rakes him in the eyes and continues with kicks. Tremendous. Omega goes cross-corner this time, but now Shibata follows him in with a big boot. And Shibata is pretty pissed off now. He GRINDS his boot into Omega’s eyes in the corner, which is awesome, and then gets a delayed dropkick on Kenny in the corner. Underhook suplex by Shibata gets two. Shibata puts Omega in a rear-naked choke, and when the Bucks come in to try to stop him, he hangs on. Finally, they annoy him enough that he releases the hold and just levels the Bucks with stiff shots. I approve. Shibata comes off the ropes for the Penalty Kick, but the Bucks get a double superkick to wound him, then a triple superkick with Omega! Kenny stacks him up, 1,2, Fish makes the save! He tosses Matt Jackson, but charges Nick and gets sent over the top and to the floor, where Nick follows by coming off the apron with a tornado DDT. Meanwhile in the ring, Omega and Shibata trade go-behinds, Omega comes off the ropes and runs right into a Shibata missile dropkick. Shibata makes the tag to O’Reilly, and here comes Kyle. Both Bucks immediately attempt to attack, but a real man like Kyle just beats the crap out of both of them, amiright? He takes turns teeing off on the Bucks, Matt goes for a superkick, Kyle catches it, hands the leg off to Nick; he then grabs Nick’s leg and does a double dragon-screw legwhip on the Bucks. Running forearm to Omega in the corner, then a running kick to Kenny. He looks for a tornado DDT on Kenny, but Omega catches him and tosses him in midair to the mat. Bobby gets back on the apron, a double superkick by the Bucks puts him back on the floor. Omega holds Kyle up in a full-nelson, but O’Reilly ducks and Nick Jackson hits Kenny with a superkick. And now Kyle goes to town on Nick, firing shots and knees. Nick avoids the legsweep of Kyle, but O’Reilly catches the superkick and sends it at Matt, followed by a kick to the gut of Matt. Kyle eats a superkick, but he comes off the ropes with a rebound lariat on both Bucks. Omega is back up now, and he comes out of the corner with a jumping knee on Kyle, followed by a One-Winged Angel attempt. Kyle manages to slip out at the top of the move and gets Kenny in a guillotine choke; Matt Jackson tries to break it, but Kyle just hangs on as Shibata is back on the apron now and he grabs Matt in a rear-naked choke of his own, but Matt escapes and superkicks him back to the floor. Distraction of the referee by Nick Jackson allows him to toss the spray can to Matt, who sprays Kyle in the eyes to break the choke. And now the Bucks get the Indy driver on Kyle, followed by the One-Winged Angel by Omega to get the 1,2,3. (Kenny Omega/The Young Bucks over reDRagon/Shibata, pinfall, 10:07)

WORTH WATCHING? Even butchered all to s---, YES, this was the usual tremendous fun you get when you put these guys in the ring together. And hey, I know that they’re doing Elgin/Omega at the next big NJPW event, but based on the crowd reactions to Shibata/Omega, they might want to keep that one in their back pocket. Fun main event, best match on the show this week. My only unequivocal watch this week.

Post-match, the Elite prance around the ring celebrating as Kevin reminds us that coverage from Honor Rising continues next week. And we’re out.

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: It’s another Honor Rising show, so you can make the call on this one. They chose a good main event, and the other matches this week are watchable, just not great matches. I know I gave everything a ‘watch it’ this week, but it was kind of a weak watch it, if you know what I mean. ROH has a PPV coming up in 8 days, so they need to remember that. Either way, we’ll see you next week.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter