Ring of Honor – October 12th, 2016

Howdy!

SHIBATA/O’REILLY!!!!

Ahem.

Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Ring of Honor TV – 10/12/16

We are TAPED from MCU Park in Brooklyn, New York! Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino, and Bobby Fish is along for the ride! It’s a two match show tonight; in our main event, Adam Cole will defend the ROH World title against Jay Lethal, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & Tetsuya Naito! But let’s not waste any time here!

Katsuyori Shibata vs Kyle O’Reilly – Non-title match

To say I’ve been waiting for this match is quite the understatement. Shibata is the current NEVER openweight champion in NJPW; he and Kyle would face off for that very title at the most recent NJPW event, King of Pro Wrestling. (Review available on this very blog courtesy of Ioan Morris; here’s a handy link! https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2016/10/10/njpw-king-of-pro-wrestling-2016/) Shibata is my 2nd favorite wrestler in all of NJPW, running a very close second to KUSHIDA; O’Reilly, of course, is my favorite wrestler in the known universe. Shibata is a nasty striker who has some of the best facial expressions in the business, with the feeling of utter disdain for his opponents apparent in almost everything he does. I expect him to mesh well with Kyle, whose MMA-influenced style should match up extremely well. Ring the bell!

Chain wrestling to start us off, with each man jockeying for position; Kyle shows caution in the early going with Shibata, escaping and setting up again. Even that early sequence is a reason that I like these guys so much; the grappling felt authentic, not smooth, as each guy wanted to catch the other while not giving themselves over in a way that would trap them. It was less a choreographed dance and more of an actual wrestling match. Kyle checks a lockup attempt with a kick, then a grappling sequence takes them to the ropes; Shibata gives a clean break, but Kyle turns him around. Kyle fakes a clean break and goes for a forearm, so Shibata punches him in the mouth. They trade shots with Shibata getting the better of that, and Kyle takes him down with a double leg and a mount, Shibata covers up on palm strikes, Kyle attempts for a cross-arm breaker, but Shibata keeps the hands locked to block. He turns it over into an armbar of his own, but Kyle escapes and goes for a big kick that misses. Kneelift by Shibata, snapmare, and now Shibata tries for a roundhouse kick that Kyle dodges. Reset. Shibata with the same sequence of kneelift, snapmare, but instead of a kick hooks on a chinlock. He works it, dropping to kick Kyle in the back and then reapplying it, really digging in the knee on the back of O’Reilly. Drops it again and stomps on Kyle’s head, then reapplies, transitioning it into a leg triangle. Kyle tries to fight out, but Shibata is like a dog with a bone, pulling back on his own leg to keep O’Reilly in place. Kyle finally rocks back and forth enough to roll to the ropes for the break, and Shibata stomps him as these ads better be quick.

We’re back with Shibata riding O’Reilly to the mat with an overhand hammerlock, and Shibata stomps on the elbow. Kyle is down and tries to kick Shibata away, but Shibata’s body language is just awesome here, as he basically is laughing at Kyle’s offense; Kyle tries to wrap up the leg, but Shibata just calmly steps away. He drops a knee on the arm of O’Reilly, then wraps him up in a keylock, pulling him away from the ropes. Kyle locks his hands and tries to escape, but Shibata keeps cutting him off and putting him back in the center. Shibata has complete control of the match at this point. Another rollover attempt finally gets Kyle to the ropes to get a break. Again, the match has been all about Kyle not being able to figure out Shibata or how to escape his holds. Shibata just mercilessly stomps away at the arm and shoulder of Kyle in the corner, and Kyle gets pissed now, standing and throwing forearms with the good arm, with Shibata telling him to bring it on. Shibata takes a shot of his own, but Kyle finally mounts some real offense, putting together a few strikes and flattening Shibata with a kick. Running forearm in the corner from Kyle leads to him snapping the arm of Shibata across his shoulder into a belly-to-back suplex and a leglock. Shibata escapes with a boot to the face of Kyle, so Kyle gets up and blasts him with a kick to the chest. Shibata sits right back up! Kyle kicks him again and Shibata literally brushes off his chest like it was nothing. Another one, and Shibata scratches his face in mild annoyance. I LOVE THIS. Kyle goes batshit on him with more kicks to the chest as Shibata gets to his feet, and after the last one, Shibata just nails Kyle in the face with a right hand. Notice how Shibata isn’t no-selling any of this; he doubles over for a few seconds after the adrenaline of him getting to his feet and clocking Kyle wears off. Shibata sends Kyle to the corner and follows him in with a bicycle kick. He does the same to the opposite corner, then lays in the forearms. O’Reilly crumbles under the onslaught and Shibata gets a running start, delayed dropkick to a slumped Kyle! Double underhook suplex by Shibata gets two, and Shibata hooks Kyle’s arm on the kickout into the armbreaker as Kyle desperately locks his hands to fight him off. Kyle rolls to the ropes to escape, Shibata follows with a hiptoss and an arm triangle, wrapping his leg around Kyle’s head and trying to straighten out the arm. He almost gets it, but Kyle again makes the ropes. Let’s make this a second quick ad break, okay?

We’re back with Kyle avoiding the Penalty Kick from Shibata and now we’re nose to nose as Kyle attempts to match Shibata’s comeback from earlier. Kyle off the ropes with a big kick, Shibata with the same. Neither guy wants to give an inch. Kyle comes off again, but Shibata kicks him in the face and hooks a front guillotine choke. Shibata wraps the legs around O’Reilly to try to bring him to the mat, but Kyle blocks it with a shot to the ribs and stands Shibata up with a standing head and arm choke. Shibata goes down and Kyle covers, 1,2, no! Shibata sits up and tells Kyle to bring it on, but his body language is completely different now, as his shoulders are limp. Kyle doesn’t come with kicks, but instead paintbrushes him with the boot; he won’t fall for it again and wear himself out. Shibata back up and they slug it out, and now Kyle’s winning! Ax and Smash from O’Reilly, but he goes to the well one too many times and Shibata takes him down with an STO to buy some time. Shibata fires kneelifts, but there’s nowhere near the fire from earlier and Kyle turns it with strikes and two kicks to the leg that take Shibata down. Shibata counters a suplex with a knee to the face of Kyle, Kyle hits him with a Discus forearm, O’Reilly goes for another one and Shibata catches him with a European uppercut and hooks a sleeper! Kyle tries for the ropes, so Shibata hits him with a kneelift and a belly-to-back suplex that looks like it spiked Kyle on his head! Kyle hits a German suplex on Shibata! Shibata with a high-angle German on Kyle! STRONG STYLE~! O’Reilly back up, he and Shibata wipe each other out with simultaneous kicks! TREMENDOUS. Crowd gives them a standing ovation and a well-deserved “This is Awesome!” chant. Both guys drag themselves back to their feet in opposite corners, Shibata levels a charging Kyle with a kick! Kyle kicks out at one! Kyle nails Shibata with a kick, Shibata kicks out at one! They trade forearms, Kyle drops Shibata with a lariat! 1,2, NO! Brainbuster by Kyle! Shibata kicks out at one! Kyle with a Penalty Kick of his own! 2nd Brainbuster by Kyle! 1,2, NO! But there was no juice behind that kickout, and Kyle hooks the cross-armbreaker! Shibata locks the hands, but Kyle is able to roll over into an Omoplata! Will Shibata tap? He grabs at the referee, but he won’t give up! Kyle tightens the hold and is threatening to break his arm…..the ref has seen enough! He calls for the bell! (Kyle O’Reilly over Katsuyori Shibata, ref stoppage, 15:29)

WORTH WATCHING? F---. YES.

Okay, now then; there was a real beauty and art to this match for a few reasons. The early part of the match was the build of Shibata, as Kyle couldn’t figure out how to beat him; notice how Shibata did his usual intimidation spots and Kyle kept falling for them, wearing himself out with kicks and continually falling into holds. O’Reilly was forced to escape numerous times using the ropes as opposed to reversing the holds that he was put in, which helped to put Shibata in the position of dominance for the opening minutes and establish the favorite/underdog dynamic. So when we hit the middle portion of the match, where Kyle began to try to ‘solve’ Shibata by using intimidation tactics of his own and matching him, the match took on hue of Kyle learning what would be needed to actually beat Shibata. He kept escaping to the ropes on the submission holds and avoided the big strikes, and this is where Shibata is just a GREAT pro wrestler; he never dropped his facade of intimidation in telling Kyle to bring it, but his body language completely changed and it took less to bring him down despite his braggadocio. That put both wrestlers on a more even keel, so when they did the suplex spots near the end of the match, it felt more like Kyle could actually pull it out; from there, they headed into the multiple 1-count spots to work the crowd even more, but the accumulated damage was too much once Kyle hooked the Omoplata for Shibata to make the ropes, as all of Shibata’s bravado finally drained out. And rather than Shibata having to tap out, the ref stoppage was appropriate to keep him strong for the rematch with Kyle that was for the title, which took place at the aforementioned KOPW. I highly recommend that you watch that match after this one; no spoilers, I promise, but you can see spots in that match that were learned from this one on behalf of both wrestlers.

I could probably write about that match for ages. Full disclosure: I have seen the entire match on VOD, and the commercial breaks don’t hurt it TOO much, but you should really see the whole thing uncut if you can, then watch the NEVER title match after. If you’re a star ratings guy, I had the uncut match at ****1/4, for whatever that’s worth.

Post-match, Shibata is PISSED that the ref stopped the match as the commentators point out that Tiger Hattori might have saved Shibata’s career. See? Shibata doesn’t give up and Kyle goes over strongly. Perfect. Shibata gets back to his feet and holds up his NEVER title as Kyle gets in his face and points at the belt. I’m going to welcome this ad break, because I need a cigarette.

We’re back some highlights of Field of Honor, set to some generic garbage. Kelly and Corino tell us that the main event is next as they promote Glory by Honor weekend and the road to Final Battle.

And there’s the music of Tetsuya Naito! He’s followed by Jay Lethal, who stares down Naito as he enters the ring. Hiroshi Tanahashi is out next, and he’s followed by Adam Cole, who’s out alone. The thing about Cole, at least to me, is that he absolutely carries himself like a superstar in the way he walks, his attitude, everything. He’s a perfect World Champ. Introductions are done and let’s get this thing started!

Adam Cole (C) vs Jay Lethal vs Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito – Ring of Honor World title Fatal 4-Way

Two guys legal in the match, anyone can tag in. If someone gets tossed to the outside, another wrestler can declare himself legal and come in. Got it? Let’s go.

Lethal wants Naito to start off. Naito isn’t the least bit interested, so Cole comes in instead….and immediately tags out to Tanahashi, as the heels avoid Lethal. Lethal and Tana look ready to start, but Cole and Naito tag in on Lethal and Hiroshi, respectively. Naito avoids two lockups from Cole, and Cole hits him with an “Adam Cole, bay-bay!” on the 3rd attempt; Naito just kicks him in response. Side headlock by Naito and Cole shoots him off, but Tetsuya runs through him with a shoulder and now we get “Naito, bay-bay!” Hee! They run the ropes and Cole gets an armdrag that Naito breaks with a headscissors. Naito with a tag to Lethal now, and Lethal gets in Naito’s face; meanwhile, Cole tags out to Tana. Jay and Tana now, lockup goes to the ropes and we get a clean break and a little air guitar from Hiroshi. Lockup again, to the ropes and Lethal tries for a shot off the break, Tana avoids it and fires to Jay’s gut. Irish whip by Hiroshi, and Lethal takes out Cole on the apron. Shots from Tana to Jay, another whip and now Jay takes out Naito on the opposite apron. Lethal alleyoops Tana to the apron and hits a springboard dropkick, then follows that with a tope on Cole to the outside. Lethal is in a GREAT groove with his character, as he’s taking things too personally and letting his desire for revenge take over instead of being the cool, calm collected champion he was. He follows that up with topes to Naito and Tana respectively, and we’re going to take a break to watch these great ads….respectively!

We’re back with Lethal hooking a figure four on Tanahashi. Cole breaks that up and tags himself into the match when Lethal goes after him in the corner, but Jay sends Cole to the floor. (Field?) Lethal goes out after him, but Cole slides in and now he’s legal, as he outsmarts Jay again. He walks right into some rights and lefts from Tana, but Adam fights back and snapmares Hiroshi. Cole runs the ropes and stops to mock the air guitar, then goes to put on the chinlock, immediately reversed by Hiroshi. That’ll learn ‘im. Cole back Tana to the corner, and Naito tags himself in and goes to work on Adam. Cole fights him off and hits a kick, Last Shot by Cole! 1,2, no! Cole tunes up the band, but gets too close to the corner and Lethal tags himself in; Adam takes exception, and by that I mean he turns around and nails Lethal in the face with a punch. Naito takes the opportunity to toss Cole from behind, then run the ropes and hit his pose. Okay, that’s pretty much enough of that, guys. Lethal back in now, Naito sends him to the corner and follows with a dropkick. Naito sweeps the legs to drop Jay, then springs in from the apron with a dropkick to a seated Lethal. Armwringer from Naito and he offers a tag to Tana, but yanks his arm back and tags in Cole instead. Adam works Jay over, but Lethal manages to fight back with a belly-to-back suplex into a waistlock, then another one; Cole manages to back Lethal in the corner to avoid a third, but that allows Naito to tag himself back in. He works Jay over and again taunts Tana in the corner before nailing him with a right hand. Lethal hits Naito with an enziguri as a result. Naito manages to roll over and tag in Cole, and we’re back to Adam against Jay. Cole tosses Jay into the buckles hard, then asks Naito for some help, as Naito holds up a prone Lethal. Cole with a superkick attempt, but Lethal ducks it; Naito manages to catch Cole’s boot, but that leaves Adam wide open to a superkick from Jay. Lethal Combination to Naito! You know what a non-lethal combination would be? Your eyes and these great ads!

We’re back with Jay reaching for the tag to Tana, makes it! Hiroshi in and he’s a house afire, dropping both Naito and Cole. Slam to Naito! He slams Cole on top of Naito and goes up to the second rope, somersault senton to both guys! He covers Adam, 1,2, NO! Tanahashi goes up for the High Fly Flow, but Naito shakes the ropes and crotches him. Naito tags back in now, he locks a hold on Cole, Cole tries to escape, enziguri by Naito! Naito with a side suplex, 1,2, NO! Elbow by Cole sends Naito to the corner, where Lethal is waiting to tag himself in. Jay tosses Naito from the ring, and Cole attacks. Cole with a cross-corner whip, Lethal reverses but eats a boot on a blind charge. Cole goes for the Panama Sunrise, Lethal rolls through it and misses a running kick, but springs off the second rope into a cutter! Tana and Naito dive in to interrupt the count at two. Lethal and Tanahashi slug it out, with Tana winning that battle, but Lethal reverses a whip and hits a kick combo. Naito catches Jay from behind and hits a springboard tornado DDT, but gets up right into a leg lariat from Cole! Tanahashi manages to answer that with a slingblade, and everyone is down. Crowd thinks this is awesome, but I’m more inclined to say that it’s above average. Naito is the first to his feet and he puts Jay on the top, superplex attempt is blocked by Jay. Tana comes over now and it looks like a Tower of Doom, but Cole is back and stops that by tossing Hiroshi to the floor. Superkick to the nether regions of Naito! Cole tries for the superplex now, but Lethal fights him off and sends him crashing to the mat. Lethal is on the top, Hail to the King elbow! Tanahashi is on the top now, High Fly Flow misses! Cole moved! Lethal off the ropes, Lethal Injection to Tanahashi! Lethal and Cole again, Lethal with a kick to the midsection, he signals for the Lethal Injection on Cole! Lethal off the ropes, but Cole pulls the referee away and Naito nails Lethal with the title belt! Naito goes for Destino, but Cole superkicks him! Adam loads Lethal up, Last Shot from Adam! 1,2,3! Champ retains! (Adam Cole over Jay Lethal, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & Tetsuya Naito, pinfall, 17:35)

WORTH WATCHING? – Barely. The beginning was really slow and all the pose-offs and stalling got old quick, but the match picked up enough in the second half to give us a nice finish; the last 5 minutes were excellent. I’m giving this one a pass to say YES, because it was more than decent, but it’s also a little less than what I expected from the talent in the ring, to be brutally honest. It did move forward the Naito/Lethal story, something that has become even more important now that we know that Lethal will be taking the place of Michael Elgin for the IWGP IC title at the next NJPW event.

Post-match, Cole celebrates and we get a quick goodbye from Kelly and Corino, as we’ll get the fallout from All-Star Extravaganza and the beginning of the road to Final Battle starting next week!

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: With more 30 minutes of bell-to-bell time, this week’s a winner and a half; O’Reilly/Shibata was exactly what I wanted it to be, and the main event was decent if not great. Overall, a fine hour of TV from ROH this week, and more than worth your time.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter