Ring of Honor/New Japan G1 Supercard
Date: April 6, 2019
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Commentators: Kevin Kelly, Colt Cabana, Ian Riccaboni
My goodness it feels wrong to be typing that for another company. This is the indy/non-WWE main event of the weekend and the only show that stands a fighting chance to topple NXT for best event of the weekend. It’s a combination Ring of Honor/New Japan card and the first time New Japan gets to take the big stage in the big time. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: Honor Rumble
This is a 30 man Royal Rumble with one minute intervals and the winner gets a future ROH World Title shot. Kenny King is in at #1 (by request) and Minoru Suzuki is in at #2. There is some horrible static during Suzuki’s entrance and it’s kind of distracting, though you can hear the roar over it just fine. For some reason King tries a chop and the fans know pain is coming. King runs the ropes a bit before the forearm connects and it’s Cheeseburger (erg) in at #3. He tries to chop both of them and gets knocked down, leaving the other two to fight as the announcers make hamburger jokes.
Beer City Bruiser is in at #4 and punches at all three guys before biting Cheeseburger, despite barely having any teeth. Suzuki kicks right back and it’s Sho of Roppongi 3K in at #5 for some dropkicks. Suzuki gets to kick him down in the corner though and it’s Shingo Takagi in at #6. He goes right for Sho to renew their rivalry and it’s Bushi, Shingo’s partner, in at #7. They double team Sho again until Yoh, Sho’s partner, is in at #8 for the greatest coincidence in Rumble history.
Yoh takes over on Shingo and Bushi as the ring is getting too full. A double dropkick connects (well half connects as Yoh’s half clearly wasn’t close) Shingo and Bruiser is the first elimination. Shaheem Ali is in at #9 and people start pairing off with Ali getting in some offense. It’s Rhett Titus in at #10 doing his best Chris Masters impression. He immediately poses in the middle of the ring until King kicks him in the head.
We’ve got King, Suzuki, Cheeseburger, Show, Takagi, Bushi, Yoh, Ali and Titus at the moment with LSG coming in at #11. More brawling against the ropes ensues and it’s Ryusuke Taguchi in at #12 (please get him out of here in a hurry). Taguchi starts throwing his rugby ball around and hits the hip attack until Will Ferrara is in at #13. The Dawgs have a mini reunion and it’s Chase Owens in at #14 as the ring is WAY too full, mainly due to the entrances coming far too fast.
No one comes close to an elimination again so it’s Rocky Romero in at #15 to complete the trio. He and Taguchi stare each other down because that nightmare of a match they had at Rev Pro wasn’t bad enough. The Forever Clotheslines start and everyone gets involved to hit Bushi for about thirty seconds straight. Romero tosses Bushi and it’s Brian Milonas in at #16. Milonas gets rid of Ali and LSG, meaning he isn’t worthless this time around. Bad Luck Fale is in at #17 to get rid of Roppongi 3K.
Cheeseburger gets thrown over but his friends catch him so he’s still in BECAUSE HE’S SMALL AND FUN AND WE ALL LOVE HIM SO FREAKING MUCH. Cheeseburger gets back in as Jonathan Gresham is in at #18. Shingo gets rid of Titus but Suzuki tosses him as the ring is thankfully clearing out a bit. Tracy Williams is in at #19 and with nothing going on, Yoshi-Hashi is in at #20 as Taguchi is eliminated. That gives us King, Suzuki, Cheeseburger, Ferrara, Owens, Romero, Milonas, Fale, Gresham, Williams and Hashi as Williams trades headbutts with Suzuki.
PJ Black is in at #21 and Ferrara is out as Black and Owens try to double team Suzuki. You just don’t do that as Suzuki eliminates Owens. Jushin Thunder Liger is in at #22 and you know the place is going nuts for that one. Liger fires off the palm strikes and gets rid of Milonas on his own. TK O’Ryan is in at #23 and Vinny Marseglia is in at #24 because of course. The Kingdom gets together and tosses Williams as Delirious is in at #25. The booker gets himself onto the biggest card in the company’s history? I’m as shocked as you are.
His entrance takes so long that it’s Tomohiro Ishii in at #26. Now this guy has to get rid of at least a few people. Black is out first and it’s Toru Yano in at #27….or not actually as he runs over to commentary and gives his spot to Colt Cabana in a nice moment. Yano sits in on commentary and let’s put the camera on that instead of the ring. Hirooki Goto is in at #28 as Romero and Hashi are tossed. Everyone gets together to get rid of Fale and it’s freaking King Haku in at #29 (Yano: “VERY SCARY!!!”).
It’s a Tongan Death Grip for Cabana, who waves Yano down for the save. Yano comes in…..and it’s THE GREAT MUTA in at #30 to complete the field. Sweet goodness the one year I don’t go to Wrestlemania weekend and I miss Muta and Liger. The final grouping is King, Suzuki, Cheeseburger, Gresham, Liger, O’Ryan, Marseglia, Delirious, Ishii, Cabana/Yano (I’m not sure which you count as legally in), Goto, Haku and Muta. We get confirmation that Yano is in at #31 because why not.
Muta tosses Delirious and Yano accidentally hits Cabana with a buckle pad, allowing Suzuki to get rid of both of them. Gresham is out and it’s Goto and Suzuki going to the apron. Suzuki kicks Goto out and gets back in, giving us the required slugout with Ishii. They go to the ropes with Suzuki going for the armbreaker but Ishii pulls him up for the lariat and the elimination. We’re down to eight….and King is nowhere in sight so you know where this is going. Cheeseburger takes House of 1000 Corpses and gets tossed (I like this so much better all of a sudden) and Haku gets the same, minus the corpses.
The Kingdom gets rid of Ishii and it’s O’Ryan, Marseglia, Muta and Liger (what a weird generational tag match). Muta and Liger get rid of them in all of fifteen seconds and my goodness what a staredown. Muta takes him down with the dragon screw legwhip and the power drive elbow…and then King comes back in and dumps them both for the win at 47:21 because ROH is STILL trying to make King a big deal.
Rating: D+. The one thing that this showed me was how much better New Japan’s roster is than ROH’s even in the undercard. Look at the biggest names in this match from both sides. Who from ROH was interesting here? King? The Kingdom? On the other side you have legitimate legends like Muta and Liger, plus stars like Ishii and Suzuki. This was one sided and the ending was just annoying as I was digging the visual of Liger and Muta, which is probably the only time they’ll ever be here.
As for the match itself, it felt like every WWE Rumble trick known to man packed into one match. Between the partners coming in on consecutive numbers to the #1 entrant lasting until the end to the always annoying “oh he’s not eliminated”, I’m pretty sure I just saw five Royal Rumble in one package. It’s fine to let everyone get on the card (Cabana’s face in the ring while he was soaking things in genuinely made me smile) but come up with something fresh instead of just copying WWE.
Post match Muta gives King the mist for a cool moment.
The opening video features the New Japan wrestlers talking about what it means to wrestle in Madison Square Garden. Fair enough man, as I still can’t believe I’m seeing it.
We’ve got pyro. But WWE can’t afford it right?
The announcers run down the card.
Never Openweight Title vs. ROH TV Title: Will Ospreay vs. Jeff Cobb
Title for title. They shake hands before the bell and Cobb wastes no time in shouldering him out to the floor. Ospreay gets in a shot for a breather and runs back in for a Flying Space Tiger Drop, which is pulled out of the air. Whatever Cobb was trying is countered into a tornado DDT on the floor but he’s fine enough for the delayed vertical superplex for two back inside. There’s a hue toss across the ring as the power vs. speed is on full display early on.
We hit the bearhug with Ospreay having to elbow his way to freedom and nailing a spinwheel kick to the face. Pip Pip Cheerio gets two but it’s way too early for Stormbreaker as Cobb reverses into a fall away slam. The Samoan drop into the nip up into the standing moonsault gets two as Cobb gets to show off. Ospreay grabs the ropes to avoid the Tour of the Islands and it’s the Spanish Fly to drop the monster. A missile dropkick to Cobb’s bad shoulder keeps him in trouble but Code Red only gets two.
The Oscutter is broken up and Cobb turns him inside out with a clothesline. In a scary sight, Cobb goes up but misses the frog splash. The Oscutter is countered with Ospreay being thrown into the corner, where he bounces right back to make it connect on a second attempt for two. A hook kick to the head drops Cobb and there’s the Cheeky Nandos kick. Ospreay makes the mistake of trying a super Stormbreaker though because it’s a super Tour of the Islands to crush Ospreay dead. A regular version gives Cobb the pin and both titles at 12:56.
Rating: B. That was fun and the perfect choice for an opener. Cobb looked like a star who survived everything Ospreay could throw at him and hit his crazy power moves to retain/win. Power vs. speed is almost as basic as you can get in wrestling and when you do it right, it’s a very cool match, just like this one was.
Rush vs. Dalton Castle
Rush dropkicks him into the corner and hits a pair of Bull’s Horns for the pin at 19 seconds. I was wondering how they would handle this and they handled it by making Rush look awesome.
Post match Castle snaps and beats up the Boys.
Mandy Leon joins commentary because Delirious still runs this company.
Juice Robinson has been attacked.
Women’s Title: Mayu Iwatani vs. Kelly Klein
Klein is challenging after they’ve traded wins over the last few months. Kelly sends Camp Kelly to the back so it’s one on one. An exchange of wristlocks doesn’t go anywhere so Klein gets smart by going after Iwatani’s bad knee. The leglock goes on with punches to the knee but Iwatani reverses into a rear naked choke. Klein breaks that up and catches a diving Iwatani in a fall away slam.
That’s not going very far though as Iwatani sends her outside and hits a big dive (good one too) but gets her throat snapped across the top rope. Back in and Klein wins an elbow off and drops Iwatani on her head in a release German suplex. She pops back up for the knockdown though and we get a quick breather. A dragon suplex sends Klein into the ropes but Iwatani misses the moonsault. Klein powerbombs her out of the corner and K Power gives her the title back at 10:16.
Rating: C+. Ok. It’s another title change between women I know next to nothing about. Klein certainly did beat her though and apparently that’s all ROH thinks we need to know, because it’s all they’ve given us in the year the title has been around. It doesn’t matter who holds the thing if we have no reason to care about (positively or negatively) about either of them and ROH doesn’t get that.
Post match Angelina Love and Velvet Sky (the Beautiful People, who Madison Rayne wanted to team with and then left anyway) debut and Leon comes to the ring. The three of them beat Klein down and do the same to an invading Stella Gray and Jenny Rose. A graphic pops up on screen dubbing them The Allure. Good. They’re already the most interesting thing in the division’s history because they’re known characters with personalities and the ability to talk. Now DO SOMETHING WITH THEM.
Caprice Coleman joins commentary because we need to keep that four person booth.
Here’s Mega Ran to perform the theme song. QUIT COPYING WWE ALREADY! The fans boo the heck out of this and here’s Bully Ray to interrupt. Mega begs off and gets beaten up anyway, but now we need a replacement opponent. Guess who’s here.
Flip Gordon vs. Bully Ray
Of course it’s Gordon because ROH has no idea how to end a feud. Gordon starts fast but Ray knocks him down and goes for an early table. Cue Silas Young and Shane Taylor though (oh here we go) and the beatdown seems imminent, but Juice Robinson and Mark Haskins run in for the save, complete with a bucket of weapons. Wait if Robinson is fine three minutes into the match, why was Gordon needed in the first place? I’m going to go with “that’s what the script said” and move on.
Flip Gordon/Mark Haskins/Juice Robinson vs. Bully Ray/Silas Young/Shane Taylor-
It’s now a six man with Juice unloading on Ray until a thumb to the eye lets him take over. Haskins and Gordon get together to take on Taylor but it’s the villains surrounding Gordon with kendo sticks. Gordon takes a shot, flips off Ray, and demands more. Haskins and Robinson come back in with more sticks and the good guys take over, leaving Ray down 3-1. The bailing up the ramp is quick but Robinson makes the stop. That earns him a low blow….and a superkick? From BULLY RAY?
Taylor helps clean house and sets up a table (Fans: “THAT’S NOT D-VON!”) for the powerbomb to put Gordon through. Ray gets crotched by Haskins, giving us the always funny “OW MY BALLS!”. Taylor brings in a wooden pallet but Robinson saves Haskins. Robinson Cannonballs Taylor through it instead and Ray takes What’s Up from Haskins (Ray: “OW MY BALLS!” Dang rough night for him.). Gordon adds the 450 for the pin at 14:59.
Rating: D+. This is a match that happened, even though we’ve seen Gordon beat Ray one on one before. I have no idea why we needed Gordon to do this again but I’ll go with ROH not knowing how to go anywhere else. You have an open challenge available and can’t have Ishii or Suzuki come out there and destroy him? At least they’re pushing Gordon, and that’s what matters most. Young and Taylor could have been any two warm bodies here, as Young was barely a factor at all.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Dragon Lee vs. Bandido vs. Taiji Ishimori
Ishimori is defending and this is going to be insane. The champ gets knocked outside to start and it’s Bandido with a pair of hurricanranas to Lee. The running flip dive takes Lee down but it’s Ishimori back in to crank on Bandido’s neck. Lee hurricanranas Bandido outside as they’re already crazy fast to start. Ishimori moonsaults onto both of them and they all head back in with Lee powerbombing Ishimori for two. Lee’s top rope double stomp is countered by Bandido’s super hurricanrana, earning himself a Canadian Destroyer as Lee popped right back up.
Ishimori knees Lee down but walks into a pop up cutter for two. Now Lee hits the top rope stomp on Bandido but his suplex is countered into a hurricanrana for two from Ishimori. The Bloody Cross gets two on Lee and they head up top with Bandido on his feet as well. Bandido catches them both for a SUPER DOUBLE FLOATOVER FALL AWAY SLAM (Cabana: “THAT’S NOT A REAL MOVE!!!”). After two on Lee, Bandido hits….something on Ishimori that we miss because the camera was looking at the crowd looking at itself on the screen. Lee knees Ishimori to the floor and hits a fisherman’s suplex powerbomb on Bandido for the pin and the title at 8:56.
Rating: B+. Oh come on like this was going to be anything but awesome. It was a pure spotfest and that’s exactly what we should have been getting here. Any of these guys could have left as champion and I’d bet on all three of them being champion at some point again. Just do more of this and they’ll be fine.
Ishimori puts the best on the new champ in a display of sportsmanship.
IWGP Tag Team Titles/ROH Tag Team Titles: Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Villain Enterprises vs. Evil/Sanada vs. Briscoes
The Guerrillas have the IWGP Titles and Enterprises have the ROH Titles, winner take all. Just to make sure PCO is ready, he’s strapped into an electric chair for some extra fire. The Briscoes start in a hurry and Jay is backdropped out to the floor. PCO suicide flip dives onto him and it’s a wild brawl all over ringside. The champs get back inside for the slugout but the Briscoes pull the Villains outside.
Sanada ties Tama in the Paradise Lock for the running dropkick but the Briscoes are back in to take him out. King comes in to crossbody both of them so here’s Loa for the big man showdown. King hits his own running flip dive (no hands) and it’s Mark with his own corkscrew dive (you never see that). Jay’s running Blockbuster off the apron drops Sanada and Tama kicks Jay outside.
Evil wraps a chair around Tama’s head and hits it with another chair for the big knockdown. The Briscoes break up the Magic Killer and it’s the Jay Driller into the Froggy Bow for two with King making a save. PCO hits the Cannonball onto Mark on the apron and the fans go nuts as he’s been trying to hit that since he debuted. King’s Ganso Bomb into PCO’s moonsault crushes Mark again with the Guerrillas making the save.
The Guerrillas are done playing and powerbomb PCO over the top onto the floor (nothing to break the fall)….and he sits up, which actually shocked me. He falls back down, but I think he won the point already. Back in and the Gun Stun to King sets up the Superbomb to give the Guerrillas all the titles at 9:56.
Rating: B. Much like the previous match: let them go nuts and give the fans what they wanted. The Guerrillas winning isn’t exactly a surprise but how cool is it for PCO to make it back to the Garden as a champion? That’s the greatest career renaissance of all time and there’s nothing close to it.
As the match ends, Enzo Amore and Big Cass jump the barricade to flip off the crowd and yell, earning a beatdown from the Briscoes and Bully Ray. It wasn’t clear if this was a work or a shoot, but ROH retweeting a video of it should clear up the confusion. If anything could make me give up on this company, it’s having to listen to Enzo again.
The celebration is on and Toru Yano steals the IWGP Tag Team Titles. Why the Guerrillas don’t go after him isn’t clear. Colt: “He’s going to need a partner right???”
The announcers make sure to not talk about Enzo and Cass, though you can hear the fans booing them. We go to a shot of the video screen to fill in time. They’re getting booed, but I have a feeling it’s not the kind of heat that is going to translate well to ROH TV. The announcers do talk about “people trying to make a name for themselves.” It’s real people.
British Heavyweight Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Sabre is defending and Tanahashi has bad knees coming in. Taka Michinoku is here with Sabre as the hype man. Taka asks who is going to win and then says Sabre doesn’t just win this one, but EVERY match. Feeling out process to start with Tanahashi tentatively going to the mat and getting spun around into a wristlock. Tanahashi goes with a kick to the ribs and a middle rope crossbody to some better success.
Sabre is right back with a cross armbreaker into a Disarm-Her but Tanahashi makes the rope. It’s time to start in on the shoulder (for now) and the cocky kicks bring Tanahashi back to his feet. Sabre throws him over the top and the shoulder keeps Tanahashi from skinning the cat. Never to miss an opportunity, Sabre grabs a cross armbreaker with Tanahashi in the rope. Tanahashi is back with a running dropkick and a middle rope Swanton for two.
The Cloverleaf doesn’t go on but an abdominal stretch does, leading to a fight over who can keep the hold. Sabre goes to the rope in a ruse, allowing him to crank on the arm some more. Tanahashi grabs a dragon screw legwhip for a break but can’t keep the Cloverleaf. Instead Sabre pulls him down into a triangle choke, which is reversed into the full Cloverleaf. Sabre is in the ropes almost immediately because he’s good at escaping as well as applying.
The High Fly Flow is broken up and there’s a Pele to the arm. Another dragon screw legwhip is countered into the European Clutch for two and there’s the PK to drop Tanahashi again. The Zack Driver is countered into another legwhip and Twist and Shout has Sabre in trouble. Sling Blade gets two but the dragon suplex is countered into something like an Octopus Hold and then a double arm crank with the legs (almost a full nelson) to make Tanahashi tap at 15:17.
Rating: B. Well of course it works. There’s something so fun about watching Sabre take someone apart like that, even if it’s Tanahashi. This was a great rub for Sabre, who could have a very long career on top if he keeps evolving. Those holds are deadly and of course Tanahashi will be fine as he’s been a legend for years now.
We recap Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi for the Intercontinental Title. Ibushi beat Naito in the New Japan Cup to earn a shot and it’s time to tear the house down.
Chris Charloton joins commentary.
IWGP Intercontinental Title: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi
Ibushi is challenging and Naito has the white suit on so you know it’s serious. I love the New Japan zoom in at the bell. Naito ducks a pair of charges to start and they lock up a minute in. Kelly’s summation: “They seem to enjoy dropping each other on their heads.” Naito grabs a headlock into a headscissors but Naito rolls out and hits the Tranquilo pose for the expected reaction. Ibushi’s hurricanrana sends Naito outside but he’s right back in for a baseball slide to put Ibushi out there instead.
A whip into the barricade has Ibushi in trouble and another one sends him into the crowd. Ibushi is back in at 11 (20 counts and titles can change hands on a countout) and Naito gets two off a neckbreaker. We hit the cravate as Naito stays on the neck until Ibushi is back up with a dropkick. Some kicks into a standing moonsault gives Ibushi two and it’s a running kick to the head to knock him outside.
Ibushi hides his head from the referee so Naito hits a reverse DDT onto the knee. Naito gets kicked off the top though and they fight to the apron, where Naito runs into a hurricanrana out to the floor in a crazy cool looking spot. Back in and Naito is fine enough for the tornado DDT for another near fall and frustration seems to be setting in. Gloria (arm trap belly to back on the back of Naito’s head) gets two but Ibushi blasts him with a clothesline.
To mix things up a bit, a dead lift German superplex from the apron gives Ibushi two more. The big knee to the face is blocked and a kind of kneeling piledriver from the mat (dropping Ibushi on his head again) gets another two. They slug it out from their knees and Naito spits in his face. That’s too much for Ibushi but Naito hit s a reverse hurricanrana into Destino for two and Naito is stunned. Another Destino is countered into a kick to the head and a pair of Kinshasa knees knock Naito sillier. The Gold Star Bomb gets two and the big knee to the face finishes Naito at 20:43.
Rating: A. As much as I was cringing at all those head shots, I wasn’t taking my eyes off of this as they were hitting each other as hard as they could and it was nothing short of outstanding. Ibushi fighting through for the sake of achieving his goal was great and this should free Naito up to go after the World Title again. Great stuff and exactly what the New Japan fans wanted on this show.
We recap the ROH World Title match. Jay Lethal is champion, Marty Scurll is crazy popular and has never been champion and Taven is cutting the same I SHOULD BE CHAMPION AND YOU’RE ALL AGAINST ME promos he’s been on for over a year. Taven and Lethal went to an hour long draw last month so he’s earned another shot while Scurll won the Survival of the Fittest. It’s a ladder match so there can be no biases from the referees.
NWA World Champion Nick Aldis joins commentary.
Ring of Honor World Title: Jay Lethal vs. Matt Taven vs. Marty Scurll
Lethal is defending in a ladder match and Taven is played to the ring via piano. The ring announcer makes it clear that this ladder match is ONE FALL. You can tell Lethal is fired up to be here, as he should be. Marty goes straight for a ladder so Jay baseball slides it into him. Taven is right there with the no hands dive to take them both down but bangs up his wrist in the process. Lethal goes with some chairs and bridges a ladder between some in the aisle.
That takes too long so Marty jumps him from behind and goes inside to put a pair of ladders in a pair of corners. Lethal and Taven are back in with Jay hitting both of them with ladders to take over. Instead of going up, he bridges a ladder over the bottom rope and of course gets sent face first into it. Marty ties Lethal in the Tree of Woe in the ladder and blasts it with a chair a few times. Lethal is mostly dead so Marty sets up a ladder in the middle, grabs the umbrella, and goes up.
That takes a bit too long though and it’s Taven making the save with a superkick. Taven knees the ladder around Lethal’s neck but it’s Marty going up the ladder. Lethal ties him up in a Figure Four in the ladder but they have to let go so Taven can be stopped. Marty takes a cutter on the apron and Taven powerbombs Lethal onto the bridged ladder in the aisle. This gives Aldis another chance to be the best analyst in wrestling today because he ACTUALLY ANALYZES THINGS.
Back in and Marty gives Taven a 619, which further injures his knee. Taven ladders Marty down and the fans are all over him, because Taven is as popular as a bad fungus. For some reason Taven climbs a ladder in the corner, earning himself a superplex back down. Lethal comes back in and flips out of the chickenwing attempt. With Marty down, Lethal goes up, punches Taven down, and gets caught in the chickenwing on the ladder.
Taven goes up as well and gets his fingers snapped but Lethal kicks them both off the ladder. A Lethal Combination sends Taven into the ladder and Lethal misses a charge, putting one ladder through another in the corner. Marty drops Taven onto the X between the ladders but walks into the Lethal Injection. Lethal throws the double ladder outside and it nearly knocks out half of the first row. Fans: “THAT’S A LAWSUIT!”
Scurll gives Lethal a brainbuster on the floor and loads up a table as Aldis is suddenly very anti-Lethal. Taven is back up and spears Marty off the apron and through the table. They’re both down so Lethal pulls out another table and the big ladder, setting up Hail to the King for the crazy spot of the match. Lethal and Marty go up but Taven busts out a big purple ladder. They all get knock down as Aldis has to explain to Riccaboni why a taller ladder is a good idea. Taven climbs up, hits Lethal in the head with the title, and wins at 29:38.
Rating: B-. This was good for the most part but it’s the worst possible outcome that deflated the crowd. The fans just do not want to see Taven on top of the company and have made that very clear. Instead, he gets the World Title because ROH had put so much time and energy into him that they just did it anyway. The match was entertaining but could have been at least ten minutes shorter on an already long show where New Japan has already lapped ROH five times.
We recap the IWGP World Title match. Jay White rocketed up the ranks and defeated Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom before winning the title, partially due to Okada’s manager Gedo switching sides. Okada is back to his old self, having won the New Japan Cup, and is out for revenge and the title. Works for me, as New Japan stories are more about being well told than too complicated.
IWGP World Title: Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White
White is defending and completely loathed by the crowd. The champ bails to the floor to start so it takes a little bit for the lockup. A shoulder puts Okada down but a Gedo distraction lets White grab a headlock takeover. Back up and Okada kicks him in the face, setting up a neckbreaker for one. They head outside and White goes hard into the barricade before going over the barricade.
Another Gedo distraction lets White drive him into the post and we hit the reverse chinlock back inside. A belly to back gets and a DDT has Okada down again. We go old school with the Muta Lock but Okada is right next to the ropes. Okada nips back up and hits a DDT of his own for two of his own. White’s kicks to the head just get on Okada’s nerves and there’s the dropkick to send White outside.
A Helluva Kick sends White over the barricade again and Gedo is tossed on top of him. The big dive over the barricade takes both villains down to a nice reaction. Back in and White escapes something and snaps off a Saito suplex. The White Noise onto the knee puts White down again and Okada gets angry with the shotgun dropkick into the corner.
The top rope elbow connects but White sits down to avoid the Rainmaker (thankfully we get the awesome zoom out). A Downward Spiral and a German suplex put Okada down again and White suplexes him into the corner. The Kiwi Crusher (White’s ROH finisher) gets two and Okada is right back with the Tombstone.
It’s time for the forearm exchange but Okada misses the dropkick. The second attempt connects but the Rainmaker is countered into a suplex. The Blade Runner is countered and the Rainmaker into the Rainmaker gets two, stunning the crowd. When is the last time you saw someone kick out of a pair of clotheslines?
Now Blade Runner connects for no cover as White is done. They forearm it out from their knees as we hit the thirty minute mark. Gedo offers another distraction and it’s a low blow to Okada. Both finishers are countered again so Okada goes with the dropkick. Two Rainmakers, a spinning Tombstone and another Rainmaker gives Okada the title back at 33:44.
Rating: A-. It was the most obvious ending in the world and White, while great, isn’t great enough to go all the way up to this level. Okada is one of the best of all time and is going to need a top challenger now that he has the title. That would seem to be Naito, which is as good of a match as you’re going to get right now. Let them do their thing and White can rebuild. He’ll be back.
Overall Rating: B. This one was a cut down the middle of a show as you’re going to get. We’ll start with the good. New Japan looked incredible here and showcased themselves on the biggest stage of American. Their stars looked like stars and the gave you enough of a set of styles that there was something for everyone. I don’t know what else there is to say here because everything they did worked in one way or another.
Then there’s Ring of Honor and it’s a bad night if you’re a fan. You got Kenny King, Kelly Klein and Matt Taven pushed as big deals (along with Rush and Gordon, the only good things to come out of this show for the company) pushed as big deals and those three people have one thing in common: ROH fans don’t care about them. King is the same guy they’ve been trying to milk something out of for years, Klein is boring and Taven is Jeff Jarrett without a Tennessee accent.
For ROH, this was a night of pessimism as they try to push whatever they can think of to get success without remembering what got them here in the first place. Tonight felt like they were trying to be WWE at times (Enzo and Cass) while also forcing us to accept ideas that we’ve already rejected (Taven). The future looks bleak at the moment and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It’s like ROH doesn’t get it and that has been the case for way too long in the bigger situations. I still have some hope in Lifeblood, but other than that it’s a bad sign as they choke at the big show. Again.
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