Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter
With a lot of questions regarding the future of the ROH/New Japan relationship, given New Japans’ worldwide expansion plans, it felt like the companies were close than ever publicly with the presentation of the War of the Worlds PPV show on 5/12 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.
The show featured plenty of talk on the air about New Japan shows. There was an in-ring ceremony where they announced New Japan was creating an IWGP United States championship, which featured officials from both companies, Naoki Sugabayashi, the CEO of New Japan, Tiger Hattori, one of their bookers and referees, George Carroll, who heads their U.S. operations, along with Joe Koff, the head of ROH and Cary Silkin, the former ROH owner and product ambassador.
ROH wrestler Jay Lethal was the first guy announced for the tournament. Hangman Page came out to confront him and was later announced for the tournament. It was announced as a round-robin tournament over 7/1 and 7/2. However we’ve since been told it’ll be a single elimination tournament. The idea seems to be to create a singles title for New Japan’s U.S. tours in 2018 as they have the idea of running a full-time West Coast territory.
Kevin Kelly on the commentary constantly pushed the Dominion show on 6/11 as well as the Long Beach shows. During the commentary, there were constant tie-ins between ROH and New Japan as far as storylines went to the point they came off like they were sister promotions booked by the same people. Bullet Club, in particular, a New Japan concept saw Adam Cole kicked out and Marty Scurll enter just days before the start of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Kenny Omega, who has no ROH dates on his schedule, even though they showed his pinning ROH champion Christopher Daniels on the pre-show from Toronto, appeared on the screen as the leader of Bullet Club to lead to the angle where The Young Bucks and Scurll turned on Cole. This was also the culmination of an angle on The Young Bucks own “Being the Elite” show where Nick Jackson’s legit food poisoning a few weeks ago in storyline form was said to be that Cole had poisoned him. It was some silliness with the idea that they were setting up his leaving.
Cole appears to be WWE-bound based on this weekend, and the fact he’s expected to say Goodbye at PWG this week as well. He did a farewell at television. As far as when, that’s up to WWE which has been holding back on even giving offers to ROH talent thus far, but he’s a guy they’ve wanted for nearly two years, with the idea of being one of the top singles guys in NXT. His situation appears different from guys like Donovan Dijak, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly who have been waiting for WWE to officially execute the contracts. Cole’s contract ended on 4/30 and he did his farewells a few weeks later while the others have been waiting.
As far as the show went, every match was good action and almost every match had good to great heat. The negative is that nine matches with the level of talent they had with a three-hour window saw almost every match feel rushed. The only match that felt like it was perfect length was Jay White vs. Will Ospreay, which could have gone longer but in the form it was, it was one of the best matches in North America this year. Ospreay has had plenty of matches that good all over the world, but White, a great technical wrestler and young guy with potential who hadn’t fully connected with the fans, may have made himself to the ROH audience with that performance. It pretty much tells you that White, who is 24 years old, has the potential to be a superstar at least as a worker going forward.
The show for match quality would have been better with seven longer matches, but there were also booking stories they wanted to tell and talent they probably wanted. Another negative was the number of chair shots to the head in the six-man title match. It was probably six or more. They weren’t brutal, but they weren’t soft either. Mark took most of them and most were throwing the chair at his head. But you could also tell with the crowd that it made them uneasy and it just feels so backward to do it now.
There were no title changes, although everyone pretty much knew the only title that could change hands was the ROH belt. The trios title match had Goto in it. The tag title match had Naito & Bushi as challengers. The TV title had Matt Sydal, who had just signed with TNA. There seemed to be a lot of expectation of Cody winning the title and announcing his signing with ROH. Instead, Christopher Daniels retained and they pushed the idea of, if Cody were to win, that he’s an outsider who works all over the world and not an ROH wrestler, so that seems to be the storyline going forward.
However, Daniels vs. Cody looks to be the main event for the 6/23 Best in the World PPV from Lowell, MA. The storyline is based off the finish, where Cody had Jay Lethal in the figure four leglock, but Daniels then hit the BME on Cody and pinned him. The gripe is that Lethal’s shoulders were down for more than three seconds while in the figure four, but the ref was looking for the submission and never counted the fall.
If you bought the PPV and tuned in early, they aired the Young Bucks & Omega match with Daniels & Kazarian & Hiroshi Tanahashi from 5/7 in Toronto. I wish I knew that since I tuned in just as it went to the finish.
The show also aired live on New Japan World, but was blocked outside of Japan. To show how bad the situation with marijuana in Japan is, New Japan World wouldn’t air the Scurll vs. Sydal match since Sydal was caught last year with marijuana.
Based on challenges made at the TV tapings in Philadelphia on 5/14, Daniels vs. Cody, a tag title match with the Young Bucks defending against War Machine and an eight-man tag with Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley & Jay White & Jonathan Gresham (Search & Destroy) vs. The Rebellion of Shane Taylor & Rhett Titus & Kenny King & Caprice Coleman with the losing team disbanding looked like they were all happening at Best in the World. There were teases of a six-man tag title with Bully Ray & Briscoes against Dalton Castle & The Boys, Silas Young vs. Jay Lethal and perhaps a strap match with Hangman Page vs. Frankie Kazarian.
Ultimo Guerrero and El Terrible from CMLL are also being brought in. It would have been better to send in a high flyer, since that’s what people want out of Luchadors, and have them work with Guerrero, who has been in ROH before.
Kushida beat Scurll in Philadelphia to win the TV title due to the distraction from Cole. They didn’t tease anything with Kushida past a possible rematch.
The show drew a sellout of 1,800 fans. During the broadcast they announced several times that it was the fastest sellout in company history.
1. Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia beat Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu. Taven pinned one of them by blocking a roll-up and holding onto T.K. O’Ryan’s crutch.
2. Kenny King & Rhett Titus & Shane Taylor beat Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara & Gedo. The Rebellion won with Cheeseburger losing the pinfall.
3. Dalton Castle won a four-way over Silas Young, Kushida and Bobby Fish in 7:48. Castle came out with about a dozen Boys at ringside. Beer City Bruiser came out with Young. Kushida came out wearing a New York Yankees baseball jersey and Young attacked him and put the boots to the jersey for easy heat. Very good action, but rushed. Kushida did a flip dive and had several armbar attempts. Castle tried the bang-a-rang on Fish once, but Fish reversed into a heel hook. Kushida did a moonsault on Fish to break it up. Kushida got the hoverboard lock on Fish but Young saved. Castle pinned Fish after the bang-a-rang. **3/4
4. Hangman Page pinned Frankie Kazarian in 4:43. This was wild from start-to-finish, but too short. Kazarian attacked Page before the bell. Kazarian did a dive, as well as a belly-to-belly on the floor right into a security guard. Page came back with a shooting star shoulderblock. Page spit in Kazarian’s face. Kazarian spit in Page’s face. Page blew his nose on Kazarian. Kazarian spit in Page’s mouth. Page then took the spit that didn’t get in his mouth and ate it. Kazarian got a cool near fall with a slingshot into a diamond cutter. The crowd was hot. Page used a low blow and cradle for a near fall. Later, Kazarian went for a sunset flip out of the corner but Page blocked it and grabbed the ropes to keep his balance for the pin. **½
5. Ray Rowe & Hanson, the IWGP tag team champions, won a three-way non-title match over Jonathan Gresham & Chris Sabin and Seiya Sanada & Evil in 8:47. Alex Shelley was in Gresham & Sabin’s corner. He looked good. Fast paced and very good, but rushed. Sanada tied Sabin and Gresham up in knots. Then he gave both a low dropkick. Rowe did a belly-to-belly on Sabin and Gresham overhead at the same time. Evil put a chair around Hanson’s neck and swung another chair like a baseball bat in a spot he does in every match. Sabin did a plancha on Rowe. Sanada did a running dive over the top on everyone. Hanson powerslammed Sabin and then did a tope on everyone while Rowe then pinned him. ***1/4
6. Will Ospreay pinned Jay White in 13:11. Ospreay went for a shooting star off the apron but White moved and Ospreay landed on his feet. Ospreay did a tope but White caught him and gave him a belly-to-belly into the guard rail. White got the Mutalock but Ospreay made the ropes. Ospreay did a standing shooting star press. He then went for a moonsault but White moved and Ospreay landed on his feet. White was really aggressive, far more than usual. They traded German suplexes. White did a standing Spanish fly. He went for a 450 but White moved and he landed on his feet. Ospreay dropkicked White and got a near fall with a code red. Then in a crazy spot, Ospreay did a space flying tiger drop, but White caught him and gave him a brainbuster on the apron. They traded more stuff including White doing a cobra clutch suplex. White got Ospreay in the crucifix position and was throwing elbows and it looked like a stoppage but Ospreay got out of danger. There was a standing ovation near the finish. Both were standing on the middle rope trading elbows. The finish saw Ospreay with a springboard shooting star press to the floor. He threw White in the ring and Ospreay used the Oscutter for the pin. They got another standing ovation. After the match, Punishment Martinez came out and gave Ospreay a kick and choke slammed White. Coming off that performance the fans wanted to see the handshake and hug but Martinez ruined it for them, which led to him getting some good heat. They pushed that Martinez had just lost to White in Hopkins, MN to tie this into a storyline since Martinez is likely to face both Ospreay and White going forward. ****½
7. Bully Ray & Mark & Jay Briscoe beat Hirooki Goto & Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero to retain the ROH six-man titles in a no DQ match 12:45. Bully came out for a promo to loud “ECW” chants and said it was now a no DQ match. Lots of crazy stuff. Jay did a tope and Mark did a moonsault off the top to the floor right away. Bully Ray was really over. He did a crossbody off the top onto all three opponents. He did hard chops on Romero and Baretta. There were all kinds of chair shots to the head and crowd then started chanting for tables. Romero did a chair assisted missile dropkick on Mark. Baretta did a running flip dive onto the Briscoes. Baretta threw another chair at Mark’s head. Jay and Baretta were trading elbows and Jay threw a chair at Baretta’s head. Mark did a blockbuster off the apron on Baretta. Bully and Goto were trading elbows. Romero did a flying knee off the apron that sent Bully over the barricade. Mark Briscoe broke up Strong Zero on Jay. Romero did the forever clothesline on Mark. Bully and Jay got Romero and Baretta on their shoulders and Mark came off the top with a double Doomsday device. Bully spread Goto’s legs for a sort of wazzup spot as Mark came off the top with an elbow to the groin. The finish saw Bully give Baretta a power bomb off the middle rope through a table, and then, with the Briscoes help, hit the 3-D on Romero and Jay pinned Romero. ***½
8. Marty Scurll retained the ROH TV title beating Matt Sydal in 11:24. The crowd loved Scurll. Colt Cabana had a funny line, when they talked about how Sydal has been wrestling in South America of late, that he had spent a lot of time in Japan (he was incarcerated there due to marijuana charges at the airport). This was another good match, but the prior two matches were so hot that it took a while for the crowd to get into this one. Sydal did his standing on the mat and jumping up and taking Scurll off the top rope with a Frankensteiner. Sydal also did double knees off the top for a near fall. Scurll did the broken fingers spot. Scurll went for a vertical suplex but Sydal turned it into a huracanrana. The finish saw Sydal go for the shooting star press, but Scurll got his knees up and locked in the chicken wing for the submission. ***½
9. Young Bucks retained the ROH tag titles over Tetsuya Naito & Bushi in 13:35. The Bucks mocked Naito by throwing the ROH tag titles in the air like they meant nothing. Naito spit in Nick’s face. Bushi did a tope on both. Nick went for a flip dive but actually flew over them. Naito was clowning around and got over big with the audience. Nick did a double foot stomp no Bushi and backstabber on Naito, and a swanton on Naito. Naito did a reverse Frankensteiner on Matt. Naito landed bad but worked the rest of the match like nothing went wrong. They set up the Meltzer driver but Bushi blew green mist into Matt’s eyes. Matt superkicked Naito, Bushi, Nick and referee Paul Turner. The crowd went nuts when he superkicked Turner. Matt then got a water bottle to wash out his eyes so he could see. Naito hit the Destino on Matt, but Nick broke up the pin with a swanton. Nick did a moonsault off the apron and Matt gave Naito a DDT on the apron. Nick did a 450 and Matt a standing moonsault on Bushi, who kicked out. Nick did a flip dive on Naito and then they did the Meltzer driver and Matt pinned Bushi. ****
10. Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Adam Cole in 13:32. This was pushed as one of ROH’s all-time greatest champions against New Japan’s all-time legend. After Cole did his “Adam Cole Baybay” deal, Tanahashi did “Tanahashi baybay.” Lots of dueling chants. Wrestling was good but it was not the level of a usual Tanahashi major singles match. The crowd was really into it. Cole got a near fall with a shining wizard to the back of the head. Tanahashi used a cross-arm German suplex for a near fall. Tanahashi went for his somersault off the middle rope, but missed. Later he did a high fly flow, but Cole got his knees up. Crowd was real hot. Tanahashi came off the top rope into a superkick by Cole and a running shining wizard for a near fall. Tanahashi came back to win clean with the high fly flow. Cole stayed in the ring and the crowd kind of knew this was it and they were supposed to wish him well. The Young Bucks came out and teased giving him a superkick. Then they hugged him and compared this to the curtain call given they were a block from Madison Square Garden. Then the lights went out and Kenny Omega appeared in a taped segment. Omega made fun of the curtain call and said he was disappointed with the Young Bucks. He said that the same man who tried to fire you, you are now showering with adulation. Omega said that Cole’s long tenure in Bullet Club has been long and storied, but it was a fairy tale, and in every fairy tale, there has to be a hero and a villain. Suddenly Scurll in his ring outfit showed up with Omega. Omega then fired Cole from Bullet Club. The lights went on and Scurll was in the ring with a Bullet Club umbrella. The Young Bucks then superkicked Cole and Scurll took off his T-shirt to reveal a Bullet Club T-shirt. They made a point of saying how Scurll will be the Bullet Club representative in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Scurll then knocked out Cole with a hard umbrella shot. The Bucks then kissed Cole. ***1/4
11. Christopher Daniels retained the ROH title winning a three-way over Cody and Jay Lethal in 13:31. Lethal did two topes early. He started selling his leg briefly, but then continued and stopped selling, like you’d do with a legit injury that is hurt but in a fight you don’t keep limping. What’s notable is this was a worked injury, because it led to moves including the figure four finish, but to try and make it seem like it wasn’t worked, neither man started working on Lethal’s knee until the figure four spot. Cody did a missile dropkick on both. Cody tried a figure four on Daniels and crotched Lethal on the post. Daniels drive Cody into the barricade and used an Arabian moonsault. Cody then used a dragon screw on Lethal to work on the knee. Lots of near falls. Daniels did a springboard Arabian moonsault on both to the floor. They traded big moves on each other. Cody did a crossroads on Daniels that didn’t look good. Lethal came off the top with an elbow on Daniels but Cody broke up the pin. Lethal whipped Cody into Daniels, knocking Daniels off the apron and through a table that Cody had set up. Cody kicked Lethal, who knocked into ref Todd Sinclair. Cody gave Lethal a low blow and went for a disaster kick, but Lethal evaded it and hit a diamond cutter for a near fall. Lethal hit a superkick and went for the Lethal injection, but Cody turned that into crossroads. Lethal kicked out of Cody’s finisher. That’s when Cody put on the figure four and had Lethal pinned, but Daniels came off the top rope with the BME on Cody for the pin. This was a good match, but didn’t have the heat that several of the matches had earlier, and never hit the level that you expect an ROH title match main event on PPV to reach. ***