Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds Live/DVD Review

It's Ring of Honor vs. New Japan in New York City!!

Much like my other live reviews, I'll be going into a little bit more detail about my experience at the show. War of the Worlds was the 2nd ROH Show I've ever attended (the first being the 10th Anniversary Show in 2012).

From what I can recall, I arrived at the Manhattan Center a little after 5:00, because I had read before making the bus trip into New York City (When I'm not in college, I live about 2 1/2 - 3 Hours away from NYC) that the doors were opening at 5:30. They instead opened either around or a little after 6:00 (memory's a little fuzzy on that one). I didn't see this, but apparently Mark Briscoe climbed up to the top of the Manhattan Center sign (should point out that the below picture is not mine)

Jay Diesel was working the door, making sure people went in the right way. I would have gotten in line for the autograph session, but by that point the line was just way too long (wish I would had gotten in line a little bit earlier, but what can you do)? I decided to go straight for the merchandise tables. They had one set up with some New Japan stuff, but I was surprised by the limited amount of stuff they had. They had a few New Japan Trading Cards and 8x10's, as well as a New Japan T-Shirt featuring the logo mixed with the American Flag, but that was about it. No Bullet Club T-Shirts sadly (though One Hour Tees now has a New Japan Shop on their website, so TONS of New Japan T-Shirts are available to us here in the US).

Of course, the ROH Merchandise Table had a TON of stuff, from DVD's (both new & clearance) to T-Shirts, and even posters! I should note that Nigel McGuinness & Mandy Leon (who, by the way, is SUPER Attractive in person! I got that just from watching the Future of Honor Show on VOD, but it person? Event more so!) were also working the Table a little bit. I got a War of the Worlds Event Poster & T-Shirt, and two ROH DVD's: Flyin' High (which I've already reviewed at this link: http://dxvsnwo1994.blogspot.com/2014/06/roh-flyin-high-review.html) and the Jimmy Jacobs/BJ Whitmer Compilation DVD (which I have yet to review, but I will at some point). The DVD's aren't pictured.

I should also make note that their were A LOT of people wearing Bullet Club T-Shirts, though these were not officially licensed New Japan T-Shirts. I got my own Bullet Club T-Shirt after the New Japan Shop on One Hour Tees opened up.

I also picked up this awesome Event Program!

I was sitting in the lower balcony (you can tell where I'm sitting from the pics I'm posting here). 

Now it's finally time to talk about the show!

ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds
New York City, New York 5/17/14


1.) Caprice Coleman vs. Silas Young Adam Page (with Jimmy Jacobs): **1/2

Not sure if this was included on the DVD or not, but I'll go off of what I remember. Essentially, this was originally supposed to be Caprice Coleman vs. Silas Young, but Young came out in street clothes, and cuts a promo saying something to the degree of this pre-show match being beneath him, and walks out. Jimmy Jacobs comes out with Adam Page, with the latter taking up the spot left opened by Young. This was decent, from what I remember. Fine for a Pre-Show Match. Coleman picked up the win, and tried to sway Page to leave The Decade, but he ends up staying with Jacobs.

They aired two promos before the show started. One spoiled the change to the Main Event (which I'll discuss in a second), while the other announced the Main Event for the Best In The World PPV: Adam Cole vs. "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin for the ROH World Title.

Main Show

Interestingly enough, the show starts off with a promo. The Bullet Club (AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & The Young Bucks come out). The group relished in the "Fuck TNA" Chants (ironic that TNA got rid of all of them, minus Anderson, and they went on to all hold gold in New Japan). They talk about how awesome they are until Okada comes out with Gedo, obviously still upset about how their title match in Japan went down two weeks prior. He demands a rematch, and this brings out "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin, who asks Nigel McGuinness to give everyone what they all really wanted...a Triple Threat Match!! McGuinness converses with a New Japan Official sitting at ringside, and after getting it cleared with him, makes the match official!

1.) Six-Man Tag - ACH, Matt Taven & "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa vs. The Forever Hooligans & Takaaki Watanabe: ***

The first ROH vs. New Japan encounter on this show is a Six-Man Tag. Team ROH is certainly an interesting one (particularly as it pertains to the history between Taven & Ciampa). This was a fun match both Live & on the DVD. Everyone got their stuff in and they got the crowd into the show, which is exactly what an opener should always be able to do. ACH hits a MASSIVE dive to the outside that brings everyone to their feet, and Matt Taven hits The Climax on Watanabe to score the win for Team ROH.

2.) The Decade (Roderick Strong & BJ Whitmer with Jimmy Jacobs & Adam Page) vs. CHAOS (Jado & Gedo): **3/4

Here we have another interesting scenario as the veterans of ROH take on true veterans of New Japan. The Decade prove their hypocrisy by attacking Jado & Gedo before the bell. This was fine, albeit a bit slow in the first half (which would be expected, as Jado & Gedo aren't exactly young), but it actually picked up in the second half with a number of good spots. Strong & Whitmer would end up getting the win in this solid tag team affair.

After the match, as The Decade are celebrating, Cedric Alexander (who was originally slated to face Okada, but couldn't wrestle due to injuries sustained when The Decade attacked him at Global Wars), ran out and attacked them!! Security had to come out and separate the two sides.

3.) ROH World TV Title - Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini) vs. KUSHIDA: ***3/4

Now we have our first of our FIVE title matches of the night. This is the first instance where I noticed a discrepancy between seeing the show live, and watching it on DVD. Live, this match was great! I really enjoyed it. Lethal plays a very good heel, and the crowed was just in awe of almost everything KUSHIDA did. Lots of great back & forth action, with a number of false finishes that really got the crowd into it. Truth Martini eventually got ejected for interference, but in the end, it didn't matter all that much, as Lethal scored the win and retained his World TV Title. The DVD version wasn't quite as good as I remembered, but the live experience still sticks with me over that.

4.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl "Machine Gun" Anderson) vs. The Briscoes: ***1/2

Oh boy, this one's going to be a doozy. Two teams who just like to beat people up. I thought this was another really solid match. Definitely different than anything else we had seen up to this point. A lot of brawling around ringside. Tons of hard hitting action from both sides, including a number of sick bumps. Eventually, The Bullet Club are able to get the win over The Briscoes and retained their titles, scoring the first win of the night for New Japan Pro Wrestling in the process.

5.) IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Steen: ****1/4

Up next we have one of the bigger matches of the night. When the match graphic for this came up on the screen at the entrance way, the place went nuts. Nakamura & Steen both got really great reactions.  Everyone in the crowd was into this right from the start. I loved watching this match. Two of my favorite wrestlers going at it in the same ring. These two show definitely showed why they're both so awesome at what they do. Incredible Match! It took Nakamura hitting THREE Boma Ye knees to finally put Steen down for the count. What else can I say? Loved this live!

After the match, Steen gives (essentially) a farewell speech to New York City and the HammerSTEEN Ballroom, but is interrupted by Silas Young. He talks about how all the champions in Ring of Honor aren't real men like himself (he actually came up with some clever names for Cole, Lethal & The Young Bucks), and then says that Steen was one of the only guys he saw as a real man, but then called him a pussy for quitting and made a derogatory comment towards Steen's family, which set Steen off and started a brawl!! This led to Steen attempting to hit a dive from the top rope to the floor onto Young, but he moved out of the way, causing Steen to take out a bunch of security guys instead.

6.) Michael Bennett (with Maria Kanellis) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: ***1/4

The match that brought us back from intermission is the match that caused the most controversy. A lot of fans were not happy that Tanahashi was going to be wrestling Michael Bennett, but I was willing to give them a change. Bennett has been steadily improving, and Tanahashi has been one of the best wrestlers in the world over the past several years. In the end, they put together a solid match. It was fine for its position on the card, but it wasn't anything totally memorable. I thought there was too much interference by Maria for my taste (once, maybe twice, was fine, but she interfered a lot in this one). Tanahashi got to hit his signature spots, and Bennett looked good also. The ending sequence was the best part of the match, and Tanahashi was able to score the win with the High Fly Flow.

7.) ROH World Tag Team Titles - The Young Bucks vs. reDRagon (with "Filthy" Tom Lawlor): ****3/4

This is a rematch from Raising The Bar: Night 2 in Chicago, which saw The Young Bucks defeat Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly to win the ROH World Tag Team Titles. reDRagon are accompanied by UFC Fighter (and apparently massive pro-wrestling fan) "Filthy" Tom Lawlor, who had bee training with Fish & O'Reilly in preparation for this match. I'm going to keep this as short as possible. There are almost no words that can do this match justice. It was AMAZING!!! Easily the best match I've ever seen like. So much fast paced action happened right from the opening bell. It was insanity!! The crowd was going absolutely nuts for most of it. The atmosphere was simply electric. After a absolute war of a match, O'Reilly is able to get the submission victory and recapture the World Tag Team Titles for reDRagon. What else can I say about this match that hasn't already been said. If you haven't seen this match yet, you need to drop what you're doing, and go watch it. A Match of the Year Contender without question, these two teams proved why they're two of the best in the world today.

8.) ROH World Title - Adam Cole vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger: ***1/2

Despite having the unfortunate pleasure of following the reDRagon/Young Bucks Match, the NYC Crowd was still really into Jushin "Thunder" Liger. They showed a pretty cool video package on the entrance screen, highlighting Liger's career. While not totally outstanding, this was a really good match. Cole was awesome as always, but even for his age, Liger performed very well. There was one spot where Liger had Cole trapped in a submission hold, and Cole had to grab the bottom rope with his teeth to break the hold. It's little things like this that make Cole just so good. The crowd was of course was really into Liger, and reacted to all of his big moves. Cole was able to get the win by making Liger tap out to the Figure Four to secure his title. Even though the ending was a bit sudden, this was still a very solid World Title Match. Liger got to show his stuff and make the crowd happy, while at the same time putting over the ROH World Champion clean. Everyone wins.

9.) IWGP Heavyweight Title - Triple Threat Match - "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles vs. "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. "Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada: ****1/4

It's Main Event Time!! This is the first time the IWGP Heavyweight Title has been defended in a Triple Threat Match in several years. An Awesome Main Event! Everyone in this match looked really good. Much like the Triple Threat Match from Final Battle 2013, it started off a bit slow, but once it got going, the match got really good and the crowd was very much into it. As I already said, everyone in here got a chance to shine, and it made for a really great match. Eventually, Okada is able to hit Elgin with The Rainmaker (to a MASSIVE pop), but Styles hits a flying springboard forearm, which knocks Okada to the outside, and he able to then hit Elgin with the Styles Clash to score the win and retain his title. Once again, really great match. Not the best match on the show, but definitely in the Top 3.

Afterwords, AJ Styles is celebrating his win, when Adam Cole comes out & blindsides him! He then proceeds to lay out both Elgin & Okada with the ROH World Title. At this point, the DVD ends, but we a little extra stuff for the Live Crowd. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin "Thunder" Liger came out and chased Cole off. Tanahashi thanked the New York City crowd for coming out, and said that New Japan would be back, which was awesome to hear.

I don't believe this was shown at the venue, but on the iPPV (and on a DVD), they showed a video hyping the return of "The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels and....another (*cough*Frankie Kazarian*cough), which was also pretty cool to see.

Overall: 9.25/10

Out of the two ROH/NJPW SuperShows, this was definitely the better of the two. This was an amazing live experience. Getting to see people like Tanahashi, Okada, Nakamura, and Liger live & in person was just so awesome. The entire show, from top to bottom, was simply amazing. Every match, from the opener to the Main Event, either met or surpassed the expectations I had going into it. I know there was some discrepancy, when it came to the noise of the crowd and how it came off on iPPV, but as someone who was there live, I can say the crowd was rocking the whole night. They were into everything, and it made for a really enjoyable show. reDRagon & The Young Bucks once again stole the show, giving us a Match of the Year Contender in the process. Steen/Nakamura & Styles/Okada/Elgin were both equally awesome, and the rest of the undercard (Cole/Liger, Tanahashi/Bennett, Lethal/KUSHIDA, and so on) was pretty solid. The show came off pretty well on the DVD Version as well, but it just can't convey how awesome the live experience was. In the end, this is one of the best wrestling events I've ever had the pleasure of attending. The ROH/New Japan SuperShows were undoubtedly a success, and it was awesome to be able to experience it LIVE!!

ROH/NJPW Global Wars Review

Ring of Honor & New Japan come together for a massive show in Toronto!!

ROH/NJPW Global Wars
Toronto, Ontario, Canada 5/10/14


1.) TaDarius Thomas (with Jimmy Jacobs) vs. The Romantic Touch: **1/4

This match was not included on the DVD, but it was on the Free Ustream Pre-Show. Thomas recently broke up with his Adrenaline RUSH partner ACH, and decided to join The Decade as one of their "young boys". Pretty standard stuff in this pre-show match between Thomas and The Romantic Touch. One of the things they're trying to get over the fact that Thomas has become more serious & deadly since joining The Decade. Thomas ends up winning the match.

Main Show

Before I go over the show, I should mention how this show is laid out. There really aren't any interpromotional matches on this show, save for Elgin/Watanabe. It's pretty much just ROH Matches and New Japan Matches, while the show in New York City, War Of The Worlds, will have all interpromotional matches featuring ROH vs. New Japan.

1.) Michael Bennet (with Maria Kanellis) vs. ACH: ***

Here we have the first match from the ROH portion of the show. This was a pretty entertaining opener. Bennett plays a good heel, while likewise, ACH plays a good face. Speaking of ACH, he did things a little bit differently, as he worked over one of Bennett's legs. We got some cool spots, including Bennett accidentally spearing Maria on the ring apron!! Eventually, Bennett is able to sneak away with the win. They really wanted to put over the fact that Michael Bennett & Maria will do anything to defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi the next week at War Of The Worlds.

2.) Takaaki Watanabe vs. "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin: ***

For those who aren't familiar, Watanabe is a relative newcomer. He's not necessarily a rookie, but his career is still young. Here he's taking on Toronto Native "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin. A pretty solid match here. Watanabe looked good, but Elgin was pretty solid in this one as well. Obviously Elgin was meant to look strong heading into his big IWGP Heavyweight Title Match at War Of The Worlds, and winning this match accomplished just that.

3.) Three-Way Tag Team Match - The Decade (Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer with TaDarius Thomas) vs. reDRagon vs. The Briscoes: ***1/4

This is the first of two Three-Way Tag Team Matches of the night. Interestingly enough, I believe this is the first even encounter between The Briscoes & Jacobs/Whitmer (the latter began teaming, and later broke up, while the former were on a sabbatical from ROH). This was a solid match, though it didn't get enough time to become really good. Still, this was a pretty fun match. All of the teams in here looked good. I found it entertaining. The Briscoes get the win.

After the match, Roderick Strong comes out to console his fellow stablemates in The Decade after their loss. They show a really good video package hyping up the Roderick Strong/Cedric Alexander feud. They come back and Strong is in the ring, and tells Cedric to get his ass out here so they can fight. Cedric quickly obliges and it's on!

4.) Roderick Strong vs. Cedric Alexander: ***3/4

The Decade are banned from ringside for this match, as Strong won the first encounter at Supercard of Honor VIII after outside shenanigans involving The Decade. This was a really good match, and definitely turned things up a notch, both from their first match and on this show. Lots of great action in this one, as Strong was his great usual self, while Cedric was equally impressive and held his own. The match ends when Strong goes for his End of Heartache Backbreaker, but Cedric reverses it into a small package and gets the three count!! Again, a really solid match here.

Immediately after the match ends, The Decade comes out and attacks Cedric Alexander. They set up a bunch of chairs in the ring, and Roderick Strong drops Cedric on those chairs. This was a very good segment that further advances The Decade/Cedric Alexander angle.

5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - Three-Way Tag Team Match - The Young Bucks vs. The Forever Hooligans vs. The Time Splitters: ****1/2

These teams have been trading the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles for a good while in New Japan. Alex Shelley has made sporadic appearances in ROH since leaving to work full time for TNA in 2006 (mainly as The Motor City Machine Guns with Chris Sabin), but this is his first ROH appearance since 2010, if I recall correctly. This was an awesome match!! Non-stop action from bell to bell. Everyone looked awesome here and the crowd was really into it! Easily the best match on the show! The Young Bucks pick up the win and retain their titles in this exciting thrill ride!!

After intermission, we are graced with the presence of Papa Bear himself, RD Evans (along with Ramon)! He talks about The New Streak, which is now at 104-0 (and he even gave the metric conversion). Evans hands Bobby Cruise an envelope, which conceals the identity of his next opponent. Cruise opens in, and reveals (confused) that Evans' opponent is....Bobby Cruise! Evans rolls up Cruise & Ramon counts the 1-2-3!! The New Streak continues!!! 105-0!!!

6.) Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs. CHAOS (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura & Jado): ***1/4

Now it's time to get to some of New Japan biggest stars! Liger gets by far the biggest reaction of any New Japan wrestler on the show, even bigger than Nakamura & Tanahashi, which really shouldn't be a surprise. It goes to show you how popular, revered & respected Liger is in North America. This was a good tag team match, but it wasn't anything overly spectacular. You could tell they were holding back a bit for the bigger show in New York City, but they still put out a solid effort and gave us an entertaining tag team match. Liger, Tanahashi & Nakamura all looked good in here, and the crowd was into it. In the end, Tanahashi gets the win with the High Fly Flow onto Jado.

7.) ROH World TV Title - Four Corner Survival - Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini) vs. "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa vs. Matt Taven vs. Silas Young: ***1/2

This is an interesting match as all four of these guys have been intertwined with each other over the last few months (Lethal/Ciampa, Lethal/Taven, Lethal/Young, Ciampa/Taven, Ciampa/Young, Taven/Young, etc...). I really enjoyed this match. Some might not have like it as much as I did, but I thought it was really entertaining. They packed a lot of action in here, where everyone got to hit their stuff, and it really got the crowd into it. Lethal pinned Taven to retain his title after a distraction from Truth Martini, and while that seemed kind of a lackluster ending, it made sense since Lethal & Taven would continue their feud after this show.

8.) CHAOS ("Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada & Gedo) vs. The Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Champion "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles & IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Karl "Machine Gun" Anderson): ***3/4

Here we have the 2nd tag team match of the night featuring some of New Japan's biggest stars, as well as two of New Japan's Top Factions in CHAOS & The Bullet Club. This match comes off the heels of AJ Styles defeating Okada (with a good deal of help from The Bullet Club) to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title just a week prior. I should also note that Michael Elgin joined the commentary team for this one, and lets just say that his commentary was.....not the best (and Elgin's never been the best on the mic). This was definitely the better of the two tag team matches. Okada (who was 2nd most over New Japan guy behind Liger) meshed really well with AJ Styles & Karl Anderson, and Gedo did a good job at holding up his end of the match. Very solid action in this one. AJ Styles is eventually able to pick up the win for The Bullet Club after pinning Gedo with The Styles Clash.

After the match, we get a three-way stare down involving AJ Styles, Michael Elgin & Okada, which would build up to their Triple Threat Match at War of the Worlds in New York City.

9.) ROH World Title - Adam Cole vs. Kevin Steen: ****1/4

The story here is that Kevin Steen had yet to receive his World Title rematch since he lost the belt to Jay Briscoe at Supercard of Honor VII well over a year ago. Of course, Steen cashes in his title shot not only in his home country of Canada, but in Toronto, the same city where Steen won the ROH World Title in 2012. This match also has a good deal of build up, after having previously been scheduled to take place twice before over the last year, but never happening due to various circumstances (the first time it was changed due to Jay Briscoe winning the World Title, while the second time, Cole had a concussion and wasn't cleared to compete). I thought this was a great main event! Cole & Steen have a certain set of expectations after the matches they've had with each other in PWG, and in my view, they certainly lived up to those expectations. Lots of really good action here. Both guys played their rolls really well and their crowd was really into it. Steen busted out a number of big moves that could have easily won him the match, including the Top Rope Brainbuster (paying homage to El Generico), but Cole somehow managed to stay alive. The finish came out of nowhere, when Cole countered out of a Package Piledriver and hit a superkick for the win. That did hurt the match a little bit in my eyes, but that was my only real complaint.

Overall: 8.5/10

The first of the two Ring of Honor/New Japan SuperShows was a good one. I know there was a good deal of criticism about this card beforehand (in regards to not getting the matches people wanted), and I know this was technically intended to be the lesser of the two SuperShows, but dammit, I thought this was a pretty entertaining show. Every match was, at the very least, good, and the Toronto Crowd was into pretty much everything on the show. The first half had some solid ROH action, the advancement of The Decade/Cedric Alexander angle, and was headed by New Japan's IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match, which ended up stealing the show. The second half featured the bigger stars from New Japan, and although the Main Event for the ROH World Title is the only real noteworthy match on the second half, it was still nothing but good to great wrestling matches. Couple that with the fact that we're getting to see New Japan's biggest stars in an ROH ring, and in the end, isn't that what we all want? To sum it up, Global Wars was, although not a blow away show, a very solid one that set up War of the Worlds really nicely.