Inside Pulse 12

A2Z Analysiz: ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds (AJ Styles, Michael Elgin)

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Hammerstein Ballroom – New York City, NY – Saturday, May 17, 2014

Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are on commentary.

MATCH #1: Six Man Tag Team Match – Tommaso Ciampa, ACH & Matt Taven vs. Forever Hooligans & Takaaki Watanabe

These are some pretty unique teams. Alex Koslov and Ciampa are starting it out. They go back and forth briefly and then make tags to Rocky Romero and Taven, respectively. The quick pace continues as both men try to set the tone for their teams. After a brief period both ACH and Watanabe tag in, so everyone has had a chance to show off. ACH sends all three of his opponents to the floor and goes for a dive on the Hooligans but Watanabe cuts him off. That gives his team the advantage, and Watanabe works with the Hooligans to wear ACH down. After a few minutes of abuse ACH is able to catch a charging Romero and hit a reverse STO into the buckles. Ciampa gets the tag and he comes in a house afire. He unloads on everyone and then Taven tags in. Koslov catches Taven with a nice enziguiri and the referee loses control. The Hooligans and Watanabe isolate Taven and triple-team him mercilessly. ACH and Ciampa come to the rescue and the referee loses control. Bodies are flying all over the place and ACH takes out a few of them with a swank dive to the floor. Taven and Watanabe end up alone in the ring together and Taven hits the Climax to get the pin at 9:11. That was a fun opener, and a good way to get the crowd going.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #2: BJ Whitmer & Roderick Strong vs. Gedo & Jado

The Decade duo is accompanied by Jimmy Jacobs and Adam Page. Strong and Whitmer jump the veteran duo before the bell and away we go. Gedo and Jado withstand the opening salvo and take control, but the Decade quickly wrests it from them. Momentum has already shifted several times just in the opening minute or two. Whitmer and Strong take over on Gedo and work him over in their half of the ring. Eventually Gedo is able to avoid a Whitmer elbow drop from the second rope and he hits a DDT. Tags are made and Jado comes in a house afire, and he locks Strong in a Crossface. Whitmer comes in to break it up and the referee loses control. The Decade reclaims control and they focus on Gedo. Jado is able to catch Strong with a chair shot behind the referee’s back but that’s not enough for Gedo to score the pin. Strong comes back with the gutbuster, Whitmer hits a huge lariat, and Strong nails the Sick Kick to get the pin at 8:41. That was pretty short but it was still a well-worked tag team match and a big win for the Decade.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #3: ROH World Television Title Match – Jay Lethal vs. KUSHIDA

Lethal has been the Champion since 4.4.14, and this is his fourth defense. He has Truth Martini in his corner. The action starts off fast and furious with a series of counters and reversals, so Lethal takes a powder. Back in the ring Lethal unleashes a flurry of strikes and stomps KUSHIDA down. After more counters and reversals KUSHIDA gets distracted by Martini and Lethal is able to hit him with a suicide dive. Lethal hits another suicide dive and is back in the driver’s seat. He slows the pace down for a bit but KUSHIDA is able to fight back and he picks things up a bit. KUSHIDA hits a standing moonsault for a two-count. He goes for another moonsault from the top rope but Lethal gets his knees up and cradles KUSHIDA for a near-fall. Lethal tries the handspring but KUSHIDA cuts him off with a dropkick that sends him to the floor. KUSHIDA follows him out with a dive from the top rope to wipe the Champion out. Back in the ring KUSHIDA hits a dropkick and a sick tornado DDT, and Martini pulls referee Todd Sinclair to the floor to break up the cover. Sinclair gives Martini the boot and he’s outta here! KUSHIDA hits Lethal with a nice German Suplex for two. He goes up top and hits a double ax handle. A series of reversals ends with Lethal hitting the Lethal Combination for two. Lethal goes up top and KUSHIDA knocks him down. KUSHIDA hits a beautiful super rana but it only gets two! The crowd is chanting “this is awesome.” They trade a couple of strikes and then Lethal avoids a back handspring and hits a superkick. Lethal then lands the Lethal Injection to score the pin at 11:36. These two worked really well together and really got the crowd juiced about halfway through. Everything built up really nicely to the Champ scoring a clean win with his finish. All good things.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #4: IWGP Tag Team Title Match – Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. The Briscoes

Anderson and Gallows have been the Champions since 1.4.14, and this is their fourth defense. They represent the BULLET CLUB. A brawl erupts right from the get-go, with Jay and Anderson quickly tumbling to the floor. Jay and Mark take the early advantage and everyone takes the fight to the floor. It’s a chaotic brawl all over ringside, with both teams looking strong. Back to the ring Mark tries a springboard maneuver on Gallows but gets booted out of the air. The Champions are in control now and they isolate Mark in their half of the ring. Mark comes back with a suplex on Anderson but he can’t quite make the tag yet. Anderson goes for a superplex but Mark shoves him off, and then leaps off the top rope all the way over to the opposite corner to make the tag! That was neat. Jay comes in a house afire on both Champions, and Mark adds a Blockbuster off the apron to take Gallows out on the floor. Meanwhile, Jay hits Anderson with a neckbreaker for two. Mark and Gallows continue to brawl on the floor and Gallows hits a big back body drop. Ouch. Anderson and Gallows take advantage on Jay with some two-on-one attacks. Mark makes his way back in to even the odds and the fast-paced brawling continues. The Briscoes take Anderson off his feet and Mark hits the Froggy ‘Bow but only gets two! They go for the Doomsday Device but Gallows breaks it up. Anderson catches Mark out of the air with an Ace Crusher, and Gallows flattens Jay with a Choke Bomb. The Champs then hit Mark with the Magic Killer to get the win and retain the titles at 10:27. That was a great brawl between two bruiser tag teams who just beat the crap out of each other for 10 minutes. Both teams looked good here, and even Jay was up for selling for the BULLET CLUB, so good stuff all around here.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #5: Kevin Steen vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Nakamura is the IWGP Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, but that title is not on the line here. Both men show respect to each other and then immediately start slugging. Steen controls the early portions of the match with his aggressive attacks. He sends Nakamura to the floor and tries to follow him out with a cannonball off the apron but Nakamura avoids it. Nakamura unloads with strikes but misses one on the apron. That allows Steen to hit the powerbomb on the apron and both men are down. Both men just barely make it back to the ring before the count of 20. They trade forearm strikes and then Nakamura wins that battle with an enziguiri. Steen fights back with the Rope-hung DDT and a senton for two. He misses the Cannonball but perseveres and hits it on his second attempt. Nakamura responds with more knee strikes and kicks. He works a Sleeper and Steen appears to be fading. The crowd chants “Ole” and that gives Steen enough to power out with a brainbuster. Steen goes for the Package Piledriver but Nakamura avoids it and hits a backstabber. Nakamura hits a belly-to-back suplex and then runs right into a pop-up sitout powerbomb for two! They fight up on the ropes and Steen brings Nakamura down with another brainbuster! That only gets two. Steen goes for another Package Piledriver but Nakamura avoids it again and hits Boma Ye from the second rope, and then another Boma Ye. Steen kicks out at one! Nakamura hits one more Boma Ye to finally get the pin at 12:17. That was tons of fun, with both men just kicking the crap out of each other and the crowd reacting to every single thing they did.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #6: Michael Bennett vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Bennett is accompanied by Maria Kanellis, and he starts the match by making out with her. Maria tries to interfere early but Tanahashi ain’t got time for that. Tanahashi beats Bennett down and goes to the second rope, and Bennett catches him with a superkick that sends him to the floor. Bennett follows him out and whips him into the barricade, and then follows him in with a boot to the face. He then does it again. On the third attempt Tanahashi is able to reverse the whip, and then he crushes Bennett with a cross body block. Bennett uses Maria as a shield, and she even kisses Tanahashi, allowing Bennett to level him with a clothesline. Back in the ring Bennett covers for two. Bennett keeps Tanahashi grounded, wearing him down and working on his back. Tanahashi comes back with a nice dropkick to the knee, and he follows up with a flurry of offense. He hits a somersault senton from the second rope for a two-count. Tanahashi looks to cinch on the Texas Cloverleaf and Maria gets up on the apron to distract and she slaps him in the face! Bennett charges in and accidentally knocks Maria off the apron. Tanahashi hits Sling Blade for two. Now Tanahashi is able to put on the Cloverleaf and Maria gets in the ring. Maria tries to slap Tanahashi but he blocks it and puts her in the Cloverleaf. Bennett hits a superkick to break that up and then a spinebuster for a near-fall. They battle up on the ropes and Tanahashi knocks Bennett down. Tanahashi tries a Frog Splash but Bennett gets his knees up. Bennett hits a Spear for two. He locks on the Go Back to Japan and Tanahashi reverses it into a cradle. Once again Maria gets up on the apron and this time makes out with referee Todd Sinclair. Bennett hits a Piledriver (an illegal move) but it only gets two. He brings Tanahashi to the apron and tries a Piledriver but Tanahashi blocks it and hits a Florida Key! Tanahashi goes up top and wipes Bennett out with a big cross body block. Back in the ring Tanahashi goes back up top and hits the Frog Splash to get the pin at 13:28. The criticism of this match was that there was no way Bennett could hang with Tanahashi, and the amount of Maria interference and assorted bells and whistles only proved that assertion. It all just felt very forced and there was little chemistry between the opponents. Tanahashi is amazing, so this was disappointing.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #7: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – The Young Bucks vs. reDRagon

Matt and Nick Jackson have been the Champions since 3.8.14, and this is their first defense. They are also the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions but those titles are not on the line here. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly are accompanied by UFC fighter Tom Lawlor. The Bucks take a cheap shot at Lawlor as he exits the ring, and then they toss Fish to the floor. They dominate the early moments of the match, but when Matt goes to the top rope for a dive to the floor, Lawlor shakes the ropes to knock him down. That gives the challengers control, and they isolate Matt in their half of the ring. Lawlor continues to interfere to make sure reDRagon stays in control. Finally after several minutes Matt is able to take both Fish and O’Reilly out long enough to make a tag. Nick comes in a house afire, flying all over the place. Out on the floor the match gets totally out of hand. O’Reilly tries the missile dropkick off the apron but he gets caught with a superkick! Back in the ring the Bucks double-team Fish but can’t quite put him away. The action continues at a rapid pace, with offense coming from everyone. Both teams show some really innovative stuff here and it’s hard to keep up with it all. O’Reilly sends Nick to the floor and this time connects on the missile dropkick. Meanwhile, Matt goes up top but O’Reilly knocks him down. Fish goes up and brings Matt down with a super Falcon Arrow for two. The pace continues to be ridiculous, with numerous counters and signature moves and crazy action. Eventually reDRagon is able to hit Chasing the Dragon on Matt but he kicks out! O’Reilly then cinches in the Cross Armbreaker and Matt has to tap out at 12:41! This feels like the kind of match that if Gabe was still running things the commentators would have bailed halfway through. These two teams are so good it’s not fair, and while less than 13 minutes may seem a bit short, they packed in as much action as most other 20 minute matches. I loved all of this.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #8: ROH World Title Match – Adam Cole vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

Cole has been the Champion since 9.20.13, and this is his eleventh defense. They begin with some chain wrestling, trading holds back and forth. Cole tries a superkick but Liger blocks it and signals for the Palm Strike so Cole wisely takes a powder. Liger catches Cole napping with a baseball slide, and then a cross body block from the apron. Back in the ring Liger locks on the surfboard. Cole is able to fight his way out but Liger stays in control. Liger targets the legs and uses a variety of submission holds to keep Cle on defense. Once again Cole takes a powder, and this time when Liger follows him out the Champ drills him with a superkick. That puts Cole in control and he goes to work, wearing Liger down. After a few minutes Liger pops out of the corner with a spin kick and both men are down. They get back to their feet and Liger delivers the Palm Strike! Liger puts Cole up top and brings him down with a hurricanrana for a two-count. Cole blocks the brainbuster and hits a nice enziguiri. He follows with the Shining Wizard for a near-fall. Cole drops one knee pad and gets cocky, so Liger drills him with another Palm Strike. Liger goes up top and squashes Cole with a Frog Splash for two. He follows with the brainbuster for another near-fall. Liger puts Cole up top and Cole knocks him down. Cole comes down with a sunset flip for two. He kicks out Liger’s knee and then locks on the Figure-Four Leglock! Liger struggles his way over to the ropes and breaks the hold. A series of reversals ends with Cole landing a superkick for two. Cole reapplies the Figure-Four and this time Liger has to tap out at 13:17. Obviously Liger wasn’t winning the title here but they made a pretty good show of the challenge, with plenty of reversals and near-falls that the crowd bought. Liger may be old now, but Cole going over clean is still a nice feather in his cap, so to speak.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #9: IWGP Heavyweight Title Match – AJ Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin

Styles has been the Champion since 5.3.14, and this is his first defense. The action starts off fast and furious, and Styles is the first one to be knocked to the floor, by Okada. Elgin and Okada square off now and battle back and forth for a bit. Styles makes his way back in and tries to break up the delayed vertical suplex with kicks to the gut but Elgin holds on to it. The cunning Champion goes low and takes Elgin’s legs out, and then sends Okada to the floor. Styles continues to focus in Elgin’s legs, which is great strategy. Elgin fights back and tries the deadlift superplex but Okada breaks that up with a dropkick to Elgin’s back that knocks both of his opponents to the floor. That puts Okada on the advantage and he focuses on the Champion. Okada works wears Styles down until Elgin makes his way back in. Elgin takes both opponents out with a shoulder tackle from the top rope. He tries the Buckle Bomb on Okada but Styles cuts that off. Elgin stays in control and picks both men up for the simultaneous Fallaway Slam / Samoan Drop. Okada cuts him off with an Air Raid Crash on the knee for a two-count. Elgin responds with the STJoe. Styles charges in and Elgin hits him with a leaping Codebreaker from the second rope. Cool spot. Okada hits Elgin with a high-angle vertical suplex for two. Elgin reverses a Tombstone Piledriver and hits one of his own, but he can’t make the cover because of his injured knee. Styles takes a hint and locks on the Calf Killer, which Okada has to break up. Okada hits Styles with a DDT for two. He follows with a beautiful top rope elbow and then Elgin surprises him with a backslide for a close two-count. Elgin hits Roots Clotheslines up against the ropes on Okada, and then blasts him with one hard lariat to turn him inside out. All three men are looking worn down. Elgin brings Okada back in the ring with the deadlift superplex, and Styles steals his thunder by hitting a perfect springboard 450 Splash for two. Styles and Okada get up and slug it out, and Styles hits the Pele. The Champ goes for the Styles Clash but Okada kicks his way out of it and hits the Tombstone Piledriver! Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Elgin breaks it up with some hard strikes and scores a two-count. Elgin hits Okada with the Buckle Bomb, and Okada comes back with a dropkick. Okada hits the Rainmaker, and Styles quickly busts in to knock him to the outside. Styles hits Elgin with the Styles Clash to get the pin and retain the title at 17:20. All three competitors brought something different to the table here, and it resulted in tremendous action all the way through. I like that everyone stayed strong too: the Champion, obviously, Elgin because it took two huge finishers to defeat him, and Okada because he didn’t get pinned. Great way to end the show here.
Rating: ****¼

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