First day of NJPW and ROH’s joint Rising Honor cards. While we are used to some Ring of Honor wrestlers doing occasional tours in Japan by now, this is actually the first time ROH has been promoted as a promotion in a Japanese venue. This all gave us a mix of very interesting matches with some NJPW debuts, first time encounters and collaborations as an added bonus. Now, let’s see how they did with all of this:
Jushin Thunder Liger and Matt Sydal defeated Dalton Castle and Ryusuke Taguchi in 8:20 via pinfall:
Lots of comedy as expected. Dalton Castle appeared with two Boys that were not THE boys, which explains some choreography problems here and there. Never one to miss an opportunity to goof off, Taguchi came into the ring with a Dalton-esque cape and also posed with the Boys. Even Liger got in on the fun, taking Castle out at some point so he could also pose with the Boys. Those two are quite popular this evening. Thins eventually got a little more serious with Sydal having some good exchanges with Taguchi and Castle. Finish came when Liger took out Taguchi with a dive, while Sydal blasted Castle with the Shooting Star press. Fun opener, mostly comedy stuff but not a bad way to start the show.
Delirious defeated Gedo in 7:53 via pinfall:
LOTS of stalling from both, interspersed with some comedy. Not much else to it to be honest. Gedo indeed welcomed celebrated ROH’s first Japanese PPV by letting delirious go over. Post-match, delirious celebrated with a cos-player dressed as… wait for it… Delirious.
KUSHIDA defeated Frankie Kazarian in 9:47 via submission:
Good match with both wrestlers working well together. Good storytelling also with Kazarian using his size-advantage over KUSHIDA while the IWGP was the master in the air and when it came to groundwork. Fantastic spot also with Kazarian going for his patented springboard cutter which was countered into an Hoverboard Lock which Kazarian would eventually escape from. That time. Indeed, in the end, afetr a great finishing sequence Kazarian would once again try a top rope move, only to be countered again and find himself in the HoverBoard Lock once more, this time for good. Good effort from Kazarian here with help from KUSHIDA who went 110% to make the ROH wrestler look great.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomoaki Honma, Michael Elgin and Moose defeated Bullet Club (Yoshiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, Cody Hall and Bad Luck Fale) in 11:38 via pinfall:
Match clearly designed to put Moose over and, well, objective achieved. Indeed The Korakuen Hall crowd kept chanting his name and do his signature hand-gesture during the match. Elgin provided strong support and Tanahashi and Honma took a step back to allow the ROH wrestlers to shine. Some amusing big man stuff between Moose and Fale, but Tonga was, once more, the MVP on Bullet Club’s side, even if Cody Hall did get quite some time to shine. Hall is still learning, but he’s getting there. All in all an entertaining NJPW 8-man tag-match which ended when a cross-body block and spear from Moose to Hall. Fun.
The Elite (Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks) defeated Katsuyori Shibata and reDRagon in 10:16 via pinfall:
Excellent six-man tag match, which should be no surprise given the wrestlers involved. Omega and The Young Bucks did everything they could to keep Shibata out of the ring, therefore putting him over without him actually doing that much. But, because of that, every-time he managed to get into the ring it actually meant something. Awesome exchanges between Shibata and Omega, making me wish for a match between those two very soon. That’s actually a problem they have with Shibata since they started pushing him for real. Every fan now wants to see him go against Okada, Omega, Tanahashi, Elgin, Naito and pretty much anyone in NJPW who means something. It’s gonna be a busy year for Shibata. Also great chemistry between the Young Bucks and reDRagon, which makes you wonder why Gedo isn’t bucking regular tags more often in the Junior Heavyweight tag team division. Omega and the Bucks toned down the shenanigans and that highlighted the fact that they ARE actually excellent wrestlers (for those who were doubting that). O’Reilly ate the pin after some hairspray and the One-Winged Angel from Omega. A match that I definitely recommend.
The Briscoes defeated Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows in 8:23 via pinfall:
Good back and forth match, but they could have done with a little more time, I think, because it did feel rushed at times. Anderson and Gallows are clearly to make the best out of their last NJPW appearances while the Briscoes are trying to make an impact over in Japan. Entertaining for the time it was given, Anderson got pinned by Jay after a Froggy Bow from Mark.
Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini) and Tesuya Naito (with EVIL and BUSHI) defeated Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI in 12:56 via pinfall:
Naito was his usual awesome self while coming to the ring, first demanding that referee Red Shoes opened the ropes for him (who tried to give that job to Jay White who responded with an “Hell No”) and then staling over to the announce table, coercing NJPW commentator Milano into doing the dirty job. Milano obliged with his bets “why is it always me” expression and was rewarded with a fist bump for his troubles. Naito showed zero interest in Lethal’s entrance, to the point that the ROH Champion reminded him that they were supposed to be partners. Some awesome exchanges between Okada and Lethal as the match went on, which really makes me hope for a big match between those two. Even more so since the Japanese crowd, unlike what happened at WK 10, was completely into Lethal this time around. Naito continued to be an absolute dick, even to his tag team partner of the night. Amusingly, a misdirected Lethal kick served as a wake-up call for Naito who actually started collaborating from that point on. Some more great exchanges between all involved and then Truth Martini adroitly slid the Book of Truth over to Naito, who used it to take out Okada, and then, hilariously started reading it while Lethal blasted YOSHI-HASHI with a Lethal Injection. Post-match, Lethal offered the hand of friendship to Naito, who, after some teasing, accepted it and even favored Lethal and Truth with a smile and a fist-bump. An exchange of gift followed, with Lethal receiving Naito’s baseball cap and Naito being offered the Book of Truth. Los Ingobernables and The House of Truth then joined for some posing. And a great time was had by all, especially by the fans. This was seriously entertaining on all levels as the in-ring work was good to great and the Naito/Lethal interaction was awesome. More of that please!
ROH World Television Championship Match – Tomohiro Ishii defeated Roderick Strong in 20:07 via pinfall:
Dream-match time and wow, I did not see that one coming. Very good match with a VERY surprising result. Ishii suffered a storyline back injury early on and spend the rest of the match awesomely selling it, even when on offense. Strong played the heel here, doing everything he could think off the keep the Stone Pitbull down. At first I was thinking this would be like Ishii vs Shibata, where Ishii kept coming back from more until he was half-dead, but, here, when Ishii did come back, he pulled off the surprise of the night by pinning the unsuspecting Strong after a sliding Lariat and a Brainbuster. Strong looked stunned, and, to be honest, so was I. Ishii celebrated in typical Stone Pitbull fashion, by showing no emotion at all. Hey he’s the Boss when it come to ass-kicking, that’s what he does. Great chemistry and physicality between those two and I guess this sets up a BIG Las Vegas rematch between those two. Can’t wait, that one is gonna be awesome.
Some might say this felt slightly short when it comes to in-ring work (by NJPW standards of course), but, ROH and NJPW’s goal was to entertain the Korakuen Hall crowd, and all the viewers at home, from start to finish. and they succeeded with flying colors. Who cares if we didn’t have something of the level of Nakamura vs Styles, we got a great six-man tag between Shibata and reDRagon and The Elite, we got some awesome interactions between Lethal, Okada and Naito and we got a great main-event with a result no-one saw coming. That’s more than enough to call this one another very successful joint NJPW and ROH card. Well worth the 999 Yen they ask for a New Japan subscription if you ask me…
Full review of Honor rising day 2 tomorrow!
Tags: bullet club, Dalton Castle, Delirious, doc gallows, Frankie Kazarian, Gedo, hiroshi tanahashi, Jay Lethal, Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Karl Anderson, Katsuyori Shibata, kazuchika okada, Kenny Omega, Kushida, Matt Sydal, Michael Elgin, Moose, njpw, redragon, Roderick Strong, ROH, Ryusuke Tagushi, Tama Tonga, Tetsuya Naito, The Briscoes, Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, Yoshi Hashi, Young Bucks