10 Thoughts on … Ring of Honor April 23, 2016 (Jay Lethal, Naito, Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Kushida versus Kazarian, Elite versus reDRagon and Shibata)

10 Thoughts, Columns

Thought Zero – Ring of Honor television continues with the February ROH/NJPW Honor Rising shows. Remember to go back into Pat Metalhead’s archives for his excellent recap of this event. Now we continue with my not-as-detailed-or-as-awesome ten thoughts.

1) We stay with the Day 1 matches and begin with Tetsuya Naito and Jay Lethal versus Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI. This is my first time seeing the “new” Naito and I am looking forward to it. At the time of this match, Okada was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, so this is a teaser of my dream match I mentioned in a Fantasy Book column a few weeks ago (Lethal versus Okada). And despite knowing the result of the match, I am very interested in seeing this match.

2) Okada wants Lethal to start and I immediately geek out a bit. And Lethal is getting some chants going from the crowd. As awesome as Naito might be (and as good as YOSHI-HASHI might be) I can’t help but wish this was just a one-on-one match.

3) Mr. Wrestling 3 makes a comment about Naito being so miserable that it could be on the “Kawada-Silas Young scale.” That made me chuckle. And I must say that Naito really does have that arrogant dickishness down.

4) The Lethal Combination is one of the best looking sequence of moves I have ever seen. Just sayin’. And Kevin Kelly with a nice line about the Book of Truth being the Japanese translation. Which makes sense as Naito begins reading it after walloping Okada with it outside the ring. Interference from Evil and the Lethal Injection finishes things.

5) The show of respect between Lethal and Naito after the match was well done. And if the working relationship between the House of Truth and Los Ingobernables is followed up with in the future that could be a lot of fun. If nothing else, having Naito and Lethal come to terms with each other looked pretty ominous in the ring.

6) Next we get Kazarian versus Kushida. Pat Metalhead had good things to say about this match, so my guess is Kazarian is interested in wrestling today. I’ve commented on Kazarian before and what I see as a lack of focus in his performances. Unfortunately, it winds up scaring me now as I just worry it is a matter of time before he hurts someone with his sloppiness. I sure hope I am wrong. Oh, and I still hate his “Heavy Metal Rebel” nickname.

7) I have to say that I think Pat Metalhead undersold this match. I was very impressed with these guys. Kushida definitely worked super hard and Kazarian looked determined to look good. In fact, I think this was the best I have seen Kazarian look in … well … pretty much ever. He hit some innovative moves that looked solid and polished. And Kushida impressed me more than he normally does as well. I would not mind seeing these guys go for 30 minutes with some high stakes. Very good match.

8) ROH TV brings the humor with Mark Briscoe doing a man on the street bit. To wit, Mark informs us that Mount Fuji is named after Mr. Fuji. Mark also has an intense showdown with a bowl of noodles. He goes in search of Godzilla.  He even tries to find a dojo to get in some Redneck Kung-Fu practice. I like Mark Briscoe when he does guest commentary as well. Dude is pretty funny.

9) Main event time is here. The Elite versus Shibata and reDRagon. The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega come out first and then Shibata comes out and just stands in the middle of the ring like a badass listening to taunts by the Elite. I always like the Young Bucks versus reDRagon. Adding Omega and Shibata is just whipped cream on top of a triple scoop awesome sundae. The times Shibata and Omega were in the ring together were just fantastic and I want to see a singles match between them sometime soon.

10) Mr. Wrestling 3 makes a comment that Shibata is a machine. I can see that. Maybe a mix between a machine and a Steve Blackman-esque serial killer. Regardless, I want to see more of him in the ring. I commented about how crazy has a big place in pro wrestling. Well, badassery also has a big place in pro wrestling. The match ends with some shenanigans and a one-winged angel where both Omega and O’Reilly worked hard to get in the right position. Another very good match and enjoyable hour of wrestling.

Final thought – On a personal note, the death of Prince hit me very, very hard. I have been a HUGE fan of Prince for roughly 35 years (right around the Dirty Mind to Controversy time period, pre-1999). I have every album, almost every single, several collectibles, several rare items, etc. I have seen him perform live numerous times. His music has been a part of my life’s soundtrack over and over and over and over again. I haven’t been mourning him because I knew him personally. I’ve been mourning because of how he helped me know myself.

Why am I mentioning this in a column about professional wrestling? Well, since his passing this past Thursday, I have been doing pretty much nothing but watching Prince videos and movies, listening to Prince music, and reading anything online about his life and death. I’ve read more memorials and eulogies and remembrances than I really should admit. That is where my mind has been.

But I watched this hour of ROH television to do this column because I gave my word I would. And, to my surprise, it helped. It was an enjoyable hour. I smiled and cheered and sat in awe of what these men were doing. They were entertaining not just everyone in the arena, but anyone who would come across these performances. A lot of people would not say pro wrestling is art. Of course, a lot of people would not say Prince’s work was art (and those people would be wrong). If wrestling isn’t art, I don’t care. Because when done well, it brings you into its world, if only for a little bit, and provides you fun and excitement. And every so often, it provides a bit of solace during a tough time.

Life continues and it is our duty to make it count. And nothing makes it count more than giving. For everyone who gives their gifts to someone – an audience, a company, a friend, society, anyone – they should be respected and cherished. They are the ones who make the difference in that they are the ones who make us want to endure the struggles to get to the joys.

So thank you, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. Thank you, Widro and Inside Pulse. And if anyone is still reading, thank you for allowing me to share even a tiny bit of me with you.

Until next time…

Human. I think.