work from jonwuka

Roppongi Vice

React » NJPW’s Wrestling Dontaku ’15

To begin with, a disclaimer: I have not seen Wrestling Dontaku 2015 yet and this is not a show review. These are my reactions to the results, speculation about what they might bring for the future, etc.

Results courtesy of Joe Lanza and

Obviously, spoilers abound.

3 May 2015
Fukuoka Convention Center, Fukuoka (Japan)

  • Jushin Liger, Mascara Dorada, Tiger Mask, & Yuji NagataO def Captain New JapanX, KUSHIDA, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi
  • Kota Ibushi & Yohei KomatsuO def Tetsuya Naito & Sho TanakaX
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, & Tomoaki HonmaO def Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Cody HallX, & Tama Tonga)
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
    Young Bucks (Matt JacksonO & Nick Jackson) def Roppongi Vice© (Rocky Romero & BarettaX) and reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)
    NEW CHAMPS! Young Bucks 42nd Champions!
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
    Kenny Omega© def Alex Shelley
  • The Kingdom (Michael Bennett, Matt Taven, & Maria KanellisO) def Bullet Club (Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, & Amber GallowsX)
  • Hiroshi TanahashiO, Katsyuori Shibata, & Togi Makabe def CHAOS (Kazushi Sakuraba, Tomohiro Ishii, & Toru YanoX)
  • Bullet Club (A.J. StylesO & Yujiro) def CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHIX)
  • IWGP Intercontinental Championship
    Hirooki Goto def Shinsuke Nakamura©
    NEW CHAMP! Hirooki Goto 11th Champion!

The first three matches, for me, don’t show a lot of future importance. Lanza thinks that the Ibushi tag match may have been a set-up for a bit of attention on Komatsu and Tanaka. Bullet Club taking a fall in the first trios match seems to continue the theme of latter-day BizCliz not being quite as invincible as they once were.

The Jr. Tag title match which saw the Young Bucks regain the belts has some implications, not just in New Japan but also for the War of the Worlds/Global Wars shows that I’ve previewed earlier. The quick title reign seems to have established Roppongi Vice as a top team in the Jr. Tag scramble while the Bucks have just re-enforced their claim as the top of the Jr. Tag heap. As Lanza points out, reDRagon has been well protected even in their recent losses, and again they don’t take the fall here. Speaks a hell of a lot about reDRagon’s importance to the Jr. Tag scene at present. Title wise I don’t see this change being extremely significant; I expect someone else will wear those straps soon enough. However, going into the NJPW/ROH Wars shows, this makes Young Bucks the targets rather than the hunters, and gives Roppongi Vice a huge reason to impress in their efforts on that week.

As my following of New Japan has been sketchy, I can’t say how relevant Alex Shelley has been to the singles junior heavyweight scene; last I was watching he really seemed to not be on that side of things. So while I’m sure this was a great match, it feels more like building Kenny Omega than giving him a really strong contender. It’s interesting that foreigners have really been dominating the junior scenes recently; the strongest Japanese hopes here are Ibushi and KUSHIDA, and I’m not sure either are in a position to make a run at Omega right now.

Not expecting much out of The Kingdom/Bullet Club match here. They’ve been playing it for comedy it feels like, which is fine enough, but The Kingdom are currently the IWGP Tag Team Champions and are suffering from a huge lack of credibility. This isn’t the match to give it to them, especially as it’s Maria that got the pin on Amber, not any of the feuding tag guys managing to prove anything. On both sides of the water The Kingdom needs some more definitive wins if they’re going to come out of this title reign looking any better than they came in.

My knowledge of the issues between these guys in the Tanahashi trios is very limited, really limited to what I’ve gleaned from results skimming. Tanahashi getting his pin on Yano continues their resumed cheating rivalry (if I remember correctly they were doing this a few years ago with Yano stealing Tanahashi’s heavyweight belt). Makabe and Ishii were there to hit the hell out of each other. I’m not really sure why they hate each other so much but they’ve traded the NEVER belt and had some serious slugfests. Shibata and Sakuraba I think used to tag, I guess that broke up. Sorry I don’t really have more here but it doesn’t seem a match really designed to boost anybody’s level, just to keep these rivalries going.

Bullet Club beating CHAOS seems somewhat of a given; I think CHAOS has consistently been backfooted in this feud. Apparently they did an angle afterward where Okada lifted the IWGP strap but, judging just on hearsay, I can’t see how that’d be very effective considering he just lost. Still, that’s the obvious match being built to and Styles continues to look dominant going into it.

The night’s main event features what I consider to be a shock upset but what I suspect most New Japan diehards half-expected to happen. Mostly, I would have thought that Nakamura was safe to carry the Intercontinental title over to the United States for the Wars shows. It does seem like what the title was created for, given its genesis in NJPW’s American tour-nament. I like Goto fine but I don’t know much about his trajectory here. Nakamura’s stock won’t really drop here but I’m sure he’ll be looking to rebuild when he comes stateside.

Bottom Line: It seems like a show worth catching from Lanza’s review. Things are somewhat changed around title-wise for the upcoming NJPW/ROH shows but since those are fairly cold story-wise I don’t think it’ll affect much. For New Japan I’d prefer to wait and see; as I’ve admitted (about 90 times) that my NJPW story knowledge is weak I’d like to get more of a feel for it before speaking more.

Drew Galloway vs Low Ki

Match Review – Drew Galloway vs Low Ki, Impact (1 May)

Last night, Impact Wrestling aired it’s Hardcore Justice episode. The element of danger was present throughout the night. One match with the potential to be absolutely brutal pitted Drew Galloway against Low Ki, with a steel pipe suspended on a pole above the ring. Up until this point, Galloway’s The Rising and Low Ki’s Beat Down Clan have been trading shots and things have been getting extremely ugly. When Galloway made his debut for TNA, he used a steel pipe to clear the Beat Down Clan away from a beat down victim and in the process split Ki open. Now was Ki’s opportunity at revenge and, even better, a chance to put Galloway in his place.

Low Ki is a guy I have a bit of familiarity with but not near as much as your typical indy diehard. Mostly I think this is because I came onto the scene when Low Ki was in the wilderness, as it were, on bad terms with ROH and not working TNA, on and off in Japan for his most visibility. That said I’ve seen his stuff and always thought he was good, a vicious take-no-prisoners martial arts style. What I like about him is he takes the martial arts thing seriously, not simply as a bit of flash to add to his act. Drew Galloway is a guy that I feel like I’m waiting to be impressed by but it never happens. There are others, like Alberto Del Rio, who I think are great but haven’t put that into a classic that I’ve seen. Galloway, on the other hand, I feel is always just about to hit his next tier. Some guys have really reinvented after hitting the indies but I haven’t seen much of that from Galloway. That said, he’s always able to channel a lot of fire when needed and that’s always useful in a weapons match like this.

Steel Pipe on a Pole

Given their history it isn’t surprising that Low Ki started things off quickly. He found he’d bitten off more than he could chew when Galloway responded with strikes of his own and sent him over the top with a lariat. One of the main conflicts in this match revolveda round the size difference between Galloway and Low Ki but, perhaps because of time, it doesn’t get played with much more than the sort of attacks they use. Really, the match goes fairly back and forth, each guy escalating their assault, using a chair if the other guy just used one, and so on. The battle takes them from the floor back into the ring and they struggle over the pipe. Galloway gets it but Low Ki intercepts him and steals the pipe. Low Ki then tries to use it like a club (would have been nice to see something different with it given Ki’s style) but Galloway ducks, boots him, and hits the Futureshock DDT to get the pinfall.

An obvious problem here, from a slavering thrall of bloodlust’s point of view, is that they never actually use the steel pipe. In general I’m not bothered by not having weapon use, but in a match where the pipe is in the billing, I feel as though it should be decisive. Instead, it meant nothing. It didn’t even make Low Ki wary, which would be understandable given his history on the wrong end of it. But the bigger issue is really that they didn’t try to do much of anything. Drew Galloway came into the match with injured ribs but they never stopped Galloway short or gave Low Ki a real opportunity to get an advantage. The one time he does specifically attack the ribs as a counter doesn’t buy him any more time than if Galloway had been fine. There’s no sense that Low Ki is having trouble with Galloway’s strength or that Galloway can’t handle Low Ki’s speed or striking. It feels very much like a game of rock em sock em robots: you keep hitting until someone falls down finally.

Performance-wise, both guys were fine. I’ve seen better stuff from Low Ki so, not seeing him recently, I’d say this was more an off night from him. I think he could have given a little more to Drew in terms of selling but I don’t really feel that the match was built in such a way that it hurt things. Drew Galloway I feel needs to do a lot of studying. He wrestles basically the same as he did in WWE and the problem is that he did not have an eyecatching style there. TNA will stay behind him because he’s alright in the ring and he’s a former WWE Intercontinental Champion. However, just like TNA hasn’t really defined Ken Anderson or Jeff Hardy or Kurt Angle, it won’t do anything to increase Galloway’s stock. If Galloway’s intent on not being defined by his WWE career he’s going to need to start getting his game together.

An argument can be made that you can’t do a lot in seven minutes, which is about how long they ran (it’s possible that it was cut down for TV but I didn’t notice anything). However, I’d rather see a less cluttered match with more arc to take up that seven minutes than guys trying to cram 15-20 minutes worth of violence into half that time.

Bottom Line: This is a TV match. To some extent you lower your expectations for it. However, it was also the semi-main on a name episode of Impact. I mean, at least use the steel pipe.

Bullet Club

Preview – ROH vs NJPW: Global Wars ’15

After the two mid-week War of the Worlds shows in Philly (which I previewed a few days ago), Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling take Thursday off to truck up to Toronto for Global Wars. On balance, these two shows seem to be where the main action is, and part of that is definitely that night 1 is going out on iPPV and night 2 is being taped for ROH TV. Just looking down the match list, though, I feel that the Global Wars cards are just a bit stronger. Both nights will probably be capped off by the Bullet Club mega tag matches. Night 1 they’ll test the mettle of a crew of ROH fan favorites, “led” by the Briscoe Brothers. Night 2, Bullet Club squares off with New Japan rival faction CHAOS. Interesting that they booked the ROH showcase on the New Japan broadcast and vice versa; it could be a hint that they’re intending to keep pushing this relationship forward and want to introduce more of the ROH product to New Japan.

This is also set to have the scheduled ROH debut of Chris Sabin. He’s been in ROH before but it has been several years since he even poked his head in with the Motor City Machine Guns (still probably one of the best tag teams to never have a real limelight run). Since then, he’s become a singles guy again, won the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, and gone insane over Velvet Sky (as many men would). Like I said in my WotW preview, I’m expecting Sabin to be A.J. Styles‘s mystery opponent, but since that’s not confirmed we’ll assume for convenience that his first match will be on Friday the 15th. His alliance with The Addiction and, more importantly, his role in screwing over reDRagon to steal the ROH World Tag Team Championship is going to make him one of the key guys to watch for me, especially as a follower of the TV product. That said, he’ll have a lot of competition from everybody else doing their damndest to come off their best.

Global Wars 2015ROH/NJPW Global Wars, Night 1
16 May 2015 • Toronto, ON

  • THE KINGDOM (Michael Bennett & Matt Taven) vs MATT SYDAL & JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER: The sometimes tag team of Matt Sydal and ACH won’t be in action as you might expect since ACH has other obligations on night 1. That leaves Sydal to team with New Japan’s own international sensation Jushin Thunder Liger to take on the ROH villains. At this moment, The Kingdom is riding very high as a tag team after having secured the IWGP Tag Team Championship from Bullet Club’s Anderson & Gallows. With Adam Cole on the mend, they might be coming to their strongest point yet and I’m sure they’re eager to keep the momentum flowing. Sydal and Liger are both very accomplished wrestlers, but inexperience as a team is going to hurt them against a squad that’s getting more cohesive every day. At the same time, Sydal is a good boy and Liger is an… alien guy, so The Kingdom’s tactic of using Maria’s ass and legs and everything as a distraction is not as likely to work. Sydal and Liger have an uphill battle ahead of them but if The Kingdom are resting on their laurels they’ll be rudely awakened.
  • CHRIS SABIN vs KUSHIDA: Here, officially, Chris Sabin makes his return to a Ring of Honor ring against a livewire in New Japan’s KUSHIDA. This is definitely an interesting matchup if only for both of their relationship with Alex Shelley (and, of course, Shelley’s absence). It is possible on the outside that Sabin will use this match to send a messsage over to Shelley, or even just to the ROH locker room that he doesn’t care about old alliances. If he expects to find a pushover, though, he’ll have to look elsewhere. KUSHIDA is always high on octane and he’s routinely given guys on both sides of the water problems handling him. Sabin has a reputation as being a speedster from his time in the MCMGs, but out of the two Guns I always saw Sabin as the more grounded one. As TNA World champion he displayed a lot more of that game and I think that’s more of the side we’re going to see from Sabin in Toronto. If he really wants to control KUSHIDA, though, he’ll have to know when to put the boosters on.
  • GEDO & MOOSE vs WATANABE & SILAS YOUNG: This is probably the match that makes the least sense if they’re not taking ROH guys over to New Japan and the most sense if they are. Moose would probably be over like crazy in Japan and Silas Young is good enough that he can take his act wherever. As a minor introduction to these guys the match could work great. In the ring? I’m really not expecting too much. As I’ve said in an earlier piece, Gedo is past his prime, not engaged in much ring-wise these days, and probably won’t be amazing. Moose is green as hell. He can carry his end but he’s not going to be in a classic without a lot of direction. Watanabe’s not bad but he’s not great, either. It’s just Young who I’d really like to see from this one. I would assume this will mostly be comedy as I don’t see anybody but Young taking it too seriously. Guessing we’ll see a lot of action from Veda & Stokely here.
  • SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs ACH: Yet another in the “ACH big match series.” It can be argued — as Adam Page has made a point of doing — that ACH doesn’t deserve to keep getting big opportunities, considering he always loses. However, I don’t think he is booked in these matches because he’ll win but because he’s an exciting wrestler who’s good enough to give these guys a run for their money. It’s not just about wins and losses, it’s also about performance, and if ACH was instead ACHP that’s what the P would stand for. With Nakamura across the ring I can’t help but think this match will be completely explosive. I haven’t seen Nakamura against flyers too often so I’m not sure how he’ll do and ACH is one who loves the air, even if he doesn’t protect it as much as some. One of ACH’s big weaknesses is his playfulness. I’m sure we’ll see him imitating Nakamura at some point and Nakamura will put his boot right down ACH’s throat. If that happens too often this match might be shorter than we thought. As always, ACH has an opportunity to seal a big win here, but he’s got a challenge ahead of him that he’s not really ready for yet. He’ll need more than attitude, charisma, and heart to deal with Nakamura.
  • KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs CEDRIC ALEXANDER: We were supposed to get this last year but Cedric got injured. I’m very glad we’re getting it here and on the iPPV show as well. Alexander has needed nothing more than a really landmark performance in ROH. If he brings it all against Okada and accomplishes something special it could mean a hell of a lot for him. Okada, on the other hand, is not really looking for a showcase. He’s over with the ROH fans, he’s way over in Japan, he’s already in contention for the IWGP Heavyweight strap. What he needs out of this match is momentum. I would not be surprised if we see Okada trying to close this one up quickly so as not to jeopardize his future prospects. He has a very strong, solid style that in a lot of ways reminds me of Tanahashi’s: he’s not an immovable monster but he’s definitely out to hurt you straight-up. Not a whole lot of trickery to his attack. He’s also fought most of his top-flight career against heavyweights. If Alexander can give Okada a different sort of challenge he’ll have his best shot at success. Though a comparison with Roderick Strong is often drawn, Cedric is a much more effective flyer and he’s more creative with what he does when he’s on the move. I think those aspects are what’s going to stand out as he tries to conquer the former IWGP champion.
  • Four Corner Tag Survival – THE ADDICTION (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs RPG VICE (Rocky Romero & Baretta) vs REDRAGON (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs THE DECADE (B.J. Whitmer & Adam Page): From the standpoint of title aspirations this is the most interesting match of the night and perhaps of the whole week. Both the ROH World Tag and the IWGP Jr. Tag champions are in this match, along with reDRagon who are the immediately previous holders of both with overwhelmingly legitimate arguments that they should still be. That makes three extremely desirable targets for The Decade to knock off, which means they will probably be bringing their all, especially Adam Page who’s likely in the biggest match of his ROH career thus far. Style-wise this will likely be dominated by the electricity of RPG Vice and reDRagon. I’m not sure what The Addiction’s outlook on this match will be; as it’s non-title (as announced), there’s nothing for them to protect, and we haven’t had much chance to see what their attitude as villains is. Given all the bodies already involved there’s a high probability that we’ll see Colby Corino as the young boy for The Decade, and if that happens with Steve Corino at ringside The Decade’s chances at winning skyrocket. Personally, I don’t know how much I’ll enjoy this match (general opposition to multi-sided matches) but I will be checking to see how it plays out.
  • HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs MICHAEL ELGIN: I have heard a lot about Michael Elgin’s desire to wrestle in Japan. Up to this point he’ll have faced two of New Japan’s rising stars but now, on the biggest show of the week, he’ll stand toe to toe with the long-recognized ace of New Japan. Of the two, I think Tanahashi may have to adapt his style the most because Elgin’s style of power is several shades more tactical than most guys with his strength. I see Elgin simply doing what he can to apply all the pressure he can for as long as he can while Tanahashi tries to find a way around him. On the other hand, if Elgin believes he’ll be able to bully Tanahashi around the ring he will quickly be undeceived. Tanahashi may not be quite as strong as Elgin but he isn’t far behind. Another of Tanahashi’s strengths is his on the move creativity, enough of a flying element to his style that it helps him defy the powerhouses. Elgin has faced that sort of thing before but it doesn’t mean he’s always prepared to fight it, especially since he’s facing a guy the size of Tanahashi and not someone he can snatch out of the air. Out of all the matches on this night this is my favorite one on paper, definitely looking forward to it.
  • ROH World Television Championship – JAY LETHAL© vs TETSUYA NAITO: If Jay Lethal wants to be seen as a champion on the level of Jay Briscoe, he has to put down better competition. Thankfully, New Japan has brought one of their own golden boys over here to face him. This will be a real test for both guys as Naito seeks to continue bolstering his singles reputation and Lethal gets a taste of the Japanese scene in a way he hasn’t really been exposed to yet. Despite winning 2013’s G1 Climax, Naito’s only been able to convert that into a NEVER Openweight Championship reign; the young title’s had some good spotlight, especially with Tomohiro Ishii as its champion, but it’s undoubtedly the lowest title in the New Japan hierarchy that has three other singles belts. One great performance, anywhere in the world, can turn you right around and there’s nobody better for it than Jay Lethal. Problem for Naito is he’ll have to work hard in there if he wants a win. Lethal can certainly match Naito’s pace every step of the way, he can fly as much as Naito wants, and he can grind the pace to paste. That said, I believe Naito does have the edge as a flyer, and I expect we’ll see him do what he can to emphasize that. Truth Martini will probably end up earning his pay this night, as they say.
  • ROH ALL-STARS (Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, Roderick Strong, Hanson, & Rowe) vs BULLET CLUB (A.J. Styles, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson): If we’ve got to have more than four people in a match I much prefer it in this type of setting: a big war between two sides. Here we’ve got two sides who are certainly going to prove ultra-popular, Bullet Club as a group and the ROH team as three of the hottest acts from a company full of hot acts. The absence of a real junior heavyweight team for the ROH side makes it tough to see what this match is going to set up, if anything. Whatever combat we get between Jay Briscoe and Styles is going to be very interesting. Both guys are definitely going to want to prove something here, especially since the only contact they’ve had since Styles’s return has been in a four-way match. As opposing captains I’m guessing we’re going to see a good deal of tension between them. A lot of outside factors make this one very tough for me to call: relative positions of Bullet Club and the All-Stars, fact that it’ll be on New Japan iPPV, whether or not ROH will be sending guys to New Japan in the future and who. Inside, though, I’m expecting nothing but a battle. The Bullet Club brings a more varied, specialist kind of attack, with their heavy tag team in Anderson/Gallows, their harrier team in the Young Bucks, and the jewel in the crown Styles to bring it all together. ROH’s side is a lot more rounded, with three of them able to keep pace with the Bucks, War Machine (and probably also the Briscoes) able to match Anderson/Gallows for power, and two guys who are as close as anyone in ROH to challenging for Styles’s IWGP belt (Strong and Jay Briscoe). I don’t expect Briscoe’s unbeaten streak to be broken here but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a real scare.



ROH/NJPW Global Wars, Night 2
16 May 2015 • Toronto, ON

  • KUSHIDA vs WILL FERRARA: One thing the ROH Dojo excels at is turning out rookies. What I mean is that Will Ferrara, Pelle Primeau, and Rhett Titus come to mind as having a very basic-seeming approach. Very capable all-rounders, I suppose is a good way to put it. Ferrara is good, there’s no doubt, but he’s certainly still looking for those elements that are going to push him into being great. KUSHIDA is, I think, going to give Ferrara a different sort of test than he would usually get in Ring of Honor. This may just be my perception but I feel that Japanese flyers tend to have a more intense style of air attack as opposed to the acrobatics-focused American style. So while Ferrara has certainly faced accomplished flyers in the past, KUSHIDA’s rip-roaring attack may be a little more than Ferrara was planning on getting. I feel as though KUSHIDA will see this as more of a showcase match. If he underestimates Ferrara too far, he’ll find himself in trouble. For Ferrara’s part, a win against a New Japan import would do a lot for his standing in ROH.
  • MICHAEL ELGIN vs GEDO: On paper this match makes very little sense. Gedo has not been in serious contention for any titles in over ten years. At the moment he is mainly Okada’s mouthpiece and sideman. Elgin is somewhat knocked back in the ROH standings after his loss in the four-way title match at the 13th Anniversary Show but he is still one of the top contenders and still undoubtedly hunting that championship. So why this match? Well, one thing that’s true is that there’s not many in New Japan with more pull than Gedo. If there are ideas about having Elgin go to Japan, it’s possible that Gedo wants to get a look himself. If there aren’t, a good showing against Gedo himself might put such ideas in his head. Regardless, this will be an interesting match for Elgin. I believe he’ll be inclined to see this as somewhat of a gimme. I’m sure Gedo is double-tough or he wouldn’t think about stepping in the ring against Elgin but that may not be enough. For Elgin’s part, the question really is how to handle this match. If he’s trying to curry favor, does he go for it full-tilt? Does he play it cool, showing off his skills without trying to drive Gedo through the mat? And remember, this will be at the end of the week, after Elgin’s already endured three tough matches and likely been traveling most of his “off” day. If he plays it with kid gloves there’s every chance that Gedo could surprise him and take the victory. Whatever happens, Gedo is not going to make things easy for Michael Elgin.
  • THE KINGDOM (Michael Bennett & Matt Taven) vs DOC GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON: Despite there being animosity between these two teams as The Kingdom very recently stole the IWGP Tag Team Championship from Gallows & Anderson, and despite Gallows & Anderson not yet having received a rematch, this match is (currently) not set as a title defense. Lots of reasons can be speculated on but what is true for sure is that a lot of pressure is off of The Kingdom’s shoulders. The worst they have to fear is injury, losing Maria to Karl Anderson, and giving up a future title shot to Gallows & Anderson. Speaking of Maria, she provides another focal point in this match as the major distraction which allowed The Kingdom to seize the belts in the first place. The atmosphere in Japan and North America is a bit different on this point — guys on both sides ogle her, but it seems in America everyone’s able to pull their attention away a bit easier — and that means that what worked in Japan may not work in Toronto. Gallows and Anderson are likely to be hot at the chance to get some revenge and, of course, to earn an actual title match in the future. For both of those reasons Anderson will probably be a bit more focused, but you can never tell with the Machine Gun. In my view, if The Kingdom are concerned about increasing their stock in ROH, they stick it out and fight. They will have to be craftier than usual — while this is The Kingdom’s main strength, I think they rely too much on old & established strategies rather than continuing to evolve (one guy who was amazing at this was Mike Mondo) — especially against two bruisers from the Bullet Club. The Kingdom are faster than Gallows & Anderson but not enough to make that the key part of their strategy. A win here for The Kingdom, in front of an ROH crowd, would do a lot to solidify them as a strong tag team stateside. However as I said, this all depends on them being interested in upping their profile. Somehow I think they’ll be more interested in saving their own hides.
  • JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER vs DALTON CASTLE: When I first heard about this match I exploded with pleasure. For a new guy in Dalton Castle’s position this is one of the best matches he could have drawn, especially as this is his only booked appearance this week. Jushin Liger is a larger-than-life character in the most exact sense; when you see him you can’t believe that there is a person like that around. Dalton Castle, well, it is quite hard to believe that a man like him exists, too. I think this one was worth booking just for the entrances. In the ring I don’t really see this as a test, more an exhibition. Liger is not in peak condition these days and though he’s recently been a champion, it was for the much-deprecated NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship. He’s not been in real contention for a title in a long while. At the same time, he has always remained dangerous and recently gave Jay Lethal a decent run for the World Television title. Dalton Castle doesn’t come in at the top of the card, having fallen to Ashley Sixx in the first round of the 2015 Top Prospect Tournament and again against Jay Lethal in his proper ROH debut. However, he’s already proven himself to be a tremendous grappler, deceptively powerful, and crafty enough to send even Truth Martini into conniptions. If Dalton Castle loses he shouldn’t be ashamed, but if he wins, he’ll have a hell of a lot to brag about.
  • HIROSHI TANAHASHI & TETSUYA NAITO vs ACH & MATT SYDAL: Right here we have a battle of the golden boys, fan favorites all, and all able to light the crowd up. There is really no more backstory than that. ACH and Sydal I’m sure would love to pull out what’s got to be considered a king kong upset against Tanahashi and Naito (who I could be convinced are father and son). However, they stand across from two G1 Climax winners, one of whom is New Japan’s most well-known wrestler and the other being desperate for a big win. The Japanese pair are likely to try and slow down the Americans and ground them, prevent them from using their strong aerial assault. Naito can probably keep pace with ACH and Sydal singly but with both across from, trying to beat them at their own game might prove unfeasible. On paper the best strategy for ACH & Sydal would be to isolate Naito who, being lighter, will probably be easier to put down. That said, if Matt Sydal is really looking for a win here I fear that ACH may hold him back. This is a match where ACH’s inexperience can really damage him as not only has he got two veteran opponents to contend with, he has to manage having a tag partner as well. I think Sydal’s aware of this and wants to commit to building a strong team, but until ACH’s sensibilities develop, they’re going to hit very tough matches like this one without a lot of options available.
  • SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs RODERICK STRONG: Right here we have a match that means two hugely different things to both guys and yet where neither one can slouch. Shinsuke Nakamura is a big deal player. Not only is he a former 3-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and the man who has established the Intercontinental Championship as one to win, he is perhaps the most popular wrestler on the New Japan roster. Roderick Strong is, in ROH, one of the few that can call himself The Man. Never unrespected, always competitive, always increasing his level. For Roderick, a win here over the IWGP Intercontinental Champion would not only raise his stock in ROH massively, it would almost certainly net him an Intercontinental title shot at some point in the future. For Nakamura, simply being who he is would probably see him into any title match that he desired in ROH and even beating someone as established as Roddy isn’t likely to increase Nakamura’s already huge popularity. But if Nakamura thinks this is an occasion to slouch at the end of a long weekend, he might find that he’ll lose quite a lot in three seconds. As I’ve said, Roddy is always looking for that next level, that next challenge, and I cannot imagine that he’ll be passing up a chance to impress and reach success against a name like Nakamura. As for Nakamura, if he’s smart he’ll put Roddy down; you never want to face Roderick Strong twice if you don’t have to. For once, the crafty guy is coming from New Japan as we get a chance to see if Nakamura’s flash is enough to dull the razor that is Roderick Strong.
  • BULLET CLUB (A.J. Styles, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero, & Baretta): I’m aware of the rivalry between Bullet Club and CHAOS but I can’t really say what’s going on with it now. I’ve always found it tough to follow Japanese wrestling storylines and, even with the huge Anglophone push in New Japan these days, I don’t make enough time to watch New Japan stuff. Mostly what I know is that Bullet Club under Prince Devitt made its name coming up against and battling with CHAOS, eventually supplanting them as the top villainous stable in New Japan. It was only after Devitt left and was replaced with Styles that the Bullet Club cleared its final hurdle and captured the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Styles is now in his 2nd reign, more established, and still the incumbent with a livid Okada on his heels. In the transformation from young boy in America to “Rainmaker” and two time IWGP champion, it might be forgotten that at 27 Okada is actually the second youngest person in this match (ahead of only Nick Jackson). Styles has played upon that, and their history together in TNA, quite a lot in what I’ve seen and I don’t expect that to change here. Bullet Club has the edge in longevity and cohesion, both as a trio and, of course, with the superstar Young Bucks. That said, CHAOS is very well-decorated, as Romero is a multi-time Jr. Tag champion and currently holds those belts with Baretta. Their team is very, very fresh, though, and that could pose problems against the Bucks who definitely want to get those straps back. With two powerful rivalries going into this match I can see this one breaking down very quickly. Todd Sinclair (or whoever draws the match) had better be on his toes.
  • Other Appearances: Not too much that I can really say here. I’m guessing, despite the lack of Sabin’s announcement, that we’re going to see more of the KRD angle developing on this taping. Jay Lethal not being listed as well does surprise me, but Donovan Dijak’s involvement makes me think there’ll still be movement on the Briscoe vs Lethal front. If there is to be some impromptu match I’d guess it’ll involve either Chris Sabin or Donovan Dijak. Also guessing we’ll see more movement with The Decade/Corinos angle though I’m not sure what form that’ll take.



  • ROH All-Stars vs Bullet Club: This one is pretty tough to call but home field advantage is going to be the deciding factor. Winners: ROH All-Stars.
  • Jay Lethal© vs Tetsuya Naito [ROH World Television Championship]: Naito is good, he’s on the rise, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be stopping Jay Lethal’s roll. Winner: Jay Lethal.
  • The Kingdom vs Matt Sydal & Jushin Thunder Liger: Sydal and Liger are two great junior heavyweights but they’re not a team. The Kingdom is united and they’re hungry to keep adding to their resume. Winners: The Kingdom.
  • Chris Sabin vs. KUSHIDA: This being Chris Sabin’s re-debut in ROH, I can’t see he’ll want anything more than a victory here. Beating his former partner’s current partner is just icing. Winner: Chris Sabin.
  • Gedo & Moose vs Watanabe & Silas Young: Gedo is a ring general and Moose just needs to be directed. I feel like Young will get frustrated with Watanabe before long. Winners: Gedo & Moose.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura vs ACH: This one will be electric for sure. But, as usual with ACH, he’s in over his head here. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura.
  • The Addiction vs RPG Vice vs reDRagon vs The Decade [Four Corner Tag Survival]: Each team has a burning interest in winning this match but there can be only one. Tough to call but I have a sneaking feeling RPG Vice will be extra motivated. Winners: RPG Vice.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Michael Elgin: Elgin is going to throw almost all he’s got in this one, but Tanahashi will surprise him and take it away. Predicting at least 3 Sling Blades in this one. Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi.


  • Bullet Club vs CHAOS: Right now Okada’s got Styles right in his sights and he wants nothing better than to beat him at every chance. However, stateside? Fan support will sway things a lot. Winners: Bullet Club.
  • KUSHIDA vs Will Ferrara: This’ll be a spirited match, but if KUSHIDA stays focused I don’t see much chance for Ferrara. Winner: KUSHIDA.
  • Michael Elgin vs Gedo: In this one I’m not quite sure of what to expect excpt the result. Winner: Michael Elgin.
  • The Kingdom vs Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson: Gallows and Anderson have 1000 times more reason to want to win this than The Kingdom, who’ve got every reason to scatter. Winners: Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson.
  • Jushin Thunder Liger vs Dalton Castle: This is a real chance for Dalton Castle to prove himself but he’s got a steep mountain against the legendary flyer. Winner: Jushin Thunder Liger.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tetsuya Naito vs ACH & Matt Sydal: As much as I know ACH would love to score a win this weekend, I think he’s gonna come up short again here. Maybe if he’d drawn Watanabe or KUSHIDA. Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tetsuya Naito.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roderick Strong: Out of this whole week this match is the toughest one to call. There could very well be an upset here, but I’m gonna stick with my gut. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura.
Show vs. Reigns

Match Review – Reigns vs Show at Extreme Rules

Last night was WWE’s Extreme Rules, the catch-up show from WrestleMania. It was also probably the beginning of rebuilding Roman Reigns. I was last a semi-active watcher during The Shield‘s initial dominance of WWE and I’d always seen Reigns as the surefire breakout. Not to say he was my favorite — Dean Ambrose takes that title in a walk out of the three, and even though I’ve never been the biggest Tyler Black/Seth Rollins fan I knew him better than I knew Reigns — but I felt that he was the guy WWE was going to want to push. And I was right, as were a lot of people. It wasn’t hard to see. As they started to dismantle The Shield they were pushing Ambrose out of the main speaker role and giving it to Reigns, giving him the singles matches, trying to have him him end up with the lion’s share of the group’s popularity.

I wasn’t really watching for much of the post-breakup stuff. I followed results and news, though, and saw that real quickly Roman Reigns was not exactly turning out as the super-popular golden boy. Crowds were coming out against him and WWE was quickly playing the “fans can do whatever they want” card. He got locked into the main event at WrestleMania 31 against Brock Lesnar, the reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Walking into that title match against The Beast, he was not popular. This should have been the peak of WWE’s nurturing their new superstar, a main event title match at WrestleMania. But to me, WrestleMania did anything but crown Reigns, literally or metaphorically.

So what’s happening now? Reigns needs to get some wins back. He’s got to start looking like the powerhouse that he first got popular as. At Extreme Rules, he came up against The Big Show in an effort to get that back under way. As a talent I think Big Show is slept on a lot. He’s an extremely versatile wrestler and great opponent, especially to prove your toughness against. If Reigns could have good performance here it could do a lot to help him get his credibility back.

That does rely heavily on your idea of what good is. As a tough guy, it certainly hits all the beats. Still, I felt the match was rather artless. I’m not sure that the blame can be placed entirely on Show and Reigns, except that they were in the ring. WWE likes to construct their matches around a series of big spots, which makes them feel very mechanical. As a last man standing match, what we got was a lot of set-up and hanging around, two WWE favorites.

Last Man Standing

I think what we’d expect to see here is the big man/little man interplay between Show and Reigns. They do use it a bit, mostly in that it’s very difficult for Reigns to take Show off his feet. At the same time, Reigns takes Show over the top with a clothesline about a minute in. He gets Show up for Samoan drop, hits a couple other slams, and basically shows he’s strong enough to deal with the giant. There’s a lot of Show proving that he’s the World’s Largest Athlete but not a whole lot of outright dominance from him. At best, he is standing groggy while Reigns is down, but it’s basically the same effect. Every time Show gets a hit in, Reigns will have an answer for him shortly. It’s a see-saw effect which makes it look very even but also means that no tension gets built. Since we’re pretty sure Reigns is going to come back with something soon, why would we be worried that he might be at the end of his rope?

The fact that Reigns is shown to be pretty near on Show’s level power-wise doesn’t leave a lot of other avenues for the match to go in its storyarc. Usually there would be a lot given into just how the size difference is being made up but there’s none of that here. That means that even the little bit of strategy that you’d usually see in a Big Show match — the little guy doing his damndest to get out of Show’s way — is thrown out the window. What’s left is a pretty flat match as far as its trajectory. We get a build-up of spots — from table teases to chairshots to table busting — but it never really feels like anybody is winning because nobody secures anything but a temporary advantage.

A last man standing match seems to bring up the image of a wild brawl, but the art of wrestling is to keep a strong sense of flow through the chaos. Strategies and tactics you can see do a lot to help that flow become realized. If Roman Reigns, say, is trying to take out The Big Show’s knees, we all have a focus: can Reigns do it, how will Show defend against it, will it be successful? If The Big Show feels that Reigns’s spear is his biggest weapon, why not try always to be behind Reigns, or to be so close that he can’t get the spear done? The most we got toward any sort of strategy in this match was Reigns attempting to use tables and chairs. This doesn’t really amount to a strategy, especially as it never seemed clear to me what he was bringing the tables out to do except to use them on Show. I mean, that might seem reductive, but “hurt your opponent” is so broad that I don’t think it really counts as a strategy in pro wrestling. If Reigns really could never lift Show and was trying to rely on the tables for extra impact, continually setting them up in the corners, that would make sense. That’s not how they played it.

Both guys did pretty well acting the thing out. Roman had some good facials, thinking particularly of when Show rolled out to the floor. They hit their spots and everything looked pretty good. I think Show is too big to do the spear if I’m honest — I feel like it looks best when it’s a big missile flying at you, like Goldberg or Rhyno; Show is like a truck rolling over you — but I’m guessing that was more as a way to fuck with Reigns. I just wasn’t feeling the flow of the match. After 30 seconds of guys hitting each other I get the idea, I then want to see them invest their time into trying to win a wrestling match. But, as is usual with WWE, the match’s action masks how little meat there is to keep you drawn in.

Bottom Line: If you like people being put through tables and smashing a bunch of stuff up, this’ll be your jam. There’s nothing deeper than that going on here.

Styles, Okada, & Elgin

Preview – ROH vs. NJPW: War of the Worlds ’15

Coming up in mid-May, Ring of Honor will be hosting New Japan Pro Wrestling all-stars in a series of four shows. The first two are branded War of the Worlds and take place in Philly, the second pair are the Global Wars shows in Toronto. If you’re a fan of pro wrestling with your eye outside the WWE Universe, these shows are where all the attention is right now. NJPW’s product has never been hotter stateside and ROH has never had as big an audience as it does now. Not to mention, in my eyes, both companies have been producing A+ wrestling for the past several years. We’ve had ROH/NJPW shows in the past but I think this is the first time where we’re really getting extended interplay between the two rosters. New Japan has not skimped on the names, as the wildly popular IC champ Shinsuke Nakamura, “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, and Hiroshi Tanahashi — probably NJPW’s three biggest draws — are all coming to face the best that ROH has to offer.

These matches provide a lot of interesting pairings, especially since for a lot of these wrestlers these will be fresh meetings. On the one hand, that means a lot of them are going to be rather cold story-wise, at best being high-level exhibitions. On the other, they won’t have worn out all their weaponry and we’ll probably see some great new chemistry developing. Ring of Honor will certainly be lacking somewhat in the size department, though NJPW’s roster has been slimming down recently and they haven’t brought any of their bigger guys over. More than anything this will be a chance for Ring of Honor to prove that its guys can hang not just one-on-one with the world-renowned, as they’ve done when guys like Alberto del Rio or Kenta Kobashi or the late Eddie Guerrero appeared alone on their shows, but that their roster is of a caliber that can keep up with the exceptional New Japan quality.

The link here will be Bullet Club. Over with both audiences, not unstoppable but still dominant, opposition to them is going to be the main way that ROH and NJPW relate match-wise. They’re the ones who are most going to be able to engage the US audience, and their rivalry with the NJPW factions means that they already bring that heat with them into these events. And among their number is the IWGP Heavyweight Champion A.J. Styles.

So far, the full War of the Worlds cards have been released, as has Global Wars night 1. Global Wars night 2 has several matches announced for it, but since I haven’t seen a confirmed main event, I’ll leave that open. I’ve picked up my scattered thoughts about the matches for War of the World and put them together into something that’s hopefully coherent. Once Global Wars night 2 is finalized, I’ll post my thoughts about those matches as well.

ROH TV storyline spoilers ahead!


ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds, Night 1
12 May 2015 • Philadelphia, PA

  • DELIRIOUS vs. GEDO: Expecting to see a fun exhibition here. Neither one of them is really gunning for a title right now, more occupied with back office stuff. Not as familiar with Gedo as an in-ring guy so I can’t make too many comments on his work. Mildly interested in this one but it’s mostly a topping.
  • JAY LETHAL vs. WATANABE: Watanabe came over from New Japan to work an American excursion, but he really only spent the first few weeks in Ring of Honor. He’s got a nice style, somewhat basic but definitely serviceable, and certainly tough. That said, he’s coming back in against Jay Lethal who has been eating absolutely everybody up. His claims of overall dominance are a bit undercut by the fact that he hasn’t defended the belt against the caliber of challengers that Briscoe has, but Watanabe would have to be in that class for him to start posing Lethal a problem. I think we’ll have a spirited effort from Watanabe here but this’ll mostly be a Lethal showcase.
  • RODERICK STRONG vs. KUSHIDA: This one will probably be right in the classic Ring of Honor style: fast-paced, hard-hitting, stop-me-if-you-can action. Kushida’s had a fair few showings in ROH so far and the crowd seems to like him. He’s not quite my style of guy but he can certainly perform in the ring. Roderick Strong is one of the reasons I got hooked on ROH to begin with and I think he always brings a good fight. There are times he needs a good foil and I’m not sure how Kushida will play in that role. This one feels like the pace-setter of the evening.
  • THE ADDICTION (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. THE KINGDOM (Michael Bennett & Matt Taven) vs. THE YOUNG BUCKS (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson): This is one I’m not looking forward to, and the main reason for that is that it’s a triple tag. I really don’t go for multi-side matches in the first place, multi-team matches are hell to follow. That said, the Young Bucks’ electric style certainly plays best in these kinds of matches, and the Addiction have the charisma chops to fill in the gaps. The Kingdom I’m always gonna be a bit down on, I feel. Both capable guys, they can get the job done, but that’s about it. I’m not sure what I want to see out of them to make me change my opinion on them. Style-wise I can see this one being a little lopsided. Usually I’d expect total fireworks but that’s not what The Kingdom bring to the table. No idea what’ll happen, either. Both The Addiction and The Kingdom are coming off of title wins and could certainly keep that rolling, but the Bucks are always popular and always hard to bet against.
  • MICHAEL ELGIN vs. TETSUYA NAITO: Right now I think Elgin is one of the best acts going in Ring of Honor. Naito I’m less glowing about. I find him a bit annoying, never really bought into his schtick. However, he is highly regarded by New Japan and lots of fans, and this match will certainly be a tough one. If I’m remembering correctly Naito has a sort of heavy junior style, very fast but relying more on impact than on aerial superiority (Kota Ibushi’s a good example of an “air superiority” guy, always interested in protecting and utilizing his platforms). That might make for a more straightforward type of match than you’d get from the typical strongman/flyguy pairing. Could be one to watch for sure.
  • REDRAGON (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI & JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER: On paper this is an underwhelming match for me, especially considering that reDRagon presumably has a title hunt to get back in, but it’s also somewhat tough to call. I’m assuming that reDRagon aren’t getting the belts right back, so they’re not necessarily going to need to retain all their heat. Tanahashi could certainly use a win (sort of guy you can always feed a win to) and the KRD might stick their noses in. Work-wise, I’m sure it’ll be fine but, again, it doesn’t light me up. I like Tanahashi but he’s nowhere near my favorite, and I don’t know if Liger is up to the pace that reDRagon would keep against, say, the Young Bucks. A win here doesn’t do much for either side’s title aspirations, unless perhaps Tanahashi & Liger have the NWA Tag Team Championship in their sights for some reason. So to sum it up I can see this one being entertaining but I’m not expecting the world out of it.
  • A.J. STYLES vs. ????: If I had to guess, this will be Chris Sabin. However, the mystery may be someone like Moose. Not a lot of options I can see, unless New Japan has brought over someone secret that they haven’t booked on any other shows. No one else at the facing-A.J.-Styles level is unbooked at War of the Worlds but Sabin. Moose is a long, long shot, but let’s face it: sometimes mystery opponents are used so people’s hopes don’t get too high. I’m not saying it’d be a bad match, but the reason to bring Moose out would be “he’s a phenom look at this guy can he beat AJ Styles?” not because you want a match that fans are gonna talk about. Either way, there’s no chance that Styles drops this one. More than that is imposible to say.
  • THE BRISCOES (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA & SHINSUKE NAKAMURA: This one should be a lot of fun. Set-up wise it’s very similar to the reDRagon match, but the ROH tag icons standing across the ring from two of New Japan’s aces should add a lot of tension to the match. On top of that, Nakamura is the IWGP Intercontinental Champion — a young title with a hell of a lot of regard, most of it conferred by Nakamura’s four reigns — and Okada wants every shred of momentum for his next challenge against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles. Plus, for me, the match has three of my favorite wrestlers in Jay Briscoe, Okada, and Nakamura. These guys have a lot to live up for and a lot to prove in this one, I think they’ll go all out to do it.



ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds, Night 2
13 May 2015 • Philadelphia, PA

  • ADAM PAGE vs. WATANABE: After all the degradation, the wars within The Decade, the suffering at the hands of everyone who had a problem with them, Adam Page is now about to break out and catch some big wins. Standing in his way is Watanabe who also wants a big Ring of Honor win. More than anything, though, Page wants to put in a good showing here to keep building his star, especially if he wants to get over the Chance Getter himself, ACH. This one will probably be a bit messy, I think, as neither guy has a wealth of experience. However, Page has had a lot of fun matches and this could be a surprise.
  • MICHAEL ELGIN vs. KUSHIDA: The script for this match is probably going to be your standard Elgin vs. Pilot, with Elgin playing a rock trying to grind down his nimble opponent. This will probably be less competitive than the Naito match, especially as I feel each has less on the line here; a loss against a heavyweight isn’t really going to damage Kushida and Kushida’s not on enough of a roll that this would be a major feather in Elgin’s cap, while on the other hand Elgin’s presence in Japan isn’t great so Kushida getting the win doesn’t boost him too much. Could be fun, I expect we’ll see a good number of nearfalls as they try and protect their pride, but not expecting a standout.
  • KYLE O’REILLY vs. TETSUYA NAITO: Style-wise, I think this is one of the best matches Naito could have drawn in ROH. O’Reilly is sort of heavy junior from the other side; whereas Naito feels like he’s weighted down a flying style, O’Reilly is more a ground guy who adopted a lot of flying assault. So while they’ve got a similar pace, I think the style clash could be interesting. Plus, both guys are in a similar enough position and are known enough to both audiences that a win for either is meaningful. Maybe this’ll be where my opinion on Naito finally changes (but I doubt it).
  • THE ADDICTION (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA & GEDO: Again, I’m seeing a bit of a gimme in this match. I don’t really see a situation where Gedo doesn’t take the fall. Seeing as this one doesn’t have a ton of implications in it, I’m a bit disappointed with it on paper, though I’m sure it will turn out fine. I think we’ll see Okada clean house and keep control a lot throughout this match, but the Addiction have proven they’re not above playing the sneaky game, so I’m guessing they’ll steal it from under Okada’s nose.
  • Four Corner Survival – SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. MARK BRISCOE vs. JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER vs. JAY LETHAL: Ultimately I think this one comes down to the two champions, Nakamura and Lethal. Mark Briscoe and Liger are going to serve a similar purpose, well-known dressing to help spots a long, but I can’t see anyone really securing the win but the titleholders. That said, I feel like we’re going to see a comedy match here for the most part, with Lethal playing straight man for all the rest. I’m not sure about the pace in this one as none of them are your typical fireworks guys, so hopefully they work out enough interesting spots beforehand that take advantage of the extra bodies.
  • RODERICK STRONG vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI: Here’s a bout between two guys who I think are trying to be pitched as in equivalent roles. Tanahashi is your standard-bearer babyface, known as a champion, associated with the NJPW. Roderick Strong has been around forever and won all the titles there are in ROH. Tanahashi’s your fading ace and Roddy’s a staple top player. Basically, this should be a match that really pits the character of both companies against one another. I think certainly Roddy’s going to want to show that he can get it done against Tanahashi and, if nothing else, that’s going to make Tanahashi work to keep up. It’ll be nice to see Roddy working from underneath for a change as well, as against Tanahashi’s power I can’t see him taking charge. This will most likely be he-can-change-gears-just-like-that Roddy against the stronger and steadier Japanese superstar.
  • THE KINGDOM (Adam Cole, Michael Bennett, & Matt Taven) vs. BULLET CLUB (A.J. Styles, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson): Much like Strong vs. Tanahashi, this one is setting up two roughly equivalent groups to do battle. This time, it’s the rogue factions. The Kingdom have not had the success that Bullet Club has, and unlike Bullet Club, their popularity isn’t in the group but entirely in Adam Cole. The Young Bucks are one of the most well-known and well-regarded tag teams in the industry. Bennett and Taven have secured the IWGP Tag Team titles but they have a lot to do in order to reach the Bucks’ position. Styles is a bonafide legend in the sport and Adam Cole is a madly rising star who certainly wants to avenge past losses against Styles and, more than that, get a return win with both ROH and New Japan officials watching. I’m not predicting anything excellent here, both because of Bennett & Taven’s involvement and because the fact that Cole isn’t booked for any of the other NJPW week shows makes me think he’s not completely healthy yet. Could definitely be a fun match, though.
  • ROH World Championship – JAY BRISCOE© vs. BOBBY FISH: The outcome of this one I feel like can be seen a mile away, but the match itself should be pretty fun. Fish has a great ground game which should be interesting if he employs it against Briscoe here. Thing is that Briscoe does love to brawl and a lot of his matches become that, probably because he’s taking control. I think the story of this one will be how well Bobby Fish makes Briscoe play his game; or, more likely, how well Bobby Fish can avoid playing Briscoe’s game. Should have an electric finishing stretch here and I think both guys will come out looking great.



  • Delirious vs. Gedo: Exhibition comedy match here. I think Delirious will be a good host. Winner: Gedo.
  • Roderick Strong vs. Kushida: Likely fast paced and tough but Roddy’s momentum is hard to beat. Winner: Roderick Strong.
  • Jay Lethal vs. Watanabe: Lethal is absolutely dominant these days. Winner: Jay Lethal.
  • The Addiction vs. The Kingdom vs. The Young Bucks: Tough to call, but given that The Addiction have just taken the belts I think their roll’s gonna keep going. Winners: The Addiction.
  • Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito: I can sense a very hard-fought match here but I think the power of Elgin’s going to prove decisive. Winner: Michael Elgin.
  • reDRagon vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin Thunder Liger: Tough to call because of the New Japan team, but I feel reDRagon’s really going to want to get back on the path here. Winners: reDRagon.
  • The Briscoes vs. Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura: Another very tough one to call, but I think home field advantage and experience as a team will tip the scales towards Dem Boys. Winners: The Briscoes.
  • AJ Styles vs. ????: Will probably be Chris Sabin. Regardless, no one mystery is gonna cut Styles’s roll. Winner: AJ Styles.



  • Jay Briscoe© vs. Bobby Fish [ROH World Championship]: Just coming off of a tag title loss, I don’t think Fish is in any shape for a full-on challenge here. Winner: Jay Briscoe.
  • Adam Page vs. Watanabe: Watanabe has a lot to prove but Adam Page has a lot more to prove and big words to back up. Don’t think he wants to be shut down here. Winner: Adam Page.
  • Michael Elgin vs. Kushida: I bet that Kushida will give it a good run but Elgin’s going to put him in the ground. Winner: Michael Elgin.
  • Kyle O’Reilly vs. Tetsuya Naito: For similar reasons as Fish I think that O’Reilly will drop it here, especially against an aspirational guy like Naito. Winner: Tetsuya Naito.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Jay Lethal [Four Corner Survival]: This’ll be a bit hectic but I think Nakamura’s going to get the last word in this one. Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura.
  • Roderick Strong vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: When it’s all said and done I think this is going to come down to an exchange of bombs. Don’t think Roddy will handle the whole assault. Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi.
  • The Addiction vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo: Okada is a big name and a great talent, which is all the more reason that The Addiction are going to want to steal that win. Winners: The Addiction.
  • The Kingdom vs. Bullet Club: I think all told, The Kingdom is fielding a weaker team than Bullet Club and doesn’t have enough of a grudge to make up the gap. Winners: Bullet Club.