Reviews

Ring of Honor Wrestling TV 07/01/15: ROH-NJPW War of the Worlds Showcase

Greetings TJR Wrestling fans and welcome to the latest recap and review of the best hour of pro wrestling on television, Ring of Honor! We still aren’t caught up from the great matches from the ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds showcase and this episode will continue the great action we’ve been seeing since ROH debuted on Destination America. I have no complaints about this as the matches have been a joy to watch and review. ROH knows their audience and guess what? They are wrestling fans who like wrestling which is exactly what they are getting from Ring of Honor on a weekly basis. Let’s get to it!

Coming to you from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia PA, a big main event of the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles v a returning Adam Cole is announced right off the bat. This should be a good one! We also get an announcement that ROH will be in New York City next week to deal with the fallout from Best in the World. This is still available on iPPV and it was a great show. As usual, we start off the show with a wrestling match, what a crazy idea!

The Addiction (Kazarian and Christopher Daniels) v Kazuchika Okada and Gedo

The Addiction is out first with the ROH tag titles and despite the years and horrific bumps both of these men still work at a high level and are great heels. We get a big Okada chant before his music hits. I was hoping for a singles match with Okada during this inter promotional showcase but it’s a minor gripe. No doubt that Okada brings the star power with him every time he enters an arena. Nice sign in the arena “OKADA DROPKICK > YOUR DROPKICK” That’s the truth folks I don’t care who you are. TNA really dropped the ball by letting this great talent flounder he has what it takes to appeal to an American audience and he’s still really young and improving year after year. Oh and Gedo is there too.

Christopher Daniels lays into the ref about how his team was announced. Apparently the Addiction wants to be referred to as the “Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions of the World”. They get some heat for this obnoxious behavior but you also want to laugh a little bit at the absurdity of it. These are little things that add a layer of depth to the match and if you have no frame of reference about any of these guys and are just tuning in you have a reason to want to see the cocky champs get what’s coming to them.

Frankie Kazarian and Gedo start the match off with a tie up. Frankie Kazarian backs him into a corner and slaps the piss out of him. Gedo was squashed last week so look for him to get the hell beat out of him again in this match. It doesn’t happen right away though as the slaps Frankie Kazarian right back and briefly outwrestles him, forcing Frankie Kazarian to make the tag.

Christopher Daniels enters the match and Gedo makes the tag to Kazuchika Okada and we get dueling chants of “OKADA” and “FALLEN ANGEL” as the two biggest stars in the match prepare to lock horns. Notice how they don’t go at it right away. They let the crowd chant and they let the anticipation build like true masters of the craft. Okada hits a snapmare and gives Daniels a kick to the head before tagging in Gedo while Christopher Daniels tags in Frankie Kazarian. The Addiction goes for a double team maneuver but it’s countered by Gedo who gets a 2 count. Legal man Frankie Kazarian gets the upper hand and the addiction double teams Gedo in their corner. Gedo takes a beating from Christopher Daniels as he plays the baby face in peril, building up anticipation until Okada finally gets the tag. We go to break with the Addiction still firmly in control.

We return pretty much where we left off as Frankie Kazarian is imposing his will on Gedo and the Addiction using their excellent chemistry and innovative double team maneuvers to punish the NJPW star. Gedo hits a surprise complete shot and has enough in the tank to get the hot tag. Kazuchika Okada comes in like a tornado and cleans house, hitting a kip up that gets him a big pop. The Addiction tries a double team maneuver but Kazuchika Okada fights out of it and hits a beautiful dropkick on Christopher Daniels as he’s perched on the top turnbuckle, sending him tumbling to the floor below. Kazuchika Okada then hits a wild neckbreaker variation on Frankie Kazarian and gets a 2 count. Frankie Kazarian gets up and tells the official Red Shoes he sucks to get some big time boos from the fans. I’m not sure what the deal is with this referee but this year I’ve learned that we have a ref named Red Shoes and a wrestler named Blue Pants out in the world. They are both really over and I have no idea why.

Double cross body lays out both Kazuchika Okada and Frankie Kazarian. Both men get the tag but it’s Gedo who cleans house this time and hits a sidekick to the head of Christopher Daniels for a 2 count. Daniels sets up the BME but Gedo gets up. The veteran Daniels flips through and lands on his feet only to be caught in a rear waistlock from Kazuchika Okada. It looks like he’s setting up the Rainmaker clothesline but gets hit with a Bad Elimination (Lariat (Daniels) / Chop block (Kazarian) combo). This leaves Gedo exposed as the Addiction delivers their tag team finisher the Celebrity Rehab (Release belly-to-back suplex (Kazarian) into a double knee facebreaker (Daniels)) for the 1-2-3!

Winner: The Addiction

My take: Really fun tag team match from one of the most innovative tag teams working today. Tag team wrestling is at its best for me when they wrestle as a unit. There are so many entertaining moves that can only be pulled off by a tag team and that is a big part of the appeal to me. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see more from Kazuchika Okada during the match but he partially made up for it by returning to the ring to hit his patented drop kicks and deliver a Rainmaker clothesline much to the delight of the Philly crowd.

Before the break we are told that the next match will be:

Adam Page v Watanabe

We start this off with the match in progress. I know we only get one hour and we’re trying to squeeze 2 high quality matches in tonight but it’s hard to get in to the match when you start out behind, especially since I want a little caveat of some sort to make me care about each and every match. It doesn’t have to be much by give me something. I’m not familiar with either of these guys enough to want to watch them wrestle just for the hell of it.

Page is in control of the match and gets a submission on Watanabe. Watanabe powers out gets a boot on Adam Page who misses a splash. Watanabe hits a neckbreaker and gets a 2 count. Adam Page is dumped to the floor and Watanabe follows him out. Watanabe attempts a German suplex but Adam Page shows his athleticism as he lands on his feet. I didn’t even realize he was out there but Colby Corino is out to help his stable mate in the Decade Adam Page as he grabs Watanabe’s arm and pulls him into the ring post. Adam Page hits a standing shooting star press and then a DDT in the ring, but his efforts only get him a 2 count.

The crowd is behind Watanabe at this point as he makes a bit of a comeback. He flubs a roll up on Adam Page a bit but gets a 2 count. He hits the ropes only to receive a vicious kick to the head from Colby Corino on the outside behind the ref’s back. Adam Page hits a Rite of Passage and his reverse tombstone for the 1-2-3.

Winner: Adam Page w/ Colby Corino

My take: Watanabe underwhelmed, Page showed off his athleticism and Colby reminded us he can throw a hell of a kick. This match was pretty chopped up and usually this is much more seamless than how it was presented here. I needed a reason to care about this match and there just wasn’t one and as an ROH fan I was given no reason to root for the unknown Watanabe. I’m sure this came across better live but with the editing the TV version of the match just wasn’t that good.

Up next is our main event and it should be a Classic! AJ Styles has reinvented himself since leaving TNA for greener pastures in the Land of the Rising Sun. He looks motivated and absolutely badass with what in my humble opinion is the best looking belt being defended in wrestling today. Cole is returning from injury and it will be interesting to see how much ring rust he needs to shake off. His entrance could’ve have been played up a lot more. Adam Cole should be presented as one of ROH’s must-see premier stars and it should always be a big deal when he comes out. Instead he looked like a regular guy and the Philly crowd didn’t give him the reception I was expecting. Even letting his music play and letting the hype build for just a few seconds would have made this entrance a lot better, but the time constraints got us again.

AJ Styles v Adam Cole

IWGP title is not on the line here. The two men slowly work into a handshake that Cole ends by spitting in AJ’s hand. He then backs up and does the Scott Hall spooky fingers in the corner. We get a tie up as AJ backs Cole into the corner and gets a clean break. We get a little mouth running and jaw jacking here as the two in ring maestros milk the moment for all it’s worth. Another tie up leads to a quick exchange of holds Cole hits an arm drag AJ hits a backslide and seeks to work his speed advantage over Cole and get a quick win but Adam Cole isn’t having it. He hits a headlock to slow the match down but AJ powers out and hits a fireman’s carry neckbreaker, then a vertical suplex that he smoothly transitions into a cover for a 2 count. AJ hits a big dropkick to send Cole to the floor. It’s not quite Okada’s dropkick but AJ is no slouch here. Styles and Okada have had some classics and I’ve seen two of them on the AXS TV NJPW broadcast. I would recommend watching anything these two do together for the dropkicks alone.

We go to break, but pick up seemingly right where we left off as AJ hops out of the ring after his opponent. Cole anticipates this and hits a wheelbarrow on the unforgiving apron. This gives Adam Cole a big advantage as he gets AJ back in the ring and works him over with a headlock. Cole is fired up now but gets distracted by the announce team as he spits on them and flips off the front row. Good heel work here allows AJ to recover and take down Cole to a big pop.

AJ gets Cole in a brief Torture Rack but turns it into a pinning slam but Cole gets the ropes. AJ teases a Styles Clash but Cole reverses into a vertical suplex backbreaker for a 2 count. Cole comes up favoring the arm he’s been rehabbing and the two find themselves on the apron teasing a big spot until AJ Styles finally hits a vicious brain buster on to the apron. Great move here it looked devastating!

AJ Styles is in control as we get back in the ring. He misses the spinning back fist, Cole counters with a jumping kick but misses, and AJ goes for a Pele kick and misses but catches a ferocious kick to the side of the head. This sequence is amazing as both men are laid out to sell how spent they are. “THIS IS AWESOME” chant from the Philly crowd and they are right on the money.

Once they get back up Cole is determined to hit the Styles Clash. He misses his first attempt but nails the second. He nearly puts AJ away with his own move but Styles kicks out in the nick of time.

AJ Styles uses his agility to get in a favorable position again as he attempts a desperation moonsault. He misses but lands on his feet only to receive a devastating superkick to the back of his head. Adam Cole then hits a reverse German suplex, pulls down his knee pad and heads to the corner to finish off the IWGP champ for good. AJ reverses this into a Styles Clash but Adam Cole fights out. AJ hits a Pele kick and two reverse tombstones. He then caps it off with a Styles Clash for the 1-2-3!

Winner: AJ Styles

My take: What a match! I didn’t expect anything less from these two and boy did they ever deliver. I liked the finish as AJ used his speed and ring savvy to put away the newly returned Adam Cole who showed that he still isn’t 100% by selling the arm like he did. AJ Styles is the NJPW champion and he shouldn’t be losing until it’s someone else’s time to carry the title. Take a moment to seek this one out you won’t regret it. Looking forward to seeing what Adam Cole will do next!

My Final Take

ROH has put on a great show since arriving on Destination America and they owe a great deal of that to the influx of some of the best workers in the world from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Once these guys head back across the Pacific it will be up to the ROH talent to carry the show. Their cable partner Destination America needs to make sure they have what they need to produce a polished show that feels like it belongs on cable. I’m talking lighting, audio improvements, and an overall upgrade to production quality. The writing is there, the talent is most definitely there, but of the four wrestling shows that air on Wednesday nights ROH looks and sounds the worst by a wide margin. I don’t expect them to be #1 in this category as they are filming on the road while their competition has the luxury of working in a fixed studio location, but there is certainly room for improvement.

If you want to watch but don’t have Destination America there are other options. I can only speak for what’s available in the US but your local TV stations may air this on the weekends and if you don’t have cable a digital TV antennae may pick these up even if you live in a rural area. ROH also streams their weekly show on their website www.rohwrestling.com if that option works best for you.

What did you think of the show? Feel free to email me webbanderson2@gmail.com or follow me on twitter @webbanderson2 or reply in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!