Finishing off the February calendar for NJPW is their two collaborative shows with Ring of Honor, called Honor Rising. Live from Korakuen Hall, let’s look at the first night of the tour, including three championship matches.
Ren Narita vs. Marty Scurll
Tonight’s show took place in a ring that had Ring of Honor turnbuckles and aprons. Chris Charlton was on the English commentary team with Kevin Kelly. I think the last time he was at the desk was Wrestle Kingdom or New Year Dash. In what is a pretty big way to start the show, Young Lion Ren Narita fought Marty Scurll. Late in the match, Scurll did a Powerbomb into a Boston Crab, but Narita escaped. As you could expect, Scurll won the match. Scurll finally ended the match with a Crossface Chickenwing. Honestly, this went way longer than I expected.
Shota Umino vs. Zack Sabre Jr. w/ TAKA Michinoku
Before the next match, TAKA Michinoku cut a promo fully in English. I don’t often hear what he says in his pre-match promos, but this one sounded pretty cool. When Michinoku called the “Young Boy” Umino to “come over ever,” he kicked Michinoku right in the gut. Umino put ZSJ in an Armbar during this match but put his leg on a rope to escape. This crowd was very enthusiastic tonight. ZSJ put in a Guillotine but Umino lifted him for a slam and escaped. Umino went to the top rope and landed a Missile Dropkick for a two count. ZSJ won the match with a Fisherman Suplex into a leg move that made Umino tap. This match made Umino look very strong. ZSJ tried hurting Umino more after the bell.
Johnathan Greshman & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Robbie Eagles & Taiji Ishimori
This next tag match helped promote the upcoming title match between Ishimori and Liger. This was a debut match under NJPW for Johnathan Gresham. When Ishimori and Liger got in the ring, Liger did a roll-up to win the match in very short time. This caught my off guard and very much annoyed Ishimori. Hey, if I put facepaint on for a five-minute match I’d be mad too. This was a fun little way to promote their upcoming match. I hope we get to see more of Gresham on the second night.
Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma, David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs. Tonga Loa, Tama Tonga, Mark Briscoe & Jay Briscoe w/ Jado & Hikuleo
In the biggest match of the evening (in size), The Guerillas of Destiny teamed with The Briscoes to face Lifeblood and the team of Henare and Honma. Hikuleo returned to be at ringside for this match. Late into this match with it was Mark and Juice who got hot tags. They exchanged punches, and then Juice reversed a Irish Whip into a Spinebuster. Finlay and Jay got into the ring, making it a two on two situation. Lifeblood did double clotheslines and then put each Briscoe in a corner. Finlay was thrown out of the ring and then Robinson was given a double team neckbreaker. The pin attempt that followed it was broken up. The Briscoes tried for a Doomsday Device but Juice escaped. He got Loa to run into Mark instead of attacking him. Robinson tried for a Pulp Friction but Mark escaped. He rolled to the ropes where Jado accidentally hit him with a kendo stick instead of Juice. Robinson scored a pinfall to end the match. Hikuleo, Loa and Tonga beat up The Briscoes afterwards.
Cheeseburger, Delirious & Colt Cabana vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship Match)
The first of three title matches on this show was for the NEVER Openweight 6-man title belts. The challenging team was ROH’s Cheeseburger, Delirious and Colt Cabana. Toru Yano has been promoting his line of curry instead of his DVDs recently, and I seriously want to give them a try. The trio was wearing Taguchi Japan jerseys, all with custom names and numbers on them. The match started with Yano and Delirious. Yano was terrified of him. Cabana said some Japanese lines during the match which got a pop from the crowd. Yano did his unbuckling of the corners spot, but struggled since ROH’s turnbuckles had more tying involved and only undid the top of the three. Cabana and Yano battled with two turnbuckle pads. As the ref was distracted with Cabana, Delirious was given a hip attack from Taguchi, a low blow from Yano and a chop from Makabe to end the match. This was a decent comedy match. It felt weird that this was for the titles though since this team was an impromptu one.
Dalton Castle w/ The Boys vs. Will Ospreay (NEVER Openweight Championship Match)
It took a little time before the next match because people had to put turnbuckles back on. The next match was Will Ospreay defending his NEVER Openweight Championship for the first time since he won it at Wrestle Kingdom in January. Jushin Thunder Liger joined the Japanese commentary team. The fight went outside the ring early on with Ospreay hitting a barricade hard. Ospreay did a Space Tiger Drop later on. There was a move during the ring where Ospreay went off the ropes and was supposed to land on Castle but sort of went right over him. Ospreay got a close count after a Spanish Fly. Ospreay tried for his elbow attack but Castle avoided it. Castle did an impressive Powerbomb for a two count. Ospreay did a Superkick and then his Hidden Blade elbow strike (which looks terrifying), and then a Storm Breaker to win the match. After the match, they shook hands. That elbow move looks so convincing, it’s really terrifying.
Hirooki Goto vs. Jeff Cobb (ROH World Television Championship Match)
The third and final championship match was Hirooki Goto versus Jeff Cobb for the ROH World TV Title. Goto got some boos from the crowd during this match when he slammed a Young Lion onto Cobb. In the ring Goto did a kick in the corner and then went to the top rope for an Elbow Drop, but Cobb avoided it. Cobb caught Goto and did an impressive Belly-to-Belly German Suplex. He followed that up with a Standing Moonsault, which gave him a two count. Minutes later, Goto started to mount a comeback, landing a great clothesline at one point which flipped him around. Goto went for a pin attempt after a kick to the chest, but Cobb kicked out. Goto landed a reverse GTR for a two count. He tried for another GTR but Cobb escaped and landed a kick. With Goto going off the ropes, Cobb landed a Tour of the Islands to win the match and retain his belt.
Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jay Lethal
The main event of the show was The Kingdom versus a Okada, Tanahashi and Jay Lethal. As Vinny Marseglia was coming to the ring he let a balloon fly to the ceiling of Korakuen Hall. This match previews tomorrow’s ROH World Title match between Jay Lethal and TK O’Ryan, though the illusion of the match was kind of ruined when Kevin Kelly mentioned that Matt Taven is facing Lethal for the belt farther down the line. Lethal did a dive to outside the ring onto Taven, and then dragged him back into the ring for Okada, who landed a reverse neck breaker. Kingdom tried for a Rockstar Supernova, but Okada and Tanahashi came in to save it. They both did dropkicks while Lethal did a Huricanrana to escape his move. Lethal gave Marseglia a Lethal Injection to win the match. After the match, Taven got some extra shots in on Lethal. After the match Lethal cut a promo on The Kingdom. The match was somewhat short, but I enjoyed it.
This show, in general, had a lot of good matches. ZSJ versus Shota Umino was great, especially for a Young Lion match. I really enjoyed Cobb versus Goto and Castle versus Ospreay. I look forward to tomorrow’s second and final show.