ROH War of the Worlds NYC Live Thoughts

May 14, 2016 in Manhattan, NY

Big show for ROH at Terminal 5 in NYC to wrap up the War of the Worlds tour, with a great number of NWJP stars in the US to face ROH regulars.

I was extremely excited for the pre-show autograph session and the chance to meet some of the stars of NJPW. I grew up watching Jushin Thunder Liger and he’s a big reason I became a lifelong wrestling fan. I’m also a huge fan of Hiroshi Tanahashi. I was beyond honored to meet them both and get a picture.

The show was nine matches long, and apparently had some last minute changes made due to injuries. Comparatively what we got looks better than the original matches.

reDragon (Fish and O’Reilly) vs ANX (Kenny King and Rhett Titus) was a decent opener. Honestly ANX’s currently heel run isn’t really working for me. The megaphone gimmick did nothing since they still couldn’t be heard, and they stall way too much. Really prefer their work when they’re faces. That said, they were still ok here against the red hot Fish and O’Reilly, who really got the crowd going to start the show.

Fish stayed at ringside to provide commentary for Lio Rush vs Michael Elgin vs Moose vs Dalton Castle, no doubt to scout future challengers for his TV Title including number one contender Castle.

I adore Dalton Castle and his antics, and the pre-match ritual was even more amusing then normal with Elgin kissing Castle’s hand in lieu of shaking for the Code of Honor. Rush followed suit and Castle even insisted on the ref doing so as well.

The match itself was great, perhaps my favorite of the night. All four wrestlers know how to use their strengths to build up the action appropriately, and with a high-flyer in Rush, two big power wrestlers in Elgin and Moose, and Castle somewhere in between there was a lot of potential for interesting pairings. Particularly awesome spots included a huge pop-up powerbomb by Elgin on Moose and Castle performing deadlift German suplexes on each of his opponents in succession.

Kushida vs Silas Young was like something out of a time warp, which I suppose is fitting for Kushida’s gimmick. 😉 Silas is 100% old school heel, from using the back rake to doing the Rick Rude mooning the crowd spot. I don’t think I’ve seen that in at least a decade. Slow for me, but not bad and the crowd was way into Kushida.

Gedo subbed for Rocky Romero and teamed with Trent Baretta to face the Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin). I like the Guns and it was nice to get to see them live again. Baretta and Gedo had decent chemistry and played off each other well. There was an awkward sequence where Gedo tied up the ref and Romero slid in to interfere while Sabin STOOD AND WATCHED from the apron without even trying to save his partner. Baretta then knocked Sabin off the apron after Romero left the ring and the ref turned back around. Would’ve made much more sense with the order reversed. Small point, but it really broke the immersion for me. Fun match otherwise. The heels got into a scuffle among themselves after the match, but made up with a triple hug to annoy the crowd.

The super-team of Jushin “Thunder” Liger & the Briscoes faced the Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Adam Page) in the pre-intermission spot. Smart choice, as the face team was over enough to get cheered in equal measure to the heels by the sea of Bullet Club t-shirts that comprised the audience. The Briscoes came across as thrilled to be teaming with the legend, and it’s amazing what Liger can still do in the ring. Pure crowd pleaser here. Was surprised to see one of the current IWGP tag champions take the fall instead of Page, but I suppose it may be setting up a title shot for Dem Boys.

During intermission Mandy Leon came out to great the fans. Taylor Hendrix ambushed her after a few minutes and laid her out with a DDT on a chair.

Cedric Alexander got a strong reception from the crowd and “Please Don’t Go” chants for his last appearance in ROH. He and Donovan Dijak had a decent little match with Cedric putting Dijak over on his way out.

After The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) recently capturing the ROH World Tag Team Championship in an impromptu match the previous week, War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) got a rematch here. They dominated the champs for the majority of the match, forcing Daniels to resort to a blatant belt shot in front of the ref to get DQ’d and keep the titles. This was fine, but suffered a bit due to the crowd being lukewarm about War Machine’s quest for revenge. Daniels is never seriously booed in NYC.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Matt Sydal was up with the four-way and the semi-main as my favorite matches of the show. Tanahashi carries himself like the star he is and it was wonderful to see him in singles action against someone who could keep up with him. Sydal’s in the best shape of his life and looked great here as well.

The semi-main of Tetsuya Naito vs ACH was a treat. Naito has incredible presence and charisma, and ACH was the perfect opponent to fly around trying to outdo NJPW’s Champion.

The revised main event was a three faction face off seeing Bullet Club (Adam Cole & Matt Jackson) vs Team NJPW (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii) vs Team ROH (ROH World Champion Jay Lethal & Roderick Strong). The Rainmaker felt the love in NYC. His mock bills were handed out throughout the evening to fans. The visual of them falling when he came to the ring was fantastic. The crowd was on fire for both the Bullet Club and NJPW’s duo, which made it a bit unfortunate that this was ROH’s big win of the tour. Personally I’m neither a fan of the heels Lethal and Strong as conquering heroes nor Cole and Jackson’s “cool heel” antics, so while the action was fine I wasn’t over the moon for this. Okada and Ishii were a lot of fun though.

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Overall

Good end to ROH’s War of the Worlds tour. Extremely predictable, especially NJPW sweeping all of their singles matches, but enjoyable regardless. Strong effort up and down the card and some definite in-ring highlights, on top of an amazing opportunity to meet numerous stars before the show.

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