By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Honor Rising Night 1”
February 23 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Broadcast live on New Japan World
The English broadcast team was Kevin Kelly and Don Callis. The ring has Ring of Honor turnbuckle pads and there are ROH barricade signs…
1. Katsuya Kitamura and Toa Henare vs. Yujiro Takahashi and Bad Luck Fale. Callis said Takahashi’s valet is special. When Kelly asked what made her special, Callis said it’s because she has several degrees or something. Fale caught Kitamura with a late lariat for a near fall. The broadcast team expressed surprise that Kitamura kicked out and said he probably would not have six months ago. Seconds later, Fale finished him off.
Yujiro Takahashi and Bad Luck Fale beat Katsuya Kitamura and Toa Henare.
Powell’s POV: A solid opener. Kitamura and Henare had the crowd behind them for some of their bigger offensive moments. I continue to get a kick out of Callis acting like a lech in small doses. Maybe it happens and I just seem to miss it, but for all of the complaints I’ve read or heard about this act from Callis, no one ever seems to criticize the company for trotting out the equivalent of a member of Godfather’s ho train. Can you really have it both ways?
2. Cheeseburger, Delirious, and Jushin Liger vs. Hikuleo, Tanga Loa, and Tama Tonga. Cheeseburger was the last to tag in for his team and he got the biggest reaction. He got a near fall on Tonga off a DDT. Cheeseburger hit the Liger palm strike on Hikuleo as Delirious was going for a sunset flip, which led to Delirious getting the pin for his team…
Cheeseburger, Delirious, and Jushin Liger defeated Hikuleo, Tanga Loa, and Tama Tonga.
Powell’s POV: Quick and painless. The live crowd really enjoys Cheeseburger and they got a kick out of the quirkiness of ROH booker Delirious, particularly when he ran the ropes in his own style.
3. “The Young Bucks” Nick Jackson and Matt Jackson vs. David Finlay and Juice Robinson. Robinson performed a series of belly to belly suplexes on the Bucks. He teased hitting one on the referee before putting him down. Robinson also came up with a bloody nose, but I didn’t catch how it happened. Nick tagged in and had an impressive run of offense on both opponents. The Bucks applied double Sharpshooters, but Finaly and Robinson reached the ropes. Robinsons hit a series of punches on the Bucks and then gave them Too Sweet gestures to the eyes. He followed up with a “suck it” only to eat a double superkick. A short time later, the Bucks hit the Meltzer Driver on Finlay and got the win…
The Young Bucks defeated David Finlay and Juice Robinson.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match. Not a show stealing performance from the Bucks, nor did it seem like they were aiming for that. Still, a good outing that let Finlay and especially Robinson get some offense in before they were put away.
Kelly mentioned the launch of ROH HonorClub and the new ROH website…
4. Kushida vs. Flip Gordon vs. Hiromu Takahashi in a three-way. Kelly noted that Gordon was making his NJPW debut. Gordon did an early handstand dance. Kushida and Takahashi appropriately dropkicked him. Takahashi targeted one of Gordon’s knees. He sold it briefly and then performed a moonsault off the top rope onto Kushida at ringside and landed on his feet.
Later, Kushida applied the Hoverboard Lock on Takahashi, but Gordon performed a springboard move to break it up. Takahashi performed a German suplex that launched Gordon into the corner, then performed the same move on Kushida and launched him into Gordon. Late in the match, Gordon went for a springboard Stunner. It looked a little off, as he hit the move on Takahashi, yet Kushida sold it also. Gordon went to the ropes. Kushida tried to cut him off, but Gordon dumped him to ringside and then performed a 450 Splash on Takahashi and got the upset win. After the match, Kushida applauded Gordon on the apron and gave him a thumbs up…
Flip Gordon defeated Hiromu Takahashi and Kushida.
Powell’s POV: The best match of the show thus far. This was a stronger than expected NJPW debut for Gordon, who is the brightest young talent on the ROH roster. The ROH approach when he’s been in with top guys is to have him take the loss yet make a good impression before doing so. I assumed they would go with that formula here and thus he would be the fall guy, so his win was a pleasant surprise.
Callis noted that it had been a big night for ROH thus far in terms of match wins.
5. Dalton Castle, Jay Lethal, and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jay White, Beretta, and Chuckie T. Callis compared Beretta and T to a couple you like as individuals, yet hate them when they are together. Funny. Castle had a tame entrance and didn’t have any Boys with him. Taguchi ate what appeared to be cheese sticks and shared one with Castle prior to the match. Kelly noted that Beretta was heavily wrapped with a pec and biceps injury. Castle worked in a t-shirt. Callis labeled Taguchi a pervert and said he’s not a “nice pervert” like him and Kelly. Funny. In the end, White hit the Blade Runner on Taguchi and pinned him..
Jay White, Beretta, and Chuckie T beat Dalton Castle, Jay Lethal, and Ryusuke Taguchi.
Powell’s POV: A solid match. They continued to put the focus on White rather than going with a finish that involved Castle and Beretta heading into their ROH Title match on the second night. It’s probably for the best that they didn’t have Beretta pin Castle since I doubt it would have changed anyone’s perception regarding his odds of winning the ROH Title. I’m just not convinced that NJPW’s commitment to White and his Switchblade character is really paying off. It’s still early and only time will tell.
6. Hirooki Goto vs. Beer City Bruiser for the Never Openweight Championship. The broadcast team noted that Bruiser would be on hand when the city of Milwaukee unveils a statue of The Crusher. Bruiser performed a cannonball off the apron onto Goto on the floor, which got a big rise out of the crowd. The broadcast team spoke about Bruiser being influenced by Harley Race. Bruiser took a swig of beer at ringside and spat it in the face of Goto, which the crowd reacted to.
Bruiser hit multiple cannonballs in the corner and followed up with a Vader Bomb for a two count. Goto came back with a sleeper. Bruiser escaped and hit a sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Bruiser went up top. Goto cut him off and and flipped Bruiser off the ropes and into the ring. Bruiser came back and went for a frogsplash, but Goto avoided it and then hit him with a lariat from behind. Bruiser came back with a lariat that turned Goto inside out. Goto responded with a headbutt and hit his finisher for the win…
Hirooki Goto defeated Beer City Bruiser to retain the Never Openweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: A good match and a nice showing for Bruiser. He’s been limited to serving as the second man in the Silas Young act in ROH, but he can do some impressive things for a big man. I wonder how good he would be if he dropped another 20-25 pounds. For that matter, doing so would save a lot of wear and tear on his body. Those top rope moves have to take their toll on a guy his size. Even so, it was nice to see him deliver a quality performance in a high profile match.
7. Chase Owens and “The Golden Lovers” Kenny Omega, and Kota Ibushi vs. Cody, Marty Scurll, and Hangman Page. Scurll wore white entrance gear and debuted grey or white hair. The fans popped big for the entrances of Omega and Ibushi. Omega was all smiles and they both slapped hands with fans at ringside. Callis said he didn’t think he’d ever seen Omega so happy. A loud “Golden Lovers” chant broke up. Cody took a Golden Lovers fan sign and spat on it. Cody told the crowd to shut up and stalled before the match while the broadcast team said he couldn’t stand that someone else was getting the attention.
The heel trio isolated Owens for a good stretch of the match. Cody tagged in and was booed loudly. Kelly said Cody is responsible for Bullet Club being fractured and he’s the most hated man in NJPW. Callis said he didn’t know if he’d seen a team as good looking as Omega and Ibushi since Tom Zenk and Rick Martel. Cody cut off Owens from making a tag and then at Omega and licked his lips before blowing him a kiss. Owens performed a backbreaker and tagged in Ibushi just as Cody tagged in Scurll.
Omega and Ibushi hit a flurry of crowd pleasing offense on Scurll and Owens. The fans roared and chanted “Golden Lovers” again. Omega hoisted up Scurll in powerbomb position, only Ibushi got underneath Scurll and performed a German suplex style move on the way down. Sweet spot. Scurll hit a neckbreaker on Ibushi and flipped off the crowd. Omega immediately blasted him with running knee. Omega and Cody backed into one another. Cody begged off and then tried to throw a punch, but Omega blocked it and threw punches at him. Cody came back with his brother’s uppercut punch.
Cody went for CrossRhodes, but Omega avoided it and hit a couple of high knees and followed with a wicked suplex. Omega signaled for a Deep Trigger, but Page performed his slingshot lariat to cut him off. Cody picked up Omega and kissed him on the cheek before setting up for his finisher, but Ibushi broke it up with a missile dropkick. Scurll cut off Ibushi and applied his chicken wing. Ibushi rolled to the ropes to break the hold. Scurll and Cody teamed up for a Doomsday Dropkick that led to Scurll covering Ibushi only to have Omega break it up.
Page went for his slingshot lariat again, but Ibushi cut him off with a kick and then tagged in Owens. Page stuffed a package piledriver attempt by Owens, who came back with a lariat that turned Page inside out. Owens went for the package piledriver again, but Page countered into his Rite of Passage finisher and scored the clean pin…
Cody, Marty Scurll, and Hangman Page defeated Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, and Chase Owens.
After the match, Omega and Cody fought at ringside while the young boys attempted to break it up. The Young Bucks ran out and pulled them apart along with help from Ibushi. Cody tossed a chair while the young boys held him back. Kelly said the Young Bucks were trying to unite, but the situation was untenable. Kelly hyped Omega and Ibushi vs. Cody and Scurll on night two. Cody jawed at the Bucks afterward. Page asked what the hell was going on. Cody said it was Page’s moment and he ruined it again.
Cody remained in the ring while everyone else headed backstage. Cody took the mic and soaked up boos from the crowd. Kelly noted that Page got the win and questioned why he wasn’t sending the crowd home. Cody welcomed the fans to Honor Rising Night One. Cody said it was appropriate that the event was brought to them by Ring of Honor because is the face of ROH. Cody said you’re either Team Kenny or Team Cody. He told the fans to go home and google what he had to say if they couldn’t understand him. He said you could extrapolate from the end of the match that the Golden Lovers reunion and comeback tour ended.
Cody said Ibushi is nothing more than Omega’s rat. Cody said they have a saying on Being The Elite – “Bullet Club is fine.” Cody said he would add one more thing. “Bullet Club is mine,” Cody said before dropping the mic. Kelly said Cody put it all out there in that it’s the first time he claimed to be the leader. Cody walked up to the broadcast team. Callis asked him what a rat is. Cody said to ask his partner the Rat King. Callis asked why Cody referred to him as the Rat King. Kelly hyped the second night to end their portion of the broadcast.
They cut backstage where Page confronted Cody and asked if anyone noticed that he won the match when they were all watching Cody and Kenny. Cody said he ruined his moment and Omega did too. Cody looked into the camera and said he was sorry for ruining the moment of a guy who continually gone to the pay window on behalf of him and Scurll. “Don’t talk to me, talk to him,” Cody said before walking away. Page simply followed him out of the camera shot to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A good main event that wisely gave the fans a taste of Omega vs. Cody without giving away too much. I also like that Page was the person who scored the pin for his team and that the finish didn’t involve any of the four wrestlers in the tag main event of night two. The post match promo by Cody was well done. It was really fun to see just how hot the crowd was for the reunion of the Golden Lovers, and Cody is doing a sensational job as the master manipulator. Overall, a good show that peaked with the main event. If you are short on time then I’d watch the main event, the three-way match, and the Goto vs. Bruiser match in that order of importance. Night two should be fun. I hope to be by over the weekend with a review of that show, which airs early Saturday morning on New Japan World.
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The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...