By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
Join Jason Powell for his live review of the G1 Supercard tonight as the show airs. Dot Net Members will hear Powell and Will Pruett review the show later tonight.
They are now ice skating in hell because a pro wrestling show is being held at Madison Square Garden and it’s a WWE event. When the show was originally announced and sold out, Ring of Honor had the benefit of having the Elite members available to them and one could argue that they may have struggled to sell out MSG like they did without them. However, this gave Ring Of Honor the opportunity to showcase the “new era” of ROH along with New Japan, and I don’t feel the buzz is there as it should be.
Sure, there’s going to be some great matches, possibly some of the best matches over the entire weekend, but it doesn’t feel that this is a huge event to me. A large part of that can be attributed to the poor job ROH has done in their promotion on television. Until the go home show this week, the tapings they were airing were held before the 17th Anniversary PPV. It felt that if you weren’t following everything on social media from ROH and/or New Japan then half of the card was not being presented to you. They had the opportunity to really pull in a more casual audience on WrestleMania weekend and grow their fanbase, but it feels like they have only served their super fans. On this week’s go home show, there was a feeling of scrambling to hit on the key matches, but it felt too little too late. With that negativity out of the way, lets take a look at a card that looks great on paper.
Jay White vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship: It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I can be wrong. I predicted that the fans would start a Roman Reigns style backlash against New Day and its members three years ago. More importantly for this preview and prediction piece, I said that I didn’t see anything in Jay White. Bland and vanilla are the words I believe I used after watching him on ROH TV. I’m glad to say I was very wrong.
Okada collects in-ring classic accolades like most people collect their paychecks, often and without fuss. I’m really looking forward to this match. This appears to be the show closing match and I’m sure they will want to send the fans home happy, so it appears they are heading in the direction of an Okada victory. It is a shame for Jay White, but at his age and with the way he’s built himself over the last year I think he’ll be alright.
Prediction: Kazuchika Okada to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Jay Lethal vs. Marty Scurll vs. Matt Tavern in a ladder match for the ROH Championship: If you want evidence that the ROH build for this show has been lacking, look no further than this match. If you are only watching the TV show, you didn’t know this match was taking place until last weekend’s go-home show. The hype on the television show consisted of a clunky five minute promo with all three guys in the ring.
Again, I think this will be fantastic, especially given the three men in this match. They have pulled back on focusing on Lethal saying all he cares about is walking into MSG as champion, and have started to talk about how great it would be to leave MSG as champion, which is smart. Taven has received a mega push in ROH over the last six months and management are reportedly high on him, so he’s definitely in with a shout here. Marty is the most over guy in this match, but with the chances of him being in the company beyond 2019 feeling slim, I’m not sure ROH will want to give him the big moment at MSG on their biggest ever show. Moving forward, the best move for the company to create intrigue coming out of this show would be to have a heel on top and have the babyfaces underneath chasing him.
Prediction: Matt Tavern wins the ROH Championship.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship: This is a possible best match of the night if these guys are given enough time. We know the talent that both guys have and I don’t necessarily have a real feel as to who the favorite is here. Based on nothing except the fact that I see a lot of other title changes on this show, I’m going to go with Naito to retain here.
Prediction: Tetsuya Naito retains the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the British Heavyweight Championship: Man, I hate region specific titles being on the line. Are we really supposed to believe that Tanahashi wants to win a meaningless title from a country he doesn’t represent? Bear in mind this is coming from a UK resident. When I speak to wrestling fans about ZSJ they either love him or they hate him. The range of emotions run from the best wrestler of his time to coma inducing in-ring action. I think this is what you should come to expect from this match. If you enjoy Zack’s wrestling style, I think you will love this match if not it’s probably a good idea to go and have a toilet break so you don’t get yourself worked up. I’m looking forward to this match and it will be another strong match despite a worthless title being on the line.
Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr to retains the British Heavyweight Championship.
IWGP Tag Champions Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa vs. ROH Tag Champions PCO and Brody King vs. Evil and Sanada vs. Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe in a four-way for the IWGP Tag Titles and ROH Tag Titles: I’m convinced that originally PCO and Brody King weren’t going to capture the ROH tag titles because the last few weeks on ROH TV (which were taped before the 17th Anniversary PPV) they had promos involving the Briscoes wearing the titles and talking about being the champions. Either there was a change in plans or somebody is not checking the TV show for consistency.
Nevertheless, this is going to be one of those matches that I’m glad I’m not covering live as there will be something going on every second of the contest. All four teams are not the types to be selling for a huge amount of time, and in PCO you will get an insane bump or three. I don’t see any particularly reason for the Briscoes to win the titles back as ROH did nothing with them as champions for a year despite their extremely hot heel turn when they originally won them. Likewise, Evil and Sanada recently lost to the Guerrillas of Destiny, so I don’t see them winning the titles either.
That leaves us with PCO and King or Tonga and Loa. Jake Barnett made a good point on Dot Net Weekly audio (exclusive for members) that Tonga and Loa are looking to work more in the States. With that in mind, winning all of the tag belts means they would not only achieve that but get a lot of exposure.
Prediction: Guerrillas of Destiny win the IWGP and ROH Tag Team Championships.
Taiji Ishimori vs. Dragon Lee vs. Bandido in a three-way for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship: Man, if you enjoy high flying and break neck speed action then this is the match for you. I’ve followed the work of Ishimori and Dragon Lee for years, but my first exposure to Bandido was when he joined ROH and he has really impressed me. I don’t see the title changing hands, but this will be the match that the fans of athletic action can’t miss.
Prediction: Ishimori retains the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship.
Bully Ray vs. Juice Robinson in a New York City Street Fight: I’ll admit there was a slight hint of disappointment in me that they revealed Robinson as Bully’s opponent beforehand. But I think people would have been disappointed if they had played it up as a mystery until match time. Don’t get me wrong, I like Robinson a lot, but with Bully issuing a challenge to anyone in the industry, they had built this up as something huge when in fact it would be an ROH regular. Bully is the master of taking shortcuts at this stage of his life and there’s nothing wrong with that. This will be the perfect style of match for him to pull out all of his tricks, and I’m sure there will be a few surprises along the way. Part of me will pop if Sandman makes another appearance in a Bully Ray street fight, as that seems to be a usual ROH surprise. But in all seriousness, this again is another match that will have its own niche on this card and is another reason this card overall looks great overall. Something for everyone.
Prediction: Juice Robinson wins with help from a mystery person(s)
Mayu Iwatani vs. Kelly Klein for Women Of Honor World Championship: One of the few home runs ROH hit in their build to this show was the promo from Kelly Klein on the go-home show. In all the years I’ve watched Klein, viewers hadn’t really gotten to know a great deal of her story and motivation. It was well delivered and I feel her character has fallen into the category of you either love her attitude or you hate it. ROH is leaving it up to you, which is a nice character to have to play with. But ROH needs to put more focus on the Women of Honor division on their weekly television show. I appreciate that they put a lot of footage on social media and YouTube, but because it’s not on their main TV show, it feels that it’s treated as less important than the men’s division. This has to change in the next six months. With Klein being a regular in ROH for years to come and Iwatani being more of a Japanese based wrestler, it only makes sense for the title to go back to Kelly in their blowoff match.
Prediction: Kelly Klein regains the WOH Championship.
Rush vs. Dalton Castle: Straight off, I’ll say that I believe Rush will win this, as ROH have put a lot of stock on him being a big star in the company for the next year or so. With Dalton on a major losing run and seemingly his character becoming somewhat stale, I see this match being a vehicle for a heel turn, perhaps on The Boys after the match.
Prediction: Rush wins.
NEVER Openweight Champion Will Ospreay vs. ROH TV Champion Jeff Cobb for both titles: In the past twelve months, Ospreay has slowed down his in-ring style while at the same time still retaining the aura that makes Ospreay so special. That point is not made often enough. Cobb has come into ROH and hasn’t set the world on fire, but he has been a great second champion and could potentially explode in the later half of 2019. I saw these guys wrestle on a UK independent event a few years back and it was great. I don’t see this match disappointing in any way despite the perceived clash in styles. With that being said, I don’t feel it’s time for Cobb to have his winning streak ended just yet, so I see him taking the titles in a match that will set the tone for a good to great night of wrestling.
Prediction: Jeff Cobb win the NEVER Openweight Title and retains the ROH TV Title.
Check below for a recent Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest PCO, who discusses the ROH and NJPW G1 Supercard event, taking crazy bumps at age 51, what he still wants to accomplish in pro wrestling, and much more.