Well the big moment has arrived. ROH and NJPW teamed up to take over the iconic Madison Square Gardens to provide a night of cross brand wrestling. There would be titles on the line, the opportunity to take all and some incredibly odd moments. This was the definition of a super-show but would it live up to everyone’s lofty expectations? Probably not but I was entertained so let’s get into it.

Two legends square off in the Rumble

Honour Rumble Winner: Kenny King

The Honour Rumble was the perfect opener for a PPV like this. It featured a lot of nice surprises, some unexpected entrants and riled the crowd up ahead of the main show. It was opened with Kenny King and Minoru Suzuki but soon filled up with familiar faces from both brands. We got the likes of the Bouncers, Cheeseburger, Tracey Williams, Shingo Takagi, BUSHI, Rocky Romero, Roppongi 3K, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI and Ishii. We got Bullet Club members in Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale as well as a shock appearance from King Haku. He wouldn’t be the only legend in attendance as Jyushin Thunder Liger and The Great Muta were in appearance. After 30-35 minutes of action the last four came down to Muta, Liger and TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia from the Kingdom. The Kingdom are quickly eliminated and it looks like we get a legends dream match at MSG. Instead we get Kenny King returning to the ring and throwing the two legends out in rapid fashion because everyone forgot about him. It was a bit of a bum finish but at least he got misted after the match. We also got the hilarious moment where Yano joined the English commentary team because he was too scared to enter the match so instead got Colt Cabana to fight for him. It was all good fun.

Cobb takes all

Title vs Title ROH TV Title and NEVER Openweight Title: Jeff Cobb defeated Will Ospreay via Tour of the Islands

The first match of the main card was the first of two winner takes all matches. It was the ROH TV Title and the Never Openweight Title on the line. The match started quickly with Cobb quickly rushing Ospreay and overpowering him. However, Ospreay was able to rebound outside and followed up with a Sasuke Special. Cobb nearly caught him but this was reversed into a DDT. Once back inside the ring, Ospreay tries to keep up the pressure but is trapped in a stalling Superplex by Cobb. From here it’s all Cobb. It would be an ill-fated Bear Hug where Ospreay would come back and hit the Pip Pip Cheerio. This doesn’t keep Cobb down and he comes back with a barrage of offence. Ospreay hulks up and the two trade lariats, kicks and Superkicks with the sequence ending in a Spanish Fly. Cobb manages to reverse an Oscutter attempt and misses a Frog Splash. This allows Ospreay to hit the Oscutter after being launched at the turnbuckle. It only gets a two count though and Ospreay tries for Stormbreaker. In the end, this fails and Ospreay lands a Cheeky Nandos kick but gets caught on the top rope. Next comes a Super Tour of the Islands and the finishing normal Tour of the Islands to end the match. This was exciting, rough and hit all the notes needed to be a successful opening bout. Cobb winning tips the scales in ROH’s favour for now.

Rush defeated Dalton Castle via Shotgun Dropkick Trio

The entrances for both wrestlers lasted longer than the match itself. Both men had classy entrances to the ring but Rush had no interest in respect. He kicked away the handshake away and waited for the match to start. It’s at that moment Castle realises a peacock fan has been left in the ring so he ushers one of the boys to get rid of it. As that happens Rush attacks hitting a Shotgun Dropkick then follows it up with two more for a quick win. He leaves and Dalton looks heartbroken. He looks to sit on his thrown of boys but instead attacks them, levelling one with a Gutwench Suplex and destroying the other with the Bang-a-rang. He leaves to a chorus of boos but couldn’t care less. In the end he’s been squashed and Rush looks like a destroyer.

ROH Women of Honour Title: Kelly Klein defeated Mayu Iwatani via K-Power

This was my first time seeing the Women of Honour in action. The two women have a long feud where they were equal on wins and losses. Klein was emotional and showed respect towards her opponent. Following that they lock up for a technical bout. Klein targets the knee and never lets up. She scores a near fall and goes right back to the knee. Mayu transitions this into an Asuka Lock but it’s overpowered. She gets Klein out of the ring and hits a Crossbody to the outside. She waits in ring and Klein uses this to her advantage driving Mayu into the ringpost. The two slug it out until Iwatani is able to drop Klein with a Poison-Rana. This gets a two count so Klein ends up hitting her with a German Suplex and a Lariat when she remains standing. Iwatani retorts with a Dragon Suplex but Klein’s foot is in the ropes. Iwatani goes for a Moonsault but unfortunately misses and Klein ends up capitalises with a Powerbomb. She ends the match with a duo of K-Powers.

This was a pretty good match and set up a new, maybe slightly questionable angle as Angelina Love, Velvet Sky and Mandy Leon attacked Klein after the match. Most people will recognise Angelina Love and Velvet Sky from Impact Wrestling back in the TNA days. It seemed an odd place to introduce them and their segment was a bit long but I get what they were going for.  Either way, love the aftermath or not these two put on a decent match for the crowd and I hope to see more from the duo in the future.

New York Street Fight: Flip Gordon, Juice Robinson & Mark Haskins defeated Bully Ray, Shane Taylor and Silas Young via Four Flippy Splash

This will be the match that divides opinions. It was a slow, sluggish street fight that only got sillier as time went on. It started with Juice being attacked so Mega Ran came out to calm the crowd. He ended up annoying everyone so Ray got rid of him. Next came Flip who made his triumphant return to the ring. He mounts some offense but is cut off by 3D and interference from Silas Young and Shane Taylor. They attack but are cut off by Life Blood’s music and the appearance of Juice and Mark Haskins. From here it becomes a spot fest of Kendo stick shots; table Powerbombs, sword fights and trash can shots. It was chaos of the highest order. Bully Ray had his balls tenderised multiple times and Flip could have cosplayed a zebra by the end of the match. In the end the Four Flippy Splash and the faces stood tall. It was messy, a tad too long but it appealed to the deathmatch fan in me.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Dragon Lee defeated Bandido and Taiji Ishimori via Desnacadora

This was everything the junior match needed to be. It was fast, frantic and showcased exactly why these three men are three of the best at what they do. All three showed off their strength, speed and power as it could have gone any way at any point. Bandido was the MVP of the match but Lee was the eventual winner. The match started fast with instant dives to the outside and Ishimori delivering the neck snap. From there it was Ranas to the outside, power moves from all three and Bandido delivering the X Knee. There were lariats, Tiger Drivers, Super Ranas and even a Running Dragon Destroyer from Lee. The spots continued as Bandido hit an incredibly high Pop Up Cutter on Ishimori and nearly won with a Cradle to knee neckbreaker. Ishimori was able to hit the Tombstone Knees but was never able to hit the Bloody Cross. In the end we saw a Super Double Death Valley Driver from Bandido but Lee was able to recuperate, hit a Poisonrana, knock Ishimori out of the ring with a knee strike and finish Bandido with the Desnacadora Powerbomb to become new IWGP Junior champion. There was a show of respect at the end between Bandido and Lee.it was an amazing match that gives me hope that Hiromu Takahashi is coming back soon as those two have unfinished business. What a display of athleticism, hats off to all three.

Winner Takes All: Guerrillas of Destiny defeated Villain Enterprises (King/PCO) EVIL & SANADA and the Briscoes via Super Powerbomb on King

Before this match could even start, PCO stole the moment of the match as he was brought back from the dead via car battery. It was dumb and dramatic but man am I a fan of PCO. Once all four teams were in the ring chaos ensued as the Briscoes went straight for Villain Enterprises. It wasn’t long before PCO went flying and everyone attacked everyone. In ring the G.O.D and LIJ went to work on each other, ending with Tanga Loa in the Paradise Lock. LIJ are dragged out and Villain Enterprises go to work on the G.O.D. King and Loa have an extended slug session that ends with King winning. The Briscoes break up the fun and more dives ensure. EVIL hits his chair homerun on the outside and it’s not long after that finishers start getting busted out as PCO hits an Apron Cannon Ball on one of the Briscoe Brothers and King hits the Gonzo Bomb. He then directs PCO to hit the Moonsault which succeeds but the pinfall is broken up. We also saw the Jay Driller and Froggy Bo but that was also broken up. In the end G.O.D. came back, killed off PCO with a powerbomb directly to the floor and JADO ensured King was susceptible to a Gun Stun. Next came the Super Powerbomb and the 1,2,3. G.O.D take both titles and the victory… at least they would have but Yano stole the IWGP Heavyweight titles. The chaos made this match fun and the inclusion of PCO and King ensured it would be wild.

Unfortunately following this match was an unsettling sight. Enzo Amore and Big Cass jumped the railing and got into a probably worked fight with Bully Ray and the Briscoes. They had the crap beaten out of them but the crowd hated it and the G.O.D. were clearly displeased. If ROH has signed Enzo and Cass I will be very disappointed as no company should feasibly be interested in them after all their embarissing antics since being released from WWE.

ZSJ has Tanahashi in knots

RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Title: Zack Sabre Jr defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi via Modified Jim Breaks Arm Bar

This match was exactly what you would want it to be, a technical bout between a veteran and a technical wizard. This started technical and got more vicious as time went on. There were uppercut battles, holds switching to holds switching to holds and a whole lot of attitude from both men. There were taunts, Tanahashi tried to skin the cat only to get caught in an Arm Bar and plenty of Dragon Screws to the knees of ZSJ. The aim of the game was to target the arms of Tanahashi and the legs of ZSJ. In the End it was Zack who succeeded after fighting through Slingblades and having his legs battered, he managed to tap out Tanahashi with the Jim Breaks Armbar. He was unable to hit the Zack Driver when he wanted to but this did not stop him. Tanahashi was no slouch as he could have feasibly tapped Zack out with the Cloverleaf on multiple occasions. Unfortunately Zack was just too crafty. This match was great for technical fans but had some of it’s thunder stolen by the pre-mentioned antics featuring the realest guy kicked out of the room. The crowd didn’t bite at first and the online community seemed more focused on that post-match attack.

 A Kamigoye earns Ibushi the IC Title

IWGP Intercontinental Title: Kota Ibushi defeats Tetsuya Naito via Kamigoye

Hold onto your necks for this next match. Every time Naito and Ibushi step in the ring they make magic even if that magic looks like it’s about to kill one of them. This match was no different. It started with Naito dictating the pace and trying to wind up Ibushi by taking his time for as long as possible. In the end Ibishi bites and is punished. The two trade moves and end with a pose off. They get up and trade some more, this ends with Naito being hit with a Rana and leaving the ring. Ibushi looks to follow but Naito rushes back in and sweeps the legs whilst he’s on the apron. Naito then throws Ibushi into the rails and waits for a count-out. The fans help Ibushi back to ringside and he beats the count. From there Naito works over the neck with Neckbreakersm Dropkicks and the Combination Cabron. Ibushi comes back with a nasty combo and launches Naito into the turnbuckle. His continues with a kick and the offense continues. We see more Neckbreakers and the teasing of the middle rope German when Naito retreats. Naito blocks the attempt and teases a Piledriver onto the apron. Instead of this he eats a Rana to the floor and some more offense from Ibushi. He finally makes it back into the match by hitting a Rolling kick and Satellite DDT. He hits Gloria but only gets a two count. This gives Ibushi the chance to come back and he finally lands the Second Rope German and follows up with a Bridging German Suplex for good measure. Naito kicks out and the two battle to hit an Inverted Dudebuster with Naito succeeding by crunching Ibushi’s head into the canvas and basically sitting on it. It was not a pleasant sight. Ibushi kicks out again and the two slug it out. Naito spits at Ibushi so Ibushi beats the hell out of him. Naito comes back hits a Reverse-Rana and Destino but only gets a two count. Ibushi catches a second and hits two Boma Ye knees followed by a Last Ride. When this gets two he maintains wrist control and finishes Naito off with the Kamigoye. Ibushi probably got the second loudest reaction of the whole night. He and Naito put on a clinic that lo0oked painful to watch.  The crowd loved it and the plucky fighter won gaining his next title. A lot of exciting prospects have opened for the IC division.

ROH World Title Ladder Match: Matt Taven defeated Marty Scurll and Jay Lethal

The last ROH match on the card was total brutal chaos. All three men basically broke each other over every available table and ladder to grasp that big gold belt atop the ring. Ladders were used almost instantly as Scurll and Lethal fought over one which Taven then threw himself into. They fight on the floor and Lethal sets up a chair/ladder contraption that he gets thrown into then Powerbombed through later in the show.  Scurll has fun ramming Taven and Lethal into ladders but ends up getting clipped himself. He trades chops with Lethal then traps him in the tree of woe with his head and arms in a ladder. He swings a chair into the contraption then finally lets Lethal loose. They all fight some more with all men getting creative with the ladders. One of the most notable is Lethal trapping Scurll in a Figure 4 through ladder rungs. There is also a Cutter of the apron from Lethal to Scurll and some shenanigans from Taven as he stops two of Scurll’s big moves. He DDT’s Scurll to avoid the Chicken Wing and hits him with a Rolling Neckbreaker onto a ladder. Scurll does his best to work over the fingers of Taven eventually managing to break them atop a ladder so Taven falls off. There is a nasty Superplex off a ladder and Scurll traps Lethal in the Chicken Wing as he tries to reach for the title. There’s a Lethal Combination into a ladder and then Lethal manages to create an X by accidentally jamming two ladders together. Scurll takes advantage of this by hitting Taven with an Inverted Suplex to the middle of the X. Lethal hits the Lethal Injection on Scurll and lobs the X out of the ring, inadvertently hitting a front row fan with it. They then take the match back to the floor where Lethal gets out tables. Scurll is speared through the first one and Taven is put through the second by an Elbow Drop off a supremely large ladder. Scurll and Lethal fight atop a small ladder giving Taven the chance to retrieve and set up a giant purple ladder he’s stashed under the ring. They start fighting on the big purple ladder after wedging smaller ladders into it’s lower rungs. Scurll is sent for a ride first then Lethal is knocked down into the second by taking a shot in the face from his title belt. Taven is alone atop his ladder and claims the belt he believes is rightly owed to him. He celebrates with his Kingdom stablemates and the ring crew is left to clear the carnage.

This was an excellent if slightly long exercise in carnage. Every man took their fair share of horrific spots and mercilessly used the tools at hand to achieve their goal. There was plenty of creativity and fun thrown in so I feel this match was a success. As a fan of the kingdom I also got some satisfaction out of Taven finally winning the title.

IWGP Heavyweight Title: Jay White vs Kazuchika Okada

Finally we come to the grand finale. The match that would potentially bring the curtain call for the Cut Throat Era and Jay White’s reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion. From the get-go the crowd are behind Okada so White stalls the match entirely. Okada takes control when he does finally get serious and taunts Jay by giving him a clean break. White retorts by locking in a side Headlock and pulling on Okada’s hair whenever he tries to escape. Okada finally breaks free and ends up knocking White to the outside. He runs White into the rails and tries to hit a Draping DDT from the railing. Gedo interrupts and White is able to ram Okada into the ring post then Wheelbarrow him into the railing. He aims for a count out but Okada makes it back so White Guillotines him on the bottom rope. He maintains control levelling Okada with some chops and stalling into a Muta Lock. Okada makes it to the ropes and manages a comeback after hitting a Flapjack. He hits a combo of offense ending with the DDT. White is caught into the Neckbreaker but refuses to be hit with anything else by retreating to the corner.

An angered Okada follows these taunts up by hitting a Shotgun Dropkick into the corner and following it up with an Ariel John Woo Dropkick. He lands the Elbow Drop and pops the crowd with a Rainmaker Pose from MSG. He has the wrist control and looks set to deliver the Rainmaker but White collapses. Okada seems displeased but is hit with a surprise Flatliner from a possum playing White. The Switchblade follows up with a Deadlift German and levels Okada with a Uranage. This only achieves a two count so he drops Naito with a Saito Suplex over the ropes. He hits the Kiwi Crusher but can’t follow up as Okada lands a Tombstone. The two slug it out with Okada getting the advantage but loses control by going for the Dropkick. White avoids this and chops the hell out of Okada. The Rainmaker finally lands the Dropkick so White ends up out of the ring. He takes a second run into the rails and once again Gedo saves White from a Draping DDT. This time Okada launches Gedo into the crowd and flies over the rails into both Gedo and White. Once back in the ring Okada lands another Dropkick but the Rainmaker is reversed into a Sleeper Suplex. The trade finisher attempts until Okada hits the Spinning Rainmaker and follows it up with the actual Rainmaker. This shockingly only gets a two count. White catches a shocked Okada with a Blade Runner but is too spent to follow up. Both men are out for the count but end up slowly rising and slugging it out. White gets to the point where his strikes have nothing so Okada flattens him. White looks knocked out so Gedo interjects again and White hits a Low Blow on Okada. Another Blade Runner attempt is reversed into a German Suplex. Okada manages another Dropkick and the two trade more finisher attempts until Okada grabs the wrist. White tries to strike Okada out of it but he is hit with a straight Rainmaker. Okada hits another one but wants to go for full rotation. Somehow White still has life in him so Okada hits the Spinning Tombstone then puts the nail in the coffin with one final Full Rotation Rainmaker.

With that Okada reclaims his title and redeems himself for the losses he has suffered at the hands of White on the road to this match. This was White’s best match to date as he controlled the pace, played the dastardly heel and showed off his ring IQ to take advantage of situations. He may have lost but this proved that NJPW’s faith in him had not been misplaced. Nor will this be the last time we see Jay White in title scene. It was the perfect drama to end the show and the best possible feel good moment to send fans home on. Once again NJPW’s main event scene proves it may just be the best in current wrestling.

Rainmaker!It’s safe to say this show was a success. There may have been some weird moments and odd choices throughout the show but overall it was really fun to watch and the crowd were really into it throughout. There were new champions, shocking moments, some unpleasant surprises and a lot of good matches to enjoy. The ROH talent stood toe to toe with NJPW talent and gave the fans an excellent show. It wasn’t perfect and felt a bit disjointed at times but it delivered a mass of good to amazing matches to dive into. At the end of the day, could you really ask for more?

(All images courtesy of  njpw.co.jp,NJPWWorld/njpw1972 Twitter)

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