Kagetsu, Jenny Rose and Hazuki def. Hana Kimura, Stella Grey and Sumie Sakai (Pre-Show Match)
To be honest, I arrived at the building and got to my seat soon after this match started, but what I did see was perfectly fine. I'm not familiar with half of these women, but I thought everyone held their own and it was a nice showcase for the Ring of Honor ladies and for STARDOM. The crowd wasn't too into the action, but I think a big part of that had to do with most fans not being seated yet.
Kenny King Won the 30-Man Honor Rumble Match (Pre-Show Match)
I haven't seen too many of these Honor Rumbles before, but I really hope they aren't all as structured as poorly as this one. There were a ton of technical mishaps between entrants coming out too quickly, the buzzer not going off, and the wrong entrance video playing at times. I don't follow New Japan Pro Wrestling too closely, so not knowing most of the performers in this thing didn't help matter, either. This was just one giant mess, but at least it had its fun moments, especially down the stretch when The Great Muta and Jushin Thunder Liger went at it. King winning was logical based off how aggressively he's been pushed over the past year.
ROH World Television Champion Jeff Cobb def. Will Ospreay to Win the NEVER Openweight Championship
This was one of my favorites matches all night. Cobb has producing great match after great match since coming to ROH late last year and this was another outstanding effort from him. Ospreay is an amazing athlete in his own right and I loved the clash of styles here. The crowd being as hot as they were only added to my enjoyment of this, and of the two, Cobb was the right choice to win both belts.
Rush def. Dalton Castle
Considering Castle is still pretty beat up at the moment, having Rush squash him in a matter of seconds was perfect. I'm sure they would have worked well together, but I wasn't overly excited for this encounter. Plus, the card was already super stacked, so if any match had to be cut for time, it was this one. Castle hasn't won a singles matchup all year, so this latest loss put him over the edge and caused him to reach his breaking point, attacking The Boys and turning heel in the process.
Kelly Klein def. Mayu Iwatani to Win the WOH World Championship
The last few matches these two have had have been terrific, but unfortunately, this fell flat, at least in my opinion. They were given a decent amount of time, but it didn't have a strong flow and the crowd largely sat on their hands for it. Iwatani is one of the best in the world, and while I'm high on Klein, she didn't deliver here. That said, Klein regaining the gold was what needed to happen. The Beautiful People from IMPACT, Angelina Love and Velvet Sky, made their ROH debuts afterward and formed an alliance with Mandy Leon before laying out Klein. I believe the faction's name is The Allure. It feels like a rehashed version of The Beautiful People, but we'll see where it goes.
Flip Gordon and Lifeblood def. Bully Ray, Silas Young and Shane Taylor in a Six-Man New York City Street Fight
Try to follow along with me here: Bully originally issued an open challenge for this show, which was accepted by Juice Robinson. It was revealed earlier in the evening that Robinson was ambushed by Bully backstage and that he couldn't compete, so taking his place was the returning Flip Gordon (I thought he got hurt again?). Before the bell rang, Bully, Young and Taylor teamed up on Gordon, resulting in an impromptu six-man New York City Street Fight also involving Lifeblood's Robinson and Mark Haskins. ROH made this way more confusing than it needed to be, but the actual match was a blast. It lasted longer than it should have, but the crowd was into the big spots and rallied behind the babyfaces throughout.
Dragon Lee def. Taiji Ishimori and Bandido in a Three-Way Match to Win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
I'm stunned that the New York City Street Fight went over 20 minutes yet this was given only eight. Nevertheless, this was a fantastic sprint with the pace never slowing down and all three guys bringing their A-game. It was tremendously fun from start to finish that could have been even better had it not been rushed. Lee picking up the title was certainly a surprise considering Ishimori just won it at Wrestle Kingdom, but he should be a hell of a champion.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny def. ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions Villain Enterprises, Los Ingobernables de Japon, and The Briscoes in a Four-Way Match to Win the ROH World Tag Team Championship
When you have this many people in one match, you run the risk of it becoming a complete cluster, but thankfully, that wasn't the case here. This was another entertaining multi-man match where everyone had a chance to shine at one point or another. Villain Enterprises' tag team title reign didn't last long, but perhaps they'll get the belts back sometime soon. And then there was the post-match angle with Enzo and Cass jumping the barricade and brawling with Bully and The Briscoes. To ROH's credit, they made this look as real as possible, but I can't believe they might be signing those two clowns. Yes, they were once a hot tag team in WWE, but that was years ago, and now, they don't have much to offer.
British Heavyweight Champion Zack Sabre Jr. def. Hiroshi Tanahashi
You can't expect anything less than an awesome match when Sabre and Tanahashi are sharing the ring. They definitely worked a different style compared to everyone else on the show, but if you appreciate this type of wrestling, you probably liked it as much as I did. I've seen Sabre compete in person before, but never Tanahashi, so that was a treat for me, personally.
Kota Ibushi def. Tetsuya Naito to Win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Ibushi and Naito are absolute stars, and unsurprisingly, they stole the show with this gem of a match. The nearfalls were superb and they had the entire crowd on the edge of their seats. Anyone in attendance who wasn't familiar with them before better be now. Better yet, Ibushi scored his first major piece of gold in NJPW with this win. I would love to see more matches between these two because this was amazing.
Matt Taven def. Jay Lethal and ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion Marty Scurll in a Triple Threat Ladder Match to Win the ROH World Championship
At first, I was disappointed this wasn't closing the show, but officials were smart to have the IWGP Heavyweight Championship clash go on last instead. This was a good Ladder match yet not nearly as exceptional as Okada vs. White. It would have been better had they cut out all the dead spots and made it a bit briefer. It had also been a long night by this point, so the crowd was drained. It was memorable, though, and the final few minutes were suspenseful. Taven winning was somewhat predictable, but having followed his career for the last decade, I'm glad he finally got his moment.
Kazuchika Okada def. Jay White to Win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Similar to the Ladder match, I wasn't stoked over how much time this received, especially with the show ending around midnight. Not much of note happened in the first half, anyway, so why not cut to the chase earlier? However, that was my only real criticism of this, because otherwise, it was outstanding. White has proven in a relatively short span of time that he can hang with a main event player the caliber of Okada, and speaking of whom, it's hard to not get goosebumps when he makes his entrance. He has an awe-inspiring aura about him. White should have reigned as champion longer than he did, but I don't blame NJPW for wanting to end this historic evening on a high note and send the crowd home happy.
I have to agree with the masses and say NJPW undoubtedly outshined ROH with their matches on this show. Most of the ROH matches were slightly above-average, while every NJPW outing was simply stellar. If you're crunched for time, check out Okada vs. White, Ibushi vs. Naito, and Cobb vs. Ospreay. The event was too damn long, but at least they kept fans engaged with the high match quality. I was thrilled to have been there live in Madison Square Garden, as it was an incredible experience on the whole. Fingers crossed the success of this show opens the doors for NJPW to hold more events here in the United States in the future (specifically at MSG).
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