The Bullet Club is fine. Or at least, that is what Cody would have you think, as he attempts to steal the leadership from Kenny Omega. New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and Ring of Honor (ROH) team up for two days of wrestling, live from the legendary Korakuen Hall as they present Honor Rising 2018. Headlining Day 1 of the action is a six-man tag team match, as Cody, Hangman Page and a conflicted Marty Scurll take on fellow Bullet Club member Chase Owens and, for the first time in over three years, the team of Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi, The Golden Lovers. At the semi-main event position is a NEVER Openweight Championship match as Hirooki Goto looks to defend against the Beer City Bruiser.
Please note: by the time you read this, Day 2 will have also come and gone. That review will be up soon!
+ Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota IBushi) & Chase Owens) vs Bullet Club (Cody, Hangman Page & Marty Scurll): for such a simple story (“new blood wants leadership of old club”), this has been one of the hottest I have ever heard Korakuen Hall. The subtle look changes from Scurll, Hangman and Cody in the last few weeks or months have really given a solid visual cue as the fractured alignments. Story aside, this was a fantastic match, and I really enjoyed the Omega/Scurll segments, but everybody was on point here. Cody may well be the most hated man in NJPW, and the team of Omega and Ibushi is so popular it is almost hard to believe. This was great
+ Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Beer City Bruiser (NEVER Openweight Championship): gosh the Bruiser is just disgusting to look at, but nonetheless this was so surprisingly fun. Goto plays a fantastic underdog, and the size difference meant that the Bruiser was a believable threat, despite this being (I think) only one of a handful of singles PPV matches I’ve seen Bruiser in. I really enjoyed this match
+ Dalton Castle, Jay Lethal & Ryusuke Taguchi vs CHAOS (Beretta, Chuckie T. & Jay White): Best Friends were the best team here, but damn if Jay Lethal didn’t look fantastic. Jay White has been a bit hit-and-miss for me, but he really looked great here, especially in comparison to the comedy antics of the opponent trio
+ Flip Gordon vs Hiromu Takahashi vs KUSHIDA: any time KUSHIDA is in the ring, you know the match will be really good, and Hiromu is only ever an addition. This was good, though at times a bit too sloppy from Flip. I’ll chalk that up to inexperience, but it was still somewhat amusing that the only ROH guy made the most mistakes against the two NJPW stars
+ Taguchi Japan (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) vs The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson): the Bucks have such fantastic tag team chemistry (obviously, they are brothers), and they are so good at trash talking, that when you put the two together they’ll tell you what they’re going to do and then they’ll do it perfectly. I’ve often said Finlay and Juice are a really good tag team, and they proved so again here
+ Bullet Club (Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & HIKULEO) vs Cheeseburger, Delirious & Jushin Thunder Liger: I really enjoyed the comedy trio, but damnif those G.O.D boys aren’t something special. Tama Tonga is always so impressive, and Leo is getting there, but very obviously the least-good in the ring here. This was about average, but slightly onto the positive end of the scale
– Toa Henare & Katsuya Kitamura vs Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale): Kitamura is a beast, Fale is huge and Yujiro consistently has the hottest valets you’ll see. There was a few power spots from Kitamura and Henare, but that’s about all you’ll need to know
> there were lots of Western-style, ROH-style chants here, which is unusual for the Japanese crowds. It added an interesting dynamic to many of the matches
Should you watch this event: This was really good. None of the matches were mind-blowing, but everything was just as good (or better than) my expectations going in, which really is all you can hope for in a show.