[Please note: the opening match apparently involved a registered sex offender. Far be it from me to say that people who have been convicted and served their time should never be allowed to work again, but the match was nothing special anyway, so I’m not reviewing it. The other stuff before the main card was about the same.]
In perhaps the most unlikely and surprising crossover of the year, the annual Community Effort Orlando (CEO) event and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) comes When Worlds Collide. A joint effort of CEO organiser Alex Jebailey and current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and avid Street Fighter player Kenny Omega, the event saw some of NJPW’s top stars entertain a crowd of gaming and pro-wrestling enthusiasts, with all the action called by pro-wrestling fans, and eSports players Goldenboy, Rynge and Logan Sama.
The entire show can be streamed right now on CEOGamings’s twitch channel.
+ The Golden★Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi): hot damn, Takahashi versus Ibushi is a match I didn’t think we’d get to see any time soon, and for my money I’m not sure if they’ve ever even been in the ring together. This was very clearly the main event, in terms of match length, competitors and what they accomplished in the ring. There were a few heart-stopping moments, courtesy of Ibushi being an absolute mad-man, and all four men willing to die if it means entertaining their crowds. Omega and Takahashi have big matches coming up, so I’m half-surprised they went to all out, but also half-not surprised because they are both insane
+ Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs Dragon Lee & Ryusuke Taguchi: Taguchi’s comedy was the perfect team with Dragon Lee’s fast paced offense in front of a crowd that may not have known either man. If my love for the 3K boys wasn’t clear coming out of the BOSJ, then let me reiterate that both are going to be huge stars, and both worked phenomenally with their opponents here, particularly Taguchi. Interestingly, it seemed to be SHO and YOH who played the bad guy, perhaps more in a ‘disrespectful newbie’ way than a straight-up ‘douchebag’. Either way, I enjoyed this match
+ Chase Owens vs Jeff Cobb: this was primarily an Owens comedy showcase, as he tried to be all buddy-buddy with the ref, who wasn’t having any of his shit. Cobb is an absolute powerhouse, and with his title match with Goto coming up fast, this was a small showcase of his skills in the lead up. I can’t believe how fast Owens has grown on me (to think I used to prefer Hangman)
+ Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Lao) vs Juice Robinson & David Finlay: technically Juice and Finlay are part of Taguchi Japan, but it wasn’t advertised as such, so I won’t try to be smart. I really enjoyed this. Something about the GoD as a tag team is better than the sum of their parts, and that’s coming from someone who believes that Tama Tonga is severely underrated. Juice still had his injured hand, and the match was essentially fought in the audience for a long stretch, but it’s a testament to the camera work that it didn’t seem like anything was missed
– Rocky Romero vs Jushin Thunder Liger: I’ll admit this was an interesting choice for the opening “real” match. Romero is hardly a big name in NJPW, at least certainly when compared with Liger. Nonetheless, Liger was super popular, and I got a chuckle out of seeing Liger lock his patented Romero Special on Romero, which now that I think about it may have been the entire point of the match
> I don’t know who any of the commentators are, but Goldenboy and Rynge were great, whilst Logan Sama apparently wanted to be Bobby Heenan so badly he just buried everyone, to a very mixed reaction from myself
Should you watch this event: I was skeptical of how this would go, even after seeing the match card, and while the main event was always going to be phenomenal, even I was not prepared for just how good it was. The Guerrillas of Destiny were a lot of fun, the crowd was hugely behind Ryusuke Taguchi and even Chase Owens versus Jeff Cobb had some highlights. Skip the first three matches (and save yourself an hour, while you’re at it) and just watch the ones listed above.