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By Mike Burgess on 2016-05-12 09:58:00

We attended the ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds TV Tapings tonight at the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto. Estimating crowd size is not my forte, but I would say slightly less than the crowd at the ROH/NJPW shows here in Toronto last year - even though there was much more assigned seating on the floor, with more standing, the arena stands were less full than normal. I'd chalk this up to a Wednesday night in a non-central location; the Ted Reeve Arena is pretty far towards the eastern end of one of our main subway lines. It would be nice if they could return to a more central location like the Mattamy Athletic Centre (the former Maple Leaf Gardens), but that location may be too much of an extra expense when the New Japan guys are in town.

Most if not all of the New Japan guys were signing before the show, as well as many of the ROH guys. Big line ups for the NJPW guys, Dalton Castle and the Young Bucks. I just hit the merch table to load up on DVDs without paying the exchange rate and international shipping. (I'd like to give a shout out as well to whoever at ROH was in charge of the music playlist on the pre-show and intermission - Johnny Cash, the Clash, Ramones, Joan Jett and even the Jim Carroll Band (!) really hit the sweet spot for me).

Adam Cole was absent tonight, but may not have been advertised. No Women of Honor match tonight with the Japanese talent in town. There were a number of independent talent visiting, but didn't seem involved in a meaningful way.

Dark Match:
Brutal Bob Evans & Tim Hughes defeated Kenny Lush & Rip Impact when Hughes rolled through a top rope crossbody by Impact and  Evans held Hughes feet on the ropes for leverage. Impact is a local guy who wrestles all over Ontario, Lush is from the west coast.

Episode 1:
Nigel McGuinness is introduced as Kevin Kelly's commentary partner for this set of tapings.

Nigel states that Adam Cole claims to be the only legitimate contender to the ROH World Title, and that Jay Lethal claims to have no legitimate contenders; Nigel says that this is not the case and announces that at Best in the World 2016, we will see the rematch from Best in the World 2015: Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe!

Silas Young joins Kevin and Nigel on commentary for..

Match 1:

ACH defeated Lio Rush with the Midnight Star 450° Splash. Nice fast-paced match. Rush has grown on me fast. Post-match, Silas Young jumps Lio Rush laying him out, doing the same to ACH when he tries to make the save.

Match 2:
The Addiction comes out to brag of their win over War Machine, claim to be undefeated and once again proclaim themselves "The World Tag Team Champions Of The World". The Motor City Machine Guns came out to take exception to this. They were followed by Roppongi Vice who made their own challenge. The Addiction agreed to face both teams and if they won, they'd receive a title shot. MCMG won with Skull and Bones (Top-Rope Crossbody / Neckbreaker combo)

Matt Taven joins the commentary team. Taven is no longer on crutches.

Match 3:
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions: Bullet Club / The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) defeat Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yoshitatsu to retain their titles. Too much action to call in this: Lots of superkicks from The Elite; lots of powerspots and a dive from Elgin; lots of back rakes from both Matt Jackson of The Young Bucks and Tanahashi. Perhaps surprising to fans who know him from WWE but haven't seen his recent NJPW work, Yoshitatsu is now doing a gimmick as "The Bullet Club Hunter" and emulates the water-spitting entrance and a moveset including high knees and Pedigree (attempts) of a more famous Hunter who was once his boss. Kenny Omega gets the pinfall on the erstwhile Yoshi Tatsu with the One-Winged Angel (like an elevated Michinoku driver from the shoulders).

Episode 2:

Match 1:
'The Rainmaker' Kazuchika Okada defeated 'Reborn' Matt Sydal with the Rainmaker (Rip-cord short-arm clothesline). It would be a disservice for me to simply say that they each hit most of their trademark spots, as this was a good back and forth match that we wouldn't see as a singles match in New Japan due to the different weight classes. Shortly before the finish, Sydal hit a nice counter to a Rainmaker attempt into an inverted hurricanrana. Show of respect after the match.

Match 2:
Colt Cabana defeated the newest member of the Bullet Club, 'The Hangman' Adam Page with the Superman Pin. Post-match Bullet Club's Guerillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) jumped Colt and beat him down. G.O.D. held Cabana for Page as attempted to strangle him with the noose he wears to the ring. As noted elsewhere, the G.O.D. are the songs of Haku / Meng.

BJ Whitmer came to the ring to run down Steve Corino. Whitmer has crazy heat. This goes on until Corino, in street clothes, runs in and  jumps the barrier from the crowd to go after him. Corino is walked-off by security.

Match 3:
Jay Lethal (w/ Taeler Hendrix) defeats Donovan Dijak (w/ Prince Nana) following interference from The Elite. No lock-up, as Jay started hot, taking Dijak down with punches. Not sure if/when Lethal turned babyface, but he was working more of a baby face style than normal, with Taeler Hendrix straight up playing cheerleader and trying to keep the crowd pumped up for Lethal (unnecessary, as they were way behind him) while Dijak was acting a lot more heelish and Prince Nana actively distracting/interfering during the match.  The Finish came after The Elite ran in and hit a synchronized superkick on Dijak; Lethal shoved them out of the ring to hit the Lethal Injection. Post-match, G.O.D. ran-in to beat down Lethal, and the Briscoes came out to make the save. After the Bullet Club were run-off, Briscoe and Lethal faced-off over the belt.

After Intermission, we were treated to an...

Internet Exclusive Match:
Dalton Castle (w/ The Boys) defeated Gedo with Bangarang. Dalton's usual mix of mat wrestling, power spots and flamboyance with some entertaining heel antics from Gedo, including multiple attacks on The Boys(!)

Episode 3:
Mark Briscoe joins Kevin and Nigel on commentary for this episode

Match 1:
Tetsuya Naito defeats Moose (w/ Stokely Hathaway) with Destino (a modified shiranui/standing sliced bread). Great response for both men, but as in most instances, the New Japan talent seems to win out, even the heels). Naito excels at turning the crowd against him, if only briefly, while there's still pockets of ROH fans resistant to a big man, even a constantly improving one like Moose. Naito again did not bring the IWGP belt to the ring with him, and again tossed it away after his victory. Naito was also entertaining in mocking Moose's fist pump (while the crowd chanted his name instead of 'Moose')

Match 2:
The All-Night Express defeated Cheeseburger and Jushin Thunder Liger when Rhett Titus pinned Cheeseburger after a Royal Flush from Kenny King. Nice to see Liger back in action after the scary drop on his had at the Global Wars PPV. Cheeseburger probably worked more of the match but Liger was taking some bumps, including a nice superplex on Rhett Titus. We did get to see a koppu kick from Liger and a double Shotei palm strike from Cheeseburger and Liger. Nice ring work and double teams from ANX, shameful that the crowd didn't seem to give them much of a reaction.

Following the match, Roderick Strong came out, seemingly with words for Kevin Kelly, but ended up in a face-off with Mark Briscoe.

Next Silas Young came out to the commentary area and took a microphone to run-down ACH (in short video games, japanese cartoons, etc. do not fall within "The Last Real Man's" areas of interest). Following this, and as he walked the ring side area berating fans, Silas ends up in an altercation with a 'fan' in an ACH shirt, and as they're being separated by security, ACH appears in the ring and hits his crazy Air Jordan (springboard somersault dive from the inside of the second rope to the outside) dive on Silas and the security guys.

Match 3:
KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O'Reilly. This was EXCELLENT. Even if you're committed to reading these spoilers, I'd say stop and wait to see the match. This lived up to the hype as a rematch of their excellent Best Of the Super Juniors 2015 Finals match. KUSHIDA worked over Kyle's arm, while Kyle mostly worked over KUSHIDA's leg. My elbow and knee hurt at times just watching them. Kyle reverses a Hoverboard Lock (seated kimura) attempt into a victory roll-type pinning combination. One has to imagine this sets up a future title challenge, plus both men share a bracket in this year's BOSJ.

Episode 4:

Match 1:
Dalton Castle defeated Kamaitachi, Cedric Alexander (w/ Veda Scott) and Caprice Coleman in a 4-way match. Cedric was the only pure heel, but Caprice was pretty heelish. Kamaitachi was fun in both his lucha style and in emulating some of Dalton's mannerisms while working with him and against him. Kamaitachi is a former NJPW talent who just finished an excursion in CMLL and is now working out of the U.S. Dalton wins by hitting Bangarang on Kamaitachi after Coleman and Alexander are cleared from the ring.

After the other competitors clear out, Veda Scott and Cedric Alexander end up at the commentary table to be interviewed by Kevin Kelly. Kelly wants to know why Veda's upset, as Cedric wasn't involved in the finish. Veda takes credit for any victory they, as a team have had, while Cedric hasn't produced any meaningful wins. As Veda is about to fire Cedric, he quits.

Match 2:
Tomohiro Ishii defeats Will Ferrara with the brainbuster. Ferrara held his own, but this was lopsided in favour of Ishii. Ishii seemed upset following the win, but without the help of commentary, I couldn't tell if this as legit or not, as it seems to fit his character (I got an "is this the best ROH has?" vibe)

Steve Corino came out to publicly address/challenge BJ Whitmer. A good, impassioned speech from Corino, but it may have been done a disservice by taking place just before 11pm on a work night for most people. Segments of the crowd were definitely getting restless, including some "What?" chants. ROH may want to consider going less than 3 hours instead of 4+ if they're running weeknights. Me and my lady have tomorrow off, but we are likely the exception. In the end, Corino got a nice reaction. He and Whitmer will face off at Best in The World, in what sounded like a Match Without Honor.

Match 3:
ROH Champion Jay Lethal, The Briscoes & Roderick Strong defeated the Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and G.O.D.). Echoing last year's ROH All-Stars vs Bullet Club match here in Toronto at Global Wars 2015, there was too much action to call, but it would be fair to say everyone was highlighted. I was happy to finally see Tama Tonga in person, and his brother, the former Camacho, was just picking up steam when he was released from NXT; I'm looking forward to seeing him showcased more in both NJPW and ROH, hopefully. The rest of the participants in this match are on top of their game, and few are better. The finish came when Jay Lethal sacrificed himself, taking a double superkick meant for Jay Briscoe from Omega and Jackson; Briscoe recovered and pinned Tanga Loa following the Jay Driller.

After the match, Mark Briscoe and Roderick Strong had words again, and Mark followed Roddy away from ringside. Jay Briscoe and Jay Lethal faced off again ahead of their rematch. With Jay Briscoe left in the ring he called Mark back to the ring where he announced that, in addition to Jay challenging Jay Lethal for the ROH World Title, The Briscoes will be returning to Japan to challenge the Guerrillas Of Destiny for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles!

That's it for tonight, cheers guys!

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