Did you have any idea that Ring of Honor was offering up a live PPV on Mother’s Day? Yeah, me neither. I found out completely by accident that the first leg of ROH’s annual Global Wars showdown featuring the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling was a PPV offering.
It turned out to be a solid kickoff to what would turn out to be a very eventful week of shows for ROH and New Japan. Until ROH Creative pulled a McMahon and shot themselves in the foot with an overbooked ending far too reminiscent of the NWO plague long overdue for a permanent cure, ROH Global Wars 2016 was a fine show. Last weekend’s WWE Payback was an entertaining enough show, but as far as actual wrestling and overall booking, ROH blew main roster WWE away.
However, ROH still has yet to completely fix the technical issues that constantly plague their live PPVs these days. While this time, the lighting was fine as was the camerawork, this time the sound became a real issue. For those of us watching at home, there was a discernible lack of crowd noise. According to those in the nose, this was attributed to the poor placement of the microphones placed in the arena to capture crowd noise. It wound up hurting the show somewhat since it seemed as if the live crowd could care less about the hot action inside the ring.
If ROH hopes to make regular PPV a viable outlet, they need to address these technical issues pronto. They also need to spend the money to visibly advertise these shows. Right now, they’re counting on a few mentions on the weekly TV show to get by. The only problem is that their television show is unavailable in large chunks of the United States other than the few boondock areas where Sinclair programming is accessible.
#1 Contender Fatal 4-Way: Dalton Castle Vs. Roderick Strong Vs. ACH Vs. Adam Page: The winner of this match would receive a future TV Title shot, presumably at the TV tapings in Las Vegas Wednesday or perhaps even the next live PPV, Best in the World 2016, next month. This was a hot opener, which is no surprise considering the talent involved. Castle reminds me very much of Lanny Poffo, a superb wrestler doing a semi-comedic gay gimmick. The one difference is that Castle is insanely over and pushed as a top worker while Poffo was treated as nothing more than a jobber during his WWF run in the mid-80s and early 90s. Strong was the former TV Champion who desperately wants his title back. Page and ACH are looking to make a mark and gain their first taste of championship gold. The poor crowd micing hurt the match a little as a televised bout, but the plethora of hot moves and killer spots more than made up for it. Strong seemingly had the match won, finishing off Page with the gutbuster but Castle hit the ring and took Strong out with the Bang-a-Rang. He collapsed onto Page for the win to the delight of the live crowd. They really should put the TV title on Castle. He’s a solid worker and over enough to carry the title quite easily. ****1/4
The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Kazarian) Vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Cheeseburger: Cheeseburger was portrayed as the ultimate underdog on commentary, even pointing out his stick-thin physique as a sizable disadvantage. While this would be tantamount to a burial on a main roster WWE show, in ROH it managed to add some psychology to the match. Liger stuck mostly to mat wrestling, which is understandable given his age and decades of wear and tear on the body. Yet everything he did looked fantastic and it was evidence of just how good a wrestler Liger actually is. Daniels and Kazarian were great as usual, playing arrogant heels to perfection. Cheeseburger was allowed to get plenty of offense in and looked great while doing so. This was an excellent match with an effective surprise finish when Cheeseburger took advantage of a far-too-confident Daniels’ cocky stalling to roll him up in a Victory Roll for the pin. Daniels and Kazarian went crazy afterward, taking Liger out with a piledriver while finishing off Cheeseburger with a combination spike piledriver/Best Moonsault Ever. This new combo move has been dubbed Best Meltzer Ever, named after Wrestling Observer founder Dave Meltzer. When’s someone going to name their finisher after me? I’ll probably have to wait a few years for that one. ****1/4
ROH World Tag Team Champions War Machine (Rowe & Hanson) Vs. The Briscoes: Kevin Kelly’s commentary emphasized that should Jay and Mark Briscoe prevail, they would officially be ten-time ROH World Tag Team champions. This was a nice touch since it helped give the match a nail-biting dimension WWE’s primary announcing team wouldn’t have been allowed to give a similar bout. The match didn’t start out well at first, as both teams seemed to have trouble getting the match going. Luckily, they found the ideal solution to break free from the funk: just beat the living crap out of each other. This was one of the stiffest, intense and most brutal tag team matches I’ve seen take place outside of Japan. The last several minutes were extremely suspenseful and intense as they traded one near fall after another. I actually believed the Briscoes were going to pull off the victory, especially with the hype that they would become 10-time tag team champions should they prevail here. However, that milestone wasn’t in the cards as War Machine scored the victory after finishing off Jay with the Fallout double team finisher for the pin. ****3/4
IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Tetsuya Naito Vs. Kyle O’Reilly: This was a rematch from their singles bout last year at War of the Worlds Night 2 in Philadelphia. There was one primary difference: the Philly bout was played for humor while this one was dead serious in tone. Naito’s IWGP World title was not on the line in this match, which led many to believe that perhaps O’Reilly would score a win here. Such thinking certainly makes sense when you consider that O’Reilly is a regular in New Japan and they certainly need new title contenders. O’Reilly made a valiant effort, coming close to scoring a victory at times. O’Reilly went for a bridging back suplex but Naito kicked out and finished off his quarry with the Destino for the clean pin. To further his gimmick as a loose cannon World champion, he swiftly kicked O’Reilly in the balls after the match and threw around the IWGP World title belt like a rag doll. It worked to perfection. This was far and away the best match from a pure wrestling standpoint. ******