ROH/NJPW Honor Rising 2018: Night 1





ROH/NJPW Honor Rising 2018: Night 1

By Big Red Machine
From February 23, 2018

ROH/NJPW Honor Rising 2018: Night 1

KATSUYA KITAMURA & TOA HENARE vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fake) - 4.5/10



JUSHIN "THUNDER" LIGER, CHEESEBURGER, & DELIRIOUS vs. BULLET CLUB (Hikuleo & the Guerrillas of Destiny) - 4.5/10


I don't want to call them the "babyfaces" because two of the most annoying people in ROH are on the team, so instead I'll just refer to the winners of this match as "Team Liger." This builds up to tomorrow's NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Title match. Tama Tonga used Cody's finisher at one point. I have no idea if I'm supposed to read anything into that, so I'll just note it here.

THE YOUNG BUCKS vs. DAVID FINLAY JR. & JUICE ROBINSON - 6.5/10


The match was structured with the Bucks as the babyfaces even though they're heels... so yeah, they're turning. They were also given the win over a pair of heavyweights here, so that shift is probably coming, too.

FLIP GORON vs. HIROMU TAKAHASHI vs. KUSHIDA - 7/10


The match was enjoyable, but the story would have worked better if Gordon had done a better job of selling his knee. He got the win here because they're trying to get him over, but he did not hold up his end and impress me.

JAY WHITE & BEST FRIENDS vs. DALTON CASTLE, JAY LETHAL, & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI - 6.75/10


Dalton had no Boys with him tonight, making him look even more like a midcard nobody rather than the ROH World Champion. CHAOS wins. Dalton and Trent have a stare-down to build up tomorrow night's title match.

NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Hirooki Goto(c) vs. Beer City Bruiser - 6.25/10


Bruiser beat Goto up for a while, then Goto made a quick comeback and won. They had something of a story with Goto having to overcome Bruiser's size advantage, but Bruiser never felt like a real threat to Goto because... well... Bruiser is an undercard jamoke who is getting this title shot for no reason other than so Goto can defend his title on this show as a way for ROH and New Japan to try to pretend that these shows are actually important and not just a bunch of random crap without most of the top guys from both company that only exists to serve as an undercard for the Bullet Club stuff.

KOTA IBUSHI, KENNY OMEGA, & CHASE OWENS vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Page, Marty Scurll, & Cody Rhodes) - 7.75/10


Omega came out with Ibushi as the Golden Lovers rather than coming out with Owens as Bullet Club or coming out on his own. He and Ibushi shook hands before the match, though he did make a point of making nice to Owens as well, and even more shockingly, Owens did the same for Ibushi. Cody spit on a Golden Lovers sign that he presumably took from a fan.

Owens was shockingly eager to get in there and fight against his fellow members of Bullet Club. Compare this to Scurll, who had to be yelled at by Page and Cody in order to get in with Omega even after having been tagged in.

Scurll did start to wrestle with Omega, which led to a spot where Scurll was going to do the finger-breaking spot, but then started to think about whether he actually wanted to do it or not. Cody yelled at him to do it. Marty seemed like maybe he wouldn't, but it became a moot point when Ibushi came in and made the save. This all probably sounds like they're doing a good job of building up that Marty is conflicted about whose side he is on, but the problem is that I just don't buy Marty going from not even wanting to get in there and trade headlocks with Omega all the way to being on the verge of breaking his fingers in a grand total of two and a half minutes, during which Omega did nothing illegal to him at all. Those are both individual spots that get the major point across, but they' weren't strung together in a way that tells a logical story. Ditto for the fact that Marty was reluctant to get in the ring with his fellow Bullet Club member Kenny Omega, but had no problem beating the sh*t out of Chase Owens.

Those are just two examples of why I think that despite the great action in this match (which I have reflected in my rating), the story here failed. The story of this match was built around two factors. The first was Scurll being conflicted about fighting Omega, which was hurt by the aforementioned logical issues, but killed by the fact that we never got an answer about it. He was ambivalent about it in the beginning, ambivalent about it at the end, and his fluctuations back and forth during the match never had any specific action by Kenny or Cody that brought them on. They existed solely because "we need to have a spot where Marty is unsure of whose side he should be on."

The other thing this match seemed to have been built around was obviously Omega and Ibushi teaming together. While they did focus on that a lot, they also did some stuff that seemed very wacky to me. For example, in the beginning Kenny and Owens made a bunch of quick tags, so it seemed like they were building up to Kenny finally tagging Kota in. In fact, they went so overboard with it that it felt like Kenny was purposely avoiding tagging Kota in for no reason other than to save the spot. Then, at the end, Kenny never tagged Kota in... but f*cking CHASE OWENS makes a hot tag to Kota?

Adam Page pinned Chase Owens to get the win, and after the match, Kenny and Cody were brawling. The Young Bucks came out to break it up, and, once Kenny had gone off with Kota, Cody insisted to everyone that Kenny had started it and accused him of taking Adam Page's moment once again. Marty doesn't seem to believe Cody, so, again, we're right back where we started. This whole match felt like a pointless treading of water, made awkward by the fact that no one seems to remember that Chase Owens is in Bullet Club. It would have made a million times for sense for Kota to be the babyface in peril instead of Chase, with him making the hot tag to Kenny, who would now have to fight his running buddies to save his old friend.

CODY RHODES PROMO - Fine. He says you're either on his team or Omega's. He also called Ibushi "Kenny Omega's rat" and concluded by saying that "Bullet Club is fine... and I'll add one more thing: Bullet Club is mine!"

Final Thoughts
This was a complete and total filler show from ROH and New Japan. Basically, they only had one night's worth of material and tried to stretch it out into two nights, with the result being a totally skippable show. The Bullet Club stuff alone could have justified doing a second show, but even there (after watching last night's show) it feels like they only had one night's worth of material, and the real substance happened tomorrow night, making this show a total waste of time.

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