The first of two nights at Korakuen Hall for the 2019 edition of Honor Rising: Japan. Ring of Honor travels to Japan to showcase their brand. Three titles are on the line as the ROH TV Champion, Jeff Cobb, faces off against Hirooki Goto and Dalton Castle challenges Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight title. The NEVER 6-Man Tag Team Championship is also on the line and the main event is a preview of tomorrow’s ROH Championship match between Jay Lethal and challenger TK O’Ryan. Let’s get started!
Marty Scurll def. Ren Narita @ 11:33 via Crossface Chickenwing – **1/2
Narita was able to find his way into wristlocks that Scurll had to be innovative to work his way out of, eventually channeling a World of Sport style back spin. Once Scurll got control he dumped Nartia outside, hit a superkick and flexed over the young lion. Narita dropped Scurll with a dropkick and applied the Boston Crab but Scurll escaped and a combination of an enziguri, powerbomb and locked in a crab of his own. A dropkick from Narita gave him space to try a belly-to-belly suplex, Scurll countered to a chickenwing, Narita blocks it and take a half and half suplex instead. Scurll sets him up on the top rope and comes off with the superplex, goes for another chickenwing but Narita rolls through, fires off two slaps but gets caught in the Crossface Chickenwing and is forced to tap. Narita showed he was fully capable of keeping up with Scurll.
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Shota Umino @ 13:57 via Modified Knee Bar – ***1/4
TAKA clowns on Umino before the match and gets laid out. Sabre and Umino trade holds, mirroring each other move for move back and forth with Umino using his power to gain advantage and Sabre with the technique. Sabre eventually gets the control by sweeping the leg but allows Umino back up only to sweep the leg once again. Umino avoids a uppercut, lands a dropkick and applies a Boston Crab but Sabre captures the leg and rolls into a kneebar. After catching a PK from Sabre, Umino successfully lands the bridging German suplex but Sabre is able to capture the arm into an armbreaker. Umino shows two can play at that game. He catches Sabre running in and applies an armbreaker of his own. Sabre catches Umino into a guillotine choke, Umino powers out with a suplex, drops Sabre with a dropkick off the top and looks to finish with the bridging fisherman suplex. Sabre has other plans. He floats through and transitions to a kneebar, forcing Umino to tap out. Great showing from Umino. He continues to impress in every opportunity he’s given. He’s very much ready for the excursion.
Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger & Jonathan Gresham def. Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles @ 5:28 via Liger Ground Cobra Twist Hold on Ishimori – ***
Gresham’s debut showcase for the Japanese New Japan audience went over smooth. He and Eagles went full grapple mode, weaving in and out of holds, Gresham leading Eagles into various submissions in classic WOS fashion. The two were super fluid and kept the pacing moving, eventually leading to a Gresham dropkick that brought in their respective partners. Liger and Ishimori hit the ropes, ducks a couple of strikes before out of nowhere Liger captures the legs and rolls Ishimori up for the win. Great showcase for Gresham, good pacing and a shocking win to upset the champion. Good stuff all around.
FinJuice, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare def. Gurreillas of Desinty & Briscoe Brothers @ 12:14 via Juice Schoolboy on Mark – **1/4
HIKULEO makes a surprise return after a year long absence. He came out alongside his G.O.D. brothers in a ringside role. Nice to have FinJuice back as well, making their first appearance since Dash. Their were on fire early. All four took advantage of the disfunction of their opponents. The Briscoes and G.O.D. couldn’t stay on the same page, everyone tagging themselves in and shoving each other in frustration. Mark would send Juice to the ropes and Jado readied his cane but Juice ducked, hit Mark and was rolled up for a FinJuice and friends victory. Afterwards the Briscoes went after Jado but were cutoff by G.O.D. The two teams visibly frustrated over the result.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Ryusuke Taguchi (c) def. Colt Cabana, Delirious & Cheeseburger @ 10:17 via Yano Schoolboy on Delirious – *1/2
Five goofs and Makabe being five goofs and Makabe. Delirious chased Yano until he blew himself up and tagged out. The bigger man in Colt Cabana struggled to take Makabe down. Makabe catches Cheeseburger coming off the top and feels bad for the smaller man so he allows Cheeseburger free shots but they have no effect. Cabana catches a Taguchi hip attack and spanks him. Yano struggles taking the pads off the turnbuckles which allows Cabana and Delious time to recover. Delious has a big strike flurry on Yano but Taguchi cuts him off with a hip attack followed by a Yano low blow, a Makabe lariat and Yano roll up. Cabana congratulates Yano on the win which upsets Delirious so he low blows Cabana and heads to the back with Cheeseburger while Cabana leaves with the champions.
NEVER Openweight Championship
Will Ospreay (c) def. Dalton Castle @ 17:29 via Storm Breaker – **3/4
Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura come out as Castle’s boys. They help him to he ring and both he and Ospreay shake before the match. Neither guy is able to land a strike early, Castle hits his pose, takes a rana from Ospreay, bails outside and Ospreay fakes a dive, instead hitting Castle’s pose. Castle reaches inside of his pants, pulls out a slap for Ospreay and they begin a strike exchange. Ospreay is caught on the top, both attempt their finishers, Castle settles for a suplex and sends Ospreay out, giving another suplex to the floor. He sends Ospreay to the rails but Ospreay jumps over, lands a forearm, takes it back in the ring for a springboard forearm, goes Oscutter but Castle cuts it off with a DDT and repeated knee strikes in the corner.
Ospreay flips through a German suplex. The Oscutter is again block and they trade forearms once more. Castle bails out, catches a Sasuke Special on the apron, eats an enziguri, avoids a draping shooting star and drops Ospreay with an inverted slingblade. Ospreay turns a Bangarang to a Spanish Fly, Castle ducks an elbow, deadlifts Ospreay to a powerbomb but again Ospreay escapes the Bangarang, this time into a poison rana. Then comes the back elbow and Storm Breaker. Ospreay retains. This got good in the last five minutes but the beginning was wonky with a lack of heat and was the quietest the crowd got all night. Really good sequences at the end saved the match. Ospreay hits Jay White’s pose into the camera. He’s stated he wants White in a non-title at the anniversary show.
ROH TV Championship
Jeff Cobb (c) def. Hirooki Goto @ 13:52 via Tour of the Islands – ***
The two big guys take turns on top but quickly escalates to strikes. Goto avoids an elbow and dumps Cobb over and out with a lariat. Uemura is suplexed on top of Cobb, Goto sends Cobb back in and grinds with a chinlock. Goto climbs to the top, misses the elbow drop and Cobb begins lighting him up with a flurry of forearms and chops. Goto avoids a flying European uppercut in the corner but is caught running in and dropped with a suplex followed by a standing moonsault. Cobb’s deadlift German is blocked, Goto goes to the ropes but is once again caught in a suplex.
Cobb setting up for the Tour, Goto hangs onto the ropes, gives a boot, lands a lariat ad catches Cobb with an ushigoroshi. They charge at one another with lariats but Goto comes out on top of the exchange, turning Cobb inside out. Goto hits a successful reverse GTR but Cobb drops down on the standard, sends Goto to the ropes and catches him for the Tour of the Islands. Good back and forth big boy match. They never seemed to hit that next level but it was a perfectly solid match and a good defense for Cobb.
Jay Lethal, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada def. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O-Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) @ 14:11 via Lethal Injection on Vinny – **1/2
Taven wants nothing of Lethal early and instead tags in Vinny. An eye gouge brings Lethal to his knees but Lethal manages a dropkick and brings him to Okada and Tanahashi. The three triple Vinny and strike a pose. Okada insults Taven by taking it easy on him, ducks a Rainmaker and bails. TK demands for Tanahashi. He does a Tanahashi pose with his hand, spits on his own hand and stomps the mat. They pull each other’s hair, Tanahgashi fires up with hip tosses and a crossbody so TK sends him outside.
The Kingdom triple team Tanahashi with boots on the floor. Double headbutt, double team chop and flapjack and Taven delivers the purple nurples on the ace. Tanahashi fires off a couple dragon screws, tags Okada, Lethal helps out with a springboard dropkick and a dive through the ropes. The Kingdom used numbers to cut Lethal off, double team rolling DVD on Okada. Tanahashi saves with a Slingblade and Lethal is left one-on-one with Vinny to finish the match with Lethal Injection. After the match Lethal takes the mic and tells TK he’ll send him home crying tomorrow and that’s how we end the show.
The show peaked early with the match between Sabre and Umino. The young lion is becoming a great wrestler and melding with Sabre better than could have been imagined. The three title matches were a mixed bag. The 6-man was a comedy match that the challengers didn’t take seriously, Ospreay and Castle struggled early but ended strong and Cobb versus Goto was perfectly solid even if they never got to the next level. The main event was fine but nothing of consequence happened that’s worth taking the time to watch. Ultimately a fine show but not one to rush out to see.
Sabre vs Umino
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