Receny Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Global War’s tour culminated in a huge show in Chicago (well, technically about an hour west in Villa Park, but you know) at the Odeum Sports and Expo Center. For those of you unfamiliar, the Global Wars/War of the Worlds shows have turned into an annual tradition of some of the top talent from both organizations. While this round of shows didn’t have as many big names as previous years, it had arguably the biggest name in indy wrestling (or non-WWE if you you’re not considering NJPW an indy organization) today, in Kenny Omega.
While I don’t follow ROH weekly, I do try to keep myself present with what they’re doing and watch all of the pay-per-views, and I mean, unless you’re living under a wrestling-less rock, you’re familiar with the Bullet Club and all their shenanigans. The building was legitimately filled with bullet club shirts, signs and paraphernalia (I truly feel terrible for anyone who had to sit behind one of those umbrellas). Even as we walked towards the building there were some folks tailgating and blaring the original bullet club theme song. For many folks this was the Bullet Club show.
As much as ROH had been hyping up the sold out shows, the night still had a very indy feel to it. The Odeum Sports and Expo center was a large, aluminum sided building in the middle of what I think might have been fair grounds? Are their county fairs in the UK? Here in the Midwest of the United States I definitely think of a 4H expo at a county fair when I think of buildings like this. There was even a hockey rink on the opposite side of the building and a children’s hockey league was letting out as the show was about to start. Really puts things in to perspective when I see these completely bewildered, uninterested parents pick up their young children from hockey practice as so many of us poured into the other end of the building. This isn’t a dig, either!
Unfortunately, there was nothing mentioned about a pre-show Women of Honor match that we missed as we were making our way to our seats.
The show started with current ROH Champion Cody coming out to the ring and immediately hyping up the crowd, continuing the “us vs. them” ideology that Cody, the Young Bucks, and the rest of the cast of “Being the Elite” have been preaching the last few months. Cody made reference to a WWE wrestler before he invited what appeared to be a BC super fan in a ski-mask to the ring to take a photo. The fan turned out to be Dalton Castle, who was painfully absent from the show getting but got a couple of shots in on the current champ, which is hopefully setting a match between the two here sometime down the line.
Best Friends vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser
The first match of the night kicked off with Best Friends, Chuck Taylor and Trent Berretta wrestling against Silas Young and the Beer City Bruiser. If you haven’t been watching ROH regularly you may be unfamiliar with Young and Bruiser, the are definitely a throw back to the late 80’s/early 90’s of the WWE and have pretty strong characters. Young, aka The Last Real Man, is a caricature of what a man’s man should look like; and the Bruiser is a beer swilling, cigar smoking slob. He is disgusting and I mean that in the best way possible. Although wrestling together for quite awhile throughout the Indy scene, Best Friends are relatively new to ROH. The crowd was quite familiar with them though and cheers for both Dustin and Greg were prevalent from where we were sitting. A couple of big dives from Best Friends, and a thrown pony keg to Berretta allows Silas Young to get the pin.
Marty Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi w/ Darryl Takahashi
The second match of the night was one I was really looking forward to, as the Villain Marty Scurll wrestled Ticking Time bomb Hiromu Takahashi. I had seen Takahashi wrestle when he was on his excursion in the states a few years ago, back when he was still known as Kamaitachi, but Scurll was on a relatively short list of wrestlers I hadn’t seen live yet. The match gets started with some solid chain wrestling before picking up speed. A sunset flip brought them to the outside where Marty grabbed Darryl. The two get back in the ring and Marty threatened to snap Darryl’s fingers. Luckily we we’re spared that gruesome sight, and The Villain grabbed the W with the chicken wing.
Kushida & Cheeseburger vs. The Addiction
The third match of the night features New Japan’s Time Splitter, Kushida, who teamed with Cheeseburger against Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, the Addiction. I feel like I hear a lot of my favorite wrestlers talk about how important Daniels and Kazarian are, but for whatever reason I can just never get into them. Maybe it is the blatant Punisher logo that they just took and put on their tights? Or maybe it’s because Kazarian is supposed to be the “heavy metal rebel” but has a Beatles patch on his jacket? Either way, the match was still solid. Nothing too crazy or different. Cheeseburger got beat up, Kushida flipped around in his vest, and then The Addiction hit a World’s Best Meltzer driver and won.
Daniels and Kazarian tried to put Cheeseburger through a table after the match had finished, but Bully Ray/Bubba Ray Dudley came out and threw Kazarian through instead. This leads to a very long speech from Bubba Ray Dudley where he explained that he is retiring. He brought another fan out of the crowd, a small child this time, and gave him a piece of the broken table, which was pretty damn heartwarming.
Bullet Club vs. Search & Destroy
Man oh man was this match crazy. If you watched this event (or are reading what I have to say about it days later), one of the main reasons is probably because of this match. The Young Bucks, Hangman Adam Page, and The American Nightmare Cody wrestled against The Motor City Machine Guns: Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin, Jonathan Gresham and Jay White. A “Cease, Desist, Cease-Cease Desist” chant broke out before anything could get going, but once things picked up they didn’t slow down. I had heard good things about Jonathan Gresham and he definitely won me over. Eventually the match just broke out into move after move after move. Adam Page has also really won me over over the last year as well. He showed no hesitation putting his body on the line he hit a few insane moves including a moon sault from the top rope to the outside, and a shooting star indy taker from the apron. Matt Jackson also hit a very solid front flip from the entrance ramp to the floor and landed on his feet. There was a fair amount of comedy shtick throughout the match as well. Everyone missed a spot at some point, which later culminated in this big, confusing sharp shooter spot. A whole bunch of super kicks and finishers later, and Page scored the pin on Gresham.
The Dawgs vs Brian Johnson and Justin Pusser
This poor match. So, after the previous match the audience collectively lost their shit for, there was a 15-minute intermission. They must have noticed that the line for the men’s room wrapped around a 1/3 of the venue and realized there was no way anyone could make it back in 15 minutes, so then they had this match to give people a few more minutes to finish up. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed this match more if I watched ROH regularly or not. I hate to be negative, but ROH does have a handful of wrestlers that sort of just blend together, not doing anything that really grabs me or catches my attention, and The Dawgs, Will Ferrara and Rhett Titus, definitely fall into that category. I had no clue who the other two wrestlers were at all. The match was fine, and The Dawgs won with some weird bickering, 3 stooges type move.
As the match finished, the incredibly terrifying “I may or may not have stabbed someone in real life” looking Jay Briscoe came out and destroyed both Johnson and Pusser before he got on the microphone and called out his brother Mark Briscoe and yelled that they need to get back to teaming together.
Suzuki-Gun vs. Jay Lethal, Kenny King, and Shane Taylor
The next match of the night had the Suzuki-Gun team of Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr. wrestling Jay Lethal, Kenny King and Shane Taylor. I understand that in order to fit everyone on the card, and to make somewhat new, unique matches every night of the tour there are usually weird, seemingly thrown together tag team matches, but usually I would rather just watch a one-on-one match. This match was no different, as the highlights for me were when Jay Lethal and Minoru Suzuki went one one-on-one, and just destroyed each other with gnarly chops to the chest. I wasn’t too familiar with the Killer Elite Squad of Archer and Smith but they are two huge, ass-kicking men. I wish Archer would get some different jeans though. It’s hard for me to take you seriously when you’ve got all that white stitching and sequence on your back pockets. Minoru Suzuki hit a brutal Gotch-style pile driver on Shane Taylor and won.
Colt Cabana vs. Toru Yano
I know people can go either way with comedy wrestling matches, but I thought that this match was great! It was placed in a good place on the card, and it was a nice, different pace from everything else. Were there top-tier feats of athleticism? Maybe not, but there were dvds thrown out to the crowd and turnbuckle pads used as weapons.
Will Ospreay vs. Flip Gordon
Maybe the match I was most looking forward to, and was probably my match of the night. I have been a fan of Ospreay since I saw him at Bola a few years ago, and he was another wrestler I was excited to finally see live. I had seen the name Flip Gordon around, but I hadn’t seen him wrestle either. Things started with some joking and Ospreay doing the cat stuff but quickly turned into some of the craziest high flying I have seen in a wrestling ring. Ospreay did all of his signature stuff, but also some stuff I have never seen before. Super kicks and cutters were exchanged, before several near falls. Gordon leaped from top rope to another before spring boarding and spinning down on to the ground at Ospreay. Ospreay hit a shooting star press onto Gordon who was draped across the second rope, too. I was on my feet for most of the match. I’m getting older and more out of shape by the day and I can’t even imagine what it’s like to move your body in that way. Ultimately Ospreay walked away with the victory after hitting the Oscutter.
NJPW United States Champion Kenny Omega vs. Yoshi-Hashi
So this was the final event of the night, and the main event. Kenny Omega defended his New Japan United States championship for the first time since winning it over the summer. It was clear that the crowd was decidedly there to see Omega. It almost reminded me of when I hear old time wrestling folks talk about attractions like Andre the Giant. Omega could have wrestled a ghost and the place still would have sold out. People were there to see him, end of story.
For the most part the match itself was great. I think quite a few people, myself included were a little disappointed in the pairing of these two. I hate to disparage Yoshi-Hashi, but it just didn’t have that “big fight feel” that I know a lot of folks were looking for. That being said it wasn’t a complete one-sided affair, with Yoshi-Hashi putting up a good amount of offense throughout the match. Omega hit all of his signature moves, the snap dragon suplex, the roll into the barrier followed by the moon sault off, and the terminator tope. Eventually the rest of the Bullet Club emptied into the ring, followed quickly by a Chaos stable of Yano, Ospreay, Gordon, and Best Friends. Both teams had set up their 10 boots in the corner for another pretty ridiculous spot before all hell broke loose. Wildness erupted and moves were flying everywhere, including Beretta who hit a dudebuster on Omega and Nick Jackson who hit an insane looking 450 splash onto Flip Gordon on a table outside. Ultimately Omega hits the one-winged Angel and retains his title.
After the match the Bullet Club said their goodbyes before they decided they needed to take one more picture only to find their old pal, and relevant piece of wrestling news, Jimmy Jacobs in the crowd to take another picture with.
4 hours of wrestling in the books, and we stopped by my favorite late night veggie-dog spot on the way home. All in all I’d call this night a success.
I think you’ll know whether or not you’ll like this event before you even put it on. If you like the insider, stirring the pot top stuff, and the wrestling that guys like the Young Bucks bring to the ring, like I do, you’re definitely going to enjoy the bulk of this event. I do think this ROH show did do a better job than previous PPVs though, in terms of diverse wrestling styles with things like the Yano/Cabana, to appeal to a few other demographics as well. Overall, a few matches you could skip over, but the bulk is definitely worth watching.