The world of professional wrestling is so vast and fast-moving that it’s damn near impossible to keep up. Luckily, your pals at Deadshirt are here to keep an eye on squared circles everywhere, from modest bingo halls to packed football stadiums, and bring you the most notable matches and storylines from throughout the past week. And it’s a good thing, too, because there’s just TOO MUCH WRESTLING!
Os-pray for Mercy
War of the Worlds 2017 (Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling)
May 12th, 2017, Hammerstein Ballroom, New York
Ring of Honor PPV/iPPV/VOD
Kyle Herr, our friends, and I had the pleasure of attending the War of the Worlds 2017 PPV event, at which US-based promotion Ring of Honor plays host to members of the New Japan Pro Wrestling roster. ROH and NJPW share quite a bit of talent as part of their ongoing partnership, but the WotW Tour is one of the only opportunities for stateside fans to catch a glimpse of stars like Hiroshi Tanahashi or Tetsuya Naito. For me, a relatively new follower of non-WWE product and an outsider to NJPW, the two wrestlers I was most excited to see heading into War of the Worlds were Dalton Castle (who won the opening match, I love you Dalton) and the Aerial Assassin Will Ospreay.
Ospreay, at 24, is one of the most exciting and decorated in-ring workers in the world. But the mark against him and his ilk (Ricochet, Rich Swann, et al) is that their matches can be more about showing off impressive spots then telling a convincing story, that they stretch the audience’s suspension of disbelief too far. That may be true some of the time, at War of the Worlds, Will Ospreay and young New Zealander Jay White put on a match as brutal as it was spectacular.
Jay White has been a part of the NJPW roster for some time, but from the moment he made his entrance, it was clear that the Manhattan Center didn’t have much love—or much feeling at all—for the supposed babyface, while the renowned Ospreay was met with rousing applause. From the bell, White had something to prove, and the story of the match became White proving he could even keep up with the hotshot Aerial Assassin. Ospreay showed off, White took bumps and lost patience. He never quite had control of the match, but as it wore on, White began interrupting more and more of Ospreay’s flashy high-flying moves. (White reversing Ospreay’s dropkick into a sitout powerbomb was pretty cool, but plucking Ospreay out of the air after Ospreay had just moonsaulted over the top rope was Tip Top.)
By the end of the match, this first-time singles matchup had become incredibly heated, with each competitor forced to bring their absolute desperate best until it felt more like I was watching the climax of a martial arts film. If you’ve never seen Will Ospreay perform his 720 corkscrew kick, watch the embedded video above, it’s absolutely unreal, it’s like something out of a video game. But perhaps the most fulfilling part of the match is that, by the time Ospreay put his opponent away with the OsCutter (a gorgeous springboard cutter off the second turnbuckle), the crowd had begun chanting for Jay White, and when the two shared a hug in the center of the ring, everyone present was a fan of both men.
Extra High Spots: I’ve got little to no interest in the Bullet Club outside of Kenny Omega, and even I lost my mind when Marty Scurll appeared to supplant the departing Adam Cole as the Western Hemisphere’s Bullet Club capo. It was one of only two promos of the night, coming hot on the heels of a fantastic match between Cole and Tanahashi, and was undoubtedly the emotional climax of the night, so much so that the crowd basically switched off for the main event that followed.
– Dylan Roth
Do You Believe in Destino?
As Dylan mentioned, the two of us and several other friends attended Ring of Honor and New Japan’s annual crossover PPV War of the Worlds in Manhattan last weekend. The card was stacked and mostly delivered (though being in the crowd always helps add a Meltzer star or two) with a few exceptions, but my pick for match of the night was The Young Bucks vs. Tetsuya Naito & Bushi for the ROH World Tag Team Championships.
I must admit that I’ve never really liked The Bucks all that much; I find their super snarky kayfabe-breaking antics kind of irritating, and when they decide to crack a bunch of jokes in a match I just want them to cool it with the standup. That said, they have really started clicking with me the more I see them in NJPW. After their great match with Roppongi Vice at Wrestle Kingdom 11 I’m finally starting to get their appeal. Very few tag teams mesh like they do.
With my newfound respect for the champs, I was even more stoked knowing that this match would feature Tetsuya Naito (one of my all time favorites) and his junior buddy Bushi (to eat a pin). I knew there wasn’t going to be a title change with a faction like LIJ that only shows up at ROH shows for events like this, but I was still really excited to see how these two teams would play off of each other. The results were pleasantly surprising, if not mostly expected.
The match started with some traded disrespect between Nick Jackson and Naito via a “suck it” and some spitting, and quickly kicked into high gear from there. There were of course some of the staples we’ve grown to expect like Naito’s drop to the floor and pose taunt off of a fake-out suicide dive, but The Buck’s usual “superkick party” spot had a fun twist. After being blinded by mist from Bushi, Matt Jackson kicks out of a pin attempt and goes superkick wild, taking out everyone in the ring, including his brother and the ref in the process. From what I could tell, I think he hammed it up on the hard-cam for viewers at home afterwards.
This wasn’t a particularly dramatic match, but it wasn’t explicitly what I’d call a “greatest hits” match either. While the stakes were set high, it was clear that any chance of a turnover was pretty low, but the work these two teams put in made it seem like an unexpected outcome could have come to pass. I was surprised that Matt kicked out of a Code Breaker and Destino, and even moreso when Bushi kicked out of The Bucks’ 450/Moonsault combo move. However, like I predicted since this match was announced, Bushi ended up alone and was taken out via a Meltzer Driver for the finish.
What this match lacked in actual stakes, it more than made up for in fun. Seeing Naito live was a huge thrill and Bushi wasn’t half bad either. More importantly though, I think after seeing them in person, I can finally consider myself a fan of The Young Bucks. Mostly.
Extra High Spots: The IWGP World Heavyweight Tag Match earlier in the show really demonstrated why War Machine are holding those titles at the moment. I loved seeing EVIL & SANADA, but I was blown away by what two guys as big as War Machine can do.
– Kyle Herr
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