NJPW Honor Rising (23/2/19) Review

Working that forehead. Credit: NJPW

With the first of 2019’s Honor Rising shows succeeding in being a load of fun, night two was given something to live up to. It had a problem, though. The second half of this card looks like something New Japan has dreamt up to personally spite me. Miracles are going to have to occur for me to enjoy this.

Toa Henare and Jonathan Gresham defeated Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr and Taka Michinoku)

Henare took a leaf out of Umino’s book when he got fed up with Taka’s intro and attacked halfway through it.

For the second night in a row, Gresham was given an extended period in the ring to impress. To add to the excitement, this time he was in there with Zack Sabre Jr. While we got only a snippet of what those two can do, it was still a delight as they seamlessly linked together. Even the moment where Zack stumbled as he came across the ring was instantly folded into their story. It was two of the best technical wrestlers on the planet doing their thing, so unless you actively dislike that style (which quite a few do), you’ll have a lovely time.

It also built for a fun contrast with Toa Henare’s approach. We went from the subtle art form of submission wrestling to the less subtle art of walloping people. He had some fun interactions with Taka who is still a delightfully entertaining dick. You’re not going to get work rate performances from him anymore, but he does what he does brilliantly and watching him wind Henare up was entertaining.

In the final seconds, Henare headbutted Taka into next week at which point Gresh came off the top with a beautiful Shooting Star Press. Zack would make the save, but Henare dumped him out the ring and left Gresham to lock on the Octopus Hold for the win. That’s him gone 2-0 this tour, and you’ve got to think he’s a good bet to be in the Super Juniors. Fingers crossed that’s the case.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Marty Scurll defeated Robbie Eagles

A few people have pointed out that getting away from The Elite might be a good thing for Scurll in the long run. He’s no longer overshadowed by the larger personalities, and it’s allowed him to escape the comedic role he’d found himself in.

Because for the second night in a row, Scurll brought it. This was an aggressive back and forth match with little to no shtick getting in the way. Both Marty and Robbie looked to be fired up with the chance to impress in front of the Korakuen crowd as this wasn’t far off the level you’d expect to see on a Super Junior’s card.

While I’ve focused on The Villian, Robbie Eagles looked great too. Last year I complained that his selling felt a bit over the top, but there was none of that here. He’s becoming a more rounded wrestler all while still looking mighty impressive between the ropes.

The finish put Marty over strong as he shrugged off Eagles escaping the Finger Break to lock in a Crossface Chicken Wing at which point Robbie instantly tapped. This is well worth checking out.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Colt Cabana and Toru Yano defeated Cheeseburger and Delirious

You won’t believe it, but these four did not have a straight wrestling match. Although, Delirious and Yano did try and start a deathmatch before Colt and Cheeseburger stopped them. Even as someone who has never enjoyed Delirious, I would watch that. Anyway, I got distracted. I was going to say that you will know whether you’re going to enjoy this or not already. It’s a match featuring Colt Cabana, Yano, Cheeseburger and Delirious. They were more interested in laughs than stars.

And, in that sense, it succeeded. I chucked the whole way through and had a lovely old time right up until the moment when Colt got the win. He’s been announced for the New Japan Cup, so I suspect we’re going to see a bit more of Cabana in New Japan which I’d have no problem with.

Verdict: Three Stars

CHAOS (Will Ospreay and Hirooki Goto) defeated Jeff Cobb and Dalton Castle

This was a weird match as it built to title bouts which had already happened. Another unusual element was Ospreay and Goto coming out to Will’s music. It makes sense, as Ospreay is the man with a title, but it felt wrong. Poor Hirooki. While I’m sure he’s proud of his NEVER son, he’s probably a bit jealous too. That’s his belt.

Castle and Cobb pulled out some Matt Riddle and Cobb offence as they passed Ospreay between them while setting up for a Gutwrench Suplex. That reminded me that I’m still sad we never got to see those two together in New Japan and presumably never will.

I’m rambling, aren’t I? This was a decent match. I actually think Goto and Cobb’s interactions were an improvement on the previous night. With the chance to come in and out of the action, they never slowed it down and benefitted from it. Meanwhile, Castle looked like he still wanted a bit of Ospreay going after him at every opportunity. For a match which seemed pointless, everyone involved was making an effort.

The final moments went full balls to the wall as people were sliding in and out of the ring. Ospreay and Cobb had a really cool section where Will managed to spin out of Tour Of The Islands before shoving him into Goto who headbutted him back to Will and into a Hidden Blade. A Stormbreaker later and Ospreay had pinned another heavyweight (and the ROH TV champion at that). Damn, they’re going all in on Billy, aren’t they?

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and Shingo Takagi) defeated The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Vinny Marseglia)

Colt Cabana has joined commentary as I have to try and muster the enthusiasm to care about The Kingdom. There was a period where I thought I was turning the corner with them, but this tour has put me back to square one.

It didn’t help that they were given the bulk of the offence and it was hella dull. The most exciting part of the entire match was the fifteen-second streak at the end where Naito and Shingo kicked into gear, reminding everyone what good wrestlers look like in the process.

I think this can be summed up by the fact that Naito never got round to taking his t-shirt off. I never complain about watching my LIJ boys, but putting them against The Kingdom is an excellent way to make me question that assertion.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Jay Lethal defeated TK O’Ryan to retain the ROH World Title

TK O’Ryan and Jay Lethal? TK O’RYAN AND JAY LETHAL!? What the fuck are you doing to me, New Japan? Jesus H Christ and all his pals, I don’t want to watch this crap. Shit. That’s ten minutes I am not getting back.

At one point, my stream froze. The sound kept going, but the picture stayed the same. For a good minute, I continued watching without even bothering to try and fix it because the frozen image was probably more interesting than what was actually happening. Perhaps I missed something mind-blowing, but one suspects that was not the case.

Meanwhile, the Korakuen crowd were silent. Kelly and Charlton tried to cover for it by saying that they didn’t know O’Ryan and were shocked he was in control, but on a tour where the likes of Gresham have gotten over in front of them, we know that’s bollocks. It’s because the match was boring, and the smartest wrestling fans on the planet couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to pretend they cared.

This style of match is the reason people have stopped caring about ROH. These two are perfectly competent wrestlers, but right now, nothing is intriguing about them. They’re two guys going through the motions. That’s difficult to care about.

Incredibly, Matt Taven managed to elicit even less emotion from the crowd when he attacked Jay Lethal after the bell. One hopes The Kingdom won’t be invited back to NJPW.

Verdict: Two Stars

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and Evil) to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It is currently Monday afternoon while I am writing this review after a weekend where I went to three gigs and took an eight hour round trip to Birmingham to drink far too much alcohol. I’m tired and feeling delicate, so when these two teams walked out, I nearly cried. We have seen LIJ vs GOD so many times, and I am done with it. I don’t want to watch it again. Why are you making me watch it again?

They then wrestled for twenty minutes, and GOD won! We get it, Gedo doesn’t care about tag team wrestling, BUT WHY!? They’re so boring. No-one is calling for another Guerrillas’ title run. Put the belts on fucking Juice and Finlay or Chase and Yujiro. Anyone who isn’t Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa!

The problem is that GOD always control these matches and when that happens, it’s boring. I get it, EVIL and Sanada are the babyfaces, but they are also exciting wrestlers. This isn’t WWE, faces don’t have to sell for the entire match. If they were giving the chance to come forward and show what they can do these two teams might just be able to do something I actually care about.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Instead, we got the same stuff we always get with added Jado interference, and I had a little weep. Please, please, please let this be the end of it. PLEASE!

Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars

Two homophobes defeated Lifeblood (David Finlay and Juice Robinson)

I have no interest in talking about The Briscoes who, in my opinion, have shown themselves to be horrible homophobes. I will mention that David Finlay popped his shoulder out and I hope the injury isn’t too bad because I’ve got a lot of love for Big Dave. Also, GOD laid out a champion vs champion challenge for MSG. Doesn’t that sound delightful?

Verdict: Fuck homophobia

Overall Show

This was a drop off from the previous day as The Kingdom, GOD and The Briscoes ruined the second half of the card. Although, I should say that The Kingdom and GOD are nowhere near as bad as the Briscoes. I may not be fans of them as wrestlers, but that’s not the same thing as disliking two homophobic twats. Until that, it was an entertaining show! Watch until The Kingdom turn up and then turn it off, you won’t regret it.

Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/

If you enjoyed this review, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.

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