ROH was in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Thursday for the second of their War of the Worlds events live on the HonorClub streaming service. Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana were the announce team for the night.
Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Hikuleo defeated Alex Coughlin, Karl Fredericks & Clark Connors
This was a solid opener. The crowd was way into the Tongans and chanted “G-O-D” as they walked to the ring. It sounded like a handful of women were screaming for them when they came out.
Coughlin and Loa were in first. Coughlin did some nice Greco-Roman waist locks and transitions. Tonga tagged in and cursed a lot as he wrestled. Coughlin worked him over for a few minutes until Tonga landed a hard lariat and tagged out to Loa.
When Hikuleo tagged in moments later, he brutalized Coughlin with chops and the crowd ate it up.
Karl Fredericks finally tagged in minutes later and cleaned house with a number of power spots, including a big spinebuster and a Stinger splash, which Tonga responded to with one of his own.
Connors and Hikuleo had a short but interesting exchange. The visual contrast between them in terms of body size and look is so stark that it’s inherently interesting. Hikuleo got the better of this sequence, though, and did a double-handed Sky High, sort of like D’Lo Brown’s, for the win. It didn’t look pretty, but it wasn’t completely botched either. I look forward to seeing more of those two together, specifically.
Yuji Nagata defeated Silas Young by DQ
Young belittled male fans around the ring before the bell. The audience chanted his name and was pretty loud for him before the match. They also chanted “Last Real Princess” at Young during this.
Young feigned a handshake but landed a European uppercut on Nagata instead. Nagata returned the attack with a number of kicks and forearms. Riccaboni did a really nice job of explaining how Nagata was influential in bringing the hybrid Pancrase or proto-MMA style into pro wrestling in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.
Young played heel well throughout this and the crowd loved to boo him. He hit Misery later on, a reverse swinging Death Valley Driver type of move, but accidentally knocked referee Paul Turner out while he was spinning Nagata around.
Young took this opportunity to grab ring announcer Bobby Cruise’s chair and bring it into the ring. Nagata insisted that Young use the chair on him, acting fearless, until Young decided to pretend like Nagata used the chair on Young. He acted like he’d just been knocked out.
Nagata then teased using a chair for a bit, looking to the crowd for their approval, until he decided that he’d also fake being hit with a chair. He unfolded the chair, put it over his head, and laid on the mat like Young took him out. When Turner regained consciousness, he called for the bell and disqualified Young. Nagata won via DQ.
Afterwards, an angry Young attacked Nagata, but Nagata fought back and put him in a cross armbreaker while rolling his eyes into the back of his head (shiro-me in Japanese).
Good match. Both Young and Nagata worked really hard to get the fans involved and sounded pretty satisfied with the result.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & EVIL) defeated The Kingdom (TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia)
Quality match. O’Ryan looked into the camera before the match and claimed he figured out SANADA’s Paradise Lock. The two were first in for their teams. There were lots of chants for SANADA and later EVIL in this.
EVIL and Marseglia exchanged chops when they were first in together. The Kingdom started double-teaming EVIL in their corner and got decent heat from the audience. They were super into LIJ. Big “let’s go EVIL” chants during the aforementioned’s comeback.
SANADA took some punishment from The Kingdom for a few minutes until he landed a TKO on O’Ryan. Pretty shortly after, LIJ used a Magic Killer on Marseglia to win.
This was another good one. It wasn’t close to LifeBlood vs. LIJ from Wednesday, but it was solid. SANADA and EVIL were significantly over once again.
- Rhett Titus came out to join Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana on commentary. Riccaboni made a hilarious reference to the WBF and said that Titus was ready to take on Gary Strydom. Titus accidentally put on his headset backwards before the next match. These are sometimes the best parts of these HonorClub shows.
Rush defeated PJ Black
This was pretty good considering how short it was. Black and Rush have a natural chemistry together and were really smooth from the get-go in this one. Lots of rope running, a bit of flying, and some brawling to the outside. Black dominated much of the first half of this until Rush used a slingshot German suplex off the ropes.
Rush hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Black into the turnbuckles, then did the Bull’s Horns basement dropkick in the corner for the win. This looked severe and Black did an amazing job of selling it, halfway falling out of the ring for it. It seems like Black’s push starting on TV this week may have just been a quick build to this Rush match.
- Dalton Castle came out to the ring and cut a promo with a mic with sequins all over it. His jacket and shoes were covered in sequins too. He was upset that only two people recognized him in Toronto today. He explained that he is “Boy-less” for the first time in his life and called the Boys “vending machine trash babies.”
The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) defeated LifeBlood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams)
The teams shook hands before the match. LifeBlood did some nice double-teaming at the top of the match. They’re some of the most valuable players ROH has right now, at least in terms of in-ring work.
No matter how hard The Briscoes go as heels, it seems the fans can’t help but cheer and chant for them. Mark did a big corkscrew moonsault to the floor midway through this. Haskins and Jay Briscoe were awesome together and would make for a killer singles match.
LifeBlood did a double crisscross dive -- Haskins doing a tope suicida and Williams doing a top rope plancha to the floor. Jay Briscoe’s cut above his eye, the one he got on Wednesday during the kerfuffle with Guerrillas of Destiny, opened back up after this spot.
Williams used his D’Lo Brown-style frog splash on Jay for two, but The Briscoes later hit their version of the Doomsday Device on Williams for the win.
Bully Ray walked to the ring after the match and complimented the Briscoes on their win. He then referenced something Williams said on Twitter, something about Williams wanting Ray to find him. Ray said that’s why he came out, to find Williams, who had been conveniently taken out by The Briscoes just moments beforehand.
Ray then told Haskins to tell his wife he said hello. Haskins went into the ring with a chair -- the honorable LifeBlood member with a chair -- and teased an attack. Ray egged him on until Ray rolled out of the ring to a chorus of boos. He’s still a master heel on the mic.
Both this segment and the match itself were good and the crowd liked it. It was exactly what it needed to be on this card.
- After a brief intermission, Kelly Klein explained to the crowd that she is a fighting champion and that she wants the best that women’s wrestling and Toronto has to offer. The Allure then came out.
Angelina Love was first to address Klein from the apron. She reminded Klein that she was a former “six-time World Champion.” She then said she was from Toronto and went on a cheap pop spree, dropping a Tim Horton’s reference, then said something about the Raptors.
Love then explained that she’s now an American citizen and that Klein would have to wait until they were back in the States for them to wrestle. Klein attacked Love, but The Allure escaped the ring quickly. Klein called them b*tches before they’d left and it got a loud reaction.
This segment was way better than whatever happened on Wednesday in Buffalo. It looks like they’re aiming at a Klein vs. Love program soon.
- Kenny King came out and acted like he was blind again. He’s still selling Great Muta’s mist from last month. He joined Riccaboni and Cabana on commentary for the next match.
Jay Lethal defeated Satoshi Kojima
Riccaboni called Kojima the spiritual leader of Bread Club, which led to a funny bit between everyone on carbs during the wrestler introductions. The crowd chanted for Lethal before the match.
Another top-notch match. They traded chops, shoulder blocks, and low kicks to kick things off. Kojima never seems to hold back on those chops, huh? Lethal did his Jericho springboard dropkick, followed by a suicide dive to the floor.
Lethal worked over Kojima’s knee, tenderizing it for a figure four leg lock attempt later on. Kojima returned with more chops and stomps. He even told referee Todd Sinclair to shut up in English. The crowd was into that.
Lethal came back and continued to work over Kojima’s knee. I thought I heard Kojima scream “f*ck!” at one point. He returned with even more chops and later a DDT onto the apron. The crowd sounded like they enjoyed Kojima but were especially into Lethal. There was even a dueling chant of “Let’s go, Lethal” vs. “Both these guys.”
Kojima hit a Koji Cutter on Lethal for two. There was a nice string of bread references on commentary during this.
At one point, when Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, Kojima nailed him with a lariat to the back of the head. After a few more quick exchanges, Lethal was finally able to stick the Lethal Injection and grab the win. Both got a standing ovation as the two shook hands afterwards.
Shane Taylor defeated Jeff Cobb, Hirooki Goto, and Brody King in a four corner survival match to win the ROH Television Championship
The size-to-athleticism ratio in this match was off the charts. Taylor is such an underrated heel. He and gachimuchi Jeff Cobb kicked things off. When Cobb is in NJPW he’s been referring to himself as gachimuchi, which loosely translates to something like “sexy beefcake” in English.
Cobb and Goto had the first proper exchange. After trading hard blows for a long-ish while, Taylor came back into the ring and took out both with a double lariat. He then teased a dive to the floor, but the 6’4” King caught Taylor with a frankensteiner, then did a tope con giro to the floor afterwards.
Back in the ring, Taylor and King had the next sub-match and were excellent together. Goto later took Taylor out with a lariat, then King took Goto out with a lariat of his own. Seamless symmetry throughout this.
Cobb hit a spinning deadlift back suplex on Goto. Taylor did a Canadian Destroyer on King, but then ate an ushigoroshi off the top. The four all exchanged reversals and big power moves for a few minutes until Cobb hit a Tour of the Islands on King. Taylor came into the ring, broke up the pin, then hit Greetings from 216 on King to win the ROH TV title, with Cobb losing the title without being pinned.
Big shocker to both the crowd and myself. This was very good.
ROH World Champion Matt Taven defeated PCO to retain his title
The entrance screen monitor read: “Human.Being Not.Found” before PCO came out. The camera pulled back and showed PCO chained to a gurney, like Hannibal Lecter, or Sabu in the early ‘90s. His trainer Destro was with him, wearing an insane vampire-esque get up. He electrocuted PCO to “wake him up” as the crowd chanted his name.
Before the match, ROH played a short promo video of Taven talking about how he’s the one who is immortal, not the undead PCO. He wanted to prove that PCO is, in fact, human. Taven said that he fears no man.
Taven insisted the two shake hands before the match. PCO insisted Taven hit him in the back. Taven did -- but it didn’t do much. PCO urged Taven to hit him in the back again, so Taven went to hit him in the face.
When PCO was knocked to the floor, he urged Taven to jump onto him: “Come on, jump!” The crowd chanted for Taven to jump. He teased it, but didn’t dive onto him until a minute later, but PCO caught him in mid-air and then chokeslammed him onto the apron.
What happened next was something I think had to have been a first. PCO went to dive on Taven who was on the floor, but he “short-circuited,” as Cabana put it, and did a tope suicida to the adjacent side of the ring, or the wrong side. He did an intentional dive onto nothing.
Destro yelled at PCO, telling him it was the wrong side, then ordered him to get back in the ring. PCO followed this up with a cannonball through the ropes onto Taven. Wow.
PCO did some high kicks to Taven while he sat on the apron. He then sat Taven onto a chair and chopped him in the chest outside the ring. He did some more insane stuff before The Kingdom came out right before PCO was about to land a moonsault.
TK O’Ryan got on the apron and distracted the ref, and then Marseglia held what looked like a deer antler on the mat, which allowed Taven to slam PCO eye-first onto the sharp antler. Taven actually kept talking about poking PCO’s bad eyes out on commentary on the show in Buffalo.
PCO bled a lot after this. Taven persistently went after his eye for a while, gouging and punching it with a closed fist. The chants for PCO grew, and the stomping and the clapping got louder. PCO finally came back with a pop-up powerbomb -- a nod to fellow Quebecer Kevin Owens -- then did a “running” (really more of a ”walking”) tombstone piledriver. He did his somersault senton to Taven on the apron.
Outside the ring, Taven planted PCO’s face onto an unfolded chair with a Climax. PCO made it back into the ring at the count of 19. Taven then did a sunset flip powerbomb to PCO to the floor. I’ve already written it but, really, wow. Taven hit an unreal looking frog splash, picture-perfect, for only two. The crowd lost it for PCO after this.
PCO finally landed his monstrous moonsault but couldn’t adjust to pin Taven. When PCO finally did try to pin him, Taven was able to put his foot on the rope to break the count.
They did a slight schmozz with The Kingdom getting into it with Destro. PCO went to the floor and powerbombed Vinny Marseglia onto a table that didn’t break. When referee Todd Sinclair was distracted by the fracas below, O’Ryan slipped a railroad spike to Taven, who then stabbed PCO in the bad, bloody eye. He got the pin, though it looked like PCO kicked out just at or a hair after the three count.
Sinclair called for the bell and The Kingdom dashed to the back, PCO in the ring a baffled, bloody mess of a Not-Human.
Final thoughts --
From top to bottom, this was a solid show, like textbook solid. There wasn’t a bad match. Every segment was at least watchable -- even the Allure segment.
The main event was the standout for how spectacular it was, and I mean that in the truest sense of the word in that I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a match at all like PCO and Taven just had.
While the finish may have been predictable, the execution was on point and PCO was still hot with the crowd. The TV title match was more conservative in comparison but was very good, and the Shane Taylor surprise win looks like they’re building to a Cobb vs. Taylor rematch in the future.
The War of the Worlds tour continues this Saturday night from Grand Rapids, Michigan on HonorClub.