War of the Worlds night two at the 2300 Arena (ECW Arena) in South Philadelphia was the middle frame of an outstanding wrestling week in the City of Brotherly Love. Coming off a much talked about night one, the second Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling joint venture in the Home of Hardcore lived up to the hype and delivered one hell of a card to the Philly faithful.
Following a less than stellar dark match that saw Jay Diesel beat The Romantic Touch with a Death Valley Driver, the show opened with Adam Page vs. Takaaki Watanabe. Page, accompanied by Colby Corino, did not impress the crowd much, as Watanabe was way over, despite taking the loss. Following the match, Page was rubbing his victory via Beach Break in on Watanabe, so Takaaki floored Corino with a clothesline.
Michael Elgin vs. Kushida followed, as the crowd settled into the show and began becoming more vocal, setting the tone for the rest of the evening with a “F*ck you Elgin” chant when Kushida refused the Code of Honor and extended his middle finger to the former ROH World Champion instead. Elgin went over with the Revolution Bomb in an okay but not quite “this is awesome” affair.
The in-ring action began to heat up with Tetsuya Naito vs. Kyle O’Reilly. Naito won with the Stardust Press (like a backwards Red Arrow) in a back-and-forth affair that saw both competitors embrace following the contest, much to the delight of the split crowd.
The match before intermission really got the crowd going, as Shinsuke Nakamura, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Jay Lethal and Mark Briscoe met in a Four Corner Survival Match. This was a thrill for me, seeing Liger live after watching him wrestle for various promotions over my lifetime. It was a lot of fun to see how over the NJPW stars are in the United States, not playing stereotypes, just putting on great matches and impressing the ROH crowd.
Nakamura pinned Liger in a well-paced, interestingly formatted match, with two competitors in the ring at a time, tagging in and out with the other two competitors on the apron. The crowd was thoroughly behind Nakamura. Following the match, the show went to intermission on a high note, with the best match of the night thus far preceding the break.
Coming out of intermission, Cheeseburger was in the ring throwing free merchandise (cheeseburgers in Ziplock bags?) into the crowd, drawing a “You F*cked up!” chant when he tossed something that got stuck in the lighting. I swear, I’ve been to dozens of shows at the ECW Arena, and something gets stuck in the lights almost every show. Anyway, Brutal Bob Evans ran in and attacked Cheeseburger, taking a green ROH shirt for himself and beating down Cheeseburger as officials pulled the two apart.
Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Roderick Strong in what was the bar-setting match of the evening. Dueling “Let’s go Roddy” and “Ta-na-ha-shi!” chants throughout the match turned into alternating “R-O-H,” “New Ja-pan!” chants as both competitors put on a show. Strong was busted open early (hard way) but really looked great, taking the fight to Tanahashi, who eventually won with the frog splash. Great atmosphere for this match, and both guys delivered.
The Addiction vs. Kazuchika Okada and Gedo was next, and while the match itself wasn’t a five-star, the crowd was way into Okada and jumped all over The Addiction, who play the heels as well as anyone. Before the match a “F*ck TNA” chant broke out, as Daniels and Kazarian looked on approvingly.
The most disappointing matchup of the night was the second-to-last bout of the evening, ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe defending his title against Bobby Fish. Fish was super over, as the crowd serenaded him with “New world champ” before Briscoe made his entrance. Fish kicked out of the first Briscoe driller, but a slam on the ring apron followed by a second Jay Driller ended Fish’s chances of leaving Philly with the championship. Moose made his appearance after the match ended, hitting Briscoe with a hellacious spear.
The main event was a thing of beauty. It’s the reason I drag my friends to independent shows in the middle of the week. AJ Styles and the Youngbucks, representing The Bullet Club, took on The Kingdom- Adam Cole, Matt Taven and Michael Bennett w/ Maria Kanellis. The match saw a ton of “suck it,”- and “too sweet”-ing, to go along with the intense, fast and high-flying action.
Maria ended up taking a triple super kick that knocked her off the apron to the floor, sending the crowd into an absolute frenzy. Props to Maria for taking the bump. The Bullet Club stole the show, looking absolutely scintillating as a threesome. The referee lost control of the fight almost immediately. Most of the offense was an exhibition of double and triple team maneuvers, as the official put up only a half-hearted effort to clear the ring throughout contest.
In the end, Bennett hit Matt Jackson with a belt, allowing Cole to score the victory.
Incredibly fun show overall. I love seeing events at the (somewhat renovated) ECW Arena, and Ring of Honor always brings a great roster and a big crowd to create the perfect indie atmosphere. Bringing the New Japan super show to Philadelphia created a freshness for the card, and a real sense of anticipation for a special show. Getting to see stars like Jushin Liger, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Takahashi and Roderick Strong on the same night was a memorable experience. For my local readers, ROH will be back in the 2300 Arena on Saturday August 21st on their Aftershock Tour.