Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Ring Of Honor/NJPW G1 Supercard (April 6th, 2019)

You want to talk about Bizarro World? Long before the Forbidden Door was a thing, we had this show; a collaboration between Ring Of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling putting together a Supercard PPV from New York City.

Specifically, the World's Most Famous Arena itself, Madison Square Garden.

MSG was a longtime WWE stronghold and in particularly a longtime home base to the McMahon family dating back to the days of Jess McMahon. To see another wrestling promotion hold a show in New York, let alone the MECCA of sports entertainment, was unfathomable. And yet one April night in 2019, it finally happened. The first non-WWE professional wrestling event to be held at the arena since 1960, tickets for the show sold out within fifteen minutes of being on the market. And with a packed crowd of over 16,000 people in attendence, there were going to be expectations and whether those expectations would be met is... another story entirely.

The success of this show stemmed from the success of All In from the year prior, the event promoted by Cody, Kenny, and the Bucks and produced by Ring Of Honor, though technically not a Ring Of Honor event. The success of that show resulted in planting the seeds for the birth of All Elite Wrestling, which the mentioned folks would be a part of. So while this Supercard from MSG would be missing some vital players, did it have enough to stand on its own and deliver a show that lived up to the hype?

I should mention the pre-show, which is basically a Royal Rumble match (but called an Honor Rumble... har, har) featuring a mix of New Japan and Ring Of Honor guys. The winner of the match ends up being a guy named Kenny King, whom I am not familiar with, but is apparently being treated as a big deal in ROH at the time. I guess we'll see if he lives up to the billing.

Also, I should mention that there's pyro... WWE doesn't have pyro at this time, because I guess they were saving their money for shitty Nintendo 64 graphics... they should've saved a couple bucks for an expansion pack while they were at it.

Anyway, the show proper opens with ROH Television Champion Jeff Cobb defeated Never Openweight Champion Will Offsprey in a Winner Takes All, Title For Title match to win both titles. What a great way to start a big time PPV event. First time seeing Offsprey and he's every bit as good as people make him out to be. But I also like this Jeff Cobb fellow; big dude, good looks, comes across as a star. Maybe I should watch more New Japan... or stock up on Red Bulls.

RUSH defeated Dalton Castle in less than 20 seconds. It popped the crowd, at least, but did nothing for me since I'm not as familiar with these guys as the regular ROH fan would be. 

Kelly Klein defeated Women Of Honor World Champion Mayu Iwatani in a thing that happened. I mean, the match was alright, but it's also a match between two women whom I'm not familiar with and thus there's no emotional connection or reason to care about two women fighting over a championship title. 

Sidenote: Apparently this Women Of Honor title is not the same thing as the ROH Women's title that's on TV currently. News to me.

And the Beautiful People of TNA fame (minus Madison Rayne and now calling themselves Allure) beat up Klein for a bit... well, at least I know these women. I don't recall them in anything good... although Velvet is fine on commentary in NWA, these days, so I won't rag on her too much... just on the TNA stuff when we get to that one of these days. But I digress.

Rapper dude Mega Ran (I almost typed out Mega Man... force of habit) performs for a bit, earning quite a few jeers from the crowd before Bully Ray comes out and beats him up. Then out comes Flip Gordon, who gets beat up by Bully and his buddies before Flip's buddies show up and we have a six-mag match... with some names that I actually know, for once!

Flip Gordon, Juice Robinson, and some guy named Mark Haskins defeated Bully Ray, Silas Young, and the guy who isn't D-Von (according to the crowd), with Ray crying for his balls after eating a whazzup. This was a thing that happened and quite honestly, I have no idea why this needed to be a six-man. Why couldn't this be Flip vs. Bully one-on-one? What's that, ROH fan? They did this feud for ages, you say? Okay, fine. Give Bully some other dude for this open challenge. What, Suzuki wasn't around to get the shit out of Bully and send some folks home happy, at least? You could've a couple decent matches with these six guys and you stick 'em in one. I largely zoned out as a result and that's a shame.

Dragon Lee defeated IWPG Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori and  Bandido to win the title. This was a spotfest with three talented spot guys and yes, it was a joy to watch... at least when the camera is focused on the action and not on the crowd while a big move is being hit. Is that Bucky Beaver motherfucker Kevin Dunn directing this segment? This seems like his style.

IWGP Tag-Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tama Loa) defeated ROH Tag-Team Champions Villain Enterprises (PCO/Brody King), EVIL/Sanada, and the Briscoes in a four-way tag match to win BOTH sets of titles. This has to be a cool thing for PCO to come back to MSG as a champion. And you know what? Yeah, there's eight guys in this match doing a bunch of shit in a roughly ten minute match, but everyone got their moment to shine and the match wasn't hard to follow, which is the strongest compliment I could give these sorts of multi-person matches. Helps that everyone is fucking awesome here and got their shit in with time to spare, thus proving it possible to have a fantastic match in less than ten minutes.

And then Enzo and Big Cass show up to try and ruin things. They get beat up by the Briscoes and even Bully Ray gets in on some of the action. I don't know if anything came of this, but I remember hearing about this back when it happened and I groaned. Enzo and Big Cass weren't exactly high on my must watch list and this didn't exactly set the ROH world on fire.

RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Saber Jr. (with TAKA MICHINOKU as his sideman) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in a really good match to retain the title. Good stuff.

Kota Ibushi defeated IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito to win the title. Head shots to the chair dampen the mood on an otherwise high-quality and highly entertaining wrestling match.

Matt Taven defeated ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and Marty Scrull in a three-way ladder match to win the title, which doesn't make the crowd happy because they apparently didn't care about Taven, who was doing the whole "I SHOULD BE CHAMPION" schtick that I grew tired of in WWE. The match itself was fine, I guess, but I'm not sure if the right guy won. Even hearing about this back then, I figured Marty would've taken it since he was popular at the time... and as time went on and a cloud of controversy formed over Scrull's head, maybe ROH dodged a bullet in that regard. Still, for a world title bout and a ladder match especially, I was somewhat underwhelmed.

And so here comes New Japan to save the day and send the crowd home by having their biggest star Kazuchika OKADA defeat IWGP Heavyweight Champion and all-around despised heel person "Switchblade" Jay White in an EXCELLENT professional wrestling match closing out this professional wrestling pay per view premium live event from Madison Square Garden.

So the common criticism I often hear regarding this show is that the New Japan stuff tends to be excellent while the ROH is underwhelming. Sadly for those hoping for a contrarian opinion that goes against the norm, I'm inclined to agree. The really good stuff seem to come from the New Japan side of things, with their great wrestlers and workers putting on great wrestling and work. The Ring Of Honor stuff, while I wouldn't call bad, did little to get me excited for their product going forward. And it also showed how weak that brand was when you didn't have the Elite on the card to carry things forward because what was left behind didn't exactly set the world on fire.

All in all, I rather enjoyed this G1 Supercard. Don't know why they'd call it that, though, since there were no G1 matches featured on here and I don't get to play Dave Meltzer fumbling through G1 notes checking to see exactly what the fuck was going, but aside from that, I thought this was a pretty good show. And who knows if they would've ran MSG once more had the world not gone to shit the following year? Maybe they still could... or at least, New Japan still could. ROH, these days, is another story, entirely.

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