NJPW’s 2018 New Japan Cup has reached the finals! It will either be The Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi, or the Submission Master, Zack Sabre Jr, that will win the cup and earn the right to challenge a top champion of their choosing! Will Tanahashi win to challenge Minoru Suzuki? Or will ZSJ make him #JustTapOut?
This review of The New Japan Cup 2018 will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Zack Sabre Jr; ZSJ wins and will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis.
PLAY BY PLAY
AXS TV and NJPW review the finalists’ paths to this moment.
The Once in a Century Talent’s participation in this year’s New Japan Cup was unsure, given his injury at the hands of the Man with the Worst Personality, THE Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki won and now has the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Hiroshi Tanahashi got through Taichi, Bad Luck Fale and even his teammate in Juice Robinson to get here. Should Tanahashi win, it’s almost certain his target would be Suzuki for sweet revenge. Meanwhile, Suzuki’s own protege, Zack Sabre Jr, proved he is both a Technical Wizard and a brutal brawler in his own right. ZSJ defeated Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi and Sanada all through use of his unlimited arsenal of submissions.
ZSJ already has a victory over Tanahashi from the G-1 Climax last year, but Tanahashi also has a win over him in their own IWGP Intercontinental Championship match. This will be the rubber match between the two, who will win it all and call out the champion of their choice?
Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Zack Sabre Jr w/ Taka Michinoku!
As always, Taka Michinoku speaks before the match. “The finals of the 2018 New Japan Cup. Zack Sabre Jr. VS Hiroshi Tanahashi. Who wins?!” Fans choose Zack. “And who will take the cup?” Fans again choose Zack. Because the winner will be the man who can finish anyone anywhere with any hold, the man who has unlimited submissions, the man who defeated Naito, Ibushi and Sanada. That man is the Submission Master, ZSJ, Zack Sabre Jr! “To anyone who stands in Zack’s way, when he gets a submission”, you #JustTapOut! So Hiroshi Tanahashi, “C’mon over here!”
One of NJPW’s fastest rising stars takes on one of NJPW’s most decorated of all time. Tanahashi wants his IWGP Intercontinental Championship back while ZSJ wants to take the Rainmaker’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Who will win the cup to grant their wish?
NJPW on AXS takes a quick break, but comes back with the ring of the bell. This match has no time limit, so it can go as quick or as long as it takes. The fans already rally behind Tanahashi while he circles with ZSJ. ZSJ reaches at Tanahashi who keeps a safe distance. They tie up, ZSJ gets around to a waistlock but Tanahashi resists any other kind of hold. Tanahashi turns things around but ZSJ switches back. Tanahashi gets to the ropes, so ZSJ backs off. Fans rally again as the two circle. Tanahashi ties up with ZSJ but ZSJ spins and goes for the top wristlock. Tanahashi turns that back on him with strength and leverage, but ZSJ spins around to wrench Tanahashi’s arm. ZSJ wrenches more and brings Tanahashi down to the mat. Tanahashi sits up but ZSJ is all over his arm again.
ZSJ has Tanahashi on his hand and knees while torturing the other arm. Tanahashi stands and resists, and gets ZSJ in a drop toehold. Fans applaud while ZSJ reaches back for a chinlock. Tanahashi fights that off, then floats over to a facelock, but ZSJ slips out of that to put Tanahashi in a modified crossface. ZSJ grinds in elbows and fists while also going from chinlock to chinbar. He flips Tanahashi over to a cover, ONE. Tanahashi stands up while ZSJ backs off. They circle again while fans rally. Tanahashi is ready for ZSJ, and gets a leg. ZSJ leans back to slip out, but Tanahashi follows. Tanahashi grabs an arm but ZSJ resists the wristlock by clasping hands. Tanahashi rolls ZSJ and keeps on that arm.
ZSJ keeps his grip while Tanahashi sits on him, then ZSJ hooks around to bring Tanahashi to the mat. ZSJ wants an armbar but now Tanahashi clasps his hands together to resist. Tanahashi rolls towards ropes, but ZSJ traps a leg in a calf killer style hold. Tanahashi rolls over to get the ropebreak, so ZSJ has to let go, and Tanahashi rolls out of the ring. ZSJ waits for Tanahashi to return. Tanahashi makes sure his legs are good, as well as his arms, then he enters the ring. He and ZSJ circle again, then tie up, and Tanahashi shifts smoothly from wristlock to hammerlock to headlock. ZSJ fights back and tries to power out, but Tanahashi keeps a hold of him. Fans applaud as Tanahashi forces ZSJ to the mat.
ZSJ grinds his forearms into Tanahashi’s face but Tanahashi swats those away. They both stand up, but Tanahashi brings ZSJ back down with a headlock takeover. Only for ZSJ to get the headscissors! ZSJ squeezes Tanahashi’s head and neck with his figure-four knot. Tanahashi rolls around but ZSJ grinds in knuckles and elbows into Tanahashi’s back. Tanahashi powers out and goes for a cover, only for ZSJ to wrap him right back up in the headscissors! ZSJ props himself up to wrench Tanahashi’s neck, but Tanahashi works to roll ZSJ. Tanahashi pops out and floats over to a chinlock on ZSJ! Fans applaud this incredible exchange of technical skill.
ZSJ grabs at Tanahashi’s hair, then rolls around. ZSJ pushes against Tanahashi, then fights out. He powers out but Tanahashi runs him over. Tanahashi runs, ZSJ drops, so Tanahashi drops on him to get that headlock back! ZSJ resists again, hooking with his leg. Tanahashi swats the leg away and wrenches back. ZSJ tries again but can’t get Tanahashi’s head to go back. ZSJ tries with his hands now, getting them across Tanahashi’s face and nose. They battle with holds but Tanahashi pries free to keep his. ZSJ works again and gets the legs up, it’s headlock versus headscissors!
Tanahashi holds on to his hold and pops his head out of ZSJ’s. ZSJ rolls and sits up, then stands up. ZSJ looks for an opening but Tanahashi just switches sides of the headlock. Tanahashi switches back, then back again, keeping ZSJ guessing. ZSJ keeps trying, so Tanahashi hooks a leg to hit a headlock Russian leg sweep!
The Ace is in control while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns to fans rallying while Tanahashi stands up. Tanahashi drops an elbow, but is caught into ZSJ’s armbar! ZSJ can’t get the extension before Tanahashi scrambles and uses his legs for the ropebreak. ZSJ keeps on Tanahashi anyway, but lets go at the referee’s count of 4. Referee Red Shoes reprimands ZSJ but ZSJ catches his breath before going back for more. He grinds knees into Tanahashi while going after the arm. Tanahashi is still under the ropes, so Red Shoes tells ZSJ to break, but ZSJ keeps going. Tanahashi grabs the ropes, so ZSJ lets go this time. ZSJ watches Tanahashi check his arm. Tanahashi stands up, ZSJ gives him a European Uppercut. ZSJ gives Tanahashi another, so Tanahashi gives one back.
ZSJ picks the leg and brings Tanahashi down. He traps an arm, and pulls Tanahashi with a headlock. Tanahashi gets another ropebreak, and ZSJ is frustrated. ZSJ stomps Tanahashi, then toys with him with those kicks to the arm. ZSJ goes after the arm, and bends it from elbow to wrist. Tanahashi grits his teeth as he resists, and it forces ZSJ to use even his chin to force the bend. Tanahashi gives it one more go, but ZSJ Pele kicks the arm! ZSJ catches his breath while fans rally for Tanahashi. ZSJ stands on Tanahashi while pulling at limbs. Red Shoes backs ZSJ off and checks on Tanahashi. Tanahashi is good to continue, so ZSJ gives him another EuroUpper. Tanahashi retaliates with a body shot, so ZSJ picks a leg again and goes after that arm. ZSJ pulls Tanahashi in to the coil lock, then the other arm!
ZSJ has his foot on Tanahashi’s head as he pulls back on the arm. Tanahashi endures as he reaches with his legs agan, and gets another ropebreak. Fans applaud while ZSJ lets go. ZSJ keeps his cool while fans rally for Tanahashi again. ZSJ thinks on what to do next. He goes back after the arm and wrenches it, then wrenches the wrist. ZSJ goes left and right with the wrist, but Tanahashi fights back with body shots. Tanahashi fires off strikes on ZSJ, then whips ZSJ corner to corner. ZSJ reverses the whip but runs into Tanahashi’s boots. Tanahashi runs into a kick from ZSJ, then ZSJ whips, but Tanahashi comes back with a forearm smash.
Both men are down but the fans are applauding. The fans rally again while Tanahashi makes sure his arm is good. Tanahashi stands up and rocks ZSJ with forearms and body shots. Tanahashi scoop slams ZSJ, then climbs up, and hits a second rope senton!
Cover, TWO! Tanahashi keeps focus while fans chant “Go Ace! Go Ace!” Tanahashi fires off more body shots to ZSJ, then whips him corner to corner. ZSJ sticks out a boot but Tanahashi catches it, only for ZSJ to wrap him up in the Octopus Stretch!
ZSJ even pulls off Tanahashi’s sleeve to expose the athletic tape. He digs in elbows on Tanahashi’s ribs, then pulls back on fingers. Tanahashi endures it all, then uses power to get free and dragon screw ZSJ’s leg! Both men are down again, and fans rally for Tanahashi. Tanahashi stands up, and pulls his sleeve back down to cover his athletic tape wrap. Tanahashi runs but ZSJ is ready, and wrangles Tanahashi back into the hold, only for Tanahashi to reverse it onto him. ZSJ switches it right back, but Tanahashi switches it again. They move around in a circle, chasing the abdominal stretch, and it’s Tanahashi who gets the hold first. Tanahashi turns the hold into a pumphandle for a slam! Tanahashi can’t make the cover with his arms hurting him, but fans rally for him as he stands back up.
ZSJ slips out of the facelock to hop on for a sleeper hold! ZSJ then climbs around the front to get the triangle hold! Tanahashi holds on as ZSJ weighs him down and pulls him in. ZSJ is also careful not to end up in a cover. Tanahashi gets a second wind and he starts pushing ZSJ, but ZSJ hooks a leg to bring Tanahashi in deeper. Tanahashi won’t give in, he keeps pushing ZSJ. ZSJ keeps his shoulders up, but Tanahashi turns him enough to stomp him on the head. ZSJ starts to go limp, and Tanahashi breaks free, to go after the Cloverleaf!
Tanahashi turns ZSJ over, bending him sideways, but ZSJ works on an escape. ZSJ slips between the legs and drags himself to ropes, but Tanahashi drags him away! Fans are thunderous as Tanahashi sits down, but ZSJ slips around to pry his legs out. ZSJ hooks Tanahashi into the takedown, but Tanahashi clasps hands to resist the armbar. ZSJ slaps those hands, then pulls back. Tanahashi holds on, but ZSJ pries a single finger and undoes the grip! Tanahashi tries to roll so ZSJ quickly yanks on the arm, but Tanahashi stands up! He stands up for another dragon screw! ZSJ escapes the ring, clutching his leg. Michinoku coaches him up but the fans are on Tanahashi’s side as they rally. Tanahashi gets to a corner and climbs up, to FLY!
High Fly Flow Crossbody connects! Both men go down while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns again, and fans are thunderous while Red Shoes checks on Tanahashi and ZSJ. Both men are able to continue, so a ring count begins. It reaches 7 before Tanahashi stands. Tanahashi brings ZSJ up and puts him in the ring. Tanahashi waits for ZSJ to stand, then he runs, but into ZSJ’s EuroUpper. ZSJ throws Tanahashi to ropes but Tanahashi tumbles to the apron. Tanahashi brings himself back in, but ZSJ is ready, and goes after the legs. ZSJ drags Tanahashi into a kneebar, but Tanahashi drags himself to ropes for another ropebreak. ZSJ lets go and fans rally for Tanahashi again.
Michinoku coaches ZSJ to keep going, ZSJ stands and stomps on Tanahashi’s knee. He also kicks Tanahashi’s arm. ZSJ stands on the knee, pulls at the ankle, then stomps them both. Tanahashi writhes, but then fires himself up. ZSJ gives more toying kicks, but those only anger Tanahashi. Tanahashi blocks another kick, but ZSJ hops up into a guillotine. ZSJ gets body scissors, too, but Tanahashi endures to power ZSJ out into a swinging neckbreaker! Tanahashi holds on to ZSJ and gives him a second swinging neckbreaker, then stands him up for the third!
Tanahashi gets the cradle cover, TWO! Fans rally again while ZSJ flounders. Tanahashi fires up, gets to the apron, then climbs up, but ZSJ catches this second High Fly Flow Crossbody into a kneebar! ZSJ grapevines and twists Tanahashi’s ankle. Tanahashi endures, even as ZSJ sits up to add a heel hook. Tanahashi still gets the ropebreak, and ZSJ is further frustrated. Red Shoes checks on Tanahashi while ZSJ checks his own neck and shoulders. Tanahashi keeps going, but ZSJ stands up first. ZSJ gives a EuroUpper, Tanahashi gives back a forearm. ZSJ gives another EuroUpper, so Tanahashi gives one of his own. That shot sits ZSJ down, but he comes back for a flurry of EuroUppers. Tanahashi ducks the roundhouse but ZSJ sweeps the legs.
ZSJ stands up and takes aim from a corner. Tanahashi sits up, and blocks the Penalty Kick! Tanahashi dragon screws but ZSJ slips out to roll Tanahashi for the European Clutch bridging pin! TWO!! And Zack can’t believe it! Fans rally again while ZSJ catches his breath. ZSJ keeps his eyes on Tanahashi, and gives him more EuroUppers. Tanahashi stays standing to give a EuroUpper of his own. ZSJ falls but drags himself back up while Tanahashi hobbles over. ZSJ gives EuroUppers, Tanahashi gives one back that rocks ZSJ again. Tanahashi drags ZSJ up but his EuroUpper is blocked to a backslide attempt.
Both men fight the other, but ZSJ flips over to flip Tanahashi into the double wristlock back into the EuroClutch! TWO!! Penalty Kick! Cover, TWO, and ZSJ is furious. The fans are loving this match, though. They rally again while ZSJ waits for Tanahashi. Both men stand, and ZSJ goes after the leg. He wants the kneebar but Tanahashi sits down on the rolling takedown. Tanahashi pries ZSJ off the leg and goes for a full nelson. ZSJ uses his own leg to prevent it, then mule kicks Tanahashi away. ZSJ runs but into the slingblade! Cover, TWO, but Tanahashi gets the full nelson and Dragon Suplex!
Tanahashi bridges for the cover, TWO! But Tanahashi keeps going, getting himself to a corner and to the top rope. Fans are thunderous, Tanahashi hits THE High Fly Flow to ZSJ’s back. Then Tanahashi flips ZSJ over, and climbs back up. His leg slows him down but he still goes for High Fly Flow, only for it to flop! Michinoku coaches ZSJ up while the fans rally for Tanahashi one more time. Tanahashi’s leg bothers him again, but he still forces himself up. ZSJ also stands up, and goes after that very leg. Tanahashi slaps ZSJ away from a dragon screw, then rolls ZSJ back, to copy the EuroClutch! TWO, and ZSJ grabs Tanahashi into a sleeper, but then shifts to the calf killer!
Tanahashi writhes and flails, then rolls over only for ZSJ to roll him back. ZSJ moves Tanahashi all around to get back to the calf killer. ZSJ grabs both legs, keeping his leg hooked on, and drags Tanahashi away from the ropes. Tanahashi endures, uses the free leg to scrape ZSJ’s face, but ZSJ grabs that for a stretch muffler! Or as ZSJ calls it, Orienteering with Napalm Death!
Both of Tanahashi’s legs are being tortured now, with fans rallying, but Tanahashi taps! ZSJ wins!!
Winner: ZSJ, by submission
He did it! Zack Sabre Jr. does as Michinoku predicted, and wins the New Japan Cup with a submission. ZSJ denies Tanahashi his third career New Japan Cup victory, and we take a break as the young lions help Tanahashi to the back.
NJPW returns as Zack Sabre Jr. is presented the New Japan Cup trophy.
Michinoku also holds up ZSJ’s Revolution Pro Wrestling Undisputed British Tag Team and British Heavyweight Championships for the Technical Wizard. Michinoku then takes up the mic again to review, “The 2018 New Japan Cup, who is the champion?!” Congratulations, Zack, because you now have the right to challenge a champion for the April 1st event in Ryogoku, Sakura Genesis. Michinoku has a question, then. “What do you want next?!” ZSJ thinks on that a moment. “No question,” he says, “I want Okada.” Fans applaud that idea. Michinoku confirms, “The IWGP Heavyweight Champion, you have been chosen. Okada Kazuchika, c’mon over here!” And Okada appears!
The Rainmaker walks down to the ring, with Gedo in two. Fans chant “Okada! Okada!” as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion enters the ring. Michinoku knows Okada is a strong champion, but “faced with Zack Sabre Jr.’s submission holds… You JUST–” Gedo interrupts Michinoku!
Gedo takes that mic, and admits ZSJ has made a lot of guys tap out. ZSJ has incredible holds. But, they’re not gonna work on the Rainmaker. ZSJ can NOT make Okada tap out, and do you know why? Because Okada– Michinoku interrupts Gedo back!
Michinoku tells Gedo that ZSJ’s holds are on that “whole ‘nother level”, so he WILL take Okada out. As for Okada and ZSJ themselves, Okada simply holds up his title, while ZSJ holds up the middle finger. ZSJ it’s only going to be two weeks until Okada taps out. Okada says it’ll be two weeks until ZSJ goes down. Michinoku gives Okada some advice: when you get caught in one of ZSJ’s holds, “You JUST! TAP! OUT!”
As Okada and Gedo take their leave, Michinoku again reviews with the fans. “Who won the 2018 New Japan Cup tournament?” The man who can finish anyone anywhere with any hold, the man who has unlimited submissions, the man who defeated Naito, Ibushi, Sanada and now Tanahashi. And now he’s the man who will beat Okada, that man is the Submission Master, ZSJ, Zack Sabre Jr! Will Michinoku’s prediction come to fruition again at Sakura Genesis? Or will there be a Rainmaker lariat in his future?
Hiroshi Tanahashi, exhausted as he is, manages to say, “It was in my reach, and then it wasn’t.” The Ace was about to catch up to the champion, but he’s still far away.
As for Zack Sabre Jr, a first-time New Japan Cup winner, ends it the way he started it: Orienteering with Napalm Death. Tanahashi was the old ace, ZSJ is the New Ace of NJPW. And Okada had a good run, but it’s time for a new, English champion. Michinoku points out ZSJ is already a champion in Revolution Pro, so all that’s left is Japan’s IWGP Heavyweight belt. Okada is powerful, no doubt, but now he will “experience a whole new kind of submission hold.” Okada can preapre all he wants, but he saw what happened to Tanahashi. The new era begins, it is the ZSJ Era. And those who stand in his way, #JustTapOut.
But Okada has something to say, too. “So, Zack Sabre Jr.” Congratulations on the win to be the best wrestler of the Spring. But ZSJ isn’t the best, Okada is the best. You aren’t the best until you beat Okada. “This is not a good matchup for you.” Ever since Okada became the Rainmaker, he’s only tapped out once. Only one man made him submit, so Okada looks forward to seeing what ZSJ tries. “Maybe I’ll give up. Or maybe I won’t.” Which means ZSJ either becomes the best, or he doesn’t. We’ll see at Ryogoku.
And incredible episode, and all with just one incredible match. Two of NJPW’s best today and this one match shows everything as to why they are two of the best. There was so much story focusing on how both men played the submission game. However, playing the submission game that ZSJ knows so well may have been Tanahashi’s downfall. Tanahashi had the size and strength advantage and should’ve tried harder to make this about strikes or slams, but he couldn’t get away from ZSJ’s holds. That is likely the point Gedo and Okada make with their promos. Okada can play the striking and power games better than ZSJ and those will be what helps the champion win. But win or lose, ZSJ is making great strides towards the top of NJPW, so he’ll surely be a top champion in the future.
My Score: 8.5/10
Mitchell’s NJPW AXS TV Results: New Japan Cup 2019 Part 1!
The 2019 New Japan Cup begins!
NJPW begins the 2019 New Japan Cup! Who among Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, Zack Sabre Jr. and EVIL will move on to the second round?
Coverage will be as broadcast by AXS TV
Find gifs on http://frentique.tumblr.com/
- Zack Sabre Jr. VS EVIL; ZSJ wins and advances to the second round.
- Tetsuya Naito VS Kota Ibushi; Ibushi wins and advances to the second round.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the scene to kickoff the 2019 New Japan Cup!
Spring brings the best in the world in this special single elimination tournament! Only one man will win the right to challenge the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in Madison Square Garden!
The first round has already seen a bit of action, with NJPW standards, Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi, advance, but others falling victim to upsets. Juice Robinson lost to Chase Owens while Sanada overcome Hirooki Goto. The biggest surprises perhaps came from the biggest men losing to the Junior Heavyweights when Bad Luck Fale and Hiroyoshi Tenzan lost to Will Ospreay and Ryusuke Taguchi respectively. But tonight, two of the most anticipated matches take the spotlight! The rivalry of the last year takes the stage again as EVIL and Zack Sabre Jr. face off once again! Plus, Kota Ibushi returns from injury to battle Tetsuya Naito in a G1 Climax rematch! The Golden Star looks to be the comeback kid while the Uncontrollable Charisma wants to be a historic dual champion! Only one can make their dream come true tonight!
Zack Sabre Jr. VS EVIL!
Taka Michinoku welcomes everyone to Zack Sabre Time, and asks who everyone thinks will win this year’s New Japan Cup. Well it’ll be the man who won last yer’s winner, the Submission Master and British Heavyweight Champion! So Evil, you’ll #JustTapOut! C’mon over here! The King of Darkness responds to being called out, and we begin the next chapter of this already storied rivalry!
The bell rings and fans cheer Evil on as he circles with ZSJ. They slowly approach and Evil knees low. Evil headlocks but ZSJ tries to power out, only for Evil to hold on tighter. Evil gets the headlock takeover but ZSJ works for a headscissor counter. He can’t get it so he stands up. ZSJ spins through and arm-drags Evil off, but Evil headscissors him. Evil squeezes and ZSJ endures. ZSJ finds his way up and pops free, then dares Evil to come on. ZSJ headbutts and headlocks but Evil powers out and runs him off! Fans cheer as Evil waits for ZSJ to return. Taka keeps ZSJ calm as he gets back up. ZSJ and Evil circle again, and Evil calls for a test of strength. ZSJ accepts and they grapple, and Evil gets the double knuckle locks.
Evil brings ZSJ to his knees but ZSJ reels him to reverse. ZSJ hammerlocks but Evil switches to his own, but ZSJ switches back, and so on. ZSJ spins and drops to get the takedown but Evil pushes him away. Evil avoids the Penalty Kick but ZSJ ducks the clothesline. Evil blocks ZSJ’s boot to chop and senton! But ZSJ gets his knees up and reels Evil into an armbar! Evil stacks for a cover, TWO! ZSJ still has the arm, but Evil gets the ropebreak. ZSJ lets go but comes back for more. He cranks Evil’s arm back then stomps the hammerlock. ZSJ also kicks Evil in the chest and stomps his legs. ZSJ ties the legs up in a figure four and pulls hair. The referee reprimands ZSJ but ZSJ stays on the arm with pulling fingers and twisting the arm.
ZSJ uses the hammerlock to turn Evil for a cover, TWO! Evil tries to get feeling in his arm but ZSJ kicks him in the back. ZSJ looms over Evil and gives his bad arm toying kicks. ZSJ kicks Evil again, but Evil grabs the kick! Evil hands the foot to Red Shoes before he mule kicks ZSJ down! The 2018 cup winner is down while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Evil brings ZSJ up for forearms. Evil puts ZSJ in a corner then whips him corner to corner. ZSJ stops himself and comes back, but for a sidewalk slam! Fans fire up with Evil as he drags ZSJ back up. Evil suplexes ZSJ up and over then covers, TWO! Evil keeps his cool as he brings ZSJ up again. ZSJ blocks the fireman’s carry and goes after the arm with a double wristlock. Evil powers through but ZSJ slips out to a full nelson. Evil endures the hold and breaks free! He headlocks and knees ZSJ right down! Evil stalks ZSJ to a corner and headlocks, but ZSJ denies the bulldog into the abdominal stretch! They go around and around and Evil puts it on ZSJ! ZSJ endures and pries the arm off, to Pele it!
ZSJ gives Evil European Uppercuts in the corner! He goes corner to corner but Evil follows for a clothesline! Evil runs but ZSJ follows, only for Evil to see him coming and clothesline him again! Cover, TWO! Evil drags ZSJ right up, fireman’s carry, Darkness Falls! Cover, TWO! Sabre survives but Evil has more where that came from. Evil drags ZSJ up and slashes the throat. But ZSJ victory rolls! TWO and Evil has it on ZSJ, TWO!! ZSJ wants a backslide but Evil powers it around, backslide on ZSJ! TWO, Penalty Kick! Both men are down, and fans cheer for Evil while Taka coaches ZSJ. ZSJ goes right at Evil to keylock stomp the arm! ZSJ kicks at it but Evil only gets angry. Evil stands and ZSJ throws EuroUppers, but those only make Evil stronger. He CHOPS ZSJ off his feet!
Evil stands ZSJ up for another chop, but ZSJ stands on his feet. ZSJ gives Evil a shoulder breaker, but Evil gives one back! Evil spins but into a EuroUpper. ZSJ runs but Evil goes sideways, ZSJ catches the clothesline into an Octopus Stretch! He drags Evil down and he cranks back! Evil endures as ZSJ twists him all around! ZSJ has one arm trapped and the other arm back, but Evil uses a leg for the ropebreak! ZSJ lets go but he comes back to dig his elbow into the back. He grabs Evil’s arm and twists it in his legs! ZSJ Penalty Kicks Evil down again! ZSJ catches his breath while Red Shoes checks on Evil. Evil sits up but uses Red Shoes as a shield! Evil mule kicks ZSJ again, then drags him up, to place on Red Shoes! Magic Killer!!
Evil catches his breath and grins while he, ZSJ and Red Shoes slowly get up. ZSJ gets to a corner as Taka coaches him up. Evil runs in for a big clothesline! Evil roars and fans fire up as Evil drags ZSJ up to the top rope. He climbs up to join ZSJ, for a SUPERPLEX! Cover, TWO!! Sabre survives again but he clutches his own shoulder now. Evil stands and slashes the throat! He drags ZSJ up, spins him around but ZSJ slips through to scoop. Evil escapes but ZSJ standing switches. ZSJ rolls Evil back but the European Clutch is blocked! Evil wants a Half ‘n’ Half but ZSJ resists. ZSJ reaches for ropes but Evil shifts to a German Suplex! Evil takes aim, but ZSJ kicks the clotheslines away once, twice, but not the third time! Cover, TWO!! Fans are thunderous after that close call!
Evil roars and drags ZSJ up again. He spins ZSJ around but ZSJ slips around and hops up! Sleeper to victory roll to EuroClutch, to EVERYTHING- Is Octopus! ZSJ drags Evil down, Napalm Death! Evil is stuck, Evil taps! ZSJ wins again!
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr, by submission; advances to the second round
The 2018 New Japan Cup winner keeps on winning! ZSJ has a cup winning streak, will it continue all the way to the finals?
Tetsuya Naito VS Kota Ibushi!
This match feels almost too soon in the tournament! The leader of Los Ingobernables and the Golden Star could both have both made their way to the finals, but now only one of them will move on! Will Ibushi’s comeback lead him all the way to New York? Or will the IWGP Intercontinental Champion move towards being a historic dual champion in NJPW?
Fans love both stars so they’re naturally divided at the bell. Naito and Ibushi stare down as the cheers are thunderous. They start circling and then approach to tie up. Naito gets a headlock but Ibushi spins out for a keylock. Ibushi headlocks now but Naito punches out. Naito pulls hair and pushes Ibushi and things speed up. Ibushi hurdles Naito then again, but Naito ducks the kick and moonsault. Naito arm-drags but Ibushi headscissors, and the two break! Naito even hits Tranquilo. Fans cheer while Naito decides to roll out of the ring. Naito takes his time returning, telling Ibushi to relax. Ibushi doesn’t give Naito a choice, but then Naito escapes Ibushi to tease him about taking time. Ibushi returns but Naito is on him with kicks and elbows.
Naito whips but Ibushi reverses, but Naito grabs ropes. Naito dumps Ibushi out then sweeps the legs. He slingshots and dropkicks Ibushi down, a new take on his Cabron Combo. Naito has control while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Naito whips Ibushi into railing. Naito drags Ibushi up and brings him around the way, to whip him into more railing! Fans cheer Naito but also show concern for Ibushi as Naito whips him into railing a third time! Naito brings Ibushi around the railing and bounces him off the desks. Red Shoes tells Naito to bring things back to the ring but Naito bounces Ibushi off wood again. Naito leaves Ibushi behind and rests in the ring. Ibushi crawls his way back as the ring count begins. The count passes 5 of 20 as Ibushi stands. Ibushi returns ringside at 10 and hops in at 11. Naito is on Ibushi with a whip and big elbow, then a swift basement dropkick! Naito poses more while Ibushi writhes.
Fans cheer for Ibushi and Naito spits at them. Naito stomps Ibushi and drags him up into a cravat neck wrench. Ibushi endures as Naito cranks hard. Ibushi fights out with body shots but Naito elbows him down. Naito then brings Ibushi around for a neckbreaker and casually covers, TWO! Ibushi’s bad neck is a target and Naito keeps on it. Naito brings Ibushi up but Ibushi breaks free. Ibushi throws forearms but Naito just smirks. Ibushi throws more but Naito elbows him around the side. Naito throws more elbows into the neck and Ibushi slumps against the ropes. Naito toys with Ibushi but Red Shoes reprimands him. He whips but Ibushi reverses and dodges to whip back. Ibushi dropkicks Naito right down! Both men fall into each other but Ibushi’s up first.
Ibushi drags Naito up for a strike fest! Naito blocks the kick to kick the knee, but still runs into a roundhouse! Ibushi standing moonsaults! Cover, TWO! Ibushi keeps his cool as he drags Naito up again. Naito resists the German suplex and gets the standing switch. Ibushi throws elbows to break free. Ibushi runs in but Naito boots him from the corner. Naito runs out but into a huricanrana! Fans fire up while Naito bails out of the ring. Ibushi fires up with the fans and goes to the corner. Naito knows it’s coming and stops the Golden Triangle! Naito drags Ibushi out for a draping neckbreaker to the apron! Ibushi falls to the floor and Red Shoes checks on him. He’s somehow okay to continue and drags himself into the ring.
Naito is waiting again, and runs out from a corner, shotgun dropkick! Then he drags Ibushi up to the top rope and out for another draping neckbreaker! Cover, TWO!! Ibushi survives and Naito is surprised, but we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Naito drags Ibushi back up. Naito ties Ibushi up but Ibushi fights out with his free arm. Naito clubs Ibushi in the neck then hits a German Suplex, but Ibushi lands on his feet! Ibushi kicks but Naito ducks to enziguri! Naito whips but Ibushi reverses only for Naito to come back with flying forearms, only to be caught into a snap German! Both men are down but the fans fire up! Naito and Ibushi stir as fans duel. Red Shoes checks and they’re both okay to continue. Ibushi and Naito grit their teeth as they sit up. They head for each other and start throwing forearms. Ibushi hits, Naito hits, repeat. They slowly stand but the brawling continues.
Ibushi hits but Naito comes back. The two stare down and Ibushi throws a forearm. Naito throws one back, so Ibushi gives another. They start picking up speed and now they’re just swinging wild! Ibushi fires off many palm strikes but Naito throws slaps. Ibushi runs but into Naito’s spinebuster! Naito drags Ibushi up and to the top rope again. Naito climbs up behind Ibushi and fans anticipate something dangerous. Ibushi holds on so Naito clubs away. Naito stands Ibushi up, but Ibushi grabs at Naito’s leg. Ibushi turns around and trips Naito up! Naito manages to stay on the apron, but Ibushi stalks him from above. Ibushi drags Naito up while standing on the ropes. Ibushi lifts but Naito fights out! Naito slaps away on Ibushi’s face, then brings Ibushi in, TOMBSTONE on the apron!!
Naito puts Ibushi in the ring then drags him up again. Hammerlock and underhook, GLORIA! Cover, TWO!? Ibushi still lives but Naito isn’t fazed. Naito drags Ibushi up again, arm wrench and tilt-o-whirl, but into Ibushi’s own PACKAGE TOMBSTONE!! Cover, TWO!? Now Naito survives and shocks everyone! Fans duel as Naito and Ibushi drag themselves to opposite corners. Naito runs at Ibushi but into a roundhouse! Ibushi brings Naito in but Naito spins out for a tornado DDT! Naito aims at Ibushi and runs in, into a clothesline!! Ibushi drags Naito up and to a lift, SIT-OUT LAST RIDE! Cover, TWO!! Naito survives again but Ibushi is too tired to be frustrated. Ibushi drags Naito up and grabs both hands, but Naito dodges Kamigoye, DESTINO!! Cover, TWO!?!
Fans are thunderous as this match continues! Naito staggers up and drags Ibushi to his feet. Wrench and tilt-o-whirl but Ibushi slips out to roundhouse! Ibushi gives a shout out to the King of Strong Style as he aims from a corner. Naito sits up, BOMAYE!! Cover, TWO?!? Ibushi can NOT believe Naito survived again! But Ibushi vows to finish this, double underhook, Butterfly Driver! But he’s not done there, KAMIGOYE!! Cover, Ibushi wins!!
Winner: Kota Ibushi, by pinfall; advances to the second round
It took so much, but Ibushi makes it through the opening round! Naito’s dream is denied for now, what will it take for him to become the first-ever dual Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion in NJPW history? As for Ibushi, he advances only to take on Zack Sabre Jr. next! Will Ibushi break ZSJ’s streak in the New Japan Cup? Or will he #JustTapOut?
Ibushi takes the mic and thanks Naito for that amazing match. “In 2019, in NJPW, I’ll show you a new version of Kota Ibushi.” Ibushi vows to go all the way and win! Will everyone else in the tournament, let alone Jay White, take this to heart?
Wow, what a great opening to the tournament! At first, I thought it was a bit of a shame that this will be it for the first round, no Okada or Tanahashi, but seeing they had matches with slightly less important opponents (sorry, Mike Elgin), the two matches we got were much more worthy of airtime. Evil VS ZSJ is again an incredible match, and it makes a lot of sense for ZSJ to win. While Sanada is in the tournament, too, he and Evil are still strongly in the Heavyweight Tag Team Division. ZSJ has a great New Japan Cup win streak story to tell, and it’ll make a loss, should one come, all the more exciting if it’s in the later rounds. ZSJ going for back-to-back tournament wins on top of a huge title match is great, but I can’t be sure the chances of it happening.
Naito VS Ibushi was a really great match, and it’s not just kayfabe saying this match could’ve been a logical tournament finals choice. Naito’s story of becoming a dual champion could’ve propelled the tournament to some interesting places, but at the same time, it doesn’t have to be told in the tournament. Ibushi is in NJPW to stay so it means a lot more that he gets a push in the tournament. He already has a hard road ahead of him if the second round pits him against ZSJ, but perhaps a Kota Ibushi that can get through such big names, much like ZSJ did in last year’s tournament, can be a Kota Ibushi that defeats Jay White in Madison Square Garden.
My Score: 8.8/10
Mitchell’s ROH Results & Report! (3/16/19)
Zack Sabre Jr. continues his journey in ROH!
Ring of Honor Wrestling Television, Episode 391
It’s ROH 17th Anniversary weekend, but the action keeps on rolling! The Submission Master returns, will he make Rocky Romero #JustTapOut?
- Shinobi Shadow Squad VS Silas Young & The Briscoes; Young & The Briscoes win.
- The Bouncers VS Brian Johnson & Joe Keys; The Bouncers win.
- Madison Rayne w/ Sumie Sakai VS Thunder Rosa w/ Holidead; Rayne wins.
- Zack Sabre Jr. VS Rocky Romero; ZSJ wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
Shinobi Shadow Squad VS Shinobi Shadow Squad VS Silas Young & The Briscoes!
Cheeseburger leads Ryan Nova and Eli Isom into battle! Will their fighting spirits combined be enough to overcome the Last Real Man and #DemBoyz?
The bell rings and Isom begins against Jay Briscoe. Isom is no stranger to taking on former ROH World Champions, this could be his third upset on one already. They tie up and Jay waistlocks. Isom standing switches and throws Jay down but Jay reverses to a facelock, but Isom slips away. Fans applaud the Future of Honor keeping up with Jay. Jay and Isom circle again and Jay keeps Isom guessing on the grapple. Jay reels Isom in for a headlock, but Isom powers out, only for Jay to run him over. Things speed up and Isom kicks Jay. Isom runs but sees Jay follow. Jay fakes Isom out and kicks him down. Jay tags Mark and The Briscoes mug Isom. Mark suplexes but Isom slips out and shoves Mark. Mark turns around into Isom’s arm-drag!
Isom tags in Nova and Nova hops up for ax handles. Nova wrenches the arm but Mark rolls through. Mark breaks free but Nova dodges and fires off strikes. Nova wrenches and tags in Cheeseburger! Burger climbs up to drop his own ax handle. Burger wrenches but Mark pushes him away. Mark rushes at Burger but Burger crawls under and kicks him away. Burger speeds up but Jay stands in his way. Mark rocks Burger with a shotgun dropkick! Silas and the Briscoes take control as we go to break.
ROH returns and Silas taunts Burger to stand, only to stomp him down. Fans rally up for Burger and he throws body shots on Silas. Burger fires forearms but Silas shoves Burger for the backbreaker clothesline on the rebound! Silas drags Burger over and tags in Mark. Mark drops an elbow then drags Burger up. Mark suplexes and holds Burger up for a few seconds before dropping him down. Fans rally but Mark puts Burger in a camel clutch. Burger endures while Jay and Silas taunt him. Mark fish hooks Burger but lets up at 4. Mark blasts Nova but the ref keeps Isom from going after Mark. But he misses Mark biting Burger! Mark gets away with it then CHOPS Burger in a corner! Mark whips corner to corner but Burger dodges! Burger dodges Silas and Jay, too, hot tag to Isom!
Isom dropkicks Mark to his corner where Jay tags in. Silas runs at Isom but Isom puts him on the apron and dropkicks him down! Jay goes after Isom with a waistlock but is bucked off. Isom pops Jay up to a fireman’s carry! Nova intercepts Mark and DIVES on Silas! Air Raid Crash from Isom to Jay! Cover, TWO!! Isom almost had another former world champion caught! Isom keeps going but Jay blocks the suplex. Jay fights back but Isom throws his own forearms. Isom runs but into Jay’s fireman’s carry. Jay hits the Spicolli Driver while Mark climbs up! FROGGY-BOW! Jay covers, TWO!? Isom survives and The Briscoes are shocked!
The ref tells Mark to go to the corner but the Briscoes ignore him. #DemBoyz work together to finish this, double underhook but Isom fights out. Isom pushes Jay into Mark then kicks, suplex to brainbuster! Cover, TWO!! Another close call but Isom keeps his focus. Isom and Jay stand as fans rally up. Isom throws forearms and elbows then an enziguri. Jay staggers and Jay runs, but SUPERKICK for Jay! High-Low combo for The Briscoes! Mark keeps Burger out while Jay hits his Jay Driller! Cover, The Briscoes & Silas win!
Winners: Silas Young & The Briscoes, Jay Briscoe pinning
The Shinobi Shadow Squad struggles in the Six Man Tag Division against such accomplished opponents. Will it be the Last Real Man and Dem Boyz who move on towards the titles instead?
Rhett Titus speaks.
“Willie Mack, I heard you had plans to take the NWA National Title and defend it in every state across America.” Well Willie, plans change, because the Fittest is looking to take that belt and bring it with him on the Flex Express. Will Rhett’s own plans have to change after facing The Mack next episode?
The Bouncers VS Brian Johnson & Joe Keys!
The literally biggest team in the ROH Tag Team Division takes on two other Future of Honor stars. With physiques like theirs, JK and The Number One were hoping for sunny beaches and “beautiful baby dolls”, but instead got “busted up broads and their beer-swilling bozos”! Well that’s no way to talk about the fans or beer! The Bouncers make their way out with plenty of drinks, and Brian Milonas takes the mic. He and The Beer City Bruiser are here to kick ass and drink beer! Will they do just that against these rude rookies?
The Code of Honor is still upheld between the teams, and we start with Bruiser and Keys. Keys shows off his body while teasing Bruiser about the beer belly. Bruiser admits Keys wins the body building, but Bruiser has the fans as they chant “Beer! Beer!” along with him. Keys calls for a test of strength and Bruiser isn’t sure he’s serious. Keys shoves Bruiser and tells him to take it serious. Bruiser accepts the test, and SLAPS Keys off his feet! Keys gets up and kicks but Bruiser catches it. Bruiser spins Keys for an atomic drop. Keys gets to a corner but covers up from Bruiser’s punch. So Bruiser CHOPS instead! And CHOPS, and CHOPS! Fans cheer for more but Keys turns around to protect his chest. So Bruiser CHOPS his back! Keys scrambles to his corner and tags in Johnson.
Johnson fires off on Bruiser but Bruiser shoves him to run him over! Bruiser drags Johnson up but Johnson powers him to the corner. Keys anchors Bruiser’s feet and Johnson gets a sucker punch! Johnson stomps away in the corner then tags in Keys. Keys stomps Bruiser now but lets up at 4. Keys chops Bruiser back then goes to scoop. Bruiser’s too big for that, so Keys gives a European Uppercut. Johnson tags in and rams in his own uppercut. Johnson and Keys work together for a double scoop slam! Cover, ONE, and with power! Bruiser reaches for Milonas but Keys tags back in. Keys stomps Bruiser down then puts Bruiser back in the corner. Keys throws EuroUppers then gestures at Milonas. He runs in for a splash but Bruiser dodges! Keys hits buckles and both men are down!
Fans rally up as Bruiser crawls for his corner. Johnson shouts to Keys, and Keys tags him in. Johnson grabs Bruiser’s feet but Bruiser still gets to Milonas! The Mastodon rallies on both Future of Honor stars! Fans fire up as he pounces Keys out of the ring, then squashes Johson in a corner. Milonas whips Johnson corner to corner for another splash, then scoops. Johnson slips out and shoves Milonas away. Johnson dodges the clothesline but gets a pop-up spinebuster! Keys attacks Milonas from behind but Bruiser gets Keys. Bruiser whips Keys and Milonas gives Keys a pop-up spinebuster! The Bouncers say bottom’s up and grab Johnson. Milonas climbs and Bruiser holds Johnson up, draping leg drop! Cover, The Bouncers win!
Winners: The Bouncers, Brian Milonas pinning
They kicked ass, now they drink beer! Will the Bouncers find their way to the ROH World Tag Team Championships and drink to a title reign?
Madison Rayne speaks.
“Thunder Rosa, you think that you and Holidead can come into ROH and control the narrative and call the shots?” Here’s the reality: the Twisted Sisterz are the opposite of what the Women of Honor stand for. The Queen Bee vows to make a statement, but will it go the way she hopes?
Willie Mack speaks.
The inaugural NWA National Champion is all about making history, and he makes history with ROH next week. He’ll defend his title in all 50 states, and is already on number 5. If Rhett Titus wants to stay fit, then he better get ready for a fight!
Madison Rayne w/ Sumie Sakai VS Thunder Rosa w/ Holidead!
As The Queen Bee alluded to, The Twisted Sisterz have done what they want to who they want since joining the Women of Honor Division, including the Ray of Sunshine. Now Sumie stands beside Madison, will they put the trouble-makers in their place?
Madison doesn’t wait for the bell, she goes right at Thunder Rosa! She tackles Rosa down and the bell has to ring as she fires off right hands. Rayne puts Rosa in one corner then runs her all the way to the other. She bumps Rosa off a third then hits a sliding lariat. Rayne runs Rosa over with a shoulder and fires up while Rosa regroups with Holidead. Rayne doesn’t give Rosa much time to regain composure, she goes right out and rocks her with a right! She puts Rosa back in while Sumie keeps her eyes on Holidead. Rayne runs Rosa over with a clothesline but notices Holidead egging Sumie on. Rayne runs and wrecks Holidead with a dropkick! Sumie and the fans cheer Rayne on but Rosa hits Rayne back!
Rosa fetches Rayne and rams her into the apron. She then CHOPS Rayne against the apron, before shoving her into the ring. Rosa stomps Rayne then covers, TWO! Rosa drags Rayne up and bumps Rayne off the buckles. She stomps a mudhole into Rayne but backs off at 4. Rosa snapmares Rayne and kicks her sharp on the back. Holidead wants another so Rosa kicks Rayne again. Rosa runs and dropkicks Rayne in the back, covers, TWO! Sumie coaches Rayne up while Rosa mockingly applauds. Rayne throws body shots but Rosa clubs her down. Rosa scoops and slams Rayne down, then applauds herself. Rosa runs side to side for a BIG leg drop! Cover, TWO! The Queen Bee is in trouble while we go to break.
ROH returns and Rosa toys with Rayne. Rayne throws forearms back and enziguris! Rosa falls over and Rayne covers, TWO! Holidead is relieved but Rayne keeps on Rosa. Rosa throws Rayne down by her hair, then drags her up for chops. Rosa whips Rayne corner to corner then runs in for a big back elbow! She snapmares Rayne to a cover, TWO! Fans rally for Rayne but Rose wraps on a chinlock. Rayne endures and fights her way up, but Rosa throws her back down. Cover, TWO! Rosa grabs Rayne for more chops, then does a little salsa to show off. She whips but Rayne reverses and things speed up, Rayne SPEARS Rosa down! But Rayne is also down and a standing 10 count begins.
The count reaches 5 as both women sit up. Rosa grabs Rayne and brings her up but Rayne fires forearms! Rayne dodges Rosa and rallies with more forearms. Rayne fires up and goes corner to corner but Rose catches her! Rosa puts Rayne on the top rope but Rayne boots her back. Rayne leaps for the crossbody! Both women are back up, Rayne ducks a kick to give an enziguri! Cover, TWO! Rayne keeps on Rosa with a waistlock. She wrings Rosa out but Rosa goes to swing. Rayne adjusts and gets around Rosa again for a dragon sleeper. Rosa elbows out and brings Rayne up into the Gory Especial, and spins around for the facebuster! Cover, TWO!! Rayne survives and the Twisted Sisterz are shocked!
Rosa is furious as she drags Rayne right up onto her shoulder! Rosa spins but Rayne slips out for the Rayne Drop! Cover, Rayne wins!
Winner: Madison Rayne, by pinfall
The Queen Bee wins outta nowhere and gets revenge on behalf of Sumie Sakai! Will Rayne and others teach the Twisted Sisterz a lesson about being Women of Honor?
Team Coast2Coast speaks.
“We were gone for a very long time, but for good reason.” Shaheem Ali and Leon St. Giovanni were “rediscovering” themselves. But now C2C is better than ever and will take on the best in the world! Their return is next week against Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham, will Chocolate Man and the Human Rocket be ready for the Franchise and the Octopus?
Zack Sabre Jr. VS Rocky Romero!
The partnership of ROH and NJPW is on display as the Submission Master returns! But not only that, the player-coach of Roppongi 3K makes his own return! Will Rocky make a run in ROH for gold? Or will he #JustTapOut?
ROH returns with the bell! Fans cheer Rocky on as he circles with ZSJ. Rocky keeps away from ZSJ’s grip and then they approach. ZSJ still gets Rocky down with a headlock but Rocky keeps up with his reversals. ZSJ gets free but both he and Rocky smirk as they circle again. They tie up again and ZSJ gets the arm. He cranks on it to get Rocky to the mat. Rocky endures the wristlock and ZSJ grinds a knee in. Rocky gets to his feet but ZSJ wrenches and arm-drags Rocky back down. Fans cheer ZSJ’s technique as he twists and pulls Rocky’s arm. Rocky spins through and gets up to dropkick ZSJ out of the ring! ZSJ is frustrated already as he kicks the railing. Rocky waits for ZSJ as he catches his breath.
ZSJ returns and circles with Rocky. They tie up and ZSJ gets a leg. He trips Rocky and stands on his feet. ZSJ twists the leg around and then ties the legs up so he can go after Rocky’s neck with a wrench. But he also hooks the face so the ref counts. ZSJ lets up at 4 to bring Rocky into a Bow ‘n’ Arrow. Rocky pops out to a cover, TWO! Fans applaud as Rocky and ZSJ circle again. Rocky and ZSJ approach and Rocky gets ZSJ’s leg now. Rocky waistlocks but ZSJ wrenches to a switch. ZSJ wrenches again and brings Rocky to his knees. ZSJ brings Rocky further down as he mounts the arm to pull back. Fans applaud while Rocky endures the pair of knuckle locks.
Rocky and ZSJ go shoulder to shoulder but ZSJ gets the cover. TWO so ZSJ tries again. TWO as Rocky brings up the shoulder, so ZSJ pushes it down. Rocky bridges this time, and then anticipates ZSJ hopping on with a monkey flip! It’s a double cover, but Rocky rolls back, only to get caught into ZSJ’s armbar! Rocky rolls and shifts but ZSJ slips out to a hammerlock. Fans applaud this continued exchange as Rocky reaches back for ZSJ. Rocky leaps and snapmares but ZSJ headbutts back. ZSJ snapmares but Rocky handsprings through to dropkick him down! Rocky brings ZSJ up for a chop then a cravat. ZSJ endures but Rocky snapmares. ZSJ responds with his own snapmare, but then Rocky snapmares back. They go snapmare for snapmare, but then ZSJ shoves Rocky down for a neck crank! Rocky writhes while we go to one last break.
ROH returns once again as Rocky manages a ropebreak while in a modified Bow ‘n’ Arrow. ZSJ reluctantly lets go, and waits for Rocky to sit up. ZSJ clamps on a half straitjacket, then digs in elbows and knuckles to get the full. Rocky endures as fans rally up. Rocky feeds off the energy but ZSJ does his best to keep Rocky down. The two struggle against each other, and ZSJ digs a knee in to keep the straitjacket. Rocky stands and spins the straitjacket around but ZSJ spins it back on. ZSJ brings Rocky back down then flips him over, but Rocky uses that to reverse the hold! Rocky has ZSJ but ZSJ breaks free to throw a EuroUpper. ZSJ whips but Rocky elbows back. Rocky springboards for a tornado DDT! Both men are down but fans rally up.
Another standing count begins and Rocky sits up at 3. ZSJ follows and grabs Rocky first. Rocky dodges and huricanranas! Things speed up, Rocky springboards again for a crossbody! Cover, TWO! Rocky toys with ZSJ, then starts slapping him around. ZSJ EuroUppers then grabs a leg. Rocky misses the first enziguri but not the rewind! Fans fire up with Rocky as he runs corner to corner to start the Forever Clotheslines! He gets one, then another, but runs into a boot! ZSJ runs but into Rocky’s leaping knee, only to make it an STF! Rocky is caught, and ZSJ shifts sides! Rocky drags himself around and manages a ropebreak! ZSJ lets Rocky go and catches his breath. Now ZSJ toys with Rocky as he stomps him around. ZSJ kicks but Rocky gets mad. ZSJ pie faces so Rocky SLAPS away!
Rocky knees and hauls ZSJ up to the top rope. Rocky runs corner to corner for a top shelf knee! ZSJ falls to the apron but Rocky checks his shoulder first. Rocky brings ZSJ up but ZSJ resists the suplex. ZSJ goes after the arm but Rocky throws forearms. Rocky shoulders in but gets caught into an Octopus through the ropes! ZSJ lets go at 4 then shoves Rocky away. Rocky dropkicks ZSJ on the return! Rocky throws forearms and CHOPS, then ties ZSJ up in the ropes. He goes to the side and springboards for a guillotine missile dropkick! Cover, TWO!! ZSJ survives and Rocky is exhausted. Fans build to a rally for Rocky as he brings ZSJ up. Rocky throws forearms on ZSJ then eggs him on. ZSJ throws a EuroUpper, but Rocky comes back for fast hands. Rocky kicks and runs for a Sliced Bread! Cover, TWO!
Rocky drags ZSJ up again and wants more, but ZSJ escapes Sliced Bread 2 for the standing abdominal stretch! Rocky reaches but ZSJ rolls him away, then around, Hurrah! The double wrist-clutch octopus is on and Rocky taps quickly! ZSJ wins!
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr, by submission
The Submission Master brings in Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than the Last. Will ZSJ’s first year in ROH be golden sooner rather than later?
Another ROH PPV, another disconnect between it and their television episodes. This episode, as all episodes are, was clearly recorded long before the PPV as nothing that happened at the PPV affects this episode’s events. For those who didn’t see the ROH 17th Anniversary, make sure to check here for the full card results. But for those who did, you know The Briscoes lost the the ROH World Tag Team Championships to Villain Enterprises, yet Jay & Mark still had the belts here. And all this makes it strange for commentary to vaguely reference the PPV when it hadn’t happened for them yet. The Six Man Tag they had was only okay, so I don’t see why it couldn’t have been three other Heels going against Shinobi Shadow Squad to get the spotlight instead.
In fact, seeing as how more Future of Honor stars were brought on for this episode, I’m starting to think that’s what episodes like this should be about. ROH Future of Honor stars can appear, get some television exposure, and take the card in place of literally anyone involved on the PPV card. And of course, facing Future of Honor stars meant an easy win for The Bouncers, who might finally be moving up now that they’re Faces. Meanwhile, Rhett Titus’ new gimmick is like if Lex Luger and Val Venis fused, but then the combination was slightly diluted. But Rhett VS Mack, even non-title, sounds fun. Pretty sure Mack wins that, but bringing NWA and its new championship into the fold of ROH’s many partnerships also sounds great.
Rayne VS Rosa was a good match, and I’m sensing this is building to something more. I’ve said before that having the Twisted Sisterz in WOH must mean Women’s Tag Team Championships are on the horizon, and it would be pretty big if Sumie Sakai joins Rayne in competing for those. I don’t think Rayne & Sumie would be the inaugural champions, that really should be the Twisted Sisterz given their resumes. But Sumie one day becoming a tag champ to be the first woman to have both the WOH World and Tag Team Championships would be a great thing for her own career. ZSJ VS Romero was a good match, and clearly ZSJ is set to dominate to at least a World Television Championship level. ZSJ VS Jeff Cobb would be great for the sheer difference in styles, but we know it’ll have to wait until after G1 Supercard.
My Score: 8/10
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