ROH Review – Tanahashi Lends Star Power to Best in the World Preparation

Lethal and Briscoe Sign Best in the World Contract
Nigel McGuinness hosted a contract signing in the show’s main event slot. It is worth noting that he specifically announced that the title match will have a 60 minute time limit and both the World and TV Titles would be on the line. With such a unique matchup, is it possible that the two Jays could fight to a time limit draw?
The segment was otherwise fairly vanilla. Lethal insulted Briscoe’s family and Briscoe responded that he would send Lethal back to being Black Machismo. The segment felt forced and does not fit with what ROH does so well. The promotion is typically driven by the in-ring work and this talking segment simply did not offer much in the line of storyline development.
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito def. Matt Sydal and ACH
The conclusion of the War of the Worlds card created a really fun match involving one of the biggest wrestling stars in the entire world. It might not have been a sold-out Tokyo Dome crowd, but Tanahashi received an appropriately great response from the Toronto fans. He and Sydal wrestled on the mat to start the match, and then Naito and ACH matched each other in speed. Naito grabbed control with a dropkick to ACH in the corner as he jumped from outside the ring to inside it. ACH answered with a top rope stomp.
When Sydal tried a standing moonsault, Tanahashi caught him and turned it into a German suplex. ACH stepped in and hit a bridging German on Tanahashi for a near fall. Tanahashi recovered with a leg whip and a cloverleaf. ACH hit a version of an STO out of desperation that allowed Sydal to deliver a Shooting Star Press. That likely would have won the match, but Naito ran in to make the save. Tanahashi came back with a Sling Blade and a High Fly Flow to get the win. There’s no shame in losing to a multi-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and both ACH and Sydal benefit from their involvement in the match.
Cedric Alexader def. Moose
Before the match, Alexander said that he had to get back on track in order to justify his career in ROH. He wanted a win, but not against a random jobber, so he challenged the undefeated Moose. Along with Veda Scott and Stokely Hathaway, Moose accepted the challenge. He hit a nice dropkick early, but his high flying was trumped by Alexander with a topez con giro. Moose recovered back in the ring and hit a judo throw into a lariat for a near fall.
Moose seemed to think he needed to take a bigger risk when that move did not end the match and it caused a momentum shift. He tried a springboard in the corner and Alexander blocked it. Alexander hit a long series of dropkicks in the corner that almost won him the match. Instead, Moose hit a spear out of desperation. Veda retrieved a wrench from under the ring and tried to make Moose use it to finish the match. Moose refused, but Alexander took the wrench and hit Moose with it behind the referee’s back to get the win.
The result was clever and meaningful for a couple of reasons. First, it’s nice to see ROH doing something with Alexander. He had a great deal of momentum after he beat Roderick Strong in their feud last year and has been stuck in the mud ever since. He has a tremendous amount of talent and needs an identifying hook to stand out. Perhaps a heel turn, as shown here, can be that hook. I would not be surprised to see him aligned with Veda before too long. Conversely, Moose’s undefeated streak means less than how he performs in the ring. He lost controversially, which leaves him looking strong. He will participate in a #1 Contender’s Match at Best in the World as he continues to learn and try to fulfill his immense potential.
War Machine def. The Decade
BJ Whitmer continued to antagonize Steve Corino when he compelled Colby Corino to take his place in a match against War Machine. Corino was set to team with Adam Page, but The Decade collectively forced him to start the match against Rowe. After he briefly tried to dissuade Corino, Rowe tagged Hanson and they proceeded to squash him. Page refused to tag into the match and War Machine got the pin. Steve Corino wanted to go after Whitmer and Page after the match, but stood down in spite of his fatherly instincts. I love Corino so much on commentary that I think it would be a misuse to put him back in the ring, particularly in a low-ceiling program with Whitmer.