#Preview: ROH Presents War of the Worlds Tour

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This year’s War of the Worlds Tour marks its sixth year in which Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) will present their joint lineup, with many matches enshrining Ring of Honor stars taking on some of the best talents from Japan.  The first three shows will air live on PPV, or free for Honor Club members, while the fourth show, on May 12th in Chicago, is a TV taping which will air later on in multiple weekly segments.

The first War of the Worlds show begins on May 9th in Buffalo, New York, followed by the second show in Toronto, Canada, which has PCO taking on Matt Taven for the RoH championship in what is clearly the most hyped main event match on all the cards.  Skip ahead a few days, as the War of the Worlds heads to Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 11th, and finally concludes the tour in Villa Park, Illinois the following night on May 12 for the TV tapings.

War of the Worlds – Show #1 – May 8, 2019 – Buffalo, New York

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The Guerrilla’s of Destiny, from NJPW and also the current ROH and IWGP World Tag Team champions, will be taking on Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham.  Gresham and Lethal have proven themselves worthy of this title shot when they defeated Lifeblood members Tracy Williams and Mark Haskins last month in an Iron Man Tag Team matchup.

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Villain Enterprises, the RoH six-man tag team champions, comprising Brody King, PCO, and Marty Scurll, will be defending their titles against Jeff Cobb, Yuji Nagata, and Satoshi Kojima.  This match is notable because Marty has been requesting a match against Yuji Nagata on social media. There should also be some noticeable heat in this match, given that Brody King and PCO took on Kojima and Nagata at the recent Crockett Cup in the first round.

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Bandido will go against Flip Gordon at this show, and it should be nothing short of stunning.  These two competitors are some of the most in-demand aerial high flyers in wrestling today. Both are fairly new recruits on RoH’s roster, but Bandido has a lot more to prove given that he is an even newer arrival.  Do not blink, because this matchup will likely be blazing in speed and pace, and physics will be defied.

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Rush has been on fire since joining ROH.  His popularity with fans is as impressive as his stellar track record, which is undefeated thus far.  He will be taking on Silas Young, who has been consolidating some unclean wins against Gresham as of lately.  Having lost the Television championship late last year to Jeff Cobb, Silas is likely trying to navigate himself towards gold again.  Both Rush and Silas are worthy competitors for each other and would make solid stepping stones to whoever scores a victory over the other.

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Other matches include former IWGP tag team champions and NJPW’s own EVIL and SANADA going against ROH’s Lifeblood, specifically Tracy Williams and Mark Haskins.  Shane Taylor will take on Hikuleo in what should be an impressive hoss match between these two juggernauts. PJ Black, facing his second loss against Bandido recently, will likely view his matchup against Alex Coughlin as a necessary means to regain some of his lost steam as a long time ROH star.  On the other hand, Coughlin certainly sees this matchup as a major proving ground if he can score an upset against a veteran such as PJ Black.

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Finally, The Kingdom’s own Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan will take on Clark Connors and Karl Fredericks, who are some of NJPW’s newest young blood.  Vinny and TK likely want to retain the dominant and intimidating reputation of their stable and losing against a couple of competitors they probably view as rookies would be considered an embarrassment for them.  And perhaps that is an advantage for Clark and Karl as they enter this match with nothing to lose and much to gain if they can score an unexpected victory.

War of the Worlds – Show #2 – May 9, 2019 – Toronto, Canada

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PCO’s title shot against Matt Taven for the Ring of Honor championship in Toronto has easily garnered the most buzz of all the matches and events on the War of the Worlds Tour.  The “French Canadian Frankenstein” has been undefeated in singles competition thus far in Ring of Honor.  Earning a shot at the championship in his home country, Canada, will certainly ensure he has the support of the fans behind him.

Matt Taven is in for a tough challenge with PCO and certainly does not want his newly acquired status as the champion to be cut short.  But Taven has made sure that he shows no fear going into this match, and has taken to social media to make a mockery of PCO’s weekly training videos.  In reality, it certainly does not sit well with Taven that PCO, his challenger, pinned him in a six-man tag team match between The Kingdom and Villain Enterprises just recently, earning this title shot against him.

PCO has built up his reputation and career revival over the last couple of years proving himself to be one of the most intimidating and toughest competitors in the wrestling industry.  This ultimately garnered the attention of Ring of Honor, which did not hesitate to offer him an exclusive contract with the company.  Even if Taven can overcome this beast who is self-described as “not human”, it will be an incredibly tough mountain to climb before Taven can gain some relief that his reign as champion is secure and safe for a time.

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Also on this card is Jay Lethal, who will be going against Japan’s legendary Satoshi Kojima in what is considered by many to be a dream match.  Both are former champions, RoH and IWGP respectively, but Kojima’s a long-time veteran from the older days when All Japan was the dominant league in the wrestling industry.  As his career is coming to a slowdown, it is perhaps his intention to show the world that he still has much skill and fire left in him as he takes on Jay Lethal.

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Four giants, Brody King, Shane Taylor, Jeff Cobb, and Hirooki Goto, will be facing each other in a Four Corner Survival Match that will surely be a hoss fight to remember.  Thus far, it is a non-title match, but there is some speculation that Jeff Cobb could put his ROH Television title on the line, as Shane Taylor has requested him to do so.

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Silas Young, the so-called “Last Real Man in Pro Wrestling”, will certainly find Yuji Nagata to be a real man, if nobody else.  Nagata is a two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion.  Even in his fifties, he is one who can endure hard hits and give equal punishment in return and keep going, as age has not slowed this man.

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PJ Black will be taking on Rush in this card.  Lately, the veteran PJ Black has had his mind on Bandido, suffering two losses in a row against this newcomer, in what has been considered a great upset for him.  It may be relevant to note that Rush and Bandido are fairly new talent and both have been on fire in ROH since their debut.  But it was Rush that was first to defeat Bandido while continuing to retain his own undefeated record in going forward.  PJ Black may see this as an opportunity to redeem his losses against Bandido, to a degree, by consolidating the first victory over this undefeated newcomer, Rush, who also perhaps has a slight edge over Bandido.

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Lifeblood’s Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams are taking on Jay and Mark Briscoe, the most accomplished tag team in ROH history.  An upset win over the Briscoes would be a huge accomplishment for Haskins and Williams.  It would certainly put them on a path towards being number one contenders for tag team championship gold in the future.  But this would be no easy feat against ROH’s potentially best tag team in history.

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Other matches include ROH and The Kingdom’s Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan taking on NJPW and Los Ingobernables de Japon’s EVIL and SANADA.  Finally, New Japan’s fresh new lions, Alex Coughlin, Karl Fredericks, and Clark Connors, will be going against the much celebrated and current IWGP Tag Team Champions Guerillas of Destiny and their younger brother Hikuleo in 6 man tag team warfare.

War of the Worlds – Show #3 – May 11, 2019 – Grand Rapids, MI

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The final of the three War of the Worlds shows airing on PPV and the Honors Club live streams will take place on May 11th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It will feature all-out warfare in the capacity of a 10 man tag team matchup.  Ring of Honor’s Television champion, Jeff Cobb, and Jay Lethal will be teaming with NJPW’s Kojima, Goto, and Nagata, to wage war against some of ROH’s most ruthless competitors: the Briscoes, Bully Ray, Shane Taylor, and Silas Young.  Depending on how previous shows transpire, Lethal’s team could have some interesting twists in store. Lethal could be entering this match as a tag team champion, while teaming up with and depending on Kojima as a partner, despite the two facing each other in singles competition at the Toronto show days prior.

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If PCO gains the ROH championship from Taven in Toronto, Mark Haskins may end up securing himself a title shot as these two collide in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  If not, this will still be a major proving ground for Haskins in taking on PCO.  Haskins has already consolidated some impressive victories that earned him a title shot which fell short last year in London.  Thus far, PCO is undefeated in singles competition, while Haskins has won the International Cup.

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Though it has not seen the same hype or buzz as many other matches, Clark Connors’ match, against the superstar Cheeseburger, is his first singles match on this tour and should be a great opportunity to prove himself against one of ROH’s most popular wrestlers.  Though Connors has seen his overall name and prestige rise a few degrees since joining with NJPW, he also has some interesting roots coming from the Pacific Northwest wrestling scene as a mid-carder prior.

Connors has wrestled for DEFY as a regular before joining NJPW, mainly in singles competition.  Some of his DEFY matches are available for viewing on Youtube.  It will be interesting to obtain a closer look at his evolution as a wrestler in this matchup, since leaving the Pacific Northwest.  In DEFY, he was known as “The Hybrid”, and whether it is relevant in the present moment or not, the name reflects his background very well as one trained in both worlds: Japan and America – specifically by the late Pacific Northwest legend Buddy Wayne in Everett, WA.

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Kelly Klein will also be defending her Women of Honor championship against Stacy Shadows, which should demonstrate some impressive size and strength between these two.  In women’s competition, it is rare for Klein to face a competitor of her power, but perhaps she will have found her match with Shadows.

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The Kingdom will be uniting wholly in this match, being the most accomplished former six-man tag team champions – Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia – and they will take on the Bullet Club’s Guerrillas of Destiny -Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa- and Hikuleo.  Guerrillas of Destiny are the current IWGP and ROH Tag Team Champions.  Though the titles are not on the line here, reputation will certainly be defined in this high stakes matchup, as this will be history in writing here.  Whoever is victorious will also likely become serious contenders for a future shot at the six-man tag team championship titles.

Other matches on this card include Alex Coughlin and Karl Fredericks taking on Coast 2 Coast (LSG and Shaheem Ali), as well as The Bouncers (Brawler Milonas and Beer City Bruiser) going against former two-time IWGP Tag Team Heavyweight Champions EVIL and SANADA.  Finally, a Four Corner Survival Match will take place pitting Tracy Williams, Eli Isom, Rush and PJ Black against each other.

War of the Worlds – Show #4 – TV Taping – May 12, 2019 – Villa Park, IL

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The obvious main event on this card will be the Briscoes taking on the Guerrillas of Destiny.  This was originally considered a dream match between the two teams, scheduled to take place at the G1 Supercard.  But matters were complicated when PCO and Brody King consolidated a surprise upset and obtained the ROH Tag Team titles from the Briscoes, which ultimately turned the G1 Supercard’s championship match into a 4-way tag team match.

Finally, Ring of Honor’s most accomplished tag team champions, the Briscoes, will take on ROH  and IWGP Tag Team Champions, the Guerrillas of Destiny, in a direct matchup.  Assuming the Guerrillas of Destiny can defend their titles against Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham on this tour, it is presumed this match will put the ROH titles on the line.

Since the G1 Supercard, the heat between these two teams has flared to a boiling point.  Both teams have taken to social media to lash out at each other, with the Briscoes feeling disrespected by the Guerrillas of Destiny’s outward disrespect for the ROH tag team title belts.  When the Guerrillas of Destiny walked away from the G1 Supercard with the ROH Tag Team titles, they made it clear that the IWGP titles are their main source of pride and the ROH titles meant little to them.

Unique to this show, there will also be some matchups exclusive to NJPW talent as EVIL and SANADA take on Kojima and Nagata, and NJPW veteran Hirooki Goto faces Hikuleo, one of NJPW’s freshly new up and coming stars.  PJ Black will also compete against Karl Fredericks.  Finally, one more Four Corner Survival Match will take place on this card, which should prove to be an interesting hybrid style matchup, as Jeff Cobb, Jay Lethal, Rush, and PCO will face off against each other.

To read our latest Reflection of Honor review click here.

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