Spring finally arrived in Canada just in time for Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling to hold the first of two co-promoted shows in Toronto, Ontario. The show re-branded as Global Wars changing from its original name of Border Wars. This was reported here in Between the Ropes back in February when partnership was announced at Honor-Con in Philadelphia.
My plan was to attend Border Wars long before this announcement. ROH would or should consider myself that casual fan that they have attracted. I have followed the promotion on and off for the majority of its existence. Two years ago ROH once again caught my attention with the return of Kevin Steen to the promotion. Kevin had been around for a long time and I had certainly heard his name before, but this was my first real introduction to him. He would storm back into the company and eventually win the ROH Title two years ago at Border Wars. This in front of a patriotic Canadian crowd that did not care Davey Richards was supposed to be the hero and Steen the villain. We have seen this many times in WWE how Canada remains loyal to its own, most famously with Bret Hart back in the days when he was turned heel to Americans but not here in Canada.
Speed ahead two years and Steen is back at the same event facing the ROH Champion Adam Cole. When I asked Steen on Twitter what had changes about him in these two years as wrestler or a person he responded with “I am two years older” which is fact. What also is fact is he is now likely the most beloved talent on the Ring of Honor roster. Adam Cole has changed too in that time as he was once the fresh young kid that was pegged to be the next big star in wrestling. Steen was never given a title rematch and Jay Briscoe who won the title form him had to forfeit the belt due to injury. Cole won the tournament to claim the vacant title and had a long feud with Briscoe. In the process he turned into the companies number one heel aligning himself with Matt Hardy as his mentor.
Cole and Steen for my money are two of the top performers in North America not collecting a pay check from the WWE. This was enough motivation for me to check out my first Ring of Honor event live. Long before I knew anything of New Japan Stars coming to be a part of this show as it would turn out. The prospect of a Cole vs Steen Title Match at the time had me open up my wallet.
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Part of my hesitation was the things I would hear about ROH fans. Not to say that it was anything bad about them personally, but they were considered a hardcore unique and loyal fan base. Was this a place for a guy that for the most part has been a WWF/E fan for most of his life? I wasn’t sure if it was the place for me to be.
My first thing to say about Global Wars is ROH fans are no different from any other wrestling crowd I have been a part of. Friendly people that just love wrestling and love to talk about it, cheer about it and get excited about it. If anything they are more enthusiastic than some larger WWE crowds in some markets.
I wanted the fun fan experience so they had wrestlers from both New Japan and ROH signing autographs and taking photos with fans. I got my ticket from the event signed by Kevin Steen and Adam Cole. Had great conversations with both and also chatted with the Young Bucks who were defending there IWGP Junior Tag-Team Champions in a triple threat. Also stopped by and said hello to Maria Kanellis.
This show marked ROH’s return to I-PPV prior to heading to traditional PPV on June 22nd at PPV titled: Best in the World. The best news of the night was the show seemed to go off with out a hitch. ROH switched to U-Stream for this show which is used by their partners New Japan Pro Wrestling. Many will recall ROH had some just disasters with I-PPV a few years back forcing them to abandon the concept after issues on several consecutive shows. It was a major blow for the company at the time and they now seem to survived. Finding themselves at a similar point of popularity that they had two years ago.
I won’t recap the entire show but will focus on the highlights for me. This started with the opening contest on the show. Michael Bennett who is not exactly beloved by the hardcore ROH fans was in action against ACH who is one of the most beloved guys on independent scene. The high-flying show stopper against the methodical tradition style of Bennett made for an intriguing match-up. The two put on a fantastic match that had a mix of the two styles that really blended well. One of the biggest spots of the night so Bennett go to spear ACH on the apron and instead took out his manger and soon to be wife with a spear off the apron as ACH got out of the way. Bennett would go on to win the match via pin. This crowd was solidly behind ACH but in the end it didn’t help.
Michael Elgin who will be facing the NEW IWGP Heavyweight Champion A.J Styles at WAR of the Worlds this weekend in New York City was in action in his hometown of Toronto. He would face New Japan talent Takaaki Watanabe. This was a wildly entertained hard hitting match. The crowd unlike me was very familiar and enthusiastic about all New Japan Wrestlers on the show. I would become the same with many of them even without the background or knowledge of them. In the end Elgin would get the win with his normal smash in the buckle followed by a power bomb pin.
Elgin came out on commentary for A.J Styles tag-team match. Styles was partnered with Carl “Machine Gun” Anderson who is part of large New Japan faction The Bullet Club. Kazuchika Okada the man who lost to A.J making Styles the first North American to hold that title since Brock Lesnar. He would team with Gedo. The crowd seemed to be behind Styles and Anderson and they would go over in a pretty solid match. It would lead to a post match stare down between Elgin and Styles that would be joined by Okada. Despite this the plan still seems to be a one on one contest with Styles and Elgin for IWGP Heavyweight Title. Styles and Elgin have already had two unbelievable match-ups on ROH television.
If there was a match that stole the show from the main event it was the Young Bucks triple threat match for their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag-Team Championships. Their opposition was Forever Hooligans (Alex Kozlov & Rocky Romero) and the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & Kushida) making up the triple threat. This match was at pace that was going 120 Kilometres an hour as we were in Canada. The most over person in this match was Alex Shelley. The Young Bucks were not and were clearly not loved by my fellow Canadians. I am a big fan of Nick and Matt and to the sold out crowds dismay they retained their titles. This was an amazing match and all three teams put on a tag-team match that was one of the best I have ever seen. It was that good.
In a wrestling world where it is so hard to get a crowd to get people 100 percent behind your baby face and 100 percent against your heel. I give you Kevin Steen vs. Adam Cole. If anyone was on the fence Steen entered the arena to a massive pop with a Canadian Flag in hand and it was a patriotic frenzy that is normally reserved for hockey in this country.
Steen threw everything but the kitchen sink at Adam Cole. Steen was so tremendous at working the crowd during this match. He would slam Cole into ring posts and aprons and after every time he would ask the crowd if he should do it again into the next ring post or apron. Cole in this match would try to work on Steen’s leg and that was his goal during the majority of his offensive attack. Both of these guys worked their butts off the entire match. Michael Bennett would do a run in but Steen would lay him out. Eventually Adam Cole survived and landed a super kick and got the three count. The crowd booed the finish.
Steen after the match got the microphone and said “All I have to say is thank you” and he was cheered and that was the show.
Ring of Honor is going to be back in Toronto at the site of the old Maple Leaf Gardens and I plan on being there. It was one of the best wrestling experiences I have had in a live atmosphere. This crowd was into it and the performers in the ring were as well. In the end that is all you can ask for from any wrestling event in any promotion. So congratulations ROH you have made one of those casual fans jump on board and that fan is me.
That is it for my debut here at Between the Ropes. I want to thank Brian and Steve for the invitation to be part of this great website. I look forward to getting to know all of you out there who read and support the site.