(05/10) AJ Styles & Karl Anderson vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

Ring of Honor
Ted Reeve Arena (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) 

I have seen some ROH fans that are under the impression that the ROH-NJPW relationship will be an ongoing one.  I am not sure if they are right or wrong – the WON nor any other source has given an indication in either direction – but this match was perhaps a small insight into how the merging of those universes might look, at least initially.

AJ Styles is a virtual unknown in New Japan who became the heel champion after one match.  In ROH he is (or was) a beloved veteran baby face who had been with the promotion almost since the start.  In the merged universes, he came off as something in between.  Despite being the one guy in this match who was a regular in both promotions, he seemed out of place both from a New Japan and ROH perspective.  He didn’t feel like the top title holder nor did he feel like a beloved veteran.  He felt like “just a guy” which isn’t good.  That’s what happens sometimes when you mix two promotions – some guys get caught in between and come off less special as a result.

After the match (which like the Tanahashi tag, was perfectly fine as a setup match for the New York shows), Michael Elgin stepped into the ring.  Elgin was on commentary during the match, presumably to hype his IWGP Heavyweight title match versus Styles next week in New York.  I say “presumably” because Elgin was so brief and unclear on commentary (his statements were usually no longer than a brief sentence) that I am not sure how effectively he was able to hype anything.

Elgin did a stare down with Styles in the ring.  New Japan actually took the time to make a graphic for their 5/25 Yokohama show showing Okada facing the winner of Styles/Elgin for the IWGP title on that show.  So if this relationship does continue, at least NJPW is already on board with promoting some ROH wrestlers/matches on their end.

This is taken a step further when Okada re-entered the ring for a 3-way stare off.  If the marginalization of AJ Styles was a negative result of this inter-promotional relationship, the post-match was a positive.  I have always been a big fan of non-insular promotions.  The post-match made ROH feel truly worldly in its reach which is always a positive.  I love the idea that events in Tokyo (Styles attacking Okada on 4/6); New Orleans (Elgin defeating Steen WrestleMania weekend to earn the IWGP title shot); Baltimore (Elgin beating Styles to move his head to record versus Styles to 1-0-1); Fukuoka (Styles defeating Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight title on 5/3); and Toronto all lead to matches in New York and Yokohama, respectively.

Of course, some have interpreted the ending to mean that they are going to change the bout in New York to a 3-way match but hopefully that is just an awful rumor.  3-ways are tough to pull off as is.  Plus, I find Elgin to be insufferable in the ring so as a viewer I would much rather see him work Styles straight up since at least that as a logical storyline in place there (Styles will beat Elgin tying their series up at 1-1-1 and building to a rubber match likely for the ROH title somewhere down the line).

Japan Tag | Common | Booking

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