A Tale of Two Promotions

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Last night, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor went to Madison Square Garden for their epic G1 Supercard event. By the time the night was over, it was clear that one promotion knew exactly what they were doing and the other was walking all over itself.

For the first time in over half a century, professional wrestling came to Madison Square Garden and it wasn’t under the brand of WWE. In a co-branded event, NJPW and ROH came together for G1 Supercard. While it was clear history had been made by the time the night was over, it was also clear which of the two promotions reigned supreme. G1 Supercard wasn’t intended to be a competition, but that didn’t stop New Japan Pro Wrestling from effortlessly winning the night with proper storytelling and matches.

Each Promotion Sets Their Tone for G1 Supercard

Right from the start of G1 Supercard with the Honor Rumble Battle Royal, you could see the promotions making very different decisions. The thirty-man match featured surprise appearances, legends, and wrestlers from both promotions vying for a shot at the ROH World Championship. In many ways, the match was about being a fun start to a night that would excite thousands of fans in attendance for a show that would ultimately last until nearly midnight.

As things wound down in the Honor Rumble, we were left with the final two competitors being legends Jushin Thunder Liger and The Great Muta. The crowd was on their feet with the realization one of these veterans would get a shot at the ROH World Championship and was ready to see them face off. Unfortunately, Ring of Honor’s Kenny King hadn’t actually been eliminated.

Instead, King had been lurking at ringside waiting for his moment. When only Liger and Muta were left, Kenny King slid back in to eliminate both of them and pick up the win. When the match began, Kenny King had actually been entrant number one and the commentary team explained he’d specifically requested that position to prove himself and earn the shot by running the gauntlet and lasting the entire match.

Yet, flying in the face of this logic, Kenny King no longer cared about proving himself, and took the easy way out by sneaking back into the ring and tossing out two legends who thought he wasn’t even still in the match. It made King, who seemed at the beginning of the match to be a fan-favorite ready to prove himself, look like a dirty heel ready to do anything to win. Which would be a great foil to many potential ROH Champions, but not the one who left the night as ROH World Champion, which we’ll get to later. This moment set the tone for the kind of night Ring of Honor chose to have.

The next match of the night also featured competitors from both brands as ROH Television Champion Jeff Cobb and NEVER Openweight Champion Will Ospreay competed with both titles on the line. For nearly thirteen minutes of non-stop action, Cobb and Ospreay took each other to the limit. Ospreay continued to embody his transition from “The Aerial Assassin” to just “The Assassin,” looking at one point during the match to finish Jeff Cobb off with his devastating strike The Hidden Blade.

While he was clearly representing Ring of Honor in this match, Jeff Cobb is no stranger to New Japan Pro Wrestling. Cobb has been on fire on the independent wrestling scene in the last few years, and walked into this match also holding the PWG World Championship, a title he won from WALTER who defeated Pete Dunne on Friday to become the WWE United Kingdom Champion. Cobb competed in NJPW’s 2017 World Tag League and challenge then-champion Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight Title in 2018.

On this night, we saw a nod of confidence from both promotions in Jeff Cobb. The Hawaiian-born competitor took Will Ospreay to his limits, hitting his trademark Tour of the Islands to pick up the win, retain his ROH Television Championship, and capture the NEVER Openweight Title. It positions Cobb not only as a staple of Ring of Honor, but a staple of New Japan Pro Wrestling moving forward. It set the tone for the night that New Japan Pro Wrestling chose to have.

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