Feb 18, 2007

The Rise Of Morishima

ROH: Fifth Year Festival - Night Two
PA National Guard Armory - Philadelphia, PA
Ring Of Honor have decided to split up their annual Anniversary Show into six different nights that are scheduled in venues in five cities across two counties from February 16th through March 4th.  This isn't the first time that the company has divided one of their major events across multiple dates.

I'm not really sure why, but I'm slightly annoyed by this.  It kind of feels like a gimmick to sell six DVDs instead of one to the folks who can only afford to buy the big shows while, at the same time, cheapening the live event feeling a little bit.  It's still a great night of professional wrestling, but it's not quite the same to be able to attend 1/6th of the Fifth Anniversary Show.

The second show of what is being called The Fifth Year Festival was held last night at the company's Philadelphia home: the PA National Guard Armory on Southampton Road, and it was a historic night for Ring Of Honor.

After the last show, I mentioned that Gabe Sapolsky had spent the better part of a year booking Homicide as the face of the franchise.  He was built up as the savior who won the war against CZW.  Immediately after that, he was put in the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin role against the evil authority figure, with Jim Cornette serving as the ROH equivalent of Vince McMahon.  Next, he picked up the victory over his longtime rival Steve Corino, and he ended 2006 by defeating Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Championship at Final Battle.  

If 2006 was the rise of Homicide, it looked as if 2007 was going to be the year that he solidified himself as a dominant long-term champion.  Last month, he successfully defended the title against Chris Hero and the man who held the title for longer than anyone in company history, Samoa Joe.  I was in attendance for the latter (Battle Of The Icons), and it was an intense match with a red hot crowd.  On Friday, he successfully defended his title in New York against Jimmy Rave, further solidifying his status as the face of the franchise who took out one of the top heels in the company.

All of that buildup came to a sudden halt at last night's show when Homicide was defeated for the ROH World Championship by Japanese heavyweight Takeshi Morishima from Pro Wrestling Noah.  Morishima is an incredible talent who reminds me a lot of Samoa Joe, but I don't think that anyone in attendance last night expected that they would see a title change.  From what I understood, he isn't moving to the United States to work full time in ROH, but was instead on an American tour; sort of like an extended version of Kenta Kobashi's 2005 visit to the United States, but maybe not.  Whatever the situation is, one thing is is for certain - the ROH World Championship has truly become a global championship in the world of professional wrestling, and it's current holder is Takeshi Morishima.