WRESTLEMANIA WEEKEND 2023 [Day 2 Review] – TJPW x ROH Supercard of Honor x Joey Janela’s Spring Break 7.

Free WiFi (Hikari Noa/Nao Kakuta) vs Daisy Monkey (Suzume/Arisu Endo) – High speed tag team match that wasn’t so high speed but super fun for 11-minutes or so. – 3-3.25/5

Janai Kai vs. Yuki Kamifuku – What I loved about most of these matches is that you had a split crowd for almost every match. Janai looked very strong with strikes with Yuki has the sassy, anime villain doll look going for her and the character work to back it. A fun 5-minutes for what it was. – 2.75/5

Hyper Misao/Trish Adora vs. Yuki Aino/Raku – Hyper Misao is a superhero! She brought Trish a superhero mask! So cute. So funny. Trish is impressive, physically, with great strength and ring presence, while Misao is a comedic genius. On the other side, Raku matched Hyper with hilarious pillow spots (as a DANGEROUS weapon, as a dangerous version of the sleeperhold) and innocent timing. If you’re OK with Toru-Yano type gaga, you’ll love this. – 3/5

Wasteland War Party (Max The Impaler/Heidi Howitzer) vs. Shoko Nakajima/Miu Watanabe – Awesome Giants vs. Minis match, or is it Kaiju vs. Mini-Jaegers? Miu feels like the third or fourth biggest star in TJPW, and she was way over and also showcased some immense strength against her far larger opponents (she also performed the “Cesaro swing” to Heidi!), while Shoko’s furry outfit is the cutest thing in the world. This was a super fun match that went into extra gears and told a great story. Tons of dives right in front of your front row yours truly, too! – 3.25/5

International Princess Championship: Rika Tatsumi vs. Billie Starkz – A good little title match that never really got the time it deserved, with the 18-year old Starkz (who’s been on AEW Elevation/Dark before) showing so much promise. She’s the female Nick Wayne in terms of youthful hype. Rika is also very crafty in the ring. Crowd was into it. – 3/5

Princess Tag Championship Match: Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki/Mizuki) vs. 121000000 (Miyu Yamashita/Maki Itoh) – The reason we’re all here, right! Maki is one of the biggest wrestling stars on the planet, and Miyu and Yuka have gotten a ton of exposure in AEW and ROH. I’m less familiar with Mizuki, but I definitely heard of her name and her style and frail size reminds me of Riho, especially with those twirling planchas (Whirling Candy!). All four come off as Joshi stars, although none bigger than Maki — between her entrance, look, attitude, facial expressions and bizarre in-ring style. This match had super heat and the work rate was also great. – 4/5

Matches = 3-3.25/5
Entertainment = 4/5

Overall = 3.5/5 Too Early For Alcohols

This show was all about Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s brand, the pageantry, the aesthetic and the crowd interaction. The best part about the 6 matches is that nothing sucked, and I was HEAVILY entertained even when mistakes were made and a grudge or title match would barely scrape 6-8 minutes. TJPW won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s far less competitive than STARDOM; but it’s also unlike anything you’ve ever seen this side of DDT. It never reaches those (sometimes cringy) levels of gaga; it’s on brand with the Princess vs. Evil endeavors and you got good, crisp fun pro wrestling out of it. This was definitely my fav of the indie — i.e. WrestleCon, GCW Collective — shows I saw this past weekend, even when other cards had some significantly better matches. I’m a fan!

Zero Hour Match: Jeff Cobb vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams – Pretty much a squash.. this makes FOUR matches in 5 events I’ve seen up to this time with Cobb. Just insane. Sadly, nothing really happened here. Glad I watched it on YouTube in the Uber over. – 2/5

Zero Hour Match: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Willie Mack – OK, so this one was ALL ABOUT The Bet. Sure, we’re in LA and not LV; but a massive bet was placed at the Arts District Brewery. None of us wanted to miss a Takeshita match (especially against Willie!), but we had a dilemma: we had no idea what order the Zero Hour matches would take place. Do we leave now and possibly sit through 3 matches we don’t care about with expensive bad beer, or stay for one more fine pint of the city’s best IPA’s for half the cost and risk losing out on Konosuke? Well, had we left early and Takeshita didn’t wrestle yet, the round was on me. But since the group chose to stay and possibly miss our Japanese stalwart, my dudes both had to split on merch. So, of course, this match took place SECOND and we had to watch it on our phones in the Uber. I’ll show you the gift down below in the Spring Break review 🙂 – 3.25/5

Zero Hour Match: Willow Nightingale vs. Miranda Alize – ROH is going to be a great home for Willow and Skye Blue, until they’re ready. – 2.5/5

Zero Hour Match: Stu Grayson (w/Evil Uno) vs. Slim J (w/Ari Daivari & “Smart” Mark Sterling) – The early arriving crowd was red hot for Stu, who recently returned to AEW and gave it his all in a war against Moxley. Will the Dark Order be ROH staples now? TBH, I think they’d be a great fit there; fun character but really good workers. I don’t know “The Righteous” but they made an appearance at the end to confront our boys. – 2.75-3/5

AAA Mega Championship Match: El Hijo del Vikingo (c) vs. Komander – Word to the wise: you DON’T want to follow Vikingo. That said, EVERYONE (but the Zero Hour folks) had to follow Vikingo. And, as early as Komander is in his singles career, he delivered BIG TIME too. Like I mentioned in the barnburner these had with Black Taurus at WrestleCon, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea — and I get it. SOME OF YOU ARE CRAZY. But, not nearly as crazy as these guys… and the amount of creativity put forth in this 15-minute plus opener was on another level. Super hot start to the show, and I felt bad for everyone afterwards. THIS. WAS. AWESOME. – 4.5/5

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship Match: The Embassy (c) (Brian Cage, Kaun & Toa Liona w/Prince Nana) vs. AR Fox, Blake Christian & Metalik – Two things here: Brian Cage’s contract is up, and he wore very D-X/HHH-inspired tights. But his team won. The other? Good on Tony for keeping the show momentum going with a high-flying team in this spot. It’s a death spot, but at least it was all action for half the time given as the opener. Kaun & Toa Liona have a great look; if they improve their workrate they will be something to watch in the future. If not, they will end up like the Authors of Pain. – 3.25/5

ROH Women’s World Championship Match: Athena (c) vs. Yuka Sakazaki – Yuka didn’t wrestle this same morning like she had a championship match later in the day! What a professional. And this was a perfectly professional woman’s title match, with some great dives from Yuka and awesome power from Athena. She hit her top rope stunner to victory, but not before a couple of great false finishes from Yuka and even better heel work from the champ. – 3.5/5

ROH World Television Championship Match: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Mark Briscoe – Uncle Dave called this the biggest surprise over Mania weekend. Since I also said that Cody beating Roman wasn’t exactly a sure-thing, I might have to agree–other than seeing last year’s Mania weekend MVP Mike Bailey lose 4 matches in one day. So, yeah, after a super valiant effort from Brother Briscoe, he still didn’t get it done against Joe and got choked out in front of his kids, nonetheless. Great Redneck Kung-Fu and awesome relentless brawling and submission-based tactics from Joe. This was excellent, despite the not-so-happy finish. – 4/5

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Daniel Garcia – Both of Tanahashi’s matches this weekend let me down, especially against a pair of my favorite wrestlers currently working for PWG. That said, this was still a fine match-up and the sports entertainer stuff from Garcia got some tongue-in-cheek heat from the ROH faithful. I’d like to see Garcia make a run in ROH, hence why losing this match did him no favors. Tana is well past his prime and didn’t need this, nor the Bailey win at Multiverse. – 3.25/5

ROH Tag Team Championship “Reach For The Sky” Ladder Match: Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fenix w/Alex Abrahantes) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett w/Maria Kanellis-Bennett) vs. Top Flight (Dante & Darius Martin) vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. La Faccion Ingobernable (Rush & Dralistico w/Jose the Assistant) – An absolutely AMAZING match that got overshadowed by the unfortunate ankle/leg injury to Dante Martin. Well, since Saturday, our Top Flight stalwart has been released from the hospital and appears to be very optimistic. That all happened during a nutty ladder bridge destroyer onto a table from Penta. The move was executed greatly, but Dante was overshot over the table and snap. It doesn’t sound like it’s broken, so thank God. Everyone here was excellent; I’m so happy to see Aussie Open working among the best tag teams in the world, Rush and Matt Taven stood out in particular otherwise, while the Luchas are beasts. If you can forgive the injury, this was a near-classic with FTR helping Mark Briscoe congratulate the winners. – 4.5/5

ROH Pure Championship Match: Wheeler Yuta (c) vs. Katsuyori Shibata – Maybe another major upset. Despite his pedigree as “The Wrestler” and one of the most dangerous strikers in the professional wrestling world of all time, Shibata wasn’t a lock to win the Pure title. This initially felt like a one-off, but now it’s clear that dude has a new home with Ring of Honor. I’m not sure half of the Mania Weekend audience ever had history with Katsuyori, but he def won some new fans with his dominance of Wheeler, who’s quickly becoming one of the best young heels in wrestling. Pure rules are weird, but both wrestlers made the most of it. – 3.75/5

ROH World Championship Match: Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs. Eddie Kingston – A very solid fight, a very solid war — that got turned up several notches when Eddie went into a third gear. I noticed the match shifted in several gears for our challenger; just when he looked too exhausted to keep up with Claudio, Eddie would turn it on — whether it was one-kicking out of a finisher or hitting a backfist from nowhere. The climax of the match was absolutely awesome and a bit shocking with a roll-up victory for Castagnoli, but I believe the right man at this moment won. Shibata came out to help Eddie from the pummeling of Claudio and Wheeler, but it wasn’t as effective an ending since we already watched Shibata battle Yuta just moments earlier. – 4/5

Matches (with Zero Hour = 3.5/5); (without Zero Hour = 3.75-4/5)
Entertainment = 4/5

Overall = 4/5 Stone Buenaveza Salt & Lime Lagers

This was a very strong, very BOLD Pay Per View! The best matches featured Lucha stars, or, at least, Lucha-inspired wrestling, which gives you an idea of where the trend of great “indie” match is going. I say “bold”, because Briscoe didn’t win, Eddie didn’t win, Shibata did and CAGE did! So much for him leaving? But, it’s arguable that the roster for Ring of Honor is stronger with the Lucha Bros, Joe, Shibata, Claudio and Athena as champs. That’s a stacked line-up. Sadly, the horrific Dante Martin injury overshadowed another tremendous ROH PPV and, while I’m pulling for a super speedy recovery for the kid, let’s not overlook what TK and the brand accomplished on Friday night.

Grab The Brass Ring DLC Match: Gringo Loco vs. Shane Mercer vs. Tony Deppen vs. Cole Radrick vs. Komander vs. Billie Starkz vs. Blake Christian vs. Alec Price vs. Jack Cartwheel – We missed the match because of the Uber craze leaving The Galen Center for ROH, but, from what I gather in other reviews and comments, this was a decent showcase but nothing like the Ladder Match we saw earlier in the day–especially since the winner (Blake) didn’t even have to climb a ladder to win… Glad this was the first match! – 3/5

Tag Team Titles: Motor City Machine Guns vs. East West Express – Big upset here, as the already AEW signed Nick Wayne and Jordan Oliver took the GCW tag straps from the legendary MCMG! This was high-paced; def a passing of the torch match between one of the original innovators of tag team wrestling to the future. Maybe a little too soon for the kids to win — and the finish was definitely flat — but this is GCW where Nick Gage, Masha Slamovich and Matt Cardona have been/are champs, so you can’t be too upset. Lots of spots, dives and speed on display here. – 3.25/5

Battle of WrestleMania Weekend MVP’s: Mike Bailey vs. El Hijo del Vikingo – Exactly what the match title (that I made up) says. Here, you have arguably the greatest indie performer in one weekend of Mania Weekend history (from last year in Dallas) in Mike Bailey to another guy who’s ready to take that mantle this weekend in El Hijo del Vikingo! While both guys were clearly exhausted and missed the connection on a few spots, it’s still Speedball and Vikingo and they still did the damn thing and turned out a Match of the Show in their (literal) sleep. – 4/5

-Bussy (Effy and Allie Katch) vs. Maki Death Kill (My Wife Maki Ito Moody and Nick Fucking Gage) – OK, here me out. Maki made me a Nick Gage fan, at least for one night. I’ve always been on the line as far as where I stand with the death match legend/lunatic, but this was insane fun. It’s garbage wrasslin’, but Maki made all the gory violence cute…and she was, indeed, the biggest star of the whole f’n show. I’m not sure whether I loved this or hated it, but I love Maki Ito and Maki Ito loves me, so there you go. Also, my 6’3 twin Matt Zack Ryder Cardona came out with a Cody jacket (something I bravely rocked at a GCW show) and beat the living hell out of Gage. It was a fun, violent scrum, and Effy and Allie might be the most ridiculous tag team of all time. – 10/5 (or, really, a 3.5/5 but who’s counting? Lulz)

GCW World Title: Steph De Lander vs. Masha Slamovich – Overall, it appears the GCW “Collective” is OK with Masha as champion. But this impromptu championship match def took the sting out of the momentum of the zaniness we just witnessed for several reasons I won’t get into here. Even at face value (for whatever title or no title this was or could be for), this was just OK. Def not Masha’s fault, as Steph — in her street attire — didn’t do much to impress much more than her mouth (and I don’t mean that sexually). Big talk, little action. This was only 6-minutes so.. whatever. – 2.5/5

-Joey Janela vs. Kota Ibushi – This never reached great for one reason: I don’t think anyone believed that Joey could go a hard 24-minutes with Ibushi. Despite how hard they worked to put together a great match, it just didn’t make sense. Joey has his supporters and I’ve witnessed him have GREAT matches at PWG Battle of Los Angeles and even on the first night of AEW Dark against Omega, but something about the dude just doesn’t click besides the fact he gets to hand-pick his oftentimes legendary opponent every year at Spring Break and make a big deal about it. Don’t get me wrong; having Ibushi perform in front of a few hundred at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Hollywood was pretty damn cool. But after wars with Jay White, Okada, yadda yadda.. having to struggle a little against.. Janela is all the more baffling. That said, Kota looked great and hit all his spots. I’m just glad he didn’t get killed on an apron DDT — a move I would have stayed away from with his past. Still, this was a strong way to end a wacky show. – 3.5-3.75/5

Matches = 3.25/5
Entertainment = 3.75/5

Overall = 3.5/5

I believe I mentioned a year ago that Joey Janela’s Spring Break had taken a turn from a mostly fun, relaxed wacky night of comedy and surprises to a more serious wrestling show and this year’s seventh sequel in LA was no different. Other than Cardona and (to a lesser extend) De Lander, there were no real surprises here, and, minus a tamer than usual hardcore tag match, we didn’t get a whole lot of hardcore. Instead, we got talents like all the gents and ladies in the opening DLC match, MCMG, Speedball, Vikingo, and Ibushi. GCW feels more serious wrestling-based than hardcore/comedy now, which is a good thing, but it also takes away from what made Spring Break so special in the first place. Since Joey Ryan’s Penis Party blew its last load a few years ago, I was expecting more of a fun, party type of vibe attending my first Break than a “PWG With Pizza Cutters”. That said, JJSB7 still felt like nothing else I attended this past weekend, and, for that and my beautiful Maki Itoh (muah!), I have that to be thankful.

-Travis Moody