Ring of Honor ready to be “Thunderstruck”
JASON CLEVETT -- SLAM! Wrestling
Fans from throughout North America will be converging on Revere, MA and Elizabeth, NJ this weekend to witness a rare North American appearance by Japanese legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger.
"A Weekend of Thunder" begins Friday night in Revere where Liger will face off with fellow New Japan star “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson in a singles bout. The next night in Elizabeth, Liger teams with ROH Champion Samoa Joe to face Joe’s rivals Low Ki and Dragon.
"Bryan Danielson is the perfect opponent of Liger,” Ring of Honor booker Gabe Sapolsky told SLAM!Wrestling. “He is being groomed in New Japan as the next Dynamite Kid and Chris Benoit so we are going to see some great New Japan match ups with Liger and Danielson. He is also the opponent that I believe our fans wanted to see the most against Liger. I consider Danielson to be the best wrestler in the world now and Liger is a true hall of famer who is one of the most influential figures ever so this is going to be a classic match up.”
It’s expected that the shows will smash the attendance record set for the company’s “At Our Best” show in Elizabeth Wrestlemania weekend. It isn’t the first time ROH has worked with Japanese stars, they have brought in Dick Togo, Hidaka and Takao Omori as well. All Star Extravaganza in November 2002 featured Ohtani & Masato Tanaka against Steve Corino and Low Ki while Final Battle 2003 in Philadelphia featured All Japan stars like The Great Muta and Kaz Hayashi.
“Fortunately, we are running two big buildings so there will be tickets available at the door both nights, but we expect record crowds both nights and this will definitely be a live experience no one will ever forget and it will be special to be there live for these shows,” Sapolsky said.
The event came together in part due to the efforts of Samoa Joe. The ROH champion is involved with the Inoki Dojo in Los Angeles and took the initiative to bring New Japan and Ring of Honor together. He feels it’s another step in the company’s success and growth.
“The main significance of bringing in talent like Liger is that ROH is and will continue to bring in the best wrestlers in the world in order to entertain there fans,” Joe said.
Joe is also excited about having Liger as a guest at the Dojo this week for a training seminar for independent wrestlers.
“Myself as well as American Dragon, Rocky Romero, Pinoi Boy, Ricky Reyes and the rest of the LA Dojo staff will all partake in the seminar. For wrestlers this is a invaluable opportunity to train with one of the greatest wrestlers in history.”
It’s not just the participants who are excited, you can bet the entire locker room is shivering in anticipation of meeting Liger and what he brings to ROH. His appearance gives them a chance to impress new fans and make names for themselves, as well as learn from the icon.
“RoH has had a lot of legends lately and it turns me into a giddy schoolgirl,” said Jack Evans. “It’s amazing to meet a guy like Jushin Liger, even if you are in the business you still mark out from it. Just being on this show will be one of the highlights of my career.”
The company will also be taping a “Straight Shooting” interview with Liger this week which is sure to give a great deal of insight into a man who has kept himself a mystery for so long. Many ROH fans are hoping this will lead to future appearances by New Japan stars and possible even a cross over show similar to the Final Battle event.
”We always strive to bring in the best talent from all over the world and I
think our fanbase would really enjoy seeing more New Japan stars live,
particularly some of the juniors,” Sapolsky said, adding “There are no talks of bringing in more New Japan talent right now, but you can never say never.”
Joe is expects the night to create a fond memory for himself and the fans. Considering the caliber of talent in the tag match, he knows it is another chance to shine. He has some unfinished business with Dragon and Ki and the match gives him a chance to remedy that.
“This is a opportunity to show my opponents and the wrestling world that I am the most dominant champion in the pro wrestling industry. ROH fans can expect a night of wrestling they will never forget."
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For ticket info and the full scheduled card for this weekend visit www.rohwrestling.com. Coming Thursday a look at the career of Jushin Liger.