Invitation to tournament was realization of dream for Hanson, Rowe
War Machine spent the majority of 2016 cementing their status as one of the toughest and most successful tag teams in ROH.
Hanson and Ray Rowe began the year as the reigning ROH World Tag Team Champions, and the two powerhouses turned back all challengers for five months, including the legendary Briscoe Brothers.
Seeking new worlds to conquer at the end of the year, War Machine spent three weeks in Japan in November and December to compete in New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s World Tag League tournament. Although they didn’t win the prestigious round-robin tournament, War Machine made a name for themselves in Japan with a very strong showing against top-level international competition.
War Machine won four of their seven matches to finish with eight points, good enough for a second-place tie in their block. Only three teams in the 16-team tournament finished with more points.
"Since we became a team, the New Japan World Tag League was one of our top goals," said Hanson, speaking on behalf of the team. "We have worked non-stop at putting our names on the map, touring all over the world in hopes that we would be noticed by the most prestigious tag tournament in the world. When were were invited, it was the realization of a dream. It didn’t even seem real until the plane landed in Narita. I got goosebumps thinking about it again now."
War Machine’s most impressive victory in the tournament was over Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima, who are five-time former IWGP Tag Team Champions and have won six IWGP Heavyweight singles titles between them.
"We definitely turned some heads and opened some eyes all around the world," Hanson said.
One of the highlights of the tournament was a wild match between War Machine and current IWGP Tag Team Champions The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa). Tonga and Roa ultimately prevailed -- and advanced to the finals of the tournament, where they lost to Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma -- but War Machine pushed them to the limit.
"This was a fight that went through the entire arena. It was violence at its best,” Hanson said. “They beat us, but it won't soon be forgotten. Our paths will cross again. Next time we hope it’s for those belts."
In addition to competing in the World Tag League tournament, War Machine also participated in 10 other matches on the tour, which began on Nov. 18th and ended on Dec. 10th. That’s 17 matches in 23 days.
"It was go, go, go," Hanson said. "Match, bus, travel, gym, match, and so on."
To prepare for the grueling tour, War Machine stepped up their conditioning and did their homework on their opponents.
"It was new opponents, different crowds, different venues and a different country," Hanson said. "We studied a lot. We watched as much as we could of New Japan Pro Wrestling World [streaming site]."
As good as War Machine was before competing in the tournament, they believe the experience has made them even better.
"By leaps and bounds," Hanson said. "War Machine is in a constant state of evolution. As 2016 comes to a close, 2017 is sure to be total and complete ‘War Machine World Domination.’"