The Road to New Beginning USA concludes tonight! This is the big one – the biggest match in NJPW Strong history. The IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship will finally be defended by Jon Moxley against KENTA in the main event.
MATCH ONE: The DKC, Kevin Knight, Clark Connors, and TJP Vs Brody King, ACH, and The Riegel Twins (Logan and Sterling Riegel)
King’s team all come out in the signature Brody King mask, showing signs of unity. Logan and Sterling have said in recent weeks they need to up their game and do something different if they are fortunate enough to continue teaming with Brody. The Young Lions waste no time in charging to the ring to get in the faces of their opponents, but TJP plays the voice of reason and holds them back. The DKC and Kevin Knight shove each other a few times trying to be the first to engage. Kelly compliments Shibata instilling the fighting spirit into the Dojo trainees – and mentions a “host of young talent not yet ready to make their TV debut”.
The DKC starts against ACH. ACH still hasn’t removed the hoodie and mask he came to the ring with. DKC shows athleticism with a dropkick, but ACH shuts him down with chops, before some quick tags with the Riegel Twins. Logan chain wrestles with TJP and avoids two-leg sweeps before hitting a low dropkick. Logan escapes a Scorpion Deathlock and tags in Brody King. Kevin Knight calls for the tag to face him. Knight fires some stiff shots and a beautiful dropkick, but King absorbs them all and flattens Knight with a shoulder tackle and a senton.
Knight is worked over with several quick tags before Logan gets a two-count from a beautiful bridging Fisherman’s Suplex. Knight lands a desperation body slam on Sterling and tags out to Connors. Clark takes it to ACH and gets a two-count following a powerslam. Connors hits a spear on followed by a Pan Am Splash from TJP, but King breaks up the pin. Knight hits another outstanding dropkick on King to send him to the outside. TJP tags out to The DKC then takes out King with the springboard dropkick to the outside. DKC counters a brainbuster attempt from ACH with a roll-up for a near fall. ACH avoids a dropkick and hits the brainbuster the second time to get the win.
Match Time: 8m 36s
WINNER: ACH, Brody King, and The Riegel Twins via brainbuster
The Riegel Twins came off the back of their last match saying they needed to get more aggressive, and they proved they have. ACH wrestling the entire match in the hoodie and mask was a nice touch, but a little odd given his teammates didn’t. That said, he was announced as “Super ACH”, so is a sign of a new, masked ACH appearing in NJoA? The Young Lions showed a lot of fight and desire, with Kevin Knight shining for his team when he had the chance. Connors didn’t really get much chance to influence the match – and no mention was made of Shibata’s comments this week of Connors no longer being a Young Lion. This could be a slow build with a breakout singles match to come.
MATCH TWO: Ren Narita Vs Chris Dickinson
Back on the Road to New Beginning USA Night 2, Narita and Dickinson were on opposite sides in a tag team match. Dickinson repeatedly questioned Narita’s fight during this match, and the two brawled after Dickinson had submitted Narita’s partner, TJP. Narita’s excursion to NJoA is designed to have him face a variety of opponents to learn more about the sport – and Dickinson brings that variety in one full package. Known for his power and explosive moves, the Dirty Daddy has been wrestling a more technical side since his NJPW Strong debut.
Narita grabs a head scissors early, but Dickinson escapes. Dickinson works the arm. Narita lands the first strike with a stiff chop on a rope break. They trade chops until Dickinson takes advantage with a leg kick and a chest kick. Dickinson tries an STO, but Narita gets to the ropes. Narita gets the better of Dickinson with an exchange of forearms, but Dickinson goes to the eyes to get an advantage. Dickinson grabs a leg lock, but Narita is able to apply pressure at the same time. Narita delivers a stiff slap while still trading the submissions, before getting to the ropes to break. They trade chops again with Narita walking through everything Dickinson has. Narita lands a couple of kicks, but Dickinson takes him down with a Dragon Screw. Narita lands a series of forearms in the corner and shoves the ref away when he reaches the five-count. Ren continues to attack Chris with kicks and slaps. The referee again gets to a five-count and tries pulling Narita away, but Ren shoves him off a second time. Dickinson manages to lift Narita and delivers a Death Valley Driver, but Narita kicks out at two. Narita stops Dickinson lifting him for a powerbomb, and eats a few forearms before taking Dickinson down with a series of palm strikes. Narita continues in the mount before the ref pulls him away. Narita attempts the Boston Crab, but Dickinson blocks it. Narita instead transitions through the Narita Special III into the Scorpion Deathlock. Dickinson taps!
Match Time:7m 51s
WINNER: Ren Narita via Submission (Scorpion Deathlock)
What a match. This was technical and hard-hitting and showed both the desire of Chris Dickinson to wrestle the NJPW style and the ferocity Ren Narita has adapted with his game. Narita delivered some stiff shots, and both men’s chests were red after some brutal chops. Narita showed a lot of aggression and came close to being disqualified a few times, with the referee showing some leniency on his break counts. Dickinson asked Narita a few weeks ago “Where’s the fight?” Tonight, Narita gave him an answer.
MATCH THREE: IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Jon Moxley (C) Vs KENTA
If you want to read a preview of this match before the recap, please check out our Ultimate Preview. In short, Moxley has reigned as IWGP US Heavyweight Champion for 419 days – although has not appeared in NJPW to defend the title in over a year. KENTA has been the challenger for six months after winning the New Japan Cup 2020 USA tournament. KENTA has been calling out Moxley since, with Moxley finally answering at Wrestle Kingdom, before showing up on episode 25 to confront his challenger.
Rocky Romero joins Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly as the guest commentator. Kelly reminds us all that Moxley is a two-time champion, but has never lost the belt – he had to vacate it due to travel issues previously.
[Side note: Moxley’s NJPW entrance music is much better than anything else he uses elsewhere!]
KENTA enters with the Challenger Briefcase. Referee Jeremy Marcus shows off the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship belt before the bell.
KENTA and Moxley meet head-to-head in the middle of the ring, and trade forearms. KENTA hits a big boot, but Moxley retaliates with a shoulder tackle, taking the Bullet Club member off his feet. Moxley hits a lariat for a one-count, and transitions into the bulldog choke – but KENTA grabs the ropes. Moxley sends KENTA to the floor and follows him out. KENTA suplexes Moxley onto the floor outside and grabs the briefcase. Moxley blocks the attack and attempts to piledrive KENTA onto the briefcase, but KENTA manages to escape and DDT’s Moxley onto it instead!
Back in the ring, KENTA delivers a series of vicious kicks to the back of Moxley. KENTA gets a two-count from a neckbreaker and then starts slapping Moxley in the face. Moxley fights back, but KENTA executes a drop toe hold to take Jon down and delivers some shots to the back. KENTA drops a pair of knees, then pulls down his knee pad for a third – only to jump over Moxley and back-kick him in the ear. KENTA delivers four kicks to the chest, but Moxley catches the fifth. Moxley looks to get the best of a forearm exchange but KENTA decks Mox with one final shot. KENTA ducks a clothesline and sets Mox up for the Go 2 Sleep – but Moxley escapes and shoves KENTA outside. Moxley hits a tope suicida.
Moxley hits KENTA with a headbutt, then a jumping knee from the stage. Moxley pulls a table out from under the ring and sets it up. As he goes to lift KENTA to his feet, KENTA strikes him in the face with the title belt! KENTA lays Moxley on the table, and climbs to the top rope – delivering an elbow drop through the table!
Marcus starts the count-out. KENTA gets back in early. Moxley returns to the ring at the count of 19! KENTA immediately hits a running Yakuza kick to drop Moxley, and then a stalling dropkick to a seated Moxley. KENTA hits the double stomp from the top rope, but only for a two-count. KENTA calls for Go 2 Sleep, but Moxley elbows his way out. KENTA slaps Moxley a few times, but Mox retaliates with a German suplex and a lariat for a near fall. Moxley delivers some forearms to a grounded KENTA but gets his arm caught as KENTA attempts a cross-face. Moxley escapes and locks in the bulldog choke. KENTA rolls out and locks in Game Over. Moxley looks to be fading but finally reaches the rope to break the submission.
KENTA delivers a hard kick to Moxley’s midsection as he’s using the ropes to get up. KENTA runs the ropes but is met with a vicious lariat. Moxley grabs the double underhooks, but KENTA escapes the Death Rider, lifting Moxley for G2S. Moxley escapes and tries the underhooks again, but KENTA rolls out and runs into Moxley with a clothesline. Mox ducks a right hand and rolls through into a DDT for a near fall.
Moxley pulls the hand-gun salute, but KENTA shouts “I’m not done yet”, and swears at Moxley. That just seems to annoy Moxley, who finally lands the Death Rider for the win.
Match Time: 14m 25s
WINNER: AND STILL IWGP US Heavyweight Champion: Jon Moxley via Death Rider.
Referee Jeremy Marcus gave a lot of freedom to both wrestlers in this match. As mentioned on commentary, this match has been a long time coming, and to end on a disqualification wouldn’t sit right. As you would expect from these two, this was a brutal, back-and-forth battle. Both men traded stiff shots, and either could have got the upper hand in the final stretch. One positive surprise was the lack of interference from Bullet Club – something a lot of us expected. It came down to Moxley being able to hit his killer move before KENTA, and the Death Rider retains the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship.
Post-match: Moxley shows a sign of respect to KENTA, but immediately flips him off.
So – does this mean Moxley will stick around on NJPW Strong to defend the title? Who’s next to challenge? Will the “Forbidden Door” remain open? What will KENTA’s answer to this be?
We will try and answer all these questions, deliver coverage of New Japan Strong and cover all the latest from New Japan, courtesy of TWM:Japan, click here.