HomeArticlesNJoA: NJPW Strong Roster Review Part 1 | ACH to KENTA

NJoA: NJPW Strong Roster Review Part 1 | ACH to KENTA

On October 21, 2019, New Japan Pro-Wrestling announced the formation of a new subsidiary promotion – New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America (NJoA).

Following successful shows in America over the previous few years, and the opening of the Los Angeles Dojo in March 2018. NJoA aired its first show on NJPW World and Fite TV in July 2020 with four episodes featuring the Lion’s Break Collision tour.

NJPW Strong, the flagship show of NJoA, started on August 7, 2020, with the first round of the New Japan USA Cup. It has been running on Friday night (USA) / Saturday morning (UK) / Saturday lunchtime (Japan) ever since.

If you’re unfamiliar with New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America, don’t worry. We have you covered. We will continue to have coverage of NJPW Strong results every week, but if you’re wanting to know what to expect before tuning in, let’s give you an idea of who you’re likely to see.

This week, we take look at the first half of the NJPW Strong roster, including a few familiar names in the IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion, Jon Moxley, and his number one contender, KENTA.

The numbers after each name denote the wrestler’s win-loss record in New Japan Pro-Wrestling as a whole, including any cross-promotional events (such as ROH/NJPW Global Wars).

ACH (38-51)

A familiar name to fans of independent wrestling in the United States, ACH has a long history with NJPW. He reached the finals of the Super Jr. Tag Tournament in 2016 alongside Taiji Ishimori and in 2017 with Ryusuke Taguchi. He made his NJPW Strong debut on episode 2 in a 6-Man Tag. ACH has yet to get his first win as a singles competitor – losing in matches against Karl Fredericks and Tama Tonga. ACH is an incredible technical wrestler and high-flier, with one of the best frog splashes in the business. 

Adrian Quest (5-5)

Quest started wrestling at the age of 13, under a mask to hide his age, and took a break a few years later to return to education. “Young Fuego” first appeared in NJoA on episode 3 of Strong, teaming with Rocky Romero. Since then he has been on the winning end of four of his nine matches but is another wrestler yet to get a victory in singles action. Look out for Quest’s incredible 630° senton.

Bateman (1-2)

A 20-year veteran, (Tyler) Bateman is no stranger to fans of Ring of Honor, where he regularly appears as part of The Righteous.  Making his debut for NJoA at The New Beginning USA in 2019, and returning to Strong on episode 24, Bateman’s technical skills and ability to take (and enjoy) a beating make him a dangerous competitor. Bateman picked up his first victory in an NJPW as part of an eight-man tag match on episode 26 – utilising a vicious spinning tombstone.

Barrett Brown (2-8)

Brown has wrestled extensively in America over the last 11-years, notably appearing on WWE programming under his masked “Americos” gimmick. He debuted for New Japan in 2019, as part of Lion’s Break Project 2, in losing efforts on both nights. A record of two victories in eight matches so far (both in tag team competition) and a heavy defeat against Misterioso on episode 23 suggests Barrett needs to make some changes to find success in Strong. 

Blake Christian (5-7)

Despite his relative newcomer status, with only four years under his belt, Christian is quickly making a name for himself – recently making the final of Impact Wrestling’s Super X Cup tournament. Blake has been in Strong since episode 2, and made the semi-final of the Super J-Cup 2020, losing to El Phantasmo. Blake is a high-flier with a beautiful corkscrew splash finisher called “Elia”. Recently announced his signing with WWE.

Brody King (9-14)

Another Ring of Honor representative, and former tag-team partner of Bateman (in Violence Unlimited). King debuted in 2019 at The New Beginning USA, and appeared at The Best of Super Junior XXVI shows in Japan as part of Villain Enterprises. Brody has had issues with Bullet Club on Strong, even (unsuccessfully) challenging KENTA for the #1 Contendership Briefcase to the NJPW US Heavyweight Title. Recently, King has found himself in the crosshairs of Team Filthy and went to war against JR Kratos on episode 24. A deceptively agile powerhouse, King’s Gonzo Bomb is something no-one wants to face.

Chris Dickinson (2-0)

“The Dirty Daddy” is a well-travelled star of the US Indy Scene. He is largely known for his powerful, violent style (look up his Lego Deathmatch against Addy Starr), partly due to his time in XWA and CZW. However, his technical ability is often underrated and can catch opponents off guard. Dickinson made his debut on episode 22 as part of Team Filthy and is undefeated so far, tapping out Rocky Romero on episode 25. Dickinson has shown his emotional side stating how proud he is to finally wrestle in an NJPW ring and wants “it all” in the company. 

Danny Limelight (6-9)

Limelight is rightly beginning to garner some attention in the “mainstream” wrestling world, with regular appearances on AEW – including a highlight of the night performance against Kenny Omega and The Good Brothers. Danny is part of Tom Lawlor’s Team Filthy and brings a high-paced aspect to the stable. With a rope-walk springboard clothesline that is a sight to behold and precision striking, Limelight is to be feared between the ropes.

El Phantasmo (66-33)

NJoA: NJPW Strong
TOKYO,JAPAN – MAY 23: El Phantasmo enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling ‘Best Of Super Jr.’ at Korakuen Hall on May 23, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

The “vilest person on the planet” according to NJoA commentator Alex Koslov. A two-time (and reigning) IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion (with Taiji Ishimori), and back-to-back winner of the Super J Cup (2019 & 2020). A mainstay of Bullet Club, ELP debuted on Strong on episode 23, appearing twice alongside Hikuleo and KENTA in 6-man tag action. Known for using the CR2 as a finisher, he has recently switched to using a superkick to knock out opponents – leading many to question the possibility of a loaded boot.

Fred Rosser (5-6)

“Mr. No Days Off” seems to be relishing in his status as one of the more experienced men on the roster. The 19-year veteran spent 12-years in WWE, with seven of those on regular TV as Darren Young. His desire and thirst for more experience, knowledge, and skills has seen him not only take on the challenges of appearing regularly on NJPW Strong but show up regularly to train at the LA Dojo with Katsuyori Shibata. A man of many talents, Rosser is finding a new lease of life – and still delivering Gutchecks.

Hikuleo (43-66)

A career-long member of Bullet Club and part of the legendary Fifita family, the brother of Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa is starting to come into his own in NJPW Strong. A Young Lion graduate, he debuted on episode 5 after an excursion to Revolution Pro Wrestling and picked up his first-ever NJPW singles victory against Brody King. Hikuleo is usually the powerhouse of the Bullet Club contingent in NJPW Strong and has recently found himself in battles with Fred Rosser.

Jon Moxley – IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion (15-10)

NJoA: NJPW Strong
Jon Moxley helps Shota Umno away from the ring after a star making performance from the Young Lion.

At the time of writing, Moxley is on day 397 of his record-breaking second IWGP US Heavyweight Championship reign and is scheduled to defend against KENTA on February 26. A champion almost everywhere he’s been, “The Lunatic Fringe” has yet to compete on NJPW Strong, but made his mark recently, laying out Bullet Club to finally accept the challenge from KENTA. A technically proficient, yet enigmatically violent individual, Moxley brings star power and unpredictability to his matches. Only time will tell whether the Death Rider will continue his success on NJPW Strong.

Jordan Clearwater (1-7)

“The Golden Boy of Professional Wrestling” had a slow start to his NJoA career. He Trained by “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson, Clearwater has found moderate success elsewhere but had to wait until episode 26 of NJPW Strong for his first taste of victory – as part of an eight-man tag match. He’s clearly a student of his teacher, as his vicious-looking spinebuster is almost identical to Anderson’s. 

JR Kratos (3-4)

The current NWA World Tag Team Champion (along with Aron Stevens), JR Kratos is a powerhouse who seems to delight in beating the living daylights out of his opponents. A member of Team Filthy, Kratos recently had an outstanding “hoss fight” against Brody King – a war that looks far from over. Physically dominant, with a brutal looking spear, Kratos is an intimidating force to be stood across the ring from. 

KENTA (52-66)

NJoA: NJPW Strong
KENTA siting on top of Tetsuya Naito after attacking, spoiling his moment of double gold triumph at Wrestle Kingdom 14

KENTA won the New Japan Cup USA tournament, defeating David Finlay in the final to become the holder of the IWGP United States Heavyweight Title #1 Contendership Briefcase. A member of Bullet Club since August 2019, with a NEVER Openweight Title reign to his name. KENTA will challenge Jon Moxley for the title on February 26. He recently set the online wrestling community alight by turning up on AEW to attack the champion. A deadly striker, and inventor of the Go 2 Sleep, KENTA won’t stop until he gets what he wants.

As you can see, some well-known faces have been making their presence felt on NJPW Strong. Next week, we’ll complete the review of the roster, and take a look at the Young Lions currently training under Katsuyori Shibata in the LA Dojo.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling STRONG airs weekly on a Friday night (10 pm ET, 9 pm CT, 7 pm PT) in America / Saturday morning (3 am GMT) in the UK / Saturday lunchtime (12 noon JST) in Japan, available on New Japan World. & on Fite.TV

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