Taking a look at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s The New Beginning in USA tour in Los Angeles on January 30th at the Globe Theatre on NJPW World. Featuring Roppongi Vice vs. Lifeblood, Chuckie T vs. David Finlay in a No Disqualification match, and more.
Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors
The show started off with this battle of LA Dojo Young Lions. It was a rematch of their encounter at Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Long Beach from September 2018. That match ended with Connors going over. This time the two went to a time-limit draw. Much like most NJPW Young Lion matches, this was very basic and fundamental. While this wasn’t spectacular or innovative, it was a really good pro wrestling match. The finishing stretch saw both guys trying to get submission wins with Boston Crab variations before the time limit expired. This was a really solid opener. While the rating might not reflect it, this match was very good.
Jonathan Gresham vs. Tyler Bateman
Usually, Tyler Bateman’s matches are very hit-or-miss for me. He’s a guy who is skilled inside the ring and has a good presence, but most of his matches can end up being underwhelming. A lot of times his style clashes with the styles of other workers. That wasn’t the case here, as he and Gresham really meshed well with each other. Both guys worked a very solid, technical match that saw them exchanged a lot of holds, submissions, and various pin attempts. Gresham would get the win after hitting a combo that started with a Quebrada and ended with a bridging pin variation. I liked this match. It was a good technical showcase for both guys.
Shane Taylor vs. Colt Cabana
This was more of a basic heavyweight heel-vs-face match compared to the first two matches. Colt Cabana goofed off and did comedy. Shane Taylor played the aggressive heel who didn’t put up with Cabana’s antics. Cabana got some offense early before Taylor worked him over for some heat. There was a cool spot where Taylor picked up Cabana by the arm as Cabana was on one knee and delivered a nice belly-to-back suplex to Cabana. Cabana mounted a comeback, and things evened out in the final moments of the match. Both guys exchanged near falls before Cabana got the win. While this was good, it felt a little out of place on a card like this.
Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer? Davey Boy Smith, Jr. vs. Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll & Brody King)
The Killer Elite Squad are one of my favorite tag teams in wrestling today. They’re the type of workers who come off as legit badass characters pro wrestling, which is what the business is seriously lacking these days. We need fewer guys like Joey Ryan in pro wrestling and more guys like Archer and DBS Jr. I was interested in seeing how Brody King did here with the Killer Elite Squad, so I was really looking forward to this match.
Things started off hot with the Killer Elite Squad going after Brody and Marty early on. After that, the next few moments saw Brody getting some offense on the Killer Elite Squad and several other spots. Things would slow down and the Killer Elite Squad worked over Brody for heat. Brody eventually made a hot tag to Marty Scurll. Marty would get some offense in, paving the way for a Villain Enterprises comeback. The pacing in the closing moments of the match picked up with both teams getting several spots in before the Killer Elite Squad got the win. This was a really fun match. Brody King had a really great showing in this and came off like a star. I really hope he gets to tour with NJPW this year. He’d be great there.
Karl Fredericks vs. Jeff Cobb
Of all the matches on the card, this was the most unique. It was the only match where an LA Dojo Young Lion, Karl Fredericks, went up against someone who wasn’t in an LA Dojo Young Lion. Karl Fredericks used basic offense and was the underdog in the match, while Cobb dominated on offense. The closing moments of the match saw Fredericks mount a brief comeback before Cobb got the win. This was quick and basic. Nothing great, but good for what it was.
Rating: ** (This is the highest rating I can give it)
No Disqualification Match: Chuckie T vs. David Finlay
It didn’t take long for weapons to be introduced in this match. After the opening sequence, Chuckie T brought in a chair. Finlay countered by bringing in a trash can. They didn’t use the weapons at first and brawled for a bit before the weapons ended up being used. At one point, Chuckie T blasted Finlay with a cookie sheet. While it didn’t look like anything vicious or something that would hurt a normal person, it made a really cool sound. He would use the same cookie sheet later in the match, which made another nice sounding thud on Finlay’s head.
The action continued with both guys hitting various weapons and moves on each other. Halfway into the match, Chuckie T began to pull out several more chairs from under the ring apron and onto the floor. Finlay tried to suplex him onto them, but Chuckie T countered and hit a suplex on Finlay onto the chairs. Moments later, Chuckie T would suplex Finlay into chairs again, only this time inside the ring. As the match went on, Chuckie T hit several piledrivers on Finlay onto the chairs.
The finish of the match was really cool. Chuckie T ended up setting up a bunch of chairs near one of the turnbuckles. He and Finlay then fought each other while standing on the ropes trying to gain the upper hand for a few moments before Finlay delivered a superplex on Chuckie T into the pile of chairs. Finlay followed that up by hitting Chuckie T with his finisher for the win. I really enjoyed this. It was a fun hardcore match that had several cool moments. Both guys had a pretty fun performance in this.
Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) vs. Lifeblood (Juice Robinson & Tracy Williams)
Beretta and Romero were teaming up for the first time since September 16, 2017. Since then, Rocky went on to manage Roppongi 3K, while Beretta moved up to the heavyweight division and teamed with Chuckie T. This match was advertised as a “one night only” reunion between the two.
Juice and Beretta opened the match with a series to start things off. After that, we had a really fun sequence with Rocky and Tracy having a really good hold-for-hold series in the opening stages of the match. Moments later, the two had a nice chop exchange outside the ring. As the match went on, Lifeblood began to work over Beretta for an extended period of time, and Tracy Williams targeted the arm of Beretta. This would build to Rocky getting a hot tag midway through the match to even things out. Lifeblood would eventually get the win. This was a really solid match that had a good amount of time. It was structured pretty well and the action was pretty solid.
This was a good show overall. It wasn’t spectacular, but there was nothing terrible on it and it didn’t drag. The only negative on this show was the lighting. It was either too dark, or it had a yellow hue that made it seem like the workers had hepatitis at times. Besides that, there was nothing bad about this show.
People were complaining about this show when the card was announced due to the lack of Japanese talent. While the lack of Japanese performer was a downer and a big reason why I didn’t go to the show, it still turned out really good. I think that people who complained about this show would’ve hated NJPW-USA in 2004 and would walk away with a new appreciation for this show. In the end, it seems like NJPW did the best they could do and still did better than the vast majority of wrestling promotions could’ve done in their situation.
Overall, I would recommend checking this out if you have nothing else to do. It wasn’t a bad show, but it wasn’t “must see” by any means.
I’d also like to mention this show was shot by Justin Naranjo, who also shot NJPW’s events at the CharaExpo USA in Anaheim back in November. Justin is a very talent production guy who would be a vital asset to any promotion looking to find someone to help produce, director, or shoot an event. He’s worked for various promotions in SoCal, but I still feel like he’s been very underutilized by this scene. Hopefully when promoters see this, they’ll look into his work and hire him. The guy could be a huge benefit to any promotion that can capitalize on his talent.
Check out some of Justin’s work on his YouTube channel.