New Japan Pro Wrestling
Battle In The Valley
November 13, 2021
San Jose Civic Center
San Jose, CA

Watch: FITE (English) / NJPW World (Japanese)

Josh Alexander def. Yuya Uemura

I was expecting a typical New Japan young lion opener, with the veteran putting the young lion away in a few neat and tidy minutes. But I was quickly reminded of a few things. One, Uemura is technically on his excursion, so he isn’t a plain old young boy anymore. Two, Alexander is an outsider, so his winning here wasn’t a sure thing. Alexander leathered Uemura for the bulk of this match though, with Yuya getting in the typical young lion offense. This did go longer than I expected though, with Uemura surviving an Ankle Lock and a Sharpshooter before a second Ankle Lock put him away. Alexander looked really good here, and I hope we get more of him in either New Japan proper or New Japan USA. ***1/2

BATEMAN & Misterioso def. Brody King & Chris Dickinson

This match was just starting to pick up some steam before Dickinson got hurt on a frog splash. It looked like a quad or a hip injury, so let’s hope it’s not serious. N/R

Fred Rosser, Rocky Romero, Alex Coughlin, Alex Zayne & David Finlay def. Team Filthy (Filthy Tom Lawlor, Danny Limelight, JR Kratos, Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)

Rosser vs. Lawlor is the big feud here, as Rosser gave Lawlor his first loss in New Japan on a recent episode of Strong. Lawlor then jumped him and had Team Filthy help him shave Rosser’s hair, which Lawlor had fashioned into a necklace on this show. This match was all energy and constant action, which these Team Filthy matches have done a great job of doing on Strong and these big showcase shows. The highlights were the big dive sequence that ended with big JR Kratos diving onto everyone, and Alex Coughlin continuing his feats of strength by deadlifting Kratos into a suplex. Rosser got the win to set up a title match with Lawlor down the line. ***1/2

Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks def. Jeff Cobb & TJP

This match came about after TJP turned on the LA Dojo to join the United Empire. This was a solid, if unspectacular, tag match that allowed the LA Dojo boys to get some revenge on TJP. TJP spat water in Fredericks’s face and rolled him up, but Connors turned over the pin and held Cobb back for the win. ***

Will Ospreay def. Ren Narita

Narita looks like the spitting image of Katsuyori Shibata now, it’s uncanny. Ospreay reminds me of Matthew Lilliard as an actor. He goes all-in on whatever he’s going for, to the point where it can be a bit extra. But it really helps you get into the match seeing how big of a douchebag this guy can be, and how much you want to see him get his ass whooped. Ospreay spent the early portion of this match in control before Narita took control with some big suplexes, including an overhead suplex on the floor. Narita kept countering Ospreay with big submissions, but Ospreay would survive them. The gimmick with Ospreay is that he is disrespecting the LA Dojo, but he gave Narita a ton here. Ospreay eventually put Narita down with an elbow to the back of the neck before beating him with the Hidden Blade. ***3/4

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Moose def. Juice Robinson

Your Impact offer match saw Impact World Champion Moose take on Juice Robinson. Moose sent Juice into the barricade with the loudest BANG I’ve ever heard on a barricade bump. This was Moose beating down Juice, with Juice cutting him down with the Left Hand of God. There was a really good nearfall with Juice catching Moose with a punch off of a springboard, followed by a Pulp Friction for the two. Juice followed it with a big lariat that dropped Moose on his neck. Moose came back with a leap to the top rope that sent Juice flying with a throw. Moose went for a spear, but Juice countered it with some rollups before Moose hit the spear for the win. This over-delivered on my expectations, as I was very low on this coming in. But Juice and Moose brought the goods here and really put the result in doubt here. This was really good stuff here. ****

Post-match, Jonah Rock (the former Bronson Reed) debuted and got in Moose’s face…before hitting Juice with a senton and laying into him. He laid out David Finlay when he tried to make the save before declaring that he was the new top dog in New Japan.

Kazuchika Okada def. Buddy Matthews

Big Match Buddy makes his debut here, and New Japan is giving him the shot of a lifetime here. Buddy worked heel here, and he was very believable throwing Okada around here. Matthews hit the Danielson elbows before CRUSHING Okada with a Curb Stomp for a nearfall. Okada gave Matthews a ton here, and Matthews looked all the better for it. Matthews’s big mistake came when he tried to hit a Rainmaker, but Okada countered with a spinning lariat. Buddy had one last shot when he almost hooked up the Murphy’s Law, but Okada slipped out and hit a Landslide before finishing him off with the Rainmaker. Okada offers a handshake, and Buddy shakes hands. This didn’t hit the peaks that I was expecting, but this felt like Chapter One in Buddy’s story in New Japan. These guys have more in them, and I can’t wait to see it. ****

Will Ospreay came out with his illegitimate World Title. He told Okada that since he won the G1, he’s earned the right to challenge him for the “real” World Title. Okada said that he isn’t gonna challenge Ospreay, Ospreay is gonna challenge him. Ospreay called Okada’s World Title a dead title and said that since Okada is wrestling Shingo for the World Title on January 4th, Ospreay will “defend” against the winner on January 5th. Okada says that he’ll make it rain in the Tokyo Dome, and that’s your Wrestle Kingdom main events set up. I for one have had enough of these replica belts running around. No more fake titles, no more real titles. Just give me a World Champion and a guy to challenge him.

NEVER Openweight Championship
Tomohiro Ishii def. Jay White (c)

If Ishii loses, he can’t challenge for the NEVER Title again. They show a video package that reminds me that Ishii was Jay White’s post-Wrestle Kingdom feud. It also reminded me that Jay White main-evented the Tokyo Dome this year. I’m doing my best to watch this match, but Jay White matches either hit really high or drag like a motherfucker. And as I sit here at 1 AM watching this match, it is dragging hard. It doesn’t really help that this is a match I’ve seen several times this year for a title Ishii has held 7 or 8 times in the past. Now it does help that it’s Tomohiro Ishii in there, being the great wrestler that he always is. But I just cannot get myself to invest in this match.

White hit a brainbuster on Ishii, but Ishii kicked out at one before hitting a brainbuster of his own for the win and the title. Jay White losing here will stir up a ton of speculation, speculation that you wouldn’t subscribe to if you subscribed to the VOW Patreon. Meanwhile, Ishii is gonna take his newly-won NEVER Title on a plane to Virginia, where he’ll team with Orange Cassidy and throw forearms at The Butcher on Wednesday. What a life. ***1/2