New Beginning USA 2022
February 5, 2022
Voices of Wrestling has been an integral part of my continuing wrestling fandom for almost their entire existence. Through their written and audio coverage, I have expanded my fandom to foreign and independent wrestling I may have never branched out to watch. My fandom began in 1984 when I stumbled upon an episode of WWF wrestling on our newly installed cable box. For just shy of 40 years, I have watched with varying levels of interest, but I have always kept up with the sport. I have no presence on social media so I rely on The Wrestling Observer and VOW (Day 1 Patreon subscriber!) to keep me informed.
Additionally, by contributing to the site, I will have the ability to vote in the Match of the Year poll which happens to be a Bucket List item for this 46-year old wrestling geek. Rich Kraetsch has been kind enough to grant me this forum to provide a weekly review of New Japan Strong. If you are not watching this show, I highly recommend jumping in now. The talent frequently featured each week along with the quality of the presentation make for a hell of a fun way to spend an hour each week. Several of the highly talented Young Lions from the last several years have a big presence on this show along with familiar names from the Indies, ROH and AEW. NJPW Strong feels like a show on the cusp of exploding in popularity. Without further ado, Episode 1 of NJPW Strong: New Beginning USA 2022.
Hosts: Ian Riccaboni (!!!) and Alex Koslov
Brody King def. Yuya Uemura
Brody King’s tattoos are to me what tinsel is to Frank Costanza, distracting. That said, this match is a great choice to open this set of episodes. We get an LA DOJO Young Lion versus a freshly minted AEW superstar. This match has a little of everything and fills its place on the card nicely. Brody King has really improved since the first time I saw him on a pre-pandemic PWG DVD (probably BOLA). His ring work is snugger and more hard-hitting than I remember. We get some nice work out of both competitors but, Yuya stands out to me here as the David to Brody’s Goliath. Uemura’s offense and selling are evidence of how great NJPW’s dojo system has done with this class. His strikes look damaging and his mat work is pretty crisp. But, Brody just beats the shit out of him with every strike. Uemura weathers each visibly damaging blow managing to mount a convincing comeback complete with a fire-up spot and two pinning attempts. His best attempts to slay the Giant are not to be, on this night satan prevails with an epic clothesline and Gonzo Bomb finish leaving Uemara nearly lifeless on the mat. As Brody’s theme music rings through the convention center, medical staff attempt to assist Yuya from the ring only to see a battered but not beaten Uemara exit the ring unassisted with the crowd standing and chanting his name, alive to fight another day. This opener ruled.
A great match no matter the position on the card showcasing both wrestlers’ strengths. Unlike the musical output of God’s Hate, I recommend checking this out. ****
I want to add how cool it is to have Ian Riccaoboni on commentary for these episodes. He adds excitement to every wrestling event he is on. I applaud NJPW America for bringing him on board. It’s criminal if he doesn’t find full-time work somewhere soon.
Lio Rush & Rocky Romero def. Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson (West Coast Wrecking Crew)
Team Filthy may have the most fitting music in all of wrestling, just grimy lo-fi rock and roll, fitting of Tom Lawlor and his merry band of miscreants. Speaking of music, I was today years old when I found out Rocky Romero is a hip hop artist. I am not an aficionado of the hip hop, so I will reserve judgement. Romero’s ring work has always left me uninspired. I know he has a tremendous amount of talent and his influence is all over the LADOJO, it just has never landed with me. I am, however a connoisseur of the ringwork of Lio Rush. Going back to his days in Evolve, I enjoy the high-flying and reckless approach of the MOTH. This match is another in the line of obstacles Team Filthy is creating to prevent Rocky Romero from getting his hands on The Black Tiger v.2022.
We open with Isaacs and Nelson attacking Rush and Romero before the bell with strikes to Romero in the corner and Rush being forced to the outside by Nelson. After the opening bell, we get a dual suplex spot by Isaacs and Nelson culminating in a cool front suplex to Rush by Nelson onto the unforgiving arena floor that had to hurt like hell and a back suplex in the ring to Romero by Isaacs. This match showcased Lio Rush as the risk-taker pro wrestling needs. He is a more crisp Darby Allin, in my opinion. At one point, Rush hits Nelson with a flying body press from the ropes to the outside of the ring that caused me real concern for participants and brought a smile to my face at the same time. The closing sequence is a fun exchange between Isaacs and Romero with Rush breaking it up by kick to the back of Isaacs head allowing Romero to lock on his armbar for the submission. A little post-match bullshit by Team Filthy with Black Tiger’s kendo stick to Romero’s back and we are one step closer to Romero getting his chance at revenge against Tiger.
This is an enjoyable match whose purpose was served extending the story of Romero’s chase of Black Tiger. Rush was the star of the match, though. ***3/4
A highlight package showing the history of TJP and Clark Connors as not only a successful tag team but now as enemies set up this week’s main event. TJP is a satellite member of Will Ospreay’s United Empire and goes by the nickname ‘Public Enemy’. He turned his back on the LADOJO where he was part of the inaugural class. Clark Connors is the ‘Wild Rhino’ and represents the honor and conviction of the LA DOJO. He is a native of Seattle Washington where tonight’s card is culminating from so the crowd is fired up for this and we are ready for the Main Event!
Clark Connors def. TJP
The opening bell rings and we get a hot opening sequence between two former friends who want to kill one another. After a sequence of chops and punches a fired-up Connors hits a couple of hellacious suplexes on TJP and then chases a retreating TJP to the outside where he shoulder blocks TJP over the rail and onto a table. Holy shit, that was great! The crowd is fired up to see the Public Enemy finally get his just desserts on this night. We get a rally by TJP beginning with a rope-assisted submission attempt and finishing with a single-arm DDT sending Connors to the arena floor. The damaged shoulder of Connors becomes the focal point of TJP’s attack. But, Connors finds a little more in the tank and hits a big shoulder block sending TJP to the corner where Connors hits several more shoulders driving the air out of TJP’s chest. The former 205 Live star manages a rally where he hits a single-arm DDT from the top rope. A cross-arm breaker attempt is countered by Connors into a full nelson until TJP finds the rope for a break. Another shoulder spear to TJP which spills to the floor and the Wild Rhino is back in control. TJP counters a suplex attempt into a knee strike to Connors head leading to a Mamba Splash for the 1….2…Kickout! Several pinning attempts later and both men are spent on the mat, digging deep into their hatred for each other to give them the energy to finish this feud. TJP takes advantage of a slow climb by Connors to the top where he attacks the shoulder again. A battle ensues on the top rope where the Wild Rhino hits a headbutt followed by a Mamba Splash of his own! TJP somehow kicks out but Connors manages a Trophy Kill on TJP for the victory in his hometown! This was an excellent start to finish. Clark Connors is going to be a star!
I loved the action, the story and this match. Pro wrestling is not a complicated thing and when it is done right, there is not a form of entertainment that is better. ****1/2
Episode 1 of New Beginning USA 2022 was a blast to watch. The current members of the LA DOJO on this episode showed very well. Uemura is improving with each match on this excursion. Connors is ready for the next step in his career. I really believe in what is being built on NJPW Strong. The sport is in good hands and the future looks bright. Until next week, take care.