NJPW THE NEW BEGINNING USA – LOS ANGELES [Review]: The Juice Is Loose.

“Monsignor” Travis Moody
@TravMoody

Alex Coughlin vs Clark Connors – Tonight had about an 85% fill of The Globe (no official numbers, of course); but the TNB show definitely felt less than a PWG, with the rear side of the ring having no seating and wide a barricade surrounding the ring. That said, this crowd would have been hot for anyone. Both Coughlin and Connors worked this type of match before, in San Francisco, featuring lots of grueling submission/mat-based stuff, lightning chops (including a flurry that got the crowd hot), and a crazy exchange of the Boston Crab and Lion Tamer. Both guys worked super hard — a theme of the night — and the audience was very receptive — another theme. Looking forward to more. – 2.75/5

Jonathan Gresham vs Tyler Bateman – Gresham showed why he’s one of the best technical specimens in the game, and he had to carry quite a load with Bateman. While the guy has a very cool albeit not-so-unique Billy the Butcher (think DDL from Gangs of NY) look, his work has only impressed me in sparse moments and this felt sort of throwaway. Crowd was accepting and made it more than it was. That said, Gresham is fun to watch. – 2.5/5

Colt Cabana vs Shane Taylor – Your usual comedy Colt stuff where he picks on the big guy, gets beat up and had a comeback and sneaks in a victory. Shane got the loudest boos of the night, which ain’t sayin’ much. This was OK, pending on your love for CC. – 2.75/5

-Villain Enterprises (Brody King and Marty Scurll) vs Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) – Good match, as expected. While everyone did their thing, Brody King looked tremendous–a far cry from the guy stuck between a rock in a hard place this last fall in AAW. He sold for a good portion and his wild agile offense was crisp. Loved seeing him in the role as the agile big man going up against other agile big men and he did not disappoint. This Villain Enterprises has some real potential as a team/faction. You know what you’re getting with KES (solid work) and Marty Scurll was arguably the biggest star in the building. The “PWG faithful” got behind King but he came up short to a Killer Bomb. Easily the best match until the main event. – 3.25-3.5/5

Jeff Cobb vs Karl Fredericks – This really didn’t do anything for me. The 7-minute squash felt 4 minutes too long. Cobb via Tour of the Islands. – 2/5

No DQ: David Finlay vs Chuckie T – Fun “hardcore” match, with a few creative spots–mostly all taking place in the ring. This was far different than, say, the street fight I saw on MLW this week between LA Park and Sami Callihan that felt more hardcore, and was more or less all over the arena. Finlay has his fans but feels like there’s something missing.. he’s quite the talent and I see a chance for a NEVER Open reign some day for him with some momentum. Globe (i.e. PWG) fan fav Chuckie T is going to AEW so no way he was winning this. – 3/5

Courtesy of @kingofsportspod

Lifeblood (Tracy Williams and Juice Robinson) vs Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Beretta) – The return of Roppongi Vice was welcome but it didn’t have the uproarious reception I maybe thought it would. Very good team, but let’s be frank: this is not like it’s the return of The Hardyz or something. That said, both teams busted their ass–especially new ROH signee “Hot Sauce” and Beretta, both who took most of the heat. Williams looked like just a guy who worked stiff until the second half, where he went on an array of high impact moves (a head and arm/half butterfly suplex; an innovative short stunner/breaker off the middle turnbuckle) and a pair of explosive lariats. Rocky was well loved but not to the levels of previous NJPW in Long Beach shows. He and Tracy would later have a fun exchange of hard thigh kicks and chops. Before Juice went on his expected explosion, RPG Vice did hit all their signature double spots, even the spike Dudebuster. I actually think Juice came off a bigger star than Marty here.. he’s just so fucking charismatic and you can’t keep your eyes off him. This hot tag match (too slow to be great, but too great to be “just good”) came down to a pair of intense false finishes between Rocky and Juice before Pulp Friction. Despite the reunion, the results make sense in wanting to push the Juice as the biggest North American gaijin on the brand (say bye Kenny and all that), and it kept the challenger for the US title in Charlotte just away enough from Juice to tease (Beretta is expecting to jump to AEW with Chuck, but still). The animated main event left the downtown LA crowd happy and Juice later thanked us and apologized for the card disappointment on behalf of NJPW. – 3.5/5

Overall = 2.75/5 Government Shutdowns

You know what, for $12.99 (plus fees/taxes) this was a really fun night of pro wrestling. For the price of a GA ticket to PWG, tonight I got two tickets off Stubhub, two meals at the bar next door, two beers and two metro passes to and from the show! Not bad, eh? Of course if you bought tickets on day one — esp of the more expensive kind — and were left out of seeing household Japanese talents like Liger, Ishii, Taguchi, Nagata, Goto, etc. for some of the lower young lion and ROH replacements, well, you got screwed. Still, this was an above average show that most seemed to enjoy. All the talent worked super hard and attempted to have the best matches possible. The crowd was great despite lacking the energetic aura of a big time PWG or Long Beach New Japan show; and maybe no one was obnoxious because it’s a Wednesday and I didn’t see too many booze in the crowd or too many orders at the venue bars really. As far as the merch table, it was strangely down in the lower level basement in a dark corner but there was a short yet respectable line and a good amount of fans were buying stuff. Besides the exclusive LA NJPW shirt, the merch looked like stock from previous shows along with a few personal items from some of the ROH talent. If tonight taught me anything it’s that brand loyalty is a bigger deal than we think; if I’m not stuck at work, I’ll be there!

-Travis Moody

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