After 18 months away, New Japan returned in front of fans in the US with Resurgence – featuring Lance Archer defending the IWGP US title against the Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Karl Fredericks pinned Alex Coughlin in 10:48 (***¼)
Clark Connors, TJP & Ren Narita pinned Rocky Romero, Fred Rosser & Wheeler Yuta in 11:19 (***¼)
Yuya Uemura, Adrian Quest, Fred Yehi, Lio Rush & Chris Dickinson pinned Danny Limelight, Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson in 13:01 (***¼)
Juice Robinson pinned Hikuleo in 9:00 (**½)
Tomohiro Ishii pinned Moose in 16:07 (***¾)
Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows pinned Yuji Nagata & Jon Moxley in 10:33 (**¾)
Jay White pinned David Finlay in 22:59 to retain the NEVER Openweight Championship (***½)
Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Lance Archer in 19:26 to win the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship (***¾)
We’ve got a card change too as Brody King dropped out of the show, with Adrian Quest slotting in in that multi-man tag against Team Filthy. Commentary from the outdoor Torch at the LA Coliseum comes from Kevin Kelly, Alex Koslov and Matt Morris (perhaps better known under the names Matt Rehwoldt/Aiden English).
Alex Coughlin vs. Karl Fredericks
This was part of Coughlin’s challenge series.
We start with Coughlin getting taken to the ropes, before he paintbrush Fredericks to start some back-and-forth strikes. A shoulder tackle takes Fredericks down, only for Fredericks to return with a leapfrog and crossbody. Stomps keep Coughlin down for a two-count, before Coughlin steeled himself for a series of kicks to the back. The crowd bayed for more, and got it, but Coughlin fires up with overhand forearms into the corner, then an overhead release belly-to-belly on Fredericks, before a Boston crab was attempted.
After Fredericks blocked it, he was met with a gutbuster, then a side Salto suplex for a two-count, before he returned with an overhead kick. Fredericks builds up with a splash in the corner, beating down Coughlin into the buckles for a hesitation dropkick, ahead of a back suplex. An elbow drop’s good for a near-fall for Fredericks, while a spinebuster and a STF nearly drew a stoppage, especially after Coughlin was thrown into the mat. A chop from Coughlin, then a back suplex offered him some hope, while a bridging fallaway slam nearly got the win… but Fredericks kicks out, and got waffled with a clothesline.
Yet still Fredericks kicks out again as he had to block a German suplex attempt, before he looked to land Manifest Destiny… Coughlin blocks it, but couldn’t complete the counter into a suplex, before the Manifest Destiny DDT got the win. A really good opener with Coughlin coming close to snatching the win, but it was Fredericks who eked out the win here. ***¼
Clark Connors, Ren Narita & TJP vs. Fred Rosser, Rocky Romero & Wheeler Yuta
A trios match as we’ve got some more Strong stars on the card, including what I think was Narita’s fifth match in front of a crowd while on excursion?
Yuta and TJP start as commentary waxed lyrical about Yuta’s recent exploits. TJP headstands and dropkicks out of some headscissors, before Clark Connors came in to bulldog Yuta for a two-count. A snap suplex has Yuta on the back foot, but he snaps Connors’ arm between his feet, then tagged in Rocky Romero for a flying kneedrop to the arm. Connors’ shoulder block stopped the Forever clotheslines, before Clark got sent onto the apron for a dropkick through the ropes. Yuta’s back in to work over Connors’ arm, before Connors powered out of an Octopus stretch… only to get chopped in the ropes. Some misdirection leads to a POUNCE by Connors, before Ren Narita tagged in and cleared the opposite apron.
A front facelock suplex gets Narita a two-count, as he again goes after Rosser, who was getting increasingly irate on the apron. Of course, Rosser tags in next and put the boots to Narita, then hit a back suplex on the apron. Narita kicks out at two as TJP and Connors helped triple-team Rosser, leading to a release overhead belly-to-belly on Rosser for a Narita two-count. Rosser’s back to his feet and trades boots with Narita, ahead of a Saito suplex that Rosser popped back up from to hit a Gut Check. Rolling elbows rock Narita before the pair KO’d each other, as tags bring us back to Romero and Connors. A Rocky ‘rana takes Clark to the corner for Forever lariats, only for Narita to spoil the party as a big ol’ Parade of Moves broke out, ending with a Trophy Kill spear from Connors.
Rocky tries to pull ahead with Forever clotheslines to Connors and TJP, before a double ‘rana took them down… Shiranui lands for a two-count on Connors, before a second one’s caught and met with a back suplex before a Mamba splash from TJP helped get Connors the win. A fun trios match with a hot crowd – those Rosser/Narita exchanges were wild and left you wanting that singles match, as these undercard bouts ought to. ***¼
They play a video package on how NJPW Strong provided a bright point for New Japan internationally during the pandemic… but nothing’s like live events, which they’re of course pushing. Just me nitpicking, but this video felt very US-centric, as there was no centric of Rev Pro as an “international partner” (as opposed to ROH and CMLL, who were mentioned… )
Team Filthy (Danny Limelight, Jorel Nelson, JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs & Tom Lawlor) vs. Adrian Quest, Chris Dickinson, Fred Yehi, Lio Rush & Yuya Uemura
It’s a debut match on excursion for Uemura, as well as the first time we’re seeing the expanded Team Filthy.
A jump start’s quickly thwarted by Dickinson, whose blue trunks certainly popped against the crowd lighting. He goes for a cross armbar early, but JR Kratos breaks it up before getting caught with an enziguiri. Dickinson’s charged down as Yehi rolls in to keep the revolving door stuff going, as even commentary couldn’t keep up. Lio Rush slides in to go after Danny Limelight, eventually hitting a snap enziguiri before Limelight made the tag out to Lawlor. Who got kicked in the head. Quest tags back in to land some elbows on Lawlor, only to leap into a knee strike. Ow. Headscissors from Quest take Lawlor outside, but Royce Isaacs runs in to hit a slam as Lawlor capitalised with a quick two-count.
Things calm down a little with Kratos working over Quest, picking him up for a delayed gutwrench suplex, before Kratos popped up Limelight into a stomp on Quest. Lawlor caught Quest in a rear naked choke, as the rest of Adrian’s team break it up, before Quest breaks free and tagged in to Uemura. Uemura lays into Limelight with forearms, following up with a back suplex for a two-count before Team Filthy flooded the ring. They’re quickly dealt with, as Lawlor and Dickinson trade chops and forearms, before a scooping tombstone from Lawlor sparked a brief Parade of Moves, culminating in a moonsault from Quest to the pile on the floor.
Rush stares down Kratos, but his ‘rana’s caught and turned into a press slam into the pile, before Kratos teased a dive… but Uemura caught him in the corner and powerbombed him down. Limelight’s legal though, and hits a flying stomp to Uemura… then a Destroyer to Quest… before Rush made a save and waffled Limelight with a spinning kick. From there, Rush Hour stops Limelight, before Uemura got the win with the Kanuki Suplex – which looks to have been rebranded a Deadbolt Suplex – as the travelling Young Lion got his first win abroad. A wild match with a lot happening, as Team Filthy stutter going into Lawlor’s next title defence. ***¼
Post-match, Uemura got the mic and addressed the crowd… then was interrupted by Katsuyori Shibata, who formally invited him to the LA Dojo.
Hikuleo vs. Juice Robinson
This was set up on Strong 24 hours earlier…
Hikuleo bullied Juice to begin with, before a side headlock was clung onto. A heck of a side headlock too, apparently. Hikuleo gets free with a backdrop suplex, before some ground and pound put the big man ahead. Juice floats over Hikuleo in the corner, then took him outside for a plancha, before Juice got posted. He’s dropped onto the rails too as Hikuleo looked for the count-out win, but Hikuleo then broke the count so he could inflict more punishment, but Juice gets back into the ring, all bloodied, as Hikuleo stalked.
A scoop slam from Hikuleo nearly gets the win, before he hung up Juice in the ropes as the former US champion took too long sorting out his feet on the top. Mounted punches quickly turn into a falling powerbomb by Juice, as Dusty punches then broke out… only for Hikuleo to smash his way back in with a lariat. Hikuleo looks for a Tongan Driller, but Juice rolls his way free, and that’s the win. A little scrappy, but Juice fells the big man in a match that didn’t need to be any longer. **½
Post-match, Hikuleo attacks and lays out Juice with a chokeslam.
We’ve an announcement of future NJPW Strong tours, with dates September, October and November to presumably tape for Strong… in addition to a special: Battle in the Valley, on November 13 in San Jose.
Moose vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Commentary brought up their only prior meeting five years ago, which Ishii won in quick time…
We open with strikes as Ishii was sent into the ropes for shoulder blocks, which barely fazed Moose. Except Ishii was like (erm) a dog with a bone, before he was eventually charged down. Ishii sidesteps a charge into the corner, then went back for shoulder blocks, but again got knocked down by Moose. Chops take Ishii into the ropes, but he asks for more before he had his eyes raked. A dropkick has Ishii outside, where Moose joined him ahead of a charge… but Ishii sidesteps as Moose hits the rails. Back inside, the pair trade chops as Moose again pulls ahead, but Ishii begins to monster up, shrugging off Moose’s strikes before he fought back, hitting a suplex for good measure. Chops and forearms pin Moose into the corner, but another shoulder block knocks down Ishii, who then blocked a powerbomb attempt, and nailed another forearm.
Ishii pops up from a shoulder block to hit a Saito suplex, before dualling lariats send the pair down. Moose is back up to blister Ishii with a chop, then land a crossbody out of the corner ahead of a powerbomb for a near-fall. A Choke Bomb off the top keeps the near-falls going, as a ripcord lariat was avoided… only for Ishii to take a regular lariat for a one-count. Ishii’s right back with the beh-beh left/right elbows, only to get dropkicked in the mush. A German suplex throws Moose back, as did a lariat which nearly end it, before Moose hits a uranage as he blocked a brainbuster. Ishii swats away another ripcord lariat, hitting an enziguiri instead ahead of a sliding lariat for a near-fall… before a sheer-drop brainbuster gets the win in a lovely hard-hitting matchup. I do feel like this could have been anyone against Ishii, but Moose more than played his part here. ***¾
Out of nowhere, Will Ospreay’s music hits… and that caught everyone off guard. He’s here, looking in what I can only borrow Alan Counihan’s description as “like a Poundland Connor McGregor” (Dollar Tree for you guys in the States). The LA crowd chanted for him, as Ospreay revealed he was medically cleared… and said that he wouldn’t be in the G1, because he’s not going back to Japan? He’s a little sour because he wanted four months off… and got stripped of his title. Some of the arguments were a little “apples to oranges,” but long story short, Ospreay brought out the IWGP World Heavyweight title, calling himself the real world’s champion.
Do you think they’ll badly blur out one of the tag belts for Shingo back in Japan?
Ospreay then said he’d work NJPW Strong. He’s also booked on Rev Pro shows in the UK, so I guess someone’s up for those Mexico stay-overs to get around the transit rules. Clark Connors and Karl Fredericks came out to confront Ospreay, as did TJP, before Ospreay did the chicken thing of lashing out and running away This kinda outlasted it’s welcome and quickly went from “heel heat”, beyond that to “I just don’t care”, change-the-channel heat. I know I’m not alone… and I’m also not one of those anti-Ospreay guys either.
The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. Jon Moxley & Yuji Nagata
Yuji Nagata was Moxley’s mystery partner – a role you’d assume was meant for Shota Umino, who was pulled from the show because of ongoing covid travel restrictions preventing direct transit from the UK to the US.
Moxley and Anderson start, but an early Death Rider attempt sees Anderson powder to the outside. Tags bring in Gallows and Nagata, but Nagata’s forced to fight out of the Good Brothers’ corner before he got booted to the outside by Gallows. Moxley’s jumped too as the referee starts the count-out as fireworks were getting set off in the background. It kinda distracted from the match as Gallows elbowed away on Nagata again fought back, with a hesitation dropkick as tags got us back to Moxley and Anderson. Mox’s tope takes out the Brothers, with Anderson then getting hurled into the rails as Moxley then went out for plunder, chucking a chair at both of them.
An eye rake and a German suplex drops Gallows, before Moxley hit an X-Plex to Anderson for a two-count. A Bully choke’s next, before Gallows made the save on a Death Rider as clotheslines bring us to Nagata tagging in. Kicks have Anderson in the corner, while Gallows gets chucked with an Exploder. There’s a Nagata Lock II for Anderson as he mocked Nagata’s pose, then some armbreakers. Anderson extricates himself as Gallows trips Nagata in the ropes… Moxley attacks, but gets laid out with a Magic Killer on the floor into a chair, and it’s only a matter of time from there. Nagata defends with kicks, but he’s eventually overwhelmed as a Gun Stun from Anderson leads to the Magic Killer for the win. This was fine, but you’ll forget most of this before the end of the show. **¾
After the match, the Good Brothers mug… and get interrupted by the Guerrillas of Destiny, who came out. The Good Brothers powder, and I guess that match is being saved for more money, judging by Gallows’ gesture. Either that, or somewhere in Italy.
NEVER Openweight Championship: David Finlay vs. Jay White (c)
A storied rivalry when the pair were Young Lions spilled over recently, and while David Finlay got a win in the New Japan Cup back in March, Jay White still holds the lion’s share of wins between the pair.
Both Finlay and White had their section of fans, but White seemingly had a more cult-like following as he had to defend Finlay in the ropes. It’s an aggressive start, with White simply pushing Finlay off the top rope to the outside, leading to an awkward bump for the challenger. Back inside, White worked over Finlay with backbreakers and bearhugs to the lower back, before he hurled Finlay into the buckles for an extremely nonchalant one-count. Finlay’s tossed outside, before he rolled back into some stomps at the hands of White, who was comfortably dictating the pace here.
White joins him outside, before they returned to the ring with Finlay buying him some time with a back body drop. A European uppercut took White outside for a plancha, before a uranage backbreaker was blocked as White scrambled onto the apron, ahead of a snap DDT back inside. Throwing Finlay into the ropes, White followed up with a Blade Buster for a two-count, but Finlay charges back, knocking White into the corner with uppercuts before White just hung up Finlay in the ropes again. White teases a Saito suplex off the apron to the floor, but Finlay clings on and countered with a back suplex onto the apron instead.
White hits back, literally, chucking Finlay over the top to the floor, via an apron bump on the way down. White looks to add to that, with a back superplex, but again Finlay defends as if his life depended on it, clubbing White from the top rope to the apron before a superplex brought the Kiwi back down to earth with a bump. Finlay tries to follow up, but gets spun with a clothesline ahead of a snap Flatliner, then a German suplex as White started to find his feet. A Blade Runner’s escaped, as was a Finlay cutter, before White ran into a Blue Thunder Bomb. A second one lands for a near-fall, as Finlay then applied a STF, turning it almost into PAC’s Brutalizer before making it to the ropes. White responds by throwing Finlay into the ref, following with a low blow as the ref was covering up. White argues with the ref, then shoves him away as Finlay got a retaliatory low blow – which the crowd booed – ahead of the Trash Panda over-the-knee brainbuster that almost got the win.
White recovers with a sleeper suplex, but saw his Blade Runner countered into a stunner. Finlay keeps going as he looked for another Prima Nocta, but had to make do with a roll-up as we hit the finishing stretch, with a series half-and-half suplexes from Finlay leading to an Acid Drop… which White snapped out of for the match-winning Blade Runner. This heated up well towards the end, but (possibly because of the open air crowd) it didn’t feel a shot as you’d have expected at points. ***½
Post-match, Tomohiro Ishii marched down to the ring and issued a challenge for White’s title… except White pointed out he’d already beaten him this year, and Ishii ends up just slinking away.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Lance Archer (c)
Archer won the IWGP US title a month ago on AEW Dynamite – ending Jon Moxley’s 18-month reign. Tanahashi’s over here to try and win the only current New Japan title he’s able to go for that he’s not won (save for the new world title, that is).
Tanahashi came in with a 100% record over Archer, with wins in the 2011, 2013 and 2019 G1 – and the crowd was seemingly hot for this. Archer tries to stifle it by chucking Tanahashi to the outside, but when Tanahashi got into the ring, he downed Archer with a toe hold, before a head claw from Archer broke it as the pair got to the ropes as the camera crew showed Jon Moxley by the title belt with a few cold ones…
They head outside as Archer cannonballed off the apron into Tanahashi, before Archer shoved the referee to stop a count-out as he was having too much fun taking Tanahashi into the railings. Overhand chops sting Tanahashi by the rails, before a Derailer pounced Tanahashi back into the ropes for a two-count. Archer maintains control, but loses focus as he decided to scare off ring announcer Adnan Kureishy. It bought Tanahashi time to recover as he chopped away on Archer, only to get knocked with a forearm. Archer again shoves the referee aside so he could punt Tanahashi low, as that game of Roshambo was over before it got going. Tanahashi tries to shrug it off, and eventually took down Archer with a Dragon screw as he looked to force an opening.
Archer’s taken down for a flip senton off the middle rope as Tanahashi picked up a two-count, before a Slingblade stopped the Ace in his tracks. A chokeslam onto the apron followed, as did a nuts rope-walk moonsault from Archer, who then took Tanahashi back into the corner for a Blackout. Tanahashi manages to get a foot to the rope to save himself, so Archer goes for it again, but this time Tanahashi countered into a Slingblade. The pair trade strikes as they got back to their feet, but Tanahashi nicks in with a Slingblades that sandwich a Twist and Shout neckbreaker for a near-fall.
Archer tries to smother Tanahashi with some ground-and-pound before he untied a corner pad, and batted Tanahashi with it. He upgrades to a chair which wouldn’t be quite as padded, opting instead to wedge it between the buckles before Tanahashi reversed a throw as Archer met the chair ahead of a roll-up for a near-fall. Tanahashi can’t follow up and got pulled into a ripcord Bossman slam for a near-fall, before Archer’s search for a superplex was fought off, with Tanahashi knocking Archer down for the Ace’s High crossbody. From there, Tanahashi scoots back up top for a High Fly Flow to the back, then rolled Archer over for another High Fly Flow… and that’s enough to lead to a new champion! A pretty damn good main event as Tanahashi claims the US title following a match that didn’t exactly roam as much as other recent title defences – but saw Tanahashi eke out the win as Archer dropped the title on his first defence. ***¾
After the match, Archer told Tanahashi to bring himself to AEW for a rematch… just in case there were any fragments of that forbidden door left to break down, as the night ended with the bloodied-up Tanahashi and his air guitar.
The open-air venue kinda muted the crowd responses for most of the night (at least, on the stream), but for all of the marketing behind the “Forbidden Door”, Resurgence was the first show that really felt like it was able to leverage it all. New Japan, AEW, ROH and Impact all on-hand for what was more than an empty arena show, and it’s clear that New Japan’s putting some emphasis behind the US arm of their company too, given where Ospreay’s being “sent”. Add in the other imports, in spite of the risk of leaving the “home” team a little threadbare, New Japan of America’s slightly-tweaked offering looks to have been a solid triple on its restart.