On Saturday, September 30, I was privileged to attend New Japan Pro Wrestling’s latest event in the United States at the Pyramid in Long Beach, California. Founded in 1972 by Antonio Inoki, NJPW has long been a staple in the pro wrestling community, as their popularity in Japan is comparable to that of WWE’s popularity here in the United States.
The event was run a lot more smoothly than their previous event at The Pyramid back in March. There was a much quicker security line to get into the venue compared to the line wrapped around the building before. New Japan also put a merchandise booth outside the venue which likely helped shorten the security line. Acquiring wristbands for 21 & over attendants to purchase beer was nowhere near as chaotic as it was in March.
The event kicked off with a dark match that consisted of two members of the new NJPW Dojo recently opened in Long Beach. Both competitors got a nice ovation from the crowd after a well-worked match. I liked this addition to the event compared to last time and hope to see more of them in future events.
The first half of the show compiled a nice mixup of fan favorites and respected veterans such as Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tetsuya Naito, Jeff Cobb, Zack Sabre Jr., Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Jay White. The opening five matches set a great pace and tone for the remaining marquee matches later in the night, bringing exciting in–ring action and a few laughs through character moments to a sold out crowd.
After a 15-minute intermission the final four matches brought us New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest stars delivering top–notch wrestling action to cap off another successful Long Beach event. Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay delivered a high-paced battle in a tournament semi-final. The victorious Scurll will now face Kushida in the finals to determine a new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Next, Guerrrillas of Destiny defeated The Young Bucks to become the new IWGP Tag Team Champions in a near 20-minute long match that never ceased to be exciting.
In the co-main event slot of the card, current NWA champion Cody defeated Juice Robinson to become the IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion, a title that debuted in NJPW’s first event in Long Beach in 2017. Cody Rhodes continues to boost his star power since leaving WWE, as he has been putting on the best matches of his career ever since returning to the indy circuit and becoming a prominent member of The Elite and Bullet Club. The main event saw The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) defeated byKazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii in a tag team main event lasting almost 25 minutes long. The match saw brutal kicks and knees applied to Ishii from both Omega and Ibushi and great one-on-one action between longtime rivals Omega and Okada.
After the event, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega took the mic to thank the fans for another phenomenal event at The Pyramid and also to extend a challenge to his tag team partner Kota Ibushi for a shot at Omega’s title. Then, Cody took the mic to intervene and propose a triple threat match which was met with numerous cheers of approval by the fans. And with that, New Japan Pro Wrestling capped off another memorable night of great wrestling.
NJPW will be returning to the United States on November 10-11 for Lion’s Break Project 1 at the Anaheim Convention center at CharaExpo USA 2018. Tickets can be purchased at charaexpo-usa.com.