REVIEW: New Japan Pro Wrestling Strong – The New Beginning Episode 1 (2022)

A Pay-Per-View Event by NJPW

February marks another month, and another tour for NJPW Strong, this time hailing from Seattle, Washington. Episode one of New Beginning USA promises to be solid, containing three matches with a number of faces I recognize. It’s cool to see the NJPW and AEW partnership continue, as I was somewhat worried I wouldn’t be able to see guys like Brody King wrestle for both anymore, but he’s definitely still there despite being contracted by AEW. As with any of these, I always recommend purchasing the show from Fite.TV since they have a bundle you can get which contains all three episodes for the price of one. I’m truthfully not sure why anyone would do this in an a la cart manner.

For anyone wanting to watch this, I would recommend Fite.TV. you can get some FITE credits (10 dollars I believe) with the following code: “6m6lyyn”. I’m sure there are other ways to watch it, but FITE has a solid interface and has been worth it so far.

The Card:

  • 1 Brody King defeated Yuya Uemura Singles match 12:56
  • 2 West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson) defeated Roppongi Rush (Rocky Romero and Lio Rush) by submission Tag team match 10:52
  • 3 Clark Connors defeated TJP Singles match 18:19

My Thoughts:

As I’ve stated before, my methodology for this is to avoid giving arbitrary star ratings or anything resembling the typical ratings people give in wrestling reviews. I stopped awarding “grades” to things long ago, after my gig at a videogame site slid into them manipulating scores. I usually go through the show and pull a half-dozen or so things that I thought were significant or that I liked. You might think some of my choices are dumb and that’s okay – we all like different things!

Looks Like Yuya Uemura is About to Break Out:

Japanese Wrestling has a tradition that we only really see in a company like AEW here in the west. When a rookie comes in, they usually get the hell beat out of them in a grueling string a matches in order to “pay their dues”. We recently saw one man, Alex Coughlin, endure this sort of hardship only to Finally get that win in the last episode. From here on, he is no longer a “young lion”. Yuya Uemura appears to be on the cusp of that trajectory as well, seeing that he was a hair’s breadth away of beating the powerhouse that is Brody King. This is definitely a guy to keep your eyes on.

Lio Rush looks Great Here:

After his departure from AEW and news of an injury, I was happy to see Lio Rush here, naively thinking he had a quick recovery. Sadly, this was filmed sometime in January, and as a result he is still VERY much injured, which makes me wonder about his Terminus booking next week. Fans like to attack Lio online because he is strong in his convictions, but at least he stands p for what he believes in and doesn’t let folks trample him underfoot. He’s an amazing wrestler, and paired with Rocky Romero, they could be unstoppable. Here’s hoping for a quick recovery and maybe we can see this tag team again soon.

Building up to a Solid Feud:

The opening video package highlighted the tumultuous relationship between Clark Connors, much of which I missed due to me just recently jumping in here. We see something of a mentor, student relationship at the beginning, then as time goes on Connors starts racking up wins on TJP which embitters him. Now TJP is trying to reclaim his spot from a man who has almost become THE face of the promotion, and will stoop to anything to get the job done. I doubt this is the last time we see these guys go head to head, and I can’t wait to see the eventual blow-off.

Conclusion:

I enjoyed the Nemesis Tour, but felt that a lot of the matches were just sort of there (mostly exhibitions). This New Beginning tour has had way more storytelling and stakes than those four episodes put together in just the few I’ve seen so far. I was happy to see a solid mix of familiar faces and new guys that really impressed me. Yuya Uemura and Clark Connors were both awesome, and I can’t wait to see Rocky Romero finally get to the bottom of his problems with Team Filthy and this new Black Tiger that is plaguing his existence. This was a great show, and I’m looking forward to the next episode seeing that a rare Josh Barnett match is on the card! Stay Tuned for mere!

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