IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship headlines in DC
Saturday, May 14 sees NJPW make its debut in America’s capital of Washington DC, with a stacked card headlined by the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship defended in a four way war. First time singles matches highlight the card, and there’s a special preview of Dominion’s main event to boot.
Main event: IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jon Moxley vs Jucie Robinson vs Will Ospreay
A complicated IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship picture will be clarified in our main event, as Hiroshi Tanahashi will defend against Will ospreay, Jon Moxley and Juice Robinson in a four way match. Tanahashi carries the title he freshly won on May 1 in the Fukuoka PayPay Dome, defeating Tomohiro Ishii, but that wasn’t the match originally on the cards. Tanahashi was contracted to face Will Ospreay, but a positive COVID test rendered the Commonwealth Kingpin unable to fly to Japan, and Ospreay demanded that he get next.
Yet Ospreay also had unsettled business with Jon Moxley. A controversial call saw Moxley’s hand raised after the Windy City Riot main event, even though Ospreay had visibly kicked out of the Death Rider. Ospreay wanted his rematch with Moxley, and Moxley wanted closure with Ospreay, while making good on his challenge to Tanahashi and securing a match he has been campaigning for ever since his first steps in a NJPW ring.
Further complicating the scenario was Juice Robinson, who attacked Tanahashi from behind in Fukuoka and revealed himself to be the newest member of BULLET CLUB. No longer caring for the fans, Juice has declared himself ‘laser focused on making as much money as possible’, and the US gold is the quickest path to riches for Juice. Who emerges from Washington DC with the gold?
7th Match: BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Hikuleo) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Rocky Romero)
Washington DC will see a tag team preview of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match at Dominion on June 12 when Kazuchika Okada and Rocky Romero face Jay White and Hikuleo. After Okada defeated Tetsuya Naito to log his fourth defence of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Dontaku, Jay White returned to Japan for the first time in a year to strike the Rainmaker with a pair of Bladerunners. The title match was soon signed for Osaka Jo Hall, with this tag preview made for DC.
Jay White and Hikuleo have been somewhat at odds ever since Hikuleo stepped up in Jay White’s U-S-of-Jay Open Challenge. Seeking answers after brothers Tama Tonga and Tanga loa were kicked out of BULLET CLUB, Hikuleo will face White next week on NJPW STRONG. Yet the ‘catalyst of professional wrestling’ will insist that the competition will only make BULLET CLUB stronger, and this duo more formidable as a result. In the CHAOS corner, Okada will look to Rocky Romero as substitute after Trent Beretta tested positive for COVID. Can he ensure there won’t be any ring rust with Okada as a partner in DC, and will it be Okada or Jay making the bigger statement before Dominion?
6th Match: Eddie Kingston vs Tomohiro Ishii
Eddie Kingston will face Tomohiro Ishii in what will be a hard hitting first time singles bout in Washington. Coming off the back of a hard fought win over Minoru Suzuki, Ishii would soon be confronted by Kingston in Chicago on April 16. The ‘Mad King’ would give Ishii his props for representing Strong Style in NJPW, but declared that he was devoted to the rival King’s Road mentality. Both ‘old souls’ that have a lot of respect for wrestling tradition and history to go with their considerable experience, Kingston and Ishii will throw all they have at one another at Capital Collision; who, if anyone, will walk away from this clash?
5th Match: Minoru Suzuki vs Brody King
Another first time matchup with violence guaranteed sees Brody King take on Minoru Suzuki. King walked into the lion’s den at Windy City Riot when he confronted a defeated Suzuki backstage and asked for a match in DC; a challenge that was met with a very forceful ‘who the hell are you? I’ll kill you!’ from *The* King. A brutal clash is guaranteed, but who emerges with their hand raised?
4th Match: United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare, Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs TMDK (JONAH, Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Bad Dude Tito)
Eight man tag team action will see Mikey Nicholls back in an NJPW ring for the first time in 2019, as he joins a powered up TMDK side against the United Empire. Nicholls was last in NJPW as a part of CHAOS, but his loyalty to tag team partner Shane Haste and NOAH stablemate JONAH will see him blend into TMDK on STRONG, and doubtless in Japan as well in months to come. Add in the revelation that Bad Dude Tito has been in 2022 so far, and the TMDK side make formidable opposition to Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare, and countrymen Aussie Open.
While NJPW fans have long been aware of how awe inspiring Henare and Cobb are, eyes were opened wide to Davis and Fletcher back at Windy City Riot. Aussie Open on a full United Empire side facing a full power TMDK seems impossible to call on paper, and will make for unmissable action.
3rd Match: Great-O-Khan vs Chase Owens
Fallout from Dontaku and a preview of Dominion sees Great-O-Khan in singles action against Chase Owens. Owens heads into Capital Collision one half of the newly crowned IWGP Tag team Champions, he and Bad Luck Fale claiming the gold after emerging from a Tongan Tornado three way bout having defeated Hirooki Goto of Bishamon.
That meant now deposed champions O-Khan and Jeff Cobb were not involved in the decision, and immediately demanded a direct rematch with the new chqamps. That happens at Dominion on June 12, and in the meantime, O-Khan and Owens square off in singles action. This singles preview could well set the pace for both the teams before they meet in Osaka Jo Hall, what will happen on May 14?
2nd Match: Fred Rosser, David Finlay, Tanga Loa, Yuya Uemura & The DKC vs Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, Danny Limelight, JR Kratos, Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)
In a shocking ending to this week’s NJPW STRONG, Tom Lawlor issued Fred Rosser an ultimatum when it came to the STRONG Openweight Championship. After campaigning for weeks for a shot, Lawlor will finally grant Rosser’s request, but only if he can beat West Coast Wrecking Crew in a handicap match this Friday night on STRONG. Rosser will either walk into Washington the number one contender for Lawlor’s gold, or as a crushed competitor fighting for any pride that remains. It will be a tough fight against the dominant Team Filthy, but Rosser will have strong backup indeed, The DKC, David Finlay, Yuya Uemura and Tanga Loa providing a diverse skill set united by a desire to win.
1st Match: Ren Narita vs Karl Fredericks
Singles record: 2-0 Narita
The action kicks off Saturday night with Ren Narita facing Karl Fredericks. First facing one another in the 2019 Young Lion Cup, Narita was victorious that night, but it would be Fredericks going on to win the tournament. As the Alpha Wolf further developed on NJPW STRONG, so Narita devoted his energy to advancing himself in the LA Dojo, beating Fredericks again at the LA Dojo Showcase. Could the third time be the charm for Fredericks against Narita? Or after a year so far full of hard fought but ultimately unsuccessful bouts, can Narita come away with a significant W tonight?