Loaded in Long Beach May 21
The full card is now set for Resurgence, as NJPW action returns to the stunning Walter Pyramid in Long Beach for the first time since the Super J-Cup finals in 2019. The first NJPW STRONG Women’s Champion will be crowned on a night full of big matches and big drama.
Main event: NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship final
The main event will see the final match of the one night tournament to crown the inaugural NJPW STRONG Women’s Champion. The third NJPW STRONG Championship will see the best from around the world compete in US NJPW events moving forward, and with representation from CMLL, AEW/ROH and STARDOM in the four woman tournament, a high standard is being set from the off.
7th Match: IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Number one contender’s tournament: Will Ospreay vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Singles record: 1-0 Ospreay
Winner faces Lance Archer June 4 at Dominion in Osaka Jo Hall
With IWGP United States Champion Kenny Omega short a contender, a mini tournament of former US Champions got underway last month in Philadelphia. When Juice Robinson got himself suspended for assaulting an official however, it would be Fred Rosser taking Juice’s place, and the injured Rosser was swift and violent pickings for Murderhawk Monster Lance Archer. Now, Archer’s opponent June 4 in Osaka at Dominion will be determined in this clash of two men with considerable history belied by their sole singles meeting in the 2019 G1 Climax.
It was in 2019 that Will Ospreay entered the G1 as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, and with a declaration that he would ‘attack for the next generation’ just as Tanahashi himself had some two decades earlier. Ospreay’s G1 campaign would start, appropriately enough with a hard fought battle in Dallas against Lance Archer, and though Ospreay’s results were mixed, a win over Hiroshi Tanahashi in the Nippomn Budokan would end his campaign. It was an emotional full circle, and one that would give Ospreay the self confidence to break through glass ceilings and transition to the heavyweight ranks.
Indeed, one could point to the summer 2019 match between Tanahashi and Ospreay as the origins of United Empire, formed the next year on the last night of G1 Climax 30 competition and during the peak of the COVID pandemic. It seemed a matter of time befor the Ace would lock horns with Ospreay again given the new wrinkles of a new attitude and an ascent to superstardom for Will. In the end it would be a twist of fate surrounding the IWGP United States Championship, SANADA vacating due to injury at Ospreay’s hands, that saw the match set for the red and gold at Dontaku 2022.
Fate stepped int he way, and a COVID positive put the match on ice. Tanahashi would win the vacant US gold, which would be mired in instability until Ospreay took the title and raised its image through the back half of 2022. With that reign being ended by Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom, the stars aligning for Tanahashi vs Ospreay 2 with the stakes being the US gold and Kenny Omega couldn’t get any more poetic. Tanahashi’s distate for and history with Kenny Omega is not to be ignored either, and while the stakes can not get much higher, a battle between two of the best talents to emerge from the 21st century could not get much more worthy of anticipation.
6th Match: CHAOS (Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada) vs Wheeler Yuta, Shota Umino & Jon Moxley
At Dontaku, Tomohiro Ishii was more than a little uncomfortable with teaming with Hiroshi Tanahashi when Kazuchika Okada made the team to face NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag team Champions Strong Style. Wanting to keep the trio CHAOS centric, Ishii’s issues with the Ace seemed to create issues for his team’s lynchpin, whose loyalty to both his allies was tested, but the end result was new champions being crowned.
Shota Umino would be quick to issue a challenge to Okada, and already had a partner lined up in the form of Jon Moxley. Mox will be back in Japan at Dominion, but tonight at Resurgence it seems we have a preview lined up, with Wheeler Yuta as the third member. Here, it’ll be an all CHAOS affair as Rocky Romero joins Ishii and Okada, but the Rainmaker may feel some sympathy for Jon Moxley tonight, who teams with his Blackpool Combat Club ‘kohai’ in Yuta, and a man who he enlisted as his own personal Young Lion through G1 Climax 29, Umino. It’s no exaggeration to say that Moxley put both Yuta and Umino on the map, but his two young charges couldn’t be more diverse in attitude in recent months. While Umino has been a fan favourite showman of NJPW’s Hontai, Yuta has been a merciless figure in AEW’s feared BCC. Will this team set themselves up for greatness?
5th Match: STRONG Openweight Championship- Hikuleo vs KENTA
History was made at Dontaku on Wednesday may 3 as the STRONG Openweight Championship was defended on Japanese soil for the first time, and by the man who wrestled the very first NJPW STRONG match, in KENTA. Things didn’t pan out the way the BULLET CLUB member had planned though, as Hikuleo would overcome weeks of mind games, and post match kendo stick attacks through the road to tour, eventually capturing the gold to become the fourth STRONG Champion.
Hikuleo won’t have much time to ease into his first singles title reign in NJPW, as he must defend in a rematch with KENTA in Long Beach. It’s safe to say that the STRONG Champion is the most consistent face of NJPW in its American endeavours, will Hikuleo establish himself in that position, or could KENTA wrest the title right back into BULLET CLUB clutches?
4th match: Streetfight- Juice Robinson vs Fred Rosser
No disqualifications will be in play in our foruth match of the evening, as Fred Rosser takes on Juice Robinson. Back at Battle in the Valley, KENTA relieved Rosser of the STRONG Openweight Championship thanks to a roll of quarters in the fist of Juice. A match was set up for the two at Capital Collision, and Rosser would touch an emotional nerve when he reserved a seat for Robinson’s wife Toni Storm to ‘watch me punish your husband’. Juice was justifiably angered, but went beyond the pale when he not only assaulted Rosser before their bout with a piledriver on the stage, another fistful of coins and much more besides, but also struck down a referee trying to intervene.
The result was a suspension for Juice, but now at Rosser’s command, he will be reinstated for this streetfight. Rosser had no contrition for Rosser is not afraid to bend the rules when pushed, and now has none in front of him in what could well be the most violent match of the night.
3rd Match: TMDK (Bad Dude Tito & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs Barbaro Cavernario & Virus
A first time duo of Bad Dude Tito and Zack Sabre Jr. presents an intriguing blend of power and technique in Long Beach. On May 21, they take on a similarly interesting CMLL duo of Barbaro Cavernario and Virus. One has to go back to 2021 to see the last time Cavernario and Virus teamed together in Mexico, and before that Fantasticamania 2016. Yet the two together is an intriguing mix, and the chance to see Mexican llave face off with British submission artistry is a tantalizing one indeed.
2nd Match: NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship tournament: Momo Kohgo vs Willow Nightingale
The second match of the STRONG Women’s Championship tournament sees two women on either side of the form spectrum go head to head. Willow Nightingale has been a force of nature on AEW Dark and Ring of Honor programming in 2023, staying undefeated for the last three months. While she looks to continue that momentum by making history in Long Beach, Momo Kohgo heads to the US to try and turn her own fortunes around. The STARS member hasn’t picked up a win since February 11, ironically enough, only two weeks before Nightingale recorded her last loss; with Starlight Kid and Mariah May not being too charitable as they dared Momo to get tough and fast, Kohgo has taken matters into her own hands by heading Stateside, but can she pick up the gold?
1st Match: NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship Tournament: Mercedes Moné vs Stephanie Vaquer
Kicking the main card off in style, Mercedes Moné faces Stephanie Vaquer in the first round of the STRONG Women’s Championship tournament. CMLL representative Vaquer has impressed not just in Mexican rings, but in Japan as well, where Pro-Wrestling WAVE, Ice Ribbon and STARDOM on her resume. In her biggest match in the US, if not her career to date, she takes on the former IWGP Women’s Champion. Moné did not take kindly to her loss against Mayu Iwatani at All Star grand Queendom, and is determined to bounce back big in Long Beach- will she become the first STRONG Women’s Champ?
Kickoff 2: Alex Coughlin vs Christopher Daniels
The second of two kickoff bouts in Long Beach sees Alex Coughlin go up against Christopher Daniels. Coughlin’s ROH Pure Rules victory over Tracy Williams at Collision in Philadelphia has certainly put him in contention for the title held by his trainer in Katsuyori Shibata. Yet before that notion can enter the Android’s Central Processing Unit, he has to face a man who has nothing but disdain for Coughlin’s LA Dojo roots in Christopher Daniels. The Fallen Angel is back in NJPW to resume a campaign started last autumn with a betrayal of Yuya Uemura- one that has seen him determined to wipe out every member of the Shibata trained fight camp. Will he pick up where he left off against The DKC and Rocky Romero last year, or can Coughlin put a stop to the veteran’s antics?
Kickoff 1: The DKC vs Bateman
Speaking of LA Dojo, The DKC and Bateman see two representatives of the modern age of the Dojo, training new recruits in NJPW Academy classes of late. As they take to the ring, a resumption of history DKC has had with Bateman’s Stray Dog Army in the past, and a match for the Academy pupils to take notes on.