New Japan Pro Wrestling announced the cards for all three New Beginning in USA shows late last night (Jan. 23), so let’s list ‘em out and break ‘em down, shall we?
New Beginning in USA California (Jan. 30, 10:30PM Eastern, 7:30PM Pacific)
- Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors
- Jonathan Gresham vs. Tyler Bateman
- Colt Cabana vs. Shane Taylor
- Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith, Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Villain Enterprises (Brody King & Marty Scurll)
- Jeff Cobb vs. Karl Fredericks
- Chuckie T vs. David Finlay
- Lifeblood (Juice Robinson & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams) vs. Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero)
New Beginning in USA North Carolina (Feb. 1, 7:30PM Eastern, 4:30PM Pacific)
- Clark Connors vs. Karl Fredericks
- Colt Cabana & John Skyler vs. Lance Archer & Shane Taylor
- Great O-Kharn vs. Tracer X
- Jeff Cobb & Jonathan Gresham vs. Villain Enterprises (Brody King & Marty Scurll)
- Alex Coughlin vs. Davey Boy Smith, Jr.
- Chaos (Chucky T & Rocky Romero) vs. Lifeblood (David Finlay & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams)
- Beretta vs. Juice Robinson (c) (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship)
New Beginning in USA Tennessee (Feb. 2, 8:30PM Eastern, 5:30PM Pacific)
- Alex Coughlin vs. Karl Fredericks
- Colt Cabana & Jonathan Gresham vs. Lance Archer & Shane Taylor
- Great O-Kharn vs. Harlem Bravado
- Clark Connors vs. Marty Scurll
- Brody King vs. Jeff Cobb
- Chaos (Beretta, Chuckie T, & Rocky Romero) vs. Lifeblood (David Finlay, Juice Robinson, & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams) (Elimination Match)
Okay, let’s start with the elephant in the room, folks— there’s only one Japanese wrestler on these shows, and he’s young lion Tomoyuki Oka, who’s been on excursion in the United Kingdom and crafting his big boy gimmick of the Great O-Kharn. New Japan have been up front with the reason why, too, and it’s all down to the United States federal government being shut down, leaving them unable to ensure proper working visas for the roster.
With that out of the way, and considering that these were never exactly going to be studded with the top Japanese guys due to taking place the same week as New Beginning in Sapporo, I feel like they’ve done a solid job with the talent available. NJPW LA Dojo students Couglin, Fredericks, and Connors are featured heavily, both against each other and in special challenge matches against full-time New Japan talent that should give us all a solid idea where they’re at, which isn’t exactly the most exciting foundation for a card, but still at least a little intriguing.
The centerpiece of these shows (and the matches I’m genuinely excited for) are the Chaos vs. Lifeblood showdowns, which heavily feature my man, former Evolve Tag Team Champion, Powerbomb.tv Independent Wrestling Champion, and reigning AIW Absolute Champion, “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams in his NJPW debut. Here’s hoping this leads to him heading to the mothership to contest the NEVER Openweight Championship!
These matches cycle through just about every set of matchup possibilities, beginning with a one-night-only Roppongi Vice reunion and culminating with a six-man elimination tag that should be quite fun. We’ll also get Juice’s first defense of his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against Beretta, for which Trent is a bit hit-and-miss as a singles guy for me but I feel like under the circumstances they’re gonna do their damnedest to tear the house down.
Other happenings of note here include PWX regulars Harlem Bravado, John Skyler, and Tracer X making their New Japan debuts, an absolute HOSS WAR between Jeff Cobb and Brody King, and Jonathan Gresham and California local Tyler Bateman should come together to have one beautifully violent and visceral match.
There you have it, folks
Excited to see what New Japan have to offer on American soil this time or will you be giving these a pass due to the lack of Japanese stars, Cagesiders?