New Japan Strong Battle in the Valley

San Jose Has A Great Crowd Showing on November 12th

I know I’m behind in watching some of the Pay Per Views and even further behind in Pro Wrestling Overtime podcast episodes with articles. However as many of you have noticed I’ve been getting caught up with me having strep throat and a sinus infection. While watching New Japan Strong’s Battle in the Valley, it was announced that they will have three events in 2022. New Beginnings 2022 will begin on January 15th in Seattle at Washington Hall then they will go to Los Angeles on February 17th. Afterwards, they will go to The Coliseum in Tampa on March 20th.

I can’t believe for this show Battle in the Valley that they got Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii. The fans at this show were treated to seeing one of the best in Okada take on Buddy Matthews (formerly WWE Murphy) then Ishii was in the main event with Jay White for the NEVER Openweight Championship.

Let’s Start Talking About This Show

Kevin Kelly and Alex Kozlov were on commentary. Can I tell you that I love these two together? To me, Kozlov is hilarious making fun of wrestlers, fans and Kevin Kelly. I enjoy their knowledge about Japanese wrestling and how Dojos work. They make a great bridge for me when I try to watch this show every week, their PPVs and now when I watch New Japan Pro Wrestling. I can’t wait for Wrestle Kingdom. 

***Note all times are from Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer

Josh Alexander defeated Yuya Uemura (11:52)

I wasn’t expecting a lot from this match. Probably I guess because I don’t know much about Yuya Uemura. However, I think there is something special about Josh Alexander and have said this on Pro Wrestling Overtime many times while he was in the North on Impact Wrestling, holding the X-Division Championship and when he was taking on Christian Cage for the Impact Wrestling Championship. This was a solid match, but as it went on then I wanted more and more from Alexander. Kelly and Koslov explained that Uemura had been a Young Lion. Both went stiff with their chops and their armbars had a little snap to them. I enjoyed Alexander using his overhead underhook suplex, but went right back to his roots with an ankle lock to force a submission.

BATEMAN and Mysterioso defeated Brody King and Chris Dickinson (10:48)

Check out my article on Chris Dickinson’s injury and the update if you want to know the aftermath of his legitimate injury from this match. Of course due to his hip dislocation, it made for an odd finish and upset victory. 

Talk about odd. I find BATEMAN odd, but yet very intriguing. I wish some promotion would actually allow him to develop this character. Brody King and BATEMAN are former tag partners, but I don’t know that I got a clear reason why they split. Plus they split on all shows. I guess I should go look that up and maybe write an article about it or do a podcast episode on it. This match started off with a brawl which isn’t a huge surprise for a team consisting of Brody King and Chris Dickinson. The surprise was that BATEMAN and Mysterioso handled themselves pretty well. Can I tell you that I love Dickinson’s missile dropkick? I mean for me it ranks right up there with Finn Balor’s and Darby Allin’s. It seemed, once Brody King tagged in that the match was headed for a quick ending. He was destroying everyone.

After all of them being out on their floor, Dickinson hit a frog splash on BATEMAN as Mysterioso hit a springboard moonsault on Brody King on the outside. So BATEMAN covered Dickinson for the win.

Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Danny Limelight, Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson) defeated Fred Rosser, David Finlay, Rocky Romero, Alex Coughlin and Alex Zayne (15:20)

Team Filthy being together made total sense to me. However, the other team was kind of thrown together of guys that might have a problem with them? Obviously, Tom Lawlor and Fred Rosser have been getting after each other. Plus all of us have to remember the issues Tom Lawlor and Alex Coughlin are having over a lot of different promotions even Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport. I have no clue why David Finlay is in this match other than they wanted him on the card and Juice Robinson had a singles match. I would have loved it we aren’t following a storyline then let’s do David Finlay against Danny Limelight. I think it would be an awesome match.

I always love the intensity that Tom Lawlor is able to bring and others seem to feed off of. But I must say this match went on for way too long. I know everyone has to get their stuff in and shine some, but cut 4–5 minutes off this match and I’m happy. I have to admit though I hate eight to ten men tag matches. Everyone knows there’s going to be a lot of laying around. I loved Kratos’ versatility in this match. He almost always has a spot that my mouth drops open for. Personally, I hated the ending with Rosser throwing Lawlor out and hitting the Gut Feeling on Isaacs for the win. I didn’t see the point at all in this match and really aren’t sure what storylines it moved forward.

Karl Fredericks and Clark Connors defeated United Empire (Jeff Cobb and TJP) (10:01)

Let’s get it out of the way…I LOVE TJP. Yes, I don’t care to admit it. I can’t stand Clark Connors (Can someone get him to cut his hair?) and can barely stand Jeff Cobb. Admittedly, I haven’t seen Cobb as much as the others. The jury for me is still out on Karl Fredericks. Only thing I could figure out with this match was again to get these wrestlers out there to do their moves. Having tag team matches back to back made me have to go to the bathroom and kitchen because I just couldn’t sit through all this. Many promotions do this, but I can see the 18–25 years old turning it off and going to play video games. You can’t have banger matches after banger matches, but it helps if there’s a storyline.

In the middle of this match, I loved when Karl Fredericks came in to trade forearms with Jeff Cobb. Then Fredericks hit his signature spinebuster, but then we saw Cobb came back with his spin cycle suplex. It was a great back and forth. Both ended up tagging their partners in. 

Definitely, didn’t get this match’s ending. It made no sense to me. TJP and Cobb were definitely heels in this match, but for the ending Cobb distracted the official. TJP had Karl Fredericks cradled, but Connors come in to turn the cradle to Fredericks’ side. So Fredericks won over TJP using a cradle. Definite head scratcher.

Will Ospreay defeated Ren Narita (15:54)

Boy, Will Ospreay can wrestle. I saw him last week wrestle at the House of Glory show against Amazing Red and it was unbelievable. This was the best match of the show. I loved how Ospreay insisted that the official raise his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship to just further upset certain fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling. If you don’t the story of New Japan making Will Ospreay give up this championship due to his injury, but Ospreay came back faster than usual. He claims he is still the champion and still carries the belt around. Ospreay is expected back in Japan for Wrestle Kingdom night two to see if he really can obtain/retain the championship.

Ospreay started out dominating Narita with his pinpoint strikes then he mocked Shibata by sitting cross-legged and folding his arms. Narita started his comeback. It seemed to me that Ospreay is close to fully healed showing a good looking German suplex, his backflip enziguiri and his cutter. Then Will tried a 450 splash but Narita avoided it. Finally Ospreay hit The Hidden Blade for the win.

Moose defeated Juice Robinson (15:00)

Let me tell you if you think that Moose can’t wrestle because you watch him in Impact Wrestling. Then you need to watch this match. He looked so much better overall in this match. What was it? Did Juice Robinson help him that much? Has Moose dedicated himself to this in his off time? I don’t know, but I expect him to be like this as the Impact Wrestling World Champion. Moose actually did mat wrestling for a minute or more with Robinson. His chops have gotten better too. Maybe Sukuzi helped him with those.

Not to forget Juice Robinson who almost always puts on a good match. Juice hit his jabs that led to the Left Hand of God. He followed it up with a Frankensteiner then a corner senton which led to his frog splash. Robinson is so athletic, but also his character is so weird. I can’t get into him. I do like him in tag with David Finlay. Juice hit two more Left Hand of Gods and a lariat, but Moose wasn’t giving up. Moose hit the spear for the win. I felt this match was too long. Not sure we needed Juice’s comeback to last that long.

 — — — — — -

After the match, we had a weird thing happen. Jonah Rock (Formerly WWE Bronson Reed) walked down to the ring. We have heard and now know Jonah Rock will be in Impact Wrestling, so he stared at Moose. Then he turned around to land a senton on Juice Robinson. David Finlay came out to help Juice, but Jonah was having it. He destroyed Finlay with another senton. He grabbed a mic and said, “Jonah is here.” So has he said more words in New Japan Strong than he did in NXT? Maybe so. Someone should check.

Kazuchika Okada defeated Buddy Matthews (16:31)

I was excited for this match. I don’t watch New Japan regularly. Yes, I know I should, but I don’t have the time with everything else I watch. I try to catch the big events and am looking forward to Wrestle Kingdom. Buddy Matthews has finally had his 90 day non-compete end, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he can perform being cut loose. However, I never dreamed this match would go almost seventeen minutes. New Japan has a tendency to give you long drawn out pure wrestling matches that don’t really lead to much. Probably another reason I don’t go out of my way to watch New Japan Pro Wrestling regularly.

In this match, Matthews targeted Okada’s injured back through kicks. I was surprised by Matthews’ aggressiveness and quickness. He looks more in shape and more alert now than he did last summer as Seth Rollins’ lackey. I was surprised when Matthews hit a curb stomp. But before you all think I wasn’t watching Okada I was. We got to see his Air Raid Crash Neckbreaker. He tried the Rainmaker but Matthews ducked it and later in the match mocked Okada with a Rainmaker pose. As Matthews went into it, Okada countered it with a spinning Rainmaker and then went for a tombstone piledriver. Matthews fought out of it to hit a running knee, but then ran into a dropkick by Okada. We got to see Okada do the spinning tombstone. Matthews grabbed him and try to do Murphy’s Law, but Okada fought out and hit the landslide followed quickly up by the Rainmaker for the win.

 — — — — — — — 

As everyone expected or at least I did, Will Ospreay’s music started playing. Then Ospreay himself walked out saying “Long time no see, big brother.” (Will Ospreay is 28 years old and Kazuchika Okada is 34 years old) Ospreay reminded that the only reason Okada won the G1 was because he wasn’t in Japan at the time. So this is the argument I was talking about above. Many fans don’t know where they stand or want to happen. Ospreay continues by saying since Okada won then he has permission from Ospreay to challenge the “real” world champion (meaning Ospreay). Okada acts cool as a cucumber and says he isn’t challenging Ospreay that Will would have to challenge him to a match.

So that’s the basic argument. Will Ospreay was the world champion until he got hurt. He needed to leave Japan to have surgery and recover. Therefore, New Japan Pro Wrestling stripped him of that world championship. Okada won it, but Ospreay has his championship belt and is claiming he is the “real” champion. As of right now, whoever wins between Okada and Shingo Takagi on January 4th will face Will Ospreay on January 5th at Wrestle Kingdom. Okada stared at Ospreay and said he would make it rain in the Tokyo Dome. Can’t wait. I’m excited now.

For The NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii defeated Jay White (28:39) Ishii Wins the Championship

I hated this match. Many of you loved it and I respect you and the match. I’m not saying it was a bad match by any stretch, but it was TOO LONG for me. It was the typical long classic Japan style match. We saw shoulder blocks, chops, tests of strength, and dragon screws. I can’t stand this stuff. I hate the chops back and forth million of times a match. I could care less who can make someone back up or go down. Just wrestle and pin someone. I was shocked when they were fighting on the top rope. Neither of these two are known for their aerial assaults. At the end of the match, they traded their finishers and Ishii hit a dragon suplex. Then Ishii turned Switchblade inside out with a lariat. I’ve never seen Jay White flip around like that while taking a lariat. After that Ishii hit his vertical drop brainbuster to win the championship.

On the other hand, as we got to the finish I loved it. Maybe just cut 10–12 minutes out of the middle. The crowd went wild when Ishii won after so many near falls. I don’t think many in the crowd even knew who he was but they were seeing the championship change hands. This left us to wonder what is Jay “Switchblade” White going to do if the contract rumors are true. Where will he go?

My Opinion

As always I have to make myself watch New Japan Pro Wrestling and Strong’s PPVs because of the length of their matches. It drives me crazy. Someone pointed out that AEW PPV matches are the same way. I guess it’s the AEW stories that draws me in whereas New Japan Strong doesn’t have a lot of stories. It’s mostly 3 wrestling matches every week and the announcers telling you what has been happening that week. Rooting for a certain wrestler to beat another wrestler for a reason given in this storyline I’ve been following for a couple weeks or with AEW maybe two years is more enjoyable to me. I’ve said it before if I just wanted to watch pure wrestling then I would be watching the Olympics, College Wrestling or going to High School Wrestling…which I don’t. Give me stories to relate to and cheer for or against.

Don’t forget to listen to Pro Wrestling Overtime for all the reviews, predictions and stories of wrestling. Right now, as you know I’m off from voicing my opinions on the podcast due to strep throat and an infection. I will be backing catching up very soon. I’ll talk to you soon and hopefully see you down the road.

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