New Japan is back full force with their product. With multiple tournaments happening during the month of August. We have a tournament on who could be the next King of Pro Wrestling, we have a trios tournament that will determine the new Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Championships. But those two tournaments are based In Japan. What about the United States Expansion? Well early yesterday, New Japan released info about one of the first tournaments in America since the beginning of the expansion in 2017 which will play out on NJPW STRONG
What Is The New Japan Cup USA & NJPW STRONG?
Firstly, context. The New Japan Cup is usually a tournament to determine a potential contender for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Just last month, Evil would go on to win the tournament and cause a major upset by defeating Tetsuya Naito at Dominion. One of the things that was easily recognizable from this tournament was the lack of foreign talent. Guys such as Tama Tonga, David Finlay, and Jeff Cobb. Because of this, New Japan created a show called “Lion’s Break Collision” with a focus on the younger talent and to focus on some of the stars that aren’t in the area due to COVID-related travel issues that are affecting our world. Last night, New Japan announced a mini-tournament to crown a brand new Contender for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.
A Championship that is currently held by Jon Moxley, who was last seen for New Japan in The New Beginning in Osaka in February. This tournament features a very unique pile of talent and it’s still unknown on WHEN the title match is gonna happen. But the upcoming series known as NJPW Strong that will be happening for the next few weeks will be dedicated to crowning a number #1 Contender. Starting on August 7th. Let’s get into the preview section.
Chase Owens is the fall guy for Bullet Club and doesn’t have many wins, or anything of note really. But the story of David Finlay is different. After suffering an injury that led to him spending multiple months on the shelf Finlay would get involved in the IWGP US Heavyweight title scene. Even challenging then-champion Lance Archer when he first came back to New Japan in November. Chase Owen’s last chance for this championship was against Juice Robinson which was earlier in the year. But David Finlay continued to defy the odds, winning the New Japan Tag League later that same year. He then went on to become IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion. While Chase hasn’t held a title whatsoever for New Japan.
Jeff Cobb is one of the newest freelancers for New Japan. Jeff Cobb in recent times for New Japan has been part of the G1 Climax in 2019 and World Tag League alongside Mikey Nichols. Cobb has yet to vie for the US Championship though. The same could be said for Tanga Loa. Someone who has primarily been in the tag scene for New Japan since 2017. In tournaments, Loa has been primarily based in tag tournaments. He’s not been granted many chances to in the big singles tournament.
This year he was supposed to be part of the original New Japan Cup. The same goes for Jeff Cobb. Tanga Loa has still not held a singles championship for the company and the last time Cobb has held singles gold for New Japan was the NEVER Openweight Championship back in April of 2019. Will Loa have his break out in this tournament or will Cobb add to his history with Moxley? The last time they faced in a New Japan ring, Moxley would end up winning in the 2019 G1 Climax. He would also defeat Cobb in AEW with the record being 2-0.
At Dominion in 2019, the world would explode with the debut of KENTA for New Japan Pro Wrestling. He would establish that night that he would go into the G1 Climax. After having very underwhelming performances that would cause fans to turn on KENTA he would turn on Katsuyori Shibata after the G1 ended. KENTA would become NEVER Openweight Champion. While the reign was ended by Hirooki Goto at Wrestle Kingdom 14, KENTA would have a defining moment by ruining Tetsuya Naito’s celebration and having a failed attempt at the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship.
Karl Fredericks is one of the young lions for New Japan’s LA Chapter. With not much experience, except for being a top prospect in New Japan’s new series “Lion’s Break Collision.” Karl Fredericks won the Young Lions Cup when it got reintroduced at the end of 2019. In the Lion’s Breakseries the personality of Karl was showcased entirely. While the world was getting prepared to see KENTA for the first time since failing to capture the World Title will Karl cause the upset of a lifetime or will KENTA make Karl GO TO SLEEP?
Tama Tonga for the past few years has always felt like the destined leader of Bullet Club. Being one of its original members. The one who started the war against Kenny Omega which caused a civil war within the faction. Tonga is an extremely controversial member of Bullet Club, not caring much anymore. But showcases the change in the Bullet Club faction and in New Japan as a whole. Tonga for years has been teaming with his brother Tanga Loa. But he’s definitely been more involved in singles opportunity than his brother.
He has been a prominent member of the World Tag League on a yearly basis, including even having multiple title reigns for the company. While Brody hasn’t made a tournament debut yet for the company. King has been seen in smaller areas in recent memory Brody King was a manager in Villain Enterprises and part of the inter-promotional deal with Ring of Honor. This tournament is major for both men. In terms of history, Tama Tonga could end up facing against Bullet Club member Chase Owens and even possibly even his own brother Tanga Loa. He could also face off against KENTA, who’s also a clear favorite for this tournament.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Make sure to watch New Japan Pro Wrestling on NJPW WORLD.