Why Wrestling Fans Should Be Watching NJPW STRONG

NJPW STRONG
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Wrestling fans are always looking for something new. Whether it’s new matches, new wrestlers, or new companies. That’s the beauty of it, really. Wrestling has so many different forms and we have watched so many companies grow in the last few years alone. So why leave yourself watching one company or wrestling show when there’s great content out there that is just waiting to be watched? The companies in the United States alone have been doing the work. AEW is quality with their television and YouTube shows. IMPACT is starting to gain steam between ROH’s Honor No More showing up and Bullet Club dipping their toe back in. Sometimes WWE can rise to the occasion, too. You get the point, there’s a lot of wrestling and there’s always something good. All that being said, the best weekly wrestling show week in and week out may very well be NJPW STRONG. 

If you’re looking for a show that tends to be good on a weekly basis, the NJPW STRONG is the one to watch. It doesn’t focus all that much on the promos and complicated stories. Rather it follows the storytelling and overall style of NJPW, oftentimes being the more consistent product of the company itself. Each new episode airs Saturday nights at 8 p.m. EST on NJPW World and has a one-hour runtime. While they do have some live events like Resurgence that saw Hiroshi Tanahashi defeat Lance Archer for the IWGP United States Championship, many of the shows are taped. That doesn’t take away from it, however, but adds to the value as the anticipation only gets better as the weeks go by. What makes NJPW STRONG worth watching outside of the obvious quality wrestling is the mixture of talent that makes it fresh each and every week. It is that roster that is allowing NJPW STRONG to heat up as the weeks and months go on.

The STRONG Roster

NJPW STRONG Originals

Tom Lawlor | NJPW STRONG
All Photos Credit: NJPW

In the original days of STRONG. The show was built around wrestlers based in the United States and they really held true when COVID-19 forced travel to shutdown. Tom Lawlor is the first name to arise when it comes to the STRONG originals. The inaugural and reigning STRONG Openweight Champion has been the main player for the show. Leading Team Filthy, he remains one of the underrated talents in the world and has used the STRONG platform to show how good he truly is. Then there’s Fred Rosser, the former Darren Young in WWE. Rosser has been a complete revelation for the show. Not only is he doing the best work of his career, but has become one of the names you hope to see get to Japan when travel allows. His rivalry with Lawlor is the best rivalry of the show since its beginning.

JR Kratos, Fred Yehi, Royce Isaacs, The DKC, Jorel Nelson, and Danny Limelight. All names who have been there, filled cards, and provided matches worth checking out. The other originals come also in the likes of Juice Robinson and David Finlay, two names who NJPW fans are accustomed to. Robinson had himself a fantastic run before COVID-19 came around in NJPW. Finlay showed in 2021 that he could do the same when he made it to the semi-finals of the New Japan Cup. VLNCE UNLTD were major in STRONG with Brody King and Chris Dickinson being at the forefront. Finally, there’s Lio Rush, who managed to build his stock back up after leaving WWE. Not only is he going to be a player with STRONG for the foreseeable future but is a lock to be a top junior when time allows it.

As more and more free agents become available, much like JONAH, it only becomes more possible that the STRONG roster gets stronger.

NJPW Main Players

Jay White | NJPW STRONG

Perhaps the beauty of the current NJPW STRONG is that the major players of NJPW are becoming constants on the show. Jay White, the man who main evented Wrestle Kingdom 15, has made STRONG his home for the foreseeable future. In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, he made the interesting statement that he believes STRONG can be the top of NJPW over the Japan side of things. That has become his goal and his “US of Jay” open challenge is becoming the new highly-anticipated match of the show. We’ve seen Tomohiro Ishii have matches on the show also and he will be returning at the Windy City Riot special in April. KENTA has competed on the show, challenging Jon Moxley for the IWGP United States Championship, and won the first New Japan Cup USA in 2020.

Other names that have sprung up include Rocky Romero, Jeff Cobb, Minoru Suzuki, and reigning IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. These appearances are filling up the show every single Saturday but they’re making their presences known and these drop-ins should only happen more and more as time goes on.

Will Ospreay may be the most interesting name remaining out of the NJPW major players showing up. After main eventing against Okada at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom, Ospreay is already announced for Windy City Riot in April. He made his NJPW return following his injury last year at Resurgence then his in-ring return against Karl Fredericks at Autumn Attack. Ospreay has said he will be returning to the NJPW side soon enough but with his STRONG return already scheduled, he should be reoccurring there as well.

The Forbidden Door Opens

Jon Moxley

“The Forbidden Door” opens more in NJPW STRONG than anywhere else. Wrestlers are coming in to compete as part of these shows from all over. AEW, ROH, IMPACT… the list goes on. Jon Moxley defended the IWGP United States Championship against KENTA on the show last year and teamed with Eddie Kingston against Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer too. Kingston has started to become a regular all of sudden as his match with Gabriel Kidd a few weeks ago got rave reviews and for good reason. Speaking of Kidd, ROH World Champion Jonathan Gresham was the first man to face Kidd when he returned to NJPW back in November. The names are seemingly endless when it comes to “The Forbidden Door,” but it makes STRONG that much more of a must-see product.

The Future of NJPW

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Ren Narita -- Wrestle Kingdom 16

The unquestioned best part of NJPW STRONG is seeing the future of NJPW learn the ropes and get better every single match they compete in. Ren Narita is the best example of this, having been there for over a year now and showing that he is as close to Katsuyori Shibata as the man himself. His style not only works in the same ways but he has this trait about him that makes it so easy to cheer for. Narita is ready whenever NJPW wants him back as we saw in his Wrestle Kingdom 16 match against Shibata, but you could have learned that in a quick fashion if you checked out NJPW STRONG sooner.

Gaijin talents in Karl Fredericks, Alex Coughlin, and Clark Connors have all graduated from the young lion stage since being on STRONG, showing that they could be the names to be major gaijin stars in the future. Gabriel Kidd has shined in his short time back (as noted above), showing that his overall improvement has him heads and knees above the rest of the pack.

Then there is Yuya Uemura. For anyone who has seen Uemura, he feels destined to be one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s next top stars. He is taking that journey at least. Much like Kazuchika Okada did in his final young lion match before excursion by facing Hiroshi Tanahashi, Uemura faced Okada in his final match as a sign that this will be a lot different the next time we see it. There’s always a reason for these types of matches. On the latest episode of STRONG, he faced Brody King in what might have been his toughest test since coming over. Uemura has something special to him and his growth will be showcased on this very show.

NJPW’s future is being showcased so it feels that STRONG is the place you can see who has it and who does not.

All About Wrestling

Gabriel Kidd vs. Eddie Kingston NJPW STRONG

If you are not convinced yet to start watching NJPW STRONG, then the final reminder is that this show is all about wrestling. Nearly everything you see is in the ring, allowing all the talents to showcase their talents. Since getting back to having crowds, STRONG has jumped up in quality and is starting to gain more steam than ever. One hour, three to four matches, and a guaranteed good time. Professional wrestling is best when it goes back to the basics, which is what STRONG encapsulates more than any weekly wrestling show today. It’s gritty, no-nonsense, and full of fighting spirit each episode in and out. STRONG’s roster is as good as any and while the biggest of big names will not be on it every single week, it allows the rest of the roster to show you what they are made of.

NJPW STRONG has become the best weekly wrestling show in the world and it’s time that everyone starts checking it out who has not given it a chance just yet.

More from LWOS Pro Wrestling

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.  You can re-watch all 2021 NJPW events and plenty more tremendous wrestling content from New Japan Pro-Wrestling on NJPWWorld.com.