Last July, New Japan Pro Wrestling held two shows in Long Beach. On Sunday New Japan returns to Long Beach for Strong Style Evolved, the next step on their journey to expand into the US. The show, which will air live at 8pm EDT (5pm PDT) on NJPWWorld.com and AXS TV, will be in front of a sold out 5000 strong crowd in the Walter Pyramid. Let’s have a look at what’s in store on for anyone tuning in on Sunday.
Sho, Yoh & Rocky Romero vs. Scorpio Sky, Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels
Sho & Yoh form the newest Jr. tag team in New Japan, Roppongi 3K. They are teaming with their manager, the veteran Rocky Romero. Their opponents are three veterans of the US Independent scene who work together in Ring of Honor. The added wrinkle is that Scorpio Sky is one of the trainers at the new New Japan L.A. Dojo, working under Katsuyori Shibata.
David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs. Hirooki Goto & Gedo
David is the son of Fit Finlay and has lived in the New Japan Dojo for three years. There he struck up a friendship with former NXT wrestler Juice Robinson. Gedo is the head match maker of New Japan whereas Goto is the current NEVER Openweight Champion. The main story is that Robinson thinks that he deserves a shot at Goto’s title.
Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer vs. Chuckie T & Toru Yano
Smith and Archer are a big, tough tag team known as the Killer Elite Squad. Taylor & Yano are not big or tough. Instead they are silly and focused on cheating their way to victory.
Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga vs. Marty Scurll & Cody
This is the first of two Bullet Club vs. Bullet Club matches on the show. Tama is one of the Bullet Club OG’s and he and his brother aren’t happy with Cody trying to turn the Bullet Club into his own personal army. Marty is firmly on Cody’s side and they will look to use this match to prove that Cody is the future of Bullet Club.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & Dragon Lee vs. Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi
Tanahashi is arguably one of the greatest wrestlers in New Japan history. KUSHIDA is a technically gifted junior heavyweight who is looking for direction, while Taguchi doesn’t care about his direction as long as he has fun. Dragon Lee is a Luchadore from CMLL known for his high risk, breakneck speed offence. Their opponents, Los Igobernables des Japon, are one of the hottest acts in wrestling. Be on the lookout for any times that Takahashi & Lee share the ring as the results will be lightning quick and action packed.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Will Ospreay
This was set to be Liger vs. Rey Mysterio, a match pitting two junior legends against each other. Unfortunately Mysterio picked up an injury so instead of the past, New Japan picked someone from the future. Will Ospreay is one of the most talented high fliers in the world and it will be interesting to see what he can do with Liger, who is in his 29th year under the mask.
Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr
This is a real treat as the 2 best wrestlers in CHAOS face the two best wrestlers in Suzuki-Gun. Sabre recently won the New Japan Cup by beating Naito, Kota Ibushi, SANADA & Tanahashi in a two week period. His reward is an IWGP Heavyweight Title match against Okada in Tokyo on April 1st. Sabre is arguably the greatest submission wrestler on the planet and his partner Suzuki is one of the meanest wrestlers on the planet. So it’s lucky for long term Heavyweight Champion Okada that his tag partner Ishii is just as mean and surly as Suzuki.
IWGP US Heavyweight Title: Jay White vs. Hangman Page
Jay White won the IWGP US title from Kenny Omega, and was a factor in the escalating tension that is tearing apart the Bullet Club. Page is White’s first challenger and he has been on a hot streak in New Japan. Can the hungry young Bullet Club member bring the title back to the Bullet Club or will Jay White make his first successful title defence?
The Young Bucks vs. Golden Lovers
The main event pits friends against each other with pride on the line. After four years apart, Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi got back together and reformed the Golden Lovers. This happened after Kota saved Kenny from a sneak attack by Cody. Fans around the world were ecstatic that Omega and Ibushi were back together. However, Kenny got caught up in the moment and declared the Golden Lovers as the greatest tag team on the planet.
The Young Bucks took exception to their friend’s boasts as they believe that they are the best tag team on the planet. Seeing this as a betrayal, they challenged Golden Lovers to prove who was the best tag team. This is a match where the potential ramifications are just as exciting as the match itself and I expect the fans to be torn as both teams are huge fan favorites.