Wrestling Review: NJPW Resurgence (2021)

For the first time in over 18 months, live crowds are back at a New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) show in the USA, at NJPW Resurgence. Two championships are on the line in this live event from The Torch at La Coliseum: in the main event, the newly crowned Lance Archer will defend the IWGP United Stated Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi, while the Bullet Club’s “Switchblade” Jay White defends the NEVER Openweight Championship against David Finlay, almost five years to the day that these two first faced off in a NJPW ring. Also on the card, “The Stone Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii will face off with the imposing Moose, from Impact Wrestling, while fan favourite Juice Robinson must contend with the monstrous HIKULEO, the youngest son of the Bullet Club’s Tongan family. Two more massive multi-man tag team matches will include the likes of the NJPW Strong Openweight Champion, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, Rocky Romero, TJP, Fred Rosser, JR Kratos, Danny Limelight and young lions Ren Narita and Yuya Uemura. And kicking off the show, Alex Coughlin continues his challenge match series against the recently graduated Karl Fredericks.

+ Jay White (c) vs David Finlay (NEVER Openweight Championship Match): this was all built of that fantastic match from the New Japan Cup back in March of this year, where Finlay pulled out the huge upset over White. Unfortunately, this match did not have that same energy, especially as the Bullet Club leader (or co-leader, I suppose) Jay White had more fans than almost anyone else on the show. Finlay never seemed to match his underdog fire with the oppressive, douchebag shenanigans of White and that made for a strangely one sided affair. It was clear that we were all meant to hate Jay White, but even when he cheats he’s just so easy to like, or at least hate to hate. I expected more, but this was still a good match
+ Jon Moxley & TBA vs The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson): straight up, Moxley’s surprise partner can only be considered underwhelming considering all the various promotions that were involved in this show. Still, Moxley has a connection with the audience unlike anyone else on the card, and while this was “New Japan Moxley” and not “AEW Moxley”, that still holds true. The Good Brothers have their ups and downs, and this was by no means a match of the year contender, but it got the job done. Without overstaying their welcome, this match led into an interesting post-match, for both good and bad reasons (I guess I can’t fault technical issues too heavily, can I?)
+ Tomohiro Ishii vs Moose: it should come as no surprise that this was the match I was most interested in. Moose makes for a fantastic foil to the smaller but infamously tough Ishii, and this was everything you’d expect from a match between these two. There were very few flashy or incredible moves from either man (though one or two thing from each certainly lit the crowd up properly) but the strikes and repeated attempts at certain things built this into a perfect crescendo. I loved this, and it was my match of the show
+ Lio Rush, Adrian Quest, Chris Dickinson, Fred Yehi & Yuya Uemura vs Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Danny Limelight, Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson): first and foremost, I can’t believe how poorly featured Tom Lawlor was after becoming, defending, and reigning as the NJPW Strong NEVER Openweight Champion. Otherwise, I’m a big fan of JR Kratos, Chris Dickinson and Danny Limelight and the various moving pieces of this match all worked together quite well. An interesting ending gave way to a fun post-match, but Lawlor being just another bit player did hurt to see
+ Alex Coughlin vs Karl Fredericks (Alex Coughlin’s Challenge Match Series): I’m a big fan of Coughlin, and think he has both the look and the skills to be a major gaijin star on the main NJPW roster, with or without some funky new gimmick (though frankly a name change from “Coughlin” would not be amiss). Fredericks is impressive in a different way, but something about him just does not click for me. This was a good match, with at least a handful of wild forearm shots that really worked for me

Lance Archer (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship): this was good, but something about it just didn’t work for me. Archer has been a real revolving door of ‘dominant monster’ and ‘easy to beat big guy’ in AEW lately, so seeing him go against the bonafide star in Tanahashi, despite my personal feelings against Tanahashi, was a strange sight. Both men pulled out all the stops and played all the hits, so to speak, so the match was certainly not a bad one, but as the main event of a show that featured other major stars, this felt lacking. If you’re a particular fan of either guy maybe you coudl call it a positive, but for my money it was probably only the third or fourth best match on the show
Juice Robinson vs HIKULEO: this was not good. I could almost quote my own review of HIKULEO vs Lance Archer from AEW’s recent special event, Fight for the Fallen, in that HIKULEO is visually impressive, but so inexperienced it was almost detrimental to Juice’s health – in fact, I’m not sure that Juice didn’t get either sore ribs or a bonked noggin from a strange suplex (I think) that he was victim to. Juice probably should have been in a bigger match, to be perfectly honest. Why not Juice vs Tom Lawlor?
Rocky Romero, Fred Rosser & Wheeler Yuta vs Ren Narita, Clark Connors & TJP: I’ll be honest, Connors is doing nothing for me. TJP and Rocky have always been good, and Rosser, Narita and Yuta (the latter of which who has been making some waves on AEW of late) are all perfectly fine, but I just really struggled to get into this match. I understand how this show was structured, but it felt somewhat underwhelming to have Rosser, TJP and Romero slotted so low on the card as they have been holding down the New Japan Strong fort in America of late

> there were a lot of video quality and audio issues when I watched this, but it sure was nice to not have that delay from English commentary that we often get when watching events from Japan

Should you watch this event: This was not a particularly big show in terms of match card, but as far as seeing NJPW wrestlers in the USA it lived up to the hype. Go out of your way to see Ishii/Moose, and maybe either of the main events if you’re a fan, but you won’t go wrong watching the while show if you have a spare three hours on your hands.

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