I’m venturing even further away from “home” with my pro wrestling diversification. I’ve now gone to the Land of the Rising Sun: Japan, and their hot promotion, NJPW.
I took the plunge to continue to follow Jon Moxley, formerly known as Dean Ambrose, and his journey post-WWE. That journey took me to NJPW and their June 5 show Best of the Super Jr. 26 Final in Tokyo.
Moxley’s first match since leaving WWE was to challenge Juice Robinson for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.
The most important thing to say about this: I love Mox’s new presentation. For the last eight or or so years, he’s wrestled in pants or jeans. Here, he’s in traditional wrestling trunks, and he looks awesome.
His new theme music is spot on. His entrance through the crowd is bad-ass. His middle fingers. His intensity. His don’t-give-a-fuck. And his new nickname, Death Rider, are all spot on.
It’s a very hard-hitting match, with some crazy, sick spots, including one where Dean hard-way bites open Juice’s skin above his left eyebrow.
You can tell Mox is a bit rusty in terms of a.) not having wrestled in a couple of months and b.) trying to still figure out what his identity and style is post-WWE, but it’s still a damn fine match. I particularly like the modification to the Dirty Deeds, aka, his double-arm DDT finishing move.
Juice was impressive, albeit, I think I would rank the match higher had he connected better on the two big spots he did in the match (the flip off the top of the stage and the rolling move into the table).
He also cut a helluva an emotional promo afterward, although, again, I’m not as into promos relying heavily on cursing, but I appreciate the emotion.
The main event of the show was the Best of the Super Jr. 26 final match (of the tournament) between Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi. It might be the second best match of the year I’ve seen (I still think AJ/Seth Rollins from WWE’s Money in the Bank PPV was the best). Action-packed from the get go, even more hard-hitting than the Mox/Juice match, and with a few spots I’ve quite literally never seen before in pro wrestling.
Wrestling is on fire right now in all corners of the globe, and in the age of streaming and easier accessibility, I’d be crazy not to venture beyond home base. In fact, arguably, I’m watching just as much, if not more, wrestling than I did during my heyday of WWE fandom in 2006/2007 when I was watching the weekly product and buying almost all the monthly PPVs.