NJPW Resurgence Preview and Predictions
New Japan's American brand NJPW Strong has a big PPV this weekend terminating out of Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California on Sunday, May 21st. The show will be available for PPV purchase on NJPWWorld.com.
The big stars scheduled for the show include AEW's Jon Moxley, Mercedes Moné, the former Sasha Banks, Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Will Ospreay and more.
Here's a preview of the card and my predictions for each of the matches.
NJPW Strong Women's Championship tournament first round: Mercedes Mone vs. Stephanie Vaquer
This is the biggest match of Vaquer's career but I can't imagine any other possibility than Moné winning here.
NJPW Strong Women's Championship tournament first round: Willow Nightingale vs. Momo Kohgo
Either woman would be a great choice to see take on Mercedes Moné, but seeing as they're targeting this show for American audiences, I think Willow has a better chance of winning.
Zack Sabre Jr. & Bad Dude Tito vs. Barbaro Cavernario & Virus
This should be a fun match, as ZSJ always puts on a clinic, and Bad Dude Tito oozes charisma. I assume the TMDK duo of ZSJ and Tito win this one.
Street Fight: Fred Rosser vs. Juice Robinson
This could be a show stealer. Juice attacked Rosser at the last NJPW show, so this is Fred's big chance at revenge. I assume Juice wins by cheating somehow.
NJPW Strong Championship: Hikuleo defends against KENTA
An interesting rematch from a recent Japanese show, I assume KENTA wins the title back since he lives in Florida, and I'm not sure if Hikuleo is based in the States currently.
Jon Moxley, Wheeler Yuta & Shota Umino vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Rocky Romero
No matter who wins, this match is going to rule but I assume Wheeler Yuta is in this match to eat the pinfall, likely from Okada, further setting up a potential rematch at NJPW Dominion in a few weeks for the NEVER Trios title with Tanahashi replacing Romero.
IWGP United States Championship number one contender's tournament match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Will Ospreay
This might just be the match of the night and either winner would lead to an awesome match at Forbidden Door, but my gut says Ospreay is walking out on top here.
NJPW Strong Women's Championship tournament finals
My prediction is it will be Williow vs. Mercedes, and it can go either way. It's unclear how many more matches Mercedes has, so she might not necessarily walk out the winner, and she could have an out that she was injured in the initial match. This is the one match where a winner isn't crystal clear, but I feel like Moné might walk away the winner here, as she's probably sticking around for a bit.
There are also two pre-show matches, Tyler Bateman vs. The DKC and Christopher Daniels vs. Alex Coughlin.
Interview with Rocky Romero on Squared Circle Pit
NJPW star and rapper Rocky Romero enters the Squared Circle Pit on this edition. Rocky talks about how he got into pro wrestling as a kid with his grandma, and the moment he decided that this was something he would pursue. Rocky shares great stories of training in the New Japan Dojo, working under Antonio Inoki, stories about his friendship with Kazuchika Okada, the insane amount of work that goes into organizing the AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door event, all the other cool NJPW events happening in the next few months and his latest hip hop music video, which was filmed in CMLL's Arena Ciudad. Plus, we sneak in a little talk about our love for The Beatles.
What's going on with CM Punk and AEW?
On Wednesday, AEW made the announcement that we've been expecting for weeks, AEW Saturday Collision will premiere on June 17th and will be live every Saturday night for two hours a week. However, CM Punk was nowhere to be seen from the announcement.
Punk was initially on press materials, according to multiple outlets but was pulled the day before. An error in one of the WBD announcements, showed that Punk was the headlining name on the announcement:
So what happened? Mike Johnson from PWInsider reports that the last minute, Punk told his lawyers to demand he be pulled from advertising due to a disagreement on the employment of Ace Steel. Steel was Punk's trainer and involved in the Brawl Out incident, as well as being the only one fired. Punk, with a ton of leverage, was able to get Steele his job back with the belief that Steele would be back on the road and agenting Punk's matches when Punk returned. Earlier in the week, Punk was informed that while Steele would be rehired, his input would only be received remotely and he would not be backstage. This caused a rift which was not resolved by the time the announcement had to be made.
Khan and Warner executives seem confident that things could be resolved by next Wednesday. Khan announced the first 10 scheduled Collision dates but notably excluded the debut date, because it's expected to be the massive United Center in Chicago. If Punk and Khan don't come to an agreement by next Wednesday do they still run the United Center? Punk is in a very strong position of leverage at the moment.
More Wrestling News
Bad Bunny revealed to Zane Lowe on New Music Daily that he actually got hurt during his match with Damian Priest, saying “Wow, that was insane. That was really crazy, the people, the energy was another level. What happened that night, I’m never going to forget it," he said. “I remember, I said before the WrestleMania fight that day was one of my favorite moments of my life, but the Backlash fight in Puerto Rico was another level. It was really one of the biggest and best moments of my life, I really enjoyed that fight.” Bunny continued, “I suffered. Yeah, I got hurt. I got hurt. My back, my back. My whole body, bro. My whole body. I felt that I was going to die after that match. I really thought that I was going to die after the match, but it’s part of it. I was prepared then, and now I’m going to drop a song. I know. I’m a crazy guy. I love it. I love it, and that’s what matters," he said.
French retailer Just For Games has revealed a June 27th release date for AEW Fight Forever video game. Xbox has pre-loaded the game's achievements, tipping people off that the game release was around the corner.
Seth Rollins is not expected on Raw tomorrow as he is still on set for Captain America: New World Order. His next appearance will be at the Night of Champions PPV next weekend.
AEW originally planned a backstage segment with MJF and Britt Baker for this past Wednesday, where Baker would have said to MJF that he "wouldn't be champion for long, bay bay," hinting at a future title shot for her boyfriend, Adam Cole. Dave Meltzer reports the segment was scrapped, likely to avoid telegraphing that MJF is obviously going to win.
Ilja Dragunov is rumored to be joining Imperium on Raw.
Dave Meltzer reports the next two scheduled NXT specials after Battleground this month would be the Great American Bash TV special on Tuesday, July 4th on USA network and then a Peacock special in August, likely on August 12th.
Meltzer also reports that Drew McIntyre has recovered from his injury and his absence on TV is more of a creative issue. There was an idea to turn Drew heel but Drew allegedly turned that down. McIntyre still hasn't resigned with the company and his deal is rumored to be up in early 2024.
Fightful.com reports that Bryan Danielson is being more hands on with creative in AEW and will likely be contributing ideas for Collision.
WWE CEO Nick Khan said WWE is planning a show in India for September.
Trish Stratus received the key to Niagra Falls this week.
WWE posted an excellent tribute to "Superstar" Billy Graham, who tragically passed away on Wednesday