The New Beginning USA Night 1! Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov introduce the show as always. Kelly promotes the main event which sees El Phantasmo take on Lio Rush. This is a rematch from the Super J-Cup tournament where ELP beat Rush after a low blow in the first round. Koslov reiterates that ELP is “the worst human being there is” and wants Rush to “put El Phantasmo in his place.”

    They also mention we’re only one week away(!) from Jon Moxley defending his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against KENTA.

    New Beginning in the USA;
    MATCH ONE: Adrian Quest, Misterioso and Rocky Romero Vs The DKC, Barrett Brown and Rey Horus

    We start New Beginning in the USA, with DKC, Brown, and Horus entering the ring, Kelly mentions “sources” tell him that if Barrett Brown doesn’t start finding “the winning formula”, his time on NJOW Strong is in question. Brown has only picked up two victories in NJPW strong, both in tag (one normal, one eight-man) matches, with the last being back on episode 4. Oddly, Kelly also mentions Rey Horus “recently” beating The DKC – but this is the first time they’ve been in the ring together.

    Brown starts against Quest. They start with some chain wrestling, but after Quest hits a head-scissor takedown, Brown shows his aggressiveness by nearly taking Quest’s head off with a lariat. The DKC tags in and shows some aggression of his own, with kicks and strikes to both Quest and Misterioso. DKC misses in the corner, and Misterioso rolls him up, lifting him and delivering a one-arm powerbomb. Quest, Misterioso, and Romero work over DKC with quick tags. Misterioso hits a rolling fireman’s carry into a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Romero locks on a single-leg Boston Crab, but Brown comes in and lays in some shots to Rocky to break the hold. Rocky sets DKC up for the Forever Clotheslines but is met on the third with a running dropkick.

    DKC makes the hot tag to Rey Horus who delivers a series of kicks and a leg drop to Quest for a two count. Quest holds Horus in a full nelson for Misterioso to attack. Horus ducks, but Misterioso avoids contact with his partner. Unfortunately for them, Horus moves out of the way a second time, with Quest dropkicking Misterioso out of the ring. Horus lands a slingshot hurricanrana from inside out on Misterioso before stopping a tope from Quest with a gamengiri. Horus gets a near fall with a top-rope crossbody. Horus counters a Shiranui from Romero. Brown tags in and gets a couple of two counts on Romero. DKC and Horus take out Quest and Misterioso, and a series of strikes gets a near fall, with Misterioso able to break the pin. Misterioso lands a double handspring back-elbow to DKC and Horus, before launching Quest at Horus for a hurricanrana. Brown counters a suplex attempt from Romero with an inside cradle, but only for two. Brown attempts a suplex of his own, but Romero counters, transitioning from a suplex into an armbar, forcing Brown to tap out.

    Match Time: 10m 13s
    WINNER: Rocky Romero, Misterioso, and Adrian Quest via Submission (armbar)

    This was a good showcase of styles, with several Lucha-libre-inspired moments – especially during the run-in. Brown showed aggression we haven’t seen from him, but ultimately fell short once again. Post-match, Brown is angry. He says he has worked so damned long to be here in NJPW, but he hasn’t won a match this year. He mentions he lost in the first round of Lion’s Break Crown and wasn’t a part of the Super J-Cup. Horus says “you nearly had him” and The DKC says “we come back”. Brown says he’s fighting for a job, and something has to change, before walking off.

    This one match and segment has done more for Barrett Brown in one show than we’ve seen from him so far on NJPW Strong. Hopefully, this is a turning point and we get to see the best out of him.

    New Beginning in the USA;
    MATCH TWO: Fred Rosser Vs Hikuleo

    Continuing New Beginning in the USA with our first look at “Young Gun” Hikuleo in singles action since episode 11. It’s also a chance for Bullet Club to gather some momentum on the tour. This rivalry has been developing in the early part of 2021 with Rosser and Hikuleo getting into brawls in six-man tag matches – with Hikuleo repeatedly driving Rosser into the stage. Rosser has stated he’s fed up with the actions of Bullet Club and can beat any one of them in a one-on-one match.

    The two men stare at each other for a while before locking up, but Hikuleo just throws Rosser into the corner. Rosser immediately starts striking on the left knee of Hikuleo, but Young Gun wipes him out with a lariat. Rosser ducks another clothesline and jumps on Hikuleo with a sleeper before trying to transition to a cross-face chicken wing. Hikuleo backs Rosser into the corner. Rosser sits on the top rope and delivers some forearms to Hikuleo’s chest. Hikuleo breaks and kicks Rosser off the top rope to the floor. Hikuleo tries to lawn-dart Rosser into the ring post, but Rosser counters. Hikuleo avoids contact himself and shoves Rosser back. Rosser charges at Hikuleo and is met with a powerslam onto the floor. The referee was at the count of 14 but stops the count to check on Rosser.

    Hikuleo puts Rosser on the apron, and bends his back around the ring post, grabbing his legs and neck. Hikuleo attacks the ribs a few more times and gets a two-count. Hikuleo gets another near fall following a body slam and a leg drop to the back. Hikuleo locks on a Cobra Twist but when Rosser doesn’t quit, punches him in the ribs, and gets a trio of two counts after a belly-to-back suplex. Rosser grabs the ropes on an Irish Whip and moves out of the way of Hikuleo’s boot, crotching Young Gun on the top rope. Rosser lands a leaping clothesline to Hikuleo’s back. Rosser tries to lift Hikuleo, but there’s been too much damage to the ribs. Hikuleo hits a chokeslam, but Rosser kicks out at two! Rosser escapes the Tongan Driller attempt and pulls Hikuleo over with a backslide – assisted by a hand full of hair – and gets the victory!

    Match Time: 10m 40s
    WINNER: Fred Rosser via Backslide

    This was a one-sided fight with Hikuleo in total control, shutting down everything Rosser tried. Rosser had to cheat by grabbing the hair in the backslide attempt to escape with the win. Hikuleo was not happy, and after the match attacked one of the ringside attendants, chokeslamming him in the ring.

    Backstage, Hikuleo reminds everyone Rosser cheated, saying “I’m the bad guy?” He says his shoulders weren’t down, and Rosser “pulled my damned beautiful hair”. Hikuleo wants a rematch with a new referee, as that one “can’t count for s**t”.

    Hikuleo’s interview was reminiscent of Jay White’s thoughts in Japan recently. Bullet Club proving once again they don’t like the taste of their own medicine. This could be the beginning of a brutal series of battles over the coming weeks.

    New Beginning in the USA;
    MATCH THREE: Lio Rush Vs El Phantasmo

    As ELP makes his entrance, Koslov states that he hasn’t earned anything in the ring, and doesn’t deserve the back-to-back Super J-Cup wins. He says Phantasmo is a “vile, horrible human being who makes KENTA look like an angel.” ELP responds by throwing his water bottle at the commentary table.

    El Phantasmo makes a show of slowly removing the layers of clothing he wore to the ring, starting mind games with Lio Rush before the bell. The two tie-up, with Rush giving a clean break when they reach the ropes. The second time around, ELP breaks but delivers a very soft slap to Rush’s face with makes him chuckle. The two trade holds at a quick pace, with Rush escaping a wristlock by tripping ELP with a drop toe hold. ELP shows his technical skills by countering a wrist lock and ending up pulling Rush into a rolling surfboard. Rush escapes and gets one count, ELP sweeps the leg and gets one count of his own – before admonishing the referee for a slow count! Rush grabs one of ELP’s legs while standing, and moves out of the way of a few slap attempts. Rush asks ELP “what you got”, and Phantasmo responds with a nipple twister!

    After a Lucha-style exchange, ELP cartwheels out of a hurricanrana attempt, with both men attempting dropkicks at the same time. Rush switches directions while running the ropes, and takes down ELP with a kick to the face. Rush does a great job of avoiding ELP’s contact and baits him onto the apron before landing two boots in his face with a handspring against the ropes. ELP, clearly frustrated, calls for a timeout.

    Rush gets a near fall after a hard kick to the chest of a seated ELP and then gets on his back attempting to lock in a rear-naked choke. ELP fights back to his feet, flipping Rush over to the mat, then spiking him with a DDT for a two count. ELP chokes Rush across the second rope but hooks his foot in the rope, claiming he was “stuck” to hold on a few seconds longer than the referee’s count. ELP whips Rush to the corner, but Rush slides to counter and delivers an up-kick to ELP’s chest. Rush attempts the bottom-rope slingshot stunner but is countered. Rush reverses the counter and spikes ELP with a DDT of his own for a two count. Rush attempts a springboard clothesline, but ELP ducks and hits a springboard crossbody for a near fall. Rush evades a lionsault attempt and hits the slingshot stunner for two.

    Rush comes off the top rope but sees ELP getting his feet up. He catches them and sweeps them away, but misses the kick. ELP rolls Rush through and goes for the low blow, but Rush manages to avoid and trap Phantasmo’s arm, transitioning to a crucifix pin for a very close two count! Rush goes for a reverse double underhook, but ELP shoves him into the referee. While Rush checks on the ref, ELP loads up and knocks Rush out with a superkick for the win.

    Match Time: 14m 5s
    WINNER: El Phantasmo via Superkick.

    These two are very evenly matched, ability-wise, and the match came down to the storytelling of the two characters. Rush was content to frustrate and infuriate El Phantasmo initially – holding back to maintain a more controlled pace, not allowing ELP the chance to use his more questionable tactics early on. Once ELP gained control, he reverted to the guy we all know and love to hate – including raking his nails down Rush’s back a few times. The throwback to the Super J-Cup of Rush avoiding the low blow was a nice touch, and the finish continues El Phantasmo’s run of using the superkick to great effect – something questioned by a lot of people in NJPW who think he has a loaded boot.

    I’d be interested to watch this back without commentary, as the verbal warfare ELP and Rush had (especially early on) was very entertaining. ELP even took a few chances to plug his Pro Wrestling Tees merchandise, and mock Koslov during the match. A very good end to the first night of New Beginning in the USA.

    Post-match, ELP gives some respect to Lio Rush, saying he’s “very good”, a “go-getter” and “successful in what you do (besides your music).” He then calls Rush a “kid” who has nothing against him. ELP is “Mr. Back-to-Back”, and the “Ace of the Junior Division” and if Rush wants to come into his company and his division, he has to go through him. ELP suggests Rush speaks to “the office” for a rematch, before declaring himself “The Man of the Century – of the Multiverse.”

    The Multiverse line is very, very interesting in the context of the “Forbidden Door” being opened between AEW, Impact, and NJPW. Is this a sign that El Phantasmo may not stick to NJPW Strong in the coming weeks?

    Night Two of The New Beginning in the USA tour comes to us next week, with the main event the wrestling world is talking about. IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley will defend his title against the man who has been the number one contender for six months, KENTA. This will no doubt be the most-watched episode of NJPW Strong (for obvious reasons) and is one of the most-anticipated wrestling matches of 2021.

    TWM has a bit of a background on the match here – if you need it – and will be on hand with a recap if you miss it. But you won’t, will you?

    For more New Japan Strong and all the latest from New Japan, Courtesy of TWM:Japan, click here.