With more eyes on New Japan Strong than ever before, IWGP United States Champion Jon Moxley defeated KENTA in a brutal 14-minute affair.
KENTA has been the top challenger for the title which Moxley won back at Wrestle Kingdom 15. Fans held out hope for the match taking place at Tokyo Dome over the New Year season. Instead, New Japan World’s Strong program, which often features competitors from the Noge Dojo in Los Angeles, Ring of Honor, and the national independent scene, played host to the match. Thanks to New Japan’s burgeoning relationship with All Elite Wrestling, the event received heavy-hyping over the past month on AEW Dynamite, as well.
The contest began with both men exchanging stiff forearms strikes. The two then changed gears, bringing the fight to the mat, where both tried to implement submission holds. KENTA applied his modified omoplata, while Moxley fought to hook the bulldog choke that has brought him many AEW wins. Eventually, they spilled out onto the floor. After striking the champ with his title belt, KENTA climbed to the top rope and delivered a wicked elbow drop through a table. With Moxley laid out, KENTA crawled back into the ring, awaiting a count-out victory, which under New Japan rules, would force a title change. Moxley stumbled back into the ring at nineteen, narrowly averting a loss. KENTA charged back with two corner-to-corner dropkicks and double stomp off the top rope. Moxley kicked out and hit KENTA with his Paradigm Shift double-underhook DDT. Shockingly, the challenger kicked out at two, refusing to surrender to the same move that knocked Davey Boy Smith Jr. unconscious at last week’s Bloodsport 5 main event. Seeing the end was near, KENTA unleashed a verbal tirade on the champion before falling into the Death Rider, Moxley’s elevated version of the Paradigm Shift. Moxley earned the three count and, to the surprise of many, retained the IWGP US title.
Earlier in the card, former Young Lion Ren Narita earned a shocking submission victory over Chris Dickinson with a Texas Cloverleaf. In the opening bout, the team of Brody King, ACH, and the Reigel Twins defeated TJP, the DKC, Kevin Knight, and Clark Connors after an ACH Brainbuster.