With NJPW expanding their presence into the United States more in 2018, it came as little surprise the announcement of the new US-based NJPW Dojo opening its doors this March, beginning with a series of mini-camps. NJPW has tried this avenue before, back in 2002, when founder Antonio Inoki opened the Inoki Dojo in Santa Monica, California as a means to scout foreign talent for NJPW. It initially became one of the hottest wrestling schools on the West Coast (if not in the United States), featuring trainers like Rocky Romero, Samoa Joe, Rickey Reyes and TJ Perkins, boasting young talent like Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan). It even ran it’s own shows for years in the US. But when Inoki lost control of NJPW in 2005, the Dojo went downhill and by 2007 was but a memory. This time around, NJPW is in a far better situation than it was then, but it looks to follow a similar guideline – it will not only be a training center, but a scouting facility for potential new talent for NJPW.
— njpw_global (@njpwglobal) February 9, 2018
The Try Out camps began taking applications on Valentine’s Day this week and one of the first major indie stars to announce his application was Anthony Henry. The 34-year old indie wrestler has become one of the indie scenes breakout stars the past couple years, but it’s hardly been an overnight success. Most fans are surprised to find out that Henry began his wrestling career back in 2002, debuting with NWA Wildside in Georgia. After a couple years, the promising young grappler turned his attention to MMA, leaving pro wrestling for several years while he focused on a new combat sport. He lost his first MMA fight in 2005, but when he went pro in 2007, he won both matches for Augusta Extreme Fight Night, both by submission.
And it begins… pic.twitter.com/0j3SG7KrtU
— Anthony Henry (@Antnyhenry) February 15, 2018
Anthony Henry returned to pro wrestling in 2008, this time with Anarchy Wrestling, where he remained a regular for five years. In 2014, he began to turn heads when he joined North Carolina’s Premier Wrestling Xperience (PWX), and from their it took off, working with Beyond, OMEGA, and CWF, before jumping to more national attention with CZW and EVOLVE in 2016. In July of 2017, alongside tag partner James Drake, they captured the EVOLVE Tag Team Championships at EVOLVE 88 from Catch Point‘s Chris Dickinson and Jaka, holding them for 76 days.
But Henry isn’t just a capable tag team wrestler – he’s also the current reigning PWX Heavyweight Champion, a belt he’s held for nearly a year (it’ll be 365 days this February 19). But despite a surge in attention and high profile matches the past two years, it’s clear by his application to the NJPW Dojo Mini-Camps that he wants to do better. As he stated in an interview with Lance Bradley last year for Enzuigiri.com, “That’s always the goal, to continue to improve and just become the best professional wrestler that I can. As long as I continue on the path that I have been on before…I think it’s going happen,” said Henry. “Just keep training, keep humble and always be a sponge. That’s what I’m trying to do man. I want to be on the next level.”