The global expansion of New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) continues, as it prepares for it’s first ever stand alone shows tonight and tomorrow in the United Kingdom, with Strong Style Evolved UK, a sister event to the Strong Style Evolved that occurred this past March in Long Beach, California. The historic event is by no means the first time NJPW has appeared on the British Isles – thanks to the IWGP Conception, NJPW has alliances with Revolution Pro Wrestling (RevPro) and Over The Top Wrestling (OTT), and have sent wrestlers to both promotions, particularly RevPro. Much like their US ally Ring of Honor, NJPW holds War of the Worlds and Global Wars co-productions with RevPro. And much like ROH had a strong presence at NJPWs’ Strong Style Evolved, RevPro is very much a part of NJPW’s first full showing in England – although unlike the US event, the UK is getting two nights.
NJPW STRONG STYLE EVOLVED UK, NIGHT 1, Milton-Keynes, England
Shota Umino vs. ??
The 21-year old Shota Umino is one of NJPW’s top prospects from their Young Lions program, getting more and more matches on main cards and tours, including some matches at this year’s Best of the Super Juniors. His opponent isn’t being announced until the event, but expect it to be one of the young stars of RevPro to kick off the event with a Japan vs UK showcase.
Bullet Club (“Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
With the bulk of Bullet Club in the US for last night’s Ring of Honor Best in the World or the NJPWxCEO event, the duo repping the black and white falls on the latest member (and BOTSJ finalist) “Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori teaming with “The Tokyo Pimp” Yujiro Takahashi in a showdown with one of the hottest tag teams in the UK, Aussie Open, who have competed with RevPro, PROGRESS, OTT and just about every other major promotion in the UK. The Australian duo of Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis have exploded on the UK scene in the past year and are the current reigning (and 2x) Defiant Tag Team Champions.
Suzuki-gun (Taichi, El Desperado & Iizuka) vs. CHAOS (Jay White, Toru Yano & Gedo)
The faction wars of New Japan continue in Milton Keynes, as Suzuki-gun sends a trio lead by the crazed 51-year old Takashi Iizuka, one of Suzuki’s enforcers. Iizuka leads two Suzuki-gun’s most under-appreciated members (although multi-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions) in Taichi and El Desperado, as they face a CHAOS team lead by IWGP United States Champion “Switchblade” Jay White, who brings with him Toru Yano and Gedo.
Tiger Mask IV vs. David Starr
The current and longest incarnation of Tiger Mask hits the UK in a match up against US indie star David Starr. Despite being an American, Starr has found far greater success in the UK (where he regularly competes for RevPro, PROGRESS and others) as well as Germany with wXw. He recently won CZW Best of the Best tournament and is also the new RevPro British Cruiserweight Champion, so this should be a solid showcase of differing styles.
WALTER vs. Yugi Nagata
International superstar WALTER continues to make the rounds, as he returns to the UK to face a Japanese legend in Yuji Nagata. WALTER has dominated Europe for years, including PROGRESS, RevPro and his home promotion wXw, and of late has taken to conquering North America – he’s the current PWG World Champion and is setting his sights on EVOLVE as well. But he returns to the UK in a match up against one of the toughest men to appear in NJPW, the man once known as “Mr. IWGP” and 2x IWGP Heavyweight Champion Yuji Nagata.
Chris Brookes vs. YOSHI-HASHI
It was a shock to many that Chris Brookes didn’t turn up for the WWE United Kingdom Championship tournament earlier this month, but then reports surfaced that he’d actually turned down a WWE UK deal to remain independent. The UK star, best known for his tag team with Kid Lykos in CCK, is on the verge of singles greatness and perhaps working with NJPW is a better option to continue his path. He faces one of NJPW’s most dependable veterans, YOSHI-HASHI, in what is bound to be a solid encounter.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Will Ospreay
The long time Pro Wrestling NOAH star Yoshinobu Kanemaru defected with Suzuki-gun and headed to NJPW last year and is currently one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. He faces a former 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in one of England’s biggest stars in wrestling, the “Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay.
RevPro British Tag Team Championship: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) (c) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii)
The war between Suzuki-gun and CHAOS has gotten dangerous of late and the main event of night one will be a culmination of that, as Suzuki-gun leader Minoru Suzuki and his right hand man, England’s own Zack Sabre Jr., defend their RevPro British Tag Team Championship belts against the best team CHAOS could present – former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada pairing with current RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii in what’s sure to become an instant classic.
NJPW STRONG STYLE EVOLVED UK, NIGHT 2, Manchester, England
Dan Duggan vs. ??
Much like Umino’s open challenge match to open night one, UK wrestler Dan Duggan (who is a Young Lion from the LA NJPW Dojo) will also have an unnamed opponent to be announced prior to the match.
Shota Umino vs. Yugi Nagata
Shota Umino may have his work cut out for him, depending on how Nagata’s match the previous night goes against WALTER. If WALTER defeats the New Japan legend, Nagata’s notorious mean streak may be amped up even further, but it could also be a great opportunity for Umino to show what he’s really made of.
El Phantasmo vs. “Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori vs. David Starr vs. Tiger Mask IV
This has all the potential to be one of the sleeper matches of the night, as Ishimori joins night one foes Tiger Mask and David Starr in a Four Way Match. The fourth entrant is a new star emerging in the UK scene, El Phantasmo. Originally from Canada, Phantasmo is a long time veteran of Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (ECCW) in British Columbia, but last year made a splash in the UK scene, where he now competes for RevPro, IPW:UK, ATTACK!, Fight Club: PRO and others.
Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, EL Desperado & Iizuka) vs. CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & Gedo)
The war between factions continues with nearly the same trios, but this time, Yoshinobu Kanemaru subs in for Taichi for Suzuk-gun, while YOSHI-HASHI assumes the captaincy from Jay White.
WALTER vs. Yujiro Takahashi
WALTER takes on the Bullet Club, as the Austrian war machine takes on the most laid back member of the BC in Yujiro Takahashi. “The Tokyo Pimp” is no slouch – he’s a former NEVER Openweight Champion and has won both the IWGP Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles. But despite his accolades, Takahashi may be in for a rough introduction to the PWG World Champion.
Jay White (IWGP US Champion) vs. Chris Brookes (Non-title match)
Despite Jay White having his NJPW Young Lion excursion in the UK, this is a first time match up between White and Brookes (in what could be the dark horse match of the night). Two young hungry stars with nothing to lose, this should be an absolute stunner. At press time, White’s IWGP US title isn’t on the line.
Taichi vs. Will Ospreay
Will Ospreay joins his faction’s battle against Suzuki-gun by facing 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion in NOAH, Taichi.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
A very Suzuki-gun vs. CHAOS themed event, one of the events co-main events is a rematch from the main event of Sakura Genesis earlier this year, where New Japan Cup winner Zack Sabre Jr. lost in his attempt to capture the IWGP Heavyweight title from Okada. Now that Okada is without title, it makes the match more unpredictable, especially now that Sabre will be facing “The Rainmaker” on his home turf.
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki
The Suzuki-gun vs. CHAOS Battle of Britain comes to a head in the main event of night two, as Minoru Suzuki looks to continue their dominance of RevPro by defeating Tomohiro Ishii for RevPro’s top title, to add to their tag team titles. This is going to be as hard hitting as they come and has a lot of solid matches before them that will compete for match of the night – but never count these two out as they’re repeatedly some of the most engaging characters on NJPW’s roster and always deliver.