A Review of Moxley vs KENTA

A Review of Moxley vs KENTA

Last Wednesday, KENTA of NJPW broke down barriers and lit the wrestling world on fire when he interfered in the main event of AEW, striking former AEW World Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley with his patented Go-To-Sleep. Now, if you don’t watch NJPW, the significance of the moment may have been lost in translation. Yes, the Forbidden Door has been kicked right off its hinges. But why now? Why KENTA? If those questions have been on your mind, you’ve come to the right place. In the following paragraphs I’m going to break down this feud so even if you’ve never seen a New Japan show, you’ll be caught up.

Our story begins at the Battle of the Super Juniors. While the tournament that gives the show it’s name put on a banger of an undercard, all eyes were set on Jon Moxley (formerly known as WWE’s Dean Ambrose) as he was set to make his NJPW debut. His opponent? WWE Alumni and current IWGP United States Champion, Juice Robinson. Juice fought valiantly, but ultimately succumbed to Moxley’s Death Rider. With a new championship around his waist and a new company to dominate, Moxley’s future looked bright.

But the future had other ideas. On October 14th, 2019, just hours before Moxley was to defend his IWGP US Championship for the first time, he was stripped of the Championship. Typhoon Hagibis had struck Japan, leaving travel inbound at a standstill. Jon had no way into the country, and with his future uncertain, vacated the title. Thinking quickly on their feet, NJPW slotted Lance Archer in Moxley’s stead. The Murderhawk went on to beat Juice Robinson in a No Disqualification Match for the IWGP US Championship. Though Archer was able to climb the mountain, the thought of Moxley returning was a cloud over everything he did. The Wrestling Community knew Archer’s days were numbered, it was only a matter of when.

The when turned out to be January 4, 2020. Wrestle Kingdom. The biggest show in the west. Moxley had made his intentions to Archer clear. He was coming for the title he never lost, and knew only one way to settle it. With a Texas Deathmatch! The two titans battled their hearts out, leaving everything in the ring. But Moxley wouldn’t be denied, and slayed the Murderhawk for his second championship reign. Moxley was on top of the world! Until the world went to Hell. Due to the pandemic sweeping the world, Wrestle Kingdom was the last time we’d see Moxley in a NJPW ring.

Enter KENTA.

KENTA (formerly known as WWE’s Hideo Itami), meanwhile, had made a triumphant return back home. He began to accumulate wins, and joined the Bullet Club to keep his momentum rolling. With NJPW deciding against stripping Moxley again, a tournament was set. The winner would receive the NJPW USA Cup, as well as a briefcase containing a IWGP US title match. The pieces are starting to fall together, right? Well as you would have guessed by now, KENTA defeated David Finlay in the finals to claim his prize. The #1 Contender immediately called Moxley out, stating he refused to defend his briefcase and would only wrestle the Champion. Unfortunately, NJPW had other plans.

As of this writing, KENTA has more briefcase defenses than Moxley has title defenses. In fact, in his 531+ combined days as champion, Moxley has a mere two defenses. Actually, it’s been over a year as of this writing since Mox has even had a match for NJPW. This all came to a head over the passed few weeks. On January 30, Moxley made a surprise appearance on NJPW Strong to lay out his challenger with a viscous Death Rider. KENTA then repaid the favor on this passed weeks dynamite, laying out the Champion with his own finisher, the Go-To-Sleep.

Now the stage is set for this February 26th, as Champion and Challenger finally face off for the now coveted IWJP US Title. With a little less than 3 weeks before the bout, we’re sure to see more of this story unfold across AEW and NJPW Strong. With KENTA aligning with his AEW Bullet Club comembers and a banger Tag Team Match already announced for Dynamite, this story is sure to explode. Soon.

Featured Image Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

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