NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023 Preview!

This Saturday night, the stars of NJPW and the young lions of NJPW STRONG come to the San Jose Civic Center for the first NJoA PPV of 2023 with NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023. This special event features a stacked card, topped with a double main event.

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Alex Coughlin vs. JR Kratos

[Photo: NJPW]
Battle in the Valley 2023 begins with a rematch a year in the making. Before Coughlin graduated from Young Lion status, he set himself an open challenge series in a bid to prove himself. That series ended with an upset victory over the superheavyweight JR Kratos. As Coughlin became “The Android” and began his ascent up the ranks, Kratos hungered for a rematch.

As tensions brewed, the grudge match had to be scrapped as Alex Coughlin came down with an injury in his leg. In the interim, Kratos went on a tear, stomping just about everyone who stood in his path. But now these two finally get to settle their differences in the ring!

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Bobby Fish vs. David Finlay

[Photo: NJPW]
The second of the pre-show bouts, David Finlay will face off with the newest member of Team Filthy, Bobby Fish. These two have been on a collision course since Finlay and Fish allied themselves with Homicide and Tom Lawlor, respectively. The last time these two met was in 2016 when Fish defeated Finlay to hold onto the ROH Television Championship.

Indeed, Fish holds a 2-0 record against the younger Finlay in singles action. However, this was well before David Finlay became one of the breakout stars of 2022. Can he start his 2023 campaign on a grudge match win?

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Volador Jr, Kevin Knight, KUSHIDA, and The DKC vs Rocky Romero, Josh Alexander, Adrian Quest, and Mascara Dorada

[Photo: NJPW]
The main card of the evening kicks off with a star-studded eight-man tag team matchup. At first glance, few of these wrestlers seem to have anything to do with one another. However, if you look at the wrestlers individually, the threads will emerge.

Volador, Jr and Rocky Romero are building a rivalry in CMLL, meanwhile, Josh Alexander and KUSHIDA are scheduled to face off for the IMPACT World Championship at Multiverse United on March 30th. What can we expect from this tag team preview of things to come?

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
KENTA vs. Fred Rosser (c) –

NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship

[Photo: NJPW]
With seven title defenses over his seven months as champion, Fred Rosser has been living up to his moniker of “Mr.No-Days-Off.” After capturing the title from inaugural champion Tom Lawlor at Collision last year, Fred Rosser promised to be a fighting champion. Since then, he has done his best to be a standard bearer for the young and hungry talent who call the LA Dojo home.

This Saturday night, he faces his toughest challenge yet in BULLET CLUB’s KENTA. The celebrated striker/mat technician overcame 15 other competitors to clinch the #1 Contendership in the first-ever STRONG Survivor match at NEMESIS. Fresh off a loss to Hiroshi Tanahashi at New Beginning In Osaka, KENTA can’t afford to let another opportunity slip through his fingers.

This may be the motivation he needs to score a victory, and as he looks toward a spell competing Stateside, he may just enter the next stretch of his career as NJPW STRONG Openweight Champion.

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) (c) vs. West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson) –

NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship

[Photo: NJPW]
Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley went on quite the tear after capturing the NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championships at Rumble on 44th Street. Just a few weeks later, on an episode of IMPACT Wrestling, The Motor City Machine Guns took out Heath and Rhino to claim the IMPACT Tag Team Championships.

A testament to their skill as athletes, Sabin and Shelley continue to spearhead tag team wrestling around the world as they approach their 17th anniversary. This Saturday night, they rack up their third title defense against Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson, the tag team representatives of Team Filthy.

The West Coast Wrecking Crew were the backbone of the NJPW STRONG tag team scene well before there was even a properly codified division. Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson bring a lot of pride with them into the San Jose Civic Center this Saturday night. But will that be enough to walk away with the NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championships?

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Eddie Kingston vs. Jay White

[Photo: NJPW]
In another postponed match, Eddie Kingston and “Switchblade” Jay White lock up this Saturday night. We’ve been waiting for this match ever since Eddie Kingston had to back out of Autumn Action due to illness. These two have been firing shots at one another in press conferences and on social media ever since.

They eventually met in tag team action at Rumble on 44th Street. That night, Jay White and Juice Robinson defeated Eddie Kingston and Kazuchika Okada. That loss stuck in Kingston’s craw, as he has made clear that his goal isn’t necessarily to rack up a win over a former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. Rather his goal is to inflict punishment upon his rival.

Meanwhile, Jay White is at a crossroads. After losing the world championship to Okada at Wrestle Kingdom and a follow-up loss to Hikuleo in a Loser Leaves Japan match, The Switchblade’s future is uncertain. He enters into this bout with no backup from BULLET CLUB. Whatever the outcome of this match, the consequences are dire for Jay White this Saturday night in San Jose.

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Homicide vs. Tom Lawlor –

Filthy Rules Fight

[Photo: NJPW]
In a first for NJPW, “The Notorious 187,” Homicide faces Tom Lawlor in a ‘Filthy Rules Fight.’ This is a grudge match months in the making, starting at Autumn Action in September. That night Tom Lawlor sat in on commentary for Homicide’s match with Wheeler Yuta against Jay White and Karl Anderson.

After Homicide got in Lawlor’s face at ringside, Lawlor interjected himself into the match. Week after week, we saw this feud build as Homicide faced off with members of Team Filthy and tried to assault Tom Lawlor with a fork. Eventually, Lawlor issued a challenge to the first-ever Filthy Rules Fight.

The Filthy Rules Fight is a No-DQ match with a twist. The ring ropes that would usually keep the competition restricted to the ring will be taken down. While allowing the competitors to brawl around the ringside area removes the option for high-flying offence and, most crucially, rope breaks.

The match will be decided by pinfall, submission, or knockout. Regardless of victor, the momentum from this match could even lead to a championship match shortly.

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. Clark Connors –

NJPW Television Championship

[Photo: NJPW]
This Saturday night marks the 3rd ever NJPW World Television Championship match as Zack Sabre Jr defends his title against Clark Connors. ZSJ’s first defense against Tomohiro Ishii at New Beginning in Sapporo displayed the philosophy behind the new title.

With only 15 minutes on the clock in each match, the NJPW Television Championship rewards fast-paced action, and that’s exactly what Zack Sabre Jr brings to the table. However, we have yet to see the other piece of the NJPW World Television Championship puzzle: Getting over young talent. Enter: Clark Connors.

“The Wild Rhino” Clark Connors has made great strides in 2022. At the beginning of the year, he was challenging for the NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship. Though his championship campaign ended in defeat, by calendar’s end, he was teaming regularly with NJPW mainstay Ryusuke Taguchi.

If anyone on the NJPW STRONG roster was calling out for a high-profile match, it’s Clark Connors. He’ll get the opportunity on Saturday night, but does he have what it takes to become the second ever NJPW World Television Champion?

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Kairi (c) vs Mercedes Moné –

IWGP Women’s Championship


[Photo: NJPW]
Mercedes Moné, the former Sasha Banks, turned heads in January when she debuted in the Tokyo Dome on January 4th. That night at Wrestle Kingdom, the former WWE Women’s Champion declared Kairi the first victim in her “Global Domination Tour.”

However, having been away from the ring since May of 2022, one wonders if she’ll end up eating those words. While Mercedes Moné was training for her most ambitious outing to date, Kairi was making strides in STARDOM. Kairi capped off her momentous year by defeating Mayu Iwatani to become the inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion.

The first part of this card’s double main event, Kairi vs Mercedes Moné is something of a dream match. While the two crossed paths a number of times in WWE, they only had one singles match, which ended in a disqualification. With no viable singles record to go on, all we have are their career portfolios, which speak to a similar style.

Kairi and Moné both practice a style that emphasizes striking and grappling. The main difference between the two is that while Kairi’s style represents an evolution of Strong Style, Moné tends toward Lucha Libre.

They also share a similar predicament: While Kairi spearheads the nascent IWGP Women’s Division, Mercedes Moné was a driving force behind the rebirth of WWE’s Division. With both competitors fighting for the spirit of Women’s Wrestling, the most hotly anticipated match of the night may be the most hotly contested as well.

NJPW Battle in the Valley 2023
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi –
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship

[Photo: NJPW]
For the 16th time in NJPW, we will see Kazuchika Okada face Hiroshi Tanahashi in singles action. However, this match marks the first time they’ve met for the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, and the first time they’ve met after seemingly burying the hatchet in their rivalry. And this time, they meet under unlikely circumstances.

2022 represented “The Return of The Rainmaker” as Okada sought to solidify his status as “Final Boss” of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Now, Okada is a bigger superstar than ever thought possible. The kind of person Hiroshi Tanahashi was when they first met all those years ago.

But where once Tanahashi was the insurmountable object between Okada and the limelight, he’s now a veteran statesman of the sport, putting in the work to get over new stars and new championships. However, Tanahashi found new drive following the retirement of his one-time mentor Keiji Mutoh.

Inspired once again to reach the top of the wrestling world, Hiroshi Tanahashi faces Kazuchika Okada in the underdog role. What happens when Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada come face to face with the roles reversed? Find out this Saturday night at NJPW Battle in the valley!


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