On November 15, I got to see NJPW STRONG Detonation in Riverside at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium. It was the first time I had seen a significant live wrestling event before the dark times, and it was a blast. NJPW puts on a heck of a show.

For those that don’t know, New Japan Pro-Wrestling is exactly what it sounds like: A Japanese company equivalent of WWE or AEW. However, the focus is generally on the in-ring action and story rather than outside of the ring silliness. The other big differences are the focus on strong style, a specific hard-hitting type of wrestling, and some more classic mat wrestling with some high flyers. So it’s less entertainment and more classic pro-wrestling.

The Card And Best Matches Of The Night

Bronson Reed is back! Well… as Jonah in NJPW.

For a live event and something like NJPW, it’s hard to rate the matches and unfair. But it’s a live event. And it’s NJPW. No match will be awful, and no match is likely to be a 5-star classic, though some are great and some are less. For me, the matches that turn into Greco-Roman-style hold fests are the least exciting, and those that feature some high-impact moves or fantastic storytelling are the best.

As such, the weakest match for me was Alex Coughlin vs. the Warmaster John Barnett. Barnett is a cagey veteran entering an NJPW ring for the first time in 17 years, and Alex Coughlin is a beginner from the LA Dojo, a training gym. Both men are talented, but it becomes a hold fest and a lot of mat wrestling. This isn’t my type of match, and the crowd even started a “boring” chant at one point. Barnett won, but it was a respect match to bring a new guy into the big leagues.

For a card featuring Will Ospreay and Lio Rush, I’m surprised to say my favorite match was Tomohiro Ishii vs. Brody King. It was just two hard-hitting men trying to beat each other to a pulp in a ring. It’s also a great introduction to NJPW. The match is full of hard elbows, hard chops, and dangerous moves. Ishii went over Brody in a fun battle that won over the crowd.

Ishii and King are ready for some hard hits.

More From NJPW Strong

Other matches included the main event featuring “Mr. No Days off” Fred Rosser, who lost to STRONG Openweight Champion Tom Lawlor. Next, Lio Rush & Adrian Quest defeated Bateman & Misterioso. Finally, Gabriel Kidd submitted to Jonathan Gresham. After that, a 6-man tag match featuring Karl Fredericks, Clark Connors, & Ren Narita, Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, & TJP ended with Ospreay, Cobb, and TJP getting the victory. Oh, yeah. The other big news is that WWE’s Bronson Reed is now in NJPW as Jonah. He wore his gray Bam Bam Bigelow tribute tights and won with a great splash off the top rope. He looks like an absolute monster of a man, crushing Lucas Riley.

And who can forget Justin, the Referee! He was an absolute fan favorite. Then entire event, poor Justin was being booed or cheered. Referees get no love – especially when they miss the good guys being beaten up behind their back – and a few ref taunts always make a night fun. He even had Jonathan Gresham disrespect him by wiping his hands off onto his shirt.

If you want to check out something different, try NJPW. It’s a great time. Following this one, their next event in SoCal is Nemesis at the Vermont Hollywood in Los Angeles. It even features a surprise appearance by true legend Christopher Daniels. ThatHashtagShow is looking forward to it! Follow us for more wrestling news and reviews.