There were a lot of different major storylines going into New Japan Pro Wrestling’s first major U.S. PPV of 2023 Battle in the Valley — Mercedes Mone’s first match since leaving WWE, Jay White potentially leaving New Japan, and Okada defending his NJPW Heavyweight Championship against Tanahashi.
Kushida, The DKC, Kevin Knight, and Volador Jr. vs. Impact World Champion Josh Alexander, CMLL’s NWA World Historic Welterweight Champion Rocky Romero, Mascara Dorada, and Adrian Quest: Talk about six people who know how to get the job done. This was a great way to kick off the pay-per-view. This match went back and forth constantly and the crowd was really into it. Fun start! Especially after the one-hour delay we got due to technical difficulties. Winners: Kushida, The DKC, Kevin Knight, and Volador Jr.
New Japan Strong Openweight Championship: Fred Rosser (C) vs Kenta: This was a really technical matchup. Rodser has improved since his WWE days, and his work in New Japan has been fantastic. The interesting thing in this match is Juice Robinson helping Kenta get the big win. Is Robinson going to be appearing more in New Japan? Only time will tell, but congrats to the new champion. Winner: “And New” Kenta
New Japan Strong Tag Team Championships: Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin) (C) vs The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs/Jorel Nelson): Seeing the Motor City Machine Guns competing truly never gets old. This was my first encounter with WCWC and they truly held their own against this veteran team. The Japanese tag team division is heating up! Winners: “And Still” Motor City Machine Guns
“Loser Leaves New Japan” Jay White vs Eddie Kingston: What a story for Eddie Kingston. This was arguably one of the biggest wins in his career and on Jay’s last night he put Kingston over. This match was fantastic back and forth with two of the best to ever do it. David Finlay being the one to attack White after the match was over is an interesting choice especially if he is going to be the new leader of Bullet Club. The next question is what is next for Jay White, does he go to WWE or does he roam the indies? Whatever he decides, “The Switchblade” is a great addition to any roster. Winner: Eddie Kingston
Filthy Rules Fight: “Filthy” Tom Lawlor vs Homicide: This match had every weapon that you can think of. Ladders, forks, doors, chairs, and more. This match was different from the Japanese style of wrestling we are used to seeing in New Japan, but this was fun. Homicide is an incredible talent when it comes to stipulation matches and he proved that here. Lawlor wins in what is his stipulation because it’s a filthy rules match. Winner: Tom Lawlor
New Japan Pro Wrestling World Television Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. (C) vs Clark Connors: This was on the more technical side of things but Sabre is so talented. The way he can move at such a fast pace while also delivering these amazing submissions is insane. Connors was also able to hang his own since these matches only get a 15-minute time limit and this went all the way to the final minute. From hardcore to technical, only in New Japan folks. Winner: “And Still” Zack Sabre JR
IWGP Women’s Championship: Kairi Sane (C) vs Mercedes Mone: Yes, you read that right Mone’s first match was where she always wanted to go to New Japan. The dancers in her entrance as well as the tribute gear to Hana Kimura were so fitting for this match. If you have also not watched the mini-documentary leading up to her WrestleKingdom debut I highly recommend it. This is what true happiness in a wrestler looks like, you can tell Mone has her spark back. This match was insane from start to finish. This not only put the New Japan Women’s division, but once again Mone was a part of history. This was the first time a women’s match had a co-main event on a New Japan show. They went back and forth and for 25 minutes this was truly anyone’s match. Go and watch this, this may very well be a match-of-the-year candidate. Winner: “And New” Mercedes Mone
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (C) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: We are back to the technical side of the New Japan style of wrestling. Although technical wrestling is not for me Okada can never put on a bad match. The feud between these two has been going on for years so to see it come all to a head on this show was something special. Okada continues to prove why he is the face of New Japan as he continues his reign as world heavyweight champion! Winner: “And Still” Kazuchika Okada
Overall: For going on after Elimination Chamber this kept a lot of wrestling fans awake and invested till almost 2:30 AM. This card had something for every wrestling fan; from hardcore matches to technical matches to back-and-forth matches, this is what is so great about New Japan: there is a match for everyone. This was a good card and stacked as well as New Japan delivered as always!!