NJPW Rumble on 44th Street HOT TAKE
New York, New York. The town so nice, they named it twice.
Times Square. The crossroads of the world.
New Japan Pro Wrestling. The King of Sports.
It has been a number of years since the world's most devoted professional wrestling fans converged at Madison Square Garden for the first and only G1 Supercard, featuring the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor in battle. New Japan had finally entered hallowed ground and plans were made for the first-ever Wrestle Dynasty event at the World's Most Famous Arena, but unfortunately the world and COVID-19 had other plans, as NYC was shuttered and Japan closed its borders.
As the world endured, time moved forward and finally, the stars and constellations have properly aligned for New Japan Pro Wrestling to return to New York City, presenting two events that will stream live, exclusively here on FITE from the Palladium Times Square. This historic venue has hosted film premieres, major musical acts and theatrical presentations, but for the first-time ever, it will host the finest combat sports athletes in the world as the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling invade the Palladium, located in the heart of Times Square, just steps away from Broadway's brightest lights and the core of the mightiest city on Planet Earth.
It all kicks off Thursday evening with The Night Before the Rumble on 44th, featuring a mystery vortex event that will feature all the mayhem and hijinx of the Halloween season as the competitors and their matches will be revealed in real time as they happen. New Japan has encouraged all fans in attendance to dress as their favorite pro wrestlers and monsters alike to immerse themselves into the spookiest holiday of the year, so it's impossible to know what horrific wonders await everyone live on FITE this Thursday evening.
Then Friday, NJPW will present the first-ever Rumble on 44th, bringing some of the most ferocious, prideful and talented fighters in the world under one roof to celebrate New Japan's triumphant return to NYC. Streaming live on FITE, the main event is nothing short of a New York City dream match as All Elite Wrestling's Eddie Kingston, one of the most headstrong, grizzled fighters to ever emerge from the fighting streets of New York will team for the first-time ever with one of the greatest New Japan stars of all time, former IWGP Champion Kazuchika Okada as they face off with Bullet Club's Juice Robinson and the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White in a battle that could very well take to the streets of New York.
Okada, the winner of the G1 Climax, is on a Wrestle Kingdom collision course with White, seeking to once again reign supreme as the new World Champion. It will be Bullet Club's goal to try and make sure that Okada doesn't make it to Wrestle Kingdom at 100% when it's time for White to defend the championship. While the Bullet Club have always been a bullying, boastful group of renegades, perhaps their biggest strategic error of late was stoking the ire of Kingston, who never needs a reason to throw down and certainly will never stand for being disrespected.
Disrespected, however, is exactly what Kingston was several weeks ago when he was not medically cleared to compete in Las Vegas, as that set the stage for White to challenge his manhood. In a Yonkers bar, that would be fighting words. On an international broadcasted event, it means war, Kingston is not just looking for revenge, but to take a piece out of the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, because a New Yorker fighting in his hometown is not going to accept anything less than ultimate victory. Add in that Kingston, a well studied student of the best Japanese fighters, will stand alongside Okada, one of the most celebrated fighters of this era, and you are looking at an Eddie Kingston chomping at the bit to get to the ring.
The wild card in the main event may be Juice Robinson, who has been trying to break a recent losing streak. If he can help Jay White turn away the challenge of Okada and Kingston, Robinson can exorcize t
his demons, planting the flag of Bullet Club firmly in the heart of NYC. A Robinson victory would allow him to regain momentum as the stars of New Japan all seek the greatest possible opportunities at Wrestle Kingdom. To achieve that, Juice would have to defeat Kingston and Okada, the most unique odd couple tag team in recent NJPW history.
The New Japan Strong Openweight Tag Team Champions Aussie Open will have one of their greatest challenges to date at The Rumble on 44th as they face Impact Wrestling's The Motor City Machine Guns, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin and the duo of The DKC and Kevin Knight. For Knight and DKC, this championship match was earned with a series of hard fought victories on Strong while representing the New Japan Dojo. It is without any doubt, the biggest spotlight they have found themselves under to date, but in order to achieve victory and the championships, they are going to have to outshine two of the most decorated tag teams in professional wrestling today. Aussie Open have taken the word by storm with their arrogance and do or die tag team machinations inside the ring as proud, arrogant members of The United Empire, seeking to continue to spread the gospel of their greatness. The Machine Guns, the heart and soul of Impact Wrestling, hold a recent victory over Aussie Empire and now seek to exit NYC with another championship victory. For fans of never-ending, heart pounding athletic professional wrestling, FITE will be your destination this Friday evening alone for the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship match.
If there's one thing New Yorkers love, it's a good fight. Whether it be the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden or golden gloves competition in the smallest of fight clubs, New York will come out for a fight. Indeed, a fan vote to determine the parameters for the KOPW 2022 rematch between El Phantasmo and Shingo Takagi was held with 56.1% of the fans wanting a Street Fight. Thus, when these fighters step into the ring, there will be no countouts or disqualification as anything goes until someone is pinned or submitted inside the squared circle. For Phantasmo, this encounter gives him a chance to avenge his loss to Takagi. For Takagi, this battle gives him a chance to not only garner a measure of revenge for Phantasmo shattering the KOPW trophy over his head but to once again humiliate him and show the world by Shingo is celebrated as one of the best fighters of this or any other generation. FITE fans will see live whether Shingo is successful or whether ELP will reign supreme. What's guaranteed? Another storied fight emanating from NYC.
It's been stated so often, it's a cliched meme in 2022, but New York remains the place where dreams are made and for Clark Connors, it may be the site of the biggest victory of his career when he faces off with one of the most vicious competitors in history, Minoru Suzuki. The leader of Suzuki-gun has proved for decades that no one is safe when he comes to fight. For Connors, the chance to prove himself is a major step forward after dealing with a back injury, but the path to victory when battling the former AJPW Triple Crown and Pro Wrestling NOAH Global Honored Crown Champion. Suzuki is a brutal man who breaks his opponent's will to live, much less their strive to fight. Clark Connors dives into the deep end of the pool and attempts to not only escape Jaws, but emerge successful in the process. Whether that miracle moment is upon us will be unveiled live this Friday.
Also slated for Friday is a major grudge tag team encounter as Rocky Romero and YOH battle Yujiro Takahashi and SHO. SHO's brutal betrayal of YOH spelled the end of Roppongi 3K. Now a full fledged member of the House of Torture, he and Takahashi represent that faction for the first time in the United States. To step into the future and exit this monumental moment victorious, SHO will face to evade the pull of the past, as YOH and Rocky Romero, Roppongi's mentor, seek to break down the House of Torture once and for all in NYC. What had once been seen as the tag team that would carry New Japan's future united is now two furiously splintered sides seeking to take the other out forever. The Rumble on 44th will provide all four the blank canvas to paint their picture of vengeance, once and for all.
New Japan Pro Wrestling will once again lead the charge of the best professional wrestling on the planet this weekend, fusing with FITE to provide the ultimate destination for the most ardent combat sports fans to witness every mind-blowing moment, live as it happens!
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.