SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NJPW announced today on their website that due to the government shutdown in the U.S., they were unable to obtain visas for the Japanese talent they were planning on using for the New Beginning USA tour in Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Nashville from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2.
The original advertising for the events promised an authentic NJPW experience for U.S. fans, but without the Japanese talent present on the cards, it will be hard for NJPW to replicate with a mix of ROH/NJPW talent, Young Lions, and independent wrestlers.
The statement from NJPW reads as follows:
It is with great disappointment that we must announce that due to the ongoing 2018–19 United States federal government shutdown, we were unable to obtain visas for our Japanese talent who were looking forward to seeing our US fans at the New Beginning in USA.
We are excited to still be able to share a great line-up with our US fans, regardless of visa issues. The IWGP US Champion, Juice Robinson, is defending his title against Barretta and The Great O-Kharn, who is flying in from England, will be debuting in New Japan! What’s more, this show will highlight the talent and potential of our Young Lions, who have been working hard in the NJPW LA dojo. We are looking forward to being able to celebrate the abilities of the exciting new generation of young NJPW wrestlers.
The lineups for all three New Beginning USA events are as follows:
Los Angeles, Calif: (Jan. 30) – Beretta & Rocky Romer0 vs. IWGP U.S. Champion Juice Robinson & Tracy Williams, Chuckie T vs. David Finlay, Jeff Cobb vs. Karl Fredericks, Marty Scurll & Brody King vs. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr., Colt Cabana vs. Shane Taylor, Jonathan Gresham vs. Tyler Bateman, and Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors.
Charlotte, N.C.: (Feb. 1) – IWGP U.S. Champion Juice Robinson vs. Beretta, Chuckie T & Rocky Romero vs. David Finlay & Tracy Williams, Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Alex Coughlin, Marty Scurll & Brody King vs. Jeff Cobb & Jonathan Gresham, The Great-O-Kharn vs. Tracer X, Colt Cabana & John Skyler vs. Lance Archer & Shane Taylor, and Karl Fredericks vs. Clark Connors.
Nashville, Tenn. (Feb. 2): – Beretta & Chuckie T & Rocky Romero vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay & Tracy Williams in an Elimination Tag match, Jeff Cobb vs. Brody King, Marty Scurll vs. Clark Connors, The Great-O-Kharn vs. Harlem Bravado, Colt Cabana & Jonathan Gresham vs. Lance Archer & Shane Taylor, and Karl Fredericks vs. Alex Coughlin.
Radican’s Analysis: NJPW dropped the ball big time on not getting the visa issues for the NJPW talent sorted out well in advance of these events taking place. Fans that bought these tickets at a premium price expecting an authentic NJPW experience in the U.S are going to be sorely disappointed given that they won’t be seeing any native NJPW talent on the cards.
NJPW announcing a half-baked lineup at the last minute for these events with a bunch of matches that just seem thrown together outside of Juice Robinson defending the IWGP U.S. Championship against Beretta in Charlotte is a big letdown.
I’ve spoken to several sources and I don’t know exactly what happened here, but the common consensus is that NJPW waits too long to get things done. The process to get a visa done took a lot of time even before the government shutdown in the U.S. with a tougher process under President Trump, so NJPW should have been on top of this issue a long time before the government shutdown in order to ensure that everything was in order ahead of their events next week.
A question that has to be taken into consideration is that given how difficult it has been for NJPW to obtain visas for their talent, will they have the visas for their joint show with ROH called G1 Supercard set to take place during WrestleMania weekend in April ready in time. With April rapidly approaching, it has to be a concern for both companies at this moment that everything they need to do to ensure the talent they want to use is able to go to the U.S. is in place and there isn’t a repeat of this incident.
It is interesting that ROH seemingly has gotten Rush’s visa in order extremely quickly, as he was announced for their next set of events in Florida in early February today. I had been told Rush wouldn’t be appearing regularly for the promotion until his visa was in place.
There are some good matches spread around all three cards, but without the Japanese talent, these cards are awfully expensive considering you can see all of this talent at a much cheaper rate elsewhere in the U.S. on a regular basis. The New Beginning USA shows were expected to be a watered down NJPW experience, but hopefully this event forces NJPW to speed up their paperwork processing practices faster in the future.