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Jon Moxley returns to New Japan on NJPW Strong

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Major development in the slowest burning storyline since Nick and Jess on New Girl - IWGP United States champion Jon Moxley returned to New Japan last night (Jan. 29).

It wasn’t at New Beginning in Nagoya. The pandemic and his AEW commitments still preclude and trans-Pacific travel. But it was more than his via satellite promo at Wrestle Kingdom 15 earlier this month.

Mox’s in-person return came on NJPW Strong, the weekly streaming show filmed at New Japan’s California dojo and primarily focused on their roster there. KENTA, who’s held a contract for a shot at the IWGP U.S. title since winning the New Japan Cup USA tournament last August, worked the main event with his Bullet Club brethren Hikuleo & El Phantasmo. KENTA & crew lost to a trio of former WWE wrestlers (Lio Rush, TJP & Fred “Darren Young” Rosser), but jumped them after the match like the heels they.

That’s when the lights went out and Mox made his first in-person New Japan appearance since retaining his title against Minoru Suzuki at one of 2020’s New Beginning shows.

First he took out Hikuleo and ELP. KENTA seemed to have him up for a Go 2 Sleep, but Mox slipped free and hit the Death Rider DDT. He then told the former Hideo Itami his “dream of becoming IWGP US champion just became a nightmare” and vowed to see him in Tokyo “one of these days”.

The number of new COVID cases in Japan and the United States is declining again after big surges earlier this month, but there remains a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the pandemic worldwide. I wouldn’t count on seeing Mox in Tokyo any time soon, especially with a pregnant wife at home in Las Vegas.

He’ll have to console himself by being the first guy to simultaneously feud with two different versions of Bullet Club in two unaffiliated companies.

Hey, maybe this long awaited match with KENTA could happen on some other show...