WWE reminded us again that they’re under new management when they sent NXT’s Charlie Dempsey to Tokyo so he could ring in 2024 wrestling for All Japan Pro Wrestling.
Dempsey teamed with Yuma Anzai in his first two AJPW matches, and the pair was victorious in both (beating LEONA & Tatsumi Fujinami on Dec. 31 at Mania X 2023 and Hideki Suzuki & Katsuhiko Nakajima at Night One of New Year Giant Series on Jan. 1). But the marquee bout of his tour was today in Korakuen Hall, when he challenged Nakajima for All Japan’s Triple Crown championship.
The match went 20 minutes before Nakajima retained by pinfall following his Vertical Spike Brainbuster finisher. But before the expected outcome, Dempsey looks to have represented both WWE and his No Quarter Catch Crew mates in NXT well.
Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Charlie Dempsey - 03.01.2024— ROGER TARGET (@Roger_Target) January 3, 2024
Could anyone have ever imagined that William Regal son would be performing in All Japan? Very proper in-ring work, reminiscent of the 70s. I think it did the match some good. You always have to start from the basic#ajpw #WWENXT pic.twitter.com/shcY0D9Nl2
He also paid tribute to his father, which is fitting since William Regal publicly acknowledged their relationship for the first time in naming Dempsey as the NXT wrestler who would challenge for the Triple Crown on Night Two of New Year Giant Series.
NXT’s Charlie Dempsey hit father William Regal’s move “Regal Plex” at today’s AJPW! pic.twitter.com/IYbBszonW7— Dark Puroresu Flowsion (@PuroresuFlow) January 3, 2024
He also had at least some of the Japanese crowd in his corner for today’s main event, which reportedly wasn’t the case during those first two dates of the tour.
I swear I’ve been seeing for days that AJPW fans didn’t like or care about Charlie Dempsey… what happened? pic.twitter.com/pOuxzObdJo— ⭕️ (@TeeStonee) January 3, 2024
We’ll see what’s next for Dempsey in Japan. He pinned Nakajima in the New Year’s Day tag match, so there may be a tiebreaker coming. Dempsey teased a rematch in NXT during his post-show interview.
But based on the ending of today’s show, the next challenger for the Triple Crown looks set and it’s not the young villain (it’s 2023 Champion Carnival winner, Shotaro Ashino).
Even more interesting is what’s next for WWE in Japan. Should be an exciting 2024!