WWE's Beast In the East comes first early on the 4th of July. The WWE Network airing of what was just a Japanese house show has upped the impact of an already interesting card. Most interesting is the inclusion of a NXT championship match between Kevin Owens and his number one contender Finn Balor. With Owens on the main roster and Balor in the country that made him an international star, this has the biggest fight feel of any NXT title match ever. I suspect Balor to walk out with the belt, but not until after an epic match... and a new round of face paint.
In a perfect world, it would also inspire WWE to start calling it the NXT World title. But I won't hold my breath for that.
The card gets its name from Brock Lesnar's in-ring return as he faces Kofi Kingston. A lot has been made of this odd choice of opponents, but I love it. I think Lesnar and Kingston are a great fit for one another with their contrasting styles and ability to sell anything. Plus with the rest of The New Day in his corner, Kofi should have a nice little army to help him against Brock. Not that it will matter, I suspect, as this sounds like a solid setup to show that Lesnar can overcome even 3 on 1 odds.
The other matches aren't too shabby with a first time meeting between Chris Jericho and another former star in Japan, Neville. John Cena and Dolph Ziggler will team up to take on King Barrett and Kane in the show's oddest match. The Divas title will be on the line as Nikki defends against Paige and Naomi. The Lucha Dragons will take on the other two members of the New Day while Cesaro gets an intriguing singles match with Diego.
It should be a lot of fun, but it won't be as amazing as New Japan's Dominion 7.5, a stacked card from top to bottom coming out of the world's second biggest wrestling promotion. All six New Japan titles will be on the line.
Jr. Heavyweight champion Kenny Omega will also put his title on the line against the Best of the Super Juniors winner KUSHIDA in what may be the match of the night. These two men are both at their very best right now. Given fifteen or twenty minutes they could show up one of the best rosters of wrestlers in the world.
|One incorporates Street Fighter II moves into his repertoire and the other thinks he's Marty McFly. How could this match ever be bad?|
It's rare to see a New Japan card this big without Hiroshi Tanahashi in one of the top two matches, but New Japan's answer to John Cena didn't make it into either. Instead he takes on Toru Yano in an interesting clash of styles.
Shinsuke Nakamura lost the IGWP Intercontinental belt back in May to Hirooki Goto in what many saw as an upset. Over the course of the last three years, Nakamura has elevated the title nearly to that of the IWGP Heavyweight title, but now seems like the time to possibly move him past it. Every American fan of New Japan has been itching for an ongoing Nakamura and Styles feud, but that can only happen if Nakamura moves past trading the titles with his contenders.
|Goto and Nakamura should also have a coolest coat competition.|
Fans can watch the broadcast live on New Japan's own streaming service NJPW World.