NJPW “NJPW Academy Summer 2023 Showcase” results (10/9): Vetter’s review of Rocky Romero vs. Matt Vandagriff, Johnnie Robbie and Trish Adora defeated Viva Van and J-Rod, Fred Rosser vs. Shaheen


By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

NJPW “NJPW Academy Summer 2023 Showcase”
October 7, 2023 in Los Angeles, California at the NJPW Dojo
Streamed on YouTube.com

* The event opened with a commercial for the Academy, prominently showing Fred Rosser, Kushida, and Rocky Romero  as trainers. We were then introduced to Marc Warzecha and Jordan Castle, who provided live commentary. Again, Castle is in his early 20s and he has Don West’s enthusiasm and boisterous energy.

* To the arena. This is in the dojo/training center. The ring appears to be slightly bigger in size. We have maybe 100 people in the crowd. LIghting is good.

1. Hex vs. Angus Legstrong went to a time-limit draw at 5:00. Hex appears to be 5’4″ or so with short hair and a thick beard. Angus is a bit heavier and taller. Both wore basic black trunks. Castle immediately compared this to a Young Lion’s match as they traded basic mat reversals. Hex went for a Boston Crab but Angus escaped. Adequate opener.

2. Fred Rosser defeated Shaheen at 13:24. Shaheen is thin and slender; think the Sihra brothers (Bollywood Boyz). Rosser has a significant height, size, overall muscle mass advantage. Shaheen hit a chop block to the back of the knee seconds in. He hit a plancha to the floor and they fought on the floor. In the ring, Shaheen applied a crossface at 2:30. Rosser backed Shaheen into a corner and worked him over. Rosser put Shaheen on his shoulders in the Torture Rack position and just launched him across the ring at 6:30. Shaheen hit a running knee to the jaw. Shaheen hit a Sunset Flip Powerbomb from the corner for a nearfall at 9:30.

They fought on the ring apron, where Shaheen hit a fallaway stunner off the ropes onto the apron. In the ring, he hit a top-rope doublestomp to the chest for a nearfall. He tied Rosser in a pretzel on the mat. I really like what Rosser is doing here; he’s just letting Shaheen do all his spots and being there to make him look good. Rosser applied a Crossface-Chickenwing. Shaheen hit a doublestomp to the collarbone. Shaheen got on Rosser’s shoulders and got a Victory Roll for a nearfall, but Rossere reversed it and got a rollup for the pin. That was good and I came away impressed with Shaheen in my first time seeing him.

3. The DKC defeated Zane Jay at 8:58. Zane is white, seems arrogant and has a great physique, and the commentators say this is his first match EVER; he’s a bit Jordan Oliver and a bit Carmelo Hayes in style and body type. DKC immediately tied him up on the mat. (I know this is a staged sport but I hate that Zane has a necklace on. I loved Razor Ramon removing his and threatening the ring assistant.) Basic mat reversals as the commentators talked about DKC’s matches in Japan against some top NJPW stars. DKC hit a snap suplex for a nearfall at 3:30. Zane hit a fallaway slam for a nearfall.

Zane hit a senton for a nearfall. DKC hit a running kneestrike, then a running summersault splash. DKC bent Zane over his knee and hit his knife-edge chops to the chest, then a summersault senton for a nearfall at 7:30. Zane hit a German Suplex. Zane missed a Lionsault and crashed on his stomach. DKC hit a springboard leg lariat for the pin. Good match, and congrats to Zane on his first match.

4. Keita defeated Jordan Oasis at 11:56. Oasis is short, bald with a thick beard and he wore camouflage pants. Keita is a Black man and he is similar size and physique to Oasis; I’ve seen him on a handful of NJPW Strong episodes. Keita opened with some quick spin kicks to the thighs and a hard chop on the back. Oasis hit a big bodyslam for a nearfall, and Keita rolled to the floor to regroup. In the ring, Oasis hit a backbreaker over his knee at 2:30.

Keita hit a stunner and got a rollup for a nearfall, then a hard kick to the jaw for a nearfall. They traded chops and this got intense. Oasis nailed a standing powerbomb with a jackknife cover for a nearfall at 8:30, then a cannonball against the ropes for a nearfall. Keita tied the left leg in the ropes and hit a running dropkick on it, then a chop block on it. Keita applied a Boston Crab, but Oasis reached the ropes. Oasis hit a uranage. Keita repeatedly stomped on the damaged knee. Keita applied a Liontamer/vertical Boston Crab with a knee in the back, and Oasis tapped out. Good match.

5. Tyler Bateman defeated Seabass Finn at 12:12. Finn wore a fisherman’s jacket and wide-brim hat and quite the hillbilly mullet. It’s a pretty cartoonish gimmick. Bateman, of course, has competed frequently in New Japan Strong and he was barking like Rick Steiner. Mat reversals to open. They each did a ‘fishhook’ in each other’s mouth. They began trading hard chops at 6:00. Finn hit some running back elbows in the corner. Finn hit a German Suplex at 9:30. Finn hit a rebound clothesline, then a German Suplex for a nearfall. Bateman nailed a twisting brainbuster for a believable nearfall, then a Dragunov-style diving forearm for the pin. This was intense.

6. Buck Skynr defeated Socal Crazy, Sean “The Vegan” Keegan and Jake Painter in a four-way at 11:09. Socal Crazy has apparently recovered from abdominal cancer; he’s short and wears a mask. Keegan has the wild hair and looks of Juice Robinson. Painter has long black hair. Buck is well over six feet tall and towers over the other three. Fred Rosser joined commentary. All four fought at the bell with Keegan hitting a German Suplex on Socal Crazy. Socal hit a huracanrana on Buck. Painter hit some backbreakers over his knee; the commentators said he modeled himself after Roderick Strong.

Buck hit a chokeslam and a powerslam for a nearfall at 4:30. Socal dove off the top rope onto the other three on the floor. In the ring, Socal hit a Code Red on Painter for a nearfall at 6:30. Painter hit, as Castle called it, a One Winged Angel-into-a-backbreaker over his knee. Nice. Keegan and Socal traded chops and forearms. Suddenly everyone was down at 9:30. Buck hit a Mafia Kick. Painter hit a Lungblower to the back. Buck clotheslined Keegan to the floor. Buck picked up Painter for what I thought was going to be a chokeslam, but instead he turned it into a Flatliner for the pin. Good match.

* Rosser hopped in the ring, grabbed the mic, and told Buck Skynr that he will compete at the New Japan Strong event Oct. 28 in Las Vegas. The crowd chanted, “You deserve it!”

7. Johnnie Robbie and Trish Adora defeated Viva Van and J-Rod at 10:02. Van, who is Vietnamese heritage, is just a star. J-Rod was announced at 5’11” and she has zero body fat and I haven’t seen her before. Adora and Van opened and the crowd chanted “both these wrestlers!” Johnnie got in and hit a running double knees to J-Rod’s neck for a nearfall at 2:30. Van leapt off J-Rod’s shoulders and splashed Robbie for a nearfall at 5:30, and Viva’s team worked over Robbie. Johnnie hit a spinning back fist on Viva; they hit stereo spin kcks and were both down at 8:00, and we got a “this is awesome!” chant.

Adora made the hot tag and she hit a running crossbody block on J-Rod for a nearfall, then a German Suplex. Viva entered and hit a spin kick. Viva hit a running knee to Viva’s face. Johnnie hit a backbreaker over her knee. Adora hit a German Suplex with a bridge to pin J-Rod. That was good action.

8. Rocky Romero defeated Matt Vandagriff at 19:32. I’ve seen Vandagriff several times, mostly in the Las Vegas area for Future Stars of Wrestling, and he has a similar look to Drew Gulak. An intense lockup to open, and Matt has a size and height advantage. Romero applied a Sharpshooter at 3:00. Romero hit a huracanrana, so Matt hit one, then a dropkick, then a standing corkscrew moonsault for a nearfall at 6:00. Romero hit his Forever Clotheslines in the corner. He hit a stiff kick to the spine and kept Matt grounded.

Matt nailed a springboard dropkick at 12:00 and they were both down. Matt hit a Buckle Bomb and a spear for a nearfall. Romero applied a Half Crab and he dragged Matt to the center of the ring. Romero snapped one arm back and he was back in charge. Vandagriff hit a modified Styles Clash and they were both down again. They got up and traded forearm shots. Matt does Lio Rush-style misdirection offense. He nailed another Styles Clash for a believable nearfall at 17:30. Romero hit an enzuigiri and a Sliced Bread for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it. Matt hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. Romero hit another Sliced Bread from the top of the ring post for the pin.

* Romero got on the mic and thanked the fans for coming. He put over Vandagriff and told him he also would wrestle at the New Japan Strong show in Las Vegas.

Final thoughts: A fun, free, showcase. Romero-Vandagriff put together an excellent match and earns best of the night. The women’s tag was fun and I’ll give that second place, ahead of Keita-Oasis. Newcomer Shaheen had a good match with Rosser for honorable mention. Sure, the opening match was slow and methodical, but at five minutes it didn’t overstay its welcome.


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