NJPW Windy City Riot HOT TAKE
"No realistic, sane person goes around Chicago without protection." - Saul Bellow
Chicago is a special city, born and raised on the mob, dicey politicians and Billy Goat Curses. Its people enrich the blue in blue collar, hard working people who face adversity like a punch in the mouth, then rear back to deliver the punishment right back.
Chicago fans are a special breed of people. They have lived through it and seen it all, and they sit back, smirking, waiting to be impressed. It's no small shock that Chicago fans will always flock to the toughest fighters, those who can break their sardonic expectations.
Professional wrestling has been long embedded into the DNA of the city, which saw Verne Gage battle The Crusher for the AWA World title, willed Steve Austin to escape Bret Hart's Sharpshooter at their Wrestlemania I Quit match, saw ECW's Anarchy Rulz shock the world, witnessed Ricky Steamboat's shocking NWA World title victory over Ric Flair, raged with the Road Warriors and literally stood witness to the birth and rise of CM Punk. If you can impress Chitown and bring the heat, as all those competitors have, you have truly excelled at your craft.
The same can be said for the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Long-proven to be the King of Sports, NJPW is a harsh promotion where only the strongest survive and the best fighters rise to immortality. Over the last several years, New Japan Strong has risen to become one of the most important signature pieces of programming on FITE, setting the stage for a new generation of New Japan competitors to rise into prominence, the first steps on their personal road to Wrestle Kingdom, Wrestling Dontaku and the G1 Climax.
As New Japan's influence continues to grow across the world, Chicago will be the epicenter for the aptly named Windy City Riot this Saturday evening live on FITE from the legendary Odeum in Villa Park, right outside Chicago, providing some incredible showdowns and championship battles that will resonate across every corner of the globe.
The main event of Windy City Riot will feature the hard-nosed Jon Moxley battling the brash leader of the United Empire, Will Ospreay. Never one to doubt himself, Ospreay called out the former WWE and AEW World Champion during a Revolution Pro event in London, saying that if Moxley wanted to fight the best wrestlers in the world, had best not ignore Ospreay, telling Mox to put some "some f*cking respect on my name, you f*cking p*ssy." Needless to say, Moxley didn't take kindly to those words, declaring at New Japan's event in Dallas that NJPW is the type of professional wrestling he lives for, not caring if he gets hurt as long as he gets to fight. Now, having been disrespected by Ospreay, Moxley has a chance to set Ospreay straight while fighting in the most hallowed squared circle in the world, live on FITE.
In a battle of two living legends, Minoru Suzuki will face Tomohiro Ishii. Ishii, coming off an immense win at the Multiverse of Matches against Impact Wrestling's Eddie Edwards is strong opposition to Suzuki, who shocked the world with a big ROH TV title win at Supercard of Honor. In many ways, these rugged veterans are mirror images of the other, two men who can endure incredible punishment, who can easily break down their opponents physically and who have carried the banner for true pro wrestling brutality during their tenures in New Japan. A rare battle between the two will surely set the stage for everyone else at the Windy City Riot.
Jay White, the brash leader of Bullet Club, will continue his US of Jay Open Challenges this Saturday in Chicago. With renowned talents from Shane Strickland to Jay Lethal having recently answered the call, only to be turned back by White, what secret competitor will now attempt to decipher the riddle of defeating the former IWGP Champion?
New Japan Strong Champion Tom Lawlor, an accomplished MMA fighter and tough man who has battled in every sleazy corner of the world, may face one of his most unique challenges to date in the renowned, legendary Yuji Nagata. The two-time IWGP Heavyweight champion and former Pro Wrestling NOAH Global Honored Crown Champion, Nagata has fought the toughest MMA competitors and professional wrestlers on Planet Earth. While Lawlor scoffs as if everyone else is beneath him (as seen recently with Fred Rosser), if there is one veteran who even Lawlor should approach with great trepidation, it is Nagata, who has done it yet remains extremely dangerous. Nagata is walking into Chicago with nothing to lose and everything to gain, live on FITE.
The City of Chicago knows fighting and New Japan Pro Wrestling will certainly attempt to satiate that hunger for brutality when FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) & Brody King battle The Mighty Don't Kneel (JONAH & Shane Haste) & Bad Dude Tito in grudge match with some epic-Kaiju level monsters ready to swing fists. Jonah, King and Tito are all badass beasts, seeking to enforce their will. Shane Haste has become one of the true antagonizing forces on New Japan Strong while FinJuice remains one of the most dynamic forces to step into a modern day New Japan Pro Wrestling ring. With emotions heightened and rules relaxed, the ripple effects will be felt all the way to Korakuen Hall and beyond.
Yet another legendary name will make his return to New Japan at the Windy City Riot as former IWGP Champion Scott Norton returns for the first time since 2017, aligning himself with Bullet Club's Chris Bey & The Good Brothers & El Phantasmo & Hikuleo as they battle The United Empire's newly minted IWGP Tag Team Champions Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb lead Aaron Henare & Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis & TJP into a battle for supremacy among two of the most ruthless factions in all of New Japan Pro Wrestling. This 12 man tag team battle promises to be one riotous spectacle this Saturday night live on FITE.
One of the cornerstones of New Japan Strong's weekly series have been the incredible multi-man tag team attractions that have allowed the growing and evolving fighters to continue to hone their in-ring prowess and graduate into fully manifested competitors. The Windy City Riot will be no exception as Alex Coughlin & Chris Dickinson & Fred Rosser & Josh Alexander & Ren Narita will united to battle Team Filthy's Black Tiger & Danny Limelight & Jorel Nelson & JR Kratos & Royce Isaacs in a bout with infinite athletic potential featuring some of the most dangerous and most soulful fighters in NJPW USA this Saturday in Chicago.
AEW stars The Factory, featuring Aaron Solow & Nick Comoroto & QT Marshall will once again intrude on New Japan soil, stepping into six man warfare against New Japan Strong stalwarts Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks & Yuya Uemura, who seek to shut down Marshall's braggart mouth while closing The Factory's dreams of New Japan dominance.
The Windy City Riot emanates from Chicago, this Saturday, live on FITE!
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.