By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
Taped in Los Angeles, California
Streamed August 14, 2020 on New Japan World
A NJPW Strong opening video aired hyping up the matches that would take place tonight… The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in ran through the matches for tonight again before the intro and we got right into it…
1. Clark Connors and Jordan Clearwater vs. Logan Riegel and Barrett Brown. The team of Connors and Clearwater immediately positioned themselves as the heels by getting in their opponents face in a shoving match before the bell rang. Connors and Brown started in the ring, with Connors and Brown trading back takes and trips to start the match off. Connors used a headlock at one point but was shot off the ropes by Brown and hit a shoulder block to get him down.
Brown answered back with a one-legged dropkick, allowing Brown to tag in Riegel who traded shoulder blocks with Connors who won out and tagged in Clearwater before the two hit Riegel with a double hip toss. Clearwater took too much time trying to pressure Riegel who was able to head scissors whip him into the corner and tag in Brown who rapped Clearwater with a missile dropkick.
Brown suplexed Clearwater into the corner and tagged in Riegel who hit a senton. Riegel used a front facelock to try and wear Clearwater down before hitting a clothesline and pushing him into the corner. Clearwater used a back elbow to build space before hitting Riegel with a powerslam and tagging in Brown. Riegel tagged in Brown who was subject to a couple of rough looking hip tosses before Connors laid into him with chops. The two entered a chop exchange with Connors ending the sequence with a spear for a two count.
Connors attempted a Boston Crab, but was kicked off into the corner where Clearwater tagged himself in. Clearwater hit Brown with a big boot and attempted a Fireman’s carry, but Connors reversed into a roll-up to get the pinfall victory.
Barrett Brown and Logan Riegel defeated Jordan Clearwater and Clark Connors
Anish’s Thoughts: This match was confused. Not confusing, this match was confused as to what it wanted to be. While it was indeed a good match, it was structured in a very strange way since Connors and Clearwater came into the match presented as heels but then were the ones who were cut off from their opponents and beaten on for the majority of the match. Also, it was strange to see a quick roll up like that because it meant that neither team really got to show off a flashy move or anything like that. Being that this is only the second episode of a new weekly show, NJPW really didn’t do themselves a favor trying to clearly introduce wrestlers that might be regulars.
2. PJ Black, Blake Christian and Misterioso vs. TJP, ACH and Alex Zayne. The team of TJP, ACH and Alex Zayne started the match by running at their opponents in unison and running them out of the ring. Once the chaos settled, Zayne and Black ended up in the ring, trading hip tosses before running into each other with dueling cross bodies. ACH and Misterioso tagged in then with the two executing some lucha libre maneuvers with ACH coming out on top and got his team in control.
TJP and Misterioso then got into a running exchange before Misterioso hit a dropkick and tagged in Christian. TJP and Christian then got into a fast paced exchange, each hitting head scissors takedowns before Christian hit TJP with a wheel kick and a standing Moonsault for a two count. Black then kicked in and hit TJP with a pair of top rope forearms followed by a flying cross body to get another two count.
Black then used a wrist lock into an abdominal stretch, digging his elbow into the ribs of TJP. Black attempted a pinfall, but TJP reversed it and was able to hit Black with a Tornado DDT. TJP managed to reach ACH for the tag who cleared Black out of the ring and his teammates from the apron before rocking Black with a suicide dive.
Alex Zayne tagged in and hit Black with a Frankensteiner off the top rope to get the two count. Zayne went to the top again and hit Black with a Shooting Star Knee Press. Zayne tried for the pin but Misterioso broke it up and forced a brawl between everyone ending up with Zayne trying for another Shooting Star Knee on Christian, however Christian reversed and laid Zayne in the middle of the ring where PJ Black was able to hit a Springboard 450 called the ‘Placebo Effect’ to get the pinfall victory.
PJ Black, Blake Christian and Misterioso defeated TJ Perkins, Alex Zayne and TJP
Anish’s Thoughts: Now that was a really fun match. I almost wish that this match opened the show because it really gave off peak NJPW vibes. All six men put in a really great performance and I’m sure I missed a move or two because of how fast they moved from each sequence to the next. There was a really great story in there as well with Black, TJP and ACH, arguable the biggest stars getting into it for the majority of the match, followed by Zayne and Christian stealing it at the end, with Christian specifically turning the match around for Black to win. Great stuff all around here.
3. Tama Tonga vs. David Finlay in a New Japan Cup tournament semifinal match. Tonga and Finlay locked up hard with Finlay immediately tripping Tong and going for a headlock. Tonga pushed him off and tried for a clothesline, but Finlay caught him instead with a back elbow followed up by a vertical Suplex to get a two count. Finlay tried for a running attack to follow up but Tonga hit a calm dropkick to ground him and followed up with strikes to the head of Finlay.
Tonga continued stomping on Finlay, targeting his right leg with a KneeDT before picking him up and working him to the corner with strikes. Tonga then hit a Suplex and got a two count, forcing the tired Finlay to kick out. Tonga then used the middle rope to choke Finlay and diversify his targeting. Finlay attempted to comeback with a headbutt, building enough space to catch Tonga with back elbow and Senton.
Finlay laid into Tonga with uppercuts before whipping him to the corner and hitting a Slingshot Back Suplex to get a two count. Finlay attempted a Uranage, but Tonga reversed it and hit the Tongan Twist to get a two count of his own. Tonga then lifted him up on his shoulders and hit a Flapjack for another two count. Tonga set Finlay up for the Gun Stun but Finlay was able to reverse and hit a Last Shot.
Finlay signaled for the end and tried for Prima Nocta but Tonga pushed him off and forced Finlay to use a Stunner. Finlay then hit Prima Nocta very quickly to get the pinfall victory.
David Finlay defeated Tama Tonga to advance to the finals of the New Japan Cup USA tournament.
After the match Finlay cut a promo talking about how neither Tanga Loa nor Tama Tonga could beat him and proclaimed that he would go on to win the IWGP US Title…
Anish’s Thoughts: This was definitely a surprising outcome given how strong Tama Tonga was made to look last week and how much he was being talked up by commentary, but actually I think that makes for a great result as Tonga still seems strong but Finlay got the rub as well with a very clever and opportunistic victory.
4. Kenta vs. Jeff Cobb in New Japan Cup tournament semifinal match. KENTA and Cobb stared each other down before engaging. Cobb looked eager while KENTA took his time before getting anywhere near Cobb. When they finally locked up, Cobb tossed KENTA to the ground. KENTA wasn’t fazed and simply took his time before re-engaging and getting muscled down again.
KENTA rolled to the apron and back in again, trying to attack Cobb’s knee before locking up and then quickly trying for shoulder blocks, although to no avail. KENTA hit a boot on Cobb before running in again, but Cobb lifted him up for a delayed vertical. KENTA slipped out and tried for a running attack, but Cobb leapfrogged him and hit a dropkick to drop KENTA.
Cobb picked KENTA up and chopped him before hitting a back elbow to get a two count. Cobb calmly attempted a standing Moonsault, but KENTA got the knees up and then kicked him straight in the chest. KENTA then went on the offensive, grounding Cobb and using a chin lock to wear his larger opponent down. KENTA used a kitchen sink knee to slow Cobb when he tried to build momentum and with Conn down kicked him strong in the back again.
KENTA repeated the sequence and really stung Cobb’s back with a kick to get a two count. The Japanese veteran then locked in a reverse Triangle to continue to wear Cobb out. KENTA slowly laid into Cobb with elbows and hit a low angle DDT to change it up before slapping Cobb with his boot and showing off for the commentators.
KENTA peppered Cobb with more kicks but these seemed to fire Cobb up. Cobb retaliated with some forearm strikes and chops before hitting a corner uppercut followed by the Spin-Cycle for a two count. Cobb followed up on KENTA with a headbutt and tried for a running attack, but KENTA caught him coming in with a Powerslam and earn some time.
KENTA then hit Cobb with a Tornado Hot-Shot before hitting a top rope clothesline to get a two count. Frustrated, KENTA pushed Cobb to the apron and hit a Spike DDT before following up with a running corner boot and a stalling dropkick. With Cobb on the mat, KENTA hit Cobb clean with a double Foot Stomp but only got a two count.
KENTA then attempted to end the match with the Go o Sleep but Cobb reversed into a corner pummel Powerslam and a standing Moonsault, but KENTA was able to kick out at two. Cobb caught his second wind and tried for a Powerslam, but KENTA managed to push Cobb into the referee. With the ref down, Cobb hit a Pumphandle Suplex, but with the ref down no one made the count.
KENTA tried to low blow Cobb with the ref down, but Cobb caught his leg and tried again for the reverse powerslam. This time KENTA caught Cobb with the low blow and rolled Cobb up to get the pinfall victory.
KENTA defeated Jeff Cobb to advance to the Finals of the New Japan Cup USA tournament.
After the match KENTA said that he is here to with the G1 USA and asked for everyone to just shut up and watch him, setting up the finals between KENTA and David Finlay…
Anish’s Thoughts: While the pinfall did come as a result of a ref bump, I think KENTA still ended up taking most of that match and looking better as a result of it so I’m not too cut up about that dirty victory. KENTA and Cobb put on a fun match that could have hit another gear had they been given more time, but for what it was, KENTA looks good going into the finals next week.
KENTA vs. Finlay should be a great match, so I’m looking forward to it. This episode of Strong was overall pretty good. If I had to suggest any match it would definitely be the six-man tag, that was fantastic, along with the two fun semifinal matches. It all made for a fun show, although I do think NJPW are still getting used to this weekly, very American style television format so it’s not completely there yet. My audio review for Dot Net Members will be available on Saturday.