By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
Taped in Los Angeles, California
Streamed August 21, 2020 on New Japan World
NJPW Strong started this week with Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov on commentary giving a run down of the show. After the intro video, we went into the first match…
1. Rocky Romero and Adrian Quest vs. Danny Limelight and The DKC. The match started with Romero and Limelight in the ring each trying to control the others’ wrist. Romero took control first, but after a running sequence and a pair of missed dropkicks from the both of them, they each tagged in their partners.
Quest and DKC then locked up with DKC being the stronger wrestler and being able to muscle Quest to the ground and gain back control. The two vied for control with Quest slightly on the back foot. Quest stayed patient and was able to catch DKC coming in with a head scissors and a Springboard arm drag followed by a cross body to get a two count.
Quest tried for a running attack, but Limelight attacked him from the ropes and allowed DKC to hit Quest with a clothesline and take control. Limelight and DKC now tagged in and out to keep the pressure on Quest, each landing kicks and grapples. Limelight at one point got caught with a head scissors arm bar but Quest took a little while to take advantage. Quest was able to catch Limelight off guard and hit a lung-blower and tagged in Romero.
Romero rushed the ring and hit both his opponents with head scissors whips before assaulting Limelight with a series of clotheslines. Romero picked up the downed Limelight and tried for a Shiranui but Limelight reversed and caught Romero with consecutive leg kicks. Limelight tried for a Tornado DDT, but Romero pushed him off and forced him to hit a running kick, sending both men to the mat.
Limelight tagged in DKC who knocked Quest off the apron before hitting Romero with some standing elbows. DKC then hit Romero with a running Lariat and along with Limelight hit Romero with consecutive running maneuvers before trying for the pin. DKC went for the pin but because Limelight didn’t cover off Quest, he was able to break up the pin.
Quest then took Limelight out of the equation with a moonsault to the outside, allowing Romero to get his bearings and hit DKC with his reverse enziguiri followed by the Shiranui to get the pinfall victory…
Rocky Romero and Adrian Quest defeated The DKC and Danny Limelight.
Anish’s Thoughts: What I really liked about this match was that everyone was able to show off their personality, especially Danny Limelight and Rocky Romero. I don’t think the point was to make Limelight look strong, but he looked memorable while making Quest and Romero look strong, which almost seems better. Really good job by all four men to have a solid opening match and re-introduce Rocky Romero especially in entertaining fashion
2. Flip Gordon and Brody King vs. Jay White and Chase Owens. The match started with Gordon and Owens in the ring. Before they could lock up, White hit Gordon from behind with a running axe handle and let Owens toss Gordon to the corner for some stomps. White then tagged in and hit a Northern Lights Suplex and grabbed a hold of Gordon’s back.
Gordon mounted some resistance, hitting White with a shoulder thrust and a knee to the face before picking White up for a suplex, although it was blocked. White pushed Gordon to the ropes and hit him with some strikes, retaking control and tossing Gordon to the outside.
White didn’t follow up and taunted Gordon from the ring. When Gordon rolled back inside, White chopped him and isolated him from King, allowing himself and Owens to tag in and out to keep Gordon in a disadvantageous position. White slowly picked at Gordon, with chops and head locks, until eventually he put Gordon on the top rope.
From here, Gordon slipped out and jumped up to the top rope to hit White with a side kick and tagged in King. Brody then rammed both Owens and White with angry clothesline and hit White with a big Sidewalk slam to get a close two count.
Owens pulled White out of the ring, but King followed them there, kicked Owens and tossed him right back into the ring. King tagged in Gordon who tried a running attack on White but got caught with a DDT. Owens provoked King at the same time and allowed White to hit him with a DDT and leave Gordon alone.
White tagged in Owens and the two hit Gordon with a suplex running kick combo, but only got a two count. Owens tried for a running clothesline, but Gordon ducked and tagged in King. Owens initially caught King with a flurry of strikes and attempted the package Pile Driver, but King reversed and caught him with a clothesline. Jay White came in and tried to distract King, but Gordon hit him with a slingshot Spear, allowing King to hit Owens with a big piledriver to get the pinfall victory…
Brody King and Flip Gordon defeated Jay White and Chase Owens.
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a good solid match that really focused on building to Brody King’s offense and rush against Bullet Club. All four men worked the match to build anticipation for King’s involvement in the match and it worked well. After the match, we saw Gordon and King get attacked by Hikuleo, with Hikuleo especially targeting King, setting up a rivalry between them…
Before the finals of the New Japan Cup USA, a quick promo played to set up KENTA vs. David Finlay and we went straight to the entrances…
3. David Finlay vs. KENTA New Japan Cup USA tournament finals. KENTA and Finlay immediately each tried to take the others back, with their grappling exchange going to ground where Finlay controlled KENTA for the opening segment of the match. KENTA reversed into a side headlock and sat there for a little, slowly squeezing Finlay’s head.
Finlay was unfazed and simply shot KENTA off the ropes and hit him with a dropkick to send him outside. Finlay chased him there and rolled him back in, stalking him with stomps. Finlay now whipped KENTA to the ropes, but KENTA stalled and was able to catch Finlay coming in, turning the tides. The two wrestled to the ropes, where KENTA was able to suspend Finlay on the middle rope and hit him with a knee to the back of the neck.
KENTA now stomped on Finlay and hit a delayed neckbreaker to get a one count. KENTA wrenched a face lock, before hitting Finlay with another knee to the head. Finley showed some fire through KENTA’s offense, but the Japanese veteran used a toe trip to transition to a reverse Triangle hold.
Finlay struggled and almost went out but got his foot to the ropes to break the hold. Finley tried to build some space with an uppercut but had to wait for KENTA to try for a back suplex, which he then reversed into a back suplex of his own. Finlay picked KENTA up and whipped him across the ring before hitting a diving uppercut for a two count.
Now with some fire in his face, Finlay hit KENTA with an uranage and got a two count. The two then brawled for a little, ending up with Finlay propping KENTA on the top rope. KENTA however hit Finlay with the Tornado Hotshot and followed up with a diving clothesline.
KENTA picked Finlay up and hit him with a DDT, before following up with a second Spike DDT. After getting another two count, KENTA set Finlay up for a running corner boot followed by the stalling dropkick. KENTA didn’t bother going for a pinfall and went straight to the top rope to hit Finlay with the double stomp to the gut.
Once again Finlay kicked out at two so KENTA tried for the Go To Sleep. Finlay was quick to reverse however and hit KENTA with a surprising Spear and got a two count of his own. Finlay followed up with a Last Shot, but again KENTA just managed to kick out. Finlay aggressively got KENTA up and tried for a Shiranui, but KENTA pushed him into the ref and hit a low blow.
KENTA rolled Finlay up but Finlay kicked out. KENTA tried again for the Go To Sleep, but Finlay reversed and tried for the Shiranui again. KENTA reversed this into a Sleeper, got Finlay down to the ground, hit a PK and followed up with the Go To Sleep to get the pinfall victory…
KENTA defeated David Finlay to win the New Japan Cup USA tournament.
After the match, KENTA cut a promo declaring himself the winner of the NJ Cup USA. He called out Jon Moxley (who I forgot was the IWGP U.S. Champ…NJPW certainly didn’t remind us much). In Japanese, KENTA was cutting the same sort of promo again, but was interrupted by Jeff Cobb, who tried to suplex KENTA, clearly frustrated with KENTA’s antics in their semifinal match…
Anish’s Thoughts: This match was good, but I can’t help but feel that it fell a fair bit short of great. KENTA and Finlay actually had good chemistry, but it just seemed like they didn’t get enough time to really tell a prolonged story. KENTA worked the match to make Finlay look strong, but I really don’t think the low blow was necessary to sell KENTA’s victory. It’s clear that he’s a heel so something like that didn’t add to making Finlay look strong and if anything took away a little from KENTA’s win.
Funnily enough, of the first few NJPW Strong shows, this may have been the weakest one. Not even because this was a bad show, I just thought it was oddly paced and I think I had higher expectations for the final match. Jeff Cobb seems like he will be challenging KENTA for the rights to the shot at the IWGP title so that will be interesting while we wait for Moxley’s situation with the IWGP US title to clear up. I am looking forward to that, and while the finals of the New Japan Cup USA didn’t blow me away, this was a solid show and all three matches were pretty fun.