By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
Taped in Los Angeles, California
Streamed September 4, 2020 on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov kicked off the ‘Fighting Spirit Unleashed Tour’ here on New Japan Strong, previewing the matches, especially the main event, followed by a video package highlighting the matches as well as KENTA’s G1 USA victory…
1. Alex Zayne and Fred Rosser vs. The DKC and Clark Connors. The former Darren Young of WWE made his NJPW Strong debut, starting on the apron while Zayne took to the ring against The DKC. Zayne and DKC exchanged back takes and head locks as well as a couple of shoulder blocks and takedowns with DKC at one point using a smooth snapmare to transition into a Head Scissors takedown.
Rosser and Connors each tagged in with Rosser getting taken down and escaping a Head Scissors lock. Connors rolled out of wrist lock attempts by Rosser, eventually using a Chicken Wing to control Rosser and work on his arm. Rosser reversed into a headlock and a cravat, but eventually Connors was able to work towards a headlock of his own. They then faced off and exchanged shoulder blocks with Connors winning out and forcing Rosser to kick out of a pinfall attempt.
Rosser recovered quickly and dumped Connors on the top rope before hitting a scoop slam and split leg drop on Connors. Rosser then tagged in Zayne who hit a rolling senton and followed up with a rolling Sidewalk slam on Connors which I don’t think I have ever seen before. Zayne then whipped Connors to the ropes but got caught with a shoulder block. He kept control for a little bit, but eventually, Connors dodged a Shooting Star knee attempt to hit a powerslam to tag in DKC.
DKC rushed Zayne with a dropkick and neckbreaker from the middle rope to get a two count. DKC used a headlock, but Zayne pushed him to the corner where Rosser tagged in and hit a double suplex with Zayne. Connors entered the ring but Zayne got him out of the picture with a Springboard moonsault to the outside. This allowed Rosser to hit DKC with a Fireman’s Carry Gutbuster to get the pinfall victory…
Fred Rosser and Alex Zayne defeated Clack Connors and The DKC
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a solid opening match. There was a lot to like here and immediately Fred Rosser looks like a strong and credible contender in New Japan. Zayne stood out more than anyone in the match, especially with his unique Sidewalk Slam modification and the cool looking moonsault to the outside.
After the match, Kevin Kelly asked Karl Fredericks about his upcoming match with Misterioso…
Anish’s Thoughts: This felt like one of the interviews we’ve been seeing on recent UFC’s with Rogan on the mic at one end and a mid-card UFC fighter with nondescript promo skills on the other end. The interview didn’t really hurt Fredericks, but it definitely didn’t help him much.
2. Karl Fredericks vs. Misterioso. Fredericks started off the match with a quick leg kick on Misterioso before pushing him to the ropes and smacking his face. The two exchanged running shoulder blocks with Misterioso knocking Fredericks down initially. Fredericks then caught a running Misterioso with a held Spinebuster into a Boston Crab attempt.
Misterioso got to the ropes, broke the hold, tossed Fredericks to the outside and hit a big Tope to knock Fredericks down. Misterioso used strikes to keep Fredericks stunned and rolled him back into the ring for a cross body. Misterioso stomped on Fredericks and followed up with strikes until eventually hitting a rolling senton to get a two count.
Fredericks stood up and walked at Misterioso like a zombie, beckoning for a striking exchange. Misterioso tripped him after taking some strikes and hit a double knee shot in the corner. Fredericks kicked out at two, frustrating Misterioso and forcing him to continue laying strikes into Fredericks.
Fredericks retaliated with strikes of his own, hitting a Pele kick before following up with a running cross body and a stalling dropkick to get a two count. Fredericks now went on the offensive trying for a DDT but getting caught with a superkick. Fredericks reversed a Backstabber attempt to follow up with his elevated DDT called the ‘’Manifest Destiny,’ to get the pinfall victory…
Karl Fredericks defeated Misterioso
Anish’s Thoughts: Considering the size and athleticism of these two, I was expecting a little bit more of a dynamic match, even if it was a good one that made Fredericks look strong. They used a lot of the same moves that we saw in the first match as well, especially the shoulder blocks and sentons, which added to the forgettability of the match. Ultimately, a good match that won’t stand out in all the wrestling that happened this week.
3. Brody King vs. Hikuleo. King charged straight at Hikuleo prompting a brawl between the two that echoed in the arena. King punched Hikuleo out of the ring where he was dragged to right after. King whipped Hikuleo into the ring post but tried to follow up with a chop and smacked the cold steel hard. Hikuleo then chopped King himself and pushed him back into the ring for a one count.
Hikuleo stepped on King to wear him down before charging at him in the corner and hitting a scoop slam followed by a standing splash to get a two count. Hikuleo attempted an arm lock submission, but King escaped and ran at him, only for Hikuleo to hit King with a powerslam. Hikuleo untied the turnbuckle pad to expose the steel. He used a chin lock on King to wear him down before eventually trying to ram his head into the exposed turnbuckle.
King escaped that attempt initially and was able to hit Hikuleo with a corner clothesline and a Black Hole slam for a two count. The two lumbered to their feet and rattled each other with strikes until King used a piledriver on Hikuleo. This only warranted a two count, frustrating him and prompting him to try for a powerbomb. Hikuleo hit a backbreaker and followed up with a swinging neckbreaker, although even this only got him a two count.
Hikuleo then whipped King to the exposed turnbuckle but King resisted and punched Hikuleo into that corner. He rushed in at Hikuleo but got tripped right into the steel, allowing Hikuleo to hit the elevated Flatliner to get the pinfall victory…
Hikuleo defeated Brody king.
Anish’s Thoughts: This match was a great exhibition between two extremely athletic big men with aggression. The two laid into each other with a lot of painful and heavy looking moves which made it fun to watch, although I do admit this match definitely was hurt by not having a crowd. Spots like the piledriver and the story around the exposed turnbuckle definitely work better with a crowd.
Hikuleo cut a backstage promo after the match saying he was coming for everyone who doubted him and that he would mess them up…
4. Flip Gordon vs. Jay White. White rolled out of the ring and took his time before engaging Flip. White used the ropes to catch Flip with a headlock takeover and used the headlock to wear Flip down. Eventually, Flip was able to prompt a running exchange and hit White with a dropkick to get him down.
Flip hit White with a running kick and a standing moonsault for a two count. Flip tried to follow White to the apron, but White dragged him into the ropes and hit him with a Lariat to ground Flip. White kneed Flip and tossed him to the outside where he rammed Flip’s back into the apron. White continued to ram Flip into the apron before rolling him into the ring for a two count.
White performed a neckbreaker to get a two count before using another chin lock on Flip. White struck at a struggling Flip before attempting a back suplex which Flip was able to jump out of. Flip then hit White with a shoulder block from the apron and a spinning heel kick followed by a Springboard Spear for a two count.
Flip then tried for a standing suplex, but White reversed and hit Flip with an Atomic Drop and DDT combo. White whipped Flip into the corner and hit a clothesline followed with a twisting Suplex for a two count. White chopped at Flip, only for Flip to get to the ropes and attempt a Springboard clothesline, but White hit him with a uranage coming in. This only got a two count, after which Flip tossed a rushing White into the turnbuckle where he hit a clothesline and a knee.
Flip perched White onto the top rope before hitting a jumping kick to the face and trying for a fireman’s carry. Flip dodged a clothesline attempt before hitting White with a superkick and a Falcon Arrow for a two count. Flip then picked White right up and hit a Fireman’s carry cutter, but White kicked out at two and a half. Flip went for a lariat, but White was able to catch Flip with a sleeper suplex and the Blade Runner to get the pinfall victory…
Jay White defeated Flip Gordon.
After the match, White said he was just warming up. He addressed the happenings in Bullet Club in Japan and said that Bullet Club owes everybody watching nothing. He closed the show saying he’s the man who sold out MSG, declared himself ‘King Switch’ and said it was still his new era. Not a bad promo at all by Jay White to claim NJPW of America as his own.
Kelly and Koslov closed a pretty good NJPW Strong by previewing next week’s show, which will be headlined by Jeff Cobb vs. KENTA…
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a very good match to close the show between two guys who have incredible chemistry. White looked in control for most of the match, but Flip’s comeback run was so strong that he looked just as good as White coming out the other end of the match. Neither man were hurt by that match and Flip especially looked great.
If you watch one match from tonight definitely check out the great main event . If time permits, the opener featuring Fred Rosser’s debut is worth watching as well.