By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
Taped in Los Angeles, California
Streamed September 11, 2020 on New Japan World
The show started with a video recap of the last few weeks of NJPW Strong narrated by Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov who hyped up the main event tonight between Jeff Cobb & KENTA for the right the challenge IWGP US Champion Jon Moxley. They also highlighted the other matches for tonight including the opener…
1. TJP and ACH vs. Logan Riegel and Adrian Quest. The match Started with Logan Riegel and ACH in the ring each trying for takedowns and Riegel using a Spinning toe hold initially to force a kickout from ACH. The two then exchanged sweep attempts, with Riegel catching ACH with a dropkick to the chest. They re-engaged and ACH returned in kind before controlling Riegel and tagging in TJP who continued to put the pressure on Reigel.
At one-point Riegel flipped out of a Suplex attempt and tagged in Quest who got into a running exchange with TJP. Quest hit TJP with a Springboard Corkscrew before putting the pressure on him and trying for a Cloverleaf submission. TJP broke the hold at the ropes and started a striking exchange with Quest. TJP then used a submission on Quest, using a leg lock and Chancery combo before hitting an armbreaker.
TJP then tagged in ACH who tried to pin Quest, only getting a two count. ACH and TJP then alternated tags while doing damage to Quests limbs with short strikes and arm drags. TJP tried for a back suplex, but Quest flipped out and hit an enziguiri allowing him to tag in Riegel and hit TJP with a huracanrana in the process.
Riegel caught ACH coming in with a pair of clotheslines and a neckbreaker before hitting a Sling Blade to TJP on the apron. Riegel then used a Crucifix pin on ACH in the ring but only got a two count. He attempted a body kick but got caught with a sweep by ACH, breaking his momentum. TJP and ACH were then hit by a double cross body from Quest, allowing Quest and Riegel to hit an assisted DDT and a standing Shooting Star Press combo for a two count.
Quest tried for an arm-wringer but ACH reversed into a low kick and swept him. TJP managed to tag in and tried for the Detonation kick but Quest pushed him into his corner. TJP pushed him off the ropes into Tree-of-Woe position and hit a stomp from here for a near fall.
TJP then tagged in ACH and took out Riegel with a wrecking ball dropkick allowing Quest and ACH to brawl in the ring. Quest kicked ACH and set him up for a Phoenix Splash, but ACH got the knees up and hit a brainbuster for a great near fall. ACH followed up quickly with a Frog Splash to get the pinfall victory.
ACH and TJP defeated Logan Riegel and Adrian Quest.
Anish’s Thoughts: Fantastic opening match and really great work from all four guys. ACH and TJP looked like they had fantastic chemistry in the ring and their tags flowed in and out really well. By doing this it also made it extremely impressive when Riegel and Quest were able to take control for their spots in the match, making them seem like they were in it with far more than a shot. A lot of cool near falls in that match made Riegel and Quest look great too. Nothing more you could want from an opening tag match.
2. Rocky Romero vs. Danny Limelight. The two men locked up hard with Romero initially using an arm lock to control Limelight and pull him into a dropkick before taunting Limelight and re-engaging. Limelight this time was able to kick Romero in the middle of an arm drag attempt and force a running exchange at the end of which he was able to knock Romero out of the ring with a dropkick before following up with a tope.
Limelight rolled Romero back in the ring and rocked his chest with kicks. Romero fired back with a strong chop and a knee before hitting a Scoop slam and some kicks of his own. Limelight responded with more kicks, this time to the leg but Romero was able to hit a standing suplex before using an Upside-down Gory Stretch to attack Limelight’s back.
A wear Limelight was then subject to more knees to the mid-section before he was able to turn the tables and ground Romero. The two then entered another striking exchange in this back and forth match. Romero and Limelight both ended up on the floor after a clothesline from Limelight. Romero was able to get up first being slightly fresher and deposited Limelight on the top rope before hitting a rope hung leg drop for a two count.
Romero then looked to continue the onslaught with kicks before attempting a Shiranui. Limelight flipped out before hitting Romero with a Package Pin Suplex for a two count. Limelight then tried for a DDT but Romero pushed him off and hit a standing Shiranui for a two count. Romero then hit a Falcon Arrow into an armbar combo, and while Limelight struggled for a second, he was then forced to tap out.
Rocky Romero defeated Danny Limelight by submission.
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a fun match with a lot of personality from both men. Romero was exciting to watch and pulled out a lot of cool moves, prompting the same from Limelight making it an interesting match to watch. After the match Romero signaled to Kelly that he saw a lot of potential in Limelight setting up something between the two in the future.
3. PJ Black and David Finlay vs. “The Guerrillas of Destiny” Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa. The two to start the match were Black and Tama Tonga with who stared each other down with Black hitting a quick arm drag off the bat. Tonga retaliated with an arm lock but Black flipped out effortlessly and hit another arm drag to whip Tonga out of the ring. Tonga took his time on the outside attending to his arm before getting back and facing Finlay.
Tonga stayed on the ropes to stop Finlay from engaging. Tonga then rushed at Finlay but Finlay himself made it to the ropes. This didn’t work out well for him though as Tanga Loa distracted him and allowed Tonga to get the jump on him. Finlay retaliated and was able to hit Tonga with a dropkick before working with Black for a quick tag maneuver and getting Tonga in a headlock. Eventually Tonga shot off the ropes and made an invisible tag to Loa, who jumped Finlay from behind and turned the tables.
Loa took his time with Finlay on the outside before rolling him back in and working on him with a delayed vertical suplex for a two count. Tama Tonga then tagged in and immediately knocked Black off the ropes before striking back and forth with Finlay. Tonga used a snapmare and worked a chin lock to wear him out.
Tonga continued to strike at him and tried for a back suplex but Finlay flipped out and made the tag to Black, while Loa tagged in. Black then hit Loa with a cross body in the corner before using a Springboard Splash to get a two count. Black then went for a moonsault and hit that too for another two count. Black went up once more to the top rope but Loa knocked him off and forced a brawl between all four men.
Finlay and Tonga went at it in the ring, with Tonga able to work with Loa to hit a neckbreaker combo. Black and Loa then resumed their brawl, hitting Black with a Samoan drop followed by a sit-out piledriver to get the pinfall victory…
Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa defeated PJ Black and David Finlay
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a really fun match which went from a slow burn to a dynamic brawl without a moments notice, which made it great to watch. PJ Black and Finlay put up a good fight but in the end the fact that Tonga and Loa are a true tag team gave them the advantage and led to a cool sequence where they were able to combine on their opponents and allow Loa to hit that surprise piledriver to get the win.
4. Jeff Cobb vs. KENTA for the right to challenge for the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship. KENTA started the match by dipping out of the ring and waiting before getting back in and taking his time engaging. When they finally did face off after a few minutes, KENTA started with leg kicks and slowly worked Cobb into his reach. Kenta hit a few strikes and tried for a running attack but Cobb scoop slammed him and tossed him into the corner.
Cobb was clearly fatigued but managed to Belly to Belly suplexed KENTA out of the ring. KENTA tripped him on his way back into the ring and started stomping on him more. Cobb retaliated with a chop to the chest, but the veteran ate it and just dropped him with a toe hold and rattled more kicks and stomps off.
KENTA transitioned to a leg lock and effectively attacked Cobb’s base, but Cobb was able to get to the ropes. After numerous stomps and kicks KENTA tried for a DDT, but Cobb countered with a short arm clothesline and turned the tables. With KENTA shook from the clothesline and stumbling into the corner, Cobb punched him further in and hit him with big forearms before trying for a running splash.
Cobb was clearly hobbled from KENTA’s leg work and instead limped at KENTA who noticed and hit a basement dropkick to down Cobb. KENTA stomped on Cobb once more, this time towards the apron where he hit the Hangman DDT. KENTA followed up with a running boot and a delayed dropkick before heading to the top rope and trying for a Foot stomp. Cobb rolled out of the way and caught KENTA with a Samoan drop for a two count.
Cobb set KENTA up for a running clothesline but KENTA pushed the referee in the way and got out of dodge. With the referee down KENTA attempted a chairshot but Cobb picked him and hit a big spinebuster. With the referee down Cobb couldn’t go for the cover and so tried to pick KENTA up again but got hit with a low blow. Cobb powered through the pain and hit his Tour of the Islands slam but was laid out due to the delayed effects of the low blow.
With the referee coming to, Cobb rolled into the cover, but as the ref counted he was pulled out of the ring by Chase Owens who knocked Cobb off and used the IWGP US Challenge briefcase to try and rail Cobb. Owens was blocked by Cobb but KENTA picked up the briefcase and nailed his opponent before hitting a kick to the head. KENTA signaled for another referee to continue the match and hit the Go to Sleep to get the pinfall victory…
KENTA defeated Jeff Cobb.
After the match, Owens and KENTA cut a promo backstage saying KENTA will be the next IWGP U.S. Champion. After the match, Kelly and Koslov closed the show and declared that next week on Strong we begin the ‘Road to Lion’s Break Crown’…
Anish’s Thoughts: Given that this was the main event and that KENTA vs. Jeff Cobb is a relatively big name match I was surprised that this didn’t get more time. KENTA and Cobb really could have gone longer and had a barn burner just knowing them so I’m hoping this is not the last time we see this match. I liked the way the two worked the match, with KENTA’s targeting of the leg being very smart and weakening Cobb. I don’t think Chase Owen’s interference was necessary, but it did do a good job of making me want to see KENTA and Cobb go at it again for longer at a later date.
Overall this was a very fun episode of NJPW Strong. All the matches served their purpose with the opening match and the Romero vs. Limelight match especially being great ones to check out to get a sense of what NJPW Strong is like. As much as I would have hoped for the main event to be more substantial, I understand the story they were going for and they left room for KENTA vs. Cobb to be a much anticipated matchup in the future, so I hope to see that.