By Anish Vishwakoti, ProWrestling.net Staffer, (@AVX_9001)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed October 16, 2020 on New Japan World
The show kicked off with Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov kicking off the ‘Never Tour’ here on Strong. Looking towards the matches tonight, including TJP vs. Hikuleo and Bullet Club vs. David Finlay and Jeff Cobb in the main event.
1. Misterioso vs. Danny Limelight As the match started we could see Limelight selling his midsection in reference to his finals match for the Lions Break Crown Cup against Clark Connors last week. The two men locked up with Misterioso grabbing a headlock initially to wear Limelight down. Limelight shot him off the ropes but got tackled to the ground.
The two exchanged again with Limelight trying to roll Misterioso up. Misterioso kicked out and got up, but Limelight managed to use the ropes to arm drag Misterioso to the outside. Limelight tried to follow up with a plancha but got caught and rammed into the steel post. Misterioso rammed his head back into the post and broke the count, for no reason apparently, then rolled Limelight back in the ring for a rolling Senton.
Limelight kicked out at two and Misterioso propped him in the corner for some chops and head strikes. Misterioso whipped him to the opposite corner and hit a pair of superkicks for another two count. Misterioso then picked Limelight up and hit a Steamroller before attempting a moonsault, but Limelight got a foot up to reverse. Limelight then ran at Misterioso and caught Misterioso with a head scissors whip followed by an apron kick and Meteora combo.
Limelight didn’t attempt a cover and instead hit Misterioso with a spin kick to the face for a two count. Limelight tried for a Suplex, but Misterioso reversed and hit a Backstabber for a three count and the victory.
Misterioso defeated Danny Limelight
Anish’s Thoughts: Misterioso has continuously looked great on NJPW Strong and this was no different. A dominant win against Limelight, who sold well for Misterioso and made him look his size. I don’t think Limelight loses anything from this either, because he clearly portrayed the damage he had held on to from last week, clearly showing that he was not at 100 percent.
2. Hikuleo vs. TJP The smaller man circled for a second before rethinking and rushing straight at Hikuleo. TJP got tossed to the side immediately and retried his charge at Hikuleo. This time he got pushed into the corner and goaded Hikuleo into a big swinging strike before ducking and jumping on to try punch him.
Hikuleo simply picked him up for an Atomic Drop and a clothesline to down TJP. Hikuleo then whipped TJP at the ropes, but TJP spun out and tripped him before quickly transitioning into a Muta Lock. TJP did some damage pulling on Hikuleo’s hair before immediately turning it into a grounded arm breaker. TJP then tried for a standing suplex, but Hikuleo blocked it and reversed into a Samoan Drop for a two count. Hikuleo hammer threw TJP into the corner for another two count before stomping on him and stepping on his back.
Hikuleo once again whipped TJP across the ring but TJP changed direction and locked in an Octopus Stretch for a second before Hikuleo reversed and hit a powerslam for a two count. Hikuleo rammed his knee into TJP’s back and pulled on his arms, but TJP was able to stand up and Dropkick out of the hold. TJP then hit a quick Tornado DDT leaving both men down. TJP then hit a spinning kick and a Basement Dropkick followed by a Wrecking Ball to Hikuleo before finishing with a Springboard DDT for a close two count.
TJP seemed stunned that Hikuleo kicked out and tried for a Swanton bomb, but Hikuleo dodged and hit a big boot on TJP. He then tried for a double-handed chokeslam but TJP smoothly flipped into an armbar. Hikuleo struggled for a second but picked him up and hit a big sit-out powerbomb for a two count.
Hikuleo picked TJP up for the Gunslinger but instead had to settle for a snap powerslam before finally picking TJP up and hitting the Gunslinger (spinning Flatliner) to get the pinfall victory.
Hikuleo defeated TJP.
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a really great match showcasing the big man versus high flying technician trope. TJP did a lot of great work to always stay on the outside of Hikuleo’s grasp until eventually Hikuleo was finally able to grab a hold of him and put him down. A lot of great near falls in the match which made TJP always look like he was in with a shot, only being put down finally due to the size difference. Great way to use Hikuleo in a great match.
3. PJ Black vs. Alex Zayne The match started with the two shaking hands before quickly entering a kick and sweep exchange. A lot of ducks and dodges by both guys until eventually Black hit Zayne with a gut kick and transitioned to a Reverse DDT to gain control. Black then locked in an Abdominal stretch and pulled back on Zayne’s arm as well.
Black tried for a pinning trap for a two count, but Zayne kicked out. Black then rolled Zayne into a standing Romero Stretch and stomped him in the corner. Black went to the top rope and hit a jumping fist drop, but Zayne kicked out at two. Black then hit a standing suplex and slowed the match down. Zayne attempted a Sunset Flip pin, but Black just hit a pair of spin kicks to the face to get a two count.
Black then went to the top rope and tried for another fist drop but Zayne hit a Banzai kick to turn the tides. Zayne hit a corner clothesline and a head kick to Black before hitting a flipping Fameasser to get a two count. Zayne picked Black up to strike at him before propping him on the top rope to try for a running huracanrana. In an impressive counter sequence, PJ Black caught him and rolled into a Styles Clash (Which the announcers called ‘The Clash’) for a very close two count.
Black then went to the top rope again and tried for a stomp, but Zayne dodged and caught him with a rolling Sidewalk Slam followed by a pump-handle slam for a two count. The two men then battled to the top rope once more where Black hit a Frankensteiner followed by a moonsault for another two count. A frustrated Black slapped the mat and whipped Zayne to the corner where Zayne got up to the second rope, only to be hit with a Spanish Fly and yet another two count.
Black then worked to the apron where Zayne caught him with a strike and hit a Shooting Star knee strike to the back of the head for another very close two count. Black and Zayne then slowly stumbled to the apron where they exchanged strikes and mounted the corner. The two brawled, with Black knocking Zayne to the floor and hitting a Springboard 450 Splash, only for Zayne to kick out yet again. Black then wide eyed picked Zayne up and hit his ‘Bad Habit’ finishing maneuver to get the pinfall victory.
PJ Black defeated Alex Zayne
Anish’s Thoughts: Wow, that match was just a cavalcade of near falls and I am not complaining in the slightest. All I can say about that is that I wish there was a crowd to provide an atmosphere for it, but even without that it was a fantastic showing by both men. They really pulled out all the stops in a back and forth affair that either of them could have taken. Zayne looked like a kickout machine, and even though he lost, he was kicking out of everything Black threw at him at 2.99 so it made for extremely entertaining viewing.
4. Jeff Cobb and David Finlay vs. Chase Owens and KENTA The Bullet Club members jumped the faces before the bell rung, with Owens tossing Finlay out of the ring and then stomping on Cobb in the corner. They then tried for a tag team mover, but Cobb dodged and rammed both members with clotheslines.
Finlay then tagged in and hit Owens with a standing suplex for a one count. Cobb tagged back in and hit Finlay with a fist drop before headbutting him to wobble him. Cobb then twisted his arm and laid into Owens with a strike. Cobb turned for one second to knock KENTA off the apron, allowing Owens to hit a Chop Block and tag in KENTA.
KENTA stomped on Cobb and wore down his base before tagging in Owens who did more of the same. They tagged in and out, slowly wearing down Cobb until eventually Cobb tossed Owens over the top rope with one foot and crawled to his corner to tag in Finlay. Owens tagged in KENTA too who was met with raging forearms from Finlay followed by an elbow and a middle rope Uppercut as well.
Finlay hit KENTA with more strikes, but KENTA was able to catch him with a snap powerslam and tag in Owens. Finlay and Owens tangled in the ring with Owens falling victim to a back suplex which allowed Cobb to tag in and chop Owens and lay into him with more strikes. Cobb couldn’t take advantage immediately and Owens hit him with a Russian Leg Sweep into the corner and allowed himself and KENTA to hit Cobb with Clotheslines and then a running kick. Owens then attempted a piledriver, but Finlay blocked the attempt and hit a Backbreaker.
All four men brawled before Cobb picked Owens up for a slam, but Owens hopped off and hit a flying knee followed by a standing elbow drop. KENTA and Finlay battled on the outside, prompting Owens to get into a striking exchange with Cobb resulting in him getting hit with the tour of the islands, giving Cobb and Finlay the victory.
Jeff Cobb and David Finlay defeated Chase Owens and KENTA
Anish’s Thoughts: This was a quicker match and a little slower than the second and third match, but nonetheless a good one, if simple. A good showcase for Cobb’s toughness considering how much punishment his legs took before he finally came back and got the victory.
Overall, this was a great episode of NJPW Strong and while I continue to be puzzled by the match order, since Black and Zayne clearly should have been the main event, it didn’t take away too much because of how good the matches were anyway. Definitely catch Black vs. Zayne if you can only catch one match, but this was a good show to watch as a whole. My audio reviews of NJPW Strong are available for Dot Net Members no later than Saturdays each week.