By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed November 20, 2020 on New Japan World
The show began with the broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov introducing The Road To Showdown and hyping the main event of KENTA vs. David Finlay for KENTA’s right to challenge contract for a shot at the IWGP U.S. Title. Kelly also noted how it was the final night of Showdown.
1. Clark Connors and The DKC vs. Logan and Sterling Riegel. Connors and Logan Riegel began by tying up in the ring. Connors grabbed the leg before the two eventually worked to get back to their feet. Connors got on top of Logan and Logan countered for a quick one-count.
The DKC and Sterling tagged in and DKC got in a waist-lock takedown before landing a headlock. He then stretched the twin on the mat before gaining a one-count. The DKC took Sterling down with a head-scissors and some punches in the corner. Sterling got his foot up and landed a Blockbuster then went on the offensive with some strikes.
Logan tagged in and the twins worked over The DKC until The DKC rolled outside, where the twins hit a double cross-body on their opponents outside. After rolling The DKC back into the ring, Logan got a two-count. Logan got in a series of strikes before tagging out. After a suplex, Logan tagged back in for a second suplex and a two-count.
Sterling tagged in and the two went for a double suplex, eventually hitting it. Sterling went for the cover but Connors rushed in to break the count. Logan tagged in while The DKC was stuck in the Riegel corner. Before long, DKC rolled out of the way to get the hot tag into Connors, who hit one of the twins with a hard shoulder block, an elbow and a series of chops.
Connors was then kicked in the stomach before running the ropes and hitting a spear for a close two-count. Connors tried to go for a Boston Crab, but Riegel kicked his way out and landed a snap German Suplex. Sterling tagged in, but Connors couldn’t make the tag to The DKC. As a result, the twins hit a double slam for a close near-fall, but The DKC broke up the pin attempt.
The DKC was able to tag in and hit a Doomsday Device for a two-count, but one of the twins broke up the attempted pin. All four wrestlers were down. Connors was thrown to the outside. Connors hit a spear to break up a double-team move and Connors tagged in to sink in a Boston Crab while The DKC took out the other twin on the outside. Sterling eventually tapped out.
The DKC and Clark Connors defeated The Riegel Twins in 9:06 via submission.
McGuire’s Musings: And the program is on, it seems. The teams have now split victories over three weeks, so you have to think a third match will be on the way. This installment was better than the first, and I wonder if The DKC and Clark Connors will be a long-term team, or if they are only being used as such for now until they can get more matches under their belt. The Riegel Twins looked good and their chemistry reminds me a little of how The Rockers used to work together about five million years ago. A good, action-packed tag match to start what will hopefully be a memorable final night of Showdown.
2. Rocky Romero vs. Rust Taylor. The two sized each other up in the middle of the ring. Taylor went for some kicks, but Romero caught him. Taylor then backed his opponent into the corner before Romero rolled out and the two sized each other up again in the middle of the ring. A collar-and-elbow tie-up ensued and Romero backed Taylor into a corner before Taylor wrapped Romero’s arm around the top rope.
Romero hit a single-leg takedown and worked Taylor’s ankle. Romero then snapped Taylor’s hamstring and hit a series of chops and elbows. He then hit some Forever Clotheslines, but Taylor countered and twisted Romero’s body while working Romero’s ribs with elbows. Taylor eventually went for a cover and got a two-count.
Taylor sunk in a tough-looking submission that twisted Romero’s arm behind his head. Taylor got Romero back to his feet and hit a hard chop before toying with him with a few kicks. That fired Romero up and he reversed everything for a springboard tornado DDT. Romero hit a couple kicks and placed Taylor on the top rope, but Taylor got out and hit some chops while Romero sat on the top rope. Taylor went for a superplex, but Romero drove a knee into Taylor’s left arm from the top.
Romero landed some kicks and forced Taylor to the apron and hit his part of the Strong Zero for a two-count. Taylor countered a Romero move for a few strikes, but Romero rolled him up. Romero went for an arm-bar, but Taylor rolled to the ropes. Romero hit some kicks and the two looked to have a moment of miscommunication while Taylor went for a spin-kick. He eventually hit a painful-looking head kick for a close two-count.
The two got to their feet and Romero rolled Taylor up for a close near fall. Romero then went for a backslide for another two-count. Romero hit a cutter for a two-count and fired up. Taylor countered and went for rear-naked choke and eventually got Romero to tap out.
Rust Taylor defeated Rocky Romero in 10:00 via submission.
McGuire’s Musings: As Kelly pointed out, this felt like a mild upset. Yet even if it was, it never quite felt like Romero was on the verge of pulling out a victory. Romero helped Taylor shine in a lot of ways here that should hopefully go a long way in building Taylor up, moving forward. In all, this had its moments, but with five more minutes, it could have been great.
Kelly and Koslov checked in to announce The Road To Detonation, which will kick off next week on NJPW Strong.
3. Jeff Cobb vs. JR Kratos. Cobb is a big guy, but man, Kratos makes him look like a mere mortal. The two locked up before Kratos quickly sunk in a side headlock. Cobb threw Kratos to the ropes and landed a dropkick, but Kratos didn’t leave his feet. Cobb then hit some chops and whipped Kratos into the ropes, but Kratos eventually landed a clothesline.
Kratos picked up Cobb for a long stalling suplex and got a two-count. Kratos hit some punches to the head after the two got to their feet. Kratos threw Cobb into the corner but Cobb hit a clothesline which got Kratos to the canvas for a one-count. Cobb worked Kratos’s back with some knees for a two-count.
After Kratos got to his feet, Cobb hit some headbutts and chops. Cobb went for a suplex, but Kratos blocked it. Cobb threw his opponent to a corner, but missed a back elbow. Kratos ended up hitting his elbow and a quick suplex for a two-count. Cobb pulled Kratos in for a strong elbow, an Olympic Slam and a standing moonsault for a two-count.
Cobb threw Kratos to the ropes, but Kratos held the rope and countered for a submission, which eventually turned into a near-fall for Cobb. Kratos hit a jumping knee and a body slam for a good near-fall. Kratos went for the Game Change, but Cobb rolled him up for a two-count. The two hit simultaneous clotheslines. Eventually, Cobb went to his knees. Cobb hit a snap German Suplex, but Kratos no-sold it. Cobb then hit the Tour Of The Islands for the 1-2-3.
Jeff Cobb defeated JR Kratos via pinfall in 7:35.
After the match, Rust Taylor came in and attacked Cobb. Tom Lawlor then attacked Cobb, but Fred Rosser came in for the save. Rocky Romero eventually came back to the ring to support Cobb and Rosser. Danny Limelight then hit the ring and looked like he was going to partner with Romero, but he hit Romero instead. PJ Black then ran in with a chair to clear the heels.
McGuire’s Musings: More of Cobb and Kratos, please. The battle of heavyweights lived up to expectations and the Tour Of The Islands looked particularly impressive on Cobb’s part. I know he has his boys in NJPW, but if you shave off some of his gut, wouldn’t Kratos look like a pretty menacing partner for Karion Cross somewhere down the road? I’m not the only one who sees money in that, right? The post-match activity was fairly basic, though you have to think it will set up whatever’s next on the Detonation Tour.
4. KENTA vs. David Finlay for the right to challenge contract for a shot at the IWGP U.S. Title. Both wrestlers sized each other up and locked up a couple of times before Finlay worked a side headlock. KENTA threw Finlay to the ropes and the two traded hip-toss attempts. Finlay got the better of it, but KENTA threw him into a corner. Finlay worked his way out with a bulldog.
Finlay threw KENTA to the ropes, but KENTA went outside. Finlay followed him and eventually rolled KENTA back into the ring, only for KENTA to roll out on the other side to grab a chair. With the referee distracted, KENTA hit Findlay with a chair to the head. He then rolled back into the ring and hit a series of punches.
KENTA landed a neck-breaker for a two-count and then worked Finlay’s neck. Before long, KENTA hit a stiff kick to Finlay’s back. KENTA backed Finlay into the corner and put the boots to his opponents. Off the ropes, KENTA sank in a rear-naked-choke that turned into a chin-lock. Right as Finlay looked like he might be passing out, he grabbed the bottom rope for a rope-break.
In the middle of the ring, Finlay worked his way back to his feet, and countered another choke-attempt with a back suplex. Finlay got to his feet first and hit KENTA with a back elbow. Finlay went to the second rope connected with a European Uppercut for a two-count. After trading blows, Finlay got a two count.
KENTA eventually hit a clothesline from the top rope for a two-count. Finlay got to the apron, but KENTA hit a draping DDT for a two-count. KENTA showed some frustration, but Finlay hit an elbow before KENTA hit back and the two traded elbows. Finlay took control, but KENTA caught him with a DDT to gain back momentum.
KENTA hit Finlay with a kick in the corner, but Finlay ran down KENTA for a two-count. He then hit KENTA with a Last Shot for a close near fall. Finlay went to the corner and KENTA nearly pushed him into the referee, but Finlay stopped his momentum. KENTA then pulled the ref into the path of Finlay and the ref went down. Ref Bump!
KENTA grabbed his briefcase, but Finlay moved out of the way and caught KENTA with a stunner, but when he went for the pin, the ref wasn’t able to count. Finlay went over to the ref to revive him, but eventually turned his attention back to KENTA, who hit a low blow and then landed a head shot with his briefcase. The ref came to and KENTA went for the pin, but only got a two-count. KENTA then hit a kick to the chest and landed the Go To Sleep and that was enough for the pin.
KENTA defeated David Finlay via pinfall in 14:11 to retain the right to challenge contract for a shot at the IWGP U.S. Title.
Backstage, KENTA cut a promo, noting how close the match was. “You did a good job, but unfortunately, you are not on my level,” KENTA said. Koslov and Kelly checked back in to close the show and reminded everyone that the Road To Detonation begins next week.
McGuire’s Musings: A good match that was given the time to shine. It would have been nice to have a live crowd for this one, but what can you do? Finlay’s kick-out after the briefcase shot had me for about four seconds, before KENTA turned around and almost immediately hit the Go To Sleep. At that point, you knew it was over, and besides: We all want to see what KENTA and Moxley can do, don’t we?
In all, this was a solid finale for the Showdown Tour. It didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations I had in my head, but it did deliver some quality in-ring work, and if nothing else, it set the stage for what should be a fun Road To Detonation series.
If you’re going to watch one match, my vote goes to the Cobb vs. Kratos battle, because Cobb is a massive dude, but Kratos kind of/sort of made him look tiny. OK. Maybe not tiny, but not as big as we all know he is. Anyway, Dot Net Members’ will hear my weekly NJPW Strong audio review on Saturday.