By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed January 29, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly checked in to run down the card. As a reminder, we are on the way to Lion’s Break Contender…
1. Clark Connors vs. The DKC. Kelly pointed out that The DKC is the newest Young Lion. The DKC also rushed to the ring in black trunks and black boots to prove that he’s a Young Lion. The two felt each other out to start the match. Kelly explained how in theory, Connors should win because The DKC is the Young Lion.
The two tied up at about the 1:15 mark. Connors worked a head-lock. After a while, the two locked up again and The DKC set in his own head-lock. Before long, the two traded shoulder blocks that didn’t knock either wrestler down. Eventually, Connors knocked The DKC down. Kelly pointed out how the Young Lions usually shave their head, though The DKC has not done that yet.
The DKC knocked Connors to the ground and worked a head-lock before going for an arm-lock. Back on their feet, Connors took control with a knee and some heavy chops. In the corner, Connors hit some shoulder-blocks before landing a chop to the back of the head for a two-count. The DKC hit a handful of kicks and got Connors into an arm-lock.
After an exchange, The DKC landed a very good-looking dropkick. The DKC then hit some elbows, but Connors took back control with some elbows of his own and a snap-suplex for a two-count. A little while later, The DKC hit a kick and a chop into an arm-bar, but Connors fought it. Connors ultimately got to the rope for a break. While the two ran the ropes, Connors hit a spear into a Boston Crab for the submission.
Clark Connors defeated The DKC via submission in 7:22.
After the match, Connors cut a promo backstage saying The DKC almost broke his arm…
McGuire’s Musings: A good match between two former tag-team partners. Kelly kind of gave it away at the beginning, saying The DKC had to take the loss as he’s now committed himself to the dojo and thus is a Young Lion. I like the fire from The DKC, though, and the change in presentation has done him well. Actually, the change in presentation did both him and Connors well, as both wrestlers looked rejuvenated and both had an edge that neither had previously showcased. This could be a really good, intriguing feud in, say, two years from now.
2. Rocky Romero vs. Chris Dickinson. Dickinson took control with a head-lock to begin the match. Romero eventually got out of it and both got to their feet to feel each other out. Dickinson looked for an STF, but Romero got to the ropes and then eventually took control with a wrist-lock. Dickinson landed a series of pins that resulted in one-counts before Dickinson got in a chin-lock.
On their feet, Dickinson hit a hard-looking kick to take Romero to the canvass. Dickinson then made himself available so Romero could kick him. The two then traded calculated kicks. Dickinson hit a dragon-screw leg-whip to get Romero down. Dickinson worked a single-leg crab, but Romero got to the ropes for the break.
Dickinson went back to work on Romero’s leg. After Romero fought out, Romero went for a dropkick, but Dickinson countered into a figure-four. Romero twisted Dickinson’s ankle to break the hold, but Dickinson kept working Romero’s leg. Eventually, Romero hit a series of elbows for the comeback. Romero also hit a few kicks to Dickinson before climbing to the top to drop his knee on Dickinson’s arm.
Romero went for the Half Zero, and eventually hit a dropkick for a two-count. Romero tried to work Dickinson’s arm, but Dickinson fought out to go for a submission. The two then traded pin attempts before Dickinson landed a leg submission, but Romero rolled to the ropes for a break. Romero went to apron and lured Dickinson in before hitting a makeshift cutter for a two-count.
Romero went for the arm-bar, but Dickinson countered and covered him for a two-count. Dickinson landed a Burning Hammer for a near fall. After that, Dickinson landed the STF and Romero tapped out.
Chris Dickinson defeated Rocky Romero via submission in 9:53.
Backstage, Dickinson said he wasn’t going to tell anyone how awesome he is. Instead, he said the fact is that he stepped into a NJPW ring and tapped one of the most decorated performers in NJPW out. “That’s another job done,” he said. “I’m not here to kiss ass. I’m not here to be just another stepping stone. I’m here to take the entire thing. I want it all. … It’s because this is where the best professional wrestling in the world takes place.”
McGuire’s Musings: Boy, am I a fan of Chris Dickinson’s work. In-ring. Promo. He’s great in everything he does. Here, the two told a great story, as Dickinson focused on Romero’s leg and that ultimately got him the win in the end. A lot should be said for Romero, too, as he made Dickinson look fantastic. If this was aimed at making Dickinson look like a force to be reckoned with, mission accomplished. This was great.
After some commercials, the commentary team checked back in to say that starting next week, The Road To The New Beginning USA Tour begins…
3. Lio Rush, TJP, and Fred Rosser vs. Kenta, Hikuleo, and El Phantasmo. Rush came to the ring in what appeared to be butterfly wings. Rosser kept jawing at his opponents before the bell rang. Before the bell rang, the six wrestlers brawled. Hikuleo pushed Rosser into the stage at the side and eventually took another shot before getting thrown back into the ring.
Back in the ring, Rosser landed a few blows on Hikuleo. Hikuleo landed an elbow that rang through the studio. Before long, he picked Rosser up, but Rosser got out and Rush tagged in. The size difference between Hikuleo and Rush was a very nice visual, but Phantasmo tagged in and teased a little bit before tagging in Kenta. Kenta and Rush traded elbows so much that it kinda felt like the old 205 Live.
Rush tagged out to TJP and the two hit a double elbow on Kenta. TJP then bridged into a submission on Kenta, but Kenta made his way to the rope and Phantasmo helped break the hold. Before long, Kenta hit a DDT on TJP to take control while Hikuleo ran in and worked over the rest of the babyface team. Koslov noted how there is no worse human being than Phantasmo.
The Bullet Club team worked over TJP in their corner. Rosser ran over to make the save, but Hikuleo picked up TJP for a slam and a high leg drop for a two-count. Phantasmo tagged in to jump off the middle rope to land a back-rake. Kenta then tagged in to hit a back-rake of his own. TJP worked his way out of the trap to hit a DDT on Phantasmo before landing the hot tag to Rush.
Even though Rush came in with furry, Hikuleo stopped him with a tall body-slam. Hikuleo then tossed Rush into the corner. Hikuleo threw Rush outside. Back in the ring, Hikuleo worked Rush with a series of kicks, stomps and a splash. Hikuleo worked a choke-hold on Rush and picked him up for a suplex. Rush worked his way out and fought the Bullet Club members before landing a tag to Rosser.
Outside of the ring, Moxley yelled, “You didn’t think I was going to come around?!” Kelly and Koslov checked back in to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: Holy shit. When the lights went out, all I could do was hope, but even as they came back on, I popped hard when Moxley showed up, sitting by myself, watching this whole thing play out. But we’ll get to that in a minute. The match was good, and it was even better to see the babyfaces get the better of the Bullet Club. It doesn’t happen every week on Strong and that’s why tonight’s victory meant more than it might have otherwise. It’s still odd seeing Kenta, TJP and Rush in a NJPW ring on the same night, at the same time, that 205 Live airs. But also, it’s kinda fun.
The Moxley thing had me hook, line and sinker and for as great as the work was on this show, topping it off with a very much long-awaited appearance from Mox made it all the more better. By time time you read this, it’ll be spoiled, so it might not have the same effect it could have had, but my goodness, that was a lot of fun. Between that and the Dickinson/Romero bout, this was a must-see episode of New Japan Strong. The New Beginning tour kicks off next week, but please go out of your way to see these 50 minutes of wrestling. From start to finish, this was a top-shelf installment of Strong. My NJPW Strong audio reviews are available for Dot Net Members every Saturday.