By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed February 26, 2021 on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in on commentary saying we are at the final night of the New Beginning U.S.A. tour. Kelly noted how this will probably be the most-watched episode of Strong ever, and he was probably right. Kelly and Koslov then ran down the card.
1. The DKC, Kevin Knight, Clark Connors, and TJP vs. Logan Riegel, Sterling Riegel, ACH, and Brody King. The latter team came out in face-masks while the former sprinted to the ring and outside of TJP were all dressed like Young Lions. King put a mask on the ref before the match began. The DKC and ACH started the match while ACH kept his mask on. Before long, The DKC hit a good-looking dropkick for a one-count.
ACH took control and tagged in Sterling, who almost immediately tagged in Logan. Logan hit a neck-breaker for a two-count and went for a suplex, but the DKC flipped out of it and tagged in TJP. TJP took control with a headlock. Logan eventually hit a dropkick to the face and started working TJP’s arm. TJP sunk in a single-leg-lock before Logan rolled out and tagged in King.
Knight then tagged in and the two traded uppercuts and chops. Knight then hit one of the best dropkicks you’ll see all year, but King hit right back for a two-count. King then landed a chop to take Knight back to the ground. ACH tagged in and hit a body-slam. Sterling tagged in and worked over Knight. Sterling hit a fisherman’s suplex for a two-count. King tagged in and landed a series of chops and elbows, dropping Knight.
Sterling tagged back in and kept working over Knight. Knight eventually fought back with some uppercuts and a bodyslam. Knight got the hot tag to Connors, who came in and traded chops with ACH. Connors cleared the opponents from the apron and hit a power slam for a two-count. TJP tagged in, Connors hit a spear and TJP landed a splash from the top for a two-count on ACH.
The only two left in the ring were ACH and The DKC, and The DKC hit a close near-fall before taking a super kick. ACH then hit a brain-buster and landed the pin.
Logan Riegel, Sterling Riegel, ACH, and Brody King defeated The DKC, Kevin Knight, Clark Connors, and TJP via pinfall in 8:36.
McGuire’s Musings: This was everything you thought it would be. The Riegel Twins continue to look very good, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to grow. ACH wearing the mask the whole time was odd, but there’s probably something underneath it that I don’t know. Knight looked very good here, and his dropkicks are up there with the best, though I would have liked to see more work from TJP. This was a hot match to start what is hopefully a hot card.
2. Ren Narita vs. Chris Dickinson. Dickinson took control early, but Narita fought back and the two traded holds. Dickinson worked Narita’s left arm with a series of wrenches. Eventually Narita hit a hard chop and Dickinson returned the favor. The two then kept going back and forth. Narita came at Dickinson, but Dickinson rolled him up for a schoolboy two-count. Dickinson went for a submission, but Narita made it to the ropes.
Dickinson kept control with chops and a tough-looking elbow. Both wrestlers traded elbows. Dickinson took control with a kick and a weird-looking leg submission. While on the mat, the two continued to trade slaps. Narita ultimately rolled to the ropes for a break. The two then traded blows. Narita eventually hit a series of elbows in the corner. Narita then stopped a mud-hole into Dickinson.
Before long, Dickinson landed a slam and Narita kicked out at 2.9. Dickinson tried to pick Narita up, but Narita blocked it, so Dickinson hit tough-looking strikes. Narita fired up, hit a bunch of strikes and sunk in a single-leg crab, which got Dickinson to submit.
Ren Narita defeated Chris Dickinson via submission in 7:51.
McGuire’s Musings: Wow. Whatever words are there, they can’t possibly describe what that match was. Go watch it. Stop reading this. Go watch that match. It was an upset, like Kelly claimed, but it felt even bigger that Dickinson tapped out. This was as stiff a wrestling match as you’ll see in weeks, if not all year. They are clearly trying to build Narita as a superstar far from now, and it makes sense. Dickinson, meanwhile, made him look like a million bucks. I can’t say enough great words about this match, and where Narita goes from here should be a lot of fun.
3. Jon Moxley vs. Kenta for the IWGP U.S. Championship. Kenta made his way to the ring first and the broadcast team welcomed Rocky Romero to the commentary table. Moxley was out next and he came through the proper entrance, which was kind of a surprise. The wrestlers went head to head and traded elbows. Moxley hit a series of chops in the corner. Moxley hit an elbow to send Kenta to the floor outside.
Outside the ring, Kenta hit a suplex and then went for a hit with his briefcase, but Moxley countered, but then Kenta countered and hit a pile-driver onto his suitcase. Kenta then rolled Moxley into the ring for a two-count. Kenta hit a series of kicks to Moxley’s back. Kenta landed a neck-breaker for a two-count. Kenta started to slap Moxley, but Moxley fought back. Before long, Kenta tripped Moxley and hit a series of knees.
Kenta landed a kick to the ear and took control while Moxley was on the canvass. Kenta went for a series of kicks, but Moxley caught his leg and the two wrestlers traded blows on their feet. After long, Kenta was outside the ring and Moxley dove through the second rope to take Kenta out. Moxley ran from the ramp to take out Kenta with a knee.
Moxley reached under the ring to pull out a table. Kenta hit Moxley in the head with the belt. Kenta went to the top and hit an elbow on Moxley, who was lying in the table outside the ring. Back in the ring, Kenta hit a boot and a dropkick on Moxley in the corner. Kenta then went to the top and hit a double stomp for a two-count. Kenta went for the GTS, but Moxley worked his way out and hit a German suplex. Moxley then hit a lariat for a two-count.
Moxley went into for elbows, but Kenta hit an arm-bar, but Moxley reversed it to get in one of his own. After reversing into a Yes Lock, Moxley tried to inch his way to the ropes and got to the ropes for the break. Kenta hit a kick to Moxley’s stomach and then landed a knee to the back of the head, but Moxley hit a hard lariat. Moxley went for the Death Rider, but Kenta countered and the two traded blows before Moxley hit a DDT for a two-count.
Back on their feet, Kenta flipped Moxley off, but Moxley hit the Death Rider for the 1-2-3.
Jon Moxley defeated Kenta via pinfall in 14:25 to retain the IWGP U.S. Championship.
After the match, Moxley laid the belt in the ring and bowed to Kenta. Moxley then celebrated on the middle rope. Moxley eventually kissed the camera.
McGuire’s Musings: A very good match with a very surprising outcome. I was convinced Moxley would drop the title so NJPW wouldn’t have to deal with the travel restrictions, but again, as is the case with so much in life, I was wrong. I wasn’t quite sure how the tables and and outside stuff would work, but it actually worked very well and this was a well-contested match. Did I expect them to get more time? Yes. But I’m OK with them going under 15 minutes. I don’t know where anything goes from here, but my hope is that they flesh this out on a bigger stage in front of a crowd. If this is the beginning of a long-worked rivalry, this was the right way to go. If this was just a way to get the briefcase off Kenta… meh.
In all, this was a great episode of Strong. I’d actually contend that the Dickinson vs. Narita match was the best of the night, but perhaps that’s the product of having too big expectations for the main event. The show set it up for a big night, and the show delivered a big night – but not in the way I expected. We’ll see where we go from here, but the future is bright.