By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed March 5, 2021 on New Japan World
The show opened with Lio Rush cutting a promo about the U.S. New Japan Cup. He then traded barbs with, virtually, Rocky Romero. The two gave a completely new feel to everything. The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov ran down the card.
1. Karl Fredericks and Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors and Kevin Knight. The teams got in each other’s face to begin. Coughlin and Knight began with a series of wrist-locks. The two traded uppercuts in the corner. Knight landed a high hip-toss for a two-count.
Knight tagged in Connors and Coughlin tased in Fredericks. Fredericks worked over Connnors but Connors ducked a boot. Still, Frredericks and Connors traded chops in the middle of the ring. Fredericks went for a speak, but Connors caught him for a two-count.
Knight tagged in and hit a shoulder-tackle for a one-count. After a shoulder-block, Fredericks got a two-count. Coughlin went for a slam and got a two-count on Knight. Coughlin then locked in a bow-and-arrow. Fredericks tagged in and went for a series of pins that didn’t work out for him.
Knight and Fredericks made tags, but Connors got the best of the exchange with a spear. A double-gut-wrench then ensued from Coughlin. Knight and Fredericks exchanged blows for a one-count. Knight went for a Boston Crab, but Fredericks got to the ropes. Knight worked over both opponents, but Fredericks worked a sleeper hold. Fredericks then hit the Manifest Destiny to gain the pin.
Karl Fredericks and Alex Coughlin defeated Clark Connors and Kevin Knight via pinfall in 12:41.
After the match, the winners cut a promo backstage, saying they would never take this for granted again.
McGuire’s Musings: This was very good. If the episode is centered around the New Japan Cup USA, this was a solid way to pay respects to that all the while still being a good opening match. I like Connors and Knight a lot, but the right team went over here. Fredericks will be a star somewhere, someday. Mark it down.
2. The DKC vs. Tom Lawlor in a New Japan Cup USA qualifier. The DKC made his anxious, quick entrance to the ring, Lawlor, meanwhile, was very much Lawlor with his swinging stick. Lawlor hit a kick but the DKC hit a dropkick that landed hard. The two wrestlers went outside, but the DKC got the best of Lawlor.
Back in the ring, the two traded blows. The DKC hit a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count. Lawlor hit some chops and strikes. Lawlor then landed some chops on the DKC and went forward with elbows and kicks. Lawlor hit some uppercuts and a back suplex for at one-count. Lawlor went for a leg submission but the DKC rolled to the ropes for a break.
Lawlor then hit a suplex for a two-count. Lawlor went for a slam, but the DKC turned it into a sleeper hold. After that, Lawlor sunk in a figure-four. The SKC started slapping Lawlor and ultimately got to the ropes for a break. Lawlor hit the DKC and rolled him up for a two-count.
Lawlor was subject to a choke, but he eventually slammed The DKC. Lawlor went for a submission, but The DKC turned it into a submission of his own. Lawlor then dropped The DKC on his head and went for a sleeper hold. Lawlor then hit a kick to the chest and pinned him for there 1-2-3.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor defeated The DKC via pinfall in 9:13 to qualify for the New Japan Cup USA tournament.
McGuire’s Musings: I continue to like how they are developing the DKC. I wouldn’t have bet he would win here, but there were some very good near falls and he showed a lot of fight. Meanwhile, Filthy Tom Lawlor is so good. Like, really so good. I want to see where he goes in this tournament, because he’s due for some good things coming his way.
3. Lio Rush vs. Rocky Romero in a New Japan Cup USA qualifier. No time limit? OK. The two traded arm holds before Romero Took control. Rush came back to work a head-lock. Rush landed a head-scissors to break everything up and the two went for a tie-up. Rush hit a shoulder block, but Romero countered. The two then went for two separate dropkicks and went to their corners.
Rush worked over Romero, but Romero hit some chops. Rush then went for uppercuts, but Romero took control with chops. Rush took control, but Romero landed a forever kick for a two-count. Romero then worked Rush’s arm. Romero continued to work the arm, but Rush rolled out to hit a kick and landed some strikes before Romero hit a dropkick from the top rope for a two-count.
“This is one hell of a main event,” Kelly said and he was right. Romero went for a cutter, but Rush escaped. Romero hit some forever clotheslines, but Rush worked out and hit a slam for a two-count. Rush went to run, but Romero held him down. Rush hit a kick but Romero hit a kick and a reverse suplex for a good near-fall.
Romero then went back to work on Rush’s arm. Romero went for a slam, but Rush hit a Death Valley Driver for a two-count. On their feet, the two traded elbows. Rush eventually hit a spinning kick to the face. Romero and Rush traded roll-ups, but Romero ultimately was pinned.
Lio Rush defeated Rocky Romero via pinfall in 13:57 to qualify for the New Japan Cup USA tournament.
After the match, the two shook hands while Rush went to the back and Kelly said “we’ll see you next week.”
McGuire Musings: This was good. Main event worthy? I don’t know. In a weird way, I’d like to see Romero advance just because. I don’t have a good reason for that. It’s just because. Still. Rush has looked very good in his Strong appearances, and I hope those means he’ll be given more attention because he deserves it.
In all, this was good to move things forward when it comes to the New Japan Cup USA. How can you really follow Moxley and Kenta? You can’t. So this is what we have. And it’s not bad. So kudos. Let’s see what happens next week.