By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed March 19, 2021 on New Japan World
The show opened with Bateman cutting a promo and then Brody King cut a black-and-white promo. The two promos spliced in between one another and King said this year is an angry Brody King…
McGuire’s Musings: This was very good. The more they open with these singular promos, the better. It allows both wrestlers to shine, and shine, they do.
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in on commentary to run down the card…
1. Alex Coughlin vs. Jeff Cobb. Jeff Cobb was introduced as “The Hatchet,” which was something I was not expecting. The two traded arm-locks, and Cobb got the best of the first exchange with an arm-drag. Coughlin sunk in a head-loc, but when he went for shoulder-blocks, Cobb didn’t move. Eventually, Cobb hit Coughlin with a shoulder-block to take him to the ground.
Cobb hit a hard back-elbow for a pair of two-counts. Cobb then hit a headbutt to take Coughlin to the ground. Coughlin tried to take control with a series of loud chops, but Cobb hit a chop that sent Coughlin to the mat. Cobb eventually went for a dropkick, but Coughlin countered and then hit a shoulder-tackle to take control. Coughlin kept going with a series of European uppercuts.
Coughlin eventually landed a body-slam for a two-count. Coughlin then went for a Boston Crab, but Cobb kicked him off. As Coughlin came at Cobb, Cobb caught him for a spin-cycle for a two-count. Cobb hit a lariat and the Tour of The Islands for the pinfall victory.
Jeff Cobb defeated Coughlin via pinfall in 5:58.
After the match, Kelly checked in to remind everyone that this is the final stop before New Japan Cup USA. He then interviewed Misterioso. Misterioso said he showed what he can show on the indie scene, but now he wants to show what he can show in New Japan. The introductions then took place for Narita and Misterioso.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a good opening match. The outcome was never in doubt and it was a delight to see Jeff Cobb back on Strong. When Kevin Kelly said Cobb looks different, he meant it, because, well, Cobb looks just a little bit different, a little bit better than he did before. I’d love to see more of him on Strong, but I also understand that he seems to be poised for a push in the New Japan universe. Good for him. He deserves it. The Misterioso promo, meanwhile … well, yeah. I thought we were done with these split-screens.
2. Ren Narita vs. Misterioso in a New Japan Cup USA qualifier. The two began by feeling each other out. Misterioso ultimately took Narita down, but Narita countered for a pin and got a two-count. The two then worked a test of strength on their feet before Misterioso worked a series of two-counts. Narita landed a monkey flip into a side-headlock.
After exchanging some pin attempts, the two got to their feet. Narita took control with a series of chops and kicks and uppercuts. Narita hit a half-hatch suplex for a two-count. Narita then landed a leg-sweep and worked a leg submission. Misterioso eventually fired up and hit a strong clothesline and Narita rolled to the outside. Misterioso went to the second rope and went for a moonsault to the outside, but Misterioso missed it. Still, Misterioso continued to work over Narita outside the ring.
Misterioso hit a senton back in the ring for a two-count. Misterioso landed a series of kicks to Narita’s back and then connected with the hardest chop of the night. Misterioso went for a moonsault and missed. Narita took control and went for a Boston Crab before Misterioso made it to the ropes for the break. Misterioso landed a face-buster from the top rope for a two-count.
Misterioso went for a lariat, but Narita went for a rear-naked choke. Misterioso made it to the ropes for a break. Narita then hit a bridging German Suplex for a two-count. Narita then went for another Boston Crab, but Misterioso rolled out. Narita then locked in a sharpshooter and Misterioso tapped out.
Ren Narita defeated Misterioso via submission in 11:12 to qualify for the New Japan Cup USA tournament.
McGuire’s Musings: It’s clear NJPW are going with Ren Narita as the next star. And rightfully so. His in-ring work stands so far above a lot of his peers. I’m super interested in seeing how far he goes in the New Japan Cup USA. Misterioso looked good, and it felt like he was supposed to gain something in defeat, and to be honest, he did. I’m so curious to see what they do when Narita. They’ve set the stage for something special.
3. Brody King vs. Bateman in a New Japan Cup USA qualifier. King took down Bateman to begin the match, but back on their feet, the two locked up and eventually traded slaps and elbows. All of it looked stiff. King hit a tackle, but Bateman landed a drop-down before hitting a series of kicks and chops. King eventually landed a splash for a two-count.
In the corner, King hit a chop and a neck-drag to work a neck-breaker. King tried to pick Bateman up, but Bateman hit a chop to King’s legs. Bateman then took control by raking King’s eyes. Bateman and King traded chops that looked and sounded like they hurt. Bateman ultimately hit a drop-kick to put King down.
Bateman continued to work King with strikes. Bateman took off both his elbow pads and threw them in King’s face, but King caught Bateman with an Emploder and a cannonball for a two-count. Back on their feet, the two traded forearms. King then hit a chop and Bateman unzipped his jacked so King cold chop him. Bateman ultimately hit a rolling elbow.
King landed a slam for a two-count. Bateman hit a German Suplex into the corner and then Bateman landed a knee for a two-count. King went for the Gonzo Bomb, but Bateman escaped and hit a Fisherman Buster for a two-count. Bateman went for a Tombstone, but King countered with a lariat. King then hit the Gonzo Bomb for the win.
Brody King defeated Bateman via pinfall in 13:25 to qualify for the New Japan Cup USA tournament.
After the match, King cut a promo with the Riegel Twins. King said Bateman hits like a truck, but today was his day. Kelly and Koslov then checked in and rain down next week’s card.
McGuire’s Musings: This clearly had to be the main event. I wasn’t sure who would come out on top, but I’m actually happy that King did. Bateman has been a good keeper of the gates when it comes to putting talent over, and he did the best job he’s done since coming to NJPW here. I’m a fan of King’s work and I wonder where they go from here and how far he can go in the New Japan USA Cup.
In all, this was a good (if not very good) episode of Strong. We moved everything forward and we also got to see Jeff Cobb come and remind everyone about how great he is. What’s next, only the future knows. But this is worth your time to watch, if you like really good wrestling. My weekly NJPW Strong audio reviews are available Saturdays for Dot Net Members.