By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed April 16, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov ran down the card to start the show.
1. The DKC, Kevin Knight, Alex Coughlin, and Karl Fredericks vs. Jordan Clearwater, Adrian Quest, Barrett Brown, and Misterioso. Kelly noted how he’s paying attention to Barrett Brown throughout the match. Brown and Coughlin started the match. The two traded control before Clearwater and The DKC went after each other after tagging in.
Quest and Knight then tagged in and traded control before Knight hit a bodyslam for a two-count. The DKC tagged in and landed a pin for a two-count. Brown tagged in and hit a kick on The DKC before hitting a body-slam for a two-count. Misterioso then tagged in and worked over The DKC in the corner, ending up with a double knee.
Misterioso continued to work over The DKC before Clearwater tagged in, his a series of stomps for a two-count. Quest then tagged in for a slam and a two-count. Brown then tagged in and the heels bickered with each other so The DKC tagged out to Fredericks.
Fredericks eventually hit a spine-buster and an elbow for a two-count on Clearwater. Clearwater hit a jumping neck-breaker for a two-count and tagged in Brown. Fredericks ducked a clothesline and tagged in a Knight, but Brown hit Knight with a series of kicks. Brown hit a splash, but Clearwater went for a splash. Coughlin caught him with a shoulder-block.
After a few exchanges, Misterioso hit a splash on the outside. Inside the ring, Brown hit a kick, but Misterioso tagged himself in to go head to head with Knight. Misterioso then hit a back-cracker for the 1-2-3.
Jordan Clearwater, Adrian Quest, Barrett Brown, and Misterioso defeated The DKC, Kevin Knight, Alex Coughlin, and Karl Fredericks via pinfall in 10:37.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a fun opening bout. It was pretty much everything you would expect, for better and for worse. I’m happy that The DKC and Barrett Brown got some time to shine, because they deserve it and I know they will have done the most with it. For a match like this, though, Misterioso could have played a much bigger role. Maybe that’s nit-picking, but if you give Misterioso time, he’ll always deliver.
2. Tom Lawlor vs. Hikuleo in a New Japan Cup USA tournament semifinal match. Filthy Tom made his entrance first and it reminded me of how much he hates me. Lawlor charged Hikuleo with punches and kicks. Lawlor eventually went after the leg, but Hikuleo fired up and worked elbows and kicks.
Hikuleo whipped Lawlor into the corner, but missed when he went for a splash and Lawlor took control with a series of submissions. Hikuleo worked his way out and started landed kicks. Hikuleo kept control with a foot on Filthy Tom’s throat.
Lawlor hit some chops, but Hikuleo landed a hard, loud chop in return. Hikuleo then hit a power-slam for a two-count. Before long, Hikuleo threw Lawlor outside and Hikuleo threw Lawlor into the ring post. Hikuleo worked over Lawlor on the outside of the ring, eventually driving Lawlor’s back into the apron. Hikuleo then returned to the ring.
Hikuleo tried to slam Lawlor into the ring, but Lawlor worked Hikuleo’s knee and eventually sunk in a knee bar. Hikuleo ultimately made it to the ropes for a break. While Hikuleo was outside, Lawlor went for an arm-bar, but Hikuleo picked Lawlor up and drove him into the ring post.
To counter, Lawlor landed a chop block to Hikuleo’s knee. Lawlor then went for a figure-four on the ramp into the ring. Hikuleo worked his want out, but the two fought before Hikuleo made his way back into the ring to break the count. Back inside the ring, Lawlor hit a roll-up while Hikuleo tried to climb into the ring for the pinfall.
Filthy Tom Lawlor defeated Hikuleo via pinfall in 8:58 to advance to the New Japan Cup USA tournament final.
McGuire ‘s Musings: I loved this match. I had no idea how they would compromise Hikuleo and Lawlor, but it worked and even though I’m the biggest Hikuleo fan in the world, I might be the second biggest Filthy Tom Lawlor fan in the word (if only because he keeps me in check). I maintain that Hikuleo is a star in the making, but Lawlor going over here makes a lot more sense than it would if Hikuleo was shot to the moon. Kind of like Ren Narita. Both of their futures are bright, but we don’t have to be blinded right now. A very good match.
3. Brody King vs. Lio Rush in a New Japan Cup USA tournament semifinal match. The two went to the center of the ring to illustrate the discrepancy in size. Rush eventually took control with kicks and eventually went for a Tope Suicida outside the ring, but King caught him and hit a choke-slam on the apron.
Back in the ring, King threw Rush around and then hit a chop to send Rush into the corner. Rush tried to work his way out, but King sunk in a boot to the throat. Rush lunged at King, but missed. King then threw Rush into the corner, chest-first. King landed a series of forearms for a two-count.
King grabbed Rush by the hair, but Rush landed a hit to the gut. King then hit a punch that knocked Rush to the ground. King put Rush on the top rope and hit a chop. Rush, meanwhile, hit a kick, but King fired back and went for a power-bomb on the apron, but Rush countered and hit a splash from the top to the outside.
Back in the ring, Rush hit a frog-splash for a two-count. Rush tried to pick Rush up, but King worked his way out. King then hit a Lariat and Gonzo Bomb for the pinfall victory.
Brody King defeated Lio Rush via pinfall in 7:38 to advance to the New Japan Cup USA tournament final.
King cut a promo backstage saying he is the beast. He also said he’s going to give Lawlor a level of violence that not even MMA could give him. Kelly and Koslov then checked in to run down next week’s final…
McGuire’s Musings: This was deserving of the main event slot. It was hard to predict who might come out on top, because the difference in size, but Lio Rush made Brody King look like a million bucks. Not that King didn’t deserve it, because he did. And does. He’s one of the most underrated, under-appreciated big guys in the business. But both guys here made the discrepancy work. A final between Brody King and Filthy Tom? I’m in. I’m in, times 1,000,000. This is some of the best wrestling in the world. If you can watch it, please do. Next week is guaranteed to be memorable. My New Japan Strong audio reviews are available for Dot Net Members every Saturday.