By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed April 30, 2021 on New Japan World
A new opening aired, showcasing the wrestlers of the LA Dojo, which was the theme of the episode. Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in on commentary to begin the show. Kelly said these are some of the brightest stars we will see and then ran down the card.
1. The DKC vs. TJP. The DKC rushed his way to the ring in his Young Lion gear. Kelly said the money has to be on TJP. The two locked up in the center of the ring. The DKC worked TJP’s left arm, but TJP landed a spinning head-scissors. The DKC came back with a head-scissors of his own. TJP morphed into a head-stand and rolled out to take control with a bow-and-arrow.
Back in the middle, TJP eventually gained control with an arm-lock. The DKC kept trying to work a head-lock, but TJP kept rolling out. TJP then hit a coconut clutch and landed a clothesline for a two-count. TJP hit a body-slam and worked over The DKC’s arm and neck. The DKC fought his way out and got a one-count.
In the corner, The DKC hit a couple chops before throwing TJP into the opposite corner, but when he went for a chop, TJP caught him with a kick. TJP then worked a boot in the corner before hitting a knee. TJP kicked The DKC and got a two-count. TJP went for a Senton, but The DKC moved and hit a kick and a chop and a series of strikes, including a spinning back-fist.
The DKC hit a jumping chop for a two-count. The DKC went for a triangle choke, but TJP reversed it and worked The DKC’s leg. The DKC made it to the ropes for a break. On their feet, TJP hit a series of kicks to The DKC’s legs. TJP landed a suplex for a two-count. Eventually, The DKC sunk in a submission, but TJP rolled out and hit a crossface for the submission victory.
TJP defeated The DKC via submission in 7:39.
After the match, TJP helped The DKC to his feet, but The DKC pushed TJP and the two left the ring in animosity. Backstage, The DKC cut a promo saying he’s at the dinner table and he continues to work hard.
McGuire’s Musings: ‘Twas the battle of initials. A very mat-oriented back-and-forth that had somewhat of a surprising ending. The DKC has shown good fire as he’s entered the LA Dojo, so I kind of thought he might come out on top here. It turned out not to be so. The DKC still looked good, though, and I continue to believe there are bright things ahead of him. He might want to get at least one other signature move than a chop, but, hey, what do I know?
2. Fred Rosser and Ren Narita vs. Alex Coughlin and Kevin Knight. Coughlin and Knight came out first, with Coughlin sporting a hell of a mustache. The teams tried to jump-start after Rosser threw a push at their opponents. Rosser and Knight started, the two trading moves and eventually getting back to their feet. Locking up again, Knight went for a wrist-lock, but Rosser rolled Knight over into an arm-bar.
Knight eventually rolled out and worked an ankle-lock, until Rosser made it to the ropes for a break. After locking up again, Knight hit a couple elbows before Rosser threw him outside. Knight rolled right back into the ring and went for a dropkick, but Rosser stopped and Knight hit air. The two continued to be aggressive, trading blows in the corner.
After a leg-drop, Rosser went for a cover and got a two-count. Rosser then hit a back-breaker and tagged in Narita. Rosser then suplexed Narita onto Knight for a two-count. Before long, Coughlin tagged in and Narita and Coughlin traded mat work. Kelly reminded everyone that Narita is on excursion. Narita then worked an arm-lock, which eventually turned into a chin-lock.
Coughlin countered with a shoulder-block and a suplex for a two-count. Knight then tagged in and the two lifted Narita for a double-arm-drag-slam. Knight threw Rosser to the outside. Rosser then hit a hip-toss for a close two-count on Narita. Narita eventually fired up and hit a series of kicks on everybody. Rosser then tagged in and the two worked over Knight in the corner.
Narita tagged in and hit a kick on Knight as Rosser held him down. Narita then hit a splash and a suplex for a two-count on Knight. Narita went for another suplex, but Knight countered and hit one of the prettiest dropkicks in the business. Knight then made the hot tag to Coughlin, and Narita did as well to Rosser. Rosser and Coughlin traded blows in the middle of the ring.
Coughlin hit a good-looking shoulder-block, but Rosser took control with a kick and strikes. Rosser then went for a hip-toss, but Coughlin hit a sideways gut-wrench suplex for a near-fall. Knight then tagged in and hit a shoulder-block for a two-count. The same happened after he hit a standing splash. Knight then got a Boston Crab in, but Narita broke it up. Narita went for a kick, but Coughlin caught him and slammed him to the outside.
Back in the ring, Rosser hit a clothesline for a two-count. Knight and Rosser traded chops in the middle of the ring. Rosser tackled Knight into the corner and landed some chops while Narita and Coughlin fought outside. Knight hit a splash from the second rope, but they rolled through, and Rosser hit his finisher and a kick to the head for the pinfall.
Fred Rosser and Ren Narita defeated Alex Coughlin and Kevin Knight via pinfall in 12:36.
Rosser and Narita posed in the middle of the ring before leaving. Kelly said, “Oh, that was fun!” Backstage, Knight and Coughlin cut a promo. Knight said every time he steps in the ring, he takes a loss and then he walked away in disgust. Coughlin tried to talk him down and Knight returned. Coughlin gave Knight encouragement.
McGuire’s Musings: An action-packed tag match. Rosser and Narita worked like heels, and that took me by surprise, but I guess I don’t know why because this whole episode is designed to spotlight the LA Dojo, and I guess the moral of these matches is that all the Dojo products will lose (watch me be completely wrong with the main event). In any case, this was good and I absolutely loved the fire from Rosser and Knight. Actually, if Rosser showed this type of fire more frequently, who knows what his ceiling is. It was curious that Narita didn’t have a bigger role in the match, but perhaps I’m reading too much into things.
3. Clark Connors vs. Karl Fredericks. After a series of exchanging holds, the two returned to their feet. Connors backed Fredericks into the ropes, which broke the exchange. Fredericks worked Connors’ arm. Connors worked his way out and the two locked up in the center of the ring. Fredericks then worked a head-lock. The two traded shoulder-blocks that didn’t go anywhere. Finally, Connors hit one that took Fredericks to the ground.
Connors hit a snap-duplex for a one-count. Fredericks hit a cross-body-block and a knee that sent Connors to the floor. When Connors tried to get back into the ring, Fredericks hit a knee to send him back to the floor. Fredericks then landed a Tope Suicida. Fredericks went to ram Connors into the pole, but Connors blocked it and returned the favor.
Connors landed a snap suplex on the floor. Connors then rolled Fredericks back into the ring and went for a cover and got a two-count. Connors then worked a chin-lock. Fredericks tried to work his way out, but Connors landed elbows and a double-axe-handle for a one-count. Connors then sunk in a chin-lock and an arm-bar. Eventually, Connors hit a chop to Fredericks’ back.
Fredericks took control with a snap-mare and an elbow to Connors’ back. Connors did the same and hit a chop to Frederick’s back. Fredericks then got to his feet and did the same, landing a two-count. Fredericks hit a back-elbow for a series of two-counts. Fredericks then hit a back-breaker for a two-count. Fredericks then hit an elbow, but Connors fought back. After a criss-cross, Connors hit a massive spear, sending Fredericks into the corner. Connors then hit a bunch of chops before the referee broke it up.
Connors hit a spear and shoulder-block in the corner. He then hit a suplex for a two-count. Connors set up for the spear, but Fredericks hit an elbow. Still, Connors tried to keep control until Fredericks lifted Connors and hit a back-suplex and an elbow for a two-count. Fredericks hit a spine-buster into an STF, but Connors made it to the ropes for a break. Fredericks went for a suplex, but Connors countered into a Boston Crab. Fredericks, however, made it to the ropes for a break.
Connors climbed to the second rope, but Fredericks ran at him and kicked him in the head. Fredericks then landed a superplex. On their knees, the two traded elbows and chops. The two returned to their feet and but Fredericks took control with a series of kicks. Connors asked him for more and Connors hit a snap-powerslam. Connors then landed a German Suplex and a spear. Connors fired, but Fredericks countered with a sleeper and eventually hit back-breaker into a Manifest Destiny for the win.
Karl Fredericks defeated Clark Connors via pinfall in 18:19.
Fredericks tried to shake hands, but Connors pushed him away and made his way to the back.
McGuire’s Musings: So, what I guess tonight means is that all LA Dojo wrestlers are poor losers. That’s cool. Anyway, Connors cut a promo backstage saying he watched himself grow this year, but it’s hard to think anyone grew if nobody wants to shake hands. But I digress. Connors said everyone is on notice because the Young Lion is dead and he is the mother-f’n Wild Rhino. He took that name because Kevin Kelly proclaimed him that on commentary, and I like it.
In all, this was a good episode of Strong. The theme that this was going to be the LA Dojo showcase said enough for us to know the most probable outcome was that none of the LA Dojo products would come out victorious. Still, despite the predictable results, this was an awfully good hour of straight wrestling. Not necessarily hard-hitting, which is a welcome change. Instead, this was mat-based, straight-up wrestling, and everyone came out looking better than they did going in. My only question: What happens next?