By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed June 4, 2021 on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in on commentary again and were not at the venue. They ran down the card and actually had dialogue about the matches even though we couldn’t see either of them talking. Instead, we got highlights of past matches. We are on the Road To Ignition…
1. TJP vs. Kevin Knight. Knight made his way to the ring quickly and in his Young Lion get-up. The two locked up in the middle of the ring and Knight took TJP over before getting him into a headlock, which led to a head-scissors from TJP and a one-count. TJP went for a dropkick, but Knight moved.
The two went into a test of strength, but TJP cartwheeled his way out. Knight worked a head-scissors. Knight landed a slap to the face and went back to the head-scissors. TJP hit a head-stand and took down Knight. TJP then worked a series of boots, but Knight hit a high power slam. After running the ropes, TJP took control with a chin-lock.
TJP worked his own head-scissors, but Knight made it to the ropes for a break. TJP then hit a slingshot senton for a two-count. TJP then hit some serious chops and a kick in the corner. Knight eventually landed a high dropkick and a tilt-a-whirl back-breaker for a two count. Knight then fired up and went for a Boston Crab, but TJP rolled out.
With Knight in the corner, TJP hit a running knee and a back suplex for a two-count. TJP then went to the top rope and missed, so Knight took control and hit a running clothesline for a two-count. Knight went for a running frog-splash, but TJP got the knees up and worked his twist for the submission win.
TJP defeated Kevin Knight via submission in 6:27.
After the match, TJP didn’t allow Knight to fall to the ground and gave him a half-hug.
McGuire’s Musings: Kevin Knight showed a lot of fire here, and to be honest, if we are going to go with a Young Lion in most every first match on Strong, keeping it to under seven minutes is a smart move. There was no doubt that TJP was going over, but both guys looked really good here, and both showcased a ton of energy. In a lot of ways, this was the perfect NJPW Strong opener. Knight has a bright future.
2. Adrian Quest vs. Barrett Brown. Brown made his entrance with Bateman, which is new. Brown extended his hand for a handshake before the two locked up with Quest backing Brown into the corner. Quest did the same thing and offered a forearm to boot. Brown then went for a chop, but missed and the two traded blows before Brown rolled to the outside.
Back inside the ring, Quest hit a dropkick before Brown rolled to the outside to regroup again with Bateman. After a series of exchanges, Brown rolled outside again. Quest tried to jump out, but stopped himself and Brown eventually hit a strike to push Quest to the outside. Brown then went for a suplex, but Quest blocked it and the two rolled back into the ring.
Brown toyed with Quest via kicks and some hard chops. Eventually, Quest fired up, but Brown stopped the momentum with a hard clothesline for a two-count. Brown hit a strong kick to Quest’s back and then worked a chin-lock. The two found themselves on the outside again and Brown hit a suplex on the concrete. The count got to 19 before Quest got back into the ring.
Brown then hit a hard chop in the corner and picked Quest up to sit him on the top rope. Quest then hit a springboard huracanrana. Both wrestlers sold the move. Quest then hit a series of clotheslines before landing a backslide. Brown went to the outside, but Quest hit a shooting-star press from the apron and rolled Brown back into the ring.
Quest went for a springboard punch but missed and Brown hit a hell of a dropkick for a two count. Brown hit a series of kicks, but Quest caught him and hit a German Suplex, eventually landing a destroyer for a two-count. Brown hit a kick and a suplex into the corner for a two-count. Brown then hit a sick-looking knee for a close near-fall. Brown kicked Quest, but Quest fired up and hit a butterfly power-bomb. Quest climbed to the top, but Bateman distracted him and after he jumped, Brown rolled him up for the 1-2-3.
Barrett Brown defeated Adrian Quest via pinfall in 10:36.
After the match, Quest cut a promo backstage, but Fred Rosser interrupted, essentially setting up a Brown and Bateman vs. Rosser and Quest match down the road…
McGuire’s Musings: This was a very good match, and I’m happy to see they got the time they deserved. I could stand to see them run this back again, and I think that might happen, considering the story that they are former partners. This would all come after the expected tag-team match that appears to be formulating. Either way, Brown was great as a heel, using tactics we don’t see that much anymore, rolling outside of the ring constantly only to play mind games with the babyface. There were a few really entertaining spots here, too, so in all, a good outing from everyone.
3. Karl Fredericks and Satoshi Kojima vs. Danny Limelight and JR Kratos. Kojima and Kratos started the match. Kratos extended his hand, but Kratos kicked Kojima. Kojima hit the ropes multiple times to take Kratos down, but Kratos didn’t move. As a result, Kratos shoulder-blocked Kojima to the ground. Fredericks then tagged in and his Kratos with elbows. Eventually, Kratos hit Fredericks with a really hard jab. Fredericks eventually went for a splash after running the ropes, but Kratos moved.
Limelight tagged in and almost immediately tagged Kratos back in. Kratos hit an elbow, forearm and kicks on Fredericks. Limelight tagged in and hit some kicks and punches on Fredericks. Kratos then tagged in and hit a suplex before tagging Limelight back in and Limelight hit a double stomp on Fredericks after Kratos threw him into the air. Fredericks tried a comeback with a slap, but Limelight hopped on him and went for a suplex, but Fredericks blocked it, eventually landing a suplex of his own.
Kojima got the hot tag, but Kratos stopped him. Kratos then missed a splash in the corner and Kojima hit about a thousand chops on Kratos in the corner. Kojima then hit an elbow from the top rope for a one-count. Kojima hit a series of elbows, but after hitting the ropes, Kratos landed a powerslam. Kratos picked Kojima up from the mat into a suplex for a two-count. Kratos then hit Kojima with a hard slap and the two traded forearms.
Kratos went for a clothesline, but Kojima blocked it. Kojima then hit a Koji Cutter for a two-count. Limelight then tagged in and hit Kojima with chops, but Kojima hit Limelight with a clothesline. Fredericks then tagged in and went for forearms and chops on Limelight, who fought back. Fredericks hit a back-breaker and Kojima threw Limelight into Fredericks for a spine-buster and a two-count. Kratos then took Kojima to the outside and choked him. Limelight then hit a springboard stomp for a near-fall.
Fredericks went for the Manifest Destiny, but Limelight broke it up. Fredericks then hit a loud chop and sunk in a Boston Crab with the foot on the face for a submission win.
Karl Fredericks and Satoshi Kojima defeated Danny Limelight and JR Kratos via submission in 10:43.
After the match, Kojima and Kratos brawled to close the show…
McGuire’s Musings: You could pretty much tell from about the 15 second mark in the match that this was setting up Kojima and Kratos, but I’m not complaining. Fredericks showed more fire than I’ve ever seen him show, and to see him get the tap out like that was encouraging. He’s been in need of an edge and this match helped define that. Meanwhile, Kojima looked like the legend he is and Kratos even looked more impressive than he has in recent months on Strong.
This was a sneaky good episode of NJPW Strong. On paper, it might not have looked like a strong episode, but at the end of the day, these were three really good matches. Kojima was a fun element, the Bateman and Brown allegiance is fun and Kevin Knight took a step forward while TJP looked very good in the veteran role. If you have an extra 45 minutes this weekend, check this out. If you don’t, at least look up the tag-team main event. Kojima and Kratos alone make it worthwhile.