By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed June 18, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in from somewhere far away. They ran down the card. We are on the Ignition tour…
1. Alex Coughlin vs. Josh Alexander. Coughlin came out first and he was quick to the ring. The two grappled and Alexander hit a fireman’s carry, taking control with a headlock. Alexander moved to an arm bar and eventually a head-scissors. Coughlin worked his way out by stretching Alexander’s quad and hamstring. Coughlin took control with a head lock.
Alexander worked his way out and threw Coughlin to the ropes. Coughlin ran through a clothesline and a chop and shoulder-blocked Alexander out of the ring. After making it back into the ring, Coughlin was on the apron before Alexander body-blocked him to the outside. Back in the ring, Alexander got a two-count.
In the corner, the two traded chops. Alexander eventually went for an ankle-lock, but Coughlin rolled through and hit a nasty German Suplex. The two traded blows in the middle of the ring. Coughlin landed a shoulder-tackle and got in two gut-wrench suplexes, but Alexander rolled through and sunk in an ankle-lock. Coughlin countered with a single-leg crab, but Alexander made it to the ropes for a break.
Back on their feet, Coughlin went to whip Alexander, but Alexander wouldn’t move. Alexander landed a hard forearm and German Suplex for a very good near fall. Coughlin landed a body slam and bridged into a two-count. After trading some grappling moves, Alexander got the ankle-lock in, but Coughlin escaped again. Alexander finally hit his under-hook piledriver for the pin
Josh Alexander defeated Alex Coughlin via pinfall in 11:29.
McGuire’s Musings: A very, very good match. One of the better opening NJPW Strong matches I’ve seen, actually. Coughlin looked great, and I mean great. Alexander was always going to hold up his end, but Coughlin’s fire, strength and overall presence made him stand out more than I’ve ever seen him stand out before. Plus, they got exactly the right amount of time as this didn’t overstay its welcome, but overall, felt complete. This was really good.
2. Fred Rosser and Adrian Quest vs. Bateman and Barrett Brown. Brown began the match, but quickly tagged in Bateman. Quest and Bateman began the match. Quest worked a head-lock, but Bateman escaped it and landed a huge chop. Quest hit a springboard missile dropkick and Rosser tagged in to keep control with chops and strikes. Bateman fought back, however, and tagged in Brown, who worked a headlock.
Rosser took control with a body slam and a leg drop. Rosser went for a pin and got a two-count. Rosser went for a suplex on the apron, but Bateman grabbed Rosser’s leg to break it up. Brown then hit a kick and Bateman tagged in to take control. Brown tagged in and Rosser and Brown fought on the outside. Back in the ring, Brown shoved a boot in Rosser’s face.
Bateman tagged in and kept control with a forearm to the side of Rosser’s neck. Rosser tried to run around the posts on the outside of the ring to get the tag, but Bateman cut him off. Rosser fired up and hit Bateman with a series of elbows and a back suplex. As a result, Rosser got the hot tag to Quest. Bateman then tagged Brown.
Quest went after Brown with punches, but as Quest went for a springboard, Brown caught Quest with a punch. Rosser landed a back suplex on the apron on Brown and back in the ring, Quest went for the pin, but Bateman broke it up. Bateman slammed Quest, but Rosser came in to fight Bateman. Brown then hit a super-kick on Rosser before picking up Quest. Bateman made a blind tag, picked up Quest and hit his spinning tombstone piledriver for the win.
Bateman and Barrett Brown defeated Fred Rosser and Adrian Quest via pinfall in 9:41.
After the match, Rosser and Bateman brawled before Bateman left the ring. Backstage, Bateman and Brown cut a promo and Brown said New Japan is on notice now. Bateman said he is not a bully despite what Rosser says.
McGuire’s Musings: I understand Rosser is essentially positioned as the babyface of babyfaces, but I don’t know that Koslov was wrong when he pointed out that Rosser was a bad loser after he decided to attack Bateman after the match for … winning the match? Anyway, they told a good story here with Brown being the pest heel and Quest looking for revenge after being betrayed by his former tag-team partner. Some of Quest’s punches were questionable, and some of the movement on both sides of the ring felt slow at times, but it set up Bateman and Rosser and presumably kept Brown and Quest moving forward.
Kevin Kelly checked in to announce Tag Team Turbulence, an eight-team tournament where the winners receive victory trophies. He ran down the teams, which included The Good Brothers. The tournament will begin in three weeks.
McGuire’s Musings: I like the tournament because I am of the belief that NJPW Strong could use its own tag-team titles. With the addition of Gallows and Anderson, though, it’s hard not to think they are the heavy favorites to win the whole thing.
3. JR Kratos vs. Satoshi Kojima. Kelly said Kojima hasn’t won a match without using his lariat since 2008. Kelly then noted that next week is the end of the Ignition tour. The two tied up in the middle of the ring. Kratos hit a diving shoulder-tackle and Kojima rolled to the outside. Kratos stomped on Kojima and hit a series of punches.
Back in the ring, Kratos landed elbows and got a two-count. Kratos kept control with a gut-wrench suplex for another two-count. Kratos hit a suplex that he released, throwing Kojima across the ring. Kojima fired up, however, and hit machine gun chops on Kratos. Kratos fought back with chops of his own. The wrestlers moved to the other corner and Kojima took back control.
Kojima then went to the top, but Kratos stopped him with an axe-handle. Kratos went for a suplex off the apron, but Kojima countered into a DDT on the apron. Kojima rolled Kratos back into the ring and climbed to the top to hit an elbow. Kojima earned a two-count. Kojima went for rolling lariat, but Kratos caught him and hit a choke-slam power-bomb for a very close near-fall. Kratos picked Kojima up for a suplex and got another very close near-fall.
Kojima hit a DDT, but Kratos shrugged it off. Kojima hit another DDT, and Kratos shrugged it off again. The same thing happened for a third time. Kojima acted scared and Kratos hit his own lariat. Kojima got to his feet and hit a Koji Cutter. Both men were laid out. Kojima went for a suplex, but Kratos blocked it. Eventually, Kojima landed it. That resulted in a two-count. Kojima took off his elbow pad and went for the lariat, but Kratos hit a jumping knee. Kojima eventually landed the lariat and got the pin.
Satoshi Kojima defeated JR Kratos via pinfall in 11:26.
McGuire’s Musings: Boy, they really want to put over Kratos as a monster, and here, they did. For a minute or two, I even started to believe he might beat Kojima, even though Kratos takes more losses than he should on Strong and when the commentary team makes such a big deal about somewhat new wrestlers coming in, it kind of foreshadows the outcome. Either way, I think they succeeded in what they tried to do, which was protect Kojima and his lariat while making Kratos look stronger than ever. I’d like to see him challenge for the lone title that Strong has, but that’s probably wishful thinking.
This was a good episode of Strong. With such a hot opening match, I was hopeful that the next two would live up to that standard, but both matches fell just a tiny bit short. If you go out of your way to see one bout, I’d obviously suggest Alexander vs. Coughlin. The main event was good, too, if you have an extra 10 minutes. The Ignition tour ends next week and the tag-team tournament begins in three weeks. New Japan really knows how to keep us viewers interested and God bless them for that. My NJPW Strong audio reviews are available for Dot Net Members ever Saturday.