By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed July 9, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in to run down the card. They weren’t physically present… A new video package aired to get people hyped for next week’s tag tournament…
McGuire’s Musings: I mentioned last week that this episode would feature the tag team tournament, and I apologize for that, as it starts next week. In the meantime, we have three matches in front of us this week. The video was pretty good.
1. The DKC vs. Barrett Brown. The DKC made his entrance first and ran into the ring. Brown followed with a very heel entrance. The two began with an awkward lockup and The DKC worked a headlock before Brown countered into an arm-lock and then a chin-lock. The DKC countered, but Brown made it to the ropes for the break.
Back in the middle, the two locked up. Brown eventually started working The DKC’s arm, complete with a stomp to the elbow and a wrist-lock. The DKC worked back, only using his left hand because of his right arm being injured and Brown ultimately regained control. Brown hit a suplex for a two-count. The DKC tried to fight back, but Brown hit a back elbow for a two-count.
Brown hit a few stiff chops and a clothesline for a two-count. Brown went back to The DKC’s arm. Brown stood on The DKC’s head, but The DKC tried to counter. That led to The DKC hitting punches and kicks, eventually going for his karate chop, but Brown landed a schoolboy for a two-count.
The DKC came back and hit his shouting karate chop for a two-count and then worked a triangle. Brown worked his way out to continue damage on The DKC’s arm. The DKC made it to the ropes for a break. The DKC went to the top for a jumping kick, but Brown rolled him up, grabbed the tights and got the victory.
Barrett Brown defeated The DKC via pinfall in 7:02.
McGuire’s Musings: The outcome wasn’t really in doubt because The DKC is still a Young Lion. Still, they started to tell a good story with Brown working over The DKC’s arm, but as is the case with a lot of modern wrestling, that was eventually ditched in favor of … I don’t know? Something else? Either way, Brown continues his mean streak and The DKC, to be fair, continues to look really good in defeat. I could do without the karate chop gimmick, but maybe that will change with time.
2. Alex Coughlin vs. PJ Black. This is part of Coughlin’s open challenge gimmick, and I like it. The two began with a lock up, but the ropes broke it up. A series of chain wrestling resulted in Black getting a two-count. Black chopped Coughlin, but Coughlin fired up and the two traded chops and forearms. Coughlin eventually landed one that you could hear in Zimbabwe.
Black hit some kicks, taking Coughlin to the ground. Black worked an abdominal stretch, which turned into a pin and a two-count. Black then hit a spinning heel-kick for another two count. Black landed a springboard moonsault for a two-count. Black then went to the second rope and hit an elbow before running to the opposite top rope, landing another strike for a two-count.
Black hit a snap-suplex, which morphed into a series of submissions. Coughlin worked his way out, hit another radically loud chop and a rollup for a two-count. Black took back control with some strikes. Black went for a kick, but Coughlin countered and hit a shoulder-block to get Black to the ground. Coughlin then picked Black up from the ground for a gut-wrench suplex and a two-count. Coughlin got in a German suplex for a two-count.
Eventually, Black hit a Spanish Fly off the top rope for a good near fall. Black climbed up top, but Coughlin walked away. Black then hit his splash, but they rolled through and Coughlin landed his fall-away suplex for another good fall. Coughlin and Black traded forearms. Black then picked Coughlin up over his back, hit a slam and got the pin.
PJ Black defeated Alex Coughlin via pinfall in 9:33.
After the match, Black offered a handshake, but Coughlin pushed him away.
McGuire’s Musings: This might be the match of the night. Those two worked really well together and it was good to see PJ Black come over and give Ring Of Honor some credibility going into this weekend’s Best In The World. Coughlin looked great, and much like The DKC, I’m so, so curious to see where these guys end up in three years, because they could be genuine international stars. Everybody came out looking better in this match.
3. Rocky Romero vs. Josh Alexander. Romero took control with a headlock, but Alexander body-dropped Romero to make things even. The commentary team sounded out of sync. After an exchange and a monkey flip, Romero got on offense with a side headlock. The two got to their feet in the middle of the ring, but ultimately Romero landed a Frankensteiner that sent Alexander to the outside. Romero then hit a Tope Suicida.
Outside the ring, Romero took control and rolled Alexander back into the ring, but Alexander hit an elbow and a kick to send Romero to the ground for a two-count. Alexander worked a chin-lock. Romero made it to the ropes for a break. Romero took back control with chops and he worked Alexander’s arm. The in-ring sound was less loud than it was for previous matches. Romero hit a DDT. The two then traded forearms.
Romero hit his dropkick as Alexander was draped over the second rope for a two-count. Alexander went for his ankle-lock, but Romero rolled out. Romero then hit another Satellite DDT for a two-count. Romero landed a knee on Alexander’s arm from the second rope. Alexander tried to chop his way out, but Romero kept hitting kicks.
Romero went for the arm-bar, but Alexander rolled it through for a two-count. Alexander went for a pile-driver, but Romero countered. Alexander hit a German Suplex for a two-count. Alexander went for his ankle-lock but Romero got to his feet and punched and kicked his way out for a roll-up that got a two-count. Romero locked in the arm-bar again, but Alexander rolled into the ankle lock again, but Romero countered, but Alexander eventually hit an underhook pile-driver for the pin.
Josh Alexander defeated Rocky Romero via pinfall in 11:51.
After the match, Alexander cut a promo backstage saying that it took him nearly 15 years to get to a company that calls professional wrestling a sport. He apologized to Romero for what he had to do. He then said everyone has a target on their backs.
McGuire’s Musings: This was very good. I’m starting to think Romero is the designated fall guy, which I’m not particularly fond of, but I also have mad respect for him for doing that. Alexander is a master at what he does. Be it in Impact or here on Strong, he deserves more attention than what he gets. This was a good showcase for both guys, and if I have my way, Alexander deserves a push in NJPW. Maybe a showdown with Filthy Tom? I don’t know. But I’d love it.
In all, this was a good episode of Strong. I can’t tell you to go out of your way to see one particular match, but I can say that if you’re a fan of this style of wrestling, carve out 45 minutes and watch it. You’ll enjoy it. And if you love wrestling, that’s all that matters … right? My NJPW Strong audio reviews are available Dot Net Members every Saturday.