By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed August 6, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in to run down the card (I miss seeing them). This is the Road To Summer Struggle USA.
1. Kevin Knight vs. Alexander James. Knight made his entrance first, representing the LA Dojo. Alexander James made his way to the ring in a cape. The two felt each other out to start. James backed Knight into the corner, but Knight pushed him. Alexander then worked a chin-lock. There was an eventual break and the two locked up to have Knight work a side head-lock.
James backed Knight into the corner, but Knight fought back with kicks and uppercuts. Knight hit a kick to the back of the head for a two-count. James landed a pump-handle slam for a two-count. Knight hit a surprise roll-up for a two-count and then went for that crazy dropkick, but James caught him and worked over Knight’s arm and wrist. Knight made it to the ropes for a break.
James kept working on Knight’s arm. Knight tried to fight out, but James hit a headbutt and kept working on Knight’s arm. Knight fired up with some uppercuts and elbows, but the story of James’s arm being hurt continued. Ultimately, Knight hit a hell of a dropkick and fired up. Knight hit a body slam and a shoulder-block for a two-count.
Knight hit a standing frog-splash for a two-count. Knight hit a Boston Crab, but James kicked his way out and landed a shoulder-block. James then hit some elbows and a clothesline. James then went to the top and hit a diving headbutt but a two-count. James sunk in a submission and then hit a spinning elbow and his finishing slam for the win.
Alexander James defeated Kevin Knight via pinfall in 7:40.
McGuire’s Musings: Putting the Young Lion losing trope aside this was a very good outing for James – especially for a debut. Knight continues to show great fire and he still has the best gosh-darn dropkick in the entire business. But they told a good story here and Knight did a hell of a job selling the arm that James attacked. This was a better-than-usual opening match.
2. Rocky Romero and Fred Rosser vs. Ren Narita and Alex Coughlin. Rosser and Romero made their entrance second, and it was weird to see Rosser ham it up with Romero. Rosser and Narita began the match with Rosser extending a hand for a handshake and Narita accepting. Rosser took control by working Narita’s wrist and elbow. Narita countered and backed Rosser into the ropes and the two broke.
Rosser backed up and Narita worked a side head-lock. The wrestlers went for shoulder-blocks but everyone no-sold. Eventually, Narita was knocked down, got up and tagged in Coughlin. Romero tagged in as well. The two worked some chain wrestling, but Coughlin took control with a head-lock. Before long, Romero worked his way back in control, but Coughlin picked Romero up like a rag doll and eventually hit a head-scissors takedown.
Romero hit some clotheslines, but Coughlin ultimately caught him and landed a suplex for a two-count. Narita tagged in and hit a kick. The two then hit a double-hip-toss for a two-count. Narita sunk in a figure-four on Romero, but Rosser came in to break it up. Coughlin and Rosser fought outside while Romero fought out of a submission Narita went for. Romero then hit Narita with a kick and hit the hot tag to Rosser, who came in and hit an elbow and a slam on Narita.
Rosser hit a double-elbow on Narita before backing him into the corner and lifting Narita onto the top rope. Narita fought his way out, however and hit a spinning kick to take Narita down. Narita tagged in Coughlin. Coughlin lifted Rosser, but Rosser landed an inside cradle for a two-count. Coughlin and Rosser traded elbows.
Coughlin went for a spear, but Rosser hit him with a knee. Romero then tagged in and hit a spring board dropkick for a two-count. Romero landed some chops and a kick, but Coughlin caught him and hit a gut-buster for a two-count. Coughlin then landed a bridge suplex or a two-count. Outside, Narita and Rosser fought each other. Inside the ring, Romero rolled Coughlin up for a good near-fall. Romero sunk in an arm-bar, but Coughlin picked Romero up. Still, Rosser landed his split and Romero sunk in the arm bar for a submission win.
Rocky Romero and Fred Rosser defeated Ren Narita and Alex Coughlin via submission in 11:09.
McGuire’s Musings: This was equally weird and good. Weird because Rosser and Romero don’t seem to make much sense to me. But speaking of making sense, I guess this sets up Narita and Rosser because Rosser tried for another handshake after the match and Narita denied it. It’d be great if NJPW Strong had some serious actual tag-teams because too often it feels like some of these teams are thrown together to start singles programs. Either way, this was a good match with a couple very, very good false-finishes. And Narita now looks like his own man, which is even better. Romero and Rosser are an interesting team and if they ever decided to make more of it, I’d watch.
3. Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs vs. JR Kratos and Danny Limelight. Limelight and Isaacs began, Isaacs gaining some takedowns. Isaacs sunk in a side head-lock. Isaacs hit a shoulder-block and a powerslam for a one-count. Nelson then tagged in and worked some double-team moves. Nelson hit a drop kick that rivaled that of Kevin Knight for a two-count.
Isaacs tagged in and hit a hell of a clothesline for a two-count on Limelight. Isaacs kept control but Kratos tagged in and went on the offensive with kicks in the corner. Kratos hit a released suplex on Isaacs for a two-count. Limelight tagged back in and quickly tagged out to Kratos, who was the monster of the match, as he always should be. Kratos landed a suplex for a two-count.
Kratos kept control with knees and tagged in Limelight, who hit a double-stomp for a two-count. Kratos tagged in and hit a double axe-handle. Kratos then went for a suplex, but Isaacs countered and hit a good-looking suplex. Limelight came in with a spear and fought Kratos, hitting a chop block and a knee. Nelson hit a knee on Limelight and Limelight went to the outside. The Wrecking Crew then double-teamed Kratos before Kratos fired up and hit an impressive suplex.
Limelight tagged in and hit a double-stomp for a two-count. The wrecking Crew threw Kratos outside and then Nelson hit an elbow for a two-count because Kratos pulled Nelson outside of the ring. Kratos then hit Isaacs with a slam, and Limelight hit a tornado DDT for the win.
JR Kratos and Danny Limelight defeated Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs via pinfall.
McGuire’s Musings: Sorry about the time. My timer got screwed up and then the commentary team talked over the official time stamp. Oh, well. Anyway, this was surprising. The West Coast Wrecking Crew is an actual tag-team, and while I understand Team Filthy or Violence Unlimited or whatever you want to call them are supposed to be the bee’s knees on NJPW Strong, at what point do we start putting actual tag-teams over? Or, well, I guess tag-teams that aren’t named The Good Brothers.
In all, this was a very sneaky-good episode of Strong. And that main event delivered, even if I have questions. I hope the West Coast Wrecking Crew can eventually get some steam in this setting, but only time will tell that. In the meantime, a good win for Brody King and Danny Limelight, both of whom are destined to be stars somewhere at some point. Shoot. Brody kind of already is in Ring Of Honor. But I digress. Watch this if you can. It’s with your time. My NJPW Strong audio reviews are available for Dot Net Members every Saturday.