By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed September 10, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in to run down the card. Kelly reminded everyone it’s a special LA Dojo edition…
1. Kevin Knight vs. The DKC. The DKC made his entrance first and Kelly reminded everyone that these two were once tag-team partners. The DKC tried to work Knight’s leg, but Knight rolled out and hit a high wrist-lock takedown. The two then locked up and Knight worked a side head-lock. The DKC countered and worked a head-scissors.
Back on their feet, the DKC punched, kicked and chopped his way into control over Knight. The DKC hit more kicks and chops, taking Knight to the ground. The DKC ran the ropes, but Knight hit a couple knees for a two-count. Knight landed some chops and sunk in a chin-lock. The DKC backed Knight into a corner and worked elbows.
Knight, then, fought back with elbows of his own, complete with a body slam that got him a two-count. The DKC fired up and traded chops that sounded loud. The DKC then hit a jumping karate kick and a bunch of strikes. The DKC hit a bulldog and a jumping karate chop for a two-count. The DKC worked a series of kicks to Knight. The DKC ran the ropes, but Knight caught him in a tilt-a-whirl back-breaker. Knight hit a standing frog splash for a two-count.
The DKC worked a submission, but Knight made it to the ropes for a break. The DKC hit some chops, knocking Knight to the ground. The DKC hit a series of karate chops and tried to roll Knight up, but Knight lifted The DKC up, which turned into a failed pin attempt. The DKC worked a submission, but Knight made it to the ropes for a break.
Knight hit an incredible-looking dropkick and sunk in a Boston Crab and The DKC tapped out.
Kevin Knight defeated The DKC via submission in 9:44.
McGuire’s Musings: One of the great things about having a Dojo showcase is that the winners are always in doubt. I’ll be honest – I was pulling for The DKC to get the victory, if only because he’s always such a spark plug in any match he’s in and I’d like to see him get a victory. That said, Knight has the best dropkick in the business and him winning here doesn’t bother me at all. All told, I’d like to see more of these themed episodes of Strong.
2. Clark Connors vs. Alex Coughlin. Kelly played up the fact that Connors has already graduated from the Dojo as Connors made his way to the ring. The two nodded at each other to begin the match. After feeling each other out, the two locked up and Connors worked a side head-lock. Connors tried some shoulder-blocks, but they didn’t work and Coughlin ultimately hit one of his own to take control.
Coughlin landed an elbow to Connors’ back and it was stiff. Connors landed a snap-suplex for a one-count and then sunk in a chin-lock. Connors worked an arm-lock before morphing it into a full-nelson. Connors hit a snap-suplex for a two-count. Connors hit a double axe-handle from the middle rope. Coughlin lifted Connors up for a suplex and then hit a chop to Connors’ back.
The two ran the ropes, but Connors hit a spear and the two wrestlers were in corners. Connors hit rapid-fire chops. Coughlin landed a belly-to-belly suplex before hitting a backdrop for a two-count. Coughlin hit a fall-away slam into a bridge for a two-count. Coughlin sank in a half-crab. Connors made it to the ropes for a break.
Coughlin tried to hit a German suplex, but Connors countered and hit a spear. Connors then hit a suplex and an elbow drop for a two-count. Connors threw Coughlin to the ropes, but Coughlin ultimately hit a chop to take control. It wasn’t for long, because Connors hit a series of slams and got the pinfall victory.
Clark Connors defeated Alex Coughlin via pinfall in 10:44.
After the match, the two hugged despite a few seconds of contention. Coughlin cut a promo backstage saying it wasn’t the first time he fought Connors and they debuted together. Coughlin reminded everyone that Connors beat him in their first match. Coughlin then said he was so close to making Connors tap. Coughlin closed it by saying he loved Connors.
McGuire’s Musings: Coughlin absolutely has to be the next graduate from the Dojo. He’s had some great outings over the last two months and I actually wondered if he might get the win here. Connors, as the most recent graduate, was a good dancing partner here. They had me thinking that Coughlin might even pull it out. I like Coughlin a lot. He’s shown so much in only a few months and I can only hope that he becomes the next graduate of the Dojo and he can get some wins because … well, I hate to say it … but he deserves it.
3. Karl Fredericks vs. Ren Narita. Narita landed a kick to Fredericks’s leg. Narita worked Fredericks’s arm and elbow. Narita threw Fredericks to the outside. Fredericks returned to the ring, but Narita worked a side head-lock. Fredericks hit a shoulder-block and hit some stomps for a one-count. Fredericks hit a chop and some forearms before landing a loud chop and elbow for a two-count.
Fredericks hit a chop, but Narita fired up to try and get some offense in, but Frederick landed a knee for a two-count. Narita eventually hit a spinning heel kick to take Fredericks down. Narita hit a half-hatch for a two-count. Narita sank in the Indian Death Lock. Fredericks tried to slap Narita, but it didn’t matter. Fredericks made it to the ropes for a break.
After the break, Narita kept pounding on Fredericks’s legs. Narita sunk in a cloverleaf, but Fredericks made it to the ropes again. Narita hit a punch, but Fredericks landed a Pele kick. Fredericks fired up and hammered Narita in the corner. Fredericks then hit a dropkick in the corner for a two-count. Narita went for the Cobra Twist and that ended up in a rear-naked choke hold.
Fredericks escaped and hit a backbreaker before going for the Manifest Destiny. Narita blocked it, however, suplexed Fredericks, but only got a two-count. Narita worked a bear-hug, but Fredericks headbutt-ed his way out. Narita then landed a chop to the face that was vicious. Narita hit his belly-to-belly suplex with a bridge and that was enough for the victory.
Ren Narita defeated Karl Fredericks via pinfall in 12:38.
After the match, Fred Rosser came out to congratulate Narita. Rosser put out his hand for a handshake, but Narita wouldn’t. Rosser told Narita he was young and dumb and he needed to be taught a lesson in respect. Rosser told Narita he was coming for him. Narita said he doesn’t care if Rosser is a former superstar, but he should not underestimate the LA Dojo.
McGuire’s Musings: This surprised me. This surprised me a lot. It has felt for weeks as though Fredericks was getting a significant push in the NJPW Strong world, and to see him take this loss was unexpected. Narita has been working his ass off, though, so I can’t take issue with it. Plus, this was obviously a conduit for the Rosser vs. Narita showdown that’s been brewing for weeks. At the expense of Fredericks, though? I don’t know if I agree with that.
In all, this was a very good episode of Strong. All the matches are worth your time and if you have an hour to spare this weekend while you’re consuming college or professional football, look this episode up. I’d actually argue that between this and AEW’s Rampage, this was the better show. But maybe you disagree. If so, let me know. My audio reviews of NJPW Strong are available on Saturdays for Dot Net Members.