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Hamilton’s New Japan Strong (Fighting Spirit Unleashed – Night One) 09.05.2020 Review

September 5, 2020 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
New Japan Strong NJPW Fighting Spirit Unleashed Flip Gordon vs. Jay White
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Hamilton’s New Japan Strong (Fighting Spirit Unleashed – Night One) 09.05.2020 Review  

Quick Results

Fred Rosser & Alex Zayne pinned The DKC & Clark Connors in 7:40 (**¾)
Karl Fredericks pinned Misterioso in 6:50 (***)
Hikuleo pinned Brody King in 7:30 (***)
Jay White pinned Flip Gordon in 10:20 (***¼)

It’s straight in with the titles for New Japan Strong, as Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are back on commentary. They run down parts of the card, then throw to a video package highlighting some of the matches for New Japan Strong and Fighting Spirit Unleashed – including next week’s Cobb vs. KENTA match.

Clark Connors & The DKC vs. Fred Rosser & Alex Zayne

It’s a New Japan debut for Rosser – the former Darren Young – but it’s Zayne and DKC who start us off.

The pair go hold-for-hold early on, swapping between waistlocks and side headlocks, before the obligatory push-off led to shoulder tackles and armdrags. Zayne’s standing moonsault came up short, so DKC comes back in with a ‘rana before both men tagged in. In come Rosser and Connors, and we’re quickly going to ground with a side headlock takedown before Connors went back with a waistlock takedown.

Neither man can maintain control for long though, as Connors finds a way through with a hammerlock on the mat, but Rosser counters with a side headlock, then a cravat as he rolled Connors down for a two-count. We’re back with shoulder tackles as Connors gets dumped down… and that seemed to upset him as he ends up doing some Tama Tonga-ish misdirection before charging down Rosser.

A hotshot dumps Connors on the ropes next, before a stomp nearly put the Young Lion down for the count. Zayne tags in to hit a sidewalk slam/facebuster for a near-fall, before cornering Connors for an attempted shooting star knees to the back. Clark moves aside and returns with a scoop slam, as tags bring in the DKC, who runs wild with clotheslines.

DKC lands a dropkick to Zayne, then a neckbreaker off the middle rope, before Rosser tagged back in to help with a double suplex. Connors runs in to try and beat down Rosser, but Zayne just tosses him to the outside ahead of a springboard inside-out moonsault, while Rosser was used as a punching bag by DKC… only to catch him with the Gutcheck (double knee gutbuster) for the win. This was basic, but really solid as they put over the debuting Rosser. **¾

Backstage, Karl Fredericks has a headset for some pre-match comments ahead of his match with Misterioso. Kevin Kelly asks how he’s preparing – Karl’s still grumpy about losing in the New Japan Cup, so he’s going to take it out on Misterioso.

Misterioso vs. Karl Fredericks

We had a scrap after a tag match last week to set this up – but it’s a tentative start as the pair teased a lock-up, only for Fredericks to sting Misterioso with kicks early on.

A chop stings the masked man, who returns with a kick and a side headlock as Fredericks shoves off… but resists the resulting shoulder tackle. They see-saw off the ropes as Misterioso charges down Fredericks, but Karl catches a leapfrog and rolls him in for a Boston crab… but can’t quite turn him over as it ends in the ropes.

Misterioso low bridges Fredericks to the outside, then charged out with a tope con giro, before they returned to the ring. A gamengiri stops Fredericks before Misterioso took to the air for a crossbody for a near-fall. Some right hands help beat Fredericks into the corner, before a Fireman’s carry slam set up for a springboard flip senton that gets another two-count.

Stomps from Misterioso keep Karl down, but he begins to offer a fight back as he walked through elbow strikes, only to get squashed with a corner clothesline. Running double knees don’t help either, as Misterioso picked up another two-count, before Fredericks found a way back in with an overhead kick.

Fredericks adds to that with a Shibata-ish dropkick in the corner for a near-fall, before unleashing a barrage of strikes. Misterioso tries to cut him off with a back cracker, but Karl grabs the ropes and comes back with the MD implant DDT for the win. A pretty solid TV match, with Fredericks finally getting back on the board with a win. ***

Ad time – it’s that pretty cool soap sponge from LEC.

Hikuleo vs. Brody King

This was Hikuleo’s first singles match for New Japan since last year’s New Japan Cup – where he went out in the first round to Mikey Nicholls…

We start this hoss fight with Brody unloading on Hikuleo with elbows, but Hikuleo’s back with some of his own before he began to get chopped in the ropes. A crossbody from King takes him down for some more shots, as Hikuleo rolled to the outside, coming back to pull King outside, only to get thrown into the ringpost.

Hikuleo ducks a chop as Brody hit the post, before the pair brawled around ringside and back into the ring. Stomps keep King down, before he whipped him into the corner as an effortless slam and leaping frog splash almost got the win. A scoop slam off the ropes gets another near-fall for Hikuleo, before he removed the turnbuckle pad…

Rather than use the exposed corner immediately, Hikuleo stretches King with a chinlock, before Brodie blocked a throw into the corner. He fires back with elbows, then a corner clothesline before a Black Hole Slam connected for a near-fall.

The pair resume trading strikes, before King uncorked a big chop and a short piledriver for a near-fall. King looks for a Ganso bomb, but Hikuleo slips out and comes in with a swinging neckbreaker for a near-fall. King blocks another trip into the exposed corner, elbowing away at Hikuleo before he misses a charge… hitting the exposed corner before a uranage facebuster – the Gunslinger – hits for the win. A surprisingly dominant win for Hikuleo here, looking really good there in the hoss fight. ***

Flip Gordon vs. Jay White

Our evening’s main event could be a banana skin seeing how lightly Jay White’s treated Flip Gordon in the brief build-up to this.

White instantly rolls outside at the bell, then returned to tie up with Gordon as the pair headed to the ropes. A headlock takedown brings Flip to the mat, where White held on before Gordon fought up… only to get taken to the corner. Gordon gets free, shoving White into the ropes for a leapfrog and a dropkick, before a PK and a standing moonsault landed hard on White’s ribs for a near-fall.

White’s back as he kneed away on Gordon’s back, before he bundled him to the outside as White began to use the edge of the ring to charge Flip into. That gets White a two-count back inside, as did a neckbreaker, before a chinlock wore Flip down some more. Flip manages to fight free, and slips onto the apron ahead of a slingshot sunset flip, then a rear spin kick as he looked to put White away… but instead it’s a springboard spear that nearly put away the former IWGP champion.

Flip goes for a suplex, but White sandbags himself as Flip then ran into a Manhattan drop as a DDT followed up. A Bladebuster’s next for a near-fall, as White continues to push on, only for Gordon to surprise with an O’Connor roll for a near-fall. From the apron, Flip follows up with a springboard, but he’s caught and met with a uranage for a near-fall, as the momentum began to shift again.

A step-up knee catches White in the corner, as did a springboard kick on the top rope. White clings onto the rope to save himself, then shoved the ref into Gordon… but a clothesline misses as Flip instead does the deal with a Falcon arrow for a near-fall. Gordon almost snatches the win with a TKO, before a Pele kick took White down… but Jay bounces back with a sleeper suplex before a Blade Runner put away Gordon. It’s almost like that ten minute time count was the cue or something, given how quick the finish was – and this was a pretty solid match, just one that felt like it had little juice in the environment it’s in. ***¼

After the match, White declared he was done with his warm up, then told us we’d never find out who really leads Bullet Club because they don’t owe us any answers. It’s a promo that Alex Koslov called deranged, and I can’t disagree…

Kevin and Alex wrap up the show announcing that next week’s New Japan Strong will feature the Guerrillas of Destiny vs. David Finlay and PJ “I’m Not Juice Robinson” Black; Danny Limelight vs. Rocky Romero, plus KENTA vs. Jeff Cobb with the US title shot on the line.

The final score: review Average
The 411
NJPW Strong continues to offer a solid hour’s wrestling - but as it’s the last of the shows from the big companies that’s sticking to the empty arena, no fans or any kind of atmosphere format, it can be a bit of a slog to watch. Still, for 55 minutes, it’s a solid enough show to while away the time.