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Hamilton’s New Japan Strong (Road to Strong Style Evolved 2021) 3.05.2021 Review

March 6, 2021 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
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Hamilton’s New Japan Strong (Road to Strong Style Evolved 2021) 3.05.2021 Review  

NJPW Strong Quick Results

Karl Fredericks & Alex Coughlin pinned Kevin Knight & Clark Connors in 12:48 (***¼)
New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: Tom Lawlor pinned The DKC in 9:13 (***¼)
New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: Lio Rush pinned Rocky Romero in 13:57 (***½)

— If you’re on Twitter, give me a follow over on @IanWrestling – and check out the GoFundMe that’s still open for Larry’s family.

We open with a video promoting tonight’s main event – the qualifier between Rocky Romero and Lio Rush. Rocky tells us if he wins the New Japan Cup USA, he’ll go for the IWGP junior title, rather than Jon Moxley’s US title…

Cue titles, cue Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov in studio… there’s an advert for the Strong Spirits game that was announced earlier this year, and some guard rails too in the background. I think this may be a new set of tapings? We get a video hyping up the “prestiguous” New Japan Cup USA tournament… and then it’s off to the races.

Clark Connors & Kevin Knight vs. Karl Fredericks & Alex Coughlin
We’ve got a new NJPW Strong canvas… and a pair of graduates & young lion teams. This was Coughlin’s first match on NJPW Strong (he’d appeared on the predecessors, Lion’s Break Collision), while Fredericks was also making a return from injury having last been on the show in December. Coughlin and Connors got into it before the bell. He’s fed up of Clark teleporting his hand into pots of boiling water every week…

Knight and Coughlin start us off, trading wristlocks before Knight got rolled to the mat. Knight replies by taking it to the corner as the pair go back and forth on uppercuts. Stomps from Coughlin have Knight down, but Knight’s back with a big hiptoss for a two-count as Coughlin just bridges out of the pin.

Coughlin avoids a stomp and rolls in with a knee bar on Knight, before tags bring in Connors and Fredericks. A lock-up has Clark in the ropes as Fredericks pushes on with a side headlock, which led to shoulder tackles as misdirection leads to Fredericks cracking Connors with an elbow. Clark shrugs it off and starts with chops, but Fredericks replies in kind before an attempted stalling dropkick in the corner was leapt over.

A leapfrog/crossbody from Fredericks is caught as Connors almost slams him for the win. Knight’s back with a snapmare and a diving shoulder tackle for a one-count as Karl’s shoulder was getting targeted. Knight misses a dropkick and gets kicked around by Fredericks and Coughlin. Coughlin tags back in for an elevated wristlock slam for a near-fall, before a bridging bow-and-arrow hold saw him bend Knight into weird shapes. Knight flips free and takes the guard, but Coughlin grabs some headscissors and tags out to Fredericks, who resumes the upper hand with a slam and an elbow drop.

More kicks from Fredericks rock Knight, but Knight eventually snaps and slams Fredericks back. Tags bring us back to Connors and Coughlin who light each other up before a POUNCE from Connors knocks Coughlin into the corner. Connors misses a charge into the corner as Fredericks tries to capitalise… but the ring fills up as Coughlin… side Saltos both Connors and Knight. MY GOD.

Connors elbows free and returns with a spear to Coughlin, as tags bring us back to Fredericks and Knight. They trade elbows before a HUGE dropkick from Knight took down Fredericks for a delayed one-count. A Boston crab follows, but Fredericks gets to the rope as Knight began to stomp on the injured lower back. Fredericks goes for a suplex but gets cradled for a two-count as Knight began to spam the near-falls… before a spinebuster from Fredericks turned it back around. Coughlin HURLS Connors with a fallaway slam, taking him to the outside, before Knight’s fightback ended with him getting muscled into the Manifest Destiny DDT as Fredericks gets the win. A very spirited tag match between the LA Dojo lads, with the returning Coughlin looking mighty impressive on his return. Well worth your time. ***¼

The post-match stuff has Alex Coughlin hyped up about returning after 7 months out and coming through a dark period of his career.

New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: The DKC vs. Tom Lawlor
The DKC’s only won against fellow Young Lions here, and I don’t expect that record to change here as Filthy Tom Lawlor’s doing the Iron Sheik club gimmick before the match. Show-off.

Lawlor just boots DKC down at the bell, then went looking for Kevin Kelly… that self-made distraction gives DKC an opening, but he’s just taken outside, and recovers with a slam on the floor. Back inside, Lawlor swings for a clothesline but gets caught with a backfist before DKC slammed him again.

A fist drop from DKC gets a two-count, as did a Northern lights suplex, but Lawlor strikes back as he hit a waistlock takedown to throw DKC into the corner. Kicks keep DKC in the corner, while a back suplex began to shut the door on DKC’s chances… but he kicks out at two and keeps on going. Lawlor DDT’s the knee and keeps hold of the leg as DKC needs to roll to the ropes for a break.

A front chancery from Lawlor leads to a suplex that ragdolled DKC for a near-fall, before a submission attempt led to some cravat knees. DKC escapes a slam and goes for a rear naked choke, but Lawlor swiftly escapes with a side Russian legsweep and turns into a Figure Four as Kevin Kelly’s gag sailed over Alex Koslov’s head. Lawlor looks to control the arm and really tie up DKC, but he can’t prevent a rope break as DKC was being annoyingly persistent. Elbows from DKC offer hope, but Lawlor pushes away only to have to defend a guillotine, which is turned into a suplex as DKC picked up a rare two-count. A running kick from DKC is caught as Lawlor lifts him up into almost a powerbomb, only for DKC to come back with almost a desperation cross armbar.

DKC tries to turn it over into a triangle, but Lawlor rolls free and hits an inverted bodyslam… then dropped DKC with a sleeper hold a la Shibata before a PK booked Filthy’s spot in the New Japan Cup. A good, persistent showing from DKC here, but Lawlor had way too much in the tank as it was always going to be a matter of when, not if for Lawlor. ***¼

Time to plug some stuff that we’ll never get… Alex Coughlin’s still getting his hand put in boiling water.

New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: Lio Rush vs. Rocky Romero
Commentary painted this as a potential Best of the Super Junior match… they’re not wrong.

Rush tentatively locks up with Romero to start, but needs to get up off the mat as they exchange standing switches ahead of some wristlocks. A drop toe hold from Rush has Rocky down, but he finds more luck with a side headlock as he began to control the pace.

Another tie-up leads to Rocky pushing off Rush… but they trade shoulder tackles and dropkicks before a low dropkick from Rocky allowed him to roll up Rush for a two-count. An up kick from Rush catches out Rocky ahead of a dropkick for a two-count, before shoulder charges take Rocky into the corner.

Rocky tries to fight back with chops, but Rush replies in kind before he got caught with a kick. He’s back with one of his own as both men went tit-for-tat, leading to a rear spin kick from Rocky for a near-fall. Focusing on the arm, Rocky takes Rush into the corner and drops a knee onto the arm and shoulder as stomps keep Rush on the back foot.

Uppercuts knock Rush into the corner, as Rocky wrings the arm some more… but he’s rolled up as Rush responds with an enziguiri. A handspring attempt from Rush is rudely stopped as Rocky kicks out the arm, before he’s thrown through the ropes for a springboard dropkick to the arm.

Rocky looks to put Rush away with a Shiranui, but Rush blocks it… only to get caught with Forever clotheslines in the corner. He stops those with a clothesline of his own, before a Falcon arrow nearly did the deal. Rocky grabs Lio’s ankle as he went for the ropes. Lio’s able to fight free with an axe kick, but a leaping knee from Rocky and a running Shiranui dropped Rush for a near-fall by the ropes.

Rush kicks out and comes back with a running death valley driver, almost putting Rocky away before the pair went back to trading elbow strikes. The exchange of strikes leads to Rocky getting tripped for a spinning kick to the head, before a rebound stunner was caught and turned into a backslide for a near-fall. Rocky keeps going for the near-falls… but in the end he’s caught with a reversal as an inside cradle puts him away. All steak with little sizzle, this was one of those matches that would have been buoyed along with a crowd – but Rush outdoing the veteran Romero puts him in good stead for the New Japan Cup. ***½

Next week, Fred Rosser meets J.R. Kratos in qualifier as the show came to a rather abrupt close – with some speculating that this may have been where a controversial (and since-dropped) appearance was meant to have been.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A new set of tapings brings a fresh impetus to New Japan Strong - but the return of yet-another-tournament may jade fans who feel like this show has been mostly tournaments since its inception. Three very strong matches on tap make this a pretty easy watch as the US-arm of New Japan continues to roll along.

article topics :

NJPW Strong, Ian Hamilton