NJPW: Lion’s Break Collision #1

Port Hueneme, CA – 7.3.2020

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton & Gino Gambino.

We start the show with a virtual interview between Kevin Kelly and Karl Fredericks. Fredericks won the 2019 New Japan Young Lions Cup League tournament, and was ready to enter his first New Japan Cup before COVID shut down everything. In the meantime, Fredericks had a shoulder injury he’s been able to recover from, and has been given the greenlight from New Japan LA Dojo trainer Katsuyori Shibata to add some flavor to the standard Young Lions black trunks and boots attire. This can be seen in Frederick’s dyed hair and gold feather earring in his left ear. He’s teamed with TJP in the Dojo and is hoping to make a statement against Jeff Cobb in tonight’s main event, as Cobb also was set to be in this year’s New Japan Cup tournament.

Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors

Coughlin and Connors are both LA Dojo students. The fact that Connors has knee pads and Coughlin does not is emblematic of Connors’ experience advantage, as you must “earn” knee pads during your tenure as a young lion. Connors targets Fredericks’ ankle, while Coughlin goes after Connors’ left knee which is bandaged up. Connors also pummels and wears down Coughlin’s back during the contest. Coughlin almost has Connors submitted in a top wrist lock, but Connors is able to get his left foot on the ropes to escape. Connors escapes a chinlock and catches Coughlin off guard with a running shoulder block. Coughlin uses a few different slams to wear down Connors before applying stretch to his bandaged knee and left arm. A two minute time limit is given as Connors makes his way to the ropes. Connors catches Coughlin with a powerslam and locks him in a Boston Crab, the calling guard of the LA Dojo. His left arm is in too much pain to keep it fully applied, so he switches to a half crab, which Coughlin escapes with a rope break. Connors tries a desperation spear as the thirty second warning is given, which Coughlin avoids. He gives Connors a gutwrench slam for two. Connors goes for an armbreaker as the 10:00 time limit expires. Time limit expirations in your first match is a bold choice, especially since I think establishing some sort of hierarchy amongst the LA Dojo outside of their slight attire differences would have been ideal. Despite that, Coughlin and Connors provided a technically proficient and engaging match that was emblematic of the style of wrestling Shibata teaches. **½

Jeff Cobb & Rocky Romero vs. TJP & Karl Fredericks

Although Frdericks still has the LA Dojo in his tron video, he has graduated to his own red and white attire with tassels on his knee pads and boots. TJP has a theme by Megaran that slaps; Romero’s self-sung theme slaps too. TJP snaps Romero’s arm in the early going. Fredericks can’t help but attack Cobb on the apron in the process of striking and stomping Romero. This self-distraction allows Romero to clobber Fredericks in the chin with a knee strike. Cobb mauls Fredericks and with Romero’s assistance keeps him trapped in their half of the ring. Fredericks is able to tag out when he catches Romero with a spinebuster. Cobb saves Romero from TJP’s Detonation kick, but TJP uses a London bridge to take both of them down, and scores a nearfall on Romero with a tiger gutbuster. TJP escapes a vertical suplex from Cobb and roundhouse kicks him in the chin. Fredericks gives a good fight to Cobb but is ultimately knocked down with a big dropkick. Romero takes down Fredericks with a standing shiranui and TJP breaks up the pin. TJP wipes out Cobb on the floor with a springboard dropkick, but Romero dropkicks TJP out right after. Fredericks blocked Romero’s standing shiranui twice, the second time with a backslide which got him the pin at 10:18. Fredericks and Cobb come to blows after the bell and have to be separated by their partners. I really like that this match set up an issue between Fredericks and Cobb, giving me something to look forward to in the forthcoming weeks. TJP and Romero have wrestled each other dozens of times, so they had really strong interactions as well, making this entire package a lot of fun to watch and a strong way to end the debut episode of Lion’s Break Collision. ***

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