Port Hueneme, CA – 9.11.2020
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
ACH & TJP vs. Adrian Quest & Logan Riegel
Sterling Riegel was still overseas for this episode as well. Truthfully, his absence made me understand why often when someone’s tag partner is gone, WWE tends to leave the other team member off of TV, because they do feel fairly listless without their partner unless given something substantial (see: Jey Uso during the pandemic.) This was mostly just a showcase for TJP and ACH, though TJP and Quest have excellent chemistry so I never mind watching them against one another. TJP double stomped Quest out of a tree of woe for two. Quest’s ribs took further damage when ACH got his knees up to block a second rope Phoenix Splash. Although Quest kicked out of that, ACH capitalized after that with a frog splash for the pin at 9:23. Quest has grown into one of my favorite competitors on STRONG, so having him show some determination en route to defeat is something in which I am appreciative. **½
Rocky Romero vs. Danny Limelight
Despite Romero being complimentary towards him on social media, Limelight threw some insults at Romero a couple weeks ago, so now we’ll see how he fairs against the New Japan stalwart. Both men did a little showboating, but it never disrupted their offensive flow. Romero worked over Limelight’s arm with kicks, and Limelight wore down his neck. Romero blocked the Symbiote DDT and then hit a running Shiranui for two. Romero then Falcon Arrowed Limelight into a cross armbreaker, getting the submission victory at 8:12. I expected that based on their similar styles and statures they would make for good opponents, and that ended up being the case. You also got the sense both men came in with something to prove: Limelight wanting to prove he could hang Romero, and Romero shutting down Limelight’s cocky claims against him. Romero however gave Limelight an applause post-match, and it seemed certain this would not be the last time they would interact with one another. ***¼
David Finlay & PJ Black vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
This match was mostly G.O.D. beating up Finlay. Black got a chance for a comeback, but was shut down when going for a 450 splash with Tonga crotching him on the top turnbuckle. G.O.D. dropped Finlay with Guerilla Warfare. Black took out Tonga with a flying dropkick, but Loa caught his springboard maneuver with a running Samoan Drop. Loa then dropped him with a Rikishi Driver for the pin at 9:24. This was a perfectly cromulent tag match, but G.O.D. just do not excite me. At least they won fair and square. **
We get a recap of the New Japan Cup finals in Japan, which EVIL won, and then joined BULLET CLUB after the fact. He then went on to win the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles from his former LIJ partner Tetsuya Naito at “Dominion.” BULLET CLUB also won the first ever New Japan Cup USA tournament, with KENTA defeating David Finlay in the Finals. This is another step in BULLET CLUB’s world domination. Like the G1 Winner defends their #1 contendership briefcase for an IWGP Heavyweight Championship opportunity, KENTA will defend his #1 contendership briefcase for the IWGP United States Championship tonight.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship #1 Contendership Briefcase
KENTA vs. Jeff Cobb
This is KENTA’s first defense of the briefcase. Cobb manhandled KENTA after his tournament win, proclaiming he deserved a shot at the briefcase because KENTA cheated (low blow) to beat him in the semi-finals. Apparently the NJPW brain trust agreed with Cobb. After some stalling, KENTA attacked Cobb’s bandaged up left knee. Cobb made an opening to pummel KENTA down in the corner, but wasn’t able to get much momentum for a corner clothesline. KENTA simply dropkicks Cobb’s knee and turns things back in his favor immediately. Cobb is able to kick out of the Dream Killer, and use KENTA’s charge to pop him up into a Samoan Drop. KENTA pulls the referee in the way when Cobb charges which knocks him down. Cobb ducks a chair shot attempt from KENTA and spins him into a slam, but of course the referee is still down. KENTA kicks Cobb in the dick, and Cobb hits Tour of the Islands, but his dick is too hurt to cover right away. When he does cover, the referee crawls over and begins to count, only for Chase Owens to pull him out of the ring. Owens pummels Cobb and then grabs the briefcase. Cobb avoids Owens hitting him with it, but KENTA hits Cobb from behind with the briefcase. KENTA then delivers a PK, and a new referee comes out to count the fall for KENTA after he hits Go 2 Sleep at 17:57. A lot of leg work and a short comeback mixed with the typical BULLET CLUB nonsense made for a very disappointing main event, and does not make me hopeful for KENTA’s future briefcase defenses. Maybe Cobb really was hurt and they had to improvise, but even so, 18 minutes for where we ended up was groan inducing. *½