NJPW STRONG #11 – NEVER 2020 Part 1

Port Hueneme, CA – 10.16.2020

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.

This week and next are the NEVER tour. The NEVER titles are openweight championships, so that matches on these cards are designed to mix the junior heavyweights and heavyweights. It’s not as if STRONG to this point held these divisions sacred, but it’s a cute theme nonetheless.

Misterioso vs. Danny Limelight

Misterioso drives Limelight back first into the ring post when Limelight attempts a pescado. Limelight eats some superkicks back in the ring, but is able to get his feet up when Misterioso attempts a moonsault and blasts him in the face. Misterioso avoids being spinned after a spin kick to the back of the head. Misterioso blocks Limelight’s brainbuster and delivers his backbreaker which is apparently called the MSO for the pin at 6:10. Pretty wack for Limelight to lose the finals of the Lion’s Break: Crown tournament and then lose to one of the more overrated competitors on STRONG the next episode. Maybe it leads somewhere but otherwise this loss is truly perplexing. *

TJP vs. Hikuleo

TJP attacks Hikuleo’s arms in an attempt to lessen the size difference between the two of them. Hikuleo’s power would allow him to throw TJP to escape his submission holds. TJP caught Hikuleo with a springboard dropkick to the side of the head, leading to a springboard DDT for a two count. TJP tries to counter a chokeslam attempt into an armbar, only for Hikuleo to counter that into a double choke bomb for two. A snap slam and the GunSlinger gets Hikuleo the pin at 8:24. That was a totally solid story but it felt like a long eight minutes. **

PJ Black vs. Alex Zayne

As you would imagine, these two are very well matched in the speed department. Black decides to attack Zayne’s forehead, including an embarrassing pendulum stretch that sees Black repeatedly pound Zayne’s head into the corner buckle pad. As Black came off the top with a double axe handle, Zayne caught him in mid air with a jump-up gamengiri. Zayne took Black down with a jump-up Frankensteiner, but Black rolled through and held on, dropping Zayne with a Styles Clash for two. Zayne came back with the Baja Blast and Taco Driver for his own two count. Black was able to catch Zayne twice on the top rope, first with a Frankensteiner, and then again with a Spanish Fly. After rolling to the apron, Zayne enzuigiri’s Black. He then hits the Crunchwrap Supreme for the closest nearfall of the match yet. They fight on the top rope. Black knocks Zayne down, then moves to the apron to hit the Placebo Effect. Stunned that Zayne kicked out, Black dropped Zayne with the Bad Habit (Black Tornado Driver) for the pin at 10:21. Stylistically speaking, this was the best pairing on the show so far. You also had the narrative of the more experienced Black’s confidence slip as the match progressed, especially as Zayne’s kick outs piled up. I think Zayne may have had more to gain from a win, but I get Black is doing more as a singles competitor than Zayne at this time, so it’s probably fine. ***¼

David Finlay & Jeff Cobb vs. BULLET CLUB (KENTA & Chase Owens)

Despite BULLET CLUB sneak attacking him at the beginning, Cobb is able to fight back against them both. That is until Owens chop blocks Cobb’s previously injured left knee. KENTA then allows himself to be tagged in to assist in reaggravating Cobb’s injury, antagonizing Finlay in the process. Cobb finally tags out by using his right leg to push Owens over the top rope and to the floor. Finlay and KENTA come to blows, and Finlay dropkicks Owens when he attempts to interject. Finally wears down KENTA with uppercuts but is taken down with a snap powerslam. Cobb is taken back down in the corner by Owens. He hits the Doppler Effect for two as KENTA ends up on the floor with Finlay. Finlay takes down KENTA and gives Owens a uranage backbreaker. Moments later Finlay saves Cobb from being pinned by Owens with the Eye of the Hurricane. KENTA tackles Finlay to the floor and signals to Owens he will keep Finlay at bay. Cobb however catches Owens on the rebound with the Tour of the Islands for the pin at 9:44, with Finlay preventing KENTA from interjecting in the pin. I like that, as Cobb finally gets his revenge on BULLET CLUB, and Finlay can hold another victory over KENTA’s head as they head towards a singles bout. Both the wrestling and story were totally solid, making for a satisfying main event. ***

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