NJPW STRONG #18 – Road to Detonation 2020 Part 2

Port Hueneme, CA – 12.4.2020

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.

The DKC vs. Sterling Riegel

Last week saw Clark Connors with the DKC in his corner face Logan Riegel with Sterling Riegel in his corner, and now the roles are flipped. DKC controls Sterling on the mat. Back on their feet, he pulls Sterling back down into an armbar. Sterling gets the ropes to escape, then sends DKC out and follows with a suicide dive. Sterling nails DKC with a missile dropkick inside the ring. Sterling keeps on DKC until he misses a moonsault, hurting his left leg upon landing. DKC capitalizes with a Baba Chop and forearm smash. Sterling double stomps DKC’s back and lands a standing moonsault to the back for two. DKC catches Sterling in a clutch when Sterling comes off the top rope. Sterling rolls DKC up onto his shoulders, pinning him at 8:22. This was clumsy and the action had little rhythm. I like both guys but this was not good. *

Alex Zayne vs. Blake Christian

These two are best friends and have competed with and against each other all across the country. However, this is only their fourth singles match. They’re obviously capable of some incredible high-flying offense and moving at incredible speed, but what made it so enjoyable was the attitude of Zayne. For whatever reason he carried himself with an heir of superiority, lazily pinning Christian to start, and slapping Christian across the face with a smile after taking him down with a front flip axe kick. Christian would shut him up quickly after with a back handspring into a reverse spike Frankensteiner. More impressive offense follows from them both, with Zayne finally pinning Christian with the Crunchwrap Supreme at 8:43. The only criticism I have is that this was not as great as some of their other matches, which had the significant element of hot crowds to elevate them. If you’ve never seen those matches, though, this is state of the art high-flying wrestling. This would be Zayne’s final match before signing with WWE. As of this writing, however, Zayne is no longer with WWE, so hopefully we will see him back on STRONG sooner than later. ***

Elimination Match
ACH, Brody King, David Finlay, Juice Robinson & Karl Fredericks vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, KENTA, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Hikuleo)

Eliminations can occur by pinfall, submission, count out, or by being thrown over the top rope and both feet touching the floor. All of the BULLET CLUB attack King from behind and try to eliminate him right away. Instead, King’s partners save him, and then with King eliminate Hikuleo at 0:53. Their team ends up beating down Jay White in their corner, with Finlay especially enjoying hurting his former Dojo mate. KENTA cheap shots Finlay from the apron, allowing White to throw down Finlay by his hair. The BULLET CLUB beat down Finlay in their corner, but failed to throw him to the floor. Finlay hits Loa with a back elbow off the second rope and finally tags out to ACH. ACH and Fredericks turn things around for their team, with Fredericks pummeling KENTA, who famously betrayed his turn Katsuyori Shibata to join BULLET CLUB. Fredericks almost had him tossed over the top rope, but White from behind tossed Fredericks over as KENTA low bridged the top rope, eliminating Fredericks at 9:51. Tonga throws Robinson over the top and dropkicks him when Robinson holds onto the ropes, eliminating him at 11:21. ACH sends Tonga to the apron and eliminates him with an enzuigiri at 11:34. Jay White then tosses ACH over the top at 11:48. Tonga and ACH fight on the floor. Finlay Cactus clotheslines White to the floor at 12:07, saving himself on the apron. Loa though quickly knocks him off the apron at 12:11. This leaves Brody King alone with Loa and KENTA. King fights them both off and eliminates Loa with a clothesline at 13:16. KENTA tries to sneak up on King but gets caught. King hits KENTA with a lariat and pins him with a Ganso Bomb at 13:51. I love that every elimination in this match was due to someone being tossed over the top rope, except for King emphatically pinning the IWGP U.S. Contract holder to win the match. That asserts him as a contender to the briefcase right away, and makes him even more of a threat than an over the top elimination would have. This was a slight step down from Episode 10’s elimination match because they rushed basically all but one of the eliminations. Thankfully, what mattered most felt important, but the rest of the match was superfluous. **¾

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