Port Hueneme, CA – 12.18.2020
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Rocky Romero vs. Danny Limelight
Limelight pinned Romero at the Super J-Cup after Kratos gave him a wheelbarrow suplex. Romero attacks before the bell. During his forever clotheslines, Limelight drags Romero to the floor, sends him into the ring post, and stomps on his left arm. Limelight mocks Romero with his own forever clotheslines after working over his arm, and an offended Romero explodes out of the corner with a clothesline of his own. With one arm Romero tears into Limelight as best he can, even able to land a double stomp on the middle rope. Limelight blocks a shiranui with a half-nelson suplex. Limelight applies a top wrist lock on the apron, though Romero gets the ropes to escape. When Romero kicks out of a spin kick to the head, Limelight tries a springboard Romero dropkicks Limelight out of mid-air and hits a running Shiranui for two. Limelight holds Romero’s tights in a schoolboy pin. Romero is able to kick out and knee Limelight in the chin. He taps out Limelight at 9:18 with the Diablo armbar. I found myself rooting for Romero to get revenge on Limelight which speaks to the success of their rivalry. Limelight was smart, but Romero was just a bit quicker and smarter than he was, and finally got shut up the punk kid who’s been bad mouthing him for months. This was good as I expected it would be, and wholly satisfying. ***
Jeff Cobb vs. Rust Taylor
Taylor decided to go after Cobb’s left arm when he caught a standing moonsault attempt. His approach was more methodical and acute than his partner, Limelight, in the previous match, but he couldn’t help but mock his opponent just like Limelight did with Romero. Cobb clobbers Taylor in the face with forearms and uppercuts to make up the deficit. After the Spin Cycle, Cobb successfully executes the standing moonsault for two. Taylor decides to go for an ankle lock and gets kicked away. Cobb also ducks a clothesline and German suplexes Taylor. He pulls up Taylor into the Tour of the Islands for the pin at 8:07. I liked the more technical style these two implemented, as not only are they good at it, but it was very different from everything else on the card. A little more energy and a finish that played off the work put in would’ve made this even better. **½
Fred Rosser & PJ Black vs. Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & JR Kratos)
Fun to see the former Nexus partners reunited. Lawlor has fun as he keeps Black trapped in his corner of the ring. Black escapes an ankle lock from Lawlor, but Kratos pounces Black right away to stop him from tagging out. Eventually, Black captures Lawlor with a spinwheel kick and tags in Lawlor. Rosser brings the same intensity to Lawlor that he did during their epic on Episode 15, but Kratos surprises him with a big boot to shut him down. Rosser however shoves Kratos into the ring post. In the ring Lawlor gets Rosser in an ankle lock. Rosser escapes and goes for the Gut Check. Lawlor escapes that and delivers an exploder suplex. With both men exhausted, Black and Kratos are tagged back in. Rosser helps with a Total Elimination and Lawlor breaks up the pin. Rosser maneuvers Lawlor so that Lawlor kicks Kratos in the face. Rosser gives Kratos the Gut Check, and Black follows up with the Placebo Effect for the pin at 8:09. Interesting that Team Filthy went 0-3 on this night, but I think it shows that aside from Lawlor, they’re stronger together than apart. It’s also natural that two guys who teamed for years would be able to best a relatively new duo. This had the good kind of chaotic energy and was very fun to watch. ***
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship #1 Contendership Briefcase
KENTA vs. Brody King
This is KENTA’s fourth defense of the briefcase. King earned this opportunity after pinning KENTA with a Ganso Bomb two weeks ago. King’s size has KENTA so shook he looks for a foreign object under the ring early on but can’t find anything. KENTA is splashed and beaten, so he implements the strategy of exiting the ring repeatedly and making King follow him. It pays off for KENTA as he snaps King’s neck across the top rope from the floor and then chop blocks his left knee out from underneath him. After doing more damage to his knee, KENTA lands three rolling back chops to the head. King mauls KENTA with a corner clothesline and running lariat for two, having to hold onto his leg after KENTA kicks out. KENTA goes to King’s eyes to get off of his shoulders. He snaps King’s neck on the top rope and gives him a dragonscrew leg whip. King grabs the ropes to escape KENTA’s figure four leg lock. King pulls KENTA to the apron to avoid the Green Killer. KENTA kicks out King’s bad knee and delivers the Green Killer DDT for two. As King is taking slaps to the face, King pulls KENTA into a Black Hole Slam. He then gives KENTA a piledriver for two. KENTA escapes the Ganso Bomb and shoves King into the referee. KENTA kicks King in the groin and blasts him in the head with the briefcase twice. KENTA adds a PK and Go 2 Sleep for good measure and pins King at 14:16. This was a slightly more interesting version of KENTA’s briefcase defense against Jeff Cobb, and it stands to reason KENTA would use a similar strategy for King that he did Cobb. The problem is, the Cobb match wasn’t good. This ended up being “just” good. I know these two have a good slugfest in them, this just wasn’t the right time for it. **½
KENTA says he’s tired of wasting time. He’s ready to fight Jon Moxley for the IWGP U.S. Championship anytime, anywhere, and warns Moxley that he is coming for him.