NJPW STRONG #23 – Lion’s Break: Contender Part 1

Port Hueneme, CA – 1.15.2021

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.

Barrett Brown vs. Misterioso

This is Brown’s return after a 12 episode hiatus. Barrett is the one pulling off the Lucha offense early, incorporating a wheelbarrow armdrag and Frankensteiner to take Misterioso outside. Misterioso however catches a Bermuda triangle and lawn darts him into a ring post. Misterioso almost scores two with a double knee corner attack. Brown nails an enzuigiri to create distance, then hip tosses Misterioso into the corner when he comes charging. Misterioso is able to catch Brown’s flying Frankensteiner attempt, but Brown escapes his powerbomb attempt and wipes out Misterioso with a Sick Kick. Misterioso gets his knees up to block a Swanton. Brown grabs the ropes to avoid the MSO. He uses the ropes to spike Misterioso with a reverse Frankensteiner, then spikes him face first with a wheelbarrow facebuster for two. Misterioso halts Brown on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a reverse superplex for the pin at 7:55. Misterioso is far from my favorite, but he and Brown had really good chemistry and brought out the best in one another. Brown is someone who doesn’t get the love he deserves. **¼

Kevin Kelly interviews Fred Rosser who is happy to be in New Japan and is looking to make it a permanent home. He doesn’t really say much else outside of general hard work cliches.

TJP vs. Adrian Quest

Finally a singles match between two people who have had wonderful chemistry in multi-man bouts. A torneo elbow smash catches TJP by surprise in the corner. TJP catches Quest in a tree of woe, stomping on Quest a few times before delivering a sliding dropkick. TJP drop toe holds Quest into a dropkick to the top of his head for two. Quest escapes a hammerlock and tries a Frankensteiner. TJP pulls Quest down into a Muta Lock instead. He outstretches Quest’s arms before snapping his left arm and landing a slingshot senton. Quest roundhouse kicks TJP to the floor and Asai moonsaults after him. In the ring he takes down TJP with a flying Frankensteiner and lands a running shooting star press. TJP knees his way out of a brainbuster. Quest catches him with another Frankensteiner and goes up top. TJP crotches him on the top turnbuckle. Quest tosses him down but misses a Phoenix Splash. TJP hits the Mamba Splash for the pin at 8:41. This was about as great as I expected. It was nonstop action with some really creative moments. Quest is someone else who deserves more love. ***¼

ACH, Blake Christian & Fred Rosser vs. BULLET CLUB (KENTA, El Phantasmo & Hikuleo)

ACH wipes out KENTA and Phantasmo with dropkicks. Hikuleo blasts him with a big boot while KENTA and Phantasmo pull Rosser and Christian to the floor and pummel them. BULLET CLUB beat down ACH in their corner until he escapes a delayed vertical suplex from Hikuleo and kicks him in the side of the head from the mat. Rosser knocks Phantasmo and KENTA off the apron before slamming Hikuleo’s left leg into the ring post. A chop block and STF further hobbles the big man. Rosser also aids Christian with a DDT on Hikuleo. Phantasmo though pushes Christian off the top turnbuckle into a chokeslam from Hikuleo. The ring clears, leaving Phantasmo an opening to land a top rope splash onto Christian for two. Christian escapes CR II and sits down on Phantasmo’s chest for a two count. Phantasmo pulls the referee in the way and uses that distraction to blast Christian with a superkick and earn the pin at 10:29. Hikuleo inelegance in the ring is so glaring against opponents who are so quick and poised. Rosser gets some time to shine, and BULLET CLUB cheats their way to another team victory; the world keeps turning. **¾

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