NJPW STRONG #31 – Road to Strong Style Evolved 2021 Part 2

Port Hueneme, CA – 3.12.2021

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.

The Riegel Twins (Logan & Sterling Riegel) vs. Adrian Quest & Barrett Brown

The Riegel Twins’ Brody King tribute now includes upper body suits covered in tattoos, akin to King’s real ink. We are reminded of Brown’s frustrated post-match diatribe from three weeks ago. Quest almost pins Sterling with a seatbelt clutch in the opening exchange. Sterling schoolboys Brown into a seated dropkick after ducking some offense. Brown is beaten down in the Riegel’s corner until Brown dumps Sterling on his head with a half-nelson suplex. Quest high crossbodys Sterling and gets two with a belly-to-back suplex. Quest and Brown have Sterling isolated, but when Brown insists on tagging himself in when Quest has things in control, Sterling escapes their grasp and tags in Logan. Logan wipes out Brown with a suicide dive on the floor. Back inside, Brown charges out of desperation. As he’s running, Sterling spikes him with a DDT and Quest has to break his pin on Brown. The Riegel’s capture Quest’s crossbody tand give him a tandem fallaway slam. Brown Japanese armdrags one of the Riegel’s into the corner, then suplexes the other one onto him. Brown is poised to dive but Quest lands a springboard senton onto both of them. Brown is too upset by Quest “stealing” his moment to capitalize quickly, and finds himself caught in an inside cradle by one of the Riegel’s for the pin at 11:33. This was a rock solid match, with the Riegel’s ascent continuing and Brown’s eagerness to break his streak of losses backfiring. Quest is great in any role and this was no different. **¾

New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifying Match
Jordan Clearwater vs. Hikuleo

Hikuleo’s aggression is thwarted when Clearwater moves an attack on the floor and Hikuleo comes crashing shoulder first into the ring post. That becomes Clearwater’s target back inside the ring. Clearwater misses a running boot which gets him stuck in the middle rope. Hikuleo kicks the ropes into his crotch and throws him down to the mat. He sends Clearwater shoulder first hard into the buckles. Hikuleo baits Clearwater into a chop battle, with Hikuleo grounding Clearwater after two overhand chops for a nearfall. Hikuleo evades a bulldog but succumbs to a running neckbreaker. Hikuleo avoids a running boot. He goozles Clearwater with his healthy arm. Clearwater escapes and knocks Hikuleo onto one knee with a rolling clothesline. He goes for another running boot. Hikuleo cuts him off with a powerslam for two. The Tongan Driller gets Hikuleo the pin at 7:57. This is the most engaged I’ve ever been with a Hikuleo singles match. His and Clearwater’s dynamic really worked for me, as he seemed plenty formidable for the big man. Color me surprised. ***

New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifying Match
Fred Rosser vs. JR Kratos

Rosser is careful to approach Kratos. It unfortunately doesn’t do much good, as Kratos completely dominates him. When Rosser tries luring him to the outside, Kratos throws him face first into the ring frame and pulls up part of the ring mat to expose the floor underneath. Rosser is saved from feeling the floor, but Kratos’ onslaught does not stop. Rosser throws a flurry of shots at Kratos and tackles him back to the outside. Rosser then lands a seated senton off of the ring apron twice. Kratos crawls into the ring just before the twenty count. Rosser immediately clotheslines Kratos in the back of his head before taking him down with another clothesline for two. Rosser seats himself on the top turnbuckle as he throws shots. Kratos amazingly hits an enzuigiri from the floor and then brings down Rosser with a superplex. Kratos looks for another superplex. Rosser slides out from underneath and brings Kratos down with a Gut Check for two. Rosser attempts a back suplex on the apron. Kratos escapes and gives Rosser a jumping knee strike before clotheslining Rosser back into the ring. When Kratos tries the wheelbarrow suplex, Rosser schoolboys Kratos and gets the pin at 14:16. This was really intense and fun to watch, very akin to Rosser’s battle he had with Tom Lawlor that I loved. Rosser wrestled a smart match, and those smarts placed him in a right place, right time scenario. I think if they ended with the Gut Check my rating would’ve been ever higher. I’d be so down for a rematch, and I’m going to need people to start giving Rosser the love he deserves. ***½

Hikuleo attacks Rosser after the bell. Kratos decides to give Rosser a rolling clothesline too. Hikuleo tells Rosser he wants him in the first round of the New Japan Cup. We knew this feud wasn’t over after their first match, but after that banger, for Rosser to go back to someone he had a far inferior match with is in no way tantalizing.

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