Port Hueneme, CA – 5.14.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Rocky Romero vs. AJZ
This is AJZ’s NJPW debut. That stands for Andreas John Ziegler, who I don’t think is related to Jake Ziegler, and he has primarily competed for OVW. AJZ comes off cocky, but a pop-up haymaker proved he was able to take care of business as well. Romero rides AJZ’s left arm into the mat with a falling knee strike, but AJZ is able to keep on top of Romero when he gets to his feet. After taking a short jab, Romero shoves AJZ to the apron. AJZ rakes Romero’s eyes and drops him with a slingshot DDT. Romero does jam AJZ’s arm over his shoulder, and ends up getting the double stomp on the middle rope he intended to go for earlier. Even with a hurt arm, AJZ is able to counter a Shiranui with a powerslam. AJZ goes for a springboard. Romero avoids it and rolls AJZ into a cross armbreaker. AJZ bites his hand to break free and drops Romero with a Gourd Buster. Romero slips off AJZ’s shoulder and pins him with a backslide at 10:56. I talk about how competitive people look with Romero, but this was a match where it felt like the opponent had Romero bested and Romero got lucky. It was an intriguing match to watch and made AJZ stand out. He put in a heck of a showing too, and I hope he comes back. ***
Fred Rosser & Lio Rush vs. BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo)
Rosser has had issues with Hikuleo, and Rush has had issues with Phantasmo, though the latter issue has cooled off considerably. BULLET CLUB’s double team is thwarted earlier and Phantasmo finds himself at Rush and Rosser’s mercy. Hikuleo has to grab Rosser’s foot from the floor to draw his attention away so that Phantasmo can attack from behind and turn the match in their favor. BULLET CLUB beats down Rosser until Hikuleo accidentally chops Phantasmo and Rosser belly-to-belly suplexes Phantasmo. Rush knocks down Phantasmo with a springboard back handspring. Phantasmo blocks The Come Up but is taken down by the Rush Hour. Rosser tosses Rush onto Phantasmo, and Hikuleo breaks Rosser’s pin. Hikuleo and Rosser fight off into where a crowd would be. Rush counters Phantasmo’s CR II attempt with a jackknife pin. When Phantasmo lifts up Rush again for it, Rush huracanrana’s Phantasmo for two. Phantasmo rakes Rush’s eyes. Rush still is able to evade Phantasmo’s superkick and hit the Come Up for the pin at 9:53. Once again, we have the dynamic where Rush is only able to beat Phantasmo in tag matches, and there seems to be no pay off coming with Phantasmo now back in Japan. Either way, this was a fun match, better than I expected since Rosser and Hikuleo’s singles matches have been meh. **¾
Rosser and Hikuleo fight by the timekeeper’s table, which gets flipped over during their melee. It takes several officials and staff, as well as Rush, to keep them apart. Backstage, Rush says one day he will defeat Phantasmo in a high stakes singles situation. That’s something at least.
Brody King, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks & TJP vs. Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Danny Limelight & Chris Dickinson)
Eliminations can occur by pinfall, submission, count out, or by being thrown over the top rope and both feet touching the floor. Interestingly, Chris Dickinson comes out separately from the rest of Team Filthy. It is revealed during the entrances that Clark Connors has officially graduated from the LA DOJO. He is “The Wild Rhino” Clark Connors, and has grey trunks, knee pads, and kick pads to embody that name. Also his own theme music which is pretty boss. Limelight takes a lot of abuse from TJP and Connors. King lays out everyone from the opposing team. Limelight grabs King’s leg when he’s about to cannonball splash Kratos in the opposite corner. King turns around and Kratos dumps him over the top rope and to the floor at 6:19. King won the last elimination match on STRONG, and is the first eliminated in this bout. As Fredericks is being beaten down by Team Filthy, Limelight goes for the Symbiote DDT. Fredericks blocks and tosses Limelight to the floor, eliminating him at 7:45. Dickinson almost collides with Lawlor on the apron, which would have eliminated him, but is able to stop himself. However, when Lawlor comes charging at Fredericks, Fredericks side steps and shoves Lawlor over the top and to the floor to eliminate him at 9:56. Dickinson knocks Fredericks to the apron. Limelight pulls him to the floor unbeknownst to the referee, but when the referee turns around and sees Fredericks on the floor, he calls for the elimination at 11:08. Connors spears Kratos. TJP climbs to the top turnbuckle as Connors grabs Kratos’ legs. Kratos pushes Connors to the ropes, which knocks TJP to the floor. TJP slides back in, but the referee counts this as TJP being eliminated at 12:31. Connors, however, is able to low bridge the top rope when Kratos charges at him, eliminating Krtos at 13:03. This leaves Dickinson and Connors to do battle. Their battle ends up on the ring apron, where Dickinson ends up kicking Connors to the floor and winning the match at 18:36. Interesting choice to have Connors lose his first post-graduation match, but Dickinson winning validates his challenge to Lawlor for the STRONG championship. Speaking of, Fredericks should have won on the horizon due to him eliminating Connors. Not my favorite of the STRONG elimination matches, but it achieved what it needed to. **¾
All of Team Filthy celebrate with Dickinson, but Limelight low blows Dickinson while Kratos and Lawlor are raising his arms! Lawlor sicks Kratos onto him, and Kratos and Limelight pummel Dickinson until Brody King chases them off. With this, Dickinson is officially out of Team Filthy.