Port Hueneme, CA – 6.18.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Alex Coughlin Challenge Series – Match #1
Alex Coughlin vs. Josh Alexander
Tonight begins the “Alex Coughlin Challenge Series.” For the next few months, Coughlin will be pitted against a series of top tier wrestlers in singles matches. Although this is not explicitly stated, this feels like something for Coughlin to complete in order to graduate in lieu of a typical DOJO student excursion. Given the pandemic, it’s a great compromise if that is what this ends up being. Coughlin’s first challenge is Impact Wrestling’s X-Division Champion Josh Alexander, and this match is his NJPW debut.
Coughlin shoulder tackles Alexander to the floor after running through a clothesline. Alexander catches Coughlin coming into the ring with a kick, then takes Coughlin outside with a running crossbody to Coughlin’s back while Coughlin sits on the ring apron. Although Coughlin chops up Alexander something fierce in the corner, Alexander is able to get him in an ankle lock. Coughlin rolls free and catches a charging Alexander with a German suplex. Coughlin drills Alexander with a shoulder tackle, then muscles Alexander into two gut wrench slams. The second one is a bit labored, and Alexander re-applied the ankle lock upon landing. Coughlin rolls under Alexander, grapevining his leg and pulling him down into a half crab. Alexander gets the ropes to escape, and moments later lands the Chaos Theory for two. Alexander back elbows Coughlin and sweeps him back into an ankle lock. Coughlin rolls under and goes for a German suplex while his ankle is still trapped. Alexander trips him back down. When Coughlin starts kicking, he rolls him into a knee strike to the head. Alexander powers him up into a double underhook piledriver for the pin at 11:29. This is probably the best showing for Coughlin to date, and I think the more unique competitors he is put against, the better he will become. His movements and counters make him stand out. Alexander has all the makings of a high end NJPW STRONG roster member and I hope he sticks around. ***¼
Fred Rosser & Adrian Quest vs. Bateman & Barrett Brown
This match comes as a result of Rosser offering Quest help after he witnessed Bateman help Brown defeat him in a singles match two weeks ago. Brown makes Quest start with Bateman. This is of no issue to Quest, who takes down Bateman with a springboard dropkick. Bateman pokes Rosser in the eyes before tagging in Brown. Rosser is able to catch a leapfrog from Brown, slamming him down into a seated splash. When Rosser tries to back suplex Brown on the apron, Bateman holds onto Rosser’s leg. Brown enzuigiri’s Rosser while he is distracted. Rosser is beaten down by Bateman and Brown until he halts Bateman with, coincidentally, a back suplex. Quest gets in some shots on Brown, then feeds him to rosser for a back suplex on the apron. Quest follows up with a running shooting star press. Bateman breaks up the pin and tosses Rosser to the floor. Bateman slams Quest onto his face, and Brown superkicks Rosser. Quest goes up top after dropping Brown with a tornado DDT. Bateman pulls Quest down into This Is A Kill for the pin at 9:41. I like that the ending of this match echoed the way Bateman assisted Brown in winning two weeks prior. It was a very solid match to establish Brown and Bateman’s partnership, though once again, Quest stole the show even when the spotlight wasn’t directly on him. **½
Bateman and Rosser come to blows after the match. Bateman slips out of the Gut Check and stares down Rosser from the aisle before heading backstage.
Kevin Kelly announces that in three weeks, the Tag Team Turbulence tournament is coming to NJPW STRONG. He then reveals the eight teams: TJP & Clark Connors; VLNCE UNLTD (Brody King & Chris Dickinson); The DKC & Kevin Knight; Team Filthy (Danny Limelight & JR Kratos); Yuji Nagata & Ren Narita; Wheeler YUTA & Fred Yehi; The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson); and Impact Wrestling’s Good Brothers of Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, who will make their STRONG debuts in the tournament.
Satoshi Kojima vs. JR Kratos
Kojima and Kratos came to blows after their tag team match two weeks ago, and this match is to settle this score. Kratos resists Kojima’s attacks and sends Kojima outside with a shoulder tackle. Kojima is pleased with himself as he tosses Kojima in a gutwrench suplex back in the ring. Around the five minute mark, Kojima gets some momentum back thanks to a nice violence party in the corner. Kojima DDT’s Kratos on the ring apron. Kojima lands a top rope elbow drop. Kratos blocks a rolling elbow and kick, dropping Kojima with a choke bomb for two. Kojima manages to land another DDT, but Kratos is hardly affected, giving Kojima a smile. This happens after a second and third DDT as well. Kratos lays out Kojima with a lariat before the DDT’s effect catches up to him. Kojima drops him with a desperate Koji Cutter. Kojima lands a rolling elbow and suplex for two. Kratos blocks a lariat with a jumping knee strike. When Kratos comes running, Kojima takes him down with the lariat for the pin at 11:26. This was basically a monster movie battle, and I loved it. Kratos fought through a lot of what Kojima brought at him, but the cumulative head trauma he incurred ultimately caught up to him. You don’t see matches like this much on STRONG, and it was quite the treat. ***½