Port Hueneme, CA – 6.25.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Fred Yehi & Wheeler YUTA
The Young Lions double hip toss Yehi and knock YUTA off the apron. When DKC drops down, Yehi puts him in a Koji Clutch, but Knight frees his partner. Yehi chops Knight and tags in YUTA. Yehi stomps Knight’s foot and leg sweeps him into a senton splash from YUTA. YUTA controls Knight on the mat. Knight fights to his feet where he wipes out YUTA with his signature dropkick. DKC and Yehi tag in and trade strikes. DKC pulls Yehi down into a modified Anaconda Vise, though Yehi gets the ropes to escape. After a karate kick from DKC, Knight low tackles and Mad Splashes Yehi. YUTA has to shove DKC onto Knight’s pin to save his partner, and Angle Slams DKC as well. Knight body slams YUTA but misses a Mad Splash. YUTA pulls Knight into a Skayde schoolboy for the pin at 7:47. This match could best be described as a scrap. Everyone fought like hell and were determined to get some momentum going into the upcoming tag tournament. I also love that YUTA busted out a pinning combination passed down by his trainers to beat someone who probably would have never encountered it before. Total hidden gem this is. ***¼
Rocky Romero vs. Clark Connors
Connors was hot at Romero after losing a tag match to him two weeks prior. This was all about Connors showing Romero how much he had grown since his dojo days. He had much of Romero’s signature offense scouted and acted accordingly. Romero also had Connors scouted, which was most helpful when he evaded a Pounce and took down Connors with a clothesline. Romero strung together a double stomp to the back, a tornado DDT, and a falling knee strike to Connors’ left arm. He then took Connors to the floor with a headscissors and followed with a flying knee strike to the face.Even after taking a running Shiranui, Connors had the wherewithal to put his foot on the bottom rope to break an armbar. Connors avoids another Shirnaui and takes out Romero with a Gore. Connors powerbombed Romero before giving him a one-armed powerbomb for the pin at 12:04. This is the kind of definitive win Connors should have now that he has graduated. The story of him showing Romero just how far he’s come since his young lion days was also a compelling story, as was him fighting back from Romero’s arm work. Good stuff. ***
NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship
Tom Lawlor vs. Karl Fredericks
Lawlor has been champion since 4.23.2021 and this is his second defense. Fredericks earned this title shot by eliminating Lawlor in an elimination match last month. JR Kratos is in Lawlor’s corner. Lawlor goes after Fredericks ankle as Federicks goes after Lawlor’s arm. Lawlor takes a powder and decides to try and use Kratos as a distraction so he can grab Frederick’s ankles from behind. He is not happy when Fredericks has that sneak attack scouted. Lawlor tries a different approach and gets caught with a jumping crossbody. Lawlor though is able to stop a corner charge by sending Fredericks up and over the top rope, resulting in Fredericks crashing onto the floor. Lawlor clothesline Fredericks into the crowd and wears him down with a cravate back inside the ring. Fredericks catches Lawlor’s PK attempt, but when he goes for a spinebuster, Lawlor applies a Guillotine. Fredericks falters to the ropes to escape. Fredericks manages to pummel Lawlor down in the corner, though his corner dropkick is stopped by an uppercut from Lawlor. Fredericks pulls Lawlor towards him while in an ankle lock and gives Lawlor a Pele Kick. He lands a dropkick to a seated Lawlor for two. The spinebuster lands and Fredericks applies an STF. Lawlor pulls Fredericks’ hair to turn things around into a crossface. Fredericks tries to shoot Lawlor to the ropes. Lawlor pulls Fredericks his hair, but it backfires as Fredericks is able to pull Lawlor into the Manifest Destiny! Unfortunately for him, they’re too close to the ropes for a pin to occur. Fredericks tries a super Manifest Destiny, and ends up taking an ugly super DDT from Lawlor. Lawlor follows up with a PK to get the pin at 18:04. It’s interesting watching this after the Connors match, as in both cases we got to see how the LA DOJO graduates have learned to adapt to their opponents over time and become smarter competitors because of it. Having Fredericks able to keep the gap of Lawlor’s control fairly narrow for most of the match was a great way to show his growth. It took some pretty gnarly blows to keep Fredericks down. This wasn’t as good as Lawlor’s title win or first defense, but mostly because the issue between the two opponents wasn’t nearly as hot. ***¼
Kratos and Lawlor give Fredericks some props after the match. Fredericks looks to accept Lawlor’s handshake and ends up taking a kick to the back of his leg from Lawlor instead. Kratos then takes out Fredericks with a lariat. Satoshi Kojima comes to Fredericks’ aid. Lawlor runs out when Kojima is about to come at him with a lariat. Kojima then tells Lawlor he is the next challenger for the STRONG Openweight championship and that he will kick his ass.