Port Hueneme, CA – 7.2.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Lio Rush vs. Adrian Quest
Quest dropkicks Rush and follows up with a suicide dive to end their quick opening exchange. It was a good way for Quest to follow up on his confident pie face he gave Rush at the bell. Rush though leg sweeps Quest back to the floor and lands a springboard crossbody off of the bottom rope. Quest flapjacks and backdrops Rush to take over inside the ring. Rush backs Quest to the corner to block a sleeper hold attempt. The two men knock each other out with stereo high kicks. Quest superkicks Rush to block the Come Up and lands a running shooting star press for two. Quest also gets two with a Tiger Driver. Rush is able to high kick Quest from the middle rope, then cleverly bounces off the ropes to surprise Quest with the Come Up for the pin at 8:19. I expected these two to mesh well, but I really appreciate that they whipped in a story that made the underdog Quest look dominant. This was a super fun way to open the show. ***
Jordan Clearwater vs. Hikuleo
These two had a match back in March that surprised me by how much I liked it. Clearwater attacks Hikuleo at the bell. Hikuleo though beats him down forever. Clearwater drops him with a falling elbow drop for two then sets up for the Midas Touch. Hikuleo blocks and takes down Clearwater with a powerslam. Hikuleo also blocks a bulldog with a back suplex, then hits the Tongan Driller for the pin at 7:44. That was essentially a squash – good for Hikuleo, I suppose, but a far cry from their first encounter. *
Fred Rosser vs. Bateman
Rosser and Bateman came to blows after their tag team match two weeks ago, and this match is to settle their score. That makes three weeks in a row now where NJPW used a tag team match to set up a singles match, then does the singles match two weeks later: Kojima vs. Kratos, Romero vs. Connors, and now this. Try out a new method, I am begging ya! Rosser tries his usual approach of hitting hard, and Bateman attacks his ankle. Rosser somewhat uncharacteristically bites at Bateman’s forehead and goes to his eyes so he can get a moment of respite. Back on the apron Rosser gives Bateman a back suplex. In the ring when Bateman punches Rosser’s ankle, Rosser bites his wrist. Rosser hits a running boot to the head with his non-hurt leg, then DDT’s Bateman for two. Bateman escapes two Gut Check attempts and suplexes Rosser. Rosser is able to come back with an Emerald Flowsion for the pin at 15:34. There’s no denying these two worked their asses off, but this was structured oddly and felt long. I could sense a good match amongst everything they did, it just didn’t fully materialize. **½
It was announced on the July 7th episode of AEW Dynamite that Karl Anderson would be receiving a shot at Jon Moxley’s IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship on the following week’s episode of Dynamite. I’ll cover that in next week’s STRONG review.