NJPW STRONG #48 – Road to Tag Team Turbulence 2021

Port Hueneme, CA – 7.9.2021

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.

The DKC vs. Barrett Brown

For whatever reason, Bateman is not out with Brown this week. Brown goes after DKC’s right hand and fingers. Since DKC is a karate choppin man, you see him more hesitant on offense since his hand has been compromised. When DKC trips Brown in the hopes of an ankle lock, Brown simply grabs DKC’s hand and twists it, bringing DKC back to his feet. DKC knocks down Brown and goes for broke with a diving karate chop to the head. He then puts Brown in a triangle choke. Brown twists DKC’s fingers and puts him in a Fujiwara armbar. DKC uses the ropes to escape. DKC tries a karate kick off the second turnbuckle. Brown avoids contact and schoolboys DKC. He holds DKC’s tights while doing so to get the pin at 7:02. With Brown more focused and calculating in his offense, you see a direct impact on his wrestling thanks to Bateman’s tutelage. I think those kinds of changes are important in mentoring storylines. Basic, but effective match. **¼

Alex Coughlin Challenge Series – Match #2
Alex Coughlin vs. PJ Black

This is Black’s first NJPW match in the year 2021, returning from a compound fracture in his left ankle. Coughlin himself recently returned from a neck injury, and that’s where Black wisely focuses his attack. Coughlin catches Black off guard with a flying shoulder tackle, then tosses him in a gutwrench suplex for two. Black halts Coughlin on the top turnbuckle, bringing him down with a Spanish Fly for two. Black goes for a high crossbody. Coughlin rolls through and fallaway slams Black. During a forearm exchange, Black weaves Coughlin into the Bad Habit for the pin at 9:33. I definitely appreciated this for being so different from all of Coughlin’s other matches, but they had only shifted into second gear by the time the match ended. Black’s matches are kinda samey. **½

Rocky Romero vs. Josh Alexander

Romero knows Alexander has the size advantage, so he does his best to keep him grounded in a side headlock and moves quickly when Alexander escapes. He scores big with a headscissors to the floor and a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Alexander blasts Romero with a boot. After that he uses his knee to wear down Romero’s back. Romero fights through the pain inflicted to his spine to take down Alexander with a tornado DDT. Even after Romero double stomps Alexander’s back, Alexander escapes Romero’s Shiranui attempt and rolls him into an ankle lock. Romero rolls Alexander to the corner and lands another tornado DDT for two. Romero attacks Alexander’s shoulder before going for the Diablo armbar. Alexander escapes and lands the Chaos Theory for two. He gets Romero in another ankle lock. Romero hits him with a roundhouse kick and jumping knee before the standing Shiranui for two. Alexander and Romero fight for a submission. Alexander ends up muscling Romero up into a powerbomb onto his knee and drops him with a double underhook piledriver for the pin at 11:51. I absolutely love Alexander making sure Romero’s back took further punishment before putting him down with the same move that put down Alex Coughlin last month. This was, unsurprisingly, a very good and engaging match. More Alexander, please, and I hope we can start giving Romero the love he deserves too. ***½

Jon Moxley vs. Karl Anderson

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Jon Moxley vs. Karl Anderson

AEW Dynamite #93; Fyter Fest 2021 Night 1 – Cedar Park, TX – 7.14.2021

Moxley has been champion since 1.4.2020 and this is his fifth defense. Anderson hasn’t been in NJPW in five years, but I suppose his cache as a G1 finalist, three time Tag League winner, and four time IWGP Tag Team Champion makes him a worthy challenger. Eddie Kingston is in Moxley’s corner, and Doc Gallows is in Anderson’s corner, but they brawl away so this will supposedly be a fair fight. After throwing a bunch of forearms they fight to the floor where Anderson suplexes Moxley on the entrance ramp. Anderson snaps Moxley’s neck on the top rope and boots him off the apron and into the barricades. Anderson gets two with a spinebuster. Moxley stops him on the top rope with a back rake and bite to the head before bringing him down with a superplex. They knock each other down with stereo clotheslines, twice. Moxley gets on a sleeper and maneuvers Anderson into a piledriver position. Anderson escapes and drops Moxley with a Rikishi Driver for two. He also gets two with a leaping neckbreaker. Moxley slides off Anderson’s shoulders and goes for the Death Rider. Anderson escapes that and hits the Gun Stun. Anderson hits a running Gun Stun for two. Moxley avoids a flying Gun Stun. Moxley blocks that and hits a ripcord lariat. The Death Rider then gets him the pin at 9:28. The last minute was exciting, and the rest was a fairly pedestrian brawl. **½

From the backstage area, Lance Archer talks to Jon Moxley. He says Moxley defeated him for the IWGP U.S. Title a year and a half ago, and it’s about time he got his rematch. That title change was a Texas Deathmatch, and since they’re in Texas next week, Archer proposes the same stipulation for their rematch as well. He says one of them will leave Texas as champion, and the other will not be able to stand. I really dug their first match, and I am interested to see how the sequel matches up.

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