Port Hueneme, CA – 7.23.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Tag Team Turbulence Tournament Semi-Final Round Match
VLNCE UNLTD (Brody King & Chris Dickinson) vs. The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)
The WCWC attacks Dickinson’s left leg. When King tags in, he swats Nelson out of mid-air with a forearm strike. He pins Nelson after a slam and senton splash for two. Dickinson gives Nelson a taste of his own medicine with a half crab. After a dropkick Demolition Device, King puts Nelson in a Boston Crab. It takes multiple punches from Isaacs just for King to release the hold of his own volition. Nelson knocks down King with a diving shoulder tackle off the middle turnbuckle, but it’s clear upon landing that he hurt himself in the process. Isaacs almost pinned Dickinson with a Jackhammer, and after kicking out, he recruits Nelson to hit a powerbomb/clothesline combo onto Dickinson. King breaks the pin and pitches Nelson to the floor, then slams Dickinson onto Isaacs for a two count. Dickinson shoves Nelson off the top turnbuckle as Isaacs half-nelson suplexes King. Dickinson pummels Isaacs on the floor. Nelson comes back in the ring, but is caught with a Black Hole Slam and lariat from King for the pin at 10:13. This was probably the best performance as a duo we’ve seen out of King and Dickinson, in that they had more tandem offense and seemingly better timing than in previous outings. They also were able to get Nelson, who they had done the most damage to in the bout, back in the ring without Isaacs in a position to save him from being pinned. Good match. ***
Tag Team Turbulence Tournament Semi-Final Round Match
Yuji Nagata & Ren Narita vs. The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson)
Nagata and Narita tear apart Anderson’s left arm, especially Nagata when Anderson offers to “too sweet” him. Anderson backs Narita to his corner after poking his eyes and tags in Gallows. Narita wisely goes for his legs, but Gallows takes him down with a superkick and thrusts Nagata in the throat when he tries to interject. Connors must’ve warned his DOJO mate about Gallows elbow drop, because that’s also what Narita avoided in order to tag Nagata. Nagata goes after Gallows’ leg just like Narita did and gets taken down with a boot. Nagata avoids a Gun Stun from Anderson and gives Gallows an exploder suplex. Nagata boots Anderson in the corner and Narita follows up with a spinwheel kick for two. Anderson once again goes to Narita’s eyes as Gallows takes out Nagata on the floor. Anderson is pissed when Narita kicks out of the Swivel Gun Stun, but the Magic Killer does the trick at 10:40. The Good Brothers have their formula down to the point where it really stood out how similar this was to their opening round match. Narita at least continues to impress, and all I can do is hope the Good Brothers do something different with Dickinson and King. **¼
NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship
Tom Lawlor vs. Satoshi Kojima
Lawlor has been champion since 4.23.2021 and this is his third defense. He wins me over by offering Kojima bread before the bell. Lawlor then wears down Kojima for a while; his legs, his arms, and his neck. Lawlor tries to get a count out win but is unsuccessful. Kojima also escapes Lawlor’s figure four attempt. Lawlor gets too cute by mimicking Kojima’s own rapid fire corner chops against him. Offended by the gesture, Kojima turns Lawlor around and shows him how it’s done. Lawlor does some more damage to his ribs, but when he takes Kojima to the apron, Kojima is able to give him a DDT onto the edge of the ring. Kojima lands a top rope elbow drop back inside the ring for two. He rocks Lawlor with some Mongolian Chops before dropping Lawlor with the CCD and locking on an Anaconda Vise. Lawlor gets the ropes to escape. Kojima hits the Koji Cutter and sets up for a lariat. Lawlor pulls him into a sleeper hold to counter and then slams Kojima out of a waistlock when Kojima tries the lariat again. Kojima fights back with a brainbuster. He goes for a lariat again, but with the referee’s back turned, Kratos trips Kojima when he hits the ropes. Lawlor hits Kohima with the PK and puts him in a rear-naked choke. The referee calls for the bell at 16:08. They did a really good job making it look like Kojima was down and out so that when he executed his rolodex of usual offense it was actually interesting. Lawlor needing to completely and fully wear him down in order to retain the title, not to mention having Kratos save his hind, made sense given Kojima’s overall status in the eyes of less committed New Japan fans. Lawlor also now has a big name under his proverbial belt to boast about defeating.This was overall a good main event, but not Lawlor’s best defense. ***¼
Backstage with Kratos, Lawlor says a legend has fallen to the STRONGEST in New Japan. He ponders what’s next for him, joking that maybe Bob Sapp will come out of retirement. Lio Rush appears when they make a wisecrack about him beating up a moth. He feels like he has not gotten his fair shake in New Japan tournaments so far, and because of this, he makes a direct challenge to Lawlor for his championship. Lawlor and Kratos have a huddle to discuss, and as Rush grows impatient in waiting for a response, he tells Lawlor and Kratos they know where to find him.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Lance Archer vs. Hikuleo
AEW Dynamite #954; Fight For The Fallen 2021 – Charlotte, NC – 7.28.2021
Archer has been champion since 7.21.2021 and this is his first defense. Hikuleo appeared after his title victory against Jon Moxley last week to make the challenge to whoever was victorious. In his corner is his father Haku. Hikuleo gets an early nearfall when he powerbombs Archer to stop Archer’s corner punches. Hikuleo slams Archer and clotheslines him to the floor. Archer reverses an Irish whip, sending Hikuleo crashing into the barricades. Biggest pop of the night is for Haku giving Archer the Tongan Death Grip behind the referee’s back. In the ring, Archer surprises Hikuleo with a clothesline to the back of the neck. He pulls him into multiple clotheslines before hitting a rope-walk moonsault. Hikuleo fights out of the Blackout the first time, but after a superplex, Archer hits it a second time for the pin at 7:16. This was basically an excuse to get a Haku appearance on the show. Otherwise, Archer made quick work of Hikuleo, which is totally fine. *½
Before the match, Hiroshi Tanahashi appeared on the screen. He says that he has held the NEVER Openweight Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship a record eight times. However, he’s never been the IWGP United States Heavyweight champion, and now wants to add that title to his lineage. He announces that he will be at the NJPW “Resurgence” event on August 14th, which will be the first U.S. New Japan show in front of fans since February of 2020, and he will challenge for the title at that event. Pretty pumped to see the Ace.