Garland, TX – 10.16.2021
Commentary is provided by Alex Koslov and Matt Rehwoldt.
Alex Coughlin Challenge Series – Match #6
Alex Coughlin vs. Chris Dickinson
These two are pretty matches in the power department. This is why Dickinson decided to go after Coughlin’s left shoulder, both to take some of his power away, and soften him up for a potential cross armbreaker. Coughlin was still able to impress with a running shoulder tackle as well as some throws, including a lariat that turned Dickinson inside out. Dickinson managed to escape off of Coughlin’s shoulders and roll him into an arm scissors. That transitioned into a cross armbreaker, but it wasn’t until Dickinson added kicks to the head while the hold was locked in that Coughlin relented and submitted at 13:03. I enjoyed the dynamic these two had with each other, and that even with all the work he put in, it took a lot to make Coughlin quit. It also does feel like Coughlin improves with each outing, which is of course the point of this Series. It will be interesting to see what is next for both guys. ***
Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs. The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)
This is Taguchi’s first U.S. NJPW appearance since Lion’s Break 2 in December 2019. Mega Coaches control the opening echanges, with Taguchi taking down Isaacs with a hip attack, and Romero landing a double stomp to Nelson as Nelson is draped on the top rope. Isaacs grabs Romero from the floor as he hits the rope and drops him face first on the ring apron. Nelson hits a flying clothesline when Romero is thrown back into the ring. The WCWC gang up on Romero in their corner and attack his left leg. Romero impressively reverses a pump-handle slam attempt from Isaacs into a DDT to escape their grasp and tag in Taguchi. He unloads with a whole lot of hip attacks on the opposition. Isaacs catches a hip attack and suplexes Taguchi. Nelson then knee strikes Taguchi into a German suplex from Isaacs for two. Romero saves his partner with a double Frankensteiner. Isaacs however stops a Shiraui from Romero and tosses him into a Dominator/Stunner combo. This time, Taguchi saves his partner. He and Romero take down the WCWC with stereo hip attacks. Romero uses Taguchi’s buttocks for a tornado DDT on Nelson, and Taguchi lands a flying hp attack after. Isaacs breaks the pin. Romero successfully lands a Shiranui on Isaacs. Nelson tries a springback elbow on Romero,but Romero catches him mid-air and pins him with a backslide at 13:41. This was fun, but with the repetition of offense I think a little less time would have helped the overall quality. I like Mega Coaches, but I think WCWC could stand to get a high profile win, and this would definitely have fit that bill. **¾
Clark Connors, Juice Robinson, Lio Rush & TJP vs. BULLET CLUB (Chris Bey, El Phantasmo, Hikuleo & Taiji Ishimori)
This is also Ishimori’s first U.S. NJPW appearance since Lion’s Break 2. This is also Bey’s first NJPW match since the 2020 Super J-Cup. Since then, Jay White invited him into the BULLET CLUB in Impact Wrestling. The Tecnico runs roughshod on Bey. Ishimori tags in and goes face-to-face with Rush who he has an upcoming singles match against. Phantasmo attacks Rush from behind, enabling the BULLET CLUB to beat him down in their corner, showing disrespect via back rakes and nipple twists in the process. After enduring repeated backbreakers, Rush counters one from Phantasmo into a tornado DDT. Robinson tags in and throws jabs at Hikuleo, with whom he has a Texas Bullrope match with next week. Hikuleo takes a senton, but is able to come back with a powerslam. A succession of dives to the floor ends with Robinson tossing Ishimori onto everybody but Rush, who Ishimori had just wiped out with a back handspring kick. Robinson then lands a splash off the top turnbuckle onto everyone. In the ring, Hikuleo halts Robinson from laying out Bey with Pulp Friction. He then attacks Robinson with a bull rope, resulting in a disqualification at 11:07. This did a solid job setting up Ishimori vs. Rush and Hikuleo vs. Robinson. It was pretty fun to watch, but like the previous match, it could’ve stood to lose a few minutes, especially with that ending. **¾
Karl Fredericks vs. Will Ospreay
A confrontation between these two on STRONG #58 left to this match. Ospreay brings his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship title on the line and insists he is defending it. Fredericks attacks Ospreay’s midsection. Ospreay does some damage to Ospreay’s midsection, and Ospreay drops his knee onto the back of Fredericks’ head on the ring apron. After some punches, Ospreay mocks Fredericks’ trainer with a Shibata dropkick. This fires up Fredericks, who pummels Ospreay down into a seated position and shows him a true Shibata style hesitation dropkick both in the corner and against the guardrails. Back in the ring, Ospreay is able to grab the bottom rope to escape Fredericks’ STF. Ospreay then lays out Fredericks with a back handspring roundhouse kick, and then gets two with Pip Pip Cheerio. Fredericks blocks a rip cord elbow with a Pele kick. An exchange of German suplexes and strikes to the head leave both men laying. Fredericks knocks Ospreay back down with an uppercut when they get to their feet. Ospreay escapes a superplex. He tosses Fredericks down and lands a flying forearm to the back of his neck. Ospreay then powerbombs Fredericks for two. Fredericks blocks the OsCutter and Ospreay blocks Manifest Destiny. Ospreay goes for it again after a kick to the face, but Fredericks dropkicks him in mid-air. Fredericks delivers a spinebuster for two. Ospreay schoolboys Fredericks to block a second Manifest Destiny. He kicks Fredericks in the head. Fredericks gives Ospreay a backbreaker across his own back and finally hits Manifest Destiny successfully, but Ospreay rolls to the floor before he can attempt a pin. Ospreay holds onto the foot of the referee to buy himself some time back in the ring, but an angry Fredericks forearms Ospreay in the face. He puts Ospreay in a rear-naked choke. He goes for a PK when Ospreay falls to a seated position. Ospreay catches the kick. He stops a running Fredericks with a Spanish Fly. Ospreay then lands the OsCutter for a close two count. Fredericks ducks the Hidden Blade. Ospreay pops him up into a forearm strike, then connects with the Hidden Blade for the pin at 18:08. I really enjoyed how Fredericks’ carried himself in this match. He was so close to beating a former IWGP champion and made almost no mistakes in his arsenal. He had so much of what Ospready did scouted, and almost had him beaten, but a few well placed head and neck shots did him in. I feel really good about Fredericks’ future coming out of this. ****
Ospreay seemingly gives Fredericks some respect, but then he begins to attack him. Clark Connors runs out with TJP trailing him and sends Ospreay packing. Ospreay takes a microphone and says the odds aren’t exactly in his favor against the LA DOJO right now, so it’s time for him to even up the odds. He points up to the video wall which grabs Connors’ attention while TJP tends to Karl Fredericks. The video wall shows the United Empire logo, and then slowly the letters “T J P” are revealed. From behind, TJP pulls Connors into an Eye of the Hurricane. He then holds Karl Fredericks so Ospreay can clobber him with his title belt. TJP says the LA DOJO doesn’t make them like they used to. He says New Japan has been waiting months for the new United Empire member, and that Ospreay promised everyone they would be reminded of what a killer looks like. They just didn’t expect it would be him. TJP does a bit more damage before he and Ospreay leav together. I like this addition to the group, and that we now have explicit permission to boo TJP!