Riverside, CA – 12.4.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Adrian Quest & Lio Rush vs. Stray Dog Army (Bateman & Misterioso)
Quest cracks Bateman with a kick upside the head and takes him down with a corkscrew crossbody. Bateman double thrust jabs Quest in the throat and knocks him down in the corner before tagging Misterioso. Quest gets both of the SDA outside and with Rush lands double suicide dives. In the ring they nail Misterioso with an enzuigiri/gamengiri combo for two. Misterioso pops up Quest, sending him crashing face first into the mat, and then turns him inside out with a clothesline. Bateman and Misterioso manhandle Quest in their corner until Quest puts his feet up to block a lionsault from Misterioso, and then takes him down with a spike reverse Frankensteiner. Rush’s speed gets him the upper hand on both of the SDA, even getting a two count on Bateman with a Falcon Arrow. Bateman comes back with a 2k1 Bomb for two. Misterioso Finlay rolls Quest into a moonsault headbutt and Rush breaks up the pin. Rush escapes Misterioso’s Finlay roll, roundhouse kicks him, and lands the Come Up. Rush takes out Bateman with a moonsault on the floor, and Quest lands a Phoenix Splash on Misterioso for the pin at 10:57. Very pleased to see Quest get a victory for what feels like the first time in a while. Everybody worked well together and it made for a fun opening match. **¾
Alex Coughlin Challenge Series – Match #8
Alex Coughlin vs. Josh Barnett
Barnett is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, and this is his first NJPW match in over 17 years. Barnett went after Coughlin’s arm, Coughlin went after Barnett’s ankle, they hit each other a bit, and then Barnett submitted Coughlin to a Cross Leg Lock. The majority of this match was quite dull. There was little urgency to the action and little to sink your teeth into. By far the best part was Coughlin gut wrenching Barnett twice, partially because it was one of the few times they actually got the crowd into what they were doing. It goes to show that technical/pure wrestling requires a whole lot more than just technique for it to be engaging and enjoyable. Barnett gives Coughlin his seal of approval, which is a solid part of Coughlin’s journey and saves this from being futile. *½
JONAH vs. Lucas Riley
This is JONAH’s first match since appearing unannounced at “Battle In The Valley.” It is his first NJPW match since their Australian tour in February 2018. This is Riley’s NJPW debut. Well this went exactly as you expected. Riley’s speed bought him time, and even earned him a shot or two, but JONAH rolled him for most of the match. JONAH even pulled Riley off of the mat after putting him down with a lariat and Backdrop Driver. He then landed a senton splash and did the same. Finally, the Tsunami splash got JONAH the pin at 6:01. Probably the best way you could debut JONAH to be honest. Riley showed plenty for me to want to see him again, though. **½
David Finlay sneak attacks JONAH after the bill, getting retribution for what JONAH did to him and Juice Robinson at “Battle In the Valley.” JONAH heads backstage as Finlay demands he get back in the ring.
Alex Zayne & Yuya Umeura vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Hikuleo)
White is fired up after losing the NEVER Openweight Championship to Ishii last month. He takes out his aggression on Uemura, who halts the Switchblade with armdrag takedowns. Hikuleo holds onto Uemura so that White can dig his thumbs into Uemura’s eyes. Hikuleo shuts down Uemura’s armdrag attempt by driving him face first into the mat. BULLET CLUB seem poised to never let Zayne tag in as they keep Uemura trapped in their corner. Uemura finally does get a tag to Zayne when he dropkicks White. Zayne dropkicks Hikuleo off the apron and takes out White with a rolling clothesline. A forward flip leg drop to White’s neck gets Zayne a two count. White fights out of a potential Taco Driver and Crunchwrap Supreme, pulling Zayne by his hair down to the mat. Zayne tags Uemura who crushes White with a corner dropkick. Hikuleo surprises Uemura with a strike to the skull from behind. Uemura evades another corner attack and takes down Hikuleo with a corner dropkick. White pulls Uemura down by his hair so his shoulders collide with the canvas. Zayne tags back in and gets turned inside out with a clothesline from Hikuleo. Uemura saves Zayne from the Tongan Driller and back suplexes Hikuleo. White drops Uemura with the Blade Runner. Zayne escapes a Blade Runner and takes him out with a front flip Frankensteiner. Zayne misses the Crunchwrap Supreme on Hikuleo. Hikuleo chokeslams Zayne before hitting the Tongan Driller for the pin at 10:32. The makeshift nature of Uemura and Zayne’s team made the winners of this very obvious. The duos still had a fun match, and I very much want to see White vs. Uemura at some point, but it’s a match that rings home the very transitional nature of this entire episode. **¾
As is customary, Jay White grabs the microphone after the bell. He says his plan was to have an open challenge for the NEVER Openweight Championship, but of course he lost that title to Ishii. The title may be gone, but he is bigger than any championship anyways. He still likes the idea of keeping an open invitation for anyone from any company to face him. He says he could help young talent like Chris Sabin and Chris Jericho make a name for themselves, but he’s got a local name in mind: Christopher Daniels. White challenges Daniels to a match next month in Hollywood.
Daniel Garcia vs. Jay White
NJPW XTRA #6 – Garland, TX – 12.5.2021
Garcia is eager to start, so White purposefully keeps him waiting. He kicks Garcia in the stomach when it locks like he is ready to lock-up. Even though Garcia is able to land a dropkick, White gets him outside where he sends Garcia into the metal guardrails twice. White attacks Garcia’s back, neck, and throat inside the ring and exhausts him with multiple lateral press pin attempts. Garcia is able to retaliate to a slap from White with one of his own and stomp him down in the corner. Garcia locks on a Guillotine choke and converts into a sleeper with body scissors. White backs Garcia to the corner to break free. When Garcia re-applies the Guillotine, White counters it into a twisting suplex for two. Garcia ankle picks White into a trifecta of chops, then gives him a Backdrop Driver for two. White scrambles to the ropes to escape a sharpshooter. White rolls Garcia up looking for the Blade Runner. Garcia fights his way out of White’s grasp and boots him to the ropes. White ducks a clothesline and drops Garcia on his head with a sleeper suplex. He then hits the Blade Runner for the pin at 10:47. This followed the pattern of White’s matches with YUTA and Yehi, with Garcia getting a great showing before the Blade Runner did him in. I think they told a more complete story than those other two matches, making it my favorite of the three even with awful crowd audio. ***½
Not great when the XTRA match smokes everything on a STRONG broadcast.