NJPW Strong – August 21st, 2020

Howdy!

So, I’ll come clean and admit that this recap is pretty late, because I watched my Blues get eliminated on Friday night and maturely decided to drink alcohol as a way to wash away the pain. I DID pop into the late night thread to watch some Joshi while still slightly intoxicated, so that was at least fun. 

Regardless, tonight; we settle the New Japan Cup USA, as David Finlay meets KENTA in the Finals!

Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Tonight, Jay White and Flip Gordon both return to NJPW on opposite sides of each other in a tag match, while Alexander Koslov’s old partner, Rocky Romero, is also set to hit the squared circle…..right now!

Rocky Romero/Adrian Quest vs Danny Limelight/The DKC

Adrian Quest’s jacket is the greatest thing I’ve seen in ages and I want one. Kelly sets up Koslov to say something about Danny Limelight and Rocky putting him over, and Koslov mumbles about it being a great opportunity for Danny facing off against the man who wants to take him under his wing. Alex, dude. Try to act excited, question something, just do ANYTHING to make me feel like you’re engaged with this. I believe in you!

Rocky starts us off with Danny, working a chain sequence until Danny finally shoves him off. Monkey Flip by Danny and they trade legsweep pins, and we get the dropkick stalemate. Tags on both sides and DKC controls with an armbar. They do a nice grappling sequence and get back to their feet, and now it’s Quest with a ‘rana and a springboard armdrag into a twisting crossbody for two. Limelight nails Quest from the apron and a DKC dropkick puts DKC and Danny in control. 

Danny with kicks on Quest as they cut the ring in half on the kid. Adrian makes a brief comeback with La Majistral, but gets destroyed by a kick for two right after. Quest hits a spinkick and a Codebreaker on Danny and that’s enough for a tag to Rocky, who comes in and runs wild. Forever clotheslines on Limelight, including a final one to turn him inside-out. Limelight comes back with a jumping knee and makes his tag, here comes DKC. 

Big lariat by DKC takes Rocky down and now they double-team Romero, with DKC getting a Torture Rack slam for two. Quest comes in to break that up and tosses Limelight, then springboards off the top with a twisting press to put both guys down there. Yoinks. DKC charges Rocky in the corner and runs into an elbow, followed by a kick and a cutter for the pin. (Rocky Romero/Adrian Quest over Danny Limelight/The DKC, pinfall, 9:58)

THOUGHTS: **3/4. I actually liked this quite a bit. Limelight looked good, the DKC looked okay even though his constant shouting of his own name got on my nerves quite a bit. Quest seemed a bit off, but nothing major. This was a fun little tag, with the story of Limelight trying to impress Rocky being a little thing running through it. 

Flip Gordon/Brody King vs Bullet Club (Jay White/Chase Owens)

SWITCHBLADE!! Seriously, if a year ago you would have told me how much I was going to miss Jay White when he wasn’t on my screen for months at a time, I would have scoffed. Gordon and King are ostensibly allies, as they were part of Villain Enterprises in ROH with PCO and Marty Scurll, but with Marty’s being outed as, you know, a real-life scumbag, King has stated that he’s on his own. 

Owens and Flip start us off. Well, kind of, as when Flip turns to start a lockup, Jay White comes in and clobbers Flip from behind, then calmly goes back to the apron and leaves Chase in. What a spectacular fake scumbag that man is. I adore watching him. White tags in and beats on Flip, with Gordon coming back with a knee to the face. So Bullet Club cheats (naturally) with Chase tripping up Gordon and Jay hitting a neckbreaker, then having Jay distract the ref so Owens can slam Gordon on the floor. 

Back in and they keep Flip in the heel corner, then taunt Brody into coming in so Jay can choke him on the apron. White tags in and goes to the eyes, then we hit the chinlock. Flip tries a comeback, but Jay cuts him off and puts him on the top. Jay goes up, but now Flip escapes and hits a kick on the top rope, and we’ve finally got a tag to King. Brody comes in and DESTROYS both Bullet Club guys, clotheslines and forearms for everyone, then tops that off with a belly-to-belly on Jay for two. 

King tags Flip back in (Fucking WHY? Brody was killing both guys at once!) and shoots him into Jay in the corner, then Flip hits a kick for two with Chase saving it. White hits a DDT on Flip, then one on King. White with a spinning brainbuster on Gordon, and Chase follows that with a Shining Wizard for two. Chase off the ropes, but Flip avoids and hits Owens with a superkick, tag to King. Owens unexpectedly dominates Brody briefly, but makes the mistake of going for a package piledriver. That does not work.

King with a big ‘ol lariat on Chase now, and both Flip and White hit the ring as this thing is breaking loose in LA, baby. White gets tossed after a spear from Gordon, and Chase ends up taking the over-the-shoulder backbreaker into a piledriver from King for the pin. (Flip Gordon/Brody King over Bullet Club, pinfall, 8:45)

THOUGHTS: ***1/2. Probably too high, but I really loved seeing White again. Also, I admit that I haven’t been watching much ROH over the last year or so (the MSG show really did sour me on the promotion a lot) but Flip Gordon has gotten better at pretty much everything from what I can see. King is a good big man and Chase Owens is always rock-solid. I do think that this match was probably hurt without a crowd, as a lot of what White does to get a rise out of folks loses luster with no reaction – but he’s so goddamned good at it, I still get into it regardless. 

Post-match, White hides behind the ref, then attacks Gordon from behind to distract both guys from Hikuleo (he’s the TALL Tongan!) coming into the ring to attack. He leaves King laying as White points to his brain to indicate that he is, indeed, smarter than everyone else. 

I don’t like Hikuleo that much, but let’s see where this goes. 

Break before the main event to disinfect the ring. That sponge commercial is starting to work on me, because I want one now. 

Starting next week, it’s the Fighting Spirit Unleashed Tour! The Road to FSU (not Florida State) begins next week on New Japan Strong!

Main event time! Video package shows us how we got to our Final tonight, although all of my loyal readers already know that shit because they read these fine recaps, am I right?

David Finlay vs KENTA – New Japan Cup USA Final

Now, I give Finlay about a 1% chance OF a 1% chance to actually win this match, so really the point here is to have a good showing and boost himself a bit. They trade wristlocks and go to the mat to start us off. They work off that a bit, then KENTA runs the ropes and Finlay dropkicks him to the floor. He gives chase, but KENTA comes back in and goes out again, then suckers Finlay in to nail him coming through the ropes. The story of the match is simple – KENTA is the vet, Finlay isn’t, so he’s gonna get caught with stuff like that. 

KENTA with kicks and a knee to the back of the head, and he stomps away. Neckbreaker into a loose Camel Clutch by KENTA now. Knee drop to the back of the head gets one. David finally makes a comeback and hits a belly-to-back suplex. Second-rope uppercut by Finlay gets two. Uranage backbreaker gets two. David charges KENTA in the corner, but eats a boot and a necksnap, then a top-rope clothesline from KENTA. 

DDT and draping DDT in succession get two for KENTA. He goes to the top, double foot stomp onto Finlay! 1, 2, no! GTS, but David escapes that and catches a charging KENTA with a knee in the corner. Spear by David gets two. Last Shot by David gets two. Finlay goes for Prima Nocta, but KENTA escapes and kicks David in the junk with the ref out of position, then rolls him up….for two. 

David fires European uppercuts, but Prima Nocta gets countered into a sleeper by KENTA. He drops David to the mat, hits a Penalty Kick, then hoists David on his shoulders and sends Finlay to dreamland to win the New Japan Cup USA. (KENTA over David Finlay, pinfall, 13:32)

THOUGHTS: ***. There was good stuff in here, but overall I don’t think this was the big breakout performance that Finlay wanted here. It was okay. Part of the problem was that outside of some cursory neck work by KENTA, the match didn’t really have much to say – it was just two guys doing moves to each other. And they really didn’t pay off the whole ‘vet outsmarts the young guy’ as much as I would have liked. Both guys are obviously good pro wrestlers, but the chemistry wasn’t really there for me, sorry. 

KENTA is awarded the Cup (which only has a nameplate on it that just says ‘Victory’, which I find utterly hilarious) and along with it a briefcase that holds the open contract for his match for the title. He also gets a mic. Listen, he says, I’m the winner of the New Japan Cup USA, so let him ask – where is Jon Moxley? What’s he doing? Hey, Jon Moxley, I’m coming for you! 

He then switches over to Japanese to cut the rest of the promo…..and gets attacked by Jeff Cobb! He hits the ring and tries for a suplex, so KENTA bails out. Guess Cobb didn’t exactly like getting kicked in the nuts in the Semi. Either way, Cobb holds up the briefcase and says that he wants a shot at it, but KENTA says no and blows him off before walking to the back. 

Kelly says that Cobb was victimized in the semifinal, which leads to my favorite Koslov line of the week: “I cannot put ‘victimize’ in the same sentence as Jeff Cobb, to be honest with you. But he did get cheated a little.” Yeah, see, the guy who gets cheated is literally the victim of the cheater there, Alex. Kevin and Alex wrap us up for the week and we’re done.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’ll confess to being a bit disappointed in the main event today, but both undercard tags were super-fun and it was great to see Jay back, so overall this was a fine show. Just wasn’t a real blowaway match today. 

You’ll be seeing a lot of me this week, as I’m planning to cover both New Japan shows this week and the big Saturday one in Jingu as well. As for the future of Strong, I don’t know – I may stay with it if you all want me to, as it’s not a hard show to write up, but I can also see it as very skippable as well. Any thoughts, leave them for me down below.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote, 

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email