New Japan’s starting yet another tournament next week on NJPW Strong – but first, it’s the road to Lion’s Break Crown.
Logan Riegel, Adrian Quest, Clark Connors & Danny Limelight pinned Jordan Clearwater, Barrett Brown, Blake Christian & The DKC in 10:17 (**¾)
PJ Black & Rocky Romero pinned Misterioso & Fred Rosser in 12:02 (**¾)
Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga pinned Alex Zayne & ACH in 13:08
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are on the call again, running down this week’s card which largely looks like “guys on the roster in matches”, largely because everyone in the Lion’s Break Crown tournament has been shoved into a single tag match…
Barrett Brown, Blake Christian, the DKC & Jordan Clearwater vs. Clark Connors, Logan Riegel, Adrian Quest & Danny Limelight
Quest and Christian start us off to tease their match next week, starting off with shoulder tackles as they looked for an early advantage.
An armdrag from Christian takes down Quest, but Adrian caught a spinning heel kick before a lot of swinging and missing led to a stand-off. Tags bring in Clearwater and Connors ahead of their match, as Clark looked to keep the big lad down, rolling him down for a pinning attempt. Waistlocks keep Jordan down before they reached a stalemate, with Clearwater quickly ending up in another side headlock before a shoulder tackle had him down again. Connors hits the ropes, looking for an armdrag, but Clearwater nails a neckbreaker for a two-count as tags bring in DKC and Logan Riegel. DKC gets a cross armbar in, but the ring fills to break it up… and when things calm down, DKC’s able to tag in Barrett Brown… but Brown loses Riegel, who lands a forearm before tagging in Limelight.
Limelight backflips over Brown as we had another stalemate, then another after missed kicks and a double dropkick, before Brown went “eff this” and clotheslines Limelight. A slam from Limelight and a kick to the back weakens Brown, before Quest tagged in and hit a running shooting star press for a near-fall. An enziguiri out of the corner from Brown allows him to suplex Quest back into the buckles, before Clearwater tagged in and stomped a mudhole in Quest. Christian tags in next, landing a leaping uppercut in the corner and a Goomba stomp to a sitting Quest for a two-count, before DKC tagged in for a Northern Lights suplex and a fist drop for just a one-count. Brown’s back to get a two-count from a slam as Quest was taking a beating, but Quest is able to block a superplex as he shoves down Brown for a Meteora. A tag brings in Clark Connors to light up Clearwater with chops and stomps in the corner, with a hiptoss out of it getting a two-count. A scoop slam cuts out Clearwater’s comeback as Connors almost got the win, before he rolled the big lad over for a Boston crab.
Which DKC instantly kicks apart, sparking a Parade of Moves and Dives, but Clearwater stayed back in the ring… and ended up losing to an elevated DDT from Logan Riegel. This felt a little disjointed to me – everyone got something in, but it was what it was: eight singles guys getting ring time in before a tournament started. **¾
Fred Rosser & Misterioso vs. Rocky Romero & PJ Black
Rosser and Romero get us going, tying up and heading into the ropes as Rocky does the shoulder shuffle taunt on the break.
Shoulder tackles follow as Rocky tried to take down Rosser, but it’s Rosser who took him down as a tag brings in PJ Black. Memories. Ah, never mind, that Nexus reunion quickly ends as Misterioso tagged in as the pair cartwheeled past each other until Black hit a dropkick. Rosser’s back in to drop Black on his arse on the apron, before he took over in the ring with shoulder charges. A knee to the gut keeps Black at bay, as Misterioso returned in to hit an elbow drop for a one-count. Black’s taken into the corners next, with Misterioso throwing some stomps while Rosser threw a forearm as he proceeded to choke his former Nexus buddy on the apron. Headbutts from Rosser head to a hairmare across the ring on Black, with sit-down splashes next for a two-count.
Misterioso’s back with stomps, following up with shoulder charges as Black was being worn down. An Irish whip and a trip in the corner left Black open for running double knees that nearly ends this, before a missed moonsault gave Black an opening. Rocky tags in and hits a tijeras to take Misterioso down, but Rosser’s in to try and intervene… only for Rocky to break free with Forever lariats. A double Asai DDT leaves both men down, with Misterioso almost getting put away with it, before Rocky came back out with chops. Misterioso pushes Rocky away ahead of a rolling thunder neckbreaker, with Rosser tagging in to pick up a two-count from that, before Rocky fought back with a brainbuster attempt… but Rosser just comes back with a no-bump suplex for a two-count.
Rosser runs into a leaping knee as Black tagged in… PJ hits a crossbody off the top, then flips over Rosser ahead of a spinning heel kick. A charge into the corner’s caught as Black ends up getting hot shot onto the ropes, with Misterioso capitalising with a flip senton for a near-fall. A moonsault from Misterioso misses, but he lands two superkicks on Black for a two-count before Black caught him with a one-man Spanish Fly off the middle rope. Rosser breaks the cover up quickly, then went after Black, lifting him to the top rope ahead of some chops. The referee’s distracted by Rocky Romero for some reason, but Rocky comes in to cut off a double superplex by turning it into a Tower of Doom. It’s fought away, as Black ends up taking the superplex for a near-fall.
Rocky fakes out Rosser into charging to the outside, following him out with a pescado, while PJ took down Misterioso with a head kick, before a springboard 450 – the Placebo Effect – got the win. Technically this was fine, but this felt like such a disposable undercard match, with little obvious being built to. **¾
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. ACH & Alex Zayne
So it’s a relative gimme for the former IWGP tag team champions, against the makeshift tandem of Zayne and ACH.
Tanga Loa and ACH start us off, but ACH’s idea of shoulder tackles early didn’t go well… unlike a backflip into a dropkick that caught Tanga off guard. Some rights keep Loa on his knee, while a low dropkick has him on his back as Zayne tags in to try and keep the momentum, landing a sunset flip for a two-count. A headbutt from Tanga stops Zayne briefly, before an Irish whip had Loa cornered again. ACH is back to help with a double dropkick, while a double hiptoss to Tama Tonga had both of the Guerrillas on the back foot. Things spill outside, and into the Guerrillas’ hands as Zayne got posted, while the referee’s count forced ACH and Loa back into the ring.
An Irish whip from Tanga takes ACH into the Guerrillas’ corner as a slam sets up for Tama Tonga to come in with a senton atomico. Tanga has one of his own too as ACH has to kick out at two. Tama rips away on ACH’s face, then stopped to knock Zayne off the apron as the pace remained rather methodical. Tanga Loa’s back with some shots to ACH on the apron, before a thumb to the eye snuffed out an attempted comeback. Tanga mocks Zayne for wanting a tag before landing a powerslam for a two-count. Tama’s back to stomp away on ACH in the corner, forcing the referee to separate the pair as Tanga Loa got some cheapshots in from the floor. We’re back with a chinlock from Tama, as he looked to eke out a submission, but ACH powers up and elbows his way free… only for Tanga Loa to attack from behind.
Double-teaming backfires as ACH boots away Tanga, before flipping out of a back suplex as Alex Zayne finally tags in. An overhead kick stops Tama, as does a flipping legdrop, before Zayne went up for the shooting star knees… but Tama evades it, before he ate a facebuster for a near-fall. Tanga Loa breaks that up with a German suplex into the corner before ACH’s enziguiri took care of Tanga… who’s right back in with a spear as the ring remained full. That all leads to Guerrilla Warfare on Zayne for a near-fall, before more double-teaming traps Zayne in the corner for a Stinger splash. The Super Powerbomb finisher is broken up as ACH and Zayne combine for an assisted ‘rana out of the corner for a near-fall, before Zayne’s crossbody was caught and turned into a slam for a near-fall. Tama pulls ACH out of the ring, as Tanga hits Apeshit for the win – solid, by the numbers stuff, with Zayne and ACH being a brief threat, but this was all GOD for the most part. **¾
Next week, Lion’s Break Crown gives us all four first round matches: Riegel/DKC, Connors/Clearwater, Limelight/Brown and Quest/Christian – and that’s your lot from a whisper-quiet sign-off! If you’re a completist, watch this before the G1 – it’s like night and day unfortunately. This “Road to” show just felt like a show that was spinning its wheels – I’d rather they had done two tags to build the “not the Young Lions’ Cup” Crown tournament, but it was what it was.