This week on NJPW Strong, we’ve got the semi-finals of the Lion’s Break: Crown tournament.
Lion’s Break: Crown – Semi-Final: Clark Connors submitted Logan Riegel in 7:51 (**¾)
Lion’s Break: Crown – Semi-Final: Danny Limelight pinned Blake Christian in 7:54 (***)
Flip Gordon & Brody King pinned TJP & Karl Fredericks in 11:06 (***¼)
Chase Owens, Hikuleo, KENTA & Jay White pinned Misterioso, Rocky Romero, Jeff Cobb & David Finlay in 11:28 (***)
We’re back for another week of NJPW Strong – but weirdly the tournament portion of the show isn’t front and centre this week. Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are on commentary, as ever…
They show a recap of last week’s Lion’s Break: Crown tournament matches, and then it’s over for action.
Lion’s Break: Crown – Semi Final: Logan Riegel vs. Clark Connors
Riegel’s got a bad arm – which isn’t going to help him against one of the tournament favourites.
Connors takes Riegel to the mat early, as the search for an armbar ended in nought. Riegel goes in with a side headlock on the mat, but Connors escapes with headscissors as they reached another stand-off, before Connors just muscled Riegel to the mat. A cross armbreaker is countered out of as Riegel tries to switch into a knee bar, but Connors escapes and took Riegel into the ropes for a chop. Logan replies in kind, but gets caught with a misdirection shoulder tackle as Connors began to build fresh momentum. More chops trap Riegel in the corner, along with shoulder charges, as a chop to the back barely gets a one-count.
Connors keeps going with a chinlock, which Riegel fights free of, before he lost a battle of suplexes. More chops wear down Riegel, but he sidesteps a charge and surprises Connors with a German suplex out of the corner. Logan returns fire with an uppercut before throwing Connors outside for a plancha, returning to the ring for a Slingblade for a near-fall. Riegel tries to put Connors away with a Destroyer, but it’s blocked and turned into a Boston crab… but Riegel grabs the ropes to avoid it. He kicks Connors away, but couldn’t hit his version of a Zig Zag as Clark returned fire with a powerslam for a near-fall, before a spear and a Boston crab trapped Riegel in the middle of the ring for a quick submission. A nice, even outing, but one that felt way short for a tournament that’s meant to have some importance. **¾
We cut to Kevin Kelly interviewing Blake Christian via headset. They address Christian’s side injury, which he says is an issue he’s never had before, despite having previously won tournaments with other injuries. Let’s see.
Lion’s Break: Crown – Semi Final: Blake Christian vs. Danny Limelight
Christian’s selling his side during his entrance, and he’s instantly taken down as Limelight threw knees, elbows and stomps to the injured ribs.
Kicks target that injury too as Christian’s taken to the corner, but he’s able to return with a gamengiri in the corner before a springboard attempt was pushed away. Limelight picks Christian off the ropes in a torture rack, throwing it into a cutter as the targeting continued, More elbows and knees to the ribs keep Blake in trouble, but he keeps kicking out. A trip sends Blake into the bottom rope, but he’s back to sweep down Limelight with a STO… but Danny keeps going back to the ribs, knowing that that’d be his easiest path to a victory. Christian tries to cut him off in the ropes with a clothesline, following up with a low dropkick that gets a two-count, before Limelight stacked him up with a sit-out powerbomb.
It’s not enough though, as Christian comes back with a sorta-Slingblade for a two-count. A springboard 450 comes to nought as Limelight avoids it, but Danny’s springboard also gets cut-off as Christian looked to capitalised with a second 450 splash onto the hung-up Limelight. Danny’s back to cut off Christian on the top rope, bringing him down with a superplex, before a small package driver gets the win. Pretty brief, but this time it made sense given how Limelight targeted the injury throughout. ***
Brody King & Flip Gordon vs. TJP & Karl Fredericks
With Villain Enterprises being retconned, Flip and Brody are now singles guys with a loose connection.
Flip and TJP start things off, going back-and-forth on wristlocks and counters as they go to ground. They look to trade shoulder tackles, before Flip’s hand-walking led him into a knee bar from TJP, but it’s escapes as the pair reached an unsteady stand-off. Uppercuts from TJP keep Gordon in the corner, before TJP used misdirection to catch Flip out ahead of a Muta lock attempt that quickly ends in the ropes. Tags bring in Brody and Fredericks, with the latter getting ragdolled into the ropes for a quick break. The pair go back-and-forth with elbows and chops, as King pulled ahead, but a leapfrog/crossbody from Fredericks found its mark before he avoided a back senton from King on the mat.
Brody clubs his way back in as Gordon came in… and got accidentally clotheslined by Brody as Fredericks tried to isolate Flip. TJP returns too for a double suplex, with Fredericks landing the leaping elbow drop for just a two-count. A senton atomico misses from TJP, who’s then tripped as Flip pulled him outside for a wheelbarrow facebuster onto the edge of the ring. Back inside, Brody tags in to light up TJP with a chop, following up with some mudhole stomping too, before a splash gets a near-fall. Flip’s back for a PK to TJP, whole Brody tagged back in to stretch TJP on the mat. Some crossface punches keep TJP down, as Fredericks tried to gee up his tag partner… and it works as TJP flipped free, only to have to hit a satellite DDT to get himself enough time to tag out.
In come Fredericks and Gordon to trade chops, but it’s Karl who pushes ahead with a backbreaker and a Stinger splash. A stalling dropkick into the corner gets a two-count for Fredericks, before Flip Matrix’s out of a clothesline… but his springboard crossbody’s countered into a spinebuster. Fredericks tries to follow up with a half crab, but Brody breaks it up. TJP tags himself in to try and clear house, taking King outside with a tijeras before landing a back suplex on Flip… then TJP went up top for a Mamba splash, but Flip gets his knees up and rolls up TJP for a near-fall. Fredericks and King come in to throw fists, before Brody’s German suplex and lariat spun Karl to the mat, as he then handed off TJP for a TKO for the win. Pretty decent stuff this, with the former Villain Enterprises lads looking dominant, as Brody King proved the difference maker. ***¼
Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA, Hikuleo & Chase Owens) vs. David Finlay, Jeff Cobb, Rocky Romero & Misterioso
So it’s Bullet Club against Fire Pro Random opponents in our main event, although we do still have the hanging threads between Cobb and KENTA, I guess…
Rocky and Hikuleo start, and unsurprisingly Rocky wanted no part of it… at least until he geed himself up. Chops don’t work as Hikuleo just blazed through Rocky with one of his own. Jay White comes in to land one of his own, as the rest of the Bullet Club quartet completed the set. KENTA tries for a back suplex, but Rocky gets free and hits a right hand before he tagged in Jeff Cobb. Cobb bulls through KENTA, but Jay White’s in to attack him from behind… only for Cobb to lay him out before Chase ran in to take a belly-to-belly. KENTA’s back, but runs into a stalling suplex… he rakes the eyes to get free as Hikuleo ran in to boot Cobb down as the Bullet Club took over. White returns to stomp away on Cobb’s quads, rolling him in for a half crab on the mat.
KENTA’s back to keep on working over Cobb’s knee, as Hikuleo returned to hit a one-armed slam and a big splash to keep the big man down for a two-count. Hikuleo calls for his Gunslinger finish, but Cobb elbows out before Jay White came in with a chop block to the knee. Cobb manages to suplex White away and make the tag out to Finlay, who went after his former Young Lion partner with a diving uppercut before more of those in and out of the corner took the Kiwi down for a near-fall. A backdrop suplex keeps White down as Rocky runs in to clear the apron ahead of some four-on-one offence on White… yeah, it’s Rocky playing Taguchi ahead of a uranage backbreaker from Finlay for a near-fall. Everything spills outside as Finlay looked for Prima Nocta, but White blocked that, and the Trash Panda before White hit a spiking DDT.
Chase and Misterioso come in next, with the masked man hitting a slam off the ropes before a Quebrada into a standing moonsault landed for a near-fall. KENTA runs in to help Chase, but Misterioso hits a handspring back elbow before a wheelbarrow almost put Chase away. Misterio misses some running knees in the corner, then fell to a Blade Buster as White ran in… before he held Misterioso for a running knee that gets another near-fall. Owens tees up for a package piledriver, but it sparks a Parade of Moves as bodies flew everywhere, leading to Rocky Romero eating a backbreaker from Chase, who then chopped out the knee of Misterioso in mid-springboard. Misterioso’s back with a superkick and a back cracker, but Hikuleo runs in for a lariat, before a Gunslinger dropped the luchador as Chase then got dragged onto him for the win. Pretty one-sided, as the unit leaves with the win. ***
Next week: Clark Connors vs. Danny Limelight in the Lion’s Break: Crown final – with more matches likely to be announced in the days ahead.
The driest hour in pro wrestling at least gives us some good wrestling, but I’m not a fan of how the tournament this set of shows is named after was treated here. Even though the tournament is unofficially a Young Lions’ tournament, having the semi finals go so short just made things feel a little bit of an afterthought. Perhaps having each set of shows dominated by a tournament wasn’t such a good idea?