With the New Japan Showdown tour starting soon, we’ve got a compact “Road to” show from the US-arm of New Japan…
Sterling Riegel & Logan Riegel pinned The DKC & Clark Connors in 10:00 (***)
Karl Fredericks submitted Blake Christian in 5:56 (**½)
Hikuleo, KENTA, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa pinned Misterioso, Alex Zayne, PJ Black & David Finlay in 9:33 (**¾)
We’re back for the run-in to another “tour” on NJPW Strong, with Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly on commentary.
Riegel Twins (Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel) vs. Clark Connors & The DKC
It’s the first time the Riegel Twins have appeared on NJPW Strong, with Sterling having been away in England…
DKC and Sterling start out as Koslov struggles to tell the twins apart. A side headlock from DKC on the mat leads to a headscissors escape, but DKC’s back with that headlock as they trade holds, leading to some Figure Four headscissors on the mat from DKC. Sterling escapes with a side headlock, before DKC pancaked him… then tagged in Clark Connors to stretch some legs. Sterling rolls free to tag in Logan, who scrambled on the mat before a waistlock takedown led to a front facelock on Connors, who then got took into the wrong corner. A tag brings Sterling back to put the boots to him, with the Riegels exchanging quick tags to wear down the Young Lion ahead of a senton atomico and a springboard splash for a near-fall.
Shoulder charges keep Connors in the ropes, but a misdirection POUNCE give Clark enough time for DKC to tag in. A suplex gets DKC a two-count, before he locked in a surfboard stretch on Sterling, as Koslov had totally given up trying to tell the Twins apart. The struggle is real. A grounded chinlock keeps Sterling down, as does a double-team shoulder tackle, before a slam drew a two-count for Connors. DKC runs in to knock Logan off the apron as the double-teaming continued… but Sterling sent him flying to the outside before bringing in Logan. A running uppercut catches Connors, who’s sent outside for a plancha, following that back up inside the ring with a Slingblade for a near-fall. Overhand chops to Connors get returned, but a discus lariat turns the tables before the Riegels peppered Connors with double-teams.
A powerbomb onto him, then a leapfrog stomp and a standing moonsault gets a two-count, before Clark fired back with a scoop slam to Logan. Both men tag out, bringing us to Sterling and DKC… DKC lays in with right hands and kicks ahead of a sit-out slam that nearly ended the match.
Clark dives into Logan with a spear, but a leaping neckbreaker from Sterling took care of him, before DKC tried to make a comeback with karate chops… he carves a path through, but quickly gets caught with an elevated double-team DDT for the win. A pretty good outing for the Riegels here, who showed plenty as a unit – and that double-team DDT looks pretty damn effective, too. ***
Blake Christian vs. Karl Fredericks
We start with a lock-up, as Fredericks lifted up Christian into the ropes for an obligatory break.
A chop follows after Christian had been taken into the corner, with shoulder tackles following as Blake looked to knock down Fredericks… before he succeeded by just ducking a crossbody attempt. Blake’s handspring elbow catches Karl next, before a low dropkick sent him outside… but a dive’s cut off, only for Fredericks to be taken outside with a pop-up headscissors as Blake finally nailed the dive to the outside. Back inside, Fredericks hangs up Christian in the ropes for a kick to the back, as Fredericks began to edge ahead. Christian blocks a suplex and comes back with a spinning enziguiri, before a leg trip and a low 619 caught Fredericks ahead of a springboard back into the ring. Blake pushes on with a flying stomp to the bent-over Fredericks for a near-fall.
Christian tries for a waistlock, but Fredericks elbows out and looked for the Manifest Destiny DDT… but Blake gets free and looked to win with a Victory roll, then a roll-up, before a spinebuster from Fredericks put him down. A half crab followed, and that’s eventually enough to force Blake to submit. A quick, but competitive match as Karl picks up another W. **½
Add thyme… hey, it’s a new advert! They play off the first one for the cleaning bar as Karl and Alex are now actively fearing Clark Connors’ finger snapping… and the “soap free cleaning spray”. Is that just isopropyl alcohol?
Bullet Club (KENTA, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Hikuleo) vs. David Finlay, PJ Black, Alex Zayne & Misterioso
So while KENTA’s defending a broken briefcase in the States, here on Strong it’s still in one-piece and has another challenger…
Black and Tanga Loa start us off, but a cheapshot from Tanga sees him knock Black down, before blocked armdrags allowed PJ to sweep the legs as he forced his way in. A spinning leg lariat takes Tanga down as PJ lands a leaping elbow… but then got caught with a kick from Tana Tonga in the ropes. He shrugs it off to hit a back body drop as commentary extolled the virtues of that move… A leaping splash from PJ catches Tanga in the corner, but Misterioso has no such luck, instead rolling Tanga down for a dropkick that gets a two-count. Tama Tonga’s in to help catch a handspring from Misterioso, but he accidentally pushes Misterioso into a tijeras on Tanga Loa, with the masked man pushing on for just a one-count there.
Alex Zayne comes in to hit headscissors on Tama, then some elbows before Tama fought back, blocking a tilt-a-whirl as Hikuleo hit Zayne with a chokeslam from the apron. A tag brings the big lad in, with a running powerslam getting a solid two-count, before an overhand chop kept Zayne there. KENTA tags in to throw some boots in the corner, following up with a back elbow, then a punt to the back for good measure. Tama Tonga’s back to club down Zayne, before he cleared the apron, which led to the good guys arguing with the referee as the distraction allowed the Bullet Club to wear down Zayne some more… until he got free with a Pele kick, and tagged in Finlay to take his shots on KENTA.
A running uppercut from Finlay and a uranage backbreaker lands for a two-count, with Tanga Loa running in to stem the tide seconds later. Finlay rolls away from a back suplex as Black flew in with a crossbody… but he’s tripped and pulled outside as the Bullet Club pushed on, a DDT from KENTA leads to Hikuleo tagging in, with the big lad throwing Finlay into the corner almost instantly. Finlay wriggles out of a suplex but can’t avoid a scoop slam from Hikuleo… a low bridge from Finlay takes Hikuleo out as Finlay eventually made the tag out to Misterioso. A sunset flip off the top came to nought, so Misterioso goes low with a dropkick, before a springboard crossbody was rolled through into a Gun Slinger – complete with a wacky shot of Black and Finlay selling in the aisle – before Hikuleo got the three count. Was that an edit? Either way, the Bullet Club leave with the win after a so-so main event. **¾
Next week: another Road to episode, with Fred Rosser vs. Jordan Clearwater, plus a tag match as Rocky Romero and Jeff Cobb take on Rust Taylor and JR Kratos.
A passable episode of Strong this week, as the ongoing fight for KENTA’s IWGP US title shot continues to play out in Japan and America.