We’ve got show-debuts in the main event, as Bateman takes on the on-excursion Ren Narita.
Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel pinned Kevin Knight & Jordan Clearwater in 6:12 (**½)
Brody King pinned JR Kratos in 10:09 (***¼)
Ren Narita submitted Bateman in 14:53 (***½)
We’re back in the same building we’re always in, with Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov on the call as we’re seemingly still on the Road to Lion’s Break: Contenders…
Riegel Twins (Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel) vs. Jordan Clearwater & Kevin Knight
This was Clearwater’s first appearance on the show in almost two months…
Knight starts off against Sterling Riegel, going in with a front facelock as he rolled him down for a one-count. He keeps ahead, but gets pushed into the corner as Clearwater came in to swing at Sterling, before he got ‘rana’d into the corner. We’ve quick tags as the Riegels confuse everyone – yeah, I rely on Kevin Kelly to ID them – as a double-team suplex on Clearwater forces Knight in to break up the cover. More double-teaming’s broken up as Clearwater pulls the Riegels into each other, before Knight tagged in to hit some shoulder charges. A hiptoss gets Knight a two-count, as did a leapfrog/dropkick combo, then a bodyslam as Knight tried to pull ahead. Clearwater tags back in and lands a shoulder tackle for a one-count. He stays on top with a suplex, then a back suplex for a two-count with Sterling breaking up the cover.
Logan’s thrown into the corner, but he rolls away from a splash as Sterling tagged in… as did Knight, as the pace picked up. Elbows and clotheslines keep Sterling ahead, ahead of an axe kick to Knight before he stopped to drop Clearwater on the apron with a Slingblade. A tope from Sterling, keeps Clearwater on the floor while Knight nearly rolled up Sterling for the win. Uppercuts from Knight led to a missed dropkick as Sterling clung onto the ropes – and that’s the cue for Logan to return as they hit a spiked DDT for the win. A solid six-minute TV match, with Knight looking good in his role as a Young Lion – I have a feeling the Riegels will continue to confuse the ever-living hell out of everyone trying to identify them. **½
JR Kratos vs. Brody King
Time for some big lads’ wrestling!
Of course, they begin to leather each other at the bell, trading right hands and elbows before Kratos began to boot King into the corner. There’s a palm strike there as Kratos got an early advantage, keeping King at bay with some chops. King hits the ropes, but just gets hotshotted into the top rope, before Kratos hurled him into the buckles. Another palm strike stings King in the corner, with a retort quickly being shook off as Kratos threw some more elbows. An Irish whip’s reversed, but Kratos responds with a diving kick after Brody misses a charge in the corner. A leg sweep takes King down for a kick in the corner, with Kratos staying on top of him with some choking in the ropes.
Kratos keeps going with an overhand chop, but King finally finds a way back, reversing a whip into the corner as he builds with a series of clotheslines. A Black Hole Slam drops Kratos for a two-count, but Kratos fights back with a right hand, only to get caught with one in return before he dropped Brody with a clothesline. King’s back to his feet, trading right hands and strikes, but he’s caught by a faked out punch as Kratos throws some knees to the midsection. A leaping forearm into the corner caught King, but Brody’s back with an Exploder into the buckles before a cannonball squishes Kratos for a near-fall (thanks to Kratos being able to grab the ropes).
From there, Brody goes back with some more chops in the ropes, before Kratos caught his crossbody, and turned it into a slam. Kratos followed that up with a suplex for a two-count, before an attempt at the wheelbarrow German suplex was blocked, with King kicking free as he came in with a German suplex of his own. A running clothesline followed for a two-count, and while Kratos hit back with a leaping knee, King’s able to shrug it off and hit a short-range lariat for the pin. A little slow-paced for some, but this was a hell of an outing with two big lads just hitting each other. Hard. Give me more of this kind of style please! ***¼
Add thyme. Clark Connors is still excited by that cleaning spray.
Bateman vs. Ren Narita
Apparently Narita’s no longer a Young Lion, as he gets this big test against ROH’s Bateman.
It’s a fairly scrappy start as Narita tested Bateman with kicks, before Bateman tried to take him down with a wristlock. Eventually doing so, Bateman torques away as Narita escapes a hammerlock, then rolled out of the wristlock before eventually spinning free of Bateman. A tie-up’s next, with Bateman getting taken to the corner, before a side headlock from Narita kept things grounded. Bateman tries to push off Narita, but instead he’s taken down in the side headlock as Narita keeps it on tight, before Bateman finally got free with some headscissors. Narita headstands his way free and dives back in with the side headlock, switching it up with a chinlock as he kept on with the basics.
A figure four headscissors from Narita keeps Bateman grounded, but Bateman’s size means he can get to the rope pretty easily… and he quickly replies with an eye rake as he pulls Narita into a Dragon Sleeper, stopping to throw a knee to the back of the head in the process. A forearm to the back of the head drops Ren for a two-count, before he chopped Narita in the ropes. Narita’s peppered with elbows as he finally gives back, knocking Bateman into the ropes briefly. Bateman’s back with an elbow for a two-count, then some face-raking and an elbow to the top of the head for a two-count, with some hooking in a chinlock being broken up quickly. Elbows from Narita have some more effect on Bateman, knocking him through the ropes and onto the apron, but Narita wanders into a hotshot as Bateman caught him against the ropes again.
That barely got Bateman a one-count though, so he followed up with a back suplex for a two-count. More elbows have Narita wobbly, as did some chops, before Narita struck back with an overhead belly-to-belly as Bateman charged at him. A leaping elbow into the corner is next, then a head-and-arm floatover suplex for a nice two-count. Narita throws in a side-Russian legsweep, tying it up into a leg-spreader as he looked for a submission. Bateman gets free and decks him with a big boot though, before a back elbow dropped Narita again ahead of a facebuster. A follow-up boot gets Bateman a two-count, before he scooped Narita up for something…. but eventually landing a lariat as Narita slipped out.
Bateman only gets a two-count from that, so he followed up with an Emerald Frosion for a near-fall as Narita just about had something left in the tank. Exasperated, Bateman throws his elbow pad at Narita’s head, then wound up for some more elbow strikes… but Narita shakes them off, and ends up ducking one as he finagled his way into a Cobra Twist. A rope break saves Bateman, but Narita kicks him away and hits a bridging German suplex for a near-fall, before rolling him into a Texas Cloverleaf for the submission. A really good debut outing for both men, with Bateman posing some tricky questions for Narita – but the former Young Lion answered all of them and got the win against the more experienced Bateman. ***½
Next week, I think the Lion’s Break: Contender shows start with a trios main event as the Bullet Club’s KENTA, El Phantasmo and Hikuleo take on TJP, Fred Rosser and the debuting Lio Rush. I say “start” – because those graphics didn’t have “road to” on them… then again, they didn’t have them on this week, yet this show was still tagged as “road to.” Yeah, I’m nitpicking!
NJPW Strong continues to stay somewhat fresh in 2021, with the shaken-up roster keeping things going. Narita/Bateman was a really good main event, as NJPW Strong looks to be pivoting to telling Narita’s “excursion” story in the coming weeks.