More qualifiers for this year’s New Japan Cup USA were found as Hikuleo, Jordan Clearwater, JR Kratos and Fred Rosser compete.
Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel pinned Barrett Brown & Adrian Quest in 11:33 (***)
New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: Hikuleo pinned Jordan Clearwater in 7:57 (**½)
New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: Fred Rosser pinned JR Kratos in 14:16 (***½)
We’ve got a pre-show promo from Fred Rosser who admits he’s intimidated by JR Kratos… Kratos has his promo too, saying he’s in New Japan because “the best, top-tier no-bullshit wrestlers are here.” Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are on commentary once again.
Riegel Twins (Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel) vs. Barrett Brown & Adrian Quest
The Riegels have taken their love of Brody King to a new level, huh?
Brown’s been under pressure after struggling to find a win. He’s taken down by Sterling Riegel as the twins were keeping those tattoo shirts on. Quest comes back with a hammerlock, but Sterling escapes via the ropes and comes back with a side headlock takedown. Quest comes back with an reverse knuckle lock as he heads to the ropes for a springboard armdrag… then ran back in with a seatbelt pin that nearly won it. Tags bring in Logan and Barrett Brown, with the latter going for an O’Connor roll, before Logan tries a double leapfrog dropkick. Brown puts on the brakes but eats a low dropkick, before Sterling returned with a modified High/Low for a near-fall.
The Riegels hit a double suplex on Brown, getting a delayed two-count before Brown ran into a back elbow. A kick from Sterling and a standing moonsault leads to an elbow off the middle rope for a near-fall. Brown finally gets back in with a half-and-half suplex, before Quest tagged in to try his luck with a back suplex, getting a two-count. A chinlock keeps Quest ahead, but Brown wants back in so he can hit a double-team back elbow. That gets Brown a two-count as he pushes ahead with chops and a basement dropkick for another two-count, before Quest tagged back in to wear down Sterling with a chinlock. Quest gets a two-count from a suplex, then with a clothesline… but Brown blind-tags himself in as Quest was going for a back suplex.
Sterling tags out to Logan as Brown was instantly put on the defensive, taken outside for a tope before Logan nails a leaping DDT for a near-fall. Quest makes the save, but his springboard corkscrew crossbody’s caught as the Riegels toss him outside with a fallaway slam. Brown’s left on his lonesome, but he makes a fighting shot of it, suplexing the Riegels into each other in the corner before Quest went for a dive on the Riegels who’d powdered to the outside.
Brown’s frustrated that he didn’t get to do his thing, and chews out Quest before Logan caught him with an inside cradle as the self-distracted Brown cost himself the match. A good outing this, with Brown continuing his tailspin. ***
New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: Jordan Clearwater vs. Hikuleo
Clearwater’s changed up his hair, pulling a look out of the Jackie Fargo playbook. Hope he struts.
Hikuleo’s taken the Guerrillas’ old theme, and has a bee in his bonnet after he lost to Fred Rosser via hair pulling last time out. Hikuleo starts out hot, throwing Clearwater to the outside before he attempted to post him. Clearwater puts on the brakes and sidesteps a charge… then rolls Hikuleo inside as he looked to capitalise. Clearwater targets Hikuleo’s arm and wraps it around the ropes before hitting a clothesline off the ropes to stagger Hikuleo. A sidestep sees Hikuleo avoid Clearwater, who hung himself up in the ropes with an attempted kick, before elbows keep Clearwater in the corner. Hikuleo chucks Clearwater across the ring and into the buckles for a two-count, before some ground and pound kept Clearwater in trouble.
Chops from Clearwater look to get him back in the game, but Hikuleo just swats him down for a two-count, before a slam and a leg drop drew another two-count. Some right hands from Clearwater look to get him back in, but he’s outmatched by Hikuleo, who blocks a bulldog before a neckbreaker took the Bullet Club’s young gun down. Clearwater elbows out of a Stun Gun, but can’t follow up as his big boot is countered into a scoop slam for a near-fall, before a running Samoan Driver gets Hikuleo the win. A decent, if not short, TV-style match, with Hikuleo getting back in the winning column. **½
New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifier: JR Kratos vs. Fred Rosser
We’re a year into this pandemic, so how is it that JR Kratos is the first monster (that I know of) who’s made an ornate face mask for his entrance?
Rosser rolls outside at the bell as he tries to wind up Kratos, then hit the ring for a series of shoulder blocks that didn’t budge the big man. Rosser whiffs on a rolling elbow, but Kratos stands back and charges him down to the mat. Getting back up, Rosser gets taken into the ropes and punched in the gut, before a whip took him across the ring. A suplex throw chucks Rosser across the ring, but a front kick from Rosser stuns Kratos as things head outside. Except Rosser needs to save himself from getting posted as he grabbed the post and pulled himself back inside. Kratos tries to charge back in, but Rosser’s knees stop him… so Kratos drags Rosser outside and slides him to the floor.
Kratos tries to pull the padding up off the floor, eventually doing so as Rosser dragged his way back inside. He gets pulled back outside as Kratos teases a powerbomb on the floor, but instead opts to roll Rosser back into the ring. Knees to the ribs keep Rosser down, as do chops, before a deadlift suplex takes Rosser off the mat, into the air, and back down for a near-fall. Rosser’s desperation sees him charge Kratos through the ropes as they take a spill to the floor… but it’s Kratos who took the worst landing as Rosser gets up for a whoopee cushion off the apron. Rolling back in, Rosser tries to take the count-out, but Kratos emerges and beats the count, only to get caught with some running knees.
Kratos refuses to stay down, so Rosser hits a pair of quickfire clotheslines by the ropes for a two-count. Rosser’s back up with chops and headbutts before Kratos just leapt up with an enziguiri to stop Rosser on the top rope. My word. A suplex brings Rosser back down for a two-count, before a slap took Rosser back into the corner. Another right hand dazes Rosser on the top rope, but he slips out and dumps Kratos with a fireman’s carry gutbuster for a near-fall. Rosser’s exasperated, but heads onto the apron as he tries to land a death blow on Kratos… but a back suplex on the apron is blocked as Kratos instead knocks him loopy with a leaping knee, then clotheslined him into the ring. From there, Kratos looks for a deadlift German suplex, but Rosser slips out with a schoolboy roll-up… and there’s the win! Rosser squeaks out the W and entry into the New Japan Cup proper. ***½
Post-match, Hikuleo attacks Rosser from behind as I guess we have a first round match set. Rosser’s thrown back inside as Kratos hits a discus clothesline to leave Rosser in a heap. Kratos exits, as Hikuleo then drops Rosser with a chokeslam to close the show.
Next week: more New Japan Cup qualifiers: Bateman vs. Brody King and Ren Narita vs. Misterioso. Adding qualifiers certainly extends the length of the New Japan Cup USA tournament, and makes a lot of these Road to shows feel more important than they otherwise would have been, but outside of the cup, there’s not much going on.