Fred Yehi makes his New Japan Strong debut, teaming with Wheeler Yuta in this week’s main event.

Quick Results
Hikuleo pinned Alex Coughlin in 7:07 (**)
Lio Rush & Rocky Romero pinned The DKC & Clark Connors in 10:50 (***)
Fred Yehi & Wheeler Yuta submitted Jordan Clearwater & Misterioso in 11:57 (***)

Better late than never – and that’s not talking about the cross-country trip I was able to take this weekend to see my parents for the first time this year… and in the case of my mum, because of care home restrictions, since February of last year. A lot of the time, there’s things way more important than stuff we watch…

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes. New Japan Strong. Once again it’s opened with a clip reel voiced over by Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov, and then it’s off to the ring.

Alex Coughlin vs. Hikuleo
Hikuleo’s got a chance to get back on track after losing to Fred Rosser last time out in a wild brawl that went indoors and outside…

Hikuleo shoved Coughlin into the corner from the opening tie-up, before the big lad looked to work the arm. Coughlin counters out into a hammerlock, but Hikuleo’s front facelock stopped all that. Somehow, Coughlin finds the left arm as he went back to the hammerlock, but Hikuleo just slammed his way free before chucking the Young Lion into the turnbuckle pad. A clothesline and a stalling suplex drops Coughlin as we got a shot of the fairy lights in the Gods of the studios. Hikuleo’s back elbow and leg drop gets a two-count, before he grounded Coughlin with a chinlock. Another slam from Hikuleo follows, but Coughlin slips out and returned with shoulder blocks, which had no effect as he ended up getting booted again.

Coughlin finds a way back in with a leaping shoulder tackle, before a deadlift gutwrench suplex landed for a near-fall. A half crab from Coughlin ended in the ropes, as Hikuleo quickly came back with a scoop slam off the ropes before a Tongan Driver was escaped. Chops from Coughlin gets shrugged off as a clothesline took him down, with that Tongan Driver finally getting the win. This was fine, but didn’t have the zip that you’d usually associate with Young Lion outings. **

Clark Connors & The DKC vs. Rocky Romero & Lio Rush
In the week that Lio Rush retired once again… it’s ironic he debuted a tandem with Rocky Romero here.

Rush and DKC start, with Rush’s waistlock being countered into a wristlock from DKC as the pair went back-and-forth early on. A leaping axe kick from Rush gets an early two-count, with Rocky tagging in afterwards to put the boots to DKC. A simple stomp to the foot from the DKC breaks that as Connors comes in to hit a double-team shoulder tackle for a two-count. Rocky recovers to corner Connors, bringing back Rush as a clothesline and a knee drop led to a quick two-count for Lio. Connors tries to fight back, but runs into a boot before a misdirection led to a spear to Rush’s lower back as he managed to turn the match on its head. Uppercuts rock Rush as DKC came back in for his share of a double hiptoss that draws a two-count.

DKC’s snap suplex keeps the momentum up, before a double sledge from Connors to that lower back gets a two-count on Rush. A back suplex from Rush adds another, but Rush then countered a sidewalk slam by spinning out into a DDT as he managed to drag himself across to Rocky in the corner. Rocky runs wild with ranas, then with Forever clotheslines, before a running Shiranui nearly put Connors away. A springboard stunner from Rush is stopped as DKC pulled him to the outside, allowing Connors to capitalise with a misdirection POUNCE on Rocky… DKC then tagged back in to hit a single-leg dropkick for a two-count. Rocky blocks a suplex and fought free of DKC with a clothesline as he made a tag out to Rush, who got caught with a crucifix and a modified Anaconda Vise from DKC.

Rocky stomps that apart, drawing in Connors to throw him outside. Rush takes a Doomsday Boot from DKC for a two-count, but recovers to hit a springboard stunner off the bottom rope to DKC… and that’s all folks. A little more competitive than you’d like, with Rush and Rocky going 50-50 with their foes – and seemingly setting up something between Rocky and Connors for down the line going by the post-match afters… ***

I’m guessing LEC doesn’t have any new stuff for the LA Dojo Lads to plug…

Fred Yehi & Wheeler Yuta vs. Misterioso & Jordan Clearwater
We’ve another debuting combination here, with Yehi making his show debut as well.

Yehi and Misterioso start us off, with getting an early wristlock on as he grounded the masked man. A cross armbar’s rolled out of, so Yehi goes back with a headlock takedown as Alex Koslov popped everyone with his Misterioso facts. Wheeler Yuta tags in and spun down Misterioso, but the resulting hold ends quickly in the ropes.

Yuta and Misterioso trade trips as Yuta went all World of Sport on us en route to a dropkick… but Misterioso backs into the ropes and tagged out to Clearwater. Yehi’s back in also, working over Clearwater as he tied up the legs for a Deathlock… grounding Clearwater as Yuta returned to work over the same leg with a toe hold. Yehi’s back as he tied up Clearwater’s legs again before winning a brief chop battle. More chops lead to a backfist and a German suplex from Yehi, before Yuta returned to trip Clearwater into a Boston crab. Yehi and Yuta continue to trade tags, but Clearwater throws Yuta aside as Misterioso returned to slam Yuta and follow through with some clotheslines.

Shoulder charges pin Yuta in his own corner, while a clotheslines left him laying for some running double knees from the masked man. Misterioso pulls Yuta aside for a springboard flip senton for a two-count, before a flapjack from Misterioso and Clearwater led to another two-count. A Manhattan drop from Yuta gives Clearwater a charley horse ahead of a German suplex that nearly ended things… but a clothesline from Clearwater almost wins it out of nowhere. Misterioso returned to scoop slam Yuta, before a Quebrada into a moonsault forced Yehi in to break up the pin.

Yuta manages to drag Clearwater across the ring as Yehi returned to help take down Clearwater for stomps… but Misterioso ran in to clear house, throwing Yuta outside. A dive misses as Yuta instead nailed a tope, while Clearwater’s bulldog out of the corner’s countered as Yehi flipped him down into a Koji clutch for the quick submission with some hammer fists too. A decent enough tag match, but like the rest of the show, was just missing something. ***

“This was fine” – just under an hour’s wrestling that didn’t have any bad, but similarly didn’t have much urgency or pace to it as the focus on new tag teams felt remarkably odd… unless they’re adding some Strong tag team titles to the mix here.