Karl Fredericks and Ren Narita headline the final empty-arena episode of Strong, as we’ve got another LA Dojo Showcase on tap.
Kevin Knight submitted The DKC in 9:51 (***)
Clark Connors pinned Alex Coughlin in 10:44 (***)
Ren Narita pinned Karl Fredericks in 12:38 (***¼)
It’s the last of the empty-arena Strongs – and we’ve got another showcase from the LA Dojo to round them out!
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are on commentary… hopefully with 100% less potato salad talk.
The DKC vs. Kevin Knight
DKC came out with a LA Dojo headband, but was on the defensive early on as Knight took him down with a side headlock.
DKC fight back with kicks and chops, but a hiptoss is blocked as Knight lands one instead for a two-count. A Kitchen sink knee and a diving shoulder gets Knight a two-count, while a chinlock gave DKC something to scramble from. Knight knocks DKC into the corner, then lands a slam for a two-count, before we moved to chops.
DKC’s back with a dropkick, then chops, following up with a bulldog that left Knight flat out. A running chop has Knight down for a two-count, only for DKC to run into a tiltawhirl backbreaker in return. Forearms and a standing frog splash are good for a two-count, before DKC countered a Boston crab into a triangle choke.
Knight absorbs some more karate chops, but is eventually felled as DKC held him up for some more chops. Hi-yah. A crucifix bomb nearly puts Knight away, as did a modified Anaconda Vise, but that ends up in the ropes. Using a dropkick, Knight’s right back in, before he rolled DKC into a Boston crab… and that’s all folks. In spite of asking to join the LA Dojo, DKC seems to be below Knight in that pecking order as Knight absorbed a lot of offence before grabbing the win. ***
Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors
We’re dealing with captaincy here – current vs. former captains of the LA Dojo, that is.
We’ve a tentative start as Coughlin and Connors went for a waistlock early, before Connors’ headlock takedown gave him an early lead. Coughlin gets back in with a shoulder block, along with a slam and a chop to the back that barely drew a one-count. Connors returns with an overhead wristlock on Coughlin, before a snap suplex left Coughlin down for a two-count.
A double sledge keeps Coughlin on the back foot, but he muscles free to reverse a suplex for a two-count. Connors returns with a pounce, then with chops before a back suplex kept Coughlin in it. Coughlin keeps going with a bridging fallaway slam and a half crab, but Connors got to the rope… then came right back with a spear out of nowhere.
Connors keeps going with a shoulder charge in the corner as he builds up to a Tenryu back elbow off the top rope for a near-fall. Coughlin avoids a scoop slam and returns with a shoulder tackle of his own, before chopping down Connors… only for Connors to return with a slam and a Trophy Kill powerbomb for the win. Very even, but Connors is a step ahead in the pecking order… and that was borne out here. ***
Ren Narita vs. Karl Fredericks
Commentary mentions how Narita beat Fredericks during the last Young Lion Cup – with Fredericks’ shoulder injury at the time playing a part…
Narita looks to work Fredericks’ arm to start, but Fredericks manages to break things in the ropes. Some strikes from Narita lead to him throwing Fredericks to the outside, before he grabbed a side headlock to keep Fredericks grounded. Eventually, Fredericks pushes free, and returned with a shoulder tackle and some chops to turn it around, with an elbow getting him a pinning attempt.
Fredericks’ Kitchen sink knee drops Narita, as the American stayed on top for a spell. We’ve a snapmare and a forearm to the back, only for Narita to retaliate with a spinning heel kick. Narita maneuvers into an Indian deathlock on Fredericks, who dragged himself to the ropes to force the break.
Teasing a Boston crab, Narita rolled Fredericks into the middle of the ring for a Cloverleaf, which also ended in the ropes. Out of nowhere, Fredericks lands a Pele kick to buy him some time, following up with some rapid forearms in the corner en route to a hesitation dropkick for a delayed two-count.
Fredericks looks for the Manifest Destiny DDT, but Narita fights out and grabbed a rear naked choke. Narita tries to reapply it, but eats an Orton-esque backbreaker. Another suplex gets Narita free as Fredericks looked to push on, before Narita edged ahead in a battle of strikes. From there, the Narita Special bridging overhead belly-to-belly followed, and that’s the win for Ren as the on-excursion Young Lion just about edged this. ***¼
Post-match, Fred Rosser hit the ring to congratulate Narita… but Ren doesn’t want the handshake. Rosser took exception to that, and promised to leave Narita with a boot up his arse when they meet.
A solid, if not unspectacular episode of Strong to hopefully end the empty-arena shows – remember, the show moves to Saturday nights from here on out, as a new chapter in New Japan of America’s short history begins.