The Detonation series continues with Gabriel Kidd making his in-ring return, while Brody King and Tomohiro Ishii main event.
Jonathan Gresham pinned Gabriel Kidd in 13:47 (***¾)
Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay & TJP pinned Karl Fredericks, Clark Connors & Ren Narita in 13:25 (***½)
Tomohiro Ishii pinned Brody King in 13:37 (***¾)
We’ve just a three-match card from the Riverside Municipal Auditorium in Riverside, CA… Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are on commentary, running down the card to start us off.
Jonathan Gresham vs. Gabriel Kidd
This was Kidd’s first match in six months, and a match he’d called out for after he challenged Gresham back in Philadelphia.
Kidd’s no longer considered a Young Lion, and we started off with the pair going for each other’s wrists, before Kidd tried to bait the Octopus to the mat. It worked, but Kidd’s got this toe caught by Gresham, who rolled him through… only for Kidd to quickly escape. An armbar from Kidd turned into a cross armbreaker attempt, which Gresham blocked ahead of an armdrag as Kidd looked to pull ahead.
A half crab from Kidd ends in the ropes as we crossed the five-minute mark. The pair lock up and roll to the mat as the collar-and-elbow couldn’t lead to any advantage, with the pair then breaking in the ropes. They try again, but it’s quickly back to the corner for a break as Gresham perhaps accidentally swiped Kidd with a thumb to the eye.
Gresham’s apology is accepted as he takes things to the mat for an Indian deathlock, and that’s where the intensity ramps up with Gresham taking a chop before he rolled the hold over, albeit taking Kidd into the ropes. The ref needs to untie the pair, but this time it’s Kidd who shoves back as all airs and graces were quickly evaporating here.
Kidd double legs Gresham to the corner as the pair grappled on the mat, before Gresham threw the first strike in the match, which led to the pair trading elbows. A bodyslam from Kidd took us past the ten minute mark as he begins to uncork some chops, but Gresham takes him onto the apron and dropkicked him to the floor.
Returning to the ring, Kidd’s caught in an armbar, which Kidd fights out of and landed a dropkick for good measure. A boot to the head gets Kidd a two-count, before an endless sunset flip ended with the pair trolling the ref with near-falls, before Gresham snuck out the win with a headscissor pin. This was sublime – basing the match around wrestling wasn’t a shock, but if all you knew of Kidd was the Young Lion black trunk stuff, then you’ll have been pleasantly surprised. The future’s bright for young Gabe! ***¾
Karl Fredericks, Clark Connors & Ren Narita vs. United Empire (Jeff Cobb, TJP & Will Ospreay)
Either they dubbed in Fredericks’ music, or this crowd fell silent for it hitting…
Things spilled outside to start as TJP and Connors focused on each other to begin with, before Ospreay came in to assist… only to get flung with a back body drop, leading to a tope con giro from Fredericks into the unlit aisle. In the ring, the LA Dojo trio keep the upper hand, before TJP snuck out of a suplex and caught Fredericks in an Octopus.
Ren Narita got the tag in and went straight after TJP with an Octopus in the ropes, before things spilled outside with Jeff Cobb pulling Narita out of the ring… then press slammed him into the rails. Back inside, TJP took control on Narita, while Cobb tried to pin Ren with a single finger. Like that was happening.
Cobb throws Narita into the corner then stood on him for good measure. A squatting throwing suplex has Narita down in the Empire’s corner, while Ospreay’s backbreaker nearly won it. Narita takes a vile chop, then flung Ospreay with an overhead belly-to-belly as Clark Connors came in to try and charge his way to the win.
A handspring enziguiri puts Ospreay ahead, as TJP returned for some face-washing boots to Connors, only for Clark to return with a snap powerslam that took TJP onto the apron for a spear. On the outside, Fredericks chucks Ospreay into the crowd, while TJP gets caught with a clothesline from Connors back inside.
Cobb’s in, but eats a spinebuster from Fredericks, who looked to pull ahead with a back suplex and a leaping elbow drop for a two-count. An attempt at the Manifest Destiny DDT’s blocked, as the ring’s flooded for a Parade of Moves, ending when Connors’ knee gives out amid a spear attempt. That leaves Fredericks on his own as the Empire triple-team ends with a Spin Cycle for a near-fall, before a Tour of the Islands put Fredericks away. ***½
Post-match, TJP held Connors in a half crab as the Empire ended up standing over the fallen LA Dojo lads… before they put the boots to Ren Narita as he tried to fight back.
Brody King vs. Tomohiro Ishii
We’ve got a tasty main event – even if Ishii’s newly-won NEVER title isn’t on the line here.
King and Ishii start throwing strikes from the off, with chops and forearms on Ishii leading to a slam as Brody followed with a back senton. Ishii throws back, but gets snapmared into a chinlock as Brody looked to stretch him out. A missed clothesline gives Ishii an opening, but he can’t lift up Brody and ends up getting chopped into the corner.
Ishii invites some more chops as he’s eventually sunk to the mat, before he recovered to hit the suplex on Brody. Chops and headbutts have Brody staggering into the ropes, but he returns with a clothesline before he teased a piledriver… which Ishii blocked. Elbows take Ishii into the corner ahead of an eventual cannonball, before Ishii was spiked with a piledriver for a near-fall.
Ishii’s back up to trade elbows, but gets dumped with an elbow from Brody, before King got caught with a rebound German suplex. Clotheslines follow as King got back to his feet, but he’s taken down once more… Ishii’s sliding lariat is caught as King comes back with chops, only to run into another clothesline for a near-fall.
Brody nails Ishii with a Black Hole Slam out of nowhere, then a running death valley driver – as a shout-out to Chris Dickinson – but it doesn’t get the win… A Ganso bomb’s attempted, but Ishii gets free, only for King’s clothesline to get him closer to the win as Ishii escaped another Ganso bomb to build once more… eventually landing the sheer-drop brainbuster on Brody for the win. This was exactly the match you expected from these two names, which isn’t exactly a bad thing! ***¾
If you’ve been picking and choosing New Japan Strong in recent weeks, this is definitely a week where you should be diving in. Sure, it’s over the magic hour mark, but fast-forward between the matches and you can cut that down while still enjoying a trio of excellent matches.