New Japan Strong | Saturday 6th February 2021 | 03:00 (UK) | NJPW L.A. Dojo. 

    The Road to New Beginning USA starts here! We’re greeted with a new opening title sequence, updated to include The DKC as a Young Lion, a clip from Ren Narita’s appearance a few weeks ago, and Jon Moxley taking out KENTA. Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov introduce the show, letting us know we will hear from Jon Moxley later in the show.

    MATCH ONE: Kevin Knight Vs The DKC 

    The DKC continues his Young Lions training after joining the New Japan LA Dojo. DKC attempts a knee bar, Knight counters to try for an arm bar. DJC works into a side headlock, but Knight reverses into a head scissors. Knight continues to work the arm, attempting to lock in an arm bar. The DKC blocks kicks in the corner with a beautiful overhand chop. Knight reverses again and throws DKC with a huge hip-toss. DKC grabs Knight’s leg and works again on getting a submission. Knight breaks, and is met with a knees and uppercuts. DKC throws a hip-toss of his own and locks in a head-and-arm choke, but Knight rolls into a pin attempt. Kevin Knight lands an impressive leaping dropkick and locks on the Boston Crab – but DKC manages to reach the ropes. DKC fights back and hits Knight with an impressive single-leg dropkick. The DKC locks in a tight arm-capture triangle to tap out Knight.  

    Match Time: 7m 23s 
    WINNER: The DKC via submission (Triangle Choke) 

    Since joining Shibata at the LA Dojo, The DKC has looked impressive. There are still parts of his “old” repertoire coming through, including some karate-style strikes, but his approach to the basics has improved. Both men traded spots in this, with some stiff strikes shining through. Kevin Kelly made note of the match time being incredibly close (1 second out) from Clark Connors’ victory over DKC last week, and early in the match talked about whether any personal rivalry between Dojo trainees exists. Is this the slow burn of a Connors / DKC series? 

    Video Interview: Kevin Kelly interviews Jon Moxley 

    Kelly confirms the match signing for February 26 – Jon Moxley defending the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against KENTA at the culmination of the New Beginning USA tour.  

    Kelly asks Mox whether he’d heard KENTA calling him out. Mox says he heard every word, but he is still the champion – you can run around playing games with a briefcase in the Tokyo Dome, but they have to go through him. Mox says it’s a “big shiny belt” and he’s a pro-wrestler. There’s no way to get it other than to take him out – which will be a long night at the office.  

    Kelly asks Mox how he’s preparing and training for KENTA’s unique style and strikes. Mox responds by saying he’s always ready. Mox says he’s not into the Bullet Club thing of attacking people in groups, and wants the KENTA that inspired a generation. He recalls seeing KENTA at Dominion, and was excited to cross paths with him at some point, and he says the “Bullet Club crap ain’t gonna cut it” and that KENTA will have to kick a hole through his chest.  

    MATCH TWO: Brody King, The Riegel Twins and Barrett Brown Vs Bateman, Misterioso, Jordan Clearwater and Adrian Quest 

    Brown and Quest start the match. They trade quick pin attempts and arm drags early on. Clearwater misses a huge leg drop and eats a dropkick to the back. A couple of quick tags leads to a standing moonsault from Logan Riegel and a second rope elbow drop from Sterling for a near fall. Misterioso fakes out a superkick pin Brody, taking him down to a knee before delivering a superkick for a pin attempt. Misterioso attempts a lionsault, but King rolls away, only for Misterioso to land on his feet and hit the second moonsault attempt. King body slams Misterioso, then slams both Riegel Twins and Barrett onto him, he then instinctively grabs the referee to slam HIM onto Misterioso, but thinks better of it!  

    Bateman tags in and immediately attacks Logan with elbows, headbutts and kicks. Clearwater nails an impressive spinebuster on Logan – reminiscent of his trainer, Karl Anderson. Logan fires back against Bateman but gets shut down by a vicious elbow strike. Logan eventually manages to land a spike DDT on Bateman to trigger the hot tag. Brody King comes in and destroys everyone. King hits a cannonball on Clearwater and tags in Brown, and presses him over his head, throwing him outside onto Bateman and Clearwater, while the Riegel Twins hit stereo tope suicidas on Misterioso and Quest.  

    King nails a piledriver on Bateman, but Misterioso breaks up the pin attempt. Misterioso and Clearwater kick King in the stomach, before elevating Quest into a Sunset Bomb on King for a two count. Brown hits a flipping DDT on Quest. The Riegel Twins hit a Doomsday Blockbuster on Misterioso for a near fall. Brown gets rid of Clearwater with a 50. Calibre Kick. Bateman returns and lands a spinning tombstone on Brown for the win. 

    Match Time: 11m 19s
    WINNER: Bateman via Spinning Tombstone 

    Misterioso entered ringside with a chainmail headdress and was nicknamed “Big Papi Pump” on commentary. Kelly also mentioned King and Bateman’s history as a team and as opponents. This was a fun eight-man tag, with everyone getting some offence in. Brody King picking up the referee for a body slam onto Misterioso was an amusing highlight. Bateman looked incredibly impressive with his intensity and ferocity when he was involved. Bateman and King were wisely kept apart for the majority of the match – it will be good to see them renew their hostilities in a New Japan ring at some point soon.  

    Post-match, Bateman declares a team victory, but says it’s obvious who did most of the heavy lifting. He forces some odd hand slap/shakes on his team, telling them it was a good job, and good to be on the winning team. Bateman gives a sinister wink at the camera before leaving. 

    During the intermission we get a new take on the LEC GEKIOCHI-KUN advert which is, impressively, even funnier than the previous one! Let’s hope these somehow get worked into the stories for these Young Lions. 

    MATCH THREE: Rey Horus Vs TJP 

    After an early technical exchange where both men were evenly matched, Horus lands the first strikes with a rolling sole butt and a chop. Horus hits a springboard arm-drag, sending TJP to the outside, and slides out, but TJP returns to the ring and cuts off Horus with a spinning heel kick. Horus attempts a crossbody from the top rope, but TJP dropkicks him in mid-air. TJP makes Horus writhe in pain after an arm-capture bow-and-arrow backbreaker.

    TJP starts to focus on the back with a vicious body slam. Horus evades the springboard dropkick to the outside, and hits an enziguiri to TJP on the apron. Rey dives over the corner with a somersault tope to wipe out TJP. Horus hits the crossbody on the second attempt for a near fall. TJP attempts a corner-walk tornado DDT, but Horus holds on to the ropes to block it. Horus sends TJP shoulder first into the corner. Horus with a standing Spanish Fly for a two count.

    TJP locks in the octopus hold and transitions into an abdominal stretch bomb for a two count and gets another close fall after a springboard DDT. TJP misses a Swanton attempt. Horus charges TJP, but eats a double boot. TJP leaps to the second rope, but Horus rushes to meet him. Horus lands a reverse Sunset Bomb from the second rope for the victory. 

    Match Time: 10m 41s 
    WINNER: Rey Horus via Reverse Sunset Bomb. 

    This was a great Junior Heavyweight match up, with both men evenly matched. TJP worked Horus’ body, but could not keep the luchador down. Post-match, Horus declares his respect for TJP, but today was his day. 

    Before the match, Alex Koslov mentions on commentary that when he sees TJP wrestle, he fantasizes about a return to the ring. Given Koslov never officially retired, instead of taking an “indefinite sabbatical”, this is an incredible hint at a potential return. Koslov squaring off against the likes of TJP would be amazing. He’s made no secret of his dislike of El Phantasmo, which would be an intriguing matchup. As would a run against, or with, his former Forever Hooligans partner Rocky Romero. Something to keep an eye on in the coming months for sure. 

    New Japan Pro-Wrestling Strong will returm for Episode 27 – ROAD to THE NEW BEGINNING: USA
    12th February at 10 pm ET, 9 pm CT, 7 pm PT / 13th January 3 am GMT, and 12 pm JST, available on New Japan World.  
    For more New Japan Strong and all the lastest from New Japan, Courtesy of TWM:Japan, click here.