The Road to Strong Style Evolved continues! We open the show with video messages from Fred Rosser and JR Kratos ahead of their main event qualifying match. Rosser says he would be lying if he said he wasn’t intimidated by Kratos. Kratos says he respects Rosser until he is given a reason not to – and Fred has given him a reason not to.

    New Japan Strong | Saturday 13th March 2021 | NJPW L.A. Dojo.

    MATCH ONE: Barrett Brown and Adrian Quest Vs The Riegel Twins

    As covered in the preview, Barrett Brown has been struggling of late and needs to find a way to get some victories under his belt. In the build-up, Kelly again hints that Brown’s time in NJPW Strong may be coming to an end. We see a video of the backstage comments Brown made at New Beginning in USA night 1, after his last loss. The Riegel Twins come out in the Brody King balaclavas and t-shirts with tattoo effects, showing their allegiance with King.

    Sterling starts against Adrian Quest with some grappling. Quest takes to the air first with a rope walk arm drag. Logan and Brown tag in. Logan avoids a few leg sweep attempts and dropkicks a kneeling Brown in the jaw. The Riegel Twins wrap up Brown’s arms and deliver a combo leg sweep / gamengiri. Brown is also victim to a double team delayed vertical suplex, but is able to kick out at two. Sterling lands a standing moonsault and Logan follows up with a diving elbow drop, but only for a two-count. Brown escapes from Logan with a half-nelson suplex, tagging out to Quest. Young Fuego comes in with a beautiful springboard clothesline and takes out both Riegel Twins. Brown and Quest nail Sterling with a double back elbow for a two-count. Quest works over Sterling with some crossface shots. Quest sets up for something near his corner, but Brown tags himself in. Sterling drops Quest off of the apron and makes the tag to Logan. Logan nails Brown with a clothesline and an elbow in the corner. He throws Brown outside and drops him with a suicide dive. Logan lands a spike DDT, but Quest breaks up the pinfall. Quest goes for a torneo on both Riegel Twins, but they catch him and throw him with a fallaway slam. Brown nails one of the twins with an enziguiri, then the other with a European armdrag to put him upside down in the corner, before suplexing his brother onto him. Brown runs the ropes for a dive, but Adrian Quest hits a springboard plancha on both Riegel Twins before him, starting an argument between Quest and Brown. Brown tells Quest to “watch and learn”, but gets rolled up in a cradle for the three-count.

    Match Time: 11m 33s
    WINNER: The Riegel Twins via inside cradle

    The argument between Brown and Quest continues after the match. Quest stops Brown from attacking the Riegel’s.

    I said in the preview that the pressure on Barrett Brown would be too much, and the inability of Brown and Quest to function as a team would cause them problems. That’s exactly how it played out. Brown clearly wanted to prove himself to Quest, and NJPW, but his over-eagerness cost him. Expect Brown to call out Quest for a match on NJPW Strong in the coming weeks. If he does, it will be a must-win situation. The Riegel Twins looked impressive again, and their visual support for Brody King was a nice touch. They didn’t show the aggression we’ve seen from them when Brody has been with them, but they did enough to get the win.

    Prediction Result: 1/0

    MATCH TWO: NJOA New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifying Match: Jordan Clearwater Vs Hikuleo

    We’re reminded on commentary that Hikuleo was defeated by Fred Rosser (who is in tonight’s other qualifier), but in controversial circumstances. On New Beginning in USA night 1, Rosser grabbed Hikuleo’s hair while in a backslide to hold him down. Hikuleo makes sure the referee is watching for a repeat from Clearwater.

    Hikuleo attacks The Golden Boy immediately and throws him outside. Clearwater avoids being thrown into the ring post, and Hikuleo hits shoulder first when charging in. Clearwater rolls The Young Gun in and attempts a pin, but Hikuleo kicks out before the referee even gets a one-count. Both men attempt clotheslines at the same time, but neither fall. Clearwater staggers Hikuleo with a clothesline but doesn’t take him down. Hikuleo sends Clearwater shoulder-first into the corner. Hikuleo challenges Clearwater to chop him and eats three before responding in kind, taking Jordan off his feet twice for a two-count. Hikuleo lands a body slam and a leg drop for a two-count. Clearwater avoids a clothesline and back elbow to drop Hikuleo with a neckbreaker for a near fall. Hikuleo avoids a big boot and escapes off of Clearwater’s shoulder, but eats a rolling clothesline. Clearwater goes for the running boot again, but Hikuleo counters with a snap-powerslam. Hikuleo hits a Samoan Driver to pick up the win.

    Match Time: 7m 57s
    WINNER: Hikuleo via Samoan Driver

    There was only ever one outcome for this one. Clearwater put up a damned good fight, but Hikuleo was too much for him. Even with his shoulder and neck being worked on, he still didn’t look as though he was ever in too much trouble. This was one of Jordan’s best performances of late, so he will look to build on this.

    Prediction Result: 2/0

    MATCH THREE: NJOA New Japan Cup USA 2021 Qualifying Match: Fred Rosser Vs JR Kratos

    Rosser rolls out of the ring as soon as the bell rings, telling Kratos he is on “my time”. Kratos absorbs a series of right hands and just throws Rosser into the corner. Rosser tries to tackle Kratos but has no effect. Kratos runs the ropes, and Rosser tries a rolling elbow – Kratos has it scouted, stops, and explodes right through Rosser with a tackle. Kratos throws Rosser across the ring with a release front suplex. Rosser gets a boot in Kratos’ face and sends him outside. Rosser avoids collision with the ring post, and slides back in, controlling the centre ground. Rosser attacks as Kratos tries to enter, but Kratos grabs his ankles and drags him straight out of the ring, and off the apron, back first to the floor. Kratos pulls up one of the mats outside, dragging it from under Fred’s feet, sending Rosser again to the floor on his back. Kratos throws Rosser across the ring again for a near fall, before delivering some ground strikes. Rosser fires back with strikes and a headbutt, but Kratos drops him with an elbow. Kratos gets another near fall from a deadlift front suplex.

    Rosser again manages to deliver a series of strikes, then shoulder tackles Kratos through the ropes to the outside. Rosser hits a pair of leg drops from the apron on Kratos. Kratos just manages to get back into the ring before the count-out. Rosser delivers a trio of knees to the side of Kratos’ head. Rosser gets a two-count following an elbow to the back of the head and short lariat. Rosser sits on the second rope, setting Kratos up for something, but Kratos hits a Pele kick on Rosser! Kratos suplexes Rosser off of the top, but only for a two-count. Kratos puts Rosser on the top ropes and follows him up. Rosser escapes after a few shots to the head and pulls Kratos onto his shoulders to deliver the Gut Check – only for Kratos to kick out at two.

    Rosser rolls Kratos onto the apron and follows him out. Kratos avoids a belly-to-back suplex on the apron and delivers a jumping knee strike before clotheslining him back into the ring. Kratos tries rolling Rosser over, presumably for a wheelbarrow German suplex, but Rosser rolls him up and gets the three-count!

    Match Time: 14m 16s
    WINNER: Fred Rosser via rollup

    That was as brutal as expected! Hard and heavy shots were thrown by both, with JR Kratos absorbing almost everything Fred Rosser threw at him. It took all of Rosser’s experience to take advantage of his position to roll up Kratos and advance. Kratos will not be happy about this, and I pity the poor soul who next stands across the ring from him.

    As Rosser is celebrating at the entrance, Hikuleo runs out and clotheslines him from behind. Hikuleo throws Rosser back in the ring, and Kratos takes him out with a tornado clothesline. Hikuleo then climbs back in the ring, and chokeslams Rosser. Hikuleo delivers some forearms while shouting at him, saying he wants Rosser in the first round of New Japan Cup USA.

    Prediction Result: 3/0

    This was a better week for my predictions, with a clean sweep! I would normally hope to keep that running for next week’s show, but the qualifiers could be tough to call. Brody King will attempt to qualify for the New Japan Cup USA tournament against his former Violence Unlimited tag team partner, Bateman. Ren Narita will look to carry his momentum, following his impressive showing against Chris Dickinson, into his qualifier against Misterioso.

    I’ll be back during the week with a preview of these, and any other announced matches, as part of TWM’s coverage of New Japan Strong here.