The Road to New Beginning USA continues! Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov introduce the show as always, and Kelly tells us we’ll hear from KENTA on the show! 

    New Japan Strong | Saturday 13th February 2021 | 03:00 (UK) | NJPW L.A. Dojo. 

    MATCH ONE: Jordan Clearwater Vs JR Kratos 

    JR Kratos enters first, fully focused, wanting to get the ball rolling for Team Filthy ahead of tonight’s main event. Koslov mentions Kratos makes him anxious. Jordan Clearwater comes into the match looking for his first victory in singles competition, after being on the winning side in eight-man tag action last time out.  

    Kratos charges at Clearwater on the bell and tackles him back into the corner. Clearwater eats a big boot but avoids contact in the corner to rally back with a series of kicks. Clearwater chops Kratos but seems to only have made Kratos angry. Kratos deadlifts Clearwater from a seated position into a vertical suplex. Kratos gets a near fall from a release suplex, throwing Clearwater across the ring. Clearwater avoids another attack in the corner and gets a two count with a running neckbreaker. Clearwater attacks the left leg of Kratos, but Kratos kicks out of an ankle lock. Kratos gets a two count with a lariat, but as Clearwater kicks out Kratos locks in an armbar. Clearwater gets to the ropes to break. Kratos hits an atomic drop and a running single leg dropkick. Kratos lands a fisherman’s buster for the pinfall. 

    Match Time: 6m 20s 
    WINNER: JR Kratos via Fisherman’s Buster 

    JR Kratos was physically dominant throughout and shut down everything Clearwater was able to throw at him. Kelly and Koslov ask a very interesting question – what’s next for Kratos? There’s some unfinished business with Brody King, for sure, but it would be interesting to see who else steps up to face this monster. Clearwater hasn’t been successful in terms of victories so far on Strong but has overpowered most of his opponents. Here, he never got going. This is his eighth defeat on Strong, which has to be tough to take. Interestingly, he was wearing a black boot and knee pad on his left leg, reminiscent of the Young Lions. Is this a hint that he will be the next to ask to join the LA Dojo to improve his fortunes?   

    Video Interview: Kevin Kelly interviews KENTA

    KENTA Kevin Kelly NJPW Strong

    Kelly reminds us Jon Moxley will defend the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against KENTA at the culmination of the New Beginning USA tour on February 26.  

    Kelly mentions KENTA calling out Moxley repeatedly, and asks KENTA what he thought when he saw Moxley across the ring. KENTA says he’s been waiting for this moment for a long time. He says Moxley finally came out, but he’s not a man – he’s cheap. KENTA says he will be the first Japanese IWGP US Heavyweight Champion. KENTA says he’s going to beat him up and kick his arse.  

    Kelly asks what the championship will mean to KENTA if he’s victorious. KENTA says he’s the best person to represent NJPW to the world and deserves to be champion. KENTA then addresses Moxley directly, saying “It took you a long time to show up. I’ve been defending that damn briefcase for months, it got broken once too. But finally… Finally, our time has come. We’ll finally fight for the IWGP US Heavyweight Title that you’ve been letting rot all this time.” 

    MATCH TWO: Clark Connors Vs Bateman 

    The Captain of the LA Dojo enters first and looks all business. Bateman is looking for his first singles victory on Strong, having lost to Ren Narita on his debut – although he did pick up the deciding fall last week in an eight-man tag.  

    Connors grabs a leg and drags Bateman to the mat. Bateman has to grab the ropes very early to avoid a Boston Crab. They exchange chops, daring each other to deliver, but Bateman fakes out Connors and punches him in the face. Bateman hits more chops in the corner, which fires up Connors. Connors hits some chops of his own, including a double chop to the back of a seated Bateman. Connors then sits down and offers his back to Bateman to return the favour. Bateman instead kicks him in the spine. Bateman gets a near fall following a body slam and an elbow drop. Bateman runs the ropes, but Connors drops down, switches direction, and hits Bateman with a pounce. Connors piles on the aggression, attacking Bateman while he’s down. Connors allows Bateman to get up and hits him with the spear. Connors attempts the Boston Crab, but Bateman delivers a series of kicks off his back to create separation. Connors blocks two attempts to be lifted for a tombstone, and counters with a powerslam. Bateman blocks another Boston Crab attempt. Connors attempts a spear from the second rope, but Bateman catches him in a front face lock. Bateman gets a near fall from a suplex but drops Connors with a tombstone for the three count.  

    Match Time: 8m 41s 
    WINNER: Bateman via Tombstone 

    This was a brutal battle. Connors continued to increase his intensity and violence and was willing to take punishment in the fight to prove his toughness. Connors came close to being disqualified and had to be physically pushed back by the referee at one point in the match while attacking Bateman against the ropes. This aggression will help him as he gets closer to his Dojo graduation. Bateman took everything thrown at him but the effort it took to stay away from the Boston Crab and get the tombstone showed.  

    Post-match, Bateman is sat on the floor backstage and looks as though he’s been in a war. He says he can barely feel his hands. He gives respect to the Dojo and Connors, saying “he made me beat him, and for a cruel man like myself, that’s all you want.” He tells Clark he’s The Captain now. It will be interesting to see what happens with Bateman vs the LA Dojo going forward, as I expect a few of the other Young Lions may have something to say about that. Not to mention it not sitting too well with Connors. 

    MATCH THREE: TJP and Ren Narita Vs Team Filthy (Chris Dickinson and Danny Limelight) 

    Note: This show is pre-recorded, and was filmed before Limelight announced he had tested positive for COVID-19.  

    Team Filthy looks to continue their displays of dominance over the NJPW Strong roster. TJP comes out to the LA Dojo entrance music, showing respect to his partner. Kelly mentions on commentary that TJP trained at the original LA Dojo, and checks in with the Young Lions and people on excursion regularly. TJP notices Dickinson is starting the match for Team Filthy and tries to “protect” Narita by starting, but Narita forces him out to start the match himself.  

    The grappling at the start is evenly matched, but Dickinson gets a slight advantage with a leg trip. Narita walks right through a pair of aggressive chops from Dickinson to deliver his own. Dickinson takes down Narita with a shoulder tackle and shoves him back into his corner to bring in TJP. TJP goes for an armbar, but Dickinson reverses to a pin attempt. Dickinson goes for a single leg crab, but TJP reverses to a pin attempt. Dickinson gets a side headlock, and TJP grabs the leg to try and escape before transitioning into a Cobra Twist. Dickinson gets a waistlock, but TJP gets to the ropes. Dickinson breaks, slaps TJP’s shoulders to break the rope hold, and throws a snap German suplex. Dickinson attempts a sidewalk slam, but TJP counters with a submission attempt, then a pin attempt. Narita tags in and gets a headlock, but is countered into a suplex.  

    Limelight tags in and starts kicking Narita. Limelight gets cocky and asks “where’s the fight?”, and is met by a vicious uppercut. Limelight drops Narita’s shoulder in the ropes and delivers more kicks to his chest. Limelight and Dickinson exchange some quick tags and work over Narita with body shots. Limelight hits a slingshot senton and Dickinson body slams Narita before they land a double suplex. Dickinson and Narita trade some brutal forearm shots, before Dickinson kicks Narita in the chest again. Narita blocks the second and takes Dickinson down. Narita throws Dickinson with a German suplex before getting the tag. 

    TJP and Limelight come in hot. TJP ducks a clothesline and dropkicks Dickinson. TJP hits Limelight with an inverted atomic drop and a springboard crossbody before locking in the surfboard – bridging back to a pin for a two count. TJP blocks and ducks a kick, transitioning into a backdrop. Limelight evades a senton attempt and counters the Detonation Kick into a crucifix bomb for a near fall. Limelight gets another two count with a fisherman’s buster. Dickinson tags in and hits a dragon screw leg whip to counter a submission attempt. Dickinson attempts to grab TJP’s leg, but TJP counters and locks in an inverted figure four leg lock. Limelight attempts to break it up, but Narita comes in and stops him, locking in the Narita Special #3. Dickinson and Limelight manage to get to the ropes to break the holds. Limelight and TJP end up on the outside, leaving Dickinson and Narita. Narita eats a few chops, then ducks a clothesline and launches Dickinson with an overhead belly-to-belly. TJP hits the Mamba Splash, but Limelight manages to break the pinfall. 

    Dickinson avoids a double team and nails Narita with a brainbuster. Dickinson blocks a jumping back kick from TJP and locks in the STF. TJP tries to reach the ropes, so Dickinson swaps from the face lock to a headlock, wrenching back while keeping the leg trapped, and TJP taps instantly.  

    Match Time: 15m 4s 
    WINNER: Chris Dickinson via submission (STF). 

    Post-match, Narita comes back into the ring, and starts trading shots with Dickinson! Limelight gets pulled away by TJP. Dickinson hits Narita with a Death Valley Driver. Backstage, Dickinson says he admires the balls Narita has to step up to the “Filthy Father”. 

    What a great match. Dickinson’s technical ability was on display throughout – he hung with TJP easily, and got another submission victory. The post-match brawl sets up an intriguing match between Dickinson and Narita in the coming weeks, which is exactly what Narita’s excursion needs – a fight with someone who has a similar, yet still entirely different style.  

    Next week sees The New Beginning USA tour start properly, with El Phantasmo vs Lio Rush as the main event. 

    New Japan Pro-Wrestling STRONG returns For Episode 28. NEW BEGINNING: USA 2021 on 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 latest from New Japan, Courtesy of TWM:Japan, click here.