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NJPW Strong results: Jeff Cobb vs. KENTA

The second episode of New Japan Strong aired tonight  NJPW World. This week featured two of the NJ Cup USA 2020 semifinal matches. The winner of this tournament will earn a title shot at IWGP US champion Jon Moxley.

Barrett Brown and Logan Riegel defeated Clark Connors and Jordan Clearwater

Connors and Clearwater went after Barrett Brown and Logan Riegel before the bell. All four jaw-jacked and were shoving each other.

These guys wrestled with an intense, palpable energy from the get-go. Jordan Clearwater is a really tall blonde fellow trained by Karl Anderson. He and the opposite team had appeared on NJPW USA shows in the past but tonight was their TV debut.

Towards the end of the match, Clearwater tagged himself in while Connors wasn’t looking. He went to finish off Brown who countered Clearwater’s move into a schoolboy pin to pick up the win.

These four worked their asses off and really laid into each other here. All four impressed.

PJ Black, Misterioso & Blake Christian defeated ACH, TJP & Alex Zayne

PJ Black’s team ambushed their opponents before the bell rang. This was ACH’s first match back in NJPW since November 2018. He was charged up for this.

PJ Black and Alex Zayne crashed into each other with simultaneous cross-body blocks early on. ACH and Blake Christian were in next and had a quick exchange. The same went for Misterioso and TJP.

TJP planted Black with a tornado DDT. ACH went did a few dives in row to the floor. Alex Zayne landed a nutty-looking shooting star press double-knee drop onto a bent-over PJ Black. Jeez. Blake Christian looked particularly good in this and could shine a little bit at the end before Black pinned him after a springboard shooting star press.

This was an all-action car crash match—that’s a compliment, by the way—that did a good job of showcasing each wrestler in a short window of time.

New Japan Cup 2020 USA Semi-Final match: David Finlay defeated Tama Tonga

This was good and probably could have been longer. Tonga went down clean after Finlay stuck the acid drop for the clean win. They sold this as a pretty big upset on commentary, and a big win for Finlay, who advances to the tournament finals next week. 

In his post match promo, Finlay claimed Tonga couldn’t ever beat him without help from Bullet Club, and he just proved it tonight.

New Japan Cup 2020 USA Semi-Final match: KENTA defeated Jeff Cobb

This was really good. Cobb is hitting some kind of next level in his career right now, and he’s developed a style no one can really imitate. KENTA also looked less inhibited these days, and he’s clearly enjoying his life as a heel.

The finish came when Cobb went for the Tour of the Islands, but KENTA grabbed the ref by his shirt and slid out of the hold, then whipped Cobb into the referee in the corner. Ref was out. Cobb grabbed KENTA and pinned him with a bridging pump-handle suplex, but the ref was still out. Cobb went for another Tour of the Islands slam, but KENTA was able to slide out and land a low blow while the ref still wasn’t looking. He tied Cobb into a small package for the sham victory.

Final thoughts:

This week’s episode had a different feel to it compared with last week’s debut, with higher energy and higher stakes. The tag matches added a lot to it. The new faces we saw tonight were impressive, particularly Blake Christian and Barrett Brown. Cobb vs. KENTA was a standout match, and while I thought tonight’s finish was well executed, I also feel NJPW needs to ease up on schmozz-y finishes, especially the ones with referees getting knocked out on every card. Regardless, this was another really good hour of Friday night pro wrestling.