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NJPW Strong results: New Japan Cup USA 2021 semifinals

Jordan Clearwater, Adrian Quest, Barrett Brown & Misterioso defeated The DKC, Kevin Knight, Alex Coughlin & Karl Fredericks

Both teams got chippy with each other before the bell. LA Dojo's Alex Coughlin and Barrett Brown were in first. The DKC and Clearwater were in together after that, and DKC was extra fired up tonight. He stomped the taller Clearwater's foot before tagging out to Adrian Quest. DKC tagged out to Kevin Knight, who made a fundamental bodyslam look more impressive than you'd imagine. Very strong dude, this Kevin Knight.

Brown and Quest double-teamed DKC until Coughlin got involved briefly. Later, Misterioso tagged in and worked over DKC some more. He was the whipping boy in this match, taking the brunt of the abuse from the opposite team until he was able to finally tag out to Karl Fredericks. He and Clearwater will probably have a barnburner of a singles match together down the road. Same goes for Brown and Knight, who looked good together towards the end.

Knight did a sliding shoulder block, then a standing frog splash for two. Coughlin blocked Quest from doing a dive to the floor, blasting him with a shoulder tackle. Quest eventually pulled off a springboard flip dive to the floor. Misterioso was next, and the six guys on the floor had to huddle and wait together until he jumped. This section towards the end messed with the flow of the match, which was up to this point pretty intense and without pauses in action.

Brown took out Knight with a huge 50 Calibre kick (Claymore Kick). Knight went flying, but later took Brown out with a high dropkick of his own. Misterioso pinned Knight moments later after a back cracker.

Barrett Brown freaked out on teammate Misterioso afterwards. "What are you doing?!" Brown has slowly been losing his cool on Strong, going off on a number of occasions after taking losses. The story here was that he, selfishly, wanted to be the guy who pinned Knight.

New Japan Cup USA 2021 semifinals match: "Filthy" Tom Lawlor defeated Hikuleo

This was good. "Filthy" Tom brought his Iron Shiek club to the ring again this week. He charged at the much bigger Hikuleo just after the bell. Hikuleo outmuscled Lawlor, slowing his assault. When Lawlor went for a dragon screw leg whip, Hikuleo didn't go down, and instead picked Lawlor up by the throat. Lawlor clipped Hikuleo's knee in an attempt to bring the rookie giant back to the mat. Lawlor made Hikuleo feel like a beast, and he wrestled in a way that felt realistic, or logical. He's shorter than Hikuleo, so his offense was based entirely on making Hikuleo smaller, taking out his legs with kicks and a variety of leg submissions. 

Hikuleo and Lawlor eventually rolled to the floor after Hikuleo attempted escaping a figure four leglock. He rammed Lawlor spine-first into the ring post. Lawlor slapped on another figure four, this time outside of the ring. The referee began counting them out, so they both tried getting back into the ring but kept fighting each other, cutting it close to a 20-count disqualification finish.

They were able to break the count, and soon after, "Filthy" Tom was able to wrap Hikuleo into a small package cradle for the win. Memories of Bret Hart vs. Diesel at Survivor Series 1995 flashed in my brain. Lawlor advances to the Cup finals, where he'll face either Brody King or Lio Rush.

New Japan Cup USA 2021 semifinals match: Brody King defeated Lio Rush

Seeing King and Rush stand face-to-face made for a great visual. King dwarfed Rush. He played bully in this match, shouting "This ain't the juniors anymore!" before smushing him in the face. Rush fired a few one-two combinations, fast stick-and-move shots not all unlike what we see from Kota Ibushi. Rush went for a tope suicida, but King caught him in the air, then chokeslammed him onto the apron. He shouted at Rush to get up before launching him with a hip toss.

Later, King went to power bomb Rush onto the apron. Rush escaped, then landed a nice plancha from the top rope to the floor onto King. He landed a frog splash inside the ring for two. He went for his springboard cutter finish, but King blocked it, shoved him into the ropes, then decimated with a lariat.

After a big Gonzo Bomb, that was it: King wins. He'll next wrestle "Filthy" Tom Lawlor in the New Japan Cup USA 2021 Finals, where the winner will be crowned first-ever NJPW Strong Openweight champion.

After the match, King cut a promo saying Lio Rush brought the fight to NJPW pro wrestling but ran into "the beast." King understood how experienced Lawlor is as a fighter, but even still, it wouldn't match the level of violence King plans to bring to the ring.

Final thoughts:

Tonight's episode was short and sweet, clocking in at around 45 minutes with King vs. Rush as match of the night. King faces Lawlor in the Cup finals on next week's episode. NJPW will announce the rest of the card in the next few days.