Clips from last week aired at the beginning of the show, including Tom Lawlor submitting Rocky Romero in Lawlor’s debut match and Jeff Cobb ambushing Karl Fredericks after his tag team win.
Tom Lawlor defeated Alex Coughlin
Solid grappling from both in this. Lawlor is so good at adapting modern jiu-jitsu technique for pro wrestling. Coughlin looked great here too and showed more fire than usual.
Lawlor took most of the offense in this one. He slammed Coughlin with an exploder suplex midway through. Coughlin returned the offense with hard chops and elbows, but Lawlor had an answer for everything, either a counter-hold or strike. He later put down Lawlor with a bridging fall-away slam for two. About a half-minute later, Coughlin looked to lock on a Russian tie hold, but Lawlor reversed it into a brutal leg cradle pin to put Coughlin away. Good stuff.
After the match, Coughlin got in Lawlor’s face. In a backstage interview, Lawlor called Coughlin a piece of trash. “You just met your daddy tonight, young boy!” Lawlor finished by saying Coughlin got the spanking he deserved.
Misterioso defeated Danny Limelight
Quick bout. Both of these guys are talented, but the flashy aerial style they do really suffers without a crowd. There was a point in the match where Limelight did a crazy tornillo dive, but with the dubbed commentary they missed the call, and without the crowd, it was just silence for an otherwise spectacular spot. Fans would have freaked for it, I imagine. Misterioso put Limelight away with a backcracker for the win. The match clocked in at just under five minutes.
TJP & Clark Connors defeated Rust Taylor & Rocky Romero
Top-tier stuff. TJP and Rust Taylor started the match off for their teams. A knuckle-lock tie-up quickly led to a lightning-fast sequence of pinning attempts, escapes, and counter-escapes. Kevin Kelly described it as “silky smooth wrestling,” which is accurate. It was a different kind of technical wrestling match compared to Lawlor vs. Coughlin from earlier, which had more of a connection to MMA in style.
Connors and Romero charged at each other a couple minutes into the match. Connors was fiery in this, he and Rocky have great chemistry together. Connors locked Romero into a Boston crab and wouldn’t let go.
Taylor came into the ring and laid in some hard low kicks but Connors wouldn’t break the hold. “It’s like kicking a cement wall!” Kelly exclaimed. Taylor and Romero double-teamed Connors until he planted Romero with a snap powerslam out of nowhere. He tagged out to TJP who sprung into the ring with a flying forearm. Connors and TJP laid Taylor out with a beautiful doomsday blockbuster into a jackknife pinning combo for two.
Connors accidentally crashed into partner TJP, which allowed Romero to make the save. Connors quickly took Romero out with a hard spear and both spilled out onto the floor. In the ring, Taylor transitioned from a standing wrist lock into his signature Gaea lock on TJP. This guy needs to get in the ring with Zack Sabre Jr. immediately, for the sake of all New Japan fans.
Taylor went for a Brazilian kick but TJP blocked and countered with a dragon screw leg whip. He then hit Detonation on Taylor for the win. Romero and Taylor argued afterwards while TJP and Connors celebrated in the ring. Really good match.
Romero was in the middle of complaining about his month-long losing streak when Rust Taylor stormed into the frame. He shouted at Rocky and blamed him for losing. He claimed Romero left him alone with TJP and Connors, which is why they lost, according to Taylor. Romero big leagued him, calling him a chump then walked off set. Simple and effective. TJP talked about being undefeated on Collision and praised Connors in the next promo.
Jeff Cobb defeated Karl Fredericks
After three weeks of waiting, the two charged at each other as soon as the bell rang. They unloaded on each other and it was awesome. Fans would have exploded.
These two have a unique chemistry together, not all unlike Keith Lee and Dominic Dijakovic in a way. These two are built for a long rivalry.
This month’s shows have done an excellent job at developing Karl Fredericks’ persona. On commentary, Kelly and Gino Gambino described Fredericks as the “cool kid” in school, the alpha dude.
The same goes for Jeff Cobb. He was great and this, and while he usually is, he also looked more comfortable in the ring than usual, more confident, maybe. He was more emotive with his face and accentuated simple power moves, like a shoulder block or a back elbow, making them look and feel massive. He didn’t even use a suplex until towards the end of the match, when he spiked Fredericks with a swinging back suplex that made Karl look like a real life pendulum.
Cobb slowed things down halfway through, locking on a tight chin lock for a while. The two blasted each other with more hard chops and elbows. Cobb hit Fredericks so hard that his cool earring flew out of the ring.
Fredericks made a comeback, using a modified backbreaker and a hard right kick to lay Cobb out. Cobb got a bloody nose. Fredericks started firing machine gun elbows at Cobb, who was prone in the corner. Fredericks offered Cobb a back suplex of his own.
Cobb rallied back with a running uppercut. Fredericks returned the attack and locked in a Boston crab until Cobb grabbed the bottom rope for a break. The two traded more hard forearms and chops in the middle of the ring. They looked gassed.
Fredericks did a big dropkick but was a little early on the execution, so it looked funky. He did a rolling savate kick that Cobb intercepted and turned it into a snap German suplex. He went for Tour of the Islands next and almost dropped Fredericks, but saved the move, deadlifting Fredericks back up in the air and down onto the Lion Mark in the middle of the ring for the win.
Backstage, Cobb complimented Katsuyori Shibata on his training of the LA Dojo wrestlers. He said maybe he shouldn’t call Fredericks a Young Lion anymore because he’s “an alpha,” but an alpha only in his pond, not Cobb’s. He said tonight was step one and next time would be part two.
At the end of tonight’s broadcast, a new show called NJPW Strong was announced. It will air every Friday night starting August 7 on NJPW World.
Final thoughts: This is a top-shelf pro wrestling program. Tonight’s episode was the best show of the series so far. It was full of action for only one hour. The highlight was the main event, and while it wasn’t perfect, it had me looking forward to more of their matches in the future.