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NJPW Strong results: Lion's Break Crown tournament begins


The Lion’s Break Crown singles tournament kicked off on tonight’s episode of NJPW Strong.

TJP joined Kevin Kelly at the top of the hour and ran down the tournament brackets. A nice promo package for all competitors aired next.

Logan Riegel defeated The DKC

NJPW made an interesting entrance video for the DKC that aired as he came to the ring.

Both are in excellent shape. Good mat work at the start from both wrestlers, fast-paced and more realistic. The DKC was especially impressive on the mat.

This was comparable only to the other recent Young Lions matches we’ve seen in Japan proper this year, ones featuring Tsuji, Ueumura and Kidd.

After about six minutes of back and forth, Riegel scored the upset victory over the more established DKC after cradling him into a schoolboy for the win here. Good, short match. Riegel sold his shoulder afterwards, icing it in his post-match promo.

Clark Connors defeated Jordan Clearwater

Slightly slower pace from the get-go, at least compared with the first match on tonight’s card. Connors isn’t the biggest guy in the word, but he always comes off like a heavyweight, like tonight with Jordan Clearwater, who towered over him (and pretty much everyone else on the NJPW USA roster). 

Clearwater looked good here, too. He used a big jumping leg on Connors minutes into the match. Connors responded later with a hard double chop across Clearwater’s back, then followed up with a tackle for two. Clearwater returned with a spinebuster for a two-count of his own.

Connors used a huge spear off the ropes to lay Clearwater out, then locked on a Boston crab for the quick tap. Hoping to see Connors vs. Gabriel Kidd in the future, as they burn the same way with the same fire.

This too ran just over six minutes. That makes it Connors vs. Riegel next week.

Danny Limelight defeated Barrett Brown

If this wasn’t the best, it was at least in the top three matches that have aired on NJPW Strong this year. Huge praise to both wrestlers here for tearing it down in this short ripper of a match.

Standing matwork early on between these two early, wrist locks and arm-wringers. Both wore intense faces and felt each other out at the top, with announcers Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov lowering their voices while they called it. I thought it helped make this feel more intense.

Limelight did a big twisting dive to the floor midway through and jaw jacked to the camera afterwards, mostly calling out Rocky Romero.

Brown used a running busaiku knee at one point, and it turned Limelight inside out. Great visual, very GIF-able. Both with awesome but very different kinds of charisma. Brown used a snap suplex in the corner then pinned Limelight for just two.

The match built quickly, and at five minutes in, the two looked to kick things up a notch. Limelight used a wild springboard rope-walk-to-flying lariat on Brown, another GIF-able moment from this match. Brown used a half-Nelson suplex and hard low kick to a seated Limelight for a close nearfall. Limelight rallied back with a Fisherman’s Buster with an inside cradle for a two count of his own.

The finish saw Brown miss a spinning backfist while he stood on the apron near the corner turnbuckle. Limelight ducked the fist, then did a double-jump swinging DDT for the emphatic finish. 

Get in on the ground floor with both of these guys, because I have a feeling they’ll be shooting up the ranks shortly.

Blake Christian defeated Adrian Quest

All action from the get-go. These two got right into it after the bell sounded, with no feeling-out process like in other matches tonight. They traded near-falls and pin attempts before kicking the tempo up another notch. Quest caught Christian with a dropkick after he came off the roads with a springboard.

Christian returned offense with a huge lariat that flipped Quest onto his stomach. Christian won with what I'd call a twisting trust fall. This needs to be seen to be believed. Christian had Kofi Kingston-level hangtime on this. Koslov said he never saw it before and the same goes for me. Really cool.

Final thoughts:

High-quality episode of NJPW Strong tonight. The show itself ran about 45 minutes in total, and though the matches were pretty short, the quality remained high -- above average, actually. After watching four straight nights of the G1 Climax tournament, I’m very impressed. That says a lot considering we’re talking the G1 here. Kudos and praise to all eight wrestlers involved tonight.

Danny Limelight and Barrett Brown had a match that is most definitely worth checking out if you have the time. And if you don’t, just keep an eye on both of them going forward.

Next week’s episode will feature the two Lion’s Break Crown semi-final matches (Connors vs. Riegel, Limelight vs. Christian), plus a special eight-man tag match with David Finlay, Misterioso, Rocky Romero, & Jeff Cobb vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA, Chase Owens, & Hikuleo