Logan & Sterling Riegel defeated Jordan Clearwater and Kevin Knight
The newest LA Dojo recruit, Kevin Knight, started the match off with Logan Riegel. The two had a quick exchange on the mat before Knight tagged out to the Karl Anderson-trained Clearwater. The twins started double-teaming the much taller Clearwater in their corner for a bit with some innovative double-team offense. Clearwater eventually escaped to the red corner to tag out to Knight, who came in and cleaned house, taking both Riegels out with big shoulder blocks. Knight got serious air on his leapfrogs. Keep an eye out on this guy this year, for sure.
Clearwater looked good on offense towards the end. Knight and Sterling tagged in, lots of fast action among all four as the five minute call sounded. Sterling hit a slingblade onto Clearwater, dropping him onto the ring apron, right before Logan dove onto everyone with a tope suicida. We saw the finish a minute later when the Riegels used their finisher on Knight, an assisted swinging DDT type of deal, for the win. Short, fast action from all four here. Nice opener.
Brody King told Kevin Kelly in an interview before the match that he wasn't going to let Kratos make a name for himself on King's back.
Brody King defeated JR Kratos
These two got down to business just as the bell sounded. Huge elbows, chops, stomps, slaps. Both shouted really loud. If these two had a crowd, it’d have amplified this match’s intensity. There was something very explosive about this match, and it added to the two’s chemistry with one another..
Kevin Kelly made a good point on commentary during this, querying why no one within the industry had picked up on Kratos before now.
These two went more or less full blast in the first five minutes. Kratos has unbelievable charisma, or at least showed it in this match. On commentary, they sold it like King had never been in this much trouble before Kratos tonight. King took Kratos’ offense for a good portion of the match, right up until he was able to get Kratos in the bottom corner where he launched himself at Kratos with a cannonball. Kratos answered later with a big deadlift bodyslam. King came back with a release German suplex and followed it up with a big running lariat for a two count.
As the ten-minute call sounded, King ended one last exchange between the two after decking Kratos with one last lariat for the three count and the win in 10:06.
I loved everything about this match. If you have ten minutes over the weekend and a subscription to NJPW World, do it.
Ren Narita defeated Bateman
Bateman from ROH made his debut on NJPW Strong tonight. He came out to doomy violin music and sported a curly moustache. We haven’t seen Ren Narita in a while, though he’s officially listed as representing the LA Dojo, meaning this is the first part of his US excursion.
These two started off trading traditional holds both standing and on the mat. Nothing flashy from either, just expert fundamentals. Narita took hold of Bateman for a short while with a headscissors, though Bateman broke his flow when he landed a neckbreaker into his knee, then connected with a rough forearm smash for a count of two.
Because Bateman wrestled as such a traditional-style heel, it really allowed Narita’s fire to show through, it felt all that much easier to get behind Narita. It was clear cut who was who, even though both are technically “debuting” tonight. Narita started firing wild forearms at Bateman, almost out of desperation, and knocked Bateman out of the ring. Narita tried going on the assault over and over but Bateman would constantly shut him down. This lasted until late in the match until Narita caught Bateman with a front suplex off the ropes for a close nearfall. A few minutes later, Bateman cracked Narita with a short-arm lariat for a close call of his own.
Bateman followed up with a northern lights bomb for another two count. Narita wouldn’t quit and eventually locked on a modified cobra twist onto Bateman. Narita transitioned from that to a release German suplex for two, then finished Bateman off using a modified Texas Cloverhold, forcing the ROH regular to tap out. The English announcers sold this like crazy, and it did fit the moment because the last few minutes of this were rather intense. Kudos to both men here, who put on an excellent main event.
Narita spoke briefly afterwards, confirming he had won but also mentioning that he still wasn’t satisfied.
Fantastic episode of NJPW Strong tonight, with both King vs. Kratos and Narita vs. Bateman in their debut being the must-see highlights. The opener wasn’t far behind, either, and probably could have been on the level as the former two matches, but the match only lasted around six minutes.
In short, this is the episode to watch if you’ve been sleeping on the show so far. This was an excellent hour of violence.