The success of the NJPW Los Angeles Dojo is going to be put on display over the following 3 weeks of New Japan Strong. Some of the best wrestling anywhere has taken place on Friday’s and tonight was no different with the opening round of the Lion’s Break Crown. Four total matches kicked off with the opening round of the tournament.
A lot of talk before this event has been centered around Young Lion Clark Connors. This is for good reason. Since the inception of the NJPW Strong show he has been quite the standout and THE one showing promise to be a star of the future in NJPW. It will be exciting to see how far and how high Connors stock rises in the next days, months, and years with the promotion. His match with Jordan Clearwater is proof.
The opening match featured two athletes that are somewhat new to the NJPW America fandom. Logan Riegel (one half of the Riegel twins) took on The DKC (Dylan Kyle Cox). From the opening bell The DKC took it to Riegel. They both went to the mat and it was DKC out working Riegel at every turn. This caused Riegel to sell his left wrist and arm the rest of the match. The DKC maintained the upper hand the majority of the match until he attempted a suplex, around the 5 minute mark, in which Riegel, out of nowhere, reversed and got the unbelievably shocking win through a roll up. This was a good match to start out the night.
Logan Riegel defeated The DKC
The person everyone is talking about throughout NJPW circles and the pro wrestling world is up next. Clark Connors. He takes on someone that I feel has become, despite his quality in ring work, the NJPW LA dojo resident enhancement talent. (Hopefully, I’m completely wrong on this point) Jordan Clearwater has a huge task entering this match with Connors. Once again, both fighters start off feeling each other out through a series of wrist locks and counters. Connors though is proving he’s not only the better wrestler, but he is also the “Ace” of the LA dojo. Connors around the 6 minute mark of the match nails slingblade to gain the upper hand, avoids a Clearwater “big boot” and counters with a picture perfect spear and cover for the 3 count.
Clark Connors defeated Jordan Clearwater
Danny Limelight is another top star appearing on Strong since the beginning. He takes on Barrett Brown in the third match of the night and clearly there is a super high ceiling for him, as well. Brown is no slouch either and is another valuable “hand” in the NJPW Strong ring. This match was a modern wrestling fan’s favorite type of match. Brown was the brawler but has a pretty decent ariel game, too. The highlight of the match was when Limelight had Brown on the outside and nailed a corkscrew, over the top rope, cross body. Despite this, upon entering the ring, Brown counters a throw into the ropes with a beautiful dropkick. Unfortunately, for Brown, Limelight finishes this off with top rope hurricanrana DDT and cover for the 1-2-3.
Danny Limelight defeated Barrett Brown
The main event of the night was a clash of two very good future Jr. Heavyweights. Blake Christian vs. Adrian Quest. The story with this match is that Christian is coming into this match with a supposed injury to his oblique that he sustained on last week’s episode. He’s clearly one that the people in charge have an eye on for future success. For a main event match this was not a “barnburner” but it advances storylines associated with this tournament. The highlight of this match is Christian counters an Irish Whip into the corner with a running lariat. Upon gaining the upper hand he lands a snap German suplex and to finish Quest off he dives off the top rope for the cover and the 3 count. The win helps Blake Christian advance to the next round and closer to capturing the NJPW Lions Break Crown.
Blake Christian defeated Adrian Quest
Overall, this was not the top level night that one expects from NJPW USA but it was entertaining and the wrestling, as usual, is world class and the best there is anywhere on the planet. Period.
Next week’s episode is going to be 5 stars easily. The tournament continues with the semifinals next week and possibly the best match ups we’ve seen since the inception of NJPW Strong. The card looks like this:
Blake Christian vs Danny Limelight
Logan Reigel vs. Clark Connors
David Finlay/Jeff Cobb/Rocky Romero/Misterioso
Jay White/KENTA/Chase Owens/Hikuleo (Bullet Club)
A stacked card for next Friday!!
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