August 14th, 2020
This is the second ever edition of New Japan’s “Strong” which is a weekly episodic show that continues the expansion of their American brand. They kick off this new series by hosting the New Japan Cup: USA edition, where the winner get a shot at IWGP US Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley.Last week saw KENTA, Tama Tonga, Jeff Cobb, and David Finlay advance over Brody King, Karl Fredricks, Tanga Loa & Chase Owens and that leads us here. Where we get two semi-final matches plus some tag team action.
1) Clark Connors & Jordan Clearwater vs. Logan Riegel & Barrett Brown
These are some of the current crop of NJPW Young Lions. This is pretty short and sweet. My first time seeing all of these guys and Connors immediately stands out as he has such a presence and had some insane power displays here. Good way to open the show and nice showing for all four participants.
Match rating - **1/2
2) TJP, ACH, & Alex Zayne vs. PJ Black, Blake Christian, & Misterioso
Aside from Cobb/KENTA - this is why I tuned into tonight and it did not disappoint. TJP, ACH, and Black are wel known names. Zayne & Christian have been making waves on the indies so getting to see them for the first time was a treat with Zayne undoubtedly being the star of this match and showing why he has so much buzz. The dude is a maniac and did a number of insane things here. This is the first time I’ve seen ACH and TJP since their respective WWE departures and honestly they look just as good if not better than ever. A load of fun all around here. PJ Black gets the win here for his team with a... 450, I think?
Match rating - ***1/4
3) Tama Tonga vs. David Finlay - Semi Final Match in the NJPW Cup USA
I’m automatically conditioned to almost disregard Tonga matches but this wasn’t bad. Finlay picks up a surprise win over the Bullet Club stalwart. Cool moments include Tonga going for a Gun stun as a tribute to fellow good brother Karl Anderson. Finlay reverses and ends up finding his way to victory with a roll up.
Match rating - **1/2
4) KENTA vs. Jeff Cobb - Semi Final Match in the NJPW Cup USA
This is an interesting one because it's not the dream match epic that you may hope for as it goes more the route of keeping the character KENTA is building in tow. They do give us the stiff strikes and exchnges one would hope, but there's no insane finishing stretch or fighting spirit spots etc. Instead, KENTA hits a low blow on Cobb from behind the referee's back, fights out of a tour of the island and hits a punt kick to pick up the victory. After the match, KENTA cuts a promo saying he isn't here to deliver great matches, he's here to win.
Match rating - ***
Final thoughts: Fun little hour block of TV with the trios match being more than worth the time to tune in plus KENTA/Cobb is good for what it is and the other two matches are harmless. Next week it's KENTA/Finlay in the finals which I feel like could be a sneakily great match PLUS the return of Jay White. I really hope KENTA wins and we get KENTA/Moxley because ohhhhh boy.