NJPW Strong #1
August 7, 2020

Watch: New Japan World

New Japan Strong is the spiritual successor to the Lion’s Break Collision series, which was definitely a highlight of this COVID era of wrestling. New Japan aren’t easing in to their new weekly series either, as they start off with the first round of the New Japan Cup USA to determine a number 1 contender for the IWGP U.S. Title, with established big names like KENTA and G.O.D. The first episode certainly has a ‘strong’ line up (pardon the pun).

KENTA Def. Karl Fredericks

This was a really good match and a great way to kickstart the New Japan Cup USA. Karl Fredericks continues to grow into his post-Young Lion skin as the ‘Alpha Wolf’ and showed plenty of fire and aggression, but still looked a rung or two below KENTA. (Perhaps a mid term goal for Fredericks to strive for?) KENTA looked great after having all this time off and in an empty arena his kicks and strikes sound ungodly. He nails Fredericks with a fantastic looking G2S to move to the semi finals.  ***1/2

Jeff Cobb Def. Tanga Loa

Tanga Loa seldom has singles matches (and for good reason), but this was not a bad little match. The opening and closing few minutes of this had some nice exchanges from both men, however the middle did drag. Cobb looked good as he has on all these New Japan of America shows, and as expected moves onto the semi finals where KENTA awaits. ***

NEW JAPAN CUP USA Quarterfinals
David Finlay Def. Chase Owens

I really like both these guys and was somewhat excited for this, but for whatever reason it just didn’t grab me. The work itself was fine, good even, but there was just no meat on the bone to latch onto. I expect these two to have another match on one of these shows in the near future and for it to be much better. **3/4

NEW JAPAN CUP USA Quarterfinals
Tama Tonga def. Brody King

The last of the first round matches saw Brody King return to New Japan since the Best of the Super Juniors tour last year as a second for Marty Scurll.

Both Brody and Tama were able to show off their freakish athletic ability and speed, which led to some really good action. This was also the first match of the night to really hook me into some of the near falls, with one in particular getting me. A really good match to finish the show. ***1/2

Final Thoughts

Two really good matches to bookend the episode with ok-good stuff in the middle makes for a very palatable hour of pro wrestling. No distraction finishes, no interference, just four straight pro wrestling matches to advance to the next round of a tournament.

Alex Kozlov was a great and welcomed addition to the commentary booth, while the set and production looked major league. Two semifinal matches and two tag matches are on the docket for next week in what should be another good, fun show.