NJPW Lion’s Break Collision
Original Air Date: July 3, 2020 (22:00 EDT)
Event Date: June 13, 2020
(uploaded to NJPW World)
Commentary: Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton, Gino Gambino
Ring Announcer: Adnan Kureishy
Alex Coughlin vs Clark Connors
(referee: Nick Bonanno)
Result: Time Limit Draw
Good match. It’s been a while since we’ve seen either of these guys in the ring, and they both looked a good as ever. Connors is still a very angry wrestler, and every one of his attacks is filled with aggression. Coughlin was the bigger man in this fight (physically and probably emotionally), and he was a bit more methodical with his attacks. Since young lion’s matches have a ten-minute time limit, Coughlin’s calmness absolutely helped him as the time started to wind down in this match. I think These two had a nice dynamic between them. I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of these two young lions wrestling each other, and I’m totally fine with that. This was a nice first match for the Lion’s Break Collision series.
Clark Connors says that he and Coughlin are both ready to move beyond their status as young lions. As the captain of the LA Dojo, he will not be the last to graduate from their young lion’s class. He also watches his “gosh darn” language.
As we wait for the next match, we see some commercials on the stream. In the first one, Clark Connors amazes Alex Coughlin and Karl Fredericks with Gekiochi-Kun (sponges that clean without soap). Fredericks thinks they’re pretty cool.
In the next commercial, Rocky Romero geeks out in front of Juice Robinson (via video chat) as he peruses the NJPW Tokon Shop Global.
Next, Will Ospreay creates a new faction with digital cards in the NJPW Collection app.
Karl Fredericks & TJP vs Rocky Romero & Jeff Cobb
(referee: Jeremy Marcus)
Result: Karl Fredericks pins Rocky Romero with a backslide
Good match. TJP and Romero started the action against each other, and it was fast and super fun. Then Fredericks tagged in to face Romero, and Fredericks ended up being the main focal point of most of this match (which is good and makes sense since this is more or less a young lions show). Fredericks stood up pretty well against Romero, but he showed his inexperience/bravery by repeatedly antagonizing Jeff Cobb on the apron. Fredericks action immediately backfired when he inadvertently caused the referee to be distracted while he was trying to pin Romero, and then backfired even worse when Cobb tagged in and started pummeling Fredericks.
From there, the match consisted of Fredericks getting beat up a lot while TJP had to come in every once in a while to make a save. There was a breakdown towards the end of the match though, and that opened things up to anyone being able to hit a big move in the chaos. The match was up in the air at that point, and anyone could have believably gotten the victory. This was a nice way to launch the recently-graduated Karl Fredericks, and it was a good debut main event for Lion’s Break Collision. It definitely makes me want to see what happens next between Cobb and Fredericks (especially considering the brief post-match brawl Cob and Fredericks had).
Karl Fredericks talks about the pack mentality of New Japan Pro Wrestling. He’s frustrated at how everyone is quick to join a faction in NJPW. He equates the factions in the company to packs of wolves. In a wolf pack there is one alpha and a bunch of wolves who are submissive. Fredericks says he will never be like that. He’s an alpha, and he will never submit.
This was a solid debut episode. I like that it’s a shorter format show than anything else right now. There were only two matches, and if you skipped all the talking segments, you could watch the show in under half an hour. Even with the talking though, the show is still under forty minutes. I think that’s a good length for a show like this.
I liked the way they highlighted the young lions (and former young lion). I thought it was really smart how Coughlin and Connors were re-introduced to us while staying on the same level with each other. That immediately builds in a good rivalry between them that will be interesting to watch develop. Who will move up first? That has me intrigued. I also enjoyed the commercial during the intermission that showed completely different sides to their personalities. I think that was really helpful in expanding their characters without straying from their status as young lions.
I’s also really enjoying the development of Karl Fredericks. It’s strange to think that he’s just moved up from being a young lion without going on excursion, but given the worldwide circumstances over the past few months (and into the foreseeable future), an excursion seems unrealistic. He looked good in the match. Sure, he got beat up a lot, but that’s what happens. Seeing him fight on the same level as the three guys he was in the ring with would’ve felt cheap and lazy. Instead, he got a bit lucky despite his relative inexperience.
I also though Fredericks’ promo after the match was great. It calls out the Japanese mentality of joining groups and factions in a sensible way. I mean, I love faction warfare, and it’s a staple of Japanese wrestling in my eyes, but as an American wrestler, it makes complete sense that Fredericks would feel stifled by that mentality. And considering that he just moved beyond being forced into a group as a young lion, the compulsion to be free and do his own thing must be strong for Fredericks. I am very interested to see how Fredericks fares as a lone wolf who is pretty low in the pecking order.
Match of the Night
Romero & Cobb vs Fredericks & TJP
Both matches were good, but I don’t think there’s any question that the main event was the stronger match overall. The action and the story worked together to make it compelling.
Official Results (English): https://www.njpw1972.com/tornament/76028?showResult=1