Not even a global pandemic can stop NJPW’s American superstars and Young Lions from shining.
NJPW launched their new weekly series Lion’s Break Collision on their NJPW streaming service tonight highlighting the Young Lions from the LA Dojo in California which is headed by Katsuyori Shibata and Rocky Romero.
The 40-minute show featured an interview and two matches with Chris Charlton, Kevin Kelly and Gino Gambio on commentary.
Young Lions traditionally wrestle in nondescript black trunks, boots and are not given a persona until they graduate to the main roster. That is usually after they have gone on excursion, worked for another promotion before heading back to NJPW. Without a colourful persona you cannot help but focus on the true in-ring skills of a Young Lion.
Knowing that, it was up to the commentators to give the Young Lions in the opening match some personality traits, which they did adding much-needed colour.
The opening bout, Alex Coughlin versus Clark Connors, was more of your conventional style of Young Lions match heavy on mat wrestling and the fundamentals. As most Young Lion matches do, it had a ten minute time limit and Coughlin and Connors made the most of it.
The main event showcased Karl Fredericks who has moved up to the main roster. He has a new look, new gear and a new attitude to go along with it all. Fredericks won the match for his team with a simple backslide on Rocky Romero. Fredericks and Jeff Cobb traded blows and harsh words after the match was over.
Fredericks teamed with TJ Perkins, one of the best wrestlers of his generation and a talent NJPW needs to snap up as a feature star. TJP versus Hiromu Takahashi, Kota Ibushi or even El Phantasmo would be wrestling gold.
I watched the show after viewing Smackdown and that scheduling helped me appreciate the NJPW talent, production even more. The development, staging, booking and composition of NJPW matches really gives away how cookie cutter most WWE matches are when they are side by side which is why it is never a good idea to watch any NJPW card before you watch any WWE show.
I would’ve liked a much longer show with more matches but it worked as a nice Smackdown decompression, the perfect nightcap on a lazy Friday evening of wrestling. The debut episode definitely left me wanting more though.
Lion’s Break Collision airs every Friday night at 10:00 PM ET on New Japan World.
Lion’s Break Collision: Episode One
Kevin Kelly interviews Karl Fredericks
Alex Coughlin versus Clark Connors
Winner: Time limit draw
Karl Fredericks and TJP versus Rocky Romero and Jeff Cobb
Winners: Karl Fredericks and TJP
The opening match may not have been everyone’s cup of tea but the main event spotlighted some of the best talent in the business right now. The show itself was a stripped down and simple broadcast. It may have been too simple in some regards, especially the length of the show.