This recap contains zero mentions of Adam Cole or Hook; and god willing for this show, never will.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – what could we possibly argue about in the comments section, then?
Well, I suggest using that section for effusive praise. Of me, in case that isn’t clear.
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Tonight, it’s the penultimate chapter of the Nemesis Tour! In our main event, it’s Team Filthy against Rocky Romero, Taylor Rust, and Fred Rosser! Also, we’ll see Juice Robinson vs the debuting Bad Dude Tito!
Seriously? Bad Dude Tito? (check notes) Bad Dude Tito. BAD DUDE TITO!
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov. Can Team New Japan Strong trust Taylor Rust tonight? “More like Taylor DIStrust!”sayeth the always smooth Koslov. Whatever, Alex. We’re all just marking time until BAD DUDE TITO.
But up first, it’s Team Filthy’s Royce Isaacs against Lucas Riley!
Lucas Riley vs Royce Isaacs
Riley is 22 and, well, he very much acts like it. Ton of talent, but needs a lot of work. Royce comes out with his West Coast Wrecking Crew partner Jorel Nelson, who we’ll see a bit later. Lockup as Riley finds himself working from underneath with his Adam Cole-esque size. Ha! I lied! I got one in here! They work on the mat a bit until Isaacs gets tired of it and tosses Riley down, then drops him with a shoulderblock. Riley comes back with a ‘rana and does a nice standing Shooting Star for two.
Pop-up knee by Isaacs turns the tide and he mounts Lucas and pounds away. Big delayed vertical suplex by Royce, then a huge whip to the corner sends Lucas flying. Lucas with a comeback as Kevin Kelly says he has a bit of that ‘Daniel-san vibe’ with the headband. Someone has been watching Cobra Kai. Actually, Kevin may have just been rewatching the movie. Anyway, Riley runs all over the place and gets a floatover into a faceplant for two. One too many times, though, and Royce catches him with a powerslam, then finishes with Hush Money. (Royce Isaacs over Lucas Riley, pinfall, 7:24)
THOUGHTS: **. Royce is fine, decent worker. Riley needs a LOT of seasoning. He can hit moves and he’s fast, but you can see him not really understanding the concepts of transitions, match flow; the basic music between the notes stuff. Athletic ability is a must, for sure, and it will get him a good chunk of the way there; what remains is the hard part. On the other hand, kid is 22. He’s got plenty of time to figure it out.
The West Coast Wrecking Crew leaves the ring, but I barely notice because BAD DUDE TITO IS UP NEXT!
Oh, boy. I am ready for this.
And there’s the man himself! Bad Dude Tito’s name when said by the Japanese ring announcer is BADASS. Kevin Kelly tells us that he made his rep in Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport promotion, which….actually, I don’t have anything there. Non-Van Damme Bloodsport is sweet, you should all watch it. I should recap that. Anyway, Bad Dude Tito has a wolf on the shoulders of his gear that he probably killed with his bare hands one night because he was bored or something. Kevin Kelly notes that Bad Dude Tito won’t be the crowd favorite tonight, but he doesn’t care about the fans. Unless he’s KILLING THEM FOR SPORT.
Anyhow, Juice Robinson, who is morphing into Randy Savage even more day by day, is out next. Bet he misses NXT and CJ Parker right about now, seeing his fate in the form of Bad Dude Tito waiting in the ring! Of course, he gets to go home to Toni Storm, so I doubt the beating he’s surely about to receive from Bad Dude Tito is going to wipe that smile off his face.
BAD DUDE TITO vs Juice Robinson
Bad Dude Tito is kind enough to allow the ref to check him before the match begins, seeing as how the only weapons he needs are his bare motherfucking HANDS. Tito rolls through an armwringer and takes the arm of Juice, reversal by Robinson into a side headlock takeover. Tito rolls through that and Juice escapes, then SLAPS BAD DUDE TITO IN THE FACE.
Time stopped for a moment.
Once I caught my breath knowing I was about to see a murder happen in the middle of the ring, I hit unpause and Tito chopped Juice’s soul from his chest. Juice chops back, but Bad Dude Tito is unfazed and takes Juice down with a throw, Juice bails to the outside. Now, normally, I would say that was a cowardly move, but against Bad Dude Tito? It’s the ONLY MOVE.
Unfortunately for Juice, much like the Terminator, Bad Dude Tito goes after Juice on the outside and they chop each other, until Juice gets a desperation suplex on the floor to try to free himself from the walking nightmare that is Bad Dude Tito. Juice runs him into the post because all he can do is cheat to stop this monster. Back in and Juice with a spinebuster and a senton, which only gets two. Yeah, like Bad Dude Tito is jobbing to THAT.
Juice with some illegal rights in the corner, but Bad Dude Tito reverses and cross-corner whip and follows with a running uppercut. Both guys go for lariats and Juice goes down like a sack of potatoes, while Tito is so confident he’s got this one in hand, he decides to take a very brief siesta at the same time. Both guys get up at the same time to slug it out, and Juice once again goes to the closed fist to try to stop this monster.
No good, though, as Tito hits an enzuigiri and a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Clearly a slow count by the ref, Juice was down for at least a 5 count there. Fireman’s carry is escaped by Juice, so Bad Dude Tito comes off the ropes and gets a wheelbarrow rollup for two, because why not? This man can do it all! Death Valley Driver gets two for Tito. Bad Dude Tito goes up for some LUCHA TITO~!, but Juice makes it back to his feet and crotches Tito on the top rope. Left Hand of God from Juice (yet another illegal closed fist by Juice), then Pulp Friction off the top rope. Fisherman’s Falcon Arrow hits for Juice and Tito is kind enough to give the kid a victory. (Juice Robinson over Bad Dude Tito, pinfall, 9:36)
THOUGHTS: ***. Tito got quite a bit here, and he looks like Steve Williams enough that JR would probably give him the World title in AEW if he had the book. Regardless, he’s nimble, built, and has power. Juice is Juice at this point – I don’t think he’s really going to be a radically different worker in the future. He can probably do whatever he wants at this point, in that he could stay in the US and be a name on Strong, he can go back to Japan where he has a career, he can try to catch on somewhere in NA if he wants. He’s got options.
Post-match, Juice wants the stick! I presume he wants to exult the incredible prowess of Bad Dude Tito and apologize for getting so lucky to beat him, but no. Instead, he wants JONAH to get his big ass out there! JONAH is more than happy to oblige and heads into the ring, but much like one could potentially forget about Dre (but of course, should not), Juice has forgotten about Bad Dude Tito! Tito grabs Juice’s leg and JONAH drops Juice, then tells Tito “Let’s kill him!” Yeah! Get him! Tito and JONAH ascend to the top rope in opposite corners, which may, in fact, actually kill Juice, but David Finlay runs out for the save. Looks like we’re going to have us a tag match in the future!
But, c’mon. JONAH teaming WITH Bad Dude Tito? Who could ever beat that team? It’s unfair. Tell Jurassic Express, CHAOS, and whoever has the WWE tag titles to just bring them to Strong and hand them over.
Commercials. Buy some New Japan merch!
Main event time! Team Filthy comes out together, along with Black Tiger. You know, I’ve never really enjoyed Lawlor when I’ve listened to him with Alvarez, but I do like his wrestling. Out next we’ve got Taylor Rust, Rocky Romero, and Fred Rosser. For those of you new to Strong: Rosser is the former Darren Young and just finished losing his feud with Lawlor. Taylor Rust was formerly allied with Team Filthy and left, had a cup of coffee in NXT before getting Khanned due to budget cuts, then came back and now he hates Team Filthy and wants a title shot, and Rocky is awesome. The Black Tiger thing is what Rocky is mad at here, as he was Black Tiger in NJPW for some time. Got it? Cool, let’s go.
Team Filthy (Jorel Nelson/Filthy Tom Lawlor) & Black Tiger vs Rocky Romero, Fred Rosser, and Taylor Rust
Rocky and Tiger start us off. Rocky dominates, then tags in Rosser, who can’t help himself as he goes after Lawlor on the apron and we’ve got a pier-six brawl less than a minute into the match. I dunno with Rosser, y’all. I just don’t see it with him, at least not as a top guy, or really even an upper midcard guy – he’s a competent worker, that’s about it.
Back in the ring now and Rocky continues to beat on Black Tiger, but a distraction from Nelson allows Tiger to get a lariat to take over. They drop Rocky and it’s time to POSE~! Get your cameras for the Team Filthy pose! These guys are spectacular dickheads, and I mean that with the utmost compliments. Rocky tries to fight back, but Nelson takes him back to the Filthy corner and here comes Lawlor for some beatings, as they cut the ring in half on Romero and beat him down.
Rocky plays Ricky Morton for awhile, which I’m fine with because he’s really good at it, and finally hits a DDT to get some time, hot tag to Taylor Rust! He runs wild on Lawlor, looking good in there. He fends off the rest of Team Filthy, Lawlor attacks from behind, but Rust doesn’t blink and they go back and forth before Lawlor hits an Olympic Slam. I really, really liked that move, mostly because he looked like he was struggling to hit it but powered through. Felt like part of a real fight. Well, as much as an Olympic Slam ever CAN feel like part of a real fight, this was the moment for it.
Nelson with a pop-up powerbomb on Rust for two. Rosser comes in, so here comes Lawlor. Rosser and Rust double-team the champ before Team Filthy runs them into each other and hit Rosser with a Hart Attack! Boston Crab by Nelson and Filthy comes off the top with a flying knee, but now Rocky is back in he hits a double ‘rana to send both of them out to the floor and we’re back to Rocky and Black Tiger. Rocky ‘ranas him to the floor and follows him out with a tope.
Nelson looks to try a tope of his own, but Rust cuts him off with a lariat. Rosser stops Filthy from taking out Rust and that allows Taylor to hit the Perfect Circle for the pin on Nelson. Fun match. (Rocky Romero, Taylor Rust, & Fred Rosser over Team Filthy & Black Tiger, pinfall, 11:36)
THOUGHTS: ***. If there’s one thing I know that NJPW knows how to do in all it’s forms, it’s a 6-man tag match. This one was all about taking the returning Taylor Rust and putting him over to get set for a challenge to Lawlor’s title, and that’s what it did. Along with getting us some prime Rocky/Black Tiger fun. Overall, a very typical 6-man, but they’re a strength of NJPW and I’m normally very happy to see them.
Post-match, Rocky brawls with Black Tiger on the floor, putting him in an armbar and needing to be broken up by the ringside Lions. Meanwhile, Rosser and Rust have a semi-tense handshake as both stare at the Strong title belt. And that’ll do it for us this week on NJPW Strong as Kevin Kelly reminds us that next week, Nemesis wraps up with Jay White vs Christopher Daniels! Yay!
FINAL THOUGHTS: A very typical Strong, this one was solid all the way through. Outside of the earth-shaking debut of BAD DUDE TITO, there really wasn’t a ton of great wrestling here – just very good wrestling for 50 minutes, which is exactly what you should watch Strong for. Thumbs up to a good episode here, very much looking forward to next week as we breathe with the Switchblade! See you then!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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