Hey. Hey, you. You, over there. Skipping past this post like you normally do because it’s about a show you don’t watch. You.
You wanna watch a really good wrestling show? Like, a really GOOD wrestling show? Also, do you want to buy some crack?
I kid, I kid. I don’t have any crack.
But I do have a really good wrestling show to recap right here. So 1 out of 2 ain’t bad, right?
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Tonight on New Japan Strong is the finale of the Nemesis tour, with Jay White vs Christopher Daniels in our main event! And we’ve also got Ariya Daivari vs Alex Zayne, and in his final match before graduating as a Young Lion, Alex Coughlin faces JR Kratos!
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov.
Ariya Daivari vs Alex Zayne
Zayne is coming off a cup of coffee in NXT/205 Live last year in WWE as Ari Sterling, where he was part of the purge. Well, one of them. Daivari had a bit longer in the WWE, but he also felt the wrath of the Laurinaitis phone call.
So the bit here is that Daivari is trying to turn over a new leaf and doesn’t want to cheat, which befuddles poor Alex Koslov, who can’t figure out why Daivari would ‘give up his bread and butter.’ We do a bit of chain wrestling to start as Kevin Kelly argues with Koslov about whether or not Daivari can win without cheating. Off the ropes they go, nobody moves and we go back to a lockup, then Zayne with a hiptoss.
Spinning heel kick by Zayne puts Daivari on the floor, then a springboard in and out moonsault to the floor from Alex. Daivari comes back with a knee to the gut and goes to work. Bodyscissors goes on for just a bit too long. Daivari is as solid a wrestler as you’ll get, but he’s never going to set this world or any other on fire in there. Zayne finally comes back with a clothesline as we hit the 5 minute call.
They slug it out as Koslov tells a heartwarming story about how when his dad came to see one of his matches in Mexico, he made sure to not change who he was in front of his father; he cheated as much as he normally would! Well, now there’s a good lesson for the kids out there. Zayne with the Baja Blast (somersault sidewalk slam) for two. Zayne names his moves after Taco Bell menu items, which both annoys and amuses me at the same time. No, I don’t understand it either. I’m a weird guy.
Daivari reverses into a DDT for two. Superkick drops Alex and Daivari hits a hammerlock lariat for two. He gets the carpet and comes off the top with the flying carpet splash! 1, 2, no!
By the way, if I have any new readers who don’t watch this show for whatever reason but were somehow seduced into checking out my wonderful prose, rest assured that the previous sentence is quite accurate. He went out, got a carpet, then came off the TOP WITH A SPLASH USING THE CARPET. The only thing this needed was someone singing “A Whole New World” in the background.
Anyway, Zayne cradles him for two off that, and if the mighty flying carpet splash didn’t get it done, I don’t know what will. Maybe a lamp to the head? Oh, never mind, he grabs the ring bell! Well, that will probably make the same basic ‘bong!’ sound, but he just can’t bring himself to do it! He throws the ring bell down and turns…..right into Zayne tying him up and hitting the Taco Driver for the pin. (Alex Zayne over Ariya Daivari, pinfall, 10:07)
THOUGHTS: **1/4. Nothing to go out of your way to see, nothing to be embarrassed by either. Zayne is flashy as hell, but I can kind of see why WWE let him go – at 35, I doubt he’s changing much and he’s still pretty indy-riffic. He’s really fun to watch but I never get the sense there’s any substance to his matches. Daivari is who he is – solid and dependable. There are worse things to be. Like, say, Brian Kendrick, for example.
Alex Coughlin vs JR Kratos
Alright, this was like my favorite wrestling thing I watched this week besides a really bitching 12 minute Akira Hokuto match with Talbot. And it’s not because this is a great wrestling match (although I’m going to argue that it kind of is, in some respects), but because it’s everything that I like about pro wrestling.
So, the bit here is that Coughlin is about to graduate from the LA Dojo and will no longer be a Young Lion. So to lead up to that moment, he’s doing the Alex Coughlin challenge series, wherein he challengers other wrestlers who are above him in the pecking order on New Japan Strong, and like a good Young Lion, he’s lost them all. This is the final match of the series, and he’s up against JR Kratos, who is the big end boss of Team Filthy, and looks like he has eaten several Young Lions along the way. Possibly literally.
Also, Coughlin looks like he just walked off the set of Tombstone with his bitchin’ mustache, so that’s yet another cool point in the favor of this match.
Crowd is totally behind Coughlin, chanting his name to start, but Coughlin doesn’t take his eyes off of Kratos. Kratos even menacingly strokes his beard like Ming the Merciless and I’m over the moon with this already. Just glorious. They do a really fun sequence on the mat that ends in a stalemate and now they’re chest to chest, nose to nose. Coughlin chops him and Kratos looks faintly amused. Then, in a brilliant little riff on the normal ‘strong style’ motif, Coughlin offers up his chest and Kratos goes for a chop…..but Alex ducks it and fires away with rights! Ha! This Lion isn’t dumb!
Then he goes for a suplex on Kratos. Okay, maybe he’s dumb.
But it doesn’t matter, as Alex fires away before coming off the ropes directly into a forearm from JR, who takes over and tosses Coughlin to the floor before giving the crowd the double middle finger. Alex tries to fight back but gets pounded down by Kratos on the floor and the crowd is still chanting ‘Alex!’ as Kratos beats on him. Kratos finally leaves him for dead, but Coughlin manages to get back in at 19. So Kratos beats on him more.
Snap powerslam gets two for JR. He taunts the crowd, takes his time, just in general exuding dickishness in every movement. Corner to corner and Kratos just THROWS Coughlin over his head on a vertical suplex and almost sends him into the buckles in the opposite corner. Tremendous. What an asshole. Blind charge by Kratos and Coughlin catches him with an elbow to start a comeback.
Kratos tries to cut him off, but Coughlin MUSCLES HIM OVER for a gutwrench suplex. That earns him a ‘holy shit!’ chant from the crowd, which, you know. Yes, Kratos is big, but this match has the crowd so deep by the hair of their crotches that a fucking gutwrench suplex popped them like someone did a goddamned 630.
Coughlin off the ropes with a clothesline, but a second one gets caught by Kratos into a Fujiwara armbar! Coughlin rolls through it and ends up behind Kratos, DELAYED GERMAN SUPLEX WITH A BRIDGE!! 1, 2, 3!!! COUGHLIN WINS! (Alex Coughlin over JR Kratos, pinfall, 9:23)
THOUGHTS: ***3/4. But who really gives a fuck about star ratings? This was AWESOME, as they paced it perfectly with Coughlin selling for exactly the right amount of time, sprinkling in hope spots here and there. Kratos was perfect as the snarling giant heel who dominated a good chunk of the match but got beat in the end by the plucky underdog. Coughlin comes out of this looking like he slayed the giant and in general like a real star, one who adjusted and fought through with bravery to overcome the odds. This was a damn near perfect ‘story’ match where everything worked exactly as they wanted and as a consequence got exactly the reaction they wanted. What wonderful professional wrestling this match was. Wonderful.
Post-match, Kratos gets all of his heat back by putting Coughlin through 4 tables and shaving off his mustache.
Naw, that doesn’t happen. We don’t do that here. Coughlin celebrates on the floor as the ref raises his hand and the announcers put him over.
Commercials. Buy some stuff! I want my first Alex Coughlin merch after that!
We recap the Jay White saga, as he initially wanted to have an open challenge for the NEVER openweight title. Of course, Tomohiro Ishii took that from him (and then promptly lost it to EVIL, so don’t worry, Jay – that title doesn’t really mean shit right now anyway), but Jay is still here. So he proceeds to cut a ridiculously great promo on a ‘young kid looking to catch a break – Christopher Daniels!’. Jay calls him a homegrown, young talent and I’m dying laughing at this disingenuous fuckhole. He’s going to make Daniels famous!
Daniels wishes to rebut, saying that he’s the Fallen Angel now, one at the crossroads of his career, one that hasn’t been in a New Japan ring in 3 years! He has nothing left to lose! So look him in the eye, Jay, and see if you have what it takes to face a Fallen Angel like this! We’ll find out at Nemesis!
Christopher Daniels vs Jay White
Daniels comes out to Fallen Angel music in his Fallen Angel gear, which I’m happy to see again. White is out next and dear GOD, do I miss this man in New Japan proper right now. I’m happy that he seems cool with where he’s at, but I want him back where he belongs, in New Japan main events.
White taunts him and a lockup goes to the corner, with White giving a clean break, yet somehow still being an absolute dick about it. They grapple and Jay takes him down with a shoulderblock. Then he slaps him in the face. And runs like a coward. This man just GETS IT. Back in and Daniels beats his ass with armdrags, then slaps Jay in the face for a receipt.
Suplex by Daniels and he hits a forearm in the corner. A second running attempt ends badly for him as Jay backdrops him to the floor, then heads out for some punishment to the Fallen Angel. Back in and Jay gets one. White stomps away, then into the Mutalock. He’s sure to grab the nose and eyes along the way because, you know. Ref forces a break as a result so Jay picks a fight with him and Daniels makes a comeback.
That ends with Jay hitting a chop block to the knee and multiple dragon-screws to Chris on the mat. Vicious Saito Suplex from White. Jay just rams Daniels’ head into the buckles as Koslov points out that White sold out Madison Square Garden! Kevin points out that Okada may have had something to do with it, but I’m with Alex on this one.
Back in and the ref looks to check on Daniels, so Jay pulls the ref away……allowing Daniels to hit a Death Valley Driver for two, then roll into a Koji Clutch! White moves his limbs and makes the ropes with his boot as we hit the ten minute mark. White snaps Daniels’ neck on the top rope and DDTs Daniels. White lost some hair on that necksnap and makes a big deal of it as we are edging closer to angry Jay now.
Blue Thunder Bomb from Daniels and both guys are struggling. Daniels with jabs and a BIIIIGGGGG back bodydrop, then an STO. White gets taken off the ropes with a throw and Daniels signals for Angel’s Wings, Jay bails to the floor. Daniels is done with this shit now and follows him out with a tope, then slams White and pulls up the mats. Angel’s Wings on the floor, but it backfires as White back bodydrops him to the concrete, then suplexes him onto the ring apron.
Back in and the Blade Buster gets two for Jay. Crowd wants the Kiwi Crusher, so Jay is like ‘nah’ and goes for a Uranage, but Daniels rolls through that and hits one of his own. Pinfall reversal sequence and Daniels hits Angel’s Wings! 1, 2, NO! Daniels wants another one, but White runs him into the corner, then hits the spinning Uranage. Sleeper suplex by White, and now he gives us the Kiwi Crusher (complete with GEDO voice) for two.
White wants to end it and signals for the Blade Runner, but Daniels escapes that and hits another Uranage. He goes for Best Moonsault Ever, but Jay gets his knees up enough that Daniels takes it in the gut, and the Blade Runner finishes matters right after. (Jay White over Christopher Daniels, pinfall, 19:07)
THOUGHTS: ****. C’mon, like they were gonna have a BAD match or something? Just a really beautiful piece of work from both guys, as White continues to be my favorite wrestler in the world when he gets even a decent opponent. His work between moves, with the taunting, facial expressions, slight movements, just everything he does is so perfect that I can’t believe that he’s still as young as he is. He’s such a terrific professional wrestler when it comes to the intangibles of the work that I’m in awe. Couple that with a guy like Daniels, who is a legend for a reason and a pretty fair professional wrestler himself, and you know you’re going to get a really excellent match. Which we got. Jay didn’t take it seriously enough until he almost lost, but he put Daniels away in the end, as he should.
Post-match, Jay White has himself the STICK~! – “I got nothing to say to all of you, but then I did! I opened the door here. New Japan Strong to any and all challengers! And All Elite Wrestling (Crowd: OOOHHH. Jay: Bemused look), All Elite Wrestling sent, AEW sends me a rookie like Christopher Daniels? You call yourself elite and you send me a broken-down rookie like Christopher Daniels? Why do I get the feeling that it’s personal? Why do I get the feeling that some people may have pushed for Christopher Daniels to come here so they could avoid me? I don’t know. I don’t know. But how about this, AEW? All Elite Wrestling? How about, for my next challenger, here on Strong, the US of Jay Open Invitational, how about you send me somebody TRULY elite? And bay-bay, it’s still MY era!” Jay drops the mic and walks off to the back.
Kevin Kelly sends us out and we’re done for the week!
FINAL THOUGHTS: I wasn’t joking, this was an incredible hour of professional wrestling. 38 plus minutes of in-ring action in an hour with two great matches and one that wasn’t offensive or anything. This is what Strong is best at, showcasing strong young talent like Coughlin and main eventers like Jay in starring roles. Really, really good show this week.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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