Tonight we kick off the New Beginning tour here on NJPW Strong! Clark Connors takes on TJP in our main event!
Sigh. So long as he doesn’t TALK, I can live with some TJP.
Before I watch, I should really read Scott’s Dynamite review, see what the (Big) Bossman of the blog thinks about Jay White’s debu-
He said WHAT?!? He said WHAT about Jay White?
This is my worst intro ever.
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Also tonight on New Japan Strong, we’ve got Rocky Romero and Lio Rush teaming up to take on Team Filthy’s West Coast Wrecking Crew, and we’ll open tonight with Yuya Uemura tangling with Brody King!
Your hosts are Ian Riccaboni (Yay! Ian is great and I was hoping he’d land somewhere with ROH on hiatus) and Alex Koslov.
Yuya Uemura vs Brody King
Uemura was my favorite of the last class of Young Lions in NJPW, but this could prove to be…..difficult. King is, of course, one of AEW’s newest signees as part of the House of Black. You know, AEW. That mudshow company that Jay White GRACED WITH HIS PRESENCE for a brief moment on Wednesday. You hear me, Scott Keith? GRACED WITH HIS PRESENCE.
This is going to a be a fun last recap before I lose my posting privileges.
We start off with some spots to establish something very clear – Brody is, shall we say, larger and more powerful than Yuya. He dominates with said power, hanging onto a headlock to prevent Uemura from shooting him off, then rolling through into a headlock takeover. Uemura comes off the ropes with a shoulder and gets in Brody’s face about it, then avoids an elbow and hits one of his own for 1/2.
Yuya keeps firing away, showing some excellent fire as he charges…..right into a shoulder from King that almost ends his life. Not to turn my attention too far from this show, but now that we’ve got Brody King and Keith Lee in the same company, GIMME THAT HOSS FIGHT. Seriously, as near as I can tell from cagematch, they’ve never crossed paths, PWG or otherwise, and I want to see that explosion of meaty men slapping meat. Speaking of, King hits a chop on Yuya that probably has Uemura regretting most of his life choices. Then he does it again before tossing Uemura to the floor.
Out to the floor we go and Uemura continues to take a murderin’. Back in and King splashes Yuya for two, then goes to a neck vice. Yuya escapes and fights back, hitting a nice dropkick that actually drops Brody! Flying forearm from Yuya, then a corner dropkick! Uemura goes for a suplex! What an idiot! He hits a few more moves and a jumping enzuigiri! Uemura goes for a suplex! He hits it! What a genius!
Butterfly is broken by King with headbutts, then a bear hug. Piledriver from King! 1, 2, NO!! Let’s return to the idea that Yuya may be an idiot. Just stay down, fool. Gonzo bomb countered and Yuya rolls him through into an armbar! Will Brody tap? Nah, he makes the ropes. They slug it out and Yuya is hanging in there, but he comes off the ropes and Brody ETHERS HIM with a lariat. Gonzo bomb is academic. (Brody King over Yuya Uemura, pinfall, 12:56)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. Uemura did an excellent job of fighting up from underneath here, and I’ve still got my money on him being something in Japan. That having been said, I didn’t really buy the nearfalls or the drama here – King was always winning this one going away. Brody is one of those guys that is going to have to differentiate himself a bit in AEW, as he’s a big guy who can do lucha moves; he’s not the only one anymore. But I think that he’s going to get the chance.
Crowd gives Yuya an ovation and chants his name as he staggers to the back.
The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs/Jorel Nelson) vs Lio Rush/Rocky Romero
The Crew jump Rush and Rocky from behind, likely due to them being offended by Rocky’s entrance track. Isaacs with a delayed vertical suplex on Romero while Nelson drops Rush on the floor with the same. Nelson in now with the beats on Rocky as they work him over. Romero comes back with a wind-up eye poke on Isaacs. Hee.
Both Crew guys come in now, but Rocky hits a double ‘rana and wants a tag, but Isaacs drops him off the apron and it’s back to cutting the ring in half on Rocky as Nelson undoes the buckle and Isaacs slams Romero for two. Rocky finally fights out of the corner with a tornado DDT and it’s HOT TAG LIO. As well it should be, Lio is an excellent hot tag and he shows it here, running wild on the heels with speed.
Rush destroys Nelson and has the crowd chanting his name, hitting a high cross for two. Kicks from Lio, but Nelson catches one and hits double knees in the corner, tag to Royce. Lio fights off both guys and sends Nelson to the floor, then tags in Romero. Forever clotheslines in the corner from Rocky and Lio on Isaacs in the corner.
Sliced Bread from Romero is blocked and Nelson hits a spinebuster, then the Crew hits the powerbomb/catapult powerslam combo for two before Rush breaks it up and we are BREAKING LOOSE IN SEATTLE, with all 4 guys in and Rush tossing Nelson and hitting a crossbody to the floor. Rocky and Royce are in the ring now, and Isaacs his a pop-up knee, but Rocky avoids a corner charge and hooks an armbar, then a triangle. Isaacs tries to powerbomb his way out, but Rush hits him with a enzuigiri to drop him back down into the armbar and Isaacs taps. (Lio Rush/Rocky Romero over The West Coast Wrecking Crew, pinfall, 10:52)
THOUGHTS: ***. Perfectly fine tag match here, as the Crew are stalwarts, Rocky is a dependable vet, and Lio is, well, whatever he is this week. He’s insanely talented and I’d like to see him keep wrestling, but I have no idea where he’ll end up at next.
Post-match, the heels attack Rocky from behind and beat him with Black Tiger’s kendo stick before taking their leave. They’re doing a job building up the Rocky/Black Tiger thing, I will say.
Backstage, FinJuice cuts a promo – next week, it’s FinJuice against Jonah and the returning BAD DUDE TITO. Oh, FinJuice is gonna get killed.
Commercials. Buy some NJPW stuff!
Back and we run down the past between Clark Connors and TJP. They were tag partners and friends who met in the first round of the New Japan Cup which was won by Clark. They tagged after that, until TJP joined the United Empire. They’ve met other times, with TJP winning via hanging onto the ropes.
TJP vs Clark Connors
TJP is out first, and Clark comes out next to a big pop from the crowd as the announcers point out that Connors has been in more Strong matches than anyone.
Lockup goes to the corner and TJ ducks in the corner, backing away like Connors has a COVID booster in his trunks. They work the mat a bit and TJ goes after the knee of Clark, so Connors goldbricks him to fake the injury before teeing off on TJ the corner and hitting a huge suplex. Again!
TJP bails to the floor to think things over a bit, but Clark follows him out and muscles him over the barricade onto the timekeeper’s table. Connors is showing some gusto here, really selling the intensity. Clark with a big bulldog out of the corner for two. He charges TJ, but TJP hooks a guillotine in the ropes, then a single-arm DDT onto the apron, which is, of course, the hardest part of the ring.
TJ takes over back in the ring and works on the shoulder a bit, then ties him up in a chinlock, really amping on it to try to get the submission; to add some extra torque, you can read his lips as he whispers right-wing conspiracy theories into Clark’s ear, promising to stop if Connors submits. Connors holds out, so TJP threatens to show him his Twitter feed, but Clark endures.
Face kicks in the corner, but Clark fires up with a big shoulderblock! Corner to corner and Connors drives the shoulder into TJP, then covers for two. TJP comes back by avoiding Connors off the ropes, then hits a springboard single-arm DDT, which was admittedly pretty cool. Cross-armbreaker follows and Clark is in trouble, but he leverages the legs and reverses to a full-nelson, which he can’t lock in thanks to his shoulder and TJ makes the ropes.
Clark with a spear through the ropes to sent TJP to the floor and the crowd thinks this is awesome. They fight on the apron and Clark ends up draped on the ropes, allowing TJ to hit a knee to the back and the Mamba Splash for two. Spinning ab stretch slam by TJ gets two, but nothing is keeping Connors down at this point, as he fires up. TJP takes him back down into a modified figure-four, but Connors rolls him up for two and a double clothesline puts both guys down.
Tornado DDT attempt is countered by Connors with a throw. Clark goes up, but TJP crotches him there. Superplex attempt by TJ is countered with a headbutt, then a splash from the top by Connors. Powerbomb by Connors gets two. Trophy Kill finishes for Connors. (Clark Connors over TJP, pinfall, 18:19)
THOUGHTS: ***3/4. Hey, I’ll never take away from TJP’s abilities in the ring, despite his being, well, him outside of it. Match was excellent, although I had a few issues with Connors kind of off-and-on selling of the shoulder – it felt like that was supposed to be a bigger deal in the context of the match. Clark has an interesting charisma – even though I’d put him lower on the Dojo Lion list than a lot of others, he may have enough to make it anyway. But a good match to finish up the week.
Connors celebrates as Ian reminds us that next week, it’s FinJuice vs Jonah and BAD DUDE TITO! And we’re out.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was kind of a typical Strong in my eyes. 3 good matches, no bad ones, with a bit of angle advancement here and there. I didn’t think it was on the level of the really awesome show from last week, but it was certainly a damn good wrestling show, which is all I want.
Well, that’ll do it this week.
Jay White rules.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email