Okay, be honest with me here, everyone. If you watched the Naito/GEDO match from the New Japan Cup the other night, well, first off – sorry that you did that.
But second, and as I said, be honest – when Naito was yanking on GEDO’s beard, did anyone else pretend that GEDO’s screams were a shoot and he was in agonizing pain over having both helped create and push the House of Torture?
‘Cause I sure did.
Now that I think about it, wishing someone physical pain just because of the way they booked a wrestling angle is probably a desperate sign that I need therapy. But I can push that desire for violence down and write about wrestling instead! Just as good!
Anyway, speaking of violence, this week vengeance shall be had as BAD DUDE TITO and JONAH seek to even the score with the pretty boys of FinJuice in our main event as we kick off the Rivals tour tonight!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Yours hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov.
Also tonight, Karl Fredericks will take on Christopher Daniels, with Karl subbing for Gabriel Kidd. But up first, we’ve got Brogan Finlay, who is 18 years old and the brother of David Finlay, taking on TJP! Oh boy, a TJP match!
Brogan Finlay vs TJP
Grapple fight to start, and while I tend to enjoy chain wrestling, Finlay doesn’t have it down in a way that feels organic yet. No fault, he’s 18, but you can see him working the sequences from memory as opposed to him working it out as part of a real-time match. Neato sequence where TJP does his cartwheel nonsense into a headscissors, and Finlay reverses it before the dab. Finlay controls a bit more with a headlock takeover, so TJP yanks the hair to break.
A few corner-to-corners and TJP rams Finlay into the corner buckles to take over. TJP with kicks to the face and a boot rake. Off to some arm work and a chinlock before snapping the arm across and going up. TJP goes up, but Finlay moves and hits a back drop, then a forward roll slam for two. TJP with a nasty-looking kick, but Finlay hits a lariat for the double KO. They slug it out from there and Finlay comes off the ropes with a big boot, but goes for another Finlay Roll, allowing TJP to pull the hair and escape, then hit the Mamba splash. TJP takes him down into the stretch and whispers vaccine conspiracy theories in Finlay’s ear until he taps. (TJP over Brogan Finlay, submission, 9:06)
THOUGHTS: **3/4. This was fine. Finlay’s got talent but he’s got a ways to go before he puts 2 and 2 together. TJP is TJP, he’s an excellent worker most of the time and this wasn’t an exception. Nothing you’d be ashamed of here.
Post-match, TJP gets a mic. Oh, joy. He runs down the fans and promotes the United Empire, saying they’re a team of absolute GOATs, and he’s the greatest Junior Heavyweight alive. I mean, anyone who saw Desperado’s match against Okada knows that that statement is an absolute lie, but get down with your bad self, TJP. He’s going to be the most decorated champ ever, listing off all his titles (X Division, Cruiserweight), and soon he’ll be the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion. Good God, I hope not.
But then some unfamiliar music hits and the tron comes up with the words ‘King of the Ropes’, and lo and behold, it’s Mascara Dorada! The former Gran Metalik is here! He gets in TJP’s face and ‘ranas him to the floor, then poses as TJP bails out and the crowd chants his name!
Karl Fredericks vs Christopher Daniels
At this point, I may start a Go Fund Me to get Fredericks to Japan.
Daniels offers the handshake to start, and Karl declines! Oooh, bit of an edge there, Alpha. Waistlock by Fredericks and they go to the mat, where Daniels controls. Now see, and I don’t really want to push this TOO hard, but look at that sequence versus the one in the earlier match. This one looked like it was done on the fly and instead of just going your turn, roll through, smooth chain stuff, this was more of one wrestler outwrestling the other in the moment.
Anyway, pretentious analysis aside, we get back up from there and go back to it. Daniels with a hammerlock back to the mat as Fredericks tries to figure this out, and he does with a standing switch. We trade off the advantage several times here until we finally run the ropes and Fredericks takes him down with a jumping cross body and a deep armdrag. Double wristlock by Karl, but Daniels has the fingers locked to keep the arm from straightening, so Fredericks goes to a short-arm scissor.
Fredericks to the corner with a big chop, Christopher back with a flapjack and a dropkick to get the advantage again. Gutbuster by Daniels gets two. Daniels with some corner chops, but Karl no-sells it and they slug it out in the middle of the ring. I’m not doing justice here, by the way, this match is excellent.
Blind charge by Karl eats a boot and Daniels spears him for two. Another flapjack gets two. Riccaboni is right on this shit, pointing out how Daniels is targeting the midsection and the ribs. Uranage by Daniels is reversed by Fredericks, who then drops Daniels with lariats and BIIIIIIGGGG back body drop. Corner splash by Fredericks and he beats Daniels down in the corner, then hits a delayed dropkick. Suplex and elbow get two for Karl.
Daniels hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for two to buy some time as we hit the ten minute mark. They trade pinfall reversals out of the corner, then Daniels goes for Angel’s Wings, but Fredericks suplexes him for two instead. Crucifix gets two for Karl. Fredericks goes for another corner splash, but Daniels moves and hits the Uranage, then it’s time – Best! Moonsault! Ever! hits! 1, 2, 3! Daniels wins it! (Christopher Daniels over Karl Fredericks, pinfall, 11:41)
THOUGHTS: ***1/2. Despite the fact that I cannot fathom why you would have Fredericks lose this match (seriously, Karl is your homegrown guy and you have him lay down for…..what?), this was an insanely fun piece of business. The grappling sequences never felt too rehearsed and Daniels is a vet who knows exactly how to pace a match and get the best from his opponents. I thought this was a pretty good 12 minutes of wrestling, honestly, with a nice bit of story progression in Daniels targeting the ribs as the smaller man against the larger one, trying to take out his wind. Overall, I really dug this one.
Post-match, Daniels also wants the stick! He puts over So Cal, getting an SCU chant, then calls Karl a tough son of a bitch. He puts over the LA Dojo and says that if Fredericks is representative of the Dojo, pro wrestling is in good hands! Karl took Daniels to the limit, and he’ll run it back any time before calling him the future of the business. He shakes Fredericks’ hand and raises his arm, then bows to him before asking the crowd to give him one more ‘SCU’ before he takes off. Cool stuff, Daniels.
Commericals! Buy some NJPW merch!
Main event! BAD DUDE TITO! LOUD NOISES!
Seriously, though, I’ll almost be disappointed if Bad Dude Tito doesn’t rip off David Finlay’s head and use it as a weapon to knock Juice Robinson into next week for the pin. Tito and JONAH are out first, followed by FinJuice. Let’s get to the murder!
BAD DUDE TITO/JONAH vs FinJuice (David Finlay/Juice Robinson)
FinJuice attacks before the bell, because they know the only way to make a dent against the human wall of badass that is Bad Dude Tito is to cowardly attack before he’s prepared. Doesn’t matter, as Juice is pounded into hamburger in the corner before long by his royal Bad Dudeness, and the match finally begins with David Finlay taking his turn getting beaten like a bitch in the corner.
They cut the ring in half on Finlay and beat the fuck out of him, including a Tito in-and-out senton because he can do EVERYTHING. HE’S BAD DUDE TITO. Double shoulderblock almost puts David through the mat. Chinlock by JONAH, but Finlay attempts to fight back, until he comes off the ropes and JONAH damn near kills him with a lariat. Press slam by JONAH, but Finlay escapes with a DDT, and we’ve got tags on both sides.
Juice and Tito slug it out, with Tito clobbering him against the ropes. Tito comes off and Juice hits him with a spinebuster, probably pulled the hair as well. It’s the only explanation for Juice somehow managing to drop Bad Dude Tito. Cannonball in the corner and now Juice realizes what he’s done, and afraid of Bad Dude Tito’s righteous anger, he leaps from the ring to escape. Unfortunately for Juice, he lands in the arms of JONAH, who runs Juice into the steel pole as punishment for his cowardice in running away from his rightful Tito ass-kicking.
JONAH tosses Juice back in and Bad Dude Tito hits a few kicks, then goes for a suplex but Tito is so strong, that he rotates Juice all the way over and Juice lands on his feet before the sheer magnitude of Tito’s power causes Robinson to fly into his own corner. Finlay tags himself in to get the usual illegal double-teams that FinJuice is known for, including a Demolition Decapitation for two.
JONAH disposes of Finlay quickly, though, and Bad Dude Tito almost turns Juice Robinson into the Headless Horseman as he absolutely flies at him with a back elbow. Juice is so dead that it takes JONAH and Bad Dude Tito working together to help Robinson to his feet. What sportsmen these guys are. Suplex and boot to the head combo, 1, 2, and David Finlay must absolutely HATE his partner, because he comes in to break up the pin! Listen, David, if you really care, let the man stay down. You’re angering Bad Dude Tito.
This leads to possibly the coolest big man tag team move ever, as JONAH hits a pounce into a one-armed power bomb from Bad Dude Tito! That was AWESOME. Juice gets squashed in the corner by JONAH, and then it’s Bad Dude Tito with a Blockbuster for two. Juice gets a ‘rana to freeze JONAH and then Finlay comes back in for more double-teaming on Bad Dude Tito, this time with a double flapjack. Left Hand of God (illegal closed fist of GOD), then a stunner by Finlay, then another ILLEGAL Left Hand of God to the back of JONAH’s head, then Finlay with a clothesline to the back of JONAH’s head. Two closed fists and two moves from behind. How do these guys sleep at night?
They look to finish on Bad Dude Tito with the Doomsday Device, but JONAH breaks that up and a dude sneaks into the ring, likely someone who was tired of seeing the rules continually broken by FinJuice, and he hits a giant suplex on Juice! Tito goes up, BAD DUDE FROG SPLASH! Count the pin, it’s ACADEMIC, baby. (Bad Dude Tito/JONAH over FinJuice, pinfall, 8:16)
THOUGHTS: ***. Well, first off, I had to resist the urge to give it like 12*, if only because it’s a win for Bad Dude Tito. Man, I hope he never changes his name ever. But also, this was a really fun little tag match here, with no resting and go, go, go from the opening bell. There wasn’t much substance here as a match and the finish was kinda meh to me, but the action itself was really excellent from bell-to-bell. Good stuff here.
Post-match, we find out that the run-in was Shane Haste! JONAH’s former stablemate in The Mighty Don’t Kneel! The former Shane Thorne of TM-61! THE FORMER SLAPJACK!!!!
So, he comes in and gives JONAH a hug, then they toss Juice and beat the shit out of David Finlay until Brogan comes in for the save, which goes about as well as you’d expect, with the heels beating the holy hell out of the kid as they make David Finlay watch JONAH splash him off the top rope. Tremendous. More beatings for the Finlays happen before they’ve had enough as we’re done for the week.
FINAL THOUGHTS: When I saw the lineup for this week, I didn’t think much of it, to be perfectly honest, but this one surprised me. A decent opener, a really nice match in the middle, and a wild tag to close the show make this one an easy watch. We talk alot about what Strong does well, and this epitomized that, presenting different matches at every point of the card and advancing a few stories (TJP and Dorada, Shane returning to align with JONAH in the main event to potentially reform TMDK) in the context of those different matches. A really fun show this week.
But before we go…..
This past week, there was an Impact PPV, and while that doesn’t normally trip my trigger all that much, Scott’s favorite wrestler Jay White was in action, and as NJPW put up that match on NJPW World, how can I not review it? Also, Jay White rules. I’ll put all his shit on this blog at every opportunity.
Jay White vs Alex Shelley – From Impact Sacrifice 2022
Oh, yeah. Inject this shit into my veins, kids. Commentary brings up Jay being part of Shelley’s ROH stable, Search and Destroy, which consisted of Shelley and Sabin (aka The Motor City Machine Guns) Jay White during his ROH excursion, and Jonathan Gresham! That sounds like the greatest stable ever now, to be frank. I was covering ROH for this here website in that time period and I barely remember that at all.
Series of standing switches start us off. Shelley gets the advantage with a drop toehold and he works the arm a bit before Jay gets the elbow to break. Shelley chops Jay down in the corner, then comes off the top with a knee onto the arm, before hitting a spinkick to drop Jay and send him to the floor. Kneedrop to the back of Jay’s head off the apron, then a necksnap by Shelley, but he tries a crossbody into the ring and hits the knees of White.
White with a backbreaker, then a Fireman’s Carry snap on the top rope by Jay. He rams Alex into the ring a few times, offering a two sweet to a fan and then taking it back before ramming Shelley into the apron again. I love this man and I’m not sure it’s in a platonic way. Back in and he chops Shelley, then chokes him with the boot in the corner. Backbreaker by White gets two.
Shelley hits a series of forearms to put both guys down now. Crowd thinks this is awesome, and this crowd is correct. Kicks by Alex and he wants Sliced Bread, but White avoids him in the corner and hits a DDT to buy some time. Blade Buster by Jay gets two. Shelley fires kicks and takes Jay into the middle buckle face-first. He steps on Jay’s arm as White screams in agony, but leaves and opening so Jay thumbs him in the eye. Attaboy, Switchblade.
Series of chops by White drop Shelley over and over, but now Shelley returns fire. He misses an overhand shot and White gets the Uranage for two as Shelley gets his foot on the ropes. Shelley gets a desperation Sliced Bread on Jay and fires off a superkick, then tries a Blade Runner, reversing that into a crucifix, and from there we do a crazy series of reversals until Shelley rolls into a crossface and forces Jay to make the ropes. Shelley with an armsnap and an enzuigiri, and White hits the floor.
Shelley tries to dive out with a crossbody, but Jay catches him, Blade Runner into the apron! White rolls in but instead of taking the countout, he goes back out, tosses Shelley back in, and goes for another Blade Runner, but Alex reverses to one of his own! 1, 2, NO! Shelley with the crossface, Jay reaches out, Alex tries to pull him back in, Jay reverses, Blade Runner by White! That’ll do it. (Jay White over Alex Shelley, pinfall, 18:45)
Post-match, Shelley offers the hand, but Jay laughs at him and leaves the ring. Tremendous.
THOUGHTS: ****1/4. Gosh, what a shock, put the best wrestler in the world in there with another excellent wrestler and you get a great match. Wonder of wonders. A spirited back and forth bunch of crazy, these two made almost 20 minutes feel like less than 10. The entire match is up on New Japan World, so you don’t have to buy the Impact PPV to watch it or anything, but I highly, highly recommend you do. It’s just really terrific professional wrestling.
I think that’ll take care of things this week – see you all in 7 days!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter