ZSJ! ZSJ! ZSJ!
Gotta give credit where due, this year’s New Japan Cup was the best in years. Tons of fresh, good matches, the right winner, the entire House of Torture and Bullet Club eliminated before the quarterfinals….
It certainly slapped…..hard than Will Smith at the Oscars!
*Sigh* Okay, I knew it was a lame joke. I apologize…..like Will Smith did to Chris Rock the day after the Oscars!
Oh, boy. I, uh….I’m not very funny. But I DO like me some fake fightin’, so let’s talk about that!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Your hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov.
Tonight, the Rivals tour concludes in a big way with a 10-man elimination tag, as Team Filthy takes on Team Rosser ahead of Clark Connors’ shot at Tom Lawlor’s Strong title next week! Also tonight, Rocky Romero finally gets his hands on Black Tiger!
But up first…..
Daniel Garcia vs Yuya Uemura
Red Death! Nice to watch Daniel wrestle as always. I’m actually quite happy for him getting his AEW rub and all, but I love him as a wrestler and getting to watch him work in this company is extra fun. Uemura is, of course, on excursion from Japan and is surely being turned into yet another terminator by Shibata.
Grappling starts us off and both guys are excellent at it, reaching a stalemate quickly. Headlock takeover by Yuya and they work that on and off the mat. Stalemate again after that and they exchange shoves. Ian really putting AEW over hard on the commentary for Garcia as Yuya hits a nifty looking arm drag. To the ropes, where Daniel snaps the throat of Yuya to take over.
Garcia stomps away, then a forearm across the face in the corner. More beatings ensue, including Garcia biting Yuya in the nose to draw a “You sick fuck!” chant from the crowd. Garcia lights him UP with a chop that sounded like a firecracker, Uemura responds with a dropkick out of the corner to get some time. Yuya fires up and hits a slam and an elbow for two.
Belly-to-back suplex from Yuya gets two. Fujiwara armbar by Umeura, Garcia rolls through it and goes for the Sharpshooter, Yuya responds to that with a high-angle German that looked insane. They slug it out and Yuya wins, but misses a lariat and Garcia gets a choke. He goes for a piledriver and they exchange pin reversals from there, then Garcia gets the choke again, now the piledriver hits! 1, 2, NO! But Yuya has nothing else and Garcia puts him in the Sharpshooter for the submission. (Daniel Garcia over Yuya Uemura, submission, 10:38)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. Uemura was one of the best of a good Young Lion class and I see no reason that he’s backslid from there. An excellent effort here. Garcia is likely going to end up the breakout star of 2022 at the rate he’s going, having won BOLA and getting the push in Jericho’s AEW group. He’s really good, no question, but he should also be watching and doing whatever Bryan Danielson tells him to at this point. The fact that he’s only 23 years old absolutely blows my mind.
Post-match, Garcia offers the fist bump but Yuya shoves him away.
Black Tiger vs Rocky Romero
So, Ian actually gives a decent little backstory here, as Rocky did win the IWGP Junior title, but he did it as Black Tiger. As Ian explains, this means that the record books say that Black Tiger was the champion, not Rocky, and it sticks in Romero’s craw that there’s a new Black Tiger shitting on his legacy. See, I LIKE this, because it gives a reason for them to feud that is personal and makes sense. Also, Ian rules.
They go at it before the bell rings or Rocky gets his eyepatch off. No matter, as Rocky tosses him to the apron and dropkicks him to the floor. Romero follows him out and they brawl on the floor, which is fine, as this is supposed to be personal so I’d like to see a fight here. Rocky with a ‘rana off the rail and he tosses Tiger back in for a dropkick for one.
Rocky goes for Sliced Bread, but Tiger counters and hits a swinging neckbreaker for two. Back elbow and a gutwrench suplex get two for Tiger. Eye rake but now Rocky is pissed the fuck off, and he gets to his feet and fires away. Back rakes by Rocky to set up the Forever clotheslines and a swinging DDT as the crowd chants for Romero.
Rocky goes for the clotheslines again, but Tiger avoids it and hits a brainbuster for two. Story of the match is simple – they clearly know each other, as they keep avoiding signature moves. Rewind kick hits for Rocky, and now Romero rolls him into the cross-armbreaker. Tiger fights up and powerbombs his way out. They slug it out with both guys getting brief advantages, but Romero tosses him and hits a tope.
Back in and Rocky goes for it, hitting the running standing shiranui! 1, 2, NO! Romero can’t believe it and goes for another, but Tiger turns that into a Tombstone! Tiger Driver is countered into a ‘rana from Rocky for two. Rocky off the ropes, but he runs right into a huge lariat from Tiger! Tiger Driver hits ! 1, 2, 3! (Black Tiger over Rocky Romero, pinfall, 11:02)
THOUGHTS: ***. I’m a bit torn here only because the match work itself wasn’t really crisp or even much to write home about, but the story of the match itself was really good. Both guys were tearing at each other but avoiding all the big moves to drive home the point that they had a past. Kind of like the Black Scorpion/Sting feud, but, you know, GOOD and stuff. Also, Tiger going over clean shocked me, to be honest, as I thought this was just going to be the blowoff here.
Post-match, Tiger gets the kendo stick, but Rocky stops that and puts him in a cross-armbreaker to prevent a beating until it gets broken up, with Black Tiger retreating to the back.
Commercials! Buy some New Japan stuff!
Back for our main event!
Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, Royce Isaacs, JR Kratos, Danny Limelight, Jorel Nelson) vs Team Rosser (Fred Rosser, the DKC, Adrian Quest, Taylor Rust, Clark Connors) – Elimination match
Eliminations occur via pinfall, submission, count out, DQ, or being thrown over the top rope. I assume filthy language also eliminates you, much like it does here. Buncha fucking bullshit. I may not be Rosser’s biggest fan, but I gotta say that if Clark isn’t winning the title, the Rosser chase has at least been compelling and he probably has to be the guy to end the Lawlor reign in the end. At least at this point.
Connors looks to start with Lawlor….who immediately tags out to Limelight. Danny with a dropkick and some dancing, so Clark pounces Limelight and hits a high-angle German. Quest in next, and he does some neato-keen stuff with Danny for a bit. Limelight takes over after a bit of help, and here comes Nelson as the heels toss the babyfaces to do the Filthy pose for those with the benefit of flash photography.
Team Filthy cuts the ring in half on Quest, who hits a poison ‘rana to get an opening, tag to the DKC! DKC with a leg lariat on Nelson, then chops on Isaacs. Short bulldog into some chops, Limelight saves and ends up taking a crucifix bomb for his troubles. But that leaves an opening for the West Coast Wrecking Crew, who toss DKC over the top to eliminate him.
Quest back in now and the Crew beats on him before tagging in Danny, who hits a frog splash….but ends up getting rolled over and pinned. I kind of love/hate that spot, in that it’s really fun when done right and not so much when done wrong. I was more on the wrong side here. I prefer it when both guys are exhausted, or at least when I buy it as a flash pin.
Anyway, that evens the sides and now Rosser is in. Limelight beats on Quest on the way out as the Crew tries to double-team Rosser out, but Fred bites his way free. Gutbuster and running kick by Rosser eliminates Isaacs when Rosser pins him, and now Lawlor is in. Rosser escapes a rear-naked choke with a throw, but Lawlor distracts the ref and Nelson comes in with a low blow on Rosser, then follows that by tossing Rosser over the top to eliminate him.
Here comes Rust now, and he and Nelson do a nifty little match for a bit. Rust finally traps Nelson into a half-crab and even though JR Kratos tries to pull Nelson to the ropes, he can’t quite get him there and Nelson taps out to give the babyfaces a 3-2 advantage. Lawlor in and he eats a knee from Rust and here comes Clark. Connors and Lawlor slug it out, won by Tom.
Lawlor with a headscissors in the corner, but he goes up and ends up getting knocked to the apron. He gets a front facelock from there and pulls Connors over the top to the apron, they slug it out there….and Connors spears Lawlor to the floor to eliminate both men. From there, they brawl to the back as we’re down to Kratos vs Rust & Quest.
Rust fires away, but JR gets some big shots in to take over, and that ends up with a Liger Bomb getting the pin for Kratos, getting us down to Quest vs Kratos. Crowd chants “For the homies!” for Quest, but I don’t love his chances here. Quest with a few dropkicks and a tope to take out a returning Team Filthy, but comes back in and runs into a huge right from JR. From there, Kratos just ends him with open palm strikes, then turns him inside-out with a lariat to end the slaughter. (Team Filthy over Team Rosser, JR Kratos sole survivor, 16:29)
THOUGHTS: **3/4. I dunno, man. I’ve seen NJPW do these elimination matches a bunch and this felt kind of like a lower end one to me. It was all action, no doubt, but more compressed than even I would like in that respect. 9 eliminations in 16 minutes is a lot, and there wasn’t much resonance in any of it. Some cool bits in there and they definitely wanted to push Connors/Lawlor hard, which they did, so it wasn’t a failure or anything, just not on the higher end of the scale for these things.
Post-match, Team Filthy celebrates sans Lawlor as Ian sends us out until next week.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Solid episode as usual, albeit with what I thought was kind of a middling main event. Always happy to see Garcia here, as he had the best worked match of the night. Not a workrate show here but still some good stuff.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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