FTR, man. FTR.
I’d like to say that I want to see them face off against the Dangerous Tekkers next, but I gotta be honest – I’m hoping against hope that Zack will be somewhat busy with other things come the end of this weekend.
But you know what? I didn’t think he was going to win the New Japan Cup. Hell, I didn’t even pick him to make the Final. And yet, on the back of two MOTY candidates (well one MOTY candidate and a very, very good match against Naito), he’ll be facing Okada with his best chance ever to win the big belt.
Still, don’t want to jinx it, so I’ll say that I think Okada is gonna retain. Take that, Rainmaker! You’re totally screwed now!
Speaking of titles, this week on New Japan Strong, the Strong Style Evolved tour begins and it’s time for Clark Connors to get his title shot against Filthy Tom Lawlor, so we’ve got no time to waste!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Your hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Matt Rehwoldt.
In addition to the big title match, we’ll also see FinJuice take on JONAH and Shane Haste, AKA the New Japan version of The Mighty Don’t Kneel (TMDK)! But up first, it’s going to be CHAOS…..as in, Rocky Romero and Wheeler Yuta taking on JR Kratos and Black Tiger!
Team Filthy (JR Kratos/Black Tiger) vs CHAOS (Rocky Romero/Wheeler Yuta)
So….is Yuta still a part of CHAOS or not? I mean, Rocky inducted all of the Best Friends into CHAOS, but the events of Dynamite seem to suggest that Yuta may not be long for that particular group. AND, the events of this past week’s Dynamite seem to suggest that Trent is kind of a dickhole.
Kratos and Tiger jump CHAOS before the bell, and we start in the ring with Rocky and Tiger. Rocky gets the advantage and tags in Yuta, who comes in with a senton for one. Nifty little sequence ends in a Wheeler dropkick, and then Yuta takes a shot at JR. Well, at least they’re not ignoring the whole ‘Yuta does stupid shit to look like a big man’ storyline. Tiger ambushes him from behind and tags in JR, and Kratos goes to work.
Powerslam and a whip to the buckles set up Kratos throwing him across the ring on a suplex. My goodness, Yuta done flew on that one. Tiger back in and we hit the chinlock. Tag back to JR, who drops an elbow. Yuta tries to fight back, but Kratos shrugs that off and just absolutely clobbers him with a forearm and a lariat for two. Black Tiger back in and he ties Yuta up. Tiger does not appear to be in the mood to do a ton of work this evening, it seems. Kratos back in and he sends Yuta into orbit with a throw.
Yuta fires up and slaps Kratos, then hits a missile dropkick, hot tag to Rocky! Romero in and he runs wild on Tiger, deciding the arm is the target of choice with a snap and some kicks, then it’s Forever Clotheslines time, until forever ends with Kratos running in and pouncing Rocky into next week. Brainbuster by Tiger gets two, Yuta comes in and it’s breaking loose in New Japan! Yuta with a tope and we’re down to Rocky and Kratos alone in the ring.
Rocky fights and gets a tornado DDT for two. He comes off the ropes, but Kratos is waiting and pops him up, Black Hole Slam is more than enough to finish Romero. (Team Filthy over CHAOS, pinfall, 9:50)
THOUGHTS: **3/4. Perfectly acceptable tag team wrestling here. One thing I hope that Yuta learns from his current storyline in AEW is to try to make his stuff look a bit more snug – he was loose as a goose on a few of those moves. He’s really quite good and likely has a pretty nice future ahead of him. Romero taking another loss surprised me after losing clean to Tiger, but if he wants to put talent over, who am I to judge? Fine match.
Post-match, JR Kratos has the STICK~! “Alex! Good old Alex!” Kratos insults Tom Brady in calling out Coughlin. He poses, but there’s the music and Coughlin is here! He heads down to the ring and now he and JR are nose to nose! They slug it out and Kratos goes for a corner splash, but Alex catches him and hits a belly-to-belly! Coughlin is a bit TOO pleased with himself, and Kratos gets to his feet and knocks his fucking block off with a giant lariat, leading to a pull-apart brawl broken up by the Lions. Although Coughlin DOES get to throw one of the guys at Kratos like a javelin, which is pretty fun.
The Mighty Don’t Kneel (Shane Haste/JONAH) vs FinJuice (Juice Robinson/David Finlay)
Shane made his return to New Japan solo, but he hooked up with JONAH to give us a New Japan version of TMDK. The teams meet in the aisle and the fight is on before the bell. They fight into the crowd for a bit and everyone ends up crashing into a section of empty chairs, and we finally end up with Finlay and Shane in the ring to get a bell and start the match proper.
JONAH gets a tag and he destroys Finlay, whipping him to the buckles and choking him against the buckle and tagging in Haste for more abuse. They’ve got the ring cut in half and they are exploiting it. Cannonball by JONAH and Juice is forced to save it as David is taking a whuppin’ in there. Delayed vertical suplex by JONAH, tag to Shane for more stomping. Finlay finally makes a comeback and hits a back elbow and a tornado DDT to put both guys down.
Finlay crawls, hot tag to Juice! Jabs by Juice lead to the Left Hand of God, then it’s Juice in the corner with some shots and some biting. Cannonball hits for Juice, then a spinebuster for the interfering Shane. Finlay back in and they hit a double flapjack, but Finlay does a dive to the outside, right into a chair held by Shane. And from there, Haste just says ‘Fuck it’ and comes in with the chair to nail Robinson for the fucking DQ, of all things. (FinJuice over TMDK, DQ, 6:54)
THOUGHTS: **. This is clearly part of a larger story, so I’ll forgive the finish being what it was. What we got before the lame-ass ending was actually pretty decent, with a lot of action and some good selling by David. Finish was garbage, but I suspect this is only one step in this overall story.
Post-match, Juice gets the STICK~!, and lays down the challenge for Chicago. Woohoo, I’ll be in Chicago! Let’s do it there, I agree! Anyway, Robinson doesn’t want a DQ to stop them, so let’s do the match no rules, let’s do a Street Fight! They can bring Bad Dude Tito (IS HE CRAZY? BAD DUDE TITO IN A STREET FIGHT?) and they’ll find a third, and we’ll fight!
Oh, baby. I get to watch Bad Dude Tito commit murder live. I am SO IN for this. I will be chanting his NAME out there.
Commercials. Get some merch!
Recap of Clark Connors and Tom Lawlor. Connors is going to win the title. Lawlor does not agree. Therefore, we must battle.
Clark Connors vs “Filthy” Tom Lawlor (w/ JR Kratos & Black Tiger) (C) – New Japan Strong Openweight Championship match
We get dueling denim removal to start.
Yes, that was an accurate sentence.
Lawlor struts to start, so Connors spears him for two. Connors sends him out, then hits a plancha onto Black Tiger before giving us another denim removal down to the tights. Oh, baby. This is some dirty shit right here. Connors pounces Lawlor into the barricade and beats on him for awhile on the floor.
Back in and Lawlor gets a front choke and a slam for two. Lawlor with kicks, but Clark no-sells it and fires up, so Lawlor puts him back down with a forearm. Lawlor with a seated abdominal stretch now. Chops in the corner, but Connors turns it around and fires some of his own. Stinger Splash in the corner from Tom misses, but Clark can’t hold the advantage as Lawlor grabs the front choke again.
Lawlor with an STF and a T-Bone suplex for two. Lawlor stops to pose and Clark tries to take advantage, but Lawlor cuts him off again before ending up on the top rope where Clark gets a superplex for two. Camel Clutch by Connors, but Kratos pulls Lawlor to the ropes behind the ref’s back to break.
Connors with a spear through the ropes on Kratos, then one off the apron on Lawlor. Back in and Clark sets up, fading elbow! 1, 2, NO! Connors tries a spear in the ring, but Lawlor catches him in a front choke now, Connors breaks up by running Lawlor into the buckles. Powerslam by Clark! 1, 2, NO! Sleeper by Lawlor is countered into a Full Nelson by Connors, Lawlor runs him into the buckle to break that.
Lawlor with a Michinoku Driver for one! Clark fires up! Lariat drops Lawlor! That only gets one! They slug it out on their feet after that, extended one too. Connors tries a suplex, but Lawlor escapes it, knees him in the face, then ties him into a straightjacket and knees him in the back of the head for the 1, 2, 3. (Filthy Tom Lawlor over Clark Connors, pinfall, 13:58)
THOUGHTS: ***. What a weird match. Lawlor, the heel, was made to look like a wrestling genius while Connors really didn’t get much of anything. The commentary especially put over that Tom had a counter for almost everything that Clark tried, and Lawlor looked like the better wrestler in every facet of the match as a result. I dunno, I would have liked to have seen Connors get a bit more here, although from what I saw, what he did get was pretty okay. Maybe I just expected too much from this one, but I was a bit disappointed here.
Post-match, Tom has himself the STICK~! “Kratos, Kratos. Do I need to tell ’em again, or do they already know?” He’s the strongest and longest; if you’ve been paying attention, you know that he’s been the champ coming up on one year! He’s run through the best of the LA Dojo, the rest of the Strong locker room…..he doesn’t care who steps up. Could be Ishii, Great O-Khan, one thing is for sure – he’ll decide who gets to fight for the belt! And right now, it looks like Tom is going to take a vacation!
But now, the music of Fred Rosser starts up and he gets a STICK~! of his own. “Congrats to Tom Lawlor for another successful title defense on Strong!” He’s not out to kiss ass, he’s out to kick ass and he wants a title shot. He went through 40 ‘nos’ and finally get a yes and joined the WWE, so don’t say that his story doesn’t matter. He’s the only man to pin Tom Lawlor in Strong, and he isn’t asking, he’s demanding that he be next in line for a title shot! He can’t wait another year to have Match of the Year with Lawlor a 3rd time! So what does Tom say?
Tom says that he’ll give Rosser a shot when he proves that he’s ready for it. Until then, his answer is…..hell no. Lawlor drops the mic and walks off, while Rosser jaws at him from the ring. And that’ll do it for New Japan Strong this week.
FINAL THOUGHTS: No two ways about it, this was a mediocre episode of Strong, in that the main event really had to carry the show and I don’t know that it quite pulled that off. The match wasn’t bad or anything, not at all, but it wasn’t a blowaway and it had to follow some rougher stuff underneath.
Overall, this was much more of a story progression ep of Strong than anything else. The Rocky/Tiger war continued. The DQ in the second match was to set up the street fight in Chicago. And the main served as a backdrop to start the build to Lawlor and Rosser facing off again, which…..look. I’m not the biggest Rosser fan (although he’s absolutely fine as a worker, just not a tippy-top one, at least to me), but he kind of HAS to win it if they do this again. Another loss would be a bit too much, methinks.
Next week, Jay White vs Chris Sabin!
ALL IS FORGIVEN, NEW JAPAN STRONG.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
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