A new “tour” starts as NJPW Strong begins to deal with some openweight matches on this latest batch of shows.
Misterioso pinned Danny Limelight in 6:10 (**)
Hikuleo pinned TJP in 8:24 (**)
PJ Black pinned Alex Zayne in 10:21 (***)
Jeff Cobb & David Finlay pinned Chase Owens & KENTA in 9:44 (**¾)
A new tour starts here. Okay, they’re not leaving the building, but you know what I mean… openweight matches mean that for once we’re not dealing with a tournament! Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are back on commentary, initially running down the card before throwing to our first match.
Danny Limelight vs. Misterioso
After finishing as the runner-up in the Lion’s Break: Crown tournament, Limelight’s back in the openers.
Misterioso starts by working the arm, before he took a kick to the quad. A side headlock from Misterioso follows, but he clings on and gets shoved off, returning with shoulder tackles before he backflipped away from the ropes. An exchange of roll-ups gets Limelight a two-count, before he landed a springboard armdrag to take Misterioso outside. A plancha followed, but Misterioso caught him and charged him into the ring post. Back inside, a flip senton off the top rope gets a two-count, as Misterioso took Limelight into the corner for a chop. He keeps going with a superkick and a running thrust kick in the corner, before he tried to keep Limelight down with elbows and kicks.
A meticulous Finlay roll from Misterioso led to a moonsault… but Limelight gets a foot up and came back with some springboard headscissors. A gamengiri from the apron keeps Misterioso groggy ahead of a Meteora, but it doesn’t put Misterioso away… and Misterioso returns with a superkick and the MSO back cracker, propelling Limelight into the air for the win. This was kinda flat, but pretty even for what it was. **
Hikuleo vs. TJP
Hikuleo bullies the ref because he didn’t too-sweet him, and he’s got a pretty big size advantage over TJP here.
From the opening lock-up, TJP’s pushed into the corner, before we wash, rinse and repeat. A missed strike from Hikuleo allows TJP in with some mounted punches in the corner, but Hikuleo counters out with a Manhattan drop before he just swiped TJP to the mat. TJP redirects himself in the ropes as he tries to outpace Hikuleo, coming back with a Muta lock before he broke the hold and snapped the arm backwards. Hikuleo comes back with a Tongan drop (Samoan drop) for a two-count, before he stood on TJP by the corner. TJP manages to get free and pick up the pace, countering a back body drop into an Octopus stretch, but Hikuleo scoops him away into a slam for a near-fall.
A surfboard stretch from Hikuleo keeps TJP down, but TJP gets up and spins free ahead of a tornado DDT that gets a near-fall. TJP keeps going after Hikuleo’s arm, catching it with a spinning heel kick before a low dropkick took Hikuleo into the ropes. An inside-out springboard dropkick keeps the targeting going, as does a flying DDT… but it’s not enough for TJP. TJP heads up top for the Mamba splash, but rolls through before Hikuleo just booted him down… a Gun Slinger is countered with a sunset flip attempt, then a cross armbar, but Hikuleo countered that with a powerbomb for a near-fall. From there, Hikuleo picks up TJP to go for the Gun Slinger again, but instead gets a powerslam before he swiftly dropped TJP with the Gun Slinger for the win. This was fine, but they didn’t seem to mesh well, which led to some awkwardness. **
Ads were fast-forwarded. That’s pretty cool.
Alex Zayne vs. PJ Black
This could well be something we get to see in ROH once things pick up again…
We start with Black cartwheeling in for headscissors… but Zayne cartwheels out, then gets the same treatment before he was taken outside. Black’s attempt at a springboard is cut off, but he’s able to go after Zayne, tiltawhirling into a reverse DDT for a near-fall. An Octopus-like armbar stretch follows, which turns into a roll-through pin for a two-count, before an elbow off the middle rope gets Black another near-fall. A wheelbarrow roll-up gets Black through into a pendulum submission, which he uses to bounce Zayne’s head off the turnbuckle pad. Black heads up top for a flying punch, which gets a two-count, before Black began to work over Zayne’s wrists some more. It’s countered by Zayne into a sunset flip for a two-count, before a spinning leg lariat from Black took him down.
Black heads back up top, but he leaps into a spinning dropkick from Zayne, before a leaping clothesline in the corner and an up kick from Zayne led to a leaping flipping legdrop for a two-count. Right hands from Zayne keep Black in the corner ahead of a running leaping headscissors takedown… but Black’s back with a Styles Clash for a near-fall. Black heads up top again, leaping over Zayne before he got caught with a facebuster… Zayne tries to push on with a Taco Driver, but Black kicks out in time. PJ returns by taking Zayne up top for an eventual ‘rana and a moonsault that almost wins it. A Spanish Fly off the middle rope keeps Black on top as he snuffed out Zayne’s comeback, before some shooting star knees from Zayne almost got the win.
Both men are on the apron, looking to get to the top rope… they fight on the middle rope, but it’s Zayne who’s knocked into the ring ahead of a springboard 450 from Black for a near-fall. From there, Black dumps Zayne on his head with the Bad Habit for the win. This was fine, but it didn’t have much juice in it – but an enjoyable outing nevertheless. ***
Apparently next week we get Rocky Romero vs. Jay White… plus Clark Connors vs. Fred Rosser…
Bullet Club (KENTA & Chase Owens) vs. David Finlay & Jeff Cobb
We’ve a jump start before the bell as KENTA and Owens went for Cobb in the corner, choking him with their boots.
Owens went for a clothesline, but Cobb ducks… then eventually caught KENTA as we were left with Cobb and Owens in the ring. Finlay comes in with a double-sledge to Owens’ arm, before a suplex drew a one-count. Cobb returns with a double-sledge to Chase’s arm, following up with a headbutt as that left arm was the clear target. Cobb knocks KENTA off the apron – but gets caught with a chop block as KENTA sprung on the opportunity. Some more boot choking on the mat keeps Cobb down, as KENTA started to focus on Cobb’s knee… Chase returns to dive in with a front facelock to keep Cobb away from a tag, before he caught Cobb’s leg with a Dragon screw on the mat.
KENTA’s back in for to work over Cobb’s knee some more, before Owens leapt on Cobb’s knee in the ropes. Eventually Cobb pushes Owens to the outside, and makes the hot tag out to Finlay, who went straight for a fresh KENTA with a diving European uppercut. Chase is back to eat a dropkick, while KENTA stayed in for more elbows and another uppercut. Finlay went for a uranage, but KENTA tries to switch into a Go 2 Sleep… he eventually lands a powerslam as Chase tagged back in to take down Finlay with a lariat. A back suplex from Finlay has Chase down, before Cobb tagged back in and elbowed Chase into the corner. Chase’s knee and side Russian legsweep keeps Cobb in the corner as the Bullet Club looked to double-team again, leading to a knee strike from Chase for a near-fall.
Owens teases a package piledriver, but Finlay comes in with a uranage backbreaker to start a Parade of Moves. Cobb tries for something, but Chase slips out to land a leaping knee, then a Jewel Heist lariat for a near-fall, with Finlay breaking up the cover before he got thrown outside. In the end, Cobb gets back up and caught Chase off the ropes with a Tour of the Islands… and that’s all folks. A perfunctory, by-the-numbers tag – as Cobb and Finlay continue to rack up wins against the Bullet Club ahead of what you’d assume is an eventual US title shot-shot? **¾
Another by-the-numbers episode of NJPW Strong gives us little in the way of storylines other than KENTA clinging onto his US title shot. At least the NEVER format’s giving us some different matches, but the show still has very little in the way of meat on the proverbial bone.