Tom Lawlor and Tomohiro Ishii clash on the latest episode of New Japan Strong.
Ari Daivari pinned Kevin Knight in 8:19 (***)
Mistico & Alex Zayne pinned Blake Christian & Mascara Dorada in 10:09 (***½)
Tom Lawlor pinned Tomohiro Ishii in 15:31 (***¾)
For one last time – for now – we’re at Sam’s Town Live in Las Vegas, with Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov on the call. But first, Ari Daivari interrupts the opening spiel to cut a promo, telling us he’s scouring the world for new additions to the Trustbusters… and Kevin Knight is one of those guys he’s scouting.
Kevin Knight vs. Ari Daivari
Well, they busted out the Trustbusters theme for Daivari, so that’s an instant win for me…
Knight’s early side headlock had Daivari on the defensive, leading to a crack at the Boston crab that ended instantly in the ropes. After spending some time outside, Daivari put the boots to Knight, then sent him into the corner… only for Knight to float over, then land a springboard crossbody for a two-count. A missed dropkick from Knight allowed Daivari in with an arm whip, but Knight’s able to sneak back in with another crack at a Boston crab. That’s kicked away as Daivari fired back with a chop, then took Knight shoulder-first into the corner.
Daivari dropped Knight’s arm over the top rope, then hit the ropes for a crossbody off the top for a near-fall. The pair trade chops before Knight tried once more for a Boston crab, this time rolling Daivari… but it’s right by the ropes for an instant break. An O’Connor roll from Knight’s pushed away, but he has more luck as he landed the dropkick seconds later. Mudhole stomping from Knight keeps Daivari in the corner, as did a Stinger splash, before a slam and a standing twisting frog splash almost got Knight the upset. A spinning heel kick keeps Daivari on the deck, but the search for a Boston crab ends up giving Daivari another opening… which ends when his leaping body press off the top was caught and turned into another Boston crab.
Knight sits down on Daivari, but had to give up a leg… allowing Daivari to crawl to the ropes to break the half crab. Rolling outside, Daivari baited Knight in with a plancha. It misses, with Knight getting charged into the railings as Daivari then grabbed the ring bell. Bringing it into the ring, Daivari quickly had the bell confiscated, before the referee missed a roll-up from Knight that led to a one-count.
Daivari escapes a follow-up suplex, shoving Knight into the referee… which led to a low blow (which I got a kick out of being called a “Trustbuster” on commentary), as Daivari then wins with the roll-up. Knight’s getting closer and closer to the big win, while Daivari had to steal one here. Literally. ***
Alex Zayne & Mistico vs. Blake Christian & Mascara Dorada
We’ve a wacky lucha tag as we hit the middle of the show, which isn’t quite a Fire Pro Random Button match… but close. Mistico’s got a neat half Mistico/half New Japan Lion mark mask, which makes me wonder how his half-and-half masks might have looked back in his WWE days…
Dorado and Mistico start us off, handspringing off the ropes for the hell of it before a tijeras from Mistico led to a receipt from Dorada. Blake Christian tags in, as did Alex Zayne, but it’s Christian who struck first with a handspring enziguiri, then with a springboard clothesline from the apron in. Zayne kicks out at two from that, as he proceeded to escape an airplane spin and hit a low dropkick to Christian. Mistico’s back to kick Christian in the arse, following up with a gamengiri in the corner and a thrust kick to the seated Christian. Zayne’s back to keep it going, only for a pair of enziguiris to get Blake free as he brought Dorada back in. Zayne scurries over to bring Mistico in, but Dorada hits a flying ‘rana to Mistico…
A reverse Slingblade from Dorada, then a second flying ‘rana takes Mistico outside for a flip senton. Back inside, a springboard splash nearly wins it, as Mistico then took to the skies with a springboard crossbody off the ropes. Zayne tags back in as Dorada’s double-teamed into the corner, leading to a gamengiri from Mistico, and a vaulting ‘rana from Zayne. Mistico makes a dubious tag back in for a springboard senton bomb to Dorada. Zayne’s back to stop Dorada making the tag out, but Dorada escapes a powerbomb and brought Blake Christian back in. Blake kicks Mistico into Zayne, then threw down Mistico with a half-and-half suplex… a low Tiger feint kick awaited Zayne, while an Orihara moonsault took down Mistico on the floor.
Christian springboards himself back in for a 450 splash to Zayne for a near-fall, before Zayne’s pop-up knee led to Dorada coming in. A Baja Blast from Zayne to Dorada allowed Christian back in with a wacky rolling thunder cutter. Blake tries to add something else, but Mistico blind-tags himself in… which meant an airplane spin mixed with a Finlay roll was moot. Mistico comes in to stop Christian on the top rope with a gamengiri, then brought him down with a one-man Spanish Fly for the win. ***½
Backstage, we’ve got a Kenny King promo as he announces his arrival on New Japan Strong…
Tom Lawlor vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Commentary noted earlier how these two had disappointing G1s… and my God, that feels like so long ago.
We got going with Lawlor getting taken down by Ishii as the opening scramble saw both men go looking for holds. Ishii gets a waistlock, but Lawlor heads to the ropes for the break, as the pair then began to trade shoulder tackles. Lawlor tries to fake out for a single-leg takedown, but it’s blocked as the pair then traded forearms and elbows. The pair continue to pelt each other until Ishii roared up… and Lawlor swapped out for kicks to the legs, ending with a rebound side Russian legsweep for a two-count. An ankle lock’s next from Lawlor, but Ishii’s right by the ropes… and eventually got to them for the break, with Lawlor taking his time to let go.
Kicks to the back from Lawlor follow as I begin to wonder if the crowd’s audio is really meant to be muted… Ishii pops up to suplex his fellow Tom, following up with a Saito suplex for a two-count. Lawlor blocks a chop and took Ishii into the corner for chops and forearms… Ishii pulls a switcheroo, as did Lawlor, with Lawlor going to the eyes before he began to jab away on Ishii. Ishii sinks into the corner from those, then got met with a running clothesline in the buckles… he returns the favour on the other side, before a shoulder tackle bounced down Lawlor. A front facelock sees Ishii pick up Lawlor for a superplex, but Lawlor slips free and grabbed Ishii’s ankle in the ropes. Of course it’s broken instantly, with Lawlor instead hauling down Ishii off the middle rope with a takedown.
Lawlor stays on Ishii with leaping elbows into the corner, then a tornado into a guillotine… but Ishii charges him back into the corner as he finally got him that superplex. A piledriver attempt’s blocked seconds later as Ishii fired back with rapid-fire elbows, only for a rolling elbow from Lawlor to give him an opening. A Lawlor enziguiri’s swatted away, but he’s able to pull Ishii down into a trapped Stretch Muffler… then bring him up for a rear naked choke and a Tenzan Tombstone Driver for a near-fall. Ishii catches a PK from Lawlor, but couldn’t avoid an enziguiri… a Kamigoye’s countered into a German suplex by Ishii… and then it’s back to the elbow strikes. More strikes from Lawlor end with him running into an Ishii powerbomb in the corner for a near-fall, while a T-bone suplex from Lawlor just earned him a wild Ishii lariat seconds later for the win. An enjoyable main event, but my word, either that was a tepid crowd, or they completely screwed up the audio on this as it felt like we had a lot of hand-sitting in Vegas… ***¾
A great ending to the Autumn Action strand of shows – but I just can’t get over how much better New Japan’s US promotion could be if the TV shows and pay-per-view arms weren’t living in their own little bubbles, with scant references to each other.