The Motor City Machine Guns debut on New Japan Strong, defending their tag titles against the Stray Dog Army this week.

Quick Results
Bateman pinned Jakob Austin Young in 7:49 (**½)
KENTA pinned Bad Dude Tito in 7:53 (***)
Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley pinned Barrett Brown & Misterioso in 12:11 to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship (***½)

We’re under 50-minutes long this week as we’re back at the Vermont Hollywood in Los Angeles… Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov are on the headsets and among the Hanukkah wishes, Alex tells us he’s going to be having “Chris Charleston” over as a guest. That’s actually funnier than if he got the name right, if only because I’m picturing Chris as the Coachman from back in the day…

Bateman continues the butchery of names as he interrupts Ian and “Cosgrove,” to bring up his past with his opponent tonight, along with the rest of the Stray Dog Army getting their shot at the tag titles in the main event. It’s all Stray Dog Army this week, eh?

Jakob Austin Young vs. Bateman
Not sure why, but I got a little distracted at the start with Koslov and Riccaboni getting comfortable in their seats…

We start with Bateman taking Young to the mat, as some eye raking forced a separation… leading to Young rolling into the ropes. A chinbar from Bateman is next, as he then torqued on Young’s wrist as things headed into the ropes again. Young finds a way through with some chops, before a slingshot sunset flip drew a two-count. Bateman cut off Young after that kick-out, but ended up eating a dropkick before he chopped Young back into the corner. Young escapes a slam, but gets pancaked at the second attempt as Bateman began to take control again. Young invites a punch, and gets it, before he managed to club away at Bateman in the corner, forcing a separation from the ref.

Resuming, Young spikes Bateman with a tornado DDT, then added a Saito suplex for a near-fall… before a crucifix’d Octopus hold was separated by Bateman. From there, a back elbow from Bateman, then a spinning tombstone ends up getting the win… a one-shot kill for Bateman, with a crowd that didn’t seem that interested when he wasn’t on top. **½

Bad Dude Tito vs. KENTA
It’s been nearly two years since KENTA’s been on Strong – remember when he won the New Japan Cup USA and finally had his title shot against Jon Moxley. A completely different time…

Tito threw down KENTA to start, with KENTA then stomping on Tito’s foot as he came back with a side headlock. A shove-off leads to a shoulder tackle that went nowhere, with KENTA trying some more that barely budged Tito… so KENTA warms up with some push-ups, then asked Tito to go for the ropes. So KENTA could roll outside. Returning to the ring, KENTA lost on the game of chase as Tito barged him down, then hit a slam and an elbow drop for an early two-count. KENTA hits a chop block to help take Tito down as he then began to focus on the left leg. A focus that continued as KENTA – yes – KICKED TITO’S LEG OUT OF HIS LEG. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone try that…

A toe hold followed on the mat, with KENTA looking to pop out Tito’s ankle, before Tito broke free and fought back with a clothesline and an overhead belly-to-belly. Tito adds a leaping enziguiri to the mix, then a German suplex for a near-fall, before KENTA began to boot Tito out of the corner. KENTA catches Tito for a tornado suplex attempt, but the brakes are put on as Tito looked to counter out, only for KENTA to counter the counter with a Dragon screw. That took Tito to the corner for a not-much-hesitation dropkick, before a Go 2 Sleep was elbowed out. Tito smashes back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall, but KENTA grabs the referee to escape Tito’s follow-up… then punted Tito low as a cradle proved to be enough. A cheap end to a pretty decent match for the time they had. ***

Emily Mae’s backstage with Fred Rosser, and she’s asking him for his strategy ahead of his title defence against JR Kratos. Of course, Fred’s tight-lipped, but next week he vows to wear down Kratos and defend the title. They’re running on Christmas Eve?!

We get a video package of the Motor City Machine Guns winning the Strong tag titles… and how the Stray Dog Army earned their shot at those belts. Poor DKC and Kevin Knight took the falls in both of those matches…

NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship: Stray Dog Army (Barrett Brown & Misterioso) vs. Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) (c)
I know they want to sell replays of the Rumble on 44th Street show, but it’d have been nice to have seen something of the Machine Guns’ title win outside of the three-seconds in the video package just before this…

Sabin and Brown get us going, but it’s Sabin who struck first blood with an armdrag before Brown went to the midsection with kicks, leading to a dropkick that took Sabin into the corner. A blind tag in from Shelley caught out Brown, as Shelley dragged down Brown for dualling PKs after Sabin had pulled Misterioso off the apron. Shelley stretches Brown from there, before some double-teaming charged Brown into the corner ahead of a double stomp from Shelley for a two-count. A slam from Sabin, then a back senton earns a two-count as the champions continued to wear down Brown, who snapped back with a backfist before a knee in the midsection trapped him by the ropes.

More double-teaming led to a leg sweep and some slingshots into Brown as the Machine Guns kept it ticking along. Brown breaks free and is able to tag in Misterioso for the first-time, leading to a tope con giro from Misterioso to Sabin, then a flip-senton back to Shelley for a one-count back inside. Misterioso whips Brown into Shelley in the corner, then followed up with running double knees before he hiptossed Brown into Shelley for a two-count. Double gamengiri sandwich Shelley in the corner as a quebrada from Misterioso forces Sabin to break up the cover, before a Finlay roll and another moonsault ended with Shelley getting his knees up.

Brown tags in but got thrown into the corner pad before a tag brings Sabin in to mount the comeback, bouncing Brown with forearms ahead of a DDT for a near-fall. The double-teams continue as Shelley squashed Brown with a clothesline in the corner, then held him up as Sabin hit a dropkick to spark a Flatliner for another near-fall. A switcheroo led to the Stray Dog Army nailing a pair of superkicks, before things headed outside as Misterioso nailed an Asai moonsault to the champions. Sabin’s thrown back in as Brown plants him with a brainbuster, while Misteriso’s Tennessee Jam almost led to the unlikely title change.

Misterioso’s back cracker looked to set up for a diving knee… but Sabin sidesteps as Brown wipes out his own man. That allowed the champions back in as they bombarded Brown, leading to a Muta lock and a low dropkick, before Misterioso ate a Sabin cutter. From there, superkicks to Brown led to the Dirty Bomb – which isn’t that far removed from Aussie Open’s Coriolos – and that’s enough for the champions to retain in a match that was way more competitive than I expected it to be. ***½

Next week: Lince Dorado & Mascara Dorada vs. C4… Bobby Fish vs. Kevin Blackwood… and Fred Rosser defending the NJPW Strong Openweight title against JR Kratos on a special Christmas Eve episode.

Buoyed by the tag title main event, Strong looks to be winding down the year on a relative high.