Roppongi Vice look to unseat the Motor City Machine Guns as Strong tag team champions on this week’s episode of Strong.
Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs pinned Cody Chhun & Guillermo Rosas in 10:37 (***¼)
KENTA pinned QT Marshall in 12:35 (***)
Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley pinned Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta in 18:12 to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championships (***¾)
Just one episode left in the can after this… and we’re back at the Vermont Hollywood with Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov on the call. There’s no interrupting promo this week, as we head to the ring after the hype-up… and we’re over an hour long this week.
West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs) vs. C4 (Cody Chhun & Guillermo Rosas)
C4 lost to Mascara Dorada and Lince Dorado on their tag debut here a few weeks ago…
The fantastic mutton chops of Royce Isaacs starts things off against Guillermo Rosas, catching a leapfrog attempt before Rosas escaped a suplex. A chop to the thigh stings Isaacs ahead of a suplex for a one-count, before Cody Chhun tagged in and had Isaacs tripped into his knee for a two-count. Chhun stings Isaacs with a chop, but gets pancaked as Jorel Nelson tagged in… and ran into a series of armdrags. Dropkicks from C4 take care of the Wrecking Crew, as they began to double-team Nelson ahead of a dropkick-aided suplex for a two-count. Misdirection from Nelson confuses C4, as the Team Filthy pair turn it around, leading to Isaacs walking Chhun around ringside in a stalling suplex. That’ll never not be impressive.
Rosas is kept isolated as Isaacs’ gutwrench suplex flung him across the ring for a nonchalant two-count, before a lariat wiped out Rosas’ attempted comeback. Nelson picks up an easy two-count from that, before Rosas’ desperation sunset flip earned him a two-count. Isaacs is back, but couldn’t avoid Rosas from tagging out as Chhun went wild with dropkicks, then with Dusty punches, leading to a snap DDT on Isaacs. Nelson and Isaacs fight back, double-teaming Chhun ahead of a pumphandle powerslam from Isaacs for a near-fall, before Chhun ‘rana’d Nelson into Isaacs to buy him some time. Chhun hands off Nelson for a Rosas powerbomb, before a cutter out of the corner from Chhun and a wacky Angle Slam from Rosas almost won it.
Chhun dove on Isaacs to stop him from breaking up the pin, then returned… only to get caught by Nelson as Royce Isaacs snuffed out the C4 double-team. Nelson’s Fisherman Buster leaves Chhun laying, as did an Alley Oop into the corner, a German suplex out of it, before an Isaacs Dominator and a flying elbow drop from Nelson got the win. Nelson looked more than a little banged up by the end of this, as the WCWC had to dig a little deeper than they expected to get past a really game C4. ***¼
QT Marshall vs. KENTA
Marshall’s had a bit of a rocky run on Strong, and was back for the first time in over three months, having lost to Shota Umino back in October…
KENTA came in as the number one contender to the Strong Openweight title, having won the Strong Survival match a fortnight ago… and KENTA was the massive favourite in Los Angeles. Poor QT. We got going with a lock-up that took KENTA into the corner, with QT posing on the break before KENTA returned the favour… slapping him instead. A flurry of strikes from KENTA led to QT bailing… KENTA gives chase, avoiding an elbow drop back inside before he started going after QT with chops. QT’s left in the corner, but bails to avoid a teased hesitation dropkick… only to eat an apron PK. Up on the apron, Marshall charges KENTA into the ring post, then faked out a trip to the rails as KENTA was taken back inside.
QT adds a backbreaker to the mix for a two-count, as he wore down KENTA in the corner, then clotheslined him out of it to keep the direction of travel going. Marshall teases a Go 2 Sleep, but KENTA elbows out and hits a DDT instead, before kicks began to wear QT down into the corner. The hesitation dropkick’s next… but KENTA just slapped him instead before QT pulled KENTA into the middle rope. A pop-up forearm drops KENTA for a two-count shortly afterwards. KENTA manages to snatch the Green Killer draping DDT after QT’d been sent onto the apron, before a hesitation dropkick into the corner and a double stomp off the top squished Marshall for a near-fall. QT wipes out the referee after he escaped a Go To Sleep… and with no ref, QT heads outside and grabs a chair from under the ring… only for KENTA to kick it into QT’s face. KENTA grabs the chair after that and whacks QT’s back before a low blow stopped KENTA in his tracks.
QT lays out the chair and teases a powerbomb into it, but KENTA countered into a DDT, right as the referee was beginning to stir. A Go 2 Sleep follows right as the ref was back on his feet, and that’s your lot. Enjoyable, but perhaps not the style you’d expect as this felt very “house show-y”, for better or worse. ***
NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship: Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta) vs. Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) (c)
Billed as a battle of two generational tag teams, Roppongi Vice reunited here to have a shot at the gold…
Beretta and Sabin start with arm wringers, then armdrags ahead of a stand-off… which ended with Sabin asking for a hug, only to roll-up Beretta for a two-count. Tags bring in Shelley and Rocky, as the pair stayed at close quarters, with Rocky’s toe-hold leading to him having to snapmare his way out of a hammerlock. Sabin kicks Rocky in the ropes as the champions swarm the ring… but a tijeras from Rocky took care of Sabin ahead of Forever clotheslines in the corners. Beretta’s back to light up Shelley with chops, before the ring filled again, this time leading to Rocky getting charged knees-first into Shelley in the corner.
Rocky grounds Shelley with a chinlock from there, but after Shelley got free, Sabin tripped up Rocky in the ropes, then scored with a Dragon screw between the ropes as the champions targeted Rocky’s knees. Elbow drops from Sabin go for both knees of Rocky, before Shelley came in and took Rocky back down with chops before dualling Figure Fours had the challengers scrambling for the ropes… complete with referee Jeremy Marcus instantly leaping on Shelley to undo the hold. Precedent.
Shelley’s quickly caught with a swinging DDT by Rocky as he bought himself some time, leading to tags to bring in Sabin and Beretta. Trent runs wild with forearms and suplexes, before he trapped Sabin in the corner with chops and forearms. Shelley sneaks in to cut off Trent, but succeeded in clotheslining his own man as the challengers remained ahead, leading to a piledriver on Sabin for a near-fall. On the apron, a back body from from Sabin sees Beretta take a bad landing as Shelley and Rocky took over in the ring, trading right hands. An uppercut from Rocky tries to snuff out the “Rocky Sucks” chants, as did a rewind enziguiri, before Rocky ate a sandwich of apron PKs on the outside. Shelley held the ropes open for a Sabin dive, but Roppongi Vice hit the ring to cut him off ahead of the Strong Zero from Rocky, then a diving knee for a near-fall from Beretta.
Another Strong Zero’s stopped by Sabin, who then countered a Dudebuster into a Code Red for a near-fall, thanks to a superkick from Shelley. On the bottom of the screen we see Rocky’s head scroll across as he’s thrown into the ring post, as Beretta then got taken into the corner for a running Sabin kick… ahead of a teased Sliced Bread/Powerbomb combo. Rocky’s back to make the save, then hit the Sliced Bread/Powerbomb combo out of the corner for themselves for a near-fall. Sabin’s forced to fight out of a double superplex, as he instead flew into Roppongi Vice with a crossbody off the top, before an errant Beretta superkick laid out Rocky. Shelley’s back as he helped Sabin hit a cutter on Trent, before Shelley called for a Strong Zero… forcing Beretta in to break up the cover just in time.
Beretta tries to turn it around, but he’s blitzed in quick fashion, taking a Muta lock and low dropkick as Rocky ends up alone once more… with kicks and a Dirt Bomb quickly putting Rocky away. Considering this was virtually out of the blue (as in, not with a storyline behind it), this was a really good main event – with things hitting fever pitch right in time for the closing stretch. ***¾
Next week: the Strong finale as Fred Rosser defends the NJPW Strong Openweight title against Peter Avalon…
Strong continues to be buoyant as the show heads towards its conclusion – although the way the two title pictures have been characterised by “challengers of the month” in lieu of any longer-arching storylines is symptomatic of Strong’s final months. Well worth your time, especially for the main event!