Another trio of matches on NJPW Strong this week, with Rocky Romero and Jeff Cobb teaming up to face Rust Taylor and a debuting JR Kratos in the main event.
Fred Rosser pinned Jordan Clearwater in 5:29 (**¼)
Chase Owens pinned Danny Limelight in 8:25 (**½)
JR Kratos & Rust Taylor pinned Rocky Romero & Jeff Cobb in 13:20 (***)
We’re back in the undisclosed location with Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov on commentary…
Jordan Clearwater vs. Fred Rosser
We start this one with Rosser taking Clearwater into the corner, before a headlock takedown was escaped with Clearwater working a wristlock instead.
That ends in the ropes, with Rosser floating Clearwater down into a side headlock before a knee drop to the temple led to a turn around. Another side headlock follows, but Clearwater gets free as Rosser backs into the corner. Rosser hits the ropes, ducking under a leapfrog before slamming Clearwater down ahead of a legdrop for a two-count. Another slam drops Jordan as Rosser does the sit-down splash again for another two-count, before he took him outside and teased a back suplex on the apron. Instead, Clearwater fights free and hits a neckbreaker onto the edge of the ring… but back inside, Rosser gets caught with a back elbow in the ropes, before he escaped a slam.
Clotheslines from Rosser earn him a high knee, before he came back in with a fireman’s carry gutbuster, then a diving knee for the win. Pretty straightforward stuff – Clearwater got a few moves in, but otherwise this was all-Rosser. **¼
Danny Limelight vs. Chase Owens
Owens starts with a tie-up, taking Limelight into the corner before Limelight came back out with a wristlock.
Owens tries to roll free, but Limelight holds it on, only to get thrown to the mat. A missed elbow drop from Chase allows Limelight to come in with a side headlock, but that too is thrown off as a dropkick takes Chase into the corner. Limelight’s lifted onto the apron for a gamengiri, before a springboard Flatliner had Owens rolling outside. Limelight follows Chase out with a corkscrew crossbody that just about landed, before Chase used the ref as a human shield. It backfires as he’s low-bridged to the outside, but he recovers to trap Limelight in the ropes before he just threw him to the floor. Owens charges Limelight into the side of the ring, then rolled him back inside, as forearms and a back suplex targeted Limelight’s lower back.
Kicks keep Limelight down, as does an Irish whip into the corner, but Limelight comes back with a springboard Meteora off the middle rope after some rope-walking. A half-and-half suplex bounces Chase to the mat, with mid-kicks following, before a standing moonsault drew a two-count. Limelight misses a clothesline into the corner, which Owens turns into a backbreaker, before a Jewel Heist saw Chase flips Limelight onto his head for a near-fall. From there, a package piledriver is blocked, with the pair trading elbows… Limelight kicks out Owens’ knee and comes close to the win with a discus enziguiri, before a double springboard back in misses.
Owens can’t avoid a high kick, but returns with a bicycle knee before he puts Limelight away with a package piledriver. A perfectly good TV match, even with some rough edges around it all. **½
They announced during that last match that Fred Rosser vs. Tom Lawlor is on the Showdown card for next week.
Ad time – the Young Lions are still still selling magic spray from LEC, and are scared of Clark Connors snapping his fingers.
JR Kratos & Rust Taylor vs. Rocky Romero & Jeff Cobb
It’s a New Japan debut for Kratos, who’s been a mainstay of the California indies and has done a few appearances in Bloodsport as well.
Rust and Rocky start us off, as Taylor takes it into the ropes for a quick break. Rocky returns the favour, but they get to the corner for a break as commentary notes Tom Lawlor was watching away from the view of the camera. Taylor spins Romero to the mat in a wristlock, which ends in a rope break, but Rust takes him back down before an arm whip jarred Rocky’s shoulder. Rocky hits back with uppercuts, until Taylor’s bid for a Corning hold was stopped with knees from Rocky, who then found his way back with headscissors. Jeff Cobb tags into hit a slam… then slammed Rocky onto Rust, before the favour couldn’t quite get returned. Taylor tried to crawl out for a tag, but he breaks free as Kratos comes into play.
Cobb and Kratos have got history going back years on the California indies, and they start with lock-ups… Cobb then hits a leapfrog dropkick as Kratos hit the ropes, before getting charged down by the big lad. An Irish whip took Cobb to the corner, but Cobb gets back with chops and clotheslines before he was caught in a floatover… but he escapes and gets clotheslined down instead. Taylor runs in to knock Rocky off the apron, then drop him back onto it with a back suplex as Kratos began to take control. Cobb’s thrown into the middle rope for a near-fall, before Taylor’s tagged back in to kick and chop away on Cobb in the ropes. Cobb blocks an Irish whip, but misses a charge in as Taylor rolls him up for a two-count.
Romero comes in to break up an armbar as Taylor was tying up Cobb, before Kratos came back in to stomp Cobb into the corner. Another whip bounces Cobb into the corner for a clothesline, then again for a Stinger splash and a discus lariat, before a suplex throws Cobb out of the corner for a two-count. Rust returns to work the arm, snapping it between his feet before an overhead wristlock’s broken up by Rocky. Uppercuts keep Cobb on the back foot, but he surprises Rust with an overhead belly-to-belly before he tagged out to Rocky, who instantly headscissors Rust away from a tag. Chops keep him away from that tag as those Forever lariats briefly wind up, before he caught Taylor with a kick to the arm… only for Rust to take him down with a wristlock.
A leaping knee from Rocky offered some resistance, but a double clothesline leaves both men down – Rust is able to tag out to Kratos first, and the big man’s back to haul up Rocky with a deadlift suplex for a two-count. Cobb boots Kratos as a wheelbarrow was attempted, but Rust comes in to try and break it up… a Spin Cycle takes care of Rust as Kratos barges Cobb to the floor, before Rocky tried to go for a Shiranui on Kratos. It’s caught as Kratos turned it into a Samoan driver, before the wheelbarrow German suplex – dubbed the Game Changer – flung Rocky across the ring and was enough to get the definitive win. A dominant debut for Kratos, who had an eye for Cobb afterwards – as I guess that’s the new direction here. ***
Post-match, Taylor knocks down the referee and locked Rocky Romero in a scissored armbar as Rust and JR stood tall to end proceedings.
Next week: Juice Robinson debuts on the format, teaming with Karl Fredericks and Brody King to take on the Bullet Club random trio of Jay White, Tanga Loa and Chase Owens, plus that Rosser vs. Lawlor match, and PJ Black vs. Tama Tonga. Given that Jay White and Juice Robinson would have needed to be in Japan since the start of September for the G1, just much stuff did they tape back in the summer?!
The term “bang average” tends to be used as a criticism, but this has pretty much been the course for NPW Strong. Decent, but not great, TV-length matches, with some hints of direction. Steak, with no sizzle. A perfectly watchable hour of TV, but if the New Japan shows in Japan are your Raw and SmackDown, this is very much the “Main Event” of the current line-up.