David Finlay’s in the main event, looking to take KENTA’s US title shot from him in this week’s NJPW Strong.
Clark Connors & The DKC submitted Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel in 9:06 (**¾)
Rust Taylor submitted Rocky Romero in 10:00 (***)
Jeff Cobb pinned JR Kratos in 7:38 (**¼)
KENTA pinned David Finlay in 14:11 to retain the Right to Challenge for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship (***¼)
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are back on the call, as we’re back in our time machine to whenever-this-was-taped.
Riegel Twins (Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel) vs. Clark Connors & The DKC
It’s a rematch from the Road to Showdown, for some reason…
Connors starts off as he’s taken into the ropes by Logan Riegel, before he’s tripped down. The pair scramble on the mat, then reset as Connors looked for a cross armbar, but Logan escapes quickly and tags out. Sterling tags in, as does DKC, but the tide doesn’t change immediately as the pair worked on the mat, with DKC looking for an arm. A tijeras from DKC takes down Sterling, ahead of a legdrop and a clothesline in the corner, but Sterling’s boot in the corner and a Blockbuster gets him back in. Logan’s back as the Riegels take DKC outside with Connors ahead of duelling planchas. That gets a two-count for Logan, before both twins hit a snap suplex for a pinning attempt.
Sterling is back in, but a double suplex is blocked as Clark Connors breaks things up. Shoulder charges trap DKC in the corner as Logan returned… but the twins can’t take out DKC, who rolls across to tag in Connors, who looked to clean house with shoulder charges. Chops light up Logan, who then gets stomped on before a spear knocked him down for a two-count. A snap German suplex drops Connors next, as tags bring in Sterling, who knocks DKC off the apron as he kept Clark in there for a double-team Side Effect for a near-fall. DKC runs in to hit a head kick, then tagged in as Connors lifted up Logan for a Doomsday Device. Sterling breaks up the pin, as the Twins then set up for an elevated DDT… but Connors breaks it up with a spear.
A crucifix bomb takes care of Sterling, before a torture rack drop from DKC and a Boston crab from Connors forces Logan to tap. Pretty good in the closing stretch as Connors continues to build up a winning record. **¾
Rust Taylor vs. Rocky Romero
This was built up during Taylor’s initial outings here, where he tagged with Rocky in a losing effort. On his return, they were on opposite sides, with Rust now part of Team Filthy on this show.
Taylor tries to sting Rocky with kicks early on, then offered Rocky an opening, which was taken as they rolled to the mat. Rust takes Rocky’s arm and wraps it around the ropes for a spell, but Rocky recovered as he looked to take apart Taylor’s right left. Some right hands and chops take Taylor into the corner for some Forever clotheslines, only for Rust to catch one and take Rocky into a modified Cobra twist. Some elbows to the shoulder and neck wear Rocky down for a one-count, before he rolled him down neatly for a double armbar. Taylor gives up the hold to stomp on Rocky, before Rocky fought back with some swipes, taking Rust into the corner briefly ahead of a tornado DDT. Rust returns with some chops to Rocky on the top rope, but a superplex is escaped as Rocky flew in with a knee to the left arm.
Rocky comes back with some kicks before he trapped Rust in the ropes for a springboard dropkick. A Shiranui’s next, but Rust pushes away, before countering an O’Connor roll into a rear naked choke. Rocky escapes into a cross armbar, but that ends in the ropes as Taylor fought back with kicks, including a delayed snap kick to the back, then a spit-emptying buzzsaw kick for a near-fall. Rocky tries his luck with a roll-up, then a backslide, before a running Shiranui landed for another near-fall. A second one looked to follow, but Taylor pulls Rocky to the mat, and forces a submission with the GAIA lock. A solid win for Rust here, whose game plan to work on the arm of Rocky paid off in the end. ***
The next NJPW Strong tour’s called Detonation – with the usual Road to shows in tow…
JR Kratos vs. Jeff Cobb
Ahem. HOSS FIGHT!
We open with a tie-up as Kratos quickly grabbed a side headlock. It’s broken as Cobb pushes free, following up with a leapfrog and a dropkick, but Kratos shrugs it off before he’s knocked into the ropes, only for him to return with a roll-through and a lariat. A stalling suplex drops Cobb for a two-count, but Kratos misses a charge into the corner, allowing Cobb to retaliate with a clothesline. Cobb stays on Kratos with knees to the lower back, then with a diving uppercut to the back as he struggled to keep him down. Right hands keep Kratos in the corner ahead of another suplex, but Kratos returns with elbows and clotheslines to catch Cobb in the corner. A suplex follows, throwing Cobb across the ring, but Cobb manages to fight back with an Olympic slam and a standing moonsault.
From there, Cobb takes Kratos into the ropes, but gets pulled down for a rear naked choke… only for Cobb to roll free. He breaks a chokeslam, only to eat a leaping knee as Kratos hits a sit out slam for a near-fall. They trade clotheslines, before Cobb pulled Kratos into a German suplex… it has no effect, before Cobb sidestepped Kratos’ charge, turning him into a Tour of the Islands for the win. This was a little too brief and slow to get into any higher gear. **¼
Post-match, Rust Taylor runs in to attack Cobb, while Tom Lawlor with a mask on (nice and responsible) joins the attack until Fred Rosser and Rocky Romero made the save. I can only assume they’re going to do Cobb/Lawlor at some point, and the obligatory trios match? Danny Limelight looked to join in, but he clotheslines Rocky before he could be ID’d, as PJ Black with a chair completed the save. I’m not used to angles on my NJPW Strong – but this is something they probably could have stretched out a little longer…
We get a video package before the match, with KENTA acknowledging David Finlay as good but “not on my level”, as they threw in bursts of fire and thunderbolts on top of every impact in a montage of moves. It was suitably wacky… even the briefcase got a thunderbolt for, erm, twirling?
Right to Challenge for the IWGP United State Championship: David Finlay vs. KENTA (h)
Having defended the briefcase against Jeff Cobb in the States, and Hiroshi Tanahashi in Japan, this is KENTA’s third defence in whatever time-space continuum this is.
KENTA’s stalling Finlay from the off, before he was taken into the ropes from a tie-up. We get the break, before a headlock takedown from Finlay was broken… so Finlay comes back with a hiptoss before he’s met with a bulldog for a two-count. A stomp to KENTA’s hand is next, before KENTA powdered outside… but his respite is short-lived as Finlay followed him. Finlay’s double sledge and some elbows allow him to roll KENTA back in, but KENTA pulls a Yano and log rolls to the other side… and grabs a chair from under the ring, which he quickly used to donk Finlay with, as his challenger had shoved the ref aside. Back inside, KENTA mounts Finlay with some right hands, before a snapmare and a kick to the back left Finlay on the mat.
Kicks take Finlay to the corner for some boot chokes, before a side chinlock from KENTA kept his foe down. Finlay manages to dive to the rope to force a break, but KENTA stays on him with a knee drop to the back of the head, before a side headlock’s broken with a back suplex, then kept going with a running uppercut. There’s more of those in the corner before a diving European uppercut gets a two-count, before a back elbow and a back senton gave Finlay another two-count. KENTA blocks a suplex and tries a Fisherman suplex… only to get taken to the corner as he ended up hitting the tornado Gun Stun.
KENTA’s flying clothesline is next, then the Green Killer draping DDT, before the pair began to trade elbow strikes. A snap DDT from KENTA stops Finlay’s momentum, but he tries to rebuild with a clothesline off the ropes for a near-fall, before the Trash Panda over-the-knee brainbuster gets a near-fall. A Prima Nocta’s pushed off, with Finlay almost being shoved into the ref… but he puts on the brakes before KENTA pulled the ref in front of him. Sigh. Another DDT drops Finlay, before KENTA tried to use his briefcase… but Finlay avoids it and hits a stunner. The visual pinfall means nought as Finlay was holding out hope for a miraculous ref recovery… he goes to check on him, but gets caught with a low blow, then a briefcase shot, but somehow Finlay kicks out. KENTA follows up with a Go 2 Sleep though, and that’s your lot. This was fine, but that trope of “heels need to cheat” continues to wear thin at the top of New Japan’s cards… ***¼
Whereas last weeks’ show felt refreshing, the second week of Showdown was a return to the usual “okay”-ness of the NJPW Strong format – but at least they’re starting to flesh out the midcard with the Team Filthy crew. That being said, I do wonder and worry about how far ahead they’ve taped, given the reported glut of signings.