The Bullet Club are back in the main event in this latest episode of NJPW Strong, as they featured in an Elimination match.
Sterling Riegel pinned The DKC in 8:22 (**)
Alex Zayne pinned Blake Christian in 8:43 (***¼)
Elimination Match: Brody King, David Finlay, Juice Robinson, ACH & Karl Fredericks defeated KENTA, Jay White, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Hikuleo in 13:51 (***)
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are back on the call for this…
Sterling Riegel vs. The DKC
Like the rest of us, Koslov’s massively struggling with the Riegel twins. The pain is real.
We open with a lock-up into the ropes, before DKC took Riegel to the mat. A switcharound has Sterling in with a front facelock, before DKC’s armbar was broken with some headscissors as the pair floated back and forth around holds. They stand up briefly as Riegel’s headlock takedown takes us back to the mat for a moment… with DKC eventually throwing Riegel free. DKC takes us right back down as a one-legged Codebreaker turned into a cross armbar, but Riegel breaks it in the ropes, then lifted DKC from the ring to the floor as he went for a charge in the corner. There’s a quick tope to the outside from Sterling, before he took DKC back in for a missile dropkick that gets a near-fall.
Riegel throws some shots at DKC, then charged him into the corner. A back elbow cuts off DKC’s attempted comeback, but Sterling takes too long to head up top and has to abort his moonsault. He staggers as he lands on his feet, and after DKC caught him with a head kick, then a head chop, gets knocked down for a two-count. DKC runs into an elbow from Sterling, who recovers with a stomp and a standing moonsault for a two-count. A slam drops DKC, but he catches Sterling’s elbow drop and turned it back into a cross armbar, then a modified cobra clutch on the mat as we hit the final two minutes, but DKC’s attempt to reposition himself backfires as Sterling rolled him up for the win. This was fine, but paled in comparison to the “other” match last week as the teams continue to split wins. **
Blake Christian vs. Alex Zayne
This was only their fourth singles match, with Black Label Pro and GCW hosting the prior ones – although whatever’s being built to here may be for nought given that Zayne’s now signed with WWE. The dangers of taping way ahead of time…
We open with a lock-up, but Zayne’s shot into the ropes and charged down by Christian… who then flips over him as a Victory roll nearly ends it in the opening minute. Zayne responds with a roll-up, before they miss elbow drops and standing shooting star presses as this feels very different compared to what NJPW Strong usually has. A senton atomico hits Christian’s back, while a corkscrew standing shooting star press gets Zayne a two-count. Stomps from Zayne get blocked as Christian kips up for a stomp and standing moonsault of his own, which gets a two-count, before Blake took Zayne into the ropes… but gets low bridged as our dives start.
An inside-out Asai moonsault misses as Christian lands a tope con giro into a ‘rana! Back inside, an enziguiri from Zayne swats away Blake’s springboard for a near-fall. Christian elbows away ahead of a springboard back elbow that gets him a two-count, before some kicks and a leaping stomp had Zayne down once more. Zayne manages to get off a springboard sunset flip, before the flip legdrop almost got him the win. Christian blocks the facebuster and comes back with a reverse ‘rana, before Zayne decided to eff-it and start laying in with elbows. Christian has some of his own too, before he tripped Zayne into the ropes for a 619, with a springboard 450 having to be aborted.
A standing Spanish Fly has Zayne down again, with Christian following up with a springboard 450 for a near-fall. Zayne blocks a suplex attempt, then caught Christian on the top rope with a leaping ‘rana before the Crunch Wrap Supreme shooting star knees wrecked Christian for another near-fall. Roll-ups get Christian a near-fall, but in the end a knee and the Taco Bell Driver gets Zayne the win in a match that was very different from anything else you’d see here – perhaps a swansong, depending on how much they’ve got in the can? ***¼
Elimination Match: Bullet Club (KENTA, Jay White, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Hikuleo) vs. Juice Robinson, David Finlay, Brody King, ACH & Karl Fredericks
For the unfamiliar, eliminations occur by pinfall, submission, disqualification or by going over the top rope…
King and Hikuleo start, but of course there’s a mugging as the Bullet Club hit the ring and attack King from behind. They try to throw him out over the top, but everyone makes the save before Hikuleo was ganged up on and eliminated. That was quick! Things calm down as Finlay and White resume, before Juice tagged in to drop an elbow to White’s arm. Everyone gets a go on the arm, with ACH dropping an elbow, then Fredericks, before Brody just hit a regular axehandle smash instead. Finlay hits one of those off the top too as the merry go round completes, before Finlay got kicked in the ropes by KENTA. White capitalises on the distraction by pulling him down by the hair, and now the Bullet Club take over with some stomps in the corner.
Tanga Loa’s in to slam Finlay, with sentons atomico from Tama Tonga and himself landing on Finlay, who’s kept in the corner as KENTA tags in. An Irish whip bounces Finlay into the corner as White returned to throw him onto the apron… but Finlay just rolls back in as White tries to take him out over the top, but to no avail, as White just ends up pulling Finlay down by the hair. Of course, the referee refuses to count the pin, so the Guerrilas of Destiny come in to double-team Finlay, with Tama’s neckbreaker getting a two-count. Finlay escapes Tanga Loa and takes him down with an uppercut before a tag brought in ACH. White comes in too, almost tripping as ACH baseball slide into the corner and took out White’s leg. ACH clears the apron before an enziguiri staggered White ahead of a Fisherman suplex for a near-fall. White elbows ACH in the ropes as he tried to run away, then hung up ACH ahead of a snap DDT as KENTA returned to take a ‘rana with Karl Fredericks tagging in.
Fredericks nails a dropkick on KENTA, then a backbreaker to Tanga Loa before he fired away with elbows and a stalling dropkick to KENTA in the corner. Shade of Shibata, eh? Tama Tonga runs in to stem the tide, but he’s suplexed as Fredericks escaped a Go 2 Sleep. A spinebuster follows as Fredericks tries to toss out KENTA, but KENTA hangs on before Jay White tosses him out – with the referee distracted as being the legal man apparently mattered that time (as opposed to the pile-on that eliminated Hikuleo). KENTA tags in Tama, with Juice Robinson also coming in to break out the Dusty punches. A corner clothesline drops Tama ahead of a cannonball, which nearly gets the next elimination, before Tama threw Juice over the top… and hit a baseball slide dropkick to stop the cat from being skinned. ACH throws out Tama then dropkicks him off the apron as we had a quick one-two, before Jay White tried to throw out ACH… he lands on the apron, only for Tama to pull down ACH’s springboard attempt, with more bad officiating leading to ACH getting ruled out.
Hang on, wasn’t this the same ref that had a howler at the Tokyo Dome the other year?
Back inside, Jay White avoids being eliminated, but he’s sent staggering into the ropes with a Prima Nocta stunner, before a Cactus clothesline eliminates White. Tanga Loa knocks Finlay off the apron, as we’re left with Tanga and KENTA against Brody Kind. Brody’s clothesline traps Tanga in the corner, with a second one getting a near-fall as KENTA broke it up. A back body drop is kicked away by Brody, who then clotheslines Tanga Loa over the top to the outside… before he stopped KENTA in his tracks. A slap from KENTA was a bad idea, but he keeps going with front kicks before a lariat from King, then a Gonso bomb got the quick win. That was massively emphatic, with the message of King standing tall over KENTA closing out a decent, but somewhat underwhelming elimination match. ***
So next week we’ve got a NJPW Strong that starts the Detonation shows *and* the Super J Cup… it’ll be a busy weekend from the US arm of the company, even if they literally announce nothing for Detonation.
Another solid, if not spectacular episode of Strong, as they build up another big monster on the show – except it’s KENTA who Brody King is going for. Save for KENTA/Brody there’s nothing too headline grabbing that they could throw on Detonation next week, which perhaps sums up the issue with these quick-fire “tours” that we’re getting.