We’ve got a debut on NJPW Strong to start the year, as Team Filthy gets a new member!
Clark Connors submitted Kevin Knight in 7:37 (***)
Rocky Romero submitted The DKC in 8:32 (**¾)
Chris Dickinson, Danny Limelight & JR Kratos pinned Logan Riegel, Sterling Riegel & Brody King in 9:42 (***½)
After a week off, we’re back in the non-descript venue, with Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly back on the call. But first, we’ve a message from Tom Lawlor who kicks Rust Taylor to the curb after his “white belt” performance against Jeff Cobb last time out, telling him to “take a vacation to Florida”… because Lawlor’s got a replacement ready. The dreaded X.
Kevin Knight vs. Clark Connors
Knight made his debut at the Super J-Cup show, as the newest member of the LA Dojo’s graduating class.
An opening lock-up’s shrugged off as Knight takes Connors into the ropes early as we get an unexpected Buddy Wayne reference as apparently he had a hand in training both of these guys. Another lock-up sees Knight take down Connors as the pair grapple on the mat, rolling into the corner as we get a break.
Connors manages to get the upper hand with a wristlock, but Knight reverses it… only to get taken down as Connors grapevined the leg. Knight’s got a bandage on his eyebrow, which is visible as he gets stretched in a STF… but he escapes and begins to work over Connors’ arm, but Clark also escapes and came back with a forearm to the back. Knight’s thrown into the corner for some shoulder charges and chops, but he switches around and throws some of his own before Connors put the boots to him. Uppercuts from Knight offered a way back in, as did a Beele out of the corner, but Connors puts on the brakes as a slam was attempted. More forearms take Knight down, as a snap suplex at the five-minute mark gets us a two-count.
A chinlock from Connors keeps Knight down, but a slam from Connors becomes a struggle as Knight elbows away and hits one of his own for a two-count. Shoulder tackles follow after Knight was shoved into the ropes, with misdirection from connors eventually getting him ahead… but he’s caught on the top rope with a dropkick as Knight got right back in charge. There’s a second dropkick from Knight for a two-count, with a Boston crab following as we entered the final three-minutes of the time limit. Connors gets to the ropes, and quickly hits back with a spear before he made Knight tap to the Boston crab. A really solid Young Lion’s match, with Knight showing plenty here – but hopefully Alex Coughlin or some other faces are able to join the party, else we may be seeing a LOT of this! ***
The DKC vs. Rocky Romero
The DKC’s yet to have a singles win on Strong, and he started out somewhat bright, pulling down Romero early on as they scrambled into the corner.
Rocky grabs a chinlock, but DKC escapes and rolls Romero to the mat for barely a one-count, before a bow-and-arrow hold from Rocky lasted several seconds as DKC didn’t just flip out of it. When he did, DKC goes to the ankle of Rocky as they end up in the ropes again, no further forward. Another tie-up ends in the ropes, before DKC hit a belly-to-belly for a two-count. Rocky heads to the ropes looking for a breather as that belly-to-belly seemed to shake him up a little, but we resume with DKC taking him down for an armbar. Rocky’s quickly up and into the ropes before he looked to hit back with some elbows.
Kicks from DKC earn him a barrage from Rocky, who lands a single-arm DDT, before some kicks and a flying knee to the arm left DKC down. Things descent into back-and-forth kicks for a spell, then elbows before DKC built up with a clothesline. A suplex keeps Rocky down, as does a fist drop, but Rocky quickly returns with an armbreaker.
From there, another kick has DKC rocked… but he returns with a Northern Lights for a two-count. Stomps follow as Rocky still looked a little dazed from the earlier suplex, but he’s able to get to the ropes to break a chinlock. More slams follow as DKC kept wearing down Rocky, but he couldn’t get the three count… and when he went back to Rocky, he’s quickly caught with a Falcon arrow as Rocky switched to the Diablo armbar for the submission. This was pretty good, save for a rough patch in the minute where it looked like Rocky had his bell rung – but a good story as DKC continues to look for a win. **¾
Post-match, DKC asks for the mic. He apologises to everyone, telling us he needs to get stronger and asks Katsuyori Shibata for his training at the New Japan Dojo. That surprisingly drew out Shibata, who tells him to “come with me”… and then raised DKC’s injured arm. That’ll learn him.
Before the interval, Kevin Kelly interviews Bateman ahead of his NJPW Strong debut next week. They talk about some of Bateman’s past in ROH, before Bateman said he’d show us why he’s different… and it’s not just the contacts that make it look like there’s a massive ring light in front of him. Kelly brings up a story about how Bateman was thrown out of the LA Dojo, which is dismissed as “violent delights have violent ends.”
It’s main event time… so, who is X? He’s out first… it’s Chris Dickinson! Dick strings and all!
Brody King & Riegel Twins (Logan Riegel & Sterling Riegel) vs. JR Kratos, Danny Limelight & Chris Dickinson
Dickinson and King start off, but Danny Limelight blind-tags in so he… could bounce off of Brody. Fair enough.
A Riegel twin comes in next, as Logan hits a shoulder tackle of his own off the ropes, before he got suckered in for an armdrag. Limelight misses a dropkick as Logan clung into the ropes, before he just slapped the Riegel twin. Limelight runs his mouth and gets dropkicked into the corner, where Sterling tags in for a running kick and a standing moonsault that got him a two-count. Logan’s back to help with a double-team suplex, which gets him a two-count, before Sterling returned to capitalise on some shoulder tackles. Limelight kicks out the knee, then flipped out of a back suplex as he hit a clothesline… then tagged in Dickinson, who hits a snap suplex for a one-count.
A blistering chop takes Sterling into the corner, before an armdrag and an armbar forced Sterling into the ropes for a break. Kratos tags in to boot through Sterling, then launch him chest-first into the buckles. Another Irish whip has Sterling in the corner, as Kratos then knocked Brody off the apron, before Limelight tagged back in. Limelight knocks Logan off as he stayed on the other Riegel twin with kicks in the ropes… while a quick camera shot shows us how marked up Sterling’s chest was. A chinlock is elbowed out of by Logan as Limelight just comes back with a mid kick. Dickinson’s back in to clear the apron, which drew in Brody to distract the referee as we’ve some triple-teaming in the other corner.
A hiptoss from Dickinson keeps Sterling down, as does a kick to the back, before Dickinson went back to the chops. Sterling tries to come back off the top, but he leaps into a bear hug as Dickinson looked to force a stoppage, but he changes it into a suplex… which Sterling slips out of. A neckbreaker bought Sterling some time as he made a tag out to Brody, who went wild with clotheslines and back body drops. Dickinson and King trade chops, which sounded brutal, before Dickinson’s mid kicks earned him a knee and a gutwrench powerbomb. The Dirty Daddy’s big, but Brody’s bigger. Limelight saves the match as the Riegels come in… but Kratos just overwhelms them as Limelight headed outside for a corkscrew crossbody into the Riegels.
The big lads square off as King and Kratos trade elbows, but a clothesline takes King outside as Dickinson obliterates Sterling with a clothesline for a two-count. From there, a running death valley driver is next and that’s enough for Dickinson to get the victory. This was a really enjoyable trios match – with the Riegels taking a bit of a pounding for Brody King, but this result really set out New Japan’s stall for the Dirty Daddy as part of their roster. ***½
Post-match, Brody King attacks Kratos, but gets swarmed by the other members of Team Filthy. The Riegels even things up as we fade to the backstage promos. Next week: El Phantasmo debuts on NJPW Strong, teaming with KENTA and Hikuleo as the Bullet Club take on Fred Rosser, ACH and Blake Christian.
I’m here for King vs. Dickinson baby! Whether it was the week off or the changes in names on the show, but this episode of Strong felt fresh – unlike the relative dirge it’d settled into towards the end of 2020.