Satoshi Kojima challenges for Tom Lawlor’s NJPW Strong Openweight title as we also see both semi-finals in Tag Team Turbulence.
Tag Team Turbulence – Semi-Final: Brody King & Chris Dickinson pinned Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs in 10:13 (**¾)
Tag Team Turbulence – Semi-Final: Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows pinned Ren Narita & Yuji Nagata in 10:40 (**¾)
Tom Lawlor defeated Satoshi Kojima via referee stoppage to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship in 16:40 (***)
We’re live on tape for the semi-finals of the Tag Team Turbulence tournament… and this one’s going just over an hour. Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly run through the line-up for the 50th episode of Strong, and then we’re off to the ring.
Tag Team Turbulence – Semi-Final: West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs) vs. VLNCE UNLTD (Brody King & Chris Dickinson)
Something tells me the WCWC aren’t favourites here…
Dickinson and Isaacs start with some grappling on the mat, but there’s a break in the corner as Isaacs managed to grab a wristlock. Dickinson gets free, but got dumped with a back elbow off the ropes before Jorel Nelson came in with a stomp for a quick two-count. An uppercut keeps Dickinson in the corner, but he escapes a back suplex and tagged in Brody King, who absorbed some strikes before Nelson’s leap out of the corner saw him bounce off of Brody.
King chops Nelson down ahead of a slam, with a back senton next for a two-count, before Dickinson came back with a half crab that ended in the ropes. He stays on Nelson’s leg, then brough King back for some stomps and forearms as the VLNCE UNLTD team were just having their way here. A Hart Attack dropkick led to a Boston crab on Nelson, who took an elbow drop from Dickinson before Isaac had enough and went to break up the hold. King stays on Nelson, taking him up for a superplex, but Nelson fought his way free and nailed a flying shoulder tackle.
That landing looked to do more damage to Nelson, but he manages to tag out as Royce Isaacs and Chris Dickinson slugged away. Isaacs seemingly pulled ahead, nailing a leaping clothesline before a deadlift Jackhammer almost put Dickinson away. Nelson is back in as a powerbomb/crossbody combo gets a near-fall, with King making the save as he proceeded to dump Dickinson onto Isaacs for a near-fall. Isaacs makes the tag out as he hit an elevated German suplex… but Dickinson drops Nelson off the apron and dealt with Isaacs too. Nelson’s able to come in, but runs into a Bossman slam, before a short lariat from King ends the match. Surprisingly one-sided, with King and Dickinson blasting through the out-of-sorts WCWC. **¾
Tag Team Turbulence – Semi-Final: The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. Ren Narita & Yuji Nagata
Based on how ridiculous this would have been a year ago, I’d not be too shocked if we got a Good Brothers win so we had ROH vs. Impact in New Japan for the final. Imagine saying THAT 18 months ago. I’m just impressed the Good Brothers haven’t dubbed this tournament Tag Team Flatulence or anything like that…
Narita and Anderson start, with headlock takedowns and escapes in the early going, before Narita worked the wrist. Wringing the arm keeps Anderson at bay as Nagata tagged in and hit an arm breaker. A double sledge off the top brings Narita back in ahead of double-team shoulder tackles, but Narita couldn’t avoid an eye rake as Doc Gallows tagged in. Kicks from Narita are stopped as Gallows hit a front kick in return, then a throat thrust to Nagata as the commentary seemingly fell out of sync. A headbutt drops Narita, who’s then stomped on in the ropes as Anderson took time to mock Nagata’s salute. Gallows is back with punches, then a legdrop before he cleared Nagata off the apron.
A head kick in the corner looked to bloody Narita, as Anderson grounded him with a side headlock. Gallows’ elbow drop squashes Narita for a two-count, with elbows next, then a chinlock as Narita eventually fought free to avoid an elbow drop. That allowed Nagata to tag back in, as he booted Anderson off the apron, then kicked away on Gallows. A stuttering dropkick caught out Gallows, who fought back with a big boot as Anderson returned to try for a Gun Stun. That’s pushed away as Gallows ran into an Exploder… Narita tags back in to help double-team Anderson, landing a spinning heel kick for a near-fall, only for Narita to get caught in the corner with double-teams.
The Good Brothers hit a back suplex/neckbreaker combo for a near-fall, before Narita kicked out of a Gun Stun… he didn’t have much luck seconds later though, as the Good Brothers put him away with a Magic Killer, booking their spot in the final. Narita was damn near a tackling dummy in this one, as the Good Brothers blitzed through him to get to the final. **¾
I miss the Gekiochikun adverts…
We get a video package of Satoshi Kojima attacking Tom Lawlor after Lawlor’s beat down of Karl Fredericks…
NJPW Strong Openweight Championship: Satoshi Kojima vs. Tom Lawlor (c)
Of course this was a first time meeting, but both men have something in common, having held the MLW title.
Lawlor’s got the gift of bread for Kojima, but it’s shunned as Kojima charged at him to start. Kojima looks for a waistlock as he rolled Lawlor down for an early pinning attempt. Tying up the legs keeps Lawlor ahead, but Kojima crawls to the ropes for a break as he then came back with a front facelock that Lawlor quickly spun out of. A right hand from Lawlor takes down Kojima, before he leapt onto the ankle in the ropes. Lawlor’s double armbar’s broken as Kojima bit his way free, before he rolled away from an elbow drop. Kojima misses his slingshot elbow, then got dragged outside as Lawlor went to work with chops.
Kojima’s kicked in the thigh as Lawlor continued to wear him down, following up by wrapping the arm around the ring post as Lawlor almost retained the title via count-out. Returning to the ring, Kojima’s kept met with a Figure Four, before Lawlor mocked Kojima’s Machine Gun chops in the corner. Of course, Kojima returns the favour, then took corner across the ring for the leaping forearm and the swear. Lawlor caught Kojima on the top rope to avoid another elbow drop, then pulled him across the buckles for some knee strikes. More strikes leave Kojima loopy as Lawlor joined him on the apron… only for Kojima to surprise the champion with a DDT on the edge of the ring.
Back inside, Kojima hits another DDT, then went up top for his elbow drop, which almost won things, before Lawlor unloaded with another flurry of strikes. Kojima tries to shrug off elbow strikes, eventually hitting back with Mongolian chops and a sit-out side slam (which I think was meant to be a Tenzan Tombstone Driver), before an Anaconda Vice continued the Tenzan shoutout. Lawlor manages to drag himself to the rope to make a break, then ducked a lariat as Kojima nailed a Koji cutter instead. Kojima hits the ropes for a Cosy lariat, but Lawlor ducks and applied a rear naked choke, but Kojima tosses Lawlor away before he’s caught with a uranage takedown. That only gets Lawlor a near-fall, before a battle over a suplex led to Kojima nailing a brainbuster.
Kojima hits the ropes for another lariat, but he’s tripped by JR Kratos, allowing Lawlor to run in with a PK before a rear naked choke on the mat led to the referee waving off the match. A tainted win for Lawlor, not that he’d care, as Kojima looked to be on the way to winning an enjoyable match. ***
After the match, Lawlor ran his mouth off about potential future challengers, joking that Bob Sapp would come out of retirement… he was close, as Lio Rush approached and called out Lawlor for a shot at the belt down the road.
A strangely flat episode of Strong, with the two tournament matches simply not clicking – and leaves us with a final that could be an absolute wild brawl or a stinker. I’m trying to be optimistic…