We’re back for another round of New Japan Strong as the Summer Struggle USA shows wrapped up with a Team Filthy main event.
Bateman, Misterioso & Barrett Brown pinned The DKC, Adrian Quest & Wheeler Yuta in 9:26 (**¾)
Karl Fredericks pinned Alexander James in 9:37 (***)
Chris Dickinson, Brody King, Lio Rush & Juice Robinson submitted Jorel Nelson, Royce ISaacs, JR Kratos & Tom Lawlor in 14:24 (***¼)
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov open by voicing over some B-roll, so we’re still in the empty arena shows…
Stray Dog Army (Barrett Brown, Bateman & Misterioso) vs. Adrian Quest, The DKC & Wheeler Yuta
There’s a part of me that doesn’t get how Misterioso fits in with this group, but what the hey!
Brown and Quest start us off, with Quest getting attacked from behind as he seemingly didn’t expect the man who turned on him to jump him. Quest shrugs it off and hiptosses Brown out of the corner before punching him on the mat… but a Mistica and a Magistral cradle gets Quest a two-count as Yuta got the tag in. Brown quickly rolls away to tag out to Bateman, who looked for his tombstone early as Yuta rolled out for a two-count. Yuta ducks some chops, then escaped a slam as a dropkick knocks Bateman back into the corner. Misterioso tags in alongside the DKC, who peppered the masked man with kicks and chops.
Misterioso fought back with chops as he took DKC into the ropes, following with a clothesline for good measure. Bateman’s back to smother DKC on the mat, while Brown tagged in to grind his boot into DKC’s face. There’s a kick to the back that wakes up DKC, but some boot choking in the ropes keeps DKC down. Misterioso returns to clothesline DKC in the corner for some running double knees, before a springboard senton back in almost ends things. DKC tries to fight back with chops, but again gets overwhelmed before managing to tag out as we’re back to Quest and Brown. Quest’s springboard tornillo takes down Brown, but Misterioso trips Quest in the ropes as a big ol’ Parade of Moves breaks out.
Brown’s surrounded as he’s triple-teamed with stomps, then clotheslines in the corner before a double-team spinebuster had him laying. Quest’s running shooting star press gets a two-count as the ring fills again, with Misterioso clearing out Yuta and Quest on the floor with a dive. Bateman’s back in to level DKC, only to get tripped for a short facebuster… DKC’s chops to the neck just annoy Bateman though, who comes right back with a tombstone piledriver for the win. **¾
Alexander James vs. Karl Fredericks
James squeaked past Kevin Knight on his debut a few weeks back, and gets a graduated LA Dojo member this time out.
We’ve a tentative start to proceedings as James looked to work over Fredericks’ arm to start with. A side headlock ends in the corner, before the pair traded shoulder tackles, chops and uppercuts before a leapfrog and a crossbody had James on the mat. Fredericks’ stomps and kicks kept James down for a two-count, before he ran into a boot from James, who could only get a one-count there. James wears down Fredericks, working into a leg grapevine and a leglock that ended in the ropes.
In the corner, Fredericks waffles James with elbows ahead of a back suplex, before a leaping elbow drew a two-count. James responds with a pumphandle fallaway slam for a two-count, then a lariat for another near-fall, before a STF/armbar tried to force a submission. The ropes save Fredericks, who’s forced to defend from a ripcord back elbow, returning with a backbreaker and a spinebuster for good measure. James kicks out at two from that, but is quickly met with Manifest Destiny, and that’s all as Karl’s big hit got the big win. ***
Team Filthy (Jorel Nelson, JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs & Tom Lawlor) vs. VLNCE UNLTD (Brody King & Chris Dickinson), Juice Robinson & Lio Rush
We’re building to the eventual STRONG title match, and we start with Rush sticking and moving on Lawlor, looking for an early rear naked choke… then a springboard ‘rana as Lawlor was on the back foot.
Lawlor gives chase to Rush, who sneaks back in and tagged in Brody King for a shoulder block. JR Kratos is in to get bulldogged out of the corner, before Rush returned for some stomps on the big man. A standing frog splash and a front facelock keeps Kratos down as Juice tagged in to hit a double sledge off the top. Dickinson’s next to leap on Kratos’ arm, before King tagged in to kick Kratos ahead of a bodyslam. A back senton flattened JR for a two-count as we got a random-as-hell XPW shout-out on the show. Kratos tries to make a comeback, throwing Rush into King with a fallaway slam in the corner as Team Filthy ran riot on the outside.
When things calmed down, Juice Robinson’s isolated in the Team Filthy corner as they work over his knee. A leglock from Lawlor targets it, forcing Juice into the ropes, before a neckbreaker landed for a two-count. Lawlor follows up with Cattle Mutilation, then swivelled into a crossface as he baited Juice back into the ropes as Kratos came back with a suplex for a two-count. Royce Isaacs is in next to DDT Juice’s knee, then leap on it as Lawlor proceeded to pull Juice down to the floor for another mugging by the stage. Kratos tags in to drop a sledge on Juice, as Team Filthy rush the ring to clear the apron as they pose for the camera. A slam lands for a two-count, as Juice’s partners distract the referee…
Juice is able to push Kratos in the stage to avoid a powerbomb on the floor… then miss some Keystone Cops-like attacks as he finally made the hot tag to Brody King, who cleared house. Everyone gangs up on Jorel Nelson, who eats cannonballs for fun in the corner, before Chris Dickinson was fed up for a folding powerbomb that nearly won it. Dickinson stays on Nelson, but Isaacs runs in to spark a Parade of Moves as Juice weirdly went for a pin, countering a rear naked choke by pushing out of the corner a la Bret Hart. Except neither he nor Lawlor were legal, as that just held Lawlor down for a splash before Rush caught Kratos with a pop-up ‘rana. With everyone else out, Rush hits a Rush Hour on Nelson… who falls into a death valley driver from Dickinson, before a STF forces the submission. A decent main event, as this match seemed to set up Dickinson, Rush and Juice as future STRONG title contenders. ***¼
The post-match comments saw Juice Robinson attacked by Hikuleo, who threw him through some doors before putting him through a conveniently-placed table on the concourse.
We’re still dealing with the empty arena stuff, so the usual gripes remain – once you’ve had a taste of this crew with a crowd, it’s hard to go back. Solid stuff between the bells, but this is sorely missing atmosphere right now.