We’ve a bull rope match in the main event of the latest episode of NJPW Strong, as Juice Robinson and Hikuleo tangle once again.

Quick Results
Ren Narita, Ryusuke Taguchi, Alex Coughlin, The DKC & Kevin Knight submitted Brogan Finlay, David Finlay, Fred Yehi, Wheeler Yuta & Will Allday in 14:49 (***)
Robbie Eagles & Chris Dickinson submitted Chris Bey & El Phantasmo in 12:34 (***¼)
TJP & Will Ospreay pinned Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks in 10:42 (***)
Juice Robinson defeated Hikuleo via referee stoppage in a bull rope match in 13:40 (***)

We’re back at the Curtis Culwell Center in not Dallas, Texas, with Matt Rehwoldt and Alex Koslov opening things in the ring. It’s also another week with a near-90 minute run time, as they’ve gotten well away from the format that made it popular…

Alex Coughlin, Kevin Knight, Ren Narita, Ryusuke Taguchi & The DKC vs. Brogan Finlay, David Finlay, Fred Yehi, Wheeler Yuta & Will Allday
It’s the New Japan debut of Brogan Finlay, who’s still in his rookie year…

Yuta looked to control the pace early, but just gets slammed by Kevin Knight, whose missed splash almost cost him as the pair rushed back in on the mat. Tags bring in Allday and Coughlin, with the latter shoving Will into the corner before Coughlin ended a series of Allday pratting around by carving him up with a chop. Allday gets suplexed, but Wheeler Yuta tries to break it up… so Coughlin just stacks the pair up for a gutwrench double suplex. Alex Coughlin is freaking strong, man… The DKC comes in to take over on Allday, who returned with a springboard roundhouse out of the corner for a two-count.

Yehi tags in to chop DKC, then brought in David Finlay as we were still cycling through teams. Uppercuts have DKC down, while Brogan tagged in to hit a double back elbow for a two-count. Eventually we get the hot tag to Taguchi, who goes flying with hip attacks, including one for the newer Finlay. The elder Finlay takes a beating in the corner too, before he got thrown into Taguchi’s arse for a near-fall. When we calm down, Ren Narita’s in to trade with Brogan Finlay, but Brogan’s uppercuts gave him an edge, only for Narita to come back with a Figure Four. Allday breaks it up, sparking a Parade of Moves, ending with a Fisherman suplex that nearly got Brogan the unlikely debut win… but in the end, a release Narita Special suplex, then the half-hatch suplex gets a near-fall, before Ren got the stoppage with a Boston crab. A good outing, but ultimately a meaningless tag match in the scheme of things. ***

Bullet Club (Chris Bey & El Phantasmo) vs. Chris Dickinson & Robbie Eagles
We start with Dickinson mocking El Phantasmo, and we’re quickly with ELP and Eagles as they neutralised each others’ offence… building to a double kip-up and a stand-off.

Tags give us Chris Dickinson chopping down Chris Bey, before Eagles helped double-team him ahead of a pair of PKs to ELP. Dickinson drops down as Eagles hits a step-up pescado to Bey and Phantasmo, who sneaks back up to post Eagles as the Bullet Club took control. Eagles gets met with a foot in the groin by ELP, as the Bullet Club began to dick around – with Phantasmo being overly flashy for a backrake. Eagles manages to fight back, lifting ELP to the outside… but right by Dickinson, so the Canadian pulls Dickinson off the apron just as a tag was being made. Dickinson gets that tag in moments later though, as he charges through ELP with a shoulder tackle before he hit a double suplex to ELP and Bey.

A brainbuster from Dickinson spikes ELP for a near-fall, before some double-teaming from the Bullet Club tandem led to a Quebrada from ELP for a near-fall. He then digs into the book of Bullet Club moves, hitting a V-Trigger before Dickinson slipped out of a One Winged Angel to land a back suplex. Eagles tags back in, homing in on Bey’s leg with a springboard missile dropkick before Bey returned with a spinning heel kick. A springboard cutter from Bey’s countered with a backslide, before a Turbo Backpack drew a near-fall with ELP breaking things up. Sudden Death’s teased, but Eagle blocks it, while Dickinson took care of ELP. A 450 splash from Eagles to Bey, then a Ron Miller Special followed… with Dickinson catching a leap off the top from Phantasmo, turning it into a death valley driver as Bey had no choice but to tap. A good showing for Dickinson and Eagles, with that final save being particularly impressive. ***¼

Robbie Eagles’ backstage promo is interrupted by Will Ospreay, who’s about to hit the ring for his semi-main event…

Karl Fredericks & Clark Connors vs. United Empire (Will Ospreay & TJP)
They announced this as Ospreay and a mystery partner – the originally-announced match – despite TJP having joined the United Empire last week. Credit for trying to give this some intrigue, I guess, as TJP of course was the mystery man.

Fredericks jump starts the match with a tope con giro into the United Empire pair, as we start with brawling around ringside as Connors went after the turncoat TJP. A back body drop from Fredericks leaves Ospreay on the floor, as TJP took aim at Connors in the ring… baiting him for a dive as Connors hit the outside, where Ospreay was waiting for him. A knee drop from TJP gets a one-count, while Ospreay tagged in to continue the beating. TJP’s back to go for some face-washing boots on Connors, then a chinlock… before a Sharpshooter from TJP turned into a Muta Lock. TJP snaps back on Connors’ leg, then tagged in Ospreay as the Empire were dictating the pace, until a POUNCE from Connors stemmed the tide.

Fredericks tags in and instantly drops Ospreay with a backbreaker, before a backbreaker and a leaping elbow drop landed for a two-count. A handspring enziguiri from Ospreay lands, as the pair go back to elbows. We’re back to TJP and Connors, with the latter landing a spinebuster before Ospreay came in to help with a goddamn Dodon/Facebuster combo for a near-fall. Fredericks’ double stomp ragdolls Ospreay, before TJP’s double-teamed ahead of a leaping back elbow off the top from Connors that almost won it. Connors’ surge ends in a hurry though, as he charged into a corner – just as Ospreay removed a corner pad – allowing TJP to get the roll-up for the win after Connors took the exposed corner. The expected debut win for the Empire’s TJP, in a match that had its moments. ***

Post-match, Kevin Knight, the DKC, Alex Coughlin and Yuya Uemura come out to try and make the save on behalf of the LA Dojo, while the addition of Ren Narita sent TJP and Ospreay scarpering to the back.

After an ad break, we’ve a video package of the Hikuleo/Juice Robinson feud, including their match at Resurgence, Juice getting put through a table, and the cow bell shot from earlier in the tour.

Bull Rope Match: Hikuleo vs. Juice Robinson
Hikuleo’s got the bull rope with him, as we’re relying on the ring announcer to tell us this is a no-DQ, pinfall or submission only match, rather than the four-corner rules.

Hikuleo jumps Juice before the rope’s put on him, as the Tongan chose to whip Juice with the rope. Juice gets hung over the top rope with it, before they finally tied him to the bull rope, after some issues. Hikuleo slides outside, and gets pulled into the ringpost by Juice, who followed in with headbutts and more posting before he hog tied him around the ring post. Luckily there’s some plunder under the ring in that corner, as Juice hits Hikuleo with a baking sheet. Hikuleo returns the favour though, then used the bull rope to HAUL Juice into the guard rails. So far this has been violent and ugly. We wash, rinse and repeat as the barriers drag like nails on a chalkboard, but Juice leaps back over the rails to save himself and brawl into the unused seats.

A fan’s replica title nearly got used by Juice, who then took things back towards ringside. Going through the curtain, Juice comes back out with a bin, smashing the lid over Hikuleo’s head and back as Hikuleo looked to scarper. Juice throws the bin in the ring, with some of the litter spilling out, as we get more bin lid shots. Juice finds a bucket of water bottles under the ring… and chucks out the bottles so he could use it. Hikuleo’s tripped up ahead of a rope-assisted sliding lariat, as Juice then stacked up plunder on top of him, for a back-hurting back senton. Juice continues to do more work, taking off the corner pad so he could wedge chairs between the ropes, before he raked Hikuleo with the cowbell.

An Irish whip’s reversed, but Juice baseball slides to avoid the chairs… and pulled the big man into them for good measure. From there, Juice goes up top, but Hikuleo pulled him down into a chokeslam, before taking Juice into the corner for mounted punches. They’re quickly escaped as Juice crotches him with the bull rope, repeating the trick ahead of some Dusty punches, before one more crotch job flipped Hikuleo instead out.

From there, Juice makes Hikuleo wear a bin, then smashed the cowbell against it, making the bin pop off before another bell shot and some bull rope choking led to the referee stoppage as Hikuleo’s rope break meant nothing here. This was a little plunderiffic, but enjoyable as I assume this was the blow-off to the feud. ***

New Japan Strong really doesn’t fit this format, as I bemoaned last week. Four matches this week gave us two somewhat inconsequential outings and two matches that played into existing storylines. That’s the problem when you’re taping episodic TV shows – unless you’re doing a short show or repeating names, it’s tricky to tell stories across a single night. From the tapings we’ve got so far, it’s clear that this is the new format, which leaves Strong much more prone to cherry-picking.