Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki reunited in a New Japan ring as the Autumn Attack tour comes to a close.
Fred Rosser & Rocky Romero pinned Danny Limelight & JR Kratos in 14:40 (**½)
Lio Rush pinned Taiji Ishimori in 15:13 (***½)
Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer pinned Royce Isaacs & Tom Lawlor in 11:07 (***¼)
We’re back at the Curtis Culwell Center in not Dallas, Texas, with Matt Rehwoldt and Alex Koslov opening things in the ring. With those match times, how the heck is this over an hour long?
Team Filthy (Danny Limelight & JR Kratos) vs. Fred Rosser & Rocky Romero
Good news Matt – if Danny’s blocked you on Twitter, he’ll be able to do it again now he’s had to get a new account.
Limelight heads onto the apron at the bell, looking to avoid Romero… when he engaged, Limelight tried for a leg lock, but Rocky escaped and slapped him on the back of the head. Forever clotheslines are blocked in the corner, but Rocky’s able to roll down Limelight for a cross armbreaker that instantly ends in the ropes. Rosser tags in, but Limelight rolls away and tagged in Kratos, who looked to intimidate Rosser. A side headlock keeps Kratos at bay, but the pair trade clotheslines, then elbows before Rosser booted him to the outside. Rosser’s thrown into the ropes on the apron, sending him to the floor before they returned inside, with a Kratos suplex flinging Fred for a near-fall.
Limelight jumps on Rosser in the ropes as the ref was distracted, before Rosser gets thrown into the ropes again as the pace stayed methodical. Rocky comes in to break up a pin, but Limelight throws him outside before he went right back to Rosser with some choking in the ropes. The match keeps the same direction as Kratos and Limelight posed for the crowd, before Rosser finally got free and chop blocked Kratos’ knee. Rocky gets the hot tag in and worked away on Limelight, following up with headscissors and some Forever clotheslines. Limelight’s thrown into the ropes for a springboard dropkick to the side, before a flying knee off the top looked to lead to some more suplexes. Forearms from Rocky drop Limelight, who hit back with some of his own before Kratos came in… Rosser dives in to break up a pin after some double-teaming, then took aim at Limelight with a back suplex on the apron.
Rosser tags back in, booting Kratos away ahead of some clotheslines. Rosser has Limelight up top in the corner, but Kratos’ knee stops an avalanche gutbuster… with Limelight’s ‘rana bringing him down as Kratos proceeded to hit a Falcon arrow for a near-fall. Kratos looks to go for a Doomsday Device, but it’s escaped as Rosser ends up charging Kratos to the outside, where he’s dived on by Rocky.
Limelight’s overhead kick drops Rosser, but a flying DDT’s caught and turned into a side slam… and that’s the win for Rosser. Technically fine, but this was achingly slow early on and doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere. **½
Taiji Ishimori vs. Lio Rush
On paper, these two are somewhat equally-matched, even if Ishimori’s more experienced and has more on his resume…
Starting with a staredown, Rush gets taken into the corner, then thrown down as the former junior heavyweight champion asserted himself. Rush replies with a side headlock on the mat, then a shoulder block before some see-saw pinning attempts ended with a stand-off. Hitting the ropes, Rush confounds Ishimori, dropkicking away a leapfrog as Ishimori rolled outside… then returned to charge Rush through the ropes as he then threw Lio into the post. Ishimori kicks the arm into the rails next, then flung him back into the rails. Back inside, Ishimori continued on the arm, throwing Rush shoulder-first into the corner, before Lio’s attempted handspring gets dropkicked away.
Ishimori elbows away on Rush’s left arm and tied him up on the mat, before a leapfrog saw Rush avoid another charge into the corner. The pair exchange right hands as Rush creeps back into the game, landing clotheslines and a handspring back elbow before a leaping clothesline took Ishimori down. A Falcon arrow does the deal for a near-fall, before Ishimori returns with a handspring enziguiri en route to the baseball slide German suplex. That’s good for a near-fall, before Ishimori followed up with a shoulderbreaker that forced Rush to bridge up to avoid the pin. Ishimori keeps going with a Mistica into a crossface, but Rush swivels out and almost put himself in an arm triangle as he powerbombed free.
Ishimori rolls outside but eats a low-pe from Rush, only to recover with a Cipher UTAKI back in the ring. They fight back up to their feet, with Rush’s kicks laying out Ishimori for a near-fall, before Lio went back up for a Final Hour splash for the win. I was surprised Lio won, but given he’s staying around this’ll do more for him here than it would have for Ishimori. ***½
Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Royce Isaacs) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer)
It’s a Suzuki-gun reunion for Archer – who was tagging with Suzuki for the first time since New Year Dash 2020.
We have a jump start as the match spilled outside from the off, with Archer posting Lawlor before Isaacs was taken into the ring. That’s the official start, with Isaacs getting double-teamed in the corner by the boots of Archer and Suzuki, with Suzuki then working an armbar. Lawlor tries to break it up, with Archer dispatching him ahead of Suzuki grabbing a hanging armbar in the ropes. Lawlor pulls Suzuki to the outside as he began to take his shots, chopping Suzuki by the rails as Suzuki just seemed to shrug it all off. Back inside, Suzuki’s headbutted by Isaacs, before he’s taken into the corner as Team Filthy looked to pull ahead. Isaacs chokes Suzuki behind the ref’s back, while a Fujiwara armbar from Lawlor ends in the ropes.
Archer’s knocked off the apron, then came into the ring as Lawlor and Isaacs double-teamed again. Stuck in the Team Filthy corner, Suzuki’s worked over… but then the switch flipped as he booted Lawlor away, then ran in with a knee in the ropes as Archer came in to land a series of clotheslines on Lawlor. A guillotine on Archer stops the big man, taking him down to a knee before Archer muscled up to suplex his way free. Heading up top, Archer goes for Blackout on Lawlor, but the Strong Openweight champ slips down into a rear naked choke, then went shoved Archer into the corner as Isaacs tagged in.
Isaacs takes too long to follow up as Archer grabbed him by the throat, then pulled him into a Black Hole Slam. Suzuki’s back in to throw Isaacs into the corner for a running boot, following with a PK for a two-count. Elbows wear down Isaacs, before a rear naked choke drew in Lawlor to break up the hold… Lawlor ends up eating the Blackout out of the corner, while Suzuki took a Saito suplex. Archer’s low-bridged to the outside as a pop-up knee nearly nicks the unlikely win for Isaacs… who then took his time and scored an elevated German suplex on Suzuki for a near-fall. Suzuki’s back with strikes as he wore out Isaacs, knocking out his mouthguard with a clonking elbow before a rear naked choke and a Gotch style piledriver got the win. Not quite “Suzuki’s greatest hits”, but a crowd pleasing match to close the night out, even if little is likely to come out of this. ***¼
The post-match speech from Archer’s interrupted by Chris Dickinson, who called out Suzuki for a match on the Showdown tapings, warning Suzuki “your vacation is over.” Those two were meant to wrestle over WrestleMania weekend in 2020, before the world shut down, and even though they did it again at Bloodsport, I’m glad we’re getting this under “normal” rules…
These were the last matches from the Texas tapings – and I’m hoping the Showdown stuff from Philadelphia comes off better than these. While the in-ring action was largely fine, the low crowd, poor lighting and micing made these shows feel somewhat underwhelming as we see the first steps of NJPW Strong outside of a studio setting.