We’re back in Philly as Chris Dickinson faces Minoru Suzuki one-on-one…
Alex Zayne pinned Ariya Daivari in 10:49 (***¼)
Fred Rosser & Rocky Romero pinned Tom Lawlor & Danny Limelight in 11:32 (***)
Jay White pinned Fred Yehi in 12:47 (***½)
Minoru Suzuki pinned Chris Dickinson in 18:57 (***¾)
Jesus Christ, over an hour and a half long?! You’re killing me here… We open with a promo for tonight’s main event with Chris Dickinson talking up his dream match, which he thought he’d lost last year, but has since won back. We’re still at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, with Alex Koslov and Matt Rehwoldt on commentary for some more matches from the Showdown tapings.
Ariya Daivari vs. Alex Zayne
Alex Zayne’s back after a year away in NXT, as we’ve got a 205 Live special here. Somewhere, Larry’s cackling at this one…
Zayne pulls ahead early with an arm whip, but Daivari clubs away on the back before Zayne pulled down a leapfrog ahead of a double kneedrop to Daivari’s back. A running corkscrew senton lands for a two-count, while Daivari hit back with a dropkick to make sure he didn’t fall too far behind.
A legdrop off the middle rope slices Zayne in the ropes for a near-fall, before chops took Zayne down ahead of a reverse DDT for Daivari. Both men hit each other with clotheslines at the same time, but it’s Zayne who picks up first, hitting a leaping, rolling legdrop before a running neckbreaker and another DDT put Daivari ahead.
Daivari heads outside, but gets caught with a springboard backflip from the ring to the floor, before Zayne hit a running flip ‘rana in the ring, then a flipping facebuster for a near-fall. In return, Daivari hits a superkick, then a hammerlock’d clothesline, before grabbing his Magic Carpet… but Zayne rolls away from the splash and puts him away with a Taco Driver. A good opener for the TV show, with both men looking like a pretty good fit for the roster (yes, I know Zayne’s been here before!) ***¼
Backstage, Daivari noted how people looked at him funny because he “came from over there” and used underhanded tactics. He blamed the environment “there” for it, and promised to change his ways.
Team Filthy (Danny Limelight & Tom Lawlor) vs. Fred Rosser & Rocky Romero
Limelight slapped his former tag partner Rocky Romero in the ropes early, but gets slapped back as Rocky tries to end it early with a cross armbar… only for Lawlor to pull his partner to safety.
Returning to the ring, Limelight’s taken into the ropes for a springboard dropkick to the side, before Lawlor came in to charge Rocky into the corner, while a Limelight PK drew a two-count. Lawlor’s back to work over Rocky’s legs, drawing in Fred Rosser to make a save, but he’s swarmed as well as Rocky recovered on the outside.
Back inside, Rocky cradled Lawlor for a near-fall before a leg lock from Lawlor drew in Rosser to his the running seated splash to break it up. A rear spin kick finally gets Rocky free as tags bring in Limelight and Rosser, with Danny instantly being thrown up into a back body drop… back-and-forth lariats club Limelight to the mat, before Limelight tried to use headscissors to come back… only to get caught as Rosser slips out of the corner and teased a Splash Mountain.
Limelight rolled his way free for a two-count, before a blind tag brought in Lawlor to break up a gutbuster. Lawlor’s used like a Terry Funk ladder to get rid of Limelight, who’s sent outside for a Rocky tope, before Rosser dropped Lawlor with a gutbuster. In return, Lawlor grabbed a rear naked choke, but Rosser rolled back on it and ended up snatching the first pin over Lawlor in New Japan – and surely booked a future Strong title shot? This one took a while to heat up, but was good while it lasted and built up something for the future. ***
Post-match, Lawlor and Limelight double-team Rosser… Limelight grabs a toolbox from under the ring and pulled out some scissors, teasing a haircut as Rocky made the save before JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson kept things going for Team Filthy, as Lawlor eventually managed to cut Rosser’s hair in the end.
Fred Yehi vs. Jay White
Tiger Hattori randomly joined the English commentary crew for this… and didn’t seem amused by the attempts to make him say “Yeee-hi”.
Yehi tried to surprise White early with a Koji clutch, but was quickly stomped on in the corner before White let him go… and began to throw some chops. Yehi retaliates, but gets cheapshot into the corner as more stomps took him to the outside. We’re outside in the really badly-lit ringside area as White charges Yehi between the rails and apron, before a quick return to the ring saw Yehi dumped over the top to the floor once again.
A chinlock keeps Yehi down, but Yehi fights free and ran through a chop before he caught White with an Exploder. Big slingshot stomps keep White in the corner, while a low dropkick keeps White in trouble ahead of a Cobra twist. White tries to get to the ropes, but just rakes the eyes to get free instead, before a DDT took Yehi back into the corner.
A Twister suplex from White follows for a two-count, before a backfist from Yehi bought him some time. He followed up with a sleeperhold, but White elbows free… only to get pulled back into it on the mat. White rolls back to break it up – or win via pinfall – as Yehi just keeps going with a German suplex after the kick-out, following with a brainbuster for a near-fall.
From the kick-out, Yehi rolls into a Koji clutch, throwing in some hammer fists as White tried to get to the rope, before the NEVER champion eventually reached out. Yehi tried to follow in with a chop, but gets caught in a sleeper suplex instead,m before a Blade Runner shut the door. Yehi got way more offence in than you’d expect given his spot on the roster here, but save for that moment towards the end, White largely looked comfortable. ***½
Post-match, White cut a promo talking about his “US of Jay” tour, where he’s fought names from Impact, AEW and ROH, before dismissing “Fred.” He then challenged “anyone, from any company,” before straight up calling out Tomohiro Ishii for Battle in the Valley.
Chris Dickinson vs. Minoru Suzuki
Originally scheduled for the cancelled WrestleMania weekend last year, Dickinson managed to face Suzuki twice in a week – following up this match with an outing at Bloodsport…
Dickinson looked to ground Suzuki first, alternating between pinning attempts and arm bars, before Suzuki looked annoyed at Dickinson’s attempt at a leg lock. Suzuki coached Dickinson as he went, as dualling heel hooks gave way to a stand-off, before Suzuki gets pulled into Dickinson’s guard.
A cross armbar attempt from Dickinson’s blocked, with Suzuki countering out with a Kimura, having used his knee to swipe Dickinson away as we stay on the mat. From there, the pair up the ante, trading chops that Suzuki laughed off before he got taken into the corner. Suzuki struck back with a hanging armbar in the ropes, before Dickinsons wept the leg… and ended up eating a PK.
Things spill outside with Suzuki throwing more strikes to leave Dickinson laying, before he went under the ring and found some chairs. The ref disarms Suzuki, right as Dickinson got up… only to get posted as Suzuki continued to control the pace. The badly-lit ringside area means we only hear Suzuki going after the commentary desk, before he cornered the referee and made him see his entire life flash in front of his eyes.
We resume with Dickinson sliding into the ring, but he’s caught in a surfboard stretch that turns into a hammerlock’d armbar, ending in the ropes as Suzuki remained on the arm. Dickinson slips free and hauled up Suzuki into a German suplex, as he then quickly followed with a STF… which ended with Suzuki almost fading before he reached for the ropes to force the break.
Suzuki blocks a Dragon screw and dropped onto Dickinson with a cross armbreaker instead, which ends in the ropes. A snapmare has DIckinson sitting for PKs, which eventually get caught as Dickinson opted to go back to chops as we cross the quarter-hour mark. The open-handed palm strikes continue as Suzuki looked to pull ahead, only to get tripped up… he counters out of a STF, but couldn’t avoid a brainbuster that nearly won it for Dickinson.
From there though, Suzuki sneaks back in with a rear naked choke, but Dickinson rolled free… only to get caught back in the hold. Finally we get Suzuki’s clonking elbows, which look to wake up Dickinson as he returned with an enziguiri, only for him to eat a flurry of palm strikes before the Gotch style piledriver gets the win. A lot of this was the “greatest hits” stuff, but still pretty damn good and exactly the match you expected from these two. ***¾
Another solid episode of Strong… and maybe it’s just me, but these shows badly need to be formatted differently. Strong built its name by being a tightly-formatted hour of TV – and while I’m not at all advocating that they return to the empty studio shows, they need to bite the bullet – either air Strong as the one-off specials they’re taping, or format these shows so they’re closer to clearly-defined (hopefully hour-long) blocks!