The Detonation series rumbled on as Fred Rosser challenged Tom Lawlor for the Strong Openweight title to close out 2021.
The DKC & Kevin Knight submitted Brogan Finlay & Jordan Clearwater in 8:08 (**¾)
Black Tiger, JR Kratos & Royce Isaacs pinned Rocky Romero, Juice Robinson & David Finlay in 14:05 (***)
Tom Lawlor defeated Fred Rosser via referee stoppage in 24:28 to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship (****)
We’re back at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium for what looks like the last set of matches from these tapings… Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov are on the call here.
Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Brogan Finlay & Jordan Clearwater
We’ve an outing for the LA Dojo lads here, with Brogan Finlay and Jordan Clearwater back after what feels like forever.
They keep it basic early on, swapping side headlocks and wristlocks, before a battle of shoulder tackles ended with Clearwater knocking down Knight for a two-count. Brogan Finlay comes in, but he’s double-teamed for a two-count, before DKC got cornered as Clearwater and Finlay looked to stomp a mudhole in him. DKC’s kept cornered as Clearwater’s back suplex gets a two-count, before a leg lariat dumped Clearwater as Kevin Knight got the tag in. Finlay’s back too, but Knight pulls ahead with a splash in the corner, then a slam and a standing frog splash for a two-count. The obligatory Boston crab ends in the ropes, before a Finlay roll from Brogan landed for another two-count.
Knight clears the way with a dropkick as DKC’s chops left Finlay laying. Finlay fights back, but gets caught with a back fist that nearly won it, before a crucifix from DKC’s turned into a crucifix bomb… as a crucifix stretch gets the submission. A good outing for the black trunked lads, with a rare win for them. **¾
Team Filthy (JR Kratos & Royce Isaacs) & Black Tiger vs. FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) & Rocky Romero
This was the in-ring debut of the latest Black Tiger, who was dubbed an “underground” Black Tiger, stressing that he’s non-canon.
Rocky’s serenaded before the bell, but there’s a cheapshot early on as Black Tiger came in against Rocky. A Cactus clothesline from Black Tiger sends both men outside as all hell breaks loose on the floor, but Rocky clears free and hits a tope to the masked man to keep things going. Back inside, Finlay’s slammed onto Black Tiger, as Rocky tagged in to eventually dump Juice onto his new enemy. We’ve a turnaround as Kratos came in to deadlift Rocky into a suplex, before Team Filthy’s posedown was broken up by Juice and Finlay. Isaacs is in to put the boots to Rocky, but gets rolled into a Diablo armbar attempt that ended with Royce powerbombing his way free.
Kratos is back to snatch a two-count, then chopped Rocky into the corner before Juice Robinson got the hot tag in. Dusty punches wear down Kratos, but going for a slam was a bad idea as Juice couldn’t get him up. Eventually Juice picked up Kratos into a Fireman’s carry, but Black Tiger broke it up and ate a spinebuster before Finlay tagged in. Isaacs ran in to take a side-Russian legsweep combo, but Kratos resists a double-team bulldog before he was finally flapjack’d. Another double-team ends with Finlay getting clotheslined and Juice getting powerbombed, as Black Tiger returned and took a side suplex. Rocky’s in for some Forever clotheslines, but Isaacs runs in to help turn it around as Kratos’ leaping forearm squashed Rocky in the corner.
The ref’s distracted as Jorel Nelson gets involved with running double knees, before a Twist and Shout neckbreaker from Black Tiger nearly won it. The fing fills and empties from there, with planchas from FinJuice just about doing their job as Rocky went for another Diablo armbar on Black Tiger… who countered out into a knee bar. A roll-up from Rocky nearly wins it, as did a running Shiranui, before a second Shiranui was caught and turned into a tombstone. From there, Black Tiger pulls up Rocky for a Tiger Driver, and that’s your lot. A solid tag match, with Black Tiger getting the first win in this feud. ***
NJPW Strong Openweight Championship: Tom Lawlor (c) vs. Fred Rosser
This one went back to Strong’s studio days – but Rosser’s the only man to have pinned Lawlor in New Japan, even if it came at the cost of Rosser getting his hair cut afterwards.
Rosser charged the ring, but calmed down as Team Filthy went to the back on their own volition. Rosser slapped Lawlor to start, but gets taken down as Rosser eventually grabbed an armbar. That ends in the ropes, as Rosser returned with a Dragon screw and another armbar… but again, it ends with the pair in the ropes, refusing to break in the corner. When the ref did force a separation, Lawlor jumped Rosser, grabbing a rear naked choke that ended with Rosser diving the pair of them to the outside.
Lawlor keeps getting knocked to the outside, with Rosser sending him to the rails, before he used his wrist tape for choking. On the apron, Rosser teases a back suplex, but gets caught low behind the ref’s back instead before he was sent back to the rails. A clothesline took Rosser into the crowd as the double count-out loomed, but Lawlor took it back into the ring for a two-count. Mid-kicks from Lawlor follow, before a front facelock looked to cause a stoppage. It’s turned into a cravat with some knees from Lawlor, ahead of a snapmare and a clothesline to the back… then one to the front for a two-count. Lawlor builds up to a bulldog before a double grounded Dragon screw led to a Cloverleaf. Rosser grabs the ropes to force the break, then came back with chops and clothesline in the corner before a takedown from Lawlor reset things.
Lawlor goes for an Exploder, eventually getting it as Rosser tried to fight free. An attempted rear naked choke was quickly escaped as Rosser tried to put on a chicken wing, but things descend into back-and-forth strikes, with Rosser pulling ahead at the fifteen-minute mark. Heading outside, Rosser tried for a draping DDT, but Lawlor countered into a guillotine that’s broken against the edge of the ring, with a catapult from Rosser posting the champion. Back inside, the Gut Check lands, but Rosser’s follow-up is caught as he’s tied up… Rosser escapes, but gets taken down with an enziguiri. A rear naked choke’s countered as Rosser pushed back out of the corner and rolled up Lawlor for some two-counts, then decked the champion with a right hand. A diving knee’s next for a near-fall, as was a running death valley driver, while a clothesline got Rosser near the win.
Lawlor snaps back with a mounted rear naked choke, but Rosser countered into a slam for a near-fall by the ropes. Rosser pushes on with a chickenwing, scissoring Lawlor’s body as the crowd sensed a title change, but they roll around by the ropes, with Lawlor eventually getting an arm there to force the break. A back suplex on the apron keeps Rosser ahead, but he misses a seated splash to the floor as Lawlor grabbed him in a rear naked choke… Rosser gets thrown into the barriers, but both men beat the count-out, only for Lawlor to pounce with another rear naked choke that eventually wore Rosser down to the mat for the stoppage. This was excellent stuff – Rosser came agonisingly close with the chickenwing, but in the end Tom Lawlor manages to force a stoppage while leaving the door open for a rematch in 2022. ****
Tom Lawlor celebrates with Black Tiger and the rest of his squad, then took the mic and declared himself the Strong-est. Lawlor asks who’s next to challenge him… but nobody’s music hits. So Lawlor celebrates again, only to be interrupted by a returning Taylor Rust. He was a part of Team Filthy before he went to WWE… and Lawlor looked pleased to see him, only for Rust to annoy Lawlor mid-promo and shut him out with a rolling cravat. Looks like Rust’s gonna challenge Tom Lawlor, as the rest of Team Filthy sent him packing to end out the year.
A flourish to end to the new episodes of Strong in 2021 with the Lawlor/Rosser main event being a fantastic scrap. We’ve a clip show next week, with the contents being voted on on social media, before I assume we get the start of the Nemesis tapings to pre-game us for WrestleKingdom.