By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed November 13, 2020 on New Japan World
The show began with the broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov introducing The Road To Showdown and the card for the night…
1. ACH and Blake Christian vs. Adrian Quest and Alex Zayne. Zayne and Quest made their entrance first as Kelly hyped up Zayne clashing with Christian (which better happen sooner than later since it was reported today that Zayne signed with WWE). ACH and Quest started the match with a tie-up in the middle of the ring.
Kelly noted how ACH has become the veteran before the two traded blows and reversals. Quest went for a moonsault from the second rope but missed and landed on his feet. Eventually, Quest hit a 360-degree cross-body. Zayne then tagged in before Christian got into the ring.
The two traded shoulder-blocks. Christian landed a hard dropkick to the back of Zayne’s head before tagging in ACH, who eventually went for a cover and got a one-count. He then tried to rile up the non-existent crowd with claps. Zayne got back on the offense by planting ACH and getting a two-count. Quest tagged in to hit a clothesline for a one-count.
Zayne tagged in and hit ACH with a kick to the mid section. Zayne then worked over ACH with some strikes and a running elbow. Zayne and Quest got in some double-team moves on ACH in their corner before Quest hit a suplex and a double stomp. He then tried a standing moonsault but ACH got his knees up. ACH eventually got the hot tag to Christian.
Christian worked over both Quest and Zayne before landing a one-man Spanish Fly for the two-count. Quest hit a moonsault to the outside on ACH while Christian and Zayne worked in the ring. Christian hit a leg to the back of the head and then missed a double stomp to the back of the head. The two then traded roll-ups and Zayne got the better of it for the 1-2-3.
Adrian Quest and Alex Zayne defeated ACH and Blake Christian via pinball in 7:!2.
McGuire’s Musings: A very entertaining opening match that got a loaded card off to a good start. It’s curious to see Zayne go over, considering the news today about his jump to WWE, but I’m interested to see where they go with him and Blake Christian before it’s all said and done. ACH continues to look good after his WWE run and these four worked really well together. A good combination of strategic tag-team wrestling and a dash of high spots to open the show is probably the best way to open every NJPW Strong ever.
2. Fred Rosser vs. Tom Lawlor. Lawlor made his entrance first with a surgical mask on his chin. The two pushed each other before the bell rang. Lawlor then threw his shirt into Rosser’s face. The two locked up and Lawlor hit some strikes before Rosser got him into a headlock. Lawlor got to his feet and hit Rosser with a kick and a series of chops.
Lawlor hit a few European uppercuts in the corner, but Rosser punched his way out before landing a clothesline in the corner. He then hit a bodyslam for a one-count and then sank in a headlock while the two made it to their feet. Lawlor took control with some punches and kicks in the corner. Rosser fought his way out with a headbutt and a few chops of his own.
Lawlor took control with an elbow and a rear-naked choke while Rosser was on the apron. Rosser then hit a back suplex on the apron, but Lawlor jumped on Rosser’s back as they fought outside. Rosser then rammed Lawlor into the ring post outside. Rosser hit Lawlor with a series of butt strikes in the corner. He eventually landed a two-count and went for another splash, but Lawlor sinked in a cross-arm-breaker, but Rosser got the ropes for a break.
Filthy Tom got control by working Rosser’s arm more with a series of strikes, including a bunch of uppercuts and a hard snap-arm-drag. Lawlor kept working Rosser’s left arm and went for a submission, but Rosser got to the ropes to break it up. With his right arm, Rosser hit a chop, but Lawlor got back on the offensive with an arm twist. He then hit a back kick and went for a front kick, but Rosser caught him with an inside cradle for a two-count.
Rosser went for another roll-up, but Lawlor countered into another attempt at a submission before Rosser got back to the ropes. Lawlor then hit an Exploder and sank in a front face-lock, but Rosser powered out before Lawlor dropped an elbow for a two-count. Lawlow hit a clothesline in the corner, hit another one, and then Rosser made a comeback, spinning with a fist to the face for a two-count. He then took control with some strikes.
Rosser went for the Gut Check, but Lawlor countered into a Cloverleaf and a headlock. Rosser powered out with some elbows to the mid-section and a headbutt. As Rosser went for a knee, Lawlor caught his foot and rolled him into a stretch submission for the tap-out.
Filthy Tom Lawlor defeated Fred Rosser by submission in 11:14.
McGuire’s Musings: There are still two matches left on this card, and we already had two hours worth of Smackdown, but it’s hard to think anything is going to top this for Match Of The Night on either show. A terrific traditional pro wrestling match that focused entirely on Lawlor using his MMA experience to his advantage and his ability to single out a body part is the kind of wrestling that ought to make someone like Jim Cornette proud. Rosser showed good heart, but it never felt like the result was in question once Lawlor decided he was going to work his opponent’s arm. If there’s one match you go out of your way to see, make it this one.
3. Juice Robinson, Brody King and Karl Fredericks vs. Jay White, Tanga Loa and Chase Owens. White, Loa and Owens made their entrance first as Kelly hyped KENTA vs. David Finlay as next week’s main event. Robinson came out looking like the lost Blues Brother. Fredericks and White started by locking up in the middle of the ring. White used the referee to take control and worked a side headlock.
Fredericks hit a cross-body block to get back on the offensive. Robinson tagged in for his first appearance on NJPW Strong, but quickly tagged Fredericks back in. Fredericks hit a series of strikes, but was distracted by White’s fellow Bullet Club members and White hit a backbreaker before tagging in Tanga Loa, who hit King and Robinson to send them to the floor.
Loa hit a back suplex for a two-count and then hit Fredericks with a forearm. Owens tagged in and Fredericks hit him with some punches before Owens took back control. Owens stretched Fredericks’ face as he hung over the middle rope and eventually tagged in White. White taunted Fredericks, gouged his eyes and then sunk into a single-leg crab.
White went for a suplex but Fredericks countered and eventually landed a spine-buster. Fredericks got the hot tag into King as Loa hit the ring and the two heavyweights traded stiff blows. King appeared to have the upper-hand, but Loa missed a kick and King took control before clearing the ring of the heels. He then landed a Black Hole Slam and tagged in Robinson.
Robinson hit a cannonball in the corner and got a two-count on Loa. Robinson went for the Juice Box, but Loa countered and eventually hit a neck-breaker. Loa tagged in Owens and the three heels worked over Robinson. Owens got a two-count and then things broke down as all six men were in the ring. Owens and Robinson ended up alone in the ring and Owens went for a package piledriver, but Robinson countered and looked for a tag, but his partners weren’t there.
Fredericks ran in after Owens went for the package piledriver again. King eventually hit the ring to take care of everybody, but Owens hit a knee to give the heels control. Owens rolled up Robinson and held the tights but only got a two-count. Robinson then hit Pulp Friction for the pin over Owens.
Juice Robinson, Brody King and Karl Fredericks defeated Jay White, Tanga Loa and Chase Owens via pinfall in 9:50.
McGuire’s Musings: I had high hopes for this and it admittedly didn’t quite live up to my expectations. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a really good match, though. The commentary team made a big deal out of Robinson making his first NJPW Strong appearance, so the writing was kind of on the wall for who would most likely get the pin. I’d like to see more of Brody King and Tanga Loa, if that’s at all possible, because those 30 seconds that the two traded blows were electric – even in an empty building. Not so sure I’d go back to the rejected Blues Brother look if I was Robinson, though.
4. Tama Tonga vs. PJ Black. Tonga made his entrance first as Kelly pointed out that Tonga has been in the Bullet Club since its inception in 2013. Black then came out as the commentary team noted how Black is an adrenaline junkie. The bell rang and Black ran at Tonga before backing up. The two locked up quickly and Black got in an arm-drag. The two then sized each other up.
Black went for another arm-drag but Tonga countered and worked over Black before Black rolled Tonga up for a two-count. Tonga lured Black in for a series of kicks to the midsection. Tonga then worked Black’s arm, but Black countered from a hammerlock into a wristlock. It looked like Tonga’s shoulder started bleeding, but Black hit a head-scissors, and then it was revealed that it was actually Black’s nose that was bleeding.
Kelly hyped that Black could have a broken nose as Black went to the top, but Tonga split Black’s legs and Black was crotched. Back in the ring, Tonga hit a face-splash in the corner and then a running kick to Black’s face, which included his bleeding nose. Black got to his feet and the two traded blows in the ring. Tonga got in a high back-body drop. Tonga sunk in a headlock, but the camera angle backed away, presumably to cover for Black’s bloody face.
Black worked his way out and hit the corners for a series of right hands on Tonga. Black hit a splash in the corner and a springboard cross-body for a two-count. Tonga hit a Tonga Twist in the middle of the ring for a good near-fall. Black hit a face-plant before locking in a submission on Tonga. Black’s face was opposite the camera, but Tonga pulled on the referee’s shirt as well as Black’s hair before Black released the hold.
Tonga threw Black to the outside but slid back in to hit some chops and kicks. From afar, it looked like Black had streaks of blood on his face. Tonga eventually hit a punch, but Black nearly won with a springboard reverse DDT. Black went to the top rope, but Tonga got up and eventually hit an Alabama Slam for a two-count.
Black got in a roll-up for a very close near-fall, but Tonga got up and hit the Gun Stun for the pin.
Tama Tonga defeated PJ Black via pinball in 10:38.
After the match, officials tended to PJ Black and Tonga posed before cutting a promo backstage to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: I don’t know what the deal was with the camera crew’s decision to pull away from PJ Black’s cut, because the blood didn’t look nearly as bad as, say, any of the other pro wrestling shows on television this week, but hey, to each their own. This was a good match, though it was overshadowed in my mind by the far-away camera work. Here’s hoping Black’s nose isn’t broken and instead it was just a surface wound. Either way, it was good to see Tama Tonga get a singles win, as I think NJPW might be positioning him for a singles run sooner than later. The near-fall toward the end had me jump out of my chair.
In all, a very good episode of Strong. As I said before, if you want to watch one thing, watch the Lawlor vs. Rosser match because holy hell, that was such a welcome throw-back to an era of wrestling that at least this writer holds dear in his heart. Next week should be good, and I, for one, have high hopes for the main event between KENTA and Finlay. Have a good weekend, friends, and don’t forget to check out my Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review, which will be up sometime between now and 2029 (probably tomorrow morning).