By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dark Match: Barrett Brown, Bateman, and Misterioso beat Adrian Quest, Kevin Knight, and The DKC.
The show opened with a video package that ran through each of the matches… Kevin Kelly, Alex Koslov, and Matt Rehwoldt (a/k/a Aiden English were on English commentary…
Powell’s POV: I’ll be going lighter than usual with the details on this show, but I’ll get you the basics. Dot Net co-senior staffer Will Pruett is in the building. He passed along the result of the dark match and may have some other nuggets throughout the evening.
1. Karl Fredericks vs. Alex Coughlin. Fredericks won with an Impaler DDT. Afterward, Fredericks put an icepack on the neck of Coughlin and they shook hands. Rehwoldt spoke about getting in the ring for NJPW and taking up Coughlin on one of his challenges eventually.
Karl Fredericks beat Alex Coughlin.
Powell’s POV: A good competitive match between two guys with real upside potential. They seem to improve with each outing. Unfortunately, the stream is flaky thus far, at least on my end. Hopefully it improves. I no more than wrote that sentence and the “no signal from the building logo” popped up, but the feed returned quickly and was much improved. Nice.
2. Fred Rosser, Rocky Romero, and Wheeler Yuta vs. TJP, Clark Connors, and Ren Narita. There was a good exchange between Rosser and Narita. They went back and forth and then hit simultaneous forearms and knocked each other down. Later, Connors put Romero down with a chokeslam and then TJP hit him with a Mamba Splash. TJP counted along with the referee’s three count. Rosser and Narita went nose to nose afterward.
Wheeler Yuta vs. TJP, Clark Connors, and Ren Narita beat Fred Rosser, Rocky Romero, and Wheeler Yuta.
Powell’s POV: Nonstop action with an appreciative crowd that was really behind Romero. While the feed is definitely better than it was during the opener, it’s still not perfect.
A video package recapped the G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden. It noted that Wrestle Dynasty was scheduled for the venue, but international events were paused due to the pandemic. The video noted that New Japan Strong debuted last year on New Japan World and FITE TV. The G1 Climax tournament starting in Dallas, Texas was also spotlighted in the video, along with the G1 Special in San Francisco. Footage also aired of Kenta attacking Jon Moxley on AEW television. The video stated the relationship between NJWP, ROH, CMLL, and now AEW and Impact Wrestling. The video closed with a thank you to fans in the United States for their support.
Powell’s POV: I was hoping that the video was going to conclude with a big show announcement. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that it did not given the state of the world and the pandemic.
3. Lio Rush, Chris Dickinson, Fred Yehi, Yuya Uemura, and Adrian Quest vs. Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Jorel Nelson, Royce Isaacs, and Danny Limelight in a ten-man tag match. Quest replaced Brody King, who was announced as being out due to “unforeseen circumstances” earlier in the day.
Kratos set up for a top rope dive onto opponents below, but Uemura powerbombed him instead. Rush hit his springboard cutter on Limelight, then Uemura suplexed Limelight and pinned him.
Lio Rush, Chris Dickinson, Fred Yehi, Yuya Uemura, and Adrian Quest beat Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Jorel Nelson, Royce Isaacs, and Danny Limelight in a ten-man tag match. Afterward, Lawlor talked smack from ringside, the Rush approached the broadcast table and said that the NJPW Openweight Championship belongs to him and he hopes that Lawlor knows that. Uemura stuck around and addressed the crowd from the middle of the ring. Katsuyori Shibata came out and gave him an LA Dojo t-shirt and they left the ring together.
Powell’s POV: Another match with nonstop action. I’m actually surprised that they didn’t put a match between the six-man and the ten-man tag. They did a good job of setting up Lawlor vs. Rush, and Kelly was very good in explaining the significance of the Uemura and Shibata angle.
4. Juice Robinson vs. Hikuleo. Robinson impressively held up Hikuleo while walking from the corner toward the middle of the ring before powerbombing him. Robinson threw jabs and the big left hand. Hikuleo came back with a lariat. Hikuleo went for his finisher, but Robinson countered into a pin for the win.
Juice Robinson beat Hikuleo.
Afterward, Hikuleo attacked Robinson and chokeslammed him.
Powell’s POV: It was tough to come down from the pace of the big tag matches to the slower pace of this singles match. That said, this match would have been in the same tough spot even if it had been placed between the two tag matches.
A video package hyped that New Japan Strong will be coming to Dallas/Fort Worth on September 25/26, Philadelphia at 2300 Arena on October 16/17, and Riverside, California on November 15.
It was also announced that NJPW would return to San Jose, California with Jon Moxley, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Tomohiro Ishii, David Finlay, Lio Rush, and more with Battle In The Valley on November 13.
Powell’s POV: Hey, we got some show U.S. announcements after all. There was a time when AEW didn’t want Moxley to work on NJPW shows in the United States, but obviously the relationship between the two companies has improved since then.
5. Tomihiro Ishii vs. Moose. Moose had his right shoulder taped. The wrestlers met in the middle of the ring to show off Moose’s big height advantage. Moose dominated early. Ishii battled back, but Moose picked up a couple of great near falls. Moose put Ishii down with a lariat and then acted shocked when he kicked out at one. Moose returned the favor following an Ishii lariat. Ishii dodged a spear and put Moose down with a German suplex. A short time later, Ishii turned Moose inside out with a lariat and got a near fall. Moose performed a uranage slam. Ishii hit his sliding lariat for a near fall. Ishii dropped Moose with a brainbuster and pinned him.
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Moose.
Powell’s POV: The highlight of the night thus far. This looked good on paper and lived up to my lofty expectations.
As the broadcast team was speculating about the identity of Jon Moxley’s mystery partner, Will Ospreay made his entrance dressed in a suit. Kelly noted that Ospreay had the forfeit the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and there have been questions about his future. Ospreay got a mic and ended up announcing that he is medically cleared. He played up entering the G1 Tournament, then said he would not be in the annual tournament.
Ospreay said he’s not even going back to Japan. He said he broke his neck for NJPW. He said he needed four months off and they stripped him of the championship. He complained about how long Moxley went without defending the IWGP U.S. Championship. He brought up Shingo Takagi and called him a pussy. He said NJPW should put the word interim in front of Shingo’s championship. Ospreay pulled out his title belt and said it’s the real world championship because he’s unbeaten as champion and he’ll defend it in his new home of NJPW Strong.
Karl Fredericks and Clark Connors walked out. Ospreay called them little bitches and continued his rant. Security tried to hold back Fredericks and Connors, but they made it on to the apron. TJP was also at ringside. Ospreay called him a little bitch boy. TJP rolled into the ring and took the mic out of Ospreay’s hand and tossed it onto the mat. Ospreay backed down. TJP tried to calm down Fredericks and Connors. Ospreay picked up the mic and insulted someone, then rolled out of the ring and exited through the crowd.
Powell’s POV: An awesome surprise and the new highlight of the show. I love the idea of Ospreay claiming to be the real world champion. Obviously, it will set up an eventual unification match between Ospreay and Takagi, which should be great. Unfortunately, I have some hearing loss and I have a tough time with Ospreay’s accent, so I struggled to make out everything he said. I think I caught most of it, but I apologize if I missed a few things.
6. Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata vs. Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. This was billed as Moxley teaming with a mystery partner, which obviously turned out to be Nagata. Late in the match, Gallows and Anderson performed the Magic Killer on Moxley onto a chair at ringside. In the ring, Anderson performed a Gun Stun on Nagata. Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer on Nagata and then pinned him.
Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson beat Jon Moxley and Yuji Nagata.
After the match, Gallows and Anderson delivered a gloating promo. Anderson’s mic cut out. They tried a replacement mic, but that didn’t work either. “The Guerrillas of Destiny” Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa walked out and entered the ring. Gallows and Anderson ended up ducking out and grabbing their Impact Tag Titles before heading to the back.
Powell’s POV: The trouble with booking a mystery partner is that it lets the imaginations of fans run wild, and if you don’t have something huge, you’re sure to disappoint some fans. Nagata teaming with Moxley was logical given their respectful match on AEW Dynamite and Nagata is certainly a legend, but it’s hard to imagine that it pleased everyone. The post match angle with GOD showing up was cool. Unfortunately, the production issues with the microphones derailed things a bit. By the way, Will checked in from the venue and wrote that there is some type of private party event happening inside the stadium and the song “Sweet Caroline” was playing loudly. He added that it was “super weird and distracting” whenver the wrestling crowd is quiet. They also shot off pyro for the party.
7. Jay White vs. David Finlay for the Never Openweight Championship. The match was preceded by a video package that recapped their feud. Late in the match, Finlay stuffed a Blade Runner attempt and ended up hitting a pair of Blue Thunder Bombs for a near fall. Finlay applied an STF. White broke his leg free, but Finlay maintained the crossface. White was eventually able to use his foot to reach the bottom rope. White shoved Finlay into the referee and then low-blowed Finlay while the referee was facing the other direction. Finlay returned the favor and received some boos. Finlay performed The Last Shot for a good near fall. White came back and set up for his finisher, but Finlay countered into a Stunner. A short time later, White cut off a Finlay move attempt and hit the Blade Runner for the win.
Jay White defeated David Finlay to retain the Never Openweight Championship.
After the match, Tomohiro Ishii walked out and stood on the apron. White barked at him and shooed him away. After Ishii left, White delivered a promo and boasted that he singlehandedly sold out Madison Square Garden. He spoke about how it didn’t matter if it was an Impact Wrestling or an AEW ring, he said this is still his era.
Powell’s POV: The vocal fans in the crowd just didn’t get behind Finlay. White is the bigger star and Finlay still needs to establish a persona beyond happy babyface tag team wrestler, so perhaps it shouldn’t be much of a surprise. In fairness, I’ve fallen behind on NJPW during the pandemic, so I’m sure I’ve missed some character development with Finlay, but that’s still how he comes off during his Impact Wrestling appearances.
8. Lance Archer vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP U.S. Championship. Archer punched multiple ring crew members around the ringside area while making his entrance. Jon Moxley was shown seated at the timekeepers area with his foot on the table while taking a swig of beer. The broadcast team explained that he had a vested interest in the match. Archer was dominant early and put Tanahashi down with a Derailer, then put one foot on him while getting a two count. Archer continued to dominate and eventually hit the Blackout, but Tanahashi put his foot on the rope at the last minute to break the pin. Tanahashi mounted his comeback. He eventually hit his High Fly Flow finisher multiple times and scored the pin, which the broadcast team tried to put over as a big upset due to the beating he’d taken throughout the match.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Lance Archer to win the IWGP U.S. Championship.
After the match, Jon Moxley was shown standing up. Kelly said Moxley slammed something on the table and walked away. Archer got the mic and said that Tanahashi truly is The Ace of New Japan. He said he has a damn good time beating the living hell out of him every time, but he’s always respected him. He said he’s glad that Tanahashi brought New Japan to Los Angeles, but he said he wants him to come to AEW. Archer said that he wants his rematch in AEW. Archer bowed to Tanahashi and then they bumped fists. Tanahashi thanked the crowd and did his air guitar routine to wrap up the show.
Powell’s POV: The main event was solid. Archer dominating for as long as he did left me assuming that Tanahashi would going to come back and beat him, but that’s okay. I enjoyed Archer’s post match comments, and Moxley storming off after Tanahasi won keeps their story moving forward. Unfortunately, the show left a lot to be desired from a production standpoint. The stream ended up improving after some early struggles. The broadcast team was loud and clear, but the crowd was really quiet in the audio mix, and the house mic was spotty, though it was finally nice and loud during the post main event segment. I assume the unique venue made it difficult to mic the crowd, but it did hurt the home experience. Don’t get me wrong, though, it was still an enjoyable show with a strong amount of star power, some good in-ring work, and the fun surprise return of Will Ospreay. I assume this would have been a really fun show to see in person. There were no New Japan style in-ring classics, but it was a well worked show with Ishii vs. Moose getting my nod for best match of the night.