By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
NJPW Strong television taping
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
With bad weather and bad traffic ruining the proposed ETA, I walked in during match No. 2, so my apologies for that. Even so, I received the match No. 1 result from someone working the event.
1. Hikuleo defeated Kevin Knight. This went about six minutes from what I was told, but can someone please explain why the wrestling gods hate me? Hikuleo was one of the most prized attractions on the show for me, and … well … yeah.
2. Bateman, Misterioso, and Barrett Brown defeated Brody King, Karl Fredericks, and The DKC. Walking in during this match, I hardly even recognized Bateman. King is awfully over with a lot of people and it appears NJPW is really getting behind this Bateman faction. I’m not complaining.
3. JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs, and Jorel Nelson defeated David Finlay, Alex Coughlin, and Yuya Uemura. There was no reason to think Team Filthy would lose here, but Finlay did a really nice job firing the crowd up, and this was the first time that things got hot. Coughlin is like a better-adjusted Dexter Lumis who can chop. After the match, Kratos brawled with Coughlin, so it looks like we’re heading for that program, which could be very good.
4. Juice Robinson defeated El Phantasmo. Match of the night candidate and with some perspective (or at least seeing how all these turn out on TV), it might retroactively earn that title. Juice was in his Macho Man cos-play phase and it’s fun. In a really neat, very NJPW spot, Phantasmo ran through Bullet Club leader finishers, which included a very pretty Styles Clash. Naturally, when the lineage got to a One-Winged Angel, Juice slipped out of it before it could formulate. After the match, the announcement of Buddy Matthews (Murphy) joining NJPW was made before an intermission commenced.
5. Alex Zayne defeated Ariya Daivari. Coming to you live from 205 Live. I kid. But not really. This was good. Daivari looks reenergized and I’m happy for him. We even got the Magic Carpet spot. Zayne took a lot of punishment here, but after the match, he extended his hand to Daivari, and after deliberating, Daivari shook it. The crowd was the quietest it was all night throughout this match until the end. The match always felt like it wanted to kick into the next gear, but never quite got there.
6. Rocky Romero and Fred Rosser defeated Tom Lawlor and Danny Limelight. The most eventful thing of the night and I’m awfully interested to see how this plays out on television. The story was between Rosser and Lawlor, and all things told, I was a bit surprised to see Rosser and Romero go over. A lot of people have a lot of opinions on Tom Lawlor and he seems to revel in all of them. After the match, Lawlor and the rest of Team Filthy, who cleared everyone out, went under the ring, got a pair of scissors, and they done actually did it: They cut Rosser’s hair after beating him down. This got the second most heat of the night, next to …
7. Ren Narita and Clark Connors defeated Will Ospreay and TJP. This fellow named TJP. I don’t know what Mr. Perkins did to Philadelphia, but he and Ospreay drew the most heat of anyone all night. The outcome wasn’t just a complete surprise; it was a complete shock. I’m still in shock, actually. It looks like we’re heading toward Ospreay vs. Narita, which gosh darn yeah, I’m all for strapping a rocket to Narita, who had the entire building behind him all night. Ospreay hit the most gruesome chop I’ve ever heard on a person when he and Narita worked outside and I will have nightmares about it. Boy, Ospreay is so crisp, and boy does he lay everything in. He’s that much more impressive in person.
8. Jay White defeated Fred Yehi. The outcome was never in doubt, but Yehi got a lot of stuff in, which was promising to see. They even had me at a few of the false finishes and this was Yehi’s best Strong match by far. After the match, White issued an open challenge for after he faces Ishii in San Jose. White used the phrase “Best In The World” during that, so do what you may with that information.
9. Minoru Suzuki defeated Chris Dickinson. This had to be the main event because Suzuki is on a God Tour right now that included Friday night’s Bryan Danielson match, from which you could still see the marks on his chest. Dickinson was a very good dancing partner for Suzuki if only because Dickinson didn’t back down and he also didn’t half-smile through the entire match, which is something past Suzuki opponents have done during this run. At one point, Suzuki used a chair, and I’ll be damned if Suzuki hasn’t perfected the trick of drawing entertainment pops with shades of comedy while also somehow walking the tightrope right back to being taken seriously as a badass. It’s such an art. After the match, Suzuki cut a brief promo with the use of the f-word to send everybody home.
McGuire’s Musings: New Japan really has its stuff together. The production was great, the wrestling was tremendous, and Strong has a developed a very interesting, very talented roster, so there wasn’t a bad match here. I don’t know why there were empty seats, but there were more than there should have been. Let’s see if that’s the case tomorrow, when Jon Moxley walks through the door. I will be attending Sunday’s event as well, so check back for my report on Sunday night or Monday morning.