By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
NJPW Strong television taping
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
1. Juice Robinson and David Finlay defeated Yuya Uemura and Kevin Knight. Week in and week out on Strong, Kevin Knight displays what I have categorized as the best dropkick in all of wrestling. So imagine my delight when Robinson started yelling about Knight’s great dropkick during this match and the match was kind of/sort of built around that call out. Anyway, this was really good and Juice Robinson is endlessly entertaining (more on that in a second). FinJuice has really come into its own over the months and it feels like a stride has been hit. Also, good for Uemura, as the crowd had multiple Uemura chants here.
2. El Phantasmo and Chris Bey defeated Lio Rush and Ariya Daivari. This turned into a nice little weekend for the Bullet Club, now didn’t it? The match started out with a “Too Sweet” from the Bullet Club members and a “Suck it” from Rush and Ariya Daivari. Bey pinned Daivari, but Bey’s best moment came when he faced off with Rush, as the two provided the most action-packed, silky smooth 30-40 seconds of the weekend. My only gripe is that this went back to back with the FinJuice bout. Why? Because Phantasmo is funny and charismatic, and Juice is funny and charismatic. Having them back to back took away from both in the bigger picture.
3. Jonathan Gresham defeated Alex Coughlin. Some people might say Jonathan Gresham is the best wrestler in the world. I will not agree with them. But I will not disagree with them, either. That was on showcase here as these two had one of the three best matches of the weekend. Coughlin is such a treat to watch anymore and his growth, nobody can deny. Coughlin sold a ton after the pin, which was a rollup, arguing that the ref didn’t make it to three, so let’s run this one back with a little more time.
4. Fred Rosser, Karl Fredericks, Rocky Romero, Ren Narita, and The DKC defeated Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs, Jorel Nelson, and Danny Limelight via disqualification. The DQ came after Black Tiger came out and ostensibly made his Team Filthy debut, hitting the babyfaces with a kendo stick. Lawlor cut a promo afterwards as the rest of the babyfaces left Rosser, sporting a shaved head after last night, essentially for dead. As a result, Team Filthy beat Rosser the hell up. Lawlor noted that Black Tiger has a history with Romero, so we can probably expect something from that moving forward. Also of note, Lawlor said that Rosser will be the next challenger for the Strong Openweight Championship at the next tapings. We then went to intermission.
5. Brody King, Chris Dickinson, and Daniel Garcia defeated Bateman, Misterioso, and Barrett Brown. This was as close to a squash as we got all night. The Violence Fellas (Dickinson and King) meshed well with Garcia, who the crowd loved as well. Actually, Philadelphia loves it some Brody King, too. The match ended when King pinned Misterioso after a series of combination/tandem/posing moves. A lot of action, but most of it came with the winners on the offensive. Afterward, Gabriel Kidd came out to cut a promo, talking about the last year and a half of his life, which sounded awfully tough. He challenged Gresham to come back out and Gresham did. Kidd challenged Gresham to a match at the next tapings and Gresham obliged.
6. TJP defeated Clark Connors. This might get my vote match of the night and weekend, but as I said last night, I don’t know if it’s fair to proclaim such things quite yet. I want to see how this stuff plays out on television first. But there was a story and heat between these two and the story was TJP working Connors’s knee, which they did well. Again, like I said last night, Philly hates themselves some TJP and that makes it fun. As the match began and the crowd was relatively quiet, a guy yelled, “TJ, wrestle if you think Covid’s real,” and that was the line of the weekend. As a result, TJP wrestled the first two minutes, no matter the sequence, no matter the holds, while looking at the guy in the eyes. Wild. Also, put respect on Clark Connors’s name.
7. Jay White and Hikuleo defeated Fred Yehi and Wheeler Yuta. At last, Hikuleo! Dude’s even more impressive in person and bookmark this link to read again in five years, when I’m proven right. I’ll tell you what: Between Saturday and Sunday, Yehi and White work awfully well together. Yehi had a lot of people behind him here and we all know Yuta is the bee’s knees in many fans’ eyes, so these were good dancing partners for the Bullet Club this late into the night. Watching White and Hikuleo interact was a treat because they do everything by acting like they care for nothing. White teased a promo after the match … but threw the mic down and walked out. Sorry, Sunday crowd. Saturday got one.
8. Will Ospreay defeated Alex Zayne. Boy, I hate to say it, but clunky. Near the finish, I had my phone out for a hopeful post for the Twitter world, but Zayne missed the spot so much, I felt like it’d be mean if I posted it. You never really thought Zayne would win, but you did think this could be the show-stealer of the weekend and because of how sloppy some spots were, it just wasn’t. Zayne is still finding his feet after that quick WWE run, so let’s be kind. Ospreay, meanwhile, might be my biggest takeaway from the weekend, and that takeaway is that we all knew he was very good, but in person, he’s better than very great. I’ll have more in my McGuire’s Mondays on Monday (shameless plug, please read).
9. Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer defeated Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston in a Philadelphia Street Fight. It was clear this was going to be a PG street fight when Suzuki went to hit someone with a kendo stick early on and barely made contact. I’m not complaining – I’m all for the wrestlers staying safe at all costs – but if you are going to have a street fight in Philly at the old ECW Arena … meh? Anyway, there were some spots. When the action spilled to the back, the crowd got restless because at one point, the feed went out and truth be told, the video was hard to see from some spaces in the first place. After the match, Archer cut a promo saying he’s wrestling Kingston on Saturday on Dynamite (Kingston took the pin). Moxley was just kind of there — didn’t do too much, didn’t call too much attention. Kingston picked up a mic before he and Moxley left the ring saying, and I quote, “F YOU LANCE.” Or something like that.
McGuire’s Musings: If I’m picking the better night from the back-to-back tapings (see my report from Saturday night here), I’m picking night two, if only because night two was saddled with regularity. My point: You see the same production, ring and wrestlers one night, there will be a fun novelty to it all on night one. Ditch that, and stand these side by side, I think the second night had better matches and action – that takes nothing away from night one, though, because there was some very stuff in there, too. What matters the most to me? With all these multi-man matches coming up on Strong, it’s going to be a pain to keep up with it all, cover it all and write about it all … even though I already saw it in person.