By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped October 16-17 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Streamed November 6, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Alex Koslov and Matt Rehwoldt checked in to begin the show and ran down the card. This is the first night of New Japan Showdown 2021. The second introductory video package then aired…
1. David Finlay, Yuya Uemura, and Clark Connors vs. JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs, and Jorel Nelson. Danny Limelight sat in on commentary for the match. Uemura and Isaacs began the match and the two grappled a bit before Uemura took control with an arm-bar. That ended when Isaacs hit a knee and tagged in Nelson.
Uemura tagged in Finlay, who came off the top with a double-axe-handle on Nelson. Finlay landed a suplex and a chop that took Nelson to the ground. Coughlin then tagged in, much to the delight of the crowd. Coughlin landed a chop and a shoulder-tackle so Nelson tagged in Kratos. Coughlin hit some elbows, but Kratos stopped the surge with a punch. After a handful of seconds, Coughlin hit a chop you could hear in King Of Prussia. As a result, the crowd chanted “You f-ed up.”
The crowd was right because Kratos fired up and took control with some power moves. Kratos dead-lifted Coughlin for a vertical suplex and a two-count. Team Filthy posed over Coughlin in the middle of the ring. Coughlin eventually got to his feet and tried to slam Kratos, but it was not to be. Isaacs tagged in and worked a go-behind, but Coughlin returned the favor, and it turned into a German Suplex. Finlay then received the hot tag.
Finlay took out everyone on Team Filthy, hitting a European Uppercut on Isaacs. Uemura tagged in, firing up the crowd and hitting a series of elbows on Isaacs. Uemura hit a body-slam and a leg-drop for a two-count. Things broke down and Kratos landed a power-bomb on Finlay, but that led to Coughlin actually picking up Kratos for a body-slam. Uemura rolled up Isaacs for two very close near-falls. The West Coast Wrecking Crew then hit their finish on Uemura for the win.
JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs, and Jorel Nelson defeated David Finlay, Yuya Uemura, and Clark Connors via pinfall in 10:28.
After the match, Kratos and Coughlin roughed each other up, but were separated by both teams. A “F-you Kratos!” chant broke out…
McGuire’s Musings: While this wasn’t one of the more memorable matches they taped that weekend, this came across very good on television (and a big high five for the step up in production quality here over the tapings in Texas). While it only happened three weeks ago, I completely forgot about the Coughlin/Kratos angle and that was a lot of fun to re-live. Team Filthy is The Faction on NJPW Strong, so a win here made sense and everyone involved looked good. Coughlin, meanwhile, was and is on another level. His star is really beginning to shine and it’s a lot of fun to see. As a side note, I very much enjoyed the addition of Limelight on commentary. While it’s become old hat in places like WWE and AEW for wrestlers to sit in with the commentary team, NJPW should do this more to establish the personalities of its wrestlers. All I’ve known of Danny Limelight, the individual, is what I’ve seen in passing backstage moments at MLW tapings and that’s been very, very brief. After him sitting in here, though, I feel like I know that character 1,000 times more than I ever have or ever could.
2. El Phantasmo vs. Juice Robinson. After attempting a couple shoulder-blocks, Phantasmo hit an eye-poke and posed. Phantasmo then did some jumping-jacks after it looked like Robinson twisted his knee. Robinson came back with an inverted atomic drop and Phantasmo tried to call a timeout. In response, Robinson hit a high back-body-drop. Robinson hit a bunch of punches in the corner and that caused Phantasmo to fall face-first to the canvas.
Back on his feet, Phantasmo slapped Robinson in the face. Phantasmo landed a forearm. Robinson did the same and that knocked Phantasmo down. Phantasmo got up and hit another forearm. Robinson did the same and knocked Phantasmo down again. Phantasmo landed a spinning kick and the back-rake spots began. Phantasmo worked a side head-lock, eventually throwing Robinson to the canvas.
Robinson got to his feet and tried to fire up, but Phantasmo stopped the rally with a stomp on the foot and a double nipple-twister. Robinson punched Phantasmo and the two were down on the mat. After throwing Phantasmo into a corner, Robinson hit a cannonball for a two-count. Robinson landed a Full-Nelson Slam into a Senton for a two-count. Robinson lifted Phantasmo, but Phantasmo got out of it with a back-rake. After a missed leap-and-catch, Robinson picked Phantasmo up again and hit a gut-buster for a two-count.
Robinson went to the top, but Phantasmo caught him and hit a huracanrana from the top rope. Phantasmo landed a splash from the top for a razor-thin near-fall. Phantasmo landed a Styles Clash for another close near-fall. Phantasmo landed a knee to the head of Robinson and went for a One-Winged Angel, but Robinson got out. Still, Phantasmo shoved Robinson into the ref for a REF BUMP!!
Phantasmo went for a super-kick, but Robinson countered for the Pulp Friction and a near-fall from the ref, who was back up. Robinson then hit a lariat and something he’s calling the H-H Buster for the win.
Juice Robinson defeated El Phantasmo via pinfall in 13:51.
After the match, Robinson cut a promo on Moose, inviting Moose to come to San Jose and face him at Battle In The Valley. The Buddy Matthews (Murphy) vignette then aired. He’ll be at Battle In The Valley.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a lot of fun, and you’d think with a half-comedy match, nearly 14 minutes would be draining, but those two know how to walk that line better than most anyone else on the NJPW Strong roster. I got a kick out of the AJ Styles and Kenny Omega spots from ELP, and while I understand his back-rake bit might not be for everybody, it more often than not gets a chuckle out of me. The near falls toward the end were tremendous, and had me jumping out of my seat, even though I was in the building, knew the result and saw the match with my own two eyes. But that’s what happens when you have two very good wrestlers in the ring. That said, I don’t know if I could watch these guys work with each other once a week for the next year, but once every three months? Sign me up.
3. Will Ospreay and TJP vs. Clark Connors and Ren Narita. Connors and TJP started the match. TJP backed away and tagged in Ospreay, who asked for Narita and Narita tagged in. After teasing locking up, Ospreay flipped Narita off and rolled to the outside. TJP entered the ring and kicked Narita before slowing things down with a head-scissors. Narita countered into a head-scissors of his own. Narita went to a leg-lock, but TJP made it to the ropes for a break.
Connors tagged in and hit a series of chops on TJP. Narita tagged back in and landed a boot to Ospreay, who was on the apron. Connors tagged in, but before long, Ospreay rushed the ring to try and attack Connors and Narita, but the two hit a double-back-body-drop on Ospreay, who then rolled to the outside. Connors punched TJP a million times in the corner. TJP eventually spit water in Connors’ face and the heels took control, which featured one of the most vicious chops ever executed in wrestling from Ospreay to Narita on the outside of the ring.
Inside the ring, Ospreay hit a dropkick and pinned Connors for a two-count. Ospreay landed some chops on Connors and jawed at the crowd. TJP tagged in and TJP did the boot-lace spot on Connors’s face in the corner before hitting a running knee. TJP wrenched on Connors’s knee. TJP worked a side head-lock. Connors hit a shoulder tackle for a hope spot, but Ospreay ran in to stop that. Connors eventually landed a shoulder-block and tagged in Narita.
Narita hit a series of forearms on Ospreay. But Ospreay stopped it with a chop. Narita then slammed Ospreay and hit a half-nelson suplex for a two-count. Narita hit a brain-buster for a two-count. Ospreay hit Narita in the back of the head, but Connors and Narita countered everything into a double submission on both TJP and Ospreay, the latter of whom got to the ropes to break it up.
Connors tagged in and was the victim of a couple double-team moves, but Narita broke up the pin. Ospreay then missed a dive to the outside. Inside, Narita tagged in and fired up with a kick to TJP. Connors speared TJP and Narita hit his over-hook suplex, which was enough for the win.
Ren Narita and Clark Connors defeated Will Ospreay and TJP via pinfall in 13:26.
After the match, Narita jawed at Ospreay. TJP and Ospreay then attacked Narita and Connors. Ospreay threw the ref outside of the ring. Narita moved from a back-elbow attempt, however, and knocked Ospreay out of the ring. Narita then grabbed Ospreay’s IWGP World Championship. A “Ren Narita!” chant broke out. Narita grabbed a microphone and spoke in Japanese, saying he wasn’t interested in Ospreay’s fake belt. What he wants over him is a win. Narita finished by saying “Don’t underestimate the LA Dojo!” The episode ended with Narita sitting in the middle of the ring.
McGuire’s Musings: The result really did and really does shock me, but that’s in a good way. Rarely do we see the LA Dojo representatives come out with a win in these things, and not only is that what happened here, but it also came at the expense of a team with Will Ospreay on it, which makes it that much more shocking. Yes, this had a couple clunky moments (through the magic of video, I saw at least a couple kicks that missed by a mile), but in all, this was a good choice for a main event, especially considering the outcome. Also of note: TJP has really come into his own as this updated version of an arrogant heel. He’s becoming a low-key can’t-miss performer whenever he pops up. Also, let us not forget that Ren Narita and Clark Connors are going to be stars someday, too. There was a lot of good stuff here.
In all, this is one of the better episodes of NJPW Strong in the last few weeks. I wouldn’t say go out of your way to see one match specifically, but I will say go out of your way to see the whole episode. Getting back to three matches is a good call, and while some of the most recent Strong episodes have overstayed their welcome, this one didn’t. So, if you have a little more than an hour to spare, check this one out. It’s quality wrestling up and down the card with some entertainment thrown in, and, don’t forget, an upset victory to top it off. These Philly tapings are off to a good start.