By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped October 16-17 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Streamed November 13, 2021 on New Japan World
The show opened with a Chris Dickinson video, which was refreshing. He called Suzuki a trailblazer and that his match with him will be a dream match for Dickinson. Dickinson said his match could be something that proves Dickinson belongs, he said. Dickinson said he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what Suzuki has accomplished. Dickinson then said he’d “f— Suzuki up”…
McGuire’s Musings: I really like it when Strong starts episodes off like this. They did something similar with Fred Rosser not that long ago and it was very good. First, it adds another wrinkle to everything, and second, it turns the heat up on matches that deserve more heat. Suzuki vs. Dickinson is a perfect example of a matchup that deserves some extra shine.
The broadcast team of Alex Koslov and Matt Rehwoldt checked in to begin the show and ran down the card. This is the second night of New Japan Showdown 2021. The second introductory video package then aired…
1. Ariya Daivari vs. Alex Zayne. Rehwoldt noted how he called a lot of Daivari’s matches in WWE and my God the flashbacks to 205 Live nearly made me unplug my computer. The two locked up to begin the match, but Daivari took control with a wrist-lock. Zayne eventually countered by whipping Daivari over, but Daivari came back at him. The two then had some miscommunication, which resulted in Zayne landing a splash for a two-count and sinking in a head-lock.
Daivari worked his way out and ultimately landed a dropkick to Zayne’s head. Daivari tied up Zayne and hit a series of chops on Zayne’s chest. Daivari landed a draping leg-drop for a two-count. Daivari hit more chops in a corner and then worked Zayne’s arms and back. Daivari hit a full-nelson DDT for a two-count. Daivari worked a neck submission before Zayne tried to counter into a backslide. Everything ended up with a double-clothesline.
Back on their feet, Zayne hit some punches and a clothesline. Zayne hit some kicks and a flipping leg drop. Zyane then hit a chop and put Daivari on the second rope. Zayne ran into a boot, but that just led to the two exchanging chops. Daivari caught Zayne with a neck-breaker and a hammerlock DDT for a two-count. Daivari tried to set up Zayne for his hammerlock lariat, but Zayne countered by throwing Daivari outside, at which point Zayne hit a springboard moonsault.
Back in the ring, Zayne landed a slam that cannot be explained, even with Excalibur’s vocabulary. Daivari landed a super-kick and his hammerlock lariat before climbing to the top for the Magic Carpet Ride. Daivari missed it, though, and Zayne hit the Taco Driver for the pinfall win.
Alex Zayne defeated Ariya Daivari via pinfall in 10:48.
After the match, Zayne extended his hand and Daivari resisted at first, but ultimately, the two shook hands. Backstage, Daivari cut a promo saying that things didn’t go the way he wanted them to go. Daivari said he was distracted because people kept staring at him in the locker room. He said he realized that’s because he used to work in WWE. Daivari said he was just the product of his environment. Daivari said he wants to change and he wants to prove that he can change. He said the NJPW environment can help start that change in Daivari.
McGuire’s Musings: I don’t know how else to put this, and I can’t stress enough that this is, in no way, disrespect to Alex Zayne. But Alex Zayne did not have a good outing in Philadelphia. If memory serves, his match with Will Ospreay featured a pretty glaring botch and my guess is that said botch led to that match being featured on the YouTube series and not on Strong. And there was an early bad spot here where Daivari had to position himself to make sure Zayne made it to the next sequence. So, all love to Alex Zayne, but, man, it could have gone better for him in Philly. Anyway, the match was fine. Good enough, as some might say. I’m still confused as to why AEW wouldn’t let Daivari use his carpet on Rampage, but I will also say that I’m kind of digging this resurgence for Daivari, who is low-key reinventing himself. I was hoping for more when I first saw this match, then I was hoping for more when I saw the thing air on television, but both times left me wanting more.
2. Rocky Romero and Fred Rosser vs. Tom Lawlor and Danny Limelight. Romero and Limelight began the match. After Limelight backed Romero into the ropes and slapped him, Romero came back with an arm-bar, but Lawlor pulled Limelight outside the ring. Back in the ring, Romero hit a dropkick to Limelight’s head, which was draping from the second rope. Lawlor tagged in and rammed Romero into the corner. Lawlor worked Romero’s arm with a hammerlock.
Lawlor worked a creative ankle lock on Romero and tagged in Limelight. Limelight worked over Romero’s leg and tagged in Lawlor, who kept doing the same. Lawlor sunk in another pretzel-leg submission, but Romero got to the ropes for a break. Romero tagged in, hit a splash and danced. Lawlor tagged back in and hit some forearms. Romero eventually rolled to the outside and Limelight danced over him.
Rosser, meanwhile, stormed the ring and started punching Lawlor, but Limelight attacked Rosser and the heels posed before kicking Rosser to the outside. Lawlor then hit a series of strikes on Romero inside the ring. Lawlor worked another leg submission, but Romero countered into an arm-bar. Limelight ran in, only to kick Romero and Rosser ran into to drop a leg-drop on Lawlor. Romero finally got the hot tag and Limelight cane in.
Rosser hit a bunch of strikes on Limelight back and forth. Rosser was on the top rope and that resulted in Rosser going for a Razor’s Edge, but Limelight countered into a roll-up that warranted a two-count. Limelight went for a kick, but Rosser countered and picked up Rosser. Lawlor then ran in and Romero took care of Limelight while Rosser hit a gut-buster and a kick to the side of Lawlor’s face for a good near-fall.
Lawlor locked in a sleeper-hold on Rosser, but Rosser leaned back onto Lawlor and that resulted in a fluke pinfall on behalf of Rosser.
Rocky Romero and Fred Rosser defeated Tom Lawlor and Danny Limelight via pinfall in 11:32.
After the match, Danny Limelight reached under the ring to grab scissors. Romero came back into the ring to help out, but the rest of Team Filthy ran in to take out Romero. The West Coast Wrecking Crew and JR Kratos beat everyone down while Lawlor choked Rosser out. Lawlor grabbed the scissors and cut Rosser’s hair. Lawlor put Rosser’s hair in his mouth and ate it, to which the crowd responded “You sick f–!”
McGuire’s Musings: I thought this was going to be a main event of a Strong episode because of the post-match angle. The crowd was hot for this in person and there was a lot of reaction to Lawlor eating Rosser’s hair. The match itself was pretty good, with Romero working the bulk of it and Rosser coming into the fold as a hero – and even getting the official win! – only to be viciously attacked afterward and ultimately losing his ‘fro. This sets up Rosser vs. Lawlor, which ought to be very good. Rosser has come so far and he absolutely deserves to be in the main event picture on a television program like this.
3. “Switchblade” Jay White vs. Fred Yehi. Tiger Hattori joined in on commentary. The two began with a series of chain moves, but Yehi took White to the ground, which slowed things down. Yehi went for his finisher immediately and White rolled to the outside. In the ring, White landed a series of kicks and chops on Yehi in the corner. Yehi fought back, however, and White retreated to the ropes to stop momentum.
Yehi invited White to chop him, and White did just that. Multiple times. White squared up and offered the same invite, but White kicked Yehi and attacked Yehi. The action spilled outside, where White drove Yehi into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Yehi slammed White and kicked him multiple times. Yehi went for a chop, but White hit a suplex that took Yehi over the top rope.
Back in the ring, White hit a belly-to-back suplex for a two-count. White hit a chop and a chop block to take Yehi down. White worked a chin-lock. Yehi worked his way out and landed an Exploder to take control. Yehi landed a bunch of knees onto White’s chest. Yehi kept working kicks and went for a suplex, but White elbowed out. As a result, Yehi hit a chop and sunk in an abdominal stretch. White got out of it by gouging the eyes.
White hit a neck-breaker and a DDT to take control. White landed a spinning suplex for a two-count. Yehi landed a tough back-fist and Yehi sunk in a sleeper hold. Yehi hit a German Suplex. Yehi hit a brain-buster for a nice near-fall. Yehi sunk in the Koji Clutch. White made it to the ropes for a break.
With both guys on their feet, Yehi hit a chop and went for another one, but White landed a half-nelson suplex as a counter. White then hit the Bladerunner and that was enough for the win.
“Switchblade” Jay White defeated Fred Yehi via pinfall in 12:47.
After the match, White grabbed the microphone. The crowd chanted for White. White yelled “Welcome to the U.S. Of J.” White said he came a long way. White said he’s been on a U.S. Of J. tour and there were people from Impact and AEW and Ring Of Honor that he wrestled. He called out Wheeler Yuta and Danny Garcia. White said he is opening the door on NJPW Strong, saying he will take on anybody from any company. White called himself the number one asset in all of pro wrestling and someone who single-handedly sold out Madison Square Garden. White said he was the real belt collector. White said before anyone steps in against him, there’s something he has to take care of first, and that’s Ishii, which happened on the same night this episode aired. That’s smart booking.
McGuire’s Musings: I don’t know, man. On a lot of levels, there’s Jay White, and there’s everybody else. This match with Yehi was one of my top two of the weekend tapings and that promo was without question my favorite of that weekend, and both translated perfectly into television. White gave Yehi so much – and I mean so, so much – that you can tell Yehi either has the respect of everyone backstage or Yehi is positioned to have a hell of a push soon. Whichever one is the truth – or even both – would be fine with me. This was a great match. If you got 15 minutes, take this one in. If you have 20, stick around for White’s promo. Also, if this open challenge sticks, let’s buckle in because White working with all these potential challengers could be awfully good.
4. Minoru Suzuki vs. Chris Dickinson. Hattori was on commentary for this as well. The crowd chanted “Holy Shit!” while the two felt each other out. Dickinson went for the leg and worked a leg lock, but Suzuki taunted him. Dickinson worked a head-lock, but Suzuki worked his way out for a leg lock of his own. This resulted in the two getting back to their feet.
The two worked a test of strength and then went into some mat wrestling. Suzuki worked an arm-bar but Dickinson got to his feet and backed Suzuki into a corner. Back in the middle of the ring, Suzuki hit a chop and Dickinson returned the favor. The two did the chop-trading spot and both periodically laughed. Dickinson got the better of it as he backed Suzuki into the corner, but Suzuki caught Dickinson’s arm and worked a cross arm-breaker in the ropes.
The action spilled outside and Suzuki grabbed a chair. The referee grabbed the chair and took it away from him. Suzuki drove Dickinson into the ring post. As the ref was counting Dickinson out, Suzuki stopped the count and shook the ref’s wrists. Suzuki backed away in a fun spot. Dickinson rolled his way back in, but Suzuki worked a series of arm submissions. Dickinson made it to the ropes for a break.
Suzuki kept working Dickinson’s arm. Dickinson eventually tried to take back control with a German Suplex. Dickinson hit a dragon-screw leg-whip and that turned into an STF. Suzuki made it to the ropes for a break. Dickinson hit some kicks to Suzuki’s legs and and went for another dragon-screw, but Suzuki countered into an arm-breaker. Dickinson made it to the ropes for the break. Suzuki hit a kick on Dickinson, but Dickinson laughed, so Suzuki did it again. And again. And again. And again. And again.
The last time he tried, Dickinson caught him and hit a chop. The two then traded chops. That trade got awfully intense. Dickinson whiffed on a few, but how could you blame him. Out of nowhere, Dickinson hit a brain-buster for a close two-count. Dickinson went for some more kicks, but Suzuki countered with a rear-naked-choke. Dickinson got back to his feet and tried to work his way out, which he did. As a result, Suzuki hit a bunch of forearms, but Dickinson fought back. Ultimately, Suzuki hit a series of chops and slaps and, of course, the Gotch pile-driver.
Minoru Suzuki defeated Chris Dickinson via pinfall in 18:58.
After the match, Suzuki took the microphone and called out Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston. Suzuki then directed “f— you” to Moxley and Kingston. That closed the show.
McGuire’s Musings: This one was actually better than I remembered. And the post-match promo from Suzuki was so much fun. Dickinson looked great in defeat and clearly had/still has so much respect for Suzuki. This was the worthy main event on a card that I thought three of the four matches could main event. Suzuki understands exactly who he is and exactly what he does and that’s an outrageously valuable virtue. Dickinson, meanwhile, was kind of the same thing – the opponent who would fight and fight and fight until he couldn’t fight anymore. Go out of your way to see this episode. It’s a packed weekend of great pro wrestling, but there are matches here that will stand out among all the greatness that went down. NJPW Strong continues to be worth everybody’s time and attention.