By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped October 16-17 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Streamed November 20, 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 third night of New Japan Showdown 2021. The second introductory video package then aired…
1. Juice Robinson and David Finlay vs. Kevin Knight and Yuya Uemura. Finlay and Knight began the match by feeling each other out and locking up. Knight worked a wrist-lock on Finlay. Finlay turned it around and went for a cover, but Knight immediately got out of it. The two locked up again and Knight worked a side head-lock. Finlay landed a shoulder-block, but Knight got up, began a wrist-lock and tagged in Uemura.
Robinson tagged in and faced a series of arm-drags. Uemura sunk in an arm-bar. Knight tagged in and the two hit a double hip-toss on Robinson. After a series of exchanges, Robinson hit a Senton on Knight and tagged in Finlay. Finlay hit a double axe-handle from the top. Finlay hit a side suplex and tagged in Robinson, who worked over Knight’s arm. Robinson landed a dropkick and tagged in Finlay.
Finlay hit a dropkick and posed to the crowd. Knight went for his dropkick, but Finlay stalled that, though it ended up with a backslide for a two-count. Robinson tagged in and Knight again went for his dropkick, but Robinson caught him and worked a Boston Crab. Knight made it to the ropes for a break. Robinson counted to five in Japanese and then Knight finally hit his dropkick, which also happens to be the best in wrestling.
Knight hit another one of his dropkicks on Finlay. Uemura received the hot tag and came in to clean house. Uemura hit forearms on both guys before firing up and getting the crowd excited. Finlay and Uemura traded strikes and it all ended up with a belly-to-back suplex from Uemura onto Finlay. Uemura rolled Finlay into an arm-bar, but Robinson came in to try and break it up. Robinson landed a forearm on Uemura, but Uemura wouldn’t let go of the hold. Robinson spit in Uemura’s face, but Knight ran in and put Robinson in a Boston Crab. Finlay made it to the ropes for a break.
Knight tagged in and Finlay hit an elbow before tagging in Robinson. Knight landed a back-breaker on Robinson and then landed a shoulder-tackle. Knight hit a body-slam and a standing frog-splash for a two-count. Robinson and Knight traded chops, but Finlay ran in to hit a double slam on Knight. FinJuice hit their Russian leg-sweep/running kick combo, but Knight kicked out. Robinson lifted Knight, but Knight rolled it into a pin attempt for a great near-fall. Finlay then hit an elbow onto Knight, who was draped over Robinson’s knee and that got them the win.
Juice Robinson and David Finlay defeated Kevin Knight and Yuya Uemura via pinfall in 12:53.
McGuire’s Musings: The was a tiny bit disappointing on TV if only because NJPW turns down the house audio and Juice constantly told the story of Knight’s dropkick – and landing it – in person. Juice was also wildly entertaining. In fact, this was one of my favorite matches of the weekend tapings because Juice was so chatty here, going to pains to point out how great Knight’s dropkick was to the live crowd. I understand the commentary team tried to tell it, but it just didn’t have the fire Juice gave it in person. Anyway, Knight and Uemura looked great, and that was obviously the point. FinJuice is a lot of fun and I have to wonder about the work they could do if only they had a bigger platform (and no, Impact is not a bigger platform). This was a bunch of fun and I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a second to remind everyone that Kevin Knight has the best dropkick in all of pro wrestling.
2. Lio Rush and Ariya Daivari vs. Chris Bey and El Phantasmo. Daivari and Bey began the match with Bey taking control with a head-lock and a shoulder-block. Bey posed. Daivari responded by working Bey’s arm and shoulder. Rush tagged in and hit a double-stomp onto the arm of Bey. Bey and rush worked a hell of a sequence that landed with Rush hitting double-boots to Bey and getting a two-count. Rush went to the second rope, but Bey caught Rush and hit a spine-buster for a two-count.
Bey grabbed Daivari’s Magic Carpet, hit Rush with it, gave it to ELP and ELP wiped his butt with it. The heels worked over Rush in their corner. Phantasmo eventually drove his feet into Rush’s groin. Bey tagged in and hit a belly-to-back suplex for a one-count on Rush. Bey lifted Rush, but Rush rolled out and tagged in Daivari, who hit a forearm and a neck-breaker on Bey. Daivari hit some hard chops on ELP. Daivari went for a springboard move on Bey, but Phantasmo caught Daivari and threw Daivari into the guard rail outside the ring.
Back in the ring, ELP tagged in, jumped off the top rope for … the back-rake. The crowd chanted “You sick f—!”. Bey and ELP then did all of the back-rake spots one can imagine. Phantasmo draped the Magic Carpet on the top rope and they both did the back-rake spot on the carpet. Daivari tried to fight back, but the two worked a nipple-twister. Eventually, Daivari and Bey went for cross-body blocks and they hit each other at the same time.
ELP and Rush tagged in and Rush attacked Phantasmo. Rush landed a Falcon Arrow for a two-count. Rush went for the Come Up, but ELP caught him and Bey jumped off the top and the heels got a two-count. Bey hit an elbow and went for a splash between the ropes, but Daivari moved and Bey hit ELP. Daivari hit his Magic Carpet Ride to everyone on the outside. There was a series of splashes and Rush went for the Come Up, but hit Daivari instead. Bey then landed a spinning knee on Daivari as a result, and that was good enough for the win.
Chris Bey and El Phantasmo defeated Lio Rush and Ariya Daivari via pinfall in 13:11.
McGuire’s Musings: Lio Rush is so good. And count me among the few who get a kick out of the dumb back-rake spots that ELP has perfected, but, well, I have no excuse. Adding a tag partner (or in this case, Bey) makes it that much more fun. Yes, I know. Not popular. The bigger story coming out of this for me was Daivari. What do you think happens with him? He can work. He can work really well. But he had a few spots on this NJPW weekend and then showed up in AEW last week, but to my knowledge doesn’t have a deal with anyone. So … someone give the guy a contract? He’s certainly worth it.
3. Clark Connors vs. TJP. Connors took control early, but TJP sunk in a head-scissors to gain the edge. Connors hit some chops to try and get back control, but TJP rolled to the outside to slow things down. Back in the ring, the two locked up, but Connors went for a head-scissors of his own. TJP eventually escaped and did his Spiderman spot in the middle of the ropes. Connors didn’t fall for it, however, and kept his offense going.
The action spilled outside and Connors hit a bunch of chops and threw a bottle of water onto TJP. Connors fired up the crowd. TJP rolled Connors into the ring, but TJP grabbed a dragon-screw leg-whip on Connors as Connors tried to get back into the ring. TJP tried to Face Wash Connors, but Connors tried to get out of it. TJP responded by working Connors’s leg and shoulder. Connors tried to fire up, but TJP kept working over Connors’s leg.
Connors eventually fought back with a spear and the two worked on the apron before TJP rammed Connors into the ring post. TJP sunk in a leg submission over the top turnbuckle. Connors was in pain on the outside. Back in the ring, TJP rolled into a splash for a two-count. TJP worked a submission and mocked the crowd. Ultimately, Connors broke the hold with a slam.
Connors hit a bunch of chops on TJP in a corner. Connors hit a snap-powerslam for a two-count. TJP came back with a tornado DDT and TJP went for his Face Wash spot. Connors countered with a shoulder-block. Connors then worked a Face Wash of his own. TJP landed a dropkick to Connors’s leg to slow things down and the two traded chops. TJP ultimately sunk in a sharp-shooter. Connors made it to the ropes for a break.
TJP stomped on Connors’s leg and climbed to the top. Connors popped up and punched TJP to stagger him. TJP landed a leg-breaker from the top and hit a Mamba Splash for a good near-fall. While ether two ran the ropes, Connors a pair of spears for a good two-count. Connors picked up TJP, but TJP rolled out. The two traded roll-ups and that ended with TJP rolling Connors up while holding onto the ropes for a win.
TJP defeated Clark Connors via pinfall in 16:40.
The show ended with TJP posing up the ramp and Connors selling the leg injury inside the ring.
McGuire’s Musings: They told a really good – and dare I say great – story with TJP being Connors’s tag partner in the tournament that NJPW Strong had a bunch of months ago. That, combined with TJP’s heel turn, made this intriguing, but only if you’ve kept up with the NJPW World for a good while now. All that aside, this was the best match of the night, even if it went a few minutes too long. TJP is really establishing himself as someone easy to root against and Connors is really establishing himself as a star that deserves to be pushed to the moon sooner than later.
In all, this was a good episode of Strong. It was probably the most underwhelming of the Philly tapings, but I say that only because I was there (which, I’m sure, you’re tired of hearing about). The card surprised me this week because I couldn’t find a match that was main event worthy, but Connors vs. TJP worked fine enough. I think next week is the final episode from Philadelphia. Wait until you see what’s coming.