By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped October 16-17 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Streamed November 27, 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 final night of New Japan Showdown 2021. The second introductory video package then aired…
1. Jonathan Gresham vs. Alex Coughlin. Gresham extended a hand for a handshake to begin things and Coughlin obliged. The two traded takedowns and then locked up. After a break, Coughlin got a little chippy. Gresham sunk in a side headlock before landing a neck-breaker, which warranted a two-count. Gresham went back to the headlock.
Gresham went for a few roll-ups and pins, but only got two-counts. Gresham went back to the headlock. Coughlin eventually countered into a leg-scissors. Gresham tried to escape, but Coughlin picked him up and ultimately dead-lifted Gresham into a gut-wrench suplex. Coughlin worked a bear hug.
The bear hug turned into a waist-lock from Coughlin onto Gresham. Gresham tried to make it to the ropes, and eventually got there for a break. The two got to their feet and worked a test of strength. Coughlin got the better of it at first, but Gresham took back control and went for a back-slide, but Coughlin countered with a back-slide of his own and the two traded a million roll-ups for two-counts. Before long, Gresham rolled into a leg-scissor pin and that was enough for the victory.
Jonathan Gresham defeated Alex Coughlin via pinfall in 9:51.
After the match, Freshman extended his hand for another handshake, but Coughlin was pissed because he acted like the pin was a fluke. Coughlin eventually shook Gresham’s hand. Gresham left the ring and Coughlin posed in the ring to a cheering crowd.
McGuire’s Musings: If you are familiar with both guys’ work, you could close your eyes, imagine what this would be, and most likely come up with something 95 to 100 percent accurate. The match was great. Gresham is obviously one of the best in the world, but I’m telling you, Coughlin has such a bright future ahead of him. The crowd was very much behind him here and it’s not hard to recognize that his star continues to grow each week on Strong. If you like mat-based work, pure wrestling and century-old traditional pro wrestling tropes, this will be the best way you could spend 10 minutes on a Saturday night (or Sunday afternoon). As for me, I love both guys, so I can’t say enough great things about this match.
2. Fred Rosser, Karl Fredericks, Rocky Romero, Ren Narita and The DKC vs. Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs, Joel Nelson and Danny Limelight. Rosser and his team ran into the ring without introductions and everyone brawled. That resulted with Rosser isolating Lawlor in a corner, but Kratos stepped into the ring and stopped Rosser’s momentum. Lawlor beat down Rosser and Team Filthy posed over Rosser.
Kratos tagged in and hit a series of power moves on Rosser. Limelight then tagged in and with Nelson and Isaacs hit a bunch of triple-team moves. Rosser fired up and tried to get the tag, but Team Filthy ran in to knock the babyfaces off the ring apron. Rosser was thrown outside, where Kratos was waiting for him. Kratos went for a suplex, but Rosser got out of it and then took out the rest of Team Filthy on his own.
Rosser rolled into the ring and got the hot tag to Narita. Narita worked over Isaacs and Nelson. The DKC ran in and hit a series of karate chops. Narita landed an overhead suplex on Isaacs, but the pin attempt was broken up. Rosser’s team took turns beating up Isaacs. Fredericks went for the Manifest Destiny, but Isaacs got out of it and tagged in Limelight. Fredericks and Limelight traded blows before Fredericks hit a spine-buster and tagged in Romero.
Romero landed a bunch of chops. Limelight hit a snap-dragon on Romero. The DKC and Narita ran in after the West Coast Wrecking Crew ran in, too. Ultimately, Isaacs and Fredericks went back and forth with elbows. Lawlor ran in and slammed Fredericks and stood up to a spear from Rosser. Lawlor and Rosser brawled. Lawlor went for a suplex, but Rosser clubbed his way out. Kratos came into the ring, but Rosser clotheslined him over the top.
Lawlor tried to sink in his rear-naked choke, but Romero came in for the save. Romero landed a suplex and sunk in an arm-bar, but a man in a hoodie ran into the ring and beat up Romero with a kendo stick. That was enough for the disqualification.
Fred Rosser, Karl Fredericks, Rocky Romero, Ren Narita and The DKC defeated Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Royce Isaacs, Joel Nelson and Danny Limelight via disqualification in 10:51.
The masked man revealed himself to be the new Black Tiger. Team Filthy beat up Romero and Rosser. Lawlor cut a promo, but the crowd chanted “shut the f– up!” Lawlor heeled on the fans and said the reason why he is the one with the microphone is because he’s the one with the belt. Lawlor said he’s sick and tired of Romero and Rosser, the latter of whom he called Darren. Lawlor referenced how Romero’s past is coming back to end him and implied Black Tiger was there to haunt him. Lawlor said Rosser was the next losing challenger to his title and called Rosser Darren again.
McGuire’s Musings: The match itself wasn’t much of a match. There were no real tags and no real enforcement of rules, which is why it felt odd that the thing ended via a disqualification. But we get a couple things coming out of it. One, the official announcement of Lawlor vs. Rosser for the Strong Openweight Championship. Two, the insertion of Black Tiger into this program. It was a tough weekend for Rosser, as he spent the first night of the tapings getting his hair cut and the second night getting beat down by Team Filthy while the bulk of his team essentially ran away. Either way, I’m looking forward to Lawlor vs. Rosser and NJPW has done a great job building this feud, to the point where I could legitimately see Rosser being the one to take the belt off Lawlor. It’s some of the best long-term story-telling that pro wrestling has going right now.
Gabriel Kidd made his entrance to cut a promo inside the ring. Koslov noted how Kidd was stuck in Japan throughout the pandemic. Kidd said he would be in Riverside for NJPW Detonation and called out Jonathan Gresham. Gresham walked out in street clothes while Rehwoldt referenced a “very emotional speech” from Kidd, but he did not see the “very emotional speech” from Kidd. Kidd said he had a lot of respect for Gresham, but if he thought he could out-wrestle a British wrestler, he’d have to watch more Steve Grey tapes to make it happen.
Gresham took the mic and said he has no clue who Kidd is. Gresham said that’s because he doesn’t watch NJPW. Gresham said Kidd could be better than Coughlin and accepted his challenge. Gresham said for so many years, he didn’t get opportunities because of how he looks. Gresham said he worked hard to become one of the best pro wrestlers in the world. Gresham said when they get to LA, Kidd will step into the ring with the best professional wrestler in the world and extended his hand for a handshake. Kidd shook his hand. Kidd ended by saying it’s been a hard year for everyone and if anyone is going through anything, he encourages them to speak to someone.
McGuire’s Musings: I was wondering how they’d present this and the result was a little confusing. In person, this promo went a good 10-15 minutes and Kidd spent the first 75 percent of it talking about his mental health struggles. And when Rehwoldt made his comment about a “very emotional speech,” he wasn’t lying. The problem? We didn’t actually see that part of the promo here. Weird. Anyway, Kidd vs. Gresham should be good and I’ll echo Kidd’s words, especially with it being the holiday season: Don’t forget you’re not alone and if you need someone, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
3. Chris Dickinson, Brody King and Daniel Garcia vs. “The Stray Dog Army” Barrett Brown, Bateman and Misterioso. The crowd was all types of pumped up for Garcia. Dickinson and Brown began the match with Dickinson getting the best of it with a shoulder-block. Garcia tagged in and the two hit stereo dropkicks on Brown. Garcia worked a chin-lock.
King tagged in and stomped on Brown. Brown got to his feet and tried to fight back, but his blows didn’t register and King chopped the life out of him. Brown tagged in Misterioso after Bateman interfered to stop the momentum and Misterioso went for a springboard moonsault which resulted in a cover on King. Bateman tagged in and Brown mistakenly hit Bateman. Dickinson tagged in and worked over Brown with suplexes.
Dickinson landed a missile dropkick from the top rope and got a two-count on Bateman. Garcia tagged in and hit a series of moves on Bateman. Before long, Misterioso, Brown and Bateman were in a corner and Garcia worked them all over at once. Garcia hit a suplex on Bateman, but Brown broke up the pinfall attempt. Dickinson tagged in and the three triple-teamed Bateman while King sank in a Boston Crab on Bateman. Dickinson and Garcia worked submissions on their three opponents in the middle of the ring. Bateman got to the ropes to break it all up.
With the illegal men outside the ring, Bateman hit a driver on King and the Stray Dogs took control. Everyone ended up outside the ring, except for King and Brown and King threw Brown outside onto everyone else. Back in the ring, Dickinson, Garcia and King hit triple power-bomb drivers, posed and got the win.
Chris Dickinson, Brody King and Daniel Garcia defeated “The Stray Dog Army” Barrett Brown, Bateman and Misterioso via pinfall in 8:09.
McGuire’s Musings: Not much to see here, if we’re being honest. The outcome was never in doubt (poor Stray Dog Army), and this felt more like a vehicle to get King, Dickinson and Garcia on the show than it did anything else. Dickinson, Garcia and King are great, but there just isn’t a lot of heat on Bateman and his boys. That said, King throwing Brown outside, Razor’s Edge-style, was wild.
4. Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston vs. Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer in a Philadelphia Street Fight. Things began with Archer and Kingston brawling on the outside while Suzuki and Moxley brawled inside the ring. Archer found a kendo stick and hit Moxley with it a few times. Kingston came in for the save and hit Archer with the stick. Suzuki and Kingston faced off in the middle of the ring and traded chops. Suzuki eventually hit a forearm and Kingston sold it amazingly.
Suzuki picked up the kendo stick and hit Kingston in the head with it. Moxley ran into the ring and bit Suzuki before throwing him to the outside of the ring. Suzuki grabbed an orange cone, hit Moxley and dragged Moxley backstage. Backstage, a camera showed all four guys fighting and brawling until they all fought outside the 2300 arena. Archer and Suzuki double-teamed Moxley and Archer lawn-darted Moxley into a truck.
Kingston threw a cinder block, but Archer moved. Kingston and Archer made their way back to the ring. Kingston low-blowed Kingston with the kendo stick. Suzuki then grabbed the stick and hit Kingston with it a bunch of times. Archer choked Kingston with a dustpan. Suzuki went for the Gotch-style piledriver, but Kingston blocked it. As a result, Archer and Suzuki continued to pulverize Kingston.
Moxley reappeared, bringing a door with him as he walked down the aisle. Moxley grabbed a sign from the crowd and the sign read “Mox use my sign!” Tearing the paper off, the sign was actually a stop sign. Moxley hit Archer with the sign. Back in the ring, Moxley hit Archer with the kendo stick. Moxley brought the door into the ring. Moxley lifted Archer, but Suzuki ran in for the save. Moxley dropkicked Archer through the door and Koslov said Archer just went through the “forbidden door.” Funny.
Suzuki pulled Moxley to the outside and Archer hit a full-nelson slam on Kingston. Kingston fired up and hit a DDT for a two-count. Suzuki ran in and choked Kingston before hitting a punch. Moxley broke up a piledriver attempt. Archer hit his finisher on Kingston, slamming him onto a trash can. That got his team the win.
Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer defeated Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston in a Philadelphia Street Fight via pinfall in 14:22.
After the match, Kingston cut a promo on Kingston, saying the beatdown was for disrespecting Suzuki, among other things. Archer talked about the AEW Eliminator Tournament. Suzuki took the mic and said he taught Kingston, playing to the crowd, hit Kingston with the microphone and left the ring. Kingston threw a fit to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: This came off a lot better on television than it did in person and that’s probably because the backstage bit, which fell flat for the live crowd. It’s a high bar to meet if you bill something as a Philly street fight at the ECW Arena, and I’m not so sure that bar was met here, but it was a fun brawl nonetheless. Kingston and Moxley losing was a mild surprise, if only because it kind of feels like Moxley never loses anymore, but they protected him here by pinning Kingston (who, for that matter, takes more losses than he should, in my opinion). Do they run this back someday? The series is tied, I think, and the program ending with Archer and Suzuki going over feels odd. Only time will tell.
At the end of the day, this was a good episode of Strong, but not the best of the Philadelphia tapings, to which we now say goodbye. Gresham vs. Coughlin is the one to see if you’re going to see one of the matches this week. The editing for the Gabriel Kidd promo was suspect and Fred Rosser had an outlandishly unfortunate weekend in Philly, thanks to Team Filthy. I’m intrigued to see where all this goes next. There could be a lot of fun things on the horizon.