12/18 NJPW Strong results: McGuire’s review of Tom Lawlor vs. Fred Rosser for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship, Rocky Romero, David Finlay, and Juice Robinson vs. Black Tiger, JR Kratos, and Royce Isaacs, and The DKC and Kevin Knight vs. Brogan Finlay and Jordan Clearwater

By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)

NJPW Strong
Taped November 15, 2021 in Long Beach, California at Riverside Municipal Auditorium
Streamed December 18, 2021 on New Japan World

The broadcast team of Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly checked in to begin the show and ran down the card. This is the third night of New Japan Detonation 2021…

1. Kevin Knight and The DKC vs. Jordan Clearwater and Brogan Finlay. Knight and Clearwater began by tying up. Knight worked a side head-lock. Clearwater responded with the same. After trying and failing at some shoulder-blocks, Clearwater landed one and tagged in Finlay. Knight hit Finlay with some forearms and uppercuts. The DKC tagged in, but before Knight left the ring, he shoulder-blocked Finlay.

The DKC went for a splash in the corner, but Finlay moved. Clearwater tagged in and the two worked over The DKC in a corner. Finlay tagged back in, landed an elbow and got a two-count. Clearwater tagged in and choked The DKC with his boot. The heels continuously double-teamed The DKC before Clearwater hit a back-drop for a two-count. Clearwater worked a chin-lock.

Clearwater ran at The DKC, but The DKC landed a one-legged dropkick and tagged in Knight. Finlay tagged in as well. Knight hit a bunch of European uppercuts, a body-slam and a standing frog splash for a two-count. Knight went for a Boston Crab, but Finlay made it to the ropes for a break. The DKC tagged in, but Clearwater interfered and gave the heels control. Finlay landed a slam and a good near-fall on The DKC.

Finlay hit a series of forearms, but Knight came back with his signature dropkick … but he kind of missed and it looked like he rolled his ankle. The DKC ran in, fired up and hit karate chops on Finlay. They resulted in a two-count for The DKC. Finlay hit a bunch of strikes, but The DKC landed a spinning back fist for a two-count. Finlay landed a crucifix bomb, but The DKC rolled into a submission and Finlay tapped out.

The DKC and Kevin Knight defeated Jordan Clearwater and Brogan Finlay via submission in 8:08.


McGuire’s Musings
: Ohhhhh, that missed dropkick from Knight was scary. I contend Knight has the best-looking dropkick in all of wrestling, but that was a tough break for him as it looked like his ankle rolled pretty severely. He appeared to walk to the back fine after the match, but you never know. Here’s hoping he’s OK. The match itself was good. I may have missed something, but I didn’t know part of Clearwater’s gimmick was that he’s good at trading stocks? And he’s “The Golden Boy?” Anyway, I continue to enjoy seeing The DKC grow and Finlay has looked great in his few Strong appearances. He’s such a natural in the ring, though that shouldn’t be a surprise, considering his lineage. What was a pleasant surprise, however, was seeing the Young Lions get a win.

2. Juice Robinson, David Finlay and Rocky Romero vs. JR Kratos, Black Tiger and Royce Isaacs
. Romero and Isaacs started the match. Black Tiger ran in and attacked Romero and then tagged in. Black Tiger landed a hard chop. Black Tiger clotheslined Romero over the top rope and the teams brawled on the outside. Inside the ring, Romero threw Black Tiger outside the ring and landed a tope suicida. That led to the teams continuing their brawl on the outside.

After a little while, Romero and Black Tiger wound up back in the ring. Romero tagged in Finlay and the two hit a series of double-team moves on Black Tiger. Robinson tagged in. Romero tagged back in. The three babyfaces took turns on Black Tiger. Romero eventually covered Black Tiger for a two-count. Romero went for an Irish Whip, but Black Tiger reversed it and the heels worked over Romero in their corner. Kratos tagged in and hit a vertical suplex on Romero.

Isaacs tagged in and Team Filthy posed over Romero. FinJuice ran in to break up the posing. Isaacs toyed with Romero, but Romero caught his arm and went for an arm-bar. Isaacs responded by lifting Romero for a one-arm power-bomb. Kratos tagged in and pinned Romero for a two-count. Romero tried to chop Kratos but Kratos no-sold it. Kratos chopped Romero and went for a splash, but Romero moved and tagged in Robinson. Robinson hit a series of jabs on Kratos. Robinson hit a dropkick and went for a body-slam, but Kratos blocked it. The two traded forearms in the middle of the ring. Before long, Robinson lifted Kratos, but Black Tiger ran in for the save.

Robinson tagged in Finlay. Robinson and Finlay picked up Kratos and went for a double bulldog, but Kratos pushed them off. FinJuice eventually landed a double flapjack on Kratos. FinJuice went for another double-team move, but Kratos countered with a sit-out power-bomb on Robinson. Black Tiger tagged in, but Finlay hit a spinning back suplex. Romero then tagged in and landed chops on Black Tiger. Romero hit the Forever Clotheslines on Black Tiger before Black Tiger moved and the three heels ran in to work over Romero.

Kratos landed a jumping forearm on Romero. Jorel Nelson ran in and hit Romero. Black Tiger landed a back-breaker on Romero for a close near-fall. Things broke down. Left in the ring was Romero and Black Tiger. Romero went for an arm-bar, but Black Tiger countered with a leg-lock. Romero fought his way out and landed a spinning neck-breaker for a two-count. Romero tried to follow that up, but Black Tiger countered into a Tombstone. Black Tiger then hit the Tiger Driver and that was it.

JR Kratos, Black Tiger and Royce Isaacs defeated Juice Robinson, David Finlay and Rocky Romero via pinfall in 14:05.

After the match, the heels kept working over their opponents.

McGuire’s Musings: This match had some really, really good near-falls. They had me at least twice with those exchanges between Black Tiger and Romero. Kelly laid it on thick that this Black Tiger is essentially an imposter, which isn’t what happened when he debuted in Philadelphia, so I’m curious to see what the reveal will be, whenever we get there. Clearly, Romero and Black Tiger aren’t done, and I’m happy about that because for a minute, it looked like Romero was going to get the win over Black Tiger and it made me question what all this Black Tiger stuff was for, but thankfully, the story doesn’t appear to be over. Also, Juice Robinson has to be one of the most entertaining characters in all of live wrestling. You can’t really ever make out what he’s yelling on the broadcast, but he always seems to be making people laugh in the building. A true art.

3. “Filthy” Tom Lawlor vs. Fred Rosser for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship
. Lawlor made his entrance first, which was sort of surprising. Rosser stomped to the ring with purpose, but Team Filthy got in his way before he could get to Lawlor. Team Filthy walked to the back, leaving Rosser and Lawlor alone to fight. Rosser slapped the hell out of Lawlor and Lawlor took Rosser down immediately. Before long, Rosser had Lawlor by the head, but Lawlor made it to the ropes for a break.

Lawlor went for Rosser’s leg, but Rosser blocked it and worked over Lawlor’s arm before Lawlor made it to the break. Rosser went for a single-leg takedown and that turned into a dragon-screw leg-whip. Rosser went back to Lawlor’s arm, but Lawlor backed Rosser into a corner. The two went back and forth before the referee tried to rip Rosser off Lawlor and Lawlor took advantage of that with a forearm. Lawlor went for a rear-naked choke, but Rosser took both of them through the ropes, which broke everything up.

Outside the ring, Rosser threw Lawlor into the barricade a bunch of times. Rosser used wrist tape to choke Lawlor. Rosser bit Lawlor on the top of the head. On the apron, Rosser tried to lift Lawlor, but Lawlor held onto the top rope and hit a low blow onto Rosser. Lawlor then dropped Rosser over the top of the guardrail. Lawlor clotheslined Rosser over the guardrail and the two spilled into the crowd. The two barely made it back into the ring at the count of 16.

In the ring, Lawlor hit a series of kicks to Rosser, who kept asking for more. Rosser eventually fired up and the two traded stiff-looking blows. Lawlor took Rosser over and landed a sliding lariat to Rosser’s back. Lawlor hit another one to Rosser’s front side. Lawlor went for a pin and Rosser kicked out at two. Back on their feet, the two traded more blows and Lawlor hit a bulldog on Rosser. Lawlor went for the leg, but Rosser countered into a roll-up for a two-count. Rosser went for his double-knees, but Lawlor countered into a double dragon-screw leg-whip.

With the two on their feet, Rosser and Lawlor traded more stiff blows. Rosser was getting the best of it, but Lawlor picked Rosser up and drove him down to the mat for a two-count. Lawlor landed a T-Bone Exploder for a two-count. Lawlor called for the choke, but Rosser slipped out and hit a bunch of forearms. Rosser followed that up with a bunch of axe-handles and lariats. Lawlor fired up, however, with his own set of forearms. The two went back and forth like this for a bit with Rosser getting the best of the exchange.

Rosser pulled Lawlor’s head onto the apron and tried to lift Lawlor for a suplex, but Lawlor turned that into a choke. Rosser fought his way out of it and catapulted Lawlor into the ring post before rolling him back into the ring. Rosser hit the double-knees, but then Lawlor tripped Rosser and went for a leg submission, but Rosser eventually fought his way out of it. Lawlor went for the choke again, but Rosser rolled out and the two traded blows again.

Lawlor went for the choke again, but Rosser rolled through for a hell of a near-fall. Rosser punched Lawlor in the head and hit a running kick for a two-count. Rosser lifted Lawlor and hit a running Death Valley Bomb. Rosser hit a clothesline and that resulted in a two-count. Rosser tried to lift Lawlor, but Lawlor countered with a choke attempt. Rosser countered that with a power-slam, but Lawlor got his boot on the rope to stop the count.

Rosser sunk in a cross-face chicken wing and Lawlor rolled across the ring a couple times to try and get to the ropes, eventually getting there for the break. Great stuff. “This ain’t over, MF-er,” Rosser said. Rosser hit a back suplex on the apron. Rosser ran off the apron for a leg-drop, but Lawlor caught him in a rear-naked choke on the outside. Rosser got to his feet, but Lawlor threw Rosser into the barricade. The two rushed to beat the 20-count at the last second and Lawlor executed the rear-naked choke on Rosser in the middle of the ring. Rosser passed out and that was it.

“Filthy” Tom Lawlor defeated Fred Rosser via ref stoppage to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship in 24:29.

After the match, Lawlor got on the microphone and waited to speak as the crowd chanted various things. Lawlor said at the end of the day, once again, there’s no doubt who the strongest is. Lawlor said he wasn’t surprised all the losers were cheering for Fred. Lawlor said he’s beaten legends, but he stopped what he was saying as he took in boos. Lawlor called Fred a pretender and said he was wondering who would be the next to challenge him. Team Filthy posed in the middle of the ring. Taylor Rust (or Rust Taylor)’s music hit and Rust made his way to the ring because he was once a member of Team Filthy. Rush and Lawlor hugged. Lawlor said Team Filthy is the top faction now that his boy Rust is back in town. Then, wouldn’t you know it, Rust attacked Lawlor. Rust posed to end the show.

McGuire’s Musings: The Lawlor/Rosser program was one of my three favorite programs in all of pro wrestling in 2021 and this match solidified Strong as the best hour of wrestling TV going today. I’m sad to see the story end (presumably), as these two had incredible chemistry both inside and outside the ring. As for this match specifically, I’m beyond happy they got the time to tell the story they told and even though he lost, I think Rosser walks away from this program looking infinitely better than he did before it all started. It was like watching the rebirth of a man who had been dying just to be born, week after week. There were some fantastic false finishes and a few tough bumps that amped up the intensity that much more. As for the Rust return, it kind of/sort of feels like it won’t be a long-term story with Lawlor – and that’s OK, considering how long Lawlor and Rosser have been dancing – but it does make me wonder who might someday take the belt off Filthy Tom. By the end of all this, Rosser felt like the perfect fit, so your guess is as good as mine.

In all, you have to watch this episode of Strong. I mean, even if you only follow the program on a cursory level. This is must-see. A rare title match (and a great one at that), plus a return that sets up the next chapter for the champion. The main event is worth your time and attention, alone. I’ll be by soon with my weekly audio review for Dot Net Members.

SPECIAL EPISODE

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