2/5 NJPW Strong results: McGuire’s review of Clark Connors vs. TJP, “Roppongi Rush” Rocky Romero and Lio Rush vs. “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson, and Yuya Uemura vs. Brody King

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

NJPW Strong
Taped January 15, 2022, in Seattle, Washington, at Washington Hall
Streamed February 5, 2022 on New Japan World

The opening video aired before Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov checked in to run down the card. We are on The New Beginning USA Tour. Koslov appeared skeptical of Riccaboni and was wearing a track jacket.

1. Yuya Uemura vs. Brody King. The two began by locking up and King pushed Uemura to the mat. Uemura tried a chop, but King no-sold it and worked a head-lock. King found himself on top of Uemura and reached back for a punch, but stopped himself and let Uemura up. Uemura tried to shoulder-block King, but King never moved. Uemura hit an elbow, which led to a zero-count.

On their feet, Uemura landed a bunch of elbows to King’s head. Things changed when King shoulder-blocked Uemura to the mat and followed that up with a Senton. King earned a two-count. King hit one of his signature chops that’s still echoing on the east coast. King threw Uemura to the outside of the ring and worked Uemura in every corner of the guardrail.

Back in the ring, the two traded forearms before King lifted Uemura for a body-slam. King landed a splash for a two-count and then worked a neck vice. King hit a series of forearms to Uemura’s chest and that warranted a close near-fall. On their feet, King hit a series of strikes, but Uemura landed an impressive drop-kick to slow things down.

Uemura hit another drop-kick, this time in a corner. Uemura went to lift King, but King was having none of that. Uemura landed a double-chop that echoed and actually lifted King for a back suplex and a good near-fall. Uemura went to lift King again, but King countered with a head-butt and a bear hug. King landed a snap pile-driver for a great 2.9 count. King lifted Uemura for the Gonzo Bomb, but Uemura countered with a series of roll-ups that only got him some two-counts. Uemura ran at King, but King chopped the hell out of him.

Uemura rolled King into an arm-bar, but King made it to the ropes for a break. Uemura tried to lift King again, but King countered with forearms. Uemura fired back with forearms of his own. Uemura ran at King, but King hit a lariat, a Gonzo Bomb and that was it.
Brody King defeated Yuya Uemura via pinfall.
McGuire’s Musings: Oh, wow. Hey, there. Wow. We haven’t seen an opener this good on Strong in months, and that’s not to say there haven’t been some other pretty good matches to open this show every week. But this match utterly made Uemura. I couldn’t believe some of these spots, let alone the amount of offense King gave Uemura, and above all else, Uemura proved he can take a stiff beating from a stiff worker and be OK. Props to King, too, for selling his ass off, because that’s not something King does every week, no matter what promotion he’s competing in. The crowd chanted “Yuya” as Uemura got up to leave the ring and the chant was well-deserved. This match had something for everyone, so if you have 15 minutes for one match this week, this is the match to watch. I can’t imagine the upcoming other two matches in this episode outshining it, but never say never.

2. Rocky Romero and Lio Rush vs. Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson. The West Coast Wrecking Crew attacked Romero and Rush to jumpstart the match. Isaacs suplexed Romero after holding him for what felt like an hour before posing with his partner. Nelson tagged in and worked over Romero’s back before tagging Isaacs back in. Before long, Romero and Isaacs traded blows with Romero getting the best of the exchange. The pair exchanged chops.

Nelson tagged in and the two went for a double-team move, but Romero countered with a double-rana. It didn’t change much, however, because the WCWC kept isolating Romero. Nelson ripped the padding off a corner and tried to hit Romero with it, but the ref stopped him. Eventually, Romero landed a tornado DDT and got the hot tag to Rush.

Rush hit the ring and landed a flurry of moves on Nelson. Rush landed a high splash on Nelson for a two-count. Rush hit a series of kicks on Nelson. Nelson responded by hitting a double-knees on Rush, who was in a corner. Isaacs tagged in, but Rush kept control over both guys. Romero tagged in and Rush and Romero landed the Forever Clotheslines. That ended when Nelson cut off Rush. The WCW hit a series of double-team moves that climaxed with a German Suplex and a two-count.

Rush ran in and sent Nelson outside before leaping over the top rope onto him. Romero rolled Isaacs up for a two-count. The same happened with a back-slide. Isaacs kneed Romero in the jaw. Isaacs ran at Romero, but Romero moved and Isaacs hit the exposed corner. As a result, Romero rolled into an arm bar and Isaacs tapped out.

Rocky Romero and Lio Rush defeated Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson via submission in 10:52.

After the match, the WCWC attacked their opponents, more specifically Romero, with a kendo stick. The duo left Romero lying in the center of the ring before walking to the back. A backstage segment with FinJuice commenced. They called out Jonah and said they would kick his ass next week.

McGuire’s Musings: This was a lot of action, but that was expected. The WCWC really have a fun moveset that we don’t see too much of because we don’t see too much of them working traditional tag matches. But, boy, do they work well together. It kind of felt like Romero and Rush had to go over because Romero has been taking all the losses and then some in recent weeks as his battle with Black Tiger and Team Filthy continues to evolve. So, I liked the result. As an aside, NJPW does this odd thing sometimes where they have two hot tags for babyfaces in its tag matches. Romero took the bulk of the punishment here for the first five minutes, but even after the hot tag to Rush, Rush eventually took some punishment himself, leading to a semi-hot-tag to Romero. It leads to the magic of the hot tag being cheapened. Anyway, this was good and it moved the story along another week, so no complaints here.

3. Clark Connors vs. TJP. The two worked the crowd to start the match and the crowd was super-duper pro-Connors. Connors eventually worked a leg-scissors, but TJP wiggled out and went to work on Connors’s knee with a grapevine. Connors fought back and grabbed a headlock. Connors ran the ropes but his knee gave out. Connors threw TJP into the ropes and it turned out Connors was playing opossum. Connors chopped the hell out of TJP after ripping his knee-wrap off. Connors then landed the highest German Suplex I’ve ever seen in my life. Connors did it again and before long, TJP rolled out of the ring to slow things down.

Connors speared TJP over the guardrail, ala Keith Lee/Adam Cole, and TJP landed on the ring keeper’s table. Connors grabbed TJP and rolled him back into the ring. Connors did the 10-punch spot before hitting a bulldog for a two-count. TJP went to the apron and worked a choke. TJP then hit a single-arm DDT on the apron. Back in the ring, TJP hit a suplex for a two-count. TJP worked over Connors’s bad arm. TJP sunk in a chin-lock. Connors tried to fire up, but TJP outsmarted him and snapped Connors’s arm with a spinning hammer-lock. TJP went for the face-wash spot, but Connors fired up and hit a running shoulder-tackle to even things out.

Connors took control with a blast of offense, but TJP took it back with a single-arm DDT from the top rope. TJP was then able to execute the Face Wash and sunk in a cross arm-breaker. Connors countered into a full-nelson clutch. TJP made it to the ropes for a break. With TJP on the apron, Connors speared TJP while leaping through the ropes and both guys went crashing to the outside. A “This is awesome!” chant broke out. Connors tried to suplex TJP into the ring, but TJP kneed him in the head and worked a triangle choke in the ropes.

TJP hit a knee drop off the top rope onto Connors. TJP then landed the Mamba Splash from the top rope, but Connors kicked out. TJP hit a Cobra Twist Driver, but Connors kicked out at one. Connors slapped TJP, but TJP rolled Connors up and worked a grapevine. Connors countered with a roll-up, but TJP kicked out and the two hit dueling clotheslines. TJP went for a tornado DDT, but Connors caught him and threw him. Connors then went to the top, but TJP cut him off.

TJP went for a super-plex, but Connors stopped him with a head-butt and landed a Mamba Splash of his own. Connors hit a power-bomb, but TJP kicked out. TJP flipped off Connors and Connors hit a power-slam. Connors hit his finisher and that was it.

Clark Connors defeated TJP via pinfall in 17:57.

Connors posed on the ropes and walked to the back to close the show.

McGuire’s Musings: All right. Well, then. I guess I was wrong about nothing beating that opening match. Goodness, gracious. This was the most impressive win of Connors’s run on Strong and it’s probably his most impressive match, too, win or lose. TJP’s offense is just so interesting – and interesting is the right word, even if it’s a generic one. That guy can figure out ways to stretch people that have never existed before. Connors, meanwhile, is a complete star, ready for the primetime and this win should help boost his profile on Strong. These two work fabulously together and shoot, even at nearly 18 minutes, this didn’t overstay its welcome at all. This is must-see.

Which, of course, means, this episode of Strong is must-see. I mean, you have two must-see matches, and there are only three matches on the entire episode. At least two people walked out of these tapings as made men, and who knows if we’ll see more next week. Congrats, Clark Connors and congrats, Yuya Uemura. Take your flowers. I’ll have more to say on my Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review.

SPECIAL EPISODE

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