By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped June 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont Hollywood
Streamed July 16, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov to run down the card as Riccaboni recapped the tag-team tournament bracket. We are on the Ignition tour and this, friends, is the second week of it.
1. “Stray Dog Army” Misterioso and Barrett Brown vs. “Midnight Heat” Ricky Gibson and Eddie Pearl in an NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Title tournament match. Misterioso and Ricky Gibson started the match, with Misterioso getting the best of it. Gibson fought back and Misterioso rolled to tag in Brown, who locked up with Gibson. That led to a tag-in from Pearl and a bunch of arm-drags ensued. Gibson and Misterioso then both tagged in and Misterioso dropkicked Gibson in the leg, giving the heels control.
Brown tagged in and landed a dropkick to the head of Gibson. Misterioso tagged back in and the two worked double-team moves on Gibson. Brown tagged back in quickly and Misterioso swung Gibson into a dropkick from Brown. Any time Pearl tried to help, Misterioso and Brown would fight him off. Eventually, Brown was running the ropes and Pearl tripped him up to give Midnight Heat the leg up on everything.
Pearl hit Brown with a series of punches and then choked him over the middle rope. Gibson tagged in and landed a senton for a two-count. Pearl tagged in and pissed off the crowd before punching Brown. Gibson tagged in and Brown tried to fight his way out, but Gibson kept him in check. Pearl tagged in and the two went for a double suplex, but Brown fought his way out. It didn’t matter, though, because Pearl knocked Misterioso off the apron.
Things broke down in the ring and Misterioso fought Gibson on the outside, including a moonsault during which Misterioso landed his leg on the guardrail. In the ring, Misterioso hit a superkick on Pearl before Brown landed a series of moves. Brown then got the pin over Pearl
“Stray Dog Army” Misterioso and Barrett Brown defeated “Midnight Heat” Ricky Gibson and Eddie Pearl via pinfall in 8:31 to advance in the tournament.
After the match, Misterioso rolled out of the ring while Brown followed.
McGuire’s Musings: Well, it sure was new to see the Stray Dog Army work as babyfaces, even if nobody meant it to be that way. Either way, good for them. Both Brown and Misterioso have been around NJPW Strong for a while now and they deserve some love in a tournament like this. The action itself was fairly pedestrian – all you think it would be from a NJPW Strong opener. I continue to enjoy Midnight Heat’s work and I’d love to see them pop up more on Strong. You had to know they wouldn’t go over here, but they had some (heel) hope spots (if such a thing exists), and I would have been happy to see them get an upset in this match. Perhaps another day.
2. “Filthy” Tom Lawlor vs. Bad Dude Tito. Lawlor came to the ring alone and with a black belt around his shoulder/neck. The two locked up to begin, but it didn’t result in much. Eventually, Tito landed a pair of chops that echoed. Lawlor fought back with chops of his own. Tito returned the favor. Everything ended after Lawlor rolled Tito up for only a two count. The wrestlers then got back to their feet and restarted.
Tito worked a wrist lock. Lawlor came back by stretching Tito’s leg. On their feet, Tito fired up with some chops, but Lawlor countered with an attempted double wrist-lock. Tito got out of it by planting Lawlor. The two traded submission attempts. The sequence ended as Tito went for an ankle lock, but Lawlor rolled to the ropes for a break. Backed in a corner, Lawlor worked over Tito with a chop and a choke with his boot.
The two tried to clothesline each other, but that ended up with traded kicks. Tito got the best of it with a rolling elbow and a two-count. Tito sank in a Cobra Clutch. Tito hit a T-Bone Suplex. Tito did it again, but Lawlor fired up and held a front face-lock, but Lawlor gave it up for a version of a pile-driver that warranted a two-count. Lawlor went for a kick, but Tito caught him and worked an ankle lock. That turned into a deadlift German Suplex. Tito ran at Lawlor and hit him with an uppercut, but Lawlor came back with a wrist-lock. Tito ultimately came back with a blockbuster for a two-count.
Tito lifted Lawlor, but Lawlor countered into a choke hold. Still, Tito came back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a good near-fall. Tito went to the top rope and went for a frog splash, but Lawlor moved and landed a kick to the chest for a two-count. Tito spit in Lawlor’s face, so Lawlor kissed Tito’s head and hit a knee to the back of Tito’s head. Lawlor signaled for his finisher, but Tito backed Lawlor into a corner. Lawlor ended up planting Tito’s head while wrestling for the choke-hold and that was enough to win the match.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor defeated Bad Dude Tito via pinfall in 12:08.
McGuire’s Musings: They got the time and they delivered. If Lawlor’s new mission, heading forward, is to make other wrestlers, then I can very much get on board with this. Tito has never come close to looking as good as he did here, and a lot of that is on how good Lawlor is (that’s no respect to Tito’s previous work, but I’m just sayin…). Without the belt around his waist, I have no problem with Lawlor working 10-15 minute matches against guys who could use a boost up the card and subsequently getting them there, win or lose. If that’s the new role, count me in. I do wonder if he’ll ever get his rematch with Fred Rosser, because that seems logical, but if it never comes, this is as good a position as any. Plus, Lawlor is that good. As in, he’s good enough to give a solid rub to anyone who wants to step in a ring with him. This was very good all around and Tito should be commended, too, for his work as this odd hybrid of a plucky babyface and a strongman badass. Well done, guys.
3. “The Dark Order” Alan Angels and Evil Uno vs. “Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher in an NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Title tournament match.. Alan Angels and Kyle Fletcher began the match. Fletcher sent Angels to the mat and posed. Angels came back with a hell of a dropkick and tagged in Evil Uno. Mark Davis tagged in and the two big guys traded shoulder-blocks. Uno went for a wrist-lock, but Davis countered with a bodyslam. Aussie Open hit a bunch of moves on both Dark Order guys, including a slingshot European Uppercut that was wild.
Fletcher tagged in, but Davis came back in quickly and the two hit Uno with some blows. Uno tried to work his way out, but Davis lifted Uno for a bodyslam. While Aussie Open tried to double-team Uno, the Dark Order member worked his way out of the predicament by giving Fletcher’s foot to the referee and then taking control. Angels tagged in and worked over both Aussie Open members. Uno tagged in and kept the momentum up with a slam and a two-count. Angels tagged in and hit a loud chop on Fletcher. Uno tagged in and landed a chop of his own.
Uno went for a suplex, but Fletcher blocked it. As a result, Fletcher actually lifted Uno for a suplex of his own. Fletcher tagged in Davis while Uno tagged in Angels. Davis kept throwing Angels across the ring. The action spilled outside, but Angels kept control of both Aussie Open guys. Back in the ring, Angels leapt off the top, but Davis caught Angels with a chop. Aussie Open hit a series of double-team moves on Angels for a good near-fall despite Uno running in for the save.
Angels kept fighting his way out of Aussie Open moves. Uno then tagged in and the two worked over Fletcher. All four men were down in the ring. Uno landed a bunch of chops on Davis, but even so, Davis came back with a hell of a chop himself. The two traded wild chops. Angels got involved, but Fletcher took care of that with a knee. Uno went to the top, but Davis suplexed Uno off the top. Uno and Davis were left in the ring and Uno tagged in Angels. Davis clotheslined both of them and Fletcher tagged in. Aussie Open lifted Angels for their finisher and got it.
“Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher defeated “The Dark Order” Alan Angels and Evil Uno via pinfall in 12:45 to advance in the tournament.
Aussie Open posed on the apron and walked to the back to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: You know what? No disrespect to anyone involved in anything here, but I can see why Alan Angels wanted to head out of AEW and see what it’s like on his own again. He had a very nice showing here and you can kind of tell he just wants to wrestle. That said, knowing he’s gone made for somewhat of a predictable outcome. Still, both teams showed a lot of fire and this was probably the best tag match of the tournament so far. It feels like we never actually see anyone from the Dark Order actually wrestle (as in, wrestle, wrestle) in AEW, so it was a treat to see what Evil Uno and Alan Angels could do when they are given the time to do it. Aussie Open, meanwhile, continues to be one of my favorite tag teams in the world. They’re just so smooth and they have the dynamic down perfectly.
All told, this is an episode worth your time if you’re a fan of New Japan Strong. The match of the night went to Filthy Tom and Tito, but the tag matches weren’t bad, either. One was notably standard while the other deserved its spot as the main event. My guess is Aussie Open defeats Stray Dog Army to get into the final, but what do I know? Not much, is the answer. Not much. I’ll have more to say shortly during my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).