10/28 NJPW “Rumble on 44th Street” results: Vetter’s review of Kazuchika Okada and Eddie Kingston vs. Jay White and Juice Robinson, Shingo Takagi vs. El Phantasmo for the KOPW Title, Fred Rosser vs. Jonathan Gresham for the NJPW Strong Openweight Title, Aussie Open vs. Motor City Machine Guns vs. The DKC and Kevin Knight for the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Titles

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Rumble on 44th Street”
October 28, 2022 in New York City, N.Y. at Palladium Times Square
Replay available on FITE.TV

This was the second consecutive night in this venue. Ian Riccaboni, Alex Koslov, and Matt Rehwoldt provided commentary from ringside.

This setup is like other recent NJPW Strong or Impact tapings, with the ramp opposite the hard camera. I personally prefer seeing a large crowd opposite the hard camera, and being able to see their reactions to the action. This show is a sellout, but with the crowd seated in shadows, it is hard to say if we have 500 or 1500 in attendance. The show opened with a video package that listed all eight matches on the show.

1. Sho and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Yoh and Rocky Romero at 7:40. All four brawled immediately, with Sho and Yoh paired off. The heels worked over Yoh early. Yoh hit a standing neckbreaker on Sho at 4:00 and made the hot tag to Rocky. Romero hit a missile dropkick on Sho as Sho was tied in the ropes. Sho pulled the ref in the middle to cause a distraction and he hit a jumping kneestrike to the chest. Sho hit a spear on Rocky, and the heels took control of the action again. Rocky hit his forever clotheslines.  Sho hit Rocky with his wrench, allowing Yujiro to get a rollup and pin Romero. Very basic, rather mediocre match.

* The lights went out and a video played, but no one knew who it was for. Then the words “Lio Rush” appeared on the screen and the crowd popped. The lights came on, and Lio was in the ring. He helped Yoh and Rocky beat up the heels. A great surprise; a motivated and healthy Lio Rush is a great acquisition.

2. “Motor City Machine Guns” Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley defeated “Aussie Open” Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher and The DKC & Kevin Knight in a three-way tag team match to win the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Titles at 13:41. DKC and Fletcher started, so just two in and a time. The Guns hit simultaneous superkicks on AO early on. AO slammed the Guns’ backs into each other. AO began working over DKC. Davis hit a big senton at 5:00. Fletcher slammed DKC on the ring apron.

Knight made the hot tag and hit a dropkick on Davis’ face. He hit a huracanrana on Fletcher out of the corner. AO began working over Knight. Sabin hit a missile dropkick on Davis. Shelley hit a belly-to-belly suplex, tossing DKC onto Knight in the corner. Knight and DKC hit simultaneous planchas to the floor at 10:30. In the ring, Knight hit a swinging DDT on Sabin for a nearfall. Knight came off the top rope, but Sabin caught him with a dropkick. Sabin hit a stunner on Fletcher. This has been a sprint. Sabin hit a basement dropkick to Knight’s face at 13:30. Shelley and Sabin hit a spinning slam on DKC for the pin. New champions! The crowd was shocked at the title change, and so am I. Riccaboni stressed that the champions weren’t pinned.

Alex Coughlin hit the ring. He’s been out for four months with a torn calf. He issued a challenge to JR Kratos. He vowed he would be back next month at World Tag League. (Who will be his partner?) An intense promo.

3. Fred Rosser defeated Jonathan Gresham to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Title at 14:37. An intense lockup and standing switches to start. Gresham applied a Figure Four Leglock on the ring apron; they rolled to the floor, but Gresham kept it locked on. Rosser hit a backbody drop onto the floor at 4:30. (Lighting is really poor on the floor.) In the ring, Rosser tried to apply an STF and he was in charge. They traded hard open-hand slaps to the face.

Gresham hit a basement dropkick on the knee and he immediately tied up Rosser’s legs. Rosser hit a side suplex onto the ring apron at 8:30. In the ring, Gresham applied a Figure Four Leglock,and they traded slaps to the face. Rosser finally reached the ropes at 11:00. They traded forearm shots. Gresham hit an enzuigiri and a German Suplex for a nearfall. Rosser hit a clothesline for a nearfall. Rosser hit his Sidewinder Suplex for the clean pin.

4. Homicide, Wheeler Yuta, and Shota Umino defeated Tom Lawlor, Royce Isaacs, and Jorel Nelson at 12:16. Homicide and Lawlor started, but within seconds, all six were brawling on the floor. These two got back in the ring and traded more stiff blows. Lawlor removed his jean shorts to reveal another pair of jean shorts. Homiciide hit the Three Amigos rolling suplexes on Jorel at 5:30, then he hit them on Royce.

Yuta made the hot tag at 7:00 and hit a missile dropkick on Isaacs and Nelson. Shota entered and he did some nice team offense movew with Yuta. Shota hit a Northern Lights Suplex on Lawlor for a nearfall at 8:30. Lawlor hit a chokeslam on Shota. Royce hit a German Suplex on Shota for a nearfall. Nelson hit an assisted sit-out powerbomb on Shota for a nearfall. Homicide entered and hit a cutter. Homicide and Lawlor brawled again at 11:00, with Homicide hitting another cutter, then he dove through the ropes to the floor. Shota entered and hit a Moxley-style Death Rider double-arm DDT on Nelson for the pin.

5. Minoru Suzuki defeated Clark Connors (w/Ken Shamrock) at 15:49. The announcers popped for Shamrock coming to ringside with Connors. Standing switches with Minoru immediately focusing on the left arm. They switched to open-hand chops at 3:00, with the crowd chanting “you f—ed up!” at Connors. Suzuki applied a cross-armbreaker on the mat, and Connors scrambled for the ropes at 5:00. Suzuki applied a cross-armbreaker in the ropes.

They brawled on the floor, and Suzuki dropped him with a stiff forearm; Connors barely made it back in before being counted out. They continued to brawl on the floor, with Suzuki hitting a hard open-hand slap that leveled Connors at 7:30. In the ring, Suzuki went to work on the left wrist and fingers, and he applied a Key Lock, but Connors reached the ropes. Suzuki hit some Yes Kicks to the chest. Connors nailed a powerslam, and they were both down at 9:30.

Connors hit a spear into the corner and a running splash for a nearfall. They traded more chops and this was a great exchange as they switched to clubbing forearm shots. Suzuki and Connors traded applying an ankle lock, with Suzuki reaching the ropes at 14:30. Connors set up for a spear, but Minoru blocked it with a kneestrike. Minoru applied the sleeper, spun him around, hit a forearm, then the Gotch-style Piledriver for the pin. That was fun. I never thought Connors had a chance of winning, but he brought a fun fight.

* Shamrock got in the ring and jawed with Suzuki, but then they had a bear hug. Suzuki then shook Connors hand, too.

* A backstage promo with KiLynn King, who was excited for her match against Mayu Iwatani.

6. Mayu Iwatani defeated KiLynn King to retain the SWA Title at 11:48. Rehwoldt talked about how important it was to have a women’s match on this show. A huge pop for Mayu. Riccaboni explained that the rules of this title belt include the challenger must be from a different country/nationality than the champion. King has a huge height, and I presume weight, advantage. Mayu has a colorful outfit, including a rabbit tail hanging off the back. King dominated early with a headlock and a shoulder tackle. She hit a hard chop at 3:00 and was dominating.

Mayu hit a running kick to the face and she was firing up. They brawled on the floor. In the ring, Mayu hit a second-rope missile dropkick for a nearfall at 6:30. She hit a doube stomp for a nearfall, but she missed a moonsault. King fired back with a spin kick to the head. King nailed a massive chokeslam for a believable nearfall. KIng nailed a pump-handle spinning faceplant for another nearfall at 9:30. Mayu fired back with a Dragon Suplex, then a frogsplash for a nearfall. She hit a pair of spin kicks to King’s jaw, then the top-rope moonsault for the clean pin. A fun match, but like the prior one, I never saw King winning.

* A video package aired previewing Shingo Takagi vs. El Phantasmo. These two have been feuding for two months, going back to ELP scoring a surprising pinfall on the final night of the G1 Climax tournament Block action; Phantasmo scored a few more wins recently against Shingo by hitting low blows. Phantasmo also destroyed Shingo’s KOPOW trophy.

7. Shingo Takagi defeated El Phantamo in a New York street fight at 20:57. Phantasmo wore his light-up jacket. Both men are wearing blue jeans and T-shirts; I really like that they are dressed for a fight and not a regular match. ELP hit some hurancanranas and celebrated. Shingo hit a clothesline that sent ELP to the floor at 2:30. It is dark on the floor and hard to see. Phantasmo has a bloody mouth that is all over his face and a bit on his left arm. He hit Shingo with a trash can lid over his head. (I really don’t know where all this blood came from, so quickly into the match.) They brawled on the floor, and ELP shoved Shingo head-first into the ring post at 5:00.

Phantasmo put a trash can over Shingo’s head, and he hit it with a Singapore Cane. Shingo sprayed green mist on Phantasmo’s face. (OK, maybe that blood is actually a mist/spray. That makes more sense.) Shingo hit a suplex onto an open chair for a nearfall at 8:00. Phantasmo hit a basement dropkick as Shingo was tied in the Tree of Woe, and he stood on Shingo’s groin as he was tied upside down. They brawled to the floor again. Shingo got a table and a ladder and brought them into the ring. They kept brawling, and Phantasmo placed Shingo on the table. ELP climbed to the top of the ladder and hit a frogsplash onto Shingo at 14:30 for a nearfall.

Phantasmo whipped Shingo into the ladder in the corner, then he hit a Styles Clash for a believable nearfall. Shingo nailed a pump-handle sit-out powerbomb onto two folded chairs for a believable nearfall at 17:30. They sat down on chairs in the ring across from each other and traded closed-fist punches. They battled with chairs, and Shingo nailed the Pumping Bomber clothesline for a believable nearfall at 19:00. Shingo hit a Styles Clash for a nearfall! Shingo nailed a second-rope Death Valley Driver through a table. Shingo whipped a chair at ELP’s head, then he hit a modified tombstone piledriver for the pin. Really good brawl.

8. Jay White and Juice Robinson defeated Kazuchika Okada and Eddie Kingston at 20:16. White and Eddie started and they immediately traded chops, with Eddie dropping Jay. Okada tagged in at 2:00 and hit his catapult senton on White. Eddie worked over Juice, hitting a butterfly suplex. Juice clipped the back of Eddie’s left leg, and the heels immediately began working over Kingston. Jay hit some chops. Juice hit a rolling cannonball in the corner at 6:30.

Juice went for a senton but Eddie got his knees up to block it. Okada made the hot tag and hit a running elbow in the corner on Juice, then a DDT for a nearfall. White entered and hit a swinging suplex on Okada at 10:30. They traded forearms and chops, and Okada hit a shotgun dropkick.  Okada nailed a top-rope elbow drop, and he set up for a Rainmaker clothesline, but White stopped him. Kingston hit a T-Bone suplex on White, but he was hobbling, selling that chop block move early in the match. Eddie hit a clothesline. Okada hit a flapjack faceplant on White. Juice hit a spinebuster on Okada.

Eddie hit a double clothesline on the heels, and everyone was down at 14:30. Eddie and Jay began trading stiff forearm shots. Eddie and Okada passed White back and forth as they chopped and punched him. Jay hit a head-capture suplex on Okada, then another suplex on Eddie. Eddie avoided the Blade Runner, and he hit a side suplex on White. Eddie hit a side suplex on Juice and everyone was down again at 18:00.  Eddie hit his spinning back fist on Jay. However, Jay immediately hit a low blow uppercut on Eddie. Jay nailed the Blade Runner spinning faceplant on Kingston for the pin.

* Jay White got on the mic and said “The King of New York needs to talk to his people.” He said he’s New York’s king, not Eddie Kingston. He reminded us that he single-handedly sold out Madison Square Garden and the United Center. He reiterated that “this is the Switch Blade era!” before he slammed the mic to the mat.

Final Thoughts: The main event was good stuff. Sure, I expected Kingston to get worked over, and I figured either Kingston or Juice were going to take the loss. The crowd really enjoyed what they saw. The co-main event was a good brawl. I wish the lighting was better on the floor, but they had a good hardcore-style match without using glass, light tubes, pizza cutters, staple guns, etc.

I am quite conflicted about the tag title switch. I hate seeing a team go through a tournament to win the belts, only to lose them so quickly, and without even getting pinned. That said, seeing some Shelley & Sabin in New Japan Strong can only be a good thing moving forward.

I said this a few weeks ago after watching the New Japan shows in England, but how much longer can they keep Shota Umino on excursion? He’s ready, not just for the main roster, but to immediately move into the upper-tier, main-event mix. He’s so good, and New Japan really needs a fresh new guy in that headliner mix.

The show clocked in at three-and-a-quarter hours.

SPECIAL EPISODE

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