By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped September 11, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada at Sam’s Town Live
Streamed October 29, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov to run down the card. This is the Autumn Action tour. We are on the fourth and final week of it. As they were running down the card, they were interrupted by Ari Daivari, who said he is the richest pro wrestler in the industry today. He said he had his eye on Kevin Knight and there might be a spot for him in the Trustbusters.
1. Kevin Knight vs. Ari Daivari. Knight worked a side head-lock and wouldn’t let go. Knight landed a shoulder tackle and tried for a Boston Crab, but Daivari rolled to the outside of the ring. Back in the ring, Knight hit a springboard cross-body for a two-count. Knight went for the best dropkick in all of wrestling, but Daivari stopped running and Knight hit nothing. Daivari posed and took control by throwing Knight into a corner.
Daivari landed a loud chop that took Knight down. Daivari worked on Knight’s shoulder and went to the top rope to hit a cross-body for a two-count. Knight got to his feet the two traded chops. After a sunset flip, Knight sank in a Boston Crab, but Daivari immediately got to the ropes for a break. Daivari then chopped Knight in the throat and went for his finisher, but Knight got out of it and ultimately landed his patented dropkick.
Knight fired up and hit a series of strikes onto Daivari into the corner. Knight landed a splash and a body-slam and a splash for a two-count. Knight lifted Daivari and before long hit a leg lariat. Knight again went for the Boston Crab, but Daivari punched his way out of it. Knight ran into a boot from Daivari, but then Knight caught Daivari and sank in the Boston Crab. Daivari eventually got to the ropes for a break.
With Daivari on the outside, Knight went for a splash but Daivari moved. Daivari then grabbed the ring bell and got into the ring, where the referee took the bell away. Knight rolled Daivari up for a one-count. Daivari threw Knight into the ref and with the ref unable to see, Daivari hit a low blow, which earned him the win.
Ari Daivari defeated Kevin Knight via pinfall in 8:20.
McGuire’s Musings: A very solid opening bout. I was kind of disappointed that Knight didn’t get the win, considering how they’re building Knight and The DKC up for a tag title shot, but Daivari is kind of on a roll anymore. Regardless of if you like the Trustbusters gimmick in AEW or in New Japan, you can’t deny that the guy has felt more fresh than ever in recent months. He’s a much better heel than he is a babyface, yet he doesn’t really get any credit at all, which isn’t quite fair. As an aside, Knight improves every time he steps through the curtain and he can do a lot worse than learn from someone like Daivari in a ring like that. Everyone came out of this a winner.
2. Blake Christian and Mascara Dorada vs. Mistico and Alex Zayne. Dorada and Mistico began the match. Mistico eventually hit a spinning head-scissors, but Dorada returned the favor in a quick opening sequence. After they simultaneously flipped to get to their feet and stop the action, the crowd cheered. Zayne and Christian tagged in. Before long, Christian executed a hand-spring and kicked Zayne. Christian followed it up with a springboard splash for a two-count. Zayne came back with a dropkick to Christian’s back.
Mistico tagged in and kicked Christian in the back. Mistico kicked Christian in the head a few times. Zayne tagged in and kicked Christian’s leg. Zayne ran at Christian, but Christian caught him with an enziguri. Christian landed a tough kick to Zayne’s chin and Mistico and Dorada tagged in. Dorada hit a slingblade bulldog before landing a splash onto Mistico, who was on the outside. Back in the ring, briefly walked the ropes and hit a stalling splash for a two-count. Mistico came back with a stalling splash of his own and got the tag to Zayne.
Mistico and Zayne double-teamed Dorada. Mistico hit a swan dive for a two-count. At some point, Mistico tagged in, but Zayne tagged in quickly after that. Christian tagged in and Zayne and Mistico double-teamed Christian. Christian used his opponents against themselves and landed a moonsault onto Mistico before hitting a springboard 450 onto Zayne for a nice near-fall. Christian went for a stomp, but Zayne countered. Soon thereafter, Christian hit a rolling cutter and lifted Zayne, but Mistico got the blind tag. Christian went to the top, but Mistico caught him and landed a Spanish Fly from the top for the win.
Mistico and Alex Zayne defeated Mascara Dorada and Blake Christian via pinfall in 10:09.
After the match, we got a backstage promo from Kenny King. He questioned in New Japan has style because he’s going to bring the style and the heat. He said he wanted the LA Dojo boys as well as the top wrestlers in New Japan itself.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a weird one. I know Strong hasn’t always been the clearest with its babyface/heel dynamic in some cases, but this one seemed especially lost. Zayne and Mistico, I thought, were positioned as the good guys here, but they kind of/sort of worked a heel style for a portion of the match. The crowd also seemed to be into Christian and Dorada as much as they were Zayne and Mistico … I digress. This was fun, if not a little clunky at times. I’m not the biggest fan of a guy using his opponents’ bodies against them, but such is the life of this style of wrestling these days. All four guys can work – that’s not a secret – but this didn’t kick into the next gear despite feeling like it could at any moment. Sometimes Strong leans a little too heavily into being last week’s episode of 205 Live and this match fit that bill. As for the Kenny King promo … that’s sort of exciting. A new face in New Japan is always good and I think he can freshen things up for some of these guys who feel like they’re spinning wheels. Let’s see King vs. Coughlin, eh?
3. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tom Lawlor. The two began with some technical work. Lawlor asked for a test of strength and Ishii wore Lawlor down. The two traded shoulder-tackle attempts before Lawlor went for Ishii’s legs and the two traded forearms. Lawlor ended it when he shot Ishii into the ropes and landed a side Russian leg sweep for a two-count. Lawlor went for an ankle lock, but Ishii made it to the ropes for a break. Lawlor kneed Ishii in the gut to take him down.
Lawlor kicked Ishii’s back a bunch, but Ishii fired up and hit a suplex to even things out. Ishii followed that up with a Saito Suplex for a two-count. Back on their feet, the two traded chops. Lawlor ran across the ring and Ishii followed him, landing a shoulder-block that took Lawlor down. Ishii placed Lawlor on the top rope, but Lawlor worked his way out and sank in an ankle lock while Ishii was hanging over the top rope. Lawlor then slammed Ishii for a two-count.
Lawlor kept control with a knee and a running back elbow. Lawlor went for a tornado DDT, but Ishii caught him and placed him on the top rope again. Ishii hit a scary super-plex from the second rope for a two-count. Ishii sold leg pain coming up from it. Ishii went for a piledriver, but Lawlor fought out and hit some strikes. Ishii ran at Lawlor, but Lawlor moved and worked a knee submission. The move turned into a sleeper hold. Lawlor then lifted Ishii for something like a body-slam brain-buster for a two-count.
Lawlor ran at Ishii, but Ishii caught Lawlor’s leg. It didn’t matter because Lawlor came back with an enziguri. From there, Ishii grabbed Lawlor for a German Suplex. On their feet, the two traded forearms, but Ishii fired up. Lawlor did the same. Lawlor kicked Ishii into a corner, but Ishii came back with a power-bomb and a two-count. Lawlor hit a t-bone suplex, but Ishii no-sold it and landed a lariat that spun Lawlor around and that was enough for the win.
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Tom Lawlor via pinfall in 15:32.
Ishii walked up to the curtain to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: All kudos to Tom Lawlor. The guy goes more than a year without a loss and holds the program’s inaugural title like an unbeatable badass, but then he loses the belt and has no problem going out and taking losses without losing a shred of heat. God bless him for it.
As for the match, they worked a slow pace and they were cognizant of not running themselves out early, which you have to appreciate. Some of those lift spots with Ishii taking the bump were kind of scary because it seemed like he was struggling to hold up his end at times. The suplex from Lawlor near the end was particularly frightening, but everyone seemed to make it out of the match unscathed, so high-fives all around on that. There wasn’t much to it, but this was two fighters fighting and that is always entertaining in its own right. I wonder where both guys go from here. Where Strong goes from here is back to the Vermont Hollywood for a new tour next week. I’ll have more to say about this episode during my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).