By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped October 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont
Streamed November 19, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov to run down the card. This is the third week of the Showdown tour. For the first time this tour, we didn’t get a wrestler run-in for the rundown of the card.
1. Keita vs. Peter Avalon. Before the match, Avalon cut a promo repeating that he is the biggest man in both New Japan and “in Jacksonville.” Avalon offered Keita and as Keita took it, Pretty Pete attacked him to start the match. Keita came back and landed a splash through the ropes onto Pretty Pete and rolled Pete back into the ring. Back in the ring, Avalon chopped Keita and that led to the two trading chops. Before long, Keita hit a kick for a two-count.
Keita hit a series of forearms. Keita went to the top, but Avalon cut him off and dragged him to the ground. Avalon followed it up with a back elbow and a two-count. Avalon sunk in a Butcher Grip, but Keita fought his way out before Avalon hit a side suplex for a two-count. Avalon tried to punch Keita a few times, but Keita ducked and rolled Avalon up before landing a series of knees that led to a two-count.
The action spilled outside and Avalon hit a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Avalon landed a knee for a two-count. Keita was perched on the top rope and Avalon went for a super-plex, but Keita blocked it and landed a bunch of forearms. Keita came down from the ropes and hit a tornado snap-suplex. Keita hit a clothesline and a jaw-breaker and a double-kick before slamming Avalon for a two-count. Avalon worked a single-leg crab, but Keita made it to the ropes for a break.
Keita landed a Tiger Diver for a two-count. After Avalon kicked out, Keita worked a Boston Crab. Avalon came back with an enziguri and sank in the Golden Arch right after landing it. Keita tapped out as a result of the submission.
Peter Avalon defeated Keita via submission in 9:00.
After the match, Avalon posed on his way out of the ring.
McGuire’s Musings: Those two worked really well together. It made me think Keita might be in line to get a tiny push here on Strong despite the loss here. Avalon is a lot better than people think he is and I’m inclined to think people think what they think about him because of his run in AEW, but if you take that away, Avalon is a guy who can work and also has a better than good look. It’s the Rick Rood gimmick, but it isn’t respected as much as it should be in 2022. Keita, meanwhile, is earning his stripes on Strong and he’s doing a good job doing it. I’m interested to see what’s next for both guys because it appears both guys will be mainstays on Strong in the near future, which is a good thing. S
2. Blake Christian and Mascara Dorada vs. El Phantasmo and Chris Bey. Juice Robinson sat in on commentary. Christian and Bey started the match. Bey grabbed a head-lock and shoulder-tackled Christian, but Christian kept popping up no matter what Bey did. Dorada and ELP tagged in. Dorada locked up and worked as quick a pace as their partners did. Dorada had control, walked the ropes and hit a shotgun dropkick for a two-count on ELP. Dorada and ELP traded strikes until their partners broke it up and we got Dorada and Bey trading chops while being held on the top rope, which was awfully inventive.
The action spilled to the outside, and Christian dropped both ELP and Bey. Back in the ring, ELP worked over Dorada and tagged in Bey. Dorada was draped over the corner and both Bey and ELP ran at him before merely kicking him in the balls. Bey slammed Dorada and tagged in ELP. ELP fired up and teased a springboard move, but just rubbed his foot in Dorada’s face and strutted like Jeff Jarrett. ELP ran at Dorada, but Dorada countered and ultimately, he tagged in Christian while ELP tagged in Bey.
Christian hit a Spanish Fly off the second rope on Bey and tagged Dorada back in. Bey slammed Dorada and went for a pin, but Dorada kicked out. Before long, Dorada landed a springboard elbow on Bey for a two-count. Christian threw ELP out of the ring and then Christian tagged in. Christian went to the top rope, but Bey cut him off and went to the second rope. Christian fought Bey off, but when Christian leapt off the top, Bey caught him with a cutter for the win.
El Phantasmo and Chris Bey defeated Blake Christian and Mascara Dorada via pinfall in 10:45.
After the match, the Bullet Club posed while Christian held his head and walked to the back.
McGuire’s Musings: This was fun. Those first few sequences had a lot of action and were everything that’s good about Strong tag matches. All four guys in this match can work, and they have a reputation for being good workers and they were good workers here. So, well, kudos to all. It worked and it worked well and this was a very entertaining match. It’s hard to think a random tag team would beat a Bullet Club team and that hurt this match in some ways, but in others, it also made it fun because Christian and Dorada – who are very good workers themselves – made things interesting. Maybe put Bey and ELP in the tag-team title hunt?
Fred Rosser was interviewed backstage. Rosser said he’s looking to shake things up on Strong in anticipation of his match with Jay White. Rosser said he wants to show the world who is the face of New Japan Strong. Rosser said he needs to know that he still has what it takes after 20 years in the business. Rosser said it’s time to go to work and if you don’t know, now you know.
3. Homicide vs. Tom Lawlor. The two locked up to begin and they kept the lockup through some rolls. Lawlor went after Homicide, but Homicide rolled to the ropes for a break. The two reset. Lawlor hit some kicks. Homicide slapped Lawlor, but Lawlor stretched Homicide. Lawlor chopped Homicide, but Homicide then bit Lawlor. The two struggled to execute a suplex, but Lawlor got the best of things and worked a wrist-lock. Lawlor landed a dragon-screw leg-whip and kept attention on Homicide’s leg.
Homicide countered and went for an STF, but couldn’t quite get it in and Lawlor then hopped on Homicide’s back for a sleeper hold until Homicide rolled to the outside. On the outside, Homicide hit a piledriver. Homicide went for another one, but Lawlor fought out and hit a kick to Homicide’s head. Both wrestlers struggled to make it back into the ring before the count expired. In the ring, the two traded slaps while on their knees. Homicide broke out a fork, but the referee stopped him and so Homicide put the fork into a corner pad.
Homicide went to run Lawlor into the fork, but Lawlor stopped him. Lawlor had control with a series of elbows and things came to an end when Lawlor slammed Homicide and got a two-count. Lawlor worked a surfboard on Homicide, but Homicide got to the ropes for the break. Lawlor landed a bunch of forearms and went for a strike, but Homicide countered with a cutter and a two-count. Lawlor sunk in a front face-lock, but Homicide got to the ropes for a break. Lawlor was perched on the top rope and Homicide went to the second rope for a super-plex. Lawlor countered with a rear-naked choke hold, but Homicide got to his feet. Homicide bit his way out of the move. Homicide went for his finisher, but Lawlor countered before Homicide hit a running lariat for the win.
Homicide defeated Tom Lawlor via pinfall in 13:47.
After the match, Homicide grabbed the fork from the corner pad, but Danny Limelight rolled Lawlor to the outside. Limelight then cut a promo backstage saying that before he was with anyone else, Team Filthy had his back. Limelight said he isn’t afraid of Homicide and that he thinks Homicide might be a little insecure. Limelight said Homicide can find him in the ring if he needs to and the show ended.
McGuire’s Musings: I said this a week or two ago and I’m going to say this right now: God bless Tom Lawlor. After running through the entire roster 400 times over, he lost that Strong Openweight Title and he has refused to win since he lost that belt. I thought this was when Lawlor was set to get back on track, but wouldn’t you know it – he still did the honors for Homicide. Dude is doing God’s work. In all, this was as good of a match as you’re going to get out of Homicide these days – and I say that with absolutely no disrespect whatsoever. The fork spot was really well done, especially considering how they turned it from a cliche into an actual meaningful moment within the context of the match. Will Lawlor ever win again? Maybe not. And if so, that’s OK.
Everything considered, this was a good to very good episode of Strong. I joke that on weekends like this, it’s the most irrelevant show in pro wrestling this weekend, but even if that’s true, they never fail to deliver. This was solid from top to bottom and it reaffirmed how much Filthy Tom Lawlor can make a promotion feel bigger than it is as long as he’s around. I’ll have more to say in my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).