By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer
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NJPW Capital Collision
Washington, D.C. at Entertainment & Sports Arena
Streamed April 15, 2023 on FITE TV
It’s the most wonderful time of year … when MLW and NJPW run their spring shows in my area on back to back weekends. Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend the Battle Riot tapings for MLW (complete with a McGuire’s Mondays that afforded me some time with Jacob Fatu in the Dot Net archives). This week, it’s New Japan’s Capital Collision in Washington, D.C. How did it go? Let’s find out.
1. Bad Dude Tito and Shane Haste defeated Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson in 8:32. At one point, Nelson yelled to the crowd, “The mighty don’t knee, my ass,” and it was awfully funny. Kudos to all four guys involved. They were playing to a quarter house on the pre-show and while the crowd may have been small, the fans were into it and super behind TMDK. I know we still had about 15 minutes until the main show began at this point, but there were far, far less people here this time around than there were last year around this same time at this same venue. Maybe a weekly Strong show did matter?
2. Kevin Knight, Gabriel Kidd, Mike Bailey, Volador Jr. and Kushida defeated The DKC, Clark Connors, Lio Rush, Rocky Romero and Chuck Taylor in 10:21. My God, Kevin Knight can jump out of the building in a way no other pro wrestler can these days. This was non-stop action, as one might expect. After the match, Connors turned on The DKC and attacked him as the crowd booed. It was odd because Connors seemed to be clocking as a babyface among the Strong crowd, but then again, times have changed quite a bit ‘round these parts. Speaking of The DKC, though, one thing that didn’t change here? Death, taxes and The DKC taking the middle match punishment. Oh, how I’ve missed this.
3. David Finlay defeated AR Fox in 10:28. A very good match that the live crowd was very much up for. In fact, this crowd, while smaller than last year, has been as good and invested as I’ve seen any NJPW live crowd be. After the match, Finlay grabbed a microphone to say “D.C. you absolutely suck.” Finlay then called out Clark Connors. Turns out, Connors is now in the Bullet Club. That’s fun. I’ll tell you what: David Finlay is a star. I’m not sure how much other people buy into him being the newest leader of a club that isn’t nearly as relevant as it once was, but I like it. It’s elevated him and he’s stepped into the role quite well. Now, with Connors, this should be fun. Maybe not immediately, but in time.
4. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Tom Lawlor in 13:12. Love Lawlor. Love Sabre. Love the NJPW TV title format. Hate the belt. Either way, this was the match of the night to this point and the crowd played its part quite well. Let’s see them run this back with 15 more minutes and a bigger title at stake. Sabre won after a furry of roll-up exchanges and with time winding down, it made the finish that much more exciting. Lawlor had his mouth busted open the hard way and it looked like Sabre tweaked his ankle a little bit. Hard hitting. Great technical stuff. This exceeded my unfairly high expectations.
5. Tomohiro Ishii defeated El Desperado in 16:41. My, oh my, what a hell of a match that had the crowd with it every step of the way. Ishii is always more over than most with American crowds and this was no different. The false finishes toward the end had so many people jumping out of their seats. Those guys worked their asses off and everyone in D.C. was more than appreciative of the effort. What a fantastic middle-of-the-night match.
6. Juice Robinson beat the hell out of Fred Rosser. And the ref. And … well, yeah. This was a wild beat down. The match never started and Juice got hella heat with the crowd – even if it was a crowd that wanted to like him. The angle came to ahead after Juice punched Rosser with a fistful of quarters and screamed into the mic at a beaten up Rosser, “You keep my wife’s name out of your f—- mouth.” The crowd popped for that. This was brutal.
7. Sanada and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito in 14:36. This was all about the star power in the match. The crowd was very much behind Naito and Takahashi, but you couldn’t think Sanada would be part of a losing effort this quick into his heavyweight title reign, could you? As a match, it was fairly pedestrian, but goodness, these Americans love their Japanese stars. After the match, there was a tiny bit of a stare down, but nothing came of it. All told, I kinda want a Five Guys burger now.
8. Kenta defeated Eddie Edwards in 18:42 to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship. This included a ref bump, a nut shot and a belt shot. But once this thing kicked into third gear, it got good quick. And boy, did these guys work stiff. There was a particular clothesline Edwards hit that I felt on press row. For proof, Kenta turned my way after the match to show how messed up his chest was and friends, it sure was messed up. After the match, Kenta heard from Hikuleo (who is a star) via a video message. Looks like those two will face off on May 3 in Japan.
9. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis defeated “Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin and Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi in 25:14 to win the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Titles. Holy hell what a match. Kyle Fletcher took a bump off a moonsault that I thought killed jim. There was also a weird false finish that faked everyone out. But this was nonstop action and lived up to every inch of expectation I had for it. If this was the only match on the card, it would have been worth the price of a ticket. My favorite of the night may have been Lawlor/Sabre, and Despo/Ishii was nuts, but this was the match of the night. After the match, Fletcher got on the mic and played to the crowd, which absolutely loved Aussie Open. We have double tag champs in NJPW now and I gotta say, I think this could be more fun than the FTR run. Even Fletcher said so when the crowd started to chant “FTR!” It was funny.
Overall, this was a tremendous night of wrestling. There weren’t as many people here as there were the last time NJPW came to D.C. – and we’ll try to dive into that more in my next McGuire’s Mondays column – but those who were here showed up and showed out. The thing about New Japan shows in the U.S. is that if you know you’re going to always be surrounded by super fans because in America, you either know a bit about and follow and enjoy New Japan Pro Wrestling or … well, you don’t. So it’s not like it’s a place for fair-weather fans. If nothing else, it all but promises great crowds no matter the size and no matter where they go. All told, you’d be hard pressed to find a better way to spend a Saturday night if you’re a wrestling fan. And that’s all that matters … right?