NJPW Strong “Independence Day” results (7/4): Vetter’s review of Jon Moxley and Homicide vs. El Desperado and Jun Kasai, TJP and Francesco Akira vs. Clark Connors and Drilla Moloney for the IWGP Junior Tag Titles, Yoshi-Hashi and Hirooki Goto vs. Gabe Kidd and Alex Coughlin for the NJPW Strong Tag Titles

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

New Japan Strong “Independence Day”
July 4, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed on New Japan World

Ian Riccaboni and Chris Charlton provided commentary. It appears to be packed.


1. Oskar Leube, Yoh, and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Kengo, Dragonlibre, and Takahiro Katori at 10:43. I admittedly don’t know anyone on Kengo’s team. Dragonlibre (think Laredo Kid’s style of mask) started against Leube. Katori is a sillier version of Hiromu Takahashi with some red in his hair, and he entered and he tossed a stuffed bunny at Taguchi. Never written that sentence before. Yoh entered at 3:30 and helped beat down Katori. The tall Leube entered and helped beat on the much smaller Katori. Taguchi shoved the stuffed bunny in Katori’s mouth, drawing boos. Silliness.

Kengo entered at 6:00; he has purple hair and wore all black (think Master Wato with purple hair instead of blue). Taguchi hit his flying buttbump on Kengo. Dragonlibre hit a top-rope crossbody block at 8:00 on Yoh, then a Meteora running knees, then a swinging neckbreaker for a believable nearfall. Leube hit a bodyslam. Yoh nailed the Direct Drive double-arm spike DDT to pin Dragonlibre. Solid opener.

Main Show

* Rocky Romero hit the ring. He said New Japan Strong wrestlers have been waiting to come here for three years. “So tonight, enjoy our American strong style. Welcome to New Japan Strong Independence Day!” short and to the point.

1.  Bad Dude Tito defeated The DKC at 7:26. I will again compare Tito to a young Dr. Death Steve Williams, but he has a heavy wrap on his seperated right shoulder today; he no-sold several of DKC’s chops. Ian said this is a first-ever singles meeting. Tito hit a German Suplex for a nearfall, then a short-arm clothesline for a nearfall at 3:00, and he barked at the referee. DKC hit a running cannonball at 5:30, then a missile dropkick. DKC hit his karate chops across the chest. Tito nailed a spinning Blue Thunder Bomb for a believable nearfall. He then hit a “Steiner Screwdriver” jumping piledriver for the pin. Ian said we hadn’t seen Tito use that finisher before.

2. JR Kratos and “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson defeated Ryohei Oiwa, Alex Zayne, and Lance Archer at 10:26. Zayne has been shockingly inactive in 2023; Ian said he’s been nursing an injury. A massive pop for the returning Archer. Jorel and Oiwa started, then Zayne squared off with Isaacs. Zayne hit a corkscrew senton for a nearfall. Kratos and the WCWC began working over Zayne, with Kratos hitting a release suplex at 3:30, tossing Zayne across the ring, then a delayed vertical suplex. Zayne hit his flipping legdrop to the back of the head and he made the hot tag to Archer at 5:30, and Lance squared off against the massive Kratos! They traded punches and forearms. “Korakuen loves some beef!” Charlton said.

Archer picked up (teammate!) Oiwa and bodyslammed him onto Kratos at 7:30. Archer grabbed (teammate!) Zayne and chokeslammed him onto Kratos. Kratos was bleeding on his face, and he hit a running cannonball off the ring apron to the floor. In the ring, Oiwa and Jorel traded blows. Oiwa hit a nice gutwrench suplex for a nearfall at 10:00. Isaacs hit a German Suplex on Oiwa, and Jorel immediately hit a springboard stunner on Oiwa for the pin. That was fun. Really not sure what happened that Kratos was bleeding so much.

3. Tom Lawlor defeated Kosei Fujita at 8:58. Lawlor wore a star-spangled ring gear; Ian talked about how Adam Cole was too sick to compete against Lawlor at Forbidden Door, saying Cole had a high fever that whole day. Lawlor immediately applied an anklelock. Lawlor kept Fujita tied in knots, and Ian remarked that this match is perhaps “sending a message to Zack Sabre.” Lawlor hit an enzuigiri at 4:00. Fujita fired back with a shotgun dropkick, and they were both down.

Fujita hit a suplex at 6:00 and he went for a keylock armbar. Lawlor went back to an anklelock. He hit a running penalty kick for a nearfall. Fujita went for an O’Connor Roll, but as he leaned back, Lawlor applied a sleeperhold. Nice. Lawlor nailed a Kamiogye kneestrike to the collarbone, then another kneestrike to the back of the skull for the clean pin. Satisfying match but the winner was never in doubt.

4. Rocky Romero and Eddie Kingston defeated “Bullet Club” Kenta and Gedo at 9:29. Charlton said Kingston’s appearance here is “two decades in the making.” Ian pointed out that Eddie is wearing the Jay Briscoe memorial shirt from AEW. Kenta had his Defy Wrestling and his NJ Strong title belts. Charlton said the last time Eddie competed in Japan, he teamed with the masked Fire Ant (known today as Orange Cassidy!) Kingston and Kenta were to start, but Kenta tagged out to Gedo before a lockup, and the crowd booed Kenta.

Rocky and Eddie worked over Gedo. They brawled to the floor at 3:00, where Kenta hit some spin kicks to Eddie’s chest, while Gedo choked Romero against the guardrail. In the ring, the BC worked over Romero. Eddie made the hot tag at 6:30 and he hit Kobashi-style rapid-fire chops in the corner on Gedo, then on Kenta, and he was fired up. Eddie and Kenta traded mid-ring forearm shots and chops. Romero hit a double clothesline at 9:00. Eddie nailed the spinning back fist on Gedo for the pin. Good action.

5. Willow Nightengale and Momo Kohgo defeated Giulia and Thekla at 9:53. Willow offered a handshake; Giulia kicked it away, and they started and they immediately traded hard chops. Thekla, with reddish hair in her braids, entered at 2:00 and faced Momo. Thekla did her ‘spider-walk’ on all fours; her team began working over the tiny Momo in their corner. Momo hit a 619 for a nearfall at 4:00, and she tagged Willow in. Willow hit a spinebuster for a nearfall on Giulia. Giulia applied a Rings of Saturn-style double armbar, and she hit a running Mafia Kick that dropped Willow.

Thekla entered and applied a mid-ring Octopus stretch on Willow. Willow fired back with a uranage on Thekla at 7:00. Thekla hit a second-rope superplex on Willow, then a top-rope crossbody block to the floor on everyone. In the ring, Thekla nailed a spin kick to Willow’s head for a nearfall. Willow tossed (partner!) Momo onto their opponents. Willow hit a rolling cannonball in the corner on Thekla, then a Death Valley Driver for a believable nearfall. Willow then nailed the Dr. Bomb/gutwrench powerbomb to pin Thekla. That was really enjoyable.

6. “Bullet Club War Dogs” Gabe Kidd and Alex Coughlin defeated “Bishamon” Yoshi-Hashi and Hirooki Goto to win the New Japan Strong Tag Team Titles at 12:28. Charlton wished Mark Davis well in his recovery from injury and said Aussie Open will be back hopefully soon. Kidd and Coughlin attacked before the bell and they demanded the ref start the match so they could get a pin. They all brawled to the floor, with Coughlin squaring off with Goto. In the ring, Coughlin hit a LOUD chop on Yoshi-Hashi at 3:00, and the War Dogs were in charge.

Yoshi-Hashi hit a standing neckbreaker on Coughlin, and they were both down at 6:00. Goto made the hot tag and he hit a running shoulder tackle that dropped Kidd, then a top-rope elbow drop for a nearfall. They traded forearm shots, then simultaneous clotheslines with neither man going down. Goto hit his neckbreaker over the knee at 8:00. Yoshi-Hashi got back in, and he hit his Headhunter flipping faceplant on Kidd. Goto hit another neckbreaker over his knee on Kidd. They set up for Shoto, but Coughlin made the save. Kidd hit a suplex.

Yoshi-Hashi hit a superkick on Kidd at 10:30. The War Dogs hit a team chokeslam on Goto, then a team suplex. Coughlin and Kidd hit a team spike piledriver (think Young Bucks finisher) on Yoshi-Hashi for the pin! New champions!!! I am not surprised the War Dogs won the titles, but I am surprised they did it without having to cheat at all. They kept beating up Yoshi-Hashi after the bell.

* Kidd got on the mic and he vowed they would win the IWGP Tag Titles tomorrow in an instant rematch against Bishamon.

Quick backstory: Dan Moloney was invited to join the United Empire a couple months ago after a show in England, and he accepted. However, he recently turned on teammates TJP and Francesco Akira, and has renamed himself Drilla Moloney.

7. “Bullet Club” Clark Connors and Drilla Moloney defeated “United Empire” TJP and Francesco Akira to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles at 12:58. They all fought at the bell. Moloney whipped TJP into the guardrail just seconds in, and they all brawled into the crowd, and up the aisle into the risers. Akira leapt off a platform and hit a crossbody block on the opponents at 3:00. They finally all returned to the ring. Drilla hit a doublestomp on Akira’s chest. Charlton reiterated the story that Moloney has cut weight to become the biggest junior in the division. TJP hit a facewash on Drilla at 6:00, then on both of them as they were piled in the same corner.

Akira hit a senton to the floor but was barely caught as they all crashed to the floor. TJP hit a springboard DDT on Drilla for a nearfall, then he applied his modified STF. Connors hit a powerslam. Akira hit a Canadian Destroyer at 10:00, then a swinging neckbreaker on Connors; TJP made the cover on Connors for a nearfall. TJP and Akira hit running front-and-back kneestrikes for a believable nearfall, but Moloney made the save.

TJP set up for the Mamba Splash, but Connors moved. Moloney hit an enzuigiri on TJP. Moloney accidentally hit a gore on Connors! Drilla hit his sit-out piledriver on Akira, but Francesco was able to roll to the floor. Connors hit his No Chaser spike DDT on TJP! Moloney help TJP upside down, and Connors hit a second-rope flying spear on TJP for the pin! New champions again!

* Minoru Suzuki joined the Japanese commentary team, looking far too normal in his regular clothes.

8. El Desperado and Jun Kasai defeated Jon Moxley and Homicide at 18:37. As per usual, Moxley entered through the crowd, and he came out to a guitar solo, not “Wild Thing.” Desperado wore a mask that is already torn by the eye. Jun Kasai came to the ring with a board covered in forks. Ian noted the scars all over Kasai’s body. Homicide and Kasai brawled at the bell while Moxley brawled with Desperado, and they immediately left the ring and went into the crowd. Homicide hit Jun over the head with a trash can lid.

Moxley was gauging Desperado in the head with a fork. They returned to ringside at 3:30, where Desperado used a kendo stick across Homicide’s back. Moxley, meanwhile, was stabbing Jun with a fork. Jun got a barber’s razor and rubbed it across Homicide’s forehead at 5:30. Homicide hit a backbody drop, sending Jun onto a board covered in forks. Moxley bodyslammed Desperado onto the fork-covered board, and the Japanese crowd was chanting “Holy shit!” I don’t know if I’ve heard that before in Japan! Desperado and Homicide each used forks on the head of their respective opponent.

Moxley put Desperado in a Figure Four at 10:00. They got up and traded forearm shots. Moxley was bleeding from the forehead, but that’s expected at this point, right? Jun made the hot tag and brawled with Moxley. Jun hit a snap suplex for a nearfall at 12:00, and he also used the barber’s blade on Moxley’s forehead. A board covered in razor blades was set up in the corner. Moxey and Jun traded German Suplexes. Moxley hit a shotgun dropkick, sending Jun back-first into the razor-covered board. Moxley then hit a Rollins-style Stomp to the head for a believable nearfall.

Moxley hit his elbow strikes to the side of Jun’s head. He set up for the Death Rider, but Jun blocked it. They traded forearm shots, and Jun was really bloody now. Jun hit a clothesline on Homicide. Desperado made the hot tag at 15:00, and he hit a spinebuster on Homicide. Homicide set up for a dive to the floor, but Desperado cut him off by striking him with a garbage can. Desperado hit a sit-out powerbomb on Homicide for a nearfall. Desperado hit a spinebuster on Homicide. Jun put on goggles and hit a top-rope frogsplash on Homicide. Desperado then nailed the Angels Wings faceplant for a believable nearfall, but Moxley made the save.

Jun got cooking skewers and he jabbed them into the top of Moxley’s head. Yuck. Homicide hit a low blow on Desperado; Desperado hit one back. Desperado hit another Angel’s Wings faceplant, then another onto a trash can to pin Homicide. That was one heckuva brawl. The camera panned over to Moxley, who still had the skewers sticking out of his head.

* El Desperado spoke on the mic and said he had nerves wrestling with a legend tonight. He said he wanted to send the people home happy. Jun got on the mic and asked “if we are allowed to do this?” in New Japan, drawing laughter. He said “this is the best night I could have imagined.” He said he wants one more, and he told Desperado he wants to tag with him again. The crowd chanted “This is awesome!” Desperado again took the mic and said, “If you call, I will answer.” They shook hands and gave each other the middle finger, but here it was meant as a sign of respect.

Final Thoughts: An excellent show. I’ll go with Drilla/Connors vs. TJP/Akira for best match, just ahead of Bishamon-War Dogs. I’ll go with Willow’s match for third best. Obviously, some people will love that main event. It was certainly memorable, but it’s not my preferred style. For fans of hardcore matches, this will satisfy what you’re looking for.


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