By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Lonestar Shootout”
Garland, Texas at Curtis Culwell Center
Streamed live November 10, 2023 on FITE TV
Walker Stewart and Veda Scott provided live commentary. If there is a crowd here, you wouldn’t know it, as the lights are truly that low you can’t see them, to the point I’m not even going to estimate crowd size. That said, the ring is really, really well lit.
NJPW Lonestar Shootout Pre-Show:
1. Matt Vandagriff defeated Barrett Brown at 4:42. Walker said this is the first time Barrett has had a New Japan match in more than a year; he was a regular when NJPW Strong was a weekly show, and he’s looking a lot like Joey Janela today. Matt hit a moonsault for a nearfall. Barrett suplexed Vandagriff into the corner for a nearfall, then a half-nelson suplex for a nearfall. Matt nailed a Buckle Bomb and a spear for a nearfall at 3:00. Barrett hit a brainbuster for a nearfall. Vandagriff hit a spin kick to the head, then a top-rope 450 Splash for the pin.
2. Fred Rosser defeated Tom Lawlor at 13:07. These two have fought multiple, multiple times now. They brawled to the floor at 2:00. In the ring, Lawlor tied Rosser in a knot. Lawlor applied an anklelock at 8:30. He nailed a spin kick to the head at 10:30. Rosser hit a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall. Lawlor hit a Kamigoye kneestrike to the collarbone, then another kneestrike to the back of the head for a nearfall at 12:00. He went back to the anklelock and dropped to the mat. Rosser escaped and applied an STF. Rosser mouse-trapped both arms with a rollup and scored the pin. Okay match; they have had better.
NJPW Lonestar Shootout Main Show:
1. Atlantis, Mascara Dorada, and Tiger Mask defeated Rocky Romero, Hechicero, and Ultimo Guerrero at 13:40. Not sure why he is back to being “Mascara Dorada” instead of “Metalik” but I admittedly don’t watch much Mexican wrestling. Veda talked some MLW storylines, showing how they are working with NJPW. Interesting. UG and Atlantis opened; Walker said Atlantis is 60 and UG is in his 50s, so no surprise they opened with standing switches. Dorada and Hechicero entered at 2:00 with basic reversals. Romero and Tiger Mask entered at 5:00. However, Ultimo Guerrero grabbed Tiger Mask. TM hit a dive through the ropes on Romero. The rudos began working over Tiger Mask.
Rocky hit his Forever Clotheslines at 8:00. Tiger Mask hit a Tiger Driver/butterfly powerbomb. Atlantis and Guerrero tagged back in. Atlantis hit a double armdrag, then he hit tilt-a-whirl backbreakers on each rudo. Dorada hit a double-jump plancha at 9:30. Dorada and Romero traded faster reversals. The rudos began working over Dorada, with Hechicero hitting a giant swing-into-a-backbreaker over his knee at 12:00. Hechicero tied up Dorada for a nearfall. Dorada got a backslide for a believable nearfall, then a Crucifix Driver for a nearfall, then a top-rope Shooting Star Press to pin Hechicero. Solid match.
2. Toru Yano defeated Joey Janela at 10:29. Janela attack from behind to kickstart the match. “Yano, welcome to my world. I want this no disqualifications,” Janela said on the mic. Yano responded by spraying an aerosol can in his eyes and the bell rang at 1:00 to officially begin. They brawled to the floor at 3:00. In the ring, Janela hit a piledriver onto a folded chair for a nearfall at 6:30. Yano powerbombed Janela onto two open chairs for a nearfall. Yano tapped Janela to a chair; the ref eventually freed Joey. Janela hit a Death Valley Driver onto an open chair, then a top-rope doublestomp onto a chair placed over Yano’s chest for a believable nearfall at 9:00. Joey swung a chair but it ricocheted off the top rope and onto his forehead. Yano immediately hit a low blow and got the rollup for the pin. What you’d expect from a Yano match these days.
* Emily Jay introduced TJP backstage. TJP said it is now personal between himself and Mistico. He said that “if you ask me to kiss the ring, I’ll bite the finger off and take the ring with me.”
3. “Bullet Club War Dogs” Chase Owens, Clark Connors, Alex Coughlin, and Gabe Kidd defeated Kushida and Kevin Knight and “Guerrillas of Destiny” Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga at 10:51. Loa and Chase opened and the commentators speculated that Chase would find a partner for World Tag League. Everyone started brawling at 1:30 as the ref quickly lost control. Knight and Kushida hit some team offense on Chase. Coughlin entered at 4:00 and he bent Kushida backward over his knee, then he hit a fallaway slam. The BCWD began working over Kushida in their corner. Kidd hit a brainbuster for a nearfall.
Tama made the hot tag to enter for the first time at 6:30 and he hit some Exploder Suplexes. He traded forearms and chops with Kidd. Tama hit a clothesline and peeled off his vest, and he hit an Exploder Suplex out of the corner on Gabe. Connors tagged in at 8:30. Knight hit a flying double clothesline on Kidd and Connors. Knight hit a Stinger Splash in the corner on two guys. Tama nailed the Gun Stun on Chase. Knight hit his leaping DDT on Kidd at 10:00, then a double Pele Kick. However, as Knight leapt off the ropes, Connors caught him with a spear! Connors hit his No Chaser spke DDT to pin Knight. Good match.
* A video package aired of the West Coast Wrecking Crew demanding a tag team title match.
4. Hikuleo and El Phantasmo defeated “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson at 12:04. The champs came out second and they all started brawling as they entered the ring. ELP hit a moonsault to the flor on the WCWC. In the ring, Jorel dropped Phantasmo throat-first on the top rope at 1:30, and Royce hit a delayed vertical suplex, dropping him onto Hikuleo on the floor. Nice spot. In the ring, Royce hit another delayed vertical suplex on ELP for a nearfall at 3:00. Royce did several squats before hitting a gut-wrench suplex on ELP; kudos to Phantasmo for flailing his arms while being held. The WCWC remained in control of the offense. ELP hit a huracanrana at 6:00; he went to make the hot tag but Hikuleo got yanked off the ring apron.
ELP finally made the hot tag and Hikukeo hit a Mafia Kick on Royce, then he did a ‘snake-eyes’ drop on Jorel and hit a clothesline on him. Hikuleo hit a double clothesline. He hit a powerslam on Royce for a nearfall. Jorel hit a jumping knee on Phantasmo, and Royce immediately hit a German Suplex for a nearfall at 9:30. Isaacs hit a Death Valley Driver, dropping ELP onto Jorel’s knees. Royce hit a backbreaker over his knees. Royce hit a piledriver; Hikuleo shoved Jorel into the ref to stop a pinfall attempt at 11:00. Royce hit a low blow uppercut on Hikuleo and Jorel hit Hikuleo in the face with a title belt. Jorel went to hit ELP with the belt but ELP ducked it and Jorel hit Royce. ELP immediately hit a Superkick for the pin. Good match with a pretty bland finish.
5. Mistico defeated TJP at 11:46. They started brawling and TJP hit a plancha to the floor, and they brawled at ringside. In the ring, TJP was in charge. Mistico hit a handspring-back-elbow, then a twisting plancha to the floor at 2:00, and he hit some chops on TJP against the guardrails. In the ring, TJP snapped Mistico’s arm backward at 4:30 and he began targeting the left arm. Mistico hit a huracanrana, then a dive through the ropes onto TJP at 7:00. In the ring, Mistico hit a Swanton Bomb for a nearfall. TJP hit a tornado DDT out of the corner at 9:00.
TJP trapped Mistico’s head in the corner and kicked him in the face. Mistico fired back with a superkick. He went for a moonsault but TJP got his knees up. Mistico hit a powerslam for a nearfall at 10:30. TJP applied a mid-ring Octopus. Mistico hit a springboard crossbody block. He applied a Fujiwara Armbar out of nowhere, and TJP quickly tapped out. Good match but I wish it had gone a bit longer.
6. Eddie Kingston defeated Satoshi Kojima to retain the New Japan Strong Openweight Title at 10:41. The fact this is so early in the show speaks volumes that Satoshi is just here to put over younger talent these days; he’s not a real threat to win. They brawled to the floor at 2:30, and Kingston hit some hard chops and punches against the guardrail. In the ring, Satoshi hit his rapid-fire chops in the corner at 4:00. So, Eddie hit the rapid-fire chops, then an Exploder Suplex. Kojima hit a DDT onto the ring apron, and they both collapsed to the floor at 6:00. In the ring, Kingston hit a half-nelson suplex for a nearfall, and he applied a Stretch Plum submission hold.
Satoshi hit a clothesline that dropped Kingston. Satoshi hit a stunner for a nearfall at 8:30. Eddie hit three consecutive spinning back fists, but Satoshi hit another clothesline and they were both down. Kojima hit a brainbuster for a nearfall. Kingston hit a clothesline ad a Northern Lights Bomb for a nearfall. Eddie hit two more spinning back fists and a second Northern Lights Bomb for the clean pin. Good match, but not a must-see either.
* Gabe Kidd ran into the ring and attacked Kingston! He hit Eddie in the face with the title belt. He grabbed the mic but between a mediocre mic and his thick English accent, I truly have no idea what he said. He hit a piledriver and put one foot on Eddie’s chest and posed with the title belt.
* Backstage, Emily interviewed Trent Beretta. He said it has been four years since he left New Japan. Tonight, on his own with no friends, he will show Shingo who he is.
7. “Blackpool Combat Club” Jon Moxley and Wheeler Yuta defeated “Bullet Club War Dogs” Kenta and David Finlay at 14:13. Finlay carried his shillelagh. Moxley comes out to generic guitar solo, not “Wild Thing.” As he walked through the crowd, it’s the first time I can see there are at least a few hundred people here. The second they hopped the ring apron, Finlay and Kenta attacked and they all brawled on the floor, with Finlay squaring off with Moxley. “It’s a day that ends in Y, Jon Moxley is feeling violent,” Walker Stewart said. The bell rang to officially begin at 1:30. The BCWD worked over Yuta in their corner. Kenta hit some Yes Kicks to the chest.
Moxley tagged in, backed Kenta into the corner, and hit a series of chops and punches, then bit his forehead. He hit a piledriver for a nearfall at 4:30, then some elbow strikes to the side of the head. They traded kicks to the thighs. Moxley applied a Texas Cloverleaf but Finlay jumped in the ring to break it up. Finlay began stomping on Moxley and worked him over. Finlay hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall at 6:30 (We have the five minute notice but I start my stopwatch at first contact or the bell, whichever is first.) Moxley caught him with a clothesline and he tagged Yuta in. Wheeler hit a top-rope crossbody block on Finlay at 9:00. Wheeler hit a German Suplex for a nearfall.
Finlay hit a backbreaker over his knee and a running Dominator faceplant for a nearfall. Kenta went for the pin and he argued with the ref. Kenta hit a DDT for a nearfall at 11:00. Finlay distracted the referee. Yuta hit an Angle Slam on Kenta. Moxley and Finlay tagged back in at 12:30 and they traded forearm strikes. Moxley hit a back suplex; Finlay hit an Exploder Suplex. Moxley hit a Mafia Kick; Finlay speared Moxley. Kenta nailed a top-rope doublestomp to Moxley’s chest for a nearfall. Kenta set up for Go To Sleep but Moxley fought free, and they traded punches. Moxley again avoided Go To Sleep and immediately hit the Death Rider double-arm DDT for the pin. Good match; again, official time is about 12:45.
8. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Mike Bailey to retain the IWGP TV Title at 14:54. A reminder that TV Title matches have 15-minute time limits. Bailey charged at the bell and hit some kicks, then his Speedball Kicks to the thighs and ribs, then the Triangle Moonsault to the floor at 1:00. Veda said Sabre is 3-0 lifetime against Baley, but it has been six years since they last fought. In the ring, Sabre used his ankles to snap Bailey’s neck. Sabre tied him up in the Bow and Arrow stretch. Sabre snapped the left arm and he immediately tried to get a crossarm breaker, but Bailey fought it and reached the ropes at 4:00. Bailey hit some chops; Sabre fired back with European Uppercuts. Bailey hit a missile dropkick.
Bailey hit a series of kicks and his running Shooting Star Press for a nearfall. They kept avoiding each other’s kicks and big moves. Bailey went for a standing moonsault at 7:00, but Sabre got his knees up, so their knees collided. Ouch! Sabre hit a seres of European Uppercuts. Bailey hit a superkick; Sabre hit a superkick, and they were both down, and we got a “This is awesome!” chant. Sabre stomped on the back of the thighs, and he applied a leglock on the mat and twisted Bailey’s ankle, but Bailey reached the ropes right at the 10:00 call. Bailey hit a moonsault kneedrop to the chest on the ring apron, and they both collapsed to the floor.
Bailey hit a double-jump corkscrew press to the floor at 12:00! In the ring, Sabre avoided the tornado kick. Seconds later, Bailey hit the tornado kick, and he nailed the Ultima Weapon summersault kneedrop for a believable nearfall! Sabre nailed a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall. “The building has come unglued!” Veda said. They traded rollups. Bailey nailed the Green Tea Plunge/modified Spanish Fly. Bailey hit a moonsault kneedrop to the back. Sabre applied a Triangle Choke, and he switched to a double-armbar, while twisting Bailey’s wrist and fingers. Bailey tapped out with just seconds left; the camera zoomed in on Bailey’s finger out of joint, possibly broken. Easily best match so far.
9. Mayu Iwatani defeated Stephanie Vaquer to retain the IWGP Women’s Title at 11:27. Vaquer carried two title belts with her to ringside; she is in a red-and-black one-piece tonight. I hadn’t seen her before the last NJPW Strong show a few weeks ago but I came away VERY impressed. Vaquer immediately tied up the left arm ad it appears she has the slight size advantage as they had standing switches. Vaquer caught her with a superkick at 2:30, then a Dragonscrew Legwhip, and she was in charge. Mayu hit a basement dropkick to the ribs at 5:30. She set up for a dive to the floor but Stephanie caught her with a spin kck. Vaquer then hit a springboard crossbody block for a nearfall.
Mayu hit a superkick and they were both down. She hit a Dragon Suplex, sending Vaquer to the floor to regroup. Mayu immediately dove through the ropes and barreled onto Vaquer at 7:30, then a frogsplash for a nearfall. She went for a moonsault but Vaquer caught her and applied a Triangle Choke! Mayu got a foot on the ropes to break it at 9:00. Vaquer hit a release German Suplex that was particularly vicious, with Mayu landing high on her neck. Stephanie hit a running double kneestrike in the corner for a nearfall. Mayu got a Crucifix Driver. Mayu hit a buzzsaw kick to the head for a nearfall, then a Tombstone piledriver. She nailed a top-rope moonsault for the clean pin. Good match.
10. Shingo Takagi defeated Trent Beretta to retain the NEVER Openweight Title at 25:41. Standing switches and this has a main event vibe. Trent caught him with double knees to the chin at 1:30 and a huracanrana. They brawled to the floor, and Shingo whipped Beretta into the guardrail at 4:00. In the ring, Shingo hit a brainbuster for a nearfall. Beretta hit a tornado DDT at 8:30, but Shingo rolled to the floor. Beretta immediately hit a second-rope moonsault to the floor. Trent whipped a table at Shingo. Back in the ring, Trent set up the small table in the corner.
The ref was bumped, and Trent hit a Death Valley Driver, sending Shingo through the table in the corner at 10:30. They brawled back to the floor. Beretta was bleeding from his forehead. In the ring, Beretta hit a half nelson suplex and a Shining Wizard for a nearfall at 14:00. Shingo hit a DDT. Shingo nailed a Gory Bomb, then a German Suplex into the corner pads at 16:00. Shingo hit a headbutt and a sliding clothesline at 19:00, then a Pumping Bomber Clothesline and a Chasing the Dragon slam for a nearfall, and we got a “This is awesome!” chant.
Trent hit the Dudebuster piledriver along his back for a nearfall, then a Gotch-style Piledriver for a nearfall at 22:30. Shingo hit a vertical Tiger Driver (we’ve seen a similar one recently from Ospreay and it looks dangerous) for a nearfall. Shingo hit a diving forearm and elbow strikes to the side of the head. He locked in a submission hold on the mat, but Trent reached the ropes at 25:00. Shingo again nailed the Last of the Dragon slam for the pin. Good match but unnecessarily long, as no one really thought Trent was winning here.
* Shingo got the mic and said he respects Trent, as Trent headed to the back. He called for his next challenger. Tama Tonga hit the ring! He just lost the NEVER Openweight title to Shingo in Las Vegas, and he wants a rematch.
Final Thoughts: Sabre-Bailey easily earns best match. The crowd was full invested in it, particularly when we had the 12-minute warning, telling us just three minutes left. I recalled these guys fighting at a PWG BOLA (it was actually the first time I had seen Bailey!) but didn’t realize they had fought elsewhere as well. I’ll go with Iwatani-Vaquer for second-best. I’ll go with Mistico-TJP for third. The main event was fine… but it feels like it could have told the same story in 15-18 minutes. I like both guys, but at no point did I think Beretta was winning. An okay show but no titles changed hands among the five title defenses, and the only match I thought it was possible was the Strong tag titles.