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NJPW Strong results: Eight-man tag team acton

NJPW Strong

Clark Connors defeated Logan Riegel

Riegel came out with his twin brother, Sterling, in his corner. The DKC accompanied Connors to the ring tonight.

Riegel and Connors have had rivalry that’s simmering to a boil, a competitive matchup that really got going earlier this year in the semi-finals of Lion’s Break Crown tournament.

Connors used a sharp chop to the back against Riegel, and later snapped him over with a suplex not unlike the one Dynamite Kid would use.

Riegel made a comeback five minutes into the match with a snap suplex. He landed a slingblade to Connors, who was on the apron. When both were back in the ring, the pace kicked up a notch. The two traded lots of attempts at big moves, but it was only until Connors drilled Riegel with a spear that something connected. With under three minutes left in the match, Connors slapped on a Boston crab, which got Logan Riegel to tap almost immediately. Great stuff from both here.

Post-match, the DKC celebrated with Connors and mentioned that the two would “keep their roll goin’,” with DKC hopefully being next in line for a win.

Juice Robinson and ACH defeated Jordan Clearwater and Adrian Quest

Really good match for the amount of time it was given. It was short, but impressive. Clearwater and Robinson are really tall, and just about the same height, which is rare to see in NJPW these days in that they may be two of the tallest guys on the roster at the moment, excluding Hikuleo and regular NJPW guest, Brody King.

Robinson and Clearwater offered a nice exchange to a stalemate a few minutes in. ACH and Quest were in next, with the action feeling more explosive. I didn’t recognize Quest for a minute; he has a new blonde hairdo.

Robinson and ACH took control at around the five minute mark. Robinson was loud in his trash-talking, and Clearwater’s jaw jacking was effective as well. The Karl Anderson trainee made a hot tag a few moments later, clearing the ring. He and Robinson might turn out to be perfect rivals for one other down the road--  both are tall, lean dudes who move with a lot more ease than others their size.

A few minutes later, ACH and Quest were going at it, with Quest going for a walk-up swinging DDT that ACH blocked. ACH sent Quest spinning full rotation. ACH then spiked Quest with a brainbuster that’d make Dean Malenko proud, which got him the three count, to boot. 

What’s low-key notable about this was how great ACH was throughout. I didn’t notice him using much aerial offense in the ring lately, which is wild because if you’re reading this and are familiar with ACH, you know how good the guy is. Hoping he can make it to NJPW proper by next year to see some action.

Before the next match, a video package pumping up the main event came on featuring tonight’s team leaders, Jeff Cobb and “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. Cobb, who was wearing an awesome Stan Hansen shirt, explained that he wanted redemption from Rust Taylor for what happened after the match in last week’s episode, where Team Filthy went after Cobb. 

Lawlor, in an equally awesome Street Fighter II: Turbo parody shirt that read “FILTHY FIGHTING: TURBO,” appeared and explained that since he came to NJPW, his goal was to make a name for himself. He said that he left undefeated at Lion’s Break Collision earlier in the year, and that now that he’s back, he was there to stake his claim and prove why he should be at the top of the proverbial food chain. 

Cobb went on to explain how he was going to beat each one of the Team Filthy members, but also said he’d might as well beat them all up at once, like here, tonight.

Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, Rust Taylor & Danny Limelight) defeated Jeff Cobb, Fred Rosser, Rocky Romero, PJ Black

Team Filthy slid to the floor as soon as Cobb’s team entered the ring. The team strategized for a second, then pulled a Nexus, surrounding or engulfing all four corners of the ring before the bell. Remember, Rosser and Black were actually part of the original Nexus team ten years ago.

Once we heard the ding, all eight men went at it, total bedlam for a few seconds until things the ref settled things down. Cobb and Danny Limelight were in first, but Rocky Romero tagged in quickly and went after him hard, revenge for Limelight’s sneak attack on last week’s episode. Romero hung Limelight in a stalling vertical suplex, then tagged out to PJ Black and passed Limelight off mid-plex. Black then passed Limelight on to Rosser, who finally planted Limelight back first against the canvas.

The babyface team manhandled Limelight in their corner for a few minutes until Lawlor found an opening to tag Limelight out, or tag himself in, where he and Rosser then got into it. The two faced off on the last episode of NJPW Strong, as well. Lawlor landed a draping German suplex, laying Rosser out before stripping down from his regular jean shorts to his smaller, tighter battle shorts. 

He then tagged out to JR Kratos, new resident monster, as he brutalized Rosser with giant hammer strikes, suplexes and elbow drops before he tagged out to submission technician Rust Taylor. He immediately went to work on Rosser’s injured arm, locking him in a leg-hammerlock.

Team Filthy continued on working over Rosser, each member tagging in and out frequently and keeping Rosser in the blue corner before Rosser escaped, finally, and tagged out to ex-Nexus partner PJ Black. Black flew around the ring and tried hard to take out the much larger Kratos, as well as most of the other team. He looks good on offense almost always, especially this year.

The babyfaces were able to gain the upper hand a few minutes later, and at one point, Romero even had the team doing Forever Clotheslines in the corner on F4W’s “Filthy” Tom. Cobb landed his signature standing moonsault for two. Limelight made an appearance and beat on Romero for a few seconds until he was chased back out of the ring. Lawlor was able to lock on a rear naked choke, then went for a suplex but Romero reversed that into a surprise cradle for two. Lawlor was able to land the exploder suplex, eventually, then locked the sleeper hold back on, putting Romero out and picking up the win for his team. 

Team Filthy looked dominant here. If booked the right way, these four could become something bigger than I think anyone would expect, though that’s to be seen down the road. After all, we don’t know what the plan is for Team Filthy going into 2021.

After the match, Lawlor and his cohorts (his words) celebrated their win backstage. Lawlor said he wanted to “clear the air” and explain that Team Filthy wasn’t exactly a faction, but simply the best damn fighters on the roster who got together to help each other achieve their NJPW goals. I mean, I think technically that may be considered a faction, but hey, who am I to question “Filthy” Tom? They’re not a fight team but a “fight dream,” according to Rust Taylor.

Final thoughts:

Another solid show from the NJPW Strong crew. The first bout between Connors and Riegel was great. The tag match was really good but again, short, and that’s not necessarily bad. Think of it as a possible preview of what could become NJPW’s future prime players, depending on whether ACH, Clearwater and Quest will make it Japan next year--Juice is already part of the main mix, living overseas now.

If you’re someone who has kept up with the current crop of episodes, anything post-Lion’s Break Crown, you’ll enjoy this episode because it felt like it focused more on building deeper characters. Team Filthy could be the start of something very interesting, cool but also fresh, a “real threat” as Kratos worded it in the backstage promo. But he’s right, because one thing NJPW Strong has lacked this year is a lingering presence of threat, not just a week here and there when KENTA and Jay White are scheduled to appear. 

Team Filthy could fill the void if booked properly, and so far, so good. But that all depends on what the world looks like in 2021. All in all, yet another great episode of NJPW Strong.