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NJPW Strong results: Jay White vs. Robbie Eagles

Tonight’s episode was called Autumn Attack and was filmed in front of a crowd in Dallas. Matt Rehwoldt (fka WWE’s Aiden English) filled in for Kevin Kelly tonight on commentary. Kelly is in Japan right now for the G1 tournament.

The show opened with a pre-taped promo from Fred Rosser where he explained why he needs the STRONG Openweight title, and in order to do that, he’d have to beat Suzuki.

Minoru Suzuki defeated Fred Rosser

Rosser jumped Suzuki before the bell. Suzuki smiled and answered back with hard elbow shots. Rosser shouted that NJPW Strong was “his house” a few times. When Suzuki was seated, Rosser got into his face to let him know this again. Suzuki slapped him.

Suzuki would next go to work on Rosser’s left arm. He did an armbar while draped over the rope, then started smashing Rosser’s arm against the barricade on the floor and around the ringpost. Suzuki rolled back into the ring and did the Los Ingobernables tranquilo pose—sort of.

This fired Rosser up. He tried bringing a chair into the ring but the referee grabbed it from his hands. Suzuki continued working over Rosser’s arm. Rosser was able to catch Suzuki off the ropes with a scoop Emerald Flowsion for two.

Rosser ripped his wrist tape off and wrapped it around Suzuki’s next before applying a chicken-wing facelock. I don’t think I’ve seen Rosser use this since he was Darren Young in WWE when he was feuding with the Miz with Bob Backlund, master of the chicken-wing, in his corner. Suzuki looked amused while he was in the hold.

Rosser had to break the hold when Suzuki made it to the ropes. Rosser dragged Suzuki to the apron and landed a back suplex.

Suzuki was able to put Rosser in a sleeper, then readied him for his patented Gotch-style piledriver. He got the crowd pumped for it, but he waited too long, and Rosser back bodydropped himself out of harm’s way. The crowd booed this. Rosser reacted perfectly and flexed at the crowd while they continued booing.

Rosser threw a few closed fists and headbutts, but it wasn’t enough to put Suzuki away, as Suzuki hit Rosser with the Gotch piledriver for the win.

STRONG Openweight championship: Tom Lawlor (c) defeated Ren Narita to retain the title via submission

We saw a segment centered on Ren Narita promo next. He has beaten Chris Dickinson, Karl Fredericks and Fred Rosser this year. Lawlor had already beaten Narita previously in the New Japan Cup USA tournament.

They felt each other out for a minute or so as things got started. Lawlor shot on Narita a few times but wasn’t able to take Narita down. Narita grabbed a waistlock, dragged Lawlor to the mat and went for an armlock, but Lawlor slipped out. This was a great example of modern chain wrestling, two guys going hold for hold while also demonstrating actual wrestling and submission grappling techniques.

Lawlor got frustrated after a few minutes and slapped the ring post. He threw Narita into a side headlock and clearly pulled Narita’s hair. Narita slipped out the back door and locked Narita into an achilles lock. Lawlor tried chopping his way out but Narita wouldn’t let go. Lawlor had to use a few dirty closed fists so that he could stand up and create space. Narita shut it down and went back to the achilles lock. Lawlor literally had to drag Narita out of the ring by the arms, then smashed him into the guardrail. “Filthy” celebrated with a short strut on the floor.

Lawlor blasted a seated Narita with two low kicks. Narita ate both and asked for more. He sat cross-legged like Shibata. Narita’s new facial hair and tan makes him look an awful lot like his trainer these days. Lawlor threw another and Narita again ate it, then stood up and delivered a low kick of his own to Lawlor.

Narita went suplex-crazy towards the end, putting Lawlor down with three different variations by around the ten-minute mark. The crowd really enjoyed Narita throughout the match.

Lawlor responded with two giant drop uranages. Narita somehow slid into a ankle slicer/achilles hold that looked to have Lawlor close to tapping until he grabbed the ropes for a break. Later, Lawlor earned a two-count after a big exploder suplex.

The two traded sleeperholds towards the end of the match. They traded maybe four sleepers until Narita got the better of the exchange. He’d transition to an octopus hold, but Lawlor escaped, then jumped guard and locked Narita in a guiltillione choke. Narita powered out of it with a wrist-grip suplex with a bridge for two. Lawlor saw an opening and quickly locked Narita in a triangle choke, then moved into an armbar submission, but Narita escaped and eventually locked in a figure-four. Lawlor sold this like he knee was ripping in half. Narita would later move into an STF; Lawlor barely escaped.

Lawlor would eventually score the submission win with a wild 10th Planet-style double-arm, double-leglock. I’ve never seen this one before. Narita, effectively limbless, had no choice but to tap: Lawlor retained via submission. 

Lawlor shouted “STRONGEST FOR THE LONGEST” after the match. This was one of the top matches of the show this year.

Jay White defeated Robbie Eagles

This was a non-title bout between Eagles, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion, and the NEVER Openweight champion in White.

White went to “too sweet” the ex-Bullet Clubber, but when Eagles refused, White slapped him in the face. When the bell rang, Eagles ran at White, ducked a lariat, then unloaded a barrage of punches. White shut Eagles down with shoulder blocks and chops, but he couldn’t control Eagles’ rhythm.

Eagles wears a handkerchief around his neck when he wrestles, so White choked him with it minutes into the match. When he flexed to the crowd, they actually cheered him. White got similar reactions at NJPW’s Resurgence show in Los Angeles; while he’s technically a heel, in the US, he’s popular, regardless of character.

At five minutes in, Eagles landed a jumping double knee strike on White in the corner. White spiked him on top of his head with a DDT. Eagles landed a somersault dive through the middle ropes, onto White and over the barricade, landing on his feet.

From here, a frustrated White made Eagles pay for a good section of the match. Nothing flashy, just a slow, methodical beatdown. At one point, he did a stalling Saito suplex where he carried Eagles around the ring with one arm, like a doll, before spiking him.

When White set Eagles up for the Bladerunner, Eagles smacked White in the face before he could do the move. Eagles then went after White’s knee and leg, then finally locked on his reverse figure-four variation, his submission finish. White teased tapping but eventually broke the hold.

Eagles landed a 450 splash from the top on White’s knee, and again applied his inverted figure-four. White escaped and planted Eagles with a snap sleeper suplex. After a brainbuster and finally the Bladerunner, that was it, and White walked away with the win in just over 15 minutes. This was really good.

“When I’m away, everybody else seems like they get over-confident and get carried away with the decision making in Bullet Club.”

White specifically referred to EVIL, who the Dallas crowd booed.

'It's almost like they've forgotten who makes the decisions. It's almost like they've forgotten who is in charge!”

He said he was the leader of Bullet Club, he confirmed that he still makes the decisions, and that this was still his “new era” before exiting to the back. Those who were in attendance ate it up.

Final thoughts:

This felt more like a special edition episode of Strong than what we’re used to. It was almost 30 minutes longer than the show usually is, and each match had relatively high stakes either because of the wrestlers involved (guests like Suzuki, White and Eagles) or because of titles on the line (Lawlor vs. Narita).

While everything on this episode was very good, I preferred the STRONG Openweight title the most. White and Eagles had an excellent match as well, though I imagine they’ll top themselves whenever they meet again in their next bout.

Rosser vs. Suzuki was good, but I can’t say it was better than Rosser’s match with Ren Narita a few weeks ago. Ultimately, I think what this match did was build Rosser as a more believable contender on the show as it unfolds over the rest of the year.