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NJPW Strong results: KENTA vs. David Finlay

The DKC and Clark Connors defeated The Riegel Twins (Logan & Sterling Riegel)

Logan Riegel and Clark Connors were in first and chain wrestled for the first couple of minutes. The DKC and twin brother Sterling Riegel were next and kicked up the pace, introducing some high spots. The DKC landed a frankensteiner “outta knowhere” early on before the Riegel Twins strategically divided the ring and double-teamed DKC right up until the five-minute mark.

DKC rolled to the red corner and tagged out to a fiery Clark Connors, who lit Logan up with sharp chops in the corner before drilling him with a spear for a close two. Connors went for a Boston Crab, but Riegel reversed it and threw Connors with a slingshot German suplex before tagging out to brother Sterling, knocking DKC from the apron, preventing Connors from tagging back out. DKC eventually made the save, and he and Connors were able to pull off a springboard Doomsday Device for a near-fall.

The last moments saw Connors break up the Riegels’ finish after body-checking Sterling out of the ring. DKC returned the attack with a crucifix bomb before diving to the floor onto Logan. Connors finally locked in the crab submission and got Loganl to tap for the win. What an opener.

Rust Taylor defeated Rocky Romero via submission

Taylor went after Romero’s left arm early on. That’s been his M.O. over the past few weeks. Taylor, the submission tactician using specific body parts as targets, usually the left arm and shoulder. While he’s much taller than Romero, he “worked small,” in a smooth way so that we didn’t notice the size difference that much and gave Rocky more of a chance in the fight.

Taylor controlled most of the offense in the opening minutes. Romero eventually fired up, ripped a few strikes and spiked Taylor with a swinging DDT for a two count. Romero landed a falling knee drop from the top rope, driving his knee right into Taylor’s bicep. Romero went for Sliced Bread #2, but Taylor countered and whipped him into the ropes. Romero answered with an O’Connor roll, but Taylor reversed that with a sleeper hold on the ground. Rocky countered that into an arm lock until Taylor made his way to the ropes.

The action continued to pick up, lots of strikes and nearfalls. Romero landed Sliced Bread for a close two-count, but Taylor again transitioned to the back, grapevining Romero’s legs. He then locked Romero into an innovative-looking submission lock -- a modified crucifix choke w/ leglock, something Zack Sabre would whip out in one of his matches. Rocky tapped, and Taylor won in what Kevin Kelly called an upset. Great stuff from both.

“Road to DETONATION” was announced for NJPW Strong next week.

Jeff Cobb defeated JR Kratos

The giants of Northern California finally collided on NJPW TV tonight. Cobb landed a middle dropkick early on, but Kratos later responded with an attack so quickly executed you’d think Kratos was 175 lbs, which he very much is not.

And that’s the story of the match: two monsters crashing into each other the same way the junior heavyweights do. It was a nice technical match, on par with a top-tier singles match you’d see on NJPW’s main roster.

Kratos looked dominant at times in this, especially early on, but really this was a back-and-forth dogfight from bell to bell. Cobb used a snap German suplex on Kratos late in the match, but Kratos no-sold it, forcing Cobb to sneak a schoolboy rollup pin for a surprise two-count. Cobb finally deadlifted Kratos up into a Tour of the Islands and planted him back-first to the mat for the win. This was great.

Right after the match, Rust Taylor attacked Cobb. Fred Rosser and Rocky Romero made the save. F4W’s own “Filthy” Tom Lawlor appeared to back up his fellow Team Filthy commandos. In the middle of the chaos, Danny Limelight showed up, first appearing to side with Romero. However, it was a swerve, as Limelight took out Romero with a lariat. It wasn’t clear whether or not Limelight had joined Team Filthy. PJ Black came to the ring and cleared out the ring with a steel chair.

Before the main event, they aired a really good promo package between Finlay and KENTA that was made up of recent NJPW Strong footage. There was also new interview footage between the two, both giving their thoughts on the other opponent in more of a realistic way, similar to how MMA promotions approach these segments, or how 2020 ROH might do it.

KENTA defeated David Finlay to keep the IWGP United States title briefcase

This was excellent.Finlay is definitely finding his groove as a fiery babyface. KENTA’s full-on heeling against Finlay’s accurate and compelling selling helped make the match  

Slower paced from the start. Finlay looked stronger on the mat and looked to be frustrating KENTA, who had to resort to chicanery when he slid to the floor and snuck in a chairshot behind the ref’s back. This was early on in the match, so for the next chunk of the bout, KENTA tortured Finlay with hard low kicks and submission holds. He looked to squeeze Finlay blue with a crossface until Finlay made it to the bottom rope for a break.

KENTA shut Finlay down again minutes later, putting him out with a draping DDT, but not before telling off the referee. Finlay tried firing up again, but KENTA shut it down quickly. He landed a running boot in the corner, but Finlay powered up again and answered with an immediate back elbow in the opposite corner.

Moments later, KENTA threw the referee in front of Finlay, so the referee was KO’d on the apron. KENTA grabbed his red attaché case and went to smash Finlay with it, but Finlay countered and took him out with a stunner...but there was no ref.  KENTA landed a low blow just before the referee revived himself, but it wasn’t enough to put Finlay down for three. It took KENTA landing the Go 2 Sleep to put him out.

Afterwards, KENTA told Finlay in a post-match promo: “You’re not on my level.”

Final thoughts: I think the slogan for this show can be “NJPW Strong Does No Wrong,” because I can’t think of a week this summer where they turned in a bad episode. This was a pinnacle episode for sure, with each match on tonight’s show being at least above-average, excellent at best. Pretty good ratio for one hour of wrestling.

The tag match early on was very good, but if you’ve been watching weekly, you could have guessed that one. Rust Taylor vs. Rocky Romero was good too, and if you need your technical wrestling fix for the week, this match is for you. 

The last two matches are worth going out of your way to see as well. All-around solid show with a few simple, interesting angles to look forward to over the next few weeks.