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NJPW Strong results: Ten-man tag team elimination match

Sterling Riegel (w/ Logan Riegel) defeated The DKC (w/ Clark Connors)

These two kicked off the match with what looked more like modern jiu-jitsu than pro wrestling, really smooth chain grappling with DKC even transitioning in and out of knee-on-belly position, something rarely (if ever) seen on a Friday night pro wrestling show. Sterling Riegel, twin brother of tag partner Logan, looked excellent in this, as did DKC.

After a few more minutes of mat wrestling, Riegel landed a tope suicida to the floor onto DKC, followed up with a nice missile dropkick back inside the ring. From here, Riegel clearly had an upper hand and went after pins with more aggression. He later went for a moonsault off the top rope but DKC moved out of the way, with Riegel landing on his feet. He sold his knee like he popped it on the way down. The DKC took advantage and landed a high roundhouse kick, then followed up with karate strikes for a two-count of his own.

WIth under three minutes left to go in this ten-minute bout, Riegel went for an elbow drop off the second rope.  DKC caught him as he hit the mat and locked on an armlock. He transitioned from there into a submission hold that looked like a combination between an STF and a Cobra Clutch. When DKC moved to adjust the angle of his hold, Riegel cradled him into a pin and scored the sudden three-count. 

Afterwards, both Riegel Twins got into the ring when DKC started jaw-jacking after the finish. Clark Connors was in quickly to back up his recent tag partner, but things de-escalated from there. I imagine we'll see a tag match between the four of these guys soon.

The twins celebrated Sterling's win backstage.They said it was the first singles match Sterling had in six months, and that even though they respect both Connors and the DKC, they were simply not as good as the Riegel Twins because they're not a "real" tag team. They told the two to bring their A-game before the end of the segment. Good opener.

Alex Zayne defeated Blake Christian

Earlier this week, WWE announced that Alex Zayne (and NJPW Strong alumni Rust Taylor) will soon report to their Performance Center.

A full on stunt show from the bell. Kevin Kelly said that these two are actually best friends outside of the ring from their time together in GCW. Christian did a tope dragonrana, though it didn't do much damage because Zayne had Christian locked in a chinlock inside the ring 30 seconds later. Christian fired back later with kicks and a basement dropkick into Zayne's head. It felt like I was watching this in fast-forward. 

Zayne botched an attempted twisting sunset flip that looked rough. Christian's offense is really impressive, he's comparable to Rey Fenix, but again, there were some mistimed spots that just didn't cut it at times, really killing the momentum. They tried hard to keep the pace at 110 miles per hour but it wasn't sustainable and that was clear. Zayne did a shooting star knee drop on Chistian for two. He finished off best friend Christian minutes later with a pump-handle Liger Bomb. Innovative ideas in this for sure, but all around but quite bad.

After the match, Zayne said the following, literally: "I finally found my footing here in New Japan." I'm not sure why New Japan decided to air any of this.

Brody King, David Finlay, Juice Robinson, ACH, & Karl Fredericks defeated Bullet Club (KENTA, Jay White, Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga, & Hikuleo) in an elimination match

If a wrestler was pinned, submitted or thrown over the top rope, they would be eliminated.

Brody King, who is scheduled to wrestle Rush for the ROH World Heavyweight title at Final Battle at the end of this month, and Hikuleo, the big boys of their teams, were about to kick the match off for their respective teams when Bullet Club jumped in and ambushed King. Chaos ensued from here, with all eight men going at it until the babyface team eliminated Hikuleo by dumping him over the top rope.

Whenever David Finlay and Jay White were in the ring together, they were noticeably very tight. Same for Finlay and Tama Tonga.

We are in December now and guys like KENTA and Tama Tonga have entirely different haircuts, so while this was a solid match and everything, the fact that it's so obviously dated now cheapened this as a "new" show. It'd be nice if commentary explained the situation and not be forced to ignore the obvious.

ACH continued to impress as he has on each of his appearances on NJPW Strong. He and Jay White were impressive together for the short amount of time they wrestled each other in this match. Later, Karl Fredericks tagged in and cleaned house. He always comes off like a focal point of any of these tag matches he's in. He almost eliminated KENTA from the match, but KENTA skinned the cat, pulled himself back into the ring, then got himself eliminated after Jay White jumped in and held the top rope down, eliminating Fredericks. On commentary, they blamed the referee for not seeing Jay White, the illegal man at the time, but then what about when the babyfaces all teamed up on Hikuleo early on?

Tama Tonga eliminated Juice Robinson by throwing him over the top rope. ACH quickly eliminated Tama Tonga, but moments later Tonga pulled ACH from the apron to the floor, eliminating him. The two went at it on the floor afterwards. Finlay eliminated Jay White next, but then Tonga Loa eliminated Finlay. Rapid fire eliminations here. King blasted Loa with a lariat, and later another one, knocking Loa to the floor and out of the match. KENTA tried sneaking up on King from behind, but the big man was too quick for that. 

KENTA backed off, then slapped King in the face, followed up with a series of yakuza kicks. But it didn't do anything to King, who spiked KENTA with a Gonzo Bomb, winning the match for his team in emphatic fashion. It sounds like he and KENTA will square off for a match in the future, possibly with KENTA's briefcase for the IWGP US title on the line.

Final thoughts:

Not a bad show in the grand scheme of things, but definitely the weakest episode of NJPW Strong so far. The first match between the DKC and Sterling Riegel was the best match on the show, and while the elimination match was good, it isn’t unlike what we've seen in recent episodes. NJPW has recorded so far in advance iit shows, and that cheapens the show. The Zayne vs. Christian match was not good, but if you're a fan of them, you'd enjoy it as Blake Christian did some amazing stuff. Still, it was very off-brand for Strong. 

We also need to address Alex Koslov's commentary. Kevin Kelly's carry-job on announcing has been unreal. When Koslov misread Sterling Riegel's name as "Riegel Sterling," it didn't sound like a joke, and if it was, it was the most apathetic delivery on NJPW World ever. Kevin Kelly swooped in and brilliantly saved his ass, blaming the flub on the fact that Koslov "speaks more than three languages”. Kozlov is clearly the weak link on the show, and it showed not even five minutes into tonight's episode.