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NJPW Strong results: Tom Lawlor vs. Satoshi Kojima

Tonight marked the 50th episode of NJPW Strong.

Tag Team Turbulence semi-finals: Violence Unlimited (Brody King & Chris Dickinson) West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)

Dickinson and Isaacs were in first for the teams. They mixed it up on the mat early on. Both excel in this style. Isaacs focused on Dickinson’s  knee and when he tagged out to Nelson, Nelson would continue working over that same knee. Dickinson was finally able to tag out to King who went to work on Nelson. At one point, Nelson came off the top rope with a flying shoulder block that didn’t do any damage to King, who just shrugged it off. What a beast.

On commentary, Kevin Kelly made sure to let us know that Violence Unlimited were representatives of ROH in this tournament.

Dickinson and King worked over Nelson. Dickinson was good and still sold his knee that the opposing team had worked on earlier in the match. He made sure to let viewers know that the damage done earlier on would affect his offense later on in the match.

Nelson was eventually able to come off the top and take down King with a flying clothesline after King couldn’t make the superplex happen.

Dickinson earned a two-count after a deadlift suplex. We saw some double-team work from King moments later when Kinng lifted up Dickinson in a back suplex position, then slammed him onto Isaacs with a splash.

King picked up the win for his team after a Black Hole Slam and a big lariat onto Isaacs. Violence Unlimited advance to the finals of Tag Team Turbulence.

“The West Coast Wrecking Crew ran into the west coast wrecking ball” King began their post match promo with. Next, Dickinson explained how he is a training partner of Royce Isaacs, and that Isaacs and Jorel Nelson are the real deal. He said that New Japan has the best and most competitive atmosphere which was what they were looking for.

Tag Team Turbulence semi-finals: The Good Brothers (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows) defeated Yuji Nagata & Ren Narita

Narita and Anderson were in for the teams first. Narita and Nagata later went after Anderson’s left arm. Gallows came in quickly after and put the kibosh on that. Anderson even did Nagata’s "YAZEI!" pose as a taunt towards the former IWGP champion, who stood on the apron.

Much of the middle part of this match was basically the Good Brothers planting Narita in the blue corner and working him over for a while. It wasn’t until Gallows missed an elbow drop that Narita was able to escape and tag out to Nagata, who then cleaned house. Basement dropkick to Anderson’s knees after a fake-out. “Everyone falls for it!,” Kevin Kelly exclaimed.

The finish to this saw Anderson and Gallows put Narita away after a Magic Killer. Gallows had neutralized Nagata after they brawled for a while on the floor. The Good Brothers advance to the finals of Tag Team Turbulence and will face off against ROH’s Violence Unlimited.

After the match, The Good Brothers said they’ve been watching Violence Unlimited from afar and that their tag name was a poor choice of words because it would be they, the Good Brothers, who would be bringing the violence, in fact.

STRONG Openweight Championship match: “Filthy” Tom Lawlor (c) (w/ JR Kratos) defeated Satoshi Kojima via TKO (rear naked choke)

Lawlor offered an actual piece of bread to "Bread Club" colonel Satoshi Kojima before the match started. Kojima completely no-sold it, then went for a running lariat right as the bell rang, but Lawlor dodged it. I should note that Lawlor came to the ring wearing a black elbow pad, something he never does. Early on in the match Lawlor whipped off the elbow pad and chucked into the empty crowd—just like Kojima does before he hits the lariat. A total troll-job from Lawlor, this was.

The two went hold-for-hold early on, but Lawlor quickly took control and worked over Kojima’s left arm and shoulder. He had Kojima locked in a Rings of Saturn-type submission at one point until Kojima broke the hold by biting his way out of it. He’d later attempt a slingshot elbow drop down onto Lawlor from the ring apron, but Lawlor slipped out of the way, then dragged him out to the floor and gave him more of a beating. He wrapped Kojima’s left arm around the ringpost and whaled it. Kojima wasn’t able to get back into the ring until the count of 19.

Back in the ring, Lawlor slapped on a figure-four leglock, but Kojima broke it by grabbing the ropes. Lawlor then placed Kojima in the corner and gave him a taste of his own signature machine gun chops, adding to the aforementioned troll-job. Kojima would return fire with machine gun chops of his own.

Kojima was later able to break away and drop Lawlor with a falling DDT onto the apron, which had both men on the floor afterwards. Back in the ring, Kojima put Lawlor back on the mat with another DDT, then flew off the top rope with an elbow drop that earned him a two-count.

Lawlor rallied back, blasting Kojima with kicks and chops. Kojima answered back with a set of Mongolian Chops, a shout-out to long-time TenCozy partner Hiroyoshi Tenzan. He’d then lock on Tenzan’s Anaconda Vice, proving he wasn’t a “one-punch KO artist via lariat” as Kevin Kelly explained. Lawlor broke the hold after crawling to the edge of the ring, placing his foot on the bottom rope.

Kojima would then call for his signature lariat and whip his elbow pad out into the crowd, but Lawlor moved out of the way and caught Kojima with a sleeper hold as he was coming off the ropes. Kojima slammed Lawlor off his back to break the hold, but Lawlor would respond by planting Kojima with a super-uranage for two. He’d then slap on a Roberto ‘Cyborg’ Abreu-style short guillotine lock before transitioning into a more orthodox guillotine choke. Kojima powered out of the choke with a vertical suplex and earned a two-count of his own for it.

Kojima then went for the running lariat again, but when he came off the ropes, JR Kratos grabbed Kojima’s ankle, tripping him. Kratos pretended like he didn’t do anything and walked away, and when Kojima was distracted, Lawlor was able to sneak back in and take Kojima out with a knee strike. He’d then lock on a rear naked choke from back position and put Kojima to sleep, earning Lawlor the win via TKO.

After the match, Lawlor asked who'd be next in line for the STRONG Openweight title. He wondered aloud if Bob Sapp was available, and, yes, I'd buy that for a dollar. But no, it won't be Sapp because Lio Rush showed up backstage to confront both Lawlor and Kratos. Rush said that since he'd come to NJoA, he hadn't gotten a fair shake in the tournaments he participated in, like the Super J-Cup in 2020. He said that if Lawlor was a fighting champion, he'd put the title on the line against him. Lawlor and Kratos both gave Rush looks that said "Wow, you're serious?" After a moment of silence, Rush mentioned he liked Tom's shorts. Lawlor thanked him. He then consulted with Kratos for a few moments, but Rush didn't want to wait around. "Notify me, gentlemen."

Final thoughts:

This was a solid episode that felt more "big-time" than usual. In addition to the Tag Team Turbulence finals between ROH's Violence Unlimited and IMPACT's Good Brothers, it seems like we'll also see "Filthy" Tom Lawlor vs. Lio Rush for the STRONG Openweight Championship sooner than later. Whether that will be on Strong next week or at something like Resurgence next month has yet to be announced.