Tonight was the fourth installment of NJPW Strong's Autumn Attack US tour series.
Fred Rosser and Rocky Romero defeated Team Filthy (JR Kratos & Danny Limelight)
Nice opener. Limelight was a regular on Strong for a good chunk of last year and was a big part of their lineup when the show launched; it was good to see him back. He and Romero had a good mentor-mentee singles program in 2020, and the beginning of this saw a slight return, with Limelight and Romero kicking things off. Rosser and Kratos were in next, and these two had a hell of a singles match on Strong this past March.
Kratos launched Rosser with a vertical suplex. Limelight choked Rosser with the ropes while Kratos distracted the ref. Kratos continued working Rosser over, but as the match went on the crowd got really behind Rosser and started chanting for him. When Kratos tried deadlifting Rosser into another vertical suplex, Rosser slipped away, then landed a low single-leg dropkick before he tagged out to Romero. Kratos tagged out to Limelight, who ended up being on the other end of Romero’s fiery offensive attack. Romero caught Limelight with a springboard basement dropkick.
The match broke down into bedlam shortly after, with all four brawling in and out of the ring. Rosser laid Limelight out with a falling backdrop suplex on the apron. Inside the ring, he and Kratos duked it out. They collided with simultaneous big boots.
Limelight made his way back into the match and took Rosser off the top ropes with a flying hurricanrana. Kratos laid Rosser out with a Falcon Arrow, but Romero made the save for his partner.
The finish saw Limelight attempt his signature double-jump swinging DDT, but Rosser caught him mid-air and drove him into the mat with an Emerald Frosion to score the win for his team.
Lio Rush defeated Taiji Ishimori
In some ways, these two are almost mirror versions of each other. Ishimori is bigger, in general, but they’re approximately the same height, have pretty much the same hair length and are both shredded high flyers.
Ishimori played bully and flexed his biceps at Rush a few times. The match kicked into high gear early, and only after a minute or so they were exchanging holds at a frenetic pace. Rush caught Ishimori in the gut while he hung in the air when he went for a leapfrog. Even the announcers said it might be too fast of a match for them to call.
Ishimori caught Rush running towards him off the ropes, so he pulled the middle rope down and Rush went crashing onto the floor. From here, Ishimori slowed the pace and began working over Rush’s arm outside the ring, wrapping it against the ring post and guardrail and smashing it over and over again. Back in the ring, Ishimori did more of the same, hammerlocking Rush’s arm and ramming it into the ringpost. When Rush went for a handspring off the ropes, Ishimori clipped him in the injured arm with a low dropkick.
Rush made a comeback using his right arm, as his left was kayfabe-injured, and took Ishimori out with a series of lariats followed by the handspring elbow he’d attempted earlier. The stronger, more experienced Ishimori responded later with a hammerlock shoulder-breaker that drove Rush’s shoulder into Ishimori’s knee for two. Rush actually bridged out using only his neck and uninjured arm. The crowd started chanting for him loudly. Ishimori locked in La Mistica and held him in the hold for a good while until Rush power-bombed his way out of it.
Rush unloaded a series of kicks that Ishimori ate, but that didn’t keep the Bone Soldier on the mat. Ishimori smacked his own head showing that those kicks did nothing to him. Rush served up a spinning enzuigiri next, though, and that laid Ishimori out. Rush then landed a big frog splash for the win. For Rush, that’s a huge W, as Ishimori in 2021 is a decorated wrestler, with experience and title runs in IMPACT, Pro Wrestling NOAH and others in addition to being former IWGP Junior heavyweight champion. I think most fans would agree that these two need to have a rematch soon.
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer) defeated Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Royce Isaacs)
Suzuki and Archer ambushed Team Filthy, who stood on the apron waiting for Suzuki’s entrance to wrap. Suzuki caught Isaacs with a boot, while Archer decked Lawlor. The fight spilled out onto the floor immediately, with Suzuki and Isaacs and one side of the ring and Archer and Lawlor fighting around the corner.
After another minute or so, all four found themselves inside the ring, and this is when the match officially started and the bell rang. Archer and Suzuki double-teamed Isaacs. “Filthy” Tom later used a cheap shot to take Suzuki out, throwing a knee into Suzuki’s back as he was bouncing off the ropes. Isaacs then caught a distracted Archer and started putting the boots to him as Lawlor and Suzuki fought on the floor. Can we please get a singles match between these two eventually?
Team Filthy continued the double-team onslaught on Suzuki, who played de facto face here (and pretty much every place he went to on his recent US tour). Lawlor and Isaacs flexed and posed while Archer flipped out in his corner while referee Jeremy Marcus kept him from entering the ring.
The crowd began chanting for Suzuki as Lawlor continued working him over. Suzuki seemingly used this fan energy to blast Lawlor in the solar plexus with a kitchen sink knee against the ropes. He then tagged out to Archer, who was your proverbial house of fire. Lawlor threw chops at Archer, but they didn’t phase him. Archer started running roughshod on Team Filthy, charging at whomever was in his way. Lawlor finally jumped Archer into his full guard and locked on a guillotine choke, which slowed Archer temporarily, until Archer suplexed Lawlor off his back.
Later, Archer took Isaacs out with a modified Boss Man Slam and tagged Suzuki back into the match. He locked Isaacs in a front facelock while Archer finally laid Lawlor out with the Blackout, the reverse Iconoclast with Lawlor coming off the top rope.
In the meantime, Isaacs escaped from Suzuki’s hold and dumped him backwards with a sweet backdrop Saito Suplex. He low-bridged Archer over the top rope to the floor, then kneed Suzuki in the face. Isaacs then landed his patented full nelson-to-deadlift-German suplex which earned him a close two-count. Ten minutes had passed by this point.
Suzuki made one final comeback, plastering Isaacs with palm strikes and elbows before putting him away with the Gotch-style piledriver and picking up the win for him and Archer. The crowd loved the finish.
After the match, Archer grabbed the mic and asked if the crowd had enjoyed the show, and it sounded like they did. Archer was cut off, though, when Chris Dickinson’s music hit. The “Dirty Daddy” made his way out to the ring. He took the mic, looked Suzuki in the eye and told him that Suzuki’s “vacation is over,” and that at the New Japan Philadelphia Showdown show, he’d already be dead. Dickinson said this in both Japanese and English; “Omae wa mou shindeiru.” For any classic comic & animation fans reading, this is a famous line from Fist of the North Star.
Minoru Suzuki’s response: “I speak a little English. . . F*CK YOU!”
The crowd lost it after he said that. Dickinson was fired up outside of the ring. These two just recently squared off in the main event of Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 7, but I’m not sure if or when NJPW will acknowledge that on the air.
Suzuki then asked the crowd if they wanted to see him again, and they responded with a loud roar of approval. “I’ll be back.”
NJPW Strong has always had consistently good match quality, but tonight’s show really felt prime-time outside of the somewhat low-rent production of these Autumn Attack shows. Lio Rush vs. Taiji Ishimori and Suzuki-gun vs. Team Filthy are worth going out of your way to watch this week.