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NJPW Strong results: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Gabriel Kidd

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NJPW Strong returned to Hollywood, California for the first of their “Showdown” tapings.

At the top of the show, while announcers Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov ran down today’s event, West Coast Wrecking Crew appeared and talked about their upcoming four-way tag team match vs. Stray Dog Army, TMDK, & Kevin Knight & the DKC from the LA Dojo. Both Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson had a good promo talking about how they’d soon end up with Aussie Open’s STRONG Openweight Tag Team titles.

Christopher Daniels defeated Rocky Romero

Bateman of Stray Dog Army joined Riccaboni & Koslov on commentary for this match.

Daniels recently turned heel on his former partner, Yuya Uemura, and was showered in boos from the Hollywood crowd upon his return.

Romero also got a huge response from the crowd. Loud “RO-CKY!” chants broke out early, though as the match went on, there were a number of “Fallen Angel” chants for Daniels, too.

Overall, this was really good. Daniels pinned Romero with his feet on the ropes for leverage to pick up the win.

Four-way tag team match: Stray Dog Army defeated LA Dojo (Kevin Knight & the DKC), TMDK (Shane Haste & Bad Dude Tito), West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)

The winning team of this four-way match would become #1 contenders to the tag team titles.

The match itself was pretty much non-stop action. I thought everyone looked terrific in this. These matches can sometimes turn into a train wreck but this one had a clear rhythm and flow to it.

Bad Dude Tito press slammed Kevin Knight onto the floor before landing on three or four of his opponents with a tope suicida. Misterioso followed that up with a springboard corkscrew moonsault onto everyone.

The finish saw Misterioso lay the DKC out with a lungblower before Barrett Brown drilled him with a Claymore kick for the clean win; Stray Dog Army are now the #1 contenders to Aussie Open’s STRONG Openweight Tag Team titles.

Bateman, who was still on commentary, left the announce booth to celebrate with his team in the ring. This was put over as a huge win because, for the most part, many of SDA’s victories on NJPW Strong came from bending the rules or even cheating. Brown & Misterioso earned a clean, emphatic win here. Good booking.

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Gabriel Kidd

Great to see Gabriel Kidd back in the ring, whom we haven’t seen since earlier this year. A promo and video package aired with him explaining that even though he’d break bread with Tanahashi after tours, tonight would not be the same; tonight would be a scrap, in his words.

Kidd also described himself, Clark Connors & Alex Coughlin as his generation’s “Three Musketeers,” and that every set of musketeers had an ace, and that was him.

There were loud chants for Tanahashi early on. He and Kidd went hold for hold at the top of the match. Kidd’s chain wrestling is clever and impressive.

When Kidd had Tanahashi against the ropes, referee Jeremy Marcus called for a break, but Kidd stung Tanahashi with a few cheap chops. The crowd booed. Kidd nailed Tanahashi with a nice dropkick next, and Kidd followed that up with some air guitar of his own. The crowd ate that up and booed some more. Kidd looked really confident out there tonight.

Tanahashi didn’t appreciate Kidd’s air guitar shredding and let him know with a dragon screw legwhip that forced Kidd out onto the floor. Tanahashi hi-fived fans while he worked Kidd over. Kidd was able to reverse Tanahashi’s momentum and whipped him into the ring post before rolling him back into the ring.

Kidd slowed the pace and worked over Tanahashi’s knee and lower back. He locked Tana in a cobra twist and played some more air guitar, or rather torso guitar, on Tanahashi. Big Pete Townsend-esque strums. The crowd continued to boo, which looked to have fueled Kidd up.

Tanahashi put Kidd down with a slingblade before his signature second-rope somersault senton.

Kidd answered with a lariat from the left side before earning a two-count with a nice second-rope moonsault. The two then traded hard shots before Kidd dropped Tana with a basement dropkick to his knee.

Kidd dropped Tanahashi with a straight right. The crowd began chanting for Tanahashi even more, and it was even louder this time. Kidd told off the crowd which elicited lots of boos. Both wrestlers did a great job playing off the crowd.

Kidd and Tana traded more hard slaps before Tanahashi put Kidd down with two more sling blades. The finish saw Tanahashi stick the High Fly Flow off the top rope and score the three-count

Excellent main event that I’m sure will be revisited down the road. Kidd hasn’t lost a step after being gone for a couple of months, and Tanahashi worked his usual magic and had the Hollywood crowd fully behind him in a match that was under 15 minutes. The two shook hands and hugged afterwards.

Final thoughts:

Top-notch episode tonight. Each match was very good, but the main event was outstanding, as you’d expect from a match with Hiroshi Tanahashi in it. Gabriel Kidd’s return was a success, as well, and I hope to see him more regularly with NJPW Strong going forward.

Next week sees Fred Yehi take on Minoru Suzuki in the main event of NJPW Strong: Showdown night two.