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NJPW Strong results: Bullet Club vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Fred Rosser & Kevin Knight

The latest Strong Openweight Tag Team title tournament semifinal also took place.
strongignition

The final set of matches from NJPW Strong's Ignition tapings in Hollywood, California, aired Saturday.

Jeff Cobb defeated Jordan Clearwater

Clearwater returned to NJPW Strong after a few months away from the show. He has modified his look a bit, coming back in even better shape than he was before. Clearwater, sporting a new haircut and tan, wore a Nature Boy-esque robe to the ring.

Before things got underway, Clearwater did a slow, heelish disrobing before giving the crowd a few hip swivels. Cobb was not amused and went after the Karl Anderson trainee, but Clearwater looked to have expected an ambush and decked Cobb with a right hand.

They fought on the floor for a few moments. Back in the ring, Cobb was able to ragdoll Clearwater around the ring a bit -- impressive because Clearwater is approximately the same size as Kazuchika Okada. He’s not a small fry.

After laying Clearwater out with a vertical suplex, Cobb went for a standing moonsault but missed. Clearwater connected with a running neckbreaker, but missed on his Midas Touch finish. Cobb answered with a back suplex.

Minutes later, we saw a similar version of the sequence described above with Clearwater missing on the Midas Touch and Cobb taking advantage, putting him down with a swinging back suplex before putting Clearwater away for good after a Tour of the Islands. This was also nice because we got to hear announcer Ian Riccaboni once again be able to say “‘Aloha’ means goodbye!’” It’s been a while.

Fred Yehi defeated Bateman

This was a good, solid match that was as tough as it was logical. Both very much understand how to be themselves in the ring in that they already seem to know what works and what doesn’t. It makes for an organic flow to a match, natural, but not forced.

There was a point in this when Yehi unloaded a flurry of jumping knee drops onto Bateman in the corner, and the crowd applauded at the intensity of the knee drops alone.

Compared with other bouts at the Ignition tapings, this featured less action, but the crowd still sounded invested. The wider differences in style help the program feel fresh.

Yehi knocked Bateman silly with a uraken and then won the match via TKO after dropping a series of elbows while holding Bateman in a koji clutch. This was a good match. Let's get Yehi with the Blackpool Combat Club.

Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Semifinal: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) defeated Stray Dog Army (Barrett Brown & Misterioso) to advance

Misterioso stuck the quebrada in the ring early in this match. Earlier on the tapings, he crashed shin-first into the guardrail and it looked nasty. He toughed it out, though, and looked unshaken here.

Misterioso went for a double-jump moonsault, but Fletcher caught him with a superkick in mid-air on the way down.

Later, Davis of Aussie Open slammed Brown on the floor. Brown later connected with a suicide dive onto the floor, and Misterioso followed up with a tope con giro.

Aussie Open looked so damn good throughout this. They’ve looked fantastic in all of their NJPW outings, really. It’s amazing how they move for their sizes; they’re most definitely heavyweights but they move at the same pace as any current high-impact junior heavyweight does.

They won the match with their Coriolis finish: a double-pumphandle suplex bomb, pinning Brown to put Stray Dog Army away to advance to the finals in North Carolina against TMDK.

Bullet Club (Jay White, Hikuleo & Chase Owens) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Fred Rosser & Kevin Knight

Yuya Uemura was originally supposed to team with Tanahashi for this, but when Karl Fredericks was pulled from the NJPW Strong tag tournament, Uemura became his replacement and this turned into a special six-man match.

This was the first time ever that both the IWGP World Champion and STRONG Openweight champion have stood in the same ring together.

Tanahashi and White had a pose-off for the fans before things got underway. The two got the loudest reactions of the night. White teased squaring off with Tanahashi first, but he quickly tagged out to Chase Owens.

Knight tagged in after Rosser got some licks in on Owens. Knight has a very, very high leapfrog. Owens was able to come back against him and, at one point during the comeback, he shot a disgusting snot rocket Knight’s way.

Knight was able to put both Owens, then White, into a Boston crab, but Hikuleo entered the ring to shut him down. When White tagged back in, he mockingly played air guitar in Tanahashi’s face.

Hikuleo blasted Knight with a front-handed chop in the corner before ragdolling him into the same corner with a toss. Owens used a back rake on Knight.

After working him over for a few more minutes, Knight was able to connect with a sky-high dropkick on Owens before tagging out to Tanahashi.

White had entered the ring at this point and Tanahashi pointed his finger at him as he walked through the ropes into the ring. Tanahashi ducked a lariat from White, dashed to the opposite corner to take out Hikuleo on the apron, and then took White down with a flying forearm shot. He followed up with a rolling senton from the second rope for two.

White slowed Tanahashi down with a dragon screw leg whip before scoring a nearfall with a Bladebuster. When White put Tanahashi in a rear chinlock, the crowd was chanting and split for both men.

Later, Tana and Rosser did tandem dragon screw leg whips. He’d then use one on former rival, Hikuleo, too. Tanahashi reappeared and took Hikuleo down with a Slingblade. Rosser did an Earthquake squash next, followed by Knight coming down on Hikuleo with a standing frog splash. Knight was fired up and yelled “Let’s go!” before locking Hikuleo in a Boston crab. While Knight had Hikuleo in the crab, Tana locked Owens in the Texas Cloverhold, and Rosser locked White in his crossface chicken wing submission in a great photo moment.

Bullet Club eventually broke free. Hikuleo regained ground and put Knight down hard with a snap powerslam before chokeslamming him for the pin and the win for Bullet Club.

Afterward, White got on the mic and teased doing a babyface style promo. The California crowd loved him and chanted, “Thank you, Jay!” and it sounded like at first he was going to praise them. “I’m proof that NJPW Strong has been a f*cking success," he said, mentioning wrestlers from the LA Dojo and Team Filthy for making the show great. Owens and Hikuleo looked confused and thrown off by White’s sudden show of gratitude.

“Oh, I almost misspoke. Of course, I was always going to win this, with or without you! You really think I needed your support to win this?” He pointed at his IWGP title. “You should be thanking me!” The crowd began thanking him. “I don’t need Strong—Strong needs me!” He also mentioned that the crowd “wouldn’t have ever seen the likes of the guys in the back” if it weren’t for his hard work. He then did his usual spiel about selling out Madison Square Garden before claiming it was the Switchblade Era and exiting.

Final thoughts:

This was one of the more well-rounded episodes of NJPW Strong in the last few weeks with the main event really feeling like an important, big-time match. That and the singles bout between Yehi and Bateman were the standouts this week.

NJPW Strong: High Alert from Charlotte, North Carolina begins airing next week with stars like Jon Moxley, Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado scheduled for upcoming episodes, as well as the finals of the Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship between TMDK and Aussie Open.