STRONG Openweight Tag Team Tournament Round One:
Stray Dog Army (Barrett Brown & Misterioso) defeated Midnight Heat (Eddie Pearl & Ricky Gibson)
Pearl and Brown kept missing elbow drops on each other early on. Misterioso did a giant swing to Gibson later, and Brown caught Gibson in the face with a low dropkick mid-swing.
When Brown was running off the ropes, Eddie Pearl, who was on the ground outside the ring, pulled at Brown's ankle, tripping him up. This allowed Ricky Gibson to spike Brown with a DDT for a count of two.
Midnight Heat worked Brown over in their corner for a while. When the crowd started stomping and clapping in support of Brown, Pearl spat at the crowd, which elicited lots of boos.
Brown was almost able to tag out to Misterioso, but Midnight Heat pulled him back towards the center of the ring, slamming him down with a combination side Russian leg sweep and backcracker.
Misterioso made the save for Brown. Gibson whipped Misterioso into the ropes, but Misterioso caught himself before flying out of the ring, setting himself up between the top and middle ropes, much like Andrade el Idolo often does. He then threw Gibson to the floor and crashed onto Gibson with an Asai moonsault, but Misterioso looked to have slammed his foot/ankle/knee into the guardrail on the way down. It looked brutal live, and even more so on video. The live crowd gasped. Thankfully Misterioso was OK, I think, because just moments later he helped Brown finish off Midnight Heat. The finish came when Misterioso hopped back into the ring to catch Pearl with a superkick and lung-blower before Barrett Brown sent him flying with a Claymore kick for the win. Kudos to Misterioso for finishing the match smoothly because that Asai moonsault landing looked rough. Stray Dog Army advances to the semi-finals.
"Filthy" Tom Lawlor defeated Bad Dude Tito
Both Lawlor and Tito are in Japan right now for NJPW's G1 Climax 32 tour, with Lawlor a part of this year's A Block competition.
So, this was really good. Bad Dude Tito's style meshed perfectly with how "Filthy" Tom wrestles, and from the get-go you could sense an organic chemistry between the two.
Tito slammed Lawlor into the corner and lit him up with chops. Lawlor answered back with a few of his own. They traded leglocks and heel hooks next.
Tito used a waistlock takedown from behind before locking in a double wrist-lock. "Filthy" rolled out and used a drop toe-hold on Tito, causing him to fall forward. Lawlor then transitioned into a face lock before pivoting to Tito's legs. Lawlor yanked Tito's leg into a crab hold before falling backwards, pulling Tito's leg away from his hip flexor.
Lawlor jumped Tito into his guard and locked on a guillotine choke but Tito muscled him off. Lawlor teased a tomoe nage throw, then flipped Tito around into a rear naked choke while grapevining the legs. Tito escaped and slapped on a standing ankle lock before Lawlor moved to a triangle choke, then armbar.
The fight moved from the ground to the feet after about five minutes in. Lawlor connected with an enzuigiri kick to the back of Tito's head. Tito answered with one of his, then followed up with a rolling elbow. The crowd heated up.
Tito used an exploder suplex on Lawlor. Lawlor went for one of his own, but Tito countered and threw another exploder. Later, Tito caught Lawlor with a deadlift German suplex. Tito was on offense for much of this bout. He caught Lawlor with a blockbuster off the second rope and earned a close two-count. Lawlor moved to another rear naked choke, but Tito countered into a Blue Thunder bomb for another nearfall. Lawlor wouldn't stay down.
"Filthy" Tom ripped Tito with a Penalty Kick in the chest for two. He next went for a kamigoye knee strike, but Tito spat in his face. Lawlor then plowed him with the knee, then turned around while keeping Tito locked in a straightjacket hold and threw a knee to the back of Tito's head.
Lawlor went for another choke sleeper, but Tito rammed Lawlor into the corner before he could really cinch it in. The finish saw Lawlor spike Tito with a bulldog DDT, planting Tito head-first into the mat. Lawlor picks up the win in his last singles bout before the G1 Climax 32 tournament. Really good match.
STRONG Openweight Tag Team Tournament Round One:
Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) defeated Dark Order (Evil Uno & Alan Angels)
Dark Order got a loud reaction upon arrival. Lots of AEW fans, or non-regular NJPW fans, were in attendance at the Ignition tapings.
Angels and Fletcher had an excellent exchange at the top of the match. Aussie Open later hit some impressive double-team moves on Angels, at one point pulling off a double-team slingshot elbow that put Angels on the mat.
When Uno tagged in, the crowd popped before he could even do anything. The AEW rub. Uno at one point tossed Fletcher's leg to the referee, then took Fletcher down with a running neckbreaker. Angels reappeared and took both of Aussie Open down with a diving bodypress.
When Uno laid Fletcher out with a deadlift German suplex, five minutes had passed. Angels did a moonsault to Davis on the floor.
Later, Fletcher was able to take the heavier Uno down with a vertical suplex. He then tagged out to Mark Davis, who'd ragdoll Alan Angels around the ring, launching him from corner to corner. When the fight spilled onto the floor, Angels dove onto Davis with a tope through the ropes. When he rolled Davis back into the ring, he went for another aerial attack from the top rope, but Davis caught Angels mid-air with a chop.
Aussie Open put Angels down with a double-team Emerald Flowsion move for two. When they went for their finisher, Angels countered with a hurricanrana that took Davis out onto the floor. Evil Uno connected with a somersault senton onto Davis.
Dark Order used a quick combo of strikes before Uno pinned Fletcher for two. Ten minutes had passed. Uno, now shirtless, and Davis got into a chop battle next. The crowd was as loud as ever behind Dark Order at this point.
Davis super-plexed Uno off the second rope. Angels landed on Fletcher with a frog splash. Finally, Aussie Open were able to elbow Angels into a dazed stupor before putting him away with the Coriolis for an emphatic win. Aussie Opens advances to the semi-finals of the STRONG Openweight tag team tournament.
I liked "Filthy" Tom vs. Bad Dude Tito's match the best on tonight's episode, but the final bout between Aussie Open and Dark Order was awesome action. If innovative, high-octane tag team wrestling is your thing, you should probably check this one out.
Lawlor and Tito had an abbreviated main event style match that told a good story. Bad Dude Tito is one of the most underrated and overlooked wrestlers on the market today, and I imagine he'll make some noise this summer while on tour in Japan teaming with JONAH of TMDK.