Ahead of the show, tonight's episode of NJPW Strong was promoted as the hands-down biggest episode since the series' inception last July. This was also one of the first live stream presentations of the show on NJPW World. It’s usually uploaded right at 10 PM Eastern/7 PT in the States.
Brody King, Super ACH, Sterling Riegel & Logan Riegel defeated The DKC, Kevin Knight, Clark Connors & TJP
Brody King and his partners all came to the ring wearing the same ski mask he often does when he makes his entrance. Also, ACH now goes by "Super ACH," or at least according to NJPW's ring announcer tonight.
This was a great opener. Young lions DKC, Clark Connors, and Kevin Lee got into the ring and started jaw-jacking and chest-bumping with the opposing team before the match even started.
ACH kept his hoodie and face mask on as he and DKC kicked things off. The masked ACH blasted the newest Young Lion with hard chops early on before tagging out to Sterling Riegel. He and twin brother Logan used double-team offense, including an assisted neckbreaker spot. Lee and King got into it and had a great exchange of strikes and chops. Lee had a hydraulic kit but King answered back quickly with a senton.
Still in his hoodie and mask, ACH was next. Maybe he’s trying to cut weight. He, King and the Riegels laid into rookie Lee for the next few minutes. Lee is outrageously athletic and threw huge dropkicks. Keep an eye on him this year, for sure.
Clark Connors and the still-masked ACH were next in and had an excellent exchange. Connors was the proverbial "house of fire," and no, I don’t feel guilty about writing such a clichéd wrestling trope because that is truly how Connors came off when he came into the match.
Later, Connors landed a spear, and TJP landed a frog splash for close count until King broke up the count. Lee came in and launched a huge dropkick. DKC and ACH were in together next and when DKC missed a dropkick ACH kicked him in the chest while he was seated, then put him down with a brain buster to pick up the win for his team. Yes, he had wrestled the entire match in mask and hoodie. Really good stuff.
Ren Narita submitted Chris Dickinson
What an awesome match this turned out to be. Not that I was necessarily doubting it, but these two over-delivered tonight.
The match started out relatively slow and methodical, pretty quiet up until Narita threw the first chop that echoed in the empty venue. We were off from here, with both dishing it out at 100%. The two became increasingly more aggressive, throwing harder chops and slaps, all while shouting and generally kicking up the match intensity in bursts.
Dickinson seemed to get the better of Narita throughout the match as he dictated the pace. It was only a few minutes into the match and his chest was visibly red from chops.
"Dirty Daddy" locked in a heel hook type-submission on Narita, though the two didn’t let up with the chops while they were on the mat. Narita tried chopping and kicking his way out of the hold, which Dickinson had to break eventually. When they were back on their feet, they traded more chops until Dickinson used the Dragon screw leg whip to put Narita back to the mat. Narita somehow found some extra power inside of himself at around five minutes in when he muscled Dickinson into the corner and unloaded a flurry of forearms. Dickinson quickly returned and landed the death valley bomb on Narita but only garnered a two count. I think this was the first time someone kicked out of that move on the show.
Dickinson called for the finish and tried for a powerbomb, but couldn’t lift him up. He tried smacking Narita, But Narita suddenly exploded with super-hard strikes slabs and then locked on his modified Texas cloverhold finish for the submission win.
Announcers sold this as an upset and to be honest I’m pretty surprised with the result myself. Good choice in the end as both looked terrific. Good, hard-hitting stuff.
Jon Moxley (c) defeated KENTA to retain the IWGP US Heavyweight championship
A quick promo package aired explaining the backstory between the two. Definitely had the big match, especially in the short history of the show's existence.
The two went head for head as soon as the bell sounded and immediately started throwing elbows. Moxley took KENTA out with a hard tackle, then threw them into the corner. Interestingly, he also used a sliding lariat, a move first made famous by Masato Tanaka, but also often used by his rival from last year's G-1 Climax in 2019, Tomohiro Ishii.
Mox and KENTA were out to the floor moments later. Moxley tried suplexing KENTA but used a snap suplex of his own onto the mat on the floor.
KENTA brought out the red briefcase but Moxley blocked his attempt at an attack, then tried to give him a piledriver on top of the briefcase. KENTA reversed that then DDT'd Mox onto the briefcase.
Back in the ring, KENTA continued his assault. Hard kicks to Mox's back from KENTA, which Mox sold as though he was really getting the crap kicked out of him. It felt like the textbook example of a pro wrestling brawl, or one for the modern era.
KENTA kicked John Moxley square in the face with indignance, then yelled "come on!" mockingly at the US champ. KENTA played the merciless heel in this match, and was fantastic.
KENTA went for the GTS but Moxley blocked it and shoved KENTA out of the ring. He then followed up with a tope suicida through the ropes onto the floor. They continued fighting on the outside around the ring. Moments later, we saw Moxley on top of the entrance ramp where he ran off and did a jumping knee that connected with KENTA, presumably getting him back for the flying double stomp off the stage on AEW a few weeks ago.
Moxley tried setting up a table outside the ring but while he did that, KENTA grabbed the US title and bashed Mox in the head with it. KENTA then laid him across the table, climbed to the top rope, and connected with a flying elbow drop through the table, both landing on the floor in a heap as the referee began his count-out call.
Both made it back to the ring at 19. KENTA capitalized, connecting with a big boot then a running basement dropkick before stomping Moxley with a diving double stomp off the top rope for a very close count. KENTA then called for the finish and went for a Go 2 Sleep, but Moxley escaped. Moxley struck KENTA with a pretty violent German suplex, then caught KENTA with a flying lariat.
Mox tried to ground and power his way out of the match, but KENTA caught Moxley in the cross-face lock. Mox reversed that into a bully choke. KENTA transitioned back into Game Over. Before passing out, Moxley was able to break the hold and launched another flurry of strikes at KENTA.
Lots of trash talking between these two towards the end with KENTA even being blocked out after saying the F-word a couple times. KENTA had one final stand before Moxley drilled KENTA with the death rider for a definitive win. One of the top matches of the year so far.
If you weren't watching NJPW Strong before, this was a great episode to start off with. We basically got an enhanced edition of the weekly show, this time with a bigger main event than ever plus an outstanding undercard.
The opener was a fun and fast opener featuring new faces at the top of their game; Narita submitting Dickinson was intriguing, and the match itself was on a similar plane in terms of quality when compared with tonight's main event, which was an awesome brawl. It could have gone on another five or ten minutes, I'm sure, but these two never overstayed their welcome and really delivered a quality main event tonight, one worthy of the past month's worth of promotion by NJPW and AEW.