Tonight’s episode of NJPW Strong was titled “Collision 2021,” with visiting NJPW legend Yuji Nagata making an appearance in the main event tonight ahead of his match with Jon Moxley next week on AEW Dynamite.
We saw a brief recap of “Filthy” Tom Lawlor after he’d just won this year’s NJPW Cup USA 2021 and current Strong Openweight title. The video reminded us that when Lawlor challenged anyone in the NJPW locker room to take him on, that it was his own Team Filthy teammate, “Dirty Daddy” Chris Dickinson, who wanted the first shot at Lawlor.
Barrett Brown and Adrian Quest defeated The DKC and Kevin Knight
The teams scuffled before the bell. Brown and the DKC started the match off together. DKC was amped going into this. Brown got the better of DKC on the mat early on before DKC tagged out to Knight. Brown then tagged out to Quest, where he and Knight had an evenly matched exchange together. Both are very athletic, but Knight more noticeably so -- the air he got on that leapfrog, jeez. Quest did a tornillo cross-body block after bouncing off the second rope.
Action almost spilled to the floor at one point, when Brown went for a dive onto Knight. Knight was able to slide back into the ring before Brown made it to the floor and landed a high dropkick before tagging out. Action began heating up between teams, with DKC able to get the better of Quest after his short respite on the apron. Quest was able to tag out to Brown, who came in to clean house. He’d at one point reverse a Kevin Knight tilt-a-whirl attempt that Brown turned into a swinging DDT.
The finish saw Adrian Quest make a blind tag into the ring and stick Knight with a standing shooting star press for the win. This was right after Brown nailed Knight with a claymore kick.
Things got chippy between partners after the win, as Brown seemed to have wanted the pin and the glory of winning the match. They bickered in the ring, and before they went to the back, they bumped fists. As they left the ring, Brown actually attacked Quest from behind. He then threw him into the ring and beat on Quest some more before heading to the locker room. Brown’s chippiness was now borderline psycho-rage. After a slow but clear build over recent episodes, Brown’s official heel turn is now in motion.
The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson) defeated Misterioso and Jordan Clearwater
The West Coast Wrecking Crew used to be called The One Percent and were regulars for companies like DEFY out of Seattle and Championship Wrestling From Hollywood and appeared on AEW Dark in March. Viewers may have caught Isaacs at the last Bloodsport event were he took on LA Dojo Young Lion Alex Coughlin, or last year in NWA where he and Thom Latimer won the tag titles.
Isaacs and Clearwater were in together first. Isaacs tried out-wrestling the taller Clearwater, attempting a few takedowns, but Clearwater was able to riggle away from the more aggressive Issacs and spike him with a running bulldog before tagging out to Misterioso.
Misteriso and Clearwater had a handle on Nelson for a few moments, but the more experienced Nelson was able to make it back towards his team’s corner, allowing Isaacs to throw in a cheap knee shot before Nelson would legally tag out to Isaacs. WCWC have a slight FTR vibe about them, at least in a context like NJPW Strong.
The match began heating up as soon as Misterioso hit the ring next. He used a frankensteiner on Isaacs that actually sent Isaacs to the floor, then threw Nelson through the ropes and did a tope con giro to the floor onto them. Back in the ring, Misterioso landed on Isaacs with a swanton for two. He landed a second-rope moonsault onto Isaacs after that, but Nelson made the save at a count of 2.5.
Misterioso held Isaacs in place as Clearwater came off the ropes with an elbow, but Isaacs moved and Clearwater nailed Misterioso instead. WCWC used a power bomb-running neckbreaker double team move to neutralize Clearwater out of the match. Isaacs picked Misterioso up in an exploder suplex hold and actually dumped him over the top rope to the floor instead of slamming him on the mat in the ring. Nelson followed up with tope suicida.
Back in the ring, Isaacs used a fireman’s carry on Clearwater and stood in the corner. Nelson then climbed to the top rope, then took one extra step onto the back of Clearwater and dropped a one-legged elbow from the heavens onto Misterioso. Isaacs then used a Death Valley Bomb on Clearwater where he planted Clearwater directly onto Nelson’s knees, then covered for the win. Impressive debut from the West Coast Wrecking Crew. These two would be an interesting matchup against Strong regular teams like the Logan Twins or the DKC and Kevin Knight.
The Wrecking Crew cut a promo backstage afterwards that made them feel like they’d been around the block already. They came off as a fresh team for the show, but they also didn’t come across like rookies, either. Nelson said all they care about in NJPW is beating people up, winning matches and winning championship. Isaacs told fans to “get used to the name,” West Coast Wrecking Crew.
Jon Moxley and Chris Dickinson defeated Yuji Nagata and Ren Narita
Moxley and Nagata began throwing elbows into each others’ faces as soon as the bell sounded. Nagata landed a big boot early on. Mox missed a sliding lariat, so then Nagata used a standing armbreaker on him, then dragged him to the red corner where he’d tag in Ren Narita. The younger Narita didn’t have a chance to do much as Mox quickly tagged out to Chris Dickinson. Viewers may recall Dicksinson and Narita’s dark horse banger of a match in February on NJPW Strong, the same episode that featured Moxley vs. KENTA for the IWGP US title in the main event. They showed flashes of the same kind of intensity when they were in together tonight.
When Dickinson threw Narita to the floor, Moxley put the boots to the neophyte. He also whipped him into the barricade outside the ring before rolling him back in. Moxley bullied Narita against the rope and scraped his elbow across Narita’s face, Snakepit style. Dickinson tagged in next, but Narita found a moment to escape to his side of the ring and tag out to a fresh Nagata, who began blasting Dickinson in the chest with his signature kicks before whipping him into the corner and landing another running boot before launching him with a butterfly suplex for two. The two began exchanging chops and elbows and I couldn’t help but want to see a singles bout between the “Dirty Daddy” and the “Blue Dandy.”
Nagata and Moxley were in together towards the end of the match and again traded hard blows, mostly elbows, plus some stiff headbutts from Moxley. Mox blasted Nagata with a lariat and then locked in a bully choke, but Nagata was able to muscle out of it and throw him with an exploder suplex. He’d then tag out to Narita, where they double-teamed Moxley after knocking Dickinson to the floor.
Narita was able to hit his signature front suplex off the ropes for two as Nagata and Dickinson brawled on the floor. Mox powered up and launched Narita with a release German suplex, then planted him with a perfect-looking Deathrider DDT for the win.
Nagata got back into the ring and got into Moxley’s face afterwards. Mox slapped Nagata, but Nagata slapped back then locked him in the Nagata Lock until three NJPW staffers and Chris Dickinson peeled Nagata off Moxley. Nagata flexed his 53-year-old guns and flashed the ZEA gesture before heading to the back. Mox checked to make sure his back teeth were still there as the show went to black.
Final thoughts: This was a top-notch episode of NJPW Strong. It felt both fresh and special. Barrett Brown officially turned heel after he went after tag partner Adrian Quest, which will seemingly lead to a new set of bouts with Brown vs. other Strong regulars this summer, now in a slightly different context.
The West Coast Wrecking Crew looked very good in their debut against the DKC and Kevin Knight, and I imagine they’ll be another solid fit with Strong down the road. The main event delivered in that it did what it was meant to do—get us hyped for Mox vs. Nagata on Dynamite—but also reminded us that Ren Narita and Chris Dickinson also kick plentiful amounts of ass. Another solid night of pro wrestling from New Japan.