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NJPW Strong results: Tag Team Turbulence kicks off

NJPW Strong: Tag Team Turbulence

NJPW’s Tag Team Turbulence tournament kicked off tonight. It was the first night of the eight-team tournament, with lots of attention on the returning Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson), who have been away from NJPW since 2016.

Tag Team Turbulence, round one: The Good Brothers (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) defeated TJP and Clark Connors

Connors and TJP aren’t strangers to each other: They first squared off at the 2019 Super J-Cup, but later joined forces shortly after for NJPW’s Super Junior Tag League that fall. They’d face the returning Good Brothers tonight, who fans have seen most recently on IMPACT and AEW. This was both Gallows’ and Anderson’s first appearance on Strong.

TJP and Connors impressed early on with double-team attacks, with TJP landing a basement dropkick after Connors dropped an elbow on Anderson. Gallows tagged in next, bailing his partner out. A fearless Connors threw haymakers at the 6’8” Gallows, but the veteran absorbed pretty much everything the “White Rhino” threw at him and had him on the mat with relative ease after two high kicks. Alex Koslov accidentally called him “Luke Gallows” in commentary.

Gallows worked Connors over in the middle of the ring, but when Gallows missed an elbow drop, Connors saw his chance to slip away and tag out to TJP. A dazed Gallows tagged out to Anderson. TJP quickly took Anderson out with a springboard uppercut, then took Gallows off the apron with a dropkick for good measure.

The finish came a few minutes later when the Good Brothers made a swift comeback, taking both Connors and TJP out with relative ease: Anderson put TJP down with his signature spinebuster while Gallows eliminated Connors from the ring after another big boot. The two put TJP away with the Magic Killer to win in 8:01. The Good Brothers advance to the second round of Tag Team Turbulence.

Tag Team Turbulence, round one: Yuji Nagata and Ren Narita defeated  Fred Yehi and Wheeler Yuta

Narita kicked Yuta low early on. Yuta did a nice job of visually selling the idea that he didn’t want to exchange strikes with Narita. The two went into a smooth amateur-style exchange before both would tag out to their respective partners.

On commentary, Kevin Kelly noted that both Nagata and Yehi have collegiate wrestling backgrounds, and that Nagata would have been an Olympic representative for Japan if he hadn’t turned pro. It should be noted that Nagata’s younger brother, Katsuhiko Nagata, would later represent Japan at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where he won the silver medal in Greco-Roman (63–66 kg). These two were very good together, Yehi and Nagata. Smooth and “realistic” wrestling from the two in their short exchange.

Nagata would later work over Yuta’s arm, tenderizing it for kohai Narita, who really does stand out on this show whenever he’s on it. Alex Koslov mentioned his excellent match with Chris Dickinson on the show from back in February. Narita has a distinct presence, for sure.

Nagata landed an exploder on Yehi and tagged out to Narita, who quickly fell victim to a barrage of double-team offense from Yuta and Yehi in the blue corner. Yuta used a bridging German suplex for two. Narita later responded with his own suplexes, first with a wristlock suplex followed by a high front suplex for two before Yehi stepped in to break the count. Nagata wasn’t happy with that, so he stepped in to take Yehi out.

Narita then did the “execution” gesture, a thumb across the throat, then whipped Yuta into the ropes and caught him with another high front suplex, this time with a bridge. Narita pinned Yuta in 10:59. Narita and Nagata advance to the semi-finals.

Tag Team Turbulence, round one: West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs) defeated Kevin Knight and The DKC

Right before this match got under way, Kevin Kelly announced that NJPW Strong will have a live taping at Thunder Studios in Long Beach on August 16.

Katsuyori Shibata’s newest pupils, Kevin Knight and the DKC, were amped up beforehand. Knight was able to get the better of Jorel Nelson early. He tagged the DKC in quickly, but Nelson used a jawbreaker on DKC, then tagged out to Royce Isaacs, who would then slam DKC into the corner. The DKC answered back with a flurry of Giant Baba-esque chops, then locked Isaacs into a crucifix on the mat. Isaacs powered out of that, then dropped DKC throat-first onto the top rope with a stun-gun before tagging Nelson back into the match.

At the five-minute mark, Knight landed a high dropkick, tilt-a-whirl slam and basement spear in quick succession. Isaacs answered back minutes later with a cool-looking pump-handle powerslam.

Knight almost nabbed a victory for his team when he used an inside cradle to pin Isaacs for two. It wasn’t enough in the end, though: WCWC would win the match in 7:32 after Nelson used an assisted diving elbow drop off of Isaacs/Knight (Isaacs was holding Knight in a fireman’s carry hold); Isaacs then slammed Knight back-first onto Nelson’s knees for the pin.

Tag Team Turbulence, round one: Violence Unlimited (Brody King & Chris Dickinson) defeated Team Filthy (JR Kratos & Danny Limelight)

The King/Dickinson combo is relatively new. All four in this match have been important cogs in the NJPW Strong machine this year, and Kratos vs. King in a singles main event from a few months ago was arguably one of the best stand-alone matches in the show’s short history.

King and Kratos darted at each other as soon as the bell sounded, crashing into each other with giant lariats. Neither budged. Elbows came next, and still, neither moved. It wasn’t until King exploded off the ropes into Kratos with a running lariat did the Team Filthy enforcer leave his feet. But that, too, was short lived: Kratos was immediately up, then delivered a big running lariat of his own, knocking King to the mat. King, too, stood back up without hesitation and somehow put Kratos back onto the mat with a back body drop before tagging out to “Dirty Daddy” Chris Dickinson.

Dickinson used to be a part of Team Filthy until they turned on him after he challenged leader and current STRONG Openweight champion, Tom Lawlor, to a match. As soon as Dickinson was in the ring, he chased after both Kratos and Danny Limelight, an attempt at personal revenge before really digging into the more competitive aspects of the match.

It was a brief chase, though, because Team Filthy launched straight into an aggressive double-team barrage in their best effort to wear Dickinson out. Dickinson took a good amount of punishment from both Limelight and Kratos before he was finally able to tag back out to King.

Dickinson and King unleashed their own relentless double-team attack next, with King squashing Limelight with an avalanche in the corner before Dickinson sliced him up with hard (and loud) chops. When Dickinson went to charge at Limelight again, JR Kratos, who was standing on the floor, held onto Dickinson’s ankle to distract him. He’d eventually launch Dickinson over his head with a big German suplex, but Brody King pounced on Kratos as soon as he was back to his feet, putting him back down with a lariat. Kratos rolled out to the floor, so King then did a tope suicida through the ropes and crash-landed onto Kratos.

Back in the ring, Limelight went for a low blow behind the ref’s back, but Dickinson blocked it. Dickinson then clobbered him with a lariat that turned Limelight inside out. Finally, and in emphatic fashion, Dickinson laid Limelight out with a deadlift German suplex and running Death Valley Bomb to pick up the win for Violence Unlimited, who now also have advanced to the Tag Team Turbulence semi-finals.

Final thoughts: This was a tight episode with tons of action. Each match was around ten minutes or less, with each of the matches being either good or very good. The main event had the most intensity and energy, plus it had months of backstory already built into it, so it felt big-time despite being relatively short. And I think I speak for a lot of other fans out there when I ask of NJPW: Please give us more Brody King vs. JR Kratos in the future.

Based on tonight’s results, the Tag Team Turbulence semi-finals look like this:

  • The Good Brothers vs. Yuji Nagata and Ren Narita
  • West Coast Wrecking Crew vs. Violence Unlimited