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NJPW Strong results: Tama Tonga vs. PJ Black


Alex Zayne and Adrian Quest defeated ACH and Blake Christian

Lots of innovative aerial action in this one. ACH and quest started first. ACH clearly had a distinct poise compared with the younger fellows, a real pro. He and Alex Zayne had a nice exchange midway through.

After five minutes or so of action, after Zayne had been in control for a few moments, ACH was able to enzuigiri himself out of Quests offense. He tagged out to Blake Christian, who was exceptional whenever he was in.

Late in the match, Zayne went for a pump handle, but Christian reversed the hold into a cradle for two. Zayne countered his counter with a cradle of his own and bam—Zayne nabbed the win for his team. Somewhat futile booking considering today’s news regarding Zayne, as he has reportedly signed with WWE. That's wrestling, folks.

"Filthy" Tom Lawlor defeated Fred Rosser via submission

Lawlor came out with JR Kraots and Rust Taylor, who we saw last week. These three together are called Team Filthy, according to the banner Kratos and Taylor held up before the match.

Lawlor threw his filthy ring towel at Rosser before the match started. Tom proceeded to strip down from his denim shorts to reveal another, skimpier pair of denim shorts. Who doesn't love Filthy Tom?

Lawlor's MMA-centric offense looked great here. It created this great and very clear contrast in their styles, Rosser showcased the classic North American "wrestler's wrestler" style, contrasting with Lawlor, the gutsy martial arts technician.

Rosser suplexed Lawlor onto the apron midway through this. His offense looks good, but more safe compared with Lawlor's style.

Filthy Tom spent the next part of the match working Rosser’s left arm and shoulder, slowing the pace. He punished Rosser with low kicks. Rosser toughed it out and cradled Lawlor for a surprise two count. Lawlor immediately slapped on an arm breaker before Rosser inched his way to the bottom rope for a break. 

Lawlor looked to be in control of things until towards the end, when Rosser went for a fireman's gutbuster. Lawlor was able to reverse it into a cloverhold, then into an STF before Rosser made it to the ropes for the break. Rosser later was able to pull off the gutbuster, but it wasn't enough to put Lawlor away; Filthy Tom tapped Rosser with a-bow-and-arrow armlock/leglock. 

The story here is that Rosser lost, but not by much, according to Kevin Kelly. Overall it was a good match with a nice finish that seems like it could lead to a rematch down the line.

Juice Robinson, Karl Fredericks & Brody King defeated Bullet Club (Jay White, Tonga Loa & Chase Owens)

Solid tag action here. White and Fredericks started things off. These two are going to have barn burners down the road. 

These two didn’t have too much time in the ring together, but it felt like they’d been rivals for years. The towering Fredericks did a leapfrog and crossbody block early on, but with all the grace of a SANADA or a Ricky Steamboat. Very impressive.

Tonga Loa and Chase Owens started double-teaming Fredericks as the match continued. Brody King came in and cleaned house midway through and looked beastly. Lots of action throughout with the clash between White and Fredericks sticking out.

Towards the end, White spiked King with a snap DDT. He then rolled King to the floor and made sure Owens was able to take out Robinson in the ring. Robinson landed his Pulp Friction finish in the end, picking up the W for his team.

Tama Tonga defeated PJ Black

Well-paced main event match. Tonga was slow and cunning at the top of this, really dictating the pace, slowing it down  from the get-go. After watching Tama Tonga for so long—I'm sure I'll catch flack for this, but hear me out: Inside the ring, Tama Tonga is a lot like Keiji Muto. Sure, we initially associate Muto with moonsaults and handspring back elbows, but I am referring specifically to Tonga's deliberate pacing, grinding his match to his flow, exploding in short bursts for stomps or an elbow drop. Tonga doesn't really turn on the juice until it's necessary, just as Muto often would like to do.

Black landed with plancha to the floor early on. He busted his nose open early on in this, so there would be moments in the match where production may have been forced to hold wide shots to avoid showing blood on screen. Black used a quebrada, caught Tonga, and turned it into a falling inverted DDT. 

The last couple minutes of this were high-energy, with both Black and Tonga turning up the juice late in this, getting the win with the gun stun. We didn't get a clear view of the finish, though, as the camera was stuck on the wide shot during the pin. 

Nonetheless, good match. The stakes weren't all that high, but by the end of the match it felt like it mattered. Tama Tonga needs a singles run soon.

Tonga told Black afterwards: "Yeah I see you ... but do you see me? Do all of you see me now?"

Final thoughts:

Another good show from the NJPW Strong crew this week. Gradual storyline and character development throughout. Fred Rosser is finding a niche, I think. Tom Lawlor and the new Team Filthy with JR Kratos and Rust Taylor could be a great "outsider" element for the show going forward. And hopefully, there may be something in store for Tama Tonga down the road in terms of a singles run, which, again, I think he desperately needs, as I think he would kill it.