Tonight saw the last installment of episodes from the recent NJPW Strong: Rivals taping in Hollywood.
Daniel Garcia defeated Yuya Uemura via submission
This was really good. Yuya Uemura has gotten huge in the past two or three years. He could pass for an American football player now, easily.
They went back and forth down on the mat early on. When they broke, Garcia did a mock clap at Uemura, a patronizing “good for you” gesture. Uemura put Garcia down briefly with a few Ricky Steamboat armdrags, which he has down pat.
Garcia was aggressive in his comeback, stomping, punching and even biting Uemura. He blasted Uemura with a loud chop. Uemura exploded back with a shotgun dropkick and a flying forearm. He earned a two count after dropping a running elbow on Garcia, then another after a backdrop suplex. He planted Garcia with a high-angle German for another count of two. Garcia busted out of Uemura’s double-bolt suplex.
Both men traded elbows and lariats. Garcia went for a sharpshooter, but Uemura rolled Garcia into a cradle for a close nearfall. Garcia next laid Uemura out with a piledriver, which only earned him a two count. Frustrated, Garcia immediately began throwing hammerfists down on Uemura before locking him in a low-angle sharpshooter. Uemura fought the pain while trying to grab the ropes for a break, but in the end he couldn’t take it; Garcia would pick up the win via submission.
Garcia offered up a handshake afterwards, but Uemura shoved Garcia instead. Their rivalry doesn’t appear to be over just yet.
Black Tiger defeated Rocky Romero
This crowd loved Rocky Romero. They started chanting “RO-CKY!” as soon as his music hit. The two started brawling from the get-go. Black Tiger gave Romero a lariat and sent him over the guardrail. Romero then landed a hurricanrana off the guardrail onto the floor.
Tiger landed an elbow to the back of Romero’s head, then used a neckbreaker on him for a two-count. Romero leveled up later on and returned Tiger’s attack with a flurry of chops. The crowd was loud in support of Romero, the fourth Black Tiger. He threw the new Black Tiger into the corner and landed a couple Forever Clotheslines before spiking him with a satellite DDT.
Black Tiger went for the Tiger Driver, but Romero slipped out and locked Tiger in an armbar. Tiger lifted Romero in the air with Romero still attached to Tiger; Tiger planted him with a short powerbomb to shake him off.
Romero came back and tried ripping off Tiger’s mask. Romero took Tiger out with a tope suicida moments later. He threw Tiger back in the ring and landed Sliced Bread, but only for two. The crowd was pretty hot by this point in the match. Romero ran up the corner post for Sliced Bread #2, but Tiger caught Romero and spiked him with a tombstone piledriver. Both wrestlers were flat on the mat as the ten-minute call sounded. Tiger would attempt another Tiger Driver, but Romero reversed it into another frankensteiner. He then caught Tiger with a knee, then tried coming off the ropes with another, but Tiger decked Romero with a huge lariat of his own. He finally used a sloppy Tiger Driver on Romero for the somewhat shock win.
Afterwards, Black Tiger grabbed a kendo stick and looked like he was going after Romero some more, but Romero caught Tiger in an armbar and wouldn’t let go until staff and security got involved.
Ten-Man Tag Team Elimination match: Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, West Coast Wrecking Crew, JR Kratos & Danny Limelight) defeated Clark Connors, Fred Rosser, Rust Taylor, the DKC & Adrian Quest)
Quick note on the rules: If a wrestler is pinned, submitted, or thrown over the top rope, they are eliminated from the match.
“Filthy” Tom and Danny Limelight trapped Clark Connors in the corner and mauled him just after the bell sounded. Limelight landed a high dropkick, then danced a little. Connors caught Limelight coming off the ropes with a huge pounce and a German suplex that folded Limelight. Quest tagged in later and caught Limelight with a corkscrew bodypress off the second rope. Announcer Alex Koslov mentioned that Quest has been wrestling since he was 13 years old.
Limelight tagged out to Jorel Nelson, who quickly tagged partner Royce Isaacs. West Coast Wrecking crew then grabbed Quest and hoisted him up into a fireman’s carry-into German suplex double-team maneuver. The rest of Team Filthy then stormed the ring and took out their opponents on the opposite side so that they’d have enough room to do the simultaneous five-man Team Filthy Pose.
Later, Quest was able to put Limelight down with a reverse frankensteiner and finally tag out to the DKC, who came in like a house afire. He chopped up Nelson and Isaacs, and Limelight as well until WCWC came into the ring to take out the DKC. They did a slingshot Death Valley bomb onto Nelson’s knees, thus creating a backcracker effect on the aforementioned Death Valley Bomb Isaacs used. The team then pressed the DKC into the air and hurled the Young Lion out of the ring with a double press slam. This was the first official elimination of the match.
WCWC planted Adrian Quest with a spinning vertical suplex into Liger bomb combo and earned a nearfall. Danny Limelight then connected with a high frog splash off the top, but when he went for the pin, Quest rolled Limelight onto his shoulders with a crucifix for the three-count. Limelight was the second elimination of the match.
WCWC went after Fred Rosser next and tried dumping him over the top rope. Rosser bit both Nelson and Isaacs to break free and inch closer towards the center of the ring. Rosser then eliminated Isaacs after connecting with a fireman’s carry gutbuster and a running single-leg basement dropkick to the face, scoring the pinfall.
Rosser and rival Tom Lawlor were in together next, but before they could mix it up, Lawlor distracted the referee for a moment so Jorel Nelson could pop in and low-blow Rosser behind the ref’s back. Nelson would then throw Rosser over the top rope to eliminate him.
Rust Taylor was in next. He and Nelson traded hard forearm shots. Taylor locked Nelson in a single-leg crab/footlock.“Filthy” Tom ran in to break it up, but Taylor back-body dropped him while still holding Nelson in the half-crab. JR Kratos pulled Nelson’s arm closer to the ropes for a break, a blatant and desperate disregard of the rules in front of the referee. Before Nelson could reach the ropes, Clark Connors appeared from around the corner and took Kratos out with a tackle. This meant that Nelson couldn’t get close enough to the bottom rope for a break, so he tapped out and was eliminated. Lawlor took Taylor out with an enzuigiri. Taylor blocked a single-leg with a knee strike and tagged out to Connors. Lawlor and Connors went shot-for-shot in the middle of the ring. Lawlor caught Connors with a triangle choke on the top rope. Lawlor flexed for the crowd as referee Jeremy Marcus yelled at him to break the hold.
While Connors and Lawlor were fighting on the ring apron, Taylor and Kratos were brawling at ringside. Kratos kept trying to assist Lawlor while he was with Taylor on the apron. Connors finally darted across the apron and speared Lawlor, taking both Lawlor and himself onto the floor and out of the match. Connors and Lawlor then brawled around ringside and into the backstage area.
Kratos pounded Taylor with elbow shots, and later used a massive Liger bomb on Taylor to eliminate him from the match. Kratos thought he had won, but Quest appeared from the opposite side of the ring and got in Kratos’ face. In response, Kratos looked at Quest and flipped him the double-bird. Quest landed two low running dropkicks to Kratos’ knee. He flew through the ropes and took out the rest of Team Filthy on the floor.
Kratos welcomed Quest back into the ring with a series of big front-handed chops, then plastered him with a running lariat that turned Quest inside out. Kratos scored the pinfall and was the last man standing, which means Team Filthy are your winners.
Yet another solid hour of pro wrestling from NJPW Strong. I thought the standout was the opener, Daniel Garcia vs. Yuya Uemura, though Black Tiger vs. Rocky Romero had the best crowd response and a well-built finish. The ten-man tag did a good job at furthering a few storylines while not repeating the same matches these guys have had in the recent past.
Episodes from the Strong Style Evolved tapings in Tampa will begin airing next week.