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NJPW Strong results: Tom Lawlor vs. Fred Rosser Openweight title match

Minoru Suzuki also took on Tony Deppen on this week's show.
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Saturday's show featured the last three matches from May's NJPW Strong: Collision in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with "Filthy" Tom Lawlor defending his Strong Openweight Championship in the main event against Fred Rosser where if he loses, he must leave NJPW Strong.

David Finlay defeated Danny Limelight

Before the match, Limelight grabbed the mic and called everyone bozos. He brought up the time in Washington D.C. where he picked up a win for Team Filthy, but Finlay, who was on the opposing team, wouldn't shake his hand and hit him with a sheleighleigh instead. 

Limelight made reference to Finlay having a silver spoon growing up in wrestling and being the son of Fit Finlay. He implied that he didn't care about Finlay's background and that he would shove Finlay's sheleighleigh up his ass just to get it out.

Finlay lunged at Limelight a few times, but Limelight evaded, often sliding to the floor. Finlay was eventually able to catch Limelight with a high dropkick and float-over suplex for two.

Limelight caught Finlay with a low rolling savate kick to the stomach before doing a slight merengue dance to celebrate. Later, Finlay caught Limelight with a running elbow and a Blue Thunder bomb for another two.

After a backbreaker and a big lariat, Finlay took Limelight down for the count with the Trash Panda, picking up the win.

Afterward, Finlay offered a hand in an effort to squash any beef they might have had between each other. Limelight spit in his face, so Finlay decked him with his sheleighleigh.

- United Empire appeared for a backstage promo. Great-O-Khan and Will Ospreay basically said that they were willing to take on anyone in NJPW Strong and that they were taking over. 

Minoru Suzuki defeated Tony Deppen

Deppen went for an ankle pick takedown early, but Suzuki quickly found himself atop Deppen in mount position. Deppen countered and laid across him with a lateral press for a two-count.

Suzuki held Deppen in a straight ankle lock and then a single-leg crab while Deppen held onto the ropes for a break. Suzuki took his time letting go of the holds.

On their feet, they traded kicks and hard palm strikes. The match spilled out to the floor after Suzuki locked Deppen in a draping armbar on the ropes. Suzuki ran down the entranceway and gave Deppen a penalty kick before throwing Deppen back into the ring. Deppen threw a few knees and forearms in return before delivering running knees to Suzuki in the corner. 

They did an elbow-for-elbow spot until the crowd started to applaud. Suzuki got the better of the exchange, knocking Deppen to the ground.

Deppen landed a death valley bomb for two. He blew a snot rocket onto Suzuki before crashing into him with a running elbow from behind. He then pinned Suzuki, who kicked out at the count of one. Suzuki completely no-sold it while Deppen did the NXT-style "this can't be happening!" bug-eyed face. 

Suzuki eventually put Deppen away with the Gotch-style piledriver for the win. He teased doing the same to the referee afterward, but let go of the hold. 

Fred Rosser defeated "Filthy" Tom Lawlor to win the NJPW Strong Openweight title

They ran a very nice preview package of the events leading up to tonight's main event -- the rubber match and third of their singles matches against each other on NJPW Strong.

Retired NJPW referee Tiger Hattori appeared in the ring before the match to present the Strong Openweight Championship to the wrestlers and to the crowd. It gave the match a stronger feel of importance right off the bat. Hattori joined Ian Riccaboni and Matt Rehwoldt on commentary, but I'm not sure if he was mic'd up correctly.

The two broke into fisticuffs once the bell rang. They teased finishing spots almost immediately. This was fast and furious action from these two from the get-go.

The match spilled out onto the floor. Lawlor did a second rope dive to the floor onto Rosser. A lady in the crowd shouted at Lawlor after that and when Lawlor asked her what Rosser was going to do, she screamed "He's gonna kick your ass!" 

Rosser got back up and put Lawlor down with a backdrop onto the apron, but Lawlor got his legs caught in the ropes and didn't hit flat against the apron. He then turned Lawlor inside out with a running lariat on the floor. Rosser even locked him in a chicken wing facelock across the ring post.

Rosser crashed straight down onto Lawlor on the floor. The pace slowed from here with Rosser mostly in control as the crowd chanted "Fred! Fred!" 

When they went to the floor again, Lawlor glued himself to Rosser with a rear naked choke. Lawlor forced Rosser beyond ringside and into the backstage area. After some clashing and clanging, Lawlor reappeared with referee Jeremy Marcus whom he was dragging back to the ring in order to begin the official countout.

Rosser reappeared on screen at the count of eight, his face covered in blood. The rest of Team Filthy (JR Kratos & West Coast Wrecking Crew) appeared as well and blocked Rosser's path to the ring. David Finlay and Alex Coughlin came out and went after Team Filthy. They were successful, giving Rosser enough time to get back into the ring at the count of 19.

Medical staff and referee Marcus checked on Rosser in the neutral white corner before getting the match back on track. The medic wiped some of Rosser's blood from his eyes before approving him to get back into the match. 

When Marcus called for the time-in, Lawlor darted across the ring and crushed Rosser with a jumping double-knee attack in the corner. Lawlor would then wipe Rosser's blood onto his own chest. Filthy. 

When Lawlor went for a running PK, Rosser caught his foot and took Lawlor down with a dragon screw legwhip before mounting him and hammering down fists. He would lock Lawlor in a standing arm lock before Lawlor grabbed the ropes. 

Lawlor was able to lock Rosser in a tornado front facelock, squeezing and walking Rosser by his bloody head and neck to the middle of the ring. Rosser powered out and laid Lawlor out with a running death valley bomb for two. Lawlor answered back with an exploder suplex, but Rosser was up immediately. Lawlor delivered another but this time, Rosser was slower to his feet. When the 15-minute call sounded, Lawlor had laid Rosser out with a wrist clutch exploder.

Lawlor then climbed to the top rope and dove off, but Rosser caught him mid-air with.a lariat. He followed it up with a fireman's carry gutbuster. He and Lawlor had another quick exchange before Rosser landed a basement claymore kick into Lawlor's head for a close two. The crowd chanted "Fred!" over and over.

The two fought on the apron again. Rosser stuck the backdrop onto the apron this time, but Lawlor would wrap his forearm around Rosser's throat right after the backdrop, locking him in a rear naked choke. Rosser broke free by maneuvering Lawlor over his shoulder and into a tombstone piledriver position. Rosser actually made a point of walking off the safety mats and spiking Lawlor with the tombstone on concrete.

Rosser threw Lawlor back into the ring and decked him with a short-arm lariat. He earned a two count with an Emerald Frosion, but Lawlor answered back with a TTD of his own for two. 20 minutes had passed.

Lawlor then used a high angle crossface suplex, a move I don't think I had ever seen before now. He blasted Rosser with a hard knee to the back of the head for two. 

Lawlor then sucked some blood from Rosser's head wound before again locking him in a sleeper. Rosser tried rolling through, but Lawlor held on tightly. Rosser climbed to the middle rope and before fully passing out, Rosser jumped off, slamming both he and Lawlor onto the center of the mat. It broke the hold, but Lawlor was back up quickly and locked on the sleeper again. Rosser swung around and locked Lawlor in a sleeper headlock of his own.

When Lawlor tried reaching for the ropes to break the hold, Rosser kicked his arm out of the away, blocking it. He got it into a hammerlock, and with that and the crossface headlock he had locked on, he suddenly had Lawlor trapped in his signature submission: the crossface chicken wing.

Lawlor was able to grab the bottom rope for a break, but Rosser dragged Lawlor back to the center of the ring and threw on an STF chicken wing after bludgeoning Lawlor with forearms. After a few moments, Lawlor tapped out and Rosser became Strong Openweight Champion.

Hattori presented Rosser with the championship belt and Rosser celebrated with family and friends in the crowd a few moments later.

The new champion grabbed the mic afterwards and said he didn't care if he was in front of 50 people or 10,000 people because it (wrestling) was still fun for him. He talked about being in the Nexus and the Prime Time Players and his short stint with Bob Backlund in WWE, but he said there was no place better to be than "under the bright lights of NJPW Strong." 

He then thanked his mom, who he called his biggest supporter, and his dad, who he called his biggest hater. He said his dad asked him "Why not AEW?" and Rosser said they turned him down twice. He said WWE turned him down over 40 times. "Without commitment, you'll never start, but most importantly, without consistency, you'll never finish." Before heading to the back, he got the crowd to chant "Thank you, Grandpa!" for his 87-year-old grandfather who was in the crowd that night.

Final thoughts:

Simply put, tonight's main event was one of the best pro wrestling matches of the year. It also resulted in one of the most satisfying blow-offs to a year-long storyline that I can remember. To say it was simple, but effective is true, but that also doesn't do the match enough justice. This was effective, visceral, violent pro wrestling that would have worked in any generation. Do yourself a favor and check out "Filthy" vs. "Mr. No-Days-Off."

Next week, NJPW Strong will air a special called United Empire: Rising.