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NJPW Strong results: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Brody King

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Tonight's episode of NJPW Strong was taped in Riverside, CA at the New Japan Detonation show.

Jonathan Gresham defeated Gabriel Kidd

Kidd shook announcer Kevin Kelly’s hand and told him he loved him before the match. Kelly told him the same. This was Kidd’s first match in six months after what’s reported to have been a tumultuous year for him.

They shook hands before the match. When it kicked off, the two went into a fluid mat exchange that lasted a few minutes. Gresham had an arguable edge over the younger Kidd, but even still, it was hard for either to gain the upper hand. Neither threw strikes or resorted to dirty technique. 

Not being able to take Kidd down or get a real advantage frustrated and annoyed Gresham midway through the bout. He’d later “accidentally” poked Kidd in the eye. This was disputable, albeit in a kayfabe kind of way. Gresham apologized and offered his hand. A lot of the crowd booed this, but some sounded delighted.

Gresham teased throwing a punch or elbow over the course of this. He got a lot of mileage out of this and was able to get the crowd to react without having to do all that much. It was a good sub-story within the match. 

At around ten minutes in, Kidd bodyslammed Gresham. He later went to put Gresham away with the Billy Robinson-style single-arm suplex he's known to use, but Gresham escaped. After a series of reversals, Gresham picked up the win with a headscissors pin combination.

United Empire (WIll Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & TJP) defeated LA Dojo (Ren Narita, Karl Fredericks & Clark Connors)

This turned out to be a pretty exciting tag match. Both teams jaw-jacked with each other and it quickly turned into a brawl. The bell rang. Fredericks landed a crazy tope con giro to the floor in the first minute. The LA Dojo team was fired up for this one.

After the Dojo babyfaces worked TJP over for a few minutes, Cobb got involved to even the score when he launched Narita into a guardrail on the floor behind the ref’s back. It got a good reaction from the crowd. He’d later ragdoll Narita around the ring, impressing the crowd with a squatting deadlift vertical suplex, again propelling him comically far.

Ospreay used a spinning backbreaker on Narita. He chopped Narita and the sound rang out like a pistol firing. Connors eventually caught the hot tag after Narita threw Ospreay coming off the ropes with a front suplex. Connors cleaned house.

Before the ten-minute announcement sounded, Connors caught TJP with an insane snap powerslam, then speared Ospreay on the apron. 

TJP later took Narita out with a cradle back suplex. Fredericks and Cobb were in the ring together next when Fredericks caught Cobb with a big spinebuster. He earned a two-count after a jumping elbow drop.

Connors went to spear TJP towards the end of the match but he couldn't because his knee gave out. Earlier on, TJP had hyper-extended Connors’ knee, so it’d already been tenderized. He locked in a modified scorpion deathlock. This gave Cobb a chance to stamp Fredericks out completely after a Spin-Cycle suplex. Connors broke up the pin. Cobb then put Fredericks down with a Tour of the Islands for a decisive-looking pin. 

Despite the match being over, TJP kept hold on his submission lock, ripping on Connors’ knee. Narita tried attacking the group but staff held him back. Narita escaped and tried taking the three heels out, but he’d get stomped out again. United Abominations posed with their belts in the ring. The crowd showered them with boos. The group messed with Kevin Kelly at the announcers’ table before they’d exit to the back. 

NEVER Openweight Championship match: Tomohiro Ishii (c) defeated Brody King to retain

What a match.

They didn’t waste any time getting into the violence. In terms of style, this was the total opposite of Gresham vs. Kidd. They exchanged elbows and shoulder blocks. Neither would go down, neither wanted to give an inch. The bigger King was able to take Ishii down a few times, though, once laying him out after a senton.

Ishii went for a vertical suplex but King shut it down quickly. He blasted Ishii with chops. The first two were so loud. Ishii took a number of them and insisted King throw more at him until he collapsed in the corner. Ishii’s chest was bright red. 

It looked like they’d been through actual war by the five minute mark. Ishii somehow was able to spike King with a brainbuster and later chop and elbow him hard in the opposite corner. King was barely able to survive Ishii’s offensive and flattened him with a lariat. 

King crushed Ishii in the corner with a cannonball. Ishii reacted like he’d gotten into a car accident, just pure agony. King used a piledriver for two. 

They traded nasty elbows. The crowd seemed half in support of King, half in support of Ishii. Ishii threw King with a release German suplex off the ropes. He tried taking King out with a number of lariats of his own, but King wouldn’t go down. King went down after a headbutt, then Ishii went for a Sliding D. King caught Ishii. They were up on their feet and eventually Ishii laid King out with a lariat. 

King shouted his tag team partner Chris Dickinson out before dropping Ishii on his head with a Death Valley Bomb for two. 

King went for the Gonzo Bomb but Ishii slipped out. They played cat-and-mouse some more until King blasted Ishii with another huge lariat. King went for the Gonzo Bomb but again Ishii escaped, then dazed the giant King with an enzuigiri kick. In the end, Ishii lifted King into the air, then drilled him into the mat with a picture-perfect vertical-drop brainbuster for the win.

Final thoughts:

This was one of the best episodes of NJPW Strong front-to-back. This one has to go in the top five, at least. The six-man tag match sounded like a blast for the crowd. Kidd and Gresham told such a great and physical story. The main event between King and Ishii is as good as one would expect. As a fan, all I can ask for is a lot more of this. Hope there’s a rematch planned for next year.