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NJPW Strong results: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tom Lawlor

Ari Daivari, Mistico, Alex Zayne, Mascara Dorada and others were also in action
IshiiLawlor

Tonight's episode of NJPW Strong saw the last set of New Japan's Autumn Action tour tapings from Las Vegas, Nevada. This week had a nice variety of styles packed into this 55-minute episode.

Ari Daivari defeated Kevin Knight

This was a good opener. Daivari (fka Ariya Daivari) appeared at the top of the show with announcers Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov, bragging about coming into his trust fund recently and explaining that he is scouting for new talent to recruit into his Trustbusters group in AEW.

Daivari plays the classic heel role better than anyone else who has come through NJPW Strong in recent years. He's not reinventing the wheel, but his timing and delivery in the ring plus his relentless dickishness toward the crowd played perfectly. Knight was just the right type of high impact aerial babyface Daivari needed to create a nicely balanced dynamic. 

The crowd was enthusiastic in getting behind Knight, and loud and boisterous whenever Daivari insulted them or did something that went against the rules.

Knight is pretty brilliant as a flyer. I continue to believe he has the highest vertical leap dropkick in the business at the moment. He also landed an impressive springboard bodypress and a leg lariat that had such hangtime it made Knight look like he hung in the air for a split second. You can bet the house on this guy.

Toward the end of this, Daivari went to the floor to grab the ring bell, presumably to smash Knight in the face. The referee immediately ripped it from Daivari's hands and handed it back to the ring announcer. Daivari then whipped Knight into the corner and almost crashed into the referee, but Knight stopped himself last second. 

The ref ducked, so no contact was made. When the ref wasn't looking, though, still crouched in a defensive position, Daivari "trust busted" Knight's nether regions and scored a pinfall victory after the referee missed the low blow.

Alex Zayne & Mistico defeated Blake Christian & Mascara Dorada

Mistico and Dorada had a fast, flashy exchange before Christian and Zayne had an even flashier and more hard-hitting exchange. Christian landed a handspring tumbleweed kick and a springboard lariat on Zayne who answered back with a basement dropkick to Christian's back.

Mistico tagged in and peppered Christian with stomps before catching him with a low superkick while Christian was seated in the corner. Dorada tagged in later and came off the top with a diving hurricanrana that Riccaboni called smooth as butter which was absolutely the right call.

Dorada's silky smooth way of moving around the ring is distinct and very easy to notice. He quickly hopped back onto the second rope, almost tap dancing from one side to the other, before flying back off with another diving hurricanrana that sent Mistico to the floor. Within seconds, Dorada crashed onto Mistico with a tope con giro. 

Back in the ring, Dorada traded a springboard splash for a Mistico springboard bodypress. Both tagged out, leading to Christian landing a springboard 450 splash onto Zayne. He landed a rolling cutter before going to the top, but Mistico would catch Christian on the top rope Spanish Fly for the win.

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"They'll all bend a knee to the K-I-N-G." 

Impact Wrestling's Kenny King appeared in a backstage vignette, saying he was going to bring "pizazz, flash and style" to NJPW Strong and that he'll take on anyone in New Japan, be it someone from the LA Dojo or one of NJPW's top stars. 

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Tomohiro Ishii defeated Tom Lawlor

This was the first bout ever between these two. 

Former Strong Openweight champion Lawlor went in on for a double-leg takedown, but "Tom" Ishii dropped his weight across Lawlor's back with a heavy sprawl, then locked on a waistlock from behind. Lawlor used a Kimura grip to break the hold, and the two traded standing switches before they were forced to break when they were on the ropes.

Lawlor and Ishii next had a contest of wills via Greco-Roman knuckle lock, testing each other's upper-body strength. The smaller, more compact Ishii would slam his chest into Lawlor, taking him to his knees. Lawlor broke the hold with a boot to the stomach. He tried knocking Ishii off his feet with a running shoulder block and another takedown attempt, but the "Stone Pitbull" wouldn't budge. They traded hard forearm shots next with Ishii ordering Lawlor to come at him harder and harder.

Lawlor locked on an achilles hold momentarily, neutralizing Ishii to the mat. He caught Ishii with a few hard low kicks to the back. This seemed to have charged Ishii up, because he responded immediately with a vertical suplex. He caught Lawlor with a quarter-side suplex next. 

The two traded even more shots in the corner, primarily chops (legal) and closed fist jabs (illegal). Ishii exploded from the corner to catch Lawlor with a big lariat, again shifting the momentum of the match. 

When Ishii attempted a superplex from the top rope, Lawlor slipped out of Ishii's grasp and planted him with a one-armed uranage slam. He blasted Ishii with running knees and elbows and went for a tornado guillotine choke, but Ishii blocked it and set him atop the ropes again, catching Lawlor with a jumping vertical headbutt before finally sticking the superplex he initially went for. Ishii earned a close near fall from this.

Lawlor responded with a flurry of rolling elbows with the last one connecting against the back of Ishii's head. Lawlor went for an Inoki-esque enzuigiri kick but Ishii blocked it with his forearm, then dashing at Lawlor with a basement lariat. Lawlor ducked out of the way, then quickly locked him into a stretch muffler submission. Lawlor would transition to a standing sleeper before spiking him with a TTD for two. 

When Lawlor went for a penalty kick, Ishii caught it and stood up. Lawlor then caught Ishii with the aforementioned Inoki-esque enzuigiri to the back of Ishii's head, taking him back to his knees. "Filthy" Tom fired up and went for a wrist-clutch knee strike, but Ishii blocked that, launching Lawlor with a release German suplex. 

They traded even more elbows with each other. Just before the 15-minute call sounded, Ishii was able to lay Lawlor out with a big power bomb. When Ishii came running out of the corner with a lariat, Lawlor caught him mid-stride and threw him with an exploder suplex. Ishii ate the pain, clenched his fist and shouted in the air before turning Lawlor inside out with a running Riki lariat and pinning him.

Final thoughts:

The opener was short & sweet and offered a nice dose of "orthodox" North American-style pro wrestling. The tag team match had enough aerial action for an entire show, and it felt like a quick breath of air before the main event -- a fantastic 15+ minute brawl between two tough guys. 

If you can only watch just one match from tonight's episode, the main event is worth your time, especially if you enjoyed Ishii vs. Ren Narita from earlier in the week.