Ren Narita and Chris Dickinson went to a time limit draw (15:00)
The crowd chanted "Welcome back!" at Dickinson, who was returning to the ring after an injury at Battle in the Valley in November last year.
Narita and Dickinson grappled in the center of the ring early on. Dickinson went for a double wrist lock but Narita countered and applied one of his own. Dickinson made it to the ropes for a break. They'd trade hard slaps later. Dickinson hit a suplex with a float-over lateral press for two. He used a front suplex on Narita next.
This was a slower paced match. The two would eventually end up trading holds on the mat again, Dickinson mostly with the advantage, holding Narita in top position.
Narita unloaded a flurry of kicks. Dickinson responded with hard chops in the blue corner. He used a shoulder lock on Narita until Narita grabbed the ropes for a break.
From here, Narita would maintain the advantage on offense for a bit. He tied Dickinson into a figure-four leglock until Dickinson broke the hold when he made it to the ropes. Narita continued laying in hard front kicks into Dickinson's chest. Dickinson then threw hard chops of his own. He took Narita down with a go-behind ankle pick, then slammed Narita back down with a German suplex. The ring announcer made a "two minutes left" call while both were flat on the mat. Once the ring announcer made that call, I got the feeling combined with the overall slower pace of this match that we were getting a draw.
Dickinson drilled Narita with a vertical drop brainbuster for two. He locked in an STF, but Narita made it to the ropes. Narita countered with a sleeper into a cobra twist, but Dickinson hip-tossed him off. Thirty seconds left. Dickinson threw a few hard kicks. Narita caught one. 15 seconds left. Narita locked Dickinson in the cobra twist again, but the time limit was up: Narita and Dickinson wrestled to a time limit draw.
LA Dojo (Clark Connors and Karl Fredericks) with Yuya Uemura defeated The Factory (Aaron Solow and Nick Comoroto) with QT Marshall
Fans booed the hell out of the Factory. QT Marshall kept interfering. Solo used a quick rollup on Fredericks early. Connors and Comoroto jaw-jacked at each other next. Comoroto tried rag-dolling Connors, but Connors was able to take the larger man down with a shoulder block. Comoroto responded, slamming Connors in the center of the ring before working him over in the corner. QT Marshall would sporadically interfere and help work Connors over. Comoroto used a slingshot elbow on Connors, launching himself over the top rope and into the ring before pressing Connors over his head a few times. Connors broke things up and was eventually able to make it to the red corner to tag Fredericks back in. He landed a Stinger splash on Solo in the corner. Marshall laid out Fredericks while he was on the floor behind the ref's back. The Factory scored a close two before Connors broke up the pin.
Connors and Solo traded elbows before Connors laid Solo out with a snap powerslam. Marshall stood on the apron and started shouting, but Yuya Uemura appeared and dragged him from the apron to the floor. The crowd enjoyed that. Fredericks reappeared and landed with a plancha from the ring. Connors in the ring used a spear and a spinning blue thunder bomb on Solow for the win.
Afterwards, QT Marshall got on the mic. The crowd chanted "shut the f*ck up." On the broadcast, Marshall's dialogue was almost inaudible because the crowd was so loud in drowning Marshall out. The crowd started chanting "asshole" at him. Marshall challenged Fredericks to a singles match at NJPW's Philadelphia show. Fredericks grabbed the mic and asked the crowd if they wanted to see him beat Marshall's ass in Philly. The crowd obliged.
United Empire (Great O-Khan, Aaron Henare & TJP) defeated Brody King, Taylor Rust & Mascara Dorada
O-Khan was pretty popular with the Hollywood crowd. Dorada was as well and got a nice response when they announced his name before the match got underway.
Taylor Rust and Aaaron Henare were in first. This was Henare's NJPW Strong debut. Rust caught Henare with a high dropkick before Dorada and TJP were tagged in. They had a fast exchange, trading chops and headscissors. TJP raked at Dorada's mask, trying to rip it off. The crowd did not approve.
The other four in the match started brawling at ringside while Dorada and TJP kept it going inside the ring. O-Khan came off the apron with a double ax-handle before back in the ring. He tagged in and sat on Dorada's head while he was in the corner, shoving his ass into the back of Dorada's head as he posed with his arms crossed.
TJP continued working over Dorada, dropping a knee at one point. He kept ripping at Dorada's mask. Dorada was able to walk the ropes and take TJP out with a no-hands springboard dropkick before tagging out to King, who went wild on United Empire. King and O-Khan got into it next. They're roughly the same size, which made for a good visual. King took out both O-Khan and Henare with a double lariat.
O-Khan locked the Claw onto King before Dorada appeared to break it up. Rust tried locking TJP in an ankle lock, but Henare broke it up, so Rust locked Henare in a modified Rings of Saturn-type stretch. TJP broke that up. Henare landed a spinning sit-out sidewalk slam on Rust, setting Rust up for TJP's Mamba Splash off the top rope, but only got two before Dorada broke the pin.
When Mascara Dorada went for a dive to the floor, he accidentally crashed into his partner, King. TJP followed up with a dive of his own onto Dorada. In the ring, O-Khan and Henare did a double-team fireman's carry-swinging neckbreaker type maneuver that didn't look so hot, pinning Rust to win the match.
United Empire continued going after their opponents after the match. TJP finally ripped Mascara Dorada's mask off, sending the crowd into a boo-frenzy. This also happened to mask the weak in-ring finish just moments earlier. TJP celebrated with Dorada's mask in the ring as staff rushed Dorada backstage.
After this, Great O-Khan got on the mic and cut a promo in Japanese:
"That does for the Japanese peasants watching STRONG as well. Now you understand! This is Great O-Khan. Aaron Henare. TJP . . ."
The crowd chanted "shut the f*ck up!" at the group.
"Get it? The power of the United Empire!" The three posed in the ring before heading to the back.
This was a standard quality episode of NJPW Strong, with the draw at the top of the show being the most entertaining of the the three matches on tonight's show.
The Factory angle is almost completely out of juice, and it sounds more like the crowd is booing the creative as opposed to booing the Factory themselves. The final bout was good, but what surprised me most was how over Great O-Khan was. It's the pancake story that people love, isn't it?