Tonight saw the third week of tapings from NJPW Strong: Mutiny from Hollywood, California.
Stray Dog Army (Bateman, Misterioso & Barrett Brown) defeated Fred Yehi, Kevin Knight & The DKC
This was a good opener. The match itself felt like its main function was to prop up a future program between Yehi & Bateman. The teams scuffled and jaw-jacked during their ring introductions. Yehi and Bateman went right at each other.
Fans in attendance were catching on to Bateman's bark. He barks at the crowd and, now, they bark back.
Knight and Misterioso kicked things off for their teams. They had a fast exchange up top. Knight did some flying around the ring, bouncing from rope to rope before arm-dragging Misterioso to the mat. The DKC and Barrett Brown were together next. They too had great chemistry and fire. The DKC asked Brown, "Do you wanna fight?!" and then traded chops.
He and Yehi had great fire whenever they were together during the match. When the bout spilled onto the floor, they again went at it. There were more than a few times in this match where the fight shifted to ringside instead of between the ropes.
Knight landed on Bateman with a pescado on the floor. Misterioso landed one of his own next, taking out Knight.
Back in the ring, The DKC caught Brown with a flying Liu Kang-style kick off the middle rope. The crowd began chanting "D-K-C!" He went for DKC Fire next, but Brown countered, shooting him into his team's corner.
In the end, Misterioso caught the DKC with a guillotine leg drop off the second rope for the win. Stray Dog Army continued beating down Yehi's team after the bell.
- A promo from Big Damo (fka WWE's Killian Dain) aired next. He explained how Tomohiro Ishii had made his debut in England seven years ago with RevPro. He then explained that it was he who beat Ishii upon said debut, and in Damo's backyard, to boot. He said that Ishii is now NJPW's gatekeeper figure these days, so he wanted a shot at him on NJPW Strong because he'd beat Ishii just like he did in England seven years ago.
David Finlay defeated Blake Christian
They had a quick exchange before Finlay dipped out to the floor to regroup. Christian hit a low basement dropkick and later used a tope con giro to the floor before using a high crossbody block back in the ring, but only for a count of two.
At just over ten minutes in, Finlay scored a backdrop suplex for a two count. Christian countered with a big lariat. Finlay did a backdrop on the apron.
Finlay teased using his sheleighleigh on Christian. Christian did a 450 splash to a draped Finlay for a close two. Finlay caught Christian with a stunner coming off the ropes and then used the Trash Panda for the win. He again sort of teased using the sheleighleigh on Christian after they finished, but instead he shook Christian's hand afterward.
Backstage, Finlay cut a promo comparing Christian to a young Will Ospreay before explaining that his next goal would be to win his first NJPW singles title. He said after being with the company for seven or eight years, it was time for a singles title win. He's been a NJPW tag team champion, but hasn't won singles gold yet. "I am coming; expect me."
TMDK (JONAH, Bad Dude Tito & Shane Haste) defeated United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Aussie Open)
All of United Empire came to the ring for the match, so Great O-Khan, Aaron Henare and TJP were at ringside.
Kyle Fletcher of Aussie Open and JONAH kicked the match off. They shoved each other before tying up. JONAH bullied Fletcher into the corner. Fletcher caught him with an enzuigiri, but when Fletcher was coming off the ropes for an attack, JONAH shoved him in mid-air. He flexed at Fletcher in the corner. Cobb tagged in next, which the crowd immediately responded to, but JONAH decided to tag out to Shane Haste instead.
Haste did a haughty mock walk of Cobb with his chest and shoulders out and all. This amused Cobb, who would later use Haste's back as a surfboard for a little cowabunga action. This also elicited what could have been Alex Koslov's best line on commentary in the show's history when he deadpanned the following: "Shane Haste was a good surfboard."
Cobb held Haste in a vertical suplex and then tagged in Mark Davis while simultaneously passing Haste over to Davis. Remember, Haste is still hanging in the air upside down. This was a suplex transfer. Davis then tagged Fletcher in and suplex transferred Haste over to him. Fletcher let him down for a moment, then finally snap suplexed Haste onto the mat.
Haste came back with a running cannonball into the corner onto Fletcher. Bad Dude Tito was next and put the boots to Fletcher before tagging JONAH back into the match.
JONAH and Haste worked Fletcher over for a while. Fletcher eventually was able to counter and drop Haste with a brainbuster. He tagged out to Davis, a proverbial house of fire at this point, just past ten minutes in.
Bad Dude Tito took Davis out with a Buff Blockbuster. Aussie Open soon took out Tito with a few double-team combinations. Cobb landed a standing moonsault onto Tito. Haste later blasted Davis with a lariat after a wild back-and-forth between teams. Haste, Davis and the rest were all laid out. The crowd began chanting "NEW JA-PAN!"
Then, finally, Cobb and JONAH got in the ring together, the moment we'd all had been waiting for. They are almost mirror images of each other. The build, the hair, the singlets, the fact that on first glance we expect neither to wrestle the way they do.
They squared off and rammed into each other with shoulderblocks. Neither would go down. The crowd ate it up. The spot wrapped when they crashed into each other with running crossbody blocks. Their fight continued onto the floor, outside the ring and effectively out of the match.
Back in the ring, we saw Aussie Open put Bad Dude Tito away after more double-team work, finishing him with a double-Last of the Dragon-type maneuver.
Afterward, all of United Empire got into the ring together. Great O-Khan grabbed the mic and addressed the crowd in Japanese: "Bow down, peasants!" Now you understand what Aussie Open can do!" He referred to the team as United Empire's "new assets."
The main event is the go-to match on this week's episode of NJPW Strong. Jeff Cobb and JONAH's rivalry could be great down the road, as they teased here, plus Aussie Open were fantastic in their NJPW Strong debut. The match itself had a rapid-fire pace, similar to a "NJPW proper" tag match at Korakuen Hall.
Next week sees the final episode of NJPW Strong's Mutiny series with Tomohiro Ishii taking on Big Damo in the main event.