Tonight's episode featured part two of NJPW Strong's Autumn Attack series from Texas.
Chris Dickinson defeated Alex Coughlin via submission
These two were great. The first five minutes took place almost exclusively on the ground. Dickinson had the advantage and maintained top-position over most of it, but Coughlin gave Dickinson a hard time while on defense. He showed off a few impressive escapes, but Dickinson held the advantage.
Coughlin powered out of Dickinson’s hold, and later the two exchanged hard chops and big elbows. Coughlin’s chest turned red. These two are similar in a lot of ways, actually, though Dickinson seems to have a deeper martial arts background.
Coughlin eventually turned the tide when he took Dickinson out with a flying shoulderblock. He put Dickinson down with a few power suplexes. Dickinson would later use a cheap shot on the rope to regain his advantage, then used a single-arm suplex out of the corner. He’d continue to focus on Coughlin’s arm and was aggressive with his Kimura lock attempts, sticking to Coughlin like glue. He transitioned to a more traditional cross armbreaker and got Coughlin to tap after kicking Coughlin’s hands in order to break Coughlin’s grip and extend the arm. Again, great stuff from both.
Mega Coaches (Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero) defeated West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs)
The crowd chanted for Taguchi before things got underway. He feigned the hip attack early. Isaacs used a nice vertical suplex on him before he tagged out to Nelson.
Romero and Nelson had a good exchange next. When Taguchi tagged in, we saw some Mega Coaching spots which saw him and Romero exchange baseball coaching signals. Taguchi coached Romero to do Forever Clotheslines to Nelson in the corner.
On the floor, Isaacs, who wasn’t the legal man, dropped Romero on the apron and tossed him back in the ring. The WCWC double-teamed Romero for a bit, then posed. Somehow they got hold of a Luka Doncic t-shirt, the star player from the Dallas Mavericks, threw it on Romero and stomped him.
Romero was able to counter WCWC’s offensive with a swinging DDT and tagged out to Taguchi, who went on a hip attack frenzy next. He cleaned house and tagged back out to Romero, who’d use a double-frankensteiner on WCWC. Later, the Mega Coaches scored tandem hip attacks.
The finish came when Nelson came off the top rope with a back elbow, but Romero countered it with a backslide for the win. Really nice match.
The Mega Coaches celebrated with a jumping hip-attack high five in the ring. Before they exited, Romero recovered the aforementioned Doncic t-shirt and the two held it up in celebration.
Juice Robinson, TJP, Lio Rush & Clark Connors defeated Bullet Club (Hikuleo, Chris Bey, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo) via disqualification
The first part of this was pretty much Bullet Club working over Lio Rush. We saw a number of back-rake variations, "inner-thigh" stomps, even a titty-twister, all to Rush. After a few minutes, Rush tagged out. Connors and TJP did some double-team work, and later Juice Robinson cleaned house. The match spilled out onto the floor where pretty much everyone in the match did a dive, with Robinson scoring the final plancha from the top rope down onto everyone on the floor.
Ahead of their upcoming bullrope match, Robinson carried a bullrope to the ring before the match, but as the babyface team turned up the heat towards the end, Hikuleo grabbed the bullrope and decked Robinson with it inside the ring, thus disqualifying Bullet Club from the match. BC taunted Robinson and posed over him before the end of the segment.
Will Ospreay defeated Karl Fredericks
They aired a promo package before the match, setting the story up between the two. At NJPW Resurgence in August, Ospreay called the LA Dojo students "losers," and Fredericks responded on Fighting Spirit Unleashed saying he'd defend his "family" at the Dojo.
They collided early on. Fredericks landed a cross-body block. Ospreay slowed things down a bit and forced Fredericks into his groove, working him over, at one point landing a diving knee drop to Fredericks who was draped over the apron. Fredericks fired back with a low dropkick à la Katsuyori Shibata. He did the same minutes later when they fought on the floor.
Ospreay nailed Fredericks with a Phenomenal Forearm and Cheeky Nandos kick. Fredericks fired a counter enzuigiri kick. The two went move for move at one point in the match, German suplex for German suplex, elbow for elbow.
When Ospreay went for the OsCutter, Fredericks countered with a dropkick, then laid Ospreay out with a spinebuster. He attempted Manifest Destiny, but Ospreay countered with a hook kick the bonked Fredericks in the face. Fredericks then struck Manifest Destiny, but Ospreay rolled to the floor to avoid getting pinned.
Fredericks shoved referee Jeremy Marcus and elbowed Ospreay, folding him. Ospreay landed a Spanish Fly out of nowhere, then connected with the OsCutter, but Fredericks kicked out. That's big. Ospreay landed a pop-up elbow, then finished Fredericks off, finally, with the Hidden Blade back elbow for the win. This was excellent.
Ospreay elbowed a downed Fredericks after the match. What a heel. Clark Connors made the save and speared Ospreay. On the floor, Ospreay grabbed the mic and said he'd "even the odds." Then, Connors' tag team partner and former Super J-Cup opponent TJP appeared. His initials flashed on the screen along with the United Empire logo. He ambushed Connors and laid him out. TJP said he'd help Ospreay show Connors what a "real killer" looked like. Ospreay and TJP celebrated before leaving the ring.
Was tonight's main event the best mach in NJPW Strong history? There's certainly an argument to be made for it. The entire show felt like a bigger deal than a typical episode of Strong, similar to last week's. Aside from the relatively low production quality, the Autumn Attack series has been a really good showcase of both top stars and new talent getting their chance to shine without getting overshadowed by bigger stars like Hiroshi Tanahashi or Tomohiro Ishii.
If you haven't caught the show before tonight, this might be a nice jumping on point, as it had both a great lineup of matches, but also featured forward motion on the creative side of things. Robinson and Hikuleo built towards their Bullrope Match, Lio Rush and Taiji Ishimori teased what could be an awesome upcoming singles match, and TJP joined United Empire alongside Ospreay, while Fredericks and Connors continue to cement themselves as the homegrown babyface stars of the show.