NJPW STRONG #15 – Showdown 2020 Part 2

Port Hueneme, CA – 11.13.2020

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.

ACH & Blake Christian vs. Adrian Quest & Alex Zayne

Zayne and Christian finally got some ring time together on this show. Christian caught Zayne with a dropkick to the back and the head and ACH helped keep the offense going. Zayne stopped ACH with the Baja Blast and with Quest helped keep ACH in their corner. ACH gets his knees up to block a standing moonsault from Quest and hits him with a rebound kick before tagging in Christian. Christian enters with a springboard clothesline to Zayne. Christian hits a step-up enzuigiri on Quest and takes down Zayne with a running Spanish Fly. Quest high kicks ACH to the floor and follows with an Asai moonsault. Zayne clotheslines Christian in the corner but misses the Crunchwrap Supreme. Zayne tries the Taco Driver. Christian counters that into a prawn hold, but Zayne rolls back on that and pins him at 7:12. I definitely love that NJPW is utilizing Zayne and Christian as opponents as they are so wonderful together. Their final interaction felt substantial, while the rest of the match was “just” really cool stuff. **¾

Fred Rosser vs. Tom Lawlor

This is Lawlor’s first first appearance since the Lion’s Break Collision series. He is flanked by Rust Taylor and JR Kratos who are carrying the Team Filthy banner behind him. Lawlor was persistent in attacking Rosser’s arms and exhausting him with chops. Rosser matched Lawlor’s aggression in strikes, and also had tremendous instincts in terms of getting ropes to get submissions, and even reversing a choke into an apron suplex. Rosser mustered the strength to hit the Gut Check to block a rear-naked choke, but when he went for the follow up sliding kick to the side of the head, Lawlor brought him down to the campus and applied a full-body submission until Rosser verbally submitted at 11:13. The fact that Lawlor is such an accomplished mat wrestler and submission expert and still had to make sure all of Rosser’s limbs were tied up to finally get him to submit shows just how tenacious Rosser is. This brought an intensity no other STRONG match has to date and should get more love than it does. This is a match I would seriously consider checking out, especially if the idea of Rosser being in NJPW makes you raise an eyebrow. ***¾

Brody King, Juice Robinson & Karl Fredericks vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Tanga Loa & Chase Owens)

White and Robinson’s IWGP U.S. title match in 2018 ruled so I was excited to see them paired against one another in Robinson’s STRONG debut. Fredericks’ subverted White trying to use the positioning of a referee to get a leg up, but it didn’t work. However, Owens hitting him from the apron did, and the BULLET CLUB took turns pummeling the LA Dojo graduate, sometimes literally in front of his partners. White even adds a bit of insult when he uses the Dojo’s signature half crab on Fredericks. Fredericks manages to give White a spinebuster and tag in King, whose first order of business was a slugfest with Loa, ending it with a German suplex and Black Hole Slam. Loa slips out of Robinson’s Juice Box attempt and drops him with a neckbreaker. White and Owens wiped out King. All three BULLET CLUB members assault Robinson in the corner, but Fredericks and King save him from being pinned after Owens’ Doppler Effect. A series of offenses leads to Robinson blocking a knee strike from Owens and hitting the Left Hand of God. Pulp Friction then gets Robinson the pin at 9:51.Unfortunately the activity between Robinson and White was basically non-existent as they went with the less personal “BULLET CLUB versus guys who hate BULLET CLUB” story. That said, I did really love the wrinkle of White and Fredericks being products of the two different NJPW Dojos as part of the match’s narrative. All told it’s just a cut above an average trios match, but could’ve been so much more. ***

PJ Black vs. Tama Tonga

I haven’t a clue how Black’s nose started bleeding so early as they were mostly just trading wristlocks. Despite this, Black is able to headsicssors Tonga to the floor and follow with a pescado. Tonga is able to crotch Black on the top turnbuckle when he ascends the ropes. Tonga goes after Black’s face with a facewash kick. Black lands a roundhouse kick, following that up with a significant flurry of offense, landing a springboard crossbody for a two count. Tonga shuts him down with the Tongan Twist. Black slips off Tonga’s shoulders. He drops him with a Complete Shot and locks on a Koji Clutch. Tonga grabs the referee’s shirt and Black’s hair to escape. Black halts a Gun Stun and lionsaults into a position to drop Tonga with a reverse DDT for two. Tonga waterwheel slams Black out of the corner for two. Black avoids the Gun Stun with a prawn hold, but the third time’s the charm for Tonga, dropping Black with a Gun Stun for the pin at 10:38. This reminded me of when Black main evented Episode 4 with another BULLET CLUB member in Chase Owens – they had a solid match and good story, but for a main event it was disappointing. It’s even more glaring when you have something as remarkable as Rosser vs. Lawlor on the card. This was just a step above the Owens bout, mostly due to them running with Black’s bloody nose as a story element. **¾

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