Philadelphia, PA – 11.13.2021
Commentary is provided by Alex Koslov and Matt Rehwoldt.
Ariya Daivari vs. Alex Zayne
This is Daivari’s NJPW debut. In their only other singles match, Zayne was victorious. Zayne avoided Daivari’s patented hammerlock clothesline and landed a rope assisted moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Zayne dropped Daivari with the Baja Blast after a front flip super Frankensteiner. Daivari comes back with a superkick and connects with the hammerlock clothesline. He grabs his carpet for the Magic Carpet Ride but crashes and burns. Zayne then scooped him up into the Taco Driver for the pin at 10:49. This was very evenly fought, and pretty much exactly what you would see from them in any of their WWE matches. The crowd wasn’t very into this either. Solid but unspectacular match. **½
Fred Rosser & Rocky Romero vs. Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Danny Limelight)
Romero almost gets Limelight in the Diablo Armbar early. Lawlor knee strikes Romero from the apron and assists Limelight in turning the match in their favor. Limelight knocks Rosser off the apron for good measure. Romero is beaten down for a while, and in the process Rosser gets lured into the ring when Limelight tries to yank him off the apron. Rosser trades blows with Lawlor until he is blindsided by Limelight with a sneak attack. Romero is brought back into the ring where Lawlr wears down his ankle. Limelight interjects when he sees Romero go for the Diablo armbar. Rosser responds by delivering a seated senton to Lawlor. This gives Romero a chance to roundhouse kick Lawlor and tag Rosser. Rosser crotches Limelight on the top turnbuckle and goes for a Razor’s Edge. Limelight turns that into a Code Red for two. Lawlor saves Limelight from the Gut Check. Romero takes out Limelight with a running Shiranui and a suicide dive. Rosser hits the Gut Check on Lawlor and scores a close nearfall shortly after hitting a running boot to the side of the head. Lawlor drops Rosser throat-first onto the top rope and applies a rear-naked choke. Rosser fails to get the ropes before he is pulled into bodyscissors. Rosser pushes Lawlor onto his shoulders, pinning the champion at 11:32! I may be wrong, but this may be the first pinfall loss incurred by Lawlor in New Japan. Despite his recent setbacks, a pinfall victory over the champion in a multiman match surely earns Rosser a STRONG Championship opportunity. I typically like Romero and Rosser’s matches against Team Filthy, but this felt like they were just killing time until the end. **¾
An incensed Lawlor and Limelight attack Rosser after the bell. Limelight pulls out a tool box from under the ring and finds a giant pair of scissors inside. Limelight presents them to Rosser. The rest of Team Filthy attack when Romero tries to save Rosser. Lawlor uses the rear-naked choke to render Rosser unconscious. JR Kratos stomps on Romero. Nelson and Limelight hold onto Rosser while Lawlor cuts Rosser’s hair with the scissors! Limelight bags up some of the hair as Lawlor chews on another portion. Everyone in Team Filthy poses over Romero and Rosser. With some help from staff, Rosser regains consciousness. He is visibly humiliated by their actions, processing this moment as he heads backstage with an uneven head of hair.
Tiger Hattori joins commentary for the next two matches!
Fred Yehi vs. Jay White
Yehi surprises White with an early attempt at the Koji Clutch. White goes from angry to somewhat amused when Yehi welcomes the onslaught of chops he delivers. He rakes Yehi’s eyes so he can take him to the outside and drive his back into the guardrail and edge of the ring. White does further damage to Yehi’s back and goes back to throwing chops. Yehi runs through a chop and gives White an exploder suplex. Yehi repeatedly drives his knees into White’s chest in the corner. White goes to his eyes to escape an abdominal stretch. White DDT’s Yehi and gives him a spinning suplex for two. Yehi retaliates with a spinning chop to the face. After a German suplex, Yehi drops White with a brainbuster and locks in the Koji Clutch. After White gives the rope, he dumps Yehi on his head with a half-nelson suplex after ducking a chop. White pulls Yehi up into the Blade Runner for the pin at 12:47. This was very similar to White’s match with YUTA, where Yehi controlled much more of the match than you’d expect, but White still ended up victorious thanks to the Blade Runner. That’s mostly a compliment. Again, it’s great to see Yehi, YUTA, and Daniel Garcia in NJPW, but I am really hoping they become more than fodder for other people soon. ***¼
Jay White mentions all the young people he has defeated recently, and issues an open challenge to anyone from any company. Before anyone steps in the ring with him, however, there is something he has to take care of first, and that’s defeating Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship. That happens at “Battle In The Valley.”
Minoru Suzuki vs. Chris Dickinson
Suzuki blocks a chop and applies an armbar in the ropes. On the floor, he puts Dickinson in a hammerlock and sends his shoulder into the ring post. In the ring, Suzuki manipulates Dickinson’s wrist and shoulder further. Dickinson German suplexes Suzuki and attacks his knee. Suzuki is able to halt a dragonscrew leg whip and put Dickinson in a cross armbreaker. Dickinson mimics Suzuki’s laugh when Suzuki gives him some chest kicks. Dickinson stops a PK and ensues a chop war with Suzuki. Suzuki blocks Dickinson’s STF attempt, but Dickinson is able to pull off a brainbuster for two. Suzuki ducks a high kick and applies the rear-naked choke. Dickinson fails to escape, but Suzuki decides to release and nail Dickinson with a forearm. This wakes up Dickinson who is able to land some strikes of his own. Suzuki gets the rear-naked choke reapplied and then hits the GSP for the pin at 18:57. This had a slight “forced epic” feel to it, and while the Philadelphia crowd dug it, it didn’t work as well at home. It was totally solid, but about what we see either man produce on average. ***
This show was 1 hour and 40 minutes long. I really hope New Japan shortens and keeps consistent the episode run times, because even with no crowd, the breezy 50-60 minute episodes were more enjoyable.
David Finlay vs. Yuya Uemura
NJPW XTRA #3 – Garland, TX – 11.14.2021
Uemura wins over the fans with the way he handles his headlock exchange with Finlay. Uemura also wins a fight for a hip toss, sending Finlay over the top rope and to the floor. Finlay is able to cut off Uemura inside the ring with a back elbow and senton splash. He seemingly has a chip on his shoulder as he unloads uppercuts on Uemura and takes him down with a suplex. Uemura almost catches Finlay with a backslide pin, and nails Finlay with a hard dropkick after Finlay kicks out. Finlay catches Uemura coming off the ropes into a spinning back suplex for two, and then slams him into the ropes. Noticing that slam hurt Uemura’s leg, Finlay gives that leg a kneeDT and puts Uemura in a STF. Uemura gets the ropes to escape. When Finlay explodes out of the corner with a clothesline, Uemura pulls Finlay by his arm down to the mat for a Fujiwara armbar. Finlay uses the rope to escape. Uemura almost pins Finlay with a victory roll. Finlay pulls Uemura into a uranage backbreaker and then hits Trash Panda for the pin at 12:18. This was similar to the Yehi/White match where Uemura got the spotlight but ended up losing to the more seasoned NJPW competitor. I think Uemura has a very bright future, as he’s incredibly skilled, can get the crowd behind him, and has a bunch of charisma. ***