Riverside, CA – 12.18.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Jordan Clearwater & Brogan Finlay
DKC has knee pads now! Clearwater’s theme still goes hard. He takes down Knight with a shoulder block. DKC blind tags in when Finlay gets tagged, and Knight shoulder tackles him into a sunset flip from DKC. Finlay comes back with a suplex to DKC. Clearwater gets his shots in too, but DKC knocks him down with a flying kick and tags Knight. He splashes Finlay in the corner before slamming him into a standing Mad Splash for two. Clearwater saves Finlay from another slam, and Finlay gives DKC his signature roll. Knight demolishes Finlay with a dropkick but hurts his ankle in the process. Knight takes Clearwater to the floor while DKC gives Finlay a falling karate chop. DKC spikes Finlay with a crucifix driver for two, then locks on a Crucifix Stretch until Finlay submits at 8:08. DKC getting knee pads and this victory makes it seem like he is on his way up the card. It is also nice to see him and Knight getting love from the crowd, and that Clearwater wasn’t left behind in the no-fan era. **½
FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) & Rocky Romero vs. Team Filthy (JR Kratos & Royce Isaacs) & Black Tiger
This Black Tiger is the same individual who attacked Romero and Fred Rosser last month in Philadelphia. Jorel Nelson is in Team Filthy’s corner. Tiger attacks Romero from behind and Cactus clotheslines him to the floor. Team Filthy swarm Romero and FinJuice interjects. Romero suicide dives onto Tiger on the opposite side of the ring. He and FinJuice have a little fun beating down Tiger in their corner. Tiger strikes Romero into Isaacs who snaps Romero’s neck onto the top rope. Nelson chokes Romero. Team Filthy beat down Romero until Romero sidestepped a corner splash from Kratos. Robinson impressively holds his own with Kratos, almost slamming him after a Left Hand From God. Tiger and Isaacs both interject and are taken out. FinJuice double dropkick Kratos and takes him down with a double flapjack. Kratos takes out Finlay with a lariat and Robinson with a Rydeen Bomb. Romero rocks Tiger with Forever clotheslines. Isaacs shuts him down with his own clothesline, and Kratos takes him down with a splash. Nelson illegally double knees Romero in the chest. FinJuice lands double pescado’s onto Isaacs and Kratos. Romero gets Tiger locked in the Diablo armbar. Tiger counters into a heel hook. Romero escapes and delivers a Shiranui for two. Tiger blocks a second Shiranui with a tombstone piledriver. The Tiger Driver gets Tiger the pin on Romero at 14:05. The Romero and Tiger issue is very intriguing and I look forward to seeing it unfold. The match was very fun – FinJuice are amazing good guys and Team Filthy are a team I love to hate. ***¼
NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship
Tom Lawlor vs. Fred Rosser
Lawlor has been champion since 4.23.2021 and this is his sixth defense. A video highlighting the history between Lawlor and Rosser aired before the match. Lawlor defeated Rosser on Episode 15 of STRONG in what was the best STRONG match of the year. Rosser earned this match by pinning Lawlor in a tag team match last month, becoming the first person to pin or submit Lawlor in NJPW. Lawlor and Team Filthy attacked Rosser after the bell and cut his hair. Rosser returned with a fully shaved head two weeks later in a multi-man match against Team Filthy which ended in a disqualification. Lawlor has the scissors he cut off Rosser’s hair fashioned into a necklace. Fortunately, Lawlor sends all of Team Filthy backstage before the bell.
Rosser is very aggressive with Lawlor, uncharacteristically choking him with wrist tape on the outside of the ring in the process. When he goes for a backbreaker on the apron, Lawlor pays him back with an undetected low blow and a Hot Shot onto the metal guardrails. He then clotheslines Rosser and himself over the guardrails. Lawlor attacks Rosser’s throat and neck back in the ring, wearing him down for his rear-naked choke. When Rosser attempts the Gut Check, Lawlor counters into a cloverleaf, which Rosser gets the ropes to escape. Rosser pummels Lawlor’s chest and neck until Lawlor is left laying on the mat. Lawlor gets Rosser in a guillotine choke on the floor. Rosser violently shoves Lawlor to the mat and then sends him crashing face first into the ring post! Rosser manages the Gut Check back in the ring, but when he tries to follow up with a sliding boot, Lawlor trips him and looks for a submission. Rosser refuses to let it happen, so Lawlor enzuigiri’s Rosser and puts him in a rear-naked choke. Rosser shoves Lawlor onto his shoulders, just like he did last month, but Lawlor wisely let’s go this time to prevent from being pinned. Rosser connects with the sliding boot for two. Rosser busts out a running Death Valley Driver. Lawlor gets on another rear-naked choke when Rosser tries the Gut Check again. Rosser counters with a powerslam for two. Rosser elbows Lawlor in the side of the head before applying his own rear-naked choke. He transitions that into a crossface chicken wing. The fans erupt when Rosser adds a bodyscissors and Lawlor desperately reaches for the ropes. It takes Lawlor rolling around the entire ring before he can finally lunge to the bottom rope. Rosser successfully delivers the apron backbreaker, but when he tries a seated senton, Lawlor re-applies the choke and throws Rosser back first into the guardrails. In the ring, Lawlor dives back in, locking Rosser in the rear-naked choke. Rosser’s arm drops and the referee stops the match at 24:28. Rosser getting the chicken wing locked in and the crowd going nuts is a top moment in STRONG’s relatively short history, and it seemed like if anyone was going to dethrone Lawlor, Rosser was the man to do it. This was a more focused and meaningful version of their awesome 2020 match, and because of it, for the second year in a row, Lawlor and Rosser have the best STRONG Match of the year. In fact, this is the best STRONG match to date, and I recommend giving it a look. ****¼
Kratos, Isaacs, Nelson, and Black Tiger come out to celebrate with Lawlor. Lawlor gets the microphone and pontificates who will be the next to challenge the strongest champion in New Japan. He begins to celebrate and pose with his teammates when Taylor Rust makes his way out. Back on Episode 22, Lawlor kicked Rust out of Team Filthy from afar. Rust is invited into the ring by Team Filthy who believes Rust has “come back home.” Rust gives Lawlor a big hug and embraces the rest of Team Filthy. They leave, leaving Lawlor alone with Rust. Lawlor says Team Filthy is even stronger now that Rust is back in town. Rust questions who is going to challenge Lawlor before giving him a kick to the face and dropping him with A Perfect Circle neckbreaker! Rust holds up the title and tells Lawlor he is going to challenge. Team Filthy chases Rust away, who leaves through the crowd. It’s good to see Rust back, and the time between him leaving and coming back was so short that the story is still relevant.
Brody King, Karl Fredericks & The DKC vs. Stray Dog Army (Bateman, Barrett Brown & Misterioso)
NJPW XTRA #8 – Philadelphia, PA – 12.19.2021
Fredericks wipes out Misterioso with a jumping crossbody. DKC outgrapples Brown and Judo throws him into a falling karate chop. DKC gets him a crucifix stretch and Bateman makes the save. With this interjection, the SDA triple team DKC, with Misterioso knocking Brody King off the apron in the process. DKC slides away from a slam attempt from Bateman and tags in King, who beats the pewp out of all the SDA. He places Brown on Misterioso’s shoulders and chops him so that Brown takes out MIsterioso with a spike reverse Frankensteiner. King then suicide dives onto Bateman and lariats him back in the ring for two. Fredericks gets two on Bateman with a spinebuster. DKC wipes out Bateman with a karate kick, and Misterioso and Brown jump in to save him from being pinned. Misterioso wipes out Fredericks and King with a tope con hilo. Brown .50 Caliber kicks DKC into This Is A Kill from Bateman for the pin at 10:07. Even with an obvious result, this match over delivered in the quality department. It was action packed, fun to watch, and the crowd dug it. Nice to see SDA get a definitive win and utilize a lot of teamwork in order to do so. ***