NJPW STRONG Special: Lonestar Shootout

Dallas, TX – 4.1.2022

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly and Matt Rehwoldt. Ian Riccaboni had duties with Ring of Honor this evening.

Ren Narita vs. Rocky Romero

Romero has a little bit of fun messing with his pupil in the opening moments. When Narita is trapped in the ropes, he literally asks Romero to hit him with more forearm shots. It seemed as if maybe he did this to halt Romero from delivering a double stomp to his back, but Romero does so anyways. However, Narita does block a Shiranui and takes down Romero with a spinwheel kick. Romero takes him down with a rewind kick, and connects with a Shiranui for a two count. Narita blocks another Shiranui, and when Romero comes off the ropes, Narita catches him in the Narita Special #4 to get the pin at 7:43. That ending rocked, but I don’t love Narita getting in very little offense and getting a surprise win. It doesn’t really jive with his current trajectory on STRONG. **½

FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson), Daniel Garcia & Kevin Knight vs. Mascara Dorada, Karl Fredericks, Clark Connors & Yuya Uemura

Knight got to display his Lucha aptitude in an exchange with Dorada. Uemura then shuts down an eager Garcia with a shotgun dropkick. FinJuice helped out Garcia with some tandem offense to Uemura, leading to their quartet isolating and wearing down Uemura in their corner. Uemura takes down Finlay with a belly-to-back suplex and unleashes the Wild Rhino Connors on the opposition. Connors moves with great speed and ferocity, and ends up Pouncing Finlay into Robinson. Fredericks shuts down Knight, but Knight comes back with his badass dropkick. Connors spears Knight out of mid-air when Knight looks for a leapfrog. Uemura overhead suplexes Garcia and Finlay, and takes down Robinson with a beautiful armdrag. Robinson shuts down his suplex attempt with a spinebuster, but Dorada then tope con hilo’s onto Robinson, Finlay, and Garcia. This leaves Knight with Fredericks. Knight gets close with a couple of pinning combinations, but ultimately Manifest Destiny earns Fredericks the pin at 10:42. That was a super fun match that appropriately highlighted the stars of STRONG. In some ways it feels like a bit of a waste of Garcia and Dorada, who both did fine, but just didn’t get much ring time. All these LA DOJO guys just rule. ***

Minoru Suzuki vs. Killer Kross

As someone who did not like Kross whatsoever in NXT, him doing NJPW USA shows is a huge bummer. Suzuki spent the match tearing apart his arm. He even straight up called Kross a “fucking young boy” as he scraped his boot against Kross’ face. They would trade overhand chops after this. Suzuki calls Kross a young boy again before dropping him with the GSP and pinning him at 9:48. That was bizarre but the crowd loved it, and it was maybe the most animated I’ve seen Suzuki in any of his U.S. matches these past two years. Suzuki also pulls a kid up the ramp and raises his arm in victory, so Suzuki is officially for the children. **

We get a surprise appearance from Jon Moxley. He says the New Japan ring brings out the fighting spirit within him, as well as his love for professional wrestling. He is ready to fight Will Ospreay at “Windy City Riot.” He’s going to make an example out of Ospreay so he can send a crystal clear message to everybody in New Japan.

“US of Jay” Open Challenge #5
Jay White vs. Mike Bailey

This is the fourth US of Jay Open Challenge to air, but the Sabin match that was filmed before this is technically the fourth. It is also Bailey’s NJPW debut. White dodges Bailey at first, but his Speedball kicks send White outside where Bailey lands a tope con hilo. Back in the ring, White muscles Bailey into a TKO where Bailey lands throat first across the top rope. White does more damage to Bailey’s neck and chest, but Bailey cuts him off with a chest kick. He also lands a running corkscrew shooting star press. White takes him down with an elevated neckbreaker. Bailey escapes a Blade Runner with an awesome rebound schoolboy. White slides over Bailey who is on the apron, with Bailey fluidly leaping into a top rope Asai Moonsault. White pulls Bailey off of the top turnbuckle and to the apron. Bailey is able to escape a Sleepwalker suplex, but ends up crashing knees first onto the apron when attempting a Kneecolepsy. White attacks his left knee right away, with Bailey kicking White in the side of the head to send White to the floor. Bailey lands on his feet to block another Sleepwalker Suplex, and although it causes pain, he’s able to pull off the Kneecolepsy successfully and land a Buzzsaw kick. Bailey misses a top rope version of Kneecolepy, once again colliding knees first on the mat. White muscles Bailey up into the Sleepwalker suplex, and then delivers the Blade Runner for the pin at 14:10. White first going after the neck and chest as a set-up for the Blade Runner, then immediately adjusting to Bailey’s legs when it became his new weak spot, was well done. Bailey got in plenty of offense to remain a threat, but White was more advantageous and kept his open challenge streak alive. Very good stuff. ***¾

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Chris Dickinson

This is Dickinson’s second match back since NJPW’s “Battle In The Valley” event where he suffered an injury, with his first match taking place last night against Minoru Suzuki at GCW’s Bloodsport. It’s a bit of a surprise that he’s able to win a shoulder tackle battle with Ishii, and that he also takes Ishii off his feet for a second time with a back elbow to end a chop battle. They send each other crashing into the barricades, but Dickinson maintains control when they re-enter the ring. Ishii leans into Dickinson’s forearm strikes in the corner, backing Dickinson into a different corner and taking over with just one forearm smash of his own. Ishii grounds Dickinson with a violence party and takes him down with a running shoulder tackle. Dickinson picks his ankle and takes him down with a German suplex. When Ishii gives him a German suplex, Dickinson gets back to his feet and gives Ishii a brainbuster. Ishii also gets back to his feet, and they knock one another out with stereo clotheslines. Dickinson gives Ishii a running Death Valley Driver. Ishii remains unmoved after a short-arm lariat and engages in another forearm strike exchange. Ishii ends that with a headbutt. Dickinson kicks out after the subsequent lariat. He enzuigiri’s Ishii and drops Ishii with another brainbuster for two. Ishii fights out of the Pazuzu Bomb and takes out Dickinson with an enzuigiri. His sliding lariat doesn’t put Dickinson down, but the vertical drop brainbuster does the trick at 16:11. This is exactly what you’d want from these two: just rocking each other with strikes while showing their tenacity. It had the tough task of following White and Bailey, but they did an admirable job while providing something completely different. Minoru Suzuki then shows up on the ramp and through his body language challenges Ishii to a singles match, which will come to pass at “Windy City Riot.” ***½

$14.99 ws a hefty price tag for this card which clocks in just above 90 minutes, but now that it’s on New Japan World, I think it’s worth checking out, especially White vs. Bailey.

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