NJPW STRONG #99 – Ignition 2022 Part 2

Los Angeles, CA – 7.16.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.

STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Opening Round Match
Stray Dog Army (Barrett Brown & Misterioso) vs. Midnight Heat (Ricky Gibson & Eddie Pearl)

This is Midnight Heat’s first appearance since defeating Kevin Knight and The DKC back in February. This is also the first ever match with Misterioso and Brown as a duo, which Riccaboni says was a strategic move by the SDA trio, so nobody would know what to expect from them. I love that explanation. Misterioso dropkicked Gibson’s knee out from under him and sent Pearl into the guardrail, allowing him and Brown to wear down Gibson uninterrupted. Brown delivers several kicks to Gibson’s head during this process. From the floor, Pearl is able to trip Brown as he comes off the ropes, sending him right into a DDT from Gibson. Pearl and Gibson unleash their frustrations on Brown. They stop Brown from tagging out twice, and lay him out with Back Sabbath. Misterioso breaks the pin with an elbow drop just in time. Misterioso lures Gibson to the outside and follows with an Asai moonsault. In the ring, Misterioso superkicks Pearl. Brown shoves him into the MSO from Misterioso, then hits the .50 Caliber Kick for the pin at 8:28. I’m glad to see the SDA advance – they’ve been together for a year and accomplished very little. I was skeptical of two Rudo teams going against one another, but they made it work. Misterioso’s knee hit the barricade as he landed the Asai, so we’ll see if that comes into play in the semi-finals. ***

Tom Lawlor vs. Bad Dude Tito

This is Lawlor’s first STRONG match since losing the Openweight Championship last month. The same day this match aired, both Lawlor and Tito made their successful NJPW debuts in Japan. I wasn’t entirely sure what the purpose of this match was going in – I suppose it’s a good thing Lawlor got a win before heading into the G1 since he just lost the Openweight Championship. But was that necessary? I will say this match surprised me – Tito was able to show his technical wrestling -prowess, something he hasn’t had a chance to do as of yet. Tito impressed as he had had an answer for everything Lawlor threw his way, while also attacking his back and shoulder. He crashed and burned when he attempted a frog splash and was quickly taken down with a PK afterwards. Tito spit at Lawlor before Lawlor delivered a Kamigoye and then NKOTB. A headlock driver then got him the pin at 12:07. That was a really impressive showing for Tito, especially since I thought Lawlor would roll over him. If anyone raised an eyebrow about him being in TMDK and going to Japan, this match should silence any doubters. This was a nice surprise. ***¼

STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Opening Round Match
Dark Order (Alan Angels & Evil Uno) vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)

Interestingly, this was taped two weeks before Alan Angels exited AEW. The Dark Order controlled the start of the match. Davis slammed Uno to escape a wristlock, then tagged Fletcher who knocked Angels off the apron before helping Davis double team Uno. Fletcher then used the top rope to slingshot Angels into a big uppercut from Davis. As Angels recovered, Aussie Open pummeled Uno in their corner. Uno caught a boot from Fletcher and threw it into Davis’ face. Uno then used an inadvertent assist from the referee to take down Fletcher with a neckbreaker. Angels takes down Davis with a tornado DDT and gets a two count on Fletcher with a Spanish Fly. Uno surprises a leapfrogging Fletcher from behind with a German suplex. Uno then pins Fletcher for two with a delayed Complete Shot. Fletcher muscles up the heavier Uno for a suplex. David Beele tosses Angels across the ring twice upon tagging in. Angels sends Davis to the floor and follows with a suicide dive, and shotgun dropkicks a charging Fletcher. Davis catches Angels’ crossbody attempt and tosses him into a chest kick from Fletcher. Davis then tosses him to Fletcher for an Ace Crusher for two. Uno saves Angels, and they almost pin Fletcher with a superkick/facebuster on the knee combo. Davis shoves Angels onto Uno to break the pin. Davis follows Uno to the top rope and brings him down with a superplex. Angels immediately lands a frog splash on Davis, but is too hurt to capitalize. Davis and Fletcher take down Angels with a one-man Ragnarok. Davis sends Uno out with a running knockout punch, and Aussie Open pins Angels with Corealis at 12:44. Like last week’s main event, this was energetic, hard fought, and engaging. No doubt, Aussie Open should have advanced (and probably will win the whole thing). But they gave Dark Order a fighting chance despite being outsiders, and the crowd seemed to very much enjoy seeing them. A very fun match to end the episode. ***½

The semi-finals are set:, with Christopher Daniels & Yuya Uemura facing TMDK, and the Stray Dog Army facing Aussie Open.

This week’s XTRA features David Finlay vs. JONAH from STRONG #74, both of whom are competing in their first G1 tournaments as we speak.

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