NJPW The Night Before Rumble On 44th Street: A Halloween Special

New York, NY – 10.27.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni (dressed as Austin Powers) and Matt Rehwoldt (dressed as Number 2).

This entire show was Mystery Vortex style, meaning no matches were announced ahead of time.

Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov)

Not counting Talk N’ Shop-A-Mania, which doesn’t have real matches, this is Koslov’s first match since February of 2015. Despite not having teamed in seven years, Forever Hooligans were in sync. When it looked like the Dojo team was about to hit their stride, Koslov tripped Knight and put him in Perestroika, allowing the Hooligans to take over the match instead. A miscommunication leads to Koslov giving Romero an Atomic Drop, and out of anger, Romero responds in kind. This left them vulnerable to a double dropkick from Knight, who then tagged in DKC to lay out the Hooligans with karate chops. After leaping up to the top rope and giving Romero a superplex, Knight put Romero in the Boston Crab, but Koslov saved his partner with a DDT. Koslov’s Kozack kicks to Knight were followed up with an assisted knee strike and a top rope double stomp from Romero. Romero called for the Contract Killer, and although Knight initially fought free from it, they ended up delivering. DKC drove Koslov onto Romero who had Knight covered, and then wiped out Romero on the floor with a pescado. Knight then small-packaged Koslov for the pin at 16:02. The ending was a little wonky, but that was a very fun match overall. Having the Hooligans return was a welcomed surprise and established an “anything can happen” tone for the evening. This was also a great team for the DKC and Knight to get a victory against to build momentum for tomorrow’s STRONG Tag Title match. Koslov looked awesome and I would be very happy if the Hooligans reunion wasn’t a one night occurrence. ***

Fred Rosser vs. Crowbar

This is Crowbar’s NJPW debut. Rosser’s apron backbreaker led to Crowbar needing to use a chair to turn things around. Why hitting Rosser with a chair wasn’t a DQ I don’t know, but he then used it to seat Rosser for an elbow off of the ring apron. Crowbar also busted out a Frankensteiner back inside of the ring. After fighting through a straightjacket choke, Rosser nailed Crowbar with a shotgun dropkick and battered him with clotheslines and hip attacks in the corner. Crowbar escaped a running powerslam and dropped Rosser with the Eye of the Storm for two. An open hand strike exchange ended with Rosser hitting the Gut Check. The Emerald Flowsion then got Rosser the pin at 14:43. I have nothing against Crowbar, but seeing the STRONG Champion have such a difficult time against him was odd. It was an interesting match, but definitely felt every bit of its run time. Jonathan Gresahm appears after the match to accept Rosser’s Open Challenge for the STRONG Openweight Championship tomorrow night. **½

Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. The SAT (Joel Maximo & Jose Maximo)

This is the SAT’s NJPW debut. Aussie Open show no respect to the New York veterans, attacking them before the bell. The SAT fights out of the Aussie Arrow and takes down Davis with a double bulldog. They also blast Fletcher with a yakuza kick/enzuigiri combo in the corner. Aussie Open stops their tandem baseball slides and drives the SAT back first into one another. They aren’t able to keep Jose isolated for long, as he ducks under a corner clothesline from Davis and tags Joel, who overhead suplexes Fletcher and gives Davis a running headbutt to the midsection. Davis stops Joel’s somersault senton attempt by getting his knees up. Aussie Open then take him out with the Dental Plan and Aussie Arrow. Jose saves Joel from the Coriolis and assists with a sunset bomb to the floor to Fletcher, who also takes a super DDT and double Spanish Fly back inside the ring. Davis saves Fletcher from being pinned and shoves Jose off of the top rope and to the floor. Joel succumbs to Coriolis, giving Aussie Open the pin at 7:44. After two longer opening matches I greatly appreciated something succinct. The SAT are still capable of doing the stuff that made them popular and are far more refined than they were in their hayday. A very fun match, and a nice victory for Aussie Open to hang their hat on. ***

Mascara Dorada vs. Mighty Mante vs. Mike Bailey vs. Smiley

This is the NJPW debut for Mante and Smiley, and Bailey’s first match since losing to Jay White at “Lonestar Shootout.” I was surprised how heavily featured Smiley was in this match. He did well in his role, but didn’t have the same pizazz as Mante and was not as well regarded as Bailey and Dorada. Mante saved Smiley from being taken out by Bailey’s Ultima Weapon, and it looked like he was going to pin Smiley after a somersault senton, but Dorada interrupted the pin. Dorada also interrupts Bailey’s next Ultima Weapon attempt with a reverse Sling Blade off of the top turnbuckle. Mante wipes out Dorada on the floor with a suicide dive. Bailey pulls Smiley and Mante over to him when Smiley has Mante on his shoulders, nailing Mante on Smiley’s shoulders with Ultima Weapon for the pin at 9:38. The two lesser known talents for sure got the biggest spotlight, which is surprising and refreshing. They both made the most of it, and I could see them both coming back at some point. Bailey winning was the right choice, I think, and I hope it means he’ll be back in NJPW sooner than later. ***¼

Minoru Suzuki vs. Tracy Williams

Not counting the ROH tie-in events, this is Williams’ first NJPW match since their January 2019 U.S. tour. Williams went after Suzuki aggressively to start. Suzuki trapped Williams in the ropes with an armbar, then sent Williams shoulder first into the ring post in a hammerlock. It doesn’t keep Williams down for long, as he takes down Suzuki with an Angle slam back inside the ring. Suzuki catches a lariat attempt and brings him down for a Fujiwara armbar, but Williams shifts himself over and deadlifts Suzuki onto his knees and then into an ankle hold. Suzuki reverses an Irish whip across the ring and crushes Williams with a running chest kick and a PK. Williams ends up in an open hand strike battle with Suzuki, begging for more from the King. Suzuki shuts him down with a forearm shot to the chin that nearly knocks him out. Williams fires back up in the corner. When Suzuki almost has a double wristlock applied on the top turnbuckle, Williams drops him with a DDT on the top turnbuckle, and puts him into an STF on the mat. Suzuki gets his foot on the bottom rope, so Williams goes for Suzuki’s own Gotch Style Piledriver. Suzuki escapes, slides under a lariat from Williams and locks on a sleeper hold. He then drops Williams with one more forearm shot before giving him the GSP for the pin at 13:14. I am a big fan of Williams and was thrilled to see him get this opportunity. I thought this was going to float into the usual Suzuki formula, but Williams had more of an advantage than many of Suzuki’s U.S. opponents tend to enjoy. I appreciatde that. Please, please bring Williams back, New Japan. ***¼

Shingo Takagi vs. Jake Something

Something boldly shoves Takagi after breaking a lock-up against the ropes. Takagi takes him down and drops a pair of elbows, then keeps him grounded with a front facelock. Something surprises Takagi with a bodyslam to end a forearm strike exchange. Outside of the ring, Something shoves Takagi into a ring post and further wears him down with a side headlock inside the ring. Takagi escapes, but Something uses a body block to shut him back down. Takagi uses a back elbow to stun Something as he comes off the ropes and knocks him down with a clothesline so he can catch his breath. Takagi then slams him into a senton splash. Takagi blocks a boot from Something and gives him a neckbreaker for two. Something catches a sliding lariat and sends Takagi face first into the mat. He then chokeslams Takagi right onto the lion mark and does the deal with a Falcon Arrow for two. Takagi ducks a clothesline and looks for the Last of the Dragon, but Something elbows his way out of it. Takagi cuts off Something with a clothesline against the ropes and catches another body block attempt with a Death Valley Driver. A corner lariat and Made In Japan get Takagi a two count. Something then blocks the Ryu-kon lariat and delivers his own Death Valley Driver. Something then gets two with a lariat. Takagi backdrops his way out of a powerbomb attempt and blasts Something with the Pumping Bomber. It takes a basement lariat and a second Pumping Bomber to keep Something down for the pin at 14:17. Leave it to Shingo to make me a believer in Something. Something’s other matches I’ve seen in NJPW were fine but forgettable. This match on the other hand felt like his coming out party. Shingo was a perfect opponent for him to show that he is capable of being an equal with a New Japan talent and that he is as tough as they come. Ideally this will carry forward for Something’s subsequent NJPW appearances. Shingo rules. ***½

Elimination Match
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & YOH), Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, Homicide & The Amazing Red vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Juice Robinson & El Phantasmo) & Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)

Eliminations can occur by pinfall, submission, count out, or by being thrown over the top rope and both feet touching the floor. Team Filthy are all dressed as nuns, which they played into at the beginning of the match. When YOH becomes an obstacle for them, they stop messing around, and eventually Nelson and Isaacs both toss him over the top rope, eliminating him at 14:36. Red would avenge YOH moments later, eliminating Nelson with the Code Red at 15:24. Isaacs then schoolboy pinned Red at 15:31. An Ace Crusher and lariat from Homicide eliminated Isaacs at 15:49. Lawlor and Homicide came to blows for the first time since their altercation in Vegas. Lawlor threw Homicide over the top rope, but Homicide hung on to the top rope. Team Filthy then pulled him to the floor while the referee didn’t notice, resulting in his elimination at 16:57. An angry Kingston attacked Lawlor, but a chop block from White neutralized the War King. Kingston rolled under a corner clothesline from Phantasmo and tagged in Moxley, who gave Phantasmo a release suplex before tossing him over the top rope at 20:35. The remaining six competitors get in a melee, with Moxley pinning Lawlor with the Death Rider at 24:19. Robinson accidentally elbows White in the head, and Okada took Robinson out with an Air Raid Crash across the thigh and an elbow drop. White interrupted Okada’s Rainmaker attempt on Robinson. Okada booted down White. Robinson then tried for Pulp Friction. Okada escaped, took him down with a dropkick and the Landslide, and then nailed the Rainmaker. White then surprised Okada from behind, throwing him over the top rope at 27:36. White was too busy basking in his elimination to notice Moxley slip in and pin Robinson at 27:48, leaving White alone with Moxley and Kingston. The IWGP and AEW Heavyweight Champions exchange strikes. White takes down Moxley with a pair of sleepwalker suplexes and sets him up for the Blade Runner. Kingston surprises White with a Backfist to the Future. Moxley then nails him with the Death Rider. Moxley and Kingston then both toss White over the top rope at 29:14 to win the match. That was an immense amount of fun. They wove several issues throughout the match, setting up for tomorrow’s show and beyond. We got to see the IWGP and AEW World Champions square off which is neat, and an all star team that will likely never be replicated. Like all New Japan elimination matches, the elimination could have been spaced out much better, but the match moved at a really good pace so I’m willing to let that go. I don’t think they could have ended this show in a better way. ****

I really appreciate that this mystery show wasn’t just the exact same people on tomorrow’s show shuffled around. There were lots of big, interesting surprises, and it gives me confidence that fans would buy into this concept if they tried it again. My one complaint is the show was too long. Shave down the match times of just about everything by 3-5 minutes and it would’ve been an overall improvement. Still, this was a fun night of wrestling.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s