New York, NY – 10.28.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni, Matt Rehwoldt, and Alex Koslov.
Cosmic Angels (Waka Tsukiyama & Mina Shirakawa) vs. Kylie Rae & Tiara James
Shirakawa goes after Rae’s knee and with Tsukiyama delivers dropkicks to either side of her head. James knees Tsukiyama in the back from the apron when Tsukiyama hits the ropes, enabling her and Rae to take over the match. Tsukiyama cuts off James with a crossbody block and tags Shirakawa, who dropkicks Rae’s knee out when Rae comes charging. Shirakawa leg sweeps James and drives her knee into the canvas. Shirakawa applies a figure four leg lock and Rae comes to James’ rescue. Rae cannonball sentons Shirakawa in the corner for two. Shirakawa ends a strike exchange with an enzuigiri and tags in Tsukiyama. Tsukiyama sends her into a haymaker from Rae and drops her with a straightjacket choke drop. James breaks the fall and gives Shirakawa an X-Factor. Rae tornado clutches Tsukiyama into a superkick for a very close nearfall. Rae drops her with a TKO for the pin at 12:09. I am stunned the Angels didn’t win, as it felt like a sure thing with the STARDOM crossover event on the horizon. But perhaps this is a sign New Japan is looking to incorporate women’s wrestling into their U.S. arm as well. If so, Kylie will be a tremendous pick up. James shows promise, but is still very new. I really liked what I saw of the Angels, and overall this was a rock solid kickoff match. **½
CHAOS (Rocky Romero & YOH) vs. House of Torture (Yujiro Takahashi & SHO)
I have some unkind words for whoever decided the House of Torture needed to be on a U.S. show. CHAOS attacks before the bell to start to beat the HoT at their own game. Takahashi trips YOH as he is sent to the ropes, and holds Romero on the floor so SHO can hit him with a PK. The HoT beat down and humiliate YOH, but YOH backflips out of a clothesline and takes down SHO with a superkick, getting the chance to tag Romero in afterwards. Romero takes down his former pupil SHO with a running Frankensteiner. SHO pulls referee Kevin Pierce in the way to stop a Shiranui, but CHAOS knock down SHO with a running double knee strike. Takahashi knees Romero from the apron and SHO takes him down with a spear. YOH saves Romero from being pinned with a fisherman’s buster. Romero’s forever clotheslines wipe out the HoT. Romero avoids Takahashi’s pimp cane, but SHO surprises him with a wrench strike from the floor, and Takahashi O’Connor Rolls Romero for the pin at 7:42. I mean this was basically any other HoT tag team match, but better because it had a crowd that could actually boo HoT as opposed to just staying quiet. SHO is way too good for this ish. **¾
After the match, Takahashi holds YOH so SHO can hit him with the wrench as well. But before he strikes, the lights go out and a video plays on the screen. It introduces “The Bad Child” Lio Rush, and Rush wipes out SHO and Takahashi. YOH and Rush fist bump and shake hands. Later, it’s confirmed YOH and Rush will team up in the Super Jr. Tag League this November and December.
STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship
Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. Kevin Knight & The DKC
Aussie Open have been champions since 8.13.2022 and this is their fourth defense. The MCMG earned this title match by defeating Aussie Open in Impact Wrestling. Knight challenged Aussie Open a few weeks ago after picking up a few wins on STRONG with DKC. He and DKC picked up momentum last night defeating Forever Hooligans. Tiger Hattori presents the titles before the bell. DKC and Knight make their mark on the champions in the opening moments. Shelley and Sabin take out Knight after Davis clubs DKC in the neck, and Aussie Open and MCMG trade blows mid-ring. The Guns outpace Aussie Open, but Davis and Fletcher drive Sabin and Shelley back first into one another, and also use them to knock DKC and Knight to the floor and ram all four of them together. Aussie Open torments DKC in their corner, but he side steps a double forearm strike and rolls away to tag Knight. Knight clobbers Fletcher with his signature dropkick but falls to Dental Plan. Knight escapes the Aussie Arrow and Frankensteiner’s Fletcher off the top onto Davis. Fletcher superkicks Knight to the floor where they hit Dental Plan on the floor. Fletcher wipes out MCMG before delivering the Aussie Arrow to Knight for two. Knight escapes Coriolis and MCMG blind tag in on Fletcher. Sabin missile dropkicks Davis and yakuza kicks Knight. Shelley suplexes DKC onto Knight, followed with a delayed tree of woe dropkick from Sabin. DKC and Knight dropkick the two teams to the floor and land stereo pescado’s. Back in the ring, Knight spikes Sabin with the pendulum DDT for two. DKC saves Knight from Skull and Bones. Knight then counters Sabin’s Cradle Shock with a victory roll for two. A series of offenses leads to Davis being wiped out with a superkick/enzuigiri combo from MCMG. The MCMG then pin Knight with the Dirt Bomb, winning the titles at 13:42! That’s quite a surprise, and if it means more MCMG in New Japan, I am very excited. Aussie Open weren’t pinned, so they have an argument for a rematch, which I am also in favor of. As expected this was a high energy, fast-paced match. Less expected was Knight stealing the show. This was very good. ***½
Alex Coughlin makes his way to the ring. He says JR Kratos is no man to run his mouth and call him out while he was out recovering from a torn pec. He says he is ready to face Kratos again whenever Kratos is ready. He also announces he’ll be back in Japan for the World Tag League, but no hint of who will be his partner.
NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship
Fred Rosser vs. Jonathan Gresham
Rosser has been champion since 6.25.2022 and this is his fourth defense. Rosser made an Open Challenge for this show, and Gresham stepped up to answer last night. Rosser was ready to backdrop Gresham on the apron, only for Gresham to take Rosser to the floor in a figure four leg lock instead. Gresham also gives Rosser a dragonscrew leg whip. Rosser surprises Gresham with a backdrop to the floor, capitalizing with several hip attacks in the corner back inside the ring. Gresham fights to the ropes before Rosser’s STF can be fully applied. Gresham dropkicks Rosser’s knee out and locks for a Trailer Hitch. Rosser escapes using the ropes, boots Gresham to the apron, then quickly goes out so he can successfully give Gresham a backbreaker onto the ring apron. When they get back in the ring, Gresham hyper extends Rosser’s left leg and pops his knee and puts the figure four leg lock on. Rosser escapes and knocks down Gresham with a rolling forearm. Gresham comes back with a German suplex and some relentless forearm shots. Rosser stops a third one by turning Gresham inside out with a clothesline. Rosser bludgeons Gresham with clotheslines to the chest and back, and then drops him with the Emerald Flowsion for the pin at 14:37. Most of Rosser’s opponents have been brawlers or strikers. Like his previous challenger, TJP, Gresham brought out a new side of Rosser on the defensive side of things, and made it so Rosser’s usual offense was incorporated in a more interesting way. Gresham made a very satisfactory surprise opponent and a significant name for Rosser to add to his championship defense record. ***½
Homicide, Shota Umino & Wheeler YUTA vs. Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)
Homicide and Lawlor had a heated interaction on STRONG a few weeks ago, and finally got their hands on one another last night in the main event. Team Filthy tries to quarantine Homicide, but that breaks down into a Pier 6 brawl. YUTA wipes out everyone with a suicide dive from the apron. Team Filthy do get their way, trapping Homicide in their corner and taking turns inflicting damage upon him. Just when it seems like Homicide is ready to tag out after giving Isaacs Three Amigos, Lawlor jumps in and puts him in a guillotine choke. Homicide suplexes his way free and tags YUTA, who takes out Nelson and Isaacs with a top rope dropkick. He also drops Lawlor with the Painthriller for two. Umino tags himself in when Lawlor jacks YUTA’s neck. They take out all of Team Filthy, with Umino almost pinning Lawlor with a fisherman’s suplex. Lawlor escapes Umino’s reverse brainbuster and applies a rear-naked choke. When Umino escapes, he gives him a deep uranage and a kick to the side of the head. Nelson and Isaacs use a powerbomb/German suplex combo on Umino for a two count. Umino takes a triple team powerbomb from Team Filthy, and Homicide jumps in to break the pin at the last second. Homicide blocks a PK from Lawlor and drops him with an Ace Crusher. Homicide takes out Isaacs and Lawlor with a tope suicida. Umino catches Nelson’s springback Ace Crusher in the ring. He pops Nelson up into an uppercut, drops him with a running neckbreaker, and then puts him away with the Death Rider for the pin at 12:15. That was a fun match to continue Homicide/Lawlor issue while also giving Umino a high profile win in the U.S. This feud is actually more compelling than I expected, so I’m good with it getting matches like this to keep it going. ***
Clark Connors vs. Minoru Suzuki
Ken Shamrock of all people is in Connors’ corner, a former rival of Suzuki’s in Pancrase. Suzuki’s chest still is blistered from his match last night, but that does not stop him from engaging in an overhand chop battle with Connors. Suzuki even walks into Connors’ chops, backing him to the ropes, and then smacking him in the face. Suzuki’s arm capture does not stun Connors for long – Connors headbutts him in the stomach and spears him to the floor! Despite this, Suzuki is able to chop Connors all around ringside and wipe him out with an openhanded strike to the face. Connors is able to recover back in the ring, scoring a running frog splash Suzuki boots him in the corner and delivers a PK right after. Suzuki’s hubris brings them back to a chop battle. That turns into forearm strikes. Connors knocks Suzuki down to his knees with a slap. Connors also ducks the sleeper hold and rolls Suzuki into an ankle lock. Suzuki reverses once, but Connors reverses it back, and after a few moments Suzuki grabs the ropes. Connors lines up Suzuki for a spear. Suzuki blocks twice, weaves Connors into the sleeper hold, forearms him in the face, and delivers the Gotch Style Piledriver for the pin at 15:50. The challenge aspect of this match colored the tone. Suzuki tested Connors’ mental and physical capacity, almost as if he was going to break Connors into regretting he ever challenged him. But Connors didn’t break – he welcomed Suzuki’s onslaught. Suzuki’s overall edge allowed him to put Connors exactly where he needed him to get the win, but even in a loss, Connors looked unbelievable. Having this type of showing and getting an endorsement from Shamrock is definitely a big step for Connors’ in terms of perception by the audience. Suzuki calls him a fucking young boy before shaking his hand, but unlike with Killer Kross, it’s very cleary a term of endearment here. Great match. ***¾
SWA World Championship
Mayu Iwatani vs. KiLynn King
Iwatani has been champion since 5.5.2022 and this is her second defense. King’s size presented a challenge for Iwatani, and King utilized her size and strength advantage to dominate the challenger. Iwatani swung through the ropes in order to score a schoolgirl and dropkicked King twice upon recovering. Iwatani then landed a suicide dive. King caught Iwatani on the top turnbuckle back in the ring, but Iwatani still took her down with a dropkick off of the middle turnbuckle. Iwatani stuns King with a superkick and double stomps her midsection for two. Iwatani misses a top rope moonsault. King muscles her up into a single arm powerbomb for two. King swings her out of a pump handle into a facebuster for two, and is in disbelief and anger when Iwatani kicks out. Iwatani fights off King’s shoulders and spikes her with a crucifix driver. Iwatani then stops King coming off the ropes with a dragon suplex. After a superkick, Iwatani lands a frog splash for two. Iwatani high kicks and superkicks King, but King fires up. A kick across the jaw lays out King, and Iwatani’s moonsault lands for the pin at 11:47. King was a fantastic foil for Iwatani – she was everything Iwatani is not, and their differences meshed together really well. The crowd was cooling down from the previous match, so that element could’ve been better, but I thought this was a very successful first women’s match on NJPW USA PPV. King is gonna blow up soon, I can feel it. ***¼
NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2022 Trophy – New York City Street Fight
Shingo Takagi vs. El Phantasmo
Takagi has held the trophy since 4.25.2022 and this is his third defense. He successfully defended the trophy against El Phantasmo last month, but after the match, Phantasmo would destroy the trophy after punching Takagi in the dick. All Shingo has left of it is the base which he wears as a necklace. Phantasmo poses after taking down Takagi with a dropkick. Takagi snapmares Phantasmo into an elbow drop, and the crowd chants “daddy Shingo.” Phantasmo surprises Takagi with red mist, that is actually his own blood! Apparently, a clothesline over the top rope busted Phantasmo’s mouth open. He clobbers Takagi with a trash can lid thrice. Takagi remains standing after being covered with a trashcan and clobbered with a kendo stick several times. Phantasmo hits Takagi in the leg with a kendo stick strike, and Takagi surprises him with green mist to the eyes! Takagi slams him into a senton and then retrieves a chair, which he suplexes Phantasmo onto upright, Phantasmo sweeps Takagi into a tree of woe and steps on his dick after teasing a chair-assisted dropkick. Takagi sneaks out from underneath and brings Phantasmo off the ropes, so then Phantasmo dropkicks the chair into Takagi’s face. Takagi throws the trash can at Phantasmo to shut down his coast-to-coast dropkick plans and brings him down with a superplex. Takagi recruits some staff to help him bring tables to the ring while he brings in a ladder. Phantasmo and Takagi fight to use the weapons, with Phantasmo dick punching Takagi to keep him laying across a table. Phantasmo lands a Superfly Splash off the top of the ladder and through the table, but only gets a two count. Takagi is Irish whipped into the ladder and eats Sudden Death right after. The CR-II only gets Phantasmo a two count once again. Takagui captures Phantasmo’s leg during Phantasmo’s strikes and delivers Made in Japan onto a chair for two. They engage in a punch battle while seated across from one another. They then duel with the chairs, with Takagi laying out Phantasmo with the Pumping Bomber. Takagi uses the CR-II against Phantasmo for two. Shingo sets up a table, brings Phantasmo to the second turnbuckle, and puts him through the table with a super Legend Falconry. Takagi hits him with a chair again and then a Ganso Bomb onto a chair for the pin at 20:59. IYou don’t get matches of this type very often in New Japan, and I think it’s cool that they had an issue that started and heated up in Japan and concluded on a U.S. show. I think there is room for more crossover between those two “brands.” I think the last few moments could’ve been better arranged and built, but generally speaking this was a compelling brawl. It helps when the two people in a street fight aren’t afraid to kick the shit out of each other and get the shit kicked out of them either.. ****
Kazuchika Okada & Eddie Kingston vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Juice Robinson)
Kingston’s chops send White retreating to the floor. Okada lands a slingshot senton. White tags out to Robinson quickly, and Robinson is tripped right into an elbow drop to the lower back by Okada. Kingston butterfly suplexes Robinson. White kicks Kingston from the apron, and Robinson chop blocks Kingston. White jams the back of Kingston’s knee into the ring apron, picking up where he left off in yesterday’s twelve man tag main event. BULLET CLUB wears down the War King. Kingston finds a moment to tag when he gets his knees up to block a senton from Robinson, and takes him down with an enzuigiri when Robinson grabs Kingston’s leg to try and stop him. Okada takes out Robinson with a back elbow and DDT. He applies the Money Clip and Robinson wristdrags his way free. Robinson uses the referee to escape Okada’s modified Air Raid Crash. White grabs Okada’s leg and Robinson drops him with a DDT. White gets two with a spinning suplex and calls for a sleepwalker suplex. Okada slips away and engages in a forearm strike exchange with the champion. Okada shotgun dropkicks White into the corner and lands a top rope elbow smash. White fights out of the Rainmaker but is taken down with a dropkick. Kingston tags in and takes down the BULLET CLUB with exploder suplexes. White goes to the eyes to avoid a Saito suplex. White kicks Kingston in the knee and drops him with a DDT. Okada escapes another sleepwalker suplex attempt and dropkicks White. Kingston takes out the BULLET CLUB with a double clothesline. Okada holds onto White so Kingston can unload multiple chops. White ducks the Rainmaker and sleepwalker suplexes both Okada and Kingston. Kingston uses a Saito suplex to counter both the Blade Runner and Pulp Friction. Kingston fights off the BULLET CLUB on his own as they attack his knees. Robinson distracts the referee, giving White the chance to low blow Kingston. Robinson holds onto Okada while White drops Kingston with the Blade Runner for the pin at 20:16. I have no issue with White pinning Kingston with a low blow – that’s what bad guys do. I do have an issue with a match going 20 minutes, with the second half of the match struggling to remain coherent, ending in a low blow. If that is how it was going to end, I think White vs Kingston in a singles would’ve been a far more interesting matc. I get they wanted to have something presented to the U.S. audience to build White vs. Okada’s WK main event, and I think in that respect it established the sleepwalker suplex as something that Okada fears in that it directly sets up for the Blade Runner. Still, the needlessly long run time for a purposefully unsatisfactory ending left a bad taste in my mouth. Not the optimal way to end this show. ***
Just like last night, this show was too long. It was a better show overall, but still too long. Figure it out!