NJPW STRONG #116 – Showdown 2022 Part 3

Los Angeles, CA – 11.19.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.

Keita vs. Peter Avalon

Avalon presents Keita with the microphone, seemingly as a kind gesture, but it turns out to be a way for him to blindside Keita with an enzuigiri. Avalon’s subsequent running Death Valley driver didn’t get the pin, so he goes for his half-nelson, the Golden Arch. Kind of strange to use that when the Full Nelson is THE move of the NJPW dojo. Either way, he’s unsuccessful, and Keita sends him crashing into the barricades with a suicide dive. Keita also cuts off Avalon with an inverted atomic drop, following up with a Stun Gun and Sick Kick for two. Avalon yanks Keita off of the second rope, sending him crashing to the mat, and wears him down with a butcher grip. Keita holds onto the ropes to block an Irish whip out of the corner and delivers a superkick to a kneeling Avalon. Keita gets two with a backbreaker. Avalon however successfully pulls off his own suicide dive and a slingshot knee drop. Keita comes back with a tornado snap suplex he calls Keita The City. A jawbreaker and double boot from the mat leads to Keita giving Avalon a scoop slam onto his chest and face for two. Avalon kicks at Keita’s leg and locks him in the Golden Arch until Keita gets to the ropes. Avalon kicks out of a Tiger Driver and Keita tries for a Boston Crab. Avalon rolls into a cradle, enzuigiri’s Keita, and reapplies the Golden Arch until Keita submits at 8:58. They got the crowd into this more than I anticipated. They love Keita, and Avalon is a very solid Rudo, and it made for a very engaging match. I think Avalon could’ve done a bit more to build up the Golden Arch submission, but despite that, this match overachieved. ***

Blake Christian & Mascara Dorada vs. BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo & Chris Bey)

Juice Robinson comes out with the BULLET CLUB and then joins commentary for the bout. Dorada and Christian are teaming once again after a losing effort to Mistico and Alex Zayne last month. Bey and Phantasmo reunite for the first time since June, and have won their last two tag matches. Christian and Bey move at a breakneck speed, with Christian getting the better of Bey with a rolling enzuigiri. Dorada walks the ropes to take down Phantasmo, and as a team, Christian and Dorada send the BULLET CLUB to the floor. Dorada is popped out with an assisted tope con hilo and Christian follows up with an Arabian Press into a double reverse DDT. In the ring, Phantasmo throws Dorada down by the back of his mask to turn the tide. He and Bey beat down Dorada in their corner and stand on his crotch in a tree of woe. Too much showboating from Phantasmo enables Dorada to recover in the corner and DDT Phantasmo into the turnbuckle! Christian sends Phantasmo to the outside, giving him a dropkick through the ropes before skinning the cat into a super Spanish Fly from Bey. I like that, as that’s what Mistico defeated Christian and Dorada with in their match. Bey uses the middle rope for a Complete Shot on Dorada. Dorada is able to come back with an enzuigiri and springboard elbow drop, but Phantasmo breaks up his pin. Phantasmo pulls Dorada to the floor and Christian drops Bey with a rolling Death Valley Driver. Robinson throws water on Christian from the announcer’s table. Robinson then shoves Christian off of the top rope and into the Art of Finesse from Bey for the pin at 10:44. This had so much more substance than Christian and Dorada’s previous match. It’s also impressive how cohesive they already are. Christian and Robinson is an interesting rivalry even if it made for a cheap ending, but that’s BULLET CLUB matches for you. Fun stuff. ***¼

Emily Mae interviews STRONG Openweight Champion Fred Rosser about his match against IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White in a non-title champion vs. champion bout. Rosser says nobody does it better than White, but he is looking to show the world that he is the face of New Japan STRONG. Rosser needs to know if he still has what it takes. Normally he tells his opponents to get ready, but he knows White is ready, and it’ll be time to go work next week when they meet one-on-one.

Homicide vs. Tom Lawlor

Lawlor and Homicide first came to blows last month in Vegas was on commentary during Homicide’s tag team main event match. They would then go at each other during the Night Before Rumble on 44th Street main event, where Lawlor eliminated Homicide from the match. The match starts relatively tamely with mat wrestling and Lawlor attempting to go for a submission. The aggression picks up when Homicide bites Lawlor’s ear. Lawlor then uses his feet to snap Homicide’s left arm and then applies pressure to his wrist. Things go awry from the former fighter when Homicide delivers a piledriver to Lawlor on the floor. This almost results in a double countout, as Homicide used the time Lawlor was out to recover. Back in the ring he goes after Lawlor’s eyes and grabs hold of his ghetto fork. Lawlor latigo’s Homicide to avoid being attacked by the fork and takes him down with a uranage slam. Homicide uses the ropes to escape a full body stretch and drops Lawlor with an Ace Crusher. Homicide breaks free from Lawlor’s guillotine choke. He tries a Hamachan Cutter, and Lawlor converts into a sleeper hold. Homicide bites Lawlor’s hands to break free. Lawlor evades the Cop Killer and reapplies the sleeper. Homicide latigo’s his way free and clobbers Lawlor with a lariat for the pin at 13:44. I liked this match a lot – it showed that both Lawlor and Homicide are multi-faceted and capable of adapting as a match progresses. Homicide winning was a surprise, but I think it was done in a very realistic manner with Homicide catching Lawlor off guard with a lariat after wearing down his neck for most of the match. I wonder if this earns him a STRONG title match against Fred Rosser – I would like to see that. ***½

Danny Limelight saves Tom Lawlor from being forked by Homicide. Backstage, Limelight says he has ties with both Homicide (in MLW) and Lawlor, but when Homicide tried to use a fork on Lawlor, it rubbed him the wrong way. Limelight thinks Homicide has a problem with Lawlor because Homicide perceives Limelight as being more loyal to Lawlor than he is to him. Limelight reminds Homicide he was Team Filthy before he was 5150. He tells Homicide that as long as he stays in his lane and out of Lawlor’s path to getting the STRONG championship back, everything will be alright. Otherwise, Homicide can meet him in the ring. He tells Homicide it’s not personal, it’s just Filthy business.

Very good, consistent show this week, which I appreciated, especially coming into this with not the highest of expectations.

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