NJPW STRONG #124 – Nemesis 2023 Part 2

Los Angeles, CA – 1.14.2023

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.

Kelly and Koslov are discussing the upcoming “Battle In The Valley” PPV on February 18th. They discuss how David Finlay vs. Bobby Fish has been made official for the event when Tom Lawlor interrupts. He tells Kelly that he has noticed that Homicide isn’t one to play by the rules during their matches, and that perhaps it was his fault for assuming Homicide would face him like a real man. Since that has not happened, he challenges Homicide to a Filthy Rules Fight at “Battle In The Valley” – no ropes, no rules. That should be a hoot.

Mascara Dorada vs. Che Cabrera

Dorada is in control until Cabrera cuts him off with a backbreaker and a powerslam. Cabrera goes up and over a charging Dorada out of the corner and takes him down with a shoulder tackle. Dorada drop toe holds Cabrera into the corner pad. He Sling Blade Cabrera’s into a bulldog before springboard dropkicking him to the floor. Dorada then lands a somersault senton off the top turnbuckle and to the floor. Cabrera kicks out from a Swanton back inside of the ring and turns Dorada inside out with a running shoulder block. He back suplexes Dorada for a two count, and Dorada is able to come back with a tornado DDT off of the second rope. Cabrera evades a lionsault and delivers Total Anarchy for two. Dorada superkicks Cabrera after Cabrera looks to come off the top rope with something. Dorada walks the top rope and lands an elbow drop for the pin at 7:21. This was a totally solid, sound match that just didn’t have a lot to sink your teeth into. The timid crowd didn’t help things. This wasn’t bad by any means, just superfluous. **½

David Finlay, Eddie Kingston & Homicide vs. Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Danny Limelight) & Bobby Fish

Homicide defeated Lawlor in a singles match on STRONG #116, and then in multi-man tag matches on back-to-back nights in New York in October. Homicide also defeated Limelight at STRONG #118, but Fish attacked him after that match. Fish and Finlay have also been at odds lately, and have a singles match scheduled for the “Battle In The Valley” kickoff next month. Finlay takes out Fish with a dropkick. Fish forearm strikes Homicide to the corner where Team Filthy mauls him. Limelight knocks Kingston and Finlay to the floor, angering Homicide’s partners as his team wears down the Notorious 187. Homicide at one point tries tackling Lawlor off of the apron but gets sent into the barricades by Limelight. Kingston gives chase to Limelight and ends up damaging his arm in the barricades. However, Homicide ends up back in the ring trapped in the opposition’s corner. Homicide ends up superplexing Limelight at the five minute mark. Kingston unloads repeated chops to Lawlor and Limelight before tossing them overhead with exploder suplexes. Fish ends up taking an exploder suplex as well. Kingston locks Lawlor in a Stretch Plum and lariats Limelight when he breaks up the hold. Finlay blind tags in and takes out Lawlor with an exploder suplex and back suplex. Lawlor escapes Trash Panda and looks for a rear-naked choke. Finlay Judo throws his way out but takes a modified uranage. Homicide also fights out of Lawlor’s choke. Fish kicks him high before he can apply an ankle lock. Kingston knocks down Fish with a Backfist and Limelight takes out Kingston’s leg. Finlay avoids Limelight’s Symbiote DDT and scoops him up into Trash Panda for the pin at 9:40. This was a bit of a mess, sometimes in a fun chaotic way. It helped raise the rivalries by adding a sense of genuine dislike between the parties, which is good for the PPV. I wish Kingston got more to do during the match, but he got a chance to shine right after at least. ***

Fish kicks Finlay’s left leg out after the bell and they fight their way backstage. Jay White tries to sneak attack Kingston but he gets caught. White retreats and grabs a microphone. White pinned Kingston at “Rumble On 44th Street” and says he’s worried he hurt Kingston’s feelings. He then calmly welcomes Kingston to his home. He also tells Kingston he looks down upon all of the Japanese legends that Kingston looks up to, stating he is better than all of them. He says the only way Kingston’s name will be mentioned amongst people like Okada, Tanahashi, and Ibushi is if White chooses to give Kingston his moment and make him breathe with the Switchblade. White says it is still his era; Kingston tells White to prove it. White says he has nothing to prove, but he will give Kingston his moment, just not tonight. Kingston then challenges White to a match at “Battle In The Valley” on February 18th. Kingston tells White he is going to eat him alive, and White says he is going to show Kingston just how insignificant he is.

Bad Dude Tito vs. Jeff Cobb

Cobb wins the battle of shoulder blocks by adding a small hop to his final attempt. Tito blisters him with a right hand upon getting to his feet, and even though Cobb sends him to the apron, Tito yanks Cobb down by his hair and lands a slingshot senton. Cobb comes back with a dropkick, “surfing” on Tito’s back afterwards. Cobb throws Tito back first into the corner twice before following him in with a back elbow. Tito kicks Cobb away and drops him with a Blockbuster. Cobb ducks an enzuigiri. Tito avoids a deadlift German suplex but is taken down with the Spin Cycle. A standing moonsault follow-up gets Cobb a two count. Tito cuts off Cobb by getting his boot up. When a prawn hold doesn’t work for the pin, he successfully pulls off an enzuigiri and a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Each man delivers a thrust kick to one another. Tito absorbs a lariat, but after a haymaker, Cobb pulls him into the Tour of the Islands for the pin at 7:33. An expected, but disappointing result, just because Tito right now feels like the forgotten TMDK memer. This was a fun, albeit truncated hoss fight. ***

It only took them until the final STRONG taping to realize that the show could be used more effectively to build the U.S. PPV’s. Better late than never, because without that wrinkle, this episode would’ve been easily skippable.

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