NJPW Strong: May 14, Episode 40!
A special 8-man tag team elimination for tonight!
Commentators: Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly speculate that Chris Dickinson will turn on Team Filthy in the 8-man tag.
Chris Dickinson will be facing Filthy Tom for his Strong NJPW title in this tour.
The first match:
Rocky Romero v. AJZ ( NJPW Strong debut match)
Fun Fact: AJZ looks like an extra on Jersey Shore. Rocky Romero looks like he is going to act a fool.
Summary: Fast tie-ups start the match. AJZ is a good manhandler. Romero uses his veteran submissions to tire the newbie. AJZ uses his head strikes to turn the tide. Romero gets angry from AJZ’s abuse and goes berserk with his strikes. Rocky Romero can’t seem to get momentum as AJZ throws him around. Finally, Romero steals the victory with a backslide pin.
Positive: AJZ has some colorful showboating that adds flavor to the match. Romero makes a headlock look entertaining. Romero’s beautiful knee-to-arm crusher from the top rope. AJZ hits a jumping DDT to give the match some weight. Romero’s double foot dropkick off the top rope hits hard. AJZ reverses Rocky’s finisher. AJZ looks great with his jumping knee.
Negative: Five minutes into the match and only headlocks and strikes happened. Arm wringers, headlocks, and mid-kicks dominate most of the match.
Winner: Rocky Romero via a backslide pin
AJZ looked good in that match, pulling off some very good-looking strong grapples. He seems like a graduate of Lex Luger college. Romero’s fight repertoire seemed limited to headlocks, mid kicks, and chain maneuvers. The story was that Rocky might be on a losing streak and needs a win to get his confidence back. That’s a great story for him, but he definitely needed some more move diversity. Maybe the angle of this match was to show that Rocky is losing his grip and he can barely eke out a win.
Fred Rosser/Lio Rush v. El Phantasmo/Hikuleo
Fun Fact: I think the Bullet Club is like the NWO of 1997…everyone is in it.
Summary: This has promise written all over it. The Bullet Club messes with the underdogs by trolling with the tag. Chaos erupts immediately, as Rosser goes for the strikes and Rush goes for the high flying splash. Rush and Rosser dominate the first half with throws and running kicks until Hikuleo interrupts their flow with a cheap move from the ring. The heels use their boots to torture the faces for a spell. Poor Rosser receives the wrath until he gets Rush into the tag. Rush answers the heels with a volley of high-risk lucha moves. Rosser and Hikuleo get into a strike war at the entrance ramp, leaving Rush to reverse El Phantasmo and hit his finisher.
Positives: Lio Rush hits a front flip kick to knock El Phantasmo out of the ring. Rosser puts El Phantasmo in a back-breaker. Rosser hits a leg drop and El Phantasmo sells it by flipping upward (the sell was more impressive than the leg drop). Lio’s speed complements Rosser’s grapple style. Rush hits a jumping axe kick and Rosser finishes it with a split-leg frog splash. Phantasmo and Hikuelo have an entertaining Kevin Nash/Scott Hall energy. Hikuleo has a great running powerslam on Rosser. Rosser then hits a seamless belly-to-belly overhead throw. Rush’s springboard back elbow was crisp on Phantasmo. El Phantasmo blocks Rush’s rope bounce stunner and goes for a spinning DVD. Rush escapes the DVD and hits the most beautiful Spanish fly I have ever seen. Lio goes for the jackknife pin, but El Phantasmo bridges out of it. El Phantasmo goes for his finisher, but Rush turns it into a rana pin.
Winner: Lio Rush and Rosser via Rush’s bottom rope bounce stunner
This match has echoes of Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman versus Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. The Bullet Club are great heels and they earned every cent with their performance. The true stars in this match were Rush and Rosser, who worked every move they could afford. A highly entertaining match that proved that Lio and Rosser make a great tag-team.
Rosser and Hikuleo still battle, knocking over a time keeper’s table after the match. The backstage crew has to break them up when they start trading chair shots.
Rosser and Hikuleo will face off in the main event next week.
Rosser and Rush go backstage to vent their frustration about Hikuleo’s attack. Rosser makes it a No DQ match for next week. Lio calls El Phantasmo a fluke.
Karl Fredericks, Brody King, TJP, Clark Connors v. Tom Lawlor, Chris Dickinson, JR Kratos, and Danny Limelight (8-man tag elimination)
Fun Fact: This match was so action-packed that I am going to give the play-by-play.
Chris Dickinson comes out to his own theme music, while Team Filthy comes out to the filthy theme. Fredericks and Lawlor are up first. They jockey for position. Tom fights for a leg submission. Both men go back and forth until Tom breaks out the strikes. Karl hits a cross-body to end the tag.
TJP and Danny Limelight hit the ring and both men are running at each other with lunge kicks and elbow charges. TJP brings Limelight down to the floor and hits a leg submission. Limelight reverses it into a roll-up pin for a 1-count. TJP front flips off the back of Limelight and nails a lower dropkick.
Connors gets tagged in. He and TJP do a double arm drag on Limelight. Connors trades punches with Limelight. TJP gets tagged in. TJP Irish whips Connors into a Limelight. TJP hits a running pump kick. TJP hits a scoop slam on Limelight and goes to the top rope. Filthy Tom chops him down before he can hit his splash. Limelight hits a huge jumping rana on TJP from the top rope. Limelight, Dickinson, Kratos, and Lawlor rush on TJP from the corner. Kratos sits TJP on his shoulder and Limelight hits a very high blockbuster. It’s only a 2-count. TJP is thrown into the ropes, but he escapes through Limelight’s legs. TJP tries to dump Limelight on the floor and eliminate him, but he escapes it. Limelight answers back with double knees to TJP’s head. TJP comes back with a spinning DDT. Brody King gets tagged in.
Brody King cleans house, leveling each member of Team Filthy. Kratos is the legal man. Both men exchange kicks, chops, and forearms. Brody is about to hit a cannonball on Kratos, when Limelight grabs his foot, leading to Kratos throwing him over the rope. Brody is eliminated.
Fredericks starts wailing on Kratos. Kratos stops him in his tracks. Kratos hits a spinning chop and a Superman punch. Limelight and Kratos hit a double team stomp. Limelight continues the assault with a springboard splash, but Fredericks catches him and throws him over the rope. Danny Limelight is eliminated.
Lawlor runs in and tries to dump Fredericks over the rope. Fredericks resists the elimination and fires back with a forearm. Fredericks and Lawlor roll around the mat going for quick pins and knee slams. Lawlor went for a vertical suplex, but Fredericks turns it into a roll-up. Lawlor catches Fredericks in his corner splash and slams him back first to the mat. Lawlor calls for a double team with Dickinson’s help. No dice, Fredericks gets both of them with a double dropkick. Lawlor gets Dickinson to the edge of the ropes and Lawlor holds his arms. Dickinson intends to knock Fredericks out of the ring, but he escapes Lawlor’s grasp and Dickinson almost nails Lawlor.
Fredericks and Dickinson exchange forearms. Lawlor runs in to help again but, Fredericks tosses him out of the ring. Lawlor is eliminated.
Dickinson and Fredericks clash around the ring with punches. Dickinson stops Fredericks’ running strike cold with a big boot in the corner. Dickinson gets Fredericks on the apron, but Limelight grabs his foot and trips him to the floor. The ref did not see the outside interference. Fredericks is eliminated.
Kratos and Conners are next. They size each other up. Connors punishes Kratos’ chest with chops, until Kratos clocks him. TJP and Connors double atomic drop Kratos, and Connors hits a massive running spear. Connors gets kicked into a corner by Kratos sending him into TJP who falls to the floor. TJP is eliminated.
Connors rushes at Kratos, but receives a powerslam for his troubles. Kratos tries to run at Connors again, but Connors lowers the rope and sends Kratos flying over. Kratos is eliminated.
Connors and Dickinson are the only ones left. They trade aggressive shots. Dickinson and Connors hit a series of inside cradles and small packages. Dickinson hits a brainbuster, but Connors gets his arm up. Connors answers back with a powerslam, but it’s only a 2-count. Dickinson performs a vicious dragon screw and locks onto the STF. Connors makes it to the ropes to break it up. Dickinson stalks his prey, but Connor reverses his grapple and turns it into a running spear. Both men are down. Dickinson sets Connors up for a superplex in the corner. Connors wiggles out, but receives a head kick for his troubles and almost touches the ground off the apron. Dickinson meets Connors on the apron and both men trade strong blows until Dickinson big boots Connors off the apron for the win.
Winner: Team Filthy via Chris Dickinson eliminating Clark Connors. 18-minute match.
Superb match that gave every opponent a chance to show off their own style. Not a single move was wasted and the match still felt meaty and satisfying.
Lawlor goes to raise Dickinson’s hand, but Dickinson rejects him. Dickinson eventually goes to celebrate with his team, but LIMELIGHT GIVES HIM A SURPRISE LOW BLOW! SWERVE! Tom Lawlor yells, “get him!” and Kratos and Danny Limelight ambush Dickinson. Dickinson just checked into the babyface motel. Brody King comes to Dickinson’s rescue.
Episode 40 of Strong was an improvement over 39 in all categories. Each match had a story that showed promise. The last two matches were a pure delight leading up to some great future matches. Hikuleo, Rosser, Dickinson, and Lawlor have some great matches ahead of them. This episode was a major win for the books.