NJPW Strong: Ep. 50 Some turbulence and a troubled landing

TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 01: Yuji Nagata takes on Tomohiro Ishii during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling at Korakuen Hall on July 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 01: Yuji Nagata takes on Tomohiro Ishii during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling at Korakuen Hall on July 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

It’s Friday night, and you know what that means. NJPW Strong is into the semi-finals of their first-ever tag team tournament. Also, Satoshi Kojima will face Tom Lawlor for the Strong Openweight title.

NJPW Strong: Chris Dickinson and Brody King vs. Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson (Semi-Finals)

Chris Dickinson is already a tag team champ in ROH, so I wonder how feasible it is to have them make it to the next round. Then again, Kenny Omega has like 6 titles and that doesn’t raise an eyebrow. The match starts off with mat techniques, which go a little longer than they’re welcome. Chris and Brody keep tagging each other in, keeping Jorel Nelson from escaping. Brody King no-sells half the strikes and kicks from Jorel and answers him back with some strong lariats and elbows. Royce gets tagged in with Jorel and they hit the first two-man slam of the evening, but Brody King breaks it up. Chris knocks Royce out of the ring, leaving Jorel to the mercy of Brody. Brody hits the Black Hole Slam and a massive clothesline for the three.

Winner: Chris Dickinson and Brody King (Violence Unlimited)

Wrestler of the match: Brody King acted as the power player and savior of the match. Last week, Chris was pulling out all sorts of spin kicks and grapples, but tonight he kept it safe. Brody was the only one who stood out with his massive big boots and elbows.

Backstage: Violence Unlimited gives respect to their opponents

NJPW Strong: Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows vs. Yuji Nagata and Ren Narita (Semi-finals)

Kevin Kelly refers to one of the Good Brothers as a “dangly daddy” and I feel uncomfortable. The match started with the formalities of a tie-up and simple takedown maneuvers. Doc Gallows gets tagged in and starts adding corner kicks and strikes to Ren and Yuji. The Good Brothers dominate for most of the match, letting poor Ren receive a variety of elbows, boots, and kicks. Nagata is the only one in the match to hit an actual grapple throw with his exploder suplex. Ren gets left alone with Karl and Doc where they treat him to a double slam neck breaker. Nagata breaks it up before the three-count. Karl hits the stun gun on Ren for a two-count, but then Doc comes in and they apply the Magic Killer for three.

Winner of the match: Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows (The Good Brothers)

Wrestler of the match: The move variety and exciting spots were slim pickings. Last week, Yuji and Ren were pulling out some fine grappling throws, but this week they stuck to the kicks, chops, and punches. I will give the advantage to Yuji, who actually did a suplex.

Backstage: Karl and Doc threaten Violence Unlimited with tons of unlimited violence.

Analysis: Next week, The Good Brothers will face Violence Unlimited for the tag titles. Neither one of these teams seem like a good option. The Good Brothers just waltzed into the show with no history of Strong matches, so I doubt they are going to be the ones that get put over. Chris Dickinson is already a tag team champ on ROH, so it just seems redundant to give them the titles. Of course, Violence Unlimited is going to win because Chris and Brody have been with the product since the beginning. Strong is going to use the Good Brothers to help put over Violence Unlimited.

NJPW Strong: Satoshi Kojima vs. Tom Lawlor (Strong Openweight Championship)

Tom offers Kojima two slices of bread when the bell hits. Yup, you guessed it. The match starts off with intense mat tie-ups and jockeying for position. Tom goes for all his classic submission holds early. He cranks on Kojima’s legs, arms, wrist, and fingers. Five minutes later the two are exchanging chops and blows. Tom uses Kojima’s machine gun chops against him, but then Kojima hits his own machine gun chops. Kojima gets Lawlor to the apron and hits his patented DDT. Tom nails a scoop slam and a large shoulder throw. Kojima escapes a rear-naked choke and hits the Koji Cutter for a two-count. He hits a brainbuster for another two-count. Kojima nails Lawlor with a top rope elbow and gets ready for the knockout clothesline. Kratos grabs Kojima’s foot and trips him from outside the ring. Tom is able to finish Kojima with a running knee and chokes him out with a rear-naked clutch.

Winner of the Match: Tom Lawlor (retains the title)

Wrestler of the Match: This match was really slow, but Tom at least made it entertaining. He has a variety of different submissions, but his best asset is his strikes and combos.

Backstage: Tom Lawlor says that no one can beat him. Lio Rush appears and makes a challenge. Tom and Kratos walk away.

Show Analysis: This episode felt sluggish and uninspired compared to last week’s episode. All three matches resorted to punches, kicks, elbows, and submissions. I wish I could say that NJPW Strong was just having a bad day, but the producers are perfectly okay with matches that are 90 percent submissions and strikes.

One last gripe. Alex Koslov is trying way too hard to be the color commentary that loves the heels. He might think he is being Bobby Heenan, but his schtick is annoying.

Next. Impact Wrestling: Five multi-promotional matches for Bound For Glory. dark

On Aug. 16, NJPW Strong will go live in front of an audience. Will that change the look and feel of the show?