NJPW STRONG Lone Star Shootout
April 1, 2022
We’re in Dallas, Texas at the Fairmont Hotel for New Japan’s American promotion. The run time on this sucker is 98 minutes. I fucking love it. Hosts are Kevin Kelly and Matthew Rehwoldt. It’s so nice to hear Kelly, as I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad commentary this week.
Ren Narita vs. Rocky Romero
Narita is an exciting young talent. He probably needs to lay his strikes in a bit snugger if he’s going to become a big star. Everything he’s doing at the moment feels very safe. Rocky is an easy guy to wrestle. He’s tidy, exciting and giving. Narita catches him with a bridging Northern Lights here, out of nowhere, and gets the win. This was decent and a big win for Ren. **¾
FinJuice, Daniel Garcia & Kevin Knight vs. Karl Fredericks, Clark Connors, Yuya Uemura & Mascara Dorada
With Mascara Dorada back in a NJPW ring after years of wasting away in WWE, the question remains; will they actually use him this time? Did we forget the Cruiserweight Classic performances already? Finlay has done a lot of growing up in the last two years. He looks far more at home in the ring now.
I have seen more New Japan undercards than I care to talk about, and these multi-man things just exist to fill space and get people on the card. At least this one is energetic. They also do a good job of making Uemura look like a star in the making, as with Ren in the opener. Manifest Destiny from Fredericks puts Knight away. This was a load of fun. ***
Minoru Suzuki vs. Killer Kross
I managed to miss Kross signing for WWE, winning two NXT titles, getting called up to RAW and getting released. Life comes at you fast.
I love the Kross marks chanting for him at the start and getting shushed by everyone else. Suzuki made fun of Biff Busick a little earlier this weekend. He switches to full on taking the piss here. Comically rolling out of the way of Kross’ business, telling the referee to mind his own business and stay in the corner and ignoring anything Kross attempts.
Suzuki flat out calls Kross a young boy. I love Suzuki all wide eyed waiting for Kross to chop him. “Come on”.
Suzuki just bantered him off here. “Fuck you, young boy”. Gotch Piledriver. Haha. I laughed at out loud throughout this. Suzuki didn’t take this match seriously in the slightest and made Kross look like a complete loser. Kross hangs around in the ring afterwards hoping for some sympathy. I’m still giggling. Sensational stuff. Absolutely bantered off. ***
Promo Time: Jon Moxley
The last time Mox wrestled for NJPW in Japan I was still reviewing shows. 26 months ago. He has worked for NJPW STRONG since then. He’s out here to hype a match with Will Ospreay on April 16. Should be good. That’s on the Windy City Riot show
Mike Bailey vs. Jay White
Imagine where Mike Bailey would be if he’d not gotten banned from the USA for five years? He was great five years ago, he’s been great for the last five years and he’s great now. He’s an ideal guy to make Jay White look badass. They do a neckbreaker on the top rope that looks sick. That’s what Bailey brings in his selling and bumping. His offence is so creative and he feels like he’s a different wrestler depending on who he’s wrestling. Jay can hang with a lot of it but generally the match is Bailey being a half step ahead of White, from a storyline perspective. That ends when Bailey misses his double knee backflip on the apron. Jay is a savvy grappler and targets the leg.
I’m not convinced Bailey should go back to kicks after this, but he does at least sell the impact of them some of the time. Every missed double knee is painful to me. He misses off the top, the poor bastard, and gets the Bladerunner for his troubles. Switchblade with the win. Great match with some good logical body part work but the selling was too inconsistent for me to go any higher than ***¾
Chris Dickinson vs. Tomohiro Ishii
This is a good old fashioned NJPW slugfest.
Ishii normally will not go hard against a non-contracted to NJPW guy, but Dickinson will not let him go slow here.
This is more of a Dickinson match than an Ishii one. It’s on him to force the pace. It’s on him to force the intensity and he does that. Ishii completely no sells the brainbuster and I’m loving this. Dickinson throws some serious lumber in this, and it gets Ishii all fired up. When Ishii gets fired up, he forgets he’s not in the main event at the Tokyo Dome and just goes all out. Dickinson’s big bomb near falls get more and more convincing as they head towards 15 minutes. Ishii eventually jacks Dickinson up for the vertical drop brainbuster and that’ll do it. Ishii struggled on the lift at the finish, which shows either a) how hard that match was on him or b) he’s fucked. Could be both. ****
Five match card. All killer, no filler. It’s a bit like watching a less good version of the old NXT shows. We were done in 90 minutes, and everything landed. Best show of the weekend so far.