4 matches. Yes, 4. NJPW Strong came from Philly for this episode, from the old ECW Arena. And yes, there was a Street Fight. Firstly though, the frenetic, but not febrile, crowd, were treated to a smorgasbord of NJPW Strong wrestling talent.
First up, a match that, just seeing the names, made me shout…
Jonathan Gresham v Alex Coughlin
Go on, it made you shout too, didn’t it?
Great for the NJPW Strong Alex Coughlin Open Challenge, this. It doesn’t seem to be about winning and losing, which is good because he’s lost a few, this one would allow him to wrestle rather than just, you know, gut-wrench and such.
An early Gresham headlock and joint manipulation brought spontaneous applause, even more impressive when Coughlin countered to a head scissors. Wait for it…Coughlin gut wrenched Gresham and threw him down. And after they rolled to trade pin attempts, Gresham used his own leg scissors to secure the pin.
Was that it? I mean, it was good but it was just getting warmed up! This NJPW Strong program was 90 mins or so and 1 match could have gone to give this one 10 or 15 mins more. But which? Yeah, you have a point. Do I? That’s a first!
Coughlin was unhappy after and took ages to shake hands; this learning curve is hard.
Team Filthy v Rosser/Romero/Narita/Fredericks/DKC
Remember, Narita had a good showing at Battle In The Valley. And also remember, Tom Lawlor took a bit too much off the top in a recent Rosser tonsorial trial, so he now sports a shaved head and a very bad attitude. One of the extraordinary moments from early in this match? Team Filthy doing the flexing thing whilst Lawlor laid in punches to Rosser in the middle.
Another? Rosser backdropping Limelight into Kratos on the outside. And a sweet Narita overhead suplex. Rosser thought he had the upper hand after Lawlor covered up from slaps, but after he diverted to clothesline Kratos over the top, he walked into a Lawlor rear-naked choke. Which brought Romero in, who beautifully countered a DDT into an armbar.
Who’s this? An NJPW Strong newcomer getting involved and causing a DQ. It will be…The new Black Tiger Mask, who isn’t a big fella but had the strength to hit a big tombstone on Romero. Team Filthy seemed overly upset about Rocky on interview afterward. What’s up, don’t like his music?
It’s Gabriel Kidd! We hadn’t seen the Dojo boy for while, he’s had a hard time as he was caught in Japan during the lockdown and that can’t have been easy emotionally. He’s not messing around either, already having lost some time; he called out Gresham. Jonathan’s first line when out could have been seen as a dick move. He said he didn’t know who Kidd was.
But don’t worry, he told us that’s because ‘I haven’t been paying attention.’ And if Kidd trained at the same place as Coughlin, he would certainly fight him. That sounds great and if Gresham is being used as a young gun testing ground, I’m all for it.
Dickinson/King/Garcia v Bateman/Brown/Mysterioso
This was the match of the night. Why?
1. Dickinson, King, and Garcia holding each of their opponents in leg submissions at the same time.
2. A King Gonzo Driver flanked by 2 piledrivers at the same time.
Alex Garcia fitted so well into this team that the Stray Dog Army didn’t have a chance. Notable action included a Mysterioso moonsault missing King, but an instant standing moonsault landing, a King atomic drop into a Dickinson dropkick into a King Boston crab with an elbow drop by Garcia
A brutal Bateman overhead driver on King and Barret Brown being lawn darted over the top on everyone. This was breathless, brilliant tag teamwork and should have been the NJPW Strong main event, but we had a Philly Street Fight to deliver!
Moxley & Kingston v Suzuki & Archer
Firstly, Kingston got a bigger chant than Mox when they appeared – nice one. Secondly, Street Fights are hard to make entertaining unless you ramp up the carnage. That was the case here.
Some early kendo stick action, Kingston had it jammed under his chin and then choked out Archer with it, they all disappeared to the back corridor but there didn’t seem to be much for them to use so not much happened.
Next, they arrived in the parking lot with people scattering. That was the highlight of a dull section, no one came off the top of a truck or anything. Back in the arena, the highlight of the match. Archer attacking Kingston with a dustpan; keep it clean!
Suzuki then used his kendo stick like a baseball bat on Eddie and Mox used a sign from the crowd which helpfully said ‘Mox, use my sign!’, he unwrapped it and find a nice Thanksgiving present, a metal Stop sign. And then? Mox brought a door into the ring, Matt Rehwoldt pointing out this was a substantial door, the kind you had work done to at home – we can see, Matthew.
Better was Alex Koslov who screamed ‘that door should be forbidden!’ He had to say it twice, but I appreciated it. Archer went through the door in time-honoured fashion, then tasted a fine Kingston DDT but recovered to put Eddie through a trash can with the blackout for the pin.
The crowd enjoyed it and it was appealing in a fun way, but the match which preceded it was the action of the night. That dustpan will stay with me, though.
Very. Thanksgiving special event, this. More matches than usual. All rather good, one extremely good.
NJPW Strong; they just don’t have an off day, do they?