What’s in a name? A rebrand? A different thrust? NJPW Strong is now NJPW Strong: Nemesis. What is broken? What needs fixing? I was sure this was a special event, one of those 3-hour jobs. But it’s just a celebration of their latest US foray. Good. Why change things when you have the best wrestling on the planet? And they showed that somewhat here.
DKC v TJP
Not OMG. I’m not high on the DKC. He works hard but doesn’t show the fluidity of many dojo colleagues. That being said, he will probably develop into his excellent wrestlers and I will be eating my words with a humble pie main course.
Here though, he appeared to stymie TJP, who didn’t seem able to do the work we love him for. The crowd was into it though and he did get the boot wash in and a lovely leg capture suplex, plus the DKC used his long levers to connect with a sweet kick for a long two count. TJP came through though, a frog splash for the pin.
It was fine and the crowd enjoyed it, so who am I to say?
Jordan Clearwater & Keita Murray v Hikuleo & Chris Bey
I’m not yet keen on the much-fancied Jordan Clearwater. I’m interested to see what Keita Murray can do though.
And I know what Hikuleo and Bey can do. What a fantastic power and finesse combination. But they didn’t get it all their way. Clearwater and Murray had something to prove. Murray hit a counter to a Hikuleo powerbomb with a facebuster and feet to the face, then took it to his partner too with a lovely DDT of the spiked variety.
Clearwater couldn’t move Hikuleo and Kevin Kelly told us that if not for him, Jordan would be the biggest man on NJPW Strong: Nemesis. Erm…bloke called Kratos? J.R Kratos? Bey is smiling constantly and wouldn’t you be when seeing your partner hit a sidewalk slam with ease and then matching it with your skyscraping dropkick? Bey was allowed the pin too, on debuting Murray with a knee to the temple.
Not bad at all. Some fast and fluid work. Murray impressed. Clearwater hasn’t yet. And the combo of Bey and Hikuleo may be one I want to see again and again.
Kidd v Kingston
Gabriel Kidd has been waiting for a long time Lockdown didn’t seem comfortable for the Young Lion. But he’s making up for a lost time, taking it to brilliance Jonathan Gresham recently and now due date with Eddie Kingston. Let’s be clear, this will be a different match to the Gresham one. This one will be a fight. And so it proved.
When Kidd’s chest was a bloody mess, you know it’s on. It might be a good idea not to disrespect Eddie Kingston or ask him for more. Kidd did. That’s like asking somebody who’s already removed your spleen ‘is that all you’ve got?’ Kingston put Kidd down with one punch. And with palm strikes. And still, Kidd fought. They traded.
Kidd even put Eddie down with one of his excellent European uppercuts. Lovely moment when he asked for more and got a poke in the eye for his impudence. Halfway through the match, we had our first wrestling moves, both Kidd’s – a Saito suplex and brainbuster, which seemed to give Kingston an idea, he hit a short DDT and powerbomb for a long two count.
By now we had a ‘this is awesome’ chant and the crowd wasn’t wrong. Kingston even sold a bad landing on his shoulder after a German suplex and Kidd briefly went after it, so Kingston unpacked a Saito suplex of his own for another long two. In the end, the back fist was the difference. You’ll know who landed that. Kingston got the three, but Kidd worked him hard.
Two different styles, but Kidd agreed to play in Eddie’s. And he looked at home.
NJPW Strong Made Three Offers
The cagey opener
The stack of fast-paced wrestling moves
The fight which was both knockdowns and drags out
NJPW Strong: Nemesis did all that in less than an hour. New name. No drop in quality