Tonight saw the first of NJPW Strong's Autumn Attack tapings from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Shota Umino defeated QT Marshall
Umino got his full-on babyface crash course from QT Marshall in tonight's opening bout, babyface vs. heel 101 between these two.
Usually, Marshall doesn’t do anything in the ring that I’d call out of the ordinary, but he is consistently good at eliciting negative responses from crowds. Though this always comes across better live, and it always seems to drag on television because NJPW's production quality isn’t able to capture how loudly the crowd reacts. This style of wrestling is better in a live setting than on NJPWWorld, for sure.
Marshall earned a close two-count after a Golden Star Bomb, just like Kota Ibushi does. I’m sure people will love to read that. Umino hit a tombstone piledriver and later, he’d pick up the win after hitting the Death Rider on Marshall.
JR Kratos and Danny Limelight from Team Filthy came out next. Limelight got on the mic and trashed the people of Vegas and called out “cherry boys” Aussie Open, who are current STRONG Openweight Tag Team champions. The crowd gave them a lot of heat during the promo. When Kratos grabbed the mic to speak, the mic seemed to have been cut out, so the fans started chanting “We can’t hear you!” What’s funny was that Kratos has such a powerful voice that I did, in fact, hear him, even though it was through the screen.
Kratos eventually got the mic working again and re-emphasized what Limelight said, that they essentially were owed a shot at the titles since they were in NJPW Strong and grinding far longer than some outsider team. Aussie Open then appeared on the entrance ramp and nodded in approval of they and Team Filthy squaring off for the titles in the future.
Ren Narita defeated Juice Robinson via disqualification
The “Rock Hard” one ambushed Narita on the entrance ramp as he was on his way to the ring. The ring announcer was barely into his match call when Robinson appeared, so Narita took a lengthy pre-match beating.
When the bell rang, Robinson continued beating the hell out of Narita at ringside. He even at one point grabbed the ring bell and hit Narita with it. Actually, right before that, the referee tried taking the bell out of Robinson’s hands but Robinson shoved him into the guardrail.
Soon after all this, the ref called the match and awarded the win to Narita via disqualification. Narita was covered in blood by this point.
“You shouldn’t have called me out on the internet, Narita!” Robinson said. He then proceeded to cut a pretty blue promo on Narita for calling him out (despite being a lower ranked wrestler in the NJPW system), and at the end of it, he basically offered Narita to restart the match, but as a no-DQ match. A bloodied-up Narita demanded the ref restart the match, and we were back on. Bloody Narita vs. “Rock Hard” Robinson in a no-disqualification rules match.
Ren Narita defeated Juice Robinson via submission in a no disqualification match
There was a great visual of Narita having Robinson locked in a figure four, all blood all over his face. Robinson hit Narita with a kendo stick a number of times, to the point where the stick split apart and hit the announcers at the commentary table. Ian Riccaboni even mentioned he got hit by a piece of the stick, and both announcers claimed they got some of Narita’s blood on them.
When Robinson attempted an avalanche Death Valley Bomb through a table, Narita was able to slide out of the fireman’s carry hold and slapped on a sleeper lock. This forced Robinson to come down from the top rope to attempt blocking the submission hold. Narita eventually transitioned from a sleeper to an escalera double-shoulder lock from standing rear mount, which he cranked on until Robinson tapped. Narita grabbed the win and looked awesome in doing it. Despite this going a little too long, both Robinson and Narita did a hell of a job, and I think both came out of this looking stronger and more interesting.
Bullet Club (Jay White & Karl Anderson) defeated Homicide & Wheeler Yuta
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor joined the English announce team for this one. He ended up getting into a scuffle with Homicide a few minutes into the match, with Homicide spitting water in Lawlor’s face.
White got a bloody shiner in this, with some blood visible from under his left eye.
Yuta tagged back in at around the ten-minute mark and cleaned house. Minutes later, the finish saw White hit Homicide with a Blade Runner while Homicide was distracted by Tom Lawlor, who jumped the guardrail. Doc Gallows kept referee Jeremy Marcus distracted as White laid the aforementioned Bladerunner on Homicide for the win.
After the match, chaos ensued: Lawlor came into the ring and attacked Homicide. White joined in. Yuta beat on Lawlor to defend his partner. Soon after, West Coast Wrecking Crew arrived and began beating on Yuta. Shota Umino also arrived too and would end up getting beaten on. White got on the microphone and asked Tim Filthy to “remove the trash from the ring,” referring to Homicide. He scolded fans for chanting for Jon Moxley and said he wouldn’t be showing up tonight. He also said that Eddie Kingston, who was supposed to face White in Las Vegas, got “butterflies” which is why Kingston didn’t appear (Kingston actually contracted COVID-19, which is why he had to miss the show). White hinted that maybe he’d come to meet him instead, at NJPW’s upcoming event there, Rumble on 44th St.
Afterwards, “Filthy” Tom got on the mic and addressed his hometown crowd in Las Vegas. He said Team Filthy has been carrying NJPW Strong. He then got the audience to do a “NJPW Strong” call-and-response before saying “Ganbatte! [Do your best]”! A pretty babyface promo considering what’s just gone on in the ring. Will this lead to more Bullet Club + Team Filthy team-ups in the future?
This was a decent episode of Strong, though it did feel like it dragged at times. The hardcore match was good, but it could have been chopped by five minutes; also, while the main event was good, the crowd sounded exhausted. If this were in front of a NJPW crowd in Japan, or on an AEW taping, this would have turned out much differently, and the energy would have been a lot higher. Like with any other promotion taping a series of shows in a row at a single event, NJPW Strong tapings exhaust fans, and that often impacts the overall perception of the show itself and its main events. Fussiness aside, this was a fine extended edition of NJPW Strong.
Thumbs In The Middle Pointing Up