New Japan Strong – January 16th, 2022

Howdy!

I promise that there will be copious amounts of cursing in this review.

Let’s watch some f------ wrestling, shall we?

I kid, I kid, Tommy. Love you, man. I….swear.

Hee.

Anyway, thanks for the love last week. I missed doing reviews and was actually thinking the usual imposter syndrome nonsense, “oh, we barely noticed you were gone anyway since you always sucked, loser, thanks for coming back to review the show that a whole ten of us watch, go put your head in the oven”, you know, that kind of thing. But it appears that people seem to like this show and as I do as well, I’m looking forward to covering it. Back when I was in college and studying writing, I remember…..

…..no, wait! Come back! I promise, I’ll start talking about the show now!

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov. This week, the former Bronson Reed, JONAH, takes on David Finlay in our main event! We’ll also see the newest member of the House of Black and AEW, Brody King, take on Dave Dutra! 

But up first, some tag action for our viewing pleasure; it’s the Stray Dog Army taking on Karl Fredericks and Kevin Knight! SDA is represented tonight by BATEMAN’s bitchin’ handlebar mustache (accompanied, as always, by the rest of BATEMAN) and Misterioso. 

Stray Dog Army (BATEMAN/Misterioso) vs Karl Fredericks/Kevin Knight

If I could pick one Lion from the Dojo that has been hurt the most from COVID, I think it could be Karl Fredericks. He graduated what feels like a lifetime ago and should have been in Japan by now, possibly for more than one tour. Instead, he’s in the limbo of the LA Dojo still, which isn’t a BAD place to be, but he really needs to get outta there and see if he can hang with the big boys in NJPW. It’s past time for him.

The Dogs attack before the bell. What a bunch of dogs, indeed. That line was for Spaniels. Knight makes a go of it against Misterioso to start us off and does decently for himself before taking a FANTASTIC turnbuckle bump off a missed Stinger Splash. I yelped when I saw that, he just went for it all the way. The Dogs cut the ring in half on Knight and Bateman comes in. I saw Bateman a lot during the last days of ROH, and he’s got something. He’s never going to set the world on fire as a technical wrestler or anything, but his presence and his look work.

The Dogs tag in and out, going for pins and continually knocking Karl off the apron just to be dicks. Knight tries to fight back, but gets DDT’d and Fredericks has to save at two. Knight fires forearms, so BATEMAN goes to the eyes. Atta boy. I always support heels going to the eyes. Knight finally hits a spectacular dropkick (he almost went into orbit off it) and it’s HOT TAG FREDERICKS. 

Fredericks is a house afire, taking Misterioso off the apron and hitting a spinebuster on BATEMAN. More forearms from Fredericks turn him into jelly, then a delayed dropkick in the corner that probably had Shibata nodding in approval the entire time. Seriously, he hit it perfectly. Elbow gets two for Karl. Manifest Destiny is blocked twice and BATEMAN suplexes him for two. Misterioso comes back in and it’s breaking loose in Tulsa, as he hits Fredericks with an Alabama Jam for two before Knight dives back in to break that up. 

All four guys are brawling in the ring now, and Knight does a somewhat awkward sequence with Misterioso and everyone slugs it out in the middle of the ring. Knight sends BATEMAN to the floor and follows with a high cross, leaving us with Fredericks and Misterioso alone in the ring. The masked man makes a go of it, but runs into a spinebuster and Manifest Destiny by Fredericks ends things. (Karl Fredericks/Kevin Knight over Stray Dog Army, pinfall, 10:04)

THOUGHTS: ***. Energetic as hell, they told a fun little story here where the heels did everything they could to stop the Lion from tagging out, but once Fredericks was in they came up short. Knight can leap tall buildings in a single bound but needs a lot of work on making his stuff look like it actually hits. Can’t fault his energy at all, just needs ringwork and time. Karl is, as I said, an interesting case where he needs a change of scenery to see what he can really do. The SDAs are an excellent midcard heel team and that’s all that’s asked of them. Overall, the match was a super-easy watch that was a hair above average. Very fun. 

“Battle King” David Dutra vs Brody King

Dutra looks like WARHORSE raided a high school theater’s costume department. I don’t think this is going to go well for him. Brody King is out next, drawing immediate “Brody’s gonna kill you!” chants. Dutra does not agree with the crowd and immediately fires a chop at Mr. King, to which the crowd helpfully informs him “You f----- up!”. 

Ron Howard V.O. – He did. He did indeed f--- up.

King shakes it off, then shakes off another one, then asks to be hit harder, then no-sells all of that and proceeds to beat the s--- out of this guy. Kelly and Koslov are openly mocking this on commentary, wondering if Dutra did something to deserve this, offering that perhaps he should move out of town and quit the business to stop this beating. Dutra finally snaps Brody’s neck on the top rope to….oh, never mind. Brody just bowled him over and hit a senton for two. Brody beats him all over ringside, rolls in to break the count, then goes back out and beats on him some more. 

Dutra hits a kick and moonsaults Brody to finally get some offense. Back in and Dutra tries a bit more offense, catching Brody on a blind charge and hitting a tornado DDT. Dutra goes up again but misses an elbow off the top rope, leading to Brody almost ending Dutra’s life with a GIGANTIC Discus lariat….for two. So Brody ethers him with a forearm, another lariat, and the Gonzo Bomb to finish. Christ. (Brody King over David Dutra, pinfall, 6:31)

THOUGHTS: **1/4. King squashed the s--- out of him here, which is fun to watch. Dutra really didn’t show me too much, although the match by design really didn’t allow him to. Brody is a tremendous get for AEW mostly because I think they’ll let him be himself with Malakai and do all the cool s--- he can do. 

Commercials! Buy some New Japan merch! 

Main event time! This one was set up when JONAH attacked Juice Robinson and Finlay made the save, so JONAH done murdered him as well. Highlight video shows us exactly these things happening, both guys challenge each other, and here we are. 

JONAH vs David Finlay

I dunno what the future holds for Finlay, honestly. I don’t know where else he goes in New Japan at this point and could probably catch on somewhere in North America if he wanted to. JONAH charges to start, but Finlay avoids it and goes to work. He runs all over the place, trying to work the speed angle, but unfortunately for him that comes to end when he runs smack into JONAH, going down like a ton of bricks. He puts JONAH to the floor and tries a plancha, but JONAH catches him and runs him into the ringpost. 

Back in and JONAH goes to a seated abdominal stretch, smacking Finlay in the ribs while the hold is on. Finlay escapes and tries to come off the top, but JONAH just swats him away and avoids it, then hits a senton. Methodical beatdown follows from JONAH, and I just gotta say, following Brody King isn’t where JONAH wants to be. King is, to me, a better version.

Bearhug on the mat from JONAH, Finlay works his way up and starts a comeback. Neato lariat spot from Finlay and a dropkick sets up a Finlay plancha that works. Back in and a bodypress from Finlay gets two. David with a clothesline to the back of JONAH’s head. Finlay off the ropes but he runs right into a beaut of a scoop powerslam by JONAH. They trade the advantage before Finlay goes for Sliced Bread, but JONAH blocks that with a backbreaker. Powerbomb and JONAH goes up, splash off the top squishes Finlay good and dead. (JONAH over David Finlay, pinfall, 8:21)

THOUGHTS: **. I can’t totally explain it, because I really don’t have anything against either guy, but this one wasn’t playing for me. It wasn’t a squash like the previous match, Finlay got a bunch in, but the ending wasn’t really in doubt and JONAH kind of looked like Jeff Cobb back when he was first starting out in New Japan – trying to get the style down, the pacing. The fact that he had to follow Brody probably didn’t help matters, as both were big guys working smaller guys. Overall, the match wasn’t bad or anything. Just didn’t hit me. 

Next week, Team Filthy is in the main event in a 6-man tag! Kevin wraps us up and we’re done. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Average show this week, with the opening tag ruling the roost. Last two matches were pretty similar, and while I still think that of the two, Brody is the money, I’ll hold out hope for JONAH. He’s certainly got the talent. 

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote, 

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email