7/16 NJPW Strong Results: McGuire’s review of Tom Lawlor vs. Bad Dude Tito, Evil Uno & Alan Angels vs. Aussie Open, and Barrett Brown & Misterioso vs. Ricky Gibson & Eddie Pearl in NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Title Tournament matches
By Colin McGuirestaff member of ProWrestling.net (@McGMondays)
Recorded June 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at Vermont Hollywood
Aired July 16, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov to walk around the map as Riccaboni recapped the team tournament table. We are on the Ignition tour and this, my friends, is the second week of it.
1. “Stray Dog Army” Misterioso and Barrett Brown vs. “Midnight Heat” Ricky Gibson and Eddie Pearl in an NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Title Tournament match. Misterioso and Ricky Gibson started the match, with Misterioso getting the best of it. Gibson fired back and Misterioso rolled to tag Brown, who locked in with Gibson. This led to a tag-in from Pearl and a bunch of arm drags ensued. Gibson and Misterioso then both scored and Misterioso kicked Gibson in the leg, giving heel control.
Brown scored and landed a dropkick to Gibson’s head. Misterioso returned and the two double-teamed on Gibson. Brown came back quickly and Misterioso swung Gibson into a Brown dropkick. Whenever Pearl tried to help, Misterioso and Brown fought him. Eventually, Brown ran the ropes and Pearl tripped him to give Midnight Heat the leg up on everything.
Pearl hit Brown with a series of punches, then choked him out by the middle rope. Gibson scored and landed a senton for a two count. Pearl scored and pissed off the crowd before hitting Brown. Gibson scored and Brown tried to force his way through, but Gibson kept it in check. Pearl scored and the two went for a double suplex, but Brown fought his way through. It didn’t matter, however, as Pearl knocked Misterioso off the apron.
Things fell apart in the ring and Misterioso fought Gibson on the outside, including a moonsault during which Misterioso landed his leg on the railing. In the ring, Misterioso landed a super kick on Pearl before Brown landed a series of moves. Brown then got the pin on Pearl
“Stray Dog Army” Misterioso and Barrett Brown defeated “Midnight Heat” Ricky Gibson and Eddie Pearl by pinfall in 8:31 to advance to the tournament.
After the match, Misterioso exited the ring as Brown followed.
McGuire’s thoughts: Well, it was really new to see the Stray Dog Army working like babyfaces, even though nobody wanted it to be that way. Either way, good for them. Brown and Misterioso have both been around NJPW Strong for a while now and they deserve some love in a tournament like this. The action itself was pretty pedestrian – everything you’d think it would be from an NJPW Strong opener. I continue to appreciate the work of Midnight Heat and would like to see them appear more on Strong. You must have known they wouldn’t go here, but they had hope (heel) points (if such a thing exists), and I would have been happy to see them get mad in this game. Maybe another day.
2. “Dirty” Tom Lawlor vs. Bad Dude Tito. Lawlor came to the ring alone and with a black belt around his shoulder/neck. The two locked themselves in to begin with, but it didn’t come to much. Eventually, Tito landed a pair of chops that echoed. Lawlor fought back with his own chops. Tito returned the favor. It all ended after Lawlor rolled up Tito for just a two count. The wrestlers then got back to their feet and started again.
Tito worked a wrist lock. Lawlor came back stretching Tito’s leg. On their feet, Tito fired with some chops, but Lawlor countered with a double wrist lock attempt. Tito got away with planting Lawlor. Both bid attempts traded. The streak ended when Tito went for an ankle lock, but Lawlor rolled to the ropes for a break. Crouching in a corner, Lawlor worked on Tito with a chop and a choke with his boot.
The two tried to clothesline each other, but it ended in kicks being traded. Tito made the most of it with a rolling elbow and a two count. Tito sank in a Cobra Clutch. Tito hit a T-Bone Suplex. Tito did it again, but Lawlor fired and held a front face-lock, but Lawlor gave it up for a version of a pile-driver that warranted a two count. Lawlor went for a kick, but Tito caught it and worked an ankle lock. This turned into a deadlift German Suplex. Tito ran to Lawlor and hit him with an uppercut, but Lawlor came back with a wrist lock. Tito eventually came back with a blockbuster for a two count.
Tito lifted Lawlor, but Lawlor countered in a choke hold. Still, Tito came back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a good near fall. Tito went to the top rope and went for a frog splash, but Lawlor moved and landed a kick to the chest for a two count. Tito spat in Lawlor’s face, so Lawlor kissed Tito’s head and hit a knee to the back of Tito’s head. Lawlor signaled his finisher, but Tito backed Lawlor into a corner. Lawlor ended up planting Tito’s head struggling for the choke and that was enough to win the match.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor defeated Bad Dude Tito via pinfall in 12:08.
McGuire’s thoughts: They had time and they delivered. If Lawlor’s new mission, in the future, is to create other wrestlers, then I can very well get into it. Tito has never looked better than here, and a lot of that has to do with the quality of Lawlor (that’s no respect for Tito’s previous work, but I’m just saying…). Without the belt around his waist, I have no problem with Lawlor working 10-15 minute matches against guys who could use a boost to increase the map and then get them there, win or lose. If this is the new role, count on me. I wonder if he’ll ever get his rematch with Fred Rosser, because that seems logical, but if it never comes, that’s as good a position as any. Plus Lawlor is so good. As in, he’s good enough to solidly rub anyone who wants to get in a ring with him. It was fine all around and Tito should also be commended for his work as the odd hybrid of a spunky babyface and a badass strongman. Well played guys.
3. “The Dark Order” Alan Angels and Evil Uno vs. “Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher in an NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Title Tournament match.. Alan Angels and Kyle Fletcher started the game. Fletcher sent angels to the mat and posed. The Angels came back with a hell of a dropkick and tagged Evil Uno. Mark Davis scored and the two big guys traded shoulder blocks. Uno went for a wrist lock, but Davis countered with a bodyslam. Aussie Open hit a bunch of moves on both Dark Order guys, including a slingshot European Uppercut that was wild.
Fletcher scored, but Davis came back quickly and the two hit Uno with a few punches. Uno tried to force his way through, but Davis lifted Uno for a bodyslam. As the Aussie Open tried to overtake Uno, the Dark Order member got out of the way by giving Fletcher’s foot to the referee and then taking control. The Angels scored and worked on both members of the Aussie Open. Uno scored and kept the momentum going with a slam and a two count. The angels intervened and struck Fletcher hard. Uno scored and landed his own chop.
Uno went for a suplex, but Fletcher blocked it. As a result, Fletcher actually raised Uno for his own suplex. Fletcher tagged Davis while Uno tagged Angels. Davis continued to throw angels across the ring. The action spilled out, but the Angels kept the two Aussie Open guys in check. Back in the ring, Angels jumped off the top, but Davis caught Angels with a chop. The Aussie Open hit a series of double-team moves on Angels for a good near-fall despite Uno running for the stoppage.
The Angels continued to battle their way out of the Aussie Open moves. Uno then scored and the two worked on Fletcher. All four men were in the ring. Uno landed a bunch of chops on Davis, but even so Davis came back with one hell of a chop himself. The two traded wild chops. The Angels got involved, but Fletcher took care of it with a knee. Uno went to the top, but Davis suplexed Uno from the top. Uno and Davis were left in the ring and Uno tagged in Angels. Davis doubled them both and Fletcher scored. The Aussie Open lifted Angels for their finisher and got it.
“Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher defeated “The Dark Order” Alan Angels and Evil Uno via pinfall in 12:45 to advance in the tournament.
The Aussie Open posed on the apron and walked back to close the show.
McGuire’s thoughts: You know what? No disrespect to anyone involved in anything here, but I can understand why Alan Angels wanted to leave AEW and see what it was like for himself again. He had a really great performance here and you can kind of tell he just wants to wrestle. That said, knowing he’s gone gave a somewhat predictable outcome. Still, both teams showed a lot of fire and it was probably the best tag team match of the tournament so far. It’s like we never really see anyone from the Dark Order wrestle (as in, wrestle, wrestle) in AEW, so it was a treat to see what Evil Uno and Alan Angels could do when they have time to do it. The Aussie Open, meanwhile, continues to be one of my favorite tag teams in the world. They are so fluid and they have the dynamics perfectly.
All in all, this is an episode worth your time if you’re a New Japan Strong fan. Match of the Night went to Filthy Tom and Tito, but the tag matches weren’t bad either. One was particularly standard while the other deserved its place as the main event. I guess the Aussie Open beats Stray Dog Army to qualify for the final, but what do I know? Not much, is the answer. Not a lot. I’ll have more to say shortly during my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net members (including our Patreon customers).