NJPW Strong Style Evolved Review: 5-star match?! NJPW’s second voyage to the USA MVP: The Golden Lovers

Results and Star Ratings

  • Roppongi 3k defeat So Cal Uncensored via pin @ 10:00 (**3/4)
  • Dave Finlay and Juice Robinson defeat Hirooki Goto and Gedo via pin @ 7:15 (**)
  • Killer Elite Squad defeat Toru Yano and Chuck Taylor via pin @ 10:17 (***1/4)
  • Cody and Marty Scurrl defeat Guerillas of Destiny via pin @ 10:52 (***1/2)
  • Los Ignorables de Japon defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryosuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA and Dragon Lee Jr. via pin @12:14 (***)
  • Will Ospreay defeats Jushin Thunder Liger via pin @ 10:35 (***3/4)
  • Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. defeat Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki via submission @ 19:56 (****)
  • “Switchblade” Jay White defeats Hangman Page to retain the IWGP United States Championship via pin @ 25:37 (****1/4)
  • Golden Lovers defeat The Young Bucks via pin @ 39:22 (*****) 

This show is booked as a huge voyage for New Japan as they try to continue their reach into American Audiences. Their production value, as much as the lights and stage, looks very good but you can tell early on that camera cuts become an issue as some of the action is zoomed too far in on missing pivotal match events. This show is called by the B team English Commentary Group of Josh Barnett and Jim Ross who both give a very half-assed performance even for an overall great show.

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Roppongi 3k and Rocky Romero vs. So Cal Uncensored

  • Big tag team match to open the show.
  • The NJPW debuting Scorpio Sky and the returning Rocky Romero start the match.
  • Good rolling neckbreaker by Scorpio Sky
  • Weird camera shot showing some guy on his phone instead of the match.
  • Kazarian goes for a springboard leg drop but falls off the ropes botching the movie. He sold this as an actual injury to the leg later on in the match.
  • Dive by Daniels wipes out Yoh on the outside.
  • Great springboard cutter by Scorpio Sky to Sho.
  • Hot tag by Rocky Romero
  • Scorpio dives to the outside while Daniels hits a tombstone in the ring, near fall.
  • Sky accidentally cutters Daniels.
  • Dive by Yoh takes down Daniels.
  • Tandem Bomb by 3k to Sky, near fall
  • 3k Cutter puts away Sky.

Winners: Roppongi 3k       Rating: **3/4

A Good Showing by Roppongi 3k after losing their Junior Tag Belts. Botch by Kazarian was a hard spot taking this match down a few pegs. Solid opener with not much to complain about.

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Dave Finlay and Juice Robinson vs. Gedo and Hirooki Goto

  • Juice fresh off his great showing in the New Japan Cup.
  • Juice wants a shot for Goto’s NEVER Openweight Championship. Might happen at Sakura Genesis.
  • Juice punches by Gedo, Juice returns the favor.
  • Hot Tag by Dave Finlay.
  • Ushigoroshi and PK combo by Goto and Gedo.
  • Full Nelson Slam by Juice Robinson.
  • Diving Crossbody by Juice takes out Gedo allowing Finlay to capitalize with a stunner and a victory.

Winners: Juice and Finlay      Rating: **

Having Gedo in this match means that this could be a passing of the torch almost. For those new to New Japan, Gedo is the lead booker and rarely wrestles. The celebration after the match could either mean that they will have tag team success together or solo success but this isn’t the last time on the show that we see Dave Finlay.

Chuck Taylor and Toru Yano vs. Killer Elite Squad

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  • Chuck Taylor over in USA crowd.
  • Killer Elite Squad like normal attack early.
  • KES are great heels.
  • Extended Old School by Archer getting the tag to Davey Boy Smith Jr. and hitting the move on Chuck.
  • Boston Crab by Davey Boy, while the hold is locked in Archer trash talks directly into the camera. Great heel move. 
  • A subtle reference to Chris Jericho being finished with NJPW by JR.
  • Yano leaves Chuck alone for most of the match. 
  • Yano is incredibly over with the crowd.
  • KES isolating Chuckie T.
  • A good counter to the Hart Stopper by Chuck Taylor with the lariat ducking DDT.
  • Hot tag by Yano, the crowd pops huge.
  • KES run into each other outside the ring. Taylor dives taking them both out.
  • Yano takes off the turnbuckle pad and throws it out of the ring to Lance Archer. Funny spot.
  • Piledriver by Chuckie T.
  • Moonsault by Taylor dodged, Taylor lands starting a good sequence of moves with Lance Archer.
  • Chokeslam by Archer near fall, Chuck rolls the pin into a roll up, super near fall.
  • Killer Bomb puts away Chuckie T

Winners: Killer Elite Squad                   Rating: ***1/4

Some Amazing character work by both teams. Yano brought comedy, Taylor brought resiliency and KES brought great heel tag work. Very good match. 

Cody and Marty Scurrl vs. Guerillas of Destiny

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  • Scurrl keeps the great purple attire from ROH 16th Anniversary.
  • Great crowd involvement booing Cody and cheering Scurrl.
  • Cody brings in a mic saying that Bullet Club is fine and the match won’t happen because they are all on team Cody. Tonga Loa says that the match will happen and that he’s definitely not on Team Cody leading to Cody attacking.
  • Scurrl cheers with G.O.D when Cody gets taken out but Scurrl goes on the outside and hugs Cody afterward.
  • Booming “G.O.D” chants.
  • Great bodyslam by Tonga on Scurrl.
  • Brandi distracts Tama so Scurrl can hit the apron kick.
  • Push up taunt from Cody
  • Chicken Wing taunt by Scurrl, Cody interrupts and tags himself in.
  • Cross Rhodes by Tama Tonga.
  • Disaster Kick by Cody.
  • Superplex by Tama, into a superplex by Scurrl, into a superplex by Tanga Loa. 
  • The rise of the Terminator by Cody stopped with a spear by Loa, near fall with pin broken by Scurrl.
  • Scurrl inadvertently takes out Cody.
  • Cross Rhodes by Cody ends the match.

Winners: Cody and Scurrl            Rating:***1/2

A solid match but the best part of it is the heel work from Cody. Cody is doing an absolutely amazing job in the heel role in the Bullet Club right now. Kenny vs. Cody at Supercard of Honor is going to be fantastic.

Los Ignorables de Japon vs. Tanahashi, Ryusuke, KUSHIDA and Dragon Lee Jr. 

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  • Naito and Tanahashi, start the match. Cheap shot by Naito and Sanada. Tanahashi fights back.
  • Strikefest by Dragon Lee and Hiromu, ending with a tope con Hiro by Dragon.
  • Coach corner clothesline spot led by Taguchi.
  • LIJ isolating Kushida.
  • Paradise lock by Sanada on KUSHIDA.
  • Bushi uses the shirt to choke KUSHIDA.
  • Hot tag by Tanahashi.
  • Double Dragon screw to Bushi and Hiromu by Tanahashi.
  • Skull End attempt reversed by Tanahashi.
  • Springboard dropkick by Sanada.
  • Hot tag by Taguchi
  • Triple Submission spot by Kushida, Tanahashi, and Taguchi broke up by Hiromu.
  • Great sequence with everyone getting their moves in ending with a Destino by Naito putting away Taguchi.

Winners: Los Ignorables            Rating: ***

Naito finally picks up a victory after his post WK 12 slump. Solid tag match.

Rey Mysterio says his match with Jushin Liger could still happen and he will return to wrestle for NJPW. He sits Ringside for this match.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Will Ospreay

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  • A great Alternative that isn’t disappointing after the dream match of Mysterio vs. Liger got canceled.
  • Before the match, I thought that this could rank upon the top matched of 2018. Didn’t quite live up to the hype but it was still great.
  • Show of Respect.
  • Surfboard lock by Liger early.
  • When Ospreay was born Liger was already 9 years pro.
  • Flying corner dropkick by Ospreay.
  • Cannonball off the apron by Liger.
  • Brainbuster on the ramp by Liger, JR does a great job of selling the spot. Ospreay gets back in the ring at 19.
  • Avalanche Frankensteiner but Ospreay lands and tweaks his knee.
  • Stun Gun by Ospreay.
  • Cartwheel backflip dive by Ospreay.
  • Standing shooting star press by Ospreay.
  • 619 attempt by Ospreay dodged. 
  • Spanish Fly by Ospreay, near fall
  • Robinson Special by Ospreay but the Oscutter reversed into a brainbuster by Liger, near fall.
  • Super Brainbuster by Liger, near fall.
  • Sho-Tei by Liger, near fall
  • Powerbomb by Ospreay, near fall
  • Oscutter puts away Liger.

Winner: Will Ospreay                     Rating: ***3/4 

A great alternative but not living up to my expectations. Great addition of prestige to the Junior Title.

Ospreay says he wants to put the title on another level and challenged Mysterio to a huge crowd pop. Scurrl comes out and attacks Ospreay, unmasks Rey and wears his mask. Liger chases off Scurrl.

Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii 

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  • “Preview” match for ZSJ vs. Okada and most likely Ishii vs. Suzuki for Sakura Genesis
  • JR calls Sabre Ospreay, we’ve all been there.
  • Sabre and Okada start the match off.
  • Rainmaker attempt early dodges by ZSJ.
  • Ishii and Suzuki showdown.
  • Good strikefest by Ishii and Suzuki.
  • Triangle over the top rope by Suzuki to Ishii.
  • Abdominal stretch outside by ZSJ to Okada.
  • Chairshot to Ishii from Suzuki.
  • Suzuki hits Ishii with a water bottle with a great shot of a guy in the background freaking out.
  • Chopfest by Ishii and Suzuki, Suzuki gets blasted and ZSJ tags in.
  • Transitioning double submissions by Suzuki and ZSJ to Ishii.
  • “Fuck You Sabre” Chants.
  • Suzuki boots Okada off the apron, setting up a heel hook on Ishii, Ishii gets ropes.
  • Sabre disrespecting Ishii with kicks leading to a deadlift German by Ishii.
  • Hot tag by Okada. 
  • Neckbreaker by Okada reversed into an Abdominal STretch by ZSJ, Okada gets ropes.
  • Octopus Hold by ZSJ, Okada fights into a tombstone, ZSJ reverses into a hammerlock hold.
  • Backslide rainmaker attempt by Okada, ZSJ reverses.
  • Gotch Piledriver by Suzuki reversed into a reverse neckbreaker by Okada.
  • Strikes by Ishii fire up Suzuki, strikefest starts. Amazing strikefest from the two. 
  • Good tandem PKs by Suzuki and ZSJ.
  • Headbutt by Ishii into the powerbomb, near fall
  • Guillotine choke by ZSJ on Ishii, Suzuki also has the sleeper on Okada.
  • Orienteering with Napalm Death subs out Ishii

Winners: ZSJ and Suzuki                                          Rating: ****

A very good technical tag match. This match makes me excited for both matches at Sakura Genesis which means it got the job done.

Hangman Page vs. Jay White IWGP US Championship Match

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  • Dropkick by Jay White.
  • Last Chancery by White, Page fights out.
  • Brutal landing on the neckbreaker over the top rope to the outside taken by White.
  • Page throws White into the barricade and chucks him into the post.
  • Deadlift Ball and Chain suplex by Page, near fall.
  • Page catches White’s leapfrog for a fireman’s carry backbreaker.
  • Snap back suplex by Jay White. 
  • Leapfrog stumble by White quickly recovered with a fast forearm. 
  • White sends Page into the corner with an exploder suplex.
  • Kiwi Crusher rolled up by Page, near fall.
  • Low german suplex by Jay White, near fall.
  • Hangman DDT by Page off the top rope.
  • Brutal chops from White.
  • Apron Blade Runner reversed, White still hits a Sto on the apron.
  • White gets a lot behind an apron german suplex almost killing Hangman Page with an over rotation. Page’s face afterward shows that he almost died and looked genuinely shocked.
  • Chopfest on the top rope
  • Swinging neckbreaker off the top rope by Page, near fall.
  • Exhausted strikefest turns into a fast-paced one.
  • Back Suplex by White over the top rope in the ring dumped all the way to the outside. Another near injury moment by Page.
  • Another back suplex ringside by Jay White.
  • Blade Runner reversed into a powerbomb by Jay White.
  • Piledriver by Page, near fall.
  • Moonsault by Page dodged but Page stands through and runs to hit the apron shooting star shoulder block.
  • Moonsault to the outside by Page.
  • Buckshot lariat by Page, near fall.
  • Rite of Passage attempt rolled through by Jay White, near fall.
  • Kiwi Crusher by White, near fall.
  • Blade Runner, Page spits himself out.
  • Rite of Passage reversed into a Blade Runner victory.

Winner: Jay White Retains                   Rating: ****1/4

I’ve seen the criticism for this match and I agree with some of it. It was a total mess from a wrestling purist standpoint. I thought the near-death botches added a whole new level of intrigue and risk to this match. It genuinely felt like a Holy SHIT fest. I liked this match a lot more than I’m rating it only because I agree with some of the criticism and the dead crowd taking a lot out of this match. The crowd was stellar this night but not here.

Dave Finlay attacks Jay White and challenges him for the title.

Golden Lovers Vs. The Young Bucks

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  • Unofficially for the title of the Greatest Tag Team Ever.
  • New Gear on Omega.
  • Monumental Moment in tag team history.
  • Someone got engaged in the crowd.
  • Matt and Kota start but Matt wants Kenny and gets him.
  • Matt cheap shots Ibushi.
  • Great sequence from Kota and Nick.
  • Kota kicks the lower back of Matt, Kenny stops the attack but Matt pushes Omega down.
  • Bucks do their usual tandem sequence but Kenny back drops Nick onto Matt on the ropes.
  • The rise of the Terminator stopped by a superkick by Nick.
  • Elevated Dive down to the Lovers by Nick.
  • Nick and Kota are the athletes while Matt and Kenny are the story. All are amazing wrestlers.
  • Omega pulled off the apron by Nick stopping the tag. 
  • Buckle Kick by the Bucks, Omega breaks the pin.
  • Great dropkick by Ibushi.
  • Hot tag by Omega.
  • Missile dropkick by Ibushi stops the “see ya” kicks by the Bucks.
  • Jump over Bulldog by Omega.
  • Golden Triangle Dives, Kenny is successful but Ibushi is unsuccessful.
  • Botched series of dives on Matt, Golden Lovers run into each other.
  • Matt spits on Ibushi, firing him up.
  • Running Backbreaker by Omega on Matt’s injured back.
  • Matt wears the team Cody weight belt but Nick doesn’t.
  • Matt did a great job of selling the back.
  • Back suplex on the apron from Omega to Matt.
  • Hot tag by Nick Jackson with a great Bulldog lariat.
  • Tope suicida by Nick Jackson.
  • Assisted slice break and Pk by the Bucks, near fall.
  • Amazing tandem superplex by the Lovers to Matt.
  • Dragon suplex to Omega on the apron by Nick.
  • Matt reluctant to put Omega through the table but Ibushi stops him.
  • Omega tries to hit a One-Winged Angel to Matt through the table. Ibushi german Suplexes Matt off of Omega’s shoulders into the ring.
  • Superkick by Matt to Ibushi.
  • V Trigger to Matt.
  • Powerbomb by Ibushi to Matt, near fall.
  • Kicks by Ibushi fire up Matt.
  • Kenny breaks up a sharpshooter to Ibushi.
  • Superkick to Omega by Nick.
  • Diving moonsault outside by Nick and he runs back in the hit the facebuster to stop Ibushi from getting the ropes on the sharpshooter and runs back out to hit the tornado DDT.
  • 450 by Nick to Ibushi.
  • Matt elbow drops Omega through the table set up between the apron and barricade.
  • 450 by Nick with Ibushi held on the middle rope by Matt, near fall.
  • Double superkicks by the Bucks to Ibushi.
  • OWA reversed into double superkicks by the Bucks.
  • “Fight Forever” chants.
  • Kenny and Matt emotionally showdown with a strikefest.
  • Jumping piledriver by Matt.
  • Matt whips Omega with the Team Cody weight belt.
  • Omega throws the weight belt down and hits multiple v triggers to Matt.
  • Nick helps Matt get the Meltzer Driver but Ibushi powerbombs Nick through the table.
  • Meltzer Driver by the Golden Lovers, near fall.
  • One-Winged Angel by Omega, Omega is reluctant, Matt yells “Do it!” and puts himself into the OWA. Nick runs in and breaks up the pin.
  • Nick angrily fights off the Lovers.
  • Golden Trigger puts away Nick.

Winners: Golden Lovers                       Rating:*****

This is undoubtedly the best in-ring story told this entire year. Rivaling Almas vs. Gargano for 2018 MOTY so far. My favorite spot was the reluctant One Winged Angel with Matt yelling “Do It”. This was a powerful moment showing the desperation in this match. They kept me entertained for 39 minutes and at the end, I did not want the match to end. It was a war and deserves the 5-star rating.

After the match, Cody attacks the Bucks but Omega saves them. Nick and Omega hug but Matt bails. Possibly a break up in the Young Bucks especially after the recent BTE episodes of Matt and Cody talking about Matt being a single star. 

Show Grade: B+

MOTN: Golden Lovers vs the Young Bucks

MVP(s): The Golden Lovers

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