New Japan Pro Wrestling
NJPW STRONG: Ignition (Episode 2)
July 16, 2022
The Vermont Hollywood
Los Angeles, California
Watch: NJPW World & FITE
We have arrived at week 2 of the tournament to crown the first NJPW Strong Openweight Tag-Team Champions on this week’s episode. The Ignition tour emanates from Los Angeles and features some west-coast wrestling mainstays across three matches. The format remains the same as last week with a singles match sandwiched between a couple of tag matches.
STRAY DOG ARMY (MYSTERIOSO AND BARRETT BROWN) DEF. MIDNIGHT HEAT
Ian Riccaboni informs us that this is the first tag-team pairing of Mysterioso and Brown despite their long-time affiliation with the Stray Dog Army. Midnight Heat are making their first appearance on Strong since the Seattle, Washington tapings where, if I remember correctly, they put on a very good performance. This match is well worked and paced well for an opener. Each of the teams are allowed to feature their respective offensive attacks. Barrett and Mysterioso do not look like a team who have never tagged before, primarily due to the fact they have had plenty of six-man tag matches together in the past. Midnight Heat have the unfortunate luck of working a throwback gimmick which is supposed to bring the Midnight Express to mind right down to their ring gear. Too bad for them, there is already a much better-known team who have this gimmick down to a science.
Ultimately, the Stray Dog Army get the victory despite a brutal looking spot by Mysterioso where it looked like he may have broken his shins on the outside guardrail while performing a dive. All in all, nothing offensive about this match at all and an easy, breezy opener.
FILTHY TOM LAWLOR DEF. BAD DUDE TITO
This match stood out to me when I looked at the overall unspoiled set of matches from this taping. With the recent loss of the Strong Openweight Championship to Fred Rosser, it should be interesting to see where Tom goes from here. He is surely living his wrestling dream by being included in this year’s G1 Tournament. Bad Dude Tito has quickly become a wrestler who I love watching. By being inducted into TMDK, he has been allowed to be featured in more prominent matches. This is my kind of wrestling match. Both men wrestled their style effectively here with Lawlor looking like a vicious killer and Tito proving to be a worthy opponent who can operate from the air while also delivering a powerful offense. Without fail, Tom Lawlor managed to hit Tito with his brutal knee to the back of the head after Tito defiantly spat in his face, but it took more than that this week to take the Bad Dude down.
In the end, Lawlor is sent off to Japan with a win and Bad Dude Tito looks strong despite the loss. This match is definitely worth checking out.
AUSSIE OPEN DEF. DARK ORDER (EVIL UNO AND ALAN ANGELS)
Without being spoiled, I have picked Aussie Open to win this tournament and continue their excellent 2022. Dark Order are on loan from AEW and if Uno is to be believed, they aren’t leaving there anytime soon. This match is another one that stood out to me when I looked at the match cards. As expected, this match delivered with several great highspots and combination tag-team combos. Both teams have good to great chemistry and despite Angels being the most inexperienced, he looked better than Uno on this night.
This match rocked despite the missing of a spot by Angels onto Fletcher outside of the ring due to a production error. There is a sequence around the midway point of the match featuring Fletcher and Davis manhandle Angels that is really fun stuff and showcases just how good Aussie Open are. From the mid-point on, this match is great. Aussie Open are a phenomenal pro wrestling tag team and are moving on to the semi-finals. Highly recommended viewing.
Overall, another fun episode of Strong this week. This promotion is delivering television worth watching and is in league with Rampage when it comes to match quality. I do wish they would make some adjustments to the production quality by lighting the arenas more, but I get that costs money and it is highly doubtful that Strong delivers a green number on the Bushiroad quarterly profit and loss statement.
Next week, the tournament to crown a Championship Tag Team continues with Christopher Daniels and Yuya Uemura battling TMDK for a spot in the finals.