NJPW Strong's two-night Independence Day event concludes today with a Final Death match at Korakuen Hall.
In the main event, Jon Moxley takes on El Desperado in a Final Death contest. Desperado & Jun Kasai defeated Moxley & Homicide in a Doomsday No DQ match on yesterday's show.
Three titles are also on the line at the event.
KENTA defends the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship against Eddie Kingston, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI defend the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Gabe Kidd & Alex Coughlin, plus Willow Nightingale defends the NJPW Strong Women's Championship against Giulia.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii & The DKC vs. Tom Lawlor, Jorel Nelson & Royce IsaacsLance Archer & Alex Zayne vs. Bad Dude Tito & Kosei FujitaRocky Romero & YOH vs Clark Connors & Drilla MoloneyHomicide & Ryohei Oiwa vs. TJP & Francesco AkiraJR Kratos vs. Oskar LeubeRyusuke Taguchi, Boltin Oleg & Master Wato vs. Dragon Libre, Takahiro Katori & Rekka
Our live coverage begins at 5:10 a.m. Eastern time.
Master Wato, Oleg Boltin & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Dragon Libre, Rekka & Takahiro Katori
Rekka opened the match hot against Taguchi, prompting tags to Oleg and Katori. Oleg, in possession of Katori's stuffed rabbit, played a dominant game of keep-away while establishing a solid lead for his team. From here on, the New Japan squad traded tags and custody of Katori's bunny.
Taguchi slammed the bunny on the ground and shoved it into his pants to a chorus of boos, giving Katori enough time to mount a comeback and retake rabbit control. This led to a hot tag into Libre, who gave the FREEDOMS team a fighting chance. From here, the teams traded momentum with back-and-forth tags.
The match ended with an extended sequence between Rekka and Wato. Wato finished the bout with a bridging German suplex.
After the match, Taguchi attacked Katori and Katori's rabbit.
Satoshi Kojima defeated Oskar Leube
This was great. Even with Kojima as a last-minute replacement, Leube put in a vivacious performance.
Leube opened the match with a shoulder tackle that knocked Kojima to the floor, but Kojima answered with one of his own. Leube tried for a chop in the corner, but again, Kojima responded with a barrage of chops. Leube kept up the fight, trading strikes with Kojima before landing a big slam.
Kojima kept Leube from getting too far ahead, hitting a quick Koji Cutter before attempting a lariat. Leube blocked the lariat with a big boot, but Kojima was quick to respond with another. After hitting the lariat, Kojima pinned Leube to win the match.
Catch 22 (Francesco Akira & TJP) defeated Homicide & Ryohei Oiwa
Nowhere near perfect, but this was another fun watch.
The match opened with a short back-and-forth between Homicide and Akira. After the tags, Catch 22 worked to isolate Oiwa, setting up a path for the rest of the match.
A hot tag to Homicide opened the door for a colossal comeback. Homicide hit TJP with multiple suplexes and a DDT for a near fall.
With Oiwa's help, Homicide maintained his lead for some time, even with Catch 22 hitting the ring. Eventually, Catch 22 was able to clear the ring of Homicide and hit Oiwa with their double running knee to win the match.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: BULLET CLUB War Dogs (Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney) (c) defeated CHAOS (Rocky Romero & YOH)
This match was nothing short of fantastic. I have a feeling that this War Dogs reign is going to be incredible.
Before the match could begin, Rocky asked if the match could be for the Junior tag belts. After some hesitation, Moloney agreed, making this a title match.
The match began with the War Dogs rushing YOH and Rocky, taking the match outside the ring. On the outside, CHAOS fought back, but back in the ring, the War Dogs established firm control, isolating YOH for some time.
A hot tag to Rocky allowed for a comeback from the babyfaces. YOH landed a falcon arrow, but Moloney avoided the tandem finish. Connors hit the ring to make the save.
Connors and Moloney hit Rockey with their tandem chop-block spear, forcing YOH to break up the pin. This led to an extended back and forth with multiple convincing near falls, including a 3K from YOH and Rocky. To close, Moloney hit a Drilla Killer, leading into the War Dogs' tandem leaping spear/suplex.
Alex Zayne & Lance Archer defeated TMDK (Bad Dude Tito & Kosei Fujita)
Another entertaining match here.
The match began with Tito calling out Archer. Archer obliged, leading to the pair coming to blows. This encounter was short-lived, allowing the other two to lead a sequence of their own.
Once Tito tagged back in, he worked to isolate Zayne while taunting Archer. Once Archer eventually tagged in, he ran through Fujita and Tito with ease. Archer and Zayne then hit Fujita with their moonsault chokeslam for a near fall.
Tito hit the ring, turning the match into a chaotic brawl. Both teams worked to gain ring control, but after an extended back-and-forth, Archer killed Fujita with a lariat and pinned him.
After the match, Archer announced Zayne would be his new partner under the team name "Murder Sauce".
Hiroshi Tanahashi, The DKC & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Team Filthy (Jorel Nelson, Royce Isaacs & Tom Lawlor)
This show keeps on giving.
After a brief opening with Tanahashi and Nelson, the match broke down. Ishii and Lawlor traded strikes as the rest of the men hit the ring. Eventually, the in-ring multi-man fight calmed down a bit, but the momentum continued to shift drastically.
After Team Filthy isolated DKC for some time, Ishii tagged in for a fiery rally. Isaacs answered Ishii's comeback, leading to an intense back-and-forth between the pair.
Tanahashi tagged in, prompting Team Filthy to hit the ring again. An assisted falcon arrow and a running knee from Isaacs scored him a pair of near falls over Tanahashi. As Isaacs grew more desperate, Tanahashi took advantage, trapping Isaacs with a snug pin to win the match.
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WrestleKingdom was announced for its typical January 4, Tokyo Dome slot, along with a new logo. The show event will seemingly be one night.
NJPW STRONG Women's Championship: Giulia defeated Willow Nightingale (c)
I had extremely high expectations for this match going in, but it blew them away. This was one of the best matches of the year, no qualifiers needed.
Giulia opened the match by rushing Willow, but Willow stuffed Giulia early, blocking an arm drag and a head-scissor takedown. Giulia attempted to take the match to the mat, but Willow continued to escape before landing a massive powerbomb to establish a strong lead.
After an extended period on the back foot, Giulia secured a choke which she turned into a DDT. This led to a bit of a rally, but a massive pounce put Willow back in control. The follow-up cannonball and driver resulted in an excellent pin attempt.
Giulia ate a buckle bomb, setting Willow up for a moonsault attempt. Giulia avoided the dive, allowing her to lock in her Bianca submission, establishing control for the first time. She followed with a throw that led to a joint strike exchange.
A pair of lariats from Willow dropped Giulia. Willow tried to follow up with a powerbomb, but Giulia reversed into a code red for a near fall. This led to an intense struggle for control that featured a super butterfly suplex for another great near fall.
Giulia dodged Willow's next lariat, hit a knee strike and a Glorious Driver to close the match and win the Strong Women's Championship.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) (c) defeated BULLET CLUB War Dogs (Alex Coughlin & Gabe Kidd)
While not as good as their match from last night, this was still quite fun. These War Dogs are the best thing to happen to Bullet Club in years.
The War Dogs tried to rush Bishamon like they did last night, but Bishamon was ready. After withstanding the initial rush, Bishamon kept up the pace, attacking the War Dogs both in and out of the ring.
The fighting on the outside eventually allowed the War Dogs to gain some footing. This allowed them to write off YH for a while and begin to focus on Goto. After YH recovered, he tagged in and began a rally. Before Bishamon could hit a tandem finish, Coughlin hit YH with a chair. The War Dogs hit YH with a double muscle buster for a near fall.
A late match reset led to a Bishamon rally. After dropping Coughlin across Kidd's knee, Goto and YH hit Kidd with Shoto. They then pinned Kidd to win the match and retain their tag belts.
NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship: Eddie Kingston defeated KENTA (c)
Everyone knows current KENTA can be hit or miss, but this was quite good.
KENTA baited Eddie into a chase early on, earning a quick lead. Eddie answered with a suplex and a chop, sending KENTA to the floor. Eddie pursued KENTA but missed a strike, driving his hand into the ring post. KENTA followed up, focusing on Eddie's hand from here on.
Eddie fought back in a strike exchange and landed a pair of suplexes to gain a lead. Eddie locked in a choke, but KENTA walked into the ref. KENTA then baited a recovering referee into thinking Eddie was choking him with a shirt before really bumping the referee. KENTA then grabbed a belt but lost control of it to Eddie. Eddie thought about using the belt but decided against it. While Eddie was discarding the belt, KENTA grabbed another, which he used to drop Eddie.
Eddie kicked out of a double foot stomp and locked in a stretch plum in the middle of the ring. KENTA worked his way to the rope, blocked the follow-up back elbow, and connected with a flurry of strikes. KENTA then hit a running knee before attempting the GTS; Eddie blocked.
After avoiding Kenta's finish, Eddie hit two weak spinning back fists. A massive lariat yielded a near fall. Eddie followed up with another back fist before picking KENTA up and dropping him on his head to win the Strong Openweight Championship. Eddie Kingston is a champion in New Japan.
Final Death Match: Jon Moxley defeated El Desperado
This, unsurprisingly, was an extremely violent match. I don't think it quite lived up to their previous match, especially on a visual level, but it was an intense war.
Before the match began, two barbed wire boards were set up in the corners. Once the bell sounded, the men tried whipping the other into said boards, but neither could pull it off at this point. Instead, Desperado rolled to the outside and blasted Moxley with a pair of trashcan lids.
Desperado grabbed a table from under the seats. After whipping Moxely into the barricade, he set up the table and climbed up one level of stairs. Moxely fought Desperado on the stage and threw him into the table, but it failed to break. After the table held strong, Moxley placed Desperado on it and hit him with an elbow drop; it held firm again. Moxley then placed him on the table again and landed a double-axe handle; the table refused to break.
Moxley moved on, slamming Desperado into four standing chairs before shutting Desperado's leg in a chair. Moxley then threw Desperado in the ring and began to stab him with a fork. Moxley followed up by throwing Desperado into the barbed wire board for a near fall.
Back on the outside, Moxley killed Desperado with his own guitar. Moxley didn't waste time, using the remnants of Desperado's guitar to stab at his neck. Moxley challenged Desperado to return to the ring, only to stab him with a fork and bite him after returning to the ropes.
Desperado began to fight back with chops and forearms before whipping Moxlet into the other barbed wire board. Desperado then placed the board's remnants on Moxley's back and drove it into him with a chair. Desperado hit a backdrop, and a Kasai frog splash for a near fall.
Desperado grabbed a cheesegrater stashed in a bouquet of roses to draw Moxley's blood before grabbing another table. Desperado set up the table, topped with a barbed wire board. Both men struggled for control, resulting in both men falling back into the barbed wire-adorned hardware; "holy sh*t" and "this is awesome" chants rang through Tokyo.
Both men wrapped barbed wire around their hands before driving skewers into each other's heads. Moxley followed with a cutter, a barrage of elbows, and a choke. Desperado refused to quit, forcing Moxley to drop the hold.
Moxley attempted a death rider, but Desperado avoided, hit a spinebuster, and a pinche loco for a near fall. Moxley answered with a death rider, but Desperado kicked out. It took a curb stomp, a lariat, and another death rider to close the match for Moxley.
Moxley closed the show by declaring himself the king of NJPW. He thanked Korakuen Hall for being the "heartbeat of pro wrestling". He thanked Desperado and Kasai for the matches before paying special tribute to the late Danny Havoc, who Kasai greatly inspired. Moxley then left through the crowd, marking the end to one of the best New Japan shows of the year.