Lawlor victorious, Taylor Rust emerges in Last STRONG of 2021 【NJoA】

Lawlor retains in last main event of the year, but a familiar face returns to challenge

The main event of the Detonation series on NJPW STRONG saw Tom Lawlor make his last STRONG Openweight Championship defence of 2021, taking on a furious Fred Rosser in a rematch over a year in the making. Wasting no time, Rosser delivered an open right to Lawlor to start the match before trying to beat the champion at his own grappling game. Lawlor would take advantage of the referee issuing a caution to the furious Rosser, attacking his challenger from behind, and when the match got dirtier, Lawlor would land a low blow on the apron to turn the tide. 

A lariat from the champion would send Rosser careening over the barricades ringside, and buried knees to the face in a cravate as the fans tried to rally behind the challenger. Rosser would try to respond with the Gutcheck, but was countered with a double Dragon Screw, and a flurry of lariats would be stopped with a heavy uranage slam. 

It would be frantic and wild shots from Rosser that saw the challenger finally work his way back into the match, Mr. No Days Off hurling Lawlor into the ringpost outside. Back in, Gutcheck connected, but Lawlor was able to counter a dropkick follow up with a transition into the hold that had submitted his challenger one year ago. Still Rosser wouldn’t give up, landing a right hand and dropkick clean, before a running Death Valley Driver, and countered a rear naked choke into the Gut Feeling, but Lawlor would just get a boot to the bottom rope. 

Rosser would wrench Lawlor in a Crossface Chickenwing, the champion again finding the rope as Rosser struggled for an ultimate answer. Bringing the champion to the apron, he would land his signature apron suplex, but as he dropped the hips from the ring to the floor would be stopped with a rear naked choke. Trying to send his opponent into unconsciousness on the floor, Lawlor retained his grip until being driven into the ringside steel; Rosser dove into the ring to break the count, but right into the rear naked choke for the referee stoppage.   

Post match, a Team Filthy celebration was interrupted by the returning Taylor Rust. Rust, who was an original member of Team Filthy in NJPW, had been ousted from the group when he moved to WWE earlier in the year. On his return, it appeared as if Taylor would return to the Filthy fold, but he would instead strike Lawlor with the Perfect Circle to name himself the Filthy One’s next challenger. 

After being attacked by an apparent new Black Tiger in Philadelphia, Rocky Romero was desperate to get his hands on a figure from his past, and one he claims to know the man behind the mask. In six man action as Romero teamed with FinJuice against Team Filthy It would be the masked man with the jump from behind at the start. Yet Romero and FinJuice would quickly get back on the offensive, Black Tiger isolated until interference from Jorel Nelson swung the match into Filthy favour.

Royce Isaacs and JR Kratos’ power would have Romero struggling until evasive action saw a tag to Juice Robinson, who teed off on the Most Feared. FinJuice double teams would take down Black Tiger and Isaacs, but Romero’s Forever Clotheslines were stopped by all of Team Filthy. Juice and Finlay would dive to Kratos and Isaacs as Romero found the Diablo Armbar on Black Tiger, but the masked man transitioned to a heel hook, before kicking out of Sliced Rocky and countering a second try with a Tombstone and the Black Tiger Driver. 

Opening the night, the LA Dojo team of Kevin Knight and the DKC defeated Brogan Finlay and Jordan Clearwater. Clearwater and Finlay combined for some classic Finlay family offence, but ultimately it was a massive Crucifix Bomb and stretch that got him the victory.