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Former WWE Superstars Appear At NJPW STRONG: Rivals (SPOILER)

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A trio of former WWE Superstars made shock appearances at the tapings for NJPW STRONG: Rivals, including a former NXT North American Champion.

The former Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, Gran Metalik, and Shane Thorne/SLAPJACK all made unannounced appearances during the tapings for New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s impending STRONG: Rivals event. This occurred on Thursday evening in Los Angeles, California, with an air date yet to be revealed.

Most notable is, of course, Scott, who’s now once again wrestling as Shane Strickland. The former Hit Row member answered Jay White‘s US of Jay Open Challenge in the main event of the taping, taking a loss against the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion after refusing an offer to join him in Bullet Club.

Gran Metalik, also reverting to his previous ring name of Mascara Dorada, made an early return to the promotion, confronting TJP following the former IMPACT X Division Champion’s victory over Brogan Finlay. The former Lucha House Party member was due to make his NJPW return at their Strong Style Evolved tapings in March, with a Cruiserweight Classic finals rematch vs. TJP now all but confirmed.

Finally, Shane Thorne – or the masked SLAPJACK of the ill-fated RETRIBUTION stable – rocked up under the Shane Haste moniker once more. The 2016 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic finalist aligned with Bad Dude Tito and fellow WWE alum JONAH during his return to the promotion.

All three men were let go by WWE in November 2021, with their thirty-day non-compete clauses recently expiring. For Strickland, this was his debut for NJPW, whereas Dorada and Haste have both appeared previously.

Dorada last appeared during the 2016 Fantasticamania tour, teaming with Atlantis and Ryusuke Taguchi, while Haste, in his sole appearance, teamed with Naomichi Marufuji, Toru Yano, and then-TMDK partner Mikey Nicholls at 2015’s Wrestle Kingdom 9.