By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped in Long Beach, California at Thunder Studios
Streamed July 2, 2021 on New Japan World
The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov checked in from afar to run down the card. It’s Fireworks Frenzy…
1. Lio Rush vs. Adrian Quest. Rush tried a head-lock, but Quest worked his way out and eventually hit a dropkick. It ultimately spilled to the floor and Rush hit a springboard splash on the outside. Back inside the ring, the two traded forearms. Quest took control with a back-body-drop for a two-count.
Quest kept control with an elbow-lock. Quest hit a suplex and then worked a chin-lock. Rush countered with clotheslines. The two hit each other with high-kicks and went to the canvass. Quest hit a running shooting-star press for a two count. Quest then went for a suplex and got a two-count. Quest put Rush on the top rope and went for a power-bomb, but Rush forced him off the ropes and hit a springboard cutter for the win.
Lio Rush defeated Adrian Quest via pinfall in 8:19.
Backstage, Rush cut a promo said he’s starting to sound like a broken record, but people should trust him when he says he’s a hit. He then said the quest – Adrian Quest – is conquered. Rush then said the goal remains the same and it’s that he wants the championship and he will become the Man of Japan.
McGuire’s Musings: I really wasn’t sure who was going over, considering how Rush announced his retirement after this was taped, but even so, this was a good match. Quest had a lot of offense, which was good, but I was actually happy to see Rush win. It’s a shame he’s hanging it up. Between AEW and NJPW, he could have had a very interesting, very fun run between both companies.
2. Jordan Clearwater vs. Hikuleo. Clearwater jumpstarted the match with some punches, but Hikuleo fought back with some forearms. Hikuleo eventually hit some clotheslines in the corner and then hit a suplex for a two-count. Clearwater tried to fight back, but Hikuleo landed a punch to take Clearwater to the ground.
Clearwater ducked a chop and hit a few chops of his own before Hikuleo hit a head-butt for a two count. Hikuleo then hit a slam and a splash for a two-count. Clearwater took control with some punches and a kick to Hikuleo’s knee. Hikuleo countered by grabbing Clearwater’s throat, and Hikuleo went for a slam, but Clearwater hit a modified reverse DDT for a two-count.
Clearwater went for a kick, but Hikuleo hit his snap powerslam. Hikuleo then picked Clearwater up an ultimately landed a back-body suplex. Hikuleo then hit his version of a Falcon Arrow and got the win.
Hikuleo defeated Jordan Clearwater via pinfall in 7:44.
McGuire’s Musings: This was fine for what it was, but I was actually expecting more from Clearwater. Hikuleo seemed like the favorite, but I thought they’d give Clearwater more fire, more opportunities. This is my PSA, again, and again, and again, saying that Hikuleo will someday be a star. He showed it here, though, in spades. He’s dominant and he has the look. I was just hoping Clearwater would have been given more. No worries. Hikuleo vs. Tom Lawlor, please.
3. Fred Rosser vs. Bateman. Bateman made his entrance first and Kelly said this was the grand finale of the fireworks show. Next week starts tag-team turbulence. The two tied up and before long, Rosser worked Bateman’s knee. Bateman took back control with an arm-lock, but Rosser came back with a head-lock. Kelly said Rosser reminds him of Ronnie Garvin, and man, that’s a great call.
Rosser rolled to the outside and tore off his wrist tape. He then rolled in, but Bateman attacked him. Bateman worked a leg-lock. Bateman then snapped Rosser’s ankle. Bateman untied Rosser’s boot to get more leverage on his twisting Rosser’s ankles. Bateman kept working Rosser’s leg, but Rosser dove at him to fight back. Bateman kept control with chops.
Rosser threw Bateman outside and the two fought on the apron. The two traded blows on the apron. Rosser then hit a back-body-drop on the apron. Back in the ring, the two traded blows in the middle of the ring. Rosser hit a running knee. Rosser hit a DDT for two-count.
Bateman was on the top rope, but worked his way out to hit brain-buster for a two-count. Rosser eventually hit a modified powerslam and got the win.
Fred Rosser defeated Bateman via pinfall in 15:34.
McGuire’s Musings: Bateman takes more losses than he should take, but he’s been really good about it. That said, Rosser looked great and these two put on a good match. Again, it was tough to really know who would come out on top, but Rosser makes the most sense. He signed a contract and he’s the one who will stick around. Even so, Bateman coming in and doing the jobs says a lot about how good of a worker he is.
All told, this was a missable episode of Strong. Next week starts the tag tournament and that should light a fire underneath all of it. This, meanwhile, felt like a throwaway episode. You could miss it if you have to. Have a good holiday weekend, friends.