12/4 NJPW Strong results: McGuire’s review of Jay White and Hikuleo vs. Alex Zayne and Yuya Uemura, Jonah vs. Lucas Riley, Lio Rush and Adrian Quest vs. Misterioso and Bateman, and Josh Barnett vs. Alex Coughlin

By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)

NJPW Strong
Taped November 15, 2021 in Long Beach, California at Riverside Municipal Auditorium
Streamed December 4, 2021 on New Japan World

The broadcast team of Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly, who returned to Strong after a long stint overseas, checked in to begin the show and ran down the card. This is the first night of New Japan Detonation 2021…

1. Bateman and Misterioso vs. Lio Rush and Adrian Quest. Bateman and Quest began the match. Bateman immediately slammed Quest face-first on the mat. Bateman offered himself up for a free shot and Quest obliged. Quest returned the favor, but blocked Bateman’s punch and ultimately hit a corkscrew crossbody from the second rope.

Bateman fought back and tagged in Misterioso. Quest kept control, however, and tagged in Rush. The two hit stereo tope suicidas on their opponents, who were on the outside. Rush and Quest worked a series of double-team moves on Misterioso inside the ring. With Quest as the legal man, Misterioso lifted him for a slam and then landed a clothesline and an echoing chop. Bateman tagged in and hit a chop of his own on Quest.

Quest tried to fight back, but Bateman caught Quest, who leapt off the second rope, and slammed him. Misterioso tagged in and worked over Quest in their corner. Bateman got away with some illegal interference. After some double-team moves, Bateman went for a cover, but Rush broke up the pin attempt. Misterioso tagged in and went for a springboard moonsault, but Quest got his knees up and landed a Poison Rana. Rush then received the hot tag and Bateman tagged in as well.

Rush cleaned house. Rush tried to pick up Bateman, but Bateman blocked it. Eventually, however, Rush got Bateman up and landed a Falcon Arrow. Rush climbed to the top, but Bateman moved out of the way before Misterioso ran in and threw Rush into Bateman’s boot.

Bateman hit a brain-buster for a two count. Rush tagged in Quest, who came in and rolled up Misterioso a handful of times for two-counts. Before long, Misterioso hit a moonsault and went for a pin, but Rush broke it up. Rush hit the Rush Hour and Quest hit his finisher on Misterioso and that was enough for the win.

Lio Rush and Adrian Quest defeated Misterioso and Bateman via pinfall in 10:56.

McGuire’s Musings: Nonstop action from front to back, this was 11 minutes of fun. It was good to see Quest back on Strong after missing a bunch of weeks and Rush continues to shine in his New Japan role, which seems to be “Veteran Guy That Tags With Young Good Guy And Wins.” I’m curious to see where the Stray Dog Army bit is going, though. Bateman, Misterioso and Barrett Brown take too many losses to be taken seriously and all things honest, the three of them could individually benefit from breaking out of the faction. Bateman showed more fire here than he has in recent outings and it made him feel like a player again for the first time in a while. Misterioso seems to be toiling away, which is a shame because he has so much talent. So, what’s next for all of them could be interesting. Also of note: It’s great to hear Kevin Kelly back on Strong. His chemistry with Alex Koslov is fantastic.

2. Alex Coughlin vs. Josh Barnett. Barnett grabbed Coughlin’s leg to begin, but Coughlin rolled out of it. The two then squared each other up and grappled a bit before Coughlin got back to his feet and the two started again. Barnett took control by winning a test of strength before Coughlin repaid that favor and ultimately began to work a head-lock. Barnett ended up on top of Coughlin and sunk in an ankle-lock before Coughlin made it to the ropes for a break.

Back on their feet, the two went back to a test of strength. Coughlin took Barnett down with a takeover and Coughlin went to stretch Barnett, but Barnett worked his way out and went back toward Coughlin’s ankle. Both guys went for ankle-locks. Barnett got the best of it, though, but Coughlin made it to the ropes for a break. Back on their feet, Barnett flipped Coughlin and regained control before Coughlin countered with a leg-scissors.

Coughlin worked a submission on Barnett’s leg. Barnett countered with an attempted arm-bar, but Coughlin wasn’t going to let it happen. As a result, Coughlin worked a leg submission, but Barnett made it to the ropes for a break. Back on their feet, Barnett hit a series of forearms and a slam for a two-count. Barnett took Coughlin over again and went for the arm-bar, but Coughlin fought his way out and sunk in a single-leg crab. Barnett went back to the ankle, though, and Coughlin got to the ropes for a break.

Coughlin slapped Barnett. Barnett returned with a forearm. They went back and forth like this for a bit. The spot ended when Barnett tried to deadlift Coughlin … but Coughlin deadlifted Barnett and rolled through to try one more and got it. Wow. Coughlin landed a tough lariat for a two-count. Barnett took back control with a German Suplex that got him a two-count. Barnett sunk in his cross leg-lock and that was enough for Coughlin to tap.

Josh Barnett defeated Alex Coughlin via submission in 11:47.

After the match, Barnett got a mic and asked Coughlin to stand up. Barnett said it’s been 17 years since he’s been in a ring with a Lion. Barnett said what brought him back was Coughlin. Barnett said it was his honor to test Coughlin. Barnett said Shibata has done an amazing job with Coughlin. Barnett said he saw gusto in him from the day he started training with him. Barnett said he would have Coughlin in his army any day. Barnett said Coughlin could take on anybody in the world and that Coughlin is the real deal. Barnett said he’d see him in the gym because Coughlin has to get tougher.

McGuire’s Musings
: I’m not one to say this lightly (or, really, ever) but that was a goosebumps moment type thing at the end, with Barnett’s promo and Coughlin falling to his knees. The next time you go to a live show and see a good few minutes of something and start chanting “This is wrestling!” it’d probably be best if you watch this match first because you just might hesitate before throwing something like that out there all willy-nilly. Because this. Was. Wrestling. Wow. My goodness. Everything is clicking right now for Coughlin, between his in-ring work and the way the fans are getting behind him. It’s some truly special stuff. And this match … words aren’t adequate. If you like your wrestling with a side of wrestling, this one’s for you. And even if you don’t, this one’s for you, because that post-match moment made everything that much more poignant. A standing ovation for everyone involved.

3. Lucas Riley vs. Jonah. Riley went for a takedown, but Jonah threw Riley with his hips, no joke. Riley went for a single-leg takedown, but Jonah picked Riley up and threw him down on his neck. Riley tried to come back with a kick, but Jonah no-sold it and when Riley tried a leap-frog, Jonah just pushed him away. Jonah landed a loud chop. Jonah hit more chops. Jonah picked Riley up for a vertical suplex and held him for something like 20 seconds before throwing Riley.

Riley tried to fight back, but Jonah hit an elbow to take Riley down into a corner. Jonah choked Riley with his boot. Jonah went for a splash in a corner, but Riley moved. That didn’t do much, however, because Jonah caught Riley. Still, Riley fired up and got the crowd behind him with a flurry of strikes, but Jonah hit a lariat and a backdrop suplex for a two-count … but only because Jonah pulled Riley up. Jonah landed a splash and got a two-count … but only because Jonah pulled Riley up again. Jonah went to the top then and landed a splash and that was enough for the pinfall.

Jonah defeated Lucas Riley via pinfall in 6:01.

After the match, David Finlay ran to the ring and attacked Jonah. Jonah rolled to the outside and walked to the back.

McGuire’s Musings: I like how they are establishing Jonah as a beast and Kelly laid it on thick toward the end of the match, which, in a weird, not-expected way, worked, because when it’s laid on thick, it usually doesn’t work. But Kelly knows best. Anyway, a ruthless heel Jonah is much more fun than a smiling babyface Bronson Reed, so I’m all for this. I guess we know who his next dancing partner is in Finlay, and I’m not complaining. That could be 12 minutes of special if they want it to be. This has been a very good rebirth for Jonah and it turns out, NJPW could very well be the perfect landing spot for him.

4. Jay White and Hikuleo vs. Alex Zayne and Yuya Uemura. White and Hikuleo went for the Too Sweet, but Uemura broke it up, so the crowd chanted “You F— Up!” White then began the match by attacking Uemura. Uemura landed a pair of nice-looking arm-drag takedowns on White before long, but White fought back. It wasn’t enough, however, as Uemura got in another arm-drag takedown. White took back control with fingers to the eyes and tagged in Hikuleo.

Uemura tried to fight his way out of the Bullet Club corner and went for an arm-drag on Hikuleo, but Hikuleo didn’t move and slammed Uemura before chopping him so loud, you could hear it in San Francisco. Hikuleo threw Uemura into the corner and tagged in White. White tried a million pinfalls and Uemura kicked out of all of them. White slammed Uemura for a two-count. White went for a Boston Crab, but Uemura wouldn’t have it, so White hit a chop. Uemura countered with a dropkick and tagged in Zayne, who came in and took out both White and Hikuleo.

White took control with a handful of hair, but Zayne escaped and tagged in Uemura. Hikuleo ran in, however, and worked over Uemura before Uemura fought back and cleared house, including a bodyslam and pin attempt on White. Uemura went for a back suplex, but White landed on his feet and pulled Uemura to the mat. White then tagged in Hikuleo. Zayne tagged in and tried taking down Hikuleo, but Hikuleo hit a lariat that flipped Zayne upside down. Uemura then ran in and hit an impressive back suplex on Hikuleo.

White ran in and hit a Bladerunner on Uemura. White tried to do the same on Zayne, but Zayne countered. Hikuleo then grabbed Zayne and tried a chokeslam, but Zayne worked his way out. After an exchange of moves, Hikuleo landed his chokeslam. Hikuleo then hit the Tongan Driver and that was enough for the win.

Jay White and Hikuleo defeated Alex Zayne and Yuya Uemura via pinfall in 10:30.

After the match, White grabbed a microphone and said his original plan was to open the door and have an open challenge for the Never Openweight Championship. But, he said, that championship is now gone. White said the championship is gone, but he’s not. White said he’ll leave the door open as an open invitation to anyone from any company to step up to the best wrestler in the world. White called out Chris Sabin and Chris Jericho and Christopher Daniels. White asked Daniels to meet him at Nemesis and accept his challenge. The show closed with White walking toward the back.

McGuire’s Musings: The match itself was about what you’d think it would be. The only variation would be how much shine Uemura received, if only because Zayne is the more established star. I couldn’t help but think, after they didn’t air the Zayne/Ospreay match from Philadelphia on Strong that perhaps because of a few missteps from Zayne in that match, NJPW said to him, “All right. Let’s put you in a tag or two to get your feet back underneath you,” and now all is well in the world.

If any of that is even remotely true, it would make sense that Uemura took the bulk of the bout here. Either way, Zayne had a much better outing in this match and I’m excited to see what they do with him moving forward. Uemura, meanwhile, has all the upside in the world, especially in an arm-drag contest. The post-match promo was intriguing, if only because White called out Jericho and that could be a ton of fun. For now, we get Chris Daniels, who should have a hell of a match with White.

This was a great episode of Strong. Go check it out if you can. Coughlin/Barnett was worth the price of admission and popcorn alone, but the Jonah squash was very well-done, the opening tag match was filled with action and then the main event featured one of the best talkers in all the business in Jay White, and White did not disappoint. Plus, lest we forget the inevitable star that is Hikuleo. But I digress. I’ll be by with my audio review for Dot Net Members sooner rather than later. Be well, friends


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