By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped December 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont Hollywood
Streamed January 15, 2022 on New Japan World
The opening video aired before Kevin Kelly and Alex Kozlov checked in to run down the card. We are on the Nemesis tour, which will eventually end with Jay White vs. Christopher Daniels. For the second week in a row, we did not get the second opening video.
1. Karl Fredericks and Kevin Knight vs. Bateman and Misterioso. If I’m not mistaken, Bateman had new music. The heels jump-started the match, which wound up with Bateman whipping Fredericks into the guardrail on the outside. Inside the ring, Knight got the best of Misterioso, hit a body-slam and got a one-count out of it. Knight went for a splash and missed, so Misterioso and Bateman double-teamed Knight.
Bateman tagged in and the two sunk boots into Knight. Every time Fredericks made his way to the apron, the hells attacked him to knock him off. Bateman landed loud chops to take Knight down. Knight tried to fight back, but Bateman hit Knight in the throat before tagging in Misterioso, who landed a senton. Misterioso worked a chin-lock, but Knight worked his way out of it, complete with a loud chop. Misterioso cut him off, however, with a DDT.
Bateman tagged in and punched Knight in the face. Bateman barked at the crowd. Knight tried again to gain control, but Bateman put his thumbs in Knight’s eyes. Bateman lifted Knight, but Knight wiggled out of it to hit the best-looking drop-kick in all of wrestling. Fredericks received the hot tag and ultimately landed a spine-buster. With both Stray Dog Army members in opposite corners, Fredericks ran back and forth onto both of them. Fredericks hit a dropkick onto Bateman in a corner.
Fredericks landed a back suplex and an elbow for a two-count. Fredericks went for the Manifest Destiny, but Bateman blocked it. Fredericks tried again, but Bateman countered with a vertical suplex, which got him a two-count. Misterioso tagged in and the two worked over Frdericks, climaxing with a leg drop from the top rope. Misterioso went for the cover, but Knight made the save. Misterioso and Knight then fought. Fredericks and Bateman did the same.
There seemed to be some miscommunication between Knight and Misterioso during an awkward sequence. The four wrestlers ended up on the canvass. After they got to their feet, they traded forearms. Knight threw Bateman outside and landed a high dive onto Bateman on the outside. Inside the ring, Frdericks landed a spine-buster for a two-count. Fredericks then hit the Manifest Destiny for the win.
Karl Fredericks and Kevin Knight defeated Bateman and Misterioso via pinfall in 10:04.
After the match, the babyfaces posed…
McGuire’s Musings: Kevin Kelly said after the match it was an upset and I tend to agree with him. Considering how Knight is still a Young Lion – and how it seems like it’s been at least 93 years since the Stray Dog Army got a win on Strong – I thought Bateman and Misterioso were due. Alas, it was not to be. Knight has so much upside, he reminds me of a better Montez Ford, and I’m not just saying that because of his leaping ability. Knight can wrestle. That’s not to say Ford can’t; it’s just to say that Knight works a little more crisp (and I say that even considering the mishap in this match). Perhaps that’s the reality when you know that one trained at the WWE PC and the other trained at the LA Dojo. But that sounds snobby, so I’ll stop. Either way, this was a fine opener. Nothing you have to see, but could see and still be happy you saw it.
2. Brody King vs. Dave Dutra. “Brody’s gonna kill you” chants started the match. Dutra tried a chop, but King no-sold it. The crowd chanted “You f– up” at Dutra. King asked Dutra to hit him harder and Dutra tried. Dutra went for King’s legs, but King ultimately took back control with vicious chops. King stretched Dutra, but that eventually led to more chops. Dutra found himself on the apron and that led to him working over King’s legs, but that didn’t last long as back inside the ring, King landed a Senton for a two-count.
The wrestlers were outside of the ring and King hit a chop I can hear on the East Coast. King threw Dutra into the barricade. King rolled into the ring to stop the count and then threw Dutra into the ring post. Dutra eventually hit a kick and a moonsault onto King from the middle turnbuckle to the outside. Both guys rolled back into the ring and Dutra hit a series of punches and forearms. Dutra landed a tornado DDT and climbed to the top rope and went for the Heaven’s Blade, but King moved and hit a spinning clothesline. King went for his finisher, but Dutra fought out of it. King landed another loud chop and two wild forearms. King hit the Gonzo Bomb and that was that.
Brody King defeated Dave Dutra via pinfall in 6:32.
McGuire’s Musings: Oh, boy. How Brody King doesn’t actually kill people in a wrestling ring is beyond me. This might be the best squash-ish match I’ve ever seen him work. Those chops were brutal. Those forearms were vicious. And his presence bled “superstar.” AEW has something special on its hands and here’s hoping Mr. Tony doesn’t mess it up. The last thing I’d want to see is him get 15 wins on Dark and then feud with QT Marshall. Actually, with that in mind, I wonder if King will stick around for a Strong episode here and there. I’d hate to see him go. Also of note: I love Kevin Kelly calling these types of matches. He’s so good at saying out loud what everyone watching is thinking. As for Dutra … God bless.
3. David Finlay vs. Jonah. The two came at each other immediately. Finlay hit a series of elbows and forearms. Jonah essentially just ran himself into Finlay to take him down. Jonah threw Finlay into the ropes, and that led to both guys being on the outside of the ring. Finlay jumped over the top, but Jonah caught Finlay and rammed Finlay’s back into the ring post.
Back in the ring, Jonah squeezed Finlay. Finlay punched his way out of it, but then Finlay ran to the top and Jonah moved. Jonah hit a Senton on Finlay and got a two-count. Jonah posed over Finlay with a boot on his neck. Jonah worked over Finlay in a corner. Jonah hit a loud chop. Finlay tried to chop back, but Jonah hit one more chop and that took Finlay down. Jonah worked a waist-lock. Finlay fought his way out and hit a series of clotheslines and a dropkick, taking Jonah to the outside of the ring.
With both guys back in the ring, Finlay landed a splash for a two-count. Finlay hit a bunch of European uppercuts, taking Jonah to the canvass. Finlay sunk in a sleeper hold, but Jonah punched his way out of it. Eventually, Jonah landed a snap-powerslam. Finlay surprised Jonah with a crucifix roll-up for a two-count. Finlay worked a cross-face, but Jonah got back to his feet. Ultimately, Jonah hit a back-breaker, a lariat and a power-bomb. Jonah went to the top for a splash, got it and was rewarded with a pin.
Jonah defeated David Finlay via pinfall in 8:24.
Jonah stood in the ring and walked to the back to close the show.
McGuire’s Musings: I absolutely love how NJPW books Jonah. It’s somewhat of a contrast between how they initially booked other big guys, like Brody King and JR Kratos. And they are actually much better for it. I want to see Jonah be the monster this brand needs and I want to see his first loss mean something. So far, so good. Finlay is a good and credible opponent, so getting the dominative win here adds to that story even more. Plus, kudos to Finlay for being the rag-doll he was here, too. All around, this was good stuff. Jonah has an unlimited amount of power moves, it seems, and while Finlay showed heart, we all knew this was Jonah’s day.
That said, this wasn’t an earth-shaking episode of Strong. If you’re burned out on wrestling, or just need a break to do things like “watch football” or “check out HBO Max,” you’d be well within your right to do so. The matches were fine, but nothing is can’t-miss. The Brody King bout reminded me of how much NJPW Strong will miss him (if he’s actually really gone for good), but other than that, there’s not much to report here. Naturally, then, I’ll have more to say in my Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review.