By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped December 9, 2021 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont Hollywood
Streamed January 29, 2022 on New Japan World
The opening video aired before Kevin Kelly and Alex Kozlov checked in to run down the card. Kelly and Kozlov were particular funny. This is the finale of the Nemesis tour…
1. Alex Zayne vs. Ariya Daivari. The two locked up. Daivari worked a wrist-lock, but Zayne countered into one of his own. The two went for dual shoulder-blocks, but neither of them worked. Everything ended up with Zayne working an arm-bar. Zayne took Daivari down a few times and Daivari rolled to the outside, where Zayne hit a springboard moonsault onto Daivari.
Back in the ring, Zayne went back to the arm-bar. The two ran the ropes, but Daivari hit a knee to take Zayne down. Daivari hit an echoing chop. Daivari sunk in a body-scissors. Zayne got his way out and ultimately landed a boot and some forearms before landing a lariat to take Daivari to the mat. Zayne eventually hit a somersault leg-drop and went for the Taco Driver, but Daivari wiggled away.
Before long, Daivari landed a neck-breaker and a DDT for a two-count. Maybe hit an enuigiri, but all of it ended up with a super-kick from Daivari. Daivari then hit his standing clothesline for a two-count. Daivari went to the top with the flying carpet and hit it, but Zayne rolled through it and got a two-count out of it. Daivari went outside and grabbed the ring bell. Daivari put it down, ran at Zayne and Zayne hit the Taco Driver for the win.
Alex Zayne defeated Ariya Daivari via pinfall in 10:06.
McGuire’s Musings: This was much better than the match they had in Philadelphia. That said, I was kind of hoping for more out of Daivari. The story that he’s trying to shed his old ways is getting … well … old. And at this point, it shouldn’t be costing him matches in the way it does. But it did here, and even though the two worked much more crisp in California than they did in Pennsylvania, I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was kind of a disappointment. At the end of the day, I want to see them run it back with 15 minutes at their disposal and no bullshit. That probably won’t happen. But let me dream. Finally, Zayne looked a million times better here than he did a few months ago. Good for him.
2. Alex Coughlin vs. JR Kratos. Coughlin went for a single-leg, but Kratos countered and the two worked chain wrestling. Back on their feet, the two went forehead to forehead. Coughlin hit a loud chop. Kratos tried to come back, but Coughlin ducked and hit a strike of his own. The momentum stopped, however, when Kratos landed a loud punch to Coughlin’s head. On the outside of the ring, the two battled, with Kratos rolling in and out to break the count. Kratos hit a heavy, loud chop on Coughlin.
Coughlin fought back, but Coughlin took a chop and was then thrown into the barricade. Coughlin barely made it back into the ring before the 20 count to stay alive. In the ring, Kratos landed a snap-powerslam for a two-count. Kratos threw Coughlin into the corner and Coughlin bounced off like Bret Hart. Kratos hit a suplex, releasing Coughlin halfway across the ring.
Kratos went for a suplex, but Coughlin slipped out and hit a series of forearms and chops. Coughlin landed the gut-wrench suplex for a two-count. Coughlin lept at Kratos, but Kratos sunk in an arm-bar. Before long, Coughlin hit a German Suplex and that was enough for the win.
Alex Coughlin defeated JR Kratos via pinfall in 9:23.
McGuire’s Musings: There are not enough words in the English language and/or dictionary that could explain my admiration for Alex Coughlin. When I picked up this beat for Dot Net, he was just another guy. And through the weeks – and, to be honest, through more than a year – this dude stepped up and made him somebody. Coughlin actually deserves the credit he gets. This graduation match made it even better, because Kratos (and all hats off to him) seemed happy to do the job. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Coughlin. My guess is Kratos goes back to Team Filthy and continues to look like a badass. But for now, bask in how far Alex Coughlin has come. He deserves it.
3. Christopher Daniels vs. Jay White. The two tied up to begin the match. After a few exchanges, Daniels slapped White’s face. Daniels rubbed White’s face into the mat. Daniels kept control by whipping White into corners. Eventually, White threw Daniels outside the ring. White hit a chop that echoed on Daniels outside the ring. Back in the ring, White tried to cover Daniels, but only got a two-count out of it.
White sunk in a Muta Lock but Daniels worked his way out, but White landed a chop block to take back control. White hit a dragon-screw leg-whip. White landed a suplex and ran Daniels into the corner. Daniels was thrown outside and White followed him. White rammed Daniels into the ring apron a few times. Back in the ring, White lifted Daniels, but Daniels countered into a Death Valley Driver. That got Daniels a two-count. Daniels transitioned into a Koji Clutch. White made it to the ropes for a break.
White sold having his hair pulled out before landing a DDT. White went for a suplex, but Daniels blocked it. Daniels hit a Thunder Bomb and the two tried to recuperate. Daniels landed a back-drop and enzuigiri to take control. White took it back with a kick, but Daniels countered with a slam from the second rope. White rolled to the outside to avoid the Angel’s Wings. White then hit a suicide dive on Daniels on the outside.
Daniels removed the padding on the outside of the ring. The move backfired because White landed a back body-drop onto Daniels on the floor. White suplexed Daniels onto the apron. In the ring, White hit the Blade-Buster for a two-count. After a little, Daniels hit a back-drop and from there the two exchanged pins before Daniels hit the Angel’s Wings for a two-count. Daniels lifted White, but White rammed Daniels into the corner. White landed a sleeper suplex. White hit the Kiwi Crusher for a close near fall.
White went for the Blade-Runner, but Daniels worked his way out and took White down. Daniels went for the Angels Wings, and the two traded finisher attempts. Daniels went up for the best moonsault, but White got his knees up. White then hit the Blade-Runner and that was enough for the win.
Jay White defeated Christopher Daniels via pinfall in 19:04.
After the match, White got a microphone. White said he opened the door to any and all challengers. He said All Elite Wrestling sent a rookie like Christopher Daniels. White said Daniels was a broken down rookie. White asked why he got the feeling like it was personal. He said he feels like people pushed for Daniels to go there because they were ducking him. White asked AEW to send someone “truly elite.” White said, “Bay bay, it’s still my era,” and threw down the microphone before leaving. That was the end of the show.
McGuire’s Musings: I have all the respect in the world for Christopher Daniels. He’s great. He’s done more than so many people could ever dream of doing. This was not a great outing for him. He couldn’t get up at some points. He couldn’t adjust accordingly at some points. He looked all of those 51 years he’s lived. And God bless him for that. I’m not in any way taking anything away from him. But if he wasn’t working with Jay White, who happens to be one of the best in the world, this could have been far worse than it was. This sounds so harsh, and I really don’t mean for that to be the case. I just wonder, now, what Jay White can do if he’s in the ring with people who can actually work the way he wants to work. I know who accepts the next batch of tapings/challenges, and it could be very good, but I do wonder if … as he said … someone from a certain era who deals in the business of “bay bay” would have a wrestling ring to share.
Ultimately, this was a good episode of Strong. I’ll even say very good. I’m so happy to see Alex Coughlin graduate to the next level and I’m even happier that this Jay White thing seems to be … well … a thing. And when the most notable opponent decides to step through the ropes for his challenge, that could be quite a match. It’s also the match I root for. But that’s just me. For now, let’s raise a glass for Alex Coughlin, who deserves the recognition he’s receiving tonight. I’ll have more to say in my audio review for Dot Net Members.