By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped March 20, 2022 in Tampa, Florida at St. Petersburg Coliseum
Streamed April 30, 2022 on New Japan World
The opening video aired before Ian Riccaboni and Matt Rehwoldt checked in on commentary to run down the card. This is the fourth and final week of the Strong Style Evolved tour.
1. Kevin Knight vs The DKC. Both guys ran to the ring for their entrances. The Young Lions went back and forth to begin the match. Knight took control by working on DKC’s arm. The DKC worked a side head-lock and then rolled Knight up for a two-count. The DKC tried to bridge out of a pin, but he couldn’t quite make it and instead, he rolled Knight up for a two-count.
The two traded chops. Knight ultimately hit a suplex for a two-count. Knight worked over The DKC in a corner and threw DKC across the ring into another turnbuckle for a two-count. Knight sank in a chin-lock. Knight went for his signature dropkick, but The DKC stopped and Knight hit nothing. The DKC hit his signature chops and landed his Fire Chops for a two-count. The DKC threw Knight down for a two-count and then locked in a front face-lock.
Knight powered his way out and then hit a shoulder-tackle for a two-count. Knight went to throw The DKC out of the ring, but DKC held onto the top rope. The DKC came off the top rope to no avail and Knight hit his signature dropkick for a two-count. The DKC went to the top and hit a kick from the top rope. The DKC landed a crucifix driver and then sank in a submission until Knight ultimately tapped.
The DKC defeated Kevin Knight via submission in 7:48.
McGuire’s Musings: I actually thought Knight would be the one coming out on top here, so as I’m reminded so often here, what do I know? Nothing. That’s the answer. Nothing. I know nothing. Anyway, I’m happy for The DKC getting a win because it seems like we’ve seen him on Strong for 5,000 years as a Young Lion and in all those 5,000 years, he has about six wins to his name. So, good for him. The match was what you would expect from two Young Lions – competitive, frantic at times and ultimately even. I wonder if this means we’ll get some forward movement for The DKC sooner than later.
2. Mascara Dorada vs. TJP. The commentary team did a good job of playing up the wrestlers’ history in the WWE cruiserweight division (Dorada is the former Gran Metalik). TJP took control with a head-scissors, but Dorada came right back with a head-scissors of his own. TJP worked a surfboard, but Dorada countered with a pin attempt. Eventually, the two got to their feet and reset.
TJP came at Dorada, who was on the apron, but Dorada moved and landed a springboard moonsault onto TJP on the outside. Back inside the ring, TJP hit a dropkick to Dorada’s back and kept control with a Senton. TJP sank in a Scorpion Death Lock and that turned into a Muta Lock. TJP then hit a hammerlock back-breaker. TJP worked the face-wash and posed to the crowd. Ultimately, Dorada fired up and threw TJP outside the ring.
Back in the ring, Dorada walked the ropes and hit an elbow from the top for a two-count. Dorada went for a dropkick from the middle ropes, but TJP countered and went for a submission, but Dorada rolled him up for a two-count. TJP came back with a tornado DDT. The two traded strikes and chops. TJP landed a back suplex and went to the top rope. TJP tried a Mamba Splash, but Dorada moved. TJP came back with a crucifix driver for a two-count. TJP lifted Dorada, but Dorada countered with a spinning slam for the win.
Mascara Dorada defeated TJP via pinfall in 10:52.
After the match, TJP attacked Dorada and took Dorada’s mask. A NJPW crew member rushed into the ring to cover Dorada’s face with a jacket. TJP left with Dorada’s mask.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a good match with another surprising (to me) outcome. TJP felt unbeatable for a minute on Strong, and Dorada is new (in the modern day) to New Japan (yes, this isn’t his first NJPW rodeo, but it’s his first match on Strong). That said, I’m happy with the outcome and I don’t think TJP loses anything here. Actually, he proved how good he is at getting his heat back right after the match as he stole Dorada’s mask. I’m happy to see the program isn’t over and I’m also happy that Dorada got a win. I’m intrigued to see what happens when they run this back.
3. Ren Narita vs. Jay Lethal. Tiger Hattori sat in on commentary. “Lethal” chants began in the crowd and Lethal did his Rig Flair strut. Rehwoldt said Narita has graduated from the LA Dojo and that’s news to me. Lethal went for the figure-four, but Narita kicked Lethal out of the ring. Narita rolled Lethal up a few times, but Lethal worked his way out and the two reset in the middle of the ring.
The two locked up, but Lethal took control with a side head-lock. Narita came back with a series of kicks. Lethal took back control with a back suplex. Lethal landed a body-slam for a two-count and then worked a chin-lock. Lethal went for a dropkick and missed. Lethal came right back and hit a cutter. Lethal went to the top rope and for the Hail To The King, but Narita caught him and rolled him up for a two-count.
The action spilled outside, but Narita rolled Lethal back into the ring and hit a splash and a suplex for a two-count. Narita worked an inside toe-hold on Lethal. Narita sank in a cloverleaf before working a figure-four. Lethal made it to the ropes for a break. Narita landed some chops. Narita was bleeding from the mouth. Lethal came back with a furry of strikes, ending in a slam. Lethal tried to lift Narita, but Narita fought back before Lethal ultimately got Narita over.
Lethal hit Hail To The King, but Narita kicked out. Lethal then got in his figure-four leg lock. Narita made it to the ropes for a break. Narita was bleeding from both his nose and mouth now. Lethal hit a chop and went for the Lethal Injection, but Narita caught Lethal and sank in a Cobra Twist. Narita rolled Lethal up for a two-count. Lethal then hit the Lethal Injection for the win.
Jay Lethal defeated Ren Narita via pinfall in 12:18.
After the match, Lethal extended his hand and Narita shook it. The two embraced and Lethal posed to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: A good match. Not a great one, but a pretty good one. Narita continues to impress and anytime I see his name on the card, my eyebrows bend a little. It was news to me that he’s now officially graduated from the LA Dojo, but perhaps I missed something through the weeks. I bring this up only to say that if he’s not a Young Lion anymore … well, can we see him get some wins? Maybe? Please? Either way, this was a good showing for both guys and even if you feel a little weird about Jay Lethal (my hand is raised), you can’t deny his in-ring work. And did a good job leading Narita throughout this match.
All told, I’m still confused as to why New Japan front-loaded the matches from this tour for the first two weeks of it. The final two weeks of the tour were just sort of there. They didn’t forward much of anything (outside of the TJP story … I guess) and the matches weren’t nearly as high-profile as the matches we saw during the first two episodes of this tour. So it goes. I’ll have more to say in my NJPW Strong audio review, which is available weekly for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).