By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped April 1, 2022 in Dallas, Texas at Fairmont Hotel
Streamed May 7, 2022 on New Japan World
The opening video aired and we cut right to the ring, where the Stray Dog Amy made their entrance. Kevin Kelly and Matt Rehwoldt were on commentary. We are on the Lone Star Shootout tour…
1. Hikuleo and Chris Bey vs. Barrett Brown and Bateman. Brown and Bey began the match with a solid collar-and-elbow tie-up. Brown messed with Bey’s hair and Bey invited Brown in for a Too Sweet, but Brown flipped Bey off. Bey stepped on Brown’s hands and landed a dropkick before hitting a very loud chop. Brown came back with a half-and-half and tagged in Bateman, who hit a slam for a two-count. Bateman landed an echoing chop on Bey, but Hikuleo ran in and hit a boot and I guess Hikuleo tagged in secretly.
Hikuleo worked over Bateman with some kicks and chops. The action spilled to the outside of the ring, and Hikuleo dropped Bateman’s neck over the guardrail. Back in the ring, Hikuleo kept control and Bey tagged in. Bey hit a double stomp for a two-count. Hikuleo tagged in even though. Bey wasn’t happy about it. Hikuleo hit a slam and a leg drop for a two-count. Bey tagged in and went for Bateman’s eyes. Bey hit a stomp, but Bateman came back with some chops.
Bey worked over Bateman’s arm. Bey tried for some kicks, but Bateman fired up. Ultimately, Bey landed a kick to the head and pushed Bateman outside, where Hikuleo threw Bateman into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Bey sank in a choke hold. Bateman got to his feet and eventually got the hot tag to Brown, who hit a series of moves on Bey. Brown hit a brain-buster for a two-count. Bateman tagged in and Hikuleo tagged in. The two traded blows. Brown went to the top, but it didn’t really matter because Hikuleo choke-slammed Brown for the win.
Hikuleo and Chris Bey defeated Barrett Brown and Bateman via pinfall in 12:17.
After the match, Bey went for the Too Sweet with Hikuleo, but Hikuleo left the ring.
McGuire’s Musings: This was fine for what it was, and what it was wasn’t surprising. I don’t know if this is a function of spoiler-ish things happening or what, but Hikuleo is tagging with Jay White in DC less than a week from now, so the idea that he doesn’t want to give Chris Bey the Too Sweet seems a little unnecessary. But whatever. Bateman and Brown looked so good here, compared to how they’ve looked in recent months. If we are keeping the Stray Dog Army alive, I hope this means someone (probably Brown?) gets a little something out of it.
2. Jonah vs. Blake Christian. The match started with Jonah gaining control, so much so that he lifted Christian and placed him on the apron. Eventually, Jonah threw Christian and the two locked up, but John took Christian down again. Christian tried to leap-frog, but Jonah took Christian down. Before Long, Christian tried for a splash on Jonah, who was on the outside, but Jonah caught Christian and threw him across the barricade.
Back in the ring, Jonah threw Christian into a corner and stepped on Christian’s chest. Jonah threw Christian around the ring and worked a waist-lock. Jonah landed an elbow. Jonah went for a splash in a corner, but Christian moved. Christian went for and hit some elbows. Christian hit a springboard DDT and followed that up with a DDT on the outside. Christian hit a 450 splash for a two-count. Christian went for a springboard splash, but Jonah caught him and eventually hit a 345 Tsunami from the top rope for the win.
Jonah defeated Blake Christian via pinfall in 6:56.
McGuire’s Musings: Christian looked good here, but the issue I have with this match is that Blake himself has looked very, very good the last couple times we’ve seen him. Tonight, it just felt like he was fed to Jonah. And while I’;m all for Jonah looking like a monster (and let’s be very honest here — NJPW has booked Jonah awfully well), I’m not so sure Blake Christian was the the best guy to be the guy that was fed to Jonah. Either way, Jonah comes out of this looking like one million hundred dollars. So mission accomplished.
3. Fred Roster, The DKC, Alex Coughlin vs. “Filthy” Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos and Royce Isaacs. Rosser and Isaacs began the match, but it all broke down right away and everyone was fighting outside of the ring. The DKC hit a series of karate chops on everyone outside the ring and then The DKC and Coughlin flipped Kratos. Back inside the ring, Rosser landed a Death Valley Driver on Isaacs.
Coughlin tagged in and hit a gut-wrench suplex for a two-out on Isaacs. Rosser tagged in and worked over Isaacs with a bunch of strikes. Isaacs came back with a supplex and tagged in Lawlor, who stomped a mudhole on Rosser. Lawlor strutted. Lawlor hit a kick on Rosser and tagged in Kratos, who landed a splash on Rosser in the corner. Isaacs tagged in and continued to hit Rosser, but Rosser fought his way out and tagged the DKC, but Kratos came in and annihilated everybody. Kratos hit a release suplex on the DKC. Team Filthy posed over the DKC.
Lawlor tagged in, but Rosser pulled Lawlor to the outside and suplexed him. Rosser then hit a back-breaker on Lawlor onto the apron. Inside the ring, Coughlin and Kratos traded blows. Kratos hit a chop to stop that. Coughlin then dead-lifted Kratos and the two spilled to the outside. Back in the ring, the DKC hit his karate chops on Lawlor. The DKC did the same thing to Isaacs. Coughlin and Kratos, meanwhile, fought to the back. Before long, Lawlor drove the DKC into Rosser and pinned the DKC for a two-count.
Isaacs tagged in to land a double-team move on the DKC, but DKC countered it and started working over Isaacs. The DKC hit a slam for a two-count. The DKC went to the top, but Lawlor cut him off. Rosser pulled Lawlor off the DKC, but Isaacs went to the top and hit a spinning powerslam for the pinfall win.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos and Royce Isaacs defeated Fred Rosser, the DKC and Alex Coughlin via pinfall in 11:12.
After the match, Rosser grabbed a microphone and said he was the next challenger to Lawlor’s title. Lawlor said no and that he already beat Rosser’s ass. Lawlor asked Rosser if he would show up and show out. Lawlor said if Rosser can be the West Coast Wrecking Crew, Rosser can have his shot at the Strong Openweight Title. The commentary team made it a point to say it would be a handicap match. Rosser clapped and walked to the back to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: I go back and forth on this Rosser/Lawlor thing, but goodness gracious God bless New Japan for investing so much time into these two guys and this program. The match here wasn’t particularly ground-breaking but it served its purpose, if we’re thinking about Rosser and Lawlor coming back together again. Perhaps the most fun takeaway is Coughlin and Kratos fighting to the back, because whenever that happens, that should lead to a lot of fun. In all, though, it was a standard main event match.
That in mind, this was a good episode of Strong. The opening bout went a few minutes too long and Jonah somehow took away a tiny bit of Blake Christian’s new-life momentum, but that will happen. I’ll have more to say in my weekly NJPW Strong audio review, which are available exclusively for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
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