By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped April 10, 2022 in Hollywood, California at the Vermont Hollywood
Streamed May 14, 2022 on New Japan World
The opening video aired and we got a check in from the broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov, who’s back after some time away from the Strong Universe. We are on the Mutiny tour and this is the first week…
1. Alex Coughlin, Rocky Romero, and Adrian Quest vs. Black Tiger, JR Kratos, and Danny Limelight. Quest and Limelight began by exchanging a bunch of blows and they did so very quickly. Limelight went for a kick, but Quest took control with an elbow. Limelight came back with another kick and danced. Romero tagged in and hit his Forever Clotheslines on Limelight. Romero landed a chop and danced. Romero ran the ropes and Black Tiger kicked him for the heels to take control. Black Tiger tagged in and landed an elbow drop for a two-count.
Black Tiger did his version of the Forever Clotheslines. Romero fired up and attacked Black Tiger and everything broke down while action spilled outside of the ring. In the ring, Black Tiger worked over Romero before tagging in Kratos. Kratos, Limelight and Black Tiger posed over Romero. Limelight tagged in and toyed with Romero. Romero hit a Rewind Kick and ultimately got the hot tag to Coughlin.
Coughlin and Kratos traded blows. Kratos landed a boot to take Coughlin down and then deadlifted him for a suplex. Kratos went for a splash, but Coughlin moved and went for a body-slam, but couldn’t get it, so Kratos rolled outside. Quest then flipped onto the heels, who were on the outside. Kratos rolled back into the ring and Coughlin hit a slam for a two-count. Limelight ran in, but Coughlin clotheslined Limelight to oblivion before landing a German Suplex for the win.
Alex Coughlin, Rocky Romero, and Adrian Quest defeated Black Tiger, JR Kratos, and Danny Limelight via pinfall in 8:36.
After the match, Kratos attacked Coughlin with a chair. Kratos hit Coughlin with his Black Hole Slam on a chair and then posed. We then got a Chris Dickinson promo. Dickinson said it won’t be good for Ren Narita next week when he comes back to beat his ass and leave him in the dust.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a lot of fun, but the best of the match came when Kratos and Coughlin interacted. Two of Strong’s strongest dudes being out there being two of Strong’s strongest dudes, and there was one chop that Coughlin landed that is probably still echoing somewhere in Hollywood a month later. On top of that, the bridge slam that Coughlin managed to land on Kratos was as impressive as anything I’ve seen in pro wrestling all month. In all, it was a good six-man tag — especially considering how things didn’t break down too, too much, and these things tend to do just that. The Dickinson promo was short and sweet, but the recent accusations against Dickinson make me feel a tiny bit curious about him.
2. Fred Rosser vs. “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs. Filthy Tom Lawlor sat in on commentary. The Wrecking Crew jump-started the match and attacked Rosser, but Rosser came back and threw both guys outside the ring. Rosser kept control by working over Isaacs with a chicken wing inside the ring. Rosser landed his split leg-drop and went to the top, but Nelson pushed him off and the Crew took control. Both members of the WCWC landed a series of strikes on Rosser before whipping Rosser into both corners. The two then posed with Lawlor by the commentary table.
The duo whipped Rosser into the ropes, but Rosser came back and double-clotheslined them. That said, Rosser ran the ropes and Isaacs pulled the rope down, so Rosser fell to the outside. On the outside of the ring, the WCWC landed a slingshot into a body-slam. Back in the ring the WCWC got only a one-count. The two hit a series of suplexes on Rosser, culminating in a pinfall.
“The West Coast Wrecking Crew” Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson defeated Fred Rosser via pinfall in 7:33.
After the match, Lawlor ran into the ring and celebrated with his boys. Lawlor grabbed a microphone and said Rosser was egotistical for thinking he could beat two men to get his title shot. Lawlor said all Rosser does is ask for favors. Lawlor said a champion acts and looks a certain way. Lawlor said Rosser doesn’t look like a worthy challenger. Lawlor said he liked Rosser better when he was bald and brought out a piece of Rosser’s hair from when he cut it in Philadelphia. Lawlor said if Rosser wants a title shot, he has to get rid of his hair. The WCWC then pulled out an electric razor. After Nelson took the first line of hair off Rosser’s hair, Rosser grabbed the cutters and shaved his own head and asked if he could get his title shot. Lawlor took Rosser’s hair again and ate it and the crowd rightfully chanted “you sick f—.” Lawlor said no, Rosser can’t get a title shot. Lawlor then came back and said if Rosser can’t beat Lawlor for the belt, he wants Rosser out of New Japan Strong for good. Rosser said nothing and Team Filthy left.
McGuire’s Musings: This wasn’t about the match, so we’ll discard that quickly. I’m really happy they went with the logical finish that the WCWC would beat Rosser. This wasn’t just a mindless angle designed to get Rosser a title shot. They made this seem more reasonable/real than similar stories we see. And since this wasn’t about the match, let’s get to the post-match promo. First of all, damn, Rosser doesn’t have to see his barber anymore because all it takes is a few months of feuding with Team Filthy, and his head will always look clean. Second of all, for those who haven’t seen the update, Rosser did accept this stip, and at the Strong tapings tomorrow (Sunday), that match will go down. Rosser’s time in NJWP Strong against Lawlor’s belt. And that, if you ask me, is pretty much the only way to go. This Lawlor/Rosser program has gone on so long that I’ve already grown tired of it and am now back to being interested in it. My guess is Rosser becomes the second-ever Strong Openweight Champion, but we’ll have to check back tomorrow night from my live, on-site report to see if that’s true. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t know what the hell happens with Rosser. He’s been as synonymous with this brand as anyone that’s ever been associated with it. I’m not so sure the Impact Zone is the way to go.
3. Hikuleo vs. Jay White. The match began with White rolling to the outside. Back in the ring, White tried to get away from Hikuleo, but Hikuleo cornered him, but wouldn’t you know it, White ultimately rolled to the outside again. When the physicality began, Hikuleo took down White and hit a series of boots. Hikuleo landed a bunch of forearms. One of those forearms forced White to the outside. Outside the ring, Hikuleo dropped White onto the top of the guardrail. Back inside the ring, Hikuleo threw White across the ring.
Hikuleo hit a loud chop on White, who rolled back to the outside. Hikuleo went for a chop, but White moved and Hikuleo chopped the pole on the outside. White rolled Hikuleo back into the ring and got a two-count. White went for a suplex, but Hikuleo blocked it. Hikuleo went for a boot, but White moved and went for Hikuleo’s leg and worked his legs over via the outside pole and apron. White tore off the ringside curtain and choked Hikuleo. White then landed a neck-breaker on the outside. Back in the ring, White attacked Hikuleo’s leg with a dragon-screw among other things.
White toyed with Hikuleo, but Hikuleo tried to fire up. It didn’t quite work, though, until Hikuleo whipped White into a corner. Hikuleo then lifted White for a long standing suplex. Hikuleo hit a body-slam for a two-count. Hikuleo lifted White, but White got out of it and landed a DDT. White planted Hikuleo with a Flat-liner. White went for a suplex and got it. White then got in another suplex for a two-count. White chop-blocked Hikuleo, but Hikuleo got up.
White tried to clothesline Hikuleo over the top, but it didn’t work, so White kept coming back to Hikuleo’s leg. White went for a submission, but Hikuleo kicked out of it. Still, White came back to it. White draped Hikuleo’s leg over the middle rope, but Hikuleo countered with a power-bomb. White then rolled back to the outside. As Hikuleo tried to get back in the ring, White caught him with a dragon-screw before hitting a draping DDT for a two-count. White went for his finish, but Hikuleo choked his way out of it. As a result, White hit a series of chops and Hikuleo came back with a strong clothesline.
Back on their feet, Hikuleo hit a chop that I’m currently feeling 2,000 miles and one month away. Hikuleo hit his signature power-slam for a two-count. Hikuleo went for a choke-slam, but White kicked his way out of it before Hikuleo landed the snap power-slam. Hikuleo then went for his choke-slam, but White countered into the Blade-Runner for the win.
Jay White defeated Hikuleo via pinfall in 18:31.
After the match, White grabbed a chair and instead of hitting Hikuleo, set the chair up and sat in it. White asked for the Too Sweet and said it was the last time he’d ask. Hikuleo obliged and the two connected with the Too Sweet. That was the end of the show, though Riccaboni said Strong is off next week due to the D.C. show that happened tonight.
McGuire’s Musings: This was great. This was very great. Look, I’ve spent the last 30 hours in rooms with wrestlers and wrestling rings and this match was among the best I’ve seen, no matter the promotion. The question about Hikuleo for me (even though we all know he’s going to be a star) is if he has the ability to go into deep waters with someone. Granted, he did so here with one of the best in the current world of wrestling in Jay White, but he certainly held his own. White carried a lot of it, but Hikuleo didn’t back down and he did a great job of selling the leg, which had to be the only story those two could tell. All around – and especially as the match wound down – this worked very well. The finish was creative and all is right in the world now that the top of the Bullet Club is figured out … right?
In all, this was a very good episode of Strong. If you’re looking for in-ring work, set aside 20 minutes to check out the main event. If you’re looking for story development, give a chance to the Rosser/Lawlor program that will (maybe?) come to an end on Sunday at the next batch of tapings. And then if you just like yourself some Alex Coughlin, the last few minutes of that first match are something you need to pull up ASAP. Riccaboni said Strong is off next week due to the D.C. show tonight, but I wonder if that might change because they aired this episode at a weird time and felt the need to get the Rosser/Lawlor angle in before the Philly tapings on Sunday. Either way, I’ll have more to say in my audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).