By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped April 10, 2022 in Hollywood, California at the Vermont Hollywood
Streamed May 28, 2022 on New Japan World
The opening video aired and then Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov checked in. We are on the Mutiny tour and this is the third week of said tour.
1. Kevin Knight, Fred Yehi and The DKC vs. “Stray Dog Army” Bateman, Misterioso, and Barrett Brown. Misterioso and Knight began the match and Knight gained control with a head-lock. Knight went for a shoulder-tackle, but Misterioso kept absorbing them and came back with a shoulder-block that took Knight down. Before long, Knight jumped off the top with a wrist-lock to take Misterioso down. Barrett Brown then tagged in while The DKC did the same. They traded loud chops. Everything ended when The DKC landed a backhand and an elbow.
Yehi tagged in and the two took Brown down. Yehi went right after Bateman and the teams brawled on the outside. Back in the ring, Yehi elbowed and slammed Brown. Knight tagged in and slammed Brown. Brown then hit a standing frog splash for a two-count. While the rest of the teams fought outside, Brown attacked Knight inside the ring and took control with a series of elbows. Bateman tagged in and face-slammed Knight for a two-count.
Bateman slammed Knight again for a two-count and then tagged in Brown. Brown suplexed Brown into a corner. Misterioso tagged in and Knight went for his dropkick, but missed and Misterioso landed a springboard moonsault for a two-count. Misterioso went for another moonsault, but Knight moved and then ultimately hit the best dropkick in all the wrestling business. Yehi then received the hot tag and worked over Brown and Bateman.
Yehi threw Brown into Bateman and worked a ground-and-pound on Bateman. Misterioso made the save, though, and the action spilled outside again. Inside the ring, things were still broken down before Bateman and Knight ended up alone in the ring. That changed when Bateman went outside, but Knight followed him and landed a splash. Misterioso followed suit. Back inside the ring, The DKC landed a jumping kick from the second rope for a two-count on Brown. The DKC went for the DKFire, but Misterioso ran in to help the heels gain back control. Misterioso landed a leg-drop from the top rope and Brown pinned The DKC for the win.
“Stray Dog Army” Bateman, Misterioso, and Barrett Brown defeated The DKC, Kevin Knight and Fred Yehi via pinfall in 10:06.
After the match, we got a backstage promo from Big Damo, who called out Ishii. Big Damo said he wants every part of Ishii and he’s going to put Ishii down like he did a million years ago.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a good six-man tag opener for New Japan Strong, and that’s not always a guarantee when it comes to six-man tag openers on New Japan Strong. I might be in the minority, but I actually like when NJPW books these blood feuds between two wrestlers stuck on the opposite side of tag matches and the two wrestlers always find their ways to one another. Filthy Tom and Fred Rosser have done a great job with that, and Yehi and Bateman carried that torch well here. There was a lot of action and some innovative moves, but I continue to feel bad for The DKC. I know wins and losses aren’t always everything in this wacky world of pro wrestling, but damn, man. Throw the dude a bone every once in a while. Or at least stop making him be the one to take the fall for his team in these matches. But I digress. This was a fun opening bout. As for the Big Damo stuff … boy, it’s odd to type “Big Damo” with a straight face. The match with Ishii should be hard-hitting, though.
2. David Finlay vs. Blake Christian. The two locked up and swirled around the ropes for a minute. Christian eventually rolled up Finlay for a one-count and Finlay went to the outside. Back inside, Finlay worked a headlock and wouldn’t let go. After a fun sequence, Christian landed a dropkick on Finlay. Christian hit a kick and then another dropkick, this time of the springboard variety, to take Finlay out of the ring. Christian then hit a running flipping dive onto Finlay on the outside before hitting a cross-body from the top.
Finlay came back with a spinning uppercut for a two-count. Finlay stomped on Christian a bit. Finlay landed an elbow for a two-count. Finlay hit a tough European Uppercut and then did it again. Christian came back with an elbow of his own. Finlay lifted Christian, but Christian turned to land on Finlay for a two-count. Finlay took back control with a kick before sinking in a camel clutch. That eventually turned into a cobra clutch. Christian got out of it with a snap-mare and then took Finlay down with a lariat.
Christian hit a double under-hook suplex and ran at Finlay, but Finlay moved. Christian came back with a standing frog-splash and a two-count. Christian went to the apron and Finlay cut him off by knocking him to the outside. Finlay dropped Christian on the apron, leading the two to get back in the ring, where Finlay hit a sidewinder suplex for a two-count. Finlay went to grab his shillelagh, but the ref wouldn’t allow him to use it, but this allowed Christian to take back control and he landed a 450 splash for a two-count. Christian went to the top and missed another 450. Still, Christian hit a 619 and came off the ropes, but Finlay caught him and landed his Trash Panda for the win.
David Finlay defeated Blake Christian via pinfall in 10:08.
After the match, Finlay grabbed his shillelagh, but instead shook hands with Christian and left the ring. Backstage, Finlay cut a promo saying Christian is a young Will Ospreay. Finlay said today, Finlay was better than him. Finlay said he’s been in New Japan for seven, eight years, and he has catching up to do and he’s coming after a singles championship.
McGuire’s Musings: This was pretty, pretty good. I’m not quite a fan of Finlay playing in the gray area with his shillelagh and Koslov egging him on to use it, because I feel like we see that type of story in New Japan a lot, and it never quite leads to meaningful things for the wrestlers involved. With the handshake afterward, I guess we are to believe Finlay is still a babyface, but I will say that he becomes a lot more interesting when he decides to have an edge. Either way, Christian got in a lot here and it was the best he’s looked in New Japan since not being in WWE anymore. Finlay was more than generous, too, which helped, but both guys put in maximum effort here. A lot of crisp, good stuff.
3. “The United Empire” Jeff Cobb, Mark Davis, and Kyle Fletcher vs. TMDK” Jonah, Bad Dude Tito, and Shane Haste. The United Empire came out in full force, including Great-O-Khan. Kyle Fletcher and Jonah began the match. Jonah backed Fletcher into a corner and stared down the referee. Fletcher hit a kick and went for a leapfrog, but Jonah caught Fletcher and pushed him across the ring. Jeff Cobb then tagged in, but instead of the two big guys going at it, Shane Haste tagged in and mocked Cobb. Haste went for a cross-body, but Cobb caught him and ultimately planted Haste with a slam after some knees to Haste’s abdomen.
Cobb taunted TDMK and tagged in Fletcher, who tagged in Mark Davis and Aussie Open hit a series of moves on Haste. Cobb tagged in and held Haste for a long time before Fletcher tagged in and Cobb passed him off … before Davis tagged in and received Haste before completing the suplex. Haste came back by rolling toward his corner and tagged in Bad Dude Tito. Jonah tagged in and worked over Fletcher before landing a splash in a corner. Haste tagged in and Jonah splashed Fletcher so Haste could get the two-count.
Tito tagged in and pounded Fletcher. Jonah then tagged in and there was some miscommunication between Jonah and Tito, but everything ended OK when Jonah hit a seton on Fletcher, but Fletcher kicked out at two. Haste tagged in and hit a series of tough, echoing kicks. Fletcher eventually fired up and landed a brain-buster onto Haste. Fletcher got the hot tag to Davis, who worked over Haste and Tito. Davis hit a double clothesline and lifted Tito, but Tito came back with a spinning enzuigiri. Tito landed a blockbuster for a two-count.
Fletcher tagged in and Aussie Open hit a series of double-team moves on Tito for a two-count. The United Empire all came into the ring and worked over Tito. It ended with Cobb landing a standing moonsault for a two-count. Things broke down and all the wrestlers fell down. Jonah and Cobb were the ones who got to their feet first and squared off by trading elbows. They both went for a cross-body and bounced off each other. The two fought on the outside while Haste worked over Aussie Open on the inside. Aussie Open came back with a double superkick on Haste and then hit their finisher on Tito for the win.
The United Empire defeated TDMK via pinfall in 14:36.
After the match, Haste came into the ring and went face-to-face with Davis. Haste then left the ring and Great-O-Khan had a mic in his hand. O-Khan spoke in Japanese, but the subtitles said he was telling everyone what Aussie Open can do. He closed by talking about the power of the United Empire. The show closed with the United Empire walking to the back.
McGuire’s Musings: Boy, the hype for Aussie Open is real. Let’s just get that out of the way first. Outside of that, this was another good six-man match, and again, I like to stress, good six-man matches aren’t always a surefire thing here. Both factions seem to really be picking up steam on Strong, which is fun because it gives Strong even more of a true New Japan flavor, considering how important factions seem to be to the company. My guess is this builds to a one-on-one match between Jonah and Cobb, but if so, it won’t be for a while, because next week is the final Mutiny show and after that, conventional wisdom suggests that those Philly tapings begin and I can tell you that match didn’t happen there. Either way, this was a lot of fun and save for the weird botch-ish moment with Jonah and Tito, this was a fun main event.
In all, a good episode of Strong. These Mutiny tapings haven’t been the strongest (no pun intended), but they’ve been solid nonetheless. Not everything can be 7-star matches and 60-minute time-limit draws. And this week, the show provided some good action from front to back. There wasn’t really a match to pass up on and the main event delivered enough to make it worthwhile. I’ll have more to say, as always, in my weekly NJPW Strong audio review, which is available for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).