By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped May 15, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Streamed July 2, 2022 on New Japan World
A video catered to the United Empire aired to begin the show, which was fun. This is United Empire Rising, remember. Ian Riccaboni and Matthew Rehwoldt checked in. This is a “very special” episode, as Riccaboni noted (and I’ll run with that). They ran down the card…
1. Great O-Khan, Aaron Henare, and “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis vs. “TDMK” Jonah, Shane Haste, Mikey Nichols, and Bad Dude Tito. The match began with all eight men battling. Henare and Haste wound up as the two fighting inside the ring. O-Khan tagged in and worked over Haste with a series of Mongolian Chops. O-Khan sat on Haste while his teammates worked him over. Davis tagged in and Aussie Open double-teamed Haste.
Fletcher slammed Haste and jawed at his opponents. Nichols tripped Fletcher and then Jonah threw Fletcher into the announce position before rolling him inside. Nichols tagged in and toyed with Fletcher. Jonah tagged in and ran into Fletcher’s midsection. Fletcher tried a leap-frog, but Jonah sat down and got a two-count. Tito tagged in and placed Fletcher in a corner while all of TDMK worked over Fletcher. Nichols tagged in and stomped on Fletcher. Fletcher fired up and the two traded forearms and chops. Fletcher landed a super-kick and ultimately got the hot tag to Davis.
Davis ran in and cleaned house. Davis went for a clothesline on Jonah, but Jonah didn’t move. Eventually, Davis took Jonah down and tagged in Henare. Tito tagged in and the two traded blows. Things broke down, which was expected. TDMK beat the hell out of Henare, but Davis broke up a pin attempt. TMDK and Aussie Open exchanged forearms. Aussie Open hit a pair of splashes onto TDMK on the outside. Inside the ring, O-Khan hit some chops on Tito, but Tito landed a Blockbuster. Tito and Henare shared forearms before Henare hit a head-butt and a modified brain-buster for the win.
Great O-Khan, Aaron Henare, Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis defeated Jonah, Shane Haste, Mikey Nichols and Bad Dude Tito via pinfall in 11:37.
After the match, United Empire celebrated in the ring and they all raised their hands. O-Khan got a microphone and spoke in Japanese, saying they dominated the opening match of United Empire Rising. He then said Cobb and Ospreay will dominate the U.S. He called Aussie Open the power of the United Empire…
Backstage, Haste cut a promo backstage with Nichols essentially calling out Aussie Open…
McGuire’s Musings: Well, lest I remind you that the name of this episode is United Empire Rising. And the dudes in United Empire happened to win the first match of the night. So, how do you think this will go? All nonsense aside, I’m super excited to see Haste and Nichols face off against Aussie Open, and it looks like we might go there. All told, this was a very good chaotic opening match that was better than it deserved to be. If the story coming out of it is Aussie Open eventually working with Nichols and Haste, count me among those who think this was well worth it.
2. Willie Mack vs. Jeff Cobb. The two sized each other up to begin. Mack eventually took control with some chops and a choke. Mack landed a shoulder-tackle and a body-slam before doing the Cena “You Can’t See Me” and hitting a leg drop. With Cobb on the outside, Mack hit a flip dive onto Cobb. The lights went out and the two brawled outside the ring. Back in the ring, Cobb worked over Mack with a series of strikes.
Cobb hit a bunch of forearms on Mack and then stepped on him and rode him like a surfboard. Mack fired up and tried to fight back, but Cobb head-butted him. Mack ran at Cobb and landed a pump kick. Mack hit an inverted Cannonball and that warranted a two-count. Both wrestlers got to their feet and Cobb hit Mack in the back of his head. Cobb slammed Mack and went for a standing moonsault, but Mack moved. Mack lifted Cobb and landed a Samoan Drop. Mack popped up and hit a standing moonsault of his own for a two-count.
Mack lifted Cobb, but Cobb wiggled out. It didn’t matter because Mack landed a German suplex and an Exploder for a two-count. Mack climbed to the top, but Cobb cut him off and hit a head-butt. Cobb then landed a superplex. That superplex resulted in a good near fall. Cobb went for a short-arm clothesline, but Mack came back, fired up and went for a cutter, but instead hit a spinning back-kick. Mack went for something else, but Cobb rolled him up for the win.
Jeff Cobb defeated Willie Mack via pinfall in 13:15.
McGuire’s Musings: This was one of the best matches of the tapings, but it didn’t quite translate into that here. Anyone watching wouldn’t expect Mack to have much of a chance, which was what made the match so intriguing, but I promise you, if you would have seen this live, some of those near-falls would have had you come out of your seat. Instead, we just sort of got a predictable match with a predictable outcome. I hope this leads to more of Mack in the NJPW Strong world because he more than proved here that he can work this style and make it work for him. If you’re a big man and want to dive more into big man wrestling, watch this, because this was a great example of defying expectations and limitations. Both guys looked good and there’s a lot to be said for that.
The tag-team championship tournament for NJPW Strong was announced, as well as the matches. We have Daniels and Uemura vs. Solow and Comoroto; TDMK vs. the WCWC; Stray Dog Army vs. Midnight Heat; Aussie Open vs. Dark Order.
3. Will Ospreay vs. Homicide. Ospreay backed Homicide into a corner, but Homicide reversed it and the two backed off. Ospreay tried to work a wrist-lock, but they ultimately landed on even ground. The even-ness kept up until Homicide slapped the hell out of Ospreay. Ospreay rolled Homicide through and sank in an arm-lock. Homicide tripped Ospreay and before long went for a dive, but Ospreay cut him off and landed a splash onto Homicide on the outside of the ring. Homicide eventually took control and suplexed Ospreay on the ramp.
Still on the ramp, Homicide hit a neck-breaker. Homicide brought Ospreay back to the ring. Ospreay came back and kicked Homicide out of the ring. Ospreay went for a suplex back into the ring, but Homicide came back with a neck-breaker. Homicide grabbed a fork, but Ospreay kicked him away to stop the idea. Ospreay then threw away the fork and pinned Homicide for a one-count. Ospreay hit a snap suplex. Homicide flipped off Ospreay and the two went head-to-head before they got to their feet and Ospreay beat Homicide down.
Ospreay sank in a head-lock and then worked a series of elbows. Eddie Kingston came through the crowd and tried to fire up Homicide. Homicide twisted Ospreay’s knee and then hit a summersault splash onto Ospreay, who was on the outside. Homicide pushed Ospreay into the ring and went for a clothesline, but Homicide countered with a slam. Homicide went to lift Ospreay, but Ospreay countered by taking Ospreay to the top and landing a Frankensteiner for a two-count. Ospreay came back with a spinning kick to even things out.
Ospreay came from the top for an elbow. Back in the ring, the two tried to fire up. Ospreay tried to lift Homicide, but it didn’t work, so Ospreay face-washed him. The two found themselves down on the canvas and Eddie kept cheering Homicide on. Homicide went for a German Suplex, but that turned into a sit-out power-bomb from Ospreay. Ospreay hit the Os-Cutter for a good near-fall. Ospreay set him up for a finish, but Homicide collapsed. Ospreay then toyed with Homicide. They got on their feet and Homicide didn’t sell Ospreay’s strikes. Homicide bit Ospreay. Ospreay went for the Hidden Blade, but Homicide countered and got a hell of a near-fall.
Homicide hit the 187, but Ospreay kicked out. Wild. Homicide pulled off the corner pad. Kingston then gave Homicide a fork again. Homicide went to hit Ospreay with it, but the ref stopped him. From there, Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade, but Homicide kicked out. Ospreay then landed his Storm-Breaker for the win.
Will Ospreay defeated Homicide via pinfall in 20:47.
McGuire’s Musings: I really liked this match and I liked it even more after Homicide kicked out of the Hidden Blade. The entire thing had a feeling of Ospreay paying respect to Homicide for all he’s done in the wrestling world, and I very much endorse that. It might not be popular to say that Ospreay is still one of the best in the world, but I actually love this run that he’s on currently, as a guy who got all the hype, made some enemies before, and is now just someone looking to make it right. Perhaps I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, but when I’m wrong, let me know. Homicide looked better than he’s looked in years and Ospreay was … well … Ospreay. So this was more than good. It’s worth your time.
Likewise, the overall episode was worth your time. I applaud NJPW for pushing United Empire so much that they gave an entire faction an episode. NJPW is most known for the Bullet Club, but United Empire could be the next thing that is The Thing, and good for New Japan for trying to get them to another level. And with Ospreay at the top of it, it’s not really a bad idea to see through. I’ll have more to say during my weekly audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons) coming up later today.