By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped June 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont Hollywood
Streamed July 9, 2022 on New Japan World
Instead of the usual introduction, we went right to Ian Riccaboni, who was Sith Christopher Daniels. Daniels said he tries to be the smartest man in the room. Daniels went on to talk about the tag-team tournament. It turns out his partner, Karl Fredericks, backed out of the tournament. As a result, Daniels asked Yuya Uemura to be his partner and Uemura said yes. We then got the regular opening. After the opening, Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov to run down the card. We are on the Ignition tour.
1. Christopher Daniels and Yuya Uemura vs. “The Factory” Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto in a NJPW Strong Tag Title tournament match. Daniels and Aaron Solow began the match and Solow got the best of it until Daniels hit a series of arm-drags. Uemura tagged in and landed a body-slam on Solow for a one-count. Uemura then worked a side-head-lock. Solow worked his way out and tagged in Comoroto, who kind of tried to toy with Uemura. Those things ended with Comoroto hitting a shoulder-block.
Uemura fought back with a series of dropkicks before tagging in Daniels, who hit a dropkick from the top rope. Solow then tagged in, but Daniels kept control. Solow ultimately fought back and the two heels worked over Daniels. Comoroto hit a power-slam and Solow tagged in to hit a dropkick for a two-count. Before long, Daniels got the hot tag to Uemura, who landed a flying elbow and a bulldog on Solow.
Solow eventually came back with a series of offensive moves, but Uemura got the tag back to Daniels, who came in and cleaned house. Comoroto stopped him in his tracks, however, with a clothesline. Things sort of broke down as the two babyfaces tried to team up on Comoroto. That ended with Uemura landing a splash onto Comoroto on the outside. Inside the ring, Daniels hit The Best Moonsault Ever on Solow and that was good enough for the win.
Christopher Daniels and Yuya Uemura defeated “The Factory” Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto via pinfall in 9:19 to advance in the NJPW Strong Tag Title tournament.
McGuire’s Musings: This surprised me. Actually, this surprised me a lot. Karl Fredericks has had some noticeable tweets in the last bunch of weeks, talking about disrespect and generally being seemingly unhappy with NJPW, and while I don’t like to put a lot of stock into these types of things, I sure do wonder why Fredericks wasn’t in this match. More so, while I’m a fan of Uemura, and I want nothing but the best for him, I do wonder why, after taking so many losses, he’s getting a win with Daniels at the helm. Perhaps that was the original plan for whatever team Daniels was in, and if that’s the case, good for everyone involved. It’s just hard to view this match without the guise of the things going on around it. Now, with all of that said … is The Factory ever going to get a win?
2. Taylor Rust vs. Jonah. The two felt each other out to begin. Jonah put an end to that and challenged Rust with a head-lock that pushed Rust out of the ring. Rust took Jonah down and posed, and it probably wasn’t smart. Jonah came back with a splash/knee to take control and worked over Rust with punches. Rush came back with kicks and the two were on their feet before Rust worked kicks and chops. None of that mattered when Jonah hit a power-bomb and retook control.
The two fought on the outside and Jonah had control by overpowering Rust. They got back into the ring and Jonah landed a back elbow. Jonah kept control by working over Rust’s back. Rush eventually tried to bridge out, but Jonah kept working Rust’s lower back. Eventually, Rust powered his way out of things, but Jonah came back with a body-slam. Jonah went for a splash, but Rust moved.
Rust hit a series of strikes that took Jonah to his knees. Rust ran at Jonah, but Jonah hit a kick to regain control. Jonah sat on the second rope, but Rust cut him off with a knee and chops. Rust picked up Jonah and hit a Samoan Drop for a two-count. Rust landed a double stomp for a two-count. Rust rolled up Jonah for a two-count. Rust went to the top and hit a Senton for a two-count. Rust worked the same type of shots the Blackpool Combat Club does on a regular basis. Rust tried to stretch Jonah, but Jonah got to the ropes for a break.
On their feet, Rust hit a chop. Jonah came back with one of his own. This went on for a little bit. Jonah won the exchange with a forearm. Rust came back with some kicks, but Jonah came back with a splash of his own. We then got a spear from Jonah onto Rust. Jonah went to the top and hit a splash for the win.
Jonah defeated Taylor Rust via pinfall in 12:52.
McGuire’s Musings: This was one of the better Jonah matches in NJPW. Rust looked good in defeat and all told, everyone won this match, all the way around. It hasn’t been often that we see Jonah get tested here, but Rust was actually the right person to push him and the result was a very good match. My only hope moving forward is that Rust gets a little more love as he continues to work for New Japan. He’s a very good worker, but he doesn’t get many wins and at this point, it’d serve both him and the company well to get him a few W’s.
3. “TDMK” Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste vs. “WCWC” Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs in a NJPW Strong Tag Title tournament match. Nicholls and Nelson started the match. They tied up, but it didn’t lead to much. With Nicholls in control, Haste tagged in and kept the advantage on the TDMK side. It wasn’t long, however, before Nelson tagged in Isaacs and Isaacs hit a long-standing vertical suplex on Haste. The WCWC then posed. Isaacs and Nelson double-teamed Haste before Nelson tagged in and worked a head-lock.
Isaacs tagged in and cut off Haste’s attempt at a comeback. Nelson then tagged in and hit a double-knees for a two-count. Haste tried to fight back, but Nelson hit a knee to cut him off. Still, Haste caught Nelson on the top and landed a super-plex. Haste then got the hot tag to Nicholls, who beat everyone up. Nicholls went to lift Isaacs, but Isaacs blocked it and tagged in Nelson, who hit a spear. The WCWC hit what looked to be a version of their finisher, but they only got a two-count out of it.
Nicholls countered the next offensive attempt with a DDT and tagged in Haste. TDMK kind of posed and hit a series of double-team moves. The final one resulted in a good near-fall. WCWC fought back with a double-team move and Isaacs and Haste battled on the top rope. Isaacs hit a spinning slam and Nelson followed that up with a splash for a two-count. The WCWC went for their finisher, but TDMK broke it up and Haste got the cover for the win.
“TDMK” Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste defeated “WCWC” Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs in 10:24 to advance in the NJPW Strong Tag Title tournament match.
After the match, the two teams jawed at each other. TDMK had their hands raised and then posed on the apron to close out the show.
McGuire’s Musings: I don’t know about that. I really, really don’t know about that. I’m happy for Haste and Nicholls, but the West Coast Wrecking Crew have put in a lot of New Japan Strong work over the years and I’m not so sure that kicking them out in the first round is the way to go. In fact, I think when I made my predictions, I did say that I thought the WCWC would be among the favorites to win here. So, I’m quite a fan of the booking here. I mean that as no disrespect to the TDMK team whatsoever; I’ve just watched Nelson and Isaacs work their asses off for a while on this show now and they deserve better.
All that said, this was a fine episode of Strong. We had two tag-team title tournament matches and both outcomes were genuinely surprising to this viewer. And while the only other match might be a bit paint by numbers, it was still a lot of fun because Jonah sold the hell out of it and Rust played the plucky underdog quite well. Even so, I have my issues with the way this opening round of the tag titles tournament is going. But we’ll save that for another day. I’ll have more to say in my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).