By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped June 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont Hollywood
Streamed August 13, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov to run down the card. We are on the High Alert Tour and this is the first week of it…
1. Shane Haste vs. Jorel Nelson. It appears as though Nelson drew the short straw because his partner, Royce Isaacs, has been able to run wild in Japan as part of the G1, teaming with and supporting Filthy Tom Lawlor. But back to the match. Haste worked a head-lock, but Nelson came back with one of his own. Nelson took control with a wrist-lock, but Haste came right back and forced Nelson to the outside to applause. On the outside, the two traded blows. Nelson ultimately hit a back-body drop on Haste onto the apron.
Back inside the ring, Nelson got a two-count. Nelson worked over Haste’s knee. Nelson hit a dragon-screw and posed, making Filthy Tom proud. Haste fought back with some chops, but Nelson came back with a high back-body-drop. Nelson drove his knees into Haste and turned that into a Texas Clover Leaf. Haste worked his way out of it and landed a DDT. Nelson ran at Haste, but Haste pulled the rope down and Nelson fell to the outside.
Inside the ring, Haste hit a cannonball and hit a power-bomb for a good two-count. Haste kicked Nelson in the head. He followed that up with more kicks, but Nelson came back with a bunch of chops. Haste landed a Saito Suplex, but Nelson countered with a running knee for a two-count. Nelson went to the top, but Haste cut him off and hit a super-plex. Haste lifted Nelson, but Nelson got out of it and chop-blocked Haste. From there, Nelson rolled Haste up for the win.
Jorel Nelson defeated Shane Haste via pinfall in 8:16.
After the match, we got a promo from Rocky Romero, saying he had Dax Harwood pinned at Forbidden Door. Romero said the moment keeps playing over and over in his head. Romero said he was robbed of the IWGP heavyweight tag-team championship. He then asked for a match against Dax for redemption. Romero said Dax will lie down on the ground beneath him.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a fine opening match. Nothing great. Nothing awful. I will say it’s been odd to see Royce Issacs running all around Japan with Tom Lawlor while Jorel Nelson just sits … in America? I guess so. Perhaps his consolation prize is a win against Shane Haste, but even then, TMDK has had a pretty good showing in the G1, with Jonah getting a hell of a win over Okada. Either way, back to the match. It was good. The guys worked hard. I wasn’t sure who was working as a heel and who was working as a babyface, but maybe that was the point. It’s not something you need to see, but it also won’t be a waste of your time.
2. Big Damo vs. Hikuleo. The two had a stare-down to begin things. They then locked up. Hikuleo ultimately took Damo down, but Damo came right back and clotheslined Hikuleo to the outside. After the two brawled on the outside, they rolled inside the ring to break up the count, but then got right back outside and Hikuleo threw Damo into a ring post. Hikuleo landed a loud chop on the outside before the two got back inside the ring. Hikuleo hit a clothesline for a two-count. Hikuleo went to pick up Damo, but Damo blocked it and kicked Hikuleo.
Damo landed a cross-body and fired up. Damo hit a series of splashes before landing a shotgun dropkick and a cannonball for a two-count. Hikuleo tired a choke-slam, but Damo countered and suplexed Hikuleo before missing a Vader Bomb. Damo ran at Hikuleo and Hikuleo hit his snap power-slam. Hikuleo then landed the choke-slam for the win.
Hikuleo defeated Big Damo via pinfall in 6:14.
McGuire’s Musings: Riccaboni called this maybe the biggest win of Hikuleo’s career so far and I don’t know about that. But this was a quality win, nonetheless. Tons of respect to Big Damo, who seemingly essentially said, “Yeah, I’ll come to New Japan Strong and I’ll just lose and we’ll have fun,” and that’s precisely what he’s doing. In the meantime, Hikuleo picks up a valuable win and looks even more like the badass he is. He’s a star, remember. I’m not sure if I’ve said that lately.
3. Yuya Uemura and Christopher Daniels vs. “Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher in the tournament finals to become the first NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Champions. Daniels and Fletcher began the match, with Fletcher grabbing hold of a head-lock. Daniels came back with a wrist-lock, but Fletcher countered with one of his own. Ultimately, Uemura tagged in and took over. Daniels tagged back in, but Uemura tagged in, too, and the two hit a series of double-team moves. Daniels tagged in and they hit a double suplex on Fletcher.n
Daniels landed a drop-kick for a two-count. Daniels lifted Fletcher to the outside, but Aussie Open took control by driving Uemura and Daniels’s back into each other. Back in the ring, Davis tagged in and hit a Senton for a one-count. Aussie Open did the spot where they traded suplex positions on Daniels. Fletcher got a two-count as a result of it. Davis tagged in and Daniels rolled him up, but the ref was distracted so it didn’t matter. Fletcher tagged back in and ran into knees from Daniels. Davis tagged in, but Daniels got the hot tag to Uemura.
Uemura came in and cleaned house. Uemura landed a bulldog on Davis for a two-count. Uemura hit a back suplex for a two-count. Fletcher tagged in and went for a clothesline, but Uemura countered into a suplex. The two went to the top, but Daniels broke it up. Uemura then landed a bulldog from the top rope, but Davis broke up the pin. Aussie Open executed a series of double-team moves on Uemura, but Uemura kicked out. A “This is awesome” chant commenced.
Uemura rolled up Davis and got a good near-fall. Things broke down. Daniels went for something off the top rope, but Davis countered into a power-bomb. Aussie Open went for their finisher again, but Uemura countered into a Frankensteiner for a two-count. Uemura tried to fight off both Aussie Open guys. Before long, Aussie Open fired up and hit their finisher to win the match.
“Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher defeated Yuya Uemura and Christopher Daniels via pinfall in 11:47 to win the tournament to become the first NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Champions.
After the match, Aussie Open posed on the apron and walked to the back, where they cut a promo and said they made history in New Japan. Fletcher said they won pretty little belts, but they were cut off by Nelson, who said the West Coast Wrecking Crew built the tag division. He challenged Aussie Open to a match at Fighting Spirit Unleashed. Aussie Open posed to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: The right team went over. I don’t think there’s any question about that. And, to be honest, if there was still a question to be answered, Jorel Nelson confronted that question to end this episode of Strong by saying the WCWC made the Strong tag division (and he’s not all that wrong, by the way). So, if the first match out as tag champs ends up being against the West Coast Wrecking Crew, I say that’s good booking. The fact that we can all agree there’s no way Aussie Open loses the belts the fist time out … well, that’s another story. For now, though, Aussie Open is one of the best tag-teams in the world and they are more than deserving of this accolade. So good on everyone involved.
That said, this was a pedestrian episode of Strong. The first match was a throwaway encounter while the second one saw Big Damo take another loss at the expense of Hikuleo, who you should know by now is a star. Meanwhile, the tag match was the hook and it delivered here. I’m interested to see where Aussie Open go from here because Filthy Tom held that Strong Openweight title for what felt like eons. Will they do the same thing with the tag belts? Only time will tell. In the meantime (and in between time)