By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped August 21, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont Hollywood
Streamed October 1, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in on commentary with Alex Koslov to run down the card. We are on the Fighting Spirit Unleashed Tour and this is the fourth and final week of it…
1. Kevin Knight and The DKC vs. Bateman and Barrett Brown. Clark Connors joined the team on commentary. Bateman jump-started the match. The four wrestlers brawled outside the ring. Back in the ring, Bateman worked over the DKC and part of that was a Russian Leg-Sweep. Brown tagged in and Stray Dog Army double-teamed DKC. Brown kicked the back of DKC and posed. Brown landed a tough clothesline for a two-count. Bateman tagged in and kept control with a series of strikes but went for a suplex and DKC got out of it to land the hot tag to Knight.
Knight came in and fired up, including hitting a twisting frog splash. Knight went for a Boston Crab, but Bateman kicked his way out of it. Bateman landed a twisting back-suplex for a two-count. Bateman slammed Knight and Brown followed that up with a kick for a two-count. Brown worked a chin-lock. Knight tried to chop Brown, but that ended up with the heels working over Knight in their corner. Bateman went for a slam, but Knight got out of it and rolled over for the hot tag to the DKC. The DKC hit a neck-breaker for a two-count.
The DKC landed The DK Fire, but Brown threw the DKC outside. When Brown went for a splash, Knight cut him off with the best dropkick in all of wrestling. Things broke down and the DKC traded standing-switches with Brown. Brown lifted the DKC, but the DKC rolled through when he was slammed and got the pinfall victory.
Kevin Knight and The DKC defeated Bateman and Barrett Brown via pinfall in 8:21.
McGuire’s Musings: This was the second win in a row for the DKC/Knight team and I’m here for it. After watching both those guys take so many losses through the years, it’s refreshing to see them get some wins. I kind of thought the loss might be the final straw in the Bateman/Barrett slow-burn story that has been simmering for quite some time, but after the match, we just went to the next bout. This was action-packed and a nice way to start out Strong, especially for a tour-ending episode. Riccaboni talked about the Strong tag titles more than once, so I wonder if they are building Knight/DKC up for a showdown with Aussie Open. Only time will tell that; for now, this was a solid opener.
2. Che Cabrera vs. Aaron Solo. Solo started by attacking Cabrera when Cabrera had his back turned. Cabrera eventually lifted Solo for a suplex and kept him in the air for a while before he dropped him. Cabrera landed a stiff clothesline, which sent Solo to the outside. Solo went for a splash onto Cabrera, but Cabrera caught him and got in QT’s face after sweeping Solo’s leg. Solo hit a running knee to take control.
Back inside the ring, the two traded blows. Solo landed a suplex. With Cabrera draped over the second rope, Marshall punched him. Solo hit a spinning kick to the back of Cabrera’s head for a two-count and then worked a chin-lock. Cabrera worked his way out of it and hit a shoulder block. Cabrera landed a snap power-slam. Cabrera ran at Solo, but Solo got boot up and then hit a sunset bomb. Solo went to the top and connected with a double stomp for a two-count.
With Solo on the apron, Cabrera hit a forearm and Cabrera followed it up with an Anarchy Suplex for a two-count. Cabrera went for a Fisherman’s Suplex, but Solo rolled him up for a two-count. The two traded pin attempts to no avail. Finally, Solo rolled Cabrera up and hung onto the ropes and got the pin out of it.
Aaron Solo defeated Che Cabrera via pinfall in 8:33.
McGuire’s Musings: Koslov mentioned something along the lines that Cabrera came from the NJPW try-outs/camp, and the same type of thing was said about Jakob Austin Young last week. And much like I said about Young last week, Cabrera impressed me this week (though he did look a little blowed up in the last few minutes, but that’s neither here nor there). You had to think Solo was going to win because this was the first time we’ve seen Cabrera, but Cabrera brought a lot to the table. There was a charismatic element to him that I can’t quite pin down and he could move for a bigger guy. Here’s hoping between him and Young, someone gets a Strong contract. Also of note: I thought Solo has never looked better on NJPW Strong. He led that match with poise and precision. Hat’s off.
3. Fred Rosser vs. TJP for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship. The two locked up to begin the match and went back and forth with some mat work. TJP worked a head-lock. Rosser came back with a pin attempt and the two got back up to reset. The two traded head-scissors. TJP did a handstand to get out of it and the two slapped each other. TJP went for an octopus stretch, but Rosser countered and kneed TJP in the midsection. TJP was on the apron and sank in a front face-lock. From there, TJP worked a tarantula in impressive style.
TJP kept control with a European Uppercut before landing a series of kicks. Rosser came back by whipping TJP into the corner, which sent TJP to the outside. Back in the ring, TJP took Rosser down and snapped Rosser’s arm. TJP stretched Rosser’s arm and back. TJP locked in an octopus. TJP posed on the top rope and went for a Senton, but Rosser moved and Rosser hit a forearm. The wrestlers fought on the apron and TJP raked the eyes. Rosser slammed TJP on the apron.
Back in the ring, Rosser hit rapid fire lariats. Rosser landed a hip attack and a knee while TJP was down in the corner. Rosser followed that up with a leg drop for a two-count. Rosser went for a kick, but TJP countered into a Saito Suplex, which slowed things down. Rosser hit a pump kick and then landed a running Spicoli Driver. TJP rolled to the outside and Rosser hit a leg drop from the apron onto the floor. Rosser went to the top, but TJP cut him off and hit a super-plex.
The wrestlers traded blows and fought to their feet. Rosser rolled TJP up for a two-count. TJP landed a Tornado DDT and went to the top. TJP went for the Mamba Splash, but Rosser moved. TJP stretched Rosser and worked a cross-face. Rosser countered and went for an STF of his own. TJP made it to the ropes for a break. TJP went back to the top for the Mamba Splash and hit it for a good near-fall. Rosser came back to hit the double knees for another good near-fall. Rosser sunk in the chicken wing STF again and this time TJP tapped.
Fred Rosser defeated TJP via submission in 17:20 to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship.
As Rosser was celebrating after the match, Chris Dickinson attacked Rosser, coming in from the crowd. Dickinson bowed to the crowd. Dickinson landed a brain-buster on Rosser and stood tall to end the show as Riccaboni noted how Autumn Attack begins next week.
McGuire’s Musings: The best title defense of Rosser’s so-far short title run and it’s not close. TJP was a great dancing partner and New Japan did a great job of building this to make it seem like it mattered, with a short video package and the set up for the match at the last tapings. Rosser was on fire and TJP was as inspired as I’ve seen him on Strong. You knew he didn’t have a chance to win, but that didn’t stop them from having a very good 17-minute wrestling match. It was an excellent way to end the tour.
As for the Dickinson post-match attack … well, it looks like he bulked up a little bit. I have conflicting feelings on him after some of the stories that have been floated out there, but for now, I’ll just say he should be a very good challenger for Rosser. When he wants to be, Dickinson is one of the best to do it in all of Strong and Rosser has proven himself as a formidable champion. If everything goes well, the match should be very good to great. I’ll have more to say in my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).