By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped October 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont
Streamed November 26, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in on commentary with Alex Koslov to run down the card. This is the fourth and final week of the Showdown tour and we got right to the action.
1. “Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher vs. Jakob Austin Young and Gregory Sharpe. Aussie Open jumpstarted the match and took out their opponents, throwing them to the outside. Davis and Fletcher lifted Young and Sharpe and ran them into each other. Back in the ring, Davis went for a pin, but got a one-count. Davis worked a chin lock on Sharpe until Sharpe fought his way out, but Davis came right back with a loud chop.
Davis went for another chop, but Sharpe moved and ultimately hit a kick, but once Sharpe went for a tag, he realized Young wasn’t there and Davis kept control. Fletcher tagged in and Sharpe face-planted Fletcher before tagging in Young. Young fired up, hit a leg lariat and a chop. Young worked a submission on Fletcher until Davis ran in for the save. Young fought back and tagged in Sharpe, who landed a cross-body from the top rope.
Sharpe hit a wrist-lock driver and got a two-count out of it. Davis tagged in and that was the end of Sharpe’s run. Aussie Open hit one of their signature moves, but Sharpe kicked out at two. Young tried to interfere, but Aussie Open brushed him aside. From there, Aussie Open landed the Coriolis for the victory.
“Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher defeated Jakob Austin Young and Gregory Sharpe via pinfall in 6:00.
McGuire’s Musings: This was a lot of fun. More often than not, NJPW Strong has their opening matches go just a little too long for reasons I can’t quite decipher. This wasn’t one of those times, though, and Aussie Open looked like a top-tier team (probably because they are) while Young and Sharpe showed pretty good fire in defeat. What’s odd to me is that nobody on Strong has mentioned Aussie Open losing their tag belts yet, but this was the closest we got as Riccaboni noted how the team had a rough day in New York. I wonder if that’ll ever be explained. Either way, this was one of the best half-squashes I’ve seen in some time and I think Aussie Open unlocked the formula for a great opening match on Strong. Now if only others will follow it.
2. Jake Something vs. Juice Robinson. The two locked up to begin the match. Something bridged Robinson for a two-count and Robinson rolled outside. Back inside the ring, Robinson kicked Something and worked a head-lock. Something reversed it and Robinson threw Something to the ropes, where Something bounced off and hit a series of shoulder tackles. Robinson rolled back outside. Something went for a splash to the outside, but Juice caught him and dropped Something onto the top rope.
Juice untied the pad in a corner and threw Something into the exposed corner. Robinson continued to work Something’s lower back. Juice landed a Senton for a two-count. Robinson threw Something into the exposed corner again. Something came back and hit a series of forearms before jumping into Robinson. Something splashed into Robinson and Robinson went outside the ring where Something hit a splash over the top rope. Back inside the ring, Something landed a Falcon Arrow for a two-count.
Before long, Robinson placed Something on the top rope and landed some headbutts. Juice hit a shotgun dropkick and signaled for a cannonball, but Something caught Juice in midair, hit a powerbomb and earned a two-count from it. Something went for a Boss Man Slam, but Juice rolled Something up for a two-count. Something went for a clothesline, but Juice ducked and hit a clothesline. Something ran at Juice, but Juice slammed Something onto the exposed turnbuckle, hit the Left Hand From God and slammed Something for the win.
Juice Robinson defeated Jake Something via pinfall in 10:45.
After the match, Robinson was celebrating, but Blake Christian appeared and hit a springboard dropkick before pummeling Robinson on the outside of the ring. Riccaboni said the two will wrestle as part of next week’s main event. Inside the ring, Christian went to the top, but Juice rolled out of the ring and to the back. Robinson cut a promo backstage and said Christian has no brains. Juice said it takes a stupid man to do what Christian just did. Juice called Christian a boy and referenced what Juice did to Ren Narita. Juice kept calling Christian “shit for brains Blake Christian.” Juice said he hates Christian and every wrestler that acts like Christian. Juice closed by saying Christian is not a wrestler.
McGuire’s Musings: It still baffles me as to why Jake Something isn’t consistently on a bigger stage somewhere. He’s been doing great work on Strong and while he never really gets a win on any of these shows, he always looks really, really good while losing. This was no different. It felt unlikely that Robinson would lose, but Something showed such good fight, it was hard not to buy into some of those near-falls toward the end of the match. Plus, catching Robinson in midair while Robinson attempted a cannonball was nuts. Sadly, Something’s performance was quickly forgotten because of the Blake Christian angle that set up next week’s main event. Even so, this was a really fun match and Juice was, as he always is, a hoot to watch. Christian vs. Robinson should be very good next week.
3. IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White vs. NJPW Strong Openweight Champion Fred Rosser. White teased a handshake, but slapped Rosser. Rosser chased White to the outside, but White pulled Rosser outside before rolling back in and working a side head-lock. After running the ropes, Rosser slammed White and clotheslined White to the outside. Rosser went into the crowd and celebrated, even dancing with a fan. Rosser worked a chicken wing around the ring post. Rosser rolled White into the ring and high-fived a fan.
Rosser tried to pull White into the ring, but White snapped Rosser over the top rope and ran Rosser into the ring post on the outside. White suplexed Rosser on the apron and mocked Rosser. White chopped Rosser and rolled Rosser back into the ring. White landed another chop and some shoulders to the midsection. White hit a neck-breaker for a two-count. White whipped Rosser into a corner and posed. White held onto a waist-lock until Rosser fought his way out. White kept control, though, by kneeing Rosser in the midsection.
White chopped Rosser and kept yelling “Too” while the crowd responded “Sweet.” Rosser fired up and hit a double chop, which sent White to the mat. Rosser hit a series of chops and clotheslines. Rosser ran a knee into White’s head and hit a hip splash. Rosser went to lift White, but White blocked it. Still, Rosser came back with a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count. Rosser lifted White, but White got out of it and the two traded chops. White teased a chop, but instead kicked Rosser’s leg and hit a DDT to take control.
White landed a European Uppercut and a slam for a two-count. White landed some loud chops, but it only fired Rosser up. Rosser came back with double chops until White countered with a flatliner. White hit a German Suplex. White landed a Uranagi for a two-count. White went back to the chops. The action made its way to the apron, where Rosser slammed White on the apron. Rosser rolled White back into the ring, but White hit a Cobra Clutch Suplex. White went for the Bladerunner, but Rosser countered into the double knees, which earned a close two-count.
Rosser went for a chicken wing, but White elbowed his way out of it. White went for the Bladerunner again, but Rosser countered into a slam for another good near-fall. Rosser tried for a chicken wing again, but White wouldn’t allow it. As the referee looked away, White hit a low blow on Rosser. White went for the Bladerunner again, but Rosser countered that with the chicken wing. White got out of it, hit the Bladerunner and that was it.
IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White defeated NJPW Strong Openweight Champion Fred Rosser via pinfall in 19:22.
After the match, White called for a microphone. White cut his music and said Rosser might be the face of New Japan Strong, but White said he’s the creator, founder, and father of New Japan Strong. White grabbed Rosser’s belt and said he’d be within his right to challenge for the title. White said he can’t because his hands are full. White said he’s picking Rosser’s next opponent. White said he owes someone a thank you for their friendship and that someone is “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. White said the next challenger for the New Japan Strong Openweight Title will be JR Kratos as a favor to Filthy. From there, Kratos made his way to the ring and took Rosser’s belt before attacking Rosser. Kratos suplexed Rosser and posed to end the episode.
McGuire’s Musings: Not a bad match by any means, but it never quite kicked into third gear. You always know you’re getting to the final third of a Jay White match when he starts attempting the Bladerunner because you know whomever he’s facing will counter it at least four times before he gets it in and wins the match. I’m not quite sure what happened near the end, where Rosser seemingly had the chicken wing applied in the middle of the ring, but referee Jeremy Marcus broke the hold to allow White to get to the finish. I must have missed something.
Anyway, the two biggest names Strong can get work well together; I’d just like to see them on a bigger stage with bigger stakes. Both guys are at the top of their respective games right now and if you wanted to unify the titles at the Tokyo Dome while giving them 30 minutes to figure it out, I’d be first in line for a ticket (getting to Japan, however, would be a different story).
In all, this was a very good episode of Strong. The first two matches were pretty-to-very good and the main event had enough star power to carry the entire tour. I can’t say Kratos vs. Rosser does much for me because I can’t imagine Rosser dropping that belt to one of Lawlor’s henchmen, but stranger things have happened in wrestling. I’ll have more to say in my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).