By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped November 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont
Streamed December 3, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov on commentary to run down the card. We are now on the Detonation Tour and this is the first week of it. Blake Christian joined Koslov and Riccaboni and said Juice should have been sleeping with one eye open. Christian said Juice cannot run from him and he’s going to beat Juice tonight.
1. Rocky Romero and Adrian Quest vs. Atlantis Jr. and Virus. The match was worked under Lucha rules, which meant nobody really had to tag anyone to get in and out of the ring. Romero and Virus began the match and locked up. Things quickly reset after Romero took Virus down. The two exchanged headlocks and leg-scissors. Virus tried to roll Romero up, but Romero got out and danced. Romero extended his hand for a handshake, but Virus walked away and tagged in Atlantis. Quest tagged in, too.
Quest landed a cross-body, but Atlantis came back with a back-breaker. Atlantis kicked Quest to the outside and teased a splash, but Quest moved and Virus tagged in, which led to Romero stepping into the ring without a tag (Lucha rules, remember). Virus clotheslined Romero over the top. Quest ran in and eventually, both Romero and Quest were on the outside. Atlantis hit a splash on both of them.
Back inside the ring, Virus hit a sort of half Mexican Destroyer on Quest. Quest was thrown outside and Romero got into the ring, where both opponents worked him over. Before long, Romero worked his way out of trouble and landed the Forever Clotheslines on Virus. Quest came off the top and landed a splash on Virus for a two-count. Romero hit a Tornado DDT and Quest landed a Running Shooter on Virus for a two-count. Virus and Quest tried chest chops. The sequence ended when Virus simply punched Quest.
Virus landed a basement dropkick for a two-count. Romero and Virus then traded chops. Atlantis threw Romero around the ring and got a two-count. Quest and Atlantis traded blows. Atlantis landed a nice dropkick on Quest, but Quest came back with a back suplex and a triangle dive into Atlantis on the outside. Virus and Romero were the legal men inside the ring and Virus hit a snap powerslam for a two-count. Romero hit a rewind kick on Virus for a good near-fall. Romero rolled Virus up for another good near-fall. Romero tried another roll-up and this time, it worked for the win.
Rocky Romero and Adrian Quest defeated Virus and Atlantis Jr. via pinfall in 10:30.
After the match, Virus offered a hand to Romero and the two shook hands. Atlantis Jr. and Virus also hugged before leaving the ring.
McGuire’s Musings: Riccaboni did a nice job explaining the history between Virus and Romero and that gave the match more levity, which was very much appreciated. The Lucha rules gimmick might have had more impact if we don’t pretty much see the same rule enforcement in typical NJPW tag matches anyway. It did work, though, because the chaos was easily explained away and oddly enough, even though these rules allowed no tags and paved the way for mayhem, it wasn’t as broken down as some regular tag matches. Anyway, the four guys worked hard, even if I do kind of think the match went two or three minutes too long. Virus, the legend that he is, showed his age and there were a few rough spots, but thankfully, he was in there with a pro’s pro in Romero and everyone made it out unscathed. I wonder if this will pave the way for more luchadores to appear on Strong. All told, they could have some fun with this.
2. Homicide vs. Danny Limelight. Limelight jawed at Homicide to begin the match, but Homicide punched Limelight and Homicide attacked Limelight in a corner. Homicide hit a cutter before Limelight came back with a dropkick. The action spilled outside, where Homicide clotheslined Limelight. Homicide threw Limelight over the guardrail and onto crowd chairs. Limelight came back by leaping off the guardrail and landing a Blockbuster on Homicide.
Back in the ring, Limelight went to the top and hit a cross-body. Homicide responded with an elbow and a suplex. Limelight was on the outside and Homicide ran at Limelight, but Limelight cut him off with a kick before going back to the top and landing a double stomp. Limelight landed a clothesline and danced. Limelight hit a series of elbows and then went for the Three Amigos, but Homicide blocked the third one. Limelight raked Homicide’s eyes and landed a suplex. Limelight went to the top, but Homicide cut him off and crotched him. Homicide hit a suplex from the second rope.
The two traded blows on their knees, making their way to their feet. Limelight threw Homicide into a corner, but Homicide came right back with an Exploder and a two-count. Homicide hit a double underhook suplex for a two-count. Homicide bit Limelight a couple times. Homicide landed a back-breaker and went for a Boston Crab, but Limelight rolled out of it. Homicide came right back, however, and went for an STF. Homicide bit Limelight’s fingers, but Limelight made it to the ropes for a break. Limelight threw Homicide and hit a kick. Limelight went to the top and landed a Tornado DDT for a two-count. After exchanging a bunch of reversals, Homicide hit his finisher for the win.
Homicide defeated Danny Limelight via pinfall in 11:14.
After the match, Homicide went under the ring and threw a bunch of boxes and suitcases into the ring. Before Homicide could do anything, Bobby Fish showed up and attacked Homicide from behind. Fish hit an Exploder into the ropes and posed. Fish grabbed a mic and said Tom Lawlor wasn’t there and because of that, the enemy of his friend becomes his enemy. Fish said Homicide found himself on the short end of that equation. Fish kept calling the crowd “stupid assholes.” Fish said Team Filthy and the Fish Tank Fight Club have business to do together. Fish flipped everyone off to end the segment. From there, we got an interview with the Motor City Machine Guns via Emily Mae and they were finally recognized on Strong as the Strong tag-team champs. Mae reminded the Machine Guns that Stray Dog Army is the No. 1 contender to their titles. The Machine Guns said they are legends and they earned their reputation on the blue mat.
McGuire’s Musings: The match was good and the match was good because Limelight worked overtime to get heat leading up to this thing and it very much did work. That guy is so good at doing that. I guess he has acting aspirations, which would suggest he might not be pursuing the wrestling thing full-time, but if he did, I don’t know why he wouldn’t wind up in one of the big two American companies. Homicide, meanwhile, is getting somewhat of a push on Strong and it’s nice to see. Between his last two wins, he looks to be in position to be an upper-card player for a bit and it’s well deserved. As for the post-natch stuff, I’m not sure Bobby Fish being on Strong does much for me – and I’m even more skeptical of seeing him head up a faction that will seemingly do business with Team Filthy because it’s not like Adam Cole is walking through the door – but we’ll see how it plays out.
3. Juice Robinson vs. Blake Christian. Christian ran at Juice, but Juice rolled out of the ring to begin the match. Christian eventually dove through the ropes onto Robinson and proceeded to pummel him before rolling Juice back into the ring. Back outside the ring, Christian went for a moonsault, but Robinson caught Christian and threw him onto the guardrail. Robinson ran at Christian, but Christian moved and Juice ran into the ring post. Christian then worked over Juice’s arm on the outside of the ring.
Back inside the ring, Juice landed a tilt-a-whirl slam on Christian. Juice hit a chop and a spine-buster for a two-count. Juice hit a Senton and a headbutt. Robinson kicked Christian a bunch before hitting a cannonball for a two-count. Robinson ran at Christian, but Christian got the boot up and then landed a springboard elbow. Christian landed a series of kicks. Christian went to the top rope, but Robinson slowly rolled away. Christian followed Robinson and hit a standing frog splash. Christian sunk in an arm-bar, but Robinson got to the ropes for a break. Juice came back with his Left Hand From God, rolled Christian up and held the ropes to get the win.
Juice Robinson defeated Blake Christian via pinfall in 9:25.
The episode ended as Christian walked to the back.
McGuire’s Musings: This actually surprised me a little because with Juice heading to AEW and his debut as an official member of the roster coming this week, I thought they might write Juice off Strong. But, it appears he’ll be sticking around and continuing his duties with the Bullet Club. As for the match itself, I’ll call a spade a spade and say this wasn’t really main event worthy. They tried to get it heat last week with the attack, and it kind of worked, but a one-week build wasn’t enough Juice (pun intended) to get it where it needed to be. It was also the shortest match of the night and while I’m not saying you need to have a long match to have a good match, I am saying it felt like these guys needed three to five more minutes to say everything they wanted to say. So it goes.
In all, this was a middle of the road episode of Strong. Actually, it was probably on the lower end of the middle, all things told. The main event felt weak, Bobby Fish debuted, Homicide continued his winning ways and we had a lucha rules match. On paper, it sounds compelling; in practice … meh. I’ll have more to say in my weely audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).