By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped November 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont
Streamed December 24, 2022 on New Japan World
Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov on commentary to run down the card. We are on the Detonation Tour and this is the final week of it. We didn’t even get the initial opening video, which was a nice change of pace. Mascara Dorada and Lince Dorado joined Riccaboni and Koslov and spoke Spanish. Koslov served as the translator. The masked men said they were super prepared to face C4 and then made fun of Riccaboni, which was funny. We then got the video.
1. Mascara Dorada and Lince Dorado vs. “C4” Cody Chhun and Guillermo Rosas. Pretty Peter Avalon sat in on commentary. Koslov was coy when he said it’s gonna be a “Lucha Party,” and hell, it’s Christmas, let’s all go back to 205 Live if only for a night. Rosas and Mascara started things off. The two traded attempts at things, including a dropkick, which they both went for at the same time and then nipped up (or kipped up or kicked up) and the crowd chanted various things.
Lince and Chhun tagged in. The two followed the same template as the two that started the match. Chhun backed Lince into the ropes and kicked him in the midsection before working a hammerlock. Lince fought back quickly and landed a dropkick for a two-count. Mascara tagged in and the Doradas worked a series of tag moves for a two-count on Chhun. Mascara landed a lough chop. Mascara went for a springboard, but Rosas pulled Mascara to the floor. From there, the heels took over.
Rosas tagged in and chopped and choked Mascara. C4 got in a series of double-team moves that kept Mascara down. Rosas held Mascara for a vertical suplex and Chhun dropkicked Mascara as Rosas went down. The move ended with a two-count. Eventually, Mascara was perched on the top rope, but Mascara fought out and then essentially face-planted Rosas from the top. Lince got the hot tag as Chhun came in. Lince fought off both opponents and hit a brain-buster on Chhun for a two-count.
Lince landed a modified frog-splash for a two-count. Lince worked an arm-bar, but Rosas broke it up. Rosas tagged in, but both bad guys kept with the double-team moves, which included somewhat of a power-bomb that resulted in a good near-fall. Lince came back with a double-cutter. Mascara left onto Rosas on the outside. Lince went to the top and flipped Chhun onto Rosas on the outside. Back in the ring, Lince landed a splash onto Chhun for the win.
Mascara Dorada and Lince Dorado defeated “C4” Cody Chhun and Guillermo Rosas via pinfall in 10:35.
McGuire’s Musings: I don’t know I never saw it before, but Dorado and Dorada make for a good tag-team (even if it does completely mess up my spell-check whenever I type out these reviews). After the match, they signaled for the tag belts as they posed on the ropes, so you have to wonder if that’s what’s next for them. Either way, this was a fun match with formidable opponents for the two. It’s hard to think new faces will win when they appear on Strong for the first time, so C4 had that going against them, but they still showed up to wrestle, and wrestle, they did. Plus, the middle section of the match was almost entirely dedicated to showcasing how well C4 work together, so in all, everyone wins. Because Christmas says so.
2. Bobby Fish vs. Kevin Blackwood. Avalon sat in on this match, too. The only real difference in Fish’s presentation was a scarf he decided to wear to the ring. Anyway, Fish stepped outside to start the match and stall. Back in the ring, the two felt each other out and tried some chain wrestling to begin the proceedings. Fish placed Blackwood on a rope and softly slapped his face before the two went back to the center of the ring and traded holds.
Blackwood backed Fish into a corner and chopped the hell out of him a few times. Fish took Blackwood down with a single-leg, but Blackwood came right back and got on top of Fish until Fish rolled outside. Fish came back into the ring and landed some kicks and strikes to Blackwood’s body. Blackwood was on the apron and dodged a Fish strike before landing a double-stomp onto Fish’s back. From there, Blackwood chopped the hell out of Fish on the outside of the ring.
Blackwood rolled Fish into the ring and went for another stomp, but Fish moved. It didn’t matter, though, because Blackwood sank in a sleeper hold. The ref broke it up when the two made their way to a corner and Fish took control with knees and kicks. Fish flipped off the crowd. Fish, who kind of looked like he was on his way to being out of gas, landed a back suplex before doing something that I guess was supposed to be dancing. Fish hit a snap-suplex for a two-count.
Fish kept control with a series of strikes and ultimately rolled him up for a two-count. Blackwood tried to fight back, but Fish cut him off and went for a suplex, but Blackwood countered into a suplex of his own. Blackwood threw Fish … somewhere … and it was odd, but the result was an Exploder from Blackwood that led to a near-fall. On their feet, the two traded strikes in every way. Blackwood went to grab Fish and Fish countered with a dragon-screw leg-whip to slow it down.
Fish worked more kicks until Blackwood landed a Northern Lights suplex. Blackwood then tried a Fujiwara arm-bar until Fish made it to the ropes. Blackwood kept on Fish’s arm and went to the top, but Fish cut him off and landed a Super Falcon Arrow for the win.
Bobby Fish defeated Kevin Blackwood via pinfall in 11:58.
After the match, Homicide hit the ring and attacked Bobby Fish. The two traded some weak strikes, but Fish went for a ground-and-pound. Officials came to the ring to break things up, but weirdly, one of those officials was David Finlay, complete with shillelagh. After things settled down, Finlay and Homicide were left in the ring and they shook hands over trying to go after Bobby Fish.
McGuire’s Musings: Well, I guess we’ll start with the cynical. You knew this was a match that was supposed to serve as a conduit to furthering the Homicide/Fish issue and you knew that Fish was going to win and Homicide was going to execute the run-in. That felt like NJPW 101. But even with all that said, I’m a fan of Blackwood (and if you don’t know his story, take a few minutes and read about what his life has been, especially in this holiday season), and Fish was very generous to Blackwood here. I do think there was a point where Fish was like, “Oh, whoa, let me take my mouthguard out and try to catch my breath,” but I also don’t even say that as a criticism. Blackwood can go. It’s been a minute since Fish has been in a wrestling ring on that level (shoot fights, that’s another story). In all, I liked the match a lot because I thought both guys served each other very, very well. Actually, this was probably one of the best matches Strong has seen in at least a month. Were that least Finlay and this story moving forward with Homicide and Fish, I don’t know. I do know that this was a straight wrestling match with none of the nonsense and no flashy flips and it was still perhaps the best thing we’ll see tonight. That said, what’s up, main event?
3. Fred Rosser vs. JR Kratos for the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship. Avalon sat in on this match, too. So I guess we got a third member of the commentary team? These two started off with fire and a thousand attempted shoulder-tackles, but nobody moved. Rosser ran the ropes and Kratos tried a leap-frog, God bless him, but it didn’t quite work and things slowed down real quick. Rosser kept control with a knee to the mid-section. Rosser worked an arm/neck/shoulder submission. Kratos worked his way out, but Rosser kicked Kratos in the face.
Rosser got Kratos in a corner and hit his chop/forearm combination a bunch. Hip attacks then began. Still, Kratos took all of it and fired up and gave Rosser the fired-up face. It didn’t matter because Rosser worked a front face-lock on the apron. Rosser landed a chop and went for a back-drop, but Kratos stopped it and went for a power-bomb off the apron, but Rosser sat down and crushed Kratos to even things out. Rosser jumped at Kratos, but Kratos caught Rosser and rammed him into the ring post. Kratos then hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Rosser on the outside of the ring.
Kratos pulled up the padding on the outside of the ring and dismantled a guardrail. Kratos was going to hit Rosser with a piece of the barricade, but Rosser fought his way out … until Kratos cut him off. Kratos rolled Rosser back into the ring and then threw around a member of the ring crew. Back in the ring, Kratos landed heavy chops to Rosser’s chest. Kratos hit a release vertical suplex. Kratos slapped Rosser, but Rosser fired up. Rosser’s momentum ended with a forearm from Kratos.
Kratos placed Rosser on the top rope. From there, the two battled on the apron, trading forearms. Kratos landed a knee and a clothesline that took Rosser back into the ring. Rosser instantly came back and took control with a dragon-screw and a neck-breaker on the apron. As Rosser was kneeling on the ground, Kratos grabbed Rosser by the neck and worked a sleeper hold. From there, Rosser lifted Kratos and hit a tombstone piledriver on the floor where Kratos lifted the padding. Kratos wasn’t going to beat the count back into the ring so Rosser nearly tackled ref Jeremey Marcus to keep him from completing the count so the match could still go on.
With the two back in the ring, Kratos kind of fired up and hit a right-hand before Rosser went to the top and Kratos stopped him with a spinning kick. After that, Kratos landed a super-plex from the second rope. Kratos then clotheslined Rosser to the outside and gave the crowed crazy eyes. Kratos then ran the ropes and jumped over the top, but Rosser didn’t really catch him and everyone was concerned for about 10 seconds because Kratos threw Rosser back into the ring, where he hit a running lariat and a suplex for a very good near-fall.
Kratos lifted Rosser, but Rosser fought his way out and chop-blocked Kratos to get him into an STF. Kratos powered out and stood up, but Rosser went right to a sleeper hold. Ultimately, Referee Jeremy called it because Kratos kind of/sort of tapped and that was it.
Fred Rosser defeated JR Kratos via submission to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship in 18:44.
After the match, Avalon, who had been sitting in on commentary all show (in case you missed it), grabbed a mic and said he wants to be the next in line for Rosser’s title. Rosser accepted and Avalon attacked Rosser. After attacking Rosser, Avalon held the Strong Openweight Title. Blake Christian ran out of the save, but other wrestlers ran out for the same thing and it was mayhem. The locker room emptied and that’s how we ended 2022 in NJPW Strong.
McGuire’s Musings: I’ve sat in crowds in one of the best wrestling cities in the world – Philadelphia – and I’ve listened to people chant obscenities at JR Kratos. I’ve also watched that guy wrestle on Strong on years now as I write for this website, but I’ll tell you this: JR Kratos worked his ass off in this match and Fred Rosser looked to be more than happy to help him get the love that he’s deserved for a while now from the New Japan Strong crowd. If you would have told me two years ago that Kratos was going to work a main event and go nearly 19 minutes, I would have said what exact strand of weed do you have and can you please put me on a lifetime supply.
Here, though? Kratos more than held up his end and it very much seemed like Rosser wanted to make sure people knew how important Kratos has been to the evolution of Strong through the months/times/pandemic/