By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Taped December 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont
Streamed January 7, 2023 on New Japan World
We got another new video, which was fun, and it included AEW footage. Kevin Kelly was back (!!!) with Alex Koslov. They ran down the two-match card and we went to the ring. We are on the Nemesis tour, and perhaps, if Tanahashi is to be believed, this is the final Strong tour.
1. Hikuleo and Alan Angels vs. Jay White and El Phantasmo. White still had his IWGP title on his shoulder. White and ELP both teased starting the match, but both ultimately went to the floor in a funny spot. ELP called for Angels to start the match and the crowd chanted “Alan.” Once the bell finally rang, White tagged himself in, but ELP wanted to play rock, paper, scissors to start things out. They both pulled up the Too Sweet sign and White started the match, turning into a slap from Angels.
ELP came into the ring, but Angels hit a kick on ELP and then landed a cross-body onto White for a one-count. Hikuleo tagged in and chopped White to the mat. Hikuleo slammed White and tagged in Angels, who also slammed White. Angels climbed to the second rope and punched White in the head a bunch, but White suplexed Angels into a corner. On the outside, ELP attacked Hikuleo. White slammed Angels for a one-count and tagged ELP in.
ELP did a ton of rolls and cartwheels only to … you guessed it … back-scratch Angels. The crowd chanted “Holy shit!” White tagged in and slammed Angels. White then chopped the hell out of Angels. ELP tagged in and and worked a nipple-twister on both of Angels’s nipples. Angels worked his way back, and got the hot tag to Hikuleo, who cleaned house. Hikuleo dropped White on a corner and then hit a lariat for a two-count. Hikuleo hit his snap-powerslam on White, and went for a chokeslam, but ELP cut him off.
Angels worked a crossface on ELP, but White broke things up. Hikuleo went over the top rope and Angels landed a spinning heel kick on White. Angels tried a moonsault, but ELP kicked him in the face. From there, ELP landed the UFO on Angels and that was enough to get the pin and victory.
Jay White and El Phantasmo defeated Hikuleo and Alan Angels via pinfall in 8:45.
From there, we got a pre-tape from Jeff Cobb, calling out Bad Dude Tito. Cobb called Tito wide-eyed and bushy-tailed. Cobb said next week, he’s going to beat the hell out of Tito.
McGuire’s Musings: That was a lot of fun, all because of White and ELP. Kudos to New Japan, too, for running a tiny caption at the bottom of the screen, saying the episode was taped December 11, paying attention to White losing his title to Okada at Wrestle Kingdom this week. No reason to pretend. White and ELP are the troll-iest of trolls in all of Bullet Club and with their powers combined, entertainment will be had. My only issue here is that, well, as you know, Hikuleo is a star, and since he left the Bullet Club, he seems to find himself being defined down in one way or another. Still, my hopes continue to be high. For only being a two-match card, this was a very nice way to start the show.
2. Strong Survivor Match. Everyone made their way to the ring and it was a who’s who of NJPW Strong history. Kenta even showed up. Everything begins as a battle royal. The final four have a match to become the No. 1 contender for Fred Rosser’s belt. It was chaos. Guillermo Rosa was eliminated first. Cody Chuun was the next one out. Keita followed suit and all of this was within the first two minutes. Bateman then eliminated Rocky Romero, which was kind of surprising, considering how early in the match it was.
Blake Christian eliminated Che Cabrera. and Misterioso was then eliminated. Wheeler Yuta eliminated Mascara Dorada and yes, Wheeler Yuta is here. Yuta eliminated Jakob Austin Young. JR Kratos was attacked by the DKC, Bateman and more. Kratos hit some forearms on Christian and Yuta. Kratos eliminated Adrian Quest and Bateman. At about the six-minute mark, Kratos was eliminated by everybody. Christopher Daniels was eliminated by the DKC, but nobody saw it and therefore, Daniels came back and eliminated the DKC, so we got our final four. Those final four were Kenta, Yuta, Daniels and Christian.
Daniels took down Yuta after getting his knees up to stop Yuta’s momentum. Christian fired up and clotheslined everyone in the ring. Christian fired up and landed a standing Spanish Fly on Kenta. Christian went to the top, but didn’t get anything out of it. Before long, Christian ran at Daniels, in a corner, but Daniels moved and Christian hit the padding. Daniels then rolled Christian up to eliminate him. We were down to Daniels, Kenta and Yuta.
Daniels and Kenta teamed up on Yuta. Before long, Yuta tried to fire up, but Daniels cut Yuta off. Daniels and Kenta appeared to have a disagreement and Daniels attacked Kenta. Daniels and Kenta had a stare-down and Yuta clotheslined both guys. Yuta went to the top and hit a missile dropkick on both Daniels and Kenta. Kenta was hit to the floor, which left Daniels and Yuta in the ring. Yuta hit a German Suplex on Daniels and got the pin. We were down to just Kenta and Yuta for the No. 1 Contender spot.
Kenta lifted Yuta, but Yuta rolled up Kenta for a two-count. Kenta then landed a psycho knee for a good near-fall. Kenta then hit the GTS and that was the end.
Kenta won the Strong Survivor Match via pinfall in 15:41.
After the match, we were reminded that Peter Avalon will face Fred Rosser at the end of the Nemesis Tour for the Strong openweight title. So Kenta will face whomever comes out of that. The show then ended.
McGuire’s Musings: This was fine. I’m not sure about how much of a fan I am when it comes to battle royals into matches, into title shots into … whatever … but it was fun seeing a lot of the Strong locker room out there doing what they do. I haven’t seen Kenta on strong in forever, so that was a nice surprise and it was even better to see him win. As we got to the final four, you had to think a heel would win because Rosser is the Babyface Of All Babyfaces, but even that predictability couldn’t ruin the fun of the final few minutes. Also of note: Why is it that nobody seems to know what to do with Blake Christian? That might even apply to Blake Christian himself. But for whatever reason, despite how good the guy is in the ring, he just can’t catch on anywhere he goes. I digress.
In all, a good episode of Strong. It wasn’t even 45 minutes, so I don’t know how anyone could really complain. Couple that with the rumblings about the show going away soon and it’s almost becoming nostalgic to cover these final shows on this final tour. I’ll have more to say in my weekly NJPW Strong audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).
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