Long Beach, CA – 9.25.2021
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly & Alex Koslov.
Yuji Nagata & Yuya Uemura vs. Kevin Knight & The DKC
Knight has earned knee pads! Uemura and Knight have a fairly even exchange, ending with Uemura shoulder blocking Knight to his corner. DKC tags in and goes face to face with Nagata. He impressively gets in quite a bit of offense on Nagata, partially welcomed by Blue Justice, who ends up taking DKC down with a knee to the stomach. Nagata boots Knight off the apron before continuing his beatdown on DKC. Uemura lends a helping hand. DKC takes him down with a flying karate kick and tags Knight, who blasts Uemura with his signature dropkick and gets two after a diving seated shoulder tackle. Uemura avoids a standing Mad Splash and knocks Knight down with a flying forearm. He and DKC take down Nagata and Knight gets him in the Boston Crab. Uemura attacks Knight to break up the hold. He enzuigiri’s DKC to the floor as Nagata drops Knight with an exploder suplex. Nagata then puts Knight in a crossface until he taps out at 9:27. I really enjoyed the interactions between Uemura and Knight and was surprised it wasn’t DKC who took the loss here. Like Tanahashi in his trios match last week, Nagata let the young lions do their thing and gave the crowd some of his hits. There’s nothing wrong with that. ***
Jay White vs. Wheeler YUTA
White’s last STRONG appearance was exactly 40 episodes ago. YUTA impressively overwhelms White to the point where White has to go for YUTA’s eyes when he is in a bow and arrow. White whips YUTA hard to the corner and tries his own bow and arrow, but YUTA flips over into a lateral press. This makes White angry, and he aggressively sends YUTA back first into the buckles again. YUTA lays in chops to White and takes him down with a springboard crossbody. White goes back to YUTA’s eyes and throws him down to the mat by his hair. YUTA lands an Angle slam. White hits him with a huge chop, but YUTA uses the ropes to roll back and puts White in a couple of pinning combinations. YUTA almost pins White with a German suplex, and then rolls him into a modified kneebar. He converts into a crossface. He brings White to his feet when he sees White is close to the ropes. White slips behind YUTA and drops him with a sleeper suplex. White then hits Blade Runner for the pin at 11:29. I am amazed how much of this match YUTA was in control. He looked like a star against the NEVER Champion, believably having him fighting from behind for basically the entire match. The ending was a bit lame in its abruptness, but I suppose it makes sense given the strength of the Blade Runner in NJPW lore. I hope this means we see more of YUTA in NJPW, even if he is keeping busy elsewhere these days. ***¼
Jay White calls out Tomohiro Ishii. Ishii got in White’s face after White defended the NEVER title against David Finlay at “Resurgence.” They get into an altercation. Ishii has White up for his vertical drop brainbuster, but White escapes and gives Ishii a low blow. With a smile on his face he drops Ishii with the Blade Runner. He says “f**k you” to Ishii and leaves him laying in the ring.
Fred Rosser vs. Ren Narita
Tensions have been high between these two for a couple of months now and this match was officially made two weeks ago. Narita not only gets the better of Rosser in the beginning, but also avoids Rosser’s apron back suplex. He sends Rosser into the barricades back first. Rosser comes back with a suplex onto the floor, a seated senton, and then a seated senton off of the ring apron! Rosser stretches Narita’s arm back into a top wrist lock. Narita catches Rosser coming off the ropes with a belly-to-belly suplex. Narita goes after Rosser’s legs. Rosser fails to fight out of a submission so he has to go to the ropes. Rosser pummels Narita in the corner. He muscles Narita to the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a Razor’s Edge for two. When Rosser goes for the Gut Check, Narita gets him in a rear-naked choke. He converts into a Cobra Twist. When Rosser makes it to the ropes, Narita suplexes him. Rosser fires up and scoops up Narita for the Gut Check. However, Narita catches his legs on the landing and turns him into the Narita Special. Rosser scrambles to the ropes after being in the hold for a little bit. Rosser fights his way out of a belly-to-belly suplex. He finally hits the Gut Check and delivers a sliding kick to the side of Narita’s head, yet Narita kicks out of his pin attempt. During a forearm exchange, Narita blasts Rosser in the head with an open handed shot. He rolls Rosser into a Ground Cobra for the pin at 15:11, but Rosser’s kick out is so close to the three count it seems debatable. Another somewhat strange ending to an otherwise great match. Narita picking up two key wins (Fredericks and now Rosser) makes it feel like he is poised to be a breakout star on STRONG. He and Rosser beat the heck out of one another, and while it may have felt slightly bloated, it was never dull and appropriately intense given the build-up. I wouldn’t be upset at all if we got a rematch. ***½