Seattle, WA – 2.5.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov. With Kelly’s duties as the English commentator on site in Japan increasing in 2022, Riccaboni is the new anchor of the STRONG Commentation Station. As a fan of Riccaboni both as a commentator and human being, I am thrilled to see him involved, and he did a phenomenal job with Koslov on this episode.
Yuya Uemura vs. Brody King
King gets a sense of satisfaction when grounding Uemura and steps back. Showing no fear, Uemura challenges King to approach him before getting back to his feet. Uemura avoids a senton splash and quickly elbow drops King. Uemura smothers King with forearm shots to the jaw. King shoulder blocks a charging Uemura and successfully lands his senton splash for two. King sends Uemura crashing back first into the metal guardrails. A dazed Uemura is able to take King off his feet with a dropkick back inside the ring. He hits another dropkick to King in the corner. King fights out of a Saito suplex. Uemura enzuigiri’s King and pulls off a back suplex for two. When Uemura tries a suplex, King puts him in a bear hug. He slams him out of the bear hug and gives Uemura a snap piledriver for two. He tries the Ganso Bomb right after and it is countered with a backslide. Uemura rolls King into a cross armbreaker. King gets the ropes to escape. Uemura gets a flurry of strikes on King, but one lariat from King takes down the young lion. The Ganso Bomb gets King the pin at 12:56. I don’t understand why King didn’t go for the Ganso Bomb when he did the piledriver. I really enjoyed this. Uemura showing his tenacity against a larger and more experienced opponent is a story we see often with young lions, but his body language and facial expressions really made that story really engaging. The crowd chanted Yuya’s name after the match, which is a great sign for his future. ***¼
Rocky Romero & Lio Rush vs. West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)
The West Coast Wrecking Crew attack Rush and Romero. As Isaacs drops Romero with a stalling suplex in the ring, Nelson drops Rush out of a stalling Gourd Buster on the floor. Rush’s body hitting the floor with a thud made me shiver. The West Coast Wrecking Crew double team Romero as Rush recovers. When Romero took them both down with a tandem Frankensteiner, Isaacs knocked Rush off the apron so Romero could not tag out. Nelson took off the turnbuckle in their corner, exposing the three buckles underneath.Nelson tries to use the buckle as a weapon and it gets apprehended by the referee. Romero also avoids being sent into the exposed buckles and takes down Isaacs with a tornado DDT. Rush wipes out Nelson with a tornado enzuigiri and Asai moonsaults onto Isaacs. Rush’s frog splash crossbody on Nelson earns a two count. Rush back handspring kicks Nelson to the floor and enzuigiri’s Isaacs to the corner. Romero and Rush both forever clothesline Isaacs, but an attack from Nelson puts a finite end to those clotheslines. Isaacs also blocks a Shiranui from Romero. The WCWC delivered a jumping knee/German suplex combo to Romero for two. Rush then saves Romero from being pinned after a slingshot into a powerslam. Rush wipes out Nelson with a pescado. Romero sends a charging Isaacs chest first into the corner with the exposed buckles. Nelson muscles up Romero attempting to escape a triangle choke. Rush springboard enzuigiri’s Isaacs, allowing Romero to roll him back into the triangle choke, and Isaacs taps out at 10:52. This was very fun, and a good way to forward the issue with Romero and Black Tiger with Tiger not even being in the match. The turnbuckle bit was superfluous but took nothing away from the proceedings. The WCWC are really good and seem to improve with every outing. ***¼
Nelson and Isaacs beat down Romero with Black Tiger’s kendo stick after the bell. Backstage, Romero calls out Black Tiger for a match during the “Rivals” tour next month.
Backstage, Ian Riccaboni interviews FinJuice about their tag team match against JONAH and Bad Dude Tito next week. They’re tired of JONAH sticking his nose in their business and attacking them from behind. The score will be even next week when its two versus two, and they plan to kick JONAH’s ass.
Clark Connors vs. TJP
A video plays before the match portraying the history between TJP and Connors. TJP submitted Connors during the Super J-Cup 2019. On STRONG 33, Connors pinned TJP to earn a spot in the New Japan Cup USA 2021 tournament. TJP and Connors teamed up last July for Tag Team Turbulence, but some miscommunication led to them losing to the Good Brothers in the opening round. A victory in trios action at “Resurgence” led us to believe they had patched things up, but at STRONG 62, TJP ambushed Connors and joined Will Ospreay’s “United Empire” stable. A month later at STRONG 67, TJP pinned Connors in a singles match, holding onto the ropes to do so. TJP would attack Connors’ leg in a trios match on STRONG 70. Tonight, back in the same building where their first singles match took place, which happens to also be in Connors’ hometown, TJP and Connors meet again.
Connors comes in with a taped up knee, but it turns out to be a smokescreen to lure TJP into a tackle to the corner. Connors chops TJP repeatedly in the corner, then takes him down with a pair of German suplexes. TJP slides to the floor to avoid a powerslam, only for Connors to Pounce him onto the timekeeper’s table! In the ring, after some punches in the corner, Connors bulldogs TJP for a two count. TJP once again blocks a powerslam and locks Connors in a guillotine choke in the ropes. He pulls Connors to the apron where he gives him a shoulder-capture DDT onto the ring apron. TJP attacks Connor’s left shoulder back inside the ring. When TJP has Connors positioned for a facewash kick, Connors gets back to his feet and Pounces TJP as he rebounds off of the ropes. A misdirect from TJP, however, allows for him to land a springboard flying shoulder-capture DDT. TJP blocks another powerslam with a cross armbreaker, which Connors turns into a full-nelson, which TJP escapes using the ropes. Connors spears TJP off of the ring apron and to the floor. TJP halts Connors in the ropes with an armlock, and then drops a knee to Connors’ lower back as he hangs on the rop rope. TJP is incredulous when the Mamba Splash doesn’t keep Connors down, and even more incredulous when Connors kicks out of both a crucifix driver and Detonation Kick with consecutive one counts. Connors slams TJP on his stomach to block a tornado DDT. TJP stops Connors’ on the top turnbuckle, slamming his arm into the ring post. Even so, Connors is able to headbutt TJP down to the mat and hit his own Mamba Splash! After a powerbomb, Connors finally pulls off a powerslam successfully. The Trophy Kill then gets Connors the pin at 18:19. This was a perfect way to end this rivalry, with the former young lion beating his former partner, mentor, and the man who betrayed him. The crowd was very behind Connors, which made moments like the powerslam pay off, him kicking out at the count of one back-to-back, and the eventual win all coming off so well. Even after graduating it takes a significant win to propel the young lions to their next level, and this felt like that moment for Connors. ****
This Seattle crowd is probably the best STRONG crowd they have had since touring, and it makes me very excited for the rest of this tour.
This week’s XTRA match that fans voted for during the Best Of 2021 poll was the STRONG Openweight Championship match between Tom Lawlor and Chris Dickinson from STRONG 42.