NJPW STRONG #87 – Strong Style Evolved 2022 Part 3

Tampa, FL – 4.23.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Matt Rehwoldt.

John Skyler vs. Big Damo

Damo is the former Killian Dain, and this is his NJPW debut. This is Skyler’s STRONG debut, and his first NJPW match since January 2019. Skyler is the modern day version of a journeyman (which even the commentators note), and Damo is a large man with some name recognition, but they flipped the script and made this a one-sided affair for Skyler. Skyler started strong with a spear to Damo on the ring apron. From there, he attacked Damo’s mid-section, and angered Damo with his repeated chops and strikes to the neck. Damo escaped a Tiger Driver attempt, squishing Skyler in opposite corners with splashes, and then dropping him with a spinebuster into a jumping elbow drop. Although Skyler cut him off with a slingshot spear, Damo caught him off guard with a fisherman’s superplex shortly after. After a fireman’s carry slam and a senton, Damo landed a Vader Bomb for the pin at 7:04. This change in expectations really worked for me. It made Damo’s win feel earned, and gave Skyler a lot of credibility by giving the larger opponent a fight. Damo is coming back for next month’s tapings, and I hope Skyler returns in the future too. **¾

Blake Christian vs. SW3RVE

Early on they proved to be equal in the athleticism department. Christian was the first to score with significant offense, a shotgun dropkick to the chest. Christian went for his wheelbarrow frog splash, which SW3RVE almost countered into a JML Driver, but ultimately SW3RVE pushed Christian to the floor and nailed a pump kick to the top of his head from the ring apron. SW3RVE landed a diving uppercut to the back of Christian’s head, but when he went for the JML Driver again, Christian backed SW3RVE to the corner and successfully pulled off the wheelbarrow frog splash. Christian took down SW3RVE with a German suplex, SW3RVE retaliated with a rolling lariat to turn Christian inside out, and Christian still managed a standing Spanish Fly when SW3RVE charged at him after the fact. Christian landed a spring 450 splash after a Fosbury Flop into a reverse DDT on the floor, and yet SW3RVE still managed to kick out of the pin attempt. An upkick from the floor led to a jumping knee strike from SW3RVE to Christian. A pair of backbreaker and a brainbuster led to the House Call, getting SW3RVE the pin at 11:27. If you like these guys and their style of wrestling, you’ll like this match, and it just so happens that I do. ***¼

Yuya Uemura vs. Buddy Matthews

Since the last STRONG taping, Matthews has joined the “House of Black” in AEW, led by Malakai Black, and also includes NJPW STRONG stalwart Brody King. Matthews goes after Uemura’s shoulder as they wrestle on the mat. That helps Matthews break out of a waistlock and take Uemura to the corner for a hard chop. Uemura enzuigiri’s Matthews to the ring apron, but it’s Matthews who drives Uemura shoulder first down into the ring frame. Uemura manages to cut off a charging Matthews back in the ring with a dropkick. He keeps on Matthews with a flying forearm, a corner elbow smash, and a bodyslam into a senton splash for two. Matthews escapes a waistlock by snapmaring Uemura into repeated elbows to the side of the head. When the referee goes to check on him, Matthews shoves the referee out of the way. Uemura blocks the Kamigoye and German suplexes Matthews into a two count. Matthews avoids a high crossbody, and when Uemura crashes and burns, Matthews stomps Uemura’s face into the canvas. He then hoists Uemura up into Murphy’s Law for the pin at 9:50. This was a truncated version of Matthews’ bout against Narita, but as Uemura is less experienced than Narita, I think that’s logical. Uemura had another very good showing against a name talent as he continues to win the admiration of the crowd. ***

A bit of a truncated and inconsequential episode this week, but a fun one nonetheless.

This week’s XTRA match is TJP vs. Brogan Finlay from the Rivals tour. That may seem a bit random, but at the end of that match, Mascara Dorada confronted TJP, and they finally meet on next week’s episode of STRONG.

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