NJPW STRONG #98 – Ignition 2022 Part 1

Los Angeles, CA – 7.9.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Matt Rehwoldt.

To my surprise, they acknowledge that Karl Fredericks was originally to be Christopher Daniels tag team partner at the beginning of episode. They don’t say why, just that he is “unable to compete.” Ian Riccaboni asks what Christopher Daniels thinks of this development, as Fredericks personally recruited Daniels to be his partner in the STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament, which begins tonight. Daniels says he wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him by. He went to the LA DOJO and observed the other wrestlers, and was impressed by Yuya Uemura. Uemura enters, and Daniels tells him that with their combination of experience and heart, he believes they can be successful. Daniels asks Uemura to be his partner, and Uemura says “let’s go!” It’s a bummer Fredericks won’t be in this, but I’m excited for Uemura to get this opportunity.

STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Opening Round Match
Christopher Daniels & Yuya Uemura vs. The Factory (Aaron Solo & Nick Comoroto)

Daniels and Uemura show right off the bat they’re a capable team. They each help one another take down Solo and then Comoroto. In order to turn things in their favor, Solo has to distract the referee so Comoroto can drag Daniels outside and take him out with a short-arm lariat. Daniels escapes the Factory’s beatdown with a Death Valley Driver to Solo. Uemura takes down Solo with a flying forearm, and then after a corner forearm plants Solo with a running bulldog. Comoroto saves Solo from being pinned and gives Uemura and Ushigoroshi. Solo lands a double stomp after for two. Uemura slips out of Solo’s grasp and tags Daniels, who wipes out Solo with an enzuigiri and snaps Comoroto’s neck on the top rope. Comoroto wipes out both Daniels and Uemura with a double clothesline, but Daniels lures him to the floor Uemura follows with a tope con hilo. Daniels drops Solo with a uranage and follows up with the BME for the pin at 9:17. Uemura and Daniels worked shockingly well together, and their dynamic is endearing. It took awhile for the Factory to actually look like a possible threat, but once they did it mde the match much more interesting. This was a nice kick-off for the tournament. **¾

Taylor Rust vs. JONAH

Rust’s strategy is to use his kicks to wear down the back of JONAH’s leg. JONAH puts the end to that with a big buckle bomb. JONAH then uses his strength to attack Rust’s ribs and try to pull the air out of his lungs. Rust rolls out of the way of a big splash. He stuns JONAH with an axe kick and scissor kick. He impressively is able to pull JONAH off of the top turnbuckle and into a Samoan Drop. Rust follows up with a Swanton Bomb for two. Rust attacks the ribs and JONAH’s shoulder, but JONAH gets to the ropes before Rust can fully apply his body submission. JONAH absorbs some kicks to the face, but nails Rust with a lariat as he comes off the ropes. He crushes Rust with a senton splash and a spear before landing the Tsunami for the pin at 12:50. This was quite competitive, which is good, but also a bit of a surprise considering how different the year has been for these two. Rust has been winless in 2022 while JONAH is undefeated in singles competition and headed to the G1 – the result wasn’t exactly in doubt. I also think Rust has been directionless since losing to Lawlor in February – it’s time to find something he can sink his teeth into, or cut bait. ***

STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Opening Round Match
TMDK (Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls) vs. The West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)

Haste and Nicholls were a staple of Pro Wrestling NOAH before coming to NXT in 2016, but this is their first two versus two match in New Japan. They did compete in an eight man tag team match at Wrestle Kingdom 9, a huge show as it was the first NJPW event offered on U.S. PPV. Nelson found himself double teamed early on. He picked up the aggression and brought Haste to this corner, where Isaacs gave him a dragonscrew leg whip. Nelson then wiped out Haste with a sucide dive as Isaacs knocked Nicholls off of the ring apron. The WCWC do a remarkable job double teaming Haste in their corner. Nelson ends a barrage of open hand shots from Haste with a jumping knee strike. When Nelson goes up top, however, Haste follows and brings him down with a belly-to-belly superplex. Nicholls takes out both Nelson and Isaacs with a double clothesline and clobbers Isaacs with a basement lariat for two. Nelson tags himself in when Isaacs back to the corner and surprises Nicholls with a spear. WCWC landed a Falcon Arrow/sit-out powerbomb combo, with Haste breaking the pin on Nicholls just in time. TMDK overwhelmed the WCWC in the corner. Nicholls powerslams Nelson, and Haste hops off of his back into a cannonball senton on Isaacs in the corner. Isaacs saves Nelson from being pinned after taking the Tank Buster. The WCWC gives Nicholls a Dominator/Ace Crusher combo. Isaacs spin slams Haste off the top into a top rope elbow smash from Nelson. Nicholls drags Nelson outside and takes him out with a clothesline. Haste kicks Nelson in the head. TMDK drops Isaacs with Thunder Valley for the pin at 10:21. This was wrestled with urgency and had a lot of energy. It was a real pick ’em, and while I am personally glad TMDK advanced, it is a surprise WCWC didn’t make it further. It’s tough to beat two talented teams going at it. ***½

This week’s XTRA features an excellent tag team match from STRONG #86, pitting Eddie Kingston & Fred Rosser against Daniel Garcia & Fred Yehi. I’d check it out.

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