Los Angeles, CA – 7.23.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.
Jordan Cruz vs. JR Kratos
This is Cruz’s NJPW debut. Commentary notes he was discovered through an LA DOJO camp. Unfortunately for Cruz, this was mostly a squash. He got in a nice diving punch and snapped off a running Frankensteiner. Kratos cut him off with a Sick Kick, and pinned him with a spin-out slam at 4:01. Kratos then challenges Alex Coughlin to a Last Man Standing match in Charlotte. This match aired the night before the Charlotte tapings, and due to an injury, Coughlin did not compete on the card at all. That match will rule whenever it does materialize.
David Finlay, Mascara Dorada & Rocky Romero vs. Negro Casas, Adrian Quest & Lucas Riley
Casas is a 47 year veteran and bonfied Lucha legend. This is his NJPW STRONG debut. Romero is a trainee of Cases, and Cases wrestled Fit Finlay in New Japan back in 1991 and 1992. Casas more or less ran his team, sending in his partners when the time was right, and tagging in to turn things around for his team when necessary. Casas uses Romero’s Diablo Armbar, but Romero is able to knock down Casas with an uppercut and right handed strike. Metalik takes Casas down with a rope walk dropkick, but Casas takes him down with a dropkick to the knee. Quest sends Finlay to the corner with a shotgun dropkick. Finlay, however, catches Quest’s springboard attempt and gives him a uranage backbreaker. Romero follows that up with Strong Zero. Romero is triple teamed in his opposition’s corner, but his partners save him and wipe out Quest and Casas on the floor. Romero turns Riley inside out with a clothesline and catches him with a running Shiranui for the pin at 11:03. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time Romero has pinned someone with that move on STRONG, making it a truly historic 100th episode! That was a fun match to showcase Casas, who still moves around like a man half his age. It was also a nice showcase for Riley, who didn’t get much in his previous STRONG appearances. This will be remembered for its novelty, but there was plenty to genuinely enjoy. ***¼
STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final Round Match
Christopher Daniels & Yuya Uemura vs. TMDK (Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls)
Although TMDK attacks before the bell, Uemura and Daniels turn things around fairly quickly, with Uemura flapjacking Daniels onto Haste. They continue to pummel Haste until Nicholls trips Uemura when he hits the ropes. Haste dropkicks Uemura in the side of the head and Nicholls jams his chin into the mat. Uemura’s nose is busted open as Haste takes him down with a dropkick. Uemura counters a suplex from Nicholls to finally tag in Daniels. Daniels takes down Haste with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Nicholls backdrops out of an Angel’s Wings attempt and drills Daniels with a spinebuster. TMDK drops Daniels with the Tank Buster, but Daniels kicks out. Daniels tags in Uemura when Daniels evades a double corner attack. Uemura wipes out TMDK with flying forearms and repeated punches. Uemura dropkicks Nicholls and overhead suplexes Haste for two. Uemura succumbs to a Tower of Doom but manages to kick out. TMDK drops Daniels with a double pendulum spinebuster. Uemura from behind shoves Haste into Nicholls, sending Nicholls to the outside. Uemura busts out a huracanrana on Haste, pinning him at 10:02! The crowd goes nuts for Uemura’s upset, which goes to show how effective TMDK’s beatdown and Uemura’s selling was. This feels like a defining moment for Uemura, even if he and Daniels don’t win the titles. We end the night with some good wrestling, and an even better story. ***¼