Los Angeles, CA – 7.30.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.
Jordan Clearwater vs. Jeff Cobb
It’s good to see Clearwater back after a six month absence from STRONG. He was very confident going against Cobb, and got in way more offense than I expected. When Clearwater goes for the Midas Touch jumping knee, Cobb catches him with a German suplex. He then pins Clearwater with a Tour of the Islands at 4:27. As much as I liked Clearwater in the closed set era of STRONG, I don’t know where he’d fit in now. For these LA shows, this is a solid spot for him. *
Fred Yehi vs. Bateman
This is a culmination of the confrontations between Yehi and Bateman in six man tag matches at STRONG #83 and STRONG #92. Bateman slams Yehi onto his chest and face. He avoids Yehi putting on an Octopus stretch, but Yehi trips Bateman and snaps his ankle. Yehi aggressively stops Bateman on the side of the head. Bateman cracks Yehi with a closed-fist when Yehi jams his left arm over his shoulder. Yehi gets the ropes to break a double wristlock, but Bateman stomps on Yehi’s hand as he gets to his feet. Yehi repeatedly drives his knees into Bateman’s throat in the corner. Bateman gets in some forearms when he gets back to his feet, but Yehi knocks Bateman down with forearms of his own. Yehi james up Bateman’s shoulder some more and applies a sleeper. Bateman uses a spinning back elbow and brainbuster upon escaping. Yehi surprises Bateman with a goozle and a spinning back chop to the face. Yehi applies the Koji Clutch and strikes Bateman in the face until Bateman taps at 7:30. The grittiness and aggressiveness of their offense had me super engaged. This “rivalry” was drawn out way too long, but I am down with Yehi getting a win and hopefully becoming an integral part of this show again. **¾
STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final Round Match
Stray Dog Army (Barrett Brown & Misterioso) vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
The SDA do a remarkable job besting Aussie Open in the opening moments. Fletcher turns things around by superkicking Misterioso in mid-air to block a moonsault. Davis knocks Brown off of the apron, giving him and Fletcher room to double team Misterioso in their half of the ring. Misterioso takes them down with a double backspring elbow. Brown runs wilds with strikes and boots before sending Aussie Open to the floor with a double dropkick off the second turnbuckle. Brown sends them both into the barricades with a suicide dive, which Misterioso capitalizes on with a tope con hilo. In the ring, Fletcher succumbs to the MSO and .50 Caliber Kick, which got SDA the win two weeks ago, but Davis saves Fletcher from being pinned. Aussie Open swarms Brown with kicks and strikes to the face. They take out Misterioso’s knee and knock him to the floor, giving them space to batter Brown with forearms to the side of the head and drop him with Coriolis for the pin at 7:27. SDA had a heck of a showing for a match where the result was never in doubt. I’d like to see Misterioso and Brown wrestle as a duo more in the future. Aussie Open was the right choice to win, and the finals against Christopher Daniels and Yuya Uemura should be good. **¾
Fred Rosser, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kevin Knight vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Chase Owens & Hikuleo)
This is White’s first appearance on STRONG since becoming the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, and the first appearance of the title on STRONG period. It’s also Rosser’s first appearance since winning the STRONG Openweight Championship. Tanahashi starts with a man who pinned him in Korakuen Hall during the 2021 G1 Climax, Chase Owens. They pull each other’s hair and Tanahashi wipes out Owens with a twisting crossbody. Rosser tosses Owens across the ring. Knight slams Owens and looks for a Boston Crab. Owens avoids it and blows a snot rocket onto Knight. Knight catches a dropkick and puts Owens in a Boston Crab, then does so to White when he charges. Hikuleo interrupts the Crab with a large chop to the chest, then rushes Rosser and Tanahashi with a clothesline off of the apron. BULLET CLUB beats down the young lion in their corner. White and Owens mock Tanahashi with less good air guitar in the process. Knight escapes Owens’ package piledriver and cracks him with an enzuigiri. He takes down Owens with his signature dropkick and kicks White away. He tags Tanahashi who knocks Hikuleo off the apron and knocks White down with a flying back elbow. Tanahashi scores a nearfall with a somersault senton off of the second turnbuckle. White shuts him down with a dragonscrew leg whip. Tanahashi retaliates with one of his own moments later. Tanahashi counters the Blade Runner with the Twist and Shout. Tanahashi dropkicks Hikuleo in the knee and with Rosser pulls off a double suplex. They then give Owens and White stereo dragonscrew leg whips. Hikuleo wipes them out with a double clothesline. Rosser takes him out with a dragonscrew leg whip and tags in Knight who hits a huge corner splash on the big man. Knight counters a chokeslam with a wheelbarrow pin and then goes for the Boston Crab. Hikuleo doesn’t allow it, but is taken down by Tanahashi’s Sling Blade, Rosser’s seated senton, and Knight’s running Mad Splash. The other four fight to the floor as Hikuleo muscles out of the Crab. Hikuleo powerslams Knight as he comes off of the ropes and then muscles him up into a chokeslam for the pin at 15:41.
Hikuleo’s been racking up some solid wins of late, maybe they’re planning to revisit his rivalry with Rosser for the STRONG Title. I think with Hikuleo’s improvement it will likely be better if they do. That was a fun match, a solid “all star” versus BULLET CLUB match where the top champions and Tanahashi were featured. Sadly, Rosser did feel like a bit of an afterthought, which isn’t good for the champion of this show. ***¼
This week’s XTRA features Mascara Dorada vs. TJP from STRONG #88.