Charlotte, NC – 8.13.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.
Jorel Nelson vs. Shane Haste
This is Nelson’s first singles match in NJPW, as his partner Royce Isaacs is in Japan during the G1 with Tom Lawlor. Nelson looks to get a measure of revenge on Haste for eliminating him and Isaacs from the STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament. Haste delivers a delayed dropkick to the shoulder blades. On the floor, Nelson sends Haste back first into the barricades and then backdrops him onto the ring apron. Haste’s leg hits the bottom rope at the same time, and Nelson attacks that leg back inside the ring. Haste powers out of a sharpshooter. When Nelson tries another backdrop, Haste counters with a DDT. Haste gets two with a sit-out powerbomb. Nelson recovers in the corner from a Saito suplex. He takes down Haste with a superkick and Sick Kick for two. Haste trips Nelson on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a superplex. Nelson escapes a Death Valley Driver, chop blocks Haste’s bad leg, then schoolboys him and holds his tights for the pin at 8:16. This was a totally solid match, and an interesting ending considering Team Filthy have been getting over as good guys in Japan during this match. I think these two groups have good chemistry with each other, so I am down if this rivalry continues. **¾
Outside of the building, Rocky Romero reminisces on his Forbidden Door match where he had Dax Harwood pinned, but ultimately ate the pin moments later. He felt he was robbed of both the IWGP and ROH Tag Team Titles. He asked for a singles match against Harwood to get revenge and retribution. He will have his hand raised in that match, with Harwood lying beneath him.
Big Damo vs. Hikuleo
It is uncommon to see a super heavyweight battle on STRONG. This goes about as you would expect, with the coolest moment seeing Damo avoid Hikuleo’s powerslam and subsequently take him down with a running crossbody. Damo misses a Vader Bomb but pump kicks Hikuleo after avoiding a chokeslam. Damo comes off the ropes, and Hikuleo catches him with a powerslam this time, and pulls off a chokeslam for the pin at 6:18. Another solid match, and a singles victory of significance during Hikuleo’s winning streak. I think with the progress most men have made, re-visiting Rosser vs. Hikuleo as a title match would be a good time. **¼
STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship Tournament Final Round Match
Christopher Daniels & Yuya Uemura vs. Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher)
The winners of this match will be the inaugural STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champions. Uemura has trunks that match Daniels’ outfit – does this mean he graduated? Uemura surprises Fletcher with chops when Daniels slides to the outside. Daniels tags back in and lands a slingshot elbow drop. An atomic drop from Daniels and subsequent shoulder block from Uemura send Davis outside when he tries to interject. Daniels backdrops Fletcher to the floor, but Aussie Open both move to avoid a pescado. Uemura tries a crossbody off of the apron, but is caught by Davis. Fletcher and Davis put Daniels and Uemura’s in bear hugs and drive them together back first. Aussie Open then double team the veteran Daniels as Uemura recovers. When Daniels sneaks in an inside cradle on Davis, Fletcher distracts the referee long enough for Davis to kick out and slam Daniels. Daniels gets his knees up to stop a corner attack from Fletcher and snaps off a flying headscissors. Daniels avoids a senton from Davis and tags in Uemura who staggers Davis with a flying forearm smash and brings him out of the corner with a bulldog. Uemura gets a two count with a back suplex. Uemura locks Fletcher’s arms in front of him and tosses him overhead with a belly-to-belly suplex. Daniels pulls Fletcher down from the middle rope, and with Uemura lands an elevator drop bulldog. Davis saves Fletcher from being pinned and tosses Daniels outside. Davis tosses Uemura into a face kick from Fletcher, and then into a flying Ace Crusher for two. Daniels saves Uemura from Coriolis, and Uemura sunset flips Davis for two. Davis catches a flying Daniels mid-air with a powerbomb. Uemura has Davis pinned with a Frankensteiner, which won him and Daniels their semi-final match, but Fletcher saves him just in time. Uemura puts in an incredible effort against Aussie Open, but ultimately succumbs to Coriolis at 11:57, making Aussie Open the first STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champions. Excellent choice, as Aussie Open are a tremendous, established duo, and have the ability to defend those titles across the world. Uemura became a star during this tournament, and if he hasn’t graduated yet, he has to be close. He and Daniels did an amazing job for a last minute team all tournament long and helped make these Finals as good as they were. ***¾
Backstage, Jorel Nelson congratulates Aussie Open. He reminds Aussie Open that it was Team Filthy built NJPW Strong and the West Coast Wrecking Crew built the NJPW Strong tag team division. He challenges Aussie Open for a tag title match at Fighting Spirit Unleashed. Fletcher says Nelson and Royce lost in the opening round of the tag team tournament, but as they’re fighting champions, they accept the challenge.
Another week where no match is on XTRA. I am beginning to wonder if we will ever see the dark match from Capital Collision.