NJPW STRONG #103 – High Alert 2022 Part 2

Charlotte, NC – 8.20.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.

JR Kratos vs. Drew Adler

Adler is a local wrestler, who I’ve seen a handful of times competing in PWX’s annual X-16 tournament. Despite being 6’4”, Kratos wrecked Adler’s shit. Adler had a hopeful moment after a powerslam, but missed the follow-up high crossbody. Kratos then dropped him with his spin-out uranage, apparently called “Most Feared”, at 4:43. Seems like Kratos is simply killing time before that Coughlin Last Man Standing match comes to fruition. *

The WorkHorsemen are coming to New Japan! Anthony Henry and JD Drake debut next week against KUSHIDA and Ren Narita, and I’m stoked.

Dax Harwood vs. Rocky Romero

Romero issued this challenge last week, as he’s been in his own head since “Forbidden Door” where he came close to pinning Harwood during their triple threat tag team match. That’s reflected in Romero’s desperation when he grabs Harwood’s ear to escape an arm capture and pokes him in the eyes to stop a chop battle. Harwood isn’t afraid to give Romero an eye poke right back. Harwood ends up charging into the corner hard with his left shoulder, giving Romero a target for his offense. After escaping a small package, Romero blasted Harwood in the face with a rewind kick. Romero uses the ropes to escape a sharpshooter and lands a tornado DDT for two. Harwood takes down Romero with a superplex. Romero tries a small package and an O’Connor roll to end things, and then lands his running Shiranui for two. Harwood muscles Romero up into a one-armed powerbomb to escape the Diablo Armbar, then puts him in the sharpshooter. Romero taps at 10:26. Romero played the desperate wrestler role to perfection. He and Harwood have good chemistry, and Harwood powering out of Romero’s own submission to successfully get the Sharpshooter applied was a really fun ending. Obviously an FTR match would’ve been great, but this was a perfect way to utilize Harwood as a singles competitor. ***¼

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Blake Christian vs. El Desperado

This is the STRONG debut of both Takahashi and Desperado. Most importantly, it was Daryl’s debut too! This is Takahshi’s first time in the U.S. since Dragon Lee broke his neck in San Francisco back in July of 2018. Christian replaces the injured Clark Connors. After some shenanigans with the referee, we see a tentative partnership form between Takahashi and Desperado. Christian uses them against one another, and takes down Takahashi with a springboard forearm and sends Desperado outside with a spinwheel kick. Desperado however trips Christian from the floor and sends Takahashi chest first into the barricades. Desperado gets Christian in a one-legged submission, which Takahashi breaks and then puts Christian in a Boston Crab. Desperado breaks that by going after Takahashi’s eyes. After they overhand chop the heck out of each other, Christian once again uses the Juniors against one another and scores a nearfall with a lionsault on Takahashi. Desperado intercepts Christian’s springboard 450 splash and lands a frog splash onto Takahashi for two. When Desperado looks to suicdie dive onto Takahashi, Christian catches him coming through the ropes with a kick to the face. Takahashi then wipes out Desperado with a suicide senton, nd Christian Fosbury Flops onto both of them into a tandem reverse DDT. In the ring, Takahashi catches Christian’s back handspring attempt and delivers a German suplex. Desperado re-enters the match and drops Takahashi with a spinebuster. Christian takes him down with a Spanish Fly and Takahashi shotgun dropkicks Christian into the corner. Christian escapes a Time Bomb attempt and wipes out Takahashi with a rolling Death Valley Driver and modified curb stomp. Desperado breaks the cover, and while Takahashi is outside the ring, he cracks Christian with a haymaker and drops him with Pinche Loco for the pin at 19:19. To put it frankly, if you want to see Hiromu and Desperado coast, that’s this match in a nutshell. Fortunately, the two of them coasting is still pretty fun to watch. Christian was as good as ever, and I’m glad he got the opportunity, but I don’t think this elevated him at all in the STRONG ecosystem. Disappointing. ***

On the same day as this episode of STRONG, Aussie Open made their first defense of the STRONG Openweight Tag Titles:

Aussie Open vs Destination Everywhere

STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship
Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Destination Everywhere (Connor Mills & Michael Oku)

RevPro Ten Year Anniversary Night 1 – London, England – 8.20.2022

Aussie Open have been champions since 8.13.2022 and this is their first defense.T here’s a story going on with Mills and Oku I am not entirely in on, but commentary says they had separate entrances by Mills request as he feels he’s always seen as “Oku’s partner” and not as his own man. Earlier in the evening, Mills wrestled and defeated Tony Deppen in a singles match, meaning he is not coming into the match at full strength. Mills refused to tag out despite his neck bothering him and Davis slamming him hard twice. After Davis German suplexes Mills across the ring and takes him down with a clothesline, Fletcher slingshots Oku unwillingly into an uppercut from Davis. Davis also slams Mills on the floor. When Mills avoids a back senton from Davis and backdrops Fletcher, he finally concedes to Oku’s request for a tag. The fresh challenger tornado DDT’s Fletcher, and then does the same to Davis on the floor! Oku puts Fletcher in a half crab but he gets the ropes to escape. Fletcher avoids a corner attack and blasts Oku with a running gamengiri. He gets a nearfall on Oku with a brainbuster, and tags Davis who tosses him into a kick from Fletcher. The Aussie Arrow gets a nearfall as Mills interrupts the pin attempt. Oku uses a Franknesteiner on Fletcher to escape Coriolis. DE assaulted Davis with moonsaults and Fletcher with boots in the corner. Fletcher kicks out after taking a slam with a back kick on the way. Fletcher falls to the corner and tags Davis after taking Fletcher down with a reverse spike Frankensteiner. Davis ends up knocking Mills to the floor during a strike exchange, right into Fletcher’s arms. Fletcher lawn darts Mills into the ring post, but Oku follows him out with a Fosbury Flop. Davis clubs Oku off of the top turnbuckle. Mills stops Davis on the top turnbuckle, but Davis brings him down with a super piledriver! Fletcher takes out Oku with an apron powerbomb, but is able to save Mills from a Coriolis. Oku is tagged after Fletcher hits a desperation rebound lariat on Davis. Oku comes off the top after tagging in, straight into a big boot from Davis. Coriolis then puts him away at 19:37. This went on just a little too long and had two moments where it was hard to suspend my disbelief. After nursing his neck and getting beaten down so bad, it was hard to buy into how quick Mills recovered from a lawn dart into the ring post and then a super piledriver, no matter how tenacious he’s supposed to be. But this was good by and large, and a dominant defense from the champs. DE are very good, and I could see why Oku has had a breakout singles career. ***½

Not only is there no match on XTRA this week, there’s no XTRA at all! What’s going on?

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