NJPW STRONG #106 – Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2022 Part 1

We had a fairly active week for NJPW in other American promotions this week. First, on the Zero Hour for AEW’s All Out PPV, we were treated to a rematch from Capital Collision:

Ishii vs Kingston

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Eddie Kingston
AEW All Out 2022: Zero Hour – Hoffman Estates, IL – 9.4.2022

Commentary tells us Eddie Kingston dedicated this match to Genichiro Tenryu, who was hospitalized days before with a cervical spinal cord injury. These two chop each other into fatigue and both fall to the mat. Ishii has himself a violence party on Kingston in the corner, and when Kingston gets at him with chops, Ishii knocks Kingston down like a falling tree with a forearm to the face. Kingston unloads with shotgun chops in the corner moments later, and takes Ishii down with a double underhook suplex. The Sliding D gets Kingston a two count. Kingston whips Ishii to the corner, and Ishii explodes back out with a shoulder block. Kingston kicks out of a Saito suplex. The two of them trade open handed strikes (slaps) to one another, ending with Kingston pulling Ishii down by his neck to block a lariat. Kingston’s shoulder appears to have given out in the process, but it appears he played possum to block Ishii’s lariat when he tries again. The two suplex one another, deliver simultaneous clotheslines, and fall to the mat. Kingston nails Ishii with a fallback lariat and powerbombs him for two. Ishii rolls through a half-nelson suplex, but Kingston blasts him with a lariat for another two count. Ishii connects with his own lariat and picks up Kingston when Kingston kicks out. Kingston hits a jump-up enzuigiri, but Ishii uses the ropes to come back with a Sliding D of his own. Ishii goes for the brainbuster, which pinned Kingston in D.C. Kingston blocks and clovers him with the Backfist to the Future. When Ishii kicks out, he headbutts Kingston. Kingston hits another Backfist to the Future, Ishii headbutts him again. Ishii goes for the brainbuster, and this time Kingston uses the momentum to drop him a 2k1 Bomb for the pin at 13:27. These two love to beat each other up and we love watching it. But what I liked best is that both of them used momentum gained from offense they took to retaliate against one another, and how that helped Kingston surprise Ishii and get the victory. Kingston’s recovery from a minor flub was also remarkable – a true pro. This was better than most of the actual PPV, and if giving Kingston matches like this is AEW’s idea of punishment, I say punish him more! ***½

We then had two NJPW USA debuts on Impact Wrestling. First, the inaugural STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champions, Aussie Open, took on Impact’s BULLET CLUB contingent:

Aussie Open vs BULLET CLUB

Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. BULLET CLUB (Ace Austin & Chris Bey)

Aussie Open attack BULLET CLUB before the bell. Even though they’re able to wipe out Bey with a slingshot uppercut, Austin’s quickness on the apron allows Bey to come back with a tope con hilo moments later. Aussie Open catches stereo top rope attacks back in the ring and drives Bey and Austin into each other back first, choosing to isolate Austin in their corner after the fact. Austin is able to forearm Davis when Fletcher whips him into the corner and hops over Fletcher so he can finally tag Bey. Bey sends Davis to the floor with a Sankakugeri and rolls back into a Sliced Bread to Fletcher. Austin Fosbury flops onto Davis. Bey superkicks Fletcher and stomps his face into the mat before Bey frog splashes onto him. Davis breaks the cover. He also saves Fletcher from another Sliced Bread from Bey. Fletcher superkicks Austin to the floor and assists Davis with a one-man Ragnarok. Bey is then laid out with Coriolis for the pin at 7:07. Bey and Austin are an incredible tandem and will steal the Jr. Tag League if they’re invited. Their offense is exciting, unique, and Bey has a personality that makes them so likable despite being part of a Rudo group. They were a great team for Aussie Open to overpower and to use as an example to stake their claim in Impact. A really great debut for our STRONG Tag Team Champions. ***

I was surprised that the other NJPW debut on this episode, Yuya Uemura, was teased a week before debuting. I just did not anticipate a young lion receiving such fanfare. However, based on his red and white attire, it appears Uemura may actually no longer be a young lion! Commentary says as such, but we’ll see if that’s the case come STRONG:

Yuya Uemura Impact

Yuya Uemura vs. Kenny King

King is playful and arrogant as he maintains an offensive stride. Uemura turns up the intensity, taking down King with a running forearm, dropping a Muta style elbow, followed by a leaping elbow drop. King pulls Uemura off of the second rope, causing the back of Uemura’s head to collide against the back of the turnbuckle. Uemura surprises King with a dropkick, scoring a nearfall moments later with his corner forearm and running bulldog combo. King hits him with the Eddy Gordo kick and drops him with a spinebuster for two, and also gets two with a Tiger Driver. King pitches Uemura to the floor. After he sends Uemura face first into the steel steps, Mia Yim gets in Kenny King’s face. King brings Uemura back into the ring. King tries to use the ropes for a jackknife pin but Yim knocks his feet off of the ropes. When King grabs Yim’s hair, Yim kicks him in the head from the floor. Uemura then takes out King with a high crossbody for the pin at 9:02. It is nice that Uemura had a successful debut, but Yim’s interference cheapened it for me. I know this was to advance an Impact story, but it truly did feel like it was at Uemura’s expense, and that does not sit well with me. Otherwise, this was a good match. **½

Los Angeles, CA – 9.10.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.

Mascara Dorada vs. Misterioso

Their evenly matched Lucha back-and-forth ends with Dorada sending Misterioso to the floor with a rope walk Frankensteiner. When Dorada tries a tope con hilo, Misterioso catches Dorada and swings him into the guardrails! Dorada avoids a senton and dumps Misterioso to the floor. Dorada then tightrope walks across the top rope and lands a somersault senton onto a standing Misterioso! He follows up with a delayed somersault senton back inside of the ring for a two count. Misterioso comes off the top with a dropkick to send Dorada back to the floor and lands his own topé con hilo. A resorté dropkick gets him a two count back in the ring. Each of them hit gamengiri’s in the corner, and it results in Misterioso taking Dorada off the top with an avalanche Frankensteiner for a very close nearfall. Misterioso’s electric chair German suplex also doesn’t do the trick. Dorada blocks the standing Spanish Fly and maneuvers Misterioso into a German suplex and tornado DDT. The Dorada Driver gets him the pin at 9:41. This was the best Misterioso has looked to date. His offense was a perfect amalgam of Lucha proficiency to match Dorada mixed with offense to overpower Dorada. It showed me what he is more able to bring to the table, and I think it’s because he was against another luchador. The crowd was also very into this, thanks in part to the way the action escalated. A moment of awkwardness towards the end was the only big negative, but otherwise, this was very good. ***½

Robbie Eagles vs. Kevin Blackwood

This is Eagles’ first STONG match since STRONG #63. In that time, Eagles enjoyed a reign as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team champion. Eagles resists a cloverleaf and takes down Blackwood with a spinwheel kick. Blackwood ducks a pump kick and takes Eagles down with a back elbow. Blackwood trips Eagles, and instead of going for the cloverleaf again, he double stomps Eagles’ chest. Eagles flips out of a back suplex, takes out Blackwood’s left leg and swiftly clobbers him in the back of the neck with an upturned elbow. When Eagles looks for a diving elbow to a seated Blackwood in the corner, Blackwood puts his feet up to block him. Eagles knees Blackwood in the stomach to block an exploder suplex. They end up booting each other in the face at the same time. Blackwood tags Eagles with a pump knee and discus forearm, but Eagles weaves out of a suplex and drops Blackwood with the Pulse Drop. Eagles springboard dropkicks Blackwood’s knee out. Blackwood kicks Eagles down when Eagles grabs his leg and successfully puts him in the cloverleaf. Eagles gets the ropes to escape. Blackwood kicks Eagles upside the head and muscles him up into a brainbuster for two. Eagles blocks a kick and pulls Blackwood forward into the Turbo Backpack for two. Eagles gives Blackwood’s leg a 450 splash and then locks him in the Ron Miller Special, resulting in Blackwood tapping out at 11:32. Like Misterioso, Blackwood also had his best STRONG performance yet in this match. Going against someone credible who has a similar style and stature helps, I’m sure. Blackwood going for a leg submission all match long, only to be defeated by Eagles leg submission was an interesting story. This may have dragged a little, but otherwise a very solid match. ***¼

STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championship
Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson)

Aussie Open have been champions since 8.13.2022 and this is their second defense. Nelson challenged Aussie Open backstage on STRONG 102, right after they won the titles. Nelson takes down Fletcher with a spear. He then knocks Davis off the apron and shoulder tackles Fletcher, taking him to the corner where Isaacs punches him in the stomach and Nelson pounces Fletcher. They do some damage to Fletcher’s left leg, but Davis interjects illegally to help him out. Davis however finds himself succumbing to a delayed double vertical suplex. Fletcher stops Nelson who has sat himself on the top turnbuckle by sending him tumbling down to the floor with an enzuigiri. Davis bum rushes Isaacs to the floor, and Aussie Open drops both Nelson and Isaacs onto the ring apron with back suplexes. Aussie Open then double teams Nelson back in the ring as Isaacs recovers. When Fletcher gets Nelson back on top turnbuckle, Nelson bites Fletcher’s face to get him down and takes him out with a high crossbody. Isaacs tags in and wipes out Fletcher with a flipping clothesline. Isaacs stacks up Aussie Open in the corner and batters them with clotheslines before muscling Fletcher into a Jackhammer for two. Isaacs German suplexes Fletcher and with Nelson gives him their Dominator/neckbreaker combo. Davis breaks the cover, and Nelson cracks him with a knee strike right underneath the chin. Aussie Open reversed double German suplex attempts into double brainbusters. Nelson ducks a double forearm smash, resulting in Fletcher and Davis striking one another. Davis is taken out with a dragonscrew leg whip. WCWC hit a modified version of Movie on the Roof and Fletcher gets shoulder up just before a three count. Fletcher superkicks Nelson and Isaacs is taken out by the Aussie Arrow. Nelson leaps in from behind to break the pin and is then dropkicked by Fletcher to the floor. Aussie Open were then free and clear to deliver Coriolois to Isaacs for the pin at 11:38. This was intense, fun, and had me and the crowd believing we were on the verge of seeing new champions crowned. Something I’ve noticed is how generous Aussie Open are with their opponents, and it makes their matches so much better. WCWC delivered a tremendous performance in their own right and the layout of their match turned the crowd in their favor. One of my favorite STRONG matches of the year, capping off one of my favorite episodes of the year. ****

No XTRA at all again this week.

 

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