Some significant matches took place outside of STRONG this week.On Sunday, Ospreay finally made his second defense of the U.S. Title to end the Burning Spirit tour:
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay vs. David Finlay
NJPW Burning Spirit 2022 Day 14 – Kobe, Hyogo, Japan – 9.25.2022
Ospreay has been champion since 6.12.2022 and this is his second defense. Finlay earned this title match by defeating Ospreay in their G1 Climax D Block match last month. The match starts intensely, with Finlay throwing Ospreay into the metal barricades twice. Ospreay hops over the barricades on his third attempt and throws a press conference table at Finlay’s face! Finlay shoves Ospreay kidney first into the barricades to block a powerbomb, which is particularly effective since Ospreay had kidney issues earlier in the year. However, Ospreay scores with a big boot back inside of the ring and takes back control of the match. Finlay backdrops Ospreay to counter another powerbomb attempt and takes him down with three running forearm strikes. He knees Ospreay in the kidney a handful of times only for Ospreay to come back with a back handspring enzuigiri. Ospreay forcefully drives Finlay’s left shoulder into opposite corner pads and swings him into a backbreaker. Finlay once again blocks a powerbomb and nails a twisting uppercut while they’re on the canvas. Finlay spins Ospreay into a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Ospreay headbutts Finlay off the top turnbuckle to stop a superplex attempt. He powerbombs Finlay onto the ring apron and lands a Skytwister Press to the floor. Ospreay tries to pick up Finlay to put him through a ringside table, but unbeknownst to him, Finlay has his shillegah. He uses it to smash Ospreay’s hand onto the table! Finlay then attacks Ospreay’s injured hand, slamming it against and bending it underneath the barricades. Ospreay uses an enzuigiri to create some distance. He then has Jeff Cobb snap his fingers back into place and Gideon Grey use athletic tape to create a makeshift splint. Finlay is able to catch an Ospreay springboard and give him a uranage backbreaker. Ospreay blocks the Acid Drop and enzuigiri’s Finlay on the ring apron. Ospreay’s hand injury enabled Finlay to catch him with a German suplex on the apron and drop him on the ringside table from earlier with the Acid Drop! Finlay thren powerbombs Ospreay through both tables. Osprey makes it back in the ring just before being counted out, right into a spear and an Acid Drop for a close nearfall. Ospreay counters Trash Panda with an inside cradle and Prima Nocta with a Mouse Trap pin. Finlay backslides his way out of a Hidden Blade and hits Trash Panda, but Ospreay gets his foot on the ropes to stop the pin. Ospreay blocks another Trash Panda with the Hidden Blade, but he is too worn out to go for the cover. Finlay blocks an OsCutter with Prima Nocta for two and goes for the Acid Drop. Ospreay tosses Finlay backwards and hits the OsCutter out of the corner. When Finlay resists the Stormbreaker, Ospreay blasts him with another Hidden Blade, and then hits Stormbreaker successfully for the pin at 28:22.
I was transfixed by the storytelling of this match. Finlay went after Ospreay’s kidneys, and then his fingers when he was able to smash them with his shillelagh. He then used the tables Ospreay had set up against him later on in the match, which came close to being Ospreay’s undoing. Because of the substantial beating his took, it took Ospreay the entire match to get Finlay up in a powerbomb position, and when he finally did, it was for the Stormbreaker which got him the win, but it took two other huge moves to get Finlay worn down enough for that to happen. Ospreay did an amazing job making Finlay look formidable, and even after the match displayed how much of a toll the match took on him. These two have such great chemistry, and while I would’ve loved to have seen Finlay win the title, it does feel like Ospreay has plenty of interesting match-ups left to continue his reign. It’s clear, though, that Finlay has what it takes to be a top singles competitor in New Japan. This rocked. ****¼
Tetsuya Naito, who Ospreay defeated in the semi-finals of the G1 Climax tournament, comes out to ask for another singles match with the U.S. Title on the line. Before Ospreay can answer his challenge, Zack Sabre Jr. comes out and says Naito must have lost his mind. He defeated Ospreay in the New Japan Cup and thus deserves to be the next U.S. Title challenger. Sabre then challenges Naito for a singles match at Royal Quest II to determine who will face Ospreay next. Naito doesn’t give Sabre a straight answer, and Ospreay looks annoyed that he had no say in this situation. Ospreay says it doesn’t matter which one of them he faces, he is the best champion. Naito would end up defeating Sabre, so maybe we’ll see Ospreay defend against Naito soon.
Juice Robinson is one of the few people who hold a victory over Jon Moxley in 2022. Granted, it was in a four way match where Robinson pinned Will Ospreay, but a win nevertheless. This distinction earned him an “Eliminator” match against Moxley, the current AEW World Champion. Basically, Robinson would earn a shot at the World title if he defeats Moxley.
AEW World Championship Eliminator Match
Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson
AEW Dynamite #156 – Philadelphia, PA – 9.28.2022
Robinson attacks Moxley during his entrance, but spending too much time posing allows Moxley to recover. He suplexes Robinson on the floor after sending him into the barricades. Robinson bites Moxley back in the ring to turn things in his favor, and then crushes him against the barricades with a somersault senton. Moxley is busted open, and Robinson headbutts that open wound. Robinson however crashes and burns when attempting a somersault senton onto a steel chair. In the ring, Moxley counters a clothesline with an Ace Crusher for two. Robinson digs his fingers into Moxley’s eyes and powerbombs him out of the corner for two, and then drops the champion with Pulp Friction after sending him shoulder first into the ring post for two. Robinson escapes the Rockslide and knees Robinson in the face. He then pulls Robinson up into repeated stomps before applying a cross armbreaker, resulting in a submission from Robinson at 11:18. This goes to show how context and roles matter. These two had excellent matches in New Japan when Moxley was the bad guy and Robinson was the good guy. When you swap those roles and put the match on AEW television, it isn’t the same. The crowd was apathetic, Robinson just isn’t as good in this role as he was as a member of Hontai, and not one person thought for a second Robinson had any chance of winning. While I like Robinson, aren’t there like 40 AEW roster members who barely get featured that would have benefited greatly from being featured instead? This was a big miss. **¼
Yuya Uemura was also back on this week’s Before The Impact, against one of Impact’s latest Gut Check winners:
Yuya Uemura vs. Jason Hotch
Impact Wrestling Before The Impact #85 – Nashville, TN – 9.29.2022
Uemura resists a pair of running shoulder blocks from Hotch, so Hotch throws him down by his hair. Uemura responds with a pair of deep armdrags, but a knee lift and neckbreaker keep Hotch in control. Uemura Judo throws Hotch overhead and snaps his arm before attempting an armbar. Hotch gets to the ropes. He snaps Uemura’s neck across the top rope then rolls up into another neckbreaker on Uemura. Hotch clobbers Uemura with two hard forearm strikes, but Uemura shuts him down with a dropkick. Uemura clotheslines Hotch in the corner and brings him out with a bulldog. He launches Hotch overhead with a double arm-capture belly-to-belly suplex. Hotch avoids a crossbody and hits the Chaos Theory for two. Uemura stuns Hotch with an enzuigiri, but Hotch responds with a knee strike right underneath his chin. Uemura slides off of Hotch’s shoulders and turns him inside out with a clothesline. Uemura then lands the high crossbody successfully for the pin at 8:30. This told a great story and the fans were SUPER into Uemura. I also really liked what I saw out of Hotch – he definitely has future X-Division champion written all over him. This was definitely my favorite of Uemura’s Impact matches. ***
Los Angeles, CA – 10.1.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.
Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Stray Dog Army (Bateman & Barrett Brown)
The SDA have defeated Knight and DKC in trios action twice. Additionally, Bateman has defeated Knight in a singles match, and Brown has defeated DKC in a singles match. However, DKC and Brown defeated former NWA Tag Team Champions The Heatseekers last month, and are hoping to carry that momentum into another tag team victory. The injured Clark Connors is on commentary for this bout. The SDA attack the LA DOJO team before the bell and pummel them outside the ring. They isolate DKC in their corner until he swivels out of a suplex from Bateman and tags in Knight, who splashes onto both Barrett and Bateman in the corner at the same time. Knight slams Bateman into a twisting frog splash. Bateman avoids a Boston Crab attempt, and thanks to a kick from the apron from Barrett, Bateman is able to give Knight a twisting back suplex. The SDA then wears down Knight until he rolls through a slam attempt from Bateman, ducks a clothesline, and tags DKC back in. He unleashes chops to Bateman and Brown, taking down Brown with a neckbreaker for two. Brown goes to DKC’s eyes to evade DK Fire. Knight shuts down Brown with his signature dropkick, but a snap brainbuster from Bateman takes Brown down. DKC uses a flying karate kick to send Bateman outside. DKC sunset flips Brown. Brown picks up DKC, but DKC takes him down with a crucifix driver to get the pin at 8:16. It’s good to see DKC and Knight gaining momentum as a team, especially now with titles for teams to aspire to on the show. If SDA have been relegated to fodder status, so be it, but they did a very good job elevating DKC and Knight. **¾
Che Cabrera vs. Aaron Solo
This is Cabrera’s NJPW debut. He has a history of teaming with Bad Dude Tito as the “Wolf Zaddies”, which checks out as he has a similar look to Tito. QT Marshall is in Solo’s corner. Even though Solo attacks Cabrera at the bell, Cabrera is able to show off his power with a delayed vertical suplex and a lariat that sends Solo to the floor. Solo escapes an apron powerbomb, and a distraction from Marshall enables Solo to deliver a PK from the apron. Marshall sneaks in a cheap shot as Solo beats down Cabrera back inside of the ring. Cabrera fights out of a chinbreaker and takes down Solo with a shoulder tackle. Cabrera snap slams Solo out of the corner and pops him up into a spinebuster for two. Solo cracks Cabrera with an enzuigiri before sending him crashing into the corner with a sunset bomb. A top rope double stomp follows for a two count. Cabrera boots Solo to stop a slingshot attempt and drops him with Total Anarchy for two. Cabrera ducks an enzuigiri and tries an Oklahoma Roll. However, Solo grabs the bottom rope and lays down on Cabrera as he’s mid-pin, and it ends up pinning Cabrera’s shoulders to the mat and giving Solo the win at 8:31. Very clever finish and counter. I am over the Factory in general, but Solo is for sure the best of the group, and I was really impressed with Cabrera. I am interested to see if his past affiliation with Tito becomes a story at some point. A nice find for the STRONG roster. **¾
The Autumn Action tour begins next week, with Ren Narita returning to face Juice Robinson. Narita says that Robinson cheating and stealing belts is “soft”, not “Rock Hard.” He says if Juice tries to cheat in their singles match next week, he’ll leave him laying on the floor.
NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship
Fred Rosser vs. TJP
Rosser has been champion since 6.25.2022 and this is his third defense. TJP is currently one-half of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. TJP goes after Rosser’s neck, wearing him down for an Octopus Stretch attempt. TJP hurries to the orpes when Rosser attempts to grab a crossface chicken wing. TJP gets him a guillotine choke between the ropes and knocks him down with an uppercut. Rosser aggressively sends TJP to the corner, and the momentum carries TJP over the buckle and crashes to the floor. TJP trips Rosser when he comes back in the ring and snaps his left shoulder while hammerlocking his other arm. TJP hurts the arm further with another Octopus Stretch. Rosser goes to the apron to escape a slingshot senton. Even though TJP rakes his eyes, Rosser is able to give TJP a backbreaker onto the ring frame. Rosser pummeled him with forearms to the chest and back and repeated hip and knee attacks in the corner. Rosser gets two after that with a seated senton. TJP Saito suplexes Rosser onto his head. Rosser blocks a Detonation Kick and delivers a running Death Valley Driver. Rosser then follows TJP to the floor with a running seated senton off of the apron. TJP follows Rosser to the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a superplex. TJP goes for a Dragon Sleeper, which Rosser evades, but TJP scores with a tornado DDT. TJP crashes and burns on a Mamba Splash attempt, giving Rosser the chance to try for a Gut Check, but TJP counters into a standing Rings of Saturn, down into modified Regal Stretch. TJP looks to convert into something else when Rosser is close to the ropes, but Rosser takes the opportunity to apply the Chicken Wing STF. TJP uses the ropes to escape, drops Rosser with a falling elbow drop, and hits the Mamba Splash for two. Rosser fights out of a Detonation Kick. A combination of the Gut Check and Emerald Flowsion gets Rosser a two count, so he goes back to the Chicken Wing STF and TJP taps out at 17:20. TJP working over Rosser’s left shoulder and chin was a good throughline for this match, and throwing in something cheap now and again helped to get the crowd fully behind Rosser. Rosser was a very smart champion, adapting to TJP’s offense as the match progressed, finding new counters to get TJP where he needed him to pull off his big offense. This was a very good main event and the first remarkable title defense for Rosser. ***¾
Chris Dickinson attacked Fred Rosser after the match. NJPW did not advertise Dickinson being on this card. I understand he was a run-in, but I think with the allegations against him, it is wrong to not have advertised him as being a part of this show. People should know in advance if he will be on a show in any capacity in case they want to not support the show or feel uncomfortable being there. This happens at the next set of tapings too, and I think that is reprehensible. As somebody who does not want to support Chris Dickinson, but does want to continue watching and reviewing this show, I will acknowledge whenever he is on shows going forward, but not with any depth or detail.