NJPW STRONG #117 – Showdown 2022 Part 4

After defeating Testuya Naito to retain the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship, Will Ospreay issued an open challenge for anyone to face him at the New Japan and STARDOM Historic X-over event. Just when it seemed like the challenge would go unanswered, Shota Umino arrived, equipped with the new nickname of “Roughneck.” Umino laid out Ospreay and held the title over him, accepting the challenge. Umino is not just looking to take the title, but to avenge his loss against Will Ospreay at Royal Quest II. It must be mentioned that the match ended in a referee stoppage, and that the referee for that match was Umino’s father, “Red Shoes” Umino.

Ospreay vs Umino

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay vs. Shota Umino

NJPWxSTARDOM Historic X-over – Tokyo, Japan – 11.20.2022

Ospreay has been champion since 6.12.2022 and this is his fourth defense. Red Shoes Umino is once again the referee for this match. Ospreay is wearing Hayabusa tribute gear, which was approved by Hayabusa’s daughter herself. Umino targets Ospreay’s neck after successfully connecting with a diving uppercut. Ospreay cuts him off with a Hot Shot and a running boot to the face. Ospreay then wears down Umino’s neck after giving him a backbreaker. Umino drives him down with a back elbow and nails a basement dropkick. A top rope dropkick and fisherman’s suplex get Umino a two count. Ospreay sends Umino out with a back handspring enzuigiri and lands a pescado. Ospreay’s Pip Pip Cheerio gets him a two count back inside of the ring, but even with a nearfall, it’s clear Umino’s neck is bothering him. Umino is able to get his knees up to block a shooting star press and pop up Ospreay into a powerbomb. When Umino looks to follow up with a dropkick, Ospreay counters in mid-air with a sit-out powerbomb. Umino evades the Chelsea Grin and successfully pulls off a dropkick, as well as a Jon Woo dropkick. Ospreay slips out of a superplex attempt and hits a Cheeky Nando’s Kick. He does the deal and lands a 450 Splash for two. Umino catches the OsCutter and tries the Death Rider. Ospreay flips over that and sit-out powerbombs Umino again. The OsCutter connects when he tries again. When Umino kicks out, he drills Umino repeatedly in the back of the head with elbows, which is when Red Shoes stopped the match last time. Ospreay waits all the way to the count of five before stopping, and then punts Umino in the forehead. Shota grabs his father’s leg to let him know he doesn’t want him to call the match. He gets back to his feet after a superkick from Ospreay, but after a second superkick, Umino has to use the ropes to get to his feet. Punch drunk, he finds himself right in Ospreay’s clutches for the Chelsea Grin. Umino remarkably ducks the Hidden Blade and drops Ospreay with two Rolls of the Dice and a reverse brainbuster for two. Ospreay bridges out of a Death Rider attempt. He hook kicks Umino to his knees, but Umino catches him with a pop-up uppercut and a running neckbreaker for two. An elevated Death Rider gets Umino two. Ospreay escapes a second Death Rider, popping Umino up into a forearm smash. Umino kicks out from a Hidden Blade, but a second Hidden Blade and the Stormbreaker get Ospreay the pin at 23:30. This match helped put Umino on the map and was another really good defense for Ospreay. I see some people calling this match disappointing, but it was exactly what I would’ve expected from Ospreay versus a talented, but still relatively inexperienced challenger. I also very much appreciated that Ospreay varied his arsenal up just enough to make this unique. I enjoyed this, high expectations from others be damned. ****

After the match, a video with Kenny Omega plays on the titantron. Omega says Ospreay is nothing more than his “replacement” for when he went and created AEW. He blames the small crowds and lack of cheering on Ospreay, saying he and his “auto translate loving foreign pals” are the real virus infecting NJPW. They’re all Kenny Omega ripoffs. Omega says he was surprised to get a phone call from NJPW, and while he himself is not interested in challenging Ospreay necessarily, both for the fans and the betterment of pro-wrestling, he will save New Japan and return at Wrestle Kingdom 17. When the video ends, Ospreay tells the crowd that the way he looks at it, he kept the heartbeat of New Japan going when Omega left. If Omega wants to come back, then so be it. He accepts Omega’s challenge for January 4th. The next day, it was made official that Will Ospreay would defend the IWGP United States Championship against the very first person to hold that title, Kenny Omega, at Wrestle Kingdom 17. That should be a hoot.

Chris Jericho successfully defended his ROH World Championship at AEW’s “Full Gear 2022” event against Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, and Sammy Guevara. During Jericho’s post-match interview later in the evening, Orange Cassidy informed Jericho that a friend of his has challenged Jericho for a title match on the following week’s episode of Dynamite: former ROH World TV Champion and fellow CHAOS member Tomohiro Ishii. Jericho accepted the challenge, stating he remembered Ishii being a young boy during his time with WAR in the early 90’s, and that he would treat Ishii like a young boy when they met in the ring.

8 - Jericho vs Ishii

ROH World Championship
Chris Jericho vs. Tomohiro Ishii

AEW Dynamite #164 – Chicago, IL – 11.23.2022

Jericho has been champion since 9.21.2022 and this is his sixth defense. Ian Riccaboni is on commentary and Bobby Cruise does the ring introductions for the bout. An open hand strike exchange concludes with Ishii snapmaring him into a spine kick. Ishii then ends a forearm strike exchange with a Saito suplex. A chop exchange goes on for so long that Jericho’s left pectoral busts open and bleeds down his stomach. When the exchange finally concludes, Jericho shoves Ishii to the corner with a clothesline, then uses repeated clotheslines to knock Ishii down to the mat. Ishii counters his ten punches in the corner with a running powerbomb. Ishii elbow strikes Jericho to stop his springboard dropkick, but Jericho scores with a DDT onto the ring apron! Back in the ring, Ishii ducks a clothesline and German suplexes Jericho. Jericho comes back with his own pair of German suplexes. Ishii is too worn down to get to his feet, so Jericho lands a lionsault, but Ishii fires up at the count of one. The Code Breaker then gets Jericho a very close nearfall. Ishii headbutts Jericho after avoiding the Molasses Elbow. Jericho kicks out after taking a Sliding D. Jericho evades the brainbuster, but Ishii gives him a Code Breaker! A lariat follows up and Jericho gets his shoulder up just before the pin. Jericho then blocks an enzuigiri and puts Ishii in the Walls of Jericho. He converts into the Liontamer, and Ishii flips off Jericho before tapping out at 15:29. I don’t know why, but I was not expecting much from this match, and it turned out to be fun as hell. Ishii busted his ass and Jericho was game to go strike-for-strike with him to the point of being busted open. Ishii using the Code Breaker was a huge hit with the live crowd and a great inflection point for the bout in general. This was very good; I just don’t think it was as good as many others have claimed it to be. ***½

Los Angeles, CA – 11.26.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Alex Koslov.

Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Jakob Austin Young & Greg Sharpe

This is Aussie Open’s first match in NJPW USA. since losing the STRONG Openweight Tag Team Titles last month. Their attack at the bell and the aggression they take out on Young and Sharpe illustrated their discontent with this reality. Sharpe’s attire and him taking down Davis with a Torbellino leads me to believe he’s a Masato Yoshino fan. As if I needed another reason to like him. Davis saved Fletcher from a modified Octopus Stretch from Young, but Young escaped quickly and tagged Sharpe who came in with a high crossbody. Sharpe almost surprised Fletcher with a Magistral Cradle pin but Fletcher kicked out. Dental Plan and the Aussie Arrow didn’t keep Sharpe down, but Coriolis did the trick at 5:51. While this was more or less a squash for Aussie Open, Sharpe and Young delivered once again in their role. Invest in them now. **

Jake Something vs. Juice Robinson

Robinson keeps retreating to the floor as Something gains momentum. It pays off when Something goes for a dive and Robinson from the floor snaps Something’s neck across the top rope as he is diving. Robinson sends Something back first into a corner after removing its buckle pad, and from there focuses his attack on Something’s back. Something escapes a back suplex and explodes into Robinson with a full body attack. He then tackles Robinson into the corner without the pad. Something successfully lands the dive he went for earlier, then lands a Falcon Arrow back inside of the ring for two. Robinson surprises Something with a left handed lariat in the corner. A Frankensteiner and Jon Woo dropkick follow, but Something catches his somersault senton attempt and powerbombs him for two! Robinson hits him with the Left Hand of God. Something fires up from a lariat. He charges, but gets dropped face first on the exposed turnbuckle with a Hot Shot. A second Left Hand of God and the Rock Slide get Robinson the pin at 10:44. I liked the story of this match a lot. Something was a big obstacle for Robinson to get through and the exposed turnbuckles were his key to victory. Something still got to look like a monster throughout the match, winning over the LA crowd in the process. He’s 2-2 in really good matches between this and the Shingo bout. Keep Something coming. ***¼

After the match, Blake Christian attacks Robinson, getting revenge for Robinson costing him and Dorada their tag match last week. Backstage, Robinson tells Christian that he is barking up the wrong tree, and threatens to take him out of the business for good.

Fred Rosser vs. Jay White

Rosser is the current STRONG Openweight Champion, and White is the current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. Neither title is on the line. Rosser takes down White with a bodyslam and clotheslines him to the floor. He then puts White in a crossface chickenwing around one of the ring posts. White then sends Rosser head first into the opposite ring post and drops him sternum first onto the ring apron. White wears out Rosser back inside the ring. Rosser eventually answers one of White’s chops with one of his own. Multiple hip attacks in the corner leads to a sit-out splash. White resists the Gut Check but is taken down with a Northern Lights suplex. Rosser’s hubris resulted in him giving White an open shot during another chop battle, and White took that opening to kick Rosser and drop him with a DDT. Rosser absorbs White’s chops as he’s backed to the corner. He holds onto the middle rope and asks for more chops. Rosser’s taking them in stride angers White, who takes down Rosser with a Complete Shot and yanks him into a German suplex. On the apron, White fights for a sleepwalker suplex. Rosser instead gives White a backbreaker. Rosser goes for the Gut Check back inside the ring. White slips out of it and delivers the sleepwalker suplex. White pulls Rosser up into the Blade Runner position. Rosser counters into the Gut Check for two. Rosser counters another Blade Runner, drilling White with a forearm strike before dropping him with an Emerald Flowsion for two. Rosser immediately grabs the crossface chickenwing. White struggles to escape, and just when he is about to succumb to it, White kicks Rosser low as the referee is telling the timekeeper his arm didn’t drop thrice. White has Rosser set up for the Blade Runner when Rosser gets the chicken wing reapplied! White rolls to the ropes. Rosser pulls him up from the mat, but when he does, White drops him with the Blade Runner to get the pin at 19:22. I wasn’t sure where this was going for a little while, but once Rosser gave White the backbreaker on the apron, the match’s trajectory became clear and the crowd got very into this match. They successfully got us thinking Rosser just may beat White, which was quite the task. I think they could have used some of the time in the first half more effectively, but this was mostly really good stuff. I would love to see Rosser in next year’s G1. ***¾

White says he is the father of New Japan STRONG, and after beating Rosser, he would be well within his right to challenge him for his STRONG Openweight title. Fortunately for Rosser, White’s hands are a little full at the moment. However, White says he has Rosser’s next challenger picked out for him. He wanted to give Team Filthy a thank you for the help they’ve provided for BULLET CLUB lately, and by Tom Lawlor’s request, the next challenger for Rosser’s title will be JR Kratos. Kratos makes his way to ring. He deadlifts Rosser into a suplex, then stands on his back while holding up the title. Kratos lays the title across Rosser before heading backstage. That match-up has a lot of potential.

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