TJP gets his shot at Fred Rosser as the Strong Openweight title match closes out Fighting Spirit Unleashed.
The DKC & Kevin Knight pinned Barrett Brown & Bateman in 8:16 (**¾)
Aaron Solo pinned Che Cabrera in 8:31 (**¾)
Fred Rosser submitted TJP in 17:20 to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship (***½)
I’ve delayed watching this one for a week… so let’s get into it. We’re back at the Vermont Hollywood in Los Angeles with Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov on the call.
Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Stray Dog Army (Barrett Brown & Bateman)
Clark Connors joined commentary for this match…
We’ve a jump start from Brown and Bateman as things spilled outside early for a scrap. Back inside, DKC’s sent into the ropes via a Bateman elbow, before Brown helped throw DKC back into the corner. Brown’s stomp and kick to the back keeps them ahead, while a clothesline drew a two-count as the LA Dojo lads had trouble getting into gear. Bateman’s back for more double-teaming, but DKC escapes a suplex and got the tag out to Kevin Knight, who ran wild with chops and dropkicks. A Stinger Splash caught both Bateman and Brown in the corner, before he caught Bateman off the ropes with a bodyslam. The standing frog splash followed as Knight’s attempt at a Boston crab got kicked away.
Brown kicks Knight in the ropes as a side suplex from Bateman drew a two-count, as more double-teaming ended with a low dropkick from Brown that almost won it. A chinlock and some stomps keep Knight on the back foot, even more so when Brown throttled Knight into the wrong corner as Bateman returned and tried to faceplant Knight again. It’s blocked as Knight got the tag out to DKC, whose chops and kicks stunned Brown ahead of a neckbreaker for a two-count. DK Fire chops are stopped with an eye rake, with DKC getting thrown outside… Knight’s low bridged too, but returned for a high dropkick, only to get planted with a brainbuster from Bateman amid a big ol’ Parade of Moves. Brown tries to capitalise, but ends up getting caught in a crucifix driver as DKC snatched another win. This one felt a little flat until the ending, but the LA Dojo lads getting underdog wins is a good little story that’s brewing on Strong. **¾
Che Cabrera vs. Aaron Solo
It’s a New Japan Strong debut for Cabrera in a familiar spot on the card.
QT Marshall’s out with Solo, and distracts Cabrera at the bell, allowing for an easy start. Cabrera catches a crossbody and turns it into a suplex, before a lariat off the ropes sent Solo to the outside. Solo heads back inside, but missed a plancha… allowing Cabrera to tease an apron powerbomb that Solo’s able to evade. A leg sweep dumps Solo onto the apron, prompting Marshall to distract Che as Solo returned with an apron PK. There’s a cheapshot from QT on the floor too, as Solo picked up back inside with some knees and a suplex took Cabrera into the ropes for another QT shot. Solo gets barely a one-count from that, before a leaping clothesline bought Che some time.
Clotheslines from Cabrera took Solo to the corner, before a scoop slam out of the corner looked to have him on course for a win… as did a splash into the corner. A tree slam nearly wins it for Cabrera, but Solo’s back with a sunset bomb into the corner and a double stomp for a near-fall. After getting lifted onto the apron, Solo’s kicked in the ropes before a Magic Screw – dubbed the Anarchist Suplex – nearly got the upset. Solo nearly wins with an inside cradle as Cabrera looked to push on, but with the pair trading pinning combinations, Solo swings with an enziguiri and misses… Cabrera looks to dive in with a cradle, but it’s in the ropes, allowing Solo to push back and snatch the win despite being in the ropes all along. Way to make your referees look dumb, eh? **¾
Next week, Ren Narita takes on Juice Robinson… and we’ve got a promo from Narita in Japanese for that. Except for the words “Juice Numbnuts.” Narita’s US excursion is over, so this match with Juice seems to be his swansong…
NJPW STRONG Openweight Championship: TJP vs. Fred Rosser (c)
This was Rosser’s third defence of the title, having beaten Big Damo and Fred Yehi…
We’ve some back-and-forth grappling to start as TJP looked to focus on Rosser’s arm early on, before Rosser’s retort led to a similar stalemate. A side headlock from Rosser stops a waistlock, but TJP’s spinning headscissors took Rosser down, before Rosser’s own headscissors were escaped by TJP. Back-and-forth strikes see things escalate, but TJP countered a back body drop with an attempted Octopus stretch, before he headed to the ropes to block a chicken wing. A guillotine choke from TJP in the ropes, then a tarantula followed, before Rosser’s forearms led to an Irish whip, with TJP sailing out of the ring.
Rosser rolls TJP back inside but gets pulled into a hammerlock’d armbar that saw TJP snap backwards. A surfboard stretch’s countered by Rosser, but TJP’s right back in with an Octopus stretch, before a TJP laid Rosser by the ropes and took his time to play to the crowd… backfiring when a senton atomico missed. TJP almost got suplexed from the ring to the floor, with an eye rake saving him before Rosser’s side suplex dumped TJP onto the apron. Back inside, clotheslines to the front and back of TJP rattled the challenger as Rosser continued to build his offence. A slam’s escaped though, as TJP ran into an elbow… only to come back with a Saito suplex out of nowhere.
A pump kick from Rosser sparks some blocked exchanges, ending with a running death valley driver that forced TJP to roll outside for respite. Rosser adds a leaping sit-out splash off the apron to the floor though, before a return to the ring saw Rosser go up top… and get cut off by TJP, who brings him back in with a superplex. Headbutts from Rosser spark more exchanges, leading to a roll-up from Rosser for a two-count… then a tornado DDT out of the corner by TJP. Another trip up top from TJP led to a missed Mamba splash, but it’s back to the submissions from TJP, who transitioned into a modified Border City Stretch that’s broken as Rosser almost got to the ropes. TJP’s latest switch cost him though as Rosser applied a grounded chicken wing, but that too ends in the ropes.
TJP snapped back in with a Final Cut, then a Mamba splash for a near-fall, before Rosser burst back into life with a rolling elbow out of a Detonator. The Gut Check gutbuster and Sidewinder slam followed for a near-fall, before TJP was put in a STF chicken wing again for the quick tap – to end a pretty good main event, given few would have given TJP much chance. ***½
Post-match, Rosser’s celebration was interrupted by an attack from a returning Chris Dickinson… who threw a chair from the crowd. Not exactly a popular move, given everything that’s been going on, as commentary played off his absence as due to an injury… and it looks like we’re getting Rosser/Dickinson for the title.
Fighting Spirit Unleashed ended with a decent enough main event, but a post-match angle that will likely not do much to win over a certain element of online fans.