Hikuleo and Fred Rosser have an all-out, indoors and out brawl this week in a no-DQ main event on NJPW Strong.
Bateman pinned Alex Coughlin in 9:43 (**¾)
Karl Fredericks & Brody King pinned Danny Limelight & JR Kratos in 8:02 (**¾)
Fred Rosser pinned Hikuleo in a no-disqualification match in 15:32 (***½)
Once again, we’re greeted by the voices of Alex Koslov and Kevin Kelly over a clip reel to build up today’s card.
Alex Coughlin vs. Bateman
This was Bateman’s first appearance since he lost a New Japan Cup USA qualifier to Brody King two months ago…
We start with wristlocks from Bateman but Coughlin counters out with an armbar as the pair went hold-for-hold. A side headlock from Coughlin is pushed away from, as Bateman hooked Coughlin’s mouth en route to the pair breaking in the ropes. Things break down as they exchange chops, before a chinlock attempt from Bateman ended with him getting caught with a hammerlock on the mat.
Bateman escapes and knees Coughlin in the back of the neck as he targeted the old injury, before some chops took Coughlin back into the ropes. A high back suplex drops Coughlin for a two-count, before a chinlock ended in the ropes… but not until Bateman took another cheeky stomp on the neck. The pair trade forearm shots, but Bateman’s caught with a flying shoulder tackle as Coughlin tries to pull ahead. A clothesline and shoulder charges keep Bateman in the corner, while a gutwrench suplex took Bateman down for a two-count.
Bateman comes back with a clothesline and an Emerald Fusion… but Coughlin kicks out at two, then escaped a tombstone as he pulled Bateman into a Fujiwara armbar. Coughlin rolls Bateman into a pinning attempt for a near-fall, then looked for a slam… but Bateman escaped and scooped Coughlin into the tombstone for the win. A decent enough opener, with Bateman easing back into the winning column. **¾
Team Filthy (Danny Limelight & JR Kratos) vs. Brody King & Karl Fredericks
No Chris Dickinson on Team Filthy, of course, after Limelight and Kratos helped to boot him out of the camp last week. Karl Frederick is apparently in line for a future New Japan Strong title shot, because he eliminated Tom Lawlor last week…
Limelight and Kratos attack before the bell, taking their opponents to the outside for a scrap. Once back inside, Limelight and Kratos isolate Fredericks, with the latter landing a shoulder tackle to keep Karl down. Fredericks chops his way back in, but Limelight tags in to take Fredericks to the ropes, kicking said strand into the throat for good measure. Kratos is back in for some kicks, but stopping to go after Brody King just opened a door for Fredericks to throw some more chops… only for him to get wiped out with a clothesline from Kratos. An elbow keeps Karl on the deck, then into the corner, as Limelight tagged back in to land some more kicks.
Fredericks tries to shrug them off, eventually blocking one before he surprised Limelight with a spinebuster. Tags bring us to King and Kratos, as the big lads lay into each other, with Limelight’s attempt at help just earning him a death valley driver into Kratos in the corner. King keeps going with a clothesline to Kratos, before Fredericks tagged back in… Limelight finds a way in with a stomp to the back of King, then a cutter to Fredericks as Kratos nearly nicked the win. Limelight tags back in as the match entered its final throes, with King and Kratos brawling back on the outside… Limelight tries for a springboard, but Fredericks caught him as the pair trade strikes once more. A sleeperhold from Fredericks leads to the Manifest Destiny (impaler DDT), and that’s all folks. This was fine, with Fredericks picking up another win over Team Filthy, as they prepare him for that future title shot. **¾
We get a video package recapping the Rosser vs. Hikuleo story so far, as they reach their big blow-off in the form of a no-DQ main event.
No Disqualification: Hikuleo vs. Fred Rosser
Kevin Kelly noted this was the first no-DQ match on Strong’s history – it says a lot when you don’t go ham on stipulation matches…
Rosser jumped Hikuleo from behind as Rosser was meant to be making his entrance… and it’s all Rosser to start with as he came in off the top rope to knock the big man down. Hikuleo cuts him off with a scoop slam, then took him into the corner as the aggression stayed high. A cheeky tug of the hair from Hikuleo led to Rosser firing some punches to get free, before Hikuleo elbowed out of a Fireman’s carry.
Rosser’s chucked outside, but he recovers to choke on Hikuleo with some camera cabling as the pair brawled around ringside. Hikuleo looks under the ring and grabs a chair, but Rosser ducks some shots as Hikuleo hit the ring post. Hikuleo has more luck throwing Rosser into the ring post, before he pulled out a table… but he’s interrupted as Rosser picked up a plastic box and just CHUCKED it off of Hikuleo’s head. Impressive aim. Hikuleo recovers after an exchange of strikes, looking to chokeslam Rosser on the floor, but it leads to nought as Rosser charged him into the no-crowd as Rosser pulled down some of the curtains as they fought backstage. Rosser pulls off some wrist tape to choke Hikuleo with, but Hikuleo got free and threw him outside through the right door.
They’re in a loading bay, with a handily-placed truck for Hikuleo to throw Rosser into as they fight within the ring truck. Rosser pops up Hikuleo, sending his head into the roof as some more elbows wore down the big man, leading up to a legdrop. Thing is, this isn’t falls count anywhere, so they need to make it back to the ring… but first, Rosser thinks about pulling the shutters down on Hikuleo, only to get stopped with a low blow. Instead, it’s Hikuleo who gets hold of the shutter, but Rosser rolled inside at the last minute to avoid the guillotine-like door. Rosser’s right back with a leap out of the truck as the pair fight back into the building, but not until Rosser choked Hikuleo with a hose. Finally making it back to the ringside area, Rosser chops Hikuleo against the ring post, but Hikuleo responds by throwing Rosser’s head into the ring post.
A Hot Shot drops Rosser against the guard rails, before Hikuleo set up the table and teased a death valley driver off the apron. Rosser slips out though, then went for a bulldog… but it’s a Japanese table which did not break, as both men bounced off of it. You know what to do, Maffew…
Rosser got back to his feet first and took things back into the ring. The Gut Check gutbuster takes down Hikuleo, with a basement dropkick following… and that’s the win. I’m still not sold on a basement dropkick as a finish, but that’s needless nitpicking on a match that was a massive change from what we’ve grown used to seeing on New Japan Strong. Plenty of footage for the B-reels in the future (well, maybe not the table spot) with the pair fighting inside and out as Rosser took home a decisive win. ***½
Next week: Chris Dickinson challenges Tom Lawlor for the Strong Openweight title…
The change in atmosphere caused by the different commentary remains palpable, with the spells of silence really being noticeable. Hopefully there’s not much left on these tapings, but it was otherwise another solid week on Strong, with a very different main event standing out from the pack.