Fred Rosser locks horns with Bateman in the main event of New Japan’s Fireworks Frenzy special.
Lio Rush pinned Adrian Quest in 8:19 (***)
Hikuleo pinned Jordan Clearwater in 7:44 (**)
Fred Rosser pinned Bateman in 15:34 (**¾)
We’re back in the studio for a well-under-an-hour show. Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov’s voices greet us against the now-usual B-roll before Kevin gives us a potted history of the 4th of July.
Adrian Quest vs. Lio Rush
Rush recently announced his retirement due to an injury… but put a big ol’ asterisk next to it as he wanted to fulfil contractual obligations with New Japan.
Quest tries to rough up Rush to start, taking him down before a dropkick took Rush outside for a tope. Back inside, Quest swings for a punch, but Rush escaped and caught him with an up-kick, before a leg sweep took Quest back outside for some kicks and a springboard crossbody to the floor. The utter silence on commentary sadly amplified the lack of the crowd… Back inside, a back suplex lands for a two-count for Rush, but Quest tries to fight back, flipping Rush into the corner before landing a flapjack. Quest’s back with a back body drop for a two-count, before a suplex got Quest another two-count.
Rush strikes back with a chop, but quickly got taken into the corner for a clothesline as Quest keeps it on the ground. Escaping, Rush begins to build anew with clotheslines, but Quest has some of his own before the pair connected with duelling high kicks. Back to their feet, Rush pulls ahead with a flurry of strikes, but Quest sidesteps a springboard stunner and hits a running shooting star press for a near-fall. An enziguiri from Quest followed, as did a Tiger driver, but Rush kicked out at two, so Quest looks to hit one off of the top rope… but Rush blocks it and shoved Quest down. From there, Rush caught a staggering Quest with a double springboard stunner, and that’s enough for the win. A perfectly fine opener, with Quest getting plenty of offence, before Rush took home a decisive win. ***
Hikuleo vs. Jordan Clearwater
Hikuleo’s been feeling a little rudderless since his loss to Fred Rosser in that no-DQ match back in May… meanwhile, Jordan Clearwater is still looking for his first singles win on Strong.
Hikuleo clubs down Clearwater early on, then took him into the ropes for some chops before he threw Clearwater into the corner. The referee keeps Hikuleo away briefly, before he began to wear down Clearwater some more, following with a clothesline in the opposite corners. Clearwater tries to hit back, but a headbutt saw Hikuleo pull ahead for a two-count. Clearwater’s pulled up for a slam, then a splash as Hikuleo adds another two-count. A jawbreaker from Clearwater buys him time, as did a chinbreaker and a splash, before a low dropkick took Hikuleo down to his knees. Elbows follow, before a neckbreaker got Clearwater a two-count… but that looked to be the end of Clearwater’s offence as he ended up running into a scoop slam.
Hikuleo jammed his knee on the landing there, but he shrugs it off before countering a Clearwater bulldog into a back suplex. From there, a Samoan driver lands for the win to end this very squashy outing. **
Bateman vs. Fred Rosser
Bateman’s out on his own, as I guess Barrett Brown’s got no dog in this fight?
From the opening lock-up, Bateman takes Rosser to the ropes and breaks. A front facelock has the same result, with Rosser forcing his way free, before he grabbed a wristlock and took down Bateman for an elbow drop to the arm. The referee again separates Bateman as he headed into the ropes, returning to grab a wristlock as he torqued away on Rosser’s arm. An escape has Rosser back with a cravat, then a side headlock, which led to a shoulder tackle after Bateman pushed free.
Rosser powders outside for a breather, and to remove his wrist tape, before he slid back in and took a stomping from Bateman. A headbutt gave Rosser some time to turn things around, as he proceeded to chop and clothesline Bateman out of the corner. A slam and a sitdown splash followed from Rosser, but Bateman’s able to shove Rosser into the corner so he could stomp on the ankle. Bateman grabs the tag rope and chokes Rosser with it, before he worked Rosser’s leg, loosening his boot laces in the process. Some hair pulling helps break the hold, but Bateman stays on top, dropping a knee onto the ankle again as he resumed loosening those laces. The ropes save Rosser again, as Bateman continued to chip away with some chops.
Rosser again plays dirty with an eye rake and some biting as Bateman spills outside. It doesn’t buy him too much time though as Bateman got up onto the apron to throw some strikes, knocking Rosser down onto the rope. Out of nowhere a back suplex from Rosser dumped Bateman on the edge of the ring as Rosser then willingly removed his boot and got back to the ring to pick up a two-count. The pair trade headbutts back inside, but some diving knees from Rosser gets him ahead… as did a spiking DDT that folded Bateman good and proper. Rosser picked up a two-count from that, as he then picked himself up for a Gut Check… but Bateman slips out and went up top. He’s caught, but Rosser still can’t land the Gut Check as a Fisherman Buster from Bateman nearly ends things.
Bateman tries to go back to the ankle, with Rosser having removed the boot, but instead hits some more elbow strikes to knock down Rosser for a two-count. We cross the 15 minute mark with Bateman looking to be ahead, but a backbreaker’s blocked as Rosser fought back and hit an Emerald Flowsion out of nowhere for the win. I got the story here, but the pacing just felt all off, with Bateman taking way too long to capitalise on anything before succumbing to Rosser’s Misawa shoutout. **¾
Next week: Tag Team Turbulence starts… as for this week, well, they can’t all be winners. As a standalone show, this had a very weird energy to it – I don’t want to use the term “throwaway show,” but it wasn’t an episode I’d drop any plans to see, as the show prepares for the Tag Team Turbulence tournament.