Fred Rosser and Ren Narita headline the second episode of “Strong with Fans” as the Fighting Spirit Unleashed strand of shows continue.
Yuji Nagata & Ren Narita submitted Kevin Knight & The DKC in 9:27 (***)
Jay White pinned Wheeler Yuta in 10:29 (***½)
Ren Narita pinned Fred Rosser in 15:11 (***½)
Kevin Kelly and Alex Koslov open the show up in person with a quick look at next week’s Lio Rush vs. Tom Lawlor title match… before focusing on what’s coming up in this hour.
Kevin Knight & The DKC vs. Yuji Nagata & Yuya Uemura
The pairing of Nagata and the on-excursion Uemura is the latest test for the LA Dojo lads/
Uemura starts with Knight, trading wristlocks that saw Knight try in vain to punch out. Instead, Uemura pulls Knight to the mat, before Knight returned with a shoulder tackle as tags bring us to DKC and Nagata. Nagata works a wristlock, before DKC hit the ropes for some shoulder blocks that didn’t work… until he stomped on Nagata’s foot, that is. Chops and forearms took Nagata into the ropes, but he’s back with a Kitchen sink knee, before the arm breakers from Nagata had DKC down on the mat. The pair trade forearms as a kick to the back from Nagata allowed him to tag in Uemura, whose double shoulder block keep things steady.
Knight comes in to break up a pin, before a missile dropkick from DKC out of the corner bought him enough time to tag in Knight. Getting revenge for earlier, Knight knocks Nagata off the apron, then went to work with forearms on Uemura, before a tiltawhirl backbreaker and a diving shoulder tackle almost got the upset. A standing frog splash from Knight misses as Uemura returns with a running forearm, then tagged in Nagata to blast through Knight with kicks. A butterfly suplex nearly gets the win, but a turnaround with the help of the DKC sees Knight able to roll Nagata into a Boston crab. That doesn’t end in a win, and it goes from bad to worse as Knight and DKC are thrown into each other, while an Exploder and the Nagata Lock II leads to the stoppage. Pretty much by-the-numbers as a tag, with Knight showing some fire in defeat here. ***
Wheeler Yuta vs. Jay White
A shockingly high-profile match for Yuta here, given his stuttering form on Strong so far. Will he pass the acid test here?
We start with headlock takedowns and escapes, but White’s able to squirm into the ropes, only for Yuta to come right back with a wristlock. In the corner, White goes for chops, before Yuta outfoxed him with some World of Sport stuff en route to a pair of dropkicks, which leads to a bow-and-arrow hold. White gets free and chops Yuta in the corner, before a bow-and-arrow hold was quickly flipped out of a White opted to charge back in with a knee to Yuta. An Irish whip bounces Yuta into the corner for a two-count, but he avoids some chops and returns with some of his own, before a springboard crossbody a la ELP finally took White down.
A crossbody off the top nearly gets Yuta the win, before White looked to fight back with a Blade Buster… but Yuta nicked in with an Angle Slam for a near-fall. An inside cradle keeps Yuta ahead, but he’s chopped to the outside… where he skinned the cat back in and burst out with some pinning attempts that kept White on the back foot. Yuta’s enziguiri and bridging German suplex nearly gets the win, before a Deathlock’d STF looked to eke out the upset… Yuta pulls White away from the ropes, but a switcheroo leads to a sleeper suplex, before a Blade Runner shut the door. A plucky showing from Yuta, and while the result may not be great, it was a hell of an outing against the NEVER champion here. ***½
After the match, White gets the mic and gets muted as he called out a fan’s shirt. White gets the crowd to chant for “Little Tommy Ishii,” which led to him coming out… White teases giving him a title shot, but refused, bailing out on Ishii… who replied by dropping a muted swear word. White returns to the ring and gets laid out, before he dished out a low blow as Ishii prepped for a brainbuster. A Blade Runner follows, and that’s all as we go into the cleaning break.
Ren Narita vs. Fred Rosser
This was all built around a handshake – or rather, Narita’s unwillingness to accept one.
Narita strikes first, then avoided a big boot before Rosser charged him down. The pair trade boots as Rosser went outside, looking for a back suplex on the edge of the ring, only for Narita to hit a plancha instead. Trips to the guard rails follow for Rosser, who returns with a pair of seated splashes, including one off of the apron. A Kitchen sink knee to the gut sends Narita back outside, but Rosser brings it back in for an overhead armbar, throwing some elbows as well as things end in the ropes. Chops in the ropes led to Rosser’s Irish whip being reversed as Narita’s overhead belly-to-belly turned things around, with a side Russian legsweep and a Deathlock following.
Rosser got to the ropes, but remained on the defensive, as stomps keep him in the corner ahead of a Northern Lights suplex as Narita began to dominate. A Figure Four has Rosser in the middle of the ring, but Rosser again gets to the ropes as Narita doggedly stayed on him. Right hands from Rosser get him out of the corner, leading to Rosser lifting Narita up top for a Splash Mountain. Narita kicks out at two from that, then elbowed out of a Gut Check before grabbing a rear naked choke on Rosser. That transitions into a Cobra Twist, but Rosser got to the ropes, before he popped up from a Saito suplex to go for the Gut Check. Narita caught it, then rolled Rosser into the Narita Special #3 (the cross legged Boston crab) that eventually gets to the ropes.
A bridging suplex gets a near-fall for Narita, as he rolled Rosser back up for a belly-to-belly, but Rosser clings on and returned with the Gut Check. A running knee’s next, but Narita still kicks out at two, before a the pair traded a barrage of elbows. An overhand palm strike from Narita downs Rosser, before a roll-up was judged to have gotten the win – even though Rosser’s shoulder looked to be up before the three-count. So a questionable result that opens the door for rematches – and ones I’ll be looking forward to on this strength as Narita provided a tough test for Rosser, who got his handshake in the end. ***½
The crowds can be seen, if not heard (much), and Strong’s starting to get back to their best – dropping the old format of “match, post-match comment” for a more natural feeling TV product as Strong drops in hints of matches for the future – rather than for seven days’ time, as so easily can be the case in bulk tapings like this.