NJPW Strong was Swerve’s house as Jay White’s open challenge was met with a surprise debutant.

Quick Results
Hikuleo pinned Kevin Knight in 8:13 (**¾)
Kevin Blackwood pinned Ariya Daivari in 8:51 (**¾)
Jay White pinned Sw3rve in 17:15 (***¾)

We’re back to the Vermont Hollywood in Los Angeles… Ian Riccaboni’s on the call alongside Alex Koslov, as they first run down today’s three matches.

Kevin Knight vs. Hikuleo
We start this one hot, with Knight charging into Hikuleo with a dropkick at the bell, before the big man chucked him into the corner.

Knight continued to stick and run, landing a Stinger splash in the corner before he low bridged Hikuleo to the outside for a plancha. Back inside, Hikuleo struck back with a pop-up punch, as the Bullet Club’s young gun began to have his fun. Forearms wreck Knight out of the corner for a two-count, while a Biel took the Young Lion from corner to corner. Knight makes a brief comeback with an uppercut and a chop, but Hikuleo took him down with a slam, while a chinlock had Knight struggling for an escape. Clubbering shots to the back from Hikuleo lead to a suplex – complete with the wacky endless picture-in-picture effect on the video screen – but Knight slipped free and hit an enziguiri.

Hikuleo’s taken into the corner with a dropkick, as another Stinger splash looked to take him down… but it’s another dropkick that has the big man off his feet. It’s good for a two-count after that mammoth achievement, only for Hikuleo to counter with a Tongan Driller. Knight lands on his feet out of it, then came right back with a standing frog splash… but Hikuleo’s up at two, returning with a hard clothesline before a chokeslam put Knight away. An enjoyable squash with Knight being made to work hard to even take Hikuleo off his feet, but in the end the big man was too powerful. **¾

Ariya Daivari vs. Kevin Blackwood
It’s a New Japan debut for Blackwood, up against the out-of-sorts Daivari…

Daivari offered a handshake, which was accepted, as we open with Blackwood taking Daivari’s back on the mat. Blackwood keeps him there with an overhead wristlock, before a knee to the guy led to an overhead suplex, but a side legsweep from Daivari manages to force an opening. Blackwood’s caught in a sleeper, but pushes off ahead of a kick to Daivari’s chest, following up with a cloverleaf attempt that Daivari pushed free of. It took Blackwood outside, as did a tope, before Daivari took it back inside for a back elbow off the ropes. Chops follow in the corner, ahead of a neckbreaker through the ropes from Daivari, who followed with a hammerlock DDT for good measure.

An elbow from Blackwood gives him an opening, leading to a series of German suplexes and a head kick. One more German suplex nearly won it for Blackwood, as a rolling elbow looked to set up for a stomp. It misses, unlike a death valley driver, but Daivari’s up at two to return with a uranage, then a hammerlock’d clothesline that got a near-fall. Frustrated, Daivari rolled outside and grabbed a chair, but he has second thoughts on using it, which led to Blackwood stunning him with an inside cradle for the win. A decent match, but Daivari’s own conscience cost him… **¾

Post-match, Daivari attacked Blackwood as he finally snapped, dropping Blackwood ahead of a Carpet Ride off the top.

Jay White vs. Sw3rve
The crowd came unglued for Sw3rve’s music and video, in what was his first match since leaving WWE. Of course, Jay White was far from enamoured with this, and tried to offer Sw3rve a spot in Bullet Club.

Sw3rve boots White instead, as the match started on the outside with a leaping kick to White’s head off the apron. It’s followed up with chops as White returned to the ring, before a roll-up into some headscissors had White reeling. A stomp to White’s hands keeps Sw3rve ahead, a did a rope-assisted splash, before some body blows looked to keep White on the back foot, only for him to catch out Sw3rve with a DDT.

Chops take Sw3rve into the corner as White looked to choke him out with a boot, before things spilled outside as White charged Sw3rve between the apron and guard rails. Rolling Sw3rve back inside, White nails a neckbreaker for a two-count, before he went to the eyes as he tried to keep Sw3rve on the mat. A chinlock worked briefly, as Sw3rve ends up getting free to trade chops, giving as good as he got. Sw3rve’s right hand knocked White to the outside, but the direction continued as a diving uppercut keeps White on the defensive after he’d gotten back inside. White leaps over a rolling cutter, but couldn’t avoid a tiltawhirl slam, nor a deadlift brainbuster as Sw3rve nearly pulled out the win right there.

The pair fight over a waistlock as White ends up pulling Sw3rve into a snap Saito suplex, before an inside cradle saw Sw3rve get back in it… until he ran into a Flatliner from White seconds later. A deadlift German suplex is next, then a Bladebuster, but it’s not enough to get the win as Sw3rve kicked out at two. They struggle as White looks for a uranage, but Sw3rve is left on his knees after some elbow strikes before they resumed with chops and kicks. White finally lands the uranage as he countered Sw3rve’s rolling elbow, before a sleeper suplex was flipped out of. Sw3rve peppers White with kicks and a cutter, before White went back to the dreadlocks, only to get swept onto the apron and kicked to the outside, where a double stomp off the apron crushed the former champion. Back inside, Sw3rve heads up top for a second stomp, and scored it in the corner for a near-fall.

The pair reach for their finishes, with White’s Blade Runner countered as Sw3rve snapped back on White’s arm, before White grabbed the ref and teased a bump into the corner. As the ref cowers, White low blows Sw3rve, then followed up with a sleeper suplex and a Blade Runner as White escaped with the win. I know you’re shocked, this was exceptionally good, but White came the closest yet to losing one of his own challenges, as Sw3rve took him to the limit. ***¾

Another solid show from NJPW Strong, with the former Shane Strickland’s debut being the obvious bright spot in the show.