Jay White’s US-of-Jay Challenge is our main event this week, as he faces someone straight out of the motor city…
Hikuleo pinned Andy Brown in 4:34 (**¼)
Josh Alexander pinned Karl Fredericks in 14:14 (***½)
Fred Rosser & Eddie Kingston pinned Fred Yehi & Daniel Garcia in 9:27 (***½)
Jay White pinned Chris Sabin in 18:12 (****)
Ian Riccaboni and Matt Rehwoldt are on the call once again, running down the card before pitching to the action… they painted White/Sabin as a “rematch from WrestleCon weekend,” even though this was taped a fortnight or so before ‘Mania weekend.
Andy Brown vs. Hikuleo
Tiger Hattori joined commentary randomly for this… while Hikuleo had new music.
Opening with a lock-up, Hikuleo brushes Brown off, then waffled him with a forearm ahead of a splash into the corner. Another throw bounced Brown into the buckles, but Brown rolled outside… only to get thrown into the railings. Chops followed around ringside as the pair eventually returned to the ring… where Brown pulled ahead with some knees in the corner before he swept Hikuleo down for a dropkick. Hikuleo tries to fight back, but got met with a diving forearm for just a one-count as commentary nearly wet themselves over the prospect of an upset.
A pop-up punch from Hikuleo lands, then a scoop slam off the ropes, before the chokeslam gets the win. By the numbers stuff, with Hikuleo continuing to rack up wins. **¼
Josh Alexander vs. Karl Fredericks
This was Alexander’s first outing for New Japan since he beat Yuya Uemura back in November at Battle in the Valley…
We’ve an even start as Fredericks was taken into the ropes, before a headlock takedown has things on the mat. Fredericks responds with a leapfrog and a crossbody, before he took Alexander outside for a tope con giro. Quickly returning to the ring, Fredericks gets a one-count as he began to take aim at Alexander, throwing chops into the corner before Alexander began to fight back with knee strikes. A hopeful headbutt from his knees just got Fredericks in more trouble, as a bridging front suplex nearly ended things. Alexander works the arm from there, before a half crab attempt ended in the ropes. Fredericks is taken and chopped into the corner, before a gourdbuster snuffed out Fredericks’ attempt at a fightback.
Chops from Alexander earn him an eventual response, with Fredericks firing back elbows and uppercuts before kicks and uppercuts left Alexander rocked in the corner. A spinebuster from Fredericks leads to a STF in the middle of the ring, ending with Alexander getting to the ropes. Fredericks’ attempt to suplex Alexander back in led to the Canadian teasing a suplex to the floor, only to get run into the buckles as Alexander ended up hitting the slam, dumping Fredericks on the edge of the ring. Back inside, Alexander heads up top for a swandive headbutt, getting a near-fall before an ankle lock. Fredericks got to the ropes, then began to fight back as the pair trade ever-stinging chops. An attempted overhead kick from Fredericks is caught and turned into an ankle lock, but it’s rolled through as a gamengiri put Fredericks back in it.
A springboard stomp takes Alexander off the ropes for a near-fall, while Fredericks pushed on with sunset flips and roll-ups, before Manifest Destiny was blocked. Alexander retorts with a German suplex, then the C4 Spike, and just like that, this fantastically even contest ended with a win for the former Impact champion. Go out of your way for this one – sure, it might be tucked away in the middle of this episode, but well, well worth your time. ***½
After the match, Karl Fredericks hung around in the ring… which is the cue for something to happen. Not sure if anyone’d have predicted AEW’s Factory rocking up, as QT Marshall, Aaron Solo and Nick Comoroto made their way to the ring. QT busted out the Scott Hall “you know who we are, but you don’t know why we’re here” line, before he took a shot at the “overrated senpai Shibata.” Marshall wanted to hire Fredericks for the Factory… but of course, that was never happening, as Fredericks went after the three of them, only for Comorato to dump him with a takedown. Clark Connors and Yuya Uemura make the save, and I guess we’ve got a match for Windy City Riot next week!
Daniel Garcia & Fred Yehi vs. Eddie Kingston & Fred Rosser
Something of a wacky tag match in NJPW Strong’s canon, as I guess everyone’s looking to establish themselves for a Strong Openweight title shot.
This one breaks down before it could get going, with Garcia and Kingston going for each other – to keep that AEW canon going – before we started with Yehi and Rosser going at it. A neckbreaker from Rosser has Yehi down early on, before Kingston tagged in and helped charge Yehi down off the ropes. Kingston quickly makes a beeline for Garcia and put a beating to him, which Yehi breaks up as he took things back inside, only to get met with a STO out of the corner. Rosser’s back with a slam and a sit-down splash on Yehi for a one-count, before Garcia and Kingston blew up once again.
Settling down, Garcia tagged in and went to work on Rosser with uppercuts and a Dragon screw, stopping every time to take a look at Kingston… who wandered in to try and stompa part a leg lock. It doesn’t work, so Garcia dragged Rosser away and tagged out to Yehi. Rosser eventually cleared the decks with a double clothesline, before tagging Kingston in, who quickly got swarmed…
Kingston finds a way back in, but Yehi stops him from going for a superplex as Garcia continued to take aim at Kingston with a series of elbows. A Kitchen Sink knee and a butterfly suplex stops Garcia though, before Rosser returned to clear the decks. A powerslam has Yehi down, while Garcia’s chopped and clotheslined in the corner.
Rosser drops Yehi with another powerslam for a near-fall, before a capture suplex from Kingston bounced Garcia to the outside. Yehi’s legal though, and caught Kingston out with a German suplex as all four men stayed in the ring. A backfist from Kingston leads to Gut Check from Rosser… and that’s enough to put Yehi away. This was a great little tag match, even if things descended into a tornado at the end – them establishing Garcia and Kingston was carrying over from AEW was absolutely great, and gave them a legit reason to do the “all four in at a time” gimmick. ***½
Chris Sabin vs. Jay White
Commentary built up how Sabin mentored Jay White when he first wrestled in the US, while also bringing up their match that happened at Mania weekend…
We get going with White tying up and chopping Sabin into the corner, before throwing another one as they went to a different corner. Sabin’s already bleeding from those chops, but he’s able to take down White into an armbar, before White powdered himself to the outside. White tries to bait Sabin outside, and does so successfully, with Sabin launching himself into White with a tope. A PK off the apron followed from Sabin, then a cannonball, before he dropped White onto the barriers. Sabin keeps going with a side Russian legsweep into the barriers, then rolled White back inside for a crossbody that drew a near-fall.
Sabin keeps going with a grounded, hammerlock’d Octopus on White, before some mounted punches kept the former grand slam champion in the corner. Recovering, White caught Sabin up top, crotching him before shoving him to the floor, as White began to get receipts for earlier, chopping Sabin around ringside before he dumped him on the side of the ring. A gourdbuster drops Sabin onto the apron as well, but back in side, Sabin finds a second wind… only to get stopped with a back elbow off the ropes. White keeps going with a backbreaker for a two-count, while a chinlock might-have morphed into a choke that Sabin fought out of.
Sabin avoids a follow-up, kicking White in the midsection, before an enziguiri bought him time. Elbows to the side of White’s neck lead to a spinning mid-kick to the Kiwi, before a Shining Wizard nearly won him the match. A snap DDT from Sabin earned him one in kind, before a tornado DDT earned Sabin a near-fall. White picks up with a snap Saito suplex, taking Sabin into the corner ahead of a Blade Buster, before a uranage kept the near falls flowing. Knees from Sabin took White into the corner as both men looked for their big moves, ending with a Yakuza kick from Sabin in the corner. The pair trade elbows and uppercuts from there, but White’s knees get him back ahead, as chops to a grounded Sabin forced the referee to separate the pair.
Sabin gets back up to return those chops, before White snuck out of a Cradle Shock and put away Sabin with a Blade Runner. Excellent fare for your TV show, with White being pushed the furthest he has been yet. If this was any indicator of their match for Impact, I’m going to need to dig that one up… ****
After the match, White talked about “who stays, who goes” in relation to the Bullet Club drama, as he’ll be drawing those lines… he’s interrupted by Hikuleo, whose brothers Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa were chucked out of Bullet Club over in Japan recently. White tried to sweet talk Hikuleo by saying his Bullet Club card was still active… before White offered him a shot in that US-of-Jay challenge.
Next week is Windy City Riot, live on Fite TV… that’ll be one I’ll need to catch up on later as I’m travelling for Easter… along with Yuya Uemura vs. Buddy Matthews that’ll be headlining Strong.
A longer-than-usual episode, but this wasn’t all filler. While Hikuleo/Brown was a TV-style squash, the other ¾s of this episode were fantastic matches – TV or otherwise – and well worth the hour-plus of your time.