The Strong Style Evolved strand continues, as Yuya Uemura took on Buddy Matthews.
Big Damo pinned John Skyler in 7:04 (**½)
Sw3rve pinned Blake Christian in 11:27 (***¼)
Buddy Matthews pinned Yuya Uemura in 9:50 (***¼)
After Strong took Easter weekend off, so everyone could watch Windy City Riot (except, err, I’ve not seen it yet), we’re back for a three-match show. Ian Riccaboni and Matt Rehwoldt are on the call from the St. Petersburg Coliseum in Tampa… A nice and breezy 46 minute run-time too? You are spoiling me!
John Skyler vs. Big Damo
It’s a New Japan debut for Damo, while Skyler’s back after three years away, having been on that cursed 2019 tour.
Skyler pokes the proverbial bear to start, and got thrown into the corner as Damo biel’d him around for fun. Skyler powders onto the apron, but gets caught… returning with a boot and a spear onto the edge of the ring. Back inside, Skyler barely gets a one-count as he proceeded to chop Damo… which just made things worse.
Damo telegraphs a back body drop and ate a pair of neckbreakers for a two-count, before a chinlock was turned into a mounted sleeper. Damo backs into the corner to break it up, but eats a missile dropkick from the resilient Skyler, who began to mug to the crowd. In response, a back body drop from Damo gets him free as he begins to hit clotheslines to build up a head of steam, before a tree slam and an elbow drew a near-fall.
Booting Damo away, Skyler tries to fight back, landing a slingshot spear from the apron for a near-fall. Damo catches Skyler up top for a superplex, which nearly ends it, before a crossbody squished Skyler for another near-fall. The pair struggle to get the upper hand, with Skyler landing a leaping knee eventually before a Fireman’s carry slam, a back senton and a Vader Bomb got Damo the win. A perfectly fine debut, even if the crowd didn’t seem too fussed. **½
Blake Christian vs. Sw3rve
Christian’s looking to get his first win back in New Japan, having lost to Chris Bey last time out…
Sw3rve starts by working Christian’s arm en route to a Mouse Trap pin for a one-count to get us going, before Blake’s wheelbarrow roll-up got him a response. The pair hit the ropes, but Sw3rve trips Christian en route to a quick stand-off… and now the pace picks up. Christian’s German suplex is countered, before his slingshot was pushed away… the pair end up on the outside anyway, with Swerve rolling over the top to meet Christian in the aisle.
Back inside, Christian finds his way through with a dropkick, then with a Manhattan drop and a low dropkick before some body scissors trapped Sw3rve. Breaking in the corner, Christian followed in with some kicks before he missed a charge… returning with a chop, only for his wheelbarrow bulldog to get blocked via some hair pulling. Christian blocks a sunset flip, so Sw3rve bridges up and took things outside to boot Blake off the apron. A springboard dropkick back into the ring gets Sw3rve a two-count, as did a diving uppercut to the seated Christian. Hooking the nose, Sw3rve pulls up Christian for an attempted half-and-half, but Blake backs into the corner for a back elbow, then wheelbarrow splashed Sw3rve for a near-fall.
A standing moonsault keeps the near-falls coming, before a clothesline to the back from Sw3rve looked to get him back in it. They keep at it, with Christian’s snap German suplex earning him a wild lariat, to which he replied with a standing Spanish Fly as I wish this crowd gave a damn. At best we’re getting polite claps from the majority of this crowd. Sw3rve rolls outside, and into the path of a Fosbury Flop/reverse DDT into the aisle, before a springboard 450 back into the ring drew a near-fall. Christian goes back up top, but Sw3rve rolls away, baiting Christian in for a knee strike and a backbreaker… a slam followed, then a deadlift brainbuster, before a step-up kick to the head won it. This was fine, but the crowd did not help things one bit, with the first half feeling like it may have been in an empty arena. ***¼
Yuya Uemura vs. Buddy Matthews
Matthews beat Ren Narita here last time out, as he seems to be making a beeline for those on excursion.
We open with a tie-up into the ropes from Matthews, before a wristlock from Uemura was broken up. Uemura blocks a headlock takedown, but gets taken into the corner as Matthews responds with a wrist-based takedown as he worked over the arm. Uemura’s kept on the mat, before he broke with some headscissors, giving him time to recover from the finger manipulation from earlier.
Matthews gets free and swings with a kick, only to get rolled up for a one-count… elbows break Uemura’s waistlock, only for the pair to head onto the apron as Uemura teases a German suplex to the floor. Of course it’s blocked, as Uemura has his arm hyper-extended ahead of a whip to the floor. Back inside, a key lock from Matthews keeps Uemura in trouble, but he charges into the corner to break the hold, only to get booted in the face. A dropkick puts Uemura back in it though, as the pair trade elbows ahead of a leaping forearm from Uemura. Matthews is kept on the back foot with a slam and elbow drops for a two-count, before a snapmare and some Danielson elbows from Matthews nearly forced the stoppage.
Matthews relents as the ref checks on Uemura… there’s no instant stoppage, so Matthews shoves the ref aside. An attempted Kamigoye’s blocked by Uemura, ahead of a deadlift German suplex that ends in the ropes, but Matthews moves his hand and ended up getting caught for a near-fall. Uemura misses a crossbody off the top, then gets caught with a curb stomp… but Matthews pulls up the cover, then rolled Uemura into the Murphy’s Law for the win. ***¼
Next week, Ren Narita vs. Jay Lethal and Mascara Dorada vs. TJP, plus Kevin Knight vs. The DKC.
A solid, not spectacular episode of Strong, which had some real “last knockings” vibes to these tapings… which still has one episode left in the can before we hit the Mutiny tapings.