The Bullet Club’s Young Gun, Hikuleo, takes on Jay White as the Mutiny stretch of New Japan Strong kicks off.
Alex Coughlin, Adrian Quest & Rocky Romero defeat pinned Danny Limelight, Black Tiger & JR Kratos in 8:33 (***)
Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson pinned Fred Rosser in 7:28 (***)
Jay White pinned Hikuleo in 18:33 (***¾)
We’ve a wacky Friday night slice of New Japan Strong, with Ian Riccaboni and a returning Alex Koslov on the call from The Vermont Hollywood in LA…
Team Filthy (Black Tiger, Danny Limelight & JR Kratos) vs. Alex Coughlin, Rocky Romero & Adrian Quest
We’ve got some dangling threads here, with Rocky Romero/Black Tiger and Alex Coughlin/JR Kratos far from resolved in Strong.
Quest and Limelight start us off with a hockey fight, before a shoot off into the ropes led to Quest blocking an O’Connor roll ahead of an uppercut to Limelight, who was going for a rear spin kick. A floatover from Limelight leads to him landing that kick, before a crucifix and a back body drop had Limelight on the back foot. Quest charges into the corner with an uppercut as Romero came in for some Forever clotheslines. Rocky gets caught in the ropes by Black Tiger’s kick, allowing Limelight to take advantage as Black Tiger came in for a nice back suplex/reverse DDT combo off the middle rope – something out of Rocky’s history with former tag partners. Like Ricky Reyes.
Black Tiger takes Rocky to the corner for some Forever-ish clotheslines, before the ring flooded as things broke down. A back elbow from Black Tiger keeps Team Filthy ahead after Coughlin and Quest had been posted and thrown into the barriers, before a bodyslam from Kratos led to the Team Filthy pose. Limelight returns for a neckbreaker on Rocky for a two-count, before a palm strike from Rocky drew in Black Tiger… who ate a rewind kick and a Shiranui before Rocky finally made the tag out. In comes Coughlin and Kratos, who tee off on each other with right hands and blistering chops that had Ian Riccaboni shaking on commentary. Look for it. Kratos leaps over Coughlin ahead of a big boot, while a deadlift suplex landed for a near-fall. Kratos misses a leaping frog splash, then escaped a fallaway slam… rolling outside as Adrian Quest joined in with a springboard flip senton into Kratos and Limelight.
Kratos gets rolled back inside as Coughlin hits the bridging fallaway slam… but Black Tiger breaks up the pin. Limelight tags in as Kratos rolled outside… but Coughlin got rid of Black Tiger, then shook off Limelight’s attacks for a discus lariat, then put him away with a nice deadlift German suplex. An enjoyable trios match that kept those storylines going – and again showed you (if you needed reminding) how freakishly strong Coughlin is. ***
Post-match, Kratos slid in and laid out Coughlin with a chair. There’s some for Quest too, before Coughlin was dumped onto a chair with a swinging side slam… which led to a stretcher job for Coughlin.
Chris Dickinson gets a promo, telling us he’ll face Ren Narita next week.
West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs) vs. Fred Rosser
If Rosser “gets through” the WCWC, he’ll get a shot at Tom Lawlor’s STRONG title… and there’s no tags needed for Nelson and Isaacs. Bit of a stacked deck, no? Meanwhile, Tom Lawlor’s out at ringside to watch, in all the denim.
Rosser’s jumped as he rolled into the ring as the handicap match began in earnest, but he manages to break free and began to have the WCWC on the back foot. There’s a nice back body drop for Nelson, who gets clotheslined to the outside, allowing Rosser to target Isaacs for a spell, throwing him into the guard rails. Nelson’s targeted with a back suplex on the edge of the ring, before a running death valley driver led to Nelson rolling outside. Rosser goes for Isaacs, and makes Tom Lawlor watch as a series of downward elbows battered him ahead of a chicken wing that ended with Royce getting thrown into the corner.
Chops from Rosser keep him there, as did clotheslines to the front and back, before a seated splash had Rosser ahead of himself… as a trip up top was neutralised with Nelson pushing Rosser off the top. We’re back to the two-on-one from here, with Rosser getting cornered with boots and uppercuts. Nelson launches Rosser into the corner as the WCWC took time out to pose with Lawlor on the stage. They return to the ring, but Rosser breaks through with a double clothesline, then with chops, only to get low bridged by Isaacs to the outside. A slingshot into a slam followed on the floor, which gets a one-count back inside, while a pop-up spinebuster, a German suplex and a kick-assisted brainbuster gets the win. A brave showing from Rosser, but that deck was way too stacked from the off. ***
After the match, Tom Lawlor berated Rosser for wanting handouts, then brought out the lock of hair he’d saved from when he shaved Rosser bald last year. Lawlor then offered a title shot… but only of Rosser shaved himself right there, right now. They had a wireless razor on hand, with them shaving Road Warrior-like lines into Rosser’s hair before he carried on the job. Lawlor, of course, wanted to antagonise Fred some more, and… chewed some of his hair.
Of course there’s a part of the crowd chanting for him to swallow (get real, lads), before Lawlor turned down Rosser again. At least leave him the razor to finish himself off lads! There’s one more change of heart… Lawlor suggests he has a match with Rosser at Capital Collision – title vs. Strong career. Lawlor did note Rosser “could go to the Impact zone” or “get a visa and go to Japan,” and I tell you what, Rosser in the G1 is far from the worst idea I’ve heard.
We get a video package for the Hikuleo vs. Jay White match, which is steeped in all the Bullet Club drama that I’ve not exactly been paying attention to.
Hikuleo vs. Jay White
Of course, White rolls outside at the bell as commentary wondered what Hikuleo’s future was regardless of the result.
White continues to frustrate Hikuleo by sitting in the ropes to force a break as the big man loomed. Another trip outside has Hikuleo giving chase, before he caught a baseball slide attempt as White eventually found a way through, jumping on Hikuleo as he got back inside. A shoulder tackle has White down, as did some clubbing blows, before another trip outside led to White getting dumped across the guard rails. Back inside, Hikuleo continued to control the pace, Biel’ing White across the ring as another clubbing blow led to White powdering again. This time, White baits Hikuleo into chopping the ring post, then shoved him into it before an attempted suplex back inside was blocked. Hikuleo misses a running boot into the corner as White pounced with a chop block… and there’s the vulnerability!
White focuses on the knee, repeatedly wrapping Hikuleo’s leg around the ring post… but while Hikuleo was able to push White into the barriers, Jay rips off the ring apron and tried to suffocate him with it, as a draping neckbreaker took things back to the floor. Hikuleo returns to the ring, but White stays on the leg with a Dragon screw and some kicks to the knee, ahead of an attempted half crab… which White turned back into a grounded Dragon screw. Hikuleo gets back into it with some chops, only to have his knee dropkicked out before he launched White into the corner pad. A stalling suplex followed from Hikuleo, then a bodyslam and a standing splash for a two-count, before White elbowed out of a Fireman’s carry, then scored with a DDT after kicking the knee again.
White keeps going with uppercuts in the corner, before a sliding Flatliner planted Hikuleo in the middle of the ring. Pulling up the big man leads to a Saito suplex as everyone thought White was going for a Blade Runner, before a Blade Buster landed for a near-fall. A sleeperhold followed as White pulled up Hikuleo… but the sleeper suplex is elbowed away as White rebounds with a chop block. Another crack at the sleeper suplex is escaped as White instead meets Hikuleo in the ropes with a clothesline, before he targeted the leg with a Dragon screw. Hikuleo’s leg gets wrapped around the ropes as White laid in with mounted punches… only for the big man to counter out with a powerbomb! White rolls outside to avoid a pinning attempt, then got back into the ring to catch Hikuleo with another Dragon screw in the ropes.
A draping DDT brings the big man back in for a near-fall, before a Blade Runner was countered as Hikuleo goozled the former champion. Chops follow, as Hikuleo returned with a short-arm clothesline. More chops have White crumbling into the corner ahead of a powerslam for a near-fall, before White went back to the knee… only to run into another powerslam! The finish comes out of nowhere as Hikuleo pulls up White for a chokeslam, but ends up getting deftly switched into a Blade Runner as I leapt out of my chair for that. An excellent finish that caught everyone unawares as White was in his first real peril. ***¾
Post-match, White grabbed a chair and teased cracking Hikuleo with it… then told him to be “smarter than your brothers” and offered him to stay in Bullet Club. Hikuleo “too sweets” White, and it looks like his place is secure… for now.
Strong’s one-off Friday night appearance was a good one, as they squeezed in that last build for Capital Collision… make time for the main event this week though, as Jay White put on a clinic with Hikuleo. Even if you thought the result was beyond doubt, White gave Hikuleo just enough to make you ponder…