Tonight saw the next set of NJPW Strong Fighting Spirit Unleashed 2022 from Hollywood, California.
Peter Avalon defeated Adrian Quest
It was Peter Avalon’s first appearance for NJPW Strong tonight. He can usually be seen on AEW these days as part of the Wingmen group. On commentary, Ian Riccaboni put over Avalon as a successful Celebrity Family Feud player, with his team of wrestlers defeating Pee Wee Herman, Drew Carey and others. Actually, he and his opponent, Adrian Quest, trained together in the past in California, according to Riccaboni.
Quest landed a springboard tornillo inside the ring early on. Later, Avalon caught Quest in the ropes and left Quest tangled between the top and bottom. Avalon then left the ring and ran from the entrance to the ring apron and blasted Quest with a running missile dropkick, a direct hit to Quest’s knee.
Avalon continued working over Quest’s knee in a clear attempt to ground the high flyer. He scored a count of two after a backdrop suplex.
When Avalon took Quest to the top ropes for a move, Quest countered and took Avalon down with a top rope frankensteiner. They traded shots on their feet next, but Avalon again struck low, kicking Quest’s worn-out knee. Quest fired up in response, and was able to stick a standing shooting star press before diving on top of Avalon on the floor.
Avalon once again targeted Quest’s knee, locking in a single-leg crab submission until Quest grabbed the ropes for a break. Avalon eventually scored the pinfall after double knees to the back of Quest’s head.
Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & JR Kratos) defeated Jordan Cruz & Cody Chhun
Lawlor looked spry as hell coming off his recent G-1 Climax tour of Japan. He and JR Kratos represented Team Filthy here against the Cruz and Chhun, younger fellows who’ve made a name for themselves up and down the West Coast on the indies over the past few years.
Lawlor and Chhun started things off for their teams. They traded holds and pin attempts early on. Lawlor stretched Chhun with a modified surfboard before tagging out to Kratos, who decked Chhun with a closed fist before stomping away at him. Lawlor assisted Kratos for Kratos’ double powerslam and power bomb to both Cruz and Chhun.
After surviving a few more minutes of abuse, Chhun was able to tag out to a fresher Cruz. Chhun superkicked Lawlor before Cruz jackknifed him for two. Lawlor responded with a running uranage slam. Lawlor later jumped Cruz into his guard and locked in a guillotine choke before spiking Cruz with a TTD.
Kratos and Chhun tagged in, and Kratos blasted Chhun with a lariat. He pounced Chhun into the corner, then pinned him after a pop-up Boss Man Slam to pick up the win for Team Filthy.
Bullet Club (Jay White, Hikuleo, Juice Robinson & Chase Owens) defeated Rocky Romero, KUSHIDA, Trent Beretta & Taylor Rust
This was less a tag team match and more of an abridged preview of possible singles bouts we’ll likely see in the future. We started off with Taylor and Owens. They had a good exchange. Owens gave Taylor a crotch-chop. We’re still doing that, I guess.
Beretta & White had a good exchange and would likely be excellent together in a singles match.
The babyface team did stereo dives from each side of the ring. Later, Hikuleo launched Beretta over the corner onto the floor. “Rock Hard '' Juice Robinson landed a big senton onto Beretta later on.
Beretta was able to catch Robinson with a flying knee. Robinson went for the cannonball senton in the corner. KUSHIDA tagged in next and went wild on Robinson and Owens. The crowd chanted his name. KUSHIDA and Romero did stereo handspring dropkicks to Robinson.
Romero had all four members of Bullet Club in each ring corner and did his Forever Clotheslines to everyone. Beretta did his finisher and Taylor did a swanton, then laid Romero atop Owens for a close two.
The final spot saw White and Hikuleo miscommunicate, with the large Hikuleo almost chopping White by accident while White was holding Taylor, the original target. White shouted “Get out of my way!” and shoved Hikuleo’s arm before going at Taylor again. It’d be Hikuleo who’d put Taylor down after a big snap powerslam. When Hikuleo went to put the finishing touches on Taylor with a chokeslam, White stepped in and drilled Taylor with a half-and-half suplex, essentially spoiling the moment for Hikuleo. White then put Taylor down with the Bladerunner for the official win.
Bullet Club had a few more testy moments within their own circle before KUSHIDA got into it at ringside with IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and fellow Bullet Club member Taiji Ishimori. This turned into a full-on melee.
Jay White grabbed the microphone next and loudly welcomed KUSHIDA back to NJPW, and back to “his house,” NJPW Strong. White went on to discuss “cleaning up other people’s messes'' and that he needs “people to do their jobs right” because they “couldn’t get the jobs done themselves.” He said that’s why he was the leader of the Bullet Club. He said he has no problem reminding others of who he is, and he especially had no problem with reminding Tama Tonga, of all people.
This was a good episode of NJPW Strong. The main event helped the show feel more big-time, but the tag team match with Team Filthy was the most entertaining.
Next week will feature IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori taking on Alan Angels.