This week's NJPW Strong was the last from their High Alert tapings from Charlotte, North Carolina, headlined by Openweight Champion Fred Rosser taking on Fred Yehi in the main event.
John Skyler defeated Lucky Ali
This was a good opener. Skyler is from South Carolina and has been most recently seen working for Impact while Ali is an ultra-charismatic freelancer who has worked for AEW, GCW & Deadlock Pro among others over the summer.
Ali launched Skyler with a monkey flip before putting him down with an inverted jawbreaker which I suppose could also be called a modified neckbreaker.
Skyler threw a forearm into Ali's lower back which knocked Ali out of the ring. Any time Ali would try to counter, Skyler would block it and deliberately slow the pace.
Skyler got into it with a fan at ringside later. The crowd would then get fully behind Ali as Skyler continued to punish him. He used a stacking power bomb before transitioning into an STF hold.
Ali would kick and punch his way out of trouble, clawing his way back into the match. He landed a slingshot guillotine leg drop on Skyler before Skyler himself came back, taking Ali out with a spear on the apron and then a slingshot spear back in the ring.
When Skyler went for another slingshot spear, Ali countered with a low standing dropkick to take Skyler out. He went to the top rope next, but Skyler countered, hoisted him into a fireman's carry, and then dove off the second rope with an avalanche fireman's carry roll for the win.
Eddie Kingston defeated Jake Something
The larger Something took control early, chokeslamming Kingston in the first half and scoring a two count. It's amazing to see how little value a chokeslam spot has in 2022. It's been relegated to the swinging neckbreaker tier.
Kingston returned Something's slow assault with a hard lariat. He would later plant Something with a DDT for another two. Something responded with a death valley bomb for a nearfall of his own.
When Kingston rolled out to the floor, Something launched himself over the top rope onto him with a tope con giro.
After rolling Kingston back into the ring, Something would attempt a power bomb, but Kingston blocked it before laying Something out with an exploder suplex. He drilled Something with a back drop driver before putting Something out with a uraken for the win.
NJPW Strong Openweight Champion Fred Rosser defeated Fred Yehi to retain
Retired NJPW referee Tiger Hattori presented the championship title belt in the ring before the match.
Yehi took Rosser to the mat early with a nice ankle pick. Yehi would out-grapple Rosser again, again targeting Rosser's ankle. Rosser would get the better of the exchange on the next go-around, outmuscling Yehi and laying him out before dropping a few Earthquake-esque squashes on him. The story between these two was very clearly technique (Yehi) vs. power (Rosser).
Yehi kept picking Rosser apart limb by limb, this time working over his arms instead of Rosser's legs. Yehi later locked in an abdominal stretch, but Rosser reversed it until Rosser then countered the counter.
Rosser came back and worked Yehi over in the corner with hard chops, punches, stomps and hip attacks. On commentary, Ian Riccaboni mentioned "Mr. No-Days-Off" can both squat & deadlift nearly 500 lbs which is some real hoss stuff.
Rosser went for an STF, but Yehi bit his way out of the hold. In this match, he wasn't necessarily playing heel, but he was most definitely the aggressor, biting and fish-hooking Rosser whenever he was in hot water -- a classic Lou Thesz or Bret Hart-type approach.
The questionable tactics weren't enough to keep Rosser down, though; the champion was back up moments later and able to spike Yehi with a sidewinder for a definitive win. Hattori raised Rosser's hand afterwards.
A new challenger emerges
Rosser cut a post-match promo explaining that Yehi laid a beating on him just now. He said that whether it was in front of either 50 or 10,000 people, wrestling was fun for him. He said NJPW Strong is home and that he was the people's champion at NJPW Strong. He said Yehi was strong, but not strong enough before putting out an open challenge for whomever wanted to step up.
TJP then appeared, his new theme song sounding over the PA as he walked to the ring. He has been appearing more with NJPW proper this summer, and is currently one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Francesco Akira under the United Empire banner.
Rosser explained that it was TJP who he contacted about coming to NJPW Strong. He said that he and TJP discussed Strong over DM on Twitter years ago, and that Rosser had wanted to make Strong his home for a long time and TJP knew all about it.
But then, Rosser said that while he respects TJP for being an OG, he also told TJP that there was no reason for him to be challenging for his title. Rosser then said, "I make the challenges. You don't." I swore Rosser had just put out an open challenge just moments before this but whatever.
TJP told Rosser that he is just renting the ring: the NJPW Strong ring that he claims to have built (figuratively, but maybe also literally with regard to his time at the original Inoki Dojo in Santa Monica). He wanted to take Rosser on for the title and add to his new title belt collection. Rosser offered to have a match right then and there in Charlotte, but TJP explained that he'd rather have the match in a place where there are better people in attendance than the ones at High Alert.
TJP suggested doing the match at home in Los Angeles. Rosser agreed and said he'd go home with three boots: two on his feet and one in his ass. That was good. And for the record, whenever Rosser is able to debut for NJPW proper, get ready for him to blow up over there, because I have a feeling the Japanese fanbase will fall in love with NJPW Strong's resident super babyface.
This was a good episode of NJPW Strong although I'm sure it would have been even better if the matches between Kingston vs. Something and Rosser vs. Yehi were longer than eight or nine minutes. The final promo between Rosser and TJP was good and it's usually intriguing whenever NJPW books a heavyweight vs. junior heavyweight program, which is what we can look forward to next month in Hollywood, California.