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NJPW Strong results: Fred Yehi debuts


Hikuleo defeated Alex Coughlin

Coughlin greeted Hikuleo with an icy stare as the giant stepped into the ring. After a bit of grappling on the feet, Hikuleo overpowered Coughlin and put him down with a big bodyslam and vertical suplex. Hikuleo bullied Coughlin a bit more but Shibata’s Young Lion would mount a comeback and eventually put Hikuleo down with a jumping shoulder block before he’d lock him into a single-leg crab. It wasn’t enough to put the much larger Hikuleo away, though. Hikuleo was back to his feet soon after, then he planted Coughlin with a snap powerslam and sit-out Death Valley Bomb for the win.

Good showing from both here. Coughlin is exploding with charisma and athleticism, and Hikuleo really feels like the resident power-house of the show these days.

Lio Rush and Rocky Romero defeated the DKC and Clark Connors

“White Rhino” Clark Connors blasted Rush with a spear to the lower back midway through the match.

Rush was able to tag out to Romero after getting pummeled for a few minutes. Romero cleaned house and landed a nice tijeras on DKC and a standing Sliced Bread on the Connors for two. The White Rhino responded by launching Romero into the air with a Pounce.

The DKC’s background is in karate, and has been able to incorporate a few fancy karate-esque kicks and chops into his moveset. If anyone here is familiar with Chris Champion/Yoshi Kwan from WCW, that’s what the DKC reminds me of, a bit.

It’s a shame that Rush announced he’d be retiring this week, because he looked pretty great inside the ring with both Connors and DKC tonight, the latter whom he pinned after a bottom-rope springboard stunner.

Connors and Romero brawled outside the ring after the bell. In their post-match interview, Romero mentioned that despite Connors recently graduating from Young Lion to “White Rhino,” his new-found confidence wouldn’t matter, and that he’d eat up any one of Connors’ crew.

Fred Yehi and Wheeler Yuta defeated Misterioso and Jordan Clearwater

Wheeler Yuta has made a few appearances on Strong this year, but tonight was his partner Fred Yehi’s debut on the show. The two have teamed in the past on the indie circuit, and Yehi has appeared for companies like MLW, EVOLVE and ROH in the past, among others. He’s an excellent wrestler and is a perfect fit for both this show or for NJPW’s main roster.

Yehi and Misterioso looked good on the mat against each other. The match with Connors/DKC vs. Romero/Rush had more of an intense high-impact feel from the get-go, where this was clearly a bout centered on smooth, high-level technique.

When Yehi was in the ring with Karl Anderson-trainee Jordan Clearwater, he used fancy World-of-Sport-styled counter-wrestling and footwork. Both he and partner Yuta spent the middle part of this working over the taller Clearwater’s leg and knee, tenderizing in an attempt to keep him off his feet for more of the match.

Clearwater was eventually able to tag out to “Big Papi Pump” Misterioso, who landed a powerslam, then springboard moonsault onto Yuta upon re-entry. All four men were in the ring at this point, and Yehi used the opportunity to again go after Clearwater’s long legs, clipping one of them.

The finish saw Misterioso go for a dive to the floor but no one was there, though Misterioso landed safely. Just a second after he caught himself on the ground, Wheeler Yuta came through the middle rope and landed on top of him with a tope suicida to the floor. With Yuta holding Misterioso at bay, Yehi took the opportunity to put Clearwater away in the ring, earning the W for his team after locking Clearwater into a modified crucifix hold/Koji clutch while he laid in as many fists as he could.

Final thoughts:

Tonight’s episode of Strong was solid. The main event was most-impressive, though everything on tonight’s show was very good. Yuta and Yehi are a great tag team who look like they’ve been at this wrestling thing for a while, and they fit perfectly with the current crop on the show. I look forward to seeing more of them in the future.

On next week’s episode of NJPW Strong, we’ll see Satoshi Kojima vs. Team Filthy’s JR Kratos in a singles main event, while “Filthy” Tom Lawlor vs. Karl Fredericks for the Strong Openweight title will headline the show at the end of the month, on June 26.