Tonight's episode kicked off the NJPW Strong: Mutiny series, which was taped last month in Hollywood.
Rocky Romero, Alex Coughlin, & Adrian Quest defeated Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor, JR Kratos, & Danny Limelight)
Romero got another loud reaction from the crowd when he arrived. He's NJPW Strong's resident Liger figure, always there, always loved regardless of the situation.
The last time Alex Coughlin was at The Vermont Hollywood for NJPW Strong, he donned the traditional Young Lion black trunks/black boots look, but upon beating JR Kratos in a singles match, Coughlin graduated out of Young Lionhood, meaning he had new ring gear. He kind of resembled Jon Moxley during his first NJPW run, with grappling shorts and wrestling shoes.
Limelight and Quest were in first and got into fisticuffs. Limelight got good heat after doing his "ay, Papi" dance, but then Quest caught him in a crucifix and scored a quick two. Romero would tag in later and rifle off his Forever Clotheslines in the corner. People loved it.
When Black Tiger tagged in, he and Limelight used a double-team Reverse U-Crusher.
Kratos tagged in. He chucked Romero down onto the mat with a big body slam while flipping off the crowd. He and Tiger then posed over a laid out Romero. Strong fans love to hate Team Filthy and made it known here.
Romero came back after connecting with a rewind kick and Sliced Bread on Tiger. He took out Limelight with a basement dropkick before tagging out to Alex Coughlin.
Coughlin and Kratos went at it next. They are always awesome together. Coughlin teased a bodyslam on Kratos but Kratos slipped out of the ring after escaping. Adrian Quest followed after Kratos, diving off the top rope onto the floor with a somersault dive.
In the ring, Coughlin was finally able to hoist Kratos from a bodyslam position into a bridging fall-away slam. He only scored a two-count, though, as Tiger broke up the pin to make the save for Kratos.
Moments later, Coughlin would send Danny Limelight spinning after a running lariat, then pinned him with a bridging deadlift German suplex in just over eight minutes.
Before the ring announcer could even finish announcing the results, Kratos ambushed Coughlin, taking him out with a forearm, then laying him out with a seated Bossman Slam onto a chair. Coughlin was stretchered from the ring to the back. Again, the rivalry these two have is fantastic, and the slow burn to whenever they do a singles match for a title, well, that'll be something.
We saw a quick backstage promo from Chris Dickinson next. He said that after months of sitting on the shelf sidelined with an injury, he was ready to make his return at NJPW Mutiny. He explained that during his first NJPW Strong run, it was Ren Narita who was the one to stop him dead in his tracks. Dickinson said things would not end well for Narita, and that he'd better bring all he has, saying "I'm going to whip your ass and leave you in the dust."
Handicap Match: West Coast Wrecking Crew (Royce Isaacs & Jorel Nelson) defeated Fred Rosser
If Rosser had won this, he'd have earned a shot at "Filthy" Tom Lawlor's STRONG Openweight championship.
Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson danced their way to the ring alongside their captain, Lawlor. Lawlor, who donned a denim romper for tonight's show, would join Ian Riccaboni and Alex Koslov on commentary.
When Fred Rosser made his way to the ring, he tossed something to a kid in one of the front rows. You couldn't see it on camera, but this young fan was very excited about it.
WCWC ambushed Rosser before the bell, but Rosser would come back to clean house, dumping both Nelson and Isaacs to the floor for more of a beatdown. There were no count-outs or tagging in this match, by the way, so these three could have hypothetically been brawling ringside all night. Rosser backdropped Nelson onto the apron, then used a running Death Valley Bomb on him inside the ring, but Nelson rolled out of the ring to avoid getting pinned.
Rosser later put Isaacs in a crossface chicken wing. When Rosser went to the top rope, Nelson appeared on the apron and pushed him off. WCWC then began double-teaming Rosser. They'd then hop on to the stage where announcers Riccaboni and Koslov were sitting and posed for the crowd.
Back in the ring, Rosser returned the attack with a double clothesline. As soon as he built some momentum, Isaacs took Rosser to the floor again and put him down hard with a slingshot powerslam onto the floor.
WCWC put Rosser away moments later with a combination brainbuster/Claymore kick finish. The crowd booed.
Lawlor got on mic afterwards and said Rosser was just like the "losers" who came to see the show. He said Rosser is just like everyone else, always asking for favors or handouts.
"A champion acts a certain way. A champion looks a certain way. And quite frankly, Fred, you don't even look like a worthy challenger," Lawlor said. He then told Rosser that he actually looked better bald, then revealed a lock of Rosser's hair he had kept from when Team Filthy shaved Rosser's head in Philadelphia last year. Lawlor then made Rosser an offer: Since he didn't beat WCWC to earn a title shot, Lawlor said that if Rosser shaved his head again, he'd consider a title match.
"How bad do you want it, huh? How bad do you want it, Fred?" Lawlor kept bullying Rosser until Rosser silently accepted the deal. Jorel Nelson then took a pair of electric clippers and shaved a big chunk into Rosser's hair.
Rosser would grab the clippers away from Nelson and began shaving his head himself in an effort to prove how serious he was about Lawlor's title. He kept shaving as he looked Lawlor in the eye. The crowd started chanting "Fred!" Rosser then grabbed the mic and asked if he had earned his title shot yet or not. Lawlor took the mic back and asked the crowd if Rosser earned the shot. Before responding, though, Lawlor took the lock of Rosser's hair he kept and ate it. Yep, "Filthy" Tom ate more of Fred Rosser's hair. It looked like he had a big chunk of dip in his mouth. The crowd chanted "You sick f*ck!" at him. Then, they started shouting for him to swallow the hair, which, thankfully, he didn't. "I'm not like the rest of you," Lawlor told the audience. Lawlor then said his answer was "no" to the title shot offer.
He then made Rosser another offer: At NJPW Collision in Philadelphia, on Lawlor's birthday, no less, Lawlor would put his Openweight championship on the line against Rosser, but if Rosser loses, he'd be gone from NJPW Strong for good.
Rosser didn't give an immediate answer. The crowd cheered him as he exited to the back.
U S of Jay Open Challenge: Jay White defeated Hikuleo
Despite White playing an uncompromising heel role, and despite him booting Hikuleo's brothers from Bullet Club, most of the crowd still really liked him. Some fans played along and gave him a hard time, but in general, Jay White is super over.
White kept avoiding first contact with Hikuleo by sliding out onto the floor or weaving away from Hikuleo's hands. Some fans started chanting "F*ck you, Switchblade!," but then a "Let's go, Switchblade!" counter-chant started.
Hikuleo decked White, laying forearms into White's back. On the floor, Hikuleo dropped him on the guardrail with Snake Eyes. "This is what you want?!," Hikuleo shouted. When Hikuleo missed a chop, his hand banged against the ring post. White tried taking advantage and went for a suplex, but the much bigger Hikuleo wouldn't budge. White then focused his attack on Hikuleo's legs, ramming them into the ring post while White stood on the floor. He then wrapped Hikuleo's face in the vinyl ring apron in an attempt to suffocate him.
In the ring, White continued working over Hikuleo's leg. Hikuleo countered at one point with a strong Irish whip that launched White into the blue corner. He'd then put White down with a hanging vertical suplex as the ten-minute call sounded.
When he went for the Tongan Driver, White slipped away and kicked Hikuleo in the knee. When Hikuleo ran at him with a lariat, White reversed it into a flatliner. He then drilled the larger Hikuleo with a backdrop driver before scoring a count of two with a Bladebuster.
White would hold his finger to Hikuleo's head and pull the trigger on his figurative gun. He teased throwing Hikuleo with a head-and-arm back suplex, but Hikuleo fought it off. White bounced off the ropes and took Hikuleo out with a chop block to his knee. He'd take Hikuleo down with a dragon screw leg whip. When he went to apply the TTO submission, Hikuleo kicked White away. White went back after him in the corner, stomping away at Hikuleo's legs again. The crowd was pretty loud in support of White by this point.
Hikuleo power bombed White, but White avoided getting pinned. He went back to using dragon screws to keep Hikuleo down. When he went for the Bladerunner, Hikuleo countered with a chokeslam, wrapping his giant hand around White's throat. White kicked Hikuleo in the knee to break it. White chopped him a few times, but Hikuleo powered up and took White to the mat with a short-arm lariat. He blasted White with a chop that was WALTER-level, sound-wise.
Hikuleo caught White off the ropes with a snap powerslam, and again went for the chokeslam, but suddenly White countered and laid Hikuleo out with the Bladerunner for three. The crowd was especially hot for the last 15 seconds.
After the match, White grabbed a chair and teased bashing Hikuleo with it, but then sat down and yelled at him instead. When White referred to himself as the "best f*cking wrestler in the world," the crowd screamed in agreement. Not everything was audible from White since he didn't have a microphone, but he'd eventually stand up and shoot Hikuleo the "too sweet" gesture in an attempt at squashing any beef they may have had. After a few moments, Hikuleo gave White a "too sweet" of his own; Hikuleo will remain with Bullet Club.
This was a good episode of Strong, though it may have been the heaviest story-driven episode they've aired so far. The wrestling was top-notch, like usual, but the show was more angle-heavy than it has been in the past. Despite being taped last month, this episode served as the go-home show for tomorrow's Capital Collision show in D.C..
Jay White vs. Hikuleo was very good and is worth watching. Along with his brawls with the likes of Fred Rosser and Juice Robinson last year, this was likely the best performance in Hikuleo's career so far. It's also interesting how popular White has become since his return tour of the States. He's always been "Switchblade", a megalomaniacal wunderkind heel, but lots of fans accept him as a hero.