Barrett Brown (with Bateman & Misterioso) defeated Wheeler Yuta
Wheeler seemed to have an edge over Brown on offense. He put Brown into a bow-and-arrow stretch submission but Brown slipped out. Wheeler later caught Brown with a high dropkick to the face.
Brown gained an advantage after kicking the ropes into Wheeler’s throat while he was hanging over the ropes. He applied a chin lock and illegally fish hooked Wheeler until the ref made him break the hold. More dirty fighting, or, really, more Bateman-inspired offense. Brown would actually walk over and confer with Bateman, who was cornering him at ringside.
Brown missed a swanton from the top rope. Wheeler earned a close two-count with a German suplex. When Wheeler locked in a modified STF, Bateman slid into the ring to distract the ref. Wheeler broke the hold to confront Bateman, and while the ref argued with him, Misterioso snuck in from the opposite side of the ring and gave a backcracker to Wheeler. Brown recovered then pinned Wheeler to pick up the win.
Brown’s win streak continues, and the story is that Brown only wins matches when he resorts to illegal tactics, ones that he learned from Bateman.
Hikuleo defeated Fred Yehi
Hikuleo shoved Yehi to the mat at the beginning of the match, then sneered at him. Yehi later took the big man down to the mat and locked in a Koji Clutch early on. Hikuleo shut Yehi down early and took control of the offense for much of the middle part of this match, up until Yehi shot a flurry of bicycle up-kicks to a standing Hikuleo. Yehi went back to the Koji Clutch, then transitioned to a seated headscissors and threw a few Gary Goodridge-style elbow smashes.
Hikuleo wrapped his hand around Yehi’s throat and threatened a chokeslam; Yehi escaped. When he ran off the ropes, Hikuelo caught him with a sudden snap-powerslam for two. He’d put Yehi away in 5:39 after a sit-out Death Valley Bomb.
Afterwards, Hikuleo grabbed the mic and cut a rare in-ring promo demanding that New Japan give him stronger opponents. “This is too easy,” he said. As soon as he said that, Juice Robinson’s music sounded. He appeared at ringside, mic in hand.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but did I hear your 8’0'' ass whining about the lack of competition here on Strong?” After calling him a “baby giraffe”, Juice challenged Hikuleo to a match that was later confirmed for Resurgence tomorrow.
Karl Fredericks and Lio Rush defeated Team Filthy (Tom Lawlor & Danny Limelight)
Lots of action in this one. Fredericks jumped Team Filthy before the bell. He laid in about a half-dozen elbows to Lawlor before “Filthy” was able to temporarily neutralize Fredericks to collect himself. Rush did a bottom-rope springboard dive onto Limelight who was on the floor.
Fredericks went for Manifest Destiny early but he couldn’t lift Lawlor up. He’d instead drop a huge elbow onto Lawlor, and then Rush caught Lawlor with a running frog splash.
When Fredericks next bounced off the ropes, Limelight kneed him in the back. Fredericks turned around and ran towards Limelight on the apron with a big boot, but Limelight dropped to the floor, so Fredericks’ leg got hung up on the top rope. Lawlor took advantage and went to town on an incapacitated Fredericks. He’d next apply a straight ankle lock and tore away at Fredericks’ knee.
The middle part of this match was primarily Lawlor and Limelight attempting to destroy Fredericks’ knee, right up until Fredericks was able to escape to the red corner and tag out to a fresh Lio Rush, who’d go on to clean the proverbial house. He caught Limelight with a handspring elbow, then dove through the bottom ropes onto Lawlor with a tope suicida.
Back in the ring, Lawlor launched Rush with a modified uranage slam. Rush would recover later but miss a frog splash from the top. He tumbled through and went for a frankensteiner, but Limelight turned it into a backcracker bomb for two.
Towards the end, Fredericks and Lawlor brawled all the way down to the floor. In the ring, Rush was able to use his first-rope springboard cutter to put Limelight away and pick up the win for him and Fredericks.
After the match, Fredericks and Rush cut a promo on Tom Lawlor and Team Filthy and claimed Lawlor wouldn’t be Openweight champion for much longer. Fredericks said he wouldn’t let Lawlor walk into New Japan and take his and his boys’ jobs. Both showed good delivery on the mic.
Tonight’s episode was solid, yet again. Barrett Brown’s working relationship with Bateman continued to develop as Brown picked up another singles win over Wheeler YUTA. Yehi, who’s usually a tag wrestler on the show, fell to Hikuleo, who will challenge the returning Juice Robinson in the near future. And Team Filthy vs. NJoA continues to evolve, with Fredericks as the de facto leader of the Strong ship, so it seems.
“Steady as she goes” would be an accurate phrase to describe tonight’s show. It was quality but also didn’t deviate from prior episodes. No surprises here, but really, that’s not to be expected on this show. Strong succeeds in its quality consistency and its commitment to a simple, hard-hitting in-ring product. But if you’re expecting angles and surprise swerves peppered into your wrestling, maybe NJPW Strong isn’t the show for you.