July 30th, 2022
1) The DKC, Kevin Knight, & Ren Narita vs. Shota Umino, Yuya Uemura, & Fred Yehi
Uemura gets isolated by Knight, DKC, & Narita. Apparently those guys team a bit on Strong and it definitely shows. Kevin Knight surprised me here with an awesome flurry off a hot tag where he knocks Yehi & Umino off the apron and nails Uemura with a deep bodyslam. Yehi gets the hot tag when Uemura finally gets out of his predicament and it rules. Things break down here with various face offs. Most notably Umino and Narita squaring off. This was fun and almost everyone shined, but as a whole it probably could’ve benefitted from being a little shorter. Shota gets the win for his team with the Death Rider DDT in 13:12.
Match rating - **1/2
2) Davey Richards (c) vs. Rocky Romero - MLW National Openweight Title Match
This was about what you’d expect from these two in 2022 or at any point in time really. It’s just fine, but not anything really more. Some good strikes and technical exchanges. I felt like I teleported back to 2007-2008 for a minute. Richards catches Romero in a cradle to retain the title in just over 10 minutes.
Match rating - **1/2
3) Fred Rosser (c) vs. Big Damo - Strong Openweight Title Match
Well, this sure happened. The idea they’re going for is fine, but neither of these guys are very compelling as it is and as someone who doesn’t watch strong, nothing they did gave me a reason to sink my teeth into it. Damo dominates 85% of this. It builds to a nice pop for the finish when Rosser recovers, but there’s just not much happening here, man. Rosser retains in 13 minutes that felt like 20+.
Match rating - *3/4
4) Hiromu Takahashi vs. Blake Christian
Blake is coming off a bloody title challenge against Jon Moxley last night. He came up short, but he has a huge match in front of him here against Hiromu Takahashi who is in the US after missing Forbidden Door due to a fever. The crowd is split 50-50 which is sort of a surprise, people really do seem to love Blake. This starts kind of slow. Blake’s wound from the night before opens up and he gets some good color, but not much fire comes with it unfortunately. This felt like Hiromu on auto-pilot just playing the hits with an exhausted Blake subbed in. It had its moment down the stretch, but is largely just a routine match. The coolest moment was Blake flipping out of a vicious lariat and then nailing one of his own. Hiromu wins with the timebomb.
Match rating - **1/2
5) United Empire (TJP, Kyle Fletcher, & Mark Davis) vs. FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) & Alex Zayne
FTR BABY LETS GO. Praise be to them for giving us the best thing on this card so far. UE isolates Cash and does so greatly. Things break down at one point with Dax and Zayne getting charged off the apron and brawling ensuing all around ringside. This leaves Dax super pissed and he throws a chair in the ring and starts raising hell. So good. Dax finally gets the hot tag after Cash FLOORS TJP with a lariat. Things fully break down now. Zayne gets a flurry of flippy shit in, but he ends up eating the pin when he’s left all alone with Aussie Open.
Match rating - ***1/4
After the match, Aussie Open says they are next in line for an IWGP Title shot. Dax tries to respond, but the mic isn’t working so he stands on the railing and yells his promo to the crowd. Basically.. FTR accepts and will come to Japan to defend the belts. TOP GUYS OUT.
6) Alex Shelley vs. KUSHIDA
KUSHIDA has been back around for close to a month now since being released from WWE and this is undoubtedly his best match since returning. I’m sure that may come to no surprise considering he & Shelley’s history as a team. Both men are so good at working matches based around their signatures holds so going against one another made for a great struggle. Shelley, as always, leans more into some heel tendencies than KUSHIDA does. They even open up and lay into some fast paced slaps and strikes in the middle of this thing. KUSHIDA even fires off a cradle shock, the finisher of Shelley’s other partner Chris Sabin. That was one of my favorite moments of the match and it got an awesome nearfall. Time passes so quick watching these guys just do their thing and grapple that before we know it, 15 minutes has passed and there’s a 20 minute time limit. They make the last 60-90 seconds feel super important as both men scramble for a submission or pinfall. Shelley lands an air raid crash with 10 seconds left BUT KUSHIDA WRENCHES HIM OVER FOR THE HOVERBOARD LOCK. Shelley hangs on just long enough to make the time limit. Great, great match and something different than anything else on this show. These guys always deliver, even in ways you’re not expecting. The two hug post-match. I hope we see a rematch OR a reunion soon.
Match rating - ***3/4
7) Jon Moxley vs. El Desperado - No Disqualification Match
Yanno.. I expected to love this. Mox is on the best run of his career and Despy hasn’t ever mixed it up with him before, but remains one of the best things about New Japan.. and honestly one of the best kept secrets in general. So, I knew this was gonna be good, but holy hell I did not expect it to be THIS FUCKING GOOD. It is essentially a deathmatch. Not even essentially.. it is a deathmatch. There’s skewers, barbed wire, tables.. it’s a mess. But.. it’s a deathmatch worked smartly by two of the best all around wrestlers in the world today. Despy had an insane deathmatch alongside Suzuki-gun stablemate DOUKI against Jun Kasai & Tomoaki Honma earlier this year and this is every bit as awesome. The strikes are laid in, all the spots were spaced out perfectly and looked legit. The skewers were an unexpected surprise and left my jaw dropped as Mox started leaking. Both barbed wire board spots went off without a hitch and you could tell this was not worked barbed wire.. this was the real thing as it got visibly stuck in Mox’s back and left a gash. Then to top it all off, Mox tossed Despy onto a board of cut open soda cans.. what the FUCK. This was amazing and part of what made it amazing is that it felt like a wrestling match and not just spots. The fact that Despy & Mox can have this style of match and do it so well just shows the level of performer you’re dealing with. Two of the absolute best all around wrestlers in the world having a deathmatch. They started slow with some chain wrestling, spot teasing, and stalemates. Despy targeted the leg of Mox in route to one of his finishers, the stretch muffler, and they went back to it multiple times during the match, even amidst most of the spots. And even near the end, after all we witnessed, Despy still went after that damn leg. Just brilliant shit. It failed him, though as Mox refused to tap and would drop Despy with the death rider for the win. This fucking ruled and is another high end MOTY candidate for Moxley in 2022. I need more Desperado in America, please and thank you.
Match rating - ****1/4