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By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
NJPW Strong
Taped August 21, 2022 in Los Angeles, California at The Vermont Hollywood
Streamed September 10, 2022 on New Japan World

Ian Riccaboni checked in with Alex Koslov on commentary to run down the card. We are on the Fighting Spirit Unleashed Tour and this is the very first week of it…
1. Mascara Dorada vs. Misterioso. The two began with a quick series of exchanges before both guys were on their feet and stared at each other. They then tied up and went back and forth with pin attempts. Dorada went for a flip on Misterioso, who was on the outside, but Misterioso caught him and threw him into the guardrail. Misterioso rolled Dorada back into the ring and went to the top. Misterioso went for a Senton, but Dorada moved and Misterioso rolled through.
Misterioso had Dorada in a corner and hit the double-knees for a few pin attempts. Misterioso slammed Dorada and went for a springboard move, but Dorada moved and flipped Misterioso over the top rope to the outside. Dorada then briefly walked the ropes and hit a Senton onto Misterioso, who was on the outside. After rolling Misterioso into the ring, Dorada hit a Senton and got a two-count out of it. Misterioso hit a kick to slow things down and then landed a shotgun dropkick from the top rope.
With Dorada on the outside, Misterioso leapt over the top and took Dorada down, but Misterioso hit his legs on the guardrail. Back inside the ring, Misterioso landed a dropkick for a two-count. Misterioso lifted Dorada, but Dorada wiggled out and the two traded blows. Dorada landed an enziguri and went to the top, but Misterioso cut him off with a kick. The two were on the top rope and Misterioso hit a springboard Frankensteiner for a two-count.
Misterioso hit a wheelbarrow German Suplex for a two-count. Misterioso went for a power-bomb, but Dorada countered with a German Suplex. Dorada landed a DDT and that went into a Dorada Driver for the win.
Mascara Dorada defeated Misterioso via pinfall in 9:41.
McGuire’s Musings: This was really a very good opening match. Hell, it was a good match, period. The two worked really, really hard and there was never a dull moment. I wonder if this means Dorada will be pushed a little more toward the top end of the card, because so far, he hasn’t been used in such a way. For now, this was a very good encounter with a dancing partner in Misterioso who was happy to be his muse on a night like this. Those who like chain wrestling need not apply, but those who like constant movement and risk-taking antics should find a lot to enjoy in this match. Both guys deserve all the credit in the world for making this so much more than a standard lucha-style New Japan match.
2. Robbie Eagles vs. Kevin Blackwood. The two locked up to begin the match. Blackwood worked a side head-lock, but Eagles came back and worked Blackwood’s wrist. Eagles made it to the ropes for a break. After a few exchanges, Blackwood tried to whop Eagles across the ring, but Eagles blocked it, so Blackwood chopped the hell out of him. Eagles came right back and ultimately landed a spinning heel kick to take control.
Eagles chopped Blackwood. While running the ropes, Blackwood elbowed Eagles down and went for a kick, but before long, Blackwood settled for a double-stomp, which got him a two-count. Blackwood worked over Eagles with kicks and chokes. Blackwood hit the Blackpool Combat Club elbows and then stretched Eagles. Blackwood lifted Eagles, but Eagles got out of it and hit Blackwood’s leg and back. Eagles hit a series of kicks that culminated in a running knee.
Eagles ran at Blackwood, but Blackwood kicked him in the face. Blackwood went for an Exploder, but Eagles stopped him and the two kicked each other in the head at the same time. The two traded elbows and kicks and chops and everything in between. Within time, both ended up on the mat. Blackwood went for a double-stomp, but Eagles moved and dropkicked Blackwood’s knee. Blackwood came back and went for a cloverleaf. Eagles made it to the ropes for a break.
Blackwood tripped Eagles and hit a brain-buster for a good near-fall. Blackwood went for a stomp off the top, but Eagles moved and Blackwood sold leg pain. Eagles came back with a Backpack for a two-count. Eagles landed the 4.5 onto Blackwood’s leg. Eagles sank in his finisher on Blackwood’s leg and Blackwood tapped out for the win.
Robbie Eagles defeated Kevin Blackwood via submission in 11:32.
After the match, the two fist-bumped as Blackwood made his way to the back.
McGuire’s Musings: I don’t know if I’m in the minority, but let me go ahead and put my neck out there as someone who’d like to be at least the treasurer of the Kevin Blackwood fan club. His work on Strong thought the months, sporadic as it’s been, has been very good, and I can’t quite figure out why he doesn’t have a full-time gig anywhere. He can hang with most anyone, he has a good look, and his stuff looks authentic. Outside of this being a Kevin Blackwood appreciation post, this was a really good match and if we’re talking about people whose name should be more common in American wrestling, Robbie Eagles is another one that deserves the attention. So, in all, two guys who are worthy of your time who we don’t always get to see. So, see them here. You won’t be disappointed.
3. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis vs. “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs for the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Titles. Fletcher and Nelson started. Nelson got the best of it with a head-lock. Fletcher and Nelson exchanged shoulder-tackles until Fletcher kicked Nelson, but Nelson came right back with a spear. Nelson hit a double-knees and tagged in Isaacs, who kept control. Nelson tagged in and landed a dragon-screw leg-whip on Fletcher. The two tried a double suplex, but Davis broke it up. As a result, the WCWC hit a double suplex on Davis and posed.
Things fell apart and the four wrestlers fought on the outside. Fletcher hit a kick to Nelson’s back before tagging in Davis. Davis worked a head-lock on Nelson. Davis went for a splash, but Nelson moved and Fletcher tagged in to keep control for Aussie Open. With both guys in the top rope, Nelson bit Fletcher and then hit a cross-body from the top rope. Nelson tagged in Isaacs and Issacs and Fletcher exchanged blows. Isaacs hit a hard clothesline and rolled through.
Davis ran int, but Isaacs hit a series of clotheslines on both Aussie Open guys. Isaacs landed a makeshift suplex on Fletcher. Isaacs went to whip Fletcher, but Fletcher punched Isaacs. Still, Isaacs came right back and landed a German Suplex before tagging in Nelson The WCWC hit their finisher, but Davis broke up the pin attempt. Aussie Open landed double brain-busters. Nelson landed a pop-up power-bomb and WCWC hit another finisher, but Fletcher kicked out at 2.9999. Fletcher kicked Nelson and Aussie Open landed a sloppy version of something from the second rope, but Isaacs broke up the pin attempt. For his trouble, Isaacs received the Aussie Open finisher and that was enough for the win.
“Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis defeated the “West Coast Wrecking Crew” Jorel Nelson and Royce Isaacs to retain the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Titles via pinfall in 11:37.
Aussie Open grabbed their titles and walked to the back to end the show.
McGuire’s Musings: For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they’d have Aussie Open almost immediately defend their titles against the West Coast Wrecking Crew. As I’ve said for months (months!), the WCWC deserved attention when the Strong Tag Titles were introduced if only because they were one of the first real, true, honest-to-goodness tag-teams that appeared on New Japan Strong regularly.
As such, I thought they’d be in the tournament finals (they weren’t), and if that wasn’t going to happen, I thought they’d build a showdown between whomever the champs were and them. But, as usual, I was wrong on all accounts. Anyway, this was one of the better matches Strong has seen in some time. Those false finishes at the end had me biting a time or two and it was very clear that not only did these guys work hard, but they also work very well together. Here’s hoping we get a rematch. Just let it sit for a few months … please?
In all, a very good episode of Strong and a good way to kick off the new tour. There wasn’t a match worth skipping and the main event delivered in an awfully strong way. I’ll have more to say about the show in my weekly audio review of NJPW Strong for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).

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