Welcome to POST Wrestling’s coverage of New Japan’s Strong Style Evolved card from the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California.
We have heard that there was an extremely long line to enter the building’s lone entrance.
Jim Ross and Josh Barnett are doing commentary for both AXS TV and New Japan World.
CHRISTOPHER DANIELS, FRANKIE KAZARIAN & SCORPIO SKY VS ROPPONGI 3K AND ROCKY ROMERO
There was a big “Roppongi” chant for Sho and Yoh early on.
Kazarian slipped on the middle rope when going for a leg drop, grabbed his knee, and immediately tagged out. Kazarian tagged back in very quickly, his left knee was still affecting him though.
Romero entered and hit the “Forever” clotheslines to Daniels and Kazarian in opposite corners.
Scorpio landed a tope con giro to Sho and Yoh, as Kazarian and Daniels double-teamed Yoh and got a near fall.
Kazarian continued to have problems with his knee as he landed on the floor and caught a pescado.
Sho and Yoh called for the 3K to hit it onto Sky and Sho got the pin.
WINNERS: ROPPONGI 3K AND ROCKY ROMERO AT 11:03
The audience was energetic throughout the match, the major concern was Frankie Kazarian’s knee and hopefully, it isn’t too serious, but was a big problem for him throughout the match.
Josh Barnett’s mic was hot and said they needed to “get out of the fucking ring, otherwise, it was okay”.
HIROOKI GOTO AND GEDO VS JUICE ROBINSON AND DAVID FINLAY
Goto was bleeding from the mouth right away from a Robinson back elbow.
Goto suplexed Finlay on top of Robinson and led to a chant of “Goto”.
Robinson and Gedo exchanged eye pokes.
Goto landed the Ushigoroshi to Finlay and Gedo followed with a kick to the face. Robinson countered the Ushigoroshi and hit a full nelson slam. Robinson hit a pescado to Goto on the floor.
Finlay hit the Prima Nocta stunner to Gedo and pinned him.
WINNERS: JUICE ROBINSON AND DAVID FINLAY AT 7:25
A fan poured beer into Robinson’s mouth on the way to the back and he alerted the camera that he was 21.
KILLER ELITE SQUAD VS TORU YANO AND CHUCKIE T.
The audience was going crazy for Yano as he entered, as well as chanting for Chuckie.
Killer Elite Squad jumped them to start the match.
Smith applied a Lion Tamer to Chuckie as they beat him down in their corner. Archer tried to scare Yano away and he teased walking away.
They attempted a Hart Attack, which Chuckie ducked the clotheslined, hit a DDT to Smith and tagged in Yano for a huge pop.
The audience loved Yano, they wanted to see all his signature spots like leaning on the ropes and going for the low blow.
Smith ran into Archer on the floor and both were hit with a tope con giro from Chuckie. Yano got the crowd going as he teased a dive, instead, he ran to the corner took off the turnbuckle padding for just as big a reaction as if he hit the dive.
Chuckie kicked out of a chokeslam and used a backslide and the whole audience bit on the near fall. Smith returned and they hit the Killer Bomb on to Chuckie and Archer pinned him for the win.
WINNERS: KILLER ELITE SQUAD AT 10:48
CODY AND MARTY SCURLL VS THE GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY
Cody came out with Brandi to tons of boos but cheered for Scurll.
Cody had the microphone and said, “Bullet Club is fine”. He said what isn’t fine is the booking of this match and there will be no match. He said they are friends, the Guerrillas made Bullet Club popular to begin with and its wrestlers like him that make it popular today. Cody said all of them are “Team Cody” and hands the mic over, Tanga Loa said they won’t deny the people this match and if they are on a team it’s not Team Cody.
The match began after Cody knocked Loa to the floor.
Brandi rescued Cody and pulled him to the floor, it caused Tama to be distracted and Scurll hit him with a kick from the apron. Scurll stomped the left elbow of Tonga and they isolated his arm.
Scurll set up for the chicken wing, Cody blind-tagged to hit Cross Rhodes, but Tonga countered with a spinning neck breaker.
Later, Cody went for the Terminator dive but was cut off by Loa.
Cody shoved Loa into Tonga and caught Loa with Cross Rhodes for the win.
WINNERS: CODY AND MARTY SCURLL AT 10:52
The non-wrestling elements before, during, and after the match was what people were interested in rather than the actual wrestling going on. The audience knew to hate Cody and he felt like a major heel, but the match was average at best.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, KUSHIDA, DRAGON LEE & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI VS TETSUYA NAITO, SANADA, HIROMU TAKAHASHI & BUSHI
The place went nuts for Naito on Takahashi during the LIJ entrances.
Taguchi entered wearing a hat from In-N-Out Burger.
The match began with Tanahashi and Naito and the crowd was electric. Before they locked up, Sanada attacked Tanahashi from behind.
Dragon Lee was tagged in and then Takahashi was as well, and they went at it exchanging chops. Lee hit a German off the ropes and tope con giro to the floor onto Takahashi. Lee gave the middle finger to Naito.
Sanada tied KUSHIDA up with the Paradise Lock and then dropkicked him out. Bushi entered and choked KUSHIDA with a t-shirt. He finally got to his corner, but KUSHIDA’s teammates were on the floor and he couldn’t tag.
Taguchi hit everyone in LIJ with hip attacks. Taguchi applied an ankle lock to Naito, KUSHIDA applied the Hoverboard Lock to Bushi, and then Tanahashi went for the cloverleaf onto Sanada.
Everyone was down after a series of moves, Naito and Takahashi double-teamed Taguchi and concluded with the Destino and Naito pinned him.
WINNERS: TETSUYA NAITO, SANADA, HIROMU TAKAHASHI & BUSHI AT 12:14
This felt like a really good eight-man tag, that gave you enough of the stars you came to see without anyone in the match risking themselves and getting by on how over they were to the audience. You may have hoped for more between Lee and Takahashi. LIJ was so popular to this audience.
Rey Mysterio comes out as a surprise for the audience. He apologizes for getting hurt and says this doesn’t mean the match with Jushin Thunder Liger is never happening. He said he will come back as he soon as he is ready and wrestle for New Japan. He promises and gives the audience his word that when he is ready he will come wrestle for New Japan.
WILL OSPREAY VS JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER
After attacking Liger’s arm, they went to the floor and Liger landed a somersault off the apron and then hit a vertical suplex to Ospreay on the floor. There was a tremendous countout tease with Ospreay still down in the aisle as the count hit 19 and then made it back in.
Liger attempted a top rope huracanrana and Ospreay landed on his feet. Liger landed on the floor and Ospreay hit the Space Flying Tiger Drop.
Ospreay is selling his leg and hit a one-legged springboard into the ring. Liger landed on the middle rope Ospreay called for a 619 and Liger ducked it. The spot was done for easy heat with Mysterio originally scheduled for this match.
Ospreay landed the Robinson special, attempted the OsCutter and it was caught and Liger hit a brainbuster for a near fall – which the director cut away from to show Mysterio rather than the kick out.
Liger hit a superplex and Ospreay kicked out. Ospreay ducked one shotei, ran the ropes and was hit with the shotei on the second attempt and sold like he was hit by a moving truck.
Ospreay caught Liger with a Liger Bomb that Liger kicked out of, Ospreay landed a series of kicks and the OsCutter for the victory.
WINNER: WILL OSPREAY AT 10:36
I enjoyed the match. The finish was never in question and featured lots of cool ideas and spots.
Ospreay bowed to Liger after the match.
Mysterio applauded Ospreay, who then spoke and said he would be proud if he could wrestle like Liger when he is 53 years old. The audience chanted for Liger. He wants to carve out his own legacy and to do that he has to go through legends. He said he is no one’s replacement and wants to put this title on a pedestal and challenges Mysterio to a match.
Marty Scurll ran in from behind and attacked Ospreay from behind with an umbrella. Mysterio attempted to stop him and Scurll took of Mysterio’s mask and was chased away by Liger.
Mysterio put his mask on and shook hands with Liger and Ospreay.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA AND TOMOHIRO ISHII VS MINORU SUZUKI AND ZACK SABRE JR.
Okada and Sabre started the match, when Suzuki and Ishii were tagged in the people reacted loudly.
All four went to the floor with Suzuki using a chair on Ishii and then into the crowd. Sabre wrapped Okada’s arm around the steel barricade and kicked it.
Suzuki and Sabre double-team Ishii with a dual submission inside the ring. The crowd began chanting, “Fuck you, Sabre” and he responded with the middle finger.
Ishii was beaten down for a long time, Suzuki applied a kneebar and it wasn’t until a desperation release German to Sabre that Ishii made it over to tag Okada in.
Sabre countered Okada’s belly-to-back neck breaker with a submission hyperextending both arms, but Okada got to the rope.
Okada attempted a tombstone and Sabre had a counter for that too, applying a submission, which was broken by Ishii.
The audience was dueling with “Let’s Go, Sabre / Fuck you, Sabre”.
Sabre and Suzuki attacked the right arm of Okada to prevent the Rainmaker.
Ishii attacked Suzuki with chops, they screamed at each other and continued to trade, Ishii told him to hit him and the audience was silent as Suzuki blasted him with a forearm. They took turns allowing the other to hit one another with Ishii staggering like he was out on his feet.
Sabre came in, Ishii blocked a PK and headbutted Sabre. Okada entered and they double-teamed Sabre, including Ishii hitting a Sliding D and Suzuki saved.
Ishii chopped Sabre’s knee, Suzuki tied up Okada in the corner with a submission while Sabre tied up Ishii and bent the leg and arm backward the referee ended the match.
WINNERS: MINORU SUZUKI AND ZACK SABRE JR. AT 19:56
Sabre and Suzuki continued their attack after the match. Sabre applied the Octopus submission to Okada and played to the crowd.
This tag match was excellent, everyone was over, it built well for next week’s Sumo Hall main event and was the best match of the card so far.
They announced that New Japan is returning to the U.S. on Saturday, July 7th, at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.
JAY WHITE VS HANGMAN PAGE FOR THE UNITED STATES TITLE
During the introductions, Red Shoes got the biggest reaction of all three.
White applied the Muta Lock and Page fought to the rope.
Page hit a neck breaker through the ropes and send White into the barricade. Page lifted him onto his shoulders and drove him into the post. Page attacked the ribs and lower back of White.
Page landed on his feet on a German attempt and White caught him with a flatliner follow up.
Page landed a draping DDT, he wanted to hit the slingshot lariat from the apron but White kept staggering close to him and he didn’t have the distance to hit it.
White attempted a Blade Runner off the apron to the floor but Page blocked it. He hit a flatliner on the edge of the apron, he followed with an insane release German where Page flipped all over the way over and hit the side of the apron before hitting the floor.
They are working hard but the audience is dead for this.
Page hit a spinning neck breaker from the top turnbuckle and White kicked out.
White suplexed Page repeatedly and called for the Blade Runner, he lifted Page and it was blocked, Page hit him with a powerbomb. Page followed with a piledriver for a two-count.
Page landed the shooting star shoulder block from the apron to the floor. He followed with a top rope moonsault to the floor. The crowd was chanting for Page as he hit the slingshot lariat and the audience bought the near fall.
White kicked out of the Kiwi Krusher.
Page stopped the Blade Runner, went for the Rites of Passage, but it was countered and he hit the Blade Runner for the win.
WINNER: JAY WHITE AT 25:01 TO RETAIN THE IWGP U.S. TITLE
This was too long of a match so late in the card and the audience didn’t get into either one until the final few minutes when they sensed the end was near. They worked incredibly hard, but it didn’t connect with the audience as I don’t feel these are two characters with a level of connection that the big stars of this show have.
David Finlay appeared in the ring and speared White. He cut a promo that he was never done fighting him and is challenging him for the U.S. title on April 24th at Korakuen Hall.
THE YOUNG BUCKS VS KENNY OMEGA AND KOTA IBUSHI
Matt and Nick had weightlifting belts on with their names on them like Hollywood Hogan.
Matt demanded that Omega start the match with him.
Ibushi landed a kick to Matt’s previously injured back. Omega told Ibushi to stop, went to check on Matt and he shoved down Omega with the role reversal from Sapporo when Omega shoved down Matt.
Omega called for the Terminator dive and was stopped with a Nick superkick from the apron.
The Bucks attack Ibushi while Matt is selling his back.
Omega landed a rolling fireman’s carry to Matt, Ibushi hit a standing shooting star, Omega followed with a moonsault off the second rope and nailed Matt with his knees, and the sequenced ended with an Ibushi moonsault from the second turnbuckle. They had the advantage on Matt for a while.
Nick got the tag and made a big comeback.
Ibushi was down on the mat, The Bucks climbed up and teased doing their own Golden Shower (simultaneous 450 splashes) but were thwarted by Ibushi.
Now it was Omega and Ibushi in control with Matt on the apron, they climbed together, and the Bucks stopped them.
Nick set up a table between the apron and barricade, Omega was placed onto the table while Ibushi was down in the ring, Matt had to decide who to attack from the top and he aimed for Omega but was stopped by Ibushi.
Omega lifted Matt and attempted the One-Winged Angel through the table, Ibushi then leaped onto the top rope and delivered a power German to Matt into the ring off Omega’s shoulders.
Ibushi grabbed the wrists of Matt for the Kamigoye and the camera cut away.
Matt kicked out of the Last Ride powerbomb, and then a V-Trigger into a roll up.
The camera was in close on Omega striking Matt when Nick’s foot entered the shot superkicking Omega.
Matt applied a sharpshooter to Ibushi but had to release it due to the back pain.
Matt put Omega through the table with an elbow drop off the turnbuckle.
Matt removes his weightlifting belt and whips Omega. Omega stops Matt and he grabs the belt but throws it away.
Matt cannot lift Omega for a Meltzer Driver so Nick assists him, Ibushi stops Nick and powerbombs him through a table on the floor. In the ring, Omega lifts Matt and they hit their own Indie Taker for a near fall.
Ibushi tells Omega to finish Matt, he hits the V-Trigger and then goes for the One-Winged Angel, he hesitates but Matt tells him to do it, he does, and Nick saves. Nick realizes Matt is done and tries to fight them alone. Ibushi hit a half-nelson suplex and sends Nick to the floor.
They lift Matt and hit the Golden Trigger and both climb on top for the pin.
WINNERS: THE GOLDEN LOVERS AT 39:23
Omega is close to tears over how conflicted he is with what he has done to his friends.
This was an unbelievable match, an incredible story, and will likely end up as one of the best matches of 2018.
After the match, Cody came down and yelled at The Bucks and pie-faced Nick to the mat.
Kenny Omega returned and chased Cody away.
Omega offers his hand to the Bucks. Nick shakes hands and hugs Omega but Matt won’t do it.
Omega spoke to the audience and said it’s a sad world when friends have to go to war and sometimes there are casualties. He said The Golden Lovers are back and here to stay and New Japan is coming back and will run a bigger building. He said he may have a broken orbital bone and wishes them “goodbye and good night.”