May 21, 2023
Long Beach, CA – Walter Pyramid
Commentary: Ian Riccaboni, Alex Koslov, and Veda Scott
Results via Chick Fritts of F4WOnline.com
Quick Match Results
- Pre-show: The DKC defeated BATEMAN via D-K-Crucifix (pinfall 8:23)
- Pre-show: Alex Coughlin defeated Christopher Daniels via Jackhammer (pinfall 9:26)
- Barbaro Cavernario & Virus defeated TMDK via Cavernaria (submission 14:05)
- NJPW Strong Women’s Championship Tournament First Round match – Mercedes Mone defeated Stephanie Vaquer via Mone Maker (pinfall 11:55)
- NJPW Strong Women’s Championship Tournament First Round match – Willow Nightingale defeated Momo Kohgo via Doctor Bomb (pinfall 9:37)
- Street Fight match – Juice Robinson defeated Fred Rosser via DDT (pinfall 23:10)
- NJPW Strong Openweight Championship – KENTA defeated Hikuleo (c) via Countout (pinfall 11:57)
- Wheeler Yuta, Jon Moxley, & Shota Umino defeated Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii, & Kazuchika Okada via Death Rider (pinfall 19:37)
- IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Tournament First Round match – Will Ospreay defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi via Stormbreaker (pinfall 16:44)
- NJPW Strong Women’s Championship Tournament Finals – Willow Nightingale defeated Mercedes Mone via Doctor Bomb (pinfall 13:34)
The DKC vs. BATEMAN
This was a nothing match. The dozens of people who were already in the building didn’t really care.
Throughout the match, Bateman utilized his size, forcing DKC to use his speed. DKC won the match by turning a submission into a quick pin.
Winner: The DKC via Pinfall.
Alex Coughlin vs. Christopher Daniels
This was a fine little match, but the lack of a crowd really hurt.
Daniels used heelish tactics, stepping on toes and taunting, early on, but Coughlin used his size to take advantage. Daniels repeatedly wrestled Coughlin to the mat before attempting the Angel’s Wings. Coughlin reversed before hitting a belly-to-belly and a pair of gut-wrench suplexes.
Daniels escaped a German and hit the Angel’s Wings, but Caughlin kicked out at one. Coughlin then hit a German and a jackhammer to win the match.
Winner: Alex Coughlin via Pinfall.
TMDK (Bad Dude Tito & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Barbaro Cavernario & Virus
This was a fantastic opener to the main card. The crowd, now filling the seats, was into it from bell to bell.
ZSJ opened the match by taking Virus to the mat. Virus held his own, prompting a double tag. Tito and Cavernario squared off, with Tito gaining an upper hand. Virus involved himself to turn the match around, setting up more interference from both sides for the rest of the match.
Tito gained a significant advantage over Virus, leading to a Cavernario hot tag. Cavernario led the match until the tag reached ZSJ, which initiated an extended back-and-forth between all four competitors.
The closing sequence saw Tito land an impressive Blue Thunder Bomb before Cavenario caught him in Cavernaria for a sudden submission victory for the CMLL pairing.
Winner: Barbaro Cavernario & Virus via Pinfall.
After the match, ZSJ and Virus had an exchange involving the NJPW World Television belt, perhaps setting up a title match in the future.
NJPW Strong Women’s Championship Tournament First Round Match
Mercedes Mone vs. Stephanie Vaquer
This was another match on the ever-growing list of great Mone matches. That’s not to say it was all Mone because Vaquer looked very good throughout this match.
Before the match could begin, the crowd showered Mone in cheers. Once the match actually began, Mone and Vaquer had a prolonged back-and-forth sequence, with neither woman gaining much of an advantage.
A sudden arm drag and crossface from Mone allowed her to establish the first lead in the match, which she used to set Vaquer on the top rope. Vaquer took advantage, securing an armbar from the top and stealing control from Mone.
It took running knees from the apron to the floor for Mone to reverse momentum back in her favor. Another pair of flying knees on the inside scored Mone a nearfall. Growing desperate, Mone landed a cross body, but Vaquer reversed into a crossface. After Mone escaped, she locked in her own crossface but failed to close.
Mone attempted a Mone Maker but couldn’t connect. In response, Vaquer landed a DDT and a backbreaker for a nearfall that took the wind from the building.
Vaqour kept up the pressure, landing a barrage of offense. Mone avoided a leg drop to put Vaquer on the backfoot. She then landed a lung blower and the Mone Maker to win the pinfall.
Winner: Mercedes Mone via Pinfall.
NJPW Strong Women’s Championship Tournament First Round Match
Momo Kohgo vs. Willow Nightingale
This was another great match. Both women were fantastic throughout. Kohgo winning over an unfamiliar/adversarial audience was terrific.
Willow was the clear crowd favorite from the beginning. She was quick to establish a lead, using her strength to catch Kohgo at every turn. It took a quick head-scissor, 619, and dropkick all in succession for Kohgo to turn the match around. Willow tried to cut off Kohgo’s advance, but Kohgo caught her with a pump kick and a suplex, which earned her the support of the crowd.
A strike exchange left Willow back in control, but when she attempted a powerbomb, Kohgo reversed. A crucifix driver forced Willow to utilize the ropes to stay alive. Willow answered with a spinebuster, but Kohgo kicked out.
Kohgo powered through a lariat but was immediately dropped from the fireman’s carry and finished with a powerbomb.
Winner: Willow Nightingale via Pinfall.
Street Fight Match
Fred Rosser vs. Juice Robinson
Juice and Rosser opened the match with some heavy strikes, but it didn’t take long for the fight to spill to the floor. Rosser attempted a driver on the entranceway, but Juice reversed, dropping him on the flat of his back. Juice then took this opportunity to attack Rosser, choking him with a belt before dragging him back in the ring.
Inside the ropes, Juice whipped Rosser with the belt. Juice attempted a Left Hand of God with a fist full of quarters, but Rosser sidestepped the strike and drove Juice through a door positioned in the corner. Rosser then whipped Juice with the belt before choking him over the top rope.
Rosser attacked Juice with a trashcan, a chair, and a stop sign, drawing a river of blood from Juice. To continue his attack, Rosser launched Juice into a ladder and salted his wound with potato chips from the trashcan. Rosser put Juice’s upper half in the trashcan and beat him with chains and a chair.
After Rosser choked Juice with a chain from the tree of woe, Juice retreated into the corner to beg for mercy. While he was begging, Toni Storm hit the ring and attempted a low blow on Rosser. Rosser didn’t budge before revealing he was wearing a cup. Instead of attacking Toni, Rosser forcefully kissed her. After the kiss, Rosser lifted Toni onto his shoulders, opening the door for a low blow from Juice. Juice landed the shot because Rosser dropped his cup after surviving the first attack to his nethers. Toni then dropped Rosser with a driver, buying Juice a nearfall.
Rosser locked in a chicken wing which Toni was unable to break up. Rosser threw Juice into Toni before landing a gut buster and locking in the crossface again. This time, Toni broke up the submission with a beer bottle across the head of Rosser. Juice followed up with a spear through another door. Toni then landed a stop sign-assisted flying hip attack, setting Juice up for a DDT onto a chair. This was enough for Juice to win the match.
Winner: Juice Robinson via Pinfall.
In-Ring: Aussie Open Vacates IWGP Tag Team & NJPW Strong Tag Team Championships Annoucnement
Kyle Fletcher came to the ring to announce that, due to a Mark Davis injury, they would have to relinquish both of their pairs of tag belts.
NJPW Strong Openweight Championship
KENTA vs. Hikuleo (c)
Hikuleo opened the match with a sudden boot that forced KENTA to retreat to the floor. Once KENTA was back in the ring, he bumped the ref and attempted a low blow. Hikuleo blocked the low blow somehow and forced KENTA back to the floor.
On the outside, Hikuleo beat KENTA past the curtain, leaving the audience bling. KENTA emerged from the curtain first, but a limping Hikuleo maintained his pursuit. The pair continued to meander around the ring for quite some time, trading momentum multiple times.
The referee recovered just as Hikuleo and KENTA tried to climb the stairs into the crowd. Hikuleo bumped the referee, buying KENTA enough time to overwhelm Hikuleo and throw him over the guardrail, sending him crashing through a table 10 feet below. After this, the referee initiated the ring-out count. KENTA made it back in the ring late into the count, but Hikuleo’s fall left him unable to return to the ring. KENTA is the new STRONG Openweight champion via count out victory.
Winner: KENTA via Countout to become the new NJPW Strong Openweight Champion.
After the match, an Eddie Kingston video played to challenge the new champion. KENTA answered by saying he doesn’t understand Eddie’s accent, but he’ll defend the belt, anywhere, anytime.
Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii, & Kazuchika Okada vs. Wheeler Yuta, Jon Moxley, & Shota Umino
This was another excellent match in the “Okada vs. unruly children” that has been the highlight of 2022 NJPW.
Shota tried challenging Okada as the match began, but Okada was uninterested in the fight. Instead, Ishii stepped up. While squaring off with Ishii, Shota taunted Okada before knocking him off the apron.
An irritated Okada tagged into the match and dropped Shota with a boot. Okada then took the fight to the floor, slamming Shota into the barricade and pouring a beer across his back. Inside the ring, Okada dropped Shota with a flapjack and tagged back out.
Yuta and Rocky traded momentum for a while before Moxley tagged into the match. Okada tried breaking up a hold from Moxley, but Shota took the opportunity to rush Okada again. This led to a brief, but intense, struggle.
Shota and the BCC worked to isolate Rocky. A DDT from Rocky to Moxley resulted in a match breakdown. Once order was restored, Shota and the BCC continued their tactic of isolation, this time on Ishii. Ishii powered through, hitting Moxley with a brainbuster to tag out to Okada.
With Okada and Shota legal again, Okada wasted no time regaining control for CHAOS. Shota responded with a backdrop and a DDT to put Okada on the backfoot, but he couldn’t hit the Deathrider. Instead, Okada landed the air raid crash and a flying elbow drop.
Okada hit the rainmaker pose, but Moxley interrupted with a pair of middle fingers and a flurry of strikes. Okada answered with a dropkick, sending Moxley to the floor. This distraction bought Shota enough time to attempt the Deathrider once more, but the rest of CHAOS made the save.
After an extended brawl between teams, Okada dropped Moxley with the rainmaker. Umino made the save, hitting Okada with Deathrider. Shota then dropped Rocky with Deathridder and pinned him to win the match for his team.
Winner: Wheeler Yuta, Jon Moxley, & Shota Umino via Pinfall.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Tournament First Round Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Will Ospreay
The match opened with both men playing to the audience, but it didn’t take long for Ospreay to take the lead. He sent Tanahashi to the floor, where he landed a giant crossbody to secure the lead. Back in the ring, Ospreay continued to pick apart Tanahashi with deliberate offense.
A quick forearm from Tanahashi opened the door for a momentum shift, but Ospreay was able to maintain control. A leaping forearm and a strike to the back of the head dropped Tanahashi.
As Ospreay tried for hidden blade, Tanahashi sparked up, dropping Ospreay with a dropkick to the knee, followed by a leg whip and a cloverleaf.
A strike exchange left Osperay in a strong position. He climbed to the top where he landed a forearm to the back. When Osperay attempted Stormbreaker, Tanahashi reversed into a sling blade. After a second sling blade, Tanahashi hit a high fly flow, but Osperay rolled trough. A double stomp to the chest opened Tanahashi up for an OsCutter, Hidden Blade, and a Stormbreaker. Osperay then pinned Tanahashi to advance, leaving him even closer to a rematch with Kenny Omega, but Lance Archer still stands in his way.
Winner: Will Ospreay via Pinfall.
NJPW Strong Women’s Championship Tournament Finals
Mercedes Mone vs. Willow Nightingale
While the finish was awkward, this match was awesome. Willow is a star; there’s no way around it. Mone is the best in the world.
The match opened with an extended ovation for both women. The action started when Willow used a handshake to work Mone to the mat. This upset Mone, who tried working Willow down in response. Willow answered with a nasty pounce that sent Mone crashing into the ropes.
Willow controlled the pace for quite some time. A step-up enziguri left Mone grounded, allowing Willow to take the back. Willow then hit Mone with a spinebuster and locked in a deep Boston crab. Once Mone escaped, Willow hoisted her on the top rope and landed a brutal superplex for a nearfall.
Mone began to fight back with a bunch of strikes. She then climbed to the top rope, where Willow met her again. This time, Mone dropped Willow against the top rope, buying her some time. Mone then locked in the crossface, but Willow powered out, hitting Mone with a brutal powerbomb. Mone didn’t kick out of the pin that followed, but the referee stopped his count at two. Mone seemed to be genuinely rocked, but the match went on. Willow hit a second powerbomb and pinned Mone to win the match.
In one of the biggest shocks in recent memory, Willow Nightingale pinned Mercedes Mone to become NJPW Strong Women’s champion.
Winner: Willow Nightingale via Pinfall to win the NJPW Women’s Championship tournament and to become the inaugural champion.
After the match, Mone was carried out of the ring.
Willow cut the show closing promo with tears in her eyes. She thanked everyone, including Mone. This is only the beginning of Willow Nightingale.