Strong Style Evolved was like a Bullet Club summit and who could blame New Japan for continuing to push the most popular faction since the nWo during their first U.S. show in 2018?
At the centre of it all are Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes. Although Omega has reunited with Golden Lovers partner Kota Ibushi, Rhodes has not really been recognized or accepted as the new Bullet Club leader.
Cody sort of, kind of, attempted to mend fences with the Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) before their match.
“Bullet Club is fine. What is not fine is the booking of this match. Ladies and gentlemen, there will be no match. Let me satiate your bloodlust with some knowledge, the reason there won’t be a match is because, we, the Bullet Club, are friends. This here, Tama Tonga, is a Bullet Club OG. God are three time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. It is wrestlers like this that made Bullet Club cool in the first place and it is superstars like me who make it popular today,” said Cody as the crowd booed him royally.
“F–k you, Cody!” fans shouted.
“Are you guys saying Team Cody?” Cody responded.
Tanga Loa grabbed the microphone away from Cody.
“Cody, you will not deny the people of Long Beach and the people across the world a match tonight, especially the Bullet Club family,” said Loa, the crowd showing their appreciation with a “Too sweet!” chant.
The Golden Lovers. Photo: NJPW.
“And by the way, if there is a team that we are on, it is definitely NOT Team Cody,” continued Loa. As Loa reached through the ropes to hand the microphone back, Rhodes attacked him from behind.
Scurll threw up his hands in disbelief. An enraged Tama blistered Cody with punches and Loa clotheslined him right out of the ring and into the arms of his wife, Brandi.
As God mocked Cody from inside the ring, Scurll joined them.
“What are you doing?” shouted Brandi at Scurll.
“What a soap opera this Bullet Club has become,” said commentator Jim Ross.
Scurll tried to Too Sweet God but was clobbered. Loa held open the ropes for Cody. Cody turned around and tagged Scurll back in.
Later, as Scurll was set to lock on his Crossface Chickenwing finisher, Rhodes tagged in from behind. He goes for Cross Rhodes but it is countered with a neckbreaker. Cody then gives Kenny Omega’s Rise of the Terminator move a shot. He is speared by Loa.
Loa and Tama crash into each other. Rhodes capitalizes with the Cross Rhodes and wins the match for his team.
In a match showcasing two of the best young wrestlers in the business today, Bullet Club’s ‘Hangman’ Adam Page challenged Chaos’ Jay White for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship in one heck of a match. White, of course, was offered a position in Bullet Club months ago by Kenny Omega but turned it down to join Chaos. White ended up retaining by reversing Page’s Rite of Passage into his Blade Runner finisher. After the match, David Finlay speared White and demanded a title match.
Finlay has a chuckle after his sneak attack on White. Photo: NJPW.
Rounding out the evening, The Golden Lovers met The Young Bucks in a special challenge match between the former Elite Bullet Club members. It is worthy to note that Omega wore no Bullet Club attire to the ring.
“I want him,” Matt Jackson shouted to Kota Ibushi while pointing to Omega.
When Omega reluctantly tagged in, Matt punched Ibushi in the mouth.
Omega went for Rise of the Terminator. Nick super kicked him in the face and then splashed the Lovers on the floor. Matt reached under the ring grabbing a table. Nick went to stop him from setting it up.
With the table resting between the ring and the guardrail, Omega tried to One Wing Angle Matt through the table. Matt fought it off. From inside the ring, Ibushi grabbed Matt off Omega’s shoulders suplexing him into the ring over the ropes.
The table would come into play later as Matt would punish Omega with a flying elbow smash putting him through the table.
Omega didn’t celebrate, showing no enthusiasm beating the Young Bucks with the Golden Trigger. As The Golden Lovers left the ring, Cody entered berating The Bucks.
“You had one job!” he shouted before shoving Nick to the canvass.
Cody chews out The Young Bucks. Photo: NJPW.
The Golden Lovers returned to the ring chasing off Cody.
As the crowd chanted…Elite! Elite!…Omega and Nick hugged in the middle of the ring. Omega offered a hand to Matt who refused and left the ring with Nick.
Kenny Omega tries to make amends. Photo: NJPW.
Strong Style Evolved 2018
SoCal Uncensored versus Roppongi 3K
Before the bell can ring the crowd is cheering Rocky’s name. Jim Ross points out that none of the matches tonight will be interrupted by commercials. Scorpio Sky starts off against Rocky Romero and claims his hair is being pulled. Funny that. Sho and Yoh bring their tandem offence with a sliding drop kick to Kazarian and a double drop kick that knocks Christopher Daniels out of the ring. The crowd is behind Roppongi.
Daniels trips up Yoh but Kazarian slips and botches his move off the ropes so turns it into a weak leg drop. Kazarian tags out holding his knee. SoCal Uncensored takes Yoh down with a triple attack. Rocky tags in but the official didn’t see it so he is forced out and Daniels hits springboard moonsault on Yoh on the floor. Rocky tags in and whips both Kazarian and Daniels with a Double Frankensteiner before his trademark running clotheslines from corner to corner. Scorpio Sky accidentally gives Daniels a stunner as Yoh drags Rocky over to the corner to tag in Sho. Sho and Yoh put away Scorpio Sky with the 3K.
Winners: Roppongi 3K.
Match Rating: 7 / 10
Juice Robinson and David Finlay Versus Chaos (Hirooki Goto and Gedo)
Juice Robinson gets a really great reception. He sure has come a long way since his C.J. Parker days. Juice challenges Goto to start things off and forces Goto to go counter for counter then knocks him to the mat with a running elbow that has him counting his teeth. Goto comes up bleeding from the mouth. A Goto clotheslines knocks Robinson head over heels bringing in Finlay who gets suplexed right on top of Robinson. Ouch!
Blood is pouring from Goto mouth and no “X” is thrown up. Nobody stops the match. Imagine that.
“As it has been said, this isn’t ballet,” said Jim Ross in response to the injury.
Gedo is tagged in yanking Robinson around by his braids before bringing Goto back on. Robinson is clobbered with a double shoulder block from Goto and Gedo. Gedo dares Finlay to come into the ring and get him some.
The crowd cheers along with Juice laying haymaker after haymaker on Gedo. Finlay hot tags in demolishing both Gedo and Goto.
Robinson dives on top of Goto knocking him to the floor. Finlay gets the one, two, three on Gedo with a cutter.
Winners: Juice Robinson and David Finlay.
Match Rating: 6 / 10
Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) Versus Chaos (Chuckie T and Toru Yano)
Archer jumps the barrier and sprays the crowd with water as he usually does. He fakes throwing his baseball cap into the audience. He just drops it into the ring. The crowd starts cheering for Toru Yano before he even comes out. KES attacks before the bell rings. Archer backs Yano into a guardrail and just beats on him while Smith Jr. bounces Chuckie around in the ring. Chuckie stops the assault with a foot to the face and follows up with an octopus lock. A powerful German Suplex drives Chuckie to the mat. For good measure, Smith Jr. boots Yano off the apron. The crowd boos.
Chuckie T cannot get anything going against Archer. Smith Jr. flips off the crowd. Archer does Undertaker’s Old School walking from one corner to the next to tag in Smith Jr. before dropping the hammer from the top rope. Very cool. Chuckie continues to take a horrendous beating as Yano waits impatiently on the apron. Smith Jr. just finally mounts Chuckie labeling him with punch after punch.
Surprisingly, Yano jumps off the apron and starts walking to the back whenever Archer charges at him. The crowd cheers for him to return to the ring. Ground hamburger by now, Chuckie is barely able to stand. He finally escapes Archer to tag Yano in. The crowd goes mental with Yano does his…Break! Break!…gag in the ropes frustrating Archer. Yano slaps Archer in the head. That just infuriates the big man. Yano drops on his knees pleading for forgiveness, tried to crotch shot Archer but get caught. Archer no sells an Atomic Drop from Yano. Yano finds sanctuary in the ropes yet again. Archer knocks him to the floor. The crowd gets on his case immediately.
Yano pulls Archer off the apron, side-steps a charging Smith Jr. so that Chuckie T can splash them both. Yano looks to the crowd for encouragement faking a splash of his own but instead runs into a corner to rip a turnbuckle free much to the delight of fans. Yano throws the buckle at Archer who bats it away. Archer charges at Yano who moves causing Archer to crash into the exposed buckle. Chuckie tries a piledriver. No dice. Archer backdrops him. A running shoulder block and a chokeslam almost nets Archer the win. Chuckie rolls him up though for a two count. The crowd starts chanting for Chuckie. Killer Bomb spells the end for Chuckie. As the official raises Archer’s hand in victory Archer shoves him right out of the ring.
Winners: The Killer Elite Squad.
Match Rating: 7 / 10
Bullet Club (‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll and ‘The American Nightmare’ Cody Rhodes) Vs Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny – Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa)
Winners: Bullet Club (‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll and ‘The American Nightmare’ Cody Rhodes).
Match Rating: 8 / 10
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada, Bushi) Vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Yujiro Kushida, Dragon Lee and Hiroshi Tanahashi
Tanahashi and Naito begin things which splits the crowd. Sanada attacks Tanahashi from behind. As Sanada holds Tanahashi, Naito spits in his face. Dragon Lee and Takahashi chop each other to eternity as the fans go crazy. Lee gives Naito the finger. Naito spits back at him.
Taguchi has Naito in an ankle lock submission. Kushida locks Bushi in a double-arm lock. Tanahashi puts Sanada in a Boston Crab. Takahashi saves everyone. Everyone takes the fight to the floor. Taguchi misses Funky Weapon but put another ankle lock submission on Naito. Sanada sneaks in from behind locking Taguchi in Skull End. A Destino ends Taguchi’s night.
Winners: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada, Bushi)
Match Rating: 8 / 10
Rey Mysterio Jr. explains his injury to the crowd. Photo: NJPW.
Rey Mysterio Jr. addresses the crowd and apologizes for not being able to wrestle as was advertised. He promises the match will happen, he will wrestle for NJPW in the future and he has so much respect for Jushin Thunder Liger. Mysterio is a class act for sure.
Jushin Thunder Liger Vs Will Ospreay (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion)
Liger takes the lead grounding Ospreay and chopping him down to size. Ospreay counters cannonballing Liger in the corner. Ospreay turns things around wrapping Liger up. A chant rises for Ospreay.
Things go to the floor and Liger brainbusters Ospreay on the concrete. Liger poses in the ring as Ospreay twitches. Ospreay makes it back in the ring by 20. Liger Bomb for a two count. Liger throws Ospreay with an Avalanche Frankensteiner. Ospreay lands on his feet but awkwardly. He hobbles around the ring on one leg. Ospreay dives over the ropes anyhow splattering Liger on the floor. Ospreay misses a 619. Liger stops the OsCutter spiking Ospreay with another brainbuster for a two count as the camera cuts to Mysterio watching in the audience. Liger hits a third brainbuster from the second rope for another two count before Ospreay drapes his foot over the ropes.
Liger almost scores a win when he clotheslines Ospreay right out of his boots. Two kicks, A Liger Bomb and an OsCutter gives the win to Ospreay.
After the match, Ospreay challenged Mysterio Jr. to a match. Marty Scurll attacked Ospreay from behind, beat on Mysterio and took his mask off. Scurll posed with Mysterio’s mask and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship before Liger would run him off.
Winner: Will Ospreay.
Match Rating: 7.5 / 10
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.) Versus Chaos (Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii)
A set-up for the Zack Sabre Jr. and Okada match at Sakura Genesis 2018 on April 1st. The match is called before Ishii can submit to Sabre Jr. Sabre Jr. puts a submission on Okada. Suzuki and Sabre Jr. put the official in a double submission move. Sabre Jr. picks up the title and throws it at Okada.
Winners: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.) .
Match Rating: 7 / 10
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Match – Jay White (c) Versus Hangman Page
Winner: …and still > IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion, Jay White.
Match Rating: 8 / 10
Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi) Versus The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)
Winners: The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi)
Match Rating: 8 / 10
Total Event Rating: 8.5 / 10