NJPW SUMMER STRUGGLE 2020
Event Date: August 26, 2020 (18:30 JST)
aired live on NJPW World
Commentary (English): Kevin Kelly (recorded remotely)
Commentary (Japanese): Yusuke Okamoto, Kazuki Kusanagi (1, 4), Hiroki Mikami (2, 6), Shinji Yoshino (3, 5)
Ring Announcer: Kimihiko Ozaki (1 – 3), Makoto Abe (4 – 6)
The opening video highlights some of the matches coming up at the Jingu Stadium show later this week, and it previews the four KOPW 2020 matches that take place tonight!
Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji & Yuji Nagata vs YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto (NEVER 6-Man Champs)
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: YOSHI-HASHI submits Yuya Uemura with a butterfly lock
Good match. This wasn’t too difficult of a match for the new NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Champs, but that’s not to the that Yuji Nagata’s team didn’t put up a fight. Nagata had the young lions attack the champs all-together as the opening bell rang, and that set up Yota Tsuji with a nice advantage to start the match. Tsuji did well, but he eventually had to tag out to Nagata. Nagata brought the momentum back to his team, and he set up Uemura with an advantage against YOSHI-HASHI. YOSHI-HASHI has been getting a big spotlight in these 6-man matches lately though, and he didn’t have too much trouble besting Uemura after a valiant effort by te young lion. This was a nice opener, and it was a fine exhibition for the champs.
Master Wato & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Douki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr. (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champ) & Taichi (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champ)
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: Hiroshi Tanahashi pins Douki after the High Fly Flow
Good match. Tanahashi’s team tended to dominate this match, and it looks like any worries there might have been about Tanahashi’s knees and his relationship with Ibushi are long gone. Of course it could all come back up again, but for tonight, this team couldn’t be stopped. Suzuki Gun tried to start with a pre-match attack, but that didn’t give them an avantage for very long. This was a fast and fun match that was more one-sided than I though it might be.
KOPW 2020 (1st Round) No Finishers Match
El Desperado vs Satoshi Kojima
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: El Desperado wins via DQ when Kojima hits hit with his lariat finisher and will advance to the KOPW 4-Way Match at the Jingu Stadium show
Very good match. The stipulation was, a wrestler will get disqualified for using their finishing move on their opponent at any time during the match. For Kojima that meant no lariats, and for El Desperado that meant he couldn’t use Pinche Loco (his double underhook facebuster). For a while it felt just like a normal match, but Kojima started to struggle with the stipulation as the match went on. Kojima’s instincts to hit a lariat popped up more than a few times, and almost every time it happened Kojima lost momentum. This was an interesting way to start the KOPW matches, and I definitely think it will bring something unique and interesting to NJPW.
The ring is cleaned and sanitized during a brief intermission.
KOPW 2020 (1st Round) 2-Count Pins Match
BUSHI vs Toru Yano
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: Toru Yano pins via pinfall by countering La Magistral from BUSHI (with Yano’s ankles taped together) and will advance to the KOPW 4-Way Match at the Jingu Stadium show
This was fun. The 2-count pinfalls made this match feel frantic, and Yano’s insistence hurrying things along made it feel even more tense. yano wanted to end the match as quickly as possible, but he got himself into trouble by making mistakes and taking his eyes off of BUSHI. BUSHI was as ready for this match as he could be, and he tried to outsmart Yano as much as possible. BUSHI ended up taking control of much of the match, and he had Yano playing defense a lot of the time. Still, this was a Yano match, so it felt like the finish could come quickly and at any time.
KOPW 2020 (1st Round) Submission Match
SANADA vs SHO (IWGP Jr. Tag Champ)
(referee: Red Shoes Unno)
Result: SANADA wins via submission with a figure four leg lock and will advance to the KOPW 4-Way Match at the Jingu Stadium show
Great match! I really enjoyed the fact that since this was a submission match, both SHO and SANADA approached this match very differently than they might have otherwise. They started the match cautiously with some grappling on the mat. They match slowly built up to some bursts of power later on, but most of the match was spent trading holds and counters as they both looked to isolate a limb. SHO worked on SANADA’s arm to soften him up for a cross armbreaker, and SANADA, instead of working towards Skull End, worked on SHO’s legs in anticipation of a figure four leg lock. I think having SANADA go for a submission that wasn’t his finisher helped give the match a degree of unpredictability, and it forced SHO to adjust to adjust his approach to the match even further than he already had. I love matches like this, and these are two of my favorite guys in NJPW right now, so I’m glad this match was as good as it ended up being. I was happy and sad for the finish, because I wanted both guys to win and neither guy to lose. Regardless, they should feud for a very long time.
KOPW 2020 (1st Round) Three on One Handicap Match
Jado & Gedo & Yujiro Takahashi vs Kazuchika Okada
(referee: Red Shoes Unno)
Result: Kazuchika Okada submits Gedo with the Money Clip and will advance to the KOPW 4-Way Match at the Jingu Stadium show
This was pretty fun. It went about like I expected, but I enjoyed it fine. I’m rarely ever a big fan of handicap matches because they’re usually either unfair and uneventful, or the person who is handicapped unrealistically beats the odds. For this match, Okada seemed like the clear favorite from the start despite having to go three on one. Bullet Club used their numbers for distractions and cheating, but they always do that, so this match didn’t feel too out of the ordinary. The biggest difference here was that there was slightly less of a chance of having Red Shoes reprimand them. I think this match went as realistically as it could, and I enjoyed it fine.
This was a very fun show. Regardless of how it works long-term, the KOPW matches look like they are going to bring some fresh and unique experiences to NJPW. I’d like it if these KOPW matches are done throughout the year on these shows that would otherwise be filled with all tag matches. It’ll create a more varied experience which I think will be welcome. I really noticed earlier in the Summer Struggle tour that a lot of those earlier shows felt very similar to each other with almost the same matches a few nights in a row. Of course the limited roster has a lot to do with that, but still, having these stipulation matches thrown in from time to time is a good idea.
One thing about tonight’s show that I’m much more on the fence about is the NJPW cheering app. I think this was the first show I’ve watched since a lot of people in the crowd had the app, ad I don’t that that I like it very much. Basically, people can use their phones to make cheering or booing noises. It’s a fine idea (since NJPW and Stardom have instructed fans not to yell or make any sort of loud vocalizations as precautions against spreading germs), but in practice it sounds and feels weird. It’s super artificial sounding, and I really thought there was something wrong with the sound on my stream when I first noticed it. I prefer just clapping and stomping, but hey, if the fans enjoy it, then it’s fine. It doesn’t really bother me, I just don’t care for it.
Match of the Night
Submission Match – SANADA vs SHO
As interesting as some of the other KOPW stipulations were, this was easily the best wrestling match of the night. Again though, I very much enjoyed the variety.
Official Results (Japanese): https://www.njpw.co.jp/tornament/253143?showResult=1