NJPW SUMMER STRUGGLE 2020
Event Date: August 9, 2020 (18:30 JST)
aired live on NJPW World
Commentary (English): Kevin Kelly
Commentary (Japanese): Milano Collection AT, Shigeki Kiyono
Ring Announcer: Kimihiko Ozaki (1 – 3), Makoto Abe (4 – 6)
The opening video hypes up the SUMMER STRUGGLE tour and previews the upcoming double title match between EVIL and Tetsuya Naito, and the Jr. Heavyweight Title match between Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori. It also highlights Kazuchika Okada’s recent announcement about the KOPW 2020 championship which will be decided later in August in a series of matches with stipulations voted on by fans. And finally the video shows the brackets for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Title tournament.
Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd vs Gedo & Yujiro Takahashi w/ Jado
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: Yujiro Takahashi pins Yuya Uemura after Pimp Juice
Good match. Even though Kidd had Uemura instead of Tsuji as his partner tonight, the young lions were still not prepared to deal with Bullet Club. Kevin Kelly said something I’d never really thought of on commentary during this match. He mentioned that the young lions aren’t permitted to cheat during their matches. Well, they can clearly bend rules like getting into the ring to break up pin attempts and do double-teams, but they aren’t allowed to cheat like Bullet Club cheats. I thought that was interesting because if that’s completely accurate, then the young lions are at an even greater disadvantage than I realized. Not only are their move sets limited, but not being able to give Bullet Club even a taste of their own style of constant cheating and weapons use makes matches like this practically unwinnable. Sure, the young lions wouldn’t win even on a level playing field, but the beatings they take are even worse against cheaty teams like Bullet Club.
Kidd took the worst of the beating tonight. Gedo singled Kidd out for multiple lashings with a belt, and Kidd was barely able to get any offense. Uemura didn’t do a whole lot better, but Kidd really took the brunt of Bullet Club’s attack. I’d love it if matches like this could set up some long-term story lines. Like, whenever Kidd graduates from his young lion status, I’d love to see him challenge Gedo to a strap match, possibly in a future KOPW tournament.
Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima vs Yota Tsuji & Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: Satoshi Kojima pins Yota Tsuji after a lariat
Good match. Kojima entered himself into the KOPW 2020 tournament last night, so he got a big focus in this match. Before that though, Tsuji wanted to test himself against Nagata. Nagata has been pretty rough with the young lions lately, and he didn’t go any easier on Tsuji tonight. Tsuji looked good though, and he ended up finishing the match against Kojima with a valiant effort. Kojima’s lariat is a dangerous thing though.
Douki & Minoru Suzuki vs SANADA & Shingo Takagi (NEVER Openweight Champ)
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: SANADA pins Douki with a bridging O’Connor Roll
Very good match. The draw here was seeing Shingo versus Suzuki, and we did eventually get to see that towards the later stages of the match. Their one on one for the NEVER Openweight Title will be great, and this was a fine preview of that. Meanwhile, SANADA and Douki had some nice exchanges with each other and with Shingo and Suzuki. This was a fun overall match, even if the finish was not at all surprising. I did like how Shingo and Suzuki were more concerned with fighting each other than they were with breaking up pinfalls towards the end of the match.
After the match, Minoru Suzuki officially challenges Shingo Takagi to a NEVER Openweight Title match at Jingu Stadium on August 29th. Shingo accepts.
The ring is cleaned and sanitized during a brief intermission.
Master Wato & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado & Zack Sabre Jr. (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champ) & Taichi (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champ)
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: Hiroshi Tanahashi pins Yoshinobu Kanemaru after High Fly Flow
Very good match. With his recently newfound confidence, Hiroshi Tanahashi started this match against ZSJ. Tanahashi was careful to avoid attacks to his knees, and he put in a strong performance tonight. Taichi and ZSJ would manage to attack Tanahashi’s knees later in the match, but it wasn’t as extensive or as debilitating as it’s been recently. Everyone on Tanahashi’s team worked well together, and they didn’t fall into many of Suzuki Gun’s usual tricks and traps. This was a fun overall match that feels like it’s continuing to show how Tanahashi, Ibushi, and even Wato can bounce back from losses.
BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs Taiji Ishimori & EVIL (IWGP IC & Heayweight Champ) w/ Dick Togo
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: Taiji Ishimori and EVIL win via DQ when Hiromu Takahashi attacks Ishimori
Good match. There was a lot of anger here, and Naito was very aggressive in his attacks on EVIL. Naito got dangerously close to being disqualified a few times, but the match was cut a bit short by the arrival of Hiromu Takahashi. This match and the action in it weren’t really as important as the statements were. The statements were basically that Naito and Takahashi are pissed and looking for revenge against EVIL and Ishimori respectively.
After the match, Hiromu Takahashi gets on the mic. He indicates that his shoulder is fine, and he’s looking forward to getting his hands on Taiji Ishimori.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Title Tournament Final Match
YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs SHO (IWGP Jr. Tag Champ) & Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada
(referee: Red Shoes Unno)
Result: Tomohiro Ishii pins SHO after a vertical drop brainbuster, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, and Hirooki Goto become the 21st NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Champions
Great match. This was a fun, back-and-forth battle between two Chaos teams. They fought fair (mostly), and either team really could have won. The biggest story seemed to be wondering if YOSHI-HASHI could win his first title since he was the only man in the match to never hold any title in NJPW. YOSHI-HASHI had been having good matches in the tournament so far, and tonight he had a really nice sequence against Okada. The match finished with SHO versus Ishii, and that was probably my favorite section of the match. The whole match was entertaining though, and I think it was the best match of the tournament.
I’ve enjoyed the NEVER 6-Man tournament, and this was a good way to finish it off. Also, having Suzuki officially challenge Takagi and having Hiromu Takahashi return made this feel like an important show to see on the way towards Jingu Stadium at the end of the month.
Match of the Night
Chaos vs Chaos (main event)
This was a great way to end the tournament. I enjoyed that no other story lines interfered with the match. It was just about pitting two teams against each other that had no issues between them other than they both wanted to win the titles. No grudges and no ill-will, just strong competition.
Official Results (Japanese): https://www.njpw.co.jp/tornament/249887?showResult=1