New Japan’s Summer Struggle tour is a long and winding road to the Jingu baseball stadium event. Okada’s new concept of the Cyber Sunday King Of the Ring title, is an idea to bring attention to a tour that is rather cookie cutter.
Aside from the Rainmaker being controversial, NJPW decided to give Suzuki what he’s been clamoring about since his exit in the New Japan Cup. And that brings us to the reason I’m covering this show anyway.
Steven Mitchell has been a machine with the coverage, so catch up on his stuff. Today we’re drawn to the main event, and hopefully we get some threads to pull at in the undercard!
- YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs Satoshi Kojima, Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji & Ryusuke Taguchi: Yano wins via Low Blow/Roll-Up @10:00 – **
- GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) vs LIJ (SANADA & Shingo Takagi): SANADA wins via Skull End @10:55 – ** ½
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kota Ibushi, Yuya Uemura & Master Wato vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, ZSJ & DOUKI): El Desperado wins via Pinche Loco @14:10 – ***
- Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo w/ Jado vs Kazuchika Okada & SHO: SHO wins via Cross Armbreaker @10:40 – *** ¼
- LIJ (BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) vs Darkness Club (EVIL & Taiji Ishimori w/Dick Togo): EVIL wins via Scorpion Deathlock @9:50 – ***
- Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata: Suzuki wins via Gotch Style Piledriver @20:35 – ****
YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs Satoshi Kojima, Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji & Ryusuke Taguchi
OH WOW A MATCH WITH 2 YOUNG LIONS AAAANNNDDD YOSHI-HASHI *goes to make sandwich, slowly, maybe two*
So at this point we all know how this works, but thankfully there wasn’t a ton of YOSHI-HASHI. Taguchi looked more lucid than some previous matches, Kojima is the only credible one on his team…and that’s basically how it played out. Yota tried, Gabriel tried, but no random upset. It was fine for what it is, but with no real story threads, and obvious fall guys, this is useless for people looking to maximize quality viewing.
GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) vs LIJ (SANADA & Shingo Takagi)
While nothing overtly sticks out to this match, there’s a few things to notice. With EVIL’s departure, SANADA seems to have found some chemistry with Shingo. Also, after dispatching El Desperado, Shingo is in need of a NEVER challenger. GBH is a multiple time tag team champion, and even won the tag league, so there’s weight here. Plus Makabe is one of the guys who put the hard hitting style of the NEVER division on the map.
As a tag match, it wasn’t anything special, but people split off logically. Shingo focused on Makabe a bit, even staring him down a little after the match. Honma seems to be a little more active, so he might finally be mostly recovered from his neck surgery (even by his own admission when he came back, he was working himself back in to shape). Not sure if we get anything to come from all of this, but I would enjoy Makabe versus Shingo, and the pairing of SANADA and Shingo are this generation’s version of Vicious and Delicious.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kota Ibushi, Yuya Uemura & Master Wato vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, ZSJ & DOUKI)
Yes yes – this has the obvious finish as well, but there’s much more to play with in this match. Wato continues his battle against the Junior members of Suzuki-Gun, ZSJ and Taichi continue to torment Ibushi through Tanahashi. So let’s fast forward a little shall we? Yuya got in some good offense and had a moment here or there, but Despy pushed him into the referee and “Young Lion Loses LOL”.
But the real intrigue came after the match, with ZSJ and Taichi almost consoling Ibushi. Saying you can still challenge, but not that husk of a joke on the floor. During the match, Tanahashi fell victim to the tandem finish of the Tensho Zack Driver, but Ibushi countered it when they tried on him. So that added to the argument of Tanahashi no longer being good enough. Ibushi squatted over the fallen Ace as the heels continued to talk crap, and then Ibushi just…walked slowly to the back. Is Golden Ace over? Does Ibushi find a new tag partner?
Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo w/ Jado vs Kazuchika Okada & SHO
A competitive match with, a very unusual twist! There was great back and forth in this match, where Gedo and Yujiro had to take a few shortcuts to get the better of Okada and SHO, but at this stage in the game, that’s to be expected. The unusual aspect is toward the end of the match, Gedo is about to use the brass knuckles, but Yano shows up and gives Gedo a Low Blow! A member of Chaos actually came out to make a “save”. WOW!
Also an interesting note from this match is Yujiro seemed much more animated than usual. He was all fired up and you could hear him say “Singles match” a few times.
So maybe this is the avenue for a big return, or maybe Yujiro gets his crap together and starts wrestling like he used to? If 2020 makes Yujiro and Taichi into respectable wrestlers again…this year truly is magic.
LIJ (BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) vs Darkness Club (EVIL & Taiji Ishimori w/Dick Togo)
Dick Togo really lives up to his New Japan moniker of ‘The Spoiler’. Not only will LIJ be operating at less than full power because of Hiromu’s injury, the Darkness Club has the numbers advantage as well. Between Taiji being on a different level than BUSHI, Togo’s interference and EVIL being no slouch, this match felt like a 3 on 1.
Naito had a lot of great moments that left EVIL reeling; but every time they put something together, Togo would make his presence felt. So this does a great job at framing EVIL versus Naito as an uphill battle for Naito. EVIL brings numbers, a lack of care for other’s safety and a general ruthlessness that Naito can’t seem to counter right yet.
We did get to see Naito pull out Puma Blanca (modified Koji Clutch) for the first time in a while. So even though Naito is the obvious underdog, he’s still managing to sneak in little reminders to EVIL that he has tricks up his sleeve.
Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata
The King got what he wanted! In the grandpa battle of the decade, who reigns supreme! Nagata holds the edge in singles competition, but Suzuki is always dangerous. Definitely a great match to throw in as a main event leading toward a bigger show.
Now this match did start off awkwardly, not gonna lie. It felt like they weren’t overly sure how to start, and the outside spot with Nagata’s leg in the barricade and Red Shoes trying to maybe try to stop Suzuki was weird. It definitely picked up shortly after, but that was not really helpful to getting the match going strong. Once things got back into the ring, we saw a ton or strikes and personality from both men.
As to be expected, two older wrestlers who understand King’s Road, Strong Style and Inoki-ism; we know we’re getting a beat the hell out of each other style of match. That’s definitely what we got. This was heavily slap, forearm shivers and front kick based; of course with some other sprinkles, but damn did they just hit each other. I did enjoy that Nagata was going for the Backdrop Hold a few times, which is a quick callback to the New Japan Cup, but Suzuki fought that off with all he could.
Suzuki proved his love of pain, put his hands behind his back and laughed through Nagata’s strikes. Suzuki lit him up with open hand strikes, then actually hit the Gotch Style Piledriver, for the win.
After the match, Suzuki talks all that good stuff. Tells Nagata nothing hurt, and the fans clapping is stupid. He does hint at having something planned…but it’s a secret.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
This show was a lot of promise, a wonderful main event and an interesting trajectory for Ibushi and Minoru Suzuki. As much as I was uninterested with the first few matches, the ones that had story, actually delivered.
Ibushi having an internal crisis where maybe he’s finally starting to believe ZSJ and Taichi that his God is quite mortal. Naito being further behind the eight ball since he doesn’t have Hiromu to tag with, Shingo in search of a new opponent and Suzuki keeping his secrets like Frodo…we got a lot to play with today.
Solid show, definitely worth the time…after the ones with the Young Lions.