The full rundown of results and grades from NJPW Summer Struggle in Jingu Stadium.
NJPW returned to Jingu Stadium for the first time in 21 years on Saturday morning. A sight that is more aligned with WWE’s traveling spectacle than NJPW’s generally more confined and grounded wrestling program.
Jingu Stadium, home of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, had a wrestling ring in the infield of the stadium with chairs set up all around on the floor as well as fans being positioned in the stands down both baselines as well as an entrance area around where home plate would usually reside and pyro for the historic night.
NJPW built a card deserving of the stadium’s history in pro wrestling with six matches taking place over two hours and fifty-four minutes, seeing the defense of 5 of the 8 titles that are currently active in the promotion.
It also saw the return of live English commentary to their streaming service NJPW World for the first time since the promotion faced a temporary shut down in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton returned to their roles on commentary.
Master Wato vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Result: Yoshinobu Kanemaru pins Master Wato
A decent match that continues to build the feud between Master Wato and Suzuki-Gunn as a whole. Kanemaru was able to pull out some truly impressive moves considering he was already hundreds of matches into his career the last time that NJPW wrestled in Jingu Stadium.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Toru Yano vs. SANADA vs. El Desperado – KOPW 2020
Result: Toru Yano pins Kazuchika Okada
A really fun match that ending in shocking fashion when Yano, taking advantage of a moment of confusion, delivered a low blow and pin the 5-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
As the winner of the King Of Pro Wrestling 2020, Yano is able to be challenged for that title through the end of the year but because of the nature of this year’s tournament, the title must be defended in stipulation matches only. The king of comedy defending his title in wacky stipulations for the next four months? Count me in.
Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki – NEVER Openweight Championship
Result: Minoru Suzuki pins Shingo Takagi [TITLE CHANGE]
Grade: B –
Minoru Suzuki is a legitimately terrifying individual even now in the later years of his career. Both men pulled no punches over the course of this match and beat the hell out of one another. A fast-paced and heavy-hitting affair that only continued to establish Takagi as one of the future faces of the company and Suzuki as one of the greatest to ever enter an NJPW ring.
Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Result: Taji Ishimori taps Hiromu Takahashi [TITLE CHANGE]
My God what a match. A high speed and high-intensity match that made me groan out loud more than once as Hiromu threw himself onto his neck with no sense of self-preservation. Bullet Club is slowly reclaiming the gold they once held and quietly moving to be one of the most successful and dominant stables in the company once again.
Dangerous Tekkers (Zach Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (c) vs. Golden Ace (Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi)- IWGP Tag Team Championships
Result: Zach Sabre Jr. pins Hiroshi Tanahashi
A really great match. Fast-paced and absolutely brutal. There were several moments throughout the match that it really seemed like both teams were trying to hurt the other. These four guys are some of the most talented on the NJPW roster today. But I am beginning to feel myself get bored with seeing them face off against one another. I never want to be bored when I see Ibushi or Tanahashi in the ring.
Hopefully, with this loss from Golden Ace, Dangerous Tekkers will begin to accept challenges from other teams and other factions. While I know COVID plays a massive role in the current booking decisions so far this year. There are still other teams that could challenge and keep this rivalry fresh and not yet overdone.
EVIL (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito – IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Result: Tetsuya Naito pins EVIL [TITLE CHANGE]
The match got off to a slow start with both men jockeying for position for several minutes. Compared to some other matches on this card, it was not a very technically challenging match. But where it lacked high flying moves and intricate submissions it made up for it with incredible ring psychology and slow storytelling.
For the first 15 minutes of the match, it seemed that everything Naito tried was easily batted away or countered by EVIl who had spent the last 5 years studying at Naito’s side.
That all changed though when, fearing for their stable leader’s safety, members of LIJ came down to the ring to ensure that EVIL’s manager Dick Togo did not interfere with the match. Evening the odds for Naito so that he could reclaim that which was rightfully his.
While not better than their Dominion match this was a fantastic match and hopefully just the beginnings of a massive rivalry within the two factions.
In the moments following the match Naito took the mic and addressed the crowd saying, “Good Evening Jingu! After 21 years NJPW came back to Jingu Stadium. We had a huge mid-summer night right here. How was it? From the fans watching on TV to the fans watching online and the fans here in the sweltering heat. My victory is thanks to you! We are still in tough times with this pandemic, we have to put up with an awful lot. But there is a very very bright light at the end of this tunnel. Be helpful to each other just like you helped me tonight.”