The IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships are on the line today on night two of NJPW Summer Struggle in Sapporo.
Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. (Dangerous Tekkers) will defend the titles against Los Ingobernables de Japon's Tetsuya Naito and SANADA in the main event.
In the semi-main, Shingo Takagi will face Master Wato in a singles match. This was changed from Shingo and BUSHI vs. Wato and Kota Ibushi after Ibushi was pulled from his second consecutive event folowing side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine. Ibushi will challenge Shingo for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome on July 25.
Kazuchika Okada and YOH will face United Empire's Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan. Cobb and O-Khan beat Okada and SHO on night one of Summer Struggle in Sapporo.
Three more tag matches fill out the undercard.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yota Tsuji will take on KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi, Tomohiro Ishii, Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero will face the Bullet Club trio of EVIL, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo, plus SHO & Yuya Uemura will take on El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru in the opener.
Our live coverage begins at 1 a.m. Eastern time.
Hiromu Takahashi began the show with a promo. He previewed the card.
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated SHO & Yuya Uemura (12:03)
Kanemaru and Uemura worked the bulk of this fine opener. Desperado was in a long main event yesterday, so I'm sure welcomed the rest.
Kanemaru is technically very good, Uemura is one of the best technical wrestlers in the company, but there was no storyline reason for this match.
Kanemaru and Uemura began. Uemura got some shine, but was quickly cut off. Kanemaru and Desperado worked him over.
SHO got a tag. SHO used a cross armbreaker. Kanemaru and Desperado tried a double team, but SHO answered with a double spear.
Uemura got a hot tag. He used a flying forearm and a full crab on Kanemaru. Desperado saved for Kanemaru. Uemura tried a double overhook suplex, but Kanemaru blocked.
Kanemaru hit a dropkick. Desperado and Kanemaru hit their tandem one-legged dropkick to Uemura. Kanemaru got cradled for two. Kanemaru hit an inverted DDT for a near fall, then hit Deep Impact for the pin.
Tomohiro Ishii, Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero defeated EVIL, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo (12:44)
This served two purposes -- to establish challengers for ELP and Ishimori and to further tease Ishii vs. EVIL.
It had a good closing stretch, but I'm not a fan of the formulaic Bullet Club undercard garbage brawls.
The teams began brawling before the bell. Romero started off as the legal man for his team. He was isolated on the outside and whipped into the barricade.
Taguchi got a hot tag, then he was also isolated and worked over with Ishimori and ELP's comedy offense.
EVIL and Ishii got their tags. Ishii escaped a ref-assisted Magic Killer, then hit a vertical suplex into a double down.
Romero and ELP got tags. Romero avoided a Sudden Death and a jackknife cover. Taguchi hopped in to double up on ELP. Romero hit an assisted swing DDT.
Romero ran into a Sudden Death with his arm and sold his wrist. Romero reversed a CR2 attempt into a victory roll and got the pin over one half of the IWGP Junior Tag champs.
Romero cut a promo after the match and declared himself and Taguchi the next challengers for ELP and Ishimori. Romero asked if they accepted the challenge. ELP and Ishimori said no. Romero said next time they meet, Romero and Taguchi will beat them.
Not sure the purpose of having the heels decline the challenge when they're just going to go ahead and make the match anyway in about 18 hours.
KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yota Tsuji (12:40)
I think this was the best thing on the show to this point. Tana and KENTA are beginning a feud with great intensity to it. In particular, their striking exchanges are fantastic.
Tana and KENTA began the match by trading strikes on the mat, each trading top position. Tsuji got a tag and was quickly cut off. KENTA and Yujiro took turns on Tsuji. Tsuji managed a dropkick and hot tag to Tana.
Tana hit strikes, a slam and a somersault senton. He teased a slingblade, but KENTA countered into a G2S attempt. Tana slid out and they traded strikes. They hit simultaneous slaps and both went down.
Yujiro tagged in and hit a series of kicks. Tana blocked a fisherman buster and hit twist and shout. Tana then tagged out to Tsuji.
Tsuji got a tag and hit a hurricanrana to Yujiro. He followed with a slam, a senton and a splash for a two count. Tsuji fed Yujiro to Tana for a slingblade. Tsuji then used a crab on Yujiro as Tana used his clover hold on KENTA. Yujiro forced a break.
Tsuji used a series of cradles for near falls on Yujiro. Yujiro blocked a backslide, then rolled through into Pimp Juice position. Yujiro hit Pimp Juice and got the pin.
***** Intermission *****
Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan defeated Kazuchika Okada & YOH (12:45)
This was a very good tag match. Cobb's power moves tonight were unreal.
Cobb and Okada were in briefly at the start. Cobb used a shove to send Okada rolling outside to collect himself. O-Khan and YOH tagged in. YOH hit a forearm, then was quickly isolated as Empire took over the match.
Cobb tagged in for some impressive power spots on YOH. YOH managed a leg lariat to O-Khan, then Okada got a hot tag. Okada ran wild on O-Khan with back elbows. O-Khan blocked a DDT and used a claw to set up a tag to Cobb.
Cobb powered Okada around the ring. Cobb hit a running powerslam out of the corner for two. Okada blocked a Tour of the Islands and a spin cycle. Okada hit a flapjack into a double down.
YOH tagged in for a neckbreaker and a one count on Cobb. YOH hit a shotgun dropkick off the top rope for a two count. YOH tried a falcon arrow, but Cobb blocked. O-Khan saved as YOH tried another falcon arrow.
O-Khan hit a pump kick on YOH into a Cobb suplex for a two count as Okada saved. Okada went for a dropkick to O-Khan, but Cobb plucked Okada out of the air and hit him with a spin cycle. That was awesome.
Cobb then hit a Tour of the Islands on YOH for the pin.
Shingo Takagi defeated Master Wato (14:49)
This was the best Master Wato outing in quite some time. This was short of the level of a really good main event NJPW match, but a good semi-main.
They locked up, then traded tackle attempts. Neither went down. Wato hit a dropkick, sending Shingo stumbling to the floor. Wato then hit a tornillo to the outside. Back in, Wato covered for a quick one count.
Wato used a series of kicks for another one count. Shingo blocked a suplex attempt, then hit a slam and a senton. Shingo sent Wato to the floor with a clothesline over the top. Wato threw some flailing strikes on the outside, but Shingo shrugged them off and rammed Wato into the ring frame.
Back in the ring, Shingo hit some stomps and posed. Shingo hit chops and a vertical suplex for a two count. Shingo used a chinlock on the mat, but Wato forced a rope break. Shingo remained firmly in control.
Wato hit a series of strikes for a hope spot. Shingo dropped Wato with a double sledge to the chest. Wato stopped a lariat attempt by hitting a springboard uppercut forearm. Wato fired off some kicks and an enzuigiri for a one and a half count.
Shingo hit his jab and lariat combination. He then used a back suplex for a two count. Wato avoided a sliding lariat and hit a buzzsaw kick into a double down.
Wato was first up. He teased a piledriver, but Shingo hit a backdrop out of it. Shingo dared Wato to throw strikes at him. Shingo ate all the strikes, then hit a series of forearms. Wato ducked a strike and hit recientemente. He followed with a TTD.
Wato went for the RPP off the top, but crashed and burned on landing. Shingo hit a lariat. Wato blocked a Pumping Bomber. Shingo hit a pop-up powerbomb with a stack cover for a near fall. Shingo used an STF to set up a cradle for a near fall.
Shingo hit a sliding lariat. Wato reversed a Last of the Dragon into a crucifix bomb for a near fall. Wato caught another quick near fall, then Shingo cut him off with a sliding forearm strike. Shingo hit the Pumping Bomber, but Wato kicked out.
Shingo then looked into the camera and called out Ibushi. He then hit Last of the Dragon and got the pin.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Tetsuya Naito & SANADA defeated Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Miho Abe) to win the titles (36:57)
This was paced slowly, but turned into quite the main event. The match never dragged despite going nearly 37 minutes.
Naito and Sabre postured as though they were going to start off with one another. Both ended up tagging out. Sabre and SANADA started with some mat work. They grappled to a stalemate for the first five minutes.
Taichi and Naito tagged in. Naito twice knocked Sabre down off the apron. Naito sent Taichi rolling outside. Naito teased a dive, but hit his Tranquilo pose in the center of the ring instead.
Sabre tagged in, finally wanting to face off with Naito. Naito immediately tagged out, but interfered from the floor to allow SANADA to take control of Sabre. SANADA isolated Sabre in the LIJ corner. Naito tagged in and used a crucifix hold on the mat.
SANADA tagged in and continued to soften up Sabre's neck. Naito tagged in and worked over the neck as well. Sabre kicked at Naito's left arm to set up a tag to Taichi. Taichi sent Naito outside and into the barricade.
Taichi and Sabre continued to methodically work on Naito's left arm as the match returned to the ring. Naito came back with a neckbreaker to Sabre. Naito managed to tag SANADA. SANADA hit an interfering Taichi with a leapfrog dropkick.
Sabre avoided a SANADA plancha. SANADA hit a dragon screw in the ropes and a high crossbody off the top for a near fall. SANADA avoided an octopus hold. The two traded a series of clutch holds for near falls.
Sabre caught SANADA in a triangle choke. SANADA escaped and tried a TKO. Sabre avoided the TKO and went after SANADA's left arm at the 20 minute call.
Taichi tagged in. Taichi fired off kicks as SANADA fired back with forearm strikes. They traded big boots. Taichi hit a gamengiri for a double down. Sabre caught Naito in a kimura on the floor to prevent a tag.
SANADA ducked a buzzsaw kick. SANADA used a TKO attempt to set up Skull End. Taichi escaped and teased Black Mephisto. Taichi connected on a high kick. SANADA answered with a TKO into another double down.
Naito sent Sabre into the barricade, then tagged in. He was still doing a masterful job of selling his left arm as he hit a combinacion to Taichi. Naito tried for a top rope frankensteiner. Taichi blocked at first and tried a Black Mephisto off the top. Naito blocked that and hit the frankensteiner for a near fall.
Taichi blocked Gloria. Sabre and SANADA jumped in. SANADA hit a dropkick to Sabre's left knee. Sabre hit a neck twist to Naito. SANADA hit Sabre with a dragon screw. Taichi avoided Skull End from SANADA and hit a high kick in the corner to Naito. All four were down in the ring just past the 25 minute call.
Naito hit a swing DDT to Taichi. Taichi popped right up and hit a backdrop suplex for yet another double down. Sabre got a tag and used a neck crank on Naito. SANADA ran in for the illegal double team and tandem offense.
Naito used a jackknife cradle for a two count to Sabre as Taichi saved. SANADA took out Taichi with a plancha. Naito hit esperanza for a near fall. Sabre reversed a Destino attempt into a cobra twist. Taichi caught SANADA in a dragon sleeper to stop the save 30 minutes in. Sabre switched the cobra twist to an octopus hold, but Naito forced a rope break after a long struggle.
Sabre taunted Naito with short kicks. Naito caught a PK and hit a back elbow, again going after Sabre's neck. Naito hit a series of hard elbows to the neck and a flying forearm. Sabre blocked Valentia and hit a dragon suplex for a near fall as SANADA saved.
Taichi took out SANADA with a chokeslam, then hit an axe bomber to Naito. Naito fought off Zack Mephisto at the 35 minute call. Taichi hit a last ride to Naito. Sabre hit a PK, then covered for a two count.
Naito avoided the Zack Driver and hit Destino for a near fall on Sabre as SANADA used Skull End on Taichi. SANADA hit a moonsault to Sabre.
Naito hit Sabre with a second Destino for the pin to win the titles.
BUSHI and Shingo Takagi came to the ring to celebrate after the match. Hiromu Takahashi also joined his stablemates after sitting at the commentary table for the show.
Naito closed the show with the LIJ roll call promo.