The NJPW Summer Struggle tour continued today with the first of two straight nights in Osaka and the first of four consecutive days with major NJPW shows.
Before they face off for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship on Sunday at Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome, Tetsuya Naito faced Taichi in the main event of today's show, while their partners SANADA and Zack Sabre Jr. squared off in the semi-main.
The pairings will be reversed on tomorrow's show, as Naito will face Sabre in the main event, while SANADA and Taichi will be the semi-main.
Below are results and a report on today's show.
Recommended matches --
- Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan vs. Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto
- SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
- Taichi vs. Tetsuya Naito
El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI defeated Robbie Eagles, SHO & YOH (12:20)
There was some crisp wrestling here. There was also a ref bump and some questionable booking. Eagles is challenging for the title on Sunday. Frankly, he needs all the help he can get to look like a credible opponent. There's no reason Eagles shouldn't have pinned Kanemaru or DOUKI.
Desperado and Eagles started off with a nice chain wrestling sequence. YOH and DOUKI tagged in. SHO got a tag and Roppongi 3K hit DOUKI with some tandem offense. Desperado and Kanemaru interfered from the floor to help cut SHO off. The Suzuki-gun trio then went to work on SHO.
SHO eventually made a comeback with a spear to DOUKI and a suplex to Kanemaru. Desperado and Eagles tagged in for another exchange. Eagles hit two meteoras and used a jackknife cover for a near fall.
Desperado avoided a 450 to the legs and hit a spinebuster. Desperado got Numero Dos applied. Eagles fought to the ropes to force a break.They trades trikes into a double down. YOH got a hot tag and hit a flying forearm to Desperado for a near fall. Everyone jumped in for a big move.
YOH avoided Pinche Loco and hit a falcon arrow for a two count. Desperado blocked Direct Drive by shoving YOH into the referee for a ref bump here in the opener.
Desperado followed up with Pinche Loco and pinned YOH.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI defeated KENTA, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi (w/Dick Togo) (12:39)
Tanahashi and YOSHI-HASHI were the stars of this match.
Bullet Club immediately cut Ishii off after interference from Togo and spent the first five minutes working him over.
YH got a tag and showed great fire as he went after EVIL. KENTA tagged in and briefly cut YH off. YH hit a kick and managed a tag to Tana. Tana used a dragon screw. He tried for his Texas Clover Hold, but KENTA small packaged him for a two count.
KENTA hit a clothesline off the top rope for another near fall. KENTA and Tana traded strikes and did a simultaneous knockout spot. Yujiro tagged in for a kick and a lariat for a two count. Tana avoided a fisherman buster, but Yujiro hit an inverted DDT for two.
Yujiro took the referee. KENTA jumped in with a chair. Ishii knocked the chair back into KENTA. KENTA took a bump and rolled outside. YH took out Togo on the apron. Yujiro shoved the ref, so we had our second ref bump in as many matches tonight.
Tana then hit a slingblade and High Fly Flow for the pin.
Ishii used a kick to the ropes to low blow EVIL and Togo after the match.
Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan defeated Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto (10:05)
This was a fun sprint.
Okada and Goto attacked before the bell. Okada still had his entrance gear on as he went after Cobb with a back elbow. Cobb overcame the attack and powered Okada to the floor and into the barricade.
O-Khan got a tag and went to work on Okada. O-Khan knocked Goto off the apron. Okada tried for a tag but Goto wasn't there. O-Khan used Mongolian chops on Okada. Cobb and O-Khan traded tags as they worked Okada over.
Okada came back with a flapjack on O-Khan. Goto tagged in and hit a lariat for a two count. O-Khan blocked an ushigoroshi and hit his own version of the GTR. Cobb tagged in and ran across the ring with Goto, hitting a huge backdrop.
O-Khan and Cob hit tandem thrust kicks to Goto. Okada saved as Cobb made a cover. Okada and Cobb traded dropkicks. Okada rolled to the floor to sell Cobb's impressive dropkick.
Cobb avoided two Goto lariats and a GTR attempt, then hoisted Goto up for a Tour of the Islands and the pin.
Shingo Takagi & BUSHI defeated Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato (10:30)
This was a quick showcase for Shingo as it should have been.
BUSHI and Wato began with a cool lucha sequence. Shingo and Honma tagged in. Shingo teased a clean break in the ropes, but Honma blocked an attempted strike. Shingo missed a senton.
Honma used a bulldog, then missed a kokeshi. Shingo hit a series of elbows. BUSHI tagged in for a missile dropkick. Honma hit a double DDT and tagged out.
Wato hit a springboard uppercut forearm and a tornillo to BUSHI. He followed with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a near fall. BUSHI managed a tag. Shingo hit a back suplex for two as Honma saved for Wato.
Honma hit a kokeshi to Shingo. Honma and Wato doubled up on Shingo, but Shingo hit a double lariat. Shingo hit noshigami for a two count on Wato. Wato ducked a Pumping Bomber and used two quick cradles for near falls. That was a nice callback as Shingo pinned Wato with a Pumping Bomber last time they wrestled.
Shingo ducked a kick, hit a lariat, then followed with another Pumping Bomber for the pin.
SANADA & Zack Sabre Jr. wrestled to a draw following a double pin (24:21)
This was a total Zack Sabre Jr. match with a unique finish. I enjoy a long technical match, but the crowd was not into this most of the way.
They wrestled on the mat for the first eight minutes. Sabre used a head scissors on the mat. SANADA used a body scissors. Sabre tried a variety of techniques to break the hold, but was thwarted at every turn.
Sabre finally found an escape and used an ankle lock. SANADA sent Sabre outside and attacked his left leg with a kick over the barricade. Back inside, Sabre used a kick and went after SANADA's left arm. Sabre then used a kick over the barricade on the bad arm.
Back in, Sabre continued using a variety of holds on the left arm. SANADA finally sent Sabre outside by kicking out of a hammerlock and used a plancha. Sabre blocked a TKO. SANADA avoided a kick to the arm and hit a standing moonsault for two.
Sabre kept going for kicks to the left arm in between holds. SANADA avoided the kicks and hit a dragon screw. Sabre got his knees up on a moonsault attempt and used an armbar, but SANADA forced a rope break.
Sabre finally hit a kick to the arm at the 20 minute call. SANADA answered with an immediate dragon screw in the ropes. SANADA used a figure four, but Sabre forced an immediate rope break.
They traded uppercut forearms. SANADA avoided a Zack Driver. Sabre avoided Skull End and reversed an O'Connor roll for a near fall. They traded pinning combinations. SANADA caught a PK and hit a dragon screw to the damaged leg.
SANADA hit a moonsault. He went for a figure four. Sabre tried to reverse into a European clutch. SANADA bridged with Sabre in the clutch position and elevated Sabre's shoulders above his head to the mat. Red Shoes then counted a double pin.
The two argued over who won after the bell, then traded small packages and cradles before the ring attendants broke them up.
Taichi defeated Tetsuya Naito (26:42)
The second half of this was very good. The first half was kind of slow and plodding.
Naito sent Taichi outside with a sliding dropkick. Taichi bumped into the barricade and took nearly the full 20 count to get back in. Naito began going after Taichi's neck with knee strikes. Taichi came back with a gamengiri.
Taichi sent Naito outside and choked him with a camera cable. Back inside, Taichi continued choking Naito. Taichi hit a series of kicks to Naito's back. Naito asked for more, then fired up with strikes at the 10 minute call.
Naito avoided a chokeslam and hit a neckbreaker. Naito hit a back elbow and a basement dropkick to the back. He followed with the combinacion cabron. Naito hit another neckbreaker and used a crucifix hold. Taichi forced a break.
Taichi reversed a whip and hit a hook kick. Taichi hit a series of short kicks. Naito fired back with forearms. They traded kicks and forearms. Taichi took Naito's legs out with a kick. Naito fired up and hit a series of back elbows in the corner at the 15 minute mark.
Taichi blocked one attempt at a top rope frankensteiner, but Naito eventually hit it. Taichi no-sold and hit a gamengiri into a double down. Naito ducked one axe bomber, but Taichi hit it on the rebound.
Taichi used the Seitei Jujiro. They did a long submission tease, but Taichi gave up the hold and used a lateral press for a near fall. Naito blocked two last ride attempts and hit a swing DDT. He followed with a top rope frankensteiner.
Taichi blocked Destino and hit an Alabama slam. Taichi removed his trousers. Naito hit a one-legged dropkick and Destino for a two count. Taichi blocked a second Destino. Naito hit an enzuigiri. Taichi blocked an Esperanza.
Naito avoided another Alabama slam and turned it into a piledriver for a near fall. Naito hit Valentia. Naito blocked another Destino attempt and reversed into Black Mephisto for a near fall. Naito blocked a backdrop suplex. They traded strikes.
Taichi hit an elbow strike out of a three point stance. He followed with a superkick and a second Black Mephisto for the pin.
Sabre and SANADA came to the ring after the match. Sabre said he and SANADA aren't done yet, but he's concentrating on Naito. He said he'll see Naito tomorrow and they'll have some fun.
Taichi mocked Naito's traditional post-match promo as he addressed the crowd to close the show.
Here are the lineups for the next three days:
NJPW Summer Struggle in Osaka night two, Friday, July 23, 1 a.m. Eastern time on NJPW World --
- Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
- SANADA vs. Taichi
- Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato vs. Shingo Takagi & BUSHI
- Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. KENTA, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi
- Hirooki Goto, Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero vs. Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Jado
NJPW Summer Struggle in Nagoya, Saturday, July 24, 4 a.m. Eastern time on NJPW World --
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA
- Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL
- Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato vs. Shingo Takagi & BUSHI
- Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano vs. Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan
- Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Jado
- Robbie Eagles, SHO & YOH vs. El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI
NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome, Sunday, July 25, 3 a.m. Eastern time on NJPW World --
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Kota Ibushi
- IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Tetsuya Naito & SANADA (c) vs. Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.
- Kazuchika Okada vs. Jeff Cobb
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado (c) vs. Robbie Eagles
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo (c) vs. Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi
- Pre-show New Japan Ranbo for the provisional KOPW 2021