Wrestling Review: NJPW Summer Struggle in Jingu (2020)

The culmination of the Summer Struggle tour comes live from the outdoor Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, Japan as New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents Summer Struggle in Jingu. The main event of this stacked card will see current double IWGP Heavyweight Champion, EVIL, defending both the Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship against former partner and friend, Tetsuya Naito. The IWGP Tag Team Championships are also on the line in the semi-main event, as Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi) face off with the former champions and dream team of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi. The NEVER Openweight Championship will be defended when Shingo Takagi and Minoru Suzuki go to war, whilst Hiormu Takahashi will defend his IWGP Junior Heavyweight title against the Bullet Club’s “Bone Soldier”, Taiji Ishimori. Rounding out the card, the first ever King of Pro Wreslting 2020 winner will be crowned, as Kazuchika Okada, El Desperado, Toru Yano and SANADA face off in a very rare four way match, and Master Wato faces off with Yoshinobu Kanemaru in the opening contest.

+ EVIL (c,c) vs Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Championships): It’s hard to rate EVIL’s championship style, because he’s not wrestling the way he has in the past, but that is by design. I did notice a few awkward landings for both men, but neither that you would call dangerous or scary, and in one way or another it added to the match. Naito is a great challenger, EVIL as this bad guy douchebag champion is a great character so the crowd was hot for this, even as they couldn’t cheer and shout the way they wanted to. I won’t say this was a match of the year, but and really it may not even be the match some people wanted, but I think it was a good main event on a really special show
+ Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs Taiji Ishimori (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): this was good. With EVIL’s style of heavyweight wrestling since his betrayal, the juniors have been the far and away highlight for me. I’ve enjoyed the months-long build up these two have had, especially as Ishimori has consistently worked on the same body part, which of course played into the story here. Takahashi is most certainly going up to heavyweight some time soon, and/or at least will be working the G1 and this was a good match between two really good (quite big) junior heavyweights
+ Shingo Takagi (c) vs Minoru Suzuki (NEVER Openweight Championship): ooh baby, this was as always the match I was looking forward to. I was surprised how relatively slow these two started off, but boy howdy once the strike exchanges began in earnest, I was all for it. Suzuki is still so incredible at his age, and Shingo is absolutely one of the best in the world right now, even with the extended time off. I loved this match
+ Kazuchika Okada vs Toru Yano vs SANADA vs El Desperado (King of Pro Wrestling 2020 Final): of course I never doubt the skills of the athletes involved, but I felt a few times they were out of their element in a four way match. This was still fun and unique, if not particularly good in terms of the action. I’m giving it a positive pass because I still enjoyed it, and I look forward to what is going to be upcoming

Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (c) vs Golden Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi) (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships): something about this never really clicked for me. Ibushi is a genetic freak, and he now looks as good as he’s always wrestled, but overall this felt a little bit redundant after the original Dangerous Tekkers title win. Ibushi’s fantastic, Sabre is great, Taichi is good and Tana is Tana, but I don’t know.
Master Wato vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru: it was unfortunate that there were one or two sloppy moments here, because otherwise it was a pretty good match. Master Wato is slowly growing on me, but something about him just feels far too ‘opening act’ to me. I’m just not convinced yat, and a match like this won’t convince me

> I really liked the open air look of Jingu Stadium. The sun started to set just as Sabre and Taichi made their entrance, and as the commentators mentioned, “Darkness Falls” as EVIL makes his entrance, too. Gedo is so clever he booked the sun on his show as a character itself!

Should you watch this event: The stadium set itself was such a great look and frankly I was just glad to see some big NJPW matches. EVIL/Naito was a good main event that may not be for everyone, but Shingo/Suzuki and Takahashi/Ishimori were the clear matches of the show. This was a lot of fun.

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