Five title matches and a grudge battle in the open air at Jingu
The full match lineup has now been revealed for NJPW’s return to the open air setting of Jingu Stadium for our first event in 21 years, as Summer Struggle in Jingu will feature five title matches and a junior heavyweight grudge being settled!
Already announced for Jingu stadium, Tetsuya Naito will be facing EVIL for the dual IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships in our main event. It was at Dominion in Osaka Jo Hall that EVIL shocked the world just 24 hours after joining BULLET CLUB; enlisting the aid of the Spoiler Dick Togo, EVIL pinned the first double IWGP Champion to take the gold, delivering, in his words, his own twisted brand of ‘justice’.
Just a couple of weeks later at Sengoku Lord, Hiromu Takahashi stepped up to challenge EVIL, and visibly had the double champion beaten with Time Bomb II, before Togo again made his presence felt, a choke with a steel wire allowing EVIL to retain. Post match, Naito stormed the ring and demanded a championship rematch, declaring that ‘the rental period (on the IWGP titles) is over’.
21 years ago in 1999, Naito witnessed the last Jingu Stadium event firsthand, and ever since has earned his place to the center stage. Naito is more than used to having the deck stacked against him, overcoming the odds and career threatening injury to take home the twin IWGP titles for the first time in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 14. Can lightning strike twice in Jingu? Or will this summer night, too, end in EVIL fashion?
The night’s semi-main event will see IWGP Tag Team Championships settled in another rematch from Dominion in July. Then it was Dangerous Tekkers ending Golden☆Ace’s reign at zero defences, in commanding fashion. Taking complete control of the match and physically dissecting Tanahashi’s knee, Taichi and ZSJ all but walked to tag team victory, and consistently refused a rematch for the titles- at least if Tanahashi was involved.
As Taichi repeatedly insisted that Tanahashi’s time was up, The Ace was repeatedly humiliated in multi man tag matches all through the Summer Struggle tour. Taichi would make overtures to Ibushi, saying that the Golden Star could have his rematch if he turned his back on Tanahashi and found a new partner, perhaps even in Suzuki-Gun. Yet Ibushi redoubled his commitment to the Ace after he and Tanahashi (along with Master Wato) narrowly scored a win over Suzuki-Gun in the NEVER 6-Man tournament.
With firmer ties between the two former champions, Tanahashi’s spirits elevated, as did Tanahashi himself, as an emphatic High Fly Flow in Korakuen on August 9 to Yoshinobu Kanemaru sent an emphatic message of soidarity to Dangerous Tekkers. Now seemingly past his crisis of confidence, can Tanahashi hold up his end of the bargain, and help he and Ibushi to their second tag reign?
Also previously announced, Taiji Ishimori will challenge Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. After Hiromu failed in his challenge to EVIL at Sengoku Lord, Ishimori quickly made his presence felt, delivering a Bloody Cross and then making his IWGP challenge the next night. Working over a champion already damaged by his war in Nagoya, Ishimori was able to put Takahashi on the injured list for a couple of weeks as Summer Struggle continued, but on August 9, the Time Bomb made his return, chasing off BULLET CLUB and declaring he was ‘all better and ready to play’.
Anybody who saw Hiromu’s Best of the Super Junior final against Ishimori in 2018 will know that they are in for a high velocity, high impact classic in Jingu with this matchup, but is Takahashi’s shoulder up to the task?
The third match of the night will see NEVER Openweight Championship gold on the line as Shingo Takagi faces the challenge of Minoru Suzuki. The COVID-19 induced pandemic may have put paid to Shingo Takagi’s plans to be the most fighting NEVER Openweight Champion of all time, but as soon as NJPW action restarted in June, The Dragon picked up right where he left off. Defenses against Shingo Takagi and El Desperado both in the month of July moved Shingo to V3 with the NEVER title, and only one more defence away from tying the all time record for defenses of the title with inaugural champ Masato Tanaka, Tomohiro Ishii, and his opponent in Jingu, Minoru Suzuki.
After The King’s plans to seize the twin treasures of IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental gold were scuppered by a loss to Yuji Nagata during the New Japan Cup, Suzuki made it his life’s work to destroy his decades long rival. In a thrilling Korakuen Hall main event during the Summer Struggle tour, Suzuki emerged with the victory and delcared afterward that he had his next target in mind.
It didn’t take long for that target to be revealed, and Shingo was more than happy to oblige. Takagi has promised that Suzuki is ‘in for the fight of your life’, and the Dragon will look to make his mark on history in Jingu Stadium with a match that will be very hard indeed to follow.
The second match of the evening will determine the first preliminary KOPW2020. On august 26 in Korakuen, four singles matches with stipulations to be voted on by fans will result in their winners moving onto this four way matchup. The winner’s job won’t be done as they will defend their right to the KOPW2020 crown for the rest of the year in what is set to be the most unpredictable title in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
The action in Jingu will all kick off with ‘Grand Master’ Master Wato facing ‘Heel Master’ Yoshinobu Kanemaru in the opener. Ever since Wato made his first appearance back from excursion during the New Japan Cup, he has instantly found bitter enemies in the members of Suzuki-Gun. A win in his debut opposite DOUKI was immediately followed by an assault from Kanemaru, and after showing what he can do teaming with Golden☆Ace through the Summer Struggle tour, he has now been granted a huge singles opportunity against one of the most decorated junior heavyweights in Japanese wrestling.