It’s back to Korakuen Hall for the second night of the Summer Struggle – and a slightly tweaked card to boot.
Of course, it’s Japanese only commentary for the live feed, but Kevin Kelly has been getting real quick with his turnarounds… this is also the last card that New Japan’s posted for the tour so far, so I wouldn’t be too shocked if something surprising happens today.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Satoshi Kojima pinned Gabriel Kidd, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto in 9:30 (***)
BUSHI & Shingo Takagi pinned Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI in 7:40 (**¾)
El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki pinned Yuya Uemura & Yuji Nagata in 11:30 (***)
Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato pinned DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 12:00 (**¾)
Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo pinned SHO & Kazuchika Okada in 10:15 (**¾)
Taiji Ishimori, EVIL & Dick Togo submitted Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & SANADA in 10:40 (***)
Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Gabriel Kidd vs. Togi Makabe, Satoshi Kojima & Ryusuke Taguchi
Gabriel Kidd still has his heart set on a match with Makabe, it seems, and just like yesterday they start by charging at each other.
Kidd gets the first takedown, but receives a quick receipt before tags brought in Taguchi and Ishii. There’s a death wish. Taguchi spoofs some hip attacks but instead goes for a side headlock… then some shoulder tackles before Ishii began to side step those hip attacks… replying with elbows before a sliding tackle from Taguchi finally set him on his way to a hip attack. Hey, progression from yesterday’s spam-fest
Kojima tags in and charges down Ishii, following up with Machine Gun chops… but Ishii turns the tables as he blisters the bread lover. We’re back to the Machine Gun chops in the corner, but Ishii pops up after the corner forearm and just clobbers Kojima with an elbow before a suplex left him laying.
The pair trade elbows from there, before a DDT from Kojima spiked Ishii upside down before tags got us to Goto and Makabe. We’re straight in with mounted punches in the corner, before dualling clotheslines gave Goto an edge… but no way was Makabe bumping for a back suplex. Not today, brother. He does bump on a clothesline, which means that Kidd wants back in to stomp away on Makabe, before a flurry of elbows earned him a shot in return.
Kidd gets a two-count from a forearm, before he went back to the elbows amid some disorienting camera cuts… but Makabe knocks him down before Taguchi tagged in. We know what’s next. Hip attacks… before a low dropkick looked to set Kidd up for an ankle lock, but instead we get a Parade of Moves that led to Taguchi eating a spinning heel kick in the corner, before a suplex and a Boston crab looked to get Kidd the win.
Of course, it’s broken up as Makabe hit the ring, but he just gets slapped by Kidd, who dropkicks him to the outside. In the end though, a leaping enziguiri and a front suplex have Taguchi back on top, before a Bummer Ye drew a near-fall… with Dodon pushing Taguchi over the line for the win. Your usual fun opener, with them continuing to tease us with Kidd/Makabe down the line. ***
After the match, Ishii and Kojima had a little scrap on the outside. I mean, that’s a direction I didn’t expect, but I’ll take something like that…
Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
I guess we’re still looking for Shingo’s next challenger for the NEVER title… and oh God, there was a brief stare with YOSHI-HASHI.
It’s Yano and Shingo who start things off, and of course Yano heads for the corner… but he’s stopped by Shingo before he could remove the buckles. Both times. After a quick trip to the ropes, Yano tags out, and YOSHI-HASHI is rather more willing to engage, as he ducks a chop before hittign the ropes for shoulder tackles. A double-handed chop from Shingo takes YOSHI into the corner, but YOSHI’s back with a shoulder tackle before a back body drop freed Shingo from whatever was being tried.
Yano distracts Shingo as he was about to hit the ropes… and BUSHI returns the favour for LOJ as a clothesline from Shingo dropps YOSHI. BUSHI comes in as Shingo chokes Yano on the outside… something that the referee seemed more preoccupied with than what was going on inside for a while. BUSHI grounds YOSHI-HASHI with a chinlock, before Shingo returned with a back senton for a near-fall as he keeps YOSHI on the deck with some body scissors.
YOSHI-HASHI frees himself, but can’t get out of the LIJ corner as quick tags bring BUSHI back in for some chops. A suplex almost got turned into a Bunker Buster, as YOSHI hits a rear spin kick instead before Yano returned… and now he unties the turnbuckle pads. Third time was the charm.
Yano tosses the pad to BUSHI, then rolls him up for a near-fall as the referee tried to recover it… a hair pull has BUSHI down, before Yano grabbed the pad and laid out both of his opponents with solid pad shots to the head. Things begin to go south for Yano though when he charges into the exposed corner, as LIJ got a measure of retribution… and yay, my regularly scheduled feed outage!
No, it’s not a cover for Yano going for a low blow – which the ref catches… but the finish comes moments later when BUSHI rolled through a roll-up to outsmart Yano… and snatch the win! This was alright for what it was, but it sure does point towards them at least thinking of Shingo vs. YOSHI-HASHI eh? **¾
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) vs. Yuji Nagata & Yuya Uemura
If you’re feeling a little down this Monday morning, then here’s some Suzuki and Nagata beating the hell out of each other. Probably. Of course, Suzuki trolls Korakuen as they can’t Kaze Ni Nare to him.
Suzuki and Nagata start off with elbows, with Korakuen clapping along in time to them, at least at first as the pair then traded elbows for front kicks, with Nagata finally knocking Suzuki down. Uemura tags in and BOUNCES Desperado into the guard rails so he could take some shots at Suzuki. That poor kid.
Elbows from Uemura just annoy Suzuki, as does an uppercut, before Suzuki trapped him in a rear naked choke before shoving him to the outside in the waiting arms of Desperado. Cue bedlam. Cue the sound of bodies being thrown into guard rails. Cue Suzuki choking Nagata with camera cables.
Oh, and cue Suzuki shoving down the referee, for the fun of it. Back inside, Suzuki takes his shots on Uemura, setting him up for a nonchalant PK before Desperado tagged in and found himself briefly the focus of Uemura, whose fightback gets snuffed out by Suzuki. A slam and a boot to the face has Uemura in trouble, before a surfboard stretch forces Uemura to scoot his way into the ropes for a break… where Suzuki latches on with a heel hook in the ropes.
Uemura tries to fight back with elbows, but has more luck with a dropkick before tagging Nagata back into play. Kicks sting Suzuki, who struck back with a PK that doesn’t even get a one count as the dads go back to the elbows. Nagata tries to turn up the heat, but Suzuki’s got something else in his arsenal. THE CLONKING ELBOWS. Nagata tries to return the feat, but a headbutt stops him before we went back to the CLONKING elbows. Three in a row have Nagata staggering, but Yuji returns the favour, only to get caught in a rear naked choke… which he somehow counters out of with an Exploder.
Uemura wants back in… and tags get us to him and Desperado. Uemura charges through Desperado at first, but his Capture suplex is blocked as Despy headbutts his way free. A shinbreaker follows from Desperado, before he rolled Uemura into a half crab. It comes to nought though, as Uemura fought back with the help of Nagata, before another Capture suplex attempt was thwarted by Suzuki.
Suzuki and Nagata head outside again as Desperado punches out Uemura, setting up for Pinche Loco, and that’s more than enough. Pretty solid stuff as they continue to build up for another go around between Nagata and Suzuki – which should be a bit of an epic when it rolls around. ***
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)
I’m sure they’ll do the formal “I want a rematch” stuff for the tag titles, but the retreads of this match aren’t helping the general feel around this promotion right now. Nor is it helping Master Wato, who doesn’t seem to be getting all that much ring time in these matches.
Hey, they switched it up! Wato slid outside to attack Kanemaru as Suzuki-gun were the ones who were jumped before the bell. We officially start with Wato kicking away at a t-shirt clad Kanemaru in the ring, before he hit the ropes for an aborted springboard as Kanemaru just tosses him outside. Wato’s smart enough to avoid the oncoming mugging, as a switcheroo led to him… getting attacked from behind by DOUKI.
DOUKI tags in and chokes away on Wato in the corner, but Wato’s back with a leaping rear spin kick a la Rob Van Dam. There’s a comparison, huh? Tenzan comes in to help Wato with a double-team shoulder tackle, before a falling headbutt gets a near-fall… but Tenzan’s offence stops when he’s kicked in the ropes by Taichi, who then distracts the referee so DOUKI can choke Tenzan with a pipe.
The ref catches him, but it’s not a DQ for some reason, and we’re back to the bedlam. Tenzan’s sandwiched with boots in the corner, before Taichi chokes him down to the mat. Sabre tags in and gets Mongolian chopped for his troubles, before running into a spinning heel kick as somehow this has been five minute. It’s felt like at least three times as long. Tanahashi tags in to clear house, including slapping Taichi off the apron, which got a polite applause. I laughed.
A slam and a flip senton awaits for Sabre, but Tanahashi can’t quite build on that as Sabre threatens to come back in, doing so by countering an elbow drop into an armbar. Tanahashi gets free as we go to Taichi and Ibushi trading kicks, with Taichi edging ahead before a barrage from Ibushi led him into a standing moonsault for a near-fall.
Taichi responds with some more kicks that left Ibushi flat out, with a Last Ride getting countered into a ‘rana… before Taichi ran back in with a clothesline. The ring fills as Suzuki-gun gang up on Ibushi, as Sabre and Kanemaru sandwich Ibushi with kicks ahead of a springboard double knee drop that almost got DOUKI the unlikely win. DOUKI follows that up with the Daybreak springboard DDT, and as Suzuki-gun restrained everyone else, he looked for Suplex de la Luna, only for Ibushi to get free and come back with a head kick.
Suzuki-gun swam the ring again, but this time it comes to nought as the good guys launch into a Parade of Moves, ending with Wato’s springboard uppercut to Kanemaru before DOUKI gets kicked in the head by Ibushi. One Kamigoye later, and that’s your lot. They at least tried to switch it up, but this quickly fell into the patterned Suzuki-gun shenanigans that quickly left me wondering if this was the epitome of the Summer Struggle? **¾
After the match, Kanemaru and Wato get into it on the outside…
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo) vs. Kazuchika Okada & SHO
Speaking of matches that seem to be spinning their wheels…
Yujiro and Okada start us off with elbows, before we got some interference, leading to Gedo pulling SHO outside and into the guard rails. Okada and Yujiro pair off outside too, with the obligatory throws to the guard railings. Somewhere in this SHO tagged in, as he eats a legdrop from Yujiro back in the ring.
Gedo tags in and raked away at SHO’s eyes in the corner, and wouldn’t you know it… someone’s moved the turnbuckle pad to expose the top buckle. SHO’s taken there before Gedo chokes away on him – with Okada distracting the referee – and that somehow only gets a two-count for Gedo.
Yujiro’s back in, scoring with a low dropkick to SHO for a near-fall, before Gedo returned for more choking. I mean, what they’re doing is designed to wind the crowd up, but nobody’s allowed to react. SHO fires back… but gets his eyes raked again as a side headlock on the mat grounded the junior tag team champion. Finally, SHO fought back with a leaping knee before he tagged in Okada…
Who lays into Gedo with elbows. A sliding back elbow has Gedo down, before a DDT led to a near-fall that Gedo barely kicked out of. Yujiro’s back to boot Okada in the ropes, before an Incolle slam’s blocked with Okada clubbing his way free… but thankfully Yujiro bites his way out of that modified cobra clutch.
Okada slips out of another Incolle slam attempt, but couldn’t avoid a clothesline. He does manage to mount a comeback with a neckbreaker slam, before SHO tagged back in and found a second wind, peppering Yujiro with kicks before he had his leg swept away. SHO’s quickly back with a deadlift German suplex attempts, before he countered out of a reverse DDT to suplex Yujiro. Now we get the deadlift German… but Gedo breaks it up.
Not to worry, SHO regains the upper hand, and traps Yujiro in a key lock… but Gedo’s in with brass knuckles for a distraction as Jado wanders in to blast SHO in the head with a Kendo stick. That sets up Yujiro for Pimp Juice, and that’s it for the win. I wonder if Jado started his run in for this match yesterday, going by his pace at Dominion. Solid, but again uninspiring is the keyword here. **¾
After the match, Yujiro laid out Okada with his pimp cane.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Bullet Club (EVIL, Dick Togo & Taiji Ishimori)
Another match we’re aiming for is EVIL vs. Naito 2, presumably at Jingu, but that challenge is yet to be formalised.
Hiromu and Ishimori start us off to tease their junior title feud, but they take their time locking up as Ishimori’s cheapshot gets shrugged off, with Hiromu kicking the rope into his throat before a ‘rana was blocked. Ishimori goes for a Yes Lock early, but it looks to have tweaked Hiromu’s shoulder… and he ends up rolling into the corner in agony. I hope to God that’s a work.
SANADA comes in next, but he’s raked in the eyes by Ishimori… then sidesteps a dropkick as he proceeded to throw Ishimori and Togo outside ahead of a plancha. SANADA stares at EVIL, but opts not to go after his former tag partner, instead throwing Goto back inside so he could tie him in a Paradise Lock… which EVIL quickly breaks up. Amid some bedlam, Togo works over SANADA, snapmaring him to the mat for a fist drop. A sunset flip from SANADA gets punched away, and hey, wouldn’t you know it, the turnbuckle in the Bullet Club corner has gone missing. EVIL’s in to throw SANADA into the exposed buckle, before Ishimori tagged back in to twist SANADA’s neck between his legs for a two-count.
Ishimori tries for a handspring enziguiri, but SANADA catches him and comes back with a low dropkcik, before rolling over to tag in Naito. EVIL’s back in too, as the pair pull each other’s hair and tee off on each other with hockey fight-like punches, before Naito turned up the pace with a tijeras and an enziguiri.
A short-range low dropkick catches EVIL in the corner as there’s still no sign of Hiromu. Naito pushes away the referee as he was stomping on EVIL, before a top rope ‘rana was countered, with EVIL slipping out into a German suplex instead. The Bullet Club trio gang up on Naito, with Naito getting trapped in the corner ahead of a springboard seated senton for a near-fall for Ishimori.
Naito sneaks in with a drop toe hold as SANADA helps clear house, catching Togo in a Skull End amid a Parade of Moves that gave us another skirmish between EVIL and Naito. Hey, Hiromu’s back! He pulls himself up onto the apron, but that already-taped left arm is hanging limp as he tagged in… and it’s made worse as he’s thrown shoulder-first into that exposed buckle.
A back cracker from Ishimori drops Hiromu, before stomps to the taped shoulder allowed Ishimori to roll the junior champion into the Yes Lock… and there’s the submission. Whether real or not, Hiromu’s shoulder injury added an extra dimension to this match, and has taken him from a legitimate challenger to EVIL at the weekend to possibly being in danger of being back on the shelf. ***
We’ve a brief challenge from Ishimori again afterwards as the Bullet Club celebrated their win – while Hiromu was carried to the back in agony.
There’s an untelevised show on Wednesday in Shizuoka, before New Japan return to Korakuen on Friday. At time of writing we’ve no cards, and I’m praying for more than slight reshuffles and like-for-like swaps at this point. I think it’s fair to say that after the initial novelty from the New Japan Cup, we’re in something of a mire here with the booking and the general lack of excitement around New Japan right now. Starting such a long tour with so little obvious build going on just means that we’re in a string of lame duck shows – with some interesting nuggets thrown in around a product that’s somehow approaching a level of staleness with so many shows in short order.