Hiromu Takahashi’s comeback match headlines the final night of the 2021 Summer Struggle tour.
Kosei Fujita and Ryohei Oiwa went to a 10:00 time limit draw (**¾)
Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki pinned Ryusuke Taguchi, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto in 3:32 (**½)
Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan pinned Togi Makabe & Kazuchika Okada in 9:12 (***)
Robbie Eagles submitted Master Wato in 17:32 (***½)
Hiromu Takahashi pinned DOUKI in 29:43 (****¼)
It’s the last stop before Wrestle Grand Slam, as we’re headlining with the return of Hiromu Takahashi!
Kosei Fujita vs. Ryohei Oiwa
It’s the end of both Fujita and Oiwa’s first week as active wrestlers, and they’ve had some pretty decent scraps to start. I’d probably give the edge to Fujita, but he has had the lion’s share (ahem) of aggression here, and has a style I kinda dig more…
…and definitely because Oiwa tripped entering the ropes today. We’ve the usual lock-up to start, before a headlock takedown from Oiwa had Fujita on the back foot briefly. They swap waistlocks but the grip’s broken as Fujita came back with a side headlock.
Oiwa counters out with headscissors, btu Fujita rolls out and goes back to the headlock, only for Oiwa to counter with a hammerlock. They keep going hold-for-hold, with a snap headlock takedown having Fujita in trouble… but he pushes Oiwa down and dives in with one of his own.
After landing a shoulder tackle, Fuijita grounds Oiwa with a keylock, but they break in the ropes as Fujita began to up the ante. A Fujiwara armbar’s next, but that too ends in the ropes, before Fujita’s pulling for an armbar led to him nearly being rolled up.
Yuto Nakashima – the almost-forgotten Young Lion who’s back from his arm injury – is screaming at ringside as Oiwa and Fujita trade elbow strikes, before Fujita started to pull ahead with a leglock. That ends in the ropes too as Fujita was hell-bent on getting submission, following with a half crab as we went into the final two minutes. The ropes save Oiwa again as the pair trade more elbows, but Fujita’s decked with a dropkick before a Boston crab forced him to ride out the clock for another draw. For a ten minute Young Lion match, this was GREAT – Oiwa’s not a washout by any step, but in week one, he’s perhaps a step behind Fujita, but its very, very early days. **¾
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki)
One more go around at Korakuen for this tag warm-up…
We’ve a jump as Taichi’s attacked at ringside, leading to Goto putting the boots to him in the ring as he and YOSHI-HASHI looked to dominate early. A superkick-assisted ushigoroshi has Taichi down before a GYR attempt ended with Sabre pulling YOSHI-HASHI outside, before Minoru Suzuki went after Goto.
An elbow from Suzuki drops Goto, before Taguchi came in to hit hip attacks as this big parade of STUFF showed no signs of abating. Taichi eats a Bummer-ye for a two-count, but Taguchi’s held in the ropes by Suzuki… at least until YOSHI-HASHI makes the save, as Taguchi played to the crowd too much and missed whatever he was doing. Instead, he’s instantly caught in a superkick’d Zack Driver, and that’s all folks. So this is what happens when you compress their usual matches into three and a half minutes, eh? Enjoyable, but I can’t go too high for this length of time! **½
After the match, YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi have a staredown, but it’s the CHAOS lads who leave with their tail between their legs, carrying Taguchi to the back.
United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Togi Makabe
After the show yesterday, Cobb had promised this would be Okada’s “final Korakuen.”
Of course we start with Cobb and Okada, as Okada focuses on the lower back of Cobb early on with forearms before throwing him to the outside. Cue guard rail bumps, but it’s Cobb and O-Khan who pull ahead. Literally, in Cobb’s case, as he dragged Okada across the floor before marching on his belly.
Back inside, Cobb headbutted Okada before O-Khan came in with Mongolian chops. Then brought Cobb back in, only for him to miss a leap into the corner as Okada tries ot muscle him up for a tombstone… but Cobb blocks it as Okada went for a Money Clip instead. My feed drops, with it returning as tags have Makabe and O-Khan in… a face claw from O-Khan’s elbowed away from, but O-Khan’s able to bring Cobb back in and wear down Makabe some more.
Okada runs in from behind to put the boots to Cobb, but he’s eventually pulled into an overhead belly-to-belly throw. O-Khan clubs down Makabe, then cornered him for splashes and clotheslines as the Empire took control. An attempted Rainmaker from Cobb’s blocked with a clothesline, but Makabe’s quickly put away from there with a Tour of the Islands, as this first half has been about swift finishes! ***
The first half over in forty minutes? At least one of those second half matches will be going close to their 30-minute time limits…
Master Wato vs. Robbie Eagles
This one came around as a result of Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi beating Eagles & Tiger Mask in the Super Junior Tag League last week…
Of course, it’s non-title, but Wato still took this one seriously, grabbing a toe hold early on to force Eagles into the ropes right as my feed locked up. When it recovers, Eagles is dropkicked to the outside, before Wato’s search for a dive saw him baseball slide to the outside… before a head kick saw Wato get the post.
Eagles capitalises by wrapping Wato’s legs in the guard rails, before he continued to work over it back in the ring. Wato throws some chops, but gets overwhelmed into the corner before mid kicks wore down Wato. Eagles mocks the Wato pose and misses double knees into the corner, before Wato’s able to come back with a springboard uppercut from the apron.
Wato dropkicks Eagles off the apron and measures up for his dive, finally hitting it in the form of a tornillo. It leads to a two-count back inside, as the pair traded shots, before Eagles clipped out Wato’s knee ahead of a clothesline to the back of the neck. A springboard dropkick to the knee follows, as does a Ron Miller Special, but Wato’s able to drag himself to the ropes in short order.
Eagles stays on top of Wato, as the pair begin to trade blows again, but Eagles blocks a kick, before taking Wato down for a PK. That’s caught by Wato, who hits an Exploder to get himself free, following with satellite headscissors too before edging out a roundhouse kick to spin Eagles to the mat.
Wato nails a Tenzan Tombstone Driver to Eagles, then went up top for the RPP… but whiffs on that as Eagles then looked to win with a crucifix roll-up… only for Wato to deck him with a head kick. An attempt at Recientemente’s blocked, with Eagles countering with a Turbo Backpack for a near-fall, before he went up top for a 450 splash to Wato’s leg. From there, it’s back to the Ron Miller Special, getting the eventual submission as Wato just couldn’t drag himself to the ropes. For all the stick Wato gets – and as inconsistent as he can be – he more than held his own here against Eagles, hopefully indicating that those days are long behind him. No shame in defeat, as Eagles warmed up for his junior title defence with a hard fought win here. ***½
DOUKI vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Hiromu’s first match back since February, and a rematch of last November’s Best of the Super Junior meeting, which was an absolute cracker – which Hiromu won.
Hiromu had a “welcome back” banner held on the apron by the Young Lions, which I assume had messages of support for him. It gave DOUKI a way to attack him from behind to jump start the match as he proceeds to take Hiromu into the barriers before we had a count-out tease in the first minute of the match.
Shotgun dropkicks knock DOUKI into the barriers, before a quick chase led to some lucha-inspired stuff in the ring, with a throat thrust from DOUKI leading him to tease a Suplex de la Luna early on. Hiromu wriggles free and after a Time Bomb tease, DOUKI rolls outside as he looked to slow the pace down.
DOUKI grabs his pipe and lays out Hiromu after throwing the ref aside, before a pipe-assisted neckbreaker had Hiromu on the deck. Back inside, DOUKI hits a back elbow for just a one-count, before he pulled Hiromu into the ol’ Axel Dieter Special, following through by rolling Hiromu into a pinning attempt for a two-count.
DOUKI rakes the eyes, but Hiromu’s able to reply with a dropkick to take him outside, with another shotgun dropkick off the apron following. Back inside, Hiromu goes for a suplex, but instead has more luck with headscissors, then a roll through for a seated dropkick and a Falcon arrow for a near-fall.
A resurging Hiromu keeps going, but DOUKI escapes a death valley driver into the corner before a backsliding Widow’s Peak nearly nicked a win. Hiromu tries to get back in it, pulling DOUKI… but he’s met with an enziguiri instead before DOUKI found his way into the DOUKI Chokey… which Hiromu instantly backed into the ropes to break.
Hiromu’s pop-up powerbomb’s ‘rana’d out of, before he caught DOUKI in the corner. An overhead belly-to-belly chucks DOUKI back into the buckles, before a death valley driver stuffed DOUKI back into the corner. From there, Hiromu goes for a Time Bomb, but another throat thrust stopped that before a pop-up powerbomb ragdolled DOUKI for a near-fall.
A Time Bomb’s elbowed out of, as DOUKI then low bridges him to the outside for an Asai moonsault. DOUKI tries to climb the buckles for another dive, but he’s caught by Hiromu… who’s knocked down, before recovering with a quesadora bomb off the top for a near-fall. There’s some moves I shriek for… that’s one of them. Hiromu keeps going after that, but the Time Bomb’s countered into an Italian Stretch #32, dragging Hiromu to the mat as we almost had a stoppage… but Hiromu’s able to wriggle to the ropes for safety.
DOUKI measures up Hiromu for a Daybreak, but Hiromu superkcks him away before running back for a sunset bomb… which DOUKI countered with some headscissors into the rails! A diving stomp from DOUKI keeps Hiromu in bother, as did the DOUKI Bomb – a flying back senton – as Hiromu was in the aisles. It did leave both men laid out as the ref starts his count, but DOUKI’s back to his feet first and rolls Hiromu back in.
From there, DOUKI looks for Daybreak again, this time landing the springboard DDT for a near-fall, before DOUKI pulled up Hiromu for Suplex de la Luna. A wheelbarrow counters that for a two-count, before a switcheroo sees Hiromu hit a German suplex and a lariat for a one-count. DOUKI returns the favour for a similar result as the crowd lost their mind… and we headed into the final five minutes of the match with both men collapsing.
The pair fight back up to their feet as we hit the final three minutes, but a wild lariat spins DOUKI down for a two-count. DOUKI returns with an inside cradle for a near-fall, then a backslide, before a lariat landed. A modified Widow’s Peak nearly ends it too, before Hiromu countered a Suplex de la Luna into a Complete Shot.
We’re hitting the final minute as Hiromu pulls up DOUKI for Time Bomb 2, eventually landing a Victory Royale for a near-fall, before Hiromu picked up the pace with Time Bomb 2 landing with just seconds left – but enough time to get the win. Holy hell, this might have been all about Hiromu, but this was a banner performance from DOUKI, who’s been something of a cult favourite in spite of his iffy record. Get this on your watchlists! ****¼
Post-match, Robbie Eagles comes out as Hiromu politely asked if he could talk to Belto-san… he even uses the Korakuen Hall clock to time his minute with the belt. Before they start, it was “super boring time” as we all clock-watched before Hiromu and the belt he used to hold had a conversation, which was seemingly a lover’s tiff (thanks for the translation, Chris Charlton) as Belto-san was mad at being vacated twice due to Hiromu getting injured. Robbie looked bemused before he took the belt back after that minute was up… telling Hiromu he needs to beat him at MetLife Dome to get more time with the belt.
That’s it for the Summer Struggle – next up is the Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome double header next weekend in Saitama, with live English commentary as well. The full cards for those shows will be announced in the coming days, but we’re looking at a 9am BST/4am EST start next Saturday (September 4), and 7am BST/2am EST on Sunday (September 5).
You’ll be watching this for Hiromu’s return – something which’ll surely add something to these shows which we’ve been missing for the last six months. A different change of pace with the first half being blitzed through, with almost TV-level match lengths and layouts. It certainly made this show feel different to the prior days this week, and easily the best one – if only for those two singles matches in the second half.