For the first time in 21 years, New Japan returned to Jingu Stadium to conclude their Summer Struggle Tour. Fans saw five title matches and, even with the temperature peaking at 34°, the show managed to deliver.
With so many different matches, they were all of a high calibre. However, some stood out more than the others. As such, here are all the matches from Summer Struggle in Jingu reviewed and ranked.
6. Master Wato vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
The first show on the card was never going to steal the show. However, Master Wato vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru was the perfect way to start Summer Struggle in Jingu. It was your classic babyface vs. heel. One wrestler was out to prove himself and the other wanted to crush that dream.
Both Wato and Kanemaru are firmly within the Jr Heavyweight division. This meant that the evening started with some spectacular high-flying moves. This kind of singles match can showcase how good a wrestler is. In Wato’s case, just how much he has improved since his excursion to Mexico with his Japanese/Mexican hybrid style. However, with the Heel Master, it was never going to be pure throughout.
Kanemaru embraced his Suzuki Gun style trying to find any way to get a quick win whether it was distracting the referee or using his Satori Surprise. That didn’t mean it was all dirty tactics. This match showed why the Heel Master is such a veteran in Jr Heavyweight wrestling.
In the end, the match ended with Kanemaru rolling Wato up for the pin which was probably the best way to end it. This way, it didn’t damage either man because Kanemaru showed why he has been in the game for so long and Wato didn’t lose clean giving him room to grow.
5. King of Pro Wrestling Final – Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA vs. Toru Yano vs. El Desperado
For a few fans online, many saw the King of Pro Wrestling final match as a blip in an almost perfect New Japan show. However, I believe that it was a match that did what it said on the label.
Going into the match, these four competitors are as different as any wrestlers can be. There were four men representing different divisions, different factions and different ideologies. Because of this, we got some uncommon interactions throughout between the wrestlers. We even got to see a battle between Okada and Yano where CHAOS loyalties were tested and thrown out of the window.
After only 7 minutes, when it seemed like Okada was going to submit El Desperado, the Master Spoiler came in. With the referee’s attention diverted, Yano hit Okada with a low blow and rolled him up for the pin. New Japan’s most unpredictable title was won by one of the company’s most unpredictable wrestlers in Toru Yano.
It shouldn’t have been any other way. Overall, the match was fun and short which gave us a snippet of what the title’s future would be and not overwhelming fans.
4. Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & TAICHI) vs. Golden Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi) – IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles
Even though many New Japan fans have seen this match up a lot recently, it didn’t stop it from being a great bout between two very different teams. The teams of Dangerous Tekkers and Golden Ace have this special in-ring chemistry despite their hatred for each other.
Straight away, Dangerous Tekkers knew that the best way to win this match was to target Tanahashi who is seen as the weak link of Golden Ace. They targeted the damaged knee and tried to isolate Tanahashi in their corner avoiding the Golden Star by any means possible.
Despite this, for most of the match, Tanahashi and Ibushi seemed to be on the offence managing to counter whatever trouble ZSJ and Taichi were causing. The Golden duo worked perfectly in sync with each other with their Jr Heavyweight style and even took a few submission tricks from ZSJ’s book.
However, the heroes cannot always win. After a beautiful Zack Mephisto to Tanahashi, ZSJ got the win for Dangerous Tekkers in a surprisingly clean match. With the G1 coming up, this was the right call with Golden Ace taking time to focus on singles action and the Suzuki Gun duo ready to cause chaos in the tag division.