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Hamilton’s New Japan Summer Struggle 2021 – Night Eight 08.01.2021 Review

August 1, 2021 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
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Hamilton’s New Japan Summer Struggle 2021 – Night Eight 08.01.2021 Review  

Quick Results
Kazuchika Okada submitted Yuya Uemura in 12:20 (***)
Tetsuya Naito submitted Yota Tsuji in 11:24 (**¾)
Chase Owens, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori pinned YOH, SHO & Toru Yano in 10:32 (**½)
Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & SANADA pinned Dick Togo, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL in 14:17 (**¾)
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii pinned Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi in 35:47 to retain the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship (***¼)

— If you’re on Twitter, give me a follow over on @IanWrestling – and check out the GoFundMe that’s still open for Larry’s family.

We’re back at Korakuen Hall once more for this.

Yuya Uemura vs. Kazuchika Okada
This was Uemura’s send-off match, having had 297 prior matches as a Young Lion… and I’m pretty certain I’ve seen every single one that’s made tape. Send help.

Apparently this was the first time Okada had been in a singles match in the opener since he morphed into the Rainmaker. Uemura’s raring to go, looking for Okada’s waist before he was caught in a hammerlock. A Fireman’s carry gets Uemura free, but Okada responds with a trip and a toe hold on Uemura as the pair went back-and-forth on the mat.

Okada backed off, but jumped on Uemura as he got back to his feet, grabbing a side headlock and clinging onto it. Uemura’s attempt to push free just saw him ragdoll himself to the mat, before finally landing a dropkick off the ropes to Okada. Forearm smashes on the mat have Okada laid flat, as did an elbow drop, but it only gets one counts over the former champion.

Uemura took Okada back down, looking for an armbar, but found more luck with a dropkick in the corner before a Boston crab quickly ended in the ropes. Frustrated, Uemura tries to push on, but just gets booted down by Okada ahead of a back body drop. Okada keeps tripping and slamming Uemura to wear him down, as commentary revealed that this was a drill to test Uemura’s resolve.

Eventually Uemura fought back, hitting a release Kanuki before a second one was sandbagged by Okada, who returned with a ripcord clothesline and a Money Clip for the submission. Uemura had his moments, but this quickly turned into Okada battering him on the way out of the country. ***

Post-match, Uemura pulled himself up on Okada, before he took his bow… in the form of a dropkick to the mush. What, you were expecting flowers? Bookmark that one for when Uemura returns. There’s no farewell speech either, as the crowd clapped in time as Uemura staggered to the back.

Yota Tsuji vs. Tetsuya Naito
Tsuji’s had a match less, with 296 prior outings before this send-off… and he gets his wish of a singles match against Naito too.

We start with some lucha roll throughs and a ‘rana from Tsuji, who’d been angling for an excursion to Mexico. Someone ought to tell him the scene there is hardly in a fit state right now… Naito rolls outside, but gets thrown back in as Tsuji threw some elbows and chops, dropping Naito in the ropes before the former double champ returned with a Manhattan drop and a neckbreaker.

On the outside, Naito chucks Tsuji into the guard rails, then slammed him on the floor, before a back body drop back inside landed for a two-count. Elbows continue to weaken Tsuji, as Naito then slammed him ahead of a Boston crab… but Tsuji pushed away and returned with a dropkick instead.

A leaping forearm into the corner and a slam from Tsuji sets up for his big combo – the running senton and the Mount Tsuji splash! That gets him a near-fall, before the pair began to exchange palm strikes. Naito upgrades those to elbows, but ended up in the corner before Tsuji caught him with a spear.

Elbows from Tsuji take Naito back towards the ropes ahead of a suplex, but Naito’s right back in it, taking Tsuji down with a Boston crab as he forces a rope break. Naito shrugs off slaps from Tsuji, before some see-saw sunset flips almost gave Tsuji the mother of all upsets. Naito kicks Tsuji down as it’s back to the Boston crab, this time in the form of a Lion Tamer, which drew the meekest of submissions as Tsuji faded. A decent enough farewell match for Tsuji, whose campaign for a match with Naito ended with the nailed-on defeat. **¾

Post-match, Naito bid “adios” to Tsuji – a more friendly farewell than Uemura had – before the Korakuen crowd bade their own farewells. Where Tsuji and Uemura land next is to be confirmed, but given how “ready” both were for this, the next steps on their journey, be it in Europe or the Americas, will be very intriguing to follow along with.

Toru Yano & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Bullet Club (Chase Owens, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
Yep. At least we’ve the Super Junior Tag League tease here to give us some extra meat on the bone…

SHO and Ishimori start, as a shoulder tackle from SHO took Ishimori down while YOH came in to help… but El Phantasmo trips SHO in the ropes before anything could happen. The Bullet Club take things outside for the usual shenanigans, before we returned to the ring for back rakes. Lots of back rakes as my feed stuttered horribly.

When my feed picked back up, SHO’s going for a German suplex on Phantasmo, who elbowed free before landing a springboard crossbody and Quebrada for a near-fall. The whirlibird neckbreaker looks to follow, but SHO slips free and hit a teardrop suplex to buy him some time.

Tags bring in Yano and Owens, who go for the turnbuckle pads, but Chase clearly has a hard time undoing shoelaces, as evidenced by his untying skills here. He does manage to bait Yano into the exposed corner, then rolled him up for a two-count, before some eye rakes led to Owens running into a Manhattan drop.

An atomic drop’s next from Yano, who tagged out to YOH to clear the way… ELP tries to make the save, as did Ishimori, but they’re knocked away as Owens took a backcracker and a single-leg dropkick… before Owens blocked a 3K and instead hit a uranage/reverse DDT combo. From there, a package piledriver plants YOH, and there’s Chase pretty much having beaten the former junior tag champions single-handedly. **½

Post-match, Chase threatened to stomp on the KOPW trophy unless Yano said “I quit”. Yano doesn’t, so Chase punted him in the balls and reapplied the tied-up STF. I’m not quite sure why Owens, erm, chased that KOPW trophy if he keeps wanting to destroy it, but who am I to question any motives?

Bullet Club (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & Dick Togo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, SANADA & BUSHI)
Yesterday, EVIL broke one of the globe plates off of Shingo’s belt… and they’ve not welded it back on yet.

That cued the jump start, as Shingo booted EVIL right into the corner to get us going, before taking EVIL outside and into the guard rails. Back inside, there’s more boots for EVIL, who’s charged down once more before Shingo called for SANADA to put his foot up so EVIL could be thrown into it.

SANADA tagged in next, landing a couple of dropkicks to take EVIL outside… but the plancha was spotted as EVIL took his chance and charged SANADA into the timekeeper’s table. I hope Ozeki’s getting danger money for this…

They do it again, just as Ozeki was getting back to his feet, before things calmed down with Dick Togo punching SANADA back inside. Togo rolls SANADA down for a fist drop, before a diving kick from Yujiro drew a near-fall. Biting keeps Yujiro ahead, so SANADA joined him in his own game, before BUSHI tagged in and took Yujiro outside for a tope into the railings.

Back inside, Yujiro sweeps BUSHI down for a low dropkick, then tagged in EVIL again… BUSHI evades for long enough for Shingo to return, taking EVIL into the corner for a suplex. That draws a near-fall, before EVIL tried to use the ref for help… it backfires, so he just low bridges Shingo to the floor, where Togo chucked him into the rails, then back inside.

Shingo kicks out at two from that, before SANADA and BUSHI came in to help triple-team EVIL en route to a back cracker and a sliding lariat for a near-fall. A Last of the Dragon is blocked by EVIL, while Dick Togo tripped Shingo using the garrote wire – cueing some triple-teaming from the Bullet Club end. A release Fisherman suplex and a back sentient gets Togo a two-count, before Yujiro distracted the referee with the pimp cane.

That allowed Togo to choke Shingo with the garotte, wire, before Shingo broke free and clotheslined Togo and EVIL. Planchas from SANADA and BUSHI clear thing away, as Shingo blitzed Togo with a Pumping Bomber for the win – ending a keenly-fought trios match that was chock full of your usual Bullet Club shenanigans. **¾

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki) vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (c)
Coming in having held the belt for 357 days and a record-shattering seven defences, the CHAOS lads are achingly close to passing the year-long mark… and so put up these titles in a bid for Goto & YOSHI-HASHI to have a shot at the IWGP heavyweight gold later on.

Ishii and Suzuki started this one going a million miles an hour, charging at each other to batter the other with elbows. Suzuki looked to pull ahead early, but tags quickly get us to Goto and Taichi, who (along with YOSHI-HASHI) choked each other like it was a Simpsons episode. Who’s Bart and who’s Homer in that?

Goto puts the boots to Taichi in the corner, before YOSHI-HASHI came in to puck up some two-counts. A chinlock from Goto keeps Taichi down, but the Suzuki-gun lads help turn it around so Taichi can go back to choking Goto to the outside. Yep, we’ve guard rail bumps, and we’ve got Suzuki wearing out ishii with elbows, just for the hell of it. The challengers planned to have Sabre and Suzuki batter Goto into losing the titles via count-out, but Goto broke free to get back in, only to get bodied into the ropes by Suzuki.

Taichi’s back to land a gamengiri in the corner on Goto, before Suzuki returned with a Rings of Saturn that Ishii wandered in to break up. An elbow just knocks Ishii back into the corner, while YOSHI-HASHI gets booted off the apron as Sabre came in to restrain Goto with a cravat. Goto pushes free and elbowed Sabre down, before Ishii tagged in to charge Zack down again.

YOSHI-HASHI runs in to knock down Taichi, while Suzuki gets taken off the apron for good measure. Chops pin Sabre into the corner, only for Zack to try and come back with a Cobra Twist… which Ishii hiptossed away before he’s pulled back to have his elbow stomped on. Zack stays on the arm, this time stomping on the elbow… which Ishii kept throwing, much to his detriment.

Kicks to the elbow fire up Ishii, but he’s eventually rolled into a cross armbar, but YOSHI-HASHI quickly breaks it up as the ring fills and empties once more. Sabre goes for a kick, but Ishii lariats it away before landing a German suplex, Tags get us back to YOSHI-HASHI and Taichi, with YOSHI-HASHI landing a running Head Hunter before chops and kicks lead to a neckbreaker for a near-fall.

Taichi fought back with a leaping enziguri as we crossed the 20-minute mark, but YOSHI-HASHI retaliated by pulling Taichi into a Butterfly lock. Sabre breaks that up with a rear naked choke on YOSHI-HASHI, before Taichi hit back with a Holy Emperor Cross Mausoleum… which almost forces YOSHI-HASHI to give up as Ishii and Goto were otherwise being tied up.

In the end, YOSHI-HASHI fell into the ropes to force the break, before a chokeslam from Taichi almost won it. From there, Sabre and Taichi look for a Zack Driver, but Goto makes the save, with YOSHI-HASHI’s superkick getting rid of Sabre… while Taichi had to kick away a GYW attempt to spark a big Parade of Moves. That all culminated with a Western Lariat from YOSHI-HASHI, then a kumagoroshi for a near-fall on Taichi as the champions looked to dig deep…

Taichi tries a Black Mephisto, but finds more luck with a Dangerous backdrop that almost won the match. Suzuki tags in to try and put away YOSHI-HASHI, landing a front kick and a PK, but YOSHI-HASHI kicks out… prompting more strikes from Suzuki until YOSHI-HASHI hit another lariat. Goto’s back to take Suzuki into the corner with a spinning heel kick, then a bulldog out of it for a two-count as we passed the 30 minute mark.

Suzuki leathers Goto with palm strikes, then spun his way in for a rear naked choke. YOSHI-HASHI superkicks away a piledriver attempt as we have a rather brief Parade of Stuff, which led us back to Goto and Suzuki trading elbows back-and-forth. We get the clonker from Suzuki, who eventually takes down Goto ahead of a rear naked choke… that’s spun in for a Gotch piledriver, which Goto kicks away from before he caught Suzuki with a GYR.

The ring fills yet again as Sabre chokes out Ishii, only to get suplexed in return. A headbutt from Suzuki drops Goto again, and now we go back to the Gotch piledriver, but Goto countered out for an ushigoroshi… landing it despite Suzuki’s guillotine attempt. YET AGAIN the ring fills and clears as YOSHI-HASHI’s running knees drop Suzuki ahead of a GYW that finally ends this one. This started off hot with the Suzuki/Ishii stuff and picked up well at the end, but there was a lot of stuff in the middle that lost me as yet again that unspoken requirement of long main events forced some padding. ***¼

After the match, BUSHI comes out with Tetsuya Naito and SANADA to issue a challenge for the NEVER trios titles… which gets accepted, but unless they rush this one for next weekend, I think the CHAOS lads are going to make it to the one-year mark as champions.

New Japan take the week off and return next Saturday, yep, back at Korakuen Hall, for the start of 2021’s Super Junior Tag League.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A solid, but not spectacular show on paper, but one that’ll be noted for the departures of Tsuji and Uemura after their four-year run as Young Lions. Those opening matches will be different, given that New Japan have no Young Lions around (save for Gabriel Kidd and Yuto Nakashima, the latter of whom is yet to return to in-ring action after his injury in his debut match).