wrestling / TV Reports

Kevin’s NJPW Summer Struggle Night Eight Review

August 9, 2020 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
New Japan Summer Struggle Night Nine
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Kevin’s NJPW Summer Struggle Night Eight Review  

I’ll admit that I haven’t watched this entire series of shows because I can’t bring myself to do it. However, I have checked out the NEVER Openweight Six Man tournament. With today being the finals, I figured I’d try to review the whole show.

Although they didn’t happen on this shows I also decided to include reviews of the Semifinals.

NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship Tournament Semifinals: BUSHI, SANADA & Shingo Takagi vs. Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano

I’m all for more thigh meat but Okada needs some shorts. The trunks look odd on him. The interactions between SHO and SANADA in this were smooth as hell. Also, we got a preview of Okada/Shingo, and you have to imagine Gedo is salivating at the chance to book that on a big event and have Okada go over. There was a lot of good back and forth action here and enough interesting combinations to remain entertaining throughout. The finish was a welcome surprise, too. Yano’s antics don’t always bring the results in tags. Here it did as he tied BUSHI’s mask to the guardrail for the countout in 13:07. Quality fun. [***¼]

NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship Tournament Semifinals: The Golden Aces & Master Wato vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

A win for the Ishii team makes it an all CHAOS finals. Tenzan was out with Wato. There was less friction between Ibushi and Tanahashi in this one. The match allowed everyone the chance to shine and did so in cool ways. For example, Tanahashi will always deliver with pretty much anyone, while Ibushi got to rekindle his battles with Ishii or have hard hitting fight with Goto. Meanwhile, Wato showed that he could hang with the big boys even if his gimmick is goofy. YOSHI-HASHI was also a focal point but a much less interesting one. Wato ended up eating his first pin as HASHI put him down after 17:11 in a really good match with tons of action. [***¾]

Things got heated after the bell, with Ishii and Tanahashi arguing, as well as HASHI and Ibushi before Ishii and Ibushi went at it.

Onto the 8/9 event!

Gabriel Kidd and Yuya Uemura vs. Gedo and Yujiro Takahashi

It’s difficult to be interested in Yujiro with PIETER. Anyway, this was mostly just your basic match involving Young Lions and midcarders. Gabriel Kidd and Yuya Uemura felt like the two best wrestlers in this match by a wide margin. Of course, it was Yujiro who picked up the win with Pimp Juice in 8:32. Give three stars to the Young Lions, one to the veterans, and split the difference. [**]

Great Bash Heel and Yota Tsuji vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima and Yuji Nagata

Taguchi is like a New Japan Uncle. Most of this was standard tag fare. Some of the Dads put in more effort than the others. Thankfully, Kojima and Nagata are usually safe bets for it. Tsuji brought the energy and had solid exchanges with Taguchi. Kojima won with a lariat on Tsuji in a harmless 9:47. Taguchi kind of annoyed me in this one. [**]

DOUKI and Minoru Suzuki vs. SANADA and Shingo Takagi

Other than DOUKI, I mostly like the guys in this. Suzuki-Gun delivered the pre-match attack because they’ve got nothing else in their arsenal. DOUKI and SANADA were kind of just here as the real focus was on Suzuki and Shingo. Honestly, give me that match any day. They beat the shit out of each other and got me excited at the idea of a bigger battle down the line. SANADA beat DOUKI with the O’Connor roll in 12:09. I like that SANADA has a smooth offense but he should probably beat DOUKI in more definitive fashion if I’m to take him seriously. After the match, Suzuki challenged Shingo for the NEVER Title. Hell yeah. [***]

El Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. The Golden Aces, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato

I liked. Suzuki-Gun has another tactic. Here, they opted to stall outside as Tanahashi was pumped to begin, continuing his theme of wanting to start the matches for his team. This was mostly here to give Wato more time to shine and to further build to the Golden Aces getting a Tag Title rematch against Taichi and Sabre Jr. I don’t have much to say about this because it was basically what we’ve seen from these guys thousands of times, other than Wato who feels fresh. Tanahashi finally picked up a win with High Fly Flow on Kanemaru in 12:45. They continued to tease possible dissension between the Golden Aces. [***]

BUSHI and Tetsuya Naito vs. EVIL and Taiji Ishimori

Seeing EVIL with the two titles is still weird to me. The plan was seemingly for Ishimori/Hiromu over the Jr. Title in a rematch of their GOAT BOSJ Finals. However, Hiromu is on the shelf, so BUSHI is stepping in, most likely to eat pins. Like most of this show, there wasn’t much in the way of notable moments. That was until Hiromu hit the ring and saved Naito from some Dick Togo interference. That resulted in a DQ finish at 10:57. It built towards stuff but wasn’t all that interesting. [**½]

Post-match, Hiromu showed us that his shoulder was fine and cut a promo.

NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship Tournament Finals: Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

CHOAS EXPLODES! Right off the bat, I had to admit that this lacked drama for me. I didn’t know the result coming in but I couldn’t imagine these titles going on Okada. Of course, that didn’t mean this wasn’t really good. YOSHI-HASHI came right at Okada, showing no intimidation of his superior CHAOS leader. It set the stage for how hard he would be working here. As expected, though, the show stealer here was getting to see SHO against Ishii. Seriously, SHO has already moved into the top five of guys I like watching in NJPW most (Hiromu, Ishii, Shingo, SHO, and Tanahashi). Just let me watch SHO/Ishii for 25 minutes. Ishii beat the hell out of him but like against Shingo, SHO just kept coming back for more. He needs to be in the G1 and blow away the recent performances by other juniors like Devitt and Ospreay. The closing stretch was wild, taking this to the next level. It wrapped when SHO fell to an Ishii brainbuster in 24:18, giving YOSHI-HASHI his first ever title. I kind of wish he got the win as it would’ve meant more. Regardless, this exceeded my expectations. It wasn’t a MOTYC but it was entertaining throughout, let SHO shine like the star he is, and ended with a feel good moment. [****]

The final score: review Average
The 411
Overall, I thought this was a solid show. The undercard isn’t bad but you can skip it all and really just check out that banger of a main event.