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Pantoja’s NJPW Summer Struggle Night Eight Review

August 1, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW Summer Struggle
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Pantoja’s NJPW Summer Struggle Night Eight Review  

NJPW Summer Struggle Night Eight

August 1st, 2021 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 690

Given there’s a title match in the main event and that some of the undercard stuff is important, this is a perfect Summer Struggle night to review.

Kazuchika Okada vs. Yuya Uemura

It’s Uemura’s farewell match before going on excursion. Remember when Okada lost his smile and started carrying balloons to the ring in 2018? They should’ve had him job to a Young Lion to really cement his struggles instead of having him go like 7-2 in the G1. It’s odd to see Okada in a singles opener. As expected, this match was built around Okada being a top dog and Uemura bringing the fire needed to give him something of a challenge before leaving. Unfortunately, maybe Okada is too high up on the card as this was a bit one-sided and really didn’t click the way singles matches with the likes of Tanahashi did earlier this year for the Young Lions. Uemura had a few moments but nothing more as Okada bested him with the Money Clip in 12:19. It was quality stuff as Uemura continues to showcase talent and Okada was Okada. [***]

Post-match, Okada helped Uemura up only to hit a dropkick. What a jerk!

Tetsuya Naito vs. Yota Tsuji

We got WHITE SUIT Naito like this is a big match! It is Tsuji’s farewell as well. Naito, despite his attitude of not caring, seemed into this. You almost got the sense that Tsuji might’ve been auditioning for a possible LIJ role. He brought it to Naito but again, this wans’t on the level of some of the Lions’ stuff with other guys this year. Tsuji fired off offense and got a got a near fall on a running headbutt at one point. Like Okada, Naito opted for a submission finish rather than his traditional one, beating Tsuji with a modified Lion Tamer in 11:24. That was an interesting ending to another good outing. [***]

Naito’s goodbye to Tsuji was much nicer than what Uemura got.

Chase Owens, El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori vs. Roppongi 3K and Toru Yano

Here’s our preview of the Super Jr. Tag League, with the added bonuses of Yano and Owens over the KOPW trophy. As expected, the stuff between the junior teams was the highlight, with plenty of entertaining back and forth and fast-paced action. The Yano/Owens interactions were less fun, which is a shame. They played off of the idea of shenanigans against each other and that was mostly it. The CHAOS boys did their thing until the 3K was cut off by Owens. That led him to hit the Package Piledriver on YOH, pinning one half of the former tag champions after 10:32. It was short and did its job but not much else. After the bell, Yano got beat up as Owens oddly threatened to destroy his own trophy. [**½]

BUSHI, SANADA and Shingo Takagi vs. Dick Togo, EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi

Here’s our preview of Shingo/EVIL, which only sounds appealing if it’s 15-17 minutes long. That’s EVIL’s wheelhouse. Naturally, I assume New Japan will have it run 42 minutes. Anyway, they went at it immediately, kick starting a brawl around the ring. Even when things calmed down and got to the ring, it wasn’t long before the action was back outside. A lot of this saw SANADA playing the face in peril as the Bullet Club guys took turns working him over and using underhanded tactics. Eventually, we got more BUSHI and especially more Shingo, who is the top guy in the stable right now, so he got in a lot of their offense. With SANADA and BUSHI handling guys outside, Shingo put down Togo with the Pumping Bomber in 15:18. Another solid, yet unspectacular undercard tag. [**½]

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI [c] vs. The Dangerous Tekkers & Minoru Suzuki

This CHAOS trio has held the belts for about a year, which is basically a decade in terms of this title that changes hands often. Interestingly, the Suzuki-Gun trio was out to Taichi’s theme and not Minoru’s. This opened with Ishii and Suzuki going at it, which I’ll never complain about. That kind of set the tone for the match, as it featured plenty of hard hitting stuff from everyone. There was even a segment where YOSHI-HASHI and Taichi traded big blows, which you might not expect. However, and you know where this is going, this suffered from the same problem that most New Japan main events do. It was way too long. With their fast start, it meant things slowed a bit in the middle as they prepared for the usual hot finish. There’s just no justifiable reason for this to go 35:47. It’s like Gedo is just punking us as this point. These match lengths are flat out laughable. It seemed like the finish came several times but this continued to go on and on before Goto beat Suzuki. A good match but as is often the case, one that would’ve been far better at around 20 minutes instead of 35. [***¼]

The final score: review Average
The 411
I’m sure it sounds like a broken record at this point but until New Japan fixes the problem, it’ll keep being said. This was a solid show that was marred by an overly long main event. While that was still the best match on the card, it being shorter would’ve made everything better. A fine show with two notable Young Lion farewells.