New Japan Pro Wrestling
Summer Struggle 2020: Night 4
July 31, 2020
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan


CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Satoshi Kojima, Ryusuke Taguchi, Yota Tsuji, & Gabriel Kidd

In a previous New Japan review, I noted that CHAOS vs. Home Army/Sekigun/Hontai is by far the least interesting of the possible combinations for multi-person tags. Even though they didn’t have a very high bar to clear, this opening contest was certainly one of the better matches in recent memory involving this combination. The action throughout was very solid, and everyone involved had moments to shine throughout. That being said, I thought the young lions were the ones who stood out the most. Gabriel Kidd had a fun sequence at the start with Ishii, and he even managed to successfully take on both Ishii and Goto at once. Later on, Yota Tsuji got to show off some of his offense (which included his spear as well as a new sequence that sees him connect with a running flip senton, followed by a splash). Unfortunately for Tsuji, he got punched in the balls by Yano and rolled up for the pin. Not much else to say about this one. Good match. ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Shingo Takagi) def. GBH (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma)

It was nice to see a two-on-two tag on this card that didn’t involve BULLET CLUB. While the result of this one was never really in doubt, these two teams managed to have a solid bout that had some good, hard-hitting action, with a few double-team moves thrown in for good measure. I’m happy to see that Honma has seemingly gotten to the point where he’s able to do a fine job in the ring when he’s in there with the right people. He’s still not what he was prior to his injury, but he isn’t sad to watch in the ring anymore either. The highlights of this one were the exchanges with Shingo and Makabe. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing those two have a singles match for the NEVER Title at some point down the line. Especially in this current period, you could slap a Shingo/Makabe title match on one of these Korakuen shows, and I don’t think anybody would complain. Anyway, it came down to SANADA vs. Honma, and after the two botched part of their sequence, SANADA forced Honma to tap to the Skull End. It’ll be interesting to see if this leads to a potential shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles for SANADA and Shingo in the future. They did beat an established (and decorated) heavyweight tag team, and it would be fun to see SANADA and Shingo go up against Dangerous Tekkers. ***1/4

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Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & DOUKI) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Master Wato, & Yuya Uemura

As a whole, this ten-man tag went pretty much how you would’ve expected it to go. We get the typical Suzuki-gun jump start, and it built to a flurry of exchanges in the closing minutes with all the various wrestlers involved. Suzuki-gun has a format for their multi-person tags, but it works pretty well. El Desperado got the pin on Yuya Uemura after hitting him with his punch to the jaw, followed by the Pinche Loco. However, the big story here is the apparent dissension/tension with the Golden Aces. At one point, Tanahashi had been isolated for a few minutes by Taichi and the rest of Suzuki-gun. He was able to fight them off for a moment, and had the chance to tag in Ibushi. Instead, he charged back at Suzuki-gun, but got swarmed again. Tanahashi was in such a dire situation that Uemura had to intervene, and dragged Tanahashi’s body closer to their team’s corner to make the tag. This dissension continued in the post-match, as Dangerous Tekkers seemingly made overtures to Ibushi, who then left the ringside area without helping Tanahashi, who was still down following the match. It’s pretty that they’re building to something here, as Ibushi seems to be growing increasingly frustrated with Tanahashi. They are paired together with Master Wato against the Suzuki-gun trio of Taichi, Sabre, and Kanemaru in the NEVER Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament coming up, so it should be fascinating to see whether this dissension between Golden Aces continues. ***

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & SHO) def. BULLET CLUB (Gedo & Yujiro Takahashi with Jado)

The ten minutes and thirty-eight seconds that this match lasted is time that I could’ve spent on a variety of other things that are far more enjoyable. Alas, I watched this tag team bout so you don’t have to! This was by far the worst match on the entire show, but at least it was more forgettable than offensively bad. The fact that the cheating from BULLET CLUB was kept to a minimum probably played a role in that. I think Gedo tried to use a wrench or brass knuckles, but for the life of me, I can’t remember for sure. SHO got the submission victory over Gedo here, which is good for SHO, I suppose. The idea that Roppongi 3K gets to hold the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles for another five-six months (maybe five since it’s been a month or so since YOH got hurt) is completely absurd. We all know that YOH’s going to be out for much longer than five months. Can we just forgo the formalities and vacate these titles to give these upcoming shows some more juice? I know that these titles obviously aren’t the most prestigious titles in New Japan. However, having them just be in this….weird state of flux where they’re not technically vacated, but the champions can’t defend them makes the titles as close to worthless as you can get. **1/4

BULLET CLUB (EVIL & Taiji Ishimori with Dick Togo) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)

The injury that Hiromu Takahashi suffered at the hands of Taiji Ishimori led to this being a straight two-on-two affair, with Dick Togo in BULLET CLUB corner. I have to say, if New Japan had a yearly best-dressed award, then there’s no doubt in my mind that Dick Togo would run away with it this year. He just looks like such a bad-ass in that white suit. Anyway, this was certainly a step or two above the BULLET CLUB tag team match that came before it, but it was still on the lower end of bouts on this show. Naito did go right after EVIL on the outside in the opening moments, which was nice to see. LIJ actually managed to isolate EVIL for a bit before BULLET CLUB were able to turn the tables. The closing stretch was pretty solid, but in the end, interference from Dick Togo proved to be the deciding factor. After Togo pulled Naito to the outside, EVIL connected with a big lariat on BUSHI before submitting him with the Scorpion Deathlock. It’s cool that EVIL won a match with something that wasn’t Everything Is EVIL. You now have the Scorpion Deathlock as an established finish for him. **3/4

There was a brief interaction between EVIL and Naito afterward that saw EVIL get the upper hand.

Minoru Suzuki def. Yuji Nagata

With all of the wackiness that’s been going on in pro-wrestling as of late (including in New Japan), it’s awesome to get a main event like this. Just two dudes beating the absolute crap out of each other for twenty minutes. THIS is the New Japan Pro Wrestling that we all know and love so much. Was this as incredible as their previous encounter in the New Japan Cup? Not quite, but even so, it was still a great match from start to finish. There was a period during the first half of the bout where they worked over each other’s legs, which I guess was the only thing that didn’t really connect much with me (and it didn’t play that much of a factor once they got away from it). Other than that, this was an absolute war. Forearm strikes, slaps, kicks, and so on. You know what you’re going to get in a match involving these two, but it never ceases to be this amazing, violent spectacle. Suzuki ultimately got the win with the Gotch Piledriver, which seemed to come a bit out of nowhere (it felt like one of those teases where he lifts the guy up, and it gets countered, but here, he just lifted Nagata up, held him there, and hit it). That didn’t hurt the match in any way, though it was an interesting finish in that regard. Suzuki winning wasn’t a big surprise, and I’m intrigued to find out what’s next for him. I know there has been speculation of Suzuki going after the NEVER Title, and I would be all onboard with a Shingo/Suzuki feud over that title. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

First of all, it’s great to finally see one of these Korakuen Hall events that actually had something of substance on it. Nagata vs. Suzuki was a great main event that capped off what was otherwise your typical New Japan Korakuen Hall show in the COVID era. The stuff involving the BULLET CLUB was the worst stuff on the show, but those matches weren’t super terrible either. All of the other multi-person tags were completely solid for what they were. The best thing I can say about this show is that it clocks in at right around two hours, so it’s a very easy watch.