New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest card of the Summer is upon us!
On Saturday, August 29, NJPW will return to Jingu Stadium for the first time in 21 years to present Summer Struggle in Jingu. The card features four major championship matches and the finals of Kazuchika Okada’s new stipulation-heavy KOPW Championship.
Below are my statistics, research, and notes for each of the five high-stakes matches, headlined by EVIL defending his IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships in a rematch against challenger Tetsuya Naito.
For more on Summer Struggle in Jingu, check out the Voices of Wrestling Preview and Predictions!
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT & INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
EVIL (C) v. Tetsuya Naito
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT AND IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
- This will be Tetsuya Naito’s 11th IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, he is 4-6 in previous matches with the title on the line.
- This will be Tetsuya Naito’s record 18th Intercontinental Championship Match, he is 12-5 in previous matches with the white-strapped title on the line.
- This will be EVIL’s 4th IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, 2-1 in previous matches with the title on the line.
- This will be EVIL’s 4th Intercontinental Championship Match, he is 2-1 in previous matches with the white-strapped title on the line.
HEAD TO HEAD
- EVIL and Naito have faced each other twice in singles matches. Naito defeated EVIL in the 2016 G1 Climax and, of course, EVIL defeated Naito at Dominion to win both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships.
- EVIL outlasted Naito at Dominion. It took EVIL 38:01 to defeat Naito at Dominion. That match was the longest singles match of both competitor’s careers.
2020 – SINGLES
- EVIL is 7-2 in singles matches over that past 365 days. All 7 of those wins have come since NJPW has returned from Hiatus.
- During EVIL’s 7 match winning streak, his average winning match length has skyrocketed up to 23:31, just over five minutes longer than his 2019 average of 18:30.
- Tetsuya Naito’s four singles matches in 2020 have been hard-fought. His average match length of 35:50 is almost 9 minutes longer than the next longest 2020 average (Jay White at 26:55).
2020 – OVERALL
- In 2020, EVIL boasts 15 winning falls, third-most in NJPW behind only SANADA and Hiromu Takahashi. Since returning from hiatus, EVIL has been the winning fall participant in an incredible 13 of his 15 overall (tag and singles) victories.
IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
TAICHI, ZACK SABRE JR (C) V. HIROSHI TANAHASHI, KOTA IBUSHI
- Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi are 1-1 when tagging together in straight tag team matches this year. They were victorious over The Guerrillas Of Destiny to win the Tag Team Championships which they then lost to Taichi and ZSJ at Dominion.
- Ibushi and Tanahashi are 16-11 overall when they have tagged together, including trios and eight-man tags in 2020.
- Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr are 1-1 when tagging together ins straight tag team matches this year. They lost to Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay at New Beginning in Osaka and they were victorious over The Golden Aces to win the Tag Team Championships at Dominion.
- Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr are 11-16 overall when they have tagged together, including trios and eight-man tags in 2020.
- After a recent rough patch, Hiroshi Tanahashi has proven that the High Fly Flow is still a very effective finisher. Tanahashi’s 15 winning falls in 2020 are third only behind SANADA and Hiromu Takahashi who lead NJPW with 16. Tanahashi’s +12 Fall Differential is also third in NJPW behind EVIL and Hiromu Takahashi.
IWGP JR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
HIROMU TAKAHASHI (C) V. TAIJI ISHIMORI
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
- This will be Hiromu Takahashi’s 14th IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match. He is 10-3 in his previous 13.
- This will be Taiji Ishimori’s 6th IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match. He is 3-2 in his previous 5.
HEAD TO HEAD
- Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori have only faced off once in singles action. Hiromu defeated Ishimori in 34:01 in the Best Of The Super Juniors XXV Final in 2018.
2020 – SINGLES
- Hiromu Takahashi enters this match on a two-match losing streak in singles competition. It’s hard to correlate his recent struggles with his match against Ishimori, as Hiromu’s recent losses were to top tier heavyweight Kazuchika Okada and IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Champion, EVIL.
- Hiromu hasn’t faced a junior in a singles match since February 9th, when he defended his championship against Ryu Lee at New Beginning In Osaka.
- Taiji Ishimori may have an impressive 5-1 record in 2020, but four of his singles victories have been in opening matches against Young Lions (Yuya Uemura three times, Gabriel Kidd once). Ishomori’s most notable victory came on June 24th in the second round of the New Japan Cup when he defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru.
- Both competitors were eliminated from the New Japan Cup by Kazuchika Okada.
2020 – OVERALL
- Hiromu Takahashi’s +13 Fall Differential (winning falls – losing falls) is second-best in 2020 in NJPW. Only EVIL (+14) has performed better than Hiromu in this metric.
- Taiji Ishimori’s overall winning percentage of .724 is third-best amongst NJPW wrestlers with over 20 matches this year. Only Shingo Takagi (.791) and EVIL (.732) have performed better than Ishimori in this metric.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
SHINGO TAKAGI (C) V. MINORU SUZUKI
NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
- This will be Minoru Suzuki’s 7th career NEVER Openweight Championship Match he is 5-1 in his previous six.
- Shingo Takagi has quickly become one of the most successful wrestlers to hold the NEVER Openweight Championship. Shingo has defended the NEVER Openweight Championship three times since winning it at New Beginning in Sapporo. Only Masato Tanaka, Tomohiro Ishii, and his Summer Struggle in Jingu opponent Minoru Suzuki have defended the championship four times in a single reign.
2020 – SINGLES
2020 – OVERALL
- Shingo Takagi’s 34 overall victories lead NJPW in 2020. His 70 victories over the past 365 days also lead NJPW.
- Minoru Suzuki and Shingo Takagi are both incredibly hard to pin or submit. Both boast a 2020 Losing Fall Percentage of .111. Only Tetsuya Naito’s .067 is lower.
KOPW FINALS 4-WAY MATCH
EL DESPERADO V. KAZUCHIKA OKADA V. SANADA V. TORU YANO
HISTORY IN MULTI PERSON (3+) MATCHES (Excluding Rumbles and Battle Royals)
- SANADA has the most experience in multi-person matches in his career, he is 9-7 in 16 such matches dating back to his time as TNA X-Division Champion in 2014.
- Kazuchika Okada has participated in two multi-person singles matches in his career. In 2005, he lost in a 7-way match at a freelance show in Mexico and in 2014 he lost a three-way match against AJ Styles and Michael Elgin for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
- El Desperado and Toru Yano have never competed in a multi-person match that was not a battle royal or rumble.