– It’s the first night of the Summer Struggle tour as we head to the big event in Jingu Stadium on August 29th.
– Live (or was at one time) from Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
1. Gabriel Kidd, Toru Yano, and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima, and Togi Makabe
– I’m digging how excited the crowd gets as the bell rings. Kidd and Makabe begin as Kidd gets one obligatory, Young Lion offensive move before Makabe throws him to the corner. Kojima boots him a bit then Taguchi comes in and calls for Yano. Ishii comes instead. Ishii forearms The Funky Weapon and that takes no effect. Taguch ass bumps Ishii in the face and I’m appalled. Taguchi’s team takes turns charging elbows to Ishii in the corner. Makabe seems bored and abuses Kidd on the outside. Inside, Taguchi hits a sloppy ass bump to the face of Ishii. Hot tags to Yano and Makabe. Yano does his usual hair takedown and Kidd is back in. Kidd charges into a powerslam and Kojima tags in. KOJIMA CHOPS and he’s getting fired up! Kojima heads up top and Kidd slams him down. Young Lion Boston Crab on Kojima. Makabe just walks over and forearms Kidd until Kidd dropkicks him out the ring. Kidd is a house ‘o fire and charges into Kojima and is met with a LARIATOOOOOOO! Kojima pins Kidd @ 9:14. (Usual New Japan opener. Usually we get more from Yano but they held him back. D.)
2. YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA and Shingo Takagi
– Goto and Shingo begin. I’m already figuring Goto is the next challenger for the NEVER title. I hope that isn’t the case. It’s like the Miz being in the Intercontinental Title picture. YOSHI comes in to trade chops with Shingo. YOSHI is a guy I’ve seen just wading in the shallow end of the pool for like 6 years. Maybe longer. SANADA in and works an armbar submission. Crowd seems disinterested in LIJ taking turns abusing YOSHI until Shingo fires them up. YOSHI show signs of having a pulse and tags in Goto. SANADA in and now we’re uping the pace. Angled back suplex from Goto gets 2. SANADA tries for the Paradise Lock and Goto kicks free. Shingo back in. Ushigoroshi on Shingo gets 2. YOSHI back in and Shingo nails the Pumping Bomber for 2. Made in Japan on YOSHI seals the deal @ 9:01. (Slow pace and YOSHI is just draining to watch at times. Shingo and Goto turned it up at the last second. D+.)
3. DOUKI and Minoru Suzuki vs. Yuya Uemura and Yuji Nagata
– Nagata and Minoru brawl before the bell. God damn, I can watch that all day. They tag out but continue the fun on the floor. Inside, DOUKI is taking soft forearms from Uemura. DOUKI has enough and throws him outside to the guardrail. Minoru is now not even concerned with the match and is choking Nagata on the floor with the microphone chord. Uemura jumps outside to attack Minoru and almost gets counted out. Nagata and Minoru tagged in and trade forearms. Minoru with a sleeper and goes for the piledriver but Nagata counters with a head and arm suplex. Minoru with a front facelock but gets driven back to the corner. Uemura tags in tries to get cute with Minoru. He’s having none of it and DOUKI comes in to cut him off. Uemura ducks a clothesline and dropkicks Minoru down for 2. He tries a german suplex but Minoru counters with an armbar. Uemura rolls through on a small package that gets 2.5. Minoru had enough and decks him to the mat. Gotch Style Piledriver ends that dream @ 11:16. (This match had something. They continue to build Suzuki vs Nagata and showcased Uemura for a bit. C-.)
4. Master Wato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kota Ibushi, and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. El Desperdao, Yoshinibu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr, and Taichi
– The Ace waits patiently as Suzuki Gun takes turns entering and exiting the ring. Seems like a fine time to do some air guitar and pec bounces. Taichi decides to come in and now everyone is in. Taichi and ZSJ are stacked and Tanahashi hits a somersault senton. Wato tags in but Suzuki Gun spends several minutes abusing him in the corner. Wato fights free and tags in Ibushi. Desperado cuts him off with a spear. ZSJ in with some hard forearms. Ibushi ducks a clothesline and snaps off a huricarana. He attempts the standing moonsault and ZSJ grabs a Key Lock. He frees Ibushi and Tenzan comes in. Chops from deepest, darkest Mongolia on ZSJ. Back suplex gets 2 on ZSJ. All the good guys take turns hitting their signatures on ZSJ. Back to Tenzan, and we all know where this is headed. ZSJ chokes him until Taichi runs in. Tanahashi cuts him off and is dropkicked low by Desperado. 4 on 1 on Tenzan who makes the briskest of walks off an irish whp to the corner. Kanemaru has a bottle of the hard stuff and nails Tenzan in the throat. ZSJ taps him out @ 13:35 for the win. (Just a scattered 8 man tag with all the usual New Japan spots. Did nothing more than to set up, what looks to be, a return match between the Golden Aces and Suzuki Gun. D.)
5. Gedo and Yujiro Takahashi vs. SHO and Kazuchika Okada
– A guilty pleasure of mine is the announcing of Yujiro and hearing “The Tok-yo Pimps”. A Too Sweet and we are off with Okada and Yujiro. Yujiro has the right idea for about 20 seconds before Okada drops him. SHO in now as they counter each other. SHO decks Gedo off the apron. Okada and Yujiro brawl on the floor. Back inside, Gedo is tagged in and drives SHO into the exposed corner. Red Shoes sees it, places the pad back, turns around, and Yujiro moves the pad again. Thanks Red Shoes. Okada wakes up from his nap on the floor just in time for a hot tag. Okada fires up Korakuen but runs into a Stun Gun on the top rope. Okada and Yujiro trade counters until Gedo comes back in. Looks like we’re going home. Yujiro distracts Red Shoes as Gedo grabs the brass knucks. SHO cuts him off so Okada can nail his dropkick. Cobra Clutch gets Gedo to tap out @ 10:28. (Decent semi final. Okada nd Yujiro look to have more business to settle. C-.)
6. BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Dick Togo, Taiji Ishimori, and EVIL
– Shingo is on commentary. Too Sweets all around and Togo looks in great shape. Naito actually starting the match?? Well that didn’t last long as a pier sixer erupts. Hiromu and Ishimori single out. Hiromu takes the heat from Ishimori and Togo until hot tags for Naito and EVIL. Naito gets the best of EVIL and struggles to lock on a double arm bar. Togo tries to come in and gets dumped out by Naito for his troubles. EVIL cuts off Naito to a dead crowd. Scorpion Deathlock on Naito. Hiromu comes in and gets locks in a crossface by Ishimori. BUSHI finally frees himself to break up the submissions. Naito and Ishimori exchange moves and Naito dropkicks him low. BUSHI in and he’s a house of fire. Tope onto Togo. BUSHI hits a swigning neckbreaker for 2. BUSHI up top and EVIL dumps him into the ring. Bloody Cross ends it for BUSHI @ 12:58. (This match was much better than the rest of the card. Fast paced and everyone got time to shine. C+.)
– Post match, Ishimori grabs the mic and looks to challenge Hiromu for the Junior Title.
– Good show for the first night of the tour. You can see the matches they are setting up for the stadium show. It looks as if Nagata vs Suzuki will headline the friday show. Time willing, I should be back tomorrow with night two s I try and catch up to the live show on Thursday.