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New Japan Summer Struggle in Jingu
From Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. There is a large, socially distanced crowd spread out around a large outdoor baseball stadium. Our English hosts are Kevin Kelly and Chris Carleton via satellite.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Master Wato
Hot start for Wato, but Kanemaru counters with a mid-air dropkick. Kanemaru has no respect for the upstart as he tries to win via countout and follows with a low dropkick in a tree of woe. Wato doesn't appreciate an eye rake and mounts a little comeback, complete with a plancha. Springboard uppercut by Wato and monkey flip gets 2. Kanemaru misses a moonsault but shields himself from Wato's strikes by grabbing the referee. Kanemaru swings a bottle of whisky, but Wato blocks with a spin kick. Wato's modified crucifix slam gets 2. Wato hits a bizarre and ineffective looking facebuster, and Kanemaru reverses the cover for a quick win at 7:30. Not much to this one, **.
Winner: Yoshinobu Kanemaru
King of Pro Wrestling Finals:
El Desperado vs. SANADA vs. Toru Yano vs. Kazuchika Okada
Desperado and SANADA work together early on, but Yano joins in on splashing Okada in the buckles. Yano turns on SANADA as quickly as possible and clears the ring for a blocked dive. Okada puts SANADA in a chinlock and now Yano wants to work with him, and helps set up a neckbreaker. Yano continues to have a field day with opportunistic offense until SANADA puts him in the Paradise lock, but leaves him there to fight Okada. SANADA hits Okada with a spinning neckbreaker for 2. Okada dodges a moonsault and dropkicks SANADA into Yano to break the Paradise Lock. SANADA puts Okada in a rear naked choke but Desperado breaks it via frog splash. Desperado can't put Okada away and grabs the referee to break out of chicken wing, but Yano sneaks in to low blow Okada and pin him at 7:03! This was dumb fun, **½.
Winner and King of Pro Wrestling 2020: Toru Yano
Despite having won, Yano seems to realize he's messed up and tries to make nice with Okada, who wants nothing to do with him. Yano makes the best of the situation and sprays down his new trophy, but now the burden is on him to defend it for the remainder of 2020.
NEVER Openweight Championship:
Shingo Takagi © vs. Minoru Suzuki
They cannot wait to start slapping the sh!t out of each other. Shingo sends Suzuki into the rails and pounds him into the ring post. Suzuki counters with a draping armbreaker and boots Shingo off the apron into the rails. Shingo absorbs a load of stiff blows before firing back with a standing lariat. Backdrop driver by Shingo gets 2! Suzuki laughs off his pain and snapmares Shingo into a boot to the chest. They slug it out and trade running attacks until Suzuki locks on a sleeper. Shingo breaks out with a DVD. Shingo fires off Made in Japan for only 2. Suzuki delivers a series of headbutts and open hand slaps. Shingo throws some well-timed bombs, blocks the sleeper, but runs into a dropkick. They brawl back to their feet in the stiffest fashion possible. Suzuki looks to the heavens as he delivers a Gotch piledriver to win the title at 14:57! This was total brutality from start to finish, so your mileage may vary, ***½.
Winner and new NEVER Openweight Champion: Minoru Suzuki
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship:
Hiromu Takahashi © vs. Taiji Ishimori
Bell rings and both guys explode out of the gate with a rapid exchange that leads to Ishimori hitting moonsault to ringside. Ishimori targets the arm with a 450 splash and Hiromu desperately rolls out to avoid an armbar. Hiromu attempts a sunset bomb off the ring frame, but Ishimori moonsaults over him to maintain an advantage. Hiromu comes right back with rapid offense and a missile dropkick into the rails. Hiromu's Falcon Arrow gets 2. Ishimori avoids a buckle bomb and nails a rana, but Hiromu tries the suplex into the buckles again and scores! Hiromu is moving gingerly as he hits a power slam for 2. They exchange ill-advised German suplexes right onto their heads. Hiromu slowly hits a facebuster for 2. Ishimori eats a DDT but maneuvers into a reverse Codebreaker. Ishimori counters into the Lebell Lock. Hiromu masterfully sells the damage as he gets a rope break. Ishimori counters a rana with a buckle bomb! Hiromu pops up but runs into a decapitation lariat! Hiromu hits a DVD into the buckles and Time Bomb, but ISHIMORI KICKS OUT! Ishimori blocks a second Time Bomb and lands a vicious Piledriver and reapplies the Lebell Lock. Hiromu taps at 13:30! Not sure if this was incredibly dangerous or dangerously incredible, but was totally absorbing from bell to bell, ****¼.
Winner and new IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion: Taiji Ishimori
IWGP Tag Team Championship:
Suzuki-gun (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) © vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi
Tanahashi and Ibushi foil Suzuki-gun's routine ambush. Taichi counters Tanahashi to avoid getting isolated and slams him onto the rails. Meanwhile, ZSJ softens Ibushi up on the floor. Suzuki-gun returns to the ring and pick Tanahashi apart in their corner. Tanahashi saves himself with a crossbody and Ibushi gets the hot tag. Ibushi clears the ring, wiping out ZSJ with a dive and hitting Taichi with a standing SSP. Ibushi and Taichi trade stiff kicks, but Taichi ends it with a spin kick. Ibushi blocks a superkick, runs into some kicks, and delivers a KO roundhouse kick! Tanahashi tags in and angrily hits ZSJ with a dragon screw, followed by a second in the ropes. ZSJ quickly gets the ropes to break a cloverleaf. They get tied up together and Taichi breaks it, but Ibushi helps reverse a double team. ZSJ blocks Sling Blade and rolls Tanahashi into a complex arm submission. Ibushi cleans house with stiff kicks, and Tanahashi helps him slam ZSJ. Ibushi dives onto Taichi, leaving Tanahashi to hit a high crossbody on ZSJ. Tanahashi misses the frog splash, and Suzuki-gun delivers a tandem power slam for the win at 16:00! Good stuff with Tanahashi and Ibushi appearing to have an answer for everything Suzuki-gun was throwing at them, only to come up short anyway, ***½.
Winners and still IWGP Tag Team Champions: Suzuki-gun
IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Championship:
EVIL ©(with Dick Togo) vs. Tetsuya Naito
EVIL ambushes before the bell to gain an early advantage. He wraps Naito's neck in a chair and swings another chair for a brutal blow. Togo stands on Naito's neck for good measure. Back to the ring, Naito sells a hard Irish whip like death. Naito scratches and claws to hit a dropkick for some separation. Naito takes down Togo with a low dropkick and lands a slingshot dropkick into the corner on EVIL. Neckbreaker by Naito and a head scissors. Togo distracts with a chair, which allows EVIL an opening to stomp the chest. Naito blocks Darkness Falls on the apron and sweeps the legs to set up a brutal neckbreaker to the floor. Super rana by Naito gets 2. EVIL blocks Gloria and thrusts Naito into an exposed turnbuckle. Superplex by EVIL gets a routine nearfall. Darkness Falls only gets 2. EVIL uses the exposed steel again, but Naito answers with a tornado DDT. Gloria by Naito and a reverse tornado DDT gets a good nearfall. EVIL blocks Destino and Togo hits a blind chair shot, but Naito blocks Everything is Evil. Naito throws EVIL into Togo, but then stumbles into the ref. EVIL blatantly knocks referee Red Shoes down. Togo and EVIL hot the Magic Killer and BUSHI runs in for a late save. Gedo neutralizes BUSHI while EVIL gets a chair. Naito blocks a chair shot, but Togo wraps a chain around his neck. SANADA runs in to hit EVIL with the Van-Daminator and serves Togo up for BUSHI's Codebreaker. LIJ clears the ring to a pop. With order restored, Naito hits Destino for only 2. EVIL hits a blind low blow and hard lariat for 2. A frenzied exchange lead to Naito botching a neckbreaker. Naito blocks a low blow and hits a proper Caliente. Destino finishes EVIL at 26:23 and all is right in the universe once more. Most of this was well executed, but it kind of dragged for long portions, with little meat to the story aside from EVIL using the exposed turnbuckles. LIJ saving Naito from Bullet Club's interference gave this some much needed heat and lent some drama for the final stretch, ***¼.
Winner and new IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Champion: Tetsuya Naito
Final Thoughts: This was a compact special, clocking in at under 3 hours, had some cool title changes, and a stellar match between Takahashi and Ishimori. One of the better limited crowd shows I've seen this summer.
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