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    Monday, August 24, 2020

    #CafePuro: Summer Struggle in Jingu Predictions

    NJPW will hold its first outdoor show in years. (Photo from NJPW1972.com)

    The end of the Summer Struggle tour is here and NJPW is going to finish the tour off with a bang by holding an outdoor show in Jingu Stadium. Barring any delays or cancellations to COVID-19, the event will be held on August 29, Saturday, 4 p.m. Philippine time. 

    Let's take a look at what to expect from Summer Struggle in Jingu Stadium.

    Match 1: Master Wato vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru

    Image from NJPW's English website

    As part of his continuing feud with Suzuki-Gun, Master Wato is going to face Yoshinobu Kanemaru. There really isn't much to discuss here. Kawato Hirai previously faced DOUKI in this year's New Japan Cup event. On the following day at Dominion, he was part of a tag match involving Kanemaru and this continued his path of facing the members of Suzuki-Gun. However, Master Wato has only been back for a month or two and I don't know what to expect from him. I'm going to wait and see what happens for Master Wato on his path to being taken seriously as a competitor in the Jr. heavyweight division.

    Prediction: Master Wato wins with a standing moonsault that won't be botched.

    Match 2: KOPW 4-Way Match

    Image from NJPW's English website

    After the August 26 Summer Struggle show, we will know who the four finalists will be in this odd tournament. As of press time, we have the following matches lined up:
    • Kazuchika Okada vs. Yujiro Takahashi (1-on-3 Handicap Match)
    • Satoshi Kojima vs. El Desperado (No Finisher Match)
    • SHO vs. SANADA (Submission Match)
    • Toru Yano vs. BUSHI (2-Count Pinfall Match) 

    Stipulations were voted on by fans via the @njpwglobal and @njpw1972 Twitter accounts.  
    Okada will show that he can take on all three of the BC jobbers. (NJPW English website)

    Let's start with the stipulations for Okada vs. Yujiro. Okada wants to show that he can take on all three members of Bullet Club. I mean, they are all of BC's jobbers so it wouldn't surprise me that Okada could take them all on. 

    Yujiro Takahashi, on the other hand, wanted to bring down the Rainmaker to his level and compete in a Lumberjack Belt match, in which both wrestlers will bring accomplices with them who will carry weight belts to attack the wrestler who leaves or is thrown out of the ring. It's basically a lumberjack match with belts added in for flavor.

    Winning Stipulation: 1-on-3 Handicap Match

    What was surprising in the vote was the fact that Okada was winning in the Japanese poll while Yujiro was winning the global poll. I would have liked to see a lumberjack belt match. Sadly, global fans were overpowered by the Japanese fans and we will see Okada take on the BC jobbers in a 1-on-3 match. 

    Prediction: Okada will show off his skill and take the win over the Buller Club.
    Nofinishers allowed in this match. Image from NJPW English website

    As for Kojima and Despy, El Desperado mocked Satoshi Kojima and called the latter a Stan Hansen wannabe by using a lariat as a finisher. After a tag team match involving both Kojima and Despy, the leader of the Bread Club entered his name into the KOPW tournament. Desperado mocked Kojima's finisher and proposed a Finishers Only match, where you have to hit your opponent with your finisher before you can attempt a pin. 

    However, Kojima actually liked the idea of a match where you have to use your finisher before you can pin your opponent. After discovering Kojima's decision, Desperado changed his mind and proposed a No Finisher match, where neither wrestler can use their respective finishers. That could actually be fun because we will see how creative these two wrestlers can be.

    Winning Stipulation: No Finisher Match

    To no one's surprise, Desperado's proposal of not using finishers won in a landslide. I really want to see this match happen and watch the two wrestlers show off their other wrestling skills when they're not allowed to use their finishers or they'll be disqualified.

    Prediction: Desperado will cheat using Suzuki-Gun tactics to win and hit his finisher behind the ref's back.
    Submissions Galore! (Image from NJPW English website)

    SHO and SANADA never really debated the idea of their submission match. SANADA is known to be one of the expert submission wrestlers in NJPW and a win over SHO in the New Japan Cup fueled SHO to use submissions to win matches after his match with SANADA. During the August 11 Osaka show, SHO proposed a submission match to prove to SANADA that he can make the latter tap out. The two men agreed and we now have a match with no voting involved.  

    Prediction: SHO will score the upset win and make SANADA tap.

    This match will just be like Yano vs Hiromu in the NJ Cup (Image from NJPW English website

    Yano vs. BUSHI is the fun match because we know that Yano can easily steal a win. He wants to prove to BUSHI that, with his experience as an amateur wrestler—we tend to forget that Yano is an amateur champion in the collegiate ranks—he can defeat BUSHI even with a two-count. BUSHI wants to prove to Yano that he can outmaneuver Yano even with the long count-outs in NJPW. Yano will not be able to use the entire 20-count to tie BUSHI's mask outside and win via count-out, as he unsuccessfully tried against Hiromu Takahashi during the New Japan Cup.

    Winning Stipulation: Two-Count Pinfall Match

    I'm not surprised that Yano's stipulation won. Now we're going to see a Two-Count Pinfall Match. No disqualification, no submission, no countouts. We're going to get so many one counts and I can't wait!

    Prediction: BUSHI is going to outsmart Yano at his own game and score the two-count.
    4-Way Prediction: I think Okada will win just so that he has something to do for the rest of the year.

    Match 3: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki

    Image from NJPW1972.com

    What's there to say about this match? These two badass wrestlers are going to beat the heck out of each other. It's The Dragon and the scariest man in the world pummeling each other to the death. However, I think Shingo will continue his path of destruction in the openweight division on his way to being one of the best NEVER champions in years.

    Prediction: Shingo Takagi will win after a banger of  a match.

    Match 4: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs Taiji Ishimori

    Image from NJPW English website

    After failing to win the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental championships against EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi was attacked by the Bone Soldier. The following night at the start of Summer Struggle, Hiromu injured his shoulder and tapped out to Ishimori's crossface. The Time Bomb had to be removed from the remainder of the tour. He did, however, accept Ishimori's challenge, which meant that the two competitors would have to wait before they can get their hands on one another. 

    Hiromu would make his return to action by saving Naito and BUSHI from another round of BC shenanigans on one of the last stops before Jingu Stadium. You can look at Hiromu and Ishimori's previous contests to understand why a lot of people are excited for this rematch.

    I suggest you watch the Best of the Super Juniors 2018 finals because Hiromu and Ishimori nearly killed each other in the match that I don't know how either wrestler survived. If the two wrestlers can match even a quarter of the quality that match had, it will already be a five-star bout.

    Prediction: Hiromu wins after overcoming BC shenanigans.

    Match 5: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi) (c) vs. Golden Aces (Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi)

    Image from NJPW1972.com

    I love the buildup to this contest. After losing to the Dangerous Tekkers at Dominion, Kota Ibushi began to lose confidence in Hiroshi Tanahashi. Ibushi felt like the Ace of New Japan could no longer keep up with his fellow wrestlers. He was almost proven right after a string of losses against Suzuki-Gun. 

    However, Tanahashi would prove to Ibushi that he could still hang with the roster by scoring a pinfall over Taichi, which gave the Golden Aces a chance to reclaim the heavyweight tag titles. The standout moments for this match don't necessarily come from the action in the ring. What made the match exciting was actually the post-match promos that basically gave us shōnen anime or J-drama levels of emotions and I'm all for it.

    I thought the best promo was when Tanahashi told Ibushi that he may no longer be the Ace that he once was, so it's time for Ibushi to become a god. Don't forget the fact that Ibushi idolized Shinsuke Nakamura and Tanahashi; he always wanted to be as great as them. Having Tanahashi's seal of approval to take the next step is a clear sign that he's passing the torch of being one of NJPW's pillars to Ibushi so he can become a god like the King of Strong Style and the Once in a Century Talent. 

    Screenshot from NJPW YouTube

    As for the Dangerous Tekkers, they're following the Suzuki-Gun pattern of being total jerks and punishing their opponents. Taichi even played mind games and invited Ibushi to join their group. I can only imagine what kind of Ibushi we'd get if he joined Suzuki-Gun. Maybe we would see Terminator Ibushi 24/7 and that would be a scary image.

    Prediction: Ibushi will become a god and win the match for the Golden Stars and keep the tag division steady during this pandemic.

    Main Event: IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship Match: EVIL (c) vs Tetsuya Naito

    Screenshot from the NJPW YouTube channel

    I have never seen Naito this angry. After saving Hiromu Takahashi from the BC, Naito challenged EVIL to a rematch at Jingu Stadium and said that "rental time is over." Naito believes that he can defeat EVIL and become champion once again. He was even able to end EVIL's winning streak and show that he can defeat the champion.

    This match didn't really need much buildup because the story writes itself. The first member to join LIJ betrays his team because he's sick of being overshadowed by everyone else and now, the leader is back for revenge. I don't see Naito winning the match though. A Naito win would ruin the titles' prestige by having them pass the belts around like a hot potato. 

    Prediction: EVIL wins after even more BC shenanigans.

    As an added note, I hope we see EVIL choose to defend one belt or the other at some point because having dual championship matches leaves a gaping hole in the possible 1B matches we could have during these shows. 


    After several months of experiencing tape delays for English commentary, we are finally getting live English commentary back for the Jingu Stadium show! Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton are doing English commentary at an NJPW live event for the first time since the pandemic forced NJPW to stop doing shows. That means Kevin Kelly will be awake early in the morning in the U.S. while Chris Charlton will probably be doing commentary from the stadium. We'll see how it goes.

    What else do you think will happen in Summer Struggle in Jingu? Share your thoughts below!

    Steven Tan is a data encoder by day for an e-commerce company and blogger/podcaster by night for The Geeky Juans. He's a fan of cartoons, comics and the occasional video game. You can find him fanboying over comics and wrestling @steviesaidyup.
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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: Summer Struggle in Jingu Predictions Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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