I dunno about you folks, but it felt to me like New Japan was playing a little coy with the card to Summer Struggle in Jingu at the end of August. After the show was announced at Sengoku Lord in Nagoya this past Saturday (July 25, see here for full results), I expected a full card by Monday at the latest, and we still don’t have one.
But what we have is pretty interesting, friends— let’s list it out and break it down, shall we?
Summer Struggle in Jingu (August 29, 4AM Eastern / 1AM Pacific)
- ??? vs. ??? vs. ??? vs. ??? (KOPW 2020 Championship Tournament Finals)
- Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship)
- EVIL (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Heavyweight / IWGP Intercontinental Championship)
KOPW 2020 Championship? What in the world?
Well, it’s... not simple exactly, but it’s a normal pro wrestling level of complicated. Eight men will compete in four singles matches at the Korakuen Hall show on August 26. Each man will bring a stipulation of his choice to his match, and fans will decide by vote which stipulation the match will be contested under. The four men that win those matches will go on to a four-way at Summer Struggle, but the winner of that match will not be the KOPW 2020 Champion just yet.
Instead he’ll be a provisional champion, and have to defend his provisional title all through the rest of the year, and the winner of the last such match in 2020 will be declared the KOPW 2020 Champion and claim the KOPW 2020 trophy, with the process ostensibly to repeat next year to decide the 2021 champ.
Got it? Good.
We don’t know the identities of any of the eight men in this tournament, but given that Kazuchika Okada was entrusted with announcing it at the press conference, it’s a safe bet to assume that he’ll be one of the eight.
It’s not, strictly speaking, the most necessary title— NJPW has five active singles titles right now, which feels like plenty, but with Jon Moxley and the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship stuck in the US due to the pandemic and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship tied up with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship around EVIL’s waist, I see the logic. And, since it’s not a traditional title, it’s different enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s just stepping on any of those championships, and could easily be converted to be a one-night tournament once things go back to normal, in the mold of CMLL’s Universal Championship.
Of course that’s not all— given the events of Sengoku Lord, we’ve got two big singles title matches! EVIL defends both of his titles against Tetsuya Naito, and Hiromu Takahashi defends the junior title against Taiji Ishimori. Neither is very surprising, but both have a chance at being instant classics, if they’re not swamped in Bullet Club interference.
There you have it, folks
Excited to have another title in New Japan, Cagesiders?