July 22-24 to see singles previews of tag title match and a pair of intense grudges settled
After a hot start in Sapporo this past weekend, Summer Struggle continues around the country for the rest of July. As sights are set for Wrestle Grand Slam in the Tokyo Dome on July 25, Osaka will see previews of championship action on July 22 and 23, while Nagoya will bear witness to intense singles feuds on July 24, 24 hours before Wrestle Grand Slam.
July 22, 23 Osaka: Naito, SANADA, Taichi, ZSJ!
Heading into Summer Struggle in Sapporo night two on July 11, conversation surrounding the IWGP Tag Team Championship main event was mostly concerned with two pairings: Zack Sabre Jr. with SANADA and Tetsuya Naito with Taichi. The speculation was that they key to victory would be in the spaces in between these interactions, and that was borne out by the result.
At the close of the match, it was Taichi being held at bay by a SANADA Skull End, while Tetsuya Naito rang up the arm and connected with Destino to secure the IWGP Tag team Championships. Yet the outgoing Dangerous Tekkers did not take their loss well. Immediately after the result was rendered, Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. headed backstage and demanded a rematch, now set for Wrestle Grand Slam in the Tokyo Dome.
To get us ready for that encounter, we will have a pair of singles main events on each night of Summer Struggle in Osaka. On night one, Taichi takes on Tetsuya Naito in the main event while SANADA battles Zack Sabre Jr, two long standing rivalries continuing as even records of 4-4 between Naito and Taichi and 3-3 for SANADA and ZSJ will be broken.
Then night two will see the pairings switched up, SANADA wrestling Taichi while Zack takes on Naito. How will SANADA fare against the controversial and hard hitting Taichi in only their second ever singles match? Will Naito get past his ‘weak spot’ of Sabre’s technical mastery to find success before the tag titles are on the line?
July 24, Nagoya: EVIL vs Ishii! KENTA vs Tanahashi!
On July 24, Nagoya’s Dolphins Arena will see a pair of big time singles matches at the top of the card. In the main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi will take on KENTA in an issue that flared up at Summer Struggle in Sapporo. There, a post match attack from KENTA on July 10 was followed by scathing comments backstage, as the BULLET CLUB member ran down the Ace’s lack of direction, and the suggestion made to press that KENTA would be a stepping stone for Tanahashi back to the championship hunt. The disgusted KENTA would go on to remind Tanahashi of the last time the two met at Power Struggle in November 2020, when he was holding the IWGP United States right to challenge briefcase. That briefcase would be rung off the head of Tanahashi and destroyed, a matter KENTA complained he was never compensated for.
Will Tanahashi provide the receipts for KENTA in Nagoya? While the Ace’s record is in the negative against his Summer Struggle opponent, Tanahashi can lay claim to a convincing submission win over KENTA during last year’s G1. That victory came at a key point in the tournament for the Ace, and reaffirmed his confidence through trying times. A victory in Nagoya would do the same, but a victory for KENTA could shoot him right to the top of the contender list for any championship he desires.
Meanwhile, EVIL will face Tomohiro Ishii in singles action. A year having past since the King of Darkness joined BULLET CLUB, it is little secret that EVIL struggled for success after a hot start. His IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship reign a brief one, his G1 Climax 30 campaign was stopped by SANADA, who again defeated his former partner at Wrestle Kingdom. After losses to Kazuchika Okada and Shingo Takagi in the early spring, EVIL went back to the drawing board, where no doubt he found Tomohiro Ishii sketched.
Ishii and EVIL have collided several times over the years, always in hard fought, hard hitting bouts, and always with Ishii getting the win. For EVIL to fulfil ahis true potential in BULLET CLUB, a win over Ishii would play a major part, and the seeds were sown when EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi and Dick Togo chased after the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championships held by Ishii and CHAOS.
The CHAOS side retained those titles, and once again a week later against the Third Generation. Just after Ishii extended a post match respectful hand to the veterans however, the lights would go out in Korakuen Hall, and came back up to reveal EVIL and Togo standing over a downed Ishii.
EVIL made it perfectly clear that he was after singles, rather than trios success, and Ishii accepted the challenge. Yet now, unlike all their other encounters, this will likely be a de facto handicap affair as Dick Togo lingers in the background. Who emerges from what will surely be a filthy fight in Nagoya?
With Kota Ibushi also set to return, and collide with Shingo Takagi before their IWGP World Heavyweight Championship clash at the Tokyo Dome, you can’t take your eyes off any of these Summer Struggle events!