Six titles will be contested across five matches as NJPW returns to the open air Jingu Stadium for the first time in 21 years!
The six match card has monumental potential. Each match will have its own distinct feel and style, from the inaugural KOPW2020 champion being crowned in a 4-way to the NEVER Openweight slug fest to the explosive wildness of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight match.
Two rematches from Dominion will settle fervent grudges, none more personal than the main event double championship match. Can EVIL continue his shocking reign of darkness over New Japan?
“Rental time is over. It’s time to hand those titles back.” – Tetsuya Naito
IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship
EVIL (C) vs Tetsuya Naito
Since burning his bridges with Los Ingobernables de Japon and joining Bullet Club, EVIL has been unstoppable. His methods have been dishonest but the results have been definitive; winning the New Japan Cup against Kazuchika Okada, the double championship against Tetsuya Naito and a successful defence of both titles against Hiromu Takahashi.
EVIL’s special weapon has been the newest member of the New Japan roster, Dick Togo. The veteran at EVIL’s side joined Bullet Club at Dominion to help dethrone Naito and has played spoiler ever since. He has been a factor in both of EVIL’s title matches so far and will unavoidably be a hindrance for Naito in the main event.
At almost 38 minutes long, their initial meeting at Dominion was very slow and methodical which worked entirely to EVIL’s advantage. The explosive Naito will be keen to avoid EVIL’s strategy a second time. This match is only the third time they will meet in singles action, with the score being an even 1-1.
Naito needs this win to reaffirm the shaken strength of LIJ. Until EVIL’s betrayal the group held five of the possible seven championships in NJPW, but that number has now plummeted to only two. The usually tranquilo captain of LIJ has been letting his emotions fly and is primed to take back the titles he won at Wrestle Kingdom 14.
Three weeks after the culmination of this event G1 Climax 30 will begin. The winner here will head into that tournament as double champion and be on solid footing to main event Wrestle Kingdom 15.
For a deep dive look at EVIL’s betrayal and the history between Naito and EVIL, please check out Los Ingobernables de Japon: When Dreams Turn EVIL.
IWGP Tag Team Championships
Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (C) vs Golden☆Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi)
Tanahashi and Ibushi have been telling the most compelling story in wrestling over the last month. Since losing their tag titles to Dangerous Tekkers at Dominion, the capability of Tanahashi has been heartbreakingly in doubt.
Throughout the Summer Struggle tour, Tanahashi has been unceremoniously bullied by Dangerous Tekkers, unable to defeat the Suzuki-Gun men or even gain any semblance of momentum. The Golden☆Ace relationship was almost shattered and Ibushi was wrecked with uncertainty, until he finally made a decision to support his God Tanahashi and the two got back to winning ways! Now, Tanahashi has told Ibushi it’s time for him to become a God, and Ibushi is up to the task.
Since the tag titles changed hands at Wrestle Kingdom 14, they have not been defended successfully, including when this match took place at Dominion and Dangerous Tekkers won the titles from Golden☆Ace. ZSJ and Taichi are in their first reign as IWGP champions and it’s not something they intend to give up. The nefarious pair have the Suzuki-Gun mentality ingrained in them, seeing rules as merely guidelines and willing to take any advantages they deem necessary in the pursuit of victory.
Dangerous Tekkers have consistently focused on Tanahashi as the weak link, taking particular aim at his war-torn knees. If the pair can keep Ibushi out of the picture and zone in on Tanahashi yet again, the Ace may leave Jingu needing a brace.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Hiromu Takahashi (C) vs Taiji Ishimori
The only previous singles meeting between Hiromu and Ishimori was the Best of the Super Juniors 25 final in 2018. The almost 35 minute war saw Hiromu win the tournament for the first time in his career and it cemented both men as two of the best junior heavyweights of all time, earning a 5.5 star rating in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Two years on and these titans will clash again, this time under excruciatingly more personal circumstances. Hiromu’s dream of being IWGP Heavyweight Champion whilst holding the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was crushed at Sengoku Lord when he lost to EVIL. As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, post-match Ishimori attacked Hiromu to make it crystal clear that he would be coming for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
Ishimori injured Hiromu’s shoulder during the Summer Struggle tour, forcing the Time Bomb to take a few weeks recovery time. When the Bullet Club numbers proved too much for Naito, Hiromu made his return and sent Bullet Club scurrying. Parading his healed shoulder by wheeling it around in wild Hiromu fashion, the red haired dynamite seemed ready for Jingu.
But during the final show before Summer Struggle in Jingu, Ishimori attacked the shoulder with mistica again and EVIL followed up with a shattering chair shot. Hiromu took the loss and was left battered and beaten in his final attempt to gain momentum before his title defence. The odds are stacked firmly against him.
NEVER Openweight Championship
Shingo Takagi (C) vs Minoru Suzuki
1700 years after King George slayed a dragon, the King of Pro Wrestling Minoru Suzuki will look to repeat history by slaying the Dragon Shingo Takagi and regaining a crown he hasn’t held since January 2018.
Shingo is the most dominate NEVER Openweight champion the title has had in more than two years. With three successful defences already accumulated, a win over Suzuki would put him on equal footing with the most successful NEVER Openweight champions in history. Only three other men have defended the title four times, and one of those men is Suzuki.
Shingo and Suzuki have stood as opponents more than 30 times however this is the first singles meeting between them. This is untraveled ground that will be fertile with deafening forearms, soul shattering lariats and unrelenting fighting spirit.
KOPW2020 Final – 4 Way
Kazuchika Okada vs El Desperado vs Toru Yano vs SANADA
KOPW2020 is New Japan’s newest invention. A title that doesn’t have a physical belt and is defended exclusively in stipulation only matches. Whoever the title holder is at the end of the year will be crowned KOPW 2020 and earn themselves a trophy, with the title then resetting in 2021.
The four men competing in this match all qualified by winning qualification matches earlier in the week that took advantage of the creativeness the new title offers. The cunning El Desperado outsmarted Satoshi Kojima, baiting him into using his banned lariat in their “no finishers” match. The flash speed of Yano got him a win over BUSHI in a match that only required a 2 count pinfall to win. SANADA managed to fight off SHO in a technical submission match. Okada toppled Bullet Club’s Yujiro Takahashi, Gedo and Jado in a 3 on 1 handicap match.
This is perhaps the most bizarre lineup for a match that New Japan has seen in many years. A mixture of Chaos, LIJ and Suzuki-Gun with Despy being the only junior heavyweight in the mix. The varied assortment of wrestlers and styles in this match could lead to a very chaotic climax.
Special Singles Match
Master Wato vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Wato has had a rough time since making his grand debut, courtesy of Suzuki-Gun who took an instant disliking to the blue haired master. Wato made his re-debut during the New Japan Cup and was immediately ambushed by DOUKI, setting up a singles match a few nights later in which Wato was victirious. Although that only only opened the way for more Suzuki-Gun torment, this time in the form of Kanemaru.
Kanemaru’s accomplishments far exceed that of most junior heavyweights in history. He is a record-holding seven time GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion in Pro Wrestling NOAH alone. The savvy veteran has been competing for more than two decades, making him Wato’s biggest test yet.
Master Wato vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru
KOPW2020 Final – 4 Way:
NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (C) vs Minoru Suzuki
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi (C) vs Taiji Ishimori
IWGP Tag Team Championships: Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (C) vs Golden☆Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi)
IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship: EVIL (C) vs Tetsuya Naito
When: Saturday August 29th @ 5pm JST (9am GMT, 4am EST, 1am PDT)
How to watch: Available on New Japan World for only 999¥ per month (roughly £7.50/$9.30)
Notes: English and Japanese commentary will be available live!