Logo Credit: NJPW Graphic Credit: Robert DeFelice

Title Change At NJPW Summer Struggle Night Two


NJPW issued the following:

Ungovernable Tekkers See LIJ to Tag Gold

Naito scores first tag title win in 11 years, SANADA secures third tag reign

July 11 2021 saw the first IWGP Tag Team title change in Sapporo in 17 years, as Summer Struggle night two ended with Tetsuya Naito and SANADA brand new champions. Speculation heading into their challenge to Dangerous Tekkers was that it would be akin to two singles matches intermingling. Indeed Zack Sabre Jr. and SANADA’s issues are well documented, as are Taichi and Tetsuya Naito’s. Questions loomed over whether one of those combinations would start the match, and after much teasing between all four, SANADA and ZSJ made first contact.

Picking up where they left off after their six previous singles encounters with one another, Sabre and SANADA went gold for hold with ZSJ trying to create a weakness in Cold Skull’s arm. When SANADA countered and tried to bring Naito in however, the Briton was quick to roll away and tag in Taichi, who was frustrated by a confident El Ingobernable. Naito and SANADA would complement one another well back inside, non verbal communication seeing them connect with double teams that had both champions eating Naito dropkicks and Sabre isolated. Working the neck, Naito locked in a full leg Nelson while SANADA kept up pressure with a cravate, but Sabre would escape Naito’s clutches with an overhead kick to Naito’s arm.

Tagged in, Taichi had a target for his offense, and kicks to the arm combined with shots to the ringside steel did their damage. Naito was firmly in the wrong part of town, but some wild boots and a neckbreaker would finally lead to a tag on the challenger’s side. SANADA played his role perfectly on entry, grace and precision taking out first Taichi and then Zack; a Dragon Screw through the ropes to the Briton chased by a high cross that got two.

Sanada and Sabre almost ended the match as so many of their singles bouts have with flash pins, but when SANADA wanted a standing Moonsault, he only got ZSJ’s knees instead. Sabre followed up with a triangle and an arm breaker to bring in Taichi, who set to hard hitting work. Heavy kicks thudded into SANADA, who fired back with some firm shots of his own, but the gamen giri jumping high kick had Cold Skull crashing to the mat. Another kick and Taichi looked to powerbomb his challenger, but a hurricanrana escape followed up by a TKO let SANADA put Naito back inside.

Looking for big offense, Naito fought for, and got, a tope rope Frankensteiner for two but a Gloria attempt saw him backed into the corner. Naito and SANADA thwarted a double team attempt as bodies began to fly, but after a jumping high kick in the corner all four men would be down. Taichi fought back up, and connected a Dangerous Backdrop to tag Sabre back inside. The arrogant Briton toyed with his hurt opponent before a neck twist stalled Naito’s momentum, but SANADA appeared from seemingly nowhere to assist Naito with Sabre before taking out Taichi.

A Naito Esperanza folded up ZSJ to get a very near two, but Sabre countered Destino into a punishing Cobra Twist, Taichi stopping SANADA with Seirei Jujiho to boot. Naito refused to quit but was almost pinned instead with a Dragon Suplex; SANADA stopped the pinfall but took a Nodo Otoshi from Taichi right after. The Holy Emperor called for a Zack Mephisto finish before settling for a Last Ride/PK combination, but Naito still refused to be beaten. Acting on instinct, SANADA hit the ring to break up a Holy Zack Driver, connecting with a moonsault on Sabre before dropping Taichi with Skull End. Backup taken care of, ZSJ fell prey to Naito and Destino, as the 90th IWGP Tag Team Champions were crowned.

Having taken time to absorb what had happened to them in the ring however, Dangerous Tekkers did not want to head to the back of the line. Sabre and Taichi immediately demanded a rematch against Naito and SANADA, with the match seemingly set for what will be a stacked Wrestle Grand Slam card July 25; official confirmation is forthcoming.

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