NJPW Road to Power Struggle 2020 – Night 1 recap

With the drama of the G1 behind us we move on to none tournament drama instead. At least for a few weeks as we enter the Road to Power Struggle! The spiritual home of Japanese professional wrestling, Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, is our venue for the first televised night of the tour. We’re set to return here a couple of more times prior to the big one in Osaka on the 7th November.

Tonight’s big story is the defense of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships with the reigning Chaos trio defending against a fired up Douki and Dangerous Tekkers from Suzuki-gun!

Results in short:

*Yuya Uemura defeated Yota Tsuki by pinfall

*Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan (The Empire) defeated Kazuchika Okada & Gabriel Kidd by pinfall

*BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi (LIJ) defeated Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun) by pinfall

*Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma defeated Jay White, KENTA & Gedo (Bullet Club) by pinfall

*Tetsuya Naito & SANADA (LIJ) defeated EVIL & Dick Togo (Bullet Club) by submission

*YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto (Chaos-C) defeated Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI (Suzuki-gun) by pinfall to retain the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships

Yuya Uemura v Yota Tsuji

Yoya Tsuji won the battle of C Block during the Young Lion battles on the G1 Climax tour. However, Uemura grabbed a semblance of revenge here hitting the Kannuki Suplex for the win after a technically solid encounter by the longtime training partners and rivals.

Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay (The Empire) v Kazuchika Okada & Gabriel KIdd

In a few weeks at Power Struggle we will see Great-O-Khan step up to the Rainmaker in a massive one on one encounter. Unless he’s added to a singles match prior to then, this will be Great-O-Khan’s first singles match since returning from excursion at the G1 to join turncoat Ospreay’s new stable. We got some more snippets of O-Khan here but the jury is out on how he will perform under the big spotlight against one of the greatest wrestlers of all time in Okada. Tonight was a good showcase mind you.

Bea Priestley was in her man’s corner of course and provided distraction to Gabriel Kidd early. Although Okada did get involved it was Kidd who carried most of the match with both Okada and Ospreay letting their partners show their wares. Kidd was super impressive here but would eat an Iron Claw Slam from Great-O-Khan to give The Empire momentum.

BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi (LIJ) v Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun)

Special shoutout to that awesome pumpkin-skull entrance mask that Bushi wore to ringside. That was cracking. As for the match it was what any of us expected in an LIJ v Suzuki-gun 6 man. We got a brawl on the outside early until the match settled down. When it did we got fast paced junior action until Shingo and Suzuki got tagged in and then we got a slug fest. Eventually, The Dragon would hit Kanemaru with the Pumping Bomber for the win. The big news came after the match when Hiromu laid down a challenge to Despi and Kanemaru for the Junior Tag Team titles again. With Power Struggle full up I expect this could happen at one of the Korakuen Hall shows on the 1st or 2nd November.

Jay White, KENTA & Gedo (Bullet Club) v Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma

A bad night for Bullet Club! With 2 briefcases on the line at Power Struggle this match would be crucial on building that momentum. Although neither White or Kenta took the fall in this defeat (Gedo ate the Kamigoye from Ibushi for the loss) it highlights a difficult time for Bullet Club. Jay White and Kenta seem like a united front certainly in all the drama with Evil. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them together in World Tag League to be honest. You do suspect they’ll need a win in one of the following Korakuen Hall shows at least.

EVIL & Dick Togo (Bullet Club) v Tetsuya Naito & SANADA (LIJ)

Sanada submitting Togo here with Skull End isn’t the story. Evil and Naito going to battle, yet again, at Power Struggle is. However, the direction that Sanada takes from here is crucial. His defeat to Ibushi in the G1 final is yet another defeat in a big match situation. Forward momentum is crucial for Sanada now and he has some with a win but beating Dick Togo in 2020 doesn’t prove much. This will be a fascinating run into Wrestle Kingdom for Cold Skull as he tries to find his place on the card.

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships

Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI (Suzuki-gun) v YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto (Chaos)

Since the Chaos trio won the titles in a Summer Struggle tournament NJPW have done a much better job with the championship. These title matches are now treated as a chaotic (no pun intended) spectacle and nothing more to main event the Road to… style shows. This is the best spot for them and the quality of the matches have been so much fun.

It was obvious from the get go what Suzuki-gun wanted here. Even if Dangerous Tekkers had the advantage this was all about trying to get Douki the win even if it meant dumping him on the pinfall. Douki was so fired up here, almost feeling like the fired up babyface… until he brought his steel pipe into play.

Plenty of near falls as Douki hit Yoshi-Hashi with Suplex de la Luna only for Goto to break it up. Some new double team maneuvers from Hashi and Goto were shown off here, variations of the GTR but in double team form. Eventually, Douki’s spirit was crushed with a Karma from Yoshi-Hashi. After the match Yoshi-Hashi demanded a shot at Dangerous Tekkers’ IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. ZSJ hilariously shot down Yoshi-Hashi telling to shave his head and put on black trunks so he can stick to wrestling Young Lions as well as other more vulgar insults. Goto would step up as Hashi’s potential partner. Like the Junior Tag Team titles, assuming the match is signed, this will probably take place at one of the 2 upcoming Korakuen Hall shows.

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