This year’s wrestling schedule has been marred as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. Promotions have been hampered due to health concerns, travel restrictions, show cancellations and no fans in the stands. Everyone has had to get creative because the show must go on, but one promotion did a better job than the rest. This is why NJPW had the best summer in wrestling.
All promotions were hurt by travel restrictions but no more than NJPW. It seemed like over a third of their roster was stuck abroad, including many top guys. However, NJPW turned lemons into lemonade because they populated a new show with many of the stranded talents. NJPW STRONG was designed to highlight the LA Dojo but it allowed us to see favorites like KENTA, G.O.D., David Finlay and Jay White. It also introduced rising stars like AEE favorite Danny Limelight. The breezy 30-minute show has consequently become my favorite wrestling on Friday nights.
NJPW is certainly known for their annual tournaments. However, the pandemic put their schedule on ice. NJPW could’ve canceled tournaments but instead decided to creatively run them all at a breakneck pace. They also added tournaments such as the New Japan Cup USA , NEVER tag championship and IWGP Junior Tag Championship tournaments. It resulted in most matches this summer having a meaning that you could sink your teeth into. It also created memorable moments like KENTA earning a shot at the US Title and EVIL winning the New Japan Cup.
The Summer of EVIL
Most promotions struggled without fans but NJPW used it as an opportunity to tell a quick isolated story. They also elevated a talent in the process. Stars stuck abroad meant opportunity and EVIL certainly ceased it. He became the number one contender because he won the New Japan Cup. EVIL turned heel and joined the Bullet Club. He then became the second simultaneous Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champion in NJPW history. EVIL is now a much more valuable talent because NJPW had the best summer in wrestling.
A Reinvigorated Bullet Club
The Bullet Club always seems to reload after its members leave but after the last exodus, the faction’s future was in doubt. However, that’s no longer the case after this summer. The gained EVIL, Dick Togo and the double gold. A Reinvigorated KENTA won the New Japan Cup USA. They re-debuted a much larger Hikuleo, who will certainly be a threat. Tama Tanga has a clean shave. Jay White also looks the best he’s ever been and poised to take over.
WWE fans didn’t really get a big Summerslam type event due to the pandemic. However, this wasn’t the case in Japan. Probably because their government took the pandemic more seriously and their fans are more courteous. NJPW ended the Summer Struggle in Jingu Stadium and it was awesome. Although the fans respected many safety restrictions it still had a big event feel. Suzuki winning the NEVER title was great. The whole event was filled with great matches and had a storybook ending. It’s hard to watch Naito cellebrite under the fireworks and not believe that NJPW had the best summer in wrestling.
What promotion do you think had the best summer? Let us know in the comments and also stay tuned to All Everything Entertainment for your wrestling news.