Summer Struggle in Jingu: Marquee Preview
Naito Looks For Immediate Redemption Against Evil
The marquee main event for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) Summer Struggle in Jingu featured event will see Evil make his V2 defense of the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental ‘Double Championship’ against challenger (and the previous champion) Tetsuya Naito.
On July 11th, when Evil won the 2020 New Japan Cup by defeating former five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, he also turned on Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ) and joined the Pure Heel unit, Bullet Club.
The next day Evil would defeat Naito for the ‘Double Championship’ at Dominion. Throughout the Summer Struggle tour, Naito and Evil have exchanged physical encounters after Evil made a successful V1 defense against IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi on July 25th at Sengoku Lord.
The anticipation and intrigue going into this title match are likely to draw approximately 10,000 fans to the Meiji Jingu Stadium as the winner will take NJPW down one or two diverging paths as G1 Climax 30 approaches.
A victory by Naito will represent immediate retribution against Evil who turned on years of LIJ friendship in exchange for quick rewards from the Bullet Club. It would also see Naito retake his spot at the top of NJPW, allowing him to defend the ‘Double Championship’ the way he sees fit.
If Evil wins, it puts a further focus on his eventual collision course with Sanada, who continues to pick up fall victories in recent weeks. Such an encounter could likely take place at Wrestle Kingdom 15 whether or not Evil retains the ‘Double Championship’ against Naito.
Either way, Evil’s momentum allows him to be a marquee draw for NJPW (at least for the short term) and likely extend to long-term opportunities due to the prestige fans attach to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
An Evil/Sanada program is a narrative NJPW can be used to draw fans into venues, with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship adding an extra layer of importance to the feud.
However, Naito has drawn millions of dollars for NJPW playing the role of ‘chaser’ so that may be a story the promotion chooses to callback. Though Naito being IWGP Heavyweight Champion going into Wrestle Kingdom 15 would guarantee the highest possible gate.
With Jay White looming in the shadows, he could challenge Evil over the leadership position of Bullet Club as the company believes in and trust White on their largest of stages.