More delayed coverage now, as New Japan went to Kyoto for four block B matches from this year’s World Tag League.
World Tag League 2016, Block B: Bad Luck Fale & Bone Soldier vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
This instantly went outside the ring as the Bullet Club jumped the former tag team champions… and you know what that means! Fixed camera badness, as we saw Fale throw Makabe into the crowd, before Fale grabbed a scarf off of a fan to choke Makabe some more.
When the action returned to the ring, we saw the Boner choke away on Honma, resulting in the referee refusing to make a count… so Fale just tagged in and stood on Honma for a while. A nerve hold and a flapjack followed from Fale, as the slow-pace continued… and it didn’t exactly pick up when Makabe came in and worked the mounted punches on the big guy. Fale blocked a Northern Lights suplex, but fell to a shoulder tackle for a near-fall, as Honma came back in to chop away on the Boner. A Kokeshi connected and brought some of the worst selling possible, as the Boner just sat up and shrugged a little, before he recovered for his signature moves: the ref bump and the belt choke!
Makabe broke it up before Fale got rid of him, then returned to squash Honma in the corner with an avalanche for a near-fall. Fale and Honma combined to clothesline Fale out of the ring, before Honma blocked a Bone Soldier (full nelson slam) and landed a pair of Kokeshis, ending with a swandive Kokeshi, for the win. Short, but not great – but it’s exactly the match you’d have expected from these teams. **
World Tag League 2016, Block B: Kenny Omega & Chase Owens vs. SANADA & EVIL
We’ve already had a few Bullet Club vs. Los Ingobernables matches in this tournament. Matches that have been incredibly underwhelming to say the least… When we got going, Omega and SANADA worked a long series of back and forth headlocks, ending with Omega mocking the Naito “tranquilo” pose and getting stomped on for it.
Both teams headed outside, as the Bullet Club took control, sending EVIL into the crowd… and yes, the cameras missed all of EVIL’s escapades in the crowd. He returned to the ring and continued to absorb some punishment as Owens and Omega picked their shots. EVIL fought back and took down Owens with a bulldog whilst landing a clothesline on Omega at the same time.
SANADA tagged in and cleared the deck with clotheslines, then landed his double leapfrog dropkick onto Omega, only to be caught going up top for a moonsault. Omega’s One Winged Angel attempt was countered, as was a Skull End, before a leg lariat to the back of the head got Omega a near-fall. Owens took a ‘rana from SANADA before EVIL almost won out… only to run into a pair of superkicks. EVIL kicked out at two after a gutbuster then a powerbomb from Omega onto Owens’ knees, before the end came in a frantic finale, when a discus lariat from Owens was turned into an STO for the win. Better than what we had before, but this was still underwhelming by these guys standards. **½
World Tag League 2016, Block B: Billy Gunn & Yoshitatsu vs. Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI
Given the relative standings of these guys as singles wrestlers, this should be fairly straightforward… and we actually start with Okada and Gunn for a sequence that ended with a hiptoss neckbreaker combo that got Gunn a two-count.
Both men tagged out, as Yoshitatsu held his own with YOSHI-HASHI, getting a near-fall after using the top rope to assist with a neckbreaker. Again, the action spilled outside (we’re three-for-three today!), with Gunn and Okada going into the crowd, whilst the two Yoshis headed up the entranceway as the cameras struggled to keep up. Returning to the ring, Okada wore down Yoshitatsu with a rear chinlock before tagging in YOSHI-HASHI, who hung up Yoshitatsu in the ropes and landed a dropkick for a two-count. The two Yoshis fought back and forth, with Yoshitatsu levelling YOSHI-HASHI with a kick to the chest before making the tag back out to Gunn, who unloaded with clotheslines.
Gunn missed a Famouser on YOSHI-HASHI and was met with a reverse DDT as the CHAOS pairing double-teamed him with elbows in the corner, before a slingshot into a reverse STO saw Okada get another two-count. More back and forth between Okada and Yoshitatsu followed, with Okada having to kick out at two from a spinning heel kick, before Okada replied with a STF. Okada took a slow-motion Blue Thunder Bomb for another near-fall, before Yoshitatsu ignored Gunn’s advice to “drop him on his head”, and instead delivered a hiptoss into a knee lift for a near-fall. An attempted Pedigree was countered with a simple backdrop, before Gunn saved Yoshitatsu from a tombstone… only to accidentally clothesline his partner.
Another Famouser was countered as Okada shoved Gunn into a clothesline from YOSHI-HASHI, before Yoshitatsu almost scored a major upset with a roll-up. One Rainmaker later, though, and it was all over. Despite all of their offence, I struggled to see a way Gunn and Yoshitatsu could get a win, and so it came to pass. ***
World Tag League 2016, Block B: Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Yuji Nagata
Shibata and Goto got us underway as they looked to establish an advantage in the opening stages, before Ishii and Nagata came in to exchange kicks and forearms. Ishii got the better of that exchange, before Goto came in and made a beeline for Shibata – which makes me wonder if that’s a plan for the Tokyo Dome?
Some double-teaming led to Goto scoring a near-fall over Nagata from a suplex, but the veteran fought back with a knee to the midsection before Shibata came in and took Goto into the corner for way too many stomps and a diving dropkick. Goto hit back though as Shibata avoided a double-team and tagged back out to Nagata who had some success with Ishii… that is, until he tried for an Exploder.
Nagata eventually succeeded and almost dumped Ishii on his head, before Ishii returned the favour with a superplex that didn’t even get a one-count, thanks to Shibata breaking up the cover. Ishii went for his sliding lariat, but Nagata rolled away and countered it with an armbar as Shibata’s Octopus hold restrained Goto for long enough for Ishii to make a rope break. Ishii’s reward for that? A series of kicks from Shibata and Nagata, before Ishii elbowed free of a Backdrop Hold attempt, only to fall to a heel kick from Nagata… whose running knee into the corner was caught and turned into a powerbomb. Goto and Shibata resumed their altercation as Shibata turned a STO into an Anaconda Vice that was broken via the ropes, before both men dished out suplexes to the other.
From there, Shibata was caught off the ropes and dropped with an ushigoroshi, as Nagata’s attempted interference saw him take an over-the-knee reverse neckbreaker as Shibata was forced to kick out from a lariat/Russian legsweep combo. Goto and Ishii went for the assisted GTR finish, but Shibata countered as the CHAOS pair were caught in rear naked chokes. The end came when Nagata turned his choke on Ishii into a back suplex, before Shibata wore down Goto for long enough to force him to the mat for a match-winning PK. Good stuff – and thankfully, a match that’s above average here! ***¾
Everyone in block A and block B have had their half a dozen matches… and this is how they stack up now with just the one match left!
Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa – 5-1 / 10pts
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima, Tetsuya Naito & Rush, War Machine – 4-2 / 8pts
Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi – 3-3 / 6pts
Hiroshi Tenzan & Juice Robinson, Brian Breaker & Leland Race – 2-4 / 4pts
Henare & Manabu Nakanishi – 0-6 / 0pts
EVIL & SANADA, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii, Katsuyori Shibata & Yuji Nagata, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma – 4-2 / 8pts
Billy Gunn & Yoshitatsu, Kenny Omega & Chase Owens – 2-4 / 4pts
Bad Luck Fale & Bone Soldier – 0-6 / 0pts
With both blocks having one match left, block A is the Guerrillas of Destiny’s to lose – if they win, they’re into the finals. If they lose, then the Los Ingobernables pairing of Naito and Rush need to win and hope that Tenzan and Kojima lose, whereas Kojima and Tenzan need to win and hope that the Guerrillas, Ingobernables and War Machine also lose. Sadly, despite their impressive showings, War Machine cannot make it to the finals based on the last round of matches; whilst block B, on the other hand, falls into the typical New Japan “you need a degree in calculus to figure it out” bucket as FIVE teams share the lead before you take head-to-heads into account.