We’ve got a pair of matches from Sasebo, as the ninth day of the World Tag League rolled on with two outings form block A.
As usual, it’s just the tournament matches that have gone up on New Japan World, so let’s get to them!
World Tag League 2016, Block A: Manabu Nakanishi & Henare vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Kojima and Nakanishi started out with a strike-heavy offence, which Nakanishi got the upper hand on before tagging out to Henare. After escaping a suplex, Henare was quickly dropped with a DDT as his opponents laid into him with Mongolian chops. A slam led to a diving headbutt and slingshot elbow drop for a near-fall, as Henare was quickly turning into something of a crash test dummy.
Tenzan landed a suplex for a near-fall, before Kojima tagged in to keep up the pressure, as a double-team shoulder block knocked Henare down once more. More Mongolian chops followed, but Henare landed a shoulder tackle himself and made the tag out to Nakanishi, who dropped Tenzan with a spear. Nakanishi blocked an Irish whip attempt and knocked down Tenzan, before setting up for a lariat… only for some more Mongolian chops to cut that off. Another comeback saw Nakanishi take down Tenzan again, before going for the Argentine backbreaker… but Tenzan blocked it and landed a spinning heel kick instead.
Kojima and Henare returned so that the Kiwi could take the rapid-fire chops in the corner like he owed someone money, but Nakanishi came in to prevent Kojima’s top rope elbow drop. The youngster and the veteran came back with a pair of lariats for a near-fall, before they utilised Argentine backbreakers to get back on track.
Nakanishi flattened Kojima with a big splash, before Henare’s running flip senton got a near-fall. They went for the rocket launcher shoulder tackle finish, but Kojima was able to kick-out, before Tenzan broke up a Boston crab as Henare eventually took a TenKoji Cutter for another near-fall. It was elementary from there as Nakanishi was dispatched to the outside, leaving Henare helpless for the Strong Arm lariat. A good match – slightly more even than I’d have expected, but the outcome was spot on. **½
World Tag League 2016, Block A: Brian Breaker & Leland Race vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson
In the new Wrestling Observer, there’s a one-liner about how Leland Race being Harley’s son is a “bull**** story”. If true, that makes so much sense…
By this point in the tournament, we knew what to expect from the WLW pairing, and they lived down to those expectations, with Breaker looking the nearest thing to a pro wrestler, whilst Race looked out of place. Breaker whipped Robinson out of the ring and went after him, as Tanahashi drew the short straw with Race on the outside. That spot of action outside led to Race and Breaker taking over on Robinson briefly, until Juice dropped Leland with a leg lariat. Tanahashi made the tag in and cleared house on the two Americans, knocking Breaker off the apron before a Dragon Screw took down Race, before getting a near-fall out of a flip senton.
Breaker tagged back in and thought he’d gotten rid of Tanahashi, who skinned the cat and returned with a Slingblade, before Race put paid to a High Fly Flow attempt. Robinson came in and hit Breaker with the Juice/Dusty punches, before a clothesline knocked the big man down and into the corner.
A cannonball followed as Juice then tried for a Jackhammer…but Breaker easily powered out and dumped Robinson on the ropes. With Tanahashi knocked off the apron, Race ran into Juice with some double knees, before a Breaker spinebuster almost took the win after Race was planted onto Juice for a cover. They kept on top of Robinson, who fought back out of a corner with some more Juice punches, before Breaker overwhelmed him with an Oklahoma Stampede.
Race looked to finish off Juice with a Rocket Launcher, which again looked ass-ugly, and thankfully that wasn’t the finish. Tanahashi returned to cut-off an assisted Shiranui, as the “home team” eventually knocked Breaker to the outside as Race took a Slingblade Hart Attack for a near-fall. That was at the ten minute mark, and this video had barely passed the half-way mark – this cannot go on that much longer, can it? Thankfully not, as the next move was the end: a Pulp Friction that got Juice the win.
Maybe it was prejudice, but I expected little out of this match, and that’s exactly what I got. Breaker and Race at best have been passable, but today they fell well short of that. **½
With the new format, we’re no longer having everyone had the same number of matches, but for the sake of completion, here’s the standings:
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima – 4-1 / 8pts
Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa, War Machine – 3-1 / 6pts
Hiroshi Tenzan & Juice Robinson, Brian Breaker & Leland Race – 2-3 / 4pts
Hangman Page & Yukiro Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & Rush – 2-2 / 4pts
Henare & Manabu Nakanishi – 0-5 / 0pts
EVIL & SANADA, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI – 3-1 / 6pts
Billy Gunn & Yoshitatsu, Katsuyori Shibata & Yuji Nagata, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma – 2-2 / 4pts
Kenny Omega & Chase Owens – 1-3 / 2pts
Bad Luck Fale & Bone Soldier – 0-4 / 0pts
Two words: skip this. Nakanishi & Henare vs. TenKoji was alright, but limited for the obvious reasons, and the main event felt anything but.