We’re off to Kochi for some more delayed coverage as it’s time to get up to speed with day 7 of this year’s New Japan World Tag League!
For a change, it’s block A getting the “tournament only” coverage, and this time we don’t have any faction battles (for a change!)
World Tag League 2016, Block A: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Henare
Nakanishi and Henare are all but eliminated at this stage, so really they’re reduced to playing the role of spoilers here… and Nakanishi did that pretty well at the start, laying into Loa with forearms before scoring with a shoulder tackle.
Henare tagged in against Tama Tonga, and did as well as you’d expect – showing some Young Lion fire with armdrags against the tag champion, before landing a shoulder tackle himself. A trip from Tanga Loa led to Henare being thrown into the crowd barriers though, and this is where the tables turned for the youngster, as the Guerrillas worked over him with a suplex for a near-fall, before a Blue Thunder Bomb from Tanga Loa earned a similar result.
Nakanishi tried in vain to make a save for his partner, but Henare found himself isolated against the champions, who landed a knee drop, leg drop and a big splash for a near-fall. Henare managed to flip out of a back suplex, before a sunset flip on Tanga Loa was proven to be for nought thanks to a blind tag to Tama Tonga. After scoring a dropkick, Henare finally made the tag to Nakanishi, who resisted a clothesline and dumped Tonga with a backhanded chop.
Tonga ducked another lariat and landed a headbutt, before falling to a spear for a near-fall. An Argentine backbreaker was attempted, but Nakanishi couldn’t get Tonga up as the Guerrillas instead took a double suplex from the veteran. That was followed up by a pair of lariats from Henare and Nakanishi, with the former getting a near-fall, before they moved to double Argentine backbreakers. I really do like the idea of Henare becoming a mini-Nakanishi, especially if it helps him in the long run!
Loa ended up taking a pair of axehandle chops, as did Tonga, before a running flip senton earned Henare a near-fall. Henare was sent up top by Nakanishi for a Rocket Launcher, but Tonga turned it into a Gun Stun for a near-fall as Nakanishi was left alone, landing awkwardly from a double-spear. Henare was still the legal man though, and with Nakanishi gone, it was academic as the Guerrillas landed an elevated DDT for the win. Good match, and the young/old pairing can no longer qualify for the finals – no shock there! ***
World Tag League 2016, Block A: War Machine (Hanson & Rowe) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
War Machine jumped Kojima and Tenzan at the bell, taking them to the corners for a series of avalanche splashes, before they were whipped into each other. For little effect. A double-team shoulder block saw Hanson taken down, as Tenzan and Kojima went to work on Rowe with Mongolian chops.
Rowe took a slingshot elbow drop/headbutt combo from Tenzan and Kojima for a near-fall, before Hanson tagged in and floored Kojima with a push-down stomp from the corner. Kojima was kept in there as he was tied up with a camel clutch, forcing Tenzan to wade in and break up the hold. There was more of the same as Kojima took a diving crossbody from Hanson for a near-fall, before Hanson rubbed his beard into Kojima to further rile him. A shotgun dropkick from Rowe took Kojima into the corner, but a bronco buster missed, allowing the tag to be made to Tenzan, who kept up with those Mongolian chops.
A running knee strike from Rowe missed as he accidentally hit his own man, allowing Tenzan to continue a comeback with a brainbuster for a near-fall. Rowe then hit his knee strike at the second time of asking, before Hanson and Kojima tagged back in, with the former running into a path of rapid-fire chops from Kojima… who then succeeded with his top rope elbow drop for another near-fall. Hanson absorbed some more punishment, before a cartwheel into a lariat saw him take down Kojima and then tag out. Rowe’s chokeslam was blocked, but a double chokeslam was no trouble for War Machine, only for Tenzan to break up the resulting pinfall. A double-team clothesline took care of Hanson, before Rowe ate a Koji cutter, then a TenKoji Cutter for a near-fall as Hanson and Tenzan battled on the outside.
Kojima looked to end things with the Strong Arm lariat, but Rowe ducked and drilled Kojima with a knee strike for a two-count, before Rowe’s mocking lariat was blocked… only for Rowe and Hanson to squash Kojima with the Fallout for the win. A short, but great hard-hitting match. ***¾
World Tag League 2016, Block A: Tetsuya Naito & Rush vs. Brian Breaker & Leland Race
Oh boy, this had better not be another upset win for a WLW pairing that has not exactly set the world on fire. For some reason, Breaker came out alone, before Race, erm, raced to the ring. With New Japan World having muted the sound, I’m not sure whether he missed a cue, or whether they gave him a separate entrance or what…
Naito started off with his usual attack and tranquilo pose on Race, who had little answer for the Intercontinental champion’s offence… until a dropkick led to the Americans taking over. Breaker tagged in and took a two-count from an elbow drop, as he and Race exchanged somewhat frequent tags in and out. Race’s return went somewhat poorly, as the Ingobernables pairing started to wear him down. Another clothesline from Race took down Rush, but he was tripped in the ropes by Naito, who earned himself a plancha for his troubles. That distraction allowed Rush to dropkick Race into the barriers, before he made a beeline for Breaker as all four men ended up on the outside.
Back in the ring, Rush and Naito stomped on Breaker, before a Naito neckbreaker earned him a near-fall. Rush mockingly prepared for a diving corner dropkick a la Shibata, but instead… just booted Race in the face. Hey, that rhymed! Another dropkick saw Race get back into it, and he finally made the tag out to Breaker, who overwhelmed Rush with an avalanche body attack in the ropes, then a Doctor bomb for a near-fall. Breaker went for a powerbomb, but Rush backdropped out and tagged in Naito, who… ran into a clothesline. A leaping DDT from Naito was blocked as Breaker turned it into an Oklahoma Stampede, before bringing Race back into the match.
Breaker’s spinebuster on Naito led to him lifting up Race for a legdrop that turned into a body splash on Naito for a near-fall. Race went for a double-underhook suplex, and took another two-count out of Naito, before going up top for a move that came to nought, as Rush hit the ring and helped double-team Race briefly. Naito was left in there with Race, and the pair landed a double clothesline to each other.
Rush cleared the ring of Breaker, before working with Naito on Race, hitting a Stinger splash then a double diving dropkick, before a reverse DDT got Naito a two-count. We finally got that diving corner dropkick from Rush, as he took Breaker out of the picture, before the Ingobernables took care of Race once more, ending with Naito hitting Destino for the win. A decent match, but once this tournament I can safely say that I won’t be hunting out much (if any) of the WLW pair’s prior work… ***
World Tag League 2016, Block A: Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson
Tanahashi and Juice came into this one still looking for their first win, as Tanahashi’s World Tag League run eerily echoed his G1 record from earlier in the year.
As a rib, Tanahashi and Takahashi start us off – all we need now is the former Kamaitachi to complete the typo-taunting hell here! Tanahashi found himself cornered early on as the Bullet Club pairing pulled his hair, before Tanahashi turned the tables with some hair-pulling of his own.
Page and Takahashi found themselves caught in abdominal stretches for a spot of air guitar from Robinson and Tanahashi, before the faces missed dives to the outside. Takahashi grabbing a chair gave Page a chance to use his noose and hang Robinson over the ropes, and that opened the door for a long period of offence on Juice from the heels. A diving dropkick from Takahashi earned him a near-fall, as Hangman Page came in to make a distraction… which went badly wrong as Robinson mounted a comeback on the outside.
After rolling between the Bullet Club team, Robinson made a tag out to Tanahashi, who scored a near-fall with a flip senton off the middle rope onto Page, before he gets hotshotted by Takahashi after a blind tag was made. Takahashi sweeps Tanahashi’s legs and goes for a crucifix powerbomb, but the “Ace” fights out and lands a Slingblade for a near-fall as the ring filled up.
A modified Falcon arrow sees Tanahashi set up for a High Fly Flow, but Takahasi rolls away as both men tag out, leading to Robinson and Page exchanging blows, ending with a big back body drop from Juice, before a cannonball into the corner should have resulted in a cover. Instead, a suplex from Robinson led to a roll-up by Page for a near-fall, as Juice then hit his delayed Jackhammer for a two-count.
Robinson looked to finish off Page off the top rope, but Takahashi interjected to shove down Robinson – who nearly got pinned via a DDT. Some “Juice!” punches rocked Page briefly, before he was thrown outside, only for Takahashi to use his cane on Robinson, allowing Page to score a near-fall with a lariat after slingshotting back into the ring. After a superplex from Robinson saw him pick up another near-fall on Page, before the faces combined for a Slingblade version of a Hart Attack. From there, Tanahashi took out Takahashi with a plancha, allowing Robinson to land the Pulp Friction on Page for the win. A fun main event, as Robinson gets his team’s first win of the tournament in the best tournament match of the night. ***¾
After each block has completed four matches, New Japan will be holding two block matches per day (to stretch out the tournament!). With block A now at the halfway point, we’ve got a three-way tie at the top of the standings; fortunately with three established teams leading the way, as the makeshift tandems populate the rest of the leaderboard.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa, War Machine – 3-1 / 6pts
Brian Breaker & Leland Race, Hangman Page & Yukiro Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & Rush – 2-2 / 4pts
Hiroshi Tenzan & Juice Robinson -1-3 / 2pts
Henare & Manabu Nakanishi – 0-4 / 0pts
EVIL & SANADA – 3-0 / 6pts
Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii, Billy Gunn & Yoshitatsu, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI – 2-1 / 4pts
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Katsuyori Shibata, Kenny Omega & Chase Owens – 1-2 / 2pts
Bad Luck Fale & Bone Soldier – 0-3 / 0pts
Much like the rest of the tag team tournament action, this was a solid day’s wrestling, albeit without much in the way of blowaway matches. War Machine against TenKoji was fun for a sub-ten minute match, and the main event was equally as good – just don’t let the misleading run-time on the video put you off!