We’re getting towards the final few matches, and the World Tag League is taking it’s toll. Especially if you’re watching it! Four more from Aichi today…

World Tag League 2017 – Block A: Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Both teams came in tied at 2-2, but we opened with a jump start as Yujiro threw Kojima to the outside. Already?!

They quickly return as Kojima and Tenzan edged ahead with the referee pretty much powerless to keep order. You know the drill with their greatest hits, but this time they’re paused as the Bullet Club tandem again took the match outside.

Back inside again, the Bullet Club pair nearly win with a standing shooting star press from Page, as Kojima’s worn down. Yujiro tries to chop him, but you just know what that’s building up to later on! The fightback starts when Kojima blocks some corner charges with his boot, before hitting a DDT and tagging in Tenzan who busts out the Mongolian chops to Hangman in the corner.

A Mountain Bomb puts Page down again, before Tenzan looked to finish him off with an Anaconda Vice – except Yujiro comes in to break it up as the match gets a little scrappy. Kojima breaks up a cover from a Page death valley driver… by screaming at it, and that gave Tenzan enough impetus to tag out… and there’s the receipts to Yujiro, courtesy of Machine gun chops!

The Kojima comeback came to a rude end when Yujiro’s teeth got involved, before a double-team back suplex/neckbreaker almost gets the win. Kojima tries to swat away clotheslines as he and Tenzan drop Yujiro with a TenKoji Cutter, before a brainbuster almost gets the veterans the points… but in the end Yujiro ducks a Strong Arm lariat as Page somersaults in with his own clothesline, allowing Yujiro to hit his Pimp Juice DDT to get the win. This was short, but we’re back to the run of the mill tags, I see! **¼

World Tag League 2017 – Block A: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
Amazingly, this was the longest match of the day, and it started with Nagata trying his utmost to restrain SANADA with holds. SANADA seemed to offer a handshake, but Nagata rejects it and looked to surprise him with a Nagata lock crossface… only for EVIL to interfere to break it up.

Wash, rinse, repeat, and yet again, EVIL’s chased away by Blue Justice.

Nakanishi comes in and keeps wearing down, but this time EVIL outsmarts him as he then goes to throw Nagata into the guard railings. Which was nice, except we saw nothing as SANADA and Nakanishi took a breather in the ring as that happened. They work over Nakanishi’s knee for a spell, but a delayed back body drop on EVIL looked to stem the flow.

Eventually Nakanishi’s able to wade his way to the corner for a tag as Nagata kicks back at EVIL, before landing an Exploder for a near-fall. A swift kick to the knee stops Nagata, but he’s able to resist a Paradise Lock as he and SANADA ended up going toe-to-toe.

A tag brings Nakanishi in for some chops in the corner to SANADA, but EVIL hits the ring again for some double-teaming that quickly ends in a spear. Nakanishi, for some reason, tries to put the icing on the cake by going up top, and actually succeeds with a crossbody too!

The Argentine backbreaker seemed to be the end of things though, but SANADA keeps escaping, only for Nakanishi to get caught by a chair that EVIL clotheslined into him, as a Magic Killer gets the win for LIJ. Nakanishi and Nagata are still eliminated, but at this point I think we’ve got to expect slow matches from them. This wasn’t the worst in the tournament, but it dragged big-time. *¾

World Tag League 2017 – Block A: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Death Juice (Sami Callihan & Juice Robinson)
From the longest, to the shortest match of the day, and I’m pretty sure laughter isn’t the reaction that Takashi Iizuka’s meant to be drawing? At least him holding a chair sort-of scared away the opposition…

We open with stupidity from Juice, as he forgets how Suzuki-gun matches start, and so he’s jumped in the turnbuckles and taken outside. Where he reverses an Irish whip as Suzuki takes a Bret Hart bump into the guard railings, whilst Callihan worked his way into some clotheslines on Iizuka.

As soon as Callihan got ahead, he was dragged back with an armbar in the ropes from Suzuki, as the match again heads outside and into the crowd, where Iizuka happily uses a chair on him. As for Suzuki and Callihan… I’ve no idea. Fixed camera shows, eh?

Red Shoes starts a count-out, but Sami breaks it up by throwing a chair into the ring, before returning there himself. Bitey Iizuka takes him down once more, before Suzuki grabs an armbar, and we’re back to the biting when Iizuka tags back in. Finally Sami gets the tag out as Juice unloads onto Iizuka with some Dusty punches, and eventually a cannonball to nearly win things after Takashi’s tried to nibble his feet.

It’s an acquired taste, I hear.

Callihan and Robinson try to double-team Suzuki, with good results to begin with, as they hit a side Russian legsweep/big boot combo for a two-count, but once Iizuka took Callihan out of the equation, it was just a matter of time before distractions did the trick, as Desperado gets the ref tied up as an iron glove shot from Iizuka and a Gotch piledriver gets the win. Well, at least this didn’t go on for too long, but this was another run-of-the-mill match in front of a crowd that struggled to get invested. Is it harsh to say that Callihan in New Japan has been hit-and-miss? **

World Tag League 2017 – Block A: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
You know a man hates hearing his name when he’s prepared to kill his own partner to stop you from saying it…

We open up with Goto trying to take Fale off his feet, with little success. Things turned around against Chase, as the CHAOS pair hit some nice double-teams, which lead to YOSHI-HASHI giving us another staple of wrestling these days: chops in the corner. Owens cuts it off with a thunderous enziguiri from the apron though, and we quickly head outside as everyone’s thrown into those guard railings.

Fale and Owens head back to the ring, expecting to take the count-out, but YOSHI-HASHI beats the referee’s count and returns into more battering from Fale. Owens keeps it going, working on YOSHI-HASHI’s leg, but he’s quickly shoved aside as Goto gets the tag back in.

A dropkick in the corner looked to have Chase on the back foot, but it took a back suplex from Goto to establish dominance, but as soon as I type that, Goto’s back on the defensive. Fale returns – without a tag, for those who get annoyed by those things – and squashes Goto in the corner, ahead of a running knee from Owens.

Once Goto kicked out from that, Chase looked for his package piledriver, but it’s blocked as YOSHI-HASHI hit the ring for a double-team Bunker Buster to Owens. Fale tries to get involved, but it just kept the momentum swinging as Owens fought back, only to take a double-team ushigoroshi, then a double-team reverse GTR as the CHAOS pair won. On paper, this was fine, but the crowd reactions on this show have hurt more than anything else. **¾

After a so-so day of action, we’re now five matches into block A, and it’s still too close to call as we now have a five-way tie at the top (not factoring in tie-breakers) with just two block matches to go.

Block A:
EVIL & SANADA; Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi; Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI; Juice Robinson & Sami Calihan; Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (3-2; 6pts)
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens; Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-3; 4pts)
Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (1-4; 2pts)

Block B:
Beretta & Chuckie T; Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer; Hanson & Raymond Rowe; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (3-1; 6pts)
Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb; Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (2-2; 4pts)
David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura; Togi Makabe & Henare (0-4; 0pts)

We’re into the business end of the tournament, with the schedule looking like this:

December 2 – Osaka – block B (4 matches)
December 3 – Kochi – block A (2 matches)
December 5 – Oita – block B (2 matches)
December 6 – Nagasaki – block A (2 matches)
December 7 – Yamaguchi – block B (2 matches)
December 8 – Hiroshima – block A (4 matches)
December 9 – Ehime – block B (4 matches)
December 11 – Fukuoka – finals

The last three dates will be live on NJPW World, whilst the remainder will be following the “released the next day on VOD” format. The end is in sight!