We’re getting to the business end of the World Tag League (thankfully!), with Sasebo City being the host for the final penultimate block A matches.
By the way, whatever problems New Japan had on the prior night still persisted – so either the building here is overly-lit, or their video projector is on its last legs. We’ll see either way!
World Tag League 2017 – Block A: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi)
Taking tie-breakers into account, the Suzuki-gun team were all but out of the running, and we start in the aisle with Suzuki and Iizuka immediately taking their opponents into the crowd. Well, we may as well cut out the fluff before the crowd brawling…
Suzuki makes a point of wandering past the ring with Page so he can brawl in another part of the crowd, eventually forcing referee Red Shoes to start the count. Suzuki and Page beat it, butthe match doesn’t calm down much from there, as Page somersaults from the apron and into a lariat on Suzuki.
They go back outside as Page throws Suzuki, then el Desperado, into the guard railings, and once again we’re back into the crowd, where I guess Suzuki had a guard railing thrown on him. Back inside once again, Page and Yujiro have a brief double-team of Suzuki, with Hangman’s standing shooting star press getting a near-fall, before Suzuki mounted a fightback.
Desperado distracts the ref as Suzuki locks in the rear naked choke, but disappears before Iizuka can hit the funky oven glove shot. Page tries to hit Suzuki with the Rites of Passage, but Suzuki grabs the ref, then restrains Page as Iizuka’s iron fingers cause the obvious disqualification. That’s five minutes of my life I’m not getting back… half this match was unwatchable because crowd brawling, and the rest of it was just a waste. AVOID THIS MATCH. -*
World Tag League 2017 – Block A: Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
A win would keep Goto & YOSHI-HASHI in touch with the lead going into the final round of matches, and we started with Goto and Nagata jockeying for position in the ropes.
Throw in some tags out, and we wash, rinse and repeat with Nakanishi and YOSHI-HASHI – except this time YOSHI-HASHI’s able to get some shots in before coming unstuck with some shoulder tackle attempts. The match quickly spills outside for more of the obligatory guard railing spots, which looked to cement the CHAOS pairing’s lead. Hirooki Goto comes in and almost wins with a standing elbow drop on Nakanishi, as Nagata threatened to bring a chair into the ring, fed up as he was with the bombardment on his tag partner. Eventually Nakanishi offered some resistance, reversing a suplex, before making the tag out to Nagata, who got the crowd going with a series of kicks to YOSHI-HASHI.
A stuttering low dropkick looked to keep Nagata ahead, but YOSHI-HASHI quickly replied with a running Blockbuster before bringing Goto back into play as Nagata’s chances of winning continued to deteriorate. Out of nowhere, Nagata catches Goto in the Shirome armbar, and that somehow leads to Nakanishi going airborne with a crossbody off the top rope!
Nakanishi got back to his feet and hits a clothesline that almost beat Goto, then went to the Argentine backbreaker as the New Japan Dads looked to pick up the shock win. YOSHI-HASHI couldn’t break it up, and ended up having his tag partner thrown on him, but a miscommunication led to Nakanishi clotheslining his own man, before recovering with a double suplex.
Still being double-teamed, a double neckbreaker nearly puts Nakanishi away, before he was hoisted up for a double-team reverse GTR for the win. Vastly superior to the day’s other match, this match went as you’d expect – and we now have a three-horse race to win the block! **½
EVIL & SANADA; Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi; Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (4-2; 8pts)
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens; Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan; Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (3-3; 6pts)
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-4; 4pts)
Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (1-5; 2pts)
Beretta & Chuckie T; Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa; Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (4-2; 8pts)
Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer; Hanson & Raymond Rowe; (3-2; 6pts)
Henare & Togi Makabe; Katsuya Kitamura & David Finlay (0-5; 0pts)
Block B rounds off its penultimate set of matches in Yamaguchi today, but with expected wins for War Machine and the Killer Elite Squad, it’ll be a tightly-fought final day. Meanwhile on Friday – live on NJPW World – will see block A’s finale, and it looks to be coming down to the main event there, with the winner of EVIL & SANADA vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI making it into Monday’s finals. The Bullet Club pairing of Hangman Page and Yujiro would need to win their match (versus Sami Callihan & Juice Robinson) and hope for a draw in the main event to qualify, as they’ve lost their tie-breakers.