Another day, another round of the World Tag League, as Tottori witnessed another four matches out of block B.
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura
When you’re up against it, sometimes you’ve got to cut corners – and that’s something Finlay did when he jumped Ishii with a dropkick off the middle rope to start the match.
There’s a quick receipt as Ishii and Yano took them outside, with Yano showing Kitamura what it feels like to go into the crowd and take a chairshot. Kitamura isn’t scared to throw back, and when he opted to take up Ishii’s offer of chopping him, you knew that it also wasn’t going to end well. Kitamura’s able to overcome Yano with shoulder tackles, before Finlay tagged himself in avoided some turnbuckle pad shots from the Sublime Master Thief. Yano tries a comeback, but the ref blocks a low blow as Yano’s forced to try other means… which mostly involved hair-pulling.
Ishii tags back in and gets dropped by Finlay, before Kitamura comes in and shows off his power, press slamming Ishii into one of the remaining turnbuckles. For some reason Finlay comes in to try a double-team finish, but instead it’s a Kitamura spear that almost does it, before he nearly beats Ishii with his own brainbuster. In the end though, the Stone Pitbull hits back with a lariat, before a brainbuster gets the win. Solid enough, but exactly what you’d expect given the gulf between these teams. **¼
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Togi Makabe & Henare
This should be an easy one for the Guerrillas, but Henare decided to take a leave out of Finlay’s book from earlier and lay into Tama Tonga from the off. It had similar results…
A double clothesline from Tanga Loa got the Guerrillas on track, as Henare took his usual share of the beating, with plenty of slams and clubbing blows as Makabe just watched on from the floor. Makabe teased coming in to help as Henare was trapped in a rear chinlock, but the New Zealander just ends up getting clubbed again as he tried to fight free. Finally Makabe gets tagged in, and shrugs off some double-teaming so he can pepper Tama with those punches in the corner… but that’s about all as Tama uses his head and a Stinger splash to soften up the former Tag League winner for a Tongan Twist.
After slipping in another lariat, Makabe tagged out to the fresher Henare, and you can probably guess how this goes. Plucky Henare fires up and nearly wins with a flying shoulder tackle, but despite some help from Makabe, experience pays off as Tanga Loa avoids a flying Kiwi and quickly polishes him off with a sit-out tombstone. Solid, but another tag league match that went as you’d expect – particularly since there’s no way a team with a Young Lion in is pinning the recent tag champs. Still, it’s a light tour for Makabe, so I doubt he’s complaining! **
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe)
Well, well, well! This could well be a show-stealer, given the calibre of names involved.
Beretta finds out early that the standard headlock’s not going to have much of an effect on Rowe… so he tags out to Chuckie, who wants “the big guy”. No, not that one, Hanson! Yeah, he has the same luck, and it seems the Best Friends are gonna need a plan B. They found one that sort-of works: clubbering!
Hanson looks on disapprovingly as Chuckie slowly slingshots onto Rowe, and then the penny dropped as Rowe got back up and knocked out Chuckie with a forearm. Beretta tries to get some payback for his friend, but War Machine just obliterate him in the corner instead. As they do. The momentum swung as Chuckie virtually wrecked the guard rails when he pulled Rowe off the apron and into them, as the Best Friends kept Hanson in the ring for a spell. Of course, it spills outside as Rowe ambled back into it, but he’s thrown back into the guard railings as it seemed that Hanson tried to rip off Beretta’s boot to force a way back in.
Hanson eventually fires back, dropping both Best Friends en route to tagging out to Rowe, who had no problems showing off how he can throw folks too, with a double Exploder almost winning it. It almost got worse for the Best Friends, as they cut-off Hanson’s corner-to-corner lariats before hitting a double-team chokeslam for a two-count.
War Machine rebound, but Chuckie prevents Fallout and instead helps with a double team Soul Food/side Russian legsweep to Rowe, just as Hanson came back and wiped out Beretta with a leg lariat. He’s agile, that guy… and he threatened to show even more with a moonsault, before Beretta caught him with a top rope German suplex instead!
After finding that a piledriver couldn’t take out Hanson, so Chuckie T returns for the Best Friends’ own double-team finish – a spike Dudebuster. Except Rowe stops that, and comes back to finish off a pop-up slam as the match hurtled to an end, courtesy of Fallout on Chuckie. Enjoyable fare, with the Best Friends having more luck than I expected against the big lads. ***
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
The final league match of the day pits Cobb and Elgin against the current IWGP tag team champions – and it seems that the KES can’t decide who they want. We started with Smith and Cobb, as the Bulldog looked to end it early with a cross armbreaker on the Hawaiian… but he was way too close to the ropes for it to last.
It’s very ground-based stuff as Smith and Cobb looked to grapple, before we got some failed double-teaming as soon as Smith lost his advantage, which leads to the obligatory brawl-around-ringside. We go back to double-teaming as Elgin tried to suplex both of the KES at once, but that too is reversed, and the KES are back to working over Cobb, with Smith trying his darndest to wrench off Cobb’s leg with some Indian deathlocks. Fortunately, Elgin knew how to stop that: sweep the leg!
Cobb manages to get the tag out after that help, but Big Mike’s assistance ended up being a little stop-start thanks to Archer, although he did manage to drop Smith with a slingshot Blockbuster and a Vader bomb for a near-fall, as a double-clothesline then left both men laying.
Tags take us to Cobb and Archer, with the latter setting up Cobb for a long drawn-out move… but he more than telegraphed it and gets caught with a belly-to-belly as all four men hit the ring for a Parade of Moves, with the highlight coming as Smith dumped Cobb with a backdrop suplex, but Elgin quickly broke up the cover before Red Shoes could even think about counting.
Cobb and Elgin recover to drop Smith with dualling clotheslines, before Archer takes a superplex ahead of some flippy Cobb goodness, but it’s nowhere near enough, and we’re still in the revolving door stage of the match as the referee seems to have thrown out the whole notion of the “legal man”, as Jeff Cobb ends up getting pinned by a Killer Bomb after Elgin was thrown outside. This was fine, but the match struggled to grab me in any way – I’ve never been a fan of champions being in a tournament like this, but I guess we need something to establish KES as a dominant pairing after a summer of multiman matches. **½
Two matches deep in block B, and we have a standalone leader – whilst the teams you’d expect are trailing.
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens, Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (2-0; 4pts)
Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi; Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka; Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan; YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto (1-1; 2pts)
EVIL & SANADA; Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (0-2; 0pts)
Hanson & Raymond Rowe (2-0; 4pts)
Beretta & Chuckie T; Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer; Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa; Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (1-1; 2pts)
David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura; Togi Makabe & Henare (0-2; 0pts)
Block A returned to action on Saturday in Shiga, with these tournament matches: Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens vs. EVIL & SANADA; Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Sami Callihan & Juice Robinson; Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka; Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi. Our reviews of that quartet will follow once NJPWWorld has them posted…