After Friday’s action was a little lacklustre, block B of the World Tag League took centre stage in Osaka on Saturday. Here’s how it unfolded…
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) vs. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura
Maybe this’ll cause an upset (eventually), but this really ought to be a walk in the park for the Best Friends. Even if Kitamura is so amped up he’s literally bouncing around the ring. The Best Friends started off trying to take down Finlay, but came up short early on as Beretta was knocked down with a plancha… only for Chuckie T to hit a flip dive to make things even. Of course Kitamura’s not flying…
Beretta and Chuckie found time to give each other a hug as Finlay became isolated, eventually being force-fed some Sole Food as Chuckie looked to keep him on the mat and far away from a tag… whilst at the same time finding ways to aggravate Kitamura. That bit may not have been wise.
Especially when Kitamura gets the hot tag in and instantly decks Beretta with forearms. He’s easily distracted though, but recovers to drop the pair of them with a spear, only for the tide to swing back as a double chokeslam earned a near-fall – with Finlay staying on the outside only to shout “kick-out”, rather than make a save.
Finlay does make a save as they went for Strong Zero, before Kitamura press slammed Beretta into a diving uppercut. Chuckie tries, and misses, a moonsault, before Kitamura speared his way into a knee from Beretta as the Best Friends quickly finished him with the Strong Zero. By the numbers stuff, but at least they kept it brief – and I’d expect the Kitamura/Finlay team to have similar matches until that final “wooden spoon” outing against Henare and Makabe. **½
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin vs. Togi Makabe & Henare
Oh Henare, is it any wonder Makabe doesn’t take too much convincing to let you jump-start the match? To be fair, he did hold his own for a brief spell, only for Elgin to get off a gorilla press slam, before easily slamming him onto Cobb’s knee.
Those tilt-a-whirl gutwrenches impress Osaka as Henare gets thrown around with ease by young Jeff, who then plays pass-the-parcel with the New Zealander in a suplex. Like you can imagine Makabe doing any of this… and of course, when Henare gets in a spear, he’s willing to tag in and take Cobb into the corner for the start of his Greatest Hits.
Mounted punches succeed, but Elgin slides in to stop the Northern Lights suplex… and earns himself a scoop slam for his troubles. Another attempt at the Northern Lights gets blocked, but Makabe manages to knock down Jeff with a clothesline, and in comes Henare again. You can probably guess how this ends.
Some plucky fight against Elgin actually sees Henare knock him down with a forearm, before he heads up top a flying clothesline, before some double-teaming quickly knocked him down. Makabe tries, and fails, to help out, as he takes a double-team uranage, leaving Henare alone for more battering forearms.
Elgin’s Falcon arrow almost gets the win, but Makabe breaks it up, before an Elgin Bomb quickly puts the Young Lion away. Simple and by the numbers, but at least these aren’t all one-way streets. **¼
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Surprisingly this isn’t the main event of today’s block matches, but hey ho. At least Lance gets to spray folks with water again… whomever wins this will be joining the Best Friends at the top of the block, and we start with some double-teaming as the Guerrillas go after the Bulldog.
Archer breaks up an attempt at an elevated DDT as the tag champs try to take over, with Smith lifting up Tama Tonga a la Jim Breaks. Archer finds out the hard way, you can’t headbutt Tama Tonga, so he goes to work on his arm instead, at least until Tama snuck in an enziguiri and got the tag out.
Tanga Loa corners Archer with clotheslines, but some big boots stop all that, as the KES combined for a sidewalk slam and a big splash for a near-fall. They both continue to work over Tanga, getting near-falls before Archer intimidated Red Shoes so much the ref had to leave the ring.
Tama’s back and hits a ‘rana to put the Bulldog in the corner, as a dropkick gets rid of the mouthy one on the apron, but Archer quickly returns once Smith caught a Stinger splash, as a Hart Attack puts Tama back on the mat. Smith keeps up with a reverse DDT, before Tama’s attempt to fight out of a powerbomb almost earned him a Killer bomb as the ring filled up.
Impressively, Tama switches a chokeslam into a Gun Stun to get rid of Archer, before the Bulldog blocks one and turns it into a Tiger suplex for a near-fall. Smith gets a little too far ahead of himself though, trying for another reverse DDT, with Tama this time countering into a Gun Stun as the Guerrillas pick up the surprise win! Interestingly, that’s War Machine and the Guerrillas who’ve beaten the tag champions here… and I’m hoping that’s not leading to more bloody three ways! As for this match… exactly what you’d expect, especially in the confines of this league. Good, but nowhere near the level that we’ve seen from these teams before. **¾
World Tag League 2017 – Block B: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. War Machine (Raymond Rowe & Hanson)
Nobody ever accused Toru Yano of being a genius… throwing water at War Machine before the bell just underlines that!
Poor Yano starts against Hanson, but either of War Machine would have scared him. His “break” shtick just turns into a self-imposed see-saw for punches from Hanson, who has no issue rubbing his beard on Yano, who quickly scurries out to a tag as Ishii tries his luck with shoulder tackles.
Yano finds a use for himself, shoving down War Machine as Rowe tried to slam Hanson onto Ishii, and that gave the CHAOS pairing a glimmer of hope. As did Yano removing the turnbuckle padding. Things turned around as Rowe gets isolated in the wrong corner, with Yano and Ishii working pretty well as a team, trying to coerce Hanson in to stop the referee from seeing their attempt at throwing Rowe into that exposed corner.
Eventually Rowe gets free to make a tag as Hanson comes in for his corner-to-corner lariats, and this time he actually gets to hit a few of them. We’re going longer-than-usual folks! Yano undoes another turnbuckle, but Hanson stops himself from running into it, as Ishii tries to capitalise with a brainbuster… and succeeds!
Rowe comes back and turns things back around, but he instead engages a chop/forearm battle with Ishii, winning out when he headbutts away some strikes, before finding out that Ishii also has a hard head. And a solid back suplex too! Hanson almost tastes the same, but he fights back as Ishii quickly gets cornered, and propelled into a pop-up slam for a two-count.
More headbutts get Ishii back in, but Rowe’s just as eager to throw, before pulling him into a powerbomb to almost get the win. Yano’s back to being useful as he saves Ishii from a clothesline-assisted German suplex, and he’s tagged back in quickly thereafter to try and pick apart the downed Rowe. Who hits first.
A slow-count gets Yano a two after Rowe charged into the exposed corner, and it’s back to the shenanigans as Yano grabs beards before he tries to low blow Rowe. They did that on purpose. Meanwhile, Hanson dives onto Ishii outside, before a vicious knee from Rowe to Yano nearly gets the pin.
War Machine goes for Fallout, but Ishii shoves Hanson off the top rope, and in the ensuing mayhem, Yano wins as Yano wins: low blow, roll-up, and there’s the shock of the day! This was easily the best on the show today, and although you can nitpick “why is Yano pinning War Machine with a low blow?”, what came before it was well worked and largely kept away from that shtick, if that is what you dislike. ***¼
Block B is pretty much mirroring block A at this point – everyone’s pretty much a win or a loss away from being out of it, whilst the two teams with Young Lions will be fighting to avoid finishing bottom of the block.
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)
Beretta & Chuckie T; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (4-1; 8pts)
Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer; Hanson & Raymond Rowe; Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin; Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (3-2; 6pts)
Henare & Togi Makabe; Katsuya Kitamura & David Finlay (0-5; 0pts)
The World Tag League ran earlier today in Kochi (we’ll have a report up on Monday, all being well), and it’s a day off for them from there as they return on Tuesday in Oita for another pair of block B matches. We’re nearly there – and hopefully we’ll see more than one great match in this tour!