We’re into the thick of it now, as the World Tag League rumbled on with another clutch of matches, with the entire league in action.

The matches come on-demand from Komatsu’s Suehiro Gymnasium, and we’re right in with the opener that featured the winners from night seven’s main event for our latest single-camera show.

World Tag League: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
We’ve a jump start from the “Young Boys” as they got fed up of TAKA talking trash to them.

A quick brawl on the outside later, and Yoshida’s all over Sabre, taking him into the corner before feeding him for an Umino suplex. After kicking out of a kick, Sabre starts to go to town on Yoshida, but found that the Kaientai Dojo trainee wasn’t just a gimme opponent, as Yoshida had some submissions for him – and some fight as well! Problem was, Yoshida didn’t have experience, and was quickly caught into a heel hook as Sabre forced him to make the ropes. Meanwhile, Taichi’s taking Shota Umino into the crowd, throwing him several rows deep, as Suzuki-gun found their groove. Taichi tags in and puts the boots to the rather isolated Yoshida as Umino slowly made his way back to the apron.

Sabre’s back in on Yoshida, stretching him on the mat before he was sent into the ropes and met with a kick to the chest. Both men tag out from there as Umino looked to get some payback on Taichi, which came in the form of him running into big boots before scoring with a running forearm. The crowd liked that one. Taichi’s taken into the corner as the relative rookies double-teamed him ahead of a missile dropkick from Umino for a near-fall.

Unfortunately for Umino, Taichi kicked out and quickly flattened him with an Axe Bomber for a two-count of his own. Yoshida’s got to break up the cover after a Buzzsaw kick, and then off come the trousers as Umino tries to shock Taichi with a variety of roll-ups, almost getting the win with a backslide, before he runs into a superkick. Game over. A Last Ride powerbomb finishes the job, as the Young Lions’ fire proved to be nowhere near enough. ***

World Tag League: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
Maybe it was me, but Nakanishi looked absolutely knackered on his way to the ring.

Smith and Nagata start, but the latter takes him into the ropes for a clean break as they tried to out maneuver each other early on. Nagata ends up getting taken into the corner for some boots, before he caught Smith with a hiptoss in what was a fairly energetic start by his standard in this tournament… and then we get the tags out.

In come Archer and Nakanishi, with Manabu looking for a Test of Strength. He gets it, but Archer takes him down to a knee, only for Nakanishi to fight back, and get kicked in the back as Smith gets him in the ropes… and thus begins the KES momentum. Some boot choking keeps Nakanishi in the corner, but Nakanishi manages to get out and trade forearms with Smith… only to get knocked down as he took the worse of the exchange.

A double axehandle smash from Nakanishi gets his back in the game, as he quickly tagged out to Nagata who lands the stuttering dropkick… before Archer took over once more. There’s an Exploder out of Nagata before Nakanishi returned and knocked down Smith ahead of a clothesline.

The New Japan Dads follow up with a Shirome armbar and an Argentine backbreaker, but the KES get free of that, only for Nakanishi to catch Smith with a spear and his part of a high/low for a near-fall. After returning with a double shoulder charge to Nakanishi, a legdrop/big splash from KES gets the former tag champs a near-fall, prompting a fightback from Nakanishi who tried his best as he ran from corner to corner for clotheslines… but mercifully, the KES put him out of his misery with a Killer Bomb not long after for the win. This wasn’t good – Nakanishi looks absolutely out of it, and while I have no doubt he’ll try and soldier on throughout the rest of the tournament, it’s going to be a sad state of affairs if he does. **

World Tag League: The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
The sound engineer whiffed a little on the mix here, as we got the mash-up of Immigrant Song and the overdub for Makabe.

We start with Henare and Yujiro, and yes, it’s the Mandated Opening of headlocks and shoulder charges. Yujiro switches it up with some forearms, while Henare lands some hiptosses, before Makabe came in as we ended up with all four men in the ring.

Makabe’s made to pay as he’s dumped by Yujiro, while Henare’s pulled out of the corner and into a backbreaker by Page. A slam from Yujiro keeps up the pressure as Henare kicked out at two, before he’s thrown outside with a thud so Page cancharge him into the ring apron repeatedly. Back in the ring, Henare takes a backbreaker then a standing shooting star press as the Elite pair continued to push on. Mounted punches from Yujiro just annoy Makabe, who watches on from the floor as Henare ate a big boot before charging out of the corner into a shoulder tackle… and finally makes the tag out!

Makabe charges into Yujiro, then Page, after coming in, and of course he goes for Yujiro with mounted punches. A Northern Lights suplex is fought out of as Yujiro takes the eyes, but he can’t avoid a clothesline as Makabe almost cut the match short right there. Page tags in as Makabe broke through a double team, before he ended up eating a back suplex/neckbreaker combo for a near-fall.

Henare’s brought back in as he tries to fight bast Page, eventually clocking him with a leaping shoulder tackle… but he can’t get away a suplex as Page shifted his weight. A Samoan drop comes off though, with Page almost getting put away from that, as Henare looked to measure him up for the spear tackle… and pulled it off for a near-fall. Page wheelbarrows away from Henare and catches him with a fallaway slam of his own before slingshotting into a plancha on Makabe outside. There’s a clothesline to take Henare outside too, where he’s quickly smashed into with a tope as Page became a one-man wrecking crew, finishing off Henare with a discus lariat for another near-fall. A fireman’s carry backbreaker’s good for another two-count as Henare turned into a tackling dummy… one that needed Makabe to keep the match alive.

Makabe fights out of some double-teaming and clobbers Page and Yujiro with a double clothesline, before holding Yujiro in place for a flying shoulder tackle that gets a near-fall. Another Samoan drop’s avoided as Yujiro slips out and looked for the Fisherman’s suplex… but a headbutt stops that as instead Henare runs into a Buckshot lariat before the Pimp Juice gets the win. As sure as night follows day, Henare eats the fall. A solid outing, but at this stage in the tour it’s little more than a “mid table match”. **¾

World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta)
We’ve the customary jump start as Suzuki takes Beretta outside at the bell. I know, I’m shocked too!

Beretta reverses an Irish whip as Suzuki took the guard rails, while Chuckie T’s choked by Iizuka in the ring. Suzuki gets back on the apron and catches Chuckie with a hanging armbar in the ropes, as we’re back to the brawling, with Beretta taking the guard rails ahead of Suzuki dragging him deep into the crowd for his usual shenanigans with chairs and guard railings. There’s even a slap for Yota Tsuji, who sells it like death.

Back at ringside, Suzuki and Iizuka stand alone as the Best Friends are nowhere to be seen. They eventually drag themselves back towards the ring, where Chuckie continues to take a pasting from the hands of Suzuki. Off comes the Lecter mask, as Iizuka’s tagged in to bite away on Chuckie, who manages to get some respite in via Sole Food. A tag’s made out to Beretta, who clears Suzuki off the apron before he lights up Iizuka with chops and some biting of his own. Well, payback and all that…

After ducking a clothesline, Beretta lands one of his own as Suzuki gets mad and grabs a chair from the crowd. The referee stops him, as they return to the ring with Beretta landing a crossbody off the top for a near-fall on Iizuka. More clotheslines follow before Beretta’s sent into the corner a la Shawn Michaels as Iizuka tags in Suzuki… who just puts the boots to the former Roppongi Vice member.

Chuckie tags back in and helps with an enziguiri-assisted Flatliner that almost put Suzuki away. A big double stomp follows as Iizuka’s forced to save Suzuki before he bites Beretta’s foot to get rid of him… meanwhile, Suzuki looked for a Gotch piledriver on Chuckie, and eventually gets it as the win comes from pretty much out of nowhere. It’s almost like they were told “go ten minutes” because that finishing series sure sped up after the cue! A solid but unspectacular match, and one that made you really not want to be Yota Tsuji, as the slap he took at the start of the match was followed up by some forearms in the aisle afterwards. **¾

World Tag League: Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
As we approach the halfway point, it’s matches like these which’ll determine whether the likes of Kojima and Tenzan will be risking being a threat… or will end up at best in the middle of the pack.

Kojima and SANADA start the match, which of course starts with shoulder charges as Kojima took the upper hand… then was knocked down as SANADA too proved he could flex his pecs. Mongolian chops follow from Kojima and Tenzan, but SANADA rolls away from the slingshot elbow/falling headbutt combo as LIJ took over.

Kojima’s thrown into the guard rails, then taken into the crowd by EVIL… another camera follows SANADA and Tenzan going into the paying audience too, as folks were forced to scatter, lest their possessions be used as weapons. Back in the ring, SANADA ties up Tenzan in a Paradise lock, before the obligatory low dropkick frees him, as EVIL tagged in and resumed working on Tenzan’s arms. Kojima tries to break it up, but he’s just tossed aside before Tenzan clocks EVIL with a spinning heel kick out of nowhere. A tag brings Kojima back in as he unloads with machine gun chops to EVIL and SANADA.

EVIL tries to go for a German suplex after those died down, but he takes a DDT instead as Kojima ended up eating a superkick after some accidental help from the referee. SANADA’s back to corner Kojima, before he floats over into a Skull End that is quickly countered out of, with Kojima landing a Koji Cutter instead. Tenzan tags back in after that, and he’s straight in with Mongolian chops to SANADA in the corner, before a suplex dumped SANADA for a near-fall. Some more back and forth led to SANADA going in with Mongolian chops of his own, before he ends up with the inevitable payback in the form of a Tenzan Mountain Bomb. An Anaconda Vise followed, but EVIL’s in to break it up as the veteran team looked to soften up SANADA more, landing a TenKoji Cutter before Tenzan went back to the Vise.

After turning the Vise into a side slam, Tenzan almost wins the match… but EVIL breaks it up again and looked to drop Tenzan with Everything is EVIL. Headbutts stop him in his tracks, but Tenzan’s quickly double-teamed as a back suplex from SANADA earns a near-fall, as does a Magic Killer, before a SANADA moonsault hits the mark and puts Tenzan down for the win. This was a lot better than I expected, with Tenzan and Kojima hanging for large parts of the match… they’re holding it together much better than other teams! ***¼

World Tag League: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
Both teams went into this on six points, which isn’t bad given that nobody had them down as a real threat to make the finals.

Juice and Yano start off with the comedy sells as they swapped waistlocks… and it’s not long before Yano’s into his shtick, diving between the ropes for a break… so Juice just baseball slides past him in a failed bid to trip him up. A back elbow’s more successful, as Juice and Finlay start to combine well, double-teaming Yano, then Ishii as they cleared house. Corner-to-corner attacks follow, with Ishii taking a Juice cannonball, but they take their eye off the ball as Yano’s able to remove the turnbuckle padding. He tosses it to Juice as he somehow outsmarts both men, sidestepping a shoulder charge as Juice hits the ring post, before batting Finlay with the pad.

We all head outside from there, as Juice and Finlay hit the guard rails before Yano… sigh, takes Finlay into the crowd. Do we need multiple tropes in one tournament? Ishii fires up back in the ring as Finlay tries to fight back, but a headbutt drops him as the Rev Pro British champion went to work with some chops. A dropkick from Finlay breaks it off though once Yano’s in, and that helps Juice resume the upper hand, landing a spinebuster as Yano was sent into the ropes.

A leaping splash gets a near-fall for Juice, who followed up with an airplane spin that gave us… DIZZY YANO! Oh, and Dizzy Juice too! Somehow Juice manages to find his man, but he’s pulled down by the hair as Yano brings Ishii back in, but again Juice outsmarts them both as he busted out those Dusty punches before catching them both with a single running crossbody.

Finlay tags back in and keeps up the charge on Ishii, landing a diving European uppercut, before a side suplex earns a near-fall with Yano breaking it up. Double dropkicks dispatch Yano, before Juice and Finlay combine with a dropkick/side Russian legsweep for another near-fall as it looked to be one-way traffic for Fin-Juice. Just as I say that, Ishii escapes Pulp Friction and absorbs a lariat, before he shoved off a Finlay stunner into a Yano powerbomb. Yano manages to get rid of Juice as the double-teaming resumes on Finlay, who takes a slingshot into the exposed corner ahead of a German suplex from Ishii. Finlay tries to roll out of another waistlock, but he can’t put Ishii away with that, so he goes for a uranage backbreaker before beckoning Ishii to his feet.

Yano makes a save as Juice looked to clock Ishii on the apron, and that resulting series ends with Ishii landing a lariat for a near-fall, before he finishes off Young David with the sheer drop brainbuster. Another solid, if not spectacular match, with two teams whom you’d perhaps peg as “upper mid-table” sides working well together. Problem is, we’ve already been tipped off that Ishii has another match at WrestleKingdom, so it’s hard to see them giving him two matches in one night! ***¼

World Tag League: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
It’s been a very disappointing campaign thus far for Cobb and Elgin, and it threatened to continue in that vein as Tanga Loa was all over Cobb in the early going.

Tama Tonga keeps it going with a back elbow before Cobb offered some resistance, clinging onto the ropes to prevent an Irish whip before scoring a glancing blow with a shoulder tackle. In comes Elgin with right hands, before he countered Tama’s resistance with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. There’s an avalanche clothesline in the corner too for Tama, who’s saved from a superplex courtesy of a Tanga Loa run in, as the Guerrillas end up taking a double-team suplex anyway.

Elgin eyes up Jado as he prepared to strike with the Kendo stick, but it’s Tanga Loa who interferes… before Tama threw Elgin outside anyway as we get the Kendo shots behind the ref’s back. The fixed camera shows too much of nothing as we (deeper sigh) have a crowd brawl as Tama Tonga throws Michael Elgin into a blackboard?!

Nope. I certainly was not expecting that in my wrestling today. Elgin gets some payback when he throws Tama into the same blackboard, before they brawled back towards the ring, where Elgin had to leap in to beat the count. Tanga Loa keeps up the pressure by whipping Elgin back into the corner, before slamming him with ease in the middle of the ring, as Tama Tonga tagged back into the fray.

Elgin blocks a suplex attempt, only to get shoved into the ropes as Tama lands a spear for a near-fall. The rough-housing continues as Tanga returns and lands a floatover suplex for a near-fall, following that up with a good old-fashioned chinlock that Elgin escaped by way of a jawbreaker. There’s a back elbow to keep Elgin down as the tag champions kept exchanging frequent tags… but it backfires when Tama misses a Stinger splash, giving Elgin enough time to eventually make the leap for a tag, only for Tanga to pull Cobb off the apron. The Stinger splash lands at the second attempt, but Tama spends his time mouthing off as Elgin finally hits back with a big back body drop! Now the tag to Cobb follows as he unloads with forearms to Tanga Loa, before an Athletic-plex sends him into the corner… but Loa blocks some charges with his feet, only to get caught with a pumphandle fallaway slam.

Cobb and Elgin hit the ring as they combine with splashes on Tanga, following up as Elgin superplexes Tanga ahead of a standing Cobb moonsault for a near-fall, with Tama breaking up the cover. A Tongan Twist sees Tama get rid of Elgin for a spell as the two-on-one resumed on Cobb, as the GOD worked effectively before they decided to take a rare duel trip to the top rope… as a big splash and swandive headbutt earns Tanga a near-fall. A double-team Gun Stun is stopped as Elgin comes in and lands a Falcon arrow on Loa, which in turn built up to the GOD being cornered… before they used the referee as a human shield to save themselves from some avalanches in the corner. With the ref down, Tama calls for Jado to hit the ring, but Cobb and Elgin stop him from using the Kendo stick as they manage to eliminate Tama once again.

Somehow Tanga looked to go for Apeshit, but it’s escaped as Cobb manages to slip out and hit him with a Tour of the Islands for the win. Another seemingly impromptu finish, but this was a fine match as the Guerrillas took another loss… which now knocks them off of the top spot. ***½

So after five matches for everyone, here’s where we stand…

1. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (4-1; 8pts)
1. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) (4-1; 8pts)
1. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (4-1; 8pts)
4. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) (3-2; 6pts)
4. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (3-2; 6pts)
4. Juice Robinson & David Finlay (3-2; 6pts)
4. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (3-2; 6pts)
4. The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (3-2; 6pts)
9. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-3; 4pts)
9. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) (2-3; 4pts)
9. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb (2-3; 4pts)
12. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (1-4; 2pts)
12. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare (1-4; 2pts)
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino (0-5; 0pts)

We’re starting to see the divides now, and mostly teams you’re expecting are slotting themselves into place. A little under halfway through, we’ve a three-way tie with LIJ, KES and the Ishii/Yano team ahead on eight points, while the tag team champions find themselves in a pack of five behind them… and at the bottom of the table? As you’d expect – the Nagata/Nakanishi team looks spent, while the Young Lions will probably end up 0-13 by the end of it all.

On the whole, night eight was still fairly lacklustre, but produced a better calibre of matches compared to other nights. We’re still looking for those big breakout matches in among the slew of 91 bouts… and hopefully we’ll start to get them as we enter the second half of the tour. Tuesday’s a day off for the tour, before we’re back for three days solid – a show on Wednesday in Ibaraki, before two live streams from Korakuen Hall. Given that the Ibaraki show’ll be airing on tape delay, we may well end up out of sync in our coverage!