The only-on-demand section of the World Tag League comes to a head as the tour hit Hyogo!
We’re in the Kobe Sanbo Hall for this single-camera affair…
World Tag League: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Oh dear. I think we can all see where this is going…
Umino and Tama start us off, but Tanga Loa jumps the Young Lion from behind as the ring filled to start the match, with the tag champions putting a beatdown on the relative rookies… who actually get the better of things, scoring with dropkicks to clear the ring.
On the outside, Yoshida even manages to hurl Tanga Loa into the guard railings before Jado gets involved, cracking Umino in the back with the Kendo stick as the Young Lions were perhaps too much on top. From there, Umino’s taken into the champions’ corner as they worked over him, with Tanga’s slams and elbow drops rather methodically getting a two-count as Yoshida comes in to break it up.
After getting choked in the ropes, Umino’s met with some more body blows before he tried to mount a comeback, only to get cut off with a spear. Another beatdown ensues, before Umino slipped out of a suplex from Tanga Loa and scored with a dropkick, but he had to wait to tag in Yoshida, as he needed a missile dropkick to take out Tanga and give him sufficient time.
Yoshida charges in and knocks Tama Tonga off the apron before scoring with a running forearm to Tanga Loa. He loses his momentum with a slam that’s easily blocked, before he scored at the second attempt as Tanga ran into the move. Tama’s got to break up the pin from a clothesline, but Umino helps out with a missile dropkick as duelling Boston crabs had the Young Lions back on top.
Problem was, Tama Tonga interferes again, pulling Umino outside and into the guard rails, which just left Yoshida isolated. He tried to snatch a win with a backslide, before Tama runs in for a Gun Stun. Tanga pulls up Yoshida at two, but only so they could lay on more offence before a top rope put Yoshida down for the count. A not-too-competitive squash, which is exactly what this should have been. **¼
World Tag League: The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
Another dead rubber here, with both teams just playing for pride.
Nagata and Page start us off, but Yujiro wanders in for our second “attack from behind” start of the day. The New Japan Dads whip the Elite into each other, before focusing on Page, who eats a pair of shoulder tackles before Nagata held him in place for a Nakanishi splash for a near-fall.
Yujiro gets involved again, tripping Nagata in the ropes before throwing him back in for a Page dropkick. A tag brings Yujiro in to pie-face Nagata, with a low dropkick finding its mark for a near-fall as the Elite combined well to set up for Page’s standing shooting star press for a near-fall.
Nagata retaliates with a knee to the midsection, before Nakanishi tagged in to trade shots on Page. There’s a Polish hammer to the Hangman, as Nakanishi set up for a lariat, then the Argentine backbreaker, which Yujiro breaks up courtesy of a low dropkick. A superkick from Page gets him back in it, before Yujiro tagged in and found himself unable to send Nakanishi into the ropes.
Another clothesline puts him down as Nagata tagged back in, lighting up Yujiro with kicks before Takahashi bit back. Page returns to help with a back suplex/neckbreaker combo for a near-fall, before a release Fisherman’s suplex got Yujiro another two-count. Nagata tries to fight back, but he turned around into a Buckshot lariat, before pushing away a Pimp Juice DDT, eventually hitting back with the Backdrop Hold for the win. Pretty basic stuff, but at least they didn’t go too long, or have Nakanishi in there for ages either. **½
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Another one where both teams are out of the running, but this has a chance of being half decent especially with ZSJ in there.
We’ve another jump start, but at least it fits with the Suzuki-gun MO as Sabre and Taichi went after Kojima and Tenzan… who again overcame it by whipping their opponents into each other. Duelling shoulder tackles follow, and I swear I’m watching the last match with different wrestlers cast.
Mongolian chops switch it up a bit as Taichi’s left down for the slingshot elbow/diving headbutt combo, before Tenzan went to work on Sabre with chops. We’re quickly back outside for the crowd brawling portion of the match, with Taichi throwing Kojima into the crowd – albeit softly since a child refused to move from his seat!
Back in the ring, Sabre’s got Tenzan in a front facelock in the corner, holding him there until Taichi tagged back in, and of course he mocks the Mongolian chops until Tenzan nails him with a spinning heel kick. Kojima gets the tag as he goes straight for Taichi with the Machine gun chops… and there’s some for Sabre too despite TAKA Michinoku’s protestations from the floor.
The Suzuki-gun pair broke free, with Taichi regaining the upper hand, only landing a gamengiri on Kojima before a Sabre PK and a Taichi buzzsaw kick drew a near-fall. Off come the trouser as Taichi set up for a superkick, but instead he’s met with a Koji cutter before he ducked a Cozy lariat… only to take a DDT as a worn-down Kojima was forced to tag out.
In comes Tenzan, and Sabre too, but Zack’s taken into the corner and met with a suplex for a near-fall, before a Mountain bomb drew a similar result. From there, Sabre’s forced to roll out of an Anaconda Vice as Tenzan looked to force a submission, before he pulled Tenzan down into a Fujiwara armbar. Kojima breaks that up, and helps with a TenCozy Cutter for Sabre, before Tenzan headed up top for a moonsault… which misses.
TAKA distracts the referee, allowing Taichi to go hog wild with his mic stick, as Sabre snatches the win with the Euro Clutch. This was enjoyable for what it was; about on par for what you’d expect at this stage in the tournament. There could well be juice in a Sabre/Suzuki vs. Kojima/Tenzan match, even if it’s “just” for those Rev Pro tag belts. ***
World Tag League: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Well, we don’t have a jump start here, but instead we do have Henare spoiling for a fight as he started against Archer… but he did get attacked from behind as Smith looked to finish it in seconds with a Killer Bomb.
Luckily, Makabe breaks it up as the ring fills, with poor Marty Asami helpless to stop any of it. Henare and Makabe take Smith outside, before they charge down Archer with double shoulder tackles. Smith, whose shoulder was near YOSHI-HASHI levels of taped-up, gets involved as he pulls Henare to the outside, and here’s your crowd brawling! The padding on the floor’s pulled up as Smith slammed Henare onto the hard floor, as the fixed camera makes this a sheer joy to follow.
Henare breaks the count in time, but gets wiped out with an Archer clothesline, then a shoulder tackle as it seemed to be business as usual for the New Zealander. Smith tags back in and whacks Henare in the back with a forearm a few times before throwing him into Archer’s boot as the KES seemingly had things in check.
A body slam leaves Henare flat on the mat, while Archer took the time to provoke Makabe again. That doesn’t usually end well… and it didn’t here as Henare headbutts the American away before tagging in Makabe. There’s clotheslines in the corner for Archer, and some mounted punches too, before another clothesline drew a near-fall for Makabe.
Archer fought back, but another clothesline puts him down before both men tag out, prompting Henare to continue the fightback with a leaping shoulder tackle. Another one off the top rope finds its mark, but Smith kicks out at two before a rugby tackle’s cut off with a POUNCE from Archer! Smith gets rid of Makabe in the meantime, but nearly falls to a schoolboy from Henare… and the turnaround ends there as Henare ran into a Hart Attack for a near-fall, before he was finally put away with a Killer Bomb. The resistance was short-lived, and the KES continue to press for a place in the final after another solid outing. ***
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
Yeah, we’ve a jump start, and we’re quickly focusing on Cobb as Iizuka and Suzuki put the boots to him.
Cobb tries to fight back, but runs into a back elbow before he manages to start clubbing away on Suzuki. That doesn’t usually end well. A chairshot from Iizuka on the outside makes sure of that, and we’re back into the crowd as Elgin’s thrown into the barriers before Suzuki took him into the seating area, while Iizuka just tried to choke Cobb with a crowd barrier.
Yeah, there’s chairshots for Elgin too as the Young Lions get jabbed in the shoulder with chairshots. That did NOT look comfortable. Cobb somehow manages to beat the count-out, diving in at the last second, as Suzuki continued to put the boots to him, before Iizuka came in and got unmasked as it was feeding time.
One of those bites just served to get Cobb in place for a hanging armbar as Suzuki busted that out. There’s an eventual escape as Cobb counters a rear naked choke attempt with a Saito suplex, before Elgin returned to lay into Suzuki with forearms. An enziguiri out of the corner led to a flying Elgin, who connects with a missile dropkick for a near-fall, before a Falcon arrow picked up a two-count.
The boot of Suzuki gets him back in the match as he leads in with a PK for a near-fall, only to get rocked by some elbows from Elgin, before he recovered for a rear naked choke on the Canadian. A Gotch piledriver looked to follow, but Elgin blocks it and comes back with an enziguiri before both men tagged out. This time, there’s chops for Iizuka from Cobb, along with body slams before Iizuka started to bite back.
Suzuki returns for some double-teaming, which led to another PK as Iizuka picks up a near-fall, before he went for the Iron Fingers… the funky oven glove’s stopped as Elgin breaks it up with a superkick, before a German suplex and a standing moonsault drew a near-fall. An elbow for Suzuki leads to a buckle bomb as Elgin got rid of him, before Iizuka goes back to biting, only for him to get caught with a Tour of the Islands as Cobb picked up another win. Another solid, enjoyable match, as I’m really starting to think about whether I should be ruling these guys out of the final… ***¼
World Tag League: Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) vs. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii
Chuckie’s back to playing nice, but in all eventuality his bouts of the red mist have probably ended his team’s chance of making it to the finals.
We’ve another jump start as Ishii and Yano booted the Best Friends, only for Ishii to get thrown outside as Yano took a pair of back elbows. Chuckie falls over Yano as Ishii came in for the same treatment, except this time Yano makes a save as Beretta ended up getting thrown to the outside as a back body drop turned into an unexpected tope con giro onto his own man. The Best Friends hugged it out though, then shared an embrace with Yano, only to throw him then Ishii into the guard rails. The deceiving swines!
Yano’s rolled back into the ring, but he rolls into the corner so he could have a go at removing a turnbuckle pad. Beretta stops him, but Yano eventually rakes the Best Friends’ eyes and removes the turnbuckle padding. They take the pad off him, so Yano pushes the referee in their direction so he can “fix it”, as the shenanigans continued.
Ishii’s in and shoves Beretta into Chuckie, before landing a German suplex then a shoulder tackle to the pair. That led to Ishii and Beretta trading chops in the corner, before Beretta landed a German suplex and a Gob Stopper to the back of the head for a near-fall. Ishii mounts a comeback, which is quickly thwarted by a tornado DDT by Beretta, before Chuckie comes in and helps with an assisted cutter for a near-fall.
Yano broke that up and was thrown outside, as Chuckie called for – and helped – with a stuff piledriver for another two-count. From there, he calls for a Strong Zero, but Yano stops it, forcing Beretta to land a running knee instead, then a superkick, before he got dropped on his head with a clothesline. A tag brings Yano in, along with Chuckie T, with the latter running into the exposed corner for a near-fall.
Beretta returns with another Gob Stopper to Yano, before a Skayde special from Chuckie almost won the match. Ishii breaks it up and gets sent to the outside for that, while Yano slingshots Chuckie into the corner… with a resulting roll-up getting yet another two-count. The ring clears as Chuckie lands Sole Food on Yano, before one long series ended with Beretta shoving Ishii into Yano as a backslide got Chuckie the win. An enjoyable finish to a match that I couldn’t really sink my teeth into. **¾
World Tag League: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
Are we going full boat on the jump starts today? No! EVIL and Juice start us off, and we don’t even get the “attack from behind” motif as we go straight into the shoulder tackles, with Juice winning out.
There’s a big splash from Juice for an early two-count, before SANADA gets involved in the ropes… only for Finlay to help out as he kicked EVIL during a rather busy period where the ring filled… and emptied out. EVIL manages to avoid a cannonball from Juice, prompting SANADA to come in for some brief double-teaming, as LIJ edge ahead following a spell on the outside.
SANADA takes over, whipping Juice into the corner before tripping him in for a Paradise Lock. There’s one for Finlay too, as a low dropkick broke them both free. Juice gets rocked with a SANADA elbow and an EVIL back senton for a near-fall, before he has to lift SANADA onto the apron to try and save himself from the barrage of double-teaming.
Juice pushes away EVIL and eventually leaps over to make the tag, with Finlay clearing house, flipping out of a German suplex before catching SANADA with a dropkick. There’s a plancha for EVIL too, who’s then taken into the ring for a flying European uppercut as Finlay came close to the win. EVIL uses the referee for help in landing a thrust kick to Finlay before the release Fisherman’s suplex gets a near-fall, as the match was getting decidedly more even, with Finlay eventually winning out on a back suplex.
SANADA rushes in as Finlay looked to be edging ahead, but that double-teaming is quickly curtailed before Finlay caught EVIL with a uranage backbreaker. A tag brings Juice in, who unloads with the Dusty punches to SANADA, only to follow up by running into the double leapfrog/dropkick combo. A ‘rana from SANADA’s blocked and turned into a powerbomb though, as the momentum remained all over the place, before SANADA’s double-teamed with a flapjack from Juice and Finlay.
There’s a near-fall from a dropkick-assisted side Russian legsweep, as SANADA’s forced to fight out of a Prima Nocta stunner and the Pulp Friction. Things turn around with a Saito suplex to Juice for a near-fall, before a Magic Killer found its mark… only for Finlay to break up the pin! EVIL avoids a Prima Nocta before Finlay laid him out with his own move, as the finishing spell got very scrappy and “finisher steal-y”, before SANADA took the Prima Nocta and a Pulp Friction for the upset! A pretty decent tag match, but like the prior match, there was something about this that just didn’t click for me. ***
As we enter the final two rounds of block action, the tag team champions finally stand alone at the top of the field thanks to a pair of upsets. Since it’s the top two who go through to Sunday’s final, that’s only half of the battle though!
1. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (9-2; 18pts)
2. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (8-3; 16pts)
2. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (8-3; 16pts)
2. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) (8-3; 16pts)
5. Juice Robinson & David Finlay (7-4; 14pts)
5. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb (7-4; 14pts)
7. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (6-5; 12pts)
7. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) (6-5; 12pts)
9. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) (5-6; 10pts)
10. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare (4-7; 8pts)
10. The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (4-7; 8pts)
12. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (3-8; 6pts)
13. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (2-9; 4pts)
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino (0-11; 0pts)
We’ve two live shows left before Sunday’s final; Thursday in Yamagata features Ishii & Yano vs. Umino & Yoshida, Best Friends vs. GOD, and LIJ vs. Iizuka/Suzuki, while Friday in AKita has no match order yet, but I’d be stunned if that didn’t top out with KES vs. LIJ to play a role in setting the top two. At this point, it’s among the top four, with not so much left to play for!
As for today’s card, well… SO MANY JUMP STARTS. That being said, the longest match today didn’t even hit the 12 minute mark so this was a relative breeze to watch. I just wish they had more templates for their tag matches!