The fixed camera stuff continues as Ibaraki played host to another selection of indifferent matches from the World Tag League.
You’re probably reading this after our night ten review – since New Japan fell into the trap of not giving folks outside of Japan a chance to see this before the pair of live shows at Korakuen Hall. This show’s from the Mito Municipal Gymnasium in Ibaraki – another fixed, single camera affair…
World Tag League: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
On paper, this is a gimme for LIJ, as we start with EVIL and Yoshida, with the latter cranking in a headlock early on, before we moved to… yes, a shove off and a shoulder tackle.
There’s another shoulder tackle from EVIL as Yoshida tries to fight back with forearms, only to get taken into the corner for some chops. He makes a comeback with a shoulder charge of his own, following up with a kick to the back for a near-fall, only for EVIL to escape a body slam and hit some of his own.
SANADA’s got some slams too, before a Boston crab had Yoshida in trouble as Shota Umino was kept at bay by EVIL’s mere presence. We do get a rope break though, as Yoshida fought back with another bodyslam attempt, which is quelled and met with a back senton as EVIL came close to an early win. After absorbing some chops, Yoshida finally lands that slam as he crawled over… but couldn’t make a tag as SANADA had beaten him to the punch.
There’s a mid kick after SANADA was sent into the ropes, before a tag’s made to Umino, who scored with a forearm to SANADA, then a low dropkick to EVIL, who’d come to try and stop things. A suplex to SANADA finds its mark for a near-fall, but Umino tries for too much as he goes for a German suplex, as he’s fought out of… but he does manage to catch SANADA’s double leapfrog dropkick and turn it into a Boston crab.
Yoshida tries to play guard, pulling EVIL into a Boston crab when the expected interference came, but LIJ manage to break free. Umino tries to fight back with more forearms, but he’s caught in a double-team as EVIL and SANADA catch him with kicks ahead of a backdrop suplex for a near-fall by SANADA. A clothesline from EVIL snuffs out Yoshida, before SANADA’s forced to survive Umino’s attempts at pinning attempts, finishing off when he countered a suplex into a Skull End for the submission. Solid stuff, but really a glorified squash as you’d expect. **¾
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi) vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
We don’t have a jump start here, presumably because Sabre and Taichi don’t feel like they need it here.
Nakanishi and Taichi start us off, with the latter being sent into the ropes from a simple knuckle lock. A shoulder tackle form Nakanishi has Taichi scrambling for a tag out, but Sabre doesn’t fare much better until the double-teaming starts, as he’s then able to focus on Nakanishi’s arm while Taichi, predictably, takes Nagata into the crowd. Back in the ring, Taichi keeps up the pressure as he wraps Nakanishi’s arm around the ropes, before pulling him down into what looked to be a mocking version of Nagata’s Shirome armbar. Taichi pie-faces Nakanishi before he rakes the nose, as he then hit the ropes and ran into a double axehandle as Nagata got the tag in.
You can guess the comeback: kicks to the chest send Taichi into the corner, but a charge gets side-stepped as Taichi lands a head kick to get himself free. Another kick’s caught before Nagata ran into an Axe bomber for a two-count, and off come the trousers from there! Nagata catches a superkick but can’t avoid an enziguiri, as he has to absorb some more offence before scoring with a knee to Sabre.
A tag’s made back to Nakanishi, who catches Zack with a clothesline before he swatted away Taichi from the apron. From there, Nakanishi goes for another lariat, but some double-teaming put Suzuki-gun ahead as a PK nearly puts Nakanishi away. Zack calls for the Zack Driver, but it’s a rib as he instead grabs a triangle armbar… which Nakanishi powerbombed free of before Nagata came in and threw Sabre into a spear.
The low-motion high/low gets a near-fall for Nakanishi, before he lifted Zack up into an Argentine backbreaker. Taichi threatens to run in with his mic stand, but only moves once TAKA Michinoku takes the referee’s attention. One mic stand shot later, and Sabre’s got Nakanishi tied up in an Octopus stretch for the win. A by-the-numbers outing, which worked well in places, but felt distinctly undercard in others. **¼
World Tag League: Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Kojima and Chuckie start us off, as we’re… all about the side headlock in the early going, before, yes, shoulder tackles!
Chuckie leapfrogs over Kojima after he was sent into the ropes again, but he can’t avoid a second shoulder charge before both men tagged out. Beretta manages to score with a clothesline though, as he took Tenzan into the corner before landing a springboard sunset flip for a near-fall. Tenzan fought back though, landing some Mongolian chops before taking Beretta into the corner as Kojima comes into help with some Mongolian chops of his own. A scoop slam’s next as the slingshot elbow drop/falling headbutt find their marks, as Beretta was firmly on the back foot.
Regular chops from Kojima keep Beretta in the ropes, as Tenzan returned for some whips into the corner and some lariats. There’s a suplex out of the corner too as Beretta was offering little resistance, needing Chuckie to break up a cover. A tag’s made to Chuckie eventually as a missile dropkick followed to take Tenzan outside, where he’s met with a plancha as the Best Friends had seemingly turned it around. Back in the ring, Chuckie heads up for a double stomp, and lands it for a two-count as Kojima’s help was restricted to him just yelling at his partner.
A second trip up top follows, but Chuckie whiffs on a moonsault before both men tagged out. Beretta misses a charge into the corner as he’s met with Machine gun chops, as was Chuckie T as his attempt to save backfired, before we got the flying elbow that seemed to spark Beretta into life once more. Kojima snuffs that out with a DDT to Beretta, before Chuckie wandered in and took a Koji Cutter. A Cozy Lariat gets rid of Chuckie as Beretta’s then forced to fight out of a TenKoji Cutter… only for an attempted springboard out of the corner to get caught with a Koji Cutter afterall. From there, Beretta ducks a Cozy Lariat before Chuckie flew in off the top to help with the Strong Zero for the win. A bit of an “out of nowhere” finish, but this was perfectly acceptable graps for a run of the mill show. ***
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
We’ve a jump start as Suzuki boots Juice in the gut as he was going all Macho Man with his robe, and while Iizuka’s putting the boots to Finlay in the ring, Juice is able to reverse an Irish whip as Suzuki’s sent into the guard rails.
Some double-teaming from Fin-Juice saw them take down Iizuka with a bulldog, before Suzuki returned with a hanging armbar in the ropes to Finlay as we’re back to the shenanigans, with Juice getting thrown into the crowd seats as a roving cameraman did his best to walk backwards and not get run over. Iizuka joins in too, choking Finlay with some guard rails but somehow Finlay was able to beat the count, athletically leaping over the rails to get back to the ring. Problem was, the referee was distracted and didn’t see Suzuki twisting Finlay’s ankle as the momentum remained firmly with Suzuki-gun, especially when Suzuki trapped Finlay with a knee bar in the middle of the ring, forcing Juice in to break it up. Except Juice gets a knee bar too for his troubles.
Iizuka tags in, and gets unmasked, so we know what’s next. ALL THE BITING. Suzuki and Finlay return, with the latter being put down with a forearm as he needed to get a foot to the ropes to keep the match alive. They then drag Finlay into the corner so Iizuka can bite and tag in again. Juice returned with a hot tag as he knocked down Iizuka with a leaping forearm, before some Dusty punches ended with… biting. A crossbody from Juice off the top rope gets a near-fall, before Iizuka’s taken on an airplane spin, leaving both men dizzy in the process. Iizuka manages to tag out, with Suzuki quickly taking Juice down for a PK, before a retaliatory leg lariat leaves both men back on the mat.
Finlay tags back in as he tried to keep up the pressure on Suzuki, scoring some back elbows in the corner and a flying European uppercut for a near-fall, before an uppercut-assisted side Russian legsweep drew another two-count. From there, we’ve a uranage backbreaker which Iizuka breaks up the count on as the ring filled up briefly, before duelling finishers from Fin-Juice were broken up. Iizuka bites Juice’s foot to get free, and it’s not long before Suzuki swiftly puts Finlay in a rear naked choke and a Gotch piledriver for the win. This had some decent flashes, but otherwise it felt very much like a “tick the box” excercise in hitting all the tropes. **½
World Tag League: Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Can Cobb and Elgin continue their streak here? Well, if you’ve watched or read this out of order, you’ll know!
Makabe and Elgin get us underway, as we start with shoulder tackles. None of that headlock nonsense here! After both sides hit their tackles, they tag out, as Henare for some reason wanted to take on Cobb, who duly obliged, as we’re back to side headlock, shoot off and shoulder tackles. At least Cobb withstood the tackles like the hoss he is, before an armdrag – focusing on Cobb’s taped-up arm – found its mark. He’s quickly back up though, whipping Henare into one corner before a low dropkick and a diving shoulder tackle took him down. Cobb avoids another shoulder tackle and instead tosses Henare with an overhead belly-to-belly with ease.
Henare then becomes the wrong part of a game of pass-the-parcel, before a back suplex left Henare down. A missed standing moonsault gives Henare some breathing room as he bring Makabe back in… but he’s also got to deal with Elgin too, which meant that the mounted punches were quickly broken up. Makabe manages to outsmart Elgin and Cobb though, catching the former with a scoop suplex off the ropes, and the latter with a Northern lights for a near-fall. Cobb hits back with an Athletic-plex, before tagging in Elgin to try and keep up the pressure, swatting away Henare (proverbially speaking) with the hiptoss backbreaker double-team.
Makabe shrugs that off with a clothesline to Cobb, then eventually to Elgin before he brought Henare back in. A leaping shoulder tackle takes Elgin down, before the Canadian blocked a suplex. It looked like we were going to get a Falcon arrow, but instead Elgin just runs into a Samoan drop for another two-count. We get a flying shoulder tackle to Elgin as Henare again comes close, but Cobb returns and throws Henare into a German suplex.
Duelling clotheslines follow as Henare’s sandwiched, then met with a powerbomb/leaping backcracker for a near-fall, before he rebounds from a buckle bomb by crashing into Elgin with a headbutt. The Henare comeback quickly ends with a superkick though, before a Tiger Bomb drew only a two-count… so Elgin goes back with a huge clothesline and a spinning Elgin bomb for the win. Decent enough, but by now we’ve kinda got folks slotted – and you just knew Henare was going to be the human tackling dummy in this one. ***
World Tag League: The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
We were teased with Yano vs. Yujiro to start with, but Yano would rather undo the turnbuckle pads… which he eventually does, prompting Page to come in and make a save, catching the pad and throwing it to Yujiro, who eventually used it.
That brings Ishii in to charge through Yujiro, before all four men ended up on the outside, with Ishii and Yano getting whipped into the guard rails. We resume back in the ring as Yano’s stomped on by Yujiro, before a snapmare led to a low dropkick for a near-fall. Page tags in and lands a dropkick as Yano looked to be in deep trouble, but he manages to regain ground as he whipped Yujiro into the exposed corner. Ishii tags in, as he shrugged off a boot from Yujiro, eventually returning with a scoop slam as the tide firmly turned. There’s chops too, as Yujiro’s kept in the ropes, before a blind tag from Page saw him come in with a double-team back suplex/neckbreaker combo. Page tries to crack Ishii with forearms, but they have no effect as the pair trade forearms and elbows for a spell, before Page flipped out of a German suplex and eventually caught Ishii with a fallaway slam.
There’s a plancha from Page to Yano, and a tope to Tomohiro too as Yujiro returned to help with some double-teaming. Yano tries to make a save with his amateur stylings, before he slingshots Page into the exposed corner as Ishii came closer to victory. Yujiro trips Ishii in the ropes as we keep going back and forth, with a swinging Angle slam from Yujiro and a running shooting star press almost getting Page a win.
The Elite pair keep up the double-teaming, but Yano pulls Page off the top rope as Ishii instead blasts Yujiro with a clothesline. A tag’s made to Yano, who ends up running into the exposed corner ahead of a Fisherman’s suplex for Yujiro, who then tried Pimp Juice before it was escaped. Somehow Yano avoids a Buckshot lariat, and after sending Page outside with an atomic drop, he forces Yujiro to put on the brakes to prevent a ref bump… which led to a low blow and a roll-up as a rather scrappy match came to an end. Solid, but nowhere near the same stratosphere as great. **¾
World Tag League: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Well, it’s been a year since we last saw this match, with the spamming of this in late 2017 making everyone fed up of the New Japan tag team picture. Archer and Smith wait for the Guerrillas in the aisle, with Jado letting out almost a scared airhorn burst as the stand-off ended with the KES jumping their foes before they even got to the back row of seats!
The bell rings as the brawl starts the match, as we get an impromptu tour of the arena, culminating in Smith and Tanga Loa going to what I assume was the AV area, while Archer and Tama brawled through the crowd and back towards the ringside area.
In the ring, Archer sets up for a chokeslam, but Tama dropkicks away as he followed in with a Stinger splash instead. We’re back outside as Archer’s thrown into the post, as we’re back into the bowels of the hall as Archer throws Tama into a wall before he decks some young lions. Even Tsuji. While they went at it, Smith’s in the ring suplexing Tanga Loa… and they powder outside so we can get Archer chokeslamming Tama Tonga eventually. There’s no cover though, as Smith comes back in to help double-team Tama with duelling boot chokes in the corner. A pounce from Archer followed, before Smith came in and tried to deal with the deadweight that was Tama.
Archer’s back as he dumps Tama with a slam for a rather lackadaiscal two-count, before he uses a neck crank to keep his foe, and the pace of the match, down. A Liontamer’s next as Tanga Loa, rather than go straight in to save his partner, pulls Archer off the apron before he slid in to break it up, before dropping Smith with a fallaway torture rack. The double-teaming of sorts continued as Smith was charged into the corner… just as Archer rushed back to pull out Tanga and play his part in a Hart Attack for a near-fall. A double-team powerslam’s next for another near-fall, which led to Archer intimidating the referee in the corner.
We get a ref bump as Tanga Loa charges Smith into the corner – and into the ref – to break up a Killer Bomb… which meant nobody could count a cover from Archer’s Black Hole Slam. Nor call for a DQ when Jado came in and comically hit Archer with a Kendo stick. Tama Tonga makes a save, catching Archer with a Gun Stun before the Guerrillas double-teamed Smith for a near-fall from the returning ref. Tama lands on his head after taking a clothesline from Smith, but he’s still able to kick out before he fought back with another Gun Stun, which proved to be enough for the win. Well, this one never really got going for me – from the brawl at the start, the match probably should have settled down, but it just jumped in and out of the shenanigans and left it all feeling horribly disjointed. **¼
So we’re slowly starting to thin things out at the top of the pack, with LIJ and the CHAOS pairing of Ishii and Yano sharing the lead – although we’re not even at the halfway point (as depressing as that read!)
1. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (5-1; 10pts)
1. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (5-1; 10pts)
3. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) (4-2; 8pts)
3. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) (4-2; 8pts)
3. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (4-2; 8pts)
3. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (4-2; 8pts)
7. Juice Robinson & David Finlay (3-3; 6pts)
7. The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (3-3; 6pts)
7. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) (3-3; 6pts)
7. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb (3-3; 6pts)
11. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-4; 4pts)
12. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (1-5; 2pts)
12. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare (1-5; 2pts)
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino (0-6; 0pts)
Night nine wasn’t a good selection of matches – solid work, but not exactly a card you “need” to see. Prioritise night ten over this if you’re picking and choosing!