We’ve got a full show for you here, as New Japan World streamed Sunday’s card in Aichi in full – meaning we’ve got SEVEN World Tag League bouts.
Commentary for this is only in Japanese, but it’s a step up from the fixed camera shows!
World Tag League: The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino
We start with Page and Umino, as an obligatory shoulder charge early on just fires up Umino… only for him to return fire with a running forearm as he tried to get something going.
Yujiro gets involved… and knocked off the apron before Yoshida tried to do the same thing, with the same results, as Page simply dumps Umino with a fallaway slam before scoring with a tope to Yoshida. Umino loses a chop battle to Yujiro, who follows up with a chinlock to keep the Young Lion down, before some face rakes forces the referee to break it up. Some more chops from Umino to Page just get met with a forearm as the Elite pair looked comfortable… and just as I say that, Umino begins a fightback, catching Yujiro with a forearm on the outside, before a dropkick to Page gave him enough time to make a tag out to Yoshida, who went straight for Page with slams and knees.
A clothesline to Page sparks a fightback, but Yoshida just kicks him for a two-count. Yujiro’s brought back in, but he can’t get things going as Yoshida avoids a low dropkick, leading to the Young Lions actually producing a threat as duelling submissions looked to cause trouble… but Page gets free and breaks up everything as things returned to normal. Yoshida escapes Pimp Juice and hits a hiptoss knee for a near-fall, before Page throws himself in with a Buckshot lariat to Yoshida, allowing the Pimp Juice to get the win. Solid stuff to open up the show, and with a full round of tag league matches, this one didn’t go needlessly long either. **¾
World Tag League: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
Yano tries to go after Nakanishi early, but it backfires as all four men end up in the ring… with Ishii and Yano getting decked by boots and clotheslines respectively.
Nakanishi takes control with a slam on Yano, but Ishii gets involved… and knocked off the apron as Yano just shoves Nakanishi to the outside for the obligatory guard rail spots. Yeah, Yano removes the turnbuckle padding in one corner, and back in the ring Nakanishi’s thrown into there before Ishii tried his luck with shoulder tackles. There’s headbutts from Nakanishi when those don’t work, but Ishii’s win out before he runs into a spear of sorts.
Nagata tags in as Ishii’s on all fours, giving him plenty of time to measure up for some kicks before we’re back to those clonking forearms, with Ishii looking staggered, before he came back with a scoop slam and a German suplex. An Exploder from Nagata has Ishii on the jelly legs, meaning that Yano has to come in… but he ends up taking a lariat as the referee lost control. A stuttering low dropkick from Nagata gets rid of Ishii, while a version of a high-low puts Yano down for a near-fall. Nakanishi counters a double suplex attempt, as the New Japan Dads looked to finish the job, scoring with a lariat and a big boot before we got duelling submissions: the Argentine backbreaker and a Shirome armbar!
After getting free, Yano’s peppered with chops until he manages to shove Nakanishi into Nagata… one low-blow and roll-up later, and Yano gets the win. A pretty clunky/rushed finish, but again this just about avoided outstaying its welcome. **½
World Tag League: Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
With Cobb and Elgin still looking for their first win, you get the sense they maybe on the verge of frustrated panic if the losses continue to pile up.
Kojima’s working over Cobb early on, which leads to the obligatory tags out as Tenzan and Elgin try to overpower each other. A headbutt from Tenzan stops Elgin in his tracks, but the Canadian hits back with a slingshot splash for a near-fall before Tenzan keeps it even by catching him with a big boot. Mongolian chops follow, with Tenzan and Kojima working together en route to a falling headbutt/slingshot elbow drop combo that almost gets the win.
Elgin’s left somewhat isolated as he takes a pair of shoulder charges for a near-fall, before avalanche clotheslines in the corner and a suplex out of it keeps Tenzan ahead. There’s a DDT from Elgin to stem the tide, but Kojima comes in to prevent any tags from being made… or at least delay them as Elgin needed to drop Tenzan with an enziguiri before getting that tag out to Cobb.
There’s right hands from Cobb, who hits standing belly-to-belly suplexes to Tenzan, then Kojima. A scoop slam and a standing moonsault puts Tenzan down for a near-fall, before Kojima came back and Machine Gun chopped Cobb into the corner. The Irish whip into the corner and a leaping forearm connects, but Elgin stops anything else from happening as they just about get Kojima up for the double-team hiptoss backbreaker at the second attempt. A rolling elbow from Elgin looked to keep the pressure mounting, but a suplex from Kojima stops all that, only for Kojima to take that powerbomb/backbreaker combo awkwardly as Cobb and Elgin’s two big double-teams were whiffed. Kojima and Tenzan had no such issues with their TenKoji Cutter, landing it for a near-fall, before a discus lariat from Kojima picked up another near-fall.
Cobb takes a Cozy Lariat for Elgin, who begins a fightback as a superkick rocked Kojima, before a powerbomb, a buckle bomb and an Elgin bomb finally gets Big Mike and Hawaiian Jeff on the board. This was okay, but the two glaring fumbles in the match came at the worst possible time, breaking up the flow of the contest. **¾
World Tag League: Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
We start off with Makabe and Juice in this one, and it’s the customary “headlock, shoot off, shoulder tackles” feeling out process too.
After getting dropped by a shoulder tackle, Makabe tags out… while Finlay tags in too, as we get the same again, except Henare swaps shoulder tackles for hiptosses instead. Things remain even as Juice comes back in to wear down on Henare, who quickly becomes isolated as Finlay gets a near-fall out of a simple suplex. Juice returns but gets chopped before landing a back elbow and a back senton, with his team doing his damndest to keep Makabe off of the apron. It’s a veritable feast of back sentons as Juice and Finlay almost begin to spam those, which of course led to the Makabe tag in as he tried to fight back from 1-on-2 down.
Clotheslines in the corner put Makabe ahead, as those mounted punches followed for Finlay, who then has to kick out of a Northern Lights suplex. Finlay stems the tide with a running European uppercut, as Juice tagged back in to soften up Makabe with corner clotheslines and a leaping lariat before he broke out the Dusty punches. A dropkick sends Makabe into the ropes ahead of a spinebuster for a near-fall, but he’s back after ducking a leg lariat as a clothesline puts Robinson back on the mat. Henare’s back with some fire as he throws forearms at Juice, following up with (yes) corner clotheslines and a deadlifted suplex before a spear takedown’s avoided.
Duelling lariats follow, but Henare lands that spear anyway for a near-fall, before Finlay tagged in and scored with a dropkick/side Russian legsweep combo for another two-count. Makabe’s in to break that up before he lands a double clothesline of his own, following up by taking Juice to the outside so his team could focus on Finlay. Like with a pop-up Samoan drop that gets Henare a near-fall, before his attempt at a waistlock is neatly countered into a roll-up as Finlay gets the win out of nowhere. An enjoyable tag, and solid action from bell-to-bell… but again, Henare eats the fall as he’s continued to be shown as the weak link. ***
You know what these “all tag league” shows are exposing? The lack of creativity in how matches start. There’s WAY too many “lock up, headlock, shoot off, shoulder tackle” starts going on. I know in 91 tag league matches you’ll have some repetition, but c’mon!
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
Some non-tournament action now, and this is effectively building only to the junior tag title three-way match at WrestleKingdom, since Okada and Naito have different foes for the Tokyo Dome.
Those two look to start us off, but it’s a rise as BUSHI and Shingo sneak in and attack Okada from behind as we start with a good old-fashioned beatdown. Okada overcomes that, shoving Naito into BUSHI before landing a DDT as SHO comes in to try and keep up the pressure. It doesn’t work as Shingo tagged in and just walks over SHO before chopping him… which draws a dropkick out of SHO, only for BUSHI to attack from behind. The tables turn as Roppongi 3K briefly double-team LIJ, and we’re back to normal with SHO stomping on Shingo in the corner. We’re back to the one-sided stuff as BUSHI and Naito help Shingo take control again, before Naito heads up the aisle and suplexes Okada… which means we’re down to LIJ vs. R3K for a spell. SHO’s taken into the corner, but he blocks the Combinacion Cabron dropkick and instead leaps into a German suplex from SHO, who manages to make a tag out to YOH from there.
We get YOH and Shingo, but it’s really 1-on-2 as BUSHI gets involved too. YOH avoids a Dragon screw and dishes out one of his own, before Shingo caught him with a pop-up death valley driver out of nowhere. BUSHI’s back with a missile dropkick to YOH, then a back cracker along with Shingo’s spinebuster assist, as we needed SHO to make a save to stop the double-teaming from getting out of control. Okada’s back in with a back elbow to BUSHI, before Naito rushed in with a low dropkick to stop whatever momentum he had building. A running lungblower from BUSHI gets a two-count on Okada (because of course that’s never pinning him)… and when BUSHI heads up for the MX, Okada just ducks out of the way as a Parade of Moves broke out, including a Pumping Bomber from Shingo, an Okada dropkick and a tombstone from Okada too… with that last one dumping BUSHI ahead of a Rainmaker for the win. Solid tag team stuff here, with the best of the action coming from the juniors. ***½
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
We’ve a jump start in the aisle as Suzuki and Iizuka catch the GOD on their way to the ring, and we start the brawling around ringside from the off. You know the shenanigans here.
Suzuki tries to use a guard rail as a weapon, while Iizuka chokes out Tama Tonga with a camera cable. The bell rings as everyone hits th ering, then quickly gets thrown outside as Suzuki begins to go all Taichi on us, attacking Tanga Loa with the bell hammer before some headscissors looked to keep him grounded. Meanwhile, Tama Tonga and Takashi Iizuka re going through the crowd, which makes this a bit of a ball ache for production to try and keep up with.
Fortunately, Iizuka and Tama come back towards ringside, where El Desperado was doing Japanese commentary, as the melee continued while the referee counted along. Iizuka and Tama, apparently the legal men, beat the count and once Suzuki removes the Lecter mask, we get Bitey Iizuka. Suzuki tags in and keeps up the pressure, looking for a Gotch piledriver on Tama, only to release the hold… and then get clocked in the back as Jado busts out his Kendo stick. On the outside, Jado jabs the stick into Suzuki a few times, which leaves him easy pickings for Tama Tonga… until a rear naked choke catches Tama as Iizuka comes back into play. More shenanigans follow as Iizuka chokes Tama with some rope, pulling him down into a pinning attempt that Tanga Loa broke up.
When the rope didn’t get the win, Iizuka goes back to biting, including some gnawing of Jado as he tried to use the Kendo stick once more. From there, Suzuki traps Tama in a rear naked choke, before Jado delayed Iizuka from using the iron fingers… the funky oven glove knocks down Tanga Loa before Jado’s stick catches Iizuka, allowing Tama to hit a Gun Stun for the win. If you’re not a fan of the Suzuki-gun brawling, or the new Bullet Club shenanigans, you’ll probably want to skip all the way past this match. ½*
There was more excitement when Suzuki tried to flood the ring with chairs after the match, before he just BOUNCED one of them off of a Young Lion. I’d be irate too after that.
World Tag League: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta)
We start with the customary Suzuki-gun jump start, but the Best Friends overcome that quickly as they took the match outside, posting Smith before they got clattered with a double clothesline from a wild Archer, who hits pretty much anything that moves.
Archer and Beretta looked to go through the crowd, while Smith and Chuckie keep their brawling to the ringside area. A chokeslam from Archer dumps Beretta on the apron, as the KES looked to focus on Chuckie T, cornering and isolating him with some quick tags. Kicks from Smith leave Chuckie down, but the referee doesn’t make a count since the shoulders weren’t down… so Archer just clatters Chuckie with running elbows into the corner.
Chuckie sidesteps one, but Smith had pulled Beretta off the apron to prevent him from tagging out, as the KES stay on him like a dog with a bone. Chuckie eventually gets free, landing a Downward Spiral after slipping out of a powerbomb, before Beretta tags in and took out Smith with a crossbody off the top. Beretta keeps up the pace with a clothesline, taking Smith outside for a plancha that just about hit, before Chuckie hits a tope con giro of his own. An Asai moonsault followed from Beretta, who took the match back inside as a Gobstopper shining wizard gets a near-fall. Smith quickly hits back as he whipped Beretta into the corner ahead of some rolling German suplexes – which Beretta finally flipped out of before he was met with a bucklebomb.
Archer thought he’d won it with a chokeslam, but Chuckie breaks up the cover. Another chokeslam to Beretta’s countered… sort-of, but the counter’s blocked and turned into a Killer Bomb attempt as Chuckie tried to save the match. From there, Beretta’s caught up top, but he manages to escape an Iconoclasm by dropping Archer with an elbow on the way down before making a tag out to Chuckie.
Another chokeslam’s countered with a dropkick, before Chuckie hit back with a high knee… a piledriver’s countered by Smith, and just like that Chuckie’s caught with a Killer Bomb for a near-fall. From the kick-out, he tries to crucifix Archer for the win, but a second Killer Bomb puts paid to all that. Solid stuff, even if Aichi wasn’t into the all-gaijin affair. Perhaps a lesson to be learned for the 2019 league? Less teams, more home grown guys? ***¼
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
After EVIL vs. Sabre was ruined before it could get going at King of Pro Wrestling, they finally get a chance to square off in the main event here.
Those two start us off with the fire we’d expect, as EVIL lights up Sabre with chops and a shoulder charge as Sabre tried to fight back. SANADA tags in and instantly tries to tie up Sabre, who resists… only to take a big back senton as EVIL came back in to try and end things quickly. Taichi gets involved with a kick on the apron, which distracts EVIL for long enough as Suzuki-gun (sigh) take the match outside for the obligatory guard rail spots.
Taichi and EVIL head into the crowd, as do Sabre and SANADA, with those two being rather more technical when it came to their brawl as Sabre resisted using chairs, instead opting to go back to ringside and kick EVIL’s arm in the guard rails as LIJ almost took the count-out loss.
Zack keeps up on the arm as Desperado cackles on commentary, and there’s even an opening for Taichi to maintain the offence. Sabre returns to continue the torque on EVIL’s wrist, but eventually we’ve a comeback on our hands… which Taichi tries his best to snuff out as he took EVIL down with some kicks, before getting caught with a superkick. SANADA tags in and lands a dropkick to Sabre, then the double-leapfrog dropkick to Taichi, who’s then sent outside for a plancha as the match was single-handedly turned on its head. Back in the ring, there’s a ‘rana for Taichi… but Zack returns and helps double-team SANADA ahead of a buzzsaw kick that almost got Taichi the win.
Off come the trousers from there, but Taichi has to fight out after an O’Connor roll’s turned into a Skull End… and fight out he does as he claws away at SANADA before scoring with an Axe Bomber for a near-fall. Taichi looks to finish off with a Last Ride powerbomb, but SANADA slips out and lands a back suplex after some help from EVIL. SANADA keeps up the pressure with another Skull End, before EVIL returns to help with a Magic Killer… but Sabre breaks up the cover at the last possible moment. A moonsault from SANADA misses as Taichi got his knees up, allowing him to try and capitalise with a Gedo clutch for a near-fall as the tempo began to rise, but we’re back to EVIL and Sabre, with Zack going back to the arm that had been targeted throughout the match.
A mounted keylock is countered into a suplex from EVIL, who then rushed in with Darkness Falls for a two-count, before Sabre slipped out of Everything is EVIL and catches him with a Euro clutch for a near-fall. This time, flipping everyone off like Homer sinking in cement didn’t work! What did work though was Sabre going back to the arm, trapping EVIL in a triangle armbar only for that to be countered out of with a powerbomb. Another crack at Everything is EVIL gets countered again though, with Sabre going for an Octopus stretch… that SANADA breaks up with a Skull End… only for TAKA Michinoku to provide a distraction as Taichi breaks THAT up with the mic stand.
More interference backfires as EVIL lands another clothesline, before Everything is EVIL is countered yet again, this time into a superkick assisted Zack Driver as the match reached its climax. Easily the best thing in the tournament so-far – and Zack wanted even more as he torqued away on EVIL’s arm before helping Taichi land an Air Raid Crash after the bell. This was a little frayed at parts I felt, but perhaps I’m grading this on a curve after so much dreck. Excellent stuff… and even Taichi’s involvement wasn’t that bad! ****
After four matches…
1. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) (3-1; 6pts)
1. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (3-1; 6pts)
1. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (3-1; 6pts)
1. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) (3-1; 6pts)
1. Juice Robinson & David Finlay (3-1; 6pts)
1. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (3-1; 6pts)
7. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-2; 4pts)
7. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (2-2; 4pts)
7. The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (2-2; 4pts)
7. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (1-3; 2pts)
7. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare (1-3; 2pts)
7. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) (1-3; 2pts)
7. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb (1-3; 2pts)
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino (0-4; 0pts)
So we’ve no clear lead, but one team – the one we all expected – is stone dead last. As a show, this wasn’t bad, but when the star attraction was looking to be the throwaway trios match, you know we’re in the midst of a really lacklustre tournament.