The last of the 91 World Tag League block matches complete, as a four-way tie at the start of the day boiled down to our two finalists!
We’ve got full commentary and cameras in Akita’s Nices Arena, with Kevin Kelly and Excalibur staying on the English call. I wonder if the deafening gong’ll be back too?
World Tag League: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
We start with the bottom two teams – can the Young Lions end their campaign with a win, or will the New Japan Dads finish with half a dozen points?
We start with Yoshida going after Nagata early, taking him into the corner for a leaping knee before Nakanishi wandered in to break up a front facelock. Chops from Nakanishi keep Yoshida in the corner, before he shoved Umino off the apron and into the guard railings as the Dads focused on the Kaientai Dojo trainee.
There’s a big kick to the back of Yoshida, before Nagata works the arm, setting up for a chop to the arm by Nakanishi. Regular chops follow, but Yoshida goes back to the front facelock, taking Nakanishi down to a knee before a running knee left him down. A tag’s made to Umino, who charges Nagata off the apron before lighting up Nakanishi with forearms, taking him into the corner for a back elbow, then following up with a missile dropkick for a near-fall.
Umino’s offence ends when he went for a German suplex, before he switched things up and ran into a clothesline. In comes Nagata to up the tempo, but the Young Lions manage to evade some double-teaming as Nagata accidentally boots Nakanishi, prompting some two-on-one. Another missile dropkick from Umino takes down Nagata for a near-fall, before a cross armbreaker looked to force a submission. Nagata gets to the ropes before he frees himself from a German suplex, only to end up taking it after a hiptoss knee from Yoshida. That German suplex gets Umino a near-fall, but a suplex follow-up is swiftly countered into the Shirome armbar, with Yoshida making the save on that.
Nakanishi again throws Yoshida to the outside as Umino tries to fight back, but he’s just slapped in the face. He issues a receipt, then runs into a running knee from Nagata, who followed up with an Exploder for a near-fall, before a Nagata Lock crossface forced the submission. Well, the Young Lions gave it their all, but as expected they finish their campaign rooted to the bottom of the table. ***
In the commentary here, Kevin Kelly mentioned that Teruaki Kanemitsu was back on Young Lion duty – and will be back in the ring soon after being out of action with a spinal injury for over two years (he last wrestled in November 2016, losing to Henare on the World Tag League tour).
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Another lower table match now, with both of these teams having been out of the running for a while…
Yeah, we get a jump start, with Iizuka booting Tenzan to the outside, whipping him into the guard rails before he could even get his robe off. In the ring, Suzuki chops Kojima in the corner, before a missed charge allowed Kojima ot land some machine gun chops. Suzuki just stares through him throughout, earning himself more rounds. He eventually got the lesson.
The whip into the opposite corner follows, but Suzuki doesn’t let Kojima head up top, before he’s caught with a DDT. A chairshot from Iizuka leads to the crowd brawling, as Suzuki took Kojima to the back of the room, where a chair’s used to choke him out. It forces a count-out tease, which Kojima narrowly beats, only to leap into the path of more beating from Suzuki before Iizuka tagged in… was unmasked, and of course, begins to bite.
Kojima’s left on the defensive as he took some biting then a hanging armbar in the ropes from Suzuki. A Koji Cutter on Suzuki stops all that, before Tenzan comes in with Mongolian chops and headbutts to try and wear down Suzuki some more. Tenzan keeps up with a brainbuster for a near-fall, before the pair go back and forth with forearms, before Iizuka came in with his Iron Fingers. The funky oven glove is stopped by some Mongolian chops, but Iizuka bites back before Kojima makes a save. They can’t quite get off a TenKoji cutter, but succeed at the second attempt as Kojima had the unenviable task of holding Suzuki back as Tenzan heads up top… he comes down heavy with a moonsault, finding his mark, and that’s enough for the win! I see the New Japan Dads have been back on whatever makes them fly! A solid tag match to wrap up both team’s tournaments, and Suzuki gets his heat back afterwards by laying waste to some Young Lions. Standard. **¾
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Sabre and Taichi will finish second among the Suzuki-gun teams – but a win here will mean they’ll be pushing the KES a lot closer than anyone thought possible.
Henare wants to start the match… and he begins against Sabre. Oh boy. There’s a jump start as Taichi puts the boots to him too, dispatching of Makabe before Zack looked to make light work of the New Zealander. Henare looked like he’d edged ahead when Taichi tagged in, but Sabre trips him and pulls him to the outside for an ankle lock, playing up the injury that had Henare on the shelf two years ago.
Meanwhile, Taichi throws a chair at Makabe in the crowd. Standard. Sabre wraps Henare’s leg around the guard railings. Henare manages to beat the count-out, but Zack’s right back in the heel, grabbing it as he rolled into a STF. The trend continues as Taichi wraps the leg around the ropes, prompting Makabe to wrestle a chair out of the front row as he threatened to do something about the situation.
It’s all too easy for Suzuki-gun here, despite Henare’s attempts to fight back. There’s a Samoan drop as Henare finally tags out, bringing in Makabe to clear the ring, charging into Sabre ahead of those mounted punches before Zack countered out of the Northern Lights suplex. Instead, he takes a clothesline for a near-fall as Makabe wasn’t messing around, only for Sabre to counter a suplex into an upkick to the arm.
That’s quickly followed by a cross armbreaker as Sabre rolled Makabe towards the ropes, before Makabe fought back some more. That brief offence led to Sabre grabbing an Octopus hold that Henare broke with a chop, before Sabre kicks his leg out of his leg, taking the Kiwi outside again. Makabe’s left on his own as Taichi looked to pick apart the pieces, but Henare’s back in with a tag as he’s left to fight back with pretty much one leg. A headbutt rocks Taichi ahead of a deadlift suplex that Henare eventually lands. Makabe’s back for the clothesline sandwich, before Taichi’s targeted in the corner. There’s a flying shoulder tackle off the top from Henare, who then holds Taichi in place for a King Kong knee drop… but Sabre blocks it by grabbing Makabe in a key lock, before Taichi got himself free.
Kicks leave Henare down for a PK, then a Taichi buzzsaw kick as we get a near-fall. Off come the trousers as Sabre threatens a Zack Driver on Taichi, but Makabe makes a save, allowing Henare to come in with a rugby tackle for a near-fall. Taichi’s back with an Axe bomber for a near-fall, before he used the mic stand on Henare behind the ref’s back. Taichi can’t quite get Henare up for the Last Ride, but the powerbomb comes off nevertheless for the win. I think this match summed up a lot of the tournament for Henare – a lot of effort, but very little to show for it. ***¼
World Tag League: Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
Well, Chuckie T’s red mist cost his team two wins… but gave them one last night as his newly-found unpredictability meant that this team’s gone from possibly winning the tournament to having to settle for third place (at best!)
Kevin Kelly drops a line on commentary that Juice Robinson is “more Irish” than David Finlay. Insert alcohol joke here!
Finlay starts out with a waistlock as he and Chuckie T scrambled for a hold on the mat, but they quickly reach a stand-of before they tagged out. Juice and Beretta have a similar exchange, rolling around the ropes from a tie-up before a shoulder tackle had Fin-Juice ahead, as they found their way around the Best Friends. A double dropkick gets rid of a running-in Chuckie, before duelling plachas missed, allowing Chuckie to land a tope con giro into the aisle.
An Irish whip sends Juice deep into the barriers by Beretta, while Finlay’s hung over the guard rails… so Beretta can fly in with a double stomp to the back! Back in the ring, the Best Friends keep up on Finlay, with chops from Beretta being followed up as Finlay and Chuckie keep him isolated. Of course, Finlay fights back eventually, flipping out of a back suplex before landing one of his own. Juice and Beretta tag back in, and we’re right in with the Dusty punches that ended with Beretta being spiked by a falling DDT. OOF. Beretta goes for a tornado DDT but gets pushed away as a full nelson bomb from Juice drew another near-fall. Finlay’s back in, but he’s used as a wall for Beretta to push off of as Juice finally took that tornado DDT.
Chuckie has a bit grin on his face as he lands a Falcon arrow for a near-fall on Finlay… then a short piledriver as you sensed the red mist was descending… and sure enough, Chuckie brings ins ome chairs and uses one to jab Finlay in the gut for a DQ. This match was pretty decent until the finish – it wasn’t one of those “spinning the wheels” matches that you tend to get when a match exists to further a story. ***
Post-match, Beretta tries to save Finlay, but Chuckie chokes him with a belt before doing his best Minoru Suzuki impression with the Young Lions. He even goes a step further, blasting the referee with a short piledriver as Beretta stood there, hands on hips, in disbelief before he’s hugged.
World Tag League: The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
Thanks to their little run of form, Cobb and Elgin come into this with double the number of points of their Elite opponents. Given the change in fortunes for Hangman Page since the G1, you’d sure think he’d be on his way out soon…
Page and Cobb start by trading elbows with each other, before duelling boots led to a battle of German suplexes, which Pages flipped out of. A tag brings in Yujiro as some double-teaming ensued from the Elite… at least until Elgin blocked a double-team hiptoss and delivered a double hiptoss of his own. Duelling stalling suplexes followed as Cobb and Elgin held the Elite up, before Page holds the ropes as Cobb sent himself to the outside.
A shooting star headbutt off the apron met Cobb on the outside, before Yujiro took over in the ring with a series of elbow drops. Yujiro catches Cobb in the ropes with a boot for a near-fall, before a clothesline helped Cobb get free for a tag, with Elgin coming in for some sprightly offence. He leaps by Yujiro in the corner ahead of an enziguiri and a superkick, before a German suplex bridges for a near-fall.
Yujiro tries to fight back with a leg sweep and a low dropkick, before Page comes back in… only to get caught n the top rope as Elgin pulls off a double slam. Cobb’s back with German suplexes as he then caught Page in an Olympic slam before a standing moonsault earns a near-fall, with Yujiro breaking things up. Page looks to chop and superkick his way back into it, before he fell into a Cobb German suplex after he’d flipped out of one from Elgin. Yujiro again gets involved, dragging Elgin to the outside and into the guard rails, while Page drops Cobb on his head from a German suplex. A dropkick from Page takes Elgin outside too ahead of a duelling tope, then an Orihara moonsault, before his fortunes changed as a bid to go up top sees Elgin bring him back with a superplex.
Elgin looked to finish off Yujiro with an Elgin bomb, but an eye rake stops that, as does a low drop before the Pimp Juice DDT took Elgin outside. Cobb instantly hits back with an Athletic-plex, before turning into a Buckshot lariat from the legal Page, who finished off Cobb with a Rite of Passage as Jeff lands on his head for a second time… and that’s enough for the win! An enjoyable outing between two teams whose very futures look to be on differing trajectories in the coming weeks; particularly since Cobb and Page face each other in ROH for the TV title. ***½
Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Rocky Romero
Having beaten the Okada and Tanahashi dream team six times in a row on this tour, the smart money’s on the Bullet Club making it 7 in a row here.
Gedo’s new role seems to be to hold Jay White’s crucifix necklace. I can’t tell if that’s a demotion or not.
Unlike prior matches, Okada and Romero start the match by themselves, forcing KUSHIDA and Tanahashi to hit the ring (well, in Tanahashi’s case, hobble down, it seems) as the Dream Team took the upper hand early as Tanahashi and Okada double-teamed Jay White. There’s charges into the corner for White from everyone on the opposing team, before an Okada DDT left Switchblade laying.
Gedo comes in and tries to cheapshot Okada, only to get met with an uppercut, before a low dropkick from Okada took White back down to the mat. In comes Tanahashi as the double-teaming resumed, but it quickly settled down as White reverses a whip, before running into a springboard crossbody from Tanahashi. KUSHIDA has a go too, with a flying chop to White’s elbow as Switchblade was taking a pasting, at least until Taiji Ishimori gets involved, allowing White to knock a springboard away as the “brawl around the room” portion of the match broke out. Ishimori flings KUSHIDA into the crowd, while Okada meets a similar fate from White, who then slammed Yuya Uemura onto Okada for good measure.
Returning to the ring, the Bullet Club stay ahead as Fale and Ishimori stand on KUSHIDA by the ropes, before White charges KUSHIDA between the ring apron and the guard railings. Referee Red Shoes refuses to count a pin as White took the match back inside, so Switchblade goes for a chinlock instead. Ishimori returns as they both switch waistlocks before KUSHIDA almost stole the win with a roll-up… before a bid to tag out to Tanahashi was stopped by Gedo and Ishimori. There’s a handspring back elbow to the pair of them before KUSHIDA had to deal with Fale, flying over him as a roll through finally led to Tanahashi coming in.
Tanahashi spams Fale with dropkicks as he had the Tongan staggering. Fale misses a charge in the corner before Tanahashi goes for a slam – only for Fale to counter with one of his own before a Grenade’s teased. Instead, Tanahashi gets free and lands that slam, before both men tagged out to give us Okada and White again. A high-speed back elbow off the ropes sees Okada score, but White’s quickly back on top, landing a twisting suplex for a near-fall. Okada responds with a neckbreaker slam, before Romero tagged in… he’s met with a chop from White to stop some Forever clotheslines, before a ‘rana took Switchblade out.
Duelling enziguiri from Rocky and KUSHIDA follow as the ring begins to fill, but it just helps Rocky and KUSHIDA clear Ishimori with a pair of cartwheel dropkicks. Rocky goes back to the Forever lariats, but instead Okada and Tanahashi return as the Parade of Moves resumed, leading to Rocky almost shocking White wth a Euro clutch. An enziguiri followed from Rocky, who looks for Sliced Bread, only for White to shove him off. Assisted Sliced Bread from Okada is blocked, as White counters into a Blade Runner, as Okada had to watch on while Gedo grabbed his foot to stop the save. Another enjoyable multi-man tag, but the utter domination here is setting my spider senses off here. They can’t have the Bullet Club run the clean sweep here AND get the win at the Tokyo Dome, can they? ***½
World Tag League: Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
The first of two “winner makes it to Iwate’s finals” matches, and it’s a rematch from WrestleKingdom 12 which saw LIJ – coming in as last year’s World Tag League winners – unseat the KES to win the IWGP tag titles.
SANADA and Archer start us off, but we’re quickly in with the double-teaming as EVIL comes in and helps take down Archer for an early back senton. A ‘rana from SANADA’s blocked before Archer responds with a Black Hole Slam, before the match spilled outside and into the crowd. SANADA’s brought back into the ring by Smith, so Archer could resume the offence… which he does so with a hard clothesline. Some headscissors from Smith on the mat keep SANADA down, before he fought back with a missile dropkick as Archer tags in… and stops a tag out to EVIL. Archer keeps up with a slam to SANADA, before he wound himself up in the corner for a shoulder tackle.
More shoulder tackles follow in the corner as Archer maintained his dominance, at least until SANADA fought back with a ‘rana. A tag’s made out to EVIL, who goes straight to the corner to knock down Smith, before he had to fight out of a chokeslam as he finally met Archer with a superkick. Even though Archer fought free, he still takes a Fisherman’s buster for a near-fall, before an attempt at Everything is EVIL is shoved off as the ref goes down.
Archer removes the turnbuckle pads a la Yano, then whips EVIL into the exposed corner before he headed outside for some plunder. Davey Boy Smith Jr. finds a chair for Archer, which is used, then wedged into the ropes as the ref stayed down on the outside… Archer ends up getting thrown through the chair. SANADA’s back with a dropkick and a plancha to Smith, before he caught Smith with Skull End in the ring.
Despite getting free, Smith’s caught with it again as SANADA moonsaults into the hold… which Archer tries to break up, only to get met with a double-team suplex as the ref struggled to regain any kind of control. Smith pushes away from a Magic Killer and wipes out EVIL with a German suplex, before Archer lifted up SANADA for a slam off the top rope that gets the KES a near-fall. From there, Smith dumps SANADA with a buckle bomb ahead of a chokeslam from Archer… for another two-count, before a Killer Bomb plants SANADA, except EVIL comes in for the save! EVIL’s sent straight back outside as SANADA counters a powerbomb into a sunset flip… and the roll-up gets the win! Lance Archer was too busy focusing on EVIL to make a save… and for the second time in a year, the KES drop the ball against LIJ! This wasn’t the Marmite-like blow-out that divided people at WrestleKingdom, but this was a pretty solid match that set one half of Sunday’s finals. ***½
World Tag League: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii
My feed stuttered a bit and wouldn’t let me rewind, but we seem to start with Yano having taken off the turnbuckle pads, which he throws to the outside at Jado.
Yano’s thrown into the exposed buckle though, as the Guerrillas took over, with Tanga Loa throwing Yano to the outside as he was held up for a Kendo stick shot from Jado. The beatdown continues on the outside as Tama Tonga uses the turnbuckle padding on Yano, then Ishii, with the former narrowly beating the count-out as Tanga Loa maintained the upper hand, dropping elbows on Yano for a near-fall.
Tama’s back in and whips Yano into the exposed corner – and that’s the motif for a lot of this match as Yano was isolated and kept as far away from a tag as possible. Oh, and whipped into that exposed corner too! Finally he reverses a whip, sending Tama into the corner before a hair pull allowed Yano to get free and tag in Ishii! After a spell of rope running, Tama Tonga gets knocked down with a shoulder charge, then taken into the corner for some chops. Tama tries to reply with a forearm, but he’s met with a headbutt before some wacky rope running got Tama back on top with a dropkick. Ishii quickly hits back, before he’s met with a Tongan Twist, as Tanga Loa tried to take over… only to take a brainbuster for his efforts.
Toru Yano’s back, as his shenanigans caught Tanga off guard ahead of a battle of forearms. Yano goes back to his amateur days with a belly-to-belly off the ropes, but Tama Tonga returns to spark some double-teaming as Yano’s left down from a neckbreaker. A swandive headbutt and a flying splash gets GOD a near-fall on Yano as Ishii makes the save, as the match threatened to fray a little… but we’re back in as Yano slingshots Tanga Loa into a shoulder tackle from Ishii for a near-fall.
Tama drags Ishii to the outside as Tanga threatens to hit Yano with Apeshit… but Yano gets free and we get an awkwardly-timed low blow/roll-up combo for a near-fall. A Gun Stun’s blocked, but Tanga Loa helps counter it into a Magic Killer. Yano blocks a second Magic Killer before a backslide traps Tanga Loa for a two-count… he tries to go for a low blow, but instead Tama Tonga comes in and throws Yano into a Kendo stick shot before a lariat from Tanga gets a near-fall. There’s still life in the Sublime Master Thief!
…but not much more though, as Tanga Loa heads up top and takes Yano from a suplex for a top rope powerbomb, and that’s all! A rather methodical match went entirely the way of the Guerrillas of Destiny, as they never seemed to give their CHAOS opponents a sniff. ***½
After the match, the Guerrillas called out LIJ – noting that they lost to them in last year’s World Tag League finals… although a week ago the Guerrillas did beat them in block action. There’s a fracas at the end, which ends with Jado cracking EVIL with a Kendo stick, before SANADA ate a Magic Killer as the Guerrillas stood tall. It’s worth noting that if the Guerrillas win on Sunday, they get to pick their own opponents for WrestleKingdom… and if they lose, we’ll likely get this match for the third time in six weeks.
Your final World Tag League standings then:
1. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (10-3; 20pts)
1. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (10-3; 20pts)
3. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (9-4; 18pts)
3. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) (9-4; 18pts)
5. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb (8-5; 16pts)
5. Juice Robinson & David Finlay (8-5; 16pts)
5. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (8-5; 16pts)
8. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) (7-6; 14pts)
9. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) (5-8; 10pts)
9. The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (5-8; 10pts)
9. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (5-8; 10pts)
12. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare (4-9; 8pts)
13. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (3-10; 6pts)
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino (0-13; 0pts)
So Sunday morning in Iwate has a 6am start time (in the UK at least – adjust for your location!). We might not be covering that one live, but so far we’ve got Hirooki Goto defending the NEVER title against Kota Ibushi, and the World Tag League finals between (X) – with the rest of the card set to be firmed up in the next 24 hours or so.