New Japan started a run of back-to-back shows at Korakuen Hall, as the World Tag League played second fiddle to the newly-formed pairing of Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
We’ve just got Japanese commentary for this, and no… you haven’t missed a review. We just didn’t have the time to get to the 9th night before this live stream. Speaking of live streams, it’s always worth tuning in before bell time, if only to see the new Fan Club VTR, with dancing Liger and Tanahashi. For someone as good as Tanahashi, it’s amazing how uncoordinated he can seem!
World Tag League: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
Having racked up three wins in a row, can Cobb and Elgin continue their momentum, or will they suffer an unlikely loss to the plucky Young Lions?
Umino just gets shoved down by Elgin before the bell, so those two start… and it’s much the same as Shota’s shoved before he managed to catch Elgin with a back elbow. Cobb’s in to help snuff out whatever momentum Shota looked to build, as the double-team hiptoss backbreaker left the Young Lion down as the pass-the-parcel suplex awaited. There’s some fight back from Umino, as he manages to get free and tag in Yoshida… who just runs into a forearm before he decked Cobb with one of his own. A bodyslam attempt perhaps wasn’t the best idea, but he gets it off anyway before he outsmarted some double-teaming and nearly got the upset with a roll-up on Cobb.
Some mid-kicks have Yoshida running wild, but Cobb blocks one as they built up to a nasty looking powerbomb/back cracker combo that Umino had to dive in to break up… before a Tour of the Islands swiftly put Yoshida away. A fun opener, but as one-sided as it ought to have been. **¾
That loss puts Umino and Yoshida out of contention. Like they had any realistic chances anyway!
World Tag League: Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
Korakuen Hall clearly isn’t a fancy robe town, as Fin-Juice were rocking new t-shirts instead. Nagata and Nakanishi aren’t on a good run, with Nakanishi looking really immobile on the last match we reviewed from Monday…
So we start with Finlay and Nagata trading wristlocks as Yuji was showing some aggression early, charging down Finlay before he tried an armbreaker. Juice comes in to stop the flow, but he’s taken down as Nakanishi gets the tag… and we’ve a double shoulder block to put Juice into the corner. Chops follow before Juice avoided a knee drop and managed to hoist up Nakanishi for a back suplex. Back sentons follow from Juice and Finlay, with the latter unwisely mocking Nagata’s salute afterwards.
Juice comes in off the top with a double axehandle to Nakanishi’s arm… something Finlay duplicates before Nakanishi stood up to avoid a double-team bulldog ahead of throwing the young ‘uns with a double belly-to-belly overhead suplex. Nagata tags back in, but he’s quickly taken down with a European uppercut from Finlay, as we’re back to Nagata and Juice… except Yuji avoids a cannonball in the corner as the match remained finely poised.
Nakanishi comes back and resists an Irish whip before clotheslining Juice… whose comeback backfires as a superplex ends with Nakanishi flying with a crossbody. Those are rare. Nagata’s back with a boot as the New Japan Dads trap their foes in an Argentine backbreaker and Shirome armbar as you’d expect, but not for long. Another clothesline from Nakanishi leads to their version of a high/low for a near-fall, and that’s where the veteran’s run came to an end as my feed buffers, recovering just as Juice landed the Pulp Friction for the win. Nagata and Nakanishi are on the bubble now, while Fin-Juice pick up another mid-table win. ***
World Tag League: Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Smith and Kojima start us off here, with the obligatory shoulder tackles before tags out brought in Tenzan to Mongolian chop his way through Archer… who just replies with a big boot.
Archer mocks the machine gun chops as he caught Tenzan in the corner, before some charges leave him down for an easy Boston crab from Smith. Tenzan gets free and tries to fight back against Archer, who just swats him with a forearm before some crossface punches left him down on the mat. Finally Kojima tags in, and of course the first thing he does is take the KES into the corner for Machine gun chops. I swear Archer sold some of them like Big Daddy Yum Yum… the follow up whip into the corner led to Kojima going up top, but Archer press slams him down like he were Ric Flair as that offence came to a halt.
A sidewalk slam/big splash combo gets the KES a near-fall, before Tenzan gets a tag back in as he’s back with those Mongolian chops. Smith’s whipped into the corner for a clothesline, but he resists a suplex before he just runs into a Mountain bomb for a near-fall. Kojima tries to get involved, but he’s dispatched as the KES paid homage to the low-movement high/low that Nakanishi and Nagata do, getting a near-fall out of it. From there, they go for a Killer Bomb, but it’s escaped as Smith is left in there two-on one, as he’s caught with a TenKoji Cutter for a near-fall. Tenzan slams Smith before pointing to the top rope for … moonsault?! What the hell? Tenzan hits it, and that’s the win! Good God almighty, that legitimately stunned me. It stunned Kojima too, who hugged his partner in sheer disbelief! This was pretty run of the mill, but at least the finish will stick in your memory. ***
World Tag League: Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Guess who’s likely to eat the fall here…
Makabe starts the match as Chuckie T goes in with shoulder tackles early, only to bounce off of the “Unchained Gorilla”. Henare’s in and scores a takedown too, but Beretta tags in and just slaps the Kiwi around, calling him a “young boy”… which prompts Henare to unload with hiptosses. Chuckie T’s in to stop all that, and shove Makabe off the apron as the Best Friends found their form… and time for a quick hug too. A back suplex from Chuckie leaves Henare down, but he’s in no hurry to follow up, as he took his time to take things into the corner where he ended up raking the eyes as Henare threatened to chop his way back into the match.
Beretta catches a slingshot from the apron and turned Henare into a Northern lights suplex for a near-fall, before Chuckie keeps up the pressure with a low dropkick for another two-count. Makabe’s back in to try and mount a comeback, taking Chuckie into the corner for some mounted punches, before a lariat nearly ends thing. Another whip into the corner’s stopped as Chuckie caught Makabe with a high knee, only for some Best Friends double-teaming to quickly stop with a double lariat. Tags out bring in Henare and Beretta to trade forearms to the head, before Henare caught a tornado DDT and turned it into a suplex instead. The pair trade German suplexes afterwards, before Henare’s spear tackle was countered with a Gobstopper shining wizard instead.
Beretta tags out first, allowing Chuckie to just boot Henare out of the ring before the guard rail spots that are seemingly mandatory. Chuckie looked to go all Suzuki-gun too, taking Henare into the crowd for a bunch of chairshots and some slams onto stacked up chairs… has Chuckie snapped?! He’s throwing chairs into the ring as this is overkill given what other teams have needed to put away Henare, before a table’s brought into play. Referee Tiger Hattori tries to talk Chuckie out of it, but a chairshot to the head of Henare leads to the blatant DQ. Post-match Makabe tries to make a save, but he gets a chairshot too, before Chuckie fought off the Young Lions and slammed Henare onto the flattened table. This wasn’t too bad, if not one-sided until Chuckie saw red and went all wild. ***¼
Beretta seemed to be annoyed, but not wildly mad at this, happy to just watch his tag partner continue the beating. Finally Beretta looks to make a save as Chuckie tried to choke Henare with his belt, but he’s shoved away?! Well, I’m damned if I know what’s up now, as Chuckie walked to the back on his own in silence. How do the Best Friends get back on track… and can they?!
World Tag League: The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
From that, we’re back to flirting with the remnants of the old Bullet Club. I’ve been calling Page and Yujiro “The Elite” based on fragments of information that’s floated around since the whole “civil war” storyline seemingly petered out on a goddamn cruise… but Yujiro’s still wearing his Bullet Club jacket, so who knows?
Tama throws up the banned too-sweet, but gets shoved by Page at the bell, as we start with the obligatory shoulder tackles, mixing it up with drop downs and near-misses as standing shooting star presses and Gun Stuns were teased early. That’s more like it! Tanga Loa comes in as Page is tossed outside, as the Guerrillas mockingly apologised to Yujiro, seemingly unaware that he’s still repping the Bullet Club… on his jacket at least.
A tope from Yujiro takes Tama Tonga into the guard rails, before a back body drop sent Tanga Loa the same way. Jado’s Kendo stick stops any further progress though, as Tama distracts the referee by trying to obtain Yujiro’s pimp stick. On the outside, Page gets Snake Eyes’d into the guard railings, which left Yujiro without any hope of a tag out for a while as he was left isolated. Tanga Loa tags back in and hits Yujiro with a stalling back suplex for a near-fall, before Yujiro is forced to elbow out of a headlock from Tama. This certainly isn’t the match it threatened to be at the start, although Yujiro’s release Fisherman’s suplex did stem the tide and let him tag Page back in.
Page clears house, booting Tanga Loa off the apron before scoring a fallaway slam on Tama. There’s a plancha for Tanga too, before a clothesline sent Tama outside for a tope… which Page neatly saved himself on as he clipped the ropes in mid-air. Some double-teaming ensues as a clothesline from Page nearly put Tama away, before Tanga Loa caught Page on the top rope and slammed him onto the side of the apron. Ow.
Back in the ring, Page eats a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall, before Yujiro avoided a double-team by hot shotting Tama into the top rope. A low dropkick catches Tanga before a Pimp Juice beckoned… but Tanga avoids that and ate a Buckshot lariat instead for a near-fall. I feel like I’m missing a lot of tags here…
On the outside, Yujiro gets clocked with the Kendo stick as the camera barely caught Jado, before a Rites of Passage is escaped as Page eats the Guerrilla Warfare for the win. This started with a lot of promise but quickly fizzled out, before recovering at the end. Better than a lot of the “Civil War” undercard stuff we’d seen earlier this year though. ***¼
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka)
Well, isn’t this a thing? Tag team champions for Rev Pro, Suzuki and Sabre are on opposing sides here.
We forego the customary jump start as Suzuki and Sabre get us underway with some grappling, as Sabre looks for an arm early on. It’s rather different than the other intra-Suzuki-gun match we’ve had, as it’s a more technical, less brawl-y affair as Sabre and Suzuki looked to grab each other’s wrists.
Some grounded headscissors have Sabre ahead, but Suzuki tweaks at the ankle to get free as they go back-and-forth, leading to a Greco-Roman knuckle lock that Suzuki neatly changed into a pinning predicament, almost surprising Sabre for the three-count. Sabre responds with a cravat, but again Suzuki escapes with headscissors as I’m wishing we can just have this as a singles match and screw the two guys on the outside. After a rope break, the pair continue to scramble in and out of holds, before they reached a staredown – with Korakuen applauding it all. Then they have to go and spoil it all, and do something stupid like tag out…
In comes Taichi and Iizuka as the technical portion of the match ends. Taichi tries to calm down Iizuka, brainwashing him into going after Suzuki… but it backfires as the unmasked Iizuka just goes bite-crazy. Sabre, Taichi, TAKA are all nibbled on, before we moved to the more Suzuki-gun like part of the match, with Sabre having to resist a Gotch style piledriver onto a chair in the crowd, before he caught Suzuki with an Octopus stretch.
The brawling continues throughout the arena as Sabre’s choked with a chair, while Taichi and Iizuka head into the seating decks. It’s the usual Suzuki-gun bedlam, as the technical start to the match became a thing of the past, especially when Iizuka got to the commentary desk where he bit at Ryusuke Taguchi for… reasons. We don’t hear a count, as the referee’s seemingly given up on this, but they all get back to the ring eventually.
Taichi’s raking away on Iizuka’s nose, before the trousers get ripped off… a buzzsaw kick from him, then a PK from Sabre gets a near-fall. Suzuki slides in to catch Sabre with an Octopus hold as the boss took over, catching Zack with a big boot, as an atomic drop from Iizuka and a Suzuki PK almost put Sabre away.
Iizuka then reverts to form, digging out his funky oven glove… but Taichi’s got a prop too, and after he distracts with the mic stand, Sabre catches Iizuka with a Euro clutch for a near-fall… only to get caught with a rear naked choke from the kick-out! Suzuki traps Taichi with a rear naked choke of his own, as Sabre looked to fade away, only to slip out with another Euro clutch as the student beat the master’s team! This was a lot more enjoyable than I expected – with the Suzuki/Sabre stuff being the undoubted in-ring highlight of the show so far, and the Taichi/Iizuka stuff was kept short enough to not be an issue. Dig this one out folks! ****
World Tag League: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
The final league match of the day will ensure we have one team standing alone at the top – unless we get a draw, in which case these two will share the top spot for now.
SANADA tries to jump Yano at the bell, but we’re quickly into the ropes… where EVIL slaps away the hands, sending him into a never-ending series of roll-ups that left both men dizzied ahead of a near-fall. Yano tries to get his own back from a neverending small package, before he took SANADA into the ropes where an Ishii cheapshot awaited. Ishii tags in and lights up SANADA with chops, but LIJ’s distractions work out as EVIL trips Ishii in the ropes before pulling him out for some of the obligatory guard rail spots. We get a flashback to the G1 as SANADA ties up Yano in the ropes with a Paradise Lock, while Ishii’s taken into the stands… or precisely, the EAST sign in the crowd.
The referee struggles to untie Yano, who tried to scream for Milano Collection AT to help… SANADA wasn’t exactly in a rush mind you, as he’d rather just jump Ishii from behind as this became a virtual handicap match. Finally, a low dropkick frees Yano, but he’s unable to help Ishii from a chinlock… nor from a back elbow and a standing moonsault as LIJ looked comfortable. Ishii resists a suplex before he eventually got free and scored with one of his own, before Yano tagged in and did Yano things. Off comes the turnbuckle pads, which he throws at SANADA… who then goes for another Paradise Lock, which is easily avoided. Yano then tries to get some payback, but of course he doesn’t know how to do it… so SANADA shows him. Again.
This time, SANADA uses the turnbuckle padding to free Yano before getting a near-fall. EVIL tags in but quickly gets turfed with a belly-to-belly from Yano, as Ishii returned for some shoulder tackles that finally take EVIL down. Ishii tries to go for a powerbomb, but EVIL puts on the brakes and backdrops his way free, as some double-teaming led to an EVIL lariat for a near-fall. A Magic Killer looks to follow, but Ishii pushes away before Yano makes a save of sorts… but it wasn’t to be as Ishii’s caught with Darkness Falls for a two-count. Yano’s again taken out by SANADA, before a sliding lariat from Ishii almost took the win. The sheer drop brainbuster looks to be next, but EVIL slides out, then trades headbutts and clotheslines as both men crashed to the mat.
Tags bring Yano and SANADA back in, as we’re back to the Yano shtick. Hair pulling leads to SANADA getting slingshotted to the exposed corner, before a lariat-assisted roll-up drew a near-fall with EVIL making the save. Yano goes for a double low-blow on LIJ… and gets caught as another Magic Killer is attempted as the ring filled up for a Parade of Moves… or dropkicks really as SANADA outsmarts yet more low blows, before scoring the win with an O’Connor roll. This got REAL good at the end, even with the Yano-isms. Christ, we’ve actually had a good day of tag matches… what’s going on?! ****
Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA
Ishimori came out with a crutch, mocking the injury he feigned en route to challenging KUSHIDA a few weeks ago.
White and Okada go at it before the bell – which prompted Tanahashi and KUSHIDA to rush the ring as we bypassed introductions. Okada and Tanahashi work well together at the start, as the New Japan Mega Powers land a double back elbow to White, before Gedo tried to get involved… but instead he just provided a distraction as the match spilled to the outside. Yeah, Jay White hurls Okada into the guard rails, before he chokes out Okada with a fan’s Okada towel. Back in the ring, Ishimori, then Fale keep up the beating on Okada, with the big guy easily slamming Okada before White returned to try and steal the pin like a vulture. When that doesn’t work, White nails a Saito suplex for a near-fall, before Fale easily lifted Okada with a back body drop.
Okada’s able to sidestep a charge into the corner as he finally lands a DDT on Fale… and here comes the tag to Tanahashi! The crowd erupts for that one, as Tanahashi charges after White on the apron before going for Fale with some body blows. A low dropkick stuns Fale ahead of a leaping forearm, but Tanahashi ends up stopping his own momentum as he tried in vain for a bodyslam.
He gets back on track with a Twist and Shout neckbreaker to counter a Fale suplex, before a sunset flip is stopped when Fale just sits down on the G1 winner. Ishimori and KUSHIDA tag in for a suitably high-paced sequence, with KISHIDA even taking down White with a handspring back elbow too, before he went back to Ishimori with some kicks. A hiptoss and a cartwheel dropkick’s good for a near-fall on the newer Bone Soldier, who replied with a handspring overhead kick to catch KUSHIDA off-guard.
The baseball slide German suplex followed after KUSHIDA was caught in the ropes… and with White taking care of Okada at ringside, it looked like it’d be elementary from here. Except not, as Okada and Tanahashi went to town with Dragon screws as the heavyweights briefly hit the ring, before KUSHIDA returned to look for Back to the Future on Ishimori. That’s reversed and met with a tombstone gutbuster instead. Gedo gets up on the apron to distract the referee as Ishimori looked to use his crutch as an, erm, crutch in his match, only for KUSHIDA to duck the shot and catch him with a Hoverboard lock. White slides in to break it up as KUSHIDA’s dumped with a Blade Runner, before a Bloody Cross put KUSHIDA down for the count. A good main event – teasing us for WrestleKingdom, but without giving too much away. That being said, I was surprised that KUSHIDA took the fall, even with the interference. ***½
Post-match, Okada and White brawl again, with Okada taking a Blade Runner, before Fale threatened a Grenade. Instead, Tanahashi takes another Blade Runner as the Bullet Club stood tall, with White crowing about how neither Okada nor Tanahashi could beat him on their own or together. White branded this “the Bullet Club” and the “cut-throat era” as the show came to an end.
Tag League-wise, we finally have a standalone leader!
1. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (6-1; 12pt)
2. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (5-2; 10pt)
2. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (5-2; 10pt)
2. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (5-2; 10pt)
5. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) (4-3; 8pt)
5. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) (4-3; 8pt)
5. Juice Robinson & David Finlay (4-3; 8pt)
5. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb (4-3; 8pt)
9. The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (3-4; 6pt)
9. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) (3-4; 6pt)
9. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (3-4; 6pt)
12. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare (2-5; 4pt)
13. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (1-6; 2pt)
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino (0-7; 0pt)
We’ve finally had a good show from the World Tag League, with the last two of today’s tournament matches being really good, and the remainder of the block being “solid”. If the tour was all like this, it wouldn’t be a drag to watch! The tour resumes at Korakuen Hall on Friday with a similar line-up, except with Gedo and Rocky Romero added to the main event while the tag league highlights feature LIJ vs. GOD and another intra-Suzuki-gun tag as Sabre and Iizuka take on the Killer Elite Squad.