Osaka played host to the latest round of the World Tag League, as the final week of the tour kicked off!
It’s another live show from the (smaller part of the) Edion Arena, and we’re dropping the long video package from the start as it’s right into the (Japanese commentary-only) action!
World Tag League: Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.)
Davey Boy’s still wearing his new golden bulldog mask, which actually looks better from the still photos.
Archer and Umino start, with the Young Lion quickly going for roll-ups before Archer’s taken down with a double-team suplex. It’s very much a “hit and run” game from the rookies, as in all probability, the second their offence stops, the second their chances of winning dies. A double-team Boston crab’s easily broken up by Smith, whose headbutt seemingly killed Umino, and the KES took over from there.
Repeated charges into the corner from Archer wore down Yoshida, who then ate a pop-up slam for a near-fall, before Yoshida’s bid to save himself from a Killer Bomb was just delayed, as he fought free, but was pulled into a back suplex before taking the finish. Well, thanks for coming Shota, who was shown laid out on the floor afterwards! Very much the squashiest of squashes – we didn’t even get the first time cue. **
World Tag League: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
With Nagata and Nakanishi marooned towards the bottom of the league, and already eliminated from the tour, this is just a “playing for pride” match for them.
Nakanishi and EVIL start, but it needs some Nagata to save from a double-team suplex early as the duelling shoulder tackles find their mark. A simple slam leaves EVIL down, but Nakanishi misses a body splash before he rolled outside from a low dropkick as the New Japan Dads indulged in the guard rail spots. Back in the ring, a low dropkick from SANADA puts down Nakanishi, before EVIL tried for a standing surfboard stretch… only for Nakanishi to power free ahead of landing a Polish hammer. Nagata tags in, full of the big boots, following in with an Exploder to EVIL for a two-count, who then replies with a suplex. EVIL sidesteps the stuttering dropkick but can’t avoid the Shirome… which SANADA quickly broke up as the match became a little more even.
Tags bring in SANADA and Nakanishi, with the latter edging ahead with chops before a body slam led to… Nakanishi going up top? He’s already done his yearly dive… and sure enough, he’s caught as EVIL and SANADA try to press slam him, only for Nagata to make the save as Nakanishi flew with a crossbody! From there, SANADA slips out of an Argentine backbreaker, but Nakanishi counters a Skull End into the hold anyway, as EVIL runs into Nagata’s second Shirome of the day. After releasing the hold, Nagata runs in for the more athletic part of the high/low before a splash from Nakanishi draws a near-fall. Things turned around as a Magic Killer looked to put away Nakanishi, only for Nagata to make a save… before Everything is EVIL got rid of him as a SANADA moonsault gets the win. Well, this was as one sided as you’d expect while paying deference to the Dads, as LIJ ensure they end the day with at least a share of top spot. **¾
Thanks to Chris Charlton for this bit of maths – any team with six points or less after today will be eliminated because of LIJ making it to 14…
World Tag League: The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
Finlay and Yujiro start us off here, and I go cold when they do a headlock. Except this time, Yujiro pulls the hair as he’s shot into the ropes, before a second attempt ended with him holding on as Finlay whiffs on a dropkick.
A leaping European uppercut from Finlay gets him back in it, as Juice comes in to knock Page off the apron so he could squash Yujiro with a back senton for a near-fall. Yujiro makes a comeback before tagging out, as Page blocks a leapfrog from Finlay with his boot, before going after both opponents with clotheslines ahead of a nice dropsault for a near-fall. Finlay’s uranage backbreaker rocks Page, allowing Juice to come back with clotheslines and a leg lariat for good measure. Dusty punches end with a falling DDT, but Page quickly responds with a fallaway slam to Finlay before duelling planchas missed. Heck, everyone’s planchas miss as instead, the Elite pair get knocked into the guard rails before Finlay and Juice connected with their dives.
We’ve topes from the Elite after that, but Fin-Juice keep the momentum swinging… much like Yujiro keeps on grabbing for Finlay’s feet! In the end, an attempted Pulp Friction nearly backfires as Juice has to kick out of a backslide, before Page eats a Prima Nocta stunner from Finlay ahead of the Pulp Friction for the win. A solid match, with Fin-Juice now roaring onto 12 points. It seems that Juice and Page have had a reversal of fortunes between the G1 and World Tag League… I’d read a LOT into that fall considering the news going around… ***
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
Ah, I love it when the overdub barely masks the opening strains to Immigrant Song…
Yeah, we’ve a jump start as Henare and Makabe barely get through the ropes, but they manage to snuff out the attack as Makabe took Suzuki into the railings before taking Iizuka into the ring for a brief two-on-one. Iizuka’s got a new colour to his Lecter mask, for that guy keeping score.
Henare runs into a kick on the apron from Suzuki as the armbar in the ropes follows… aaand we’re back outside. Iizuka gets a chair from under the ring while Suzuki just throws Makabe into the crowd. Suzuki stacks up a guard rail onto Makabe’s back before throwing a chair at it… and he’s even got time to slap a Young Lion too! Henare manages to beat the count-out, but the mugging continued as he just made it back to the Suzuki-gun corner – prompting more attacks. Henare does try to fight back with a chop or two, but Suzuki shrugs it off and elbows him back to the mat. Things get serious when Suzuki tags out and unmasks Iizuka as it’s feeding time, complete with Suzuki blocking the referee’s path during the gnawing frenzy. That had to be a rib.
Marty Asami refuses to count the pin when Iizuka tries to cover Henare after some biting… so Suzuki tags in and kicks Henare some more. It sparks another fightback, this time featuring a Samoan drop before Makabe tags back in. He’s straight in with the mounted punches to Suzuki, following up with a Northern lights suplex for a near-fall. Suzuki turns it back around with a PK for a near-fall, before some clonking elbows took Makabe to his knees. Makabe hit back, right as Henare was getting back to the apron, but Iizuka’s tagged in first for more biting before he’s double-teamed for a spell. Suzuki breaks it up as we go to a double-team clothesline from Makabe… except it’s caught and turned into duelling armbars before some combinations lead to another PK. From there, Suzuki sets up for the Iron Fingers, which Makabe ducks and counters with a clothesline, before a Samoan drop ends with a near-fall as Suzuki breaks that up again.
Henare tries to fight back against Suzuki, even taking him down with a leaping shoulder tackle, before a clothesline sandwich for Iizuka and another shoulder tackle, this time off the top, set up for a King Kong knee drop. Makabe finds his mark with that, and that’s enough for the win! The result barely keeps Henare and Makabe alive, while the loss prompted Suzuki to throw chairs at Young Lions. God, imagine his reaction if they ever hit back? This was entertaining enough, but the Suzuki-gun shenanigans will almost always temper things. ***
World Tag League: Best Friends (Chuckie T & Beretta) vs. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb
After the events of Thursday, the strained relationship between the Best Friends was still being played up… all with Chuckie T being the obnoxious, over-the-top one who tried to pretend stuff didn’t happen.
We start with the shoulder tackles, but Chuckie T has no luck against Jeff C, with things going awry as a springboard crossbody was eventually caught before Chuckie fought back… and needed his partner to save him from a suplex. The Best Friends combined to suplex Cobb, but a knee to the midsection quickly quells Beretta, who came back just as quick with a tope to Cobb on the outside.
Back inside, a crossbody puts Elgin down for a two-count, before the big guys came back with duelling suplexes… with Beretta playing a brief game of pass-the-parcel, and not how he wanted! Cobb keeps up the pressure with an Irish whip to take Beretta into the corner, while Elgin stays the course too. An elbow knocks Beretta down as Elgin looked to be limping, so in comes Cobb as he effortlessly hurls Beretta with a T-bone suplex. The follow-up standing moonsault sees him eat some knees, before Chuckie T tagged in and had to change tack as he needed to deal with Elgin with a plancha, before scoring one to Cobb on opposite sides of the ring.
An Asai DDT from Chuckie T gets a near-fall, as did a double stomp off the top, but Elgin helped to turn it back around as he left Chuckie down for a standing Cobb moonsault for a near-fall. Chuckie tries to block out of an Elgin bomb, and eventually does so as Sole Food gets him free, allowing Beretta to tag in and land a tornado DDT, before a Gobstopper is blocked as he’s eventually caught with a German suplex. Elgin keeps up the momentum with a superkick and a Tiger Bomb for a near-fall, before he elbows away interference from Chuckie T. Beretta capitalises with a Gob Stopper, but Chuckie T then snaps, laying out Elgin and Cobb with chairs on the outisde, before bringing a chair in… and there’s your blatant DQ. Chuckie continues to snap after the bell, throwing Cobb into the railings, before he pulled off the ring apron for the hell of it, as more chairshots followed. Well, until the storyline finish, this was quite decent, and while I doubt that Beretta vs. Chuckie T is even pencilled in for WrestleKingdom, it’ll be a good feud when they do pull the trigger. ***¼
Beretta makes a save as Chuckie tried to choke out Elgin with his belt… and this time Beretta blocks the punch as Chuckie walks away in a daze. The camera crew zoom in on Elgin limping away, which could play into the remainder of the tournament, although by this point you’d have to say that Elgin and Cobb were only an outside bet for the finals.
World Tag League: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
A loss here eliminates Tenzan and Kojima, while a win will keep Ishii and Yano on the top of the board.
Yano and Tenzan start, and of course Yano can’t help himself. He diverts his attention to hit Kojima with a Mongolian chop, before Ishii came in to try and help… but the tag team veterans manage to outlast and take down Yano with duelling shoulder tackles. There’s a double-team suplex for Ishii too, before they focus on Yano with (yes) Mongolian chops.
Things spill to the outside as Yano and Ishii turned the match on its head, of course leading to Yano removing a turnbuckle pad before he threw Tenzan into the exposed corner. Ishii’s in for some headbutts to Tenzan, before Yano returned to play the fool… another tag to Ishii gave Tenzan a chance to fight back, as he has Ishii cornered before tagging in Kojima for those Machine Gun chops. Ishii fought back to stop Kojima from going up top, as he unloads with chops of his own. Those descend into a battle of elbows, which Kojima cut off with a DDT, only for Ishii to return with a suplex as they resume some double-teaming. In comes Yano, except he takes a Koji Cutter, as did Ishii, before Tenzan tagged in and turned things around single-handedly, taking Yano into the exposed corner while getting rid of Ishii with a spinning heel kick.
More Mongolian chops follow for Yano, who’s then suplexed for a near-fall, before he ran into a Mountain bomb for another two-count. An Anaconda Vise followed from Tenzan, but Ishii breaks it up eventually, before a Cozy Lariat almost puts Yano away. Tenzan continues the trend of Flying Dads as he slammed Yano… but he misses with his moonsault, and once Kojima’s attempt to make a save is headbutted away, it’s just a matter of time as Yano low blowed Tenzan, before an Ishii clothesline and a roll-up got the win. Tenzan and Kojima are out of contention now, after a match that was pretty good, but knowing what’s already been announced, it’s hard to believe any team with Ishii in is winning this league. ***
After the match, Kojima and Tenzan saluted the crowd, pretty much acknowledging their fate.
World Tag League: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Our final league match of the day is a chance for the Guerrillas to retain that three-way share of the lead, and we have a jump start as TAKA ran his mouth, seemingly asking who the man was under the bandanna… and took Jado’s Kendo stick for his troubles.
That led to the match effectively starting on the outside, as Tama Tonga’s thrown into a wall, while Sabre was whipped into an equally unfriendly guard rail. Sabre recovers to tie up Tanga Loa in an Octopus stretch in the crowd, holding on despite Tanga’s best efforts. Back in the ring, Taichi and Tama Tonga put the boots to the respective seconds, eventually clearing TAKA and Jado out of the ring before… we brawl outside again.
So we had something going on in the ring, Zack and Tanga fought over a knuckle lock, but that just seemed to be killing time as Taichi and Tama brawled through the crowd. Sabre manages to roll back to reverse the hold, while Taichi was casually trying to stab Tama in the eye with a pen as Sabre effortlessly switched into a cross armbreaker in the ring. Tanga Loa breaks it up as he hauls Sabre into a back suplex… while the cameras again focus on the Tama/Taichi brawl. With everyone oblivious to the ref’s count, we ended up with a four-way dive back into the ring, before the match settles into a two-on-one on Tanga Loa, as a buzzsaw kick from Taichi nearly gets the job done. Tama’s back with a leaping neckbreaker that nearly got his team the win, but TAKA interferes, sliding the mic stand into the ring… and of course Taichi uses it.
That prompts Jado to get involved, doing much the same thing as he slid in his Kendo stick… which Taichi blocked with the mic stand as Tanga Loa took the rebound before a Gedo clutch nearly got the win. Off come the trousers… but Taichi turned around into a Gun Stun, only for Sabre to dive in and break up the pin. Some more miscommunication led to Tama taking out his own man while Sabre trapped Tama with a guillotine… but that’s countered into a Magic Killer before Taichi’s suplexed into a top rope powerbomb for the win. This was very brawl heavy, but I did like the tit-for-tat nature of things – from the seconds getting involved, to the way the interferences sorta worked. Unfortunately, on face value, this also came across very scrappy… ***
Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA & Rocky Romero
A replay from Friday’s main event in Korakuen – can the Bullet Club make it 3-0?
Much like Friday, Okada and co lead a co-ordinated charge to start the match, and once again they’re easily snuffed out as White and Fale went after Okada and Tanahashi. The Dream Team actually worked well together though, clearing the ring before bringing KUSHIDA in to try and take down Fale. Well that’s just mean.
Rocky’s in to help too, sending KUSHIDA into the corner for some Forever lariats, before Fale sidesteps a charge in the corner as KUSHIDA crashes and burns. We get some more crowd brawling as White tosses Okada into the crowd and throws a guard rail onto him, while Tanahashi gets similar treatment from Fale. As for the other four, well, they don’t get cameras on them! Back in the ring, Gedo has a go on KUSHIDA, raking his nose, before Ishimori tagged in and kept up the rough-housing, snapmaring KUSHIDA before choking him, as Gedo deliberately diverted the referee’s attention. White and Fale take KUSHIDA outside as they try their best to take the commentary off-air, throwing KUSHIDA into the guard railings repeatedly. It looked to have weakened the junior champion, as he looked to be a step behind Ishimori before scoring with a hiptoss and a cartwheel dropkick to stem the tide.
Tags finally take us to Okada and White, with a running back elbow putting the Switchblade into the corner until Gedo crept in and broke it up. There’s a DDT for his bother there, which just helped White as he uses the distraction to catch Okada with a Saito suplex. Okada tries to fight back with a tombstone, but he has to make do with a flapjack instead, before Tanahashi tagged in and instantly had to fight out of a Blade Runner. Tanahashi instead lands a Dragon screw before he’s met with a uranage from White. There’s a Slingblade for Gedo as the match looked to fray a little, settling down into the expected pairings… before White shoves away a High Fly Flow that was destined for Gedo. Fale’s in too, so of course Rocky Romero wants in as he launches into some offence, mostly using Forever lariats that wiped out Gedo… so Fale literally lifts him across the ring to make a tag out.
Ishimori looked for headscissors, but they’re countered as he ends up taking a satellite DDT from KUSHIDA that gave Rocky a near-fall. Fale tries to help, but instead he’s used as a human wall for some Sliced Bread… only for White to pull apart the cover as we’re threatened with a Parade of Moves to clear the ring. From there, Rocky takes Ishimori down, but some headscissors get countered into a tombstone gutbuster for a near-fall, before the Bloody Cross puts Rocky away… and that’s a clean sweep for the Bullet Club on this weekend! Another solid main event as the Bullet Club continue their domination, symbolically picking up a clean win over a team that featured two of New Japan’s best heavyweights of this era. ***½
So, as far as the tag league action went, this may as well have been one of the on-demand shows. I don’t want to call it “low effort”, but it was par for the course on what’s been a very run-of-the-mill tour so far. We keep a three-way tie at the top, as eliminations mean we effectively now add The Elite and Kojima & Tenzan to the list of teams no longer in with a shout.
1. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (7-2; 14pts)
1. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (7-2; 14pts)
1. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (7-2; 14pts)
4. Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) (6-3; 12pts)
4. Juice Robinson & David Finlay (6-3; 12pts)
6. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) (5-4; 10pts)
6. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) (5-4; 10pts)
6. Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb (5-4; 10pts)
9. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) (4-5; 8pts)
9. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare (4-5; 8pts)
11. The Elite (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) (3-6; 6pts)
11. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (3-6; 6pts)
13. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (1-8; 2pts)
14. Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino (0-9; 0pts)
As far as live action, that’s this tour done until Thursday in Yamagata… but we have two more rounds of delayed coverage, with single-camera feeds for Monday and Tuesday’s shows, with Kochi on Monday featuring LIJ vs. Best Friends, while Tuesday in Hyogo is topped with LIJ vs. Fin-Juice.