The 2019 World Tag League stayed at Korakuen as the latest week of the tour wrapped up with a battle between two teams at the top.
Live English commentary doesn’t hit this tour until next week’s live finales, in case you’re wondering. Let’s combat tag team fatigue together!
World Tag League 2019: Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls vs. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks
Cobb and Nicholls are on the cusp of challenging at the top, but you get the feeling they’re more likely to fall away in the final week than not.
The early going saw Nicholls and Goto lock up, but to no avail, as Jeff Cobb and Karl Fredericks tried their luck instead. They exchange shoulder tackles, before Cobb caught a leaping crossbody and just slammed Fredericks instead. Nicholls is back, keeping up on Fredericks with chops, but Karl’s not taking any of that, only for Cobb to muscle his way back in.
Fredericks tries to fight back, and lands his GODDAMN DROPKICK, before he tagged in Goto to continue the comeback. Clotheslines await Cobb in the corner for a near-fall, before Fredericks just threw himself at a maybe-outta-position Cobb and Nicholls with a crossbody off the top. They target Nicholls for a spell, with a spinebuster from Fredericks getting a near-fall… but the tables turn with some double-teaming as a Spin Cycle took Fredericks down. Nicholls follows with a sliding lariat for a near-fall, but Fredericks begins to try his luck with flash pins, only to get caught with a death valley driver and another sliding lariat, before a Mikey Bomb put the LA Dojo lad away. This started a little slow, but was a perfectly serviceable win for a team that’ll probably just miss out at the top. **¾
Post-match, KENTA turns up and laid out Goto with a Busaiku knee. They’re gonna go tit for tat for the rest of this tour, aren’t they?
World Tag League 2019: Colt Cabana & Toru Yano vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
It’s the battle of the ad-hoc mash-ups! Seize the BOOM BOOM.
Cabana and Yano get us going, slithering in and out of holds before Nagata began to throw shots at Colt, peppering him with elbows… and getting them in return. Yano and Nakanishi come in next, with Yano’s shoulder tackles offering little as Nakanishi just bulldozes through him, before he resists a double-team Irish whip. Not to worry, Colt and Yano whoa by the ropes, then go for a double-team suplex, only for Nakanishi to reverse it as everyone heads outside. Somewhere in this, Yano’s undone a turnbuckle pad, using it on Nakanishi, before he whipped the veteran into the exposed corner.
Nakanishi retaliates with a spear, before Yano got pulled into the Shirome armbar. Colt tries to break it up, but gets tossed outside as Yano took a kicking instead. Cabana’s in to make a save with Dusty punches, a Bionic elbow and the flying asshole to Nagata, who’s then splashed for a near-fall. Nagata’s stuttering dropkick stops the momentum, with Nakanishi’s suplex throw adding to it, before he racked Colt. Yano tries in vain to break it up, eventually succeeding by shoving Nagata into him before Nakanishi got pushed into the exposed corner, causing in to stagger and fall as a Superman body press gets Colt the win. You already know where this was good and where this wasn’t – Nakanishi’s days are numbered, you have to feel. **
World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
We’re back to the mid-table stuff, as both teams are just trying to get the best results they can in the final days of the tour.
Of course, there’s a jump start as Suzuki-gun raced into a cheap lead, but they’re quickly overtaken as Kojima and Tenzan peppered Taichi with Mongolian chops. Taichi and Kojima head into the crowd, while Sabre grounds Tenzan, working his way into a wrenching cravat as the other two got back to ringside. Taichi comes in to mock the Mongolian chops, but ends up taking a spinning heel kick, before Kojima Machine Gun Chops everyone. Sabre stops Kojima’s top rope elbow by trapping him there with an omoplata, before Taichi’s own chops caught Kojima in the corner. Taichi tries to complete the set, but his Axe Bomber just bounces off of Kojima.
A second one proved more effective as Sabre tags in and played with his nipples, before a Cobra twist was swiftly thrown away. The Koji Cutter drops Sabre, allowing Tenzan back in to land a brainbuster for a near-fall. Sabre, responding, knocked Tenzan down before he ran into a Mountain bomb… which led to Tenzan going for, and whiffing on a moonsault. Taichi tries to capitalise with a buzzsaw kick, before a PK from Sabre led to a near-fall. Kojima makes a save, landing a Cozy Lariat, as Tenzan looked to push on with more Mongolian chops until he got caught with a roll-up. Sabre’s furious it wasn’t a three, but that distraction means the ref misses a low blow before a Zack Memphisto double-team puts Tenzan away. This felt way too long – at least for the pace they went at. **½
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
I don’t think the pace is going to increase anytime soon…
Juice and Chase open the match, as Juice busts out the Dusty punches early, before Finlay came in and leapt onto the arm. Fale’s in to charge through Juice and Finlay, then toss Juice outside as Finlay had his taped-up arm worked over. The Bullet Club pair work smartly, with Juice getting the tag as the ref was distracted… so it doesn’t count, and Finlay’s left isolated in the corner once again.
They do it again as Chase pulls Juice off the apron to save a tag, and it means Finlay ends up wandering into a Fale lariat as the Bullet Club almost picked up the win. Chase tries to snatch a win with a knee strike and a package piledriver, but Finlay back body drops free before Juice AGAIN got pulled off the apron… but it’s for nought as Finlay stole the win with a roll-up on Chase out of nowhere! By hook or by crook they won, and this feels like the kind of “nasty” win you need to win the league. Shame the match before it was very much skippable – with smart heel work by a team that a lot of people have checked out on. **
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
Surely the pace is going to pick up here, right?
KENTA and Tanahashi start off by going into the ropes, before KENTA struck from behind and mocked Tanahashi’s air guitar as he backed out of the ring. Tags take us to Yujiro and Henare, with a low bridge taking the Kiwi outside as we had some brawling around ringside.
KENTA runs Henare into the barriers, as Tanahashi was left watching on from the apron. KENTA mocks Henare some more, before some leg drops and a splash from Yujiro drew a two-count. Finally Henare got the tag out as Tanahashi came in and knocked KENTA down with a forearm, following up with a slam and a flip senton for good measure. Yujiro returns for some double-teaming ahead of a Fisherman buster on Tanahashi for a near-fall. An attempt to follow in with a low dropkick fails as Yujiro took a Dragon screw, then a Cloverleaf as Yujiro got free and tried to bite back into the match. The leg sweep/Slingblade combo dropped him for a near-fall, before Yujiro rolled away from a High Fly Flow attempt.
Tags get us back to KENTA and Henare as we pass the ten minute mark, as Henare lands a spear tackle for a near-fall, with Yujiro breaking it up late on. A reverse DDT doesn’t do much as Henare looked to finish off KENTA with a stalling suplex, before a Toa Bottom’s countered into a triangle armbar. They escape, as KENTA looked to strike back, landing some palm strikes before the Go 2 Sleep got the win. Despite not taking the pin, it’s another loss on the tour for Tanahashi, who’s really heading into 2020 with nil momentum given everything going on. This was fine, but not spectacular. **½
Goto attacks after the match. KENTA was the only one who didn’t see it coming.
Kota Ibushi, Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji vs. Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
C’mon lads, save the show.
SHO and Uemura started out with some aggression as the grappling finally had SHO edge ahead, although the pair going for duelling gutwrenches was always going to end in the ropes. Uemura pushed on with shoulder tackles, before he got taken down with a gutwrench from SHO… who quickly added to it with a slam. Uemura tries it on with Okada, but his forearms don’t register, and the champ knocks him down. Wash, rinse, repeat. YOH’s in next, trying to pick the easy win as he took Uemura into the corner. SHO’s back, kicking through Uemura for a near-fall, before the Young Lion finally responded with a dropkick.
Okada returns to do the job himself, but Uemura pushes away and tagged in Ibushi, who was brimming with excitement. A springboard dropkick took Okada outside for a pescado, as the G1 winner pushed ahead… but a shotgun dropkick from Okada restores order… at least until the pair reversed tombstone attempts that led to a dropkick from Okada. YOH tags back in, as does Tsuji, with those two going at it with shoulder tackles before YOH’s bridging suplex forced Ibushi in to break up the cover. Okada returns but gets dropkicked as Roppongi 3K resorted to their double-team stuff to try and get by Tsuji… only to get speared. A superkick from YOH led to a Final Cut for a near-fall, then a Falcon Arrow, and that did the deal as it was was enough to put away Tsuji. When was the last time YOH won with that?! Not complaining, because I’m always of the belief that “main roster” guys shouldn’t need their main finisher to beat a Young Lion… but man, this match started out hot and faded badly. Still the best thing so far. ***
After the match, Okada called out Ibushi… who faked out a springboard dropkick that made the champion fall on his arse.
World Tag League 2019: Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Uhh… at least the main event has promise, right?
We’ve a jump start of sorts, as the tag team champions took the former tournament winners into the corner, but Makabe and Honma return with a double-team shoulder tackle to Tanga Loa, before the match spilled outside. Tama Tonga’s thrown into the crowd, but he’s back as Makabe’s taken against the guard railings, with some crossface punches keeping him there as Honma and Tanga Loa fought towards the stage. Tama and Makabe go vaguely backstage, as Tanga and Honma stay in the ring, with Tanga hitting a stalling jackhammer for a two-count.
A slam on Honma sets up for a slingshot senton from Tama Tonga, before Honma finally hit back with a DDT. Makabe tags in and charges at the champions, before Tanga Loa cut off preparations for the mounted punches… only to get cornered as Makabe hit the lariats and punches in the end. My feed craps out here, and returned with Tanga Loa getting a near-fall on Makabe, as Honma returned to try and fight through Tanga. A shoulder tackle knocks Tanga down, but Tama Tonga trips up Honma to save from a Kokeshi. Double-teaming on Tanga led to a sandwich lariat, before Honma slammed Tanga Loa and teases a Kokeshi… Tama Tonga tries to block it, but Honma misses anyway, before an assisted Tongan Twist almost put him away.
Makabe returns to save Honma from a super powerbomb, before a Kendo stick shot and a Gun Stun to Makabe left him laying. All that’s left was to finish off Honma, and after a scare with a clunky small package, Tanga Loa pulled him into the OJK crossface for the submission. This was about as good as you could expect – they brought the bells and whistles, but you’re not missing a thing if you skip this. **¼
World Tag League 2019: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
Seriously, save the show lads!
Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI started out hot, but things came unstuck when they tried a double-team suplex, as SANADA came in for LIJ to hit the double suplex in the end. EVIL puts the boots to Ishii’s ankle and taped-up knee, as it became clear that’s where LIJ were going to target, especially so when SANADA dropped an elbow on the limb.
SANADA keeps up the pressure with a deathlock, then bridged back into a Muta lock, before EVIL returned to stay on that leg. Ishii finally fought back, reversing a suplex as YOSHI-HASHI tagged in and hit a Head Hunter to turn the tables a little. Chops sting EVIL, who just chops back before a ‘rana from YOSHI-HASHI got him time to bring Ishii back in.
EVIL and Ishii clatter into each other some more, as EVIL upped the ante with a nice Violence Party of chops and forearms in the corner. SANADA comes in to help out, but YOSHI-HASHI stops them from even thinking of a Magic Killer, as some double-teaming led to a German suplex on EVIL. An enziguiri from Ishii’s swatted away, but EVIL’s eventually taken down with a lariat before a scoop slam downed SANADA with some force. YOSHI-HASHI’s back with a Bunker Buster for a near-fall, but SANADA just rebounds with a springboard dropkick as LIJ looked to build fresh momentum. SANADA uses an O’Connor roll to try and trap YOSHI-HASHI into a Skull End, but it’s countered as Ishii’s lariat and some running knees nearly led to the win.
Form there, Ishii powerbombs SANADA ahead of a senton bomb from YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall, before a kumagoroshi’s blocked. SANADA flips out of a German suplex as EVIL returns to help batter YOSHI-HASHI, leading to a backdrop driver for a near-fall before a Magic Killer dropped YOSHI-HASHI… forcing Ishii to dive in to break up the pin. Ishii blocks a second Magic Killer and hurled EVIL with a German suplex, before SANADA almost got caught up in the moment as a roll-up from YOSHI-HASHI nearly nicked a win. From there, SANADA slips out of Karma and went for a Skull End as the false finishes piled up, before a swinging Skull End forced the stoppage after EVIL finally cut off Ishii’s resistance.
Easily the best match on this card, but these four would have had to have had an utter nightmare not to have. Nice and competitive, with plenty of near-misses towards the end… even if it means we’re a little closer to LIJ getting yet another tag title shot in the New Year. ***¾
This was a weird one. Korakuen Hall shows, especially on tournament tours, tend to step into a higher gear, but just about everything here just felt flat and lethargic. After today, the tour takes a day off, then resumes on Sunday at the Ukaru Chan Arena in Shiga – that’ll be available via VOD on Monday, with the Guerrillas of Destiny taking on David Finlay and Juice Robinson in the main event.
1. David Finlay & Juice Robinson; EVIL & SANADA (8-1; 14pts)
3. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa; Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (7-2; 14pts)
5. Toru Yano & Colt Cabana (7-3; 14pts)
6. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer (6-3; 12pts)
7. Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls (6-5; 12pts)
8. KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi (5-4; 10pts)
9. Shingo Takagi & Terrible (5-5; 10pts)
10. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (4-7; 8pts)
11. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (4-8; 6pts)
12. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (3-8; 6pts)
13. Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale (3-6; 6pts)
14. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks; Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare (2-7; 4pts)
16. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (1-10; 2pts)