We’re in the home stretch as the World Tag League returned to live coverage from Fukuoka!
We’ve English commentary too for these final shows, and some new-ish pre-show VTs, including Hiroshi Tanahashi hoovering at the new New Japan Store. Do you see what this tournament’s reduced him to?! Kevin Kelly and Gino Gambino are on commentary. It’s been way too long.
World Tag League 2019: Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks
Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI can’t win the block after some rotten recent form, so this is mostly a battle of pride in CHAOS.
YOSHI-HASHI and Goto start off hot, trading kicks and shoulder tackles, but it’s when Karl Fredericks comes in when things really get going… if only because he made a beeline for Ishii. The result of that was that Fredericks was left laying, and that didn’t improve much when Ishii actually tagged in, with some chops keeping the American in the corner for a spell. Ishii clings to the ropes to avoid a dropkick from Fredericks as he opted to roll him in with a Boston crab, but Fredericks got to the rope. A spinebuster got Karl some more time as he then tagged in Goto, who built up momentum with a bulldog for a near-fall. YOSHI-HASHI’s in with a Head Hunter, before the pair struggled over a suplex, with Goto pulling it off
Fredericks is back in with his GODDAMN dropkick to catch out Ishii, who then took a neckbreaker before YOSHI-HASHI was met with a Stinger splash… a half crab’s next as Fredericks targeted YOSHI’s back, before an ushigoroshi from Goto added to the pressure. YOSHI-HASHI fought back, but his Bunker Buster’s countered into a small package for a near-fall, before Fredericks ran into a Western lariat for a near-fall. One butterfly lock later, and Fredericks was forced to tap right as Goto was about to make the save. A perfectly fine opener, with Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI looking good. ***
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
This could be a bit of a drag, given how Bullet Club tags have been going lately.
We get Mongolian chops from Kojima and Tenzan to Fale, as Owens became isolated for the slingshot elbow/falling headbut combo, but it wasn’t long before some double-teaming led to Kojima getting stood on. Kojima’s forced to evade a fist drop, but he couldn’t tag in Tenzan as he needed to land a Koji Cutter before getting out. Tenzan splashes Fale in the corner, but a brainbuster was too big an ask, as a splash from Fale put Tenzan down. Chase is back for a running knee, but then he mocked the Mongolian chops and ended up running into a Mountain bomb. Kojima’s back with Machine Gun chops for all, before Fale knocked Kojima off the top rope… and the Bullet Club are back in control.
Chase screws up a superkick, taking out his own man before running into a TenKoji Cutter. A Cozy Lariat took Fale to the outside, and that’s Chase on his own as a brainbuster led to a near-fall, before another Cozy Lariat was blocked, with Chase snatching the win with a package piledriver. This was better than you’d expect, as we’re 2-for-2 in terms of decent matches today. **¾
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls
Both of these teams have already fallen short. KENTA’s got a taped-up eye, so it was Yujiro who started, attacking Cobb from behind.
It didn’t work. Cobb hits back with shoulder tackles, before Yujiro raked the eye. He’s met with a stalling suplex as Nicholls comes in for a knee drop for an early two-count. There’s a turnaround as KENTA comes in to… kick Nicholls in the arse? More kicks led to an exchange of forearms, before Mikey ran into a kick that seemed to catch him off guard. It also caught my PC off guard as I get the Blue Screen of Death…
When we’re back, Nicholls remained on the defensive, but he’s able to snatch back in with a DDT. Cobb’s back with a running clothesline in the corner to Yujiro, then a leaping back elbow, before dishing out an Oklahoma Stampede for the hell of it. Yujiro replies with a reverse DDT as KENTA tagged in to pepper Cobb with kicks… but they’re eventually caught and turned into a capture fallaway slam.
Nicholls returned as KENTA turned it back around, thanks to Yujiro crotching Cobb in the post. Cobb’s back as he dumps KENTA with a Spin Cycle, while Nicholls’ sliding lariat got him a near-fall. A spinebuster and another sliding lariat got Nicholls closer, before KENTA countered a Mikey Bomb into a triangle armbar, then the Game Over crossface… but Cobb stomps it apart. Cobb’s low-bridged to the outside by Yujiro as KENTA stayed on Nicholls with a knee strike. Another Mikey Bomb’s countered, but Nicholls rolls free before he was dropped with a Busaiku knee, then a Go 2 Sleep for the win. This wasn’t as sluggish as some of KENTA’s other tags (cough Tuesday cough), but this was another mid-table match that’ll ultimately be meaningless. **¾
World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
Taichi gets his song back, as we’ve got a throwback to this past summer and Tanahashi’s flirtation with the Rev Pro title.
Everyone’s posing to start the match, as we eventually got going with Taichi and Tanahashi in the ropes. Sabre’s right there to grab Tanahashi’s hair behind the ref’s back, before Tanahashi rebounded with a crossbody out of the corner. Henare’s brought in to help with a double-team Boston crab, but they have to let go… and it’s not long before the ring clears as Sabre took Henare into the crowd, before cutting off a Samoan drop back inside with a guillotine choke.
Tanahashi’s in with a Twist and Shout, but it’s not long before he’s caught in an Octopus stretch… Taichi takes over as we’ve hair pulling too, which led to Henare getting involved. He’s quickly blasted with a PK and a buzzsaw kick for a near-fall, before Henare rolled out of a Black Memphisto for a near-fall. More kicks led to Taichi ripping off the trousers, only to get caught with a Slingblade, then a spear tackle for a near-fall. A headbutt and a lariat keeps Henare going, before he ran into an Axe Bomber… then got dumped BRUTALLY with a Saito suplex. Somehow Henare kicks out, before a superkick flipped him to the mat for the win. Yet again it’s a loss for Henare, but he showed good heart before he took a heck of a beating. ***
World Tag League 2019: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Both these teams have won World Tag League twice in a row – but while Makabe and Honma are a shadow of their former selves, LIJ could three-peat.
Honma and EVIL start us off, but we’re quickly outside as Honma took chops and the guard rails early on. Back inside, a Paradise Lock traps Honma, before EVIL came in and tried to push on with a Darkness Falls. Honma elbows free, then lands a shoulder tackle, as tags bring in Makabe. Makabe clears house with shoulder charges, then cornered LIJ with clotheslines ahead of some mounted punches on EVIL. A Northern Lights suplex and a clothesline nearly puts EVIL away, before a thrust kick helped turn things back around. SANADA’s back in to flip over Makabe in the corner, before he was met with a swivelling lariat, as Honma returned to hit a bulldog… and actually hit a Kokeshi.
Good God, hell is freezing over.
Honma couldn’t follow up with a Kokeshi Otoshi, and ended up getting double-teamed on the way to a back suplex from SANADA. They call for a Magic Killer, but Makabe makes a save and whips Honma into SANADA with a leaping Kokeshi. From there, they looked to go for a Doomsday Something or Other on SANADA, but EVIL knocks down Honma and helped get rid of Makabe with a Magic Killer… before SANADA came close with a TKO, as a Magic Killer finally puts Honma away. By the numbers, but at least Honma and Makabe kept the pace as LIJ close in on winning the block with matches to spare. ***
Kota Ibushi, Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
We’re officially in the last month of Liger, which genuinely makes me a little sad.
Ibushi and Okada get us going as we had loud duelling chants before Okada took Ibushi to ground. An escape ends in the ropes, before tags bring in SHO and Liger… and that pop for Liger! SHO takes Liger’s greatest hits, including the baseball slide dropkick to the guard rails, along with a Romero special that YOH broke up to a shower of boos.
SHO’s spear drops Liger as YOH returned to work over Liger’s leg. Okada goes all heelish as he tries to loosen Liger’s match… did he not see what happened to the last guy who did that? Liger fires back with palm strikes, only to get caught in the corner as Roppongi 3K double-team behind the ref’s back. Tags get us back to Ibushi and Okada, with the latter almost losing to a standing moonsault, before a neckbreaker slam dropped Ibushi in the middle of the ring. Ibushi ducks a Rainmaker, countering with a Pele kick instead, as Tiger Mask came in to try and get the unlikely win over Okada. A Tiger Driver’s blocked, but he’s able to roll up Okada for a near-fall, before Liger’s back with Shoteis for all!
Things settle down with a tombstone from Okada to Ibushi, before a top rope elbow to Tiger Mask led to the Rainmaker zoom out, with a Rainmaker putting Tiger Mask away for good measure. I loved the spice that Liger brought, and it’s going to be emotional next month when he steps away from the ring… ***¼
World Tag League 2019: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Terrible) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Shingo and Terrible can help their LIJ buddies a LOT with a win here, as the Guerrillas are effectively eliminated with a loss.
The Guerillas jump-start the match, but LIJ recover as they proceeded to chop Tama by the ropes. Some nice double-teaming built up to a legdrop on Tama, before Tanga Loa took a beating too, before Jado threatened with his Kendo stick… which led to the turnaround. Tanga Loa drags Shingo to the outside, slamming him on the mats, as the Guerrillas began to push ahead. Eventually Shingo hit back with a double clothesline, before tags brought us to Tama and Terrible. A dropkick takes Tama into the ropes, as Shingo’s quickly back in to suplex Tama for a near-fall, only for Tama to trick Shingo on the way to a dropkick of his own. Terrible’s back with his palm strikes, before he was taken down with a spear by Tanga Loa.
My feed dies, and recovers in time to see Terrible kick out from Guerrilla Warfare, Shingo returned to make a save as Terrible was being prepped for the super powerbomb. LIJ build up a head of steam, with a sliding Shingo lariat and a top rope splash from Terrible flattening Tanga Loa for a near-fall, before a Gun Stun took Shingo out. Jado hits the ring and tries to crack Terrible with the Kendo stick… he’s caught, then knocked out, before the ref missed a low blow from Jado. From there, a Skull Crushing Finale and the OJK crossface forces the stoppage. Not a fan of the shenanigans, but the Guerrillas needed to stay alive a little longer – and this wasn’t as bad as some of their previous outings. **½
World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
A loss for Fin-Juice here makes their run-in more complicated, and of course we’ve a jump start as the 2011 tournament winners went outside… only for Suzuki to get taken into the barriers.
Finlay stays on top of Archer, but he runs into a goozle before some running uppercuts knocked the US champion into the ropes. Archer just rebounds with a crossbody as Suzuki began to beast Juice on the outside, taking him into the barriers and back again as Suzuki proceeded to bounce a chair off of Finlay’s back at ringside. After the English commentary was almost scared off the air, things “calm” as Finlay tried to fight back… but Suzuki just levels him with an elbow before using a Cloverleaf and half crab almost forced the submission. Finlay’s kept isolated as they wear him down, before he forced himself an opening with a diving uppercut as Juice gets the tag in to try and clear house.
Clotheslines trap Suzuki in the corner, but he’s back with some forearms in the corner that snuffed out whatever momentum Juice had built. A PK follows for a two-count, before a rear naked choke looked to set up for the Gotch piledriver… but Juice back body drops his way free. The goddamn elbows follow, as Juice nearly got put to sleep, before he struggled to catch Suzuki with a Juice Box… and Archer quickly tags back in to restore order. Finlay blind-tags in and has to fight out of a double chokeslam as he helped flapjack Archer for a two-count. Archer breaks out of an Acid Drop and hits a full nelson slam on Finlay, as the Suzuki-gun duo looked to be easing to victory, with a chokeslam to Finlay for a near-fall, before Finlay countered a second chokeslam into a Prima Nocta.
Again, Finlay goes for an Acid Drop, but it’s caught as Archer teased Black Out, before a Left Hand of God and a roll-up got the win for Fin-Juice. Archer and Suzuki were far from happy at that as Archer laid out Young Lions afterwards to close out the show. A decent main event, as we’re left with the same three teams staying alive. ***
I don’t know if it’s because of the English commentary, but this generally felt like a livelier show – even if it was a case of things running on the spot in terms of teams staying in the hunt. Your updated realistic tiebreakers, as we’re down to three teams with a chance now:
EVIL & SANADA – beaten Guerrillas of Destiny; beaten Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI; lost to Cabana & Yano; face Fin-Juice on the final night
Fin-Juice – face EVIL & SANADA on the final night; beaten Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI; beat Cabana & Yano; lost to Guerrillas of Destiny;
Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa – lost to EVIL & SANADA; lost to Cabana & Yano; beat Fin-Juice; face Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI on the final night
Here’s the key matches for the remainder of the tour, with both nights airing live on NJPW World:
Friday in Kumamoto: Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Nagata & Nakanishi; Finlay & Juice vs. KENTA & Yujiro; EVIL & SANADA vs. Kojima & Tenzan
Sunday in Hiroshima: EVIL & SANADA vs. Juice & Finlay; Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
1. EVIL & SANADA (12-1; 24pts)
2. David Finlay & Juice Robinson; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (11-2; 22pts)
4. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (9-4; 18pts)
5. KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi; Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer; Toru Yano & Colt Cabana (8-5; 16pts)
8. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (8-7; 16pts)
9. Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls (7-7; 14pts)
10. Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale; Shingo Takagi & Terrible (6-7; 12pts)
12. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (4-9; 8pts)
13. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (3-11; 6pts)
14. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare (2-10; 4pts)
15. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks (2-12; 4pts)
16. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (1-12; 2pts)