Fukushima hosts the next part of World Tag League, as the defending champions EVIL & SANADA main evented.
The VOD-only portion of the tour kicks off here in Fukushima’s Big Palette Fukushima.
World Tag League 2019: Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
I’m surprised by just how well Goto and Fredericks have been doing this tournament – I guess “warming up Goto for WrestleKingdom” outweighs the “tagging with a Young Lion” part of the equation.
Tenzan and Fredericks start us off, with Karl ducking an early Mongolian chop. He couldn’t avoid regular chops though, which softened him up for the Mongolians that took him to the mat. Kojima’s in to slam Fredericks ahead of some double-teaming… but Fredericks struck back, taking Kojima into the ropes before landing a hiptoss.
Goto has more luck with a chinlock on Kojima, throwing in an elbow for good measure as the (presumably) next NEVER challenger took control. Fredericks is back with a stomp on Kojima for a two-count, but he’s cut off with a DDT before Tenzan came in to turn things around. Fredericks takes more Mongolian chops, then headbutts, before they traded forearms for a spell… until Karl hit that GODDAMN dropkick!
Goto’s back to hit a bulldog on Tenzan, before an ushigoroshi was blocked. Tenzan’s Mongolian chops got blocked, so he comes in with a spinning heel kick instead, before Kojima’s Machine gun chops stung Goto in the corner. The top rope elbow’s next for a near-fall, but there’s another turnaround as Fredericks came in to help, landing a Stinger splash in the corner before the Blockbuster/side Russian legsweep combo was aborted. Fredericks was taken care of with shoulder tackles, before Goto took a Kojima brainbuster for a near-fall. Goto swats away a Cozy lariat and hits a reverse GTR for a near-fall, with Tenzan breaking up the pin before he got sent outside, as an errant lariat took out Fredericks. From there, Kojima looks for it again, but he runs into an ushigoroshi before the assisted reverse GTR, then a regular GTR got the pin. Pretty solid stuff to get us going, as the trend continued of veterans being on the losing side. ***
World Tag League 0129: Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
I think the “seize the tactics” button got stuck on the New Japan soundboard here…
Tanahashi and Nagata start us off, trading holds as the Ace eventually grabbed a wristlock… only for Nagata to reverse it. Tags follow as Henare got to lock up with his 2016 World Tag League partner in Nakanishi, but he’s quickly bounced with a shoulder tackle. Henare’s able to avoid a knee drop, before he got knocked into the ropes, where he returned with a leaping shoulder tackle that found its mark. Nakanishi lands a suplex as Tanahashi tried to help, before Nagata came in to aid with a double-team shoulder tackle. Henare’s arm became the focal point for a spell, as Nagata targeted the arm and chest with some kicks, before he finally cut-off Nagata with a suplex.
Tanahashi’s brought back in to lay into Nagata, following up with a slam and a flip senton for a near-fall, before Nagata escaped a Slingblade. Nagata finally lands an Exploder, then tags in Nakanishi to chop away at the Ace, then land a knee drop as the unthinkable almost happened. Henare tries to make a save, but he’s summarily dealt with, as Nagata and Nakanishi land boots and clotheslines for a near-fall. Nakanishi racks Tanahashi next, but the Ace slips out and used a Cobra Twist to roll his opponent down for a two-count. A spear from Henare took down his former tag partner, before a Slingblade/legsweep nearly put him away… and when Nakanishi couldn’t get back up, a High Fly Flow kept him down for the count. This was better than I expected, with Nakanishi not doing much… but yeah, a very mid-table offering. **¾
World Tag League 2019: Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Juice and Makabe get us going with shoulder tackles, before Juice pissed off Makabe by mocking his laugh.
It didn’t end well. Honma’s brought in to add pressure with a slam, but OF COURSE he misses a Kokeshi, as Finlay cleared Makabe off the apron. Honma takes a LOT of double sledges to the back, then a double-team bulldog as “Fin-Juice” were making it look stupidly easy. Right on cue, Honma tries to fight back, but he misses another Kokeshi, before recovering with a DDT.
Makabe returned to charge through Finlay, but Juice drops off the apron so he could continue to antagonise him. So Makabe hits the mounted punches on Finlay, only to get caught with a diving uppercut as Juice tagged in… and telegraphed the Dusty punches. Sure, they hit, but Makabe stopped the final shot with a swivelling lariat, as Honma returned to try again for a bulldog and Kokeshi… and by jove, he hit it.
There’s another for Finlay as Honma got his batting average up, but Juice is back with chops before he was met with a clothesline for a near-fall. A reverse falling DDT got Juice ahead, until Makabe responded with a double lariat, which set up for Honma teasing Kokeshi… but he misses it off the top, allowing Juice to come back with a HIGH cannonball in the corner and a Juice Box for a near-fall, before a Jackhammer, a Prima Nocta and finally Pulp Friction got the win. Again, better than I expected, thanks mostly to Juice’s needling of his opponents, as the outside bets kept up their good start. ***
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Terrible)
This could go south in a hurry. I mean, Fale’s quit even chasing the ring announcer, so those are the levels we’re setting here.
We’ve a jump start as Chase and Fale focused on Shingo, but Takagi’s back with a shoulder tackle as the tables turn. They work over Chase’s arm, before Fale just pulled Terrible out to begin the obligatory brawling by ringside. That still works great on fixed-camera shows, by the way… Back inside, Chase hides a punch to Terrible, then threw him outside as Chase tried to get a count-out going. It barely got to four. Fale’s in to stand on Terrible, but Shingo’s back with clotheslines and shoulder charges as he then unwisely went to suplex Fale. Why is that on everyone’s wishlist against him?!
Clotheslines stagger Fale, eventually taking him down, before Terrible returned to keep him on and by the ropes. It didn’t work out, as Fale just clotheslined the pair of them before bringing in Chase to turn up the pace… a running knee’s good for a near-fall, before Shingo helped make a save, double-teaming Chasewith clotheslines before a death valley driver got a near-fall. Fale tries to shift things with a clothesline, before he threw Shingo into the corner ahead of a sidewalk slam/legdrop combo… but Terrible cuts it off, as a clothesline from Shingo took the big man out! Chase nearly steals it with a roll-up, but Shingo’s right back with a Pumping Bomber before he dropped Chase with Made in Japan for the win. Eh, this was what you’d expect. Chase tried, but Fale doesn’t seem to be able to go these days. **
World Tag League 2019: Colt Cabana & Toru Yano vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
They’re still experimenting with the mash-up theme for Colt and Yano… I wonder if Yano feels anything towards Ishii swapping him out for a “bag of socks”?
Colt and Yano debate over who should start… Colt lost out, as he began with YOSHI-HASHI, going hold for hold before Colt… just grabbed YOSHI’s spare foot and twisted it. Yano’s in to help boot YOSHI despite some lost messages, as they couldn’t quite get double-teams off… until they succeeded with a double back elbow on Ishii. A double-team suplex attempt saw YOSHI and Ishii edge ahead… and Ishii kept that momentum going as he battered Colt with forearms. Yano’s in, instantly undoing the turnbuckle pads, but Ishii knows his tricks… albeit not well enough, as he took an unprotected turnbuckle pad shot to the head. Oh the humanity
Yano gets too cocky as his CHAOS buddies charge him down ahead of chops and forearms from Ishii… but Yano hit back with a suplex anyway. Dusty punches from Colt get cut off with a Saito suplex from Ishii. YOSHI-HASHI returns in with a Head Hunter, then a dropkick as Colt was in the ropes, before Cabana hit back with a flying asshole for a near-fall. Colt’s taught Yano how to do the Bionic elbow, as a pair of those almost put away YOSHI-HASHI… who’s then thrown into the exposed corner for another flying asshole, only for Ishii to help out by ditching Yano with a slam. A Western lariat from YOSHI-HASHI drops Colt for a near-fall, before the Butterfly lock almost forced the submission…
It doesn’t come off as Yano made a save, only to get battered with forearms… before he low blowed Ishii… then mule kicked Yano ahead of a Superman body press from Colt for the win. They’re racking up wins without going too deep into the comic shenanigans that people hate, and I have a feeling Colt and Yano could be alive going into the final few days. ***¼
We skip over the Jay White/Tetsuya Naito build, as it didn’t get posted…
World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
We may be four matches in, but the tag team champions have had two nights off, so they’re already playing catch-up.
All four men charged at each other at the bell, eventually heading outside as we began with crowd brawling. Sabre peppers Tanga Loa with uppercuts in the crowd, while Taichi and Tama Tonga out of camera shot on the other side of the room. It’s Sabre and Tanga who got back to the ring though, as Zack was forced to slip out of a powerbomb. He’s got to do the same again after a running powerslam, swivelling into a guillotine choke, but it doesn’t get a result as Tanga got free… then missed a charge into the corner. Taichi tags in, but he’s instantly cornered as the tag champions double-teamed him. Tama’s in to wear through Taichi in the corner at the five minute mark, and we’re back on the floor as the original pairings brawl some more.
That led to another count-out tease, but Taichi beat the count… only to end up getting double-teamed back inside as the Guerrillas pushed for the win. Sabre’s back to help punt through Tama, as a buzzsaw kick from Taichi led to a near-fall, before the Stretch Plum almost forced the win… while Sabre had Tanga tied up in an Octopus stretch. Tanga Loa powered up and held Sabre in the ropes so Jado could crack him with a Kendo stick, but Taichi recovered to drop Tanga with an Axe Bomber… before a second one for Tama missed. Tama eats an enziguiri from Taichi next, after a ref bump, which led to Taichi teasing a shot with the mic stand… only for him to have to use it to block a Kendo stick shot.
Taichi teed up for a finish, but just like before, he rips off the trousers… and got caught with a roll-up as the Guerrillas snatched the win out of nowhere! This felt a little disjointed for my liking, with two crowd brawls really disrupting the flow of the match, but I had to pop for the finish. Inventive. **½
World Tag League 2019: Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls
Much like the Guerrillas, EVIL & SANADA are also playing catch-up, but they’ve at least won their first match.
Nicholls gets agitated at how long LIJ took to make a start, as we eventually got going with Cobb and SANADA trading holds. A wristlock from Cobb restrains SANADA, but the eventual escape’s a lot like a shuffle as they reached the obligatory stand-off, before they tried to jump each other, which SANADA tried to turn into a Paradise lock, only to be frustrated. EVIL ran into Cobb’s shoulder, as Mikey Nicholls tried to influence things, throwing forearms in the corner before helping with a double back elbow.
Cobb’s back with a forearm that knocked SANADA down for a two-count, allowing Nicholls to return with a chinlock as LIJ really couldn’t get going. Right on cue, SANADA reversed a suplex, but had to hit Cobb with a low dropkick before he could get EVIL in as the two hosses locked horns. EVIL edged ahead with a Bronco buster to Cobb for a near-fall, before the pair traded chops as EVIL looked for Darkness Falls… only for Cobb to get free and hurl EVIL with an overhead belly-to-belly. SANADA’s back, as was Nicholls, quickly tipping Mikey into a Paradise Lock and the eventual release. Some rapid-fire double-teaming helped SANADA to a near-fall over Nicholls, before the former tag champs called for the Magic Killer.
Not gonna lie, EVIL and SANADA standing with their arms out to a T at the same time had me fearing they were going to burst into a bout of Truly, Madly Deeply…
Nicholls countered out of the Magic Killer, shoving EVIL into a superkick from Cobb as a deadlift superplex awaited SANADA from the outside in. A Gachimuchi-sault and a falling punch from Nicholls got a near-fall as the makeshift combo pushed ahead, leading to a Spin Cycle from Cobb and a diving lariat from Nicholls for a near-fall. EVIL made a save from whatever double-team move Cobb and Nicholls were going for on SANADA, eventually helping out with a Magic Killer to Cobb before SANADA tried for a Skull End on Nicholls. He eventually gets it at the second time, then let go so they could hit a second Magic Killer, and that was that. A perfectly fine main event – although Cobb and Nicholls not being established as a pair hurt the crowd reactions, they worked well together and provided good foils. ***½
This didn’t quite hit the heights of Sunday’s Korakuen Hall show, bringing a sea of “Gentleman’s Threes” as this tour is want to be. We’re still in the early stages of the tournament, of course, and it’s curious to see the early standings, with perhaps the Suzuki/Archer team underperforming while Goto and Karl Fredericks are doing relatively fine compared to prior Young Lion teams. That being said, I’ll be stunned if Colt Cabana and Toru Yano are still in the mix when the calendar ticks over into December…
The tour took Wednesday off, and returns on Thursday in Yamanashi, headlining with Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi taking on the makeshift LIJ pair of Shingo Takagi and Terrible… then it’s another day off ahead of Saturday in Kanagawa, with Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki taking on the Guerrillas of Destiny in the main event.
1. David Finlay & Juice Robinson; Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI; Toru Yano & Colt Cabana (3-1; 6pts)
4. EVIL & SANADA (2-0; 4pts)
5. KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi (2-1; 4pts)
6. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks; Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare; Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima; Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls; Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma; Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (2-2; 4pts)
12. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (1-1; 2pts)
13. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer (1-2; 2pts)
14. Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale; Shingo Takagi & Terrible (1-3; 2pts)
16. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (0-4; 0pts)