World Tag League returned to Korakuen Hall as things continued to get tight at the top!

We’re watching this before getting around to night nine’s card, since New Japan’s got a habit of not leaving a day between VOD-only and live shows on these tours… I’m also of the opinion that at least one of Liger’s retirement matches should see him tap out by flapping his horns. If you’ve seen the advert, you’ll know…

There’s commentary, but not in English, so let’s get cracking!

World Tag League 2019: Colt Cabana & Toru Yano vs. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks
Cabana and Yano aren’t too far off the pace, but they can’t afford to slip up given that this is a straight up “top of the league wins” tournament. No play-offs here!

Cabana and Yano have issues deciding who starts… Yano won out before he threw the ref into Goto so he could do the turnbuckles. Eventually the pad comes off as the tricksters decide to wring both of Karl Fredericks’ arms at the same time. Fredericks responds with a leaping crossbody as he began to build up a head of steam, but he’s taken outside as we got our obligatory brawl… where Fredericks got whacked with a packet of Yano’s curry. That is not a euphemism.

Back inside, Colt chops, struts and chops again, before he pulled Fredericks into a version of the Romero special. Yano comes in to slam Fredericks, but he’s way too far away for Colt to hit a splash on, and of course Colt just leaps into an outstretched boot after Yano made some quick fixes.

Fredericks stops the nonsense with his GODDAMN dropkick, as Goto came in to try and push ahead… but Yano just whips Goto into the exposed corner before taking a suplex. Cabana’s in to take the exposed corner as the LA Dojo-ish team looked to get the win with a Blockbuster/side Russian legsweep, but Yano breaks up the cover. In the end, Yano was instrumental again as he countered a Stinger splash on Cabana by swatting Fredericks with the loose turnbuckle pad… which left Karl open for a Superman press as Cabana got the win. A fun opener, with Colt and Yano keeping their already-slim hopes alive. ***

World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
Ah crap.

We’ve a jump start as the most mobile man in this match was taken outside, so Nagata and Nakanishi could double-team Fale. Nakanishi tries for a torture rack, but it doesn’t come off as Fale grounds Nakanishi with a chinlock. Chase comes in to choke Nakanishi with a towel, before he wrestled Nakanishi to the ropes for that Tongan Massage Parlour.

More choking follows as Owens leaps in with a fist drop to Nakanishi in the ropes. More choking bores, as Nakanishi tries to fight back with chops, then with a heavily-delayed Mountain Bomb as Nagata tagged in. There’s kicks for Chase, then an Exploder and finally a Shirome armbar that Fale wandered in to break apart. They’re back to double-teaming Fale, as a chop block/front kick forces the big man down, but there’s no cover as Nakanishi again wanted to rack him… and again, it backfires. Double goozles get broken up, as Nakanishi opts for a spear instead, before NAKANISHI FINALLY RACKED FALE!

Chase kicks it away and gets double sledged for it, before a roll-up got Fale the win. Ah damnit. I popped for the rack, but a lot of this was exactly as you’d expect. **

World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
A thoroughly mid-table scrap. We start with KENTA and Yujiro cornering Tenzan, but there’s a quick turnaround as Kojima came in to do the Mongolian chops.

Yujiro’s met with a slingshot elbow/falling headbutt combo for a two-count, before he bit back as Kojima followed in with the Machine Gun chops. Eye rakes and stomps keep Kojima down, but a Fisherman suplex is avoided as Kojima hit back with a DDT. Tenzan’s back in, throwing Mongolian chops to Yujiro, then a brainbuster before a Mountain Bomb put Yujiro down.

KENTA tags in to fight back with some kicks, but a spinning heel kick stops him as Kojima’s back to hit more Machine Gun chops… only to get cut-off as more kicks had him down for a near-fall. A TenKoji Cutter stops KENTA, but the cover’s so delayed they only get a near-fall… Yujiro’s back to take a lariat, before KENTA absorbed another brainbuster as he had to kick away a Cozy lariat… only to take it to the back of the head anyway. Kojima goes for it again, but KENTA blocks and pulls down Kojima into the Game Over… and there’s your submission. A decent effort, but we’re now at the stage of the tournament where mid-table outings just wash over you. **½

After the match, Hirooki Goto came out to attack KENTA again, leaving him laying with an ushigoroshi.

World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer) vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Yoshinobu Kanemaru’s over to “join commentary”, and of course we’ve a jump start that Makabe tried to neutralise, sending Archer to the outside as it was Suzuki who got double-teamed early on.

Things settle down as Honma threw forearms at Suzuki, but it was so slow that he basically telegraphed a hanging armbar as the pair headed outside and into the crowd. A chair’s cracked over Honma’s back, while Archer threw punches on Makabe on the stage. Back in the ring, Suzuki continued to wear through Honma, and things didn’t get much better when Archer came in, as the US champion launched himself into the corner with an elbow. A running front kick from Suzuki switches it up as Honma was getting a beating, with Archer throwing the ref out over the top rope in frustration at what he saw as a slow count. From there, Honma tried to fight back, but the chops looked pitiful as Archer just knocked him spark out with a forearm. Elbows from Suzuki add to Honma’s woes, but he’s able to land a DDT before making a tag out, with Makabe finally making a bit of a dent as he landed a series of running clotheslines in the corners.

Makabe came close with a Northern Lights suplex on Suzuki, before Makabe blocked a PK as the pair went back to throwing elbows. Suzuki slips in with a rear naked choke, but the Gotch piledriver doesn’t come off, as instead Makabe decked him with a clothesline. Honma’s back to chop Suzuki, who just didn’t look impressed as he ended up getting bulldogged out of the corner… and OF COURSE KOKESHI MISSES.

Suzuki picks up Honma and tagged in Archer, who hits a slam and a splash off the middle rope for a near-fall. Honma tries to respond with clotheslines, then with leaping Kokeshi as Makabe helped out, before Archer caught Honma on the top rope with an EBD Claw. It’s broken up by Makabe, as Archer proceeded to get caught with sandwich lariats and an awkward roll-up by Honma, only for a crossbody from Archer to kill all that momentum as a uranage drew a near-fall… before the EBD Claw put Honma away. Eh. We’re just repeating ourselves about Honma at this point – he’s absolutely shot, but another win for Suzuki-gun sees them emerging from the pack as a potential threat. **¾

World Tag League 2019: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Terrible) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
Shingo and Tanahashi start us off, trading holds, but it’s Tanahashi who edged ahead with a crossbody out of the corner before he tagged in Henare.

Double back elbows have Shingo down ahead of the double-team Boston crab, but there’s a turnaround as Terrible and Shingo double-team Henare to take control. Terrible throws some rights by the ropes as Henare had nowhere to go, before Terrible tried to bite the Kiwi to get himself more of an advantage. Henare hit back with a suplex, while Tanahashi came in to hit slams as Terrible proceeded to get caught in a Cloverleaf. A bell-clapper from Shingo breaks that up, but he’s tossed outside… then returned to batter Tanahashi, only to get caught with a Twist and Shout. Henare’s back to splash Shingo in the corner ahead of a Samoan drop, setting up Shingo for a Slingblade/legsweep combo for a near-fall. LIJ swing it back around with some double-teaming, clattering into Henare in the corner before Shingo’s death valley driver and a top rope splash from Terrible set up for a sliding lariat from Shingo for a near-fall.

From there, Shingo looked for Made in Japan, but Henare fought free, only to take a battering with some elbows. A headbutt downs Shingo, only for him to hit back with noshigami out of the corner, before a Pumping Bomber put Henare down for a near-fall, as Tanahashi tried to break it up… only to watch on helplessly as Last of the Dragon got the win. Decent fare, but man, all these losses Henare is eating in this tournament is killing the hopes of those who were expecting him to break out anytime soon. ***

Kota Ibushi, Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura vs. Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
Glory be! They’re not re-doing the White/Naito warm ups! Shame that Kota Ibushi is being handed one hell of a handicap here though…

Ibushi didn’t want the Young Lions to start, so Okada started out too, as we began with Okada’s side headlock grounding Ibushi in the early going. A dropkick from Ibushi takes Okada outside, before tags brought in YOH and Uemura, who continue the grappling portion of the show, swapping headlock takedowns and escapes.

Uemura pushed on, clashing into YOH with a shoulder tackle as Tsuji proceeded to tag in and help with a back elbow before splashing YOH for a two-count. SHO’s in to help turn the tide, before he threw Tsuji outside for Okada to just hurl into the guard rails. YOH takes over by putting some boots to Tsuji, but Tsuji reverses a suplex and bought himself enough time to tag out to Ibushi. Okada’s back too as he got kicked in the chest by Ibushi, only to return with a sliding back elbow and a DDT. A neckbreaker slam looked to follow, but Ibushi fought free, only to get lifted to the top rope as he fought back with a slam… then landed in the knees from a springboard moonsault. Kota cracks Okada with a nice Pele kick, before tags got us back to SHO and Uemura.

SHO pushes on, kicking Uemura at close range before Tsuji made the save as the ring began to fill up… it led to Okada dropkicking the heck out of Ibushi, before Uemura almost upset SHO with a small package. Then with a backslide, before SHO fought back, picking up Uemura for a German suplex that got countered into a wheelbarrow for a near-fall. In the end though, SHO lariats the heck out of Uemura, then finished him off with a Power Breaker for the win. An enjoyable trios match, and an outing that felt utterly fresh compared to the dirge earlier in the tour. ***¼

After the match, Okada and Ibushi squared off… Okada kicks Ibushi’s briefcase out of the ring, only to get clobbered as Kota sent him backstage with his tail between his legs.

World Tag League 2019: Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
The Guerrillas pretty much need to complete the tournament unbeaten to win the league – and then be able to pick their own opponents for the Tokyo Dome.

Nicholls and Tanga start us off, but the opening lock-up went nowhere as they instead opted to trade shoulder tackles, with Nicholls knocking Tanga Loa to the outside. Back inside, the pair trade throws into the ropes as Nicholls looked to edge ahead with a stalling suplex, before Tama Tonga’s attempt at a run-in led to him getting caught as Cobb eventually suplexed him too. Cobb tags in and laid into Tanga with forearms, following in with an uppercut to the back, but the Guerrillas took over when Nicholls got thrown outside, before Jado provided a distraction. On the outside again, Mikey’s tossed into the guard rails while Tama Tonga used a fan’s umbrella on Cobb for good measure. Back inside, the Guerrillas double-team Nicholls, with Tama hitting a Stinger splash in the corner to keep “Mad Mikey” down for a two-count.

Tanga Loa adds in a powerslam for another near-fall, before Jeff Cobb finally tagged in to make a bit of a comeback. Splashes and elbows in the corner have Cobb building momentum, as does a leapfrog/dropkick that outdoes SANADA. Jado tries to trip Cobb, but it fails as Cobb overpowers him and hits an Oklahoma Stampede for a near-fall. The Guerrillas double-team to get past Cobb with a neckbreaker, but Nicholls’ double-clothesline stops them. Cobb and Nicholls build up more steam as a Spin Cycle and a sliding lariat almost put Tanga Loa away, before a spinebuster dropped Tanga again. Tama tries for a Gun Stun, but instead got F5’d by Cobb before Jado cracked Cobb with the Kendo stick in full view of the ref. The ref ignores it and misses a low blow, allowing Tanga to pull down Nicholls for the OJK crossface for the eventual stoppage as Cobb couldn’t break it up in time. This was okay, but some of the exchanges looked weird, perhaps best shown by the odd break-up attempt at the end from Cobb. **¾

World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
After a shock loss yesterday, EVIL & SANADA are looking to get back on track at the top of the table.

Sabre and SANADA start us off as I shudder over the rumoured Rev Pro title match that’s apparently on the cards. Zack works over the arm and wrist, but SANADA ups the tempo, which led to the pair struggling over a Cobra twist that SANADA just turned into a hiptoss. Taichi wanders in to stop a Paradise Lock, then needed Sabre to save him before the match spilled outside for all of our favourite crowd brawls.

Sabre takes SANADA into the seating decks, while EVIL went west… with the wall sign, that is. Back at ringside, Taichi “slit” EVIL’s throat with his own merch, then snapped off the plastic scythe as he made poor Milano Collection AT cry. Things settle down as SANADA remained on the defensive, with Taichi working over the arm and throwing SANADA shoulder-first into Sabre’s boot. Sabre’s back to go for an armbar on SANADA, but there’s a turnaround as SANADA managed to hand a missile dropkick to Taichi… which meant that it was EVIL’s turn to tag in and take a pummelling. He finally lands a clothesline to Taichi in the corner, following up with a Bronco buster for a two-count, before Taichi responded with an enziguiri.

Zack tags back in to try and rebuild, but he’s caught with a sidewalk slam by EVIL, before SANADA came in to try another Paradise Lock. It’s countered, but a Dragon screw just yanks Sabre back down as LIJ pushed ahead. A teased Magic Killer’s quickly stopped by Taichi, who lands a head kick to SANADA and hands him off for a Sabre PK that nearly ended things. More shots from Sabre looked to lead to a Zack Driver, but instead he floated into an Octopus stretch as Taichi looked to hold EVIL back with a Stretch Plum… only for SANADA to counter with a Skull End, choking out Sabre until he let go and went for a moonsault that came up short. Darkness Falls from EVIL drops Sabre amid a Parade of Moves that also included a wild Saito suplex from Taichi.

SANADA and Sabre re-engage as they see-saw on sunset flips, trading a bunch of near-falls, until an Axe Bomber from Taichi left SANADA laying. Off come the trousers, but EVIL drags Taichi outside as Sabre’s double-teamed, leading to a Magic Killer as a Skull End and another Magic Killer put away Taichi. It’s Sabre who’s legal though, so SANADA looked to underscore things with a slam and a moonsault… and that’s enough to put LIJ back on top. Easily the best thing on the card, as going to Korakuen again managed to get things onto another level. ****

It’s back to Korakuen Hall on Friday, with EVIL & SANADA vs. Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI in the main event as we’ve got a rare top of the table clash! Hey, look at that – a three-way tie at the top, with the Guerrillas of Destiny nipping at everyone’s heels as tie-breakers are almost surely going to come into it, but we won’t begin to dissect that headache until next week…

1. David Finlay & Juice Robinson; EVIL & SANADA; Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (7-1; 14pts)
4. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (6-2; 12pts)
5. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer; Toru Yano & Colt Cabana (6-3; 12pts)
7. Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls; Shingo Takagi & Terrible (5-5; 10pts)
9. KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi (4-4; 8pts)
10. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (4-6; 8pts)
11. Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale (3-5; 6pts)
12. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (3-6; 6pts)
13. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (3-7; 6pts)
14. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks; Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare (2-6; 4pts)
16. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (1-9; 2pts)