Back-to-back dates at Korakuen Hall wrapped up as the early days of World Tag League continued!
We’ve no English commentary again, although last year that gave us Lanny Poffo, and I don’t think we want to hear about his Kokeshi doll, so let’s dive in…
World Tag League 2019: Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
On paper, there should only be on result given the relative standings… although the presence of Karl Fredericks as a pin eater for the Goto team blows this wide open.
Fredericks and Makabe start off with shoulder tackles, but it’s the former tournament winners who edged ahead as Honma came in to… stomp on Fredericks twice, then throw a hiptoss as I see we’re continuing the slowly-slowly pace in these openers. A headbutt takes down Fredericks, who’s right back with his GODDAMN DROPKICK as a tag brings in Goto. Except Goto instantly got taken down with a Honma DDT… and of course Kokeshi misses. Honma’s back with a suplex, before tagging in Makabe to resume his greatest hits with the Mounted Punches in the corner. Goto got free with a clothesline as Fredericks tagged in to nail spinebuster for a near-fall, as the LA Dojo team begin to double-team Makabe, leading to the Blockbuster/side Russian legsweep combo for a near-fall.
Makabe charges through a clothesline attempt and hits a double clothesline of his own, before Fredericks tried his luck with roll-ups… it doesn’t work, as Makabe decks him with a lariat, while Honma hit a leaping Kokeshi to deal with Goto. A lariat sandwich drops Fredericks as the King King knee drop eventually puts him away to end a satisfying opener – one that started slow, but managed to hit some kind of canter by the end. **½
Post-match, KENTA comes in and attacks Goto from behind, wiping him out with a PK. You still don’t think that match is happening for the NEVER title?
World Tag League 2019: Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
The two MNs start us off in expected fashion… swapping shoulder tackles. Nakanishi scored with a chop and a splash for an early two-count, before he tagged in Nagata to go to work on Mikey’s arm, but he tagged out… only for Jeff Cobb to fall for Nagata’s hesitation dropkick.
Nagata looked to work over Cobb’s leg, as the veteran team looked to isolate the big man… and it kinda worked as a chop block/clothesline drew a two-count. Nakanishi drags Cobb off the ropes so he could work another toe hold, but tags got us back to Nicholls and Nagata, with Mikey landing a couple of clotheslines on the way to a stalling suplex. Nagata avoids a sliding lariat, but can’t carry on as Nicholls mocks the salute… and added a spinebuster for good measure. That sliding lariat’s good for a near-fall, as Nagata returned with a Shirome armbar that Cobb rushed in to kick apart. He gets an Exploder for that, as Nakanishi returned with plenty of double sledges, before a suplex throw dropped Cobb in the middle of the ring. The knee drop’s next for Cobb, but Nicholls breaks up the pin…
AND HOLY SHIT, NAKANISHI RACKED COBB!
It wore him out too much though, as Nicholls and Cobb worked to hit a double-team back suplex on the way to a near-fall, before Cobb’s Olympic slam led to another two-count as the Tour of the Islands eventually got the win. Yeah, this was a little slow, but I can’t not love a match where Nakanishi rolled back the years to rack Cobb. Hopefully he didn’t do himself too much damage though… **¾
World Tag League 2019: Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
Tenzan actually got louder chants than Tanahashi here, as we started off with some grappling as Tanahashi worked over Tenzan’s neck, using a full nelson and a cravat early on.
Tenzan fought back, but his falling Mongolian chop was caught and turned into a roll-up as both men proceeded to tag out, so Kojima and Henare could lay into each other with right hands and forearms. A shoulder tackle sends Henare flying, but Tanahashi’s back in as they double-teamed Kojima by rolling him into a joint Boston crab. Tanahashi keeps the momentum going with a flip senton for a near-fall, before Henare returned… and got suplexed.
A DDT from Kojima got him more time to tag in Tenzan, who went to town with Mongolian chops. Tanahashi gets some of those too, along with a spinning heel kick before my feed gave out. It picks up with Kojima and Henare trading Machine Gun chops, but of course Kojima pulled through and lands a top rope elbow… a move that’s suddenly getting more effective on this tour. It’s enough for a near-fall, before Tanahashi came in and met a TenKoji Cutter… leaving Henare prone for the same, but he chops it away! Tanahashi’s back as a leg sweep/Slingblade combo nearly got the win, before a GODDAMN Cozy Lariat out of nowhere put away Henare. A shockingly good outing for my money, with Henare showing a lot of fire… even if the result was depressingly familiar. ***
World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer) vs. Toru Yano & Colt Cabana
Something tells me Suzuki won’t be up for the fun and games of Cabana and Yano – but remember, Yano has a surprisingly good record against Suzuki.
Colt and Yano are a proper tag team now by the way, because they’ve got a mash-up theme! Of course, we’ve a jump start, as the match instantly spills outside. Colt and Yano get thrown inside, and decide to play the fool, rolling across the ring… but they just fall back into more trouble as Suzuki and Archer stayed on the floor. D’oh. Back in the ring, Colt and Yano bounce in the ropes for a break, but since when did Suzuki-gun follow the rules? Colt’s clotheslined to the floor, as those guard rails come into use again, while Suzuki tried to tear off Yano’s ankle in the crowd. Lance Archer removes a panel and heads into the seating decks so more people can see Colt close-up, while Suzuki changed tack and tried to rip off Yano’s arm instead.
An eventual rope break saves Yano, who tried to pull Suzuki’s hair… except the days of that horse-like mane are gone, so there’s nothing to pull! Still, Yano tags out as Colt Cabana took some elbows before he almost spiked Suzuki with headscissors ahead of a Flying Asshole. Suzuki’s dropped with an arm whip, then with a Bionic Elbow for a near-fall, before Colt’s attempts to go all World of Sport ended with him crawling into a rear naked choke.
Yano’s back in to sidestep an Archer charge, which almost led to the win… before he scurried away to undo a turnbuckle pad. He bats Archer with it, but it’s no sold. It’s padding, for crying out loud! Suzuki-gun took over, charging into Yano with elbows and boots in the corner ahead of a POUNCE for a near-fall… my feed drops again, and recovered just in time to see Colt Cabana’s crossbody get helped with a low-blow and roll-up, as Lance Archer took the fall. Hey, these guys are already stacking up wins over champions, eh? A lot better than you’d think, with the Yano/Cabana tandem bringing more than just comedy to the table. ***
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Bullet Club (KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi)
All four men came out together, which instantly makes me suspect shenanigans. Especially when Chase Owens is trying to too-sweet Yoshinobu Kanemaru at ringside…
Yujiro and Chase start us off as they promise to take it easy. There’ll be a joke there somewhere. Chase teases a package piledriver early, but Yujiro pushes away and goes for Pimp Juice as we’re surely half-arsing it. They try to out-shitbag each other with cheeky roll-ups, before Pieter climbed the apron and distracted Chase… whose attempt to slap her rear ended up with a roll-up. KENTA tags in and tried to make Chase lay down “because I’m the champ”. Fale didn’t look impressed, but Chase tries another roll-up as the Bullet Club B-team continued to argue. Fale calms them down as all four men looked to abandon the match, but Chase Owens ran back to try and steal the count-out win as Fale failed to hold back KENTA and Yujiro. That’s five minutes of my life I’m not getting back, and they’re still going.
Fale tries to break up a pin, then charged through KENTA and Yujiro. He’s low-bridged outside as KENTA looked to put Chase away with a G2S, but instead it’s the Game Over that got the win, and thank CHRIST that’s over. Intra-Bullet Club matches can always be relied on for being dreck. DUD
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs. Bullet Club (Jay White & Gedo)
We’ve a non-tournament match here, and a repeat from Saturday. Here’s BUSHI Ranger for you.
The action starts with Jay White bailing Naito outside, and it worked because the presence of Gedo was enough to distract as Naito got hurled into crowd barriers. Gedo’s shifted the turnbuckle pad to expose the top buckle, which BUSHI’s tossed into, before Gedo came in and tried to mock Naito with a too-sweet. Naito just stares through him, not caring. I know the feeling. White mocked the LIJ eye pose, which woke up Naito… but he’s sent outside as BUSHI hits a double ‘rana. Now Naito’s in, tugging at Gedo’s beard before an elbow and dropkick sent White into the ropes. A neckbreaker’s good for a near-fall, but White’s back in with a DDT, then a Blade Buster as he proceeded to pound Naito on the mat.
White catches a leaping forearm as Naito tried to fight back, but the LIJ leader succeeds by battering him with elbows to the back. A Saito suplex flung Naito across the ring in response, as we crossed the ten minute mark, with BUSHI and Gedo trying to turn up the pace. There’s a DDT from BUSHI, who proceeded to land an overhead kick in the corner before Gedo hit the ropes to avoid the MX. A running MX lands, but White picks up BUSHI to hit a Blade Runner… Naito saves him from that, knowing what happened on Saturday, and with Naito and White brawling on the outside, it’s just a matter of time before BUSHI headed up to hit the MX for the win. We’ve only had two of these warm-up matches on this tour, and my interest in the singles match at WrestleKingdom is dangerously close to nil. There’s just no juice in that particular leg of the “double gold dash” or whatever the hell they’re calling it. As for the match, technically fine, but I’ll not remember any of it after an hour or so. **½
World Tag League 2019: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Terrible) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
Save us, Big Tom.
We start with Ishii and Shingo trading shoulder tackles, before they just went “sod it” and elbowed each other. A lot. It’s back to shoulder tackles, but nobody’s backing down, as Ishii ended up charging Shingo into the corner as Terrible and YOSHI-HASHI tagged in. There’s a joke in that pairing. They trade chops for fun, before YOSHI-HASHI dropped Terrible in the ropes for a dropkick. The tables turned around when Shingo came in to drop YOSHI-HASHI over his knees, holding on as a legdrop from Terrible added to the punishment, before YOSHI-HASHI finally responded with a Head Hunter flip neckbreaker.
Ishii’s back in to clatter into Shingo some more, eventually charging him down, before Shingo took him into the corner for a barrage of forearms. A scoop slam from Ishii keeps things even, only for the battle of elbows to end with Shingo hitting a swivelling lariat. Terrible’s back with haymakers to YOSHI-HASHI in the corner, but a low dropkick sends him flying as YOSHI-HASHI… ended up flopping as he was pushed off the top rope. There’s a lot of swinging and missing as Ishii’s sliding lariat fell short… but Shingo had no such issues as Ishii got clattered with clotheslines on the way to a death valley driver from Shingo. Terrible’s up top for a big splash, finding his mask for a near-fall. A Pumping Bomber from Shingo’s next, before Terrible almost put away Ishii with a powerbomb…
YOSHI-HASHI makes a save as Terrible looked for what seemed like a Styles Clash, but he’s dealt with with a superkick before Ishii popped up from a Noshigami to take Shingo outside with a German suplex. Another lariat drops Terrible, before YOSHI-HASHI’s running Meteora and a sheer drop lariat from Ishii put Terrible away. Another match, another loss for makeshift-LIJ, as Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI retain their spot at the top of the board. The Ishii/Shingo stuff was good, but Shingo’s having trouble finding his footing as a heavyweight. ***¼
World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
On paper, this is an odd choice of main event, unless we’re looking at teasing a Juice/Finlay Rev Pro title shot down the line.
We start with all four men in the ring, but Juice took down the Suzuki-gun pair with a big crossbody before David Finlay just… kicked Sabre in the arse. Finlay goes flying moments later with a plancha to Sabre on the outside, as Zack was being singled-out by Fin-Juice, working double sledges and arm wringers for fun. Sabre begins to get his own back, taking Finlay into the crowd as he worked over the recently-injured shoulder, which led to a countout tease, with Finlay beating the count… so Sabre could stomp the arm again. Taichi’s back in as the pace is a little *too* methodical for my tastes, again wrapping Finlay’s arm in the ropes… but he eventually got free and tagged in Juice to try and reset things.
A spinebuster from Juice was caught, but he shrugs off Sabre’s guillotine to land the move anyway, before Sabre evaded a cannonball in the corner to trap Juice in an Octopus stretch. Juice tries to fight out, but a Juice Box is blocked, with a PK taking him down. Finlay’s back with a dropkick to Sabre, then a uranage backbreaker to Taichi for a near-fall, but Suzuki-gun quickly fought back with some double-teaming before Finlay got caught in a Stretch Plum… with Juice needing to fight out of a triangle armbar to help break up the hold.
Taichi gets back to his feet and drops Juice with a head kick, but Finlay’s back with an attempted Acid drop that’s countered into a goddamn Saito suplex. Sabre’s back, but can’t avoid a spear, beforr Taichi almost put Finlay away with an axe bomber. We cross the 15 minute mark as Taichi rips off his trousers… which nearly got him pinned with a roll-up as Finlay tried to shock Taichi. Prima Nocta’s tried, but Taichi counters with a Gedo clutch for a near-fall, before a head kick ended that frenetic spell. The Last Ride’s next, but Juice comes in to break it up before he got pushed into a superkick-aided Zack Driver. Finlay’s on his own, and has no answer for a wacky finish as ZSJ hit an X-Factor alongside Taichi’s Black Memphisto for the win. Some real good stuff here, and with a double-team finish, ZSJ and Taichi could now start to build up some momentum in the remainder of the tour. ***½
Post-match, Sabre says what we’re all thinking: this tournament is a joke, but he’s going to save it, by winning it. Time will tell… by the way, keep the feed on after they go backstage for a cheeky dig at the state of gay rights in Japan…
While the tour continues tomorrow, there’s no more live streams until they return to Korakuen Hall on November 28 – so everything else will be on a day’s delay on VOD. That starts with Tuesday’s card in Fukushima, headlined with EVIL and SANADA taking on Jeff Cobb and Mikey Nicholls. No, I’ve no idea how both LIJ and the Guerrillas of Destiny have managed to wrestle only once on the three rounds so far. Here’s your latest standings, now with a clear leader!
1. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (3-0; 6pts)
2. David Finlay & Juice Robinson; Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls; KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi; Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma; Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima; Toru Yano & Colt Cabana (2-1; 4pts)
8. EVIL & SANADA (1-0; 2pts)
9. Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale; Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks; Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer; Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare; Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (1-2; 2pts)
14. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (0-1; 0pts)
15. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata; Shingo Takagi & El Terrible (0-3; 0pts)