The 2019 World Tag League jumped to Korakuen Hall as we saw a battle of Los Ingobernables de Japon in the main event.
It’s a full card of tournament matches, so we’re getting away from White vs. Naito part… whatever. We’re still sans English commentary for a little while.
World Tag League 2019: Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Korakuen’s looking a lot more full than it did for the junior tag league a couple of weeks ago…
The early exchanges saw Finlay coming off worse, but he was able to sting Juice’s hand with a tag out as the former US champion came in and mocked Tenzan with just the way he hissed. Kojima outsmarts some double-teaming by pushing away finlay before he landed some DDTs, while Tenzan came in to land a spinning heel kick for a near-fall on Finlay. Juice breaks up an anaconda vise, but ended up taking a headbutt as he went for the Dusty punches. A spinebuster has Tenzan down again, but he’s back with a Mountain Bomb as the tides turned once more. Machine Gun chops from Kojima led to an elbow off the top, then a Koji cutter, but that cover’s quickly broken up by Finlay.
A TenKoji Cutter took care of Young David, but Juice stops himself from a similar fate, surviving a brainbuster before he absorbed a Cozy Lariat for another near-fall, as Kojima eventually fell to a combo with the Left Hand of God, the Prima Nocta Stunner and a Pulp Friction for the win. Fin-Juice ensure they at least share a lead at the top, as they remain undefeated after two nights. ***
World Tag League 2019: Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Togi Makabe & Manabu Nakanishi
I watched this when the stream was live and a lot of it just glossed over me. This would probably have been one of the matches that I’d have circled as a “potential slog” if I’d gone through all of the cards, but here we go.
While this wasn’t as glacial as things were yesterday, but this felt distinctively slow as Father Time’s gotten his hands on all four of these guys. Honma tried his luck with Nakanishi, but going for a slap stopped his offence… as did going for a Kokeshi. Honma fought back with a brainbuster in Nagata, opening the door for Makabe to make a comeback… which he did, until Nakanishi came in to start throwing him around. A front kick and lariat combo almost got Nakanishi and Nagata the win, as did the Shirome armbar/Argentine backbreaker… but Makabe raked the eyes and made one last comeback, eventually putting Nakanishi away with an awkward slam and a King Kong knee drop. This wasn’t the disaster it could have been, but this about the best we’re going to get from this combination in 2019, which only makes me sad seeing them in the twilight of their careers like this. *½
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
This could be another tricky one… but I have faith. We all have to have faith during World Tag League season.
Fale and Chase jump-start the match, throwing Henare outside so they could double-team Tanahashi. Of course, it backfires eventually as Tanahashi dropped Fale with a drop toe hold onto Chase, before the big man was flipped into a double-team crab. Things turn around as Henare’s taken down for the Tongan Massage Parlour, as Fale made ample use of his size… but he misses a splash, allowing Henare to get the tag out. Tanahashi finds his mark with forearms, before he hurled Fale into the corner for an eventual Dragon screw. An attempted slam’s easily blocked by Fale, while he fell back on Tanahashi as he tried again. Tags get us to Henare and Owens, with the Kiwi pushing ahead, at least until Fale ran in to squash him in the corner as the Bullet Club tandem hit a backbreaker/elbow drop combo for a near-fall.
Tanahashi saves Henare from a package piledriver before the pair suplexed Fale. The leg sweep/Slingblade combo nearly put Owens away… but a trip from Fale caught Henare off guard, and left him open for a flying knee and a package piledriver. Just one simple thing from Fale was the catalyst, eh? This wasn’t as bad as you’d have feared, but if you didn’t guess going in, you now know Henare’ll be the pin eater for most, if not all of the tour. **¾
World Tag League 2019: Bullet Club (KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks
We’ve a tenuous link here, as Shibata’s best friend looks to get some measure of payback on KENTA.
Those two had an early exchange, before tags took us to Fredericks and Yujiro. We’ve got the usual biting from Yujiro, before Fredericks hit back with a crossbody and an elbow drop for a quick two-count. That quickly gave way to all four men spilling outside for the usual guard rails stuff, before KENTA tried to kick Fredericks into submission. It doesn’t work as Karl stood up… only to get taken down with a drop toe hold as Yujiro’s back to try and eke out a win with a big splash. KENTA made a point of going after Goto on the outside, while Fredericks eventually fell to a Fisherman suplex for a near-fall after a nice little struggle. He one-ups himself with a hell of a twisting dropkick, before tags got us back to KENTA and Goto, trading forearms and kicks for fun it seemed.
Exchanges of forearms in the corner got Korakuen going, until Goto dropped KENTA with a shot. An eye rake saved KENTA from an ushigoroshi as some double-teaming ensued, but Fredericks returned to even things up, handing off Yujiro for some kicks and a Blockbuster/side Russian legsweep combo. Goto and KENTA were still legal though, and KENTA pulled Goto down into the Game Over modified crossface, but it ultimately ends in the ropes. KENTA unsights the ref as Yujiro threatened to lay out Goto with the cane… but instead he takes an ushigoroshi. A headbutt from Goto keeps KENTA down too, before a reverse GTR, then a regular GTR scored what may well be a title-shot-earning win over the NEVER champion. A cracking little tag match for this stage of the tournament, and I have a feeling this’ll be a lot more relevant in about a month’s time… ***
World Tag League 2019: Colt Cabana & Toru Yano vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Both Colt and Yano were shilling stuff. I think it’s the Yano influence… especially when it comes to spray-brushed ring jackets.
This was the Guerrillas’ first outing in a few weeks, with Tanga Loa seemingly having injured his knee at OTT last month. Tanga starts out though, with Yano working around him before he tagged out at the mere sight of Jado’s Kendo stick. Tama Tonga’s in too, and he takes headscissors before Colt cartwheeled into a roll-up that nearly put away the tag team champs. Things spill outside, because of course they do, as Tama Tonga became a curry thief before he put the boots to Yano. Problem was, that left Yano down on the floor as Colt looked for a tag out, so the champions had a spell on offence, mocking Yano as Tanga Loa’s running powerslam purposely took Colt’s hand within inches of a tag out.
Colt turns it around with a back body drop, before he collapsed into a tag. Of course Yano undoes the pads. Of course he tries to bat Tama over the head with it. Tama Tonga tries to mock the Yano pose, but gets an atomic drop for his worries, while Colt tagged in for some Dusty punches… only to be jabbed before he could throw the Dusty elbow. All four stay in the ring for shenanigans, as an assisted Tongan Twist almost put Colt away, before a missed Gun Stun ended up in a ref bump. Uh-oh. Yano’s back with hair pulls before he got Kendo stick’d by Jado… cue a Magic Killer, but Yano’s not legal. Colt is… and he ends up getting taken to the corner for a super powerbomb attempt… but he avoids it with a suplex before he swatted Jado off the apron with a turnbuckle pad. That same pad distracts the ref as Yano hits a pair of low blows, before Colt dove in on Tanga Loa with a Superman pin for the win! This was alright, starting slow before it developed into a mighty upset. This could play into WrestleKingdom. If the champs lose a few more times, perhaps a tag title gauntlet match? **½
World Tag League 2019: Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
The first of three intra-faction matches here, if you count Jeff Cobb as a CHAOS guy, and this could be a little rough if there’s an off day or two going on.
Thankfully we start with the two big lads laying into each other, trading forearms and shoulder tackles, with Cobb’s agility allowing him to land a leapfrog and dropkick to take Ishii down. Tags bring in Nicholls and YOSHI-HASHI, as they went tit-for-tat, although YOSHI-HASHI changed tack and dragged Nicholls outside as the guard rails took another beating. Back in the ring, Nicholls tries to chop through Ishii, which didn’t seem like that good of an idea, as Ishii hit harder. The most recent tag title challengers looked comfortable, with even YOSHI-HASHI getting in a spell of offence, only for Nicholls to stop him with a DDT. Cobb’s back in to throw YOSHI like a bag of socks, while Ishii got thrown too, before another Capture suplex hurled YOSHI-HASHI onto his shoulder. Hey, I just noticed he’s finally NOT wearing tape on his shoulder anymore.
Cobb keeps going on YOSHI with an Oklahoma Stampede for a near-fall, before he ran into a Head Hunter from YOSHI. In comes Ishii to pick apart a downed Cobb, throwing forearms and chops until Cobb struck back with a brainbuster. Nicholls tags in to clothesline Ishii in the corner, eventually landing a spinebuster as the momentum continued to swing. A brainbuster from Ishii finds its mark next, as all four men hit the ring for a wild Parade of Moves, ending with a lariat from Ishii to Nicholls for a near-fall. YOSHI-HASHI tried to restrain Cobb with a sleeper, but that backfired until he got out for a German suplex… but Cobb’s back with a clothesline as he and Nicholls tried their luck again. A Spin Cycle to Ishii helps Nicholls to a near-fall, as did an Ishii-like sliding lariat, before he called for the Mikey Bomb… but Ishii slipped out before landing a headbutt. A second Mikey Bomb’s also escaped, as YOSHI-HASHI comes in with a Western Lariat, leaving Mikey prone for a sliding lariat from Ishii for another near-fall. One sheer-drop brainbuster later, and it’s Ishii who takes away the win after an unexpected cracker of a match. Everyone here brought it, but in the end it was the more established duo who left with the points. ****
World Tag League 2019: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer)
Another intra-unit match, but the issue when it’s on the heel side is that these run the risk of being too shticky. That being said, Suzuki-gun’s avoided that as of late, so this could well be another banger of a match.
Suzuki and Taichi butted heads during the introductions, as Yoshinobu Kanemaru joined commentary for… reasons. There’s a bit of an agitated start as Suzuki grabbed Taichi’s hair in the ropes, presumably giving him a public chewing-out for all those goose eggs people think he’s laid. Taichi snapped, taking Suzuki outside into the railings before using a chair… and this is the kinda thing I wanna see! Archer bounced Sabre into Yota Tsuji at ringside as the referee lost what little control he had from the off. The camera cut away as Sabre countered a boot choke with an ankle lock, as Suzuki took Taichi into the stands while Archer cut-off the ring announcer’s count. Archer’s back to scream at Miho Abe at ringside, with Taichi completely oblivious to it… unlike the chops that Archer dished out when he tagged back in.
Taichi’s kept isolated, but he charges Suzuki into the corner so Sabre could tag in… and the battle of the former Rev Pro tag champions sees Suzuki getting throttled in the corner. Suzuki has his elbow stomped on by Sabre, but he’s back to chop Zack, only to get snapmared for a PK. Suzuki shrugs it off and hits one of his own, as the friendly rivalry continued… with a clunking elbow from Suzuki. We’re back to Archer and Taichi, with the US champion throwing Taichi around for fun, including with a Black Hole Slam as we crossed the ten minute mark. Suzuki’s back to slap the taste out of Taichi, before he took an enziguiri in the corner. Zack’s back to offer himself up to Suzuki, and of course, those clonking elbows are back, as Suzuki was enjoying himself…
Even after Sabre took him down, Suzuki rolled through for an ankle lock as master and student went seamlessly back-and-forth until Archer broke it up. A POUNCE keeps the action flowing, and we end with Sabre using a Euro clutch on Suzuki for a near-fall… before the fantastic final stretch ended with a jack-knife cover as ZSJ got the points. ABSOLUTELY BLOODY FANTASTIC in the closing minute or so – it’ll be a long shot, but I really want to see a Sabre/Suzuki singles match with some level of importance tied to it before Suzuki calls it a day. If only all intra-unit matches could be as competitive as this! ****¼
World Tag League 2019: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & Terrible) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
Even though both teams here are LIJ, this doesn’t really have that feel. Perhaps because Terrible hasn’t been a regular part of New Japan for most of this decade?
Still, we start with Shingo and EVIL exchanging forearms before shoulder tackles took Shingo down. SANADA tags in, trolling Shingo with a double sledge before continuing EVIL’s arm wringer. Shingo’s chops got him back in against EVIL, as Terrible was waved in for some double-teams, which resulted in all four men heading outside. Of course, we get the guard rails here as the two teams brawled around ringside, which led to EVIL being taken back inside for a slingshot stomp from Shingo. Terrible’s back to work (and bite) over EVIL’s wrist, but EVIL turned it around with a bulldog/clothesline combo as SANADA returned to lay into Shingo ahead of a low dropkick. A Paradise Lock awaited Terrible, before SANADA and Shingo locked horns again, trading forearms and European uppercuts.
Shingo ducks one and went for a noshigami, before he countered SANADA’s leapfrogs with a German suplex. That’s flipped out of. Eventually SANADA responds with a Dragon screw, before a lariat from EVIL led to a near-fall on Shingo as the pair look for a Magic Killer… which is avoided as Shingo responded with a double lariat instead. Terrible tags back in as the makeshift LIJ looked to build momentum, almost getting the win with a splash off the top to EVIL. Everything is EVIL’s blocked with elbows as Terrible threw haymakers in the corner, only for SANADA to cut him off with a dropkick as a Magic Killer left him laying. I’ve lost track of who’s legal, but it turns out it’s EVIL and Terrible as a second Magic Killer has Shingo down, before Everything is EVIL put away Terrible. This was fine, but lacked the spice of the semi-final tag, as the former IWGP tag champs left with the expected win. ***
Remember how we handwaved World Tag League yesterday? They turned it up in Korakuen, with a handful of cracking matches that I fear will fly under the radars of a lot of fans. No MOTY candidates here, but a much better show than you’d expect from this tour, and one that (thankfully) was kept short at a touch under two and a half hours. They’re back at Korakuen on Monday too: bad news, we’ve another Naito/White build-up tag… but we do get a possible hint of a Juice/ZSJ match as they face each other in tags in the main event.
1. David Finlay & Juice Robinson; Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (2-0, 4pts)
3. EVIL & SANADA (1-0; 2pts)
4. Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale; Jeff Cobb & Mikey Nicholls; Hirooki Goto & Karl Fredericks; Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare; Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima; KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi; Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer; Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma; Toru Yano & Colt Cabana; Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (1-1, 2pts)
14. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (0-1; 0pts)
15. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata; Shingo Takagi & El Terrible (0-2, 0pts)