It’s the final standalone show for the World Tag League – and we’ve got top versus bottom in today’s main event, with Shingo Takagi & SANADA taking on Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare.
Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma pinned Yota Tsuji & Gabriel Kidd in 7:57 (***)
World Tag League 2020 – Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. pinned Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale in 7:33 (***)
World Tag League 2020 – Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI pinned Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL in 13:09 (**¾)
World Tag League 2020 – David Finlay & Juice Robinson pinned Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii in 11:20 (***¼)
World Tag League 2020 – Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa pinned Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb in 15:53 (***¼)
World Tag League 2020 – Shingo Takagi & SANADA pinned Toa Henare & Hiroshi Tanahashi in 19:25 (****)
Oita’s Beppu B-Con Plaza is the site of the penultimate round of the World Tag League…
Gabriel Kidd & Yota Tsuji vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma
Kidd and “old man” Honma start out in the town that Kidd is very used to shouting the name of. How often is he yelling “oi!” at the start of these matches?
He starts by taking Honma into the corner, before an Irish whip led to Kidd getting knocked down with an elbow, but 43 seconds in was way too early for a Kokeshi. Kidd’s able to tag in Tsuji for a double shoulder tackle, before Tsuji’s delayed slam left Honma down ahead of a wacky cross-legged cobra clutch submission. I always dig it when these guys try out new moves.
Of course, Kojima breaks the hold up quickly, as Honma ended up in the wrong corner and overwhelmed as Kidd returned with chops. Those get Kidd a one-count, so he follows up with elbows before Honma blocked a back suplex attempt. A big boot connects as Honma returned fire with a DDT, then brought in Kojima to try and turn the tables… but Kidd’s had enough of being chopped, so he took Kojima into the corner for some Machine Gun chops… then got some of his own. They’re switching it up!
An elbow off the top from Kojima lands for a two-count, before Kidd hit back with a brainbuster. Tsuji tags in and cracks into Kojima with a dropkick, as the Young Lions proceeded to take Kojima down with a back suplex ahead of flip sentons, back sentons and splashes for a two-count. Could it be that on their final tag match, they finally found an opening?
Kojima’s taken down into a cross-legged Boston crab by Tsuji, but that ends up in the ropes… so he throws in a spear for a near-fall as the Young Lions were looking rather dominant. A suplex attempt is blocked as Kojima tries to reverse it ahead of a Koji Cutter, before a Cozy lariat landed for a near-fall… as Kidd broke it up! Unfortunately Honma took care of Kidd, and when a second lariat landed, that was all. A fun and spirited opener that finally changed the formula – if not the result. ***
World Tag League 2020 – Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
It’ll be an uphill struggle if Fale and Owens were to make the finals, needing a LOT of results to go their way. And likely half the field to drop out with food poisoning.
ZSJ came out with Taichi today, but that didn’t change their luck as the Bullet Club again jumped them, with Sabre being double-teamed by Fale and Owens on the outside. Sabre manages to take Fale into the railings, while Taichi posted Owens… but inside we’re back to Sabre trying to find a way through the big man.
Fale chokes Sabre on the mat, clearly having learned something from Taichi in this tournament. Sabre manages to out-pace Fale, ducking clotheslines before leaping in for a guillotine choke, clinging on as Fale tries to throw him off, before he got the tag out to Taichi… who of course tries to choke Fale.
We get a double goozle, but the big man’s choke overpowered Taichi until Sabre came in… and why yes, trying a Zack Driver on Fale was futile. As was a Black Mephisto. With sore backs, Taichi and Sabre head outside, with them taking the guard rails once more before Sabre tried to restrain Fale with an armbar. Some double-teaming drops Taichi for a two-count, with Sabre breaking up the count before he got taken outside… prompting him to jog away from Fale and slide back in as some double-teaming took down Owens for a two-count.
Off come Taichi’s trousers, but Owens sidesteps a superkick, then the Dangerous backdrop driver before taking down Taichi with a neckbreaker. Fale comes in to help with a Grenade Launcher, but instead Taichi and Owens went back and forth on their finishers as Sabre had Fale tied up in a submission… with Fale booting Taichi in for a sunset flip that nearly wins it.
An errant superkick from Owens knocks Fale into the ropes, before he’s clotheslined out, before a roll-up from chase nearly got the win. Owens’ superkick has Taichi loopy, but Sabre saves him from a package piledriver, with Chase taking a battering before a Zack Driver got the win. That’s the Bullet Club team properly eliminated now, after a decent showing from the tag champions. ***
World Tag League 2020 – Bullet Club (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
A loss for EVIL and Yujiro would eliminate them here, bar drop-outs…
We’ve no jump start here as YOSHI-HASHI and EVIL start off… but of course, it’s a ploy as YOSHI-HASHI is attacked from behind by Yujiro. YOSHI-HASHI manages to overpower the pair of them, taking Yujiro outside while a shoulder tackle took down EVIL, ahead of some chops in the ropes. EVIL complains about YOSHI-HASHI not breaking in the ropes, which is some hypocrisy if there ever was some, especially since Dick Togo tried to trip YOSHI-HASHI seconds later ahead of a running Head Hunter.
A tag brings in Goto as he and YOSHI-HASHI gang up on EVIL, before Yujiro watched on as YOSHI-HASHI got hiptossed onto EVIL. Clubbering ensues on both EVIL and Yujiro, as my feed dropped out. It’s back with Yujiro dragging Goto to the outside, while EVIL took YOSHI-HASHI into the guard rails. The buffering returns with a vengeance here, as my feed recovered with Yujiro going for a pin back inside before he threw Goto into the exposed corner. EVIL’s back in as we get the glorious old-school cheating chained abdominal stretch. One of these days, I wouldn’t be opposed to the entire Bullet Club (or a heel group of choice) doing that all the way back into the locker room…
Goto blocks a throw into the corner, then sidesteps as EVIL took it instead ahead of a backdrop suplex, as YOSHI-HASHI comes back in to build up momentum. EVIL’s chopped at, before he’s hung in the ropes for a dropkick to the back, then for a low dropkick that gets a near-fall. EVIL tries to fight back with a Darkness Scorpion, but YOSHI-HASHI fights free as he rolled EVIL down into a Butterfly lock.
Grabbing the ear gets EVIL free, before he took YOSHI-HASHI’s kick and fed it to the ref. Yujiro tags back in for a running front kick. Goto tags in, but gets his eyes raked as a low dropkick keeps Yujiro ahead, but a second low dropkick misses as YOSHI-HASHI ran in to hit one of his own, ahead of an assisted neckbreaker.
YOSHI-HASHI and Goto combine to try for GYW, but Yujiro pushes away as EVIL pulls YOSHI-HASHI outside… pulling him into the railings. EVIL grabs the referee as Yujiro went for his pimp cane, jabbing Goto with it for a near-fall, which means of course we get Dick Togo with the garotte wire on YOSHI-HASHI… which is overpowered. I think only Young Lions are susceptible to that these days…
Yujiro keeps going, dropping Goto with an Incolle slam for a near-fall, before a Miami Shine was countered out of… with YOSHI-HASHI hitting a superkick before aiding an ushigoroshi with another. EVIL and Togo get knocked off the apron as Yujiro’s left on his own for a GYW, and that’s your lot! So that’s two Bullet Club teams out of the running, and given how much of a staple EVIL has been in this tournament in recent years, that’s quite a sudden fall from grace for the former double champion… **¾
World Tag League 2020 – Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. Fin-Juice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson)
A win for Yano and Ishii will guarantee their spot in next Friday’s tournament final, while a loss here means we’ll get more teams tied at ten points for the head-hurting final night.
As usual, Yano’s grumpy because Juice is taking his time to disrobe… so those two start out, but for some reason Juice grabs Yano’s wrist and tries to tag out. They resist as Juice wins the mini tug of war, which turned into Fin-Juice leaping onto Yano’s arm ahead of some slams.
A diving uppercut from Finlay and a back senton lands for a two-count, before Yano got free and freed a turnbuckle pad to bat last year’s winners with. Finlay’s whipped into the exposed corner, with Ishii then tagging in to try and chop his way through before holding Finlay in the corner for Yano to come back in. Ishii returns for a back suplex for a two-count, before he traded elbows with Finlay… a side headlock’s pushed off as Ishii went for a suplex, and ended up taking a backdrop suplex instead. Juice makes the tag in to run wild with back sentons, before he dumped Ishii with a full nelson slam.
Juice keeps going, crashing into Ishii with a cannonball in the corner for a two-count, before he busted out the Dusty punches to Ishii. Ishii shrugs off a big boot as the pair roar at each other ahead of a Juice Box attempt… but instead more elbows from Ishii led to him running into a leg lariat. That too is shrugged off as he slammed Juice… who pops right back up ahead of shoulder tackles, with Ishii shutting that particular door with a brainbuster.
Yano tags back in, as does Finlay, who goes in with uppercuts as Yano was trapped in the corner. An atomic drop weakens Finlay as Ishii comes in to try and double-team, but an uppercut then a clothesline from Juice takes him down, as Yano ends up getting double-teamed for a backbreaker/elbow drop combo for a near-fall.
A dropkick-assisted side Russian legsweep gets another two-count on Yano. Ishii tries to help out, but gets flapjacked before Fin-Juice peppered Yano with more strikes. Ishii comes back to make the save, going for a brainbuster that Finlay escaped… only for Yano to catch him with a roll-up for a near-fall. Juice headbutts Ishii away before another Yano roll-up nearly nicked it… but in the end, Finlay took care of Ishii with a uranage backbreaker before eventually rolling up Yano with a Granby roll for the pin. This got pretty good at the end as they hit a frantic home stretch, which creates that dreaded log jam… ***¼
World Tag League 2020 – The Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
It’s win or bust for both teams, as 12 points now looks to be the golden score to meet.
Tanga Loa and Jeff Cobb start us off rather tentatively, locking up with the pair rolling into the ropes before a battle of shoulder tackles led to an eventual stalemate. They switch it up into back-and-forth elbows, but Tanga edges ahead with a dropkick that knocked Cobb to the mat. Tama tags in next, but gets barged down as Cobb takes him into their corner for some stomping.
Great-O-Khan interferes from the apron, then tagged in to ground Tama with a head and arm choke, before he kept Tama in the corner, with Cobb returning to throw some headbutts. Standing backbreakers wear down Tama dome more before he was tossed aside… much like my feed did, sadly.
It’s back as Cobb and O-Khan continue to dominate Tama, but Tanga Loa runs in to attack from behind as the match spills outside for more of a scrap. O-Khan’s thrown into the guard rails, as was Cobb, who nearly went into the crowd, while O-Khan got thrown in for a clothesline by Tanga.
Cobb tries to fight back, but he gets beaten on in the aisle by Tama as the referee had clearly had enough of this shit and started the count. Cobb makes it back inside, but gets pulled out again… so the ref starts the coin tagain as O-Khan gets posted. The pace on that count is noticeably quicker, as it hurries them back inside, with the Guerrillas working over O-Khan with sentons atomico.
O-Khan manages to get free and tags Cobb back in, who charges Tanga into the corner, eventually coming back with a scoop slam that turned into a stalling suplex… except Tanga slips out and boots Cobb. A superkick from Cobb resets things, before both men crossbody each other at the same time.
Tags bring us back to Tama and O-Khan, with the latter teasing a Mongolian chop before he settled for a big boot. A head claw drags up Tama as those Mongolian chops came to play… then again as he looked to set up Tama for the Eliminator… but Jado pops up to distract, as O-Khan diverts his attention and clawed him instead.
Tama breaks that up, but had to resist an Eliminator before Tanga Loa helped out with Guerrilla Warfare for a near-fall. From there, the Guerrillas looked to set up for a Super Powerbomb, but O-Khan escapes the set-up as Cobb came in to throw Tama across thering with a gutwrench suplex. Tanga tries to make the save, but gets clotheslined to the outside by Cobb, before O-Khan hit the gutwrench on Tama for a near-fall.
From the kick-out though, O-Khan looks for the Eliminator, and after a Kendo stick shot from Jado behind the ref’s back, Tama switches it up into a Gun Stun, and there’s the win. With a huge asterisk, mind you, but it’s a win that eliminates the Empire from contention after a decent enough scrap of a match – but yet another pin eaten by O-Khan will raise questions from some. ***¼
World Tag League 2020 – Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Shingo Takagi)
It’s another win-or-bust match, as LIJ will be eliminated with a loss…
Tanahashi and SANADA start us off, switching waistlocks as they head to the mat, with Tanahashi’s side headlock quickly escaped. SANADA replies with one of his own, before Henare tagged in. He didn’t get his wish of Shingo at first, so he knocked the NEVER champion off the apron, prompting the tag in as we got that scrap!
Right hands take Shingo into the corner, but he’s back with a clothesline as Henare decided to uncork some elbows. I really wonder where Henare would have been in terms of stature had the pandemic shutdown not happened. He charges Shingo down with a shoulder tackle as Tanahashi came in to help with some double-teaming, including the two-man Boston crab that of course had to be broken up quickly.
The Shingo combination decks Henare, before they’re tossed outside as we get the obligatory guard rail spots. Back inside, Shingo stands and jumps on Henare in the ropes, while SANADA returned to try and keep the momentum going. He slams Henare before Shingo returned with a brainbuster and a knee drop as he continued to wear down the Kiwi.
An arm wringer from Shingo leads to him tagging in SANADA for a double sledge to the arm, before knees and a low drop kick had Henare down for a two-count. Henare tries to chop back through SANADA, before he caught SANADA’s leapfrog and turned it into a powerslam. Finally Tanahashi comes in to try and make a dent in proceedings, dropkicking SANADA before landing a Dragon screw through the ropes to Shingo.
Another Dragon screw spins down SANADA, with a Cloverleaf following before Tanahashi went for a slam and a flip senton for a near-fall. SANADA tries to come back with a TKO, but instead he finds a way through with a springboard dropkick as Shingo came back in to pick apart the downed Tanahashi.
They go at it with back-and-forth elbows, before a Twist and Shout took Shingo down. Henare tags back in to elbow away on Shingo… there’s a clothesline in the corner too, but Shingo puts on the breaks… and ends up taking a Samoan drop instead. A crossbody off the top lands for a near-fall before a battle of suplexes came to nought, as SANADA ran in to knock Henare into the corner, before a series of strikes led to a dropkick-assisted backdrop suplex.
Henare tries to force a way through with a shoulder tackle to SANADA, then a suplex on Shingo, before a Slingblade/legsweep combo almost put Shingo away. Henare gees himself up for a spear tackle, but Shingo caught it and turns it into a DDT before a noshigami laid out Henare. The tables turn there, with SANADA coming in to hit a wheelbarrow cutter for a near-fall, and while Henare offered a little more resistance, clobbering Shingo with clotheslines, Shingo more than held his own.
Elbows continue to wear down Henare as he ate sixteen unanswered strikes before throwing some overhand palm strikes. Back-and-forth headbutts follow, before a spear from Henare nearly nicked the win. Shingo’s right back up though with a Pumping Bomber, then Made in Japan for a near-fall, with Tanahashi making the save. He’s taken outside by SANADA for a plancha, as a second Pumping Bomber gets another near-fall on Henare, before Shingo hauled him up for a Last of the Dragon for the win. A fantastic main event, and while I’d not have been against Shingo getting pinned to set something up for the Dome, this result keeps things more than interesting for the World Tag League instead. ****
We’ve six teams tied at ten points going into Sunday’s finals, and the Ishii/Yano vs. Sabre/Taichi and Finlay/Juice vs. Goto/YOSHI-HASHI matches are the obvious ones for picking the top two before we look at the headache-inducing prospect of tie-breakers.
World Tag League 2020
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI; Juice Robinson & David Finlay; SANADA & Shingo Takagi; Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa; Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (5-3; 10pts)
Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb (4-4; 8pts) * eliminated
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi (3-5; 6pts) *eliminated
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (2-6; 4pts) *eliminated
Toa Henare & Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-7; 2pts) * eliminated
Best of the Super Junior 27
El Desperado, Taiji Ishimori, SHO, Hiromu Takahashi (5-2; 10pts)
BUSHI, Master Wato (4-3; 8pts)
Robbie Eagles, Ryusuke Taguchi (3-4; 6pts) * eliminated
DOUKI (1-6; 2pts) * eliminated
Yuya Uemura (0-7; 0pts) * eliminated
Saturday sees the penultimate round of the Best of the Super Junior league – with the added appearance of Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito in a WrestleKingdom preview tag – before we have a bumper show on Sunday as both tournaments come to a head. We’re set up for a tantalising, if not complex final day on Sunday as any two from six teams can make next week’s World Tag League final – and while the tournament as a whole has been a slight step behind the “opposition”, today’s action was at least on point, with a fantastic main event that continued to tease us on Henare breaking through.