The World Tag League picks up pace, with Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI taking on the Guerrillas of Destiny in today’s main event.
Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma pinned Yota Tsuji & Yuji Nagata in 7:26 (***)
World Tag League 2020 – Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii pinned Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb in 13:30 (***)
World Tag League 2020 – Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens pinned Toa Henare & Hiroshi Tanahashi in 10:35 (**¼)
World Tag League 2020 – Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi pinned Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL in 13:58 (**¾)
World Tag League 2020 – David Finlay & Juice Robinson pinned Shingo Takagi & SANADA in 15:47 (***½)
World Tag League 2020 – YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa in 14:28 (***)
After a few days off, the World Tag League tour ended up in Kanagawa’s Fujisawa City Akibadai Cultural Gymnasium for today’s leg… and we’re pretty likely to see an elimination today.
Yuji Nagata & Yota Tsuji vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma
We start with Tsuji and Honma locking up, with Tsuji able to back Honma into the ropes, throwing a chop on the break.
A side headlock followed, leading to the obligatory shoulder tackles that went back-and-forth until Tsuji bulled down Honma. There’s some in return from Honma, but of course he misses a Kokeshi, which allowed the Young Lion to tag in Nagata, who chopped down Honma with kicks.
After working on the arm briefly, Nagata tagged Tsuji back in, as the Young Lion deftly rolled Honma in for a camel clutch… breaking it so he could hit a splash to the back, then a bow and arrow hold while Nagata came in to boot Kojima off the apron. The submission’s quickly escaped as Tsuji ends up running into Honma’s boot ahead of a DDT that planted him like a tree. Tags bring us to Kojima and Nagata laying into each other, as an elbow dropped Nagata ahead of Machine Gun chops. Nagata fought back, bringing Tsuji back in for a splash into the corner, then a slam, before a flip senton and another splash gets a two-count. Kojima’s able to hit back with a Koji cutter, leaving Tsuji down for a Kokeshi from Honma… then one from Kojima, which almost wins.
Nagata breaks up the pin and gets thrown outside… and you can guess what’s next. So could Tsuji, who ducks a Cozy lariat and rolled Kojima into a modified Boston crab, before a slam was pushed away. Tsuji manages to hit a dropkick, but ends up running into a Cozy lariat, and that’s that! A little livelier than we’re used to seeing with these openers, but the same expected result. ***
World Tag League 2020 – The Empire (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
Yano’s taped his trophy back together after it was smashed up by Tanga Loa…
We get a jump start as O-Khan went straight for Ishii, taking him into the ropes for an eye rake ahead of double belly-to-belly suplexes from the Empire. Yano goes for the turnbuckle pad, but Jeff Cobb is nonplussed by it all and just charges down Yano and Ishii before reversing a double-team suplex. They head outside, where O-Khan throws Yano into the railings via a head claw. Ishii tries to help, but O-Khan takes care of him before throwing Yano back in for Cobb to make a very lackadaisical cover. A backbreaker followed as O-Khan tagged in to put the boots to Yano, then took him into the corner to trap him with a seated double armbar.
The Empire continue to wear down Yano, with O-Khan’s chinlock eventually being fought out of, as Yano finally forced an opening as he pulled Cobb down by the hair. In comes Ishii with the big lad shoulder tackles, before he escaped a suplex… but not before O-Khan ran in to elbow him. Some double-teaming backfires as Ishii threw Cobb into O-Khan, then tripped him onto O-Khan as the ring cleared. Ishii looks for a German suplex, but Cobb escaped and returned with a dropkick, then an overhead belly-to-belly. Cobb misses a splash in the corner as Ishii hits a suplex… only for Cobb to hit one of his own. A German suplex from Ishii finally lands, as tags get us back to O-Khan and Yano.
A big boot from O-Khan decks Yano ahead of the Mongolian chops and shove. O-Khan puts on the brakes to avoid running into the exposed corner, then took care of Ishii with a face-hugger sleeper before throwing him to Cobb for the Spin Cycle suplex. That leaves Yano on his own as the Empire play gutwrench-suplex-the-parcel with him, before a grounded head and arm choke from O-Khan almost forces a stoppage. Ishii dives in to break it up, but he’s taken outside by Cobb so O-Khan can finish the job… but he has to block a low blow before Yano throws him into the exposed corner, as we get a parade of roll-ups from Yano, until he ran into a Judo throw. From there, O-Khan grabs the face claw, but Yano grabs the referee to block the Eliminator, and after some assistance from Ishii, gets the win with a low blow and a roll-up. Huh. A very curious finish given how dominant (ahem) the Empire was, but given that it’s the top two who win the block, this may well be a red herring for those expecting the Empire to win. ***
World Tag League 2020 – Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
Tanahashi and Owens start off the battle of the bottom here, with the pair going back and forth on a wristlock. Owens rolls Tanahashi to the mat, then offered a handshake, which of course led to a kick to the gut that Tanahashi saw coming a mile off.
Tanahashi gets whipped into the corner, but comes back with the crossbody out of it then tagged in Henare to help with the double-team Boston crab, only for Fale to run in and charge them both down. Fale and Owens stand on Henare before the Tongan drove an elbow into Henare’s back. Owens returns for a Northern lights suplex as the pace was almost agonisingly slow here, with Owens’ elbows building up into a comeback… that ended quickly with a poke to the eye. Second time’s the charm as Henare’s shoulder tackle took down Owens, before Tanahashi almost fell into the ring in search of a tag. He gets it anyway, charging Fale off the aprons with a low dropkick before spinning Owens down with a Dragon screw. A flip senton off the middle rope followed for a two-count, before a brief exchange of strikes ended with a clothesline from Owens.
Fale tags back in and tries to slam Tanahashi, but it’s escaped as… Fale falls back as Tanahashi went for a slam. That almost cost him the match, but Tanahashi’s able to avoid an elbow drop as Henare returned, launching into Fale with a leaping shoulder tackle before Tanahashi came in to help with a double-team suplex. Owens tries to make a save, but gets dispatched by Henare before a headbutt stunned Fale. A sliding lariat takes Fale off his knees for a near-fall, before a quick turnaround ended with a the Grenade Launcher – the Grenade-assisted German suplex – getting the Bullet Club pair the win, and eliminating Henar-ACE. This felt way too slow for way too long, as the story continues to bubble away with Tanahashi’s knee letting him down once more. **¼
World Tag League 2020 – Bullet Club (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.)
I fear we may have plenty of shenanigans here…
Yet again, Zack Sabre Jr’s tardiness costs him as EVIL and Yujiro attack Taichi before the bell. So Zack has to sprint to the ring, clearly not having learned from when the Bullet Club did this earlier in the tour, as the Suzuki-gun lads managed to take control. Hitting the ring, EVIL’s cornered by Sabre and Taichi, before Sabre began to work over the arm, twisting it over and over again. A face rake from EVIL breaks it up, before Sabre got thrown into a conveniently-exposed corner, sending him hurtling to the outside. Taichi’s knocked off the apron too as the guard rails come into play, before Sabre’s thrown into the exposed corner once more.
Yujiro tags in to snapmare and kick Sabre, then threw him back into that corner as EVIL tagged back in… following Sabre outside because it was time to play kill time keeper Makoto Abe. Poor Abe-san gets back up just in time for EVIL to do it again, this time charging Taichi into the railings, but he’s able to recover to bark the count out when referee Marty Asami decided to start it. Returning to the ring again, EVIL goes old school with an assisted abdominal stretch. It’s broken up as the referee finally spots it – and gets called an idiot by Sabre for not noticing it – but Sabre needs to trap EVIL in a Cobra twist before he could force some form of a comeback, culminating in a neck twist.
Finally Sabre makes a tag to Taichi, who’s all about that choking life, but he’s stopped with some eye rakes before dropping Yujiro with an Axe bomber. Off come the trousers, as Taichi measured up for a head kick… but Dick Togo grabs the leg and bought enough time for EVIL to run in with a clothesline and a Fisherman buster. Yujiro is back with a front kick in the corner, but Taichi just goes back to the choking as a tag brings Sabre in to turn up the pace, catching out Yujiro with a leg sweep. A PK’s caught though, with Yujiro taking Sabre down for a low dropkick, following that up with a reverse DDT for a near-fall.
Taichi runs in to help with an Axe bomber for a near-fall, with EVIL breaking up the pin, before he had to avoid a Dangerous backdrop driver. This all leads to a ref bump as EVIL shoves Sabre into the official, so here comes the plunder. Yujiro misses a swing with his pimp cane… so Taichi chokes him with it. Dick Togo keeps the Human Centipede-like string of chokes going with the garotte wire, with Sabre breaking *that* up, before EVIL low blowed Sabre. Taichi recovers to hit a low blow on EVIL, only for Yujiro to get a shot off with his cane before he dropped Sabre with an Incolle slam. The Pimp Juice looks to follow, but Sabre slips out and rolled Yujiro down with a leg clutch for a near-fall, before Taichi came in for Zack Mephisto for the win. I appreciated some of the comedy cheating on show here, but this fell apart badly with all of the shenanigans at the end, even if all the lads had to walk off their low blows afterwards… **¾
World Tag League 2020 – Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Shingo Takagi) vs. Fin-Juice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson)
SANADA and Juice start us off in what’s almost-a-rematch of the finals from last year.
They trade holds early, but Juice tags out as he hit the ropes, bringing in Finlay to hit a slam… and be slammed for a near-fall. My feed drops, and recovers with Shingo whipping Juice into the guard railings ahead of a cheeky punch, as LIJ looked to be taking the upper hand. Shingo tags in to help with a back elbow and an elbow drop, before a back senton squashes Finlay. SANADA’s back with a double sledge to the arm, then a snap suplex to Finlay for a two-count, while Shingo’s back to charge through Finlay with a shoulder tackle before he suplexed Finlay for another two-count.
A front facelock from Shingo keeps Finlay on the back foot, before he indulged in some Dusty punches… which Finlay tries to counter before he dove across to tag in Juice. He’s a house afire, dropping Shingo with a spinebuster before SANADA was whacked with a leg lariat. Juice returns fire with Dusty punches, but a jab and a lariat from Shingo stops him from completing the set as SANADA returned to roll out of a sunset flip and tie up Juice in a Paradise lock. The low dropkick breaks it up for barely a two-count, before a backflip out of the corner took SANADA into a Dragon sleeper. Finlay tries to break it up, but he’s thrown aside as SANADA ends up seeing his ‘rana get countered into a powerbomb.
Tags bring us back to Finlay and Shingo, with the former taking a series of European uppercuts, including one off the middle rope for a near-fall. Shingo responds with some knees to the gut as he looked for a suplex, but Finlay escaped and hit a uranage backbreaker instead for a two-count. From there, Juice returns to help with a Doomsday device, but Shingo escapes it and clobbered them both with clotheslines. SANADA comes in to double-team Finlay, leading to a Pumping Bomber from Shingo for a two-count. Juice broke that up and got taken outside, as a noshigami/cutter dropped Finlay ahead of a sliding lariat. That gets another two-count, as Juice came in to try and clear house with a full nelson slam and some clotheslines, with a spear from Finlay helping buy him more time.
A superplex from Finlay sets up for a big splash off the top from Juice – with the lads really digging into their late 80s/early 90s WWF tag finisher playbook – but it’s not enough for the win, as Fin-Juice pancake SANADA then dropkick him out of the ring. That leaves Shingo on his own again as Finlay looked for an Acid Drop, but it’s blocked as the pair trade clotheslines before Finlay countered Made in Japan with a roll-up for a near-fall. From there, the Left Hand of God, Prima Nocta and a Pulp Friction batter Shingo, while Juice dove into SANADA on the floor, as an Acid Drop gets Finlay the clean win over the NEVER champion. Easily the best thing on this show so far today, as the log-jam returns to the top of the table! ***½
World Tag League 2020 – Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
A win for the Guerrillas sees them join the crowded top spot as we get closer to the final round…
Goto and Tanga Loa start us off, as Goto looks for a waistlock, but ended up having Loa work the arm instead. They switch around in hammerlocks, with Goto’s side headlock being broken in the ropes as we get a clean break. YOSHI-HASHI comes in to help Goto pull ahead, after Tama Tonga was sent packing, before YOSHI-HASHI rolled Tanga to the mat for a chinlock. The hold’s powered out of, so YOSHI-HASHI chops back as Tanga Loa looked thoroughly unimpressed, before Tama Tonga ran in to double-team, landing a leaping neckbreaker before YOSHI-HASHI was tossed outside and into the hands of Jado, who of course threw him into the guard rails. With YOSHI-HASHI about to get counted out, Loa rolls him back inside and tags in Tama for a senton atomico… Tanga hits one of his own too, before an elbow drop got barely a one-count.
Goto broke that up and got taken outside as the Guerrillas focused on YOSHI-HASHI, with a suplex from Tama landing for a two-count. Tanga Loa’s back to catch YOSHI-HASHI in another chinlock, before the OJK crossface ended with YOSHI-HASHI breaking in the ropes, right in front of Jado, who threatened to get involved. A baseball slide from YOSHI-HASHI knocks Jado into the rails, before he escaped a suplex from Tanga… and returned with a Head Hunter. Hirooki Goto tags in to clothesline through Tanga Loa, following up with elbows into the corner, then a spinning heel kick and a bulldog for a near-fall. There’s a leaping enziguiri from Tanga, before the pair traded clotheslines as both Goto and Loa were left laying.
YOSHI-HASHI and Tama Tonga tag in next, but it’s all YOSHI-HASHI here with a suplex into the ropes for the dropkick to the back. A low dropkick is next for a near-fall, before Tama escaped a Bunker Buster and took YOSHI-HASHI into the corner for a Stinger splash. An attempted Tongan Twist is escaped next as YOSHI-HASHI hits a rear spin kick, before a superkick-assisted ushigoroshi and some diving knees put down Tama for a two-count. Tama Tonga escapes a GYW as YOSHI-HASHI was pushed into a Kendo stick shot from Jado… an assisted Tongan Twist to Goto and a back suplex/neckbreak combo to YOSHI-HASHI has the Guerrillas back on top, before a Magic Killer drew a two-count on YOSHI-HASHI. Goto broke that up, before YOSHI-HASHI avoided a Gun Stun… and surprised Tama Tonga with a Magistral-like roll-up out of nowhere for the flash win! This was a fine, if not spectacular match – but I did like the use of a flash pin to remind us all that as templated as these matches can be, they don’t *always* have to end with a finisher… ***
World Tag League 2020
SANADA & Shingo Takagi; Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.; Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (4-2; 8pts)
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi; Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb; Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI; Juice Robinson & David Finlay; Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (3-3; 6pts)
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (2-4; 4pts)
Toa Henare & Hiroshi Tanahashi (1-5; 2pts) * eliminated
Best of the Super Junior 27
Taiji Ishimori, Hiromu Takahashi, Master Wato (4-1; 8pts)
BUSHI, El Desperado, SHO (3-2; 6pts)
Robbie Eagles, Ryusuke Taguchi (2-3; 4pts)
DOUKI, Yuya Uemura (0-5; 0pts) * eliminated
The tour picks up tomorrow for the first of two shows in Korakuen Hall – this one being a Best of the Super Junior stop with Robbie Eagles and Hiromu Takahashi in a particularly tantalising main event. Today though, was a largely inoffensive, but unmemorable night as this World Tag League continues to meet expectations. You can take that as a dig or a compliment – but the so-so nature of these shows are hard to derive much from. At least we’re getting to the business end of things…