World Tag League resumes for another week, with Toru Yano and Hiroshi Tanahashi taking on SANADA & Tetsuya Naito in today’s main event.
Yuto Nakashima & Kosei Fujita went to a draw in 10:00 (**¾)
World Tag League 2021 – YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned Tiger Mask & Yuji Nagata in 10:59 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima in 11:24 (**½)
World Tag League 2021 – Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale pinned Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe in 10:34 (**¾)
World Tag League 2021 – Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa pinned TAKA Michinoku & Minoru Suzuki in 9:51 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare pinned Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. in 19:04 (***¾)
World Tag League 2021 – SANADA & Tetsuya Naito pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano in 15:18 (***¼)
We’re live from the Culttz Kawasaki in Kanagawa…
Kosei Fujita vs. Yuto Nakashima
We’re on the road to another draw, aren’t we?
Nakashima goes for a waistlock early, but couldn’t take Fujita down at first, before the pair switched around armbars and escapes. Fujita works the wrist as he (surprise) went after Nakashima’s left arm, then back in with a side headlock.
Fujita’s double wristlock has Nakashima wriggling towards the ropes, but Fujita pulls them back towards the middle of the ring, only for the pair to end back in the ropes after all. Eventually Nakashima fought back with a back body drop to become my favourite wrestler for the day, as we then have them trading strikes.
Nakashima grabbed a leg lock that forces Fujita into the ropes, before Fujita returned with a dropkick for a solid two-count. We enter the final minute with Fujita trying to roll Nakashima over, eventually getting the Boston crab, pulling Nakashima away from the ropes as he had to gut it out for the best part of a minute before he got to the rope – just as time ran out. Fujita needs to find another gear when it comes to that Boston crab if he’s going to get past Nakashima it seems – even if Nakashima was left hobbling afterwards. **¾
World Tag League 2021: Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask
Given his run this year, Goto may want to watch out for Tiger Mask… Goto has a tendancy for losing to juniors.
Goto and Nagata start off, but go to the ropes quickly on a wristlock before tags bring us to Tiger Mask and YOSHI-HASHI. Kicks from Tiger Mask in the corners have YOSHI-HASHI on the defensive, with a knee drop to the side of the head getting an early two-count. Nagata’s back to work over the arm, but YOSHI-HASHI frees himself and brings Goto in to clear the decks.
A spinning heel kick into the corner, then a bulldog out of it gets Goto a two-count, before Nagata’s stuttering dropkick bought him time. Goto’s back with a swivelling clothesline, before YOSHI-HASHI tagged back in to tag Nagata with chops. The Kitchen Sink knee drops YOSHI-HASHI as Tiger Mask returned, looking for a butterfly superplex only to land an armdrag instead.
YOSHI-HASHI blocks a Tiger Driver, but gets crucified for a two-count before a double armbar drew in Goto… who’s pulled into the Nagata Lock II crossface instead. That double armbar from Tiger Mask morphs into a grounded Octopus, which ends in the ropes, before a Tiger Driver planted YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall.
From there, Goto and YOSHI-HASHI combine for a running Head Hunter/side Russian legsweep combo, before a Butterfly lock was attempted on Tiger Mask. Nagata breaks it up, while Tiger Mask pushes away a GYW, only to get caught in a Shoto for the win. A whole lot of double-teaming towards the end, as Nagata and Tiger Mask eat another L on this tour. ***
World Tag League 2021: House of Torture (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Surprisingly, EVIL and Yujiro came into today as part of the cluster at the bottom of the table… but that might change today.
EVIL and Yujiro jump start the match, only for Yujiro to get charged down while EVIL’s bounced around with Mongolian chops. An eye rake stopped Tenzan before he was thrown into a suddenly-exposed corner, as EVIL then headed outside to jab him with a chair.
Back inside, Yujiro collects a two-count before EVIL choked out Tenzan with a t-shirt, while a low dropkick gets Yujiro a two-count. Kojima’s arguing with the referee, distracting from a cheating hooked-up abdominal stretch, before Tenzan fought back and tagged out. Yeah, my feed dropped here. We’re back with Kojima elbowing down EVIL ahead of the Machine Gun chops, but Dick Togo pulls Kojima off the top rope to stop the flying elbow.
EVIL takes control once more, but gets caught with a Kojima DDT for a near-fall, before a threatened chairshot from Togo allowed the House of Torture lads back in. Yujiro boots Kojima as my feed again craps out, returning with Tenzan charging down Yujiro ahead of some Mongolian chops and headbutts. Yujiro bites out of a brainbuster as some double-teaming ensues, leading to EVIL taking that brainbuster in the end.
Tenzan followed that with a Mountain Bomb to Yujiro, before the TenKoji Cutter dumped Yujiro for a near-fall. EVIL breaks it up and gets taken outside, before Tenzan ties up Yujiro in an Anaconda Vise…. Yujiro stands up out of it, but is taken down with an Anaconda Buster, before the Vise was reapplied. Dick Togo distracts as Yujiro taps, and that leads to a ref bump as EVIL busts out all the low blows, before a Pimp Cane shot and the Pimp Juice short DDT got the win. A perfectly serviceable match, but I’ve no use for these ongoing shenanigans, particularly when it’s not producing results (compared to, say, SHO…) **½
World Tag League 2021: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
We’ve another jump start, but it backfires as Bad Luck Fale gets charged down by Makabe and Honma in the opening minute.
Elbows to the head of Fale give Honma confidence, but he falls back on a slam attempt as Chase Owens came in to target Honma’s midsection. Fale stands on Honma’s back, then dropped down for a two-count, before some double-team clotheslines took Honma down for a two-count.
Eventually Honma gets the tag out to Makabe, who cornered Fale with the Mounted Punches, only for Owens to break it up. Chase gets cornered too with corner-to-corner clotheslines, before Makabe went for a Northern Lights on Fale. It didn’t come off. A clothesline did though, getting another two-count, before Fale’s elbow drop earned him a two-count in return.
Tags bring us back to Honma and Owens, with the latter getting chopped into the corner ahead of a bulldog and a Kokeshi. Bloody hell it actually landed! Honma follows it up with a suplex for a two-count, before the sandwiching lariats dropped Owens for a diving Kokeshi, but Fale’s in to break that up.
All four men are in the ring (except Honma’s down) as Makabe charges through a double clothesline, before he had to fight out of a Grenade Launcher… then hit his double clothesline. Honma looks for a Kokeshi Otoshi, but Owens fought out and sidestepped another diving Kokeshi, then hit a knee strike before the package piledriver put Honma down for the three-count. Another perfectly fine match, but much like a lot of this league, it’ll not be lighting your world on fire. **¾
World Tag League 2021: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Something tells me that Suzuki-gun aren’t getting on the board here…
Suzuki and TAKA storm the aisle to jump the Guerrillas before the bell, and we start with the match on the outside as Suzuki and TAKA were on top. A brief sojourn into the ring leads us outside, before we return to TAKA being isolated by the Guerrillas, taking a senton atomico from Tama Tonga before a dropkick gave Tama enough time to wipe Suzuki off of the apron.
A snap suplex leaves TAKA down for another senton atomico, this time from Tanga Loa, for a near-fall. Suzuki tries to make a save, but he gets swarmed by Tama Tonga as TAKA remained in deep trouble. Tanga Loa’s neckbreaker and jackhammer combo gets a near-fall, before Suzuki finally got the tag in and managed to get a two-count off of a PK.
More kicks from Suzuki just rile up Tanga Loa, who replies with a spear, before Tama Tonga came in and was caught in a rear naked choke. TAKA tags back too, double-teaming Tama with a pair of kicks for a near-fall. There’s a quick turnaround as a Magic Killer dropped Suzuki, and that leaves TAKA in deeper waters… but he kicks away a Magic Killer before he took a backdrop/neckbreaker combo for a near-fall.
TAKA pushes away a Gun Stun and nearly steals one with a Magistral cradle, only to get caught with a Gun Stun seconds later as the Guerrillas made relatively short work of things. ***
After the match, Suzuki laid out two Young Lions with chair shots, just for the hell of it…
World Tag League 2021: United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
I’m a little surprised the tag champions aren’t headlining, which might tip off the result here if you’re into over-thinking everything like I am…
Sabre and O-Khan start us off, scrambling in the search for a takedown, before Sabre wriggled out of a gutwrench and took down O-Khan in an overhead wristlock that ended in the ropes. Taichi’s in to stomp on O-Khan’s arm, but that drew in Henare… allowing O-Khan to wrap up Taichi in a head claw as Henare took his shots to Taichi’s just-healed ribs.
O-Khan focused on Taichi’s midsection from there, grabbing it with a claw hand, before Henare choked Taichi into the corner while O-Khan dealt with Sabre. It’s a very efficient gameplan from the Empire duo, who homed in on Taichi’s weakness. Henare’s brainbuster gets a two-count before Taichi tried to kick back… but he’s sent into the ropes before a hook kick decked Henare.
Sabre’s in and instantly dumps Henare with a leg sweep, then with a PK for just a one-count before he peppered Henare with more kicks. A solid elbow to the head has Sabre on jelly legs, but Zack’s back with a knee bar, tying up Henare’s leg before things ended in the ropes.
Henare checks some more kicks before he took down Sabre… only to get caught in a guillotine after Sabre springboarded out of the corner. An Octopus hold’s quickly countered into a Samoan drop from Henare, before O-Khan returned with a Sheep Killer on Sabre. Zack tries to come back, but gets caught in a head claw as he then countered an Eliminator with a hanging armbar, eventually forcing his way free as tags bring us back to Taichi.
Kicks sting O-Khan, who’s pulled up by his braid for some Kawada-ish kicks. O-Khan goes back to the ribs, so Taichi throttles him before a gamengiri into the corner drew in Henare. An Axe bomber took care of Henare, as the trousers come off for Taichi… which signals a buzzsaw kick. That’s ducked, while Taichi couldn’t hit the Dangerous backdrop, and instead got caught in a bear hug.
A bell clapper frees Taichi, but he’s right back into the Sheep Killer that O-Khan turned into a backbreaker for a near-fall. An Eliminator’s countered by Taichi, who slips in for a Holy Emperor Cross Mausoleum, which ends as O-Khan fell into the ropes as he dragged his way free. Second time’s the charm on the Dangerous backdrop, which nearly wins it out, before Taichi countered an eliminator with some choking, as Sabre assists on a nodo otoshi chokeslam for a near-fall.
An attempt at Zack Mephisto brings in Henare to clear house, but Sabre twists his neck off before O-Khan dispatched Sabre with an Eliminator. Taichi’s the legal man though, and nearly shocks O-Khan with a Gedo clutch, before Henare went back to the ribs, leading to the Imperial Drop as the United Empire score the win. A fantastic tag match which targeted Taichi throughout – and actually paid off at the end. Perhaps the first match from this portion of the tour I’d heartily recommend! ***¾
World Tag League 2021: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano
After Dangerous Tekkers’ loss, one of these teams will end the day standing alone at the top of the table, as they both come into this with 3-0 records…
Yano’s got to escape a Paradise Lock early from SANADA, who then rolled him around the ring in a dizzying cradle for a two-count. Tags bring in Tanahashi and Naito, with the latter struggling to escape a side headlock, before Yano returned to help charge down SANADA as Tanahashi ended up building to a slam, an elbow drop and a flip senton in the corner.
Except SANADA blocked the senton and pulled down Tanahashi before he tied up Yano in the ropes with a Paradise lock. Naito charges Tanahashi into the rails for good measure, before Tanahashi was brought inside and rolled into a Paradise Lock, right by Yano… with the resulting low dropkick freeing both, somehow.
Naito ties up Tanahashi in a cravat, then went for the eyes, before Tanahashi fought free and made the tag out to Yano, whose first course of action was to remove a corner pad and throw it at Naito. A second corner pad’s thrown in, as SANADA and Naito get spun outside with pad-assisted Dragon screws, before they dragged their opponents outside to prevent planchas.
Yano’s back in the ring to do his usual in-the-ropes shtick, before an inside cradle nearly upset Naito. Hair pulling follows, before tags bring us back to Tanahashi and SANADA, with Tanahashi landing the flip senton out of the corner for a near-fall, before SANADA’s TKO nearly ended things. A Twist and Shout neckbreaker, then a Slingblade has SANADA down for another two-count, before Yano’s hair pulling sets up SANADA for a slingshot into a palm strike.
Yano holds SANADA for a Dragon screw, before SANADA snuck back out of nowhere to cut off Tanahashi with an O’Connor roll for the pin. A good little tag match, but the finish really felt like it came out of nowhere as they didn’t feel to be on the home stretch. ***¼
Four matches in, here’s how this year’s World Tag League is shaping up – remember the top two teams go into a play-off final…
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA (4-0 / 8pts)
Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto (3-1 / 6pts)
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (1-3 / 2pts)
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask, Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku (0-4 / 0pts)
Wednesday sees us return to Korakuen Hall for a Best of the Super Junior show, and with Saturday’s show in Kanagawa also a Best of the Super Junior card, you’re going to be waiting until Sunday in Chiba’s Togane Arena as the annual Yuji Nagata-promoted card sees him and Tiger Mask headline against Minoru Suzuki and TAKA Michinoku. Someone’s 0’s gotta go!
Once again, World Tag League was largely skippable, but you really should make time for that Tekkers/Empire tag – an extremely well-worked and self-contained story with the Empire lads showing a killer instinct and likely setting up for something, even if they don’t win the league.