Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toru Yano main event the latest round of World Tag League as they take on the Guerrillas of Destiny.
Shingo Takagi submitted Ryohei Oiwa in 10:19 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale pinned Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask in 9:52 (**)
World Tag League 2021 – YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned TAKA Michinoku & Minoru Suzuki in 10:09 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan pinned Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe in 12:27 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – SANADA & Tetsuya Naito pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima in 11:32 (***¼)
World Tag League 2021 – EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi pinned Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. in 17:09 (**¼)
World Tag League 2021 – Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga pinned Toru Yano & Hiroshi Tanahashi in 14:46 (***½)
We’re coming from the Aimesse Yamanashi for this one…
Ryohei Oiwa vs. Shingo Takagi
Something tells me this one ain’t ending in a draw! Oiwa nearly fell flat on his face running to the ring – since the black mats in the aisle weren’t meant for running on…
Oiwa tries to ground Shingo with headscissors early on, but they’re escaped and countered with a side headlock before Shingo took them to the ropes. Oiwa cheapshots on the break, then hit a shoulder tackle before Shingo deadweighted him on a hiptoss, throwing the Young Lion down instead ahead of a Sharpshooter. Shingo shifts between submissions – including a STF and an armbar – forcing Oiwa into the ropes, before Shingo pushed on with elbow drops for a two-count. A two-handed chop sinks Oiwa next, as did a lariat, before a back body drop effortlessly sent Oiwa into the air.
A second one awaits Oiwa, but a third was too indulgent as a knee and a dropkick took the champion down. Slams get Oiwa a near-fall, but his Boston crab is easily pushed out of as elbows drop Oiwa once more, leading to Shingo going up top for a back elbow drop before a brainbuster drew a two-count… which led to a Boston crab as Shingo ends up winning with a half crab. A decent extended squash, with Oiwa getting scant offence in – as you’d expect for a match between the world’s champion and someone who’s yet to get their first win. A shame this had a longer time limit – it could have been a hell of a shock for Oiwa to get the draw here! ***
Shingo’s off to get showered and return to do Japanese commentary, rather than make the short drive home…
World Tag League 2021: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask
With Nagata and Tiger Mask out, they’re playing for pride… yet Chase Owens starts things by cheapshotting Nagata off the apron before he ran him into the rails.
Tiger Mask’s in there with Fale, forcing the veteran to stick and move as he rolled outside… and opted not to check on Nagata. So Owens rolls Tiger Mask back in, then attacked him from behind before a chinlock kept Tiger Mask down. Fale and Owens stand on Tiger Mask’s back as Nagata’s still down on the floor, while a backbreaker earned Owens a two-count. Nagata’s just about getting back to his feet as Tiger Mask was cornered by Fale, who swung at him with punches, only to miss a splash in the corner.
Chase takes Tiger back to the corner as a splash and an elbow drop gets Fale a two-count, before Nagata got booted off the apron again… Tiger Mask kicks away a Grenade Launcher, then drop toe hold’d Fale onto Chase Owens as Nagata gets the tag ingoing to work on the big man with kicks and a stuttering dropkick for good measure. A shoulder tackle from Fale has Nagata back down, as did an Owens clothesline, before Nagata and Tiger Mask began to isolate Chase for a change. Nagata’s Exploder leads to an enziguiri sandwich, then a Tiger Driver… except they forgot Nagata was legal, as that hesitation led to a delayed two-count. The Nagata Lock II crossface is next, which Fale breaks up, only to get thrown outside by Tiger Mask…
Nagata stays down again, so Tiger Mask went up top… and has to fend off Fale again, only to get posted. Owens is back, but gets back body dropped by Nagata, then kicked, before a package piledriver got the win. This wasn’t good folks – from awkward hesitations to Nagata looking banged up, this felt like a late-stage tournament match that did nobody any favours. **
World Tag League 2021: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
Suzuki-gun are also out of the running, and could derail the CHAOS lads if they manage to get their first win here.
They try to get the jump on YOSHI-HASHI and Goto, taking things outside as Suzuki ate the guard rails chest-first. We settle down in the ring with YOSHI-HASHI and TAKA, but Suzuki decides to help out with a hanging armbar in the ropes on YOSHI-HASHI… opting to pull him outside for another taste of the guard rails. Returning to the ring, Suzuki ties up YOSHI-HASHI’s arm, while TAKA joined in on the fun of trying to re-separate YOSHI-HASHI’s permanently taped-up shoulder. Finally, YOSHI-HASHI returns with a low dropkick to Suzuki, which bought him enough time to tag out to Goto… TAKA runs in without a tag, but gets charged down as Goto went after Suzuki with a spinning heel kick and a bulldog for a two-count.
Elbows wear down Suzuki, who fought back with his CLONKing elbow, before a rear naked choke caught Goto out. The Gotch piledriver’s thrown aside though, as Goto came back with a clothesline, before YOSHI-HASHI tagged back in to blitz through Suzuki with a chop. A neckbreaker’s next for a two-count, right as my feed dropped out…
It resumes with TAKA grabbing a Bulldog choke on YOSHI-HASHI, then a Magistral cradle for a near-fall, with a short PK also getting a similar result… Suzuki’s back to help, but Goto intervenes with an ushigoroshi, before a superkick-assisted ushigoroshi to TAKA turned into Shoto, with Goto leaping over the referee to knock Suzuki off the apron to ensure the pin counted. A decent enough tag to keep things interesting at the top. ***
World Tag League 2021: United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Another clash between the eliminated and an upper-mid table side, as Henare’s keeping his moustache after Mo-vember’s finished.
We open with Henare and Makabe tying up into the ropes for a break, before Henare’s cheapshot was shrugged off, with Honma tagging in to help charge him down. O-Khan comes in to give Honma a taste of that medicine, landing a knee drop as Henare picked up a two-count from it. O-Khan’s in to sit on Honma in the corner, before a face claw got blocked… Honma makes the tag out to Makabe, who cleared house to take O-Khan into the corner for mounted punches, before O-Khan stomped his way out of a German suplex attempt. A Judo-ish thrown has Makabe down, as Henare came in to give Makabe some mounted punches… and that laugh.
Makabe’s rocked with an elbow, but manages to hit a swivelling lariat before tagging Honma in to hit a bulldog on Henare. Of course the Kokeshi misses, as O-Khan came in with a Sheep Killer backbreaker… Makabe stops an Imperial Drop to Honma, then landed a double clothesline as Henare’s pinged about, leading to a Kokeshi. A leaping Kokeshi followed as Henare’s thrown in, but O-Khan breaks up the pin and gets thrown outside as Honma set up for a swandive Kokeshi… only for Henare to roll away as Honma gets sandwiched with kicks. Makabe tries to help out, but gets stretched with a Sheep Killer Slam, before Honma blocked another Imperial Drop…
A short, diving Kokeshi cracks into Henare for a near-fall, as the pair then trade shots to the dome, with a Henare headbutt almost putting Honma away. From there, Henare hauls up Honma for the Imperial Drop, and that’s enough to keep the Empire duo in the chase for the top two spots. ***
World Tag League 2021: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Kojima and Tenzan are all-but-out of the running, but a loss here would seal it…
Tenzan’s pissed before the bell because Naito tried to Matador the Bull… and we get going with SANADA and Kojima swapping headlocks, before a hiptoss and a shoulder tackle had SANADA down. Naito tags in and does his Matador thing again, then slid out of the ring as Tenzan tagged in. Eventually Naito baited in Tenzan, before he took a headbutt and some Mongolian chops as Kojima came back to help out. A slam sets up Naito for the falling headbutt/slingshot elbow, but neither connect as SANADA pulled Kojima down, while Naito pulled on Tenzan’s glorious mullet. Combinacion Cabron followed from Naito, before Tenzan came back with headbutts… a sleeperhold from SANADA restrains him, as Naito then mocked Tenzan with Mongolian chops.
Tenzan gets free and tags in Kojima to push on, taking Naito to the corner for some Machine Gun chops… SANADA gets some too, but stops Kojima from even heading up top for the elbow drop, only for Kojima to stack up Naito with a nasty DDT. A Koji Cutter’s blocked, but SANADA eventually takes it as Tenzan gets the tag in, charging through everyone ahead of headbutts and Mongolian chops to SANADA. SANADA takes the brainbuster next for a two-count, before he and Tenzan traded elbows back and forth. Kojima took care of Naito’s attempt to intervene as an Anaconda Vise has SANADA struggling for the ropes, as all four men ended up in the ring ahead of a TenKoji Cutter to Naito as another suplex attempt from Tenzan ended with SANADA slipping out for an O’Connor roll to get the win. ****¼
Post-match, Naito tried to bait Tenzan in with Shingo Takagi’s towel. Ole!
World Tag League 2021: House of Torture (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
The House of Torture lads are creeping towards the bubble here…
Yujiro and Sabre start us off, with Zack tripping Yujiro early as he tied him up with a Deathlock. EVIL wanders in to try and break it up, but he’s held in a hammerlock as Taichi threw in Dick Togo, who nearly had his wrist snapped off by Sabre in the process of a handshake. We resume with Yujiro getting isolated, but my feed drops and returned with Sabre and Taichi getting thrown into a suddenly-exposed corner. Taichi’s used to wipe out the time keeper, who I swear hit the guard rails with the back of his head on the way down, before EVIL went to choke Taichi with the live mic.
Dick Togo gets involved after Taichi was thrown his way… while EVIL took advantage with some stomps to the knees. Yujiro’s in, but eats a gamengiri into the corner, before tagged in and snapped down Yujiro with an arm whip. A cross armbreaker ends in the ropes, before Yujiro bit his way out of a guillotine… so Sabre hits an overhead kick to the arm instead. An Incolle slam flung Sabre skywards, as EVIL tagged in to capitalise… only to get caught in an ankle lock that EVIL broke with an eye rake. A leg sweep drops EVIL again, as Taichi comes in to throttle EVIL… then Yujiro… and finally, choke Dick. Yujiro threatens with the Pimp Cane, but EVIL still takes an enziguiri, before Taichi’s double-teamed in the corner with boots and clotheslines.
An EVIL Fisherman suplex lands for a two-count, before a switcheroo leads to Sabre coming in to Dragon screw off EVIL’s legs. Sabre’s PK and a Taichi buzzsaw kick lands for a near-fall, before Yujiro’s dispatched of with an Axe Bomber, before a nodo otoshi chokeslam/back suplex combo nearly put EVIL away. Cue shenanigans, except Sabre blocks a low blow from EVIL, then from Yujiro, turning the ball shots into arm twists, before a Cobra twist and Holy Emperor Cross Mausoleum combo had the House of Torture lads in trouble. EVIL throws down the ref as Dick Togo comes in with the garotte wire, and I can see those star ratings floating away.
Taichi manages to shrug it all off and elbow away Yujiro, before a sumo-style charge was stopped as EVIL LAUNCHED the ref at Taichi. It’s sidestepped, as a Dangerous backdrop driver lands for a near-fall, before Dick’s back with his wire to choke out Taichi. And of course, this being New Japan, the obvious DQs from before are ignored as Taichi can’t power out of the wire, before he’s thrown into Everything is EVIL for the win. Until we were served heaping ladles of the House of Torture bullshit, this was a decent little match, but we’re going to do this all over again aren’t we… **¼
Post-match, Sabre’s laid out with a belt shot as the House of Torture lads celebrate with the NEVER and IWGP tag team titles. My blood just ran cold, as I’m sure was the intention…
World Tag League 2021: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
The Guerrillas have done their hair up, like Yano and Tanahashi. Sadly, Jado couldn’t join in the fun, nor find a comedy mohawk…
We’ve a jump start as the Guerrillas attack the posing Yano and Tanahashi, who respond by bopping them in the head before chucking Tama Tonga to the outside. Tama gets his revenge quickly as he chucks Yano into the rails, while Tanahashi met a similar fate. When things calmed down, Tanahashi’s snapmared for a senton atomico, before a Tanga Loa headbutt led to an avoided powerslam as a low dropkick leaves both men laying. A failed attempt from Yano to use the corner pads as a weapon leaves him on the defensive, with Tama Tonga choking him from above.
A Stinger splash from Tama nearly puts away Yano, before some back and forth hair pulling eventually gave Yano an opening. Tanahashi tags in, but Tanga Loa stops a flip senton out of the corner before Dragon screws left the Guerrillas laying. Tama’s rolled into a Cloverleaf after that, but it’s right by the ropes as Tama’s able to force the break. Tama’s dropkick offered some response as Tanga Loa tagged in and threw Tanahashi into the exposed corner. An Exploder throws Tanahashi across the ring for a two-count, before a Twist and Shout countered a suplex, with Tanahashi then making the tag out to Yano… who had to block a throw into the exposed corner.
Yano recovers with a rebound belly-to-belly, then a Manhattan drop before he slingshotted Tanga Loa to knock Tama off the apron. Tanahashi returned as Tanga Loa’s bounced into the corner for back elbows before a blocked Slingblade and an enziguiri had the Ace down. Tama Tonga’s back in to hit a leaping neckbreaker to turn things around, before a Magic Killer’s stopped by Tanahashi. A Guerrilla Warfare (the double-team Tongan Twist) gets rid of Tanahashi, as Yano was left to fend for himself… and nearly snatched the win with a cradle, before he pushed the ref into Tanga Loa. A low blow and roll-up gets a near-fall, while a Gun Stun from Tama caught out a distracted-by-arguing Yano, allowing the Guerrillas to get the win with a Magic Killer. A decent enough tag match to main event, as Yano and Tanahashi’s World Tag League chances hang by a thread. ***½
We’ve only got three matches left in the World Tag League and we’re getting to some very far-fetched possibilities for some teams to stay alive. I’m only marking eliminations once they’re mathematically impossible – even if you need some wacky situations…
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI, Tetsuya Naito & SANADA, Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (6-2 / 12pts)
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (5-3 / 10pts)
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano (4-4 / 8pts)
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-6 / 4pts) – Eliminated
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask (1-7 / 2pts) – Eliminated
Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku (0-8 / 0pts) – Eliminated
Sunday’s early start is in the Best of the Super Junior tournament, so World Tag League returns Tuesday in the ZIP Arena in Okayama, featuring the Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Naito & SANADA in the main event.
While it makes sense to mash up the Best of the Super Junior and World Tag League tours into a monster tour like New Japan have been, the problem remains that the tag team division arguably has historically not been treated kindly in the past – so when all of a sudden you’re given a load of tag teams that are either thrown together or rarely presented as a threat, it’s hard not to look beyond that lack of depth. So what you get here – much like the rest of WTL – are some okay tag matches that ultimately will count for nought in the scheme of things, and some stuff that’s probably not palatable too. Shame.