World Tag League resumes as the United Empire pair of Aaron Henare and Great-O-Khan take on SANADA & Tetsuya Naito in today’s main event.
Yuto Nakashima & Ryohei Oiwa went to a draw in 10:00 (**¾)
World Tag League 2021 – Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale pinned TAKA Michinoku & Minoru Suzuki in 9:03 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL pinned Tiger Mask & Yuji Nagata in 8:23 (**½)
World Tag League 2021 – YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe in 10:48 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga submitted Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima in 12:56 (***¼)
World Tag League 2021 – Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi defeated Toru Yano & Hiroshi Tanahashi via count-out in 14:22 (***¼)
World Tag League 2021 – Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare pinned SANADA & Tetsuya Naito in 21:27 (****)
We’re back at Korakuen Hall for this one…
Ryohei Oiwa vs. Yuto Nakashima
I think we can see where this one’s heading…
We’ve waistlocks from Nakashima and Oiwa to start, before headlocks and headscissors took Nakashima in for a brief deathlock as they keep it basic on the mat. A wristlock helps Nakashima take down Oiwa, only to get caught in a side headlock takedown… that’s quickly escaped from.
Nakashima’s headscissors end in the ropes, so he follows in with a cravat’d snapmare as he blocked Oiwa’s bid to escape, following with an elbow and a sleeperhold as Nakashima had a tad more urgency around him today. Taking Oiwa down, Nakashima scissors the body too, before he caught Oiwa in a head-and-arm choke.
Oiwa’s taken back down, but he fought free and resumed with elbows as we hit the final three minutes of the time limit, which seemed to be the cue to go for Nakashima’s bad arm. Rolling Nakashima down into a double wristlock looked to force a stoppage, but Nakashima gets to the ropes as the final minute sees the pair exchange elbows en route to a back body drop from Nakashima, who then dives back in with a head-and-arm choke on the mat.
That ends in the ropes, but Nakashima just rolls into a guillotine as he drags Oiwa away from the ropes, but again time runs out as Nakashima came achingly close to the win. Perhaps his most aggressive outing yet, but still the same result. Look, we’re going to get ten minute draws among these lion cubs – and the gag is when they extend the time limit to 15 minutes, they’ll win in under ten. **¾
World Tag League 2021: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku)
Suzuki and TAKA are one of just two teams left without any points – and Thursday’s meeting with the other team currently on nil point (Makabe & Honma) might be their best chance at breaking that duck.
We’ve a jump start as Suzuki went after Fale, but after a brief trip outside Suzuki’s isolated by Fale and Owens in the ring, with some double-teaming getting an early two-count. Suzuki catches out Owens with a hanging armbar in the ropes, then went back after Fale, throwing him into the rails before he jabbed him with a chair.
TAKA tags in and invited shots from Owens, who got poked in the eye, before Suzuki returned to trade kicks to eventually knock down Owens. A Jewel Heist lariat sees Chase hit back, before Fale tagged in and went to work on Suzuki and TAKA. He stacks them up in the corner, but only TAKA takes a splash before a body attack bounced Suzuki for a two-count.
Suzuki returns fire with a snapmare and a PK to Fale for a two-count, before a rear naked choke wore down Fale… only for the big man to shove down Suzuki moments later. Chase and TAKA are back, with TAKA grabbing a bulldog choke that forces Chase towards the ropes, only to get rolled back into the middle of the ring as Suzuki subdued Fale. Owens manages to get the rope break anyway, as Fale then powered through the Suzuki-gun lads.
TAKA’s squashed in the corner, then met with a diving knee from Owens, before Suzuki tripped up Fale to prevent a Grenade Launcher as TAKA almost snatched a win with a Magistral. Chase kicks out from that, then a PK, before a Michinoku driver’s escaped as Chase hits a C-Trigger, then a package piledriver for the win. Nice and brief, although all eyes now go to Thursday to see if Suzuki-gun actually have a shot of finishing pointless as they’re all but out of the tournament now. ***
World Tag League 2021: House of Torture (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask
After getting their first points of the tournament on Sunday, something tells me Nagata and Tiger Mask won’t be getting many more here.
EVIL and Tiger Mask start us off, but Tiger Mask outsmarts them as he expected Yujiro to interfere, warding off both men in one go. Nagata’s in to charge down EVIL, but Dick Togo’s distraction on the apron allows things to spill outside, where Tiger Mask is used to wipe out the ring announcer.
Back in the ring, EVIL loosens Tiger Mask’s hood, as Yujiro put the boots to the veteran. A rear spin kick from Tiger Mask gets him free as Nagata came in to fire some kicks, then a boot to EVIL in the corner, but an Exploder’s blocked ahead of a double underhook suplex for a two-count.
A stuttering dropkick from Nagata followed, but Dick Togo intervenes to reset the field of play… we’re back with Tiger Mask’s avalanche armdrag to Yujiro for a two-count, while a Tiger Driver gets a similar result to draw in EVIL. Kicks take care of him for now, while Yujiro eventually ate that Exploder and a pair of enziguiri for a two-count… my feed drops for the finish, as EVIL distracts the ref to avoid him seeing a low blow from Yujiro, who hits Big Juice for the win. I don’t feel like I missed anything earth shattering while NJPW World was buffering on me, so I’m not going to go back to this… **½
World Tag League 2021: Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Makabe and Honma need a win to keep their feint chances alive, but I think we’re past that point now…
Goto and Honma start this one off, trading shoulder tackles as Honma pulled ahead. A blind tag from YOSHI-HASHI turns it around as he’s hiptossed onto Honma, before Makabe took the war drums to the back. Goto’s back with a snapmare as he wore down Honma, before some kicks led to Goto going for a suplex, which Honma reversed.
Makabe comes in to restore order, as we’re back to Honma who chopped some swears out of YOSHI-HASHI… leading to a Kokeshi that of course misses. Goto and YOSHI-HASHI combine to chope Honma down, only for Makabe’s double clothesline to clear the way as sandwiching lariats almost put YOSHI-HASHI away.
YOSHI-HASHI avoids a Kokeshi Otoshi, but eats some leaping and diving Kokeshi for a near-fall, before a swandive Kokeshi’s stopped by Goto, who sets up for a side Russian legsweep/Head Hunter combo to Honma. A superkick-assisted ushigoroshi awaits Makabe, before Honma fought out of Shoto and hit a Flatliner/DDT combo.
Honma heads up for a leaping Kokeshi off the middle rope for a near-fall on YOSHI-HASHI, before Honma ends up eating a YOSHI-HASHI superkick, then a running Meteora as Shoto eventually puts him away. There’ll be no new World Tag League trophies for Makabe and Honma this year – something that seemed to upset a beaten Honma. ***
World Tag League 2021: Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
A battle of decorated former tag champions starts off the second half, with the Guerrillas being surprisingly low down the table given we’re approaching the halfway mark.
The Guerillas are jumped from behind to start us off, as the match quickly heads onto the floor, where the Guerrillas took over. A doe-see-doe back inside sees their attempt to pull ahead backfire as Kojima and Tenzan stay ahead, double-teaming Tama Tonga with elbow drops and a falling headbutt for just a one-count.
A side headlock from Tama leads to a blind tag from Tanga Loa, who caught Tenzan from behind, as we head back outside and into the rails. Tenzan fights back with gut shots, only to take a leaping enziguiri and a slam as Tanga then followed up with a standing moonsault for a two-count.
Tama’s back with a senton atomico, before Tenzan made the tag out to Kojima, who went right in with Machine Gun chops to Tama. The top rope elbow’s stopped with a press slam, before a DDT spiked Kojima in the middle of the ring. Tanga’s back to clothesline Kojima into the corner, but a Koji cutter turns it back around as Tenzan returned to hit some Mongolian chops to Tanga.
Tenzan telegraphs a brainbuster, but actually lands it, only for double-teaming from the Guerrillas to lead to a neckbreaker for a near-fall. Kojima breaks it up and gets thrown outside as Tenzan took a back suplex/neckbreaker 3D for a near-fall, before a wacky Parade of Moves cleared house. We’re back with Tenzan and Tanga trading clotheslines, before an Anaconda Buster’s blocked… Mongolian chops had more effect, but Tanga Loa hits a spear for a near-fall instead.
From there, Tanga pulls Tenzan into the OJK crossface… and with Kojima down and out on the other side of the floor, there’s no escape as Tenzan was forced to tap. A decent enough tag match, but perhaps the right result given the two teams’ spots in the pecking order these days. ***¼
World Tag League 2021: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano vs. Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
Unless we have a draw or a no-contest, the two teams left on zero points will be eliminated after this match…
After Taichi and Tanahashi hypnotise us with dancing pecs, we get going with Toru Yano trying to bait Sabre in for some grappling. Sabre tries to surprise Yano with some flash pins, but can’t get more than a two-count out of it before Yano removed a corner pad. That opened up Sabre for a roll-up for a near-fall, before Yano tripped on that corner pad and needed Tanahashi to break up a pin to keep things going…
More roll-ups follow before we all calm down, but then things flare up as the two teams brawl to the back. Yano and Tanahashi return with a barrier for the gate, which I’m sure can’t be sidestepped or moved… we get Sabre pratfalling over it as the champions make it back in time, then finally things get serious as they began to work over Yano.
A toe hold/leg spreader from Sabre’s added to with a wishbone with help from Taichi as my feed dropped. We’re back with Yano ripping Taichi’s trousers off, with Taichi then acting like he’d been pantsed (I mean…), before Tanahashi got the hot tag in and cleared house. Tanahashi struggles with Sabre over a backslide, then found more luck with a Twist and Shout neckbreaker.
Yano’s back, avoiding a trip to the exposed corner, before Sabre caught him in a Cobra Twist. Taichi knocks Tanahashi off the apron, then joined the fray before Yano nearly snatched the win with an inside cradle. Heading outside, Yano crotches Sabre, then took him into the entrance way before pulling out his old friend… tape!
Tanahashi’s got Taichi too as Yano tapes the champions to themselves around the entryway. That forces Yoshinobu Kanemaru to leave the commentary deak to find some scissors, returning in time to cut them free… Tanahashi and Yano get pissed at that and charge back after the Suzuki-gun lads, only to get held in holds while Kanemaru taped their boots together.
The ref starts the count-out again as Sabre and Taichi get back to the ring, while Yano and Tanahashi realise they’be become a three-legged man. Next time out, they’re doing the sack race. They hop back towards the ring, but fall down before they got to the gate as they fail to beat the count-out. Well, it’s certainly a memorable one, but there wasn’t too much to the match in among the Keystone Cops-ish comedy. A match where the star ratings don’t really mean much. ***¼
World Tag League 2021: United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA)
We’ve got some form between O-Khan and Naito, with O-Khan picking up a big scalp earlier this year in the opening round of the New Japan Cup…
We start with O-Khan and Naito squaring off, but Naito goes for O-Khan’s braid early on before O-Khan struck with Mongolian chops. Naito goes back to the braid for almost a seated surfboard on O-Khan, while SANADA and Naito exchanged quick tags and focused on that hair. Naito chokes O-Khan with his own braid, while SANADA pulled on the hair around the ropes until the referee forced a break.
A head claw from O-Khan restrains Naito as Henare came in with some body blows, while a splash from O-Khan gets a near-fall. Henare’s in with kicks to Naito for a near-fall, before O-Khan sat on Naito in the corner. Naito fights back, only to get stopped with a body blow as Henare tied up the legs for a submission attempt, but that ends in the ropes as SANADA tagged in and tied up Henare in a Paradise Lock.
SANADA’s dropkick to the arse frees Henare for a two-count, before Henare returned with a spinning enziguiri to reset things. O-Khan’s back in with a head claw, but SANADA gets free with a Dragon screw before Naito tagged in and went right for O-Khan’s knee with a low dropkick.
O-Khan manages to get back in with almost a Victory Royale-like facebuster, before he and Naito traded right hands. A throat thrust from O-Khan earns him a Manhattan drop as SANADA came in to hit a back suplex, with Naito’s jack-knife roll-up nearly winning it, before a big boot from O-Khan left both men laying.
SANADA’s back with a springboard missile dropkick, then a TKO for a near-fall, before Henare came in to help O-Khan turn it back around… an Eliminator’s escaped as Naito came in, leading to a brief Parade of Moves as SANADA briefly has a Skull End on O-Khan, who slipped free and hit a Judo-ish throw to buy him time.
The Sheep Killer nearly puts SANADA away, as Henare assists with a leg lace… the resulting pin’s broken up as Naito gets back into it only to get thrown into a sit-out Henare powerbomb, which left SANADA prone for the Imperial Drop… except he slips out as O-Khan booted Henare… only for O-Khan to block an O’Connor roll and face-claw SANADA, which led to a big ol’ Eliminator for the win! A cracker of a tag match, with the Empire more than holding their own throughout – and the show-closing image of SANADA and Naito being left in a heap is one that’ll likely be come back to in the future… especially as SANADA’s left laying with an Imperial Drop afterwards. ****
Six matches into World Tag League, and we’ve already lost two teams…
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (5-1 / 10pts)
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI, Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (4-2/ 8pts)
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi (3-3 / 6pts)
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-4 / 4pts)
Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask (1-5 / 2pts)
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma, Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku (0-6 / 0pts) – Eliminated
World Tag League returns on Thursday in Saitama – but that’s not being streamed live. I’ll be picking those up at some point on Friday no doubt, with the Naito & SANADA vs. Sabre & Taichi main event giving us a throwback to this past summer. Friday’s live show from Saitama is in the Best of the Super Junior, before Yamanashi sees a live show on Saturday from World Tag League. In other words, expect my next few tour stops to not be ordered correctly!
Just like the “old days,” we had a “Korakuen Bump” as everyone seemed to raise their game here – and while you had nothing here to trouble your Match of the Year spreadsheets, this was perhaps one of the more rounded Tag League shows with something for everyone.