YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto look to stake their claim for a spot in next week’s finals as they take on the United Empire in today’s main event.
Yuto Nakashima and Kosei Fujita went to a draw in 10:00
World Tag League 2021 – Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL pinned TAKA Michinoku & EVIL in 9:31 (**¼)
World Tag League 2021 – SANADA & Tetsuya Naito pinned Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask in 13:56 (***)
World Tag League 2021 – Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe in 13:39 (***¼)
World Tag League 2021 – Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa pinned Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens in 11:28 (**¾)
World Tag League 2021 – Toru Yano & Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima in 9:17 (**¾)
World Tag League 2021 – YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan in 19:43 (***½)
The Item Ehime is the venue for this VOD-only show.
Kosei Fujita vs. Yuto Nakashima
This didn’t make tape, so our imaginations will have to do some work!
World Tag League 2021: House of Torture (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku)
You better believe I’ve slapped that 1.5x playback speed button…
We’ve a jump start as Suzuki and TAKA take things outside, with EVIL wiping out the ring announcer early on. In the ring, the corner pad disappears as Yujiro rolled TAKA to the mat for an eventual low dropkick, before EVIL came in to throw TAKA into the exposed corner. Wash, rinse and repeat from Yujiro, before EVIL came in for a chained-up abdominal stretch that left TAKA down for a bunch of two-counts.
An eye rake from EVIL eventually led to a big boot from TAKA, who tagged Suzuki in to clear house and wear down EVIL. Boots followed in the corner, while Dick Togo’s interference earned him a hanging armbar before Suzuki went back to EVIL with a PK. A Fisherman suplex from EVIL’s blocked with a guillotine choke as Suzuki’s taken into the exposed corner before some inadvertent help from the referee allowed EVIL to hit a thrust kick.
We’re back to TAKA and Yujiro, with the latter landing a leg drop and some front kicks in the ropes. TAKA tried his luck with a Bulldog choke, but it ends in the ropes as some double-teaming took down Yujiro for a near-fall… with EVIL breaking it up and getting dispatched to the outside. TAKA thought he’d won it with a wacky Magistral cradle, then with some headscissors, before we had to have the interference.
Dick Togo chokes TAKA with the garotte, having laid out Suzuki with a chair shot. With Suzuki tying up the ref, a pimp cane shot and the Big Juice DDT from Yujiro gets the win as the Suzuki-gun lads look likely of ending the tournament with a big ol’ goose egg. **¼
World Tag League 2021: Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA)
On paper this should be a walkover for LIJ, given their respective placings…
Of course, Naito takes an AGE to get undressed, even watching on 1.5x speed… when we do get going, it’s SANADA and Nagata trading holds on their way to the mat. Nagata pulled ahead with a stuttering dropkick, before tags bring in Naito and Tiger Mask, with Naito stalling like a good ‘un.
SANADA rushes in to help double-team Tiger Mask with low dropkicks, while a side chinlock on the mat from Naito had Tiger Mask at bay. Tiger Mask tries to fight back, but he’s immediately cornered as SANADA hits a back elbow for a quick one-count. Naito’s neckbreaker gets a two-count, before SANADA put Tiger Mask in a Paradise lock.
The resulting low dropkick to break it gets SANADA a two-count, while Naito returned for Combinacion Cabron. Tiger Mask retaliates with a Tiger Driver as Nagata tagged back in to come close from a double underhook suplex. Naito’s flying forearm keeps him in it as SANADA returned… only to get taken up top by Nagata in search of an avalanche exploder.
SANADA fights free, but gets caught with an armdrag off the top as a pair of enziguiri then a Nagata brainbuster nearly pulled off the upset. The Nagata Lock II crossface followed, but that’s broken up as the ring fills and empties… leading to a TKO from SANADA for a near-fall, before a Skull End softened up Nagata as a moonsault off the top ends up getting the win. ***
World Tag League 2021: Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
Another probable gimme based on the standings going in… but upsets do happen. It’s largely the only way my Jets win these days…
An early missed Kokeshi from Honma set the tone here as the match spills outside, with the reigning tag team champions taking things into the guard rails as Taichi indulged in some choking. Returning to the ring, Sabre works over Honma’s neck, rolling him to the mat in a cravat, before Taichi came in to kick Honma… then choke him again.
Sabre plays “got your nose” with Honma as he then fought for a Cobra twist, only for Honma to grab the hold instead as he then tagged out to Makabe for the mounted punches in the corner. A right hand puts Sabre down for a two-count, while a clothesline bought time as both men tagged out. Honma looked to push on on Taichi, scoring with a bulldog and a Kokeshi (gotta keep that .500 average!), before Taichi blocked a suplex and returned with a thrust kick. A sleeper slam drops Taichi ahead of the sandwiching lariats, before a swandive Kokeshi was stopped by Sabre.
Makabe and Honma tease a Doomsday Device, but Taichi breaks it up as Makabe ends up clotheslining through the champions. A leaping Kokeshi, then a diving one from Honma’s good for a two-count, before Sabre helped spark a turnaround, twisting Honma’s neck between his legs as a buzzsaw kick nearly gives Taichi the win… as did an assisted nodo otoshi chokeslam… before the Holy Emperor Cross Mausoleum forced the submission out of Honma. This was much more of an even match than you’d expect, but still the same result. ***¼
World Tag League 2021: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Thanks to the first half results, this was a dead rubber for both teams…
This somewhat friendly Bullet Club Bonanza gets going with Tanga Loa and Chase Owens trading holds, but that leads to the Guerrillas exchanging quick tags as they focused on Chase’s left arm. Dropkicks from the Guerrillas take Chase down as Tama Tonga ended up running into a back body drop.
On the outside, Fale charges Tama into the rails, before some choking in the ropes keeps Tama at bay. Chase tags back in as Tama’s double-teamed, leading to a two-count off of a Fale clothesline, while a Fale bear hug wore down Tama some more. Eventually Tama fought free with leapfrogs and a shot to the gut as Tanga Loa tagged in to clear house, throwing Chase skyward with a back body drop ahead of a 619?!
A senton atomico from Tanga’s good for a two-count, while the OJK crossface quickly ended with Owens scooting back into the ropes. The Jewel Heist clothesline gave Chase time to tag out to Fale, who looked to push the match over the proverbial finishing line, but Tama’s back too with dropkicks before his crossbody was caught and turned into a slam.
A splash in the corner softens up Tama, as did an elbow drop, but he kicked out of those before a dropkick-assisted sunset flip snatched the win. It was what it was – as the Guerrillas overcame the big man in a rather uneventful Bullet Club battle. **¾
World Tag League 2021: Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano
Similarly, this is another dead rubber, with Tanahashi and Yano having fallen out of the running thanks to earlier results.
Tenzan and Kojima attack as Yano and Tanahashi squatted, as we start with Yano eating a bunch of Mongolian chops. Tanahashi tries to help, but gets thrown back as Yano took the slingshot elbow/falling headbutt for a two-count, before Yano pulled Tenzan down by his mullet.
Off comes a corner pad as Tanahashi then came in to work over Tenzan’s knees, rolling him into a Deathlock. Yano’s back to take Tenzan into the exposed corner, then brought Tanahashi back in to hit some Mongolian chops… only to run into a spinning heel kick from Tenzan.
Kojima’s in to corner Tanahashi and Yano with Machine Gun chops, as Yano bumbled into getting Tanahashi a dose of them too, while Kojima managed to land the top rope elbow on Tanahashi for a two-count. Yano’s back to take Kojima back into the exposed corner, then removed a second corner pad as a Koji cutter left Yano laying.
Tenzan’s back with Mongolian chops and clotheslines, before his brainbuster landed for a two-count. Kojima helps out on Yano, but can’t quite hit a TenKoji cutter as a pair of low blows get blocked… the TenKoji cutter then lands for a near-fall, before an Anaconda Vise almost squeaked out a win for Tenzan.
Yano rolls his way free for a near-fall… Tanahashi’s in to take shots on Tenzan, whose Mongolian chops were interrupted by a low blow and a roll-up as Yano had pushed aside the ref. Not sure how that wasn’t a DQ, but it is what it is. They keep it brief, which is all you can ask for given that this tandem probably won’t be tagging much after Wednesday! **¾
World Tag League 2021: United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
The only match of the day we go into where both teams have something to play for – but a loss will all-but-eliminate either team here.
Goto and Henare start us off here, with a side headlock from Goto restraining Henare in the early stages. It’s eventually pushed away as Henare charged down Goto, only for the Empire lads to get caught with the war drums as YOSHI-HASHI came in to help. Goto clubs away on Henare some more only for O-Khan’s head claw to open up Goto for some body blows.
Goto’s cornered as O-Khan comes in with Mongolian chops to the back and neck, but Goto fight back with elbows before he clotheslined O-Khan. YOSHI-HASHI comes in for a grounded abdominal stretch, but Henare breaks it apart before O-Khan used YOSHI-HASHI as a battering ram of sorts. Another head claw keeps YOSHI-HASHI down, as he’s then taken to the corner for O-Khan to have a seat…
Henare tags in to throw some knees at YOSHI-HASHI, then a kick to the back for a two-count, before he rolled YOSHI-HASHI in for a leg lock in search of a submission. Headbutts keep YOSHI-HASHI on the back foot, but a low dropkick buys YOSHI-HASHI time, allowing him to tag in Goto, who traded elbows with Henare for a spell.
A running Samoan drop keeps Henare on top, before an errant kick from O-Khan took Henare out as Goto was the intended target. We resume with Goto running corner-to-corner with clotheslines, before O-Khan booted him down… as the pair then trade back suplexes and clotheslines.
YOSHI-HASHI gets the tag in against Henare with the pair trading elbows ahead of a Head Hunter, before chops kept Henare in the ropes. A dropkick followed from YOSHI-HASHI, but the Empire again double-team as clotheslines in the corner, a step-up knee and a pair of kicks have YOSHI-HASHI down. A hand-off sit-out powerbomb’s good for a two-count as Goto breaks things up, only to get taken outside with a front kick from O-Khan.
YOSHI-HASHI is still down as O-Khan tees up for the Eliminator, but instead pulled him into the double-team Sheep Killer, eventually getting Henare a near-fall. An Imperial Drop’s avoided by YOSHI-HASHI, who then took O-Khan outside as Goto returned to help out, eventually leading to Shoto… but O-Khan breaks that up too. A superkick from YOSHI-HASHI helps take care of O-Khan, while Henare avoids Shoto again, before a GYW and running double knees softened him up, as third time was the charm for Shoto as Goto and YOSHI-HASHI leave with the win. ***½
We’ve just one round of matches left, and we’re realistically looking at two from the top three making it through into Wednesday’s finals, although the Naito & SANADA vs. EVIL & Yujiro match could be a banana skin match for LIJ, as the House of Torture lads hold tie-breakers over everyone else already at the top…
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI, Tetsuya Naito & SANADA, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (8-2 / 16pts)
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi, Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare (7 -3 / 14pts)
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (6-4 / 12pts) – Eliminated
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2-8 / 4pts) – Eliminated
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Tiger Mask (1-9 / 2pts) – Eliminated
Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku (0-10 / 0pts) – Eliminated
Sunday is when we’ll get the World Tag League finale, live from Hiroshima. Sabre & Taichi vs. Goto & YOSHI-HASHI is going to be your main event – as that jumps out as a potential decider between teams that aren’t already eliminated…
This was “same same, but different” – the pieces are in place for a hectic final round of the World Tag League on Sunday, but my advice remains the same. If you’re cherry-picking, stick to the top of the cards and those matches that at least aren’t dead rubbers!