Right, I’m going have to work double time to catch up on World Tag League which considering it’s World Tag League and a chore at the best of times is not going to be fun. As usual for NJPW tournaments, I will not be reviewing the undercard because life is too short. Let’s do this!
David Finlay and Juice Robinson (1-0) defeated Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida (0-1)
Umino and Yoshida better get used to staring up at those lights. This tournament will not be about winning matches for them as the Young Lions team will feature in this exact spot on the card throughout. Despite that, I am fascinated to see them work together. New Japan has been quietly positioning them as rivals, so this is either going to see that morph into a friendship or explode in bitter resentment.
This was enjoyable if unspectacular from everyone involved. Yoshida continues to look at home in a New Japan ring while the pairing of Finlay and Juice makes me smile. The highlight came from Shota’s hot tag, however, as he plucked Juice out of the air for a Belly to Belly Suplex. The final minutes then saw him sneak a couple of flash pins in an attempt to get the upset, but it wasn’t to be. He ate a Left Hand Of God followed by the Prima Nocta for the win. All things said this was a solid start to proceedings.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (1-0) defeated Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (0-1)
From the rookies to the Dads, it’s always nice to have a catch-up with them and see who is the hardest. I like to imagine the Young Lions argue about it.
Of course, you need to go into these matches with lowered expectations. While Nagata and Kojima can still go Tenzan and Nakanishi can barely walk, so they’re not about to produce a back and forth thrill fest. If you get that, though, you should have some fun.
Because while everything is a bit slow and plodding, it makes up for it in the impact. These four men have been wrestling each other for years, and it shows. They crash in each other and step into the strikes. It ain’t technical, but it sure looks like it hurts.
In the end, Nagata proved himself the toughest of the das as he put Kojima away with the Back Drop into a pin. It’s a title he can wear proudly until their next meeting.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
The Best Friends (Beretta and Chuckie T) (1-0) defeated The Elite (Adam Page and Yujiro Takahashi)
I want to take a moment to launch a formal complaint about the lack of Chase Owens in this year’s Tag League. He and Hangman should have been ripping this up (no offence Yujiro, you’re just not that good… okay, a little offence).
Hangman Page hitting the ring after the elderly face-off made it look like someone had hit fast-forward. There was a sequence where he took out both of the besties, and it was a lovely taste of just how talented that man is. I’ve done a 180 on him in the last twelve months as he’s gone from a guy to a potential The Guy.
I also want to throw it out there that Beretta and Chuckie T have grown as an NJPW tag team this year. Chuck now looks at home in Japan, and while this match wasn’t incredible, it was a solid showing that proves they probably deserve more than the NJPW tag division gives them.
The final seconds saw Hangman take a ridiculous bump off the top rope onto the apron then down to the floor. It’s Tag League, not the G1 you fool. Anyway, that opened up Yujiro to a small taste of Strong Zero and Best Friends to a solid opening victory. On top of that, it was probably the best match so far.
Verdict: Three Stars
Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (1-0) defeated Togi Makabe and Toa Henare (0-1)
There was a genuinely upsetting shot of Honma as Makabe and Henare made their entrance. He looked devastated, and it’s hard not to ache for him. Sadly, I suspect he’ll never be at a level where he can compete in a tournament like this again.
Toa Henare may have graduated from Young Lionhood in the last year, but he’s still going to be eating a lot of pins in the next few weeks and spending a lot of time in that ring. Makabe is not a fan of taking bumps meaning that Henare’s job will involve hitting the mat instead of him. Have fun kid.
Not that I’m complaining about it. I love Henare, so the more time he spends in the ring, the better. The energy he brought to this match was what kept it alive even as GOD did their best to try and send me to sleep. Look, I’ve tried with them, but I don’t like GOD, and at this point, I never will. They’re a team who look cool, but, for me, never deliver in the ring, and nothing they did here helped change my opinion.
Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars
I’d say this was an underwhelming start to World Tag League, but quite frankly it was the exact start that I expected. It’s a way to fill the time between now and January 4th and nothing more. Lucky for you, that’s why I’m here! So you know what to watch and what to skip. For this one, you can skip it all.
Watch World Tag League: https://njpwworld.com/