I’ve been harsh on World Tag League so far, but you know what? It’s not been horrible. With that endorsement ringing in New Japan’s ears, let’s see what went down on day five.
The Best Friends (Beretta and Chuckie T) (3-0) defeated Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida (0-3)
Was I imagining things or were The Best Friends heeling it up here? Not only did we have barricade shenanigans and some arrogance from Beretta, but Chuckie T at one pointed shouted at Trent to ‘murder him’. That’s not pure.
While I know I ramble on about Umino all the time, let’s once again focus on how great he is. Yoshida has potential, I won’t deny that. However, Umino is the one with the flames in his belly. He has the same innate likability that Kawato had as he bundles into the ring on hot tags, led by his enthusiasm as much as he is his talent.
Of course, said enthusiasm would lead him into a Chuck Piledriver, and with it, the three as The Best Friends unbeaten run continues. Something tells me New Japan might be about to position them as a bigger deal than they have previously.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka) (1-2) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (1-2)
How many times have I made fun of the fact Suzuki-gun always attack before the bell? I must have made that joke in a million different ways, multiple times. To be honest, I reckon I’ve even pointed out how many times I’ve made it before. Well, it happened again.
Thankfully, Nakanishi didn’t get dragged all the way into the crowd. It’s cruel to make him walk to the ring once, never mind twice. Sadly, Nagata wasn’t afforded the same luxury, as Suzuki proceeded to beat him with a chair in front of a mother cradling her tiny child. Who says wrestling isn’t family friendly?
As you can probably guess this was a Suzuki and Iizuka match which meant it was rammed full of shenanigans. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably fed up of that and the minute we got of Suzuki and Nagata teeing off on each other might not have been enough to make up for it. Still, that was a fun minute.
Unfortunately, it was a taster rather than a meal. The rest of this was Iizuka biting folk and Nakanishi being slow. They aren’t at a level where they can deliver anymore; it’s just a fact of life. I don’t blame them, but I also don’t want to watch them. At least things were kept short as Iizuka’s fisting glove set Murder Grandpa up for the Gotch on Nakanishi. You can skip this one.
Verdict: One And Three Quarter Stars
Juice Robinson and David Finlay (2-1) defeated Jeff Cobb and a piece of shit (0-3)
I don’t review Michael Elgin’s matches.
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and Sanada) (3-0) defeated Togi Makabe and Toa Henare (1-2)
When you look back on EVIL and Sanada’s performance as a tag team in last year’s tournament, it’s quite remarkable how far they’ve come. Last year, they didn’t quite seem to know what they were, trying to play the underdog babyfaces and often struggling because of that. Now, they come across as a confident and coherent, dominating Henare and looking good while doing so.
And, of course, they had to dominate Henare because Togi Makabe has a tag team formula and he sticks to that formula like his life depends on it. It’s awful when you figure something like that out. Suddenly, a match stops being something you can luxuriate in, but instead a series of checkboxes as you know what’s coming next.
For Makabe and Henare, it’s quite simple. Henare starts hot before getting worked over to build to a Makabe hot tag. Big Togi hits the ring, takes one move and then returns to the apron which allows Henare another run at things. That will inevitably draw to an end leading to Makabe either making the save only to be taken out by the other team’s illegal man, or Togi tags in, hits the Knee Drop and makes the pin himself. Repeat until Tag League is over.
Such a strict formula rather removes the potential for fun, even if the performances within it are alright. Henare always gives his best and, as mentioned, EVIL and Sanada are great. Sadly, I can’t invest in a match when I know exactly where it’s going.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
A World Tag League show that much like the other World Tag League shows was a perfectly acceptable watch. It’s background viewing, something to shove on while you eat your dinner or do the housework, go in thinking about it like that and you’ll be fine.
Watch World Tag League: https://njpwworld.com/