There are seven tournament matches on this show. SEVEN! Are you kidding my New Japan? I sat down assuming it was going to be another three or four match job, a quick review before bed. SEVEN! Jesus Christ. Well, better get on with it.
The Elite (Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi) (2-2) defeated Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida (0-4)
Umino has noticeably packed on the pounds. You’ve got to assume that’s because New Japan sees him as a heavyweight in the future and he’s bulking up pre-excursion. With where he is in his development I don’t think it’s out with the realms of possibility that he heads off post-Wrestle Kingdom.
As I’ve been using these Young Lion matches to wax lyrical about Umino, let’s take a second to focus on Yoshida and why he doesn’t elicit the same emotion from me. The kid is clearly talented, as there’s a reason New Japan has slotted him straight into a halfway house, somewhere between Young Lionhood and graduation. However, he lacks the personality of a Kawato or even an Oka. His in-ring work is good, but I don’t care yet.
Anyway, this was the match you would want it to be. A fast-paced back and forth that eventually saw The Elite pick up a decisive win. The only talking point was that Yoshida took the pin over Umino which hasn’t been the norm so far. Still, it is well worth a watch.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) (3-1) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (1-3)
If it weren’t for Ishii already having a date with Zack Sabre Jr, I would suspect New Japan were pushing Yano and him towards winning this thing. Maybe they’ll have Ishii pull double duty. If anyone can do it, it’s him.
In a classic example of Ishii getting the best out of someone, there was a two-minute spell in this match where I cared about Manabu Nakanishi. Early on Tomohiro flopped off the apron when Nakanishi caught him with an elbow, so when they came face to face in the ring, you knew things were going to be spicy. Ishii made old Monster Breakfast look like a beast, which in turn had the effect of making the Stone Pitbull look awesome for standing up to him.
That then transitioned into Ishii vs Nagata which was even harder hitting and had the added benefit of Ishii not having to do all the hard work. Ishii rarely tangles with the legends, but on this evidence, they should all be petitioning to get in the ring with him. He’ll make them relevant again.
Unfortunately, the finish didn’t quite go to plan as the Low Blow and a Lariat into a Roll-up combo was hindered by Nakanishi’s inability to be, well, rolled-up. Still, it was a minor flaw in a surprisingly entertaining bout. Well done all.
Verdict: Three Stars
Jeff Cobb and a piece of shit (1-3) defeated Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (1-3)
I don’t review Michael Elgin’s matches.
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
Juice Robinson and David Finlay (3-1) defeated Togi Makabe and Toa Henare (1-3)
Having already laid out my Togi Makabe’s tag team formula, I’m not sure what to say about this one. I’ve bestowed generous praise on FinnJuice and Henare already this tournament, so there’s no need to elaborate further on why they’re great. They did nothing new or exciting here. Basically, out with explaining what happened move by move, I’ve got fuck all to say. It was enjoyable, but at the same time presented nothing new. If you liked the previous, then that feeling will continue.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
I watched Naito make his entrance and then skipped the six-man tag. We’re on World Tag League business people! There’s no time for that nonsense.
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (3-1) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka) (1-3)
If you could see my face right now, you would witness the despair of someone who has realised they have to review a KES and a GOD match back to back. Still, we got to see Suzuki rough Jado up a bit, so that was something. It’s not that long ago that I had no issue with Jado, it’s funny what a stupid outfit will do for you.
Unfortunately, we got to see GOD and Jado rough up Suzuki too, an image that I had an almost physical aversion to. Minoru Suzuki is the ultimate badass. He’s a bully, but he’s a bully who backs it up and has a twisted code of honour that only he understands. Tama and Tonga have no honour and are the bullies who think they’re badass but shit themselves whenever someone stands up to them. They’re the kind of people we’ve all met and who we all think are cunts. They shouldn’t be beating up MiSu.
While I realise that having Suzuki squash GOD would be slightly counterproductive, I can still enjoy the fantasy and even momentarily appreciate Iizuka having a gnaw. Not that any of that turned this into a great match. The best part of it was Suzuki having a meltdown after the bell and chucking chairs about. Fingers crossed he gets his hands on the twat brothers someday.
Verdict: Two Stars
Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr) (3-1) defeated The Best Friends (Chuckie T and Beretta) (3-1)
KES broke up the pre-match handhold which is an action that will be punished by a severe letter-writing campaign. I’ll get us started, but anyone who wants to help out can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What we have here is a classic New Japan tournament situation. Can a team that I really like do enough to make me care about two wrestlers who I don’t so much dislike, as just not give a shit about?
If Best Friends were to elevate this, they had to survive that long KES heat section. It doesn’t matter that they’re beating up Chuck, the offence is still mind-numbing. I even get that it’s kind of the heel’s job, you want that hot tag to look all sparkly. Jim Cornette would probably love it. However, all it does for me is cause me to zone out. I’m not waiting for the tag, I’m staring at the ceiling.
Still, it did lead to a Beretta flurry and with it all twenty foot of him connecting with an Asai Moonsault. It’s mental looking at him in there with KES and remembering that it wasn’t that long ago he was a Junior. How can anyone complain about Shingo when that was the case?
Basically, all the parts of this match where Best Friends were doing the beating were good, while all the bits where they got beat-up were bad. Unfortunately, the parts where they were taking the beating were more frequent than the bit where they were giving it.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi) (2-2) Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and Sanada) (3-1)
Here’s something I never thought I’d say. I’m digging the ZSJ Taichi team. This doesn’t mean I think Taichi’s good! However, I might be able to stomach him in tag team situations.
It was set out pretty early on that we were building the match around the still unresolved EVIL vs Sabre beef. Unfortunately for poor EVIL, that meant Zack spent a significant amount of time working over his arm. I refuse to accept having that limpet hanging off you and twisting you up doesn’t hurt. It looks awful.
What I like about this Suzuki-gun team is that they provide a weird mix of scumbaggery and technical wrestling. It was that which seemed to catch LIJ off-guard. They could never quite get a handle on the match, as one of Taichi or Sabre always found a way to break up their party. There might be a world of difference between smacking someone with a chair and wrapping them up into a wrestling hold, but they’re both effective.
It built to a thrilling final few minutes as the fans screamed for LIJ to find something, anything, to sneak out with the win. However, it wasn’t to be as EVIL and Sabre were once again left alone in the ring. In what’s becoming a regular occurrence for the goth with the scythe, he seemed to have Zack where he wanted him only to fall short. EVIL even managed to escape the European Clutch which has caught him multiple times before. Yet, he couldn’t survive the Zack Driver as he was once again left fuming at his inability to put Sabre away.
This was easily the best match of the tournament so far. Fair play to all involved.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
We got a bout which was verging on great! World Tag League has arrived people. This was good. Even the matches which I disliked were relatively watchable, and with all 14 teams competing, they had to keep them short. I went into this dreading a long drawn out show and ended up having a lot of fun.
Watch World Tag League: https://njpwworld.com/