We’re drawing ever closer to the end of World Tag League 2018, and I shan’t be sad to see it go. It hasn’t been an awful tournament, but I do feel like I’ve put a shitload of time into something that has not affected my life either positively or negatively. That’s a bit sad, isn’t it? Oh dear. Let’s stop thinking and start reviewing.
Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr) (6-3) defeated Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida (0-9)
Our Young Lions kicked this one off with a newfound level of determination. They seemed to be working on the idea that they could catch Killer Elite Squad off-guard and take them out before they realised what was happening. Sadly, said tactic was brought to an end when they locked in a double Single Leg Boston Crab on Archer. While that in itself wasn’t an awful tactic, it left Smith open to attack them from behind and alter the flow of the action.
While the match didn’t officially come to an end then, it might as well have done. KES were dominant from that moment onwards as the rookies ate their quickest loss yet. It was a squash match, but it was a fun one, so they’ve earned a few stars.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and EVIL) (7-2) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (1-8)
EVIL and Sanada haven’t been afraid to play rough this tournament. They’ve been joining in the barricade shenanigans while Sanada was digging at the head of Nakanishi. With LIJ having all but given up their heel leanings this year, it has been a noticeable move. Not that it’s stopped the fans cheering them.
If the fans weren’t going to punish LIJ for their indiscretions, Nagata seemed pretty intent on doing so. Blue Justice threw some vicious kicks EVIL’s way. He’s had a quiet tournament, leaving most of the heavy lifting to Nakanishi, but it’s always nice to see him dishing out a beating.
Sadly, that means we have to watch Nakanishi plod around the ring. While I respect the guy for trying and get a chuckle out of his ugly ass crossbody, this has to be his last tournament. There’s no shame in bowing out before your body forces you to.
Verdict: Two Stars
David Finlay and Juice Robinson (6-3) defeated The Elite (Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi) (3-6)
Did NJPW have an early bus to catch? Because they are keeping this matches short. We hit a mighty seven minutes and fourteen seconds for this one. In comparison, the Young Lion matches usually go around eight.
And it meant they never got a chance to breathe. That’s not necessarily the same as it saying it was bad, just that it felt a bit inconsequential. Everyone was bouncing from spot to spot, and while that style of wrestling can be fun, there wasn’t enough of a wow factor to overcome the lack of impact.
It was a match these four could have had in their sleep with everything sped up a bit. The only real surprise was that Hangman was the one to take the pin.
Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars
Togi Makabe and Toa Henare (4-5) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka) (4-5)
I will never get bored of watching Minoru Suzuki beat people up with a smile on his face. If they had cut the rest of this match out and left the bit where he was torturing Henare, I would have had a lovely time. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.
Instead, we got all the usual shenanigans. I’ve moaned about Iizuka enough this tournament so I won’t bother again. Unless you’re a complete newbie you know his shtick, it isn’t changing at this point. A similar accusation can be thrown Makabe’s way. The big man has an impressive in-ring presence, but he’s going through the motions. Even Suzuki stamping on his head didn’t knock him out of his rut.
Perhaps I’m jaded after watching twelve of these fucking shows, but this bored the crap out of me. Skip it; you’ll feel better for it.
Verdict: Two Stars
Jeff Cobb and a piece of shit (5-4) defeated The Best Friends (Chuckie T and Beretta) (5-4)
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) (7-2) defeated Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (3-6)
Toru Yano has had a quietly good year. He had that surprisingly great G1 run while his work throughout Tag League has been impressive. He seems to have found the perfect balance between the shtick and actual wrestling. Plus, I always get a kick out of him going up against the Dads. It’s the bemusement on their faces that makes me chuckle.
Then there’s Ishii for whom I have run out of superlatives. He’s not only an incredible wrestler in his own right, but he gets the best out of others too. Something about the Stone Pitbull fires everyone around him up, and you only have to watch the way Kojima worked with him to see that.
That combo alongside the old reliable of Tencozy made for the best match of the night so far. It turned into a bit of a slugfest, with even Yano getting in on the action as he traded forearms with Tenzan before things culminated in an entertaining final few minutes. Lovely stuff.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (7-2) defeated Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi) (5-4)
We kicked things off with a bit of chaos after Jado hit TAKA with his kendo stick, so Taichi bopped him in the face with his mic stand. I enjoyed that bit.
I’m going to have to give some props to Tanga Loa as he managed to hang with Zack in the ring. Sabre was presumably leading the technical work, but Loa kept up and used his power to keep it interesting. It’s not often he impresses me, so well done that man.
That sequence aside, we never moved past the chaos. No-one was standing around on the apron waiting for a tag which meant it was at least never dull. That lack of cohesion opened things up for plenty of Taichi shittery too which, in a match like this, I had no problem with. Tama and Tonga are better at that stuff, so let them do it.
Which made it a shame that it was kept so short. It was just short of ten minutes when GOD hoisted Taichi up for the Super Powerbomb and put him away. With a few more of those precious seconds, we might have got something really good. Instead, we’ll have to settle for merely good.
Verdict: Three Stars
A mediocre show with two good matches to close it out. We’re coming into the home stretch and it can’t come quick enough as this tournament is outstaying it’s welcome. Hopefully, we get a couple more great matches before we finish, but I won’t be holding my breath while we wait for them.
Watch World Tag League: https://njpwworld.com/