After a couple of rough nights attendance-wise for New Japan in Korakuen, they returned after a trip around Japan and, from what I could see, had managed to plug the gaps (although I am an awful judge of these things, so don’t take my word for it). So far the Super Junior Tag League has been a lot of fun, and a night in Korakuen was unlikely to be the place where that changed.
The Birds Of Prey (Will Ospreay and Robbie Eagles) (3-2) defeated Tiger Mask and Yuya Uemura (0-4)
Uemura had his best finishing stretch yet with Robbie Eagles, a moment that was aided by Korakuen being its usual brilliant self. There was a glorious spot where Tiger stormed the ring, hit a Tiger Driver and then demanded Uemura follow-up with his Arm-Trap Belly to Belly. He would hit the move and the the fans 100% bought the finish, only for Eagles to kick out at two. That kid has it, whatever it might be.
His performance made the rest of the match feel irrelevant. Sure, Will and Robbie were good, while Tiger Mask is doing everything he needs to, but it was all about the cub. And this cub has claws.
Verdict: Three And A Half Quarter Stars
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (3-2) defeated TJP and Clark Connors (0-5)
I’m not even sure I can jokingly take the piss out of TJP any more. His wrestling has won me over in this tournament, and the smooth as ice start with Despy was just another example of how good he is at the moment. If NJPW has any sense, they’ll make him a regular one way or another.
Of course, smooth wrestling only gets you so far against Despy and Uncle Nobu. While you’re showing off your perfect bridge, they’re prepping the chair they’ll wrap around your head, and that’s usually more effective. I tend to give them a pass on shit that would annoy me with other teams because they’re just better at it, proving to be the perfect little trolls.
Their mastery of the dark arts would provide the bit of magic they needed to get the win. With El Desperado stretching Connors’ leg in Numero Dos, he was inches from the ropes when Kanemaru met him with a spray of whisky. That was enough to blind the poor cub, and from there, it was elementary. Those cheating bastards did it again.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
The Bullet Club (El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori) (4-1) defeated Volador Jr and Titan (3-2)
I tell you what, Volador Jr and Titan aren’t only having more success than the CMLL team usually does, they’re putting on better matches too. I was taking the piss out of old Volador early on, but he’s got his working boots on and fair play to him, the guy can go when he wants to. He and Titan spent most of this match flying around the ring, and it was a shitload of fun.
In return, ELP and Ishimori got a hold of Titan and got around to grounding him, going after that mask in the process. Of course, that brought with it their nonsense, but I’m not in the mood to get angry at it. They’re going to do it anyway, and while I think that standing on people’s balls and ELP’s constant attempts to hit a One-Winged Angel are stupid, who cares?
It was not just as individuals that Titan and Volador impressed either. They had some slick tag team moves on display, with Titan transitioning from a Wheelbarrow to Arm Drag Volador into his opponent being my favourite. Throw in Volador reversing ELP’s daft rope walking with a Spanish Fly, and I was having all the fun.
Bullet Club would eventually get the win when ELP turned Titan’s mask around to set-up CR2, but I don’t care about that. It was Team CMLL who stole the spotlight in this match.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Super Coach (4-1) defeated Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH) (2-2)
Taguchi had a wet patch on his arse which Red Shoes kindly pointed out pre-match. He then got into an ab-off with SHO and YOH which, well, let’s just say he lost. Poor, Taguchi.
Talking of great teams, Super Coach have been another welcome addition to this tournament. Rocky and Taguchi are two funny dudes who also happen to be great wrestlers. In there with SHO and YOH, who know Rocky well and are also fantastic in-ring talents, they were able to craft brilliant sequence after brilliant sequence. If it wasn’t inch-perfect wrestling, it was hilarious, and I can’t imagine watching this and not having a lovely time.
By the end, the jokes were put to one side for some frantic tag team action, as these teams hit a ridiculous pace even as they flew past the twenty-minute mark. It was absolutely stunning wrestling, no-one missing a beat as the match went on and on, with both teams showing-off what they can do. The final seconds between Rocky and SHO were perfection, the fans hanging on every move as Rocky kicked out of a Powerbreaker and flipped out of the Shock Arrow into an Inside Cradle for the three. WHAT A MATCH!
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
That was a strong set of tag team matches up until the main event, which was fantastic. I can’t remember most of last year’s League, but I feel pretty comfortable saying it was better than anything from it and it was definitely the best match of this year’s. It will take something special to top that.
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