NJPW World Tag League (17/11/19) Review

Terrible meets Dropkick. Credit: NJPW

The self-hatred continues with night two of World Tag League. Although I quite enjoyed the previous day, so I can’t moan too much. Throw in the fact New Japan was in Korakuen, and there was every chance we’d get a decent show.

FinJuice (Juice Robinson and David Finlay) (2-0) defeated Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (1-1)

I suspect Kojima is going to be one of my tournament MVPs. Not because he’s doing anything incredible, but because I like watching him wrestle. While there was nothing out of the ordinary about his performance (although he hit a beautiful Lariat towards the end), old Koji puts a smile on my face every time.

On the other side of the ring, Finlay and Juice are a solid wee team and, as I mentioned yesterday, are my call to win this whole thing. You can tell they are friends who enjoy wrestling together, which makes watching their matches that little bit easier.

Despite those two ups, there wasn’t enough to this to rave about it. They did everything you’d expect them to, with the only standout aspect being a hot Korakuen. It’s a solid opener, but nothing you need to see.

Verdict: Three Stars

GBH (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) (1-1) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi

For those counting, these four have a combined age of 192. At 42, Honma was the youngest man in the ring, although he might look and move like the oldest (which is quite an achievement when Nakanishi is there).

So, if you were expecting a fast-paced slice of action, well, you’re a bit silly. It was a slow and ponderous match with Makabe (yes, really) being the one to pick up the pace. You can’t fault the effort of someone like Honma, but he’s also not very good, and it’s hard to watch him wrestle at times.

It was summed up by Makabe’s set up for the King Kong Knee Drop, barely getting Nakanishi off the ground before laying him down rather than slamming him. These men deserve a lot of credit (and Nagata can still go), but I don’t necessarily want to see them wrestle each other.

Verdict: Two Stars

The Bullet Club (Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale) (1-1) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toa Henare

Tanahashi is working harder than I would have expected. He stayed in the ring with Fale for an extended back and forth, as he would prove once again to be capable of dragging the big man to something decent. It wasn’t great (Fale is still Fale), but at least they tried.

Elsewhere, Henare and Chase are two of my favourite undercard wrestlers and had a couple of nice moments. Henare’s sell of the match-winning Package Piledriver was particularly cool, as he someone managed to bounce into the air.

It all added up to something alright. Nothing happened that I will remember in a week or possibly even a few hours, but while it was on, I wasn’t complaining.

Verdict: Three Stars

Hirooki Goto and Karl Fredericks (1-1) defeated The Bullet Club (KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi) (1-1)

KENTA has a long history of giving rookies a tough time, and as he booted Karl Fredericks in the chest, you can’t imagine the LA Young Lion was enjoying himself. He’s going to spend a lot of this tournament getting the shit kicked out of him.

Even that paled in comparison to Goto and KENTA going at it. There was a reason this match wasn’t twitching the curtain, and that was it. Those two exploded on each other, unleashing flurries of strikes with an intensity that we aren’t going to see much of in this tournament.

And, as most will have expected, Goto went onto get the win, setting up his challenge for Wrestle Kingdom. I’m still clinging to that tiny hope that it will be Shibata, but it is fading fast. Goto does tend to deliver big in the Dome, so I’m sure it will still be great.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Colt Cabana and Toru Yano (1-1) defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (0-1)

You know, I didn’t even notice that GOD weren’t on the previous day’s show. I wish I’d been able to forget them forever.

The one upside of this match was that it was short. So far, New Japan is keeping everything around the ten minute mark, and I could hug Gedo for that decision. As the tag champs worked over Colt, sucking all of the funny out of him, I at least knew it probably wasn’t going to last too long.

Sadly, it still felt like forever, and when the five-minute call came, I was amazed it hadn’t been an hour. I don’t like the Guerrillas, folks, and this boring match wasn’t going to be the thing to change that.

Verdict: Two Stars

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) (2-0) defeated Jeff Cobb and Mikey Nicholls (1-1)

YOSHI-HASHI tagging in and demanding Mikey Nicholls is the physical embodiment of the death of charisma.

Weirdly, Mikey seemed to have pissed off the CHAOS men (was he not added to the faction earlier this year? Perhaps we’re not supposed to remember that). YOSHI, of all people, dragged him to ringside where Ishii met him and introduced him to the barricades. What did ‘Mad’ Mikey do to deserve that?

Unsurprisingly, this match was at its best when Cobb and Ishii were in the ring. That was was when it became all stiff strikes and suplexes, which is very much my shit. Jeff blows hot and cold in New Japan, but when you give him the right opponent, he can remind you why people get so excited about him.

It also featured a couple of unintentionally hilarious moments, the best one being Mikey Nicholls picking up Ishii and shouting ‘witness me’ in his face before appearing to botch a move. We also appear to have badass YOSHI-HASHI on our hands, as he followed up his barricade antics by trying to choke out Cobb and hitting a German. Who knew he had it in him?

Somehow, that all added up to a match that was much better than it had any right to be. Thank fuck for Tomohiro Ishii, eh?

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi) (1-1) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer) (1-1)

Inter-Suzuki-gun matches always go one of two ways. They either piss about, not touching each other. Or they aim for murder. With Suzuki and Archer on one of these teams, it was pretty obvious which direction this one was going.

And I kind of love watching Suzuki go up against his minions. You get the impression that he’d be ecstatic that Taichi dragged him to the floor to beat him with a chair because that’s the exact kind of man he wants around him. He craves a fight, and who better to give it to him than one of his own?

A fight is pretty much the perfect way to describe this match too. Even Zack vs Suzuki descended into the two of them booting each other, their technical excellence placed to one side. The action quickly became a stiff, violent brawl that was the first great match of this Tag League.

Perhaps most surprisingly, it was MiSu who took the fall, a frantic final exchange of holds ending with Zack catching him with a flash pin and getting the three. That means something, and with the rumours that Suzuki is on his way out, is Sabre-gun in our future?

Verdict: Four Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and SANADA) (1-0) defeated Double Rampage (Shingo Takagi and El Terrible) (0-2)

We move from the battle of Suzuki-gun to the battle of LIJ, with this one not being quite as violent. Early on, SANADA and EVIL almost seemed to be messing with Shingo, constantly wringing his arm. It felt an awful lot like the two experienced heads picking on the new boy, taking their chance to put him in his place.

The problem is that said new boy is Shingo Takagi, and he ain’t taking shit from nobody. This match was at its best when it was Shingo in there with SANADA and EVIL throwing lariats and going at each other. Terrible isn’t, well, terrible, but he isn’t on their level. Although, I do like those slaps he does.

The finish saw EVIL put Terrible away, and while this didn’t quite reach the heights of the previous match, it was still a really good showing. It also, once again, was kept short, which is just a motherfucking delight. Thank you, Gedo-san, thank you.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Overall Show

I enjoyed night one, and this show took a step up from that. It’s just possible that this Tag League isn’t going to be a total fucking disaster, and if that’s the case, I am going to be very happy.

Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/

If you enjoyed this review, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.

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