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

Rock-A-Bye Cold Skull. Credit: NJPW

After two enjoyable shows in Korakuen, World Tag League hit the road, and this was the big test. If this tournament is going to earn its official status of ‘actually good’ then the fun has to continue through these smaller shows. Can they do it? Let’s find out.

Hirooki Goto and Karl Fredericks (2-2) defeated Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (2-2)

An upside to Fredericks working this tour is that it gives him some more chances to get beat-up by the New Japan Dads. I’m sure Shibata is a hard taskmaster but have you been a New Japan Young Lion if the likes of Tencozy haven’t got a few licks in? I think not.

Outside of that, this was a pretty standard tag. Kojima continues to be Satoshi Kojima, so that’s good, while Goto looked alright when he decided to venture into the ring. I’m still struggling to care about Fredericks on this tour, though, and I can’t figure out why. A man with that beautiful Dropkick deserves more of my love.

Koji and Goto had some fun towards the end before the LA Dojo lads hit a Double GTR to set-up the standard one for the win. If they keep this up, they’re going to set a record point total for a team featuring a Young Lion.

Verdict: Three Stars

HenarAce (Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toa Henare) (2-2) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (0-4)

If you want to craft the physical embodiment of the word fine, you could do a lot worse than making it a picture of this match. It was slow, plodding and pretty uneventful, but everyone worked hard enough that I can’t shit on it. It was fine, nothing more, nothing less. Honestly, there’s not much more to say.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

FinJuice (Juice Robinson and David Finlay) (3-1) defeated GBH (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) (2-2)

Em, how lazy would it be to copy and paste what I wrote above?

Nah, this was a step-up as the Fukushima crowd were rabid for Honma, even if his wrestling leaves a lot to be desired. They were chanting his name right to the end when he defiantly kicked out of a Juice Jackhammer only to eat the Stunner into the Pulp Friction for the three.

The difference between this and the last one is that rather than a Hiroshi Tanahashi going through the motions, you had FinJuice, who are a fun, fast-paced team. They made up for GBH’s weaknesses and elevated the match at the same time.

Verdict: Three Stars

Double Rampage (Shingo Takagi and El Terrible) (1-3) defeated The Bullet Club (Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale) (1-3)

There were two halves to this match. The half with Shingo Takagi and the half without. When he was there, life was good. When he was elsewhere, life was dull. It’s a pretty simple formula, but it works.

Because, and this won’t surprise you, Shingo is fucking awesome. He made Bad Luck Fale look alright, and I’m pretty sure all four pillars working together would find that a challenge at this point. Throw in a hot crowd who got hyped for a fantastic closing stretch with Chase (which Shingo finished with Made In Japan), and we had a good one on our hands.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Colt Cabana and Toru Yano (3-1) defeated CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) (3-1)

That’s more like it! After I complained about Yano and Colt going light on the comedy, they went all out in this one. From the language barrier ruining their attempts at double teams to Ishii completely no-selling Yano’s antics, it was a match that while not a wrestling masterclass, did make me smile.

It’s also worth saying that Colt and Yano are at the stage where they’re getting so many upsets, you might have to stop calling them upsets. It was a brace of Yano low blows that set-up this one before a Backslide put YOSHI-HASHI into the perfect position for a Colt Superman. That’s a cool finish, by the way.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (1-1) defeated Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi) (2-2)

How do you make the previously brilliant team of Zack and Taichi boring? Why, you send them out to be worked over by GOD, of course. A team that bristled with personality for their first three matches had it all ripped away, smothered by the boredom that is a GOD heat section.

The comeback did turn things up, Zack and Taichi running through the champs with kicks before diving into history by locking on a Stretch Plum and a Manji-Gatame at the same time, only for that to be stopped far too soon. In the end, nonsense was brought to the floor, and after some shtick involving microphone stands and kendo sticks, Taichi was rolled up straight after he removed his trousers for the three.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but GOD ruined a Taichi match, and I’m pissed off at them for it.

Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA and EVIL) (2-0) defeated Jeff Cobb and Mikey Nicholls (2-2)

Mikey Nicholls’ attempts to be mad are embarrassing. I find it easier to accept that EVIL is a demon goth raised from hell (I realise that’s not the gimmick) than I do that Mikey is ‘mad’. It’s a shame because his wrestling has been much better in the tag-team environment.

A fact that was very evident in this match which grew (after a slightly slow start) into a very solid one. EVIL and SANADA are overexposed as a tag-team, but they’re also quite good, and when in there with solid opponents that shines. Combine that with Cobb’s inhuman strength and Nicholls settling nicely into his role, and you’ve got a recipe for fun.

By the end, the Fukushima crowd was hanging off every fall, going big for a couple of Nicholls’ two counts until SANADA trapped him in the Cold Skull and threw him to EVIL to set-up the Magic Killer for the three, good stuff.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Overall Show

Having heaped praise on Korakuen, it would be remiss of me not to do the same for Fukushima. In front of a dead crowd, this is an okay at best show, but they raised to good, as they were hot all night. Don’t get me wrong. The wrestling wasn’t incredible as they dropped the tempo now that they’ve hit the road, but this was still a watchable event made up of short and easy to digest matches. Don’t force the time, but if you’ve nothing to do, give it a watch.

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

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