I don’t think I’d quite appreciated how long this Tag League is. Each team is wrestling fifteen matches. FIFTEEN! Was this put together specifically to torture poor Nakanishi? There’s a chance he won’t survive this. Won’t someone think of the Dads!
Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (1-4) defeated Hirooki Goto and Karl Fredericks (2-3)
The vast majority of this match had nothing to it. Nakanishi plodded around while he and Nagata worked over Fredericks and I’d honestly struggle to pick out one memorable thing they did.
However, we also got a bit of Nagata vs Goto, and while I’m not about to start chucking stars around, it was fun. They’re both happy to lean into their strikes, and in the brief moments where they went face to face, I was at least engaged in the action.
Towards the end, Nagata teased tapping out to a Karl Single-Leg, which would have gotten a reaction in Korakuen, but didn’t get much in Yamanashi. It was to be the rookie’s final stand, as Nagata brought him over with the Backdrop Hold shortly after for the veterans’ first win of the tournament.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (3-2) defeated GBH (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) (2-3)
I was dreading this match. The only person involved who is both able to go and motivated to do so is Kojima as while some of the other’s have one of those traits, none of them has both.
However, I think I underestimated just how long these old bastards have been going out and hitting each other hard. Was it a masterclass? No, of course not. You have the shells of Honma and Tenzan in there while Makabe vanished into the ether at one point, so you can’t expect genius. But what you got was four guys who know each other pretty damn well. They might not be able to put on a fun, fast-paced sprint (and Honma attempted the worst flash pin of all time), but they’re more than happy to chop and forearm the fuck out of each other, and that almost makes up for it.
Even with it over-delivering, credit still must go to Kojima, who I’m going to be heaping praise on at every chance I get. Who knows how long he can keep doing this, so even if this is just a three-star tag match, it’s a three-star tag match we might not be seeing for much longer, appreciate it while you can.
Verdict: Three Stars
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer) (2-2) defeated Mad Muscle Men (Jeff Cobb and Mikey Nicholls) (2-3)
If you enjoy watching Suzuki and Archer beat people up, then you’re going to enjoy this match. A lot of it was them kicking the crap out of Nicholls with Suzuki even laughing in his face when he dared to fight back.
Big Jeff did eventually tag in, and that guy’s power is incredible. He caught all twenty feet of Lance Archer as he charged into the corner, cradling him like a baby before hoisting him over for a suplex. It was quite the sight. I’d love to see him spend a few months in Japan, learning from some of the best because he has all the raw ingredients to be great.
Not that he was enough to save poor Mikey. Cobb ended up being choked out in the corner while Lance bashed his pal’s head off the mat for a particularly brutal Suzuki-gun win.
Verdict: Three Stars
FinJuice (Juice Robinson and David Finlay) (4-1) defeated HenarAce (Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toa Henare) (2-3)
Henare and Tanahashi are perhaps the team most likely to deliver consistent three-star matches in this tournament. Tana is not going to kill himself for Tag League (to be clear, I don’t think he should, he needs to rest that body) while Henare is almost working the Young Lion role in the team, eating heat sections and getting flashes to shine. That limits their likelihood of going out and put on great matches, but they’re still good enough that unless they’re opponents suck, it’s going to be good. So, three-stars for days!
All of which means you can probably guess where this is going. These teams had a fun back and forth where they didn’t take their foot of the pedal or sit in a rest hold. There wasn’t anything there to blow your mind, but four good wrestlers trying even a little bit will produce a good match. I’m pretty sure that maths.
Verdict: Three Stars
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) (2-1) defeated The Bullet Club (KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi) (2-2)
If I waste another couple of hundred words writing about how dull GOD are, I’d be almost as bad as them. KENTA deserves better than this shit.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA and EVIL) (3-0) defeated The Bullet Club (Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale) (1-4)
Around the time Fale put his third rest hold on SANADA, I started to question what I was doing with my life. I could have been doing anything with that time. Perhaps starting Moby Dick or listening to a song I’d never heard before or even staring blankly at the wall, banging my head into an exposed nail. They’d have all been better than watching that bollocks.
Things did pick-up a bit when Chase was in the ring, and EVIL seemed to be in the mood for putting some effort in, but that was never going to be enough. This was a horrendously boring match.
Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars
Double Rampage (Shingo Takagi and El Terrible) (2-3) Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi) (2-3)
Imagine thinking anyone not named Shingo Takagi is the wrestler of the year? This show was dying a death and then he fired-up from Dangerous Tekkers’ sneak attack, and all was right in the world again.
And they did the right thing in this match by having Terrible play the supporting role while Shingo was left to it. It was the story of how he single-handedly overcame Dangerous T and ZSJ, eating the heat section, tagging out for a few minutes to let Terrible throw some slaps, and then returning to finish the job. And why not? He’s Shingo Motherfucking Takagi.
By the end, the hometown fans were rabid for Shingo, roaring him on as he and Taichi stiffed it out. He’d eventually clobber the Singing Ballbag (a name that I feel now comes from a place of affection rather than dislike) with a Pumping Bomber before hoisting him up with Last of the Dragons for the three. That’s more like it!
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
There’s the World Tag League we all know and love! A lacklustre show with little to nothing that you need to see, it’s like coming home. Please don’t watch all of this show. Stick on the main event and enjoy Shingo being the boss, the rest of it is a waste of time.
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