We’re onto our penultimate show, and honestly, there were times when I didn’t think we’d get here. I thought I was going to be stuck in a forever loop of alright tag wrestling watching matches, all bleeding into one as day after day I prayed for salvation. Then again, it might still happen.
Hirooki Goto and Karl Fredericks (3-11) defeated The Bullet Club (Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale) (6-8) by disqualification
I don’t know why, but I find Fale working these old-school, isolate the man, tag matches surprisingly watchable. Chase has given this team an identity that is very un-Bullet Club, but it works for me. I also enjoyed Goto deciding the best way to deal with it was to interfere and drag Karl back to their corner so he could tag in.
Then, just as it looked like Old Hirooki was going to win, KENTA charged the ring for the DQ. He choked Goto, booted him in the chest, put him to sleep and sat on his chest Shibata style. The final thing that I’m enjoying is this feud.
Verdict: Three Stars
GBH (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) (4-11) defeated Double Rampage (Shingo Takagi and El Terrible) (6-8)
Makabe and Shingo running into each other was always going to tick my boxes. Outside of that, this was just a match. I can’t think of a wrestler who has made less of an impact on me while taking part in a New Japan tournament than Terrible. He is a burning pit of mediocrity who knows how to throw a few good slaps.
Verdict: Three Stars
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) (12-2) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (1-13)
You know, I think I’ve been calling Tanga Loa, Tonga Loa, for quite a long time, which I feel a bit shitty about. You should get people’s names rights, and I apologise for being a bit useless. It won’t happen again. Sadly, I still can’t say nice things about his matches because adding Nakanishi was not the way to make me care. Why do the tag champs need a low blow to beat the New Japan Dad who can barely walk? That seems unnecessary.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and SANADA) (13-1) defeated Tencosy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (4-10)
I wouldn’t argue with anyone who named Kojima their Tag League MVP. He’s been fired up all tour, bringing something to matches that haven’t had much. Even if all he’d done was his steely-eyed no selling of Lariats, I would be raving about his tournament. The hard old bastard’s sequence with EVIL and defiant last stand were yet more proof of his brilliance.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
FinJuice (Juice Robinson and David Finlay) (12-2) defeated The Bullet Club (KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi) (8-6)
FinJuice have got better as we’ve gone along, and they were pretty good at the start. Even in a match like this, which, to be honest, was fairly middle of the road, they have a natural likeability that elevates what they do. You can’t help supporting them, and there are few better qualities to have as a babyface wrestler.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi) (9-6) defeated Colt Cabana and Toru Yano (8-6) by countout
Sadly, this was Zack and Taichi’s final match of the tournament. I mentioned Koji being my MVP, but it’s actually these two. They’ve been nailing it since day one.
Dangerous Tekkers were also the perfect straight men to Colt and Yano’s nonsense. From Zack having a temper tantrum when he couldn’t get the turnbuckle pad off (Miho helped him in the end) to Yano pulling down Taichi’s trousers and the singing ballbag frantically hiding his shame. I laughed the whole way through as these four had a riot of a time even calling back to Yano and Taichi’s G1 match with the finish. If you like giggles and wrestling, then you’ll like this.
Verdict: Four Stars
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) (10-4) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer) (8-6)
There was a moment in this match where Suzuki was attempting to murder Ishii in the commentary area leading to pure panic from Kevin Kelly and Gino. Meanwhile, Lance Archer was chasing a small child through the crowd, terrorising the poor kid. It was a load of fun.
All that chaos set-up the only thing I like nearly as much as monster Ishii, underdog Ishii. It should be impossible for a man built like a bowling ball to draw your sympathy as easily as he does, but he’s Tomohiro fucking Ishii, he does what he wants. The moment where he finally escaped, lifting all twenty feet of Archer into the air for a suplex, was brilliant, and Ishii continues to be the best.
He spent this entire match going back and forth with Suzuki, MiSu attacking his leg and Ishii fighting from underneath. In the end, though, Ishii pinned him with a Brainbuster in what, if rumours are to be believed, might be the final act in their long-running feud. If it is, it wasn’t a bad way for them to finish up.
Verdict: Four Stars
Two four-star matches and a load in the three-star range make this one of, if not the, best Tag League shows. I did not see that coming, but who am I to complain? Maybe we’re going to see this fucker out on a high.
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