New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2015: Night 6
November 28, 2015
Refresh Park Gymnasium- Yamaguchi, Japan
AJ Styles got injury on his low back. pic.twitter.com/X8QFr4k5ZC
— enuhito(English) (@enuhito_eng) November 28, 2015
AJ Styles was scheduled to team with Yujiro Takahashi on this show to face Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto. With Styles out injured, the match was forfeited to Shibata and Goto, tying the Meiyu Tag atop Block B with the team of Tetsuya Naito and EVIL, each with six points as those two teams pull ahead of the rest of their block.
NJPWWorld.com has been uploading most of the shows for this tour about a day after they happen, providing only the tag league matches and leaving out the rest of the card. So Styles’ injury turns what would have been a three-match viewing into one that’s just two matches long.
World Tag League – Block A
Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels vs. Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
Having the Addiction in this tournament was a welcome crouton to a tag league lineup that really needed some different, fresh faces to be exciting. The team of Daniels and Kazarian, though, have yet to have a performance that lives up to the interest I had when hearing they were booked. This match isn’t much different.
As Kazarian applies a soon-to-be foiled headlock, Daniels shouts from the apron “That’s wrestling!” This is small and perhaps peevish, but this is like the Addiction’s earlier in-ring trash talk, which feels generic and a stand-in for a lack of anything else to say, assumes that some comment always needs to be made, and it doesn’t draw me in as a viewer. Many wrestlers in the world right now are guilty of this, particularly American wrestlers who work a lot of smaller venues. Rather stuff like that in wrestling only makes me conscious of the fact it’s a work, not helping me to get lost in the suspension of disbelief, especially against serious opponents like Honma and Makabe.
Makabe manages to outsmart both Daniels and Kazarian on his own. When Honma comes in he misses his first Kokeshi attempt, which starts a long heat segment. Addiction work as clear heels here, cheating on an abdominal stretch and knocking Makabe off the apron as Honma gets in range for a tag. The heat is by the numbers, with Addiction executing well their regular spots. We see none of the fire here from Honma, which he might be the best in the world at projecting.
Watching a full league’s worth of tag matches causes you to start to contemplate deep questions: Why does the referee stop caring about a five-count to keep the illegal man out after about halfway through the match (after the hot tag trope has been exhausted)? This is pretty much standard for tag wrestling anywhere in the world for 2015, I know. Some semblance of an explanation or a clarification about the rules would be enough to satisfy me and answer questions that any rational or any new viewer not used to wrestling’s unquestioned formulas would rightly ask.
Togi Makabe is a man who takes such pride in growling and shouting “Fuck you!” in a culture where that won’t be censored. He hoists Daniels up on his shoulders for Honma to hit him with a Doomsday Kokeshi that must be seen: far and away the highlight of this match. With Daniels destroyed, Makabe picks up the pin on Kazarian after the King Kong Knee Drop. **
World Tag League – Block B
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson
The Bullet Club team attacks TenKoji immediately after introductions, not waiting for the bell. This results in the match spilling to the outside, a common theme for Gallows and Anderson matches in this tournament, but something that sets their matches apart from the others.
When things return to the ring, Tenzan and Kojima briefly get the upper hand, hitting Anderson with a relay of alternative Mongolian chops. When they go for the combination slingshot elbow drop and falling headbutt, though, Anderson moves, starting Guns ‘n Gallows’ isolation of Kojima. At least when Gallows shouts phrases in-ring, even if it’s the off-putting imperative, “Eat shit, Kojima!” it feels authentic to the man saying it.
Anderson gets some good heat when he mocks Kojima’s chops in the corner. After Tenzan makes a brief hot tag, Anderson gets up on him too, mocking the Mongolian chops to more boos. This heightens the anticipation for part of Kojima’s otherwise every night sequence when he finally gets Anderson in the corner for the rapid chops, to which Anderson is finally selling big, literally screaming and lying over the top rope.
Kojima shows fire and gives some pec-flexes as the match picks up. It looks Anderson and Gallows are getting close to finishing Kojima after a back suplex and neckbreaker combo and a TKO from Anderson. But a Magic Killer attempt is stopped by Tenzan and converted into a TenKoji Cutter on Gallows, clearing him out of the ring, making you feel that a pin on Anderson is imminent, but Anderson kicks out of Kojima’s brainbuster for a believable nearfall. Anderson overcomes lariat attempts from Kojima and hits well-timed Gun Stuns on Tenzan, then Kojima, leaving the latter softened up for the Magic Killer for the finish as the IWGP Tag Champions get the win. ***
Final Thoughts: If two-star matches in front of mild crowds are your thing, this is the tour for you. If not, and you’re curious about how this tournament is going, you might want to pick and choose and check out the better matches, which have mostly been reviewed by Ru Gunn. I seem to have been dealt the more mundane portions of the tournament so far. I have hope, though, for Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin vs. Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi on the next night.
NJPW World Tag League 2015 Standings
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin: 4pts
- Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian: 4pts
- Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI: 4pts
- Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma: 4pts
- Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba: 2pts
- Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata: 2pts
- Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga: 0pts
- EVIL & Tetsuya Naito: 6pts
- Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata: 6pts
- Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson: 4pts
- Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan: 2pts
- AJ Styles & Yujiro Takahashi: 2pts
- Matt Taven & Michael Bennett: 0pts
- Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii: 0pts