New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2015: Night 10
December 3, 2015
AJ Styles and Yujiro Takahashi appear to be done with this tournament due to Styles’ lower back injury. They forfeited another match that was to take place on this night, to the team of Tetsuya Naito and EVIL. The Los Ingobernables team therefore goes up to 8 points, taking the lead in Block B, with Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto trailing close behind. The Meiyu Tag can get themselves back in a tie for first with a win over The Kingdom here.
World Tag League – A Block
Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels
Sakuraba’s good mood is unbroken. Spirited by his team with Yano, he’s coming off a pleasant, though losing, effort to Okada and YOSHI-HASHI on the previous show.
I sense Kazarian and Daniels learned, or were already aware, of Sakuraba’s MMA legend and decided they had to give him a Brock Lesnar-like legitimacy treatment here. Kazarian squares off with Sakuraba first, and quickly lands a leg kick, which he celebrates as a major victory. A single kick in return sends Kazarian powdering away. The Addiction spend the next minute or two in comedy shtick, both men expressing overwhelming fear in setting foot in the ring against the man who defeated Royce Grace in 90 minutes in the Tokyo Dome. This is all good fun, at least a story, but would be a lot better if Sakuraba was indeed protected as a huge threat, rather than the MMA superstar emeritus that he is.
Daniels tries to deflect the possibility of squaring off with Sakuraba by taunting Yano to get in the ring. The crowd erupts at the notion of Yano getting in the ring for the first time. For as unspectacular a worker may be, Yano is very over here.
I’m now six minutes into a twelve minute clip and the only action has been two leg kicks. That said, the crowd eats up Yano’s “break” spots, as they did the last show.
It’s a very light match. An Asai Moonsault by Daniels is by far the most athletic moment of the match, a move that’s just a bit part in a tag team combo. The closest we get to drama is at the end as Daniels tries to turn the tables on Yano, forcing him into the exposed buckle and rolling him up, but Yano kicks out for a close two-count. They tease running each other into the buckle a number of times, with the timing doesn’t always working perfectly.
Yano finally hits the low blow on Daniels, followed by a Sakuraba kick and roll-up for the finish. This was an exemplar “easy night” match. It was amusing at points, worked for the live crowd, but nothing anybody reading needs to see. *3/4
World Tag League – B Block
Michael Bennett & Matt Taven vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto
Dozens of hands can be seen waving as Maria greets the crowd opposite the hard cam.
If I could be totally cranky for a moment: No offense (well, maybe, some) to The Kingdom, but whatever happened to the beefy, nasty, believable gaijin? Hansen, Brody, Vader, Gordy, Williams, Norton. Instead today we have a slew of superkicking, enzuigiri’ing, backflipping, pretty, comedic, dumb American-type characters, who pander to get over, and who seem to be largely a part of the same clique. Sure, there’s a place for a few of those kinds of wrestlers, but so many? And sure, there’s Fale and Gallows, but neither of them are nearly as effective as the aforementioned.
Shibata’s entire opening pairing with Bennett is the former applying a long headlock, as if trying to drown out The Kingdom’s goofy nonsense, trying to cover it over with the widest brush possible.
Goto ends up cut-off after a brief distraction from Maria, taking a superkick from Bennett as he holds Taven in a front facelock, which is a more reasonable distraction than one might have dreaded.
The hot tag brings Shibata back in who just mercilessly pounds on Bennett in the corner with forearms. How can you not love a man who takes absolutely no shit in a pandering pro wrestling world such as the one we live in?
This match unfolds with faster tags, deviating from the usual long heat formula. Taven leaps over the top rope with a nice dive onto everyone, but it feels shoehorned in and has little bearing on what takes place before or after. He gets back in the ring and is quickly cut-off. Goto hits the Ushigoroshi followed by Shibata’s Penalty Kick, a combination they’ve won matches with on this tour; Bennett makes the save on the cover to a conspicuously small pop. Meiyu Tag take out Bennett with an STO and Flatliner combination, then deliver the same to Taven for an anti-climactic finish.
Other than a forfeit win over Styles and Yujiro, the Kingdom have yet to get a win in Tag League. With the win, Shibata and Goto achieve a tie for first place in the B Block, with Tetsuya Naito and EVIL, who they conveniently face on the final night of regular tournament matches (December 6). **1/2
Final Conclusion: These two underwhelming matches made for the most skippable night of World Tag League yet. With three more nights to determine who goes to the final, it’s looking like the blocks are going to come down to the December 6 matches of Makabe and Honma vs. Okada and YOSHI-HASHI (Block A), and Shibata and Goto vs. Naito and EVIL (Block B).
NJPW World Tag League 2015 Standings
- Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma: 6pts
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin: 6pts
- Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI: 6pts
- Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian: 4pts
- Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata: 4pts
- Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba: 4pts
- Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga: 2pts
- EVIL & Tetsuya Naito: 8pts
- Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata: 8pts
- Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson: 4pts
- Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan: 4pts
- Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii: 4pts
- AJ Styles & Yujiro Takahashi: 2pts
- Matt Taven & Michael Bennett: 2pts