NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2017 NIGHT 10
NOVEMBER 30TH, 2017
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW World

After eight straight single-camera shows with no commentary and a-la-carte match selections, World Tag League returns to Korakuen Hall with a full show, multiple camera angles, and color commentary. So let’s get to work!

MANABU NAKANISHI & YUJI NAGATA DEF. REN NARITA & SHOTA UMINO

The two young lions brought the fire to the elders, hitting Nagata and Nakanishi with everything they had. At one point, Narita slapped Nakanishi in the face and hit him with a big belly-to-belly suplex. That’s quite impressive, considering Nakanishi eats Narita’s bodyweight in food every morning for breakfast. Muscle Justice eventually put the youngsters in their place. Nakanishi made Narita submit with the Argentine Backbreaker, while Nagata had Umino locked in the Nagata Lock II. A simple match, but perfectly acceptable as an opener. **3/4

BAD LUCK FALE, CHASE OWENS, HANGMAN PAGE, LEO TONGA, & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI DEF. HIROYOSHI TENZAN, JUICE ROBINSON, SAMI CALLIHAN, SATOSHI KOJIMA, & TOMOYUKI OKA

This was your standard “show your face” multi-man tag that happens on pretty much every New Japan show. Everyone gets their turn in the match at some point, even if it’s only once. In the case of Juice Robinson, he technically never got a turn because he was never legally tagged in once during the match!

Nothing really to right home about with this one. It’s just a bunch of A Block teams fighting on a non-A Block night alongside their respective rookies. Chase Owens got the pin on Oka thanks to his Package Piledriver. As Bullet Club walked to the back, Page held his rope down by his crotch. He motioned for the camera to “get a shot of this big ol’ rope. This big ol’ rope down here.”

The rope represents his huge schlong, in case you couldn’t figure that one out. **1/2

HIROOKI GOTO & YOSHI-HASHI DEF. EL DESPERADO & MINORU SUZUKI

Goto vs. Suzuki at Wrestle Kingdom 12 seems more and more likely at this point. These two were going hard at one another right at the opening bell, so much so that they had to be pulled apart by their respective partners. The Suzuki-gun bullshit was thankfully minimized in this match. With the exception of a little crowd brawling (during which Suzuki poured water on Tomoaki Honma who was sitting at ringside for color commentary), the match was kept in the ring and interference-free, so the action was solid. The ending, oh my goodness: Goto and YOSHI-HASHI hit their new tag team finisher (!) the GYR. It’s similar to GOD’s Guerrilla Warfare, except instead of dropping Desperado into a DDT, they drop Desperado into an inverted GTR. Ouch. ***

EVIL & SANADA DEF. HIRAI KAWATO & HIROSHI TANAHASHI

You look at a match with these four guys and at minimum you know it’s going to be good. And this match was good, especially as the pace quickened about halfway down the line. All four guys put in the extra effort to make this match exciting, which is nice to see on a World Tag League show. You can tell the crowd appreciated it. Tanahashi at one point caught EVIL’s leg, tossed it to SANADA, then picked up SANADA’s leg and did a dragon screw legwhip, which in turn caused SANADA to give EVIL a dragon screw legwhip. That was cool. There was also a nice visual where Kawato had SANADA in a Boston crab while Tanahashi had EVIL in the Texas cloverleaf.

What I love about Kawato, and the young lions in general really, is that they come across as eager to a fault. They can get the absolute bejeezus knocked out of them for the bulk of the match, but if they sense an opportunity to prove themselves, they’re going to want to take it. We’ve seen time and time again where Kawato gets beaten up, makes the hot tag to his experienced partner, then when his partner is getting ready to hit his finisher and win the match, Kawato BEGS and PLEADS to get tagged back in so that he can score the fall. Then what happens? Kawato gets tagged in and loses the match. Eagerness overrides common sense. This match went exactly the same way. Kawato BEGGED and PLEADED to Tanahashi to tag him back in. Tanahashi, the smart veteran that he is, initially refused to tag out. But Kawato kept BEGGING and PLEADING and Tanahashi eventually had no choice. He tagged Kawato back in. And Kawato showed GUTS and he showed HEART and he showed FIRE and he almost pinned SANADA with a small package!

Then he tapped out to the Skull End. ***1/4

GEDO, KAZUCHIKA OKADA, & WILL OSPREAY DEF. BUSHI, HIROMU TAKAHASHI, & TETSUYA NAITO

The match with two of the biggest stars in the company ends up being the shortest match of the night at 6:31. But despite how short the match was, it wasn’t without significance. Okada had Naito in his crosshairs the entire time. Every chance he could to attack Naito, Okada took it. Towards the end Naito looked like he was going to get revenge on Okada by hitting him with the Destino, but Okada countered and put Naito in a new submission move, a cobra clutch with bodyscissors. He kept that bastard locked in tight, even after the match ended. They basically had to pry Okada off of Naito.

Okada is likely adding the move to his arsenal to help him retain his IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. But as Mr. Lariato points out, we may be seeing history repeat itself very soon.

Meanwhile Ospreay and Hiromu were their usual awesome selves (their interactions had me salivating for Wrestle Kingdom and beyond), BUSHI rocked a magnificent gold and black color scheme, and Gedo was Gedo. Ospreay pinned BUSHI with the OsCutter in a match that was short, sweet, and to-the-point. ***

TAMA TONGA & TANGA LOA (6) DEF. DAVID FINLAY & KATSUYA KITAMURA (0)

Kitamura is still rough around the edges on the technical side, but his natural charisma is off the charts. So what if he’s only been wrestling actual matches since March; his look and his persona transcend all of that. Kitamura looked great in this match and a large part of that is thanks to the Guerrillas of Destiny. Tama and Tanga made Kitamura seem like an actual threat, especially Tama. He was his usual cocky, jackass self before the bell, but when the match started and he faced off with Kitamura, it was a different story. Tama chopped Kitamura and Kitamura brushed it off like it was nothing. Kitamura chopped Tama and Tama immediately fell over, clutching his chest and screaming like a little girl. The high-pitched scream would recur throughout the rest of the match, like when Kitamura press slammed Tama over his head. Tanga was much more effective against Kitamura, pinning him with Apeshit to win the match. A bunch of fun to be had in this one. ***1/4





TOMOHIRO ISHII & TORU YANO (4) DEF. HENARE & TOGI MAKABE (0)

HEY NEW JAPAN: STOP MUTING MAKABE’S ENTRANCE! PLEASE! I BEG OF YOU! You have Great Bash Heel’s theme “Trickster.” You have Makabe’s dub theme “A Real Bad Attitude.” Just pick one and press play. It’s that simple.

Anyway, this match may not have seemed like much on paper, but holy moly did this one surprise me. Why? Because Henare and Tomohiro Ishii, that’s why. Good heavens, the stiffness of those elbows and those lariats. Those two went to war, no question about it. And it wasn’t like Ishii was dominating the whole way through; Henare was holding his own, rocking Ishii at multiple points during the match. He clobbered Ishii with a lariat that damn near took his head off, and towards the end he hit Ishii with a spear that looked like two trucks colliding. Makabe and Yano stuck to their normal schtick, but whenever Henare and Ishii were in the ring together, they made you pay attention. Ishii eventually kept Henare down with the Vertical Drop Brainbuster in a match that was better than it had any right to be. Keep your eyes on Henare, folks. ***1/2

BERETTA & CHUCKIE T. (6) DEF. JEFF COBB & MICHAEL ELGIN (4)

Going in I had heard good things about this match, but wowzers trousers did this one blow me away. Talk about a perfect pairing. On the one hand, you have Cobb and Elgin, two big thick slabs of beef whose freakish strength can get over practically anywhere. On the other hand, you’ve got the Best Friends, who are smaller, faster, and able to absorb a ludicrous amount of punishment in order to generate sympathy. Add these two together and you’ve got the recipe for a fantastic match.

Cobb and Elgin had the power advantage.

But Best Friends had the agility factor.

The two sides managed to keep it relatively even during the first stretch, but then Cobb and Elgin took things up a notch. Elgin gave poor Chuckie a powerbomb on the floor and the apron. Jeff Cobb tossed Beretta around with suplex after suplex like he weighed nothing. But the Best Friends wouldn’t stay down. Even a top rope Elgin Bomb into a Cobb German suplex couldn’t put Beretta away. You could actually see Michael Elgin getting more and more frustrated as the match went on, which led to some nasty backfists and elbows.

Yet no matter how big and strong Jeff Cobb and Michael Elgin are, they were no match for the power of friendship. Beretta and Chuckie hit Cobb with Strong Zero to get the win. Little Kazu would be proud. Not only was this the match of the night, it is hands down the match of the entire tournament to date. Bravo to all four guys. ****1/2

HANSON & RAYMOND ROWE (6) DEF. DAVEY BOY SMITH, JR. & LANCE ARCHER (6)

Nothing on this show could top Best Friends vs. Cobb and Elgin, but the main event certainly came the closest. When a match starts with Lance Archer and Raymond Rowe trying to see who can throw an elbow the hardest, you know you’re in for a good time. These two teams delivered a hard-hitting contest that was practically nothing but big slams, heavy strikes, and an exorbitant amount of curse words, which is exactly what you want with Killer Elite Squad and War Machine. The crowd certainly agreed; even after the awesomeness of the previous match, Korakuen was still hot for these two teams to beat the tar out of each other. A bruised and battered War Machine picked up the win with Fallout on Davey Boy, giving KES their first loss of the tournament. A step below the semi-main, but still a really good match. ****

FINAL THOUGHTS

What a relief to have a show like this one come around. Every match was at the very least okay, a bunch were pretty good, and the top two were excellent. It’s also nice to have a show that actually feels like a show, with multiple camera angles, color commentary, and an excited crowd in Korakuen. We won’t get any more proper shows like this one until the final three nights starting on December 8. From now until then, it’s back to the house shows. Prepare yourselves accordingly.

STANDINGS AFTER NIGHT TEN

BLOCK A

  • Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (3-1) – 6 points
  • Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (2-2) – 4 points
  • Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi (2-2) – 4 points
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (2-2) – 4 points
  • Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (2-2) – 4 points
  • Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (2-2) – 4 points
  • EVIL & SANADA (2-2) – 4 points
  • Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata (1-3) – 2 points

B Block

  • Hanson & Raymond Rowe (3-1) – 6 points
  • Davey Boy Smith, Jr. & Lance Archer (3-1) – 6 points
  • Beretta & Chuckie T. (3-1)  – 6 points
  • Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (3-1) – 6 points
  • Jeff Cobb & Michael Elgin (2-2) – 4 points
  • Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (2-2) – 4 points
  • David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0-4) – 0 points
  • Henare & Togi Makabe (0-4) – 0 points