New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 9
November 28, 2017
Nagano Athletic Park Gymnasium
Nagano, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan (6) def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi (2)

Death Juice became the first team in the A Block to reach 6 Points (and a 3-1 record) with a victory here over the New Japan Dads. This was a technically sound bout, for the most part, but it was just barely above average. There was no real sense of urgency, and it felt like they never got close to hitting that next gear. Nagata & Nakanishi did get some offense in, but Death Juice were in control for the majority of this one. Honestly, the main highlight was all of the swearing from Juice Robinson & Sami Callihan, with the former (at one point) telling Nakanishi to fuck off. The match ended after Death Juice hit their tag team finisher (Robinson hits Pulp Friction while Callihan hits a splash from the top rope). It did look a little clunky, but they were hitting the move on Nakanishi, so that’s not a total surprise. **3/4

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (4) def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (4)

Unfortunately, the New Japan Dads went 0-2 on this night, as the CHAOS duo picked up the victory in this second tournament bout of the show. Considering the two teams involved, you’d think this would have the chance to be pretty good. When the dust settled, however, it was only slightly better than the match that came before it with the other half of the New Japan Dads. This actually shared some similarities with that earlier match, in that it was just above average and never really got to that next level. Fortunately, the crowd seemed to be more invested in this one, and that certainly helped. There was a nice little closing stretch where Kojima tried to fight off both members of CHAOS before he ultimately came up short. With this result, both teams are now at 4 Points with 2-2 records. ***

Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka (4) def. Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (4)

To say that I wasn’t very excited to see this match would be a massive understatement. This had the potential to be pretty bad, and in the end, it was. Suzuki-gun jumped The Bullet Club team as they made their entrance, and the first few minutes were spent brawling in the crowd. Once the action got back to the ring, it was mostly Suzuki vs. Owens with Iizuka attacking Fale on the outside with chair shots. When Iizuka eventually got in the ring, he used a rope to choke Owens in full view of Red Shoes (to be fair, Red Shoes later refused to count the subsequent pinfall attempt by Iizuka). Fale was the legal man for a little bit, but it wouldn’t be enough. Suzuki-gun got the win after Owens got hit with Iizuka’s iron glove thing, followed by a Gotch Piledriver from Suzuki. This was easily the worst match of the tournament thus far. Don’t even bother with this one. *

EVIL & SANADA (4) def. “The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi (4)

A story that’s gotten lost during the first half of this year’s World Tag League is that the LIJ team got off to a pretty slow start. Fortunately, they finally got some momentum going, and picked up their second straight victory here. Interesting enough, their two victories thus far have come against the two Bullet Club teams in the A Block. This was a solid match as a whole, but I wouldn’t say it was any better than the CHAOS vs. TenKoji bout from earlier. While it didn’t feature a ton of excitement, it did have a few things that the other tournament matches on this card lacked. After a decent exchange in the opening minutes, SANADA got his legs tied up in the turnbuckle, and Adam Page nailed one of his knees with a chair shot while Yujiro had Red Shoes distracted. The Bullet Club then spent time working over SANADA’s knee, but ultimately, LIJ managed to mount a comeback, and scored the win. The fact that this match featured some sort of story was good to see. Plus, the crowd appeared to be invested, so that helped as well. A perfectly fine but forgettable contest. ***

Final Thoughts

The weaknesses of the A Block were more prominent than ever on this show, which was one of the worst of the tournament thus far. There were two matches that (for me, at least) just barely cracked the *** threshold, but this card just isn’t worth watching. The fact that it featured the worst bout of the tournament thus far should be enough to convince you that this show isn’t worth your time.

Here are the updated standings in the A Block following Night 9:

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

While there’s currently a clear leader (Death Juice) and a clear last place team (Nagata & Nakanishi), the rest of the A Block is one big logjam at 4 Points. It’s still very much wide open, but based on how league tournaments in New Japan over the last several years have played out, the early leader doesn’t usually end up winning the block. That’s not a good sign for Death Juice. I would keep an eye on EVIL & SANADA, as a slow start could be an indicator of a team that will certainly be in contention to win the block on the final night, should they win out. The bottom line is that, aside from Nagata & Nakanishi, any of the other seven teams can still feasibly win the A Block.