New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2017: Night 18
December 9th, 2017
Texport Imabari
Imabari, Ehime, Japan

Watch: NJPW World 

Tomoyuki Oka & Ren Narita def. Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tetsuhiro Yagi

On paper, you’d think that Liger’s team winning would’ve been a lock (considering the fact that Liger is the only non-young lion) in the match, but surprisingly, that wasn’t the case here. Oka & Narita actually picked up the victory here when Oka make Yagi tap out to the Liontamer. Liger didn’t really do much, and the match was relatively basic, but it’s always fun to watch these young lions develop and gain experience. Liger & Yagi worked over Narita’s arm until he eventually make the tag to Oka, which set up the final sequence that led to the finish. **1/4

EVIL & SANADA def. Manabu Nakanishi & Hirai Kawato

Of course, LIJ won the A Block the night prior, and they built some momentum towards the finals with a victory here over the makeshift team of Nakanishi & Kawato. This was another basic tag team affair, but it still had its moments. Kawato had some fun interactions with EVIL & SANADA throughout, while Nakanishi’s lone highlight was tossing EVIL from the Torture Rack position into SANADA. LIJ eventually won when SANADA tapped out Kawato using the spinning variation of the Skull End. **1/4

Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI def. Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado

Well, if you still have hope that we wouldn’t be seeing Goto/Suzuki for the NEVER Title once again, the fact that they’re facing off here in a non-tournament match should dash those hopes. I really don’t understand why Goto is facing Suzuki AGAIN. Even though his previous losses to Suzuki involved a ton of outside interference, it doesn’t change the fact that Goto lost to him TWICE. Yes, he pinned Suzuki during the tournament, but why are we doing this song and dance for a third time, possibly with another wacky stipulation? I thought that Ishii challenging Suzuki would be the direction for the Tokyo Dome, based on the story of Suzuki running through members of CHAOS in title defenses this year (Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Yano). Ishii is the only one he hasn’t faced, plus it’s a really fresh matchup. I have nothing against Hirooki Goto (I’ve always liked him), but why does Gedo insist on giving him a semi-important singles match at Wrestle Kingdom over Ishii, who had another amazing in-ring year? Despite being one of the best wrestlers in the world, he’ll probably be relegated to a multi-team schmoz for the second year in a row. It’s both disappointing and frustrating.

Anyway, this tag team match was slightly better than the two bouts that preceded it. The first few minutes featured the Suzuki-gun special (brawling in the crowd), which did include a funny moment where Milano Collection AT literally had his chair stolen out from under him by Suzuki. The action in the ring was pretty standard, and ultimately, Goto pinned El Desperado after hitting the GTR. Again, this simply continued the build towards (what will presumably be) the NEVER Title match at Wrestle Kingdom. **1/2

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Juice Robinson, Sami Callihan, & Yuji Nagata def. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, “The Hangman” Adam Page, Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens, & Leo Tonga)

I wasn’t expecting much from this one, but it ended up being a fun little ten man tag. Aside from a brief lull in the middle portion of the match, this was worked at a relatively quick pace right from the opening bell. Everyone got a chance to shine, and it was pretty entertaining for what it was. Death Juice got the win for their team after hitting a Leo Tonga with a Pulp Friction/Splash combination. Nothing much else to say about this one, beyond that. A perfectly fine multi-man tag. ***

Togi Makabe & Henare (2) def. David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0)

Well, one of these winless teams had to win a match at some point, and when the dust settled, Finlay & Kitamura ultimately fell short against Makabe & Henare. This wasn’t amazing by any means, but for a tag team bout that went just over six minutes, it was pretty decent. The two young lions worked hard (especially against each other), Finlay put forth a solid effort, and Makabe did the same thing he’s been doing for most of this tour, though this time, he actually got to hit his Knee Drop from the top rope (which looked like more like a shin drop, as he overshot Kitamura a little bit). I thought the team of Finlay & Kitamura had a shot to win, since Kitamura is near the top of the pecking order when it comes to the young lions (he would’ve beaten Henare in that case), but it’s hard to imagine a team with Makabe on it not winning in this particular scenario. **3/4

The Killer Elite Squad (10) def. Best Friends (8)

I’m not going to even bother explaining all of the potential scenarios for winning the B Block, as six of the eight teams came into the show tied at 8 Points. I do enjoy the fact that so many teams were in the mix on the last block show, but it’d take forever to explain the various outcomes that could happen. A win by either team would’ve kept their hopes of winning the block alive, and in the end, KES took the victory after hitting a Killer Bomb on Chuckie T.

This was a really good match that had some good action throughout, but mainly relied on the story that was told. KES dominated the early stages (with Archer teasing Beretta about being a heavyweight at a couple of points), but Best Friends didn’t give up that easily, and fought hard until the very end. The crowd reacted any time Beretta or Chuckie T made a comeback, but their best efforts just weren’t enough to secure the win. Beretta took a lot of punishment from Archer in this one. At one point, Archer caught him on a dive and gave him a chokeslam on the apron, and later, he actually gave him a freaking military press from the ring straight to the floor (that must’ve hurt). It was that move that ultimately took Beretta out of the match, which allowed KES to pick up the win with Chuckie T isolated. This wouldn’t make my list of the top five bouts from this tournament, but it was certainly in that overall upper echelon. ***1/2

War Machine (10) def. Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (8)

You knew this was going to be a very interesting match to watch after the comments Elgin made regarding Cobb as well as War Machine (which is just part of the larger drama that “Big Mike” is currently involved in). There was a fair amount of swearing, particularly during the opening exchanges, which wasn’t much of a surprise. As for the match itself, it was very good. While it lacked crowd heat at certain points, there was a lot of really solid back and forth action from start to finish. What’s not to like about four big dudes just smashing into each other for about eleven minutes? If Elgin’s issues weren’t putting his future with New Japan in doubt, his team with Cobb would be an excellent addition to the heavyweight tag team division on a regular basis in 2018. Alas, that doesn’t look likely. While Cobb looked impressive once again, he fell victim to Fallout, as War Machine picked up the win to move to 10 Points. ***1/2

The Guerrillas of Destiny (10) def. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (8)

So it came down to this match to decide the B Block. If Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa won, then they would move on to the finals. However, if the CHAOS duo managed to win, then we’d get a convoluted three-way tie with CHAOS, KES, & War Machine. Luckily, that latter scenario didn’t play out, as G.O.D. got the victory to win the B Block. This wasn’t quite as good as the previous two tournament bouts on this card, but it was still a very solid match. Interestingly enough, the main highlights of this one were the exchanges between Ishii and Tanga Loa. I’m not sure what it is, but Ishii seems to bring out the best in Tanga Loa (does that really surprise anyone?). We did get some shenanigans between Yano and Tama Tonga, but those weren’t the primary focus of the match, which was good to see. There were some fun back and forth exchanges, but in the end, G.O.D. got the win after hitting Guerrilla Warfare on Yano. Again, this was pretty solid, but it just below the two tournament bouts that came before it, in terms of quality. ***1/4

After the match, G.O.D. gloated about winning the B Block, and then called out EVIL & SANADA. They come out, EVIL cuts a short promo in Japanese, and two teams had a stare down.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, & BUSHI) def. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, & Gedo)

With this being the last night for the B Block in the World Tag League, you’d think an actual tournament match would’ve been the main event. Well, that wasn’t the case. Instead, we got to see these six guys go at it again. I don’t have a ton to say about this one, since they’ve done the same bout on almost every show of the tour. Ospreay did some different things, but other than that, the only thing that was different on this night was the result. BUSHI got the win for LIJ after hitting Gedo with MX. Despite the fact that we’ve seen this six-man tag (with the same six participants), throughout the tour, the match never fails to be less that very solid. CHAOS might’ve gotten the win in Hiroshima, but on this night, LIJ got the better of them. ***1/4

Final Thoughts:

While this show was certainly the lesser of the two block finals (and lacked that great match to cap of the B Block), there was still some good stuff throughout the card. Aside from the first tournament bout (which featured the two teams with no wins coming in), it was a good showing overall for the rest of the B Block, with three solid tag team encounters that set up a battle between LIJ and G.O.D. in the finals. There really wasn’t anything noteworthy on the undercard, and the main event featured another fun clash between CHAOS & LIJ.

Here are the final standings in the B Block:

  • The Guerrillas of Destiny (5-2) – 10 Points
  • War Machine (5-2) – 10 Points
  • The Killer Elite Squad (5-2) – 10 Points
  • Best Friends (4-3) – 8 Points
  • Jeff Cobb & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin (4-3) – 8 Points
  • Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (4-3) – 8 Points
  • Togi Makabe & Henare (1-6) – 2 Points
  • David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura (0-7) – 0 Points