New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 27 & World Tag League 2020: Night 1
November 15, 2020
Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

Watch: NJPW World
Best of the Super Juniors Preview: voicesofwrestling.com/2020/11/11/njpw-best-of-the-super-juniors-27-preview-schedule/
World Tag League Preview: voicesofwrestling.com/2020/11/13/njpw-world-tag-league-2020-participants-preview/

World Tag League 2020
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (2) def. Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (0)

Kicking off this ten match card with the returning Bad Luck Fale wasn’t the most….promising sign in the world, but fortunately, this was kept pretty short (clocking in at just over five minutes or so). The exchanges between Tomohiro Ishii and Chase Owens were the only saving grace of this particular bout. Aside from that, this had the typical Toru Yano comedy mixed in with the periods where Bullet Club was in control (again, thankfully this was kept short). Yano tried to bodyslam Fale a couple of times (all of these attempts were unsuccessful), but he ultimately scored the fall on Fale when he pinned him while also having Chase Owens on top of him. A very Yano finish in what was a very skippable match. **

Frustrated with the loss, Fale and Owens attacked the victorious CHAOS duo following the bout.

Best Of The Super Juniors 27
Master Wato (2) def. Yuya Uemura (0)

Any time a young lion is involved in a New Japan tournament, their match typically opens up the show (or in this case, is the first bout of the night for that specific tournament). Of course, Yuya Uemura was a late entry into this abbreviated edition of Best Of The Super Juniors, as a knee injury forced Yoshinobu Kanemaru to pull out. While this match was even shorter than the World Tag League opener (sub-five minutes), it was definitely the better bout. Uemura took the fight to Wato immediately, and actually dominated the first minute or so of the match. Wato managed to survive the Boston Crab, and started fighting back from there. In the end, Wato scored the win after hitting Uemura with the Tombstone Piledriver variation that was frequently used by his mentor, Hiroyoshi Tenzan (who was in Wato’s corner, as always). They actually released some pre-tournament training videos that showed Tenzan passing on some of his signature moves to Wato, and that obviously proved to be very effective for him here. A good little match between these two. ***

World Tag League 2020
The Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb (2) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare (0)

Coming into the World Tag League, the general consensus was that Jeff Cobb was going to be revealed as The Great O-Khan’s tag team partner, and the newest member of Will Ospreay’s faction (especially after news came out that Cobb was originally supposed to be O-Khan’s spot in the Ospreay/Okada match during the G1 Climax). Well, that general consensus proved to be spot on, as Jeff Cobb did indeed reveal himself to be O-Khan’s tag team partner. Their first bout together as a team saw them defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi and the returning Toa Henare in under three minutes. The Empire jumped Tanahashi and Henare as they were entering the ring, but the babyface team fought back, and actually had the edge for a good minute or so. O-Khan proved to be the difference-maker, however, and once he broke things up, Henare ate a Tour Of The Islands from Cobb a few moments later. Cobb and O-Khan continued to attack the babyface side after the bout, and in particular, O-Khan targeted the leg of Tanahashi. The match wasn’t exactly a super dominant performance from The Empire, but they still looked strong in the victory and the post-match attack. It should be interesting to see how Cobb and O-Khan do as a team once they get into longer matches. They’re definitely (at the very least) a dark horse contender to win this entire tournament. N/R

Best Of The Super Juniors 27
Robbie Eagles (2) def. DOUKI (0)

Add Robbie Eagles to the list of competitors returning to New Japan on this tour. This was his first match in New Japan since February, and he got his tournament off to a good start with a win here over DOUKI. A very good match that featured really solid action throughout. Eagles controlled the early portion of the bout until DOUKI gained the edge after he shoved the referee into the ropes, which in turn caused Eagles to fall off the top rope (that was a little overboard in terms of heel shenanigans). The second half of this bout was particularly strong, and we got a couple of cool spots from both guys (one of which saw DOUKI counter a 450 Splash into his necktie submission hold). Eagles did work over DOUKI’s leg at various points, and that eventually paid off for him, as he got DOUKI to tap out to the Ron Miller Special. Eagles looked really good in his return, but DOUKI held up his end of things as well. Easily the best match of the night, up to this point. ***1/2

 

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World Tag League 2020
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. (2) def. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (0)

Dangerous Tekkers successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against this particular CHAOS pairing on the November 2nd Road To Power Struggle event in Korakuen Hall. If I had been asked to predict the results of this show, I would’ve picked Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI to even up the series between the two teams, but that didn’t end up being the case, as Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. defeated them for the second time this month. It’s funny to note that this second bout was almost twenty-five minutes shorter than their first encounter a few weeks ago. As for the match quality itself, it was relatively solid, considering the time that it was given. For the most part, the heels controlled the early portion of the bout, but things became more even in the second half as Goto and YOSHI-HASHI started to fight back. The duo from CHAOS managed to connect with a couple of double-team moves, but Zack Sabre Jr. was able to catch YOSHI-HASHI in a tight sunset flip to score the victory. A perfectly fine match for it’s spot on the card. ***1/4

Best Of The Super Juniors 27
SHO (2) def. BUSHI (0)

I’ll always enjoy BUSHI coming out with his crazy entrance masks (just wanted to put that out there). Anyway, this match was the third straight on this show that clocked in at just over ten minutes, and when the dust settled, SHO picked up the win after hitting BUSHI with the Shock Arrow. I honestly don’t have a ton to say about this match. We got an early count out tease after BUSHI sent SHO into the barricade a couple of times, there was solid action throughout, and as a whole, both men did a fine job. A nice win for SHO to start out this tournament, and as for BUSHI, I’ll be curious to see if they continue his story from last year, where he starts slow and finishes strong. ***

World Tag League 2020
EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi (2) def. NEVER Openweight Champion Shingo Takagi & SANADA (0)

While I was pretty intrigued to see this particular LIJ combination in action, the same couldn’t be said for the Bullet Club team on the other side of this particular contest. How did Bullet Club end up with three teams in a ten-team tournament? That’s crazy, but alas, that’s the situation we’re in right now. Anyway, this match was actually not too bad, for the most part. The early portion of the match saw the ring announcer (who also serves as the timekeeper) get absolutely destroyed twice when SANADA got sent hard into the guardrail right in front of his table. In the ring, the action was relatively decent. Shingo looked good as always, Yujiro was solid at points, while EVIL and SANADA were…..fine, I guess. Then we got to the final minute or so, when we got the usual EVIL/Dick Togo shenanigans. Dick Togo tried to use the garrote wire, but SANADA managed to avoid it. He wasn’t able to avoid the low blow, however, and EVIL connected with Everything Is EVIL moments later to score the win. If you were wondering who on the LIJ team would be the pin-eater, it appears to be SANADA. The fact that EVIL got a pinfall over him here (after losing to him in the G1 Climax) makes me wonder if they’re setting up another meeting between these two in the near future. I definitely could see it as a Wrestle Kingdom match. As for this particular bout, it wasn’t as bad as I feared it might, but the finish definitely takes it down a notch. **3/4

Best Of The Super Juniors 27
Ryusuke Taguchi (2) def. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion El Desperado (0)

The fourth out of five Best Of The Super Junior bouts saw a battle between two veterans of the junior division, and in the end, Taguchi got the win after catching El Desperado during a rollup exchange. This wasn’t quite as good as DOUKI vs. Eagles, but it was better than BUSHI vs. SHO. It was exactly the kind of match you would expect out of two veterans, with good action and nice exchanges from start to finish. Desperado targeted Taguchi’s leg throughout (of course, he went Taguchi’s ass occasionally, but that’s to be expected in Taguchi matches), and nearly scored a submission win after locking in Numero Dos. Taguchi was able to survive that, and almost had Desperado beat a few times in his own right, before getting that aforementioned pin during the rollup exchange. Even though Desperado is starting off his tournament with a loss, I’m sure he’ll be a contender before it’s over. ***1/4

World Tag League 2020
Juice Robinson & David Finlay (2) def. The Guerrillas of Destiny (0)

The biggest news to come out of this show was (arguably) Tama Tonga’s new haircut. I think we’ve all gotten so used to seeing that dude with long hair, or long hair with a beard. Now? He looks like a completely different person. It’s going to take time getting used to it for sure. As for Juice Robinson, he’s still rocking that Blues Brothers look from the G1 Climax.

This is actually a rematch from Night 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 14 back in January (still hard to believe that happened this year), and when the dust settled, the result was the same, as Juice Robinson and David Finlay managed to defeat G.O.D. to close out the World Tag League portion of this card. A pretty good bout from start to finish. Up to this point, it was tied with DOUKI vs. Eagles for match of the night. While it was the second-longest match on this card, it really didn’t feel that long at all. The fact that there was very solid action right from the opening bell probably helped out a lot, in that regard. We also didn’t see much interference from Jado, which was a nice surprise (I think he tried to get involved once, but was quickly disposed of by Juice). After Juice kicked out after taking the Magic Killer, G.O.D. went for the Super Powerbomb, but Finlay was able to break it up. A few moments later, Finlay and Juice put Tama Tonga away after hitting the Doomsday Device. Much like El Desperado, I wouldn’t worry much about this loss for G.O.D., as I’m sure they’ll be in contention before this tournament is over. ***1/2



Best Of The Super Juniors 27
Hiromu Takahashi (2) def. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori (0)

These two had an amazing Best Of The Super Junior Final back in 2018, but their most recent engagement at the Summer Struggle event in Jingu Stadium saw Taiji Ishimori win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title from Hiromu Takahashi. That bout was one of the highlights of that Jingu Stadium show, so this match had a lot to live up to. In the end, these two had an incredible bout that (in my view) was just as good as their title match in August. They went after each other straight away with some finisher teases, and from there, they never really slowed down. Hiromu had the edge in the first few minutes, but the moment completely swung in Ishimori’s favor, following a devastating piledriver on the apron. Ishimori would work on the neck from there, but Hiromu wouldn’t quit. The closing stretch of the match was, of course, fantastic (you would expect nothing less from these two). Ultimately, Hiromu managed to put Ishimori away with the Time Bomb. Hiromu was amazing as always, but Ishimori more than held up his end of things here. While he does get criticized for not really bringing it in certain cases, he always goes all out for a big match, and that was certainly the case here. Definitely go out of your way to seek this match out. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

While this was a generally good show from start to finish, there are only a few matches that I would say are worth checking out. Hiromu vs. Ishimori is definitely a must-watch match, and there are a couple of other bouts that I would say are worthy of a recommendation (FinnJuice vs. G.O.D., DOUKI vs. Eagles, and The Empire vs. Tanahashi & Henare more so for Cobb’s debut as a member of The Empire). That’s what I would say you should watch if you’re pressed for time. As for the concept of doing both tournaments on one show, I have mixed feelings. A lot of the matches weren’t that long (only the top two matches went over fifteen minutes), which was good. At the same time though, I was kinda exhausted by the end of it, and I’m glad that we’re only getting two of these joint shows on this tour.