New Japan Pro Wrestling
World Tag League 2020: Night 5
November 24, 2020
Big Palette Fukushima
Koriyama, Fukushima, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma def. Yuji Nagata & Yota Tsuji

The show kicked off with the same opening match that’s been on most of the shows throughout this tour, with the only change being that Yota Tsuji was the young lion on Nagata’s side instead of Gabriel Kidd. This was definitely on the lower end of these Kojima/Honma vs. Nagata/young lion openers, but the one thing I liked about it was that it was worked very differently from those other tag team bouts. On this occasion, the first half of the bout saw Tsuji play the role of Ricky Morton, as Kojima and Honma isolated him from Nagata. Tsuji does eventually make the tag to Nagata, and the action becomes more even from here. After tagging back in a few minutes later, Tsuji ends up eating the fall (as expected) after a Kojima lariat. Again, not the best of these tag team openers, but I appreciate them giving Tsuji the chance to play a different role so he can gain more experience. **3/4

World Tag League 2020
Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (2) def. David Finlay & Juice Robinson (4)

After starting off the 2020 edition of World Tag League with four straight losses, the Bullet Club duo of Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens finally got points on the board, as they scored a huge upset win over the defending World Tag League winners in FinnJuice. This was a match that I wasn’t looking forward to, but when the dust settled, it ended up being a pretty decent bout. The wrestling throughout was decent enough (we’re talking about a match involving Bad Luck Fale, so the standards are low to begin with), and most important, we really didn’t have many Bullet Club shenanigans to speak of. Now out of the three Bullet Club teams, the Fale/Owens matches have had the least shenanigans in general (they’re the only one of the three that doesn’t have a manager in their corner), but still, I was very surprised with how relatively clean this match was from start to finish. The finish came when Fale and Owens hit David Finlay with their new tag team finisher, which is called the Grenade Launcher (Fale gives Finlay the Grenade while Chase delivers a Straightjacket German Suplex). A nice finisher that helps to establish Fale and Owens more as a regular team. While FinnJuice are now at a bit of a deficit compared to the rest of the field, I wouldn’t be too worried. Fale and Owens were bound to get a win at some point. Plus, I imagine that FinnJuice will go on a bit of a winning streak to get back into contention going into the final night. ***

World Tag League 2020
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare (2) def. EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi (6)

With Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens winning in the tournament opener, that left Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toa Henare as the only team without any points. Well, they also managed to finally get points on the board, as they managed to stop the Bullet Club team of EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi from reaching 8 Points. While this did have more shenanigans than the previous bout (because of Dick Togo, of course), I still thought this was another really decent match on this card. Tanahashi and Henare had the edge early, though the heels gained control after Yujiro and Togo took off one of the turnbuckle pads at just the right moment. They worked over Henare for a bit before he eventually made the tag to Tanahashi. It was during this comeback that Togo was able to give Tanahashi a dragon screw behind the referee’s back, and that gave EVIL the opening to lock on the sharpshooter. Tanahashi would get some payback later, as he hit all three members of the opposing side with dragon screws after Yujiro had used his walking stick on Henare. The finish saw Henare pin Yujiro following the Rampage Tackle and the Toa Bottom. This was a pretty big moment for Henare, as this was the biggest win of his career since graduating from young lion status (let’s not forget that Yujiro did spend part of the year feuding with Okada). It’s a little weird that it happened on one of the smaller tournament shows, but still, you can’t deny the moment. Hopefully, this officially opens the door for Henare to get more wins in the coming months. We now know he can beat the Yujiro’s of the world, and it’s a good sign for him going into 2021. ***

World Tag League 2020
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (6) def. The Guerrillas of Destiny (6)

Following intermission, we got our second instance of a Bullet Club team getting blocked from reaching 8 Points, as the CHAOS team of Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano managed to defeat The Guerrillas of Destiny. This win brought Ishii and Yano back up to 4 Points, which keeps them in the hunt with the rest of the pack. Another match on this show that was relatively solid for what it was. A turnbuckle pad came off early (no surprise there), and both sides got the opportunity to use it. G.O.D. beat down Yano for a bit before he was finally able to make the tag to Ishii, who actually managed to fight off both members of G.O.D. at once. It became a more even affair down the stretch, and G.O.D. nearly had the match won a few times, but in the end, an attempt to cheat backfired on them. Tama Tonga tried to use Jado’s kendo stick on Yano, but he ducked, and Tama hit Tanga Loa instead. This allowed Yano to send Tama to the outside, hit Tanga Loa with a low blow, and roll him up for the win. Another fine match. Nothing much else to say about it, to be honest. Yano was Yano, and Ishii had some good exchanges with Tama Tonga. The win for the CHAOS side just helps to tighten up the standings. ***

World Tag League 2020
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Dangerous Tekkers (6) def. The Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb (6)

For the third match in a row, a team on the verge of getting up to 8 Points failed to do so, as The Great O-Khan and Jeff Cobb, representing The Empire, fell to the current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. This was definitely the best match of the show, up to this point. Cobb and O-Khan jumped Dangerous Tekkers before the bell, and spent the first few minutes working over Sabre, who failed to lock in any submissions on Cobb during his attempt to fight back. Finally, Taichi got tagged in after Sabre hit O-Khan with a Tornado DDT. From there, we got some very solid back and forth action down the stretch. After a nice exchange that saw Sabre use a triangle choke to counter O-Khan’s Eliminator (his claw slam), Dangerous Tekkers were able to nail some kicks on O-Khan, before connecting with the Zack Mephisto for the pin. While it wasn’t one of the top tournament bouts thus far, it was definitely a level above the other matches on this card. It was interesting to see Sabre and Taichi work as the defacto babyfaces here. Perhaps we’ll see more examples in the coming months, but I take this as a sign that, in terms of where the units fall on the face/heel spectrum, The Empire is definitely more heelish than Suzuki-gun. It’s also worth noting that O-Khan took the fall once again in a match where The Empire lost, so at least for now, Cobb is slotted higher than O-Khan. ***1/2

World Tag League 2020
NEVER Openweight Champion Shingo Takago & SANADA (8) def. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI (4)

Coming into this main event, the big question was whether the pattern seen in previous matches would continue. The team representing LIJ came into this match with 6 Points, and since the previous three matches saw teams at 6 Points suffer defeats, they had the chance to take sole possession of first place. Well, they managed to do just that, as they defeated the CHAOS duo of Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI after SANADA got YOSHI-HASHI to tap out to the Skull End. This was a very good main event that (in my view) just barely beats out the previous bout for MOTN honors. There was really solid action throughout the bout, which shouldn’t come as much of a shock, considering that Goto and Shingo were involved. While I know some don’t think highly of SANADA and YOSHI-HASHI, they more than held up their end of things in this one, with SANADA only having a minor flub right before the finish. Both sides have really started to come into their own as teams. Goto and YOSHI-HASHI have a number of nice double-team moves (many of those were on display here). As for SANADA and Shingo, I’ve enjoyed them a lot as a team thus far. I know Shingo is the NEVER Openweight Champion, and I know the fact that he and SANADA in the lead this early doesn’t mean much (with a number of shows left), but I wouldn’t eliminate this LIJ team as potential winners just yet. With two Tokyo Dome shows, Shingo doing two title matches across both shows is definitely possible. Will it happen? I don’t know if I would put money on it, but we’ll see what happens on the back-half of this tournament. ***3/4

Final Thoughts

This turned out to be a relatively solid World Tag League show from top to bottom. While all of the tournament matches were decent, at the very least (even the worst match was in Gentleman’s Three territory), the only matches that I would say are worth checking out are The Empire vs. Dangerous Tekkers, and CHAOS vs. LIJ. The fact that the two best matches on this show involved non-Bullet Club teams should come as a shock to absolutely no one.

Here are the updated standings for the World Tag League. The LIJ team of SANADA & Shingo Takagi sit atop of the standings at 8 Points, while there’s a massive logjam of teams behind them at 6 Points. Behind that logjam, there are two teams sitting at 4 Points, and two teams at 2 Points.

  • SANADA & Shingo Takagi – 8 Points
  • The Guerrillas Of Destiny – 6 Points
  • EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi – 6 Points
  • The Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb – 6 Points
  • Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. – 6 Points
  • Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano – 6 Points
  • Juice Robinson & David Finlay – 4 Points
  • Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI – 4 Points
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare – 2 Points
  • Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens – 2 Points