ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2021 Night 1
NOVEMBER 13, 2021
As I sit down to watch the show, it’s about 9:10 p.m. Eastern, and I realize that I’m going to be skipping Rampage to watch this live. I realize that I am part of an extremely small number of people choosing to watch All Japan over AEW, but I am that kind of sicko.
Before the dark match, the Saito Brothers, Suwama and TAJIRI came out to the ring and the Saitos took the mic to talk about their big news.Congratulations that are in order for the Saito Brothers, as it was announced on Thursday they will be going on an excursion to the U.S. in January for maybe as long as six months. While it is easier for them to go on an American excursion because they are half-American, I think it is a sign that the company wants to get the ball rolling on pushing them hard once they return. I look forward to them popping up on indies across the U.S. The Saito Brothers Respect Army is about to get a lot more American members.
Apparently Grapplers Anonymous near Buffalo has expressed interest in having them train there, which is tremendous news as it was the school that produced Daniel Garcia and they have some great trainers. There is also interest from Slyck Wagner Brown’s Test of Strength school and promotion in Hartford. And the Saito Brothers already have two bookings for January. On January 21, they will be on at the MLW show in Dallas alongside TAJIRI and on January 28, they will be on a PCW Ultra show in Los Angeles, which incidentally also has Stan Hansen making an appearance and New Japan’s Yuya Uemura wrestling on it. Their excursion already looks to be off to a great start.
IZANAGI DEF. BLACK MENSO~RE (5:57)
This match, a dark match was changed up at the last minute because, tragically, rookie Ryoma Tsukamoto tore his ACL while training. Such an awful injury to have only months into one’s career, especially since Tsukamoto shows so much promise. I am sending him best wishes on a full and speedy recovery.
This was not exactly the match I thought I would get from these two. Devil Murasaki did a bunch of comedy stuff on the outside as well as interference, including pulling Menso~re under the ring, removing his mask and causing a countout. The referee saw none of this of course while Izanagi just stood around in the ring. On one hand, this was a dark match that had to be re-booked last minute, but on the other it was technically the worst match I’ve seen in All Japan in a long time. All the more infuriating is the fact that these guys could have a good match. I can’t wait for the Murasaki character to run its course and stop dragging down Izanagi. I am even more concerned than I was before about what kind of match quality the Izanagi and Murasaki team is going to bring to this tournament. DUD
Before the show officially got underway, we got the traditional introduction of all the teams in the Real World Tag League coming out to the ring accompanied by the theme music that has been used for decades entitled Olympia. Devil Murasaki still had Black Menso~re’s mask in his possession when he came out. Jake Lee attacked Yuma Aoyagi from behind and Abullah Kobayashi and Kento Miyahara also brawled briefly. Everybody is gunning for last year’s winners.
REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2021 D BLOCK
PURPLE HAZE (ZEUS & IZANAGI)  DEF. AXE BOMBERS (TAKAO OMORI & ISAMI KODAKA)  (9:45)
With this tournament match opening the show, you know it’s probably because Irie and/or Kodaka need to be somewhere else for another show in a couple of hours, so they go on first. This was all action from the start. Omori and Zeus also had some fun exchanges, and Omori was working harder than usual (I mean, he is 52). Irie found himself in a tight spot, with Kodaka getting some really close near falls with some cradles. Irie went for a Beast Bomer, but Kodaka reversed into an attempted backslide, but then Irie reversed it again into a cradle pin for the win. This was a lot of fun. ***½
TOTAL ECLIPSE (KOJI DOI & KUMA ARASHI) DEF. RYUJI HIJIKATA & DAN TAMURA (4:13)
Tamura was holding his own against both Total Eclipse members for a little bit, but eventually got overpowered and double-teamed. Tamura blocked a Lariat from Doi but then Doi powered up and hit another one and got the win. Tamura looked pretty good here. Hijikata didn’t do much but he did throw some great-looking kicks on both of his opponents at one point. This match set out what is was supposed to do, make KumaDoi look rough and strong **¾
TAJIRI & SUPER CRAZY DEF. NEXTREAM (ATSUKI AOYAGI & RISING HAYATO) (8:50)
TAJIRI and Super Crazy came out to the ECW theme because, of course, they did. My interest in this match is primarily to see if Super Crazy still has any gas left in the tank. Super Crazy and HAYATO started with some grappling and mat work, and it was fine. Instead of showing off what Super Crazy can still do, this was all about Nextream whipping out a bunch of high flying moves and funky reversals. HAYATO rolled out of the way of a Super Crazy Moonsault, but when HAYATO went to follow up, Super Crazy rolled him up for the three count. This was fun, but it was really all thanks to Nextream who looked great here. Super Crazy didn’t do anything flashy other than a Moonsault and the rolling Romero Special into a Dragon Sleeper, but at the same time he wasn’t horrible either. He was a perfectly acceptable professional wrestler. He looked better than TAJIRI here and did most of the work. ***
RUNAWAY SUPLEX (SUWAMA & SHOTARO ASHINO) & TWIN TOWERS (SHUJI ISHIKAWA & KOHEI SATO) DEF. KOJI IWAMOTO, RYUKI HONDA, JUN SAITO & REI SAITO (5:59)
I believe that this is the first time Suwama and Ishikawa find themselves on the same team since Violent Giants broke up this past January. The Saitos now have nice little matching jackets they wear out to the ring. This had some really cool stuff. Iwamoto managed to take out the Twin Towers at one point all by himself. The Saitos looked really good against Ashino. Jun and Suwama slapped the shit out of each other at one point. After surviving a Lariat from Suwama, Jun was pinned with a Backdrop. Added to this fun stuff in the ring, was the very WWE storyline of Runaway Suplex and the Twin Towers teasing tension with each other as they teamed. Can they co-exist??? Well apparently they did enough to have won this match. ***¼
It was announced after the last match, that the December 16 Korakuen Hall show will have Zeus’ last match as a contracted member of the All Japan roster.
REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2021 C BLOCK
KENGO MASHIMO & KAZMA SAKAMOTO  DEF. YOSHITATSU KINGDOM (YOSHITATSU & SEIGO TACHIBANA)  (3:21)
Mashimo and SAKAMOTO attacked before the bell, leaving poor Tachibana to have to wrestle the match in his leisure suit, though he eventually ditched the jacket. Yoshitatsu almost botched a Tornado DDT, though in the end, it landed the right way, but it looked awkward. Yoshitatsu got tossed out of the ring, Tachibana got double-teamed then SAKAMOTO won with the Half Package Driver. This was an effective squash to establish a new team and Mashimo and SAKAMOTO looked good. I can’t wait to see what else they do in the tournament. **½
REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2021 A BLOCK
ABDULLAH KOBAYASHI & DREW PARKER  DEF. TOTAL ECLIPSE  (JAKE LEE & HOKUTO OMORI) (8:19)
This started with brawling outside. Omori got some color from Kobayashi’s fork. He also got choked by Kobayashi’s bull rope. At one point Omori threw referee Nikkan Lee to the ground, and this allowed Total Eclipse to double team Kobayashi. Lee got tied up outside the ring with the bull rope around his foot which made the Triple Crown Champion look like a bit of a chump. Kobayashi brutalized Omori with a chair and got the win with a Flying Elbow Drop. I guess this wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, but it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been either. Way too much Kobayashi and not enough Parker, who did look good in the spots he got. After the match, a very pissed-off Lee tried to strangle Kobayashi with the bull rope. **¼
REAL WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2021 B BLOCK
NEXTREAM (KENTO MIYAHARA & YUMA AOYAGI)  DREW STRONGHEARTS (T-HAWK & EL LINDAMAN)  (30:00)
This one started slow, with each team trying to feel each other out. Nextream was in control for a while and looked quite dominant, but eventually, the tides turned and StrongHearts took control with T-Hawk dominating Miyahara with strikes, and Miyahara sold well. I thought the early work in the match was solid enough, and liked when StrongHearts was in control, but it was hardly dynamic. Things would eventually pick up, and StrongHearts would maintain control for a surprising amount of the rest of the match. In the closing minutes, El Lindaman got in a huge flurry of offense and a 2.9 count on Aoyagi in easily the best sequence of this match. Aoyagi managed to recover with only seconds left in the match and tried to get El Lindaman into the End Game but the time limit expired.
I really dug the finish as it made sense Aoyagi couldn’t quite put El Lindaman away after being on the receiving end of StrongHearts’ offense immediately before. El Lindaman was incredible as usual and the standout of the match followed by Aoyagi. T-Hawk and Miyahara were no slouches either.
But it was clear from the first few minutes of this match that this was probably going to a time-limit draw. I don’t have an issue with that result, but I do have an issue with how you fill the time, especially in the opening minutes of the match. The work was never what I would call boring, everyone in this is too good for that to happen, but it still worked for the sake of filling up time. I don’t want to come off too negative here. This was a very good match. And it can be seen as a big victory of sorts for StrongHearts, given that the All Asia tag champions are usually booked clearly weaker than teams that have held the World Tag titles. So to go to a draw here means something. I would call this overall a mild disappointment. If you are an All Japan die-hard, you should watch this match. If you’re just dropping in because you are a StrongHearts fan, you can probably just skip it. ***¾
This was a good opening night to the tournament. The matches that I thought we be weaker certainly were and the main event did not quite live up to my expectations. However, the show still had a feel that the tournament is a big deal. The past several years of the Real World Tag League have been good, though generally not great until the final night. But the potential of the tournament surpass some of its recent editions in terms of overall match quality is still there.