NJPW World Tag League 2015: Days 1 to 4

ロゴ元

The World Tag League, as it has been known since 2012, is a round-robin tournament split into two blocks of seven teams. The winners of these blocks will face each other in the finals to determine the number one contenders for a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th (assuming current holders Anderson & Gallows don’t win). Thirty-minute time limit, two points for a victory, one point for a draw. Here are the blocks:

A Block

  • Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga
  • Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma (Great Bash Heel)
  • Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
  • Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS)
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin
  • Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba
  • Christopher Daniels & Kazarian (The Addiction)

B Block

  • Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata (Meiyu Tag)
  • Tetsuya Naito & EVIL (Los Ingobernables)
  • Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows (Bullet Club)
  • A.J. Styles & Yujiro Takahashi
  • Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan (Tencozy)
  • Michael Bennett & Matt Taven (The Kingdom)
  • Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura

I’ll only be covering the tournament matches and, even then, doing so with brevity until a full review of the Finals on December 9th.

Here we go…

Day One – November 21st, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

Honma & Makabe vs. Sakuraba & Yano (A Block) **1/4

This went just over 7 minutes, with Yano getting the pinfall on Honma after a low blow. A small upset, perhaps, since Great Bash Heel seem like potential block winners at the very least.

Evil & Naito vs. Anderson & Gallows (B Block) **3/4

Pre-match, a returning BUSHI revealed himself as another new member of the Japanese branch of Los Ingobernables. There was some decent action in this one with both teams attempting to out-heel the other. Bushi interfered with the Black Mist to Gallows which allowed Naito to hit Destino for the win.

Side note: some interesting information from Señor Lariato on Twitter regarding the different colours of Mist; Green blinds, Red burns, Blue KO’s, Yellow paralyses and Black blinds and poisons, sapping strength for a lengthy period of time.

Goto & Shibata vs. Ishii & Nakamura (B Block) ****

Great wrestling from four of the best around. Breathless stuff. Shibata got the win with a Penalty Kick on Ishii at around 12 minutes.

Elgin & Tanahashi vs. Okada & Yoshi-Hashi (A Block) ***3/4

The sequences between Tanahashi and Okada had some real added nastiness, which was great to see ahead of their Wrestle Kingdom showdown. Tonnes of heat for this one and the Korakuen Hall crowd love Elgin, even if I don’t.

Day Two – November 22nd, Aichi, Japan

Honma & Makabe vs. Nagata & Nakanishi (A Block) **3/4

Considering Nakanishi is immobile this was alright. Honma hit plenty Kokeshis, but to no avail, as in the end Nagata planted him with a Backdrop Driver for the three-count. Not a good start for Honma and Makabe.

Kojima & Tenzan vs. Styles & Takahashi (B Block) **1/2

Poor Styles, being paired with a lump like Takahashi. Tencozy got to look better than usual courtesy of Styles and Kojima nailed Takahashi with a lariat for the win.

Okada & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Fale & Tonga (A Block) **3/4

Okada and Fale had some good exchanges here, calling back to their feud earlier in the year. Tonga looks improved every time I see him and deserves better than his current spot, but his job here was to take the Rainmaker for the pin and that’s what he did.

Day Three – November 23rd, Kuwana, Japan

Bennett & Taven vs. Evil & Naito (B Block) **

A house show set-up made for a house show match. A ref distraction allowed Bushi to mist Bennett and Naito hit Destino for the win.

Elgin & Tanahashi vs. Daniels & Kazarian (A Block) ***1/4

Tanahashi was your Ace-in-peril here, and did a sterling job with his selling – as always. Elgin got in several nice strength spots and Daniels & Kazarian demonstrated their considerable team experience. Tanahashi connected with the High Fly Flow to Kazarian for the win. Fun match.

Goto & Shibata vs. Anderson & Gallows (B Block) ***1/4

A repeat of the Wrestle Kingdom 9 tag title match, and it drew a better performance from Anderson & Gallows than I’ve seen in a while. Plenty of intensity too. Goto and Anderson got a chance to show off with their intricate rope-running sequences and, in the end, Shibata put Gallows away with the Sleeper and Penalty Kick.

Day Four – November 24th, Ishikawa, Japan

Daniels & Kazarian vs. Fale & Tonga (A Block) **

The work here was more than adequate, but put two foreign tags teams against each other and the Japanese crowd just won’t care. Daniels and Kazarian won with a convoluted double team move that didn’t look like it ended well for Tama Tonga.

Bennett & Taven vs. Anderson & Gallows (B Block) **1/4

Another all-foreigner match. These two teams had an interminable “comedy” feud earlier in the year, although it has to be said the most over spot in this match was when Maria distracted Anderson by dancing with him. Bullet Club hit the Magic Killer for the win at 10 minutes.

Nagata & Nakanishi vs. Okada & Yoshi-Hashi (A Block) **3/4

Okada and Nagata have great chemistry, as evidenced by their G1 Climax match, and were able to showcase some of it here, although the aged-but-over Nakanishi took most of the offence in the middle portion. Okada scored a pinfall after hitting Nakanishi with the Rainmaker. Definitely helped that everyone was over and it ended up being a solid contest.

Standings after Day 4

A Block

  • Elgin & Tanahashi – 4 (2-0)
  • Okada & Yoshi-Hashi – 4 (2-1)
  • Sakuraba & Yano – 2 (1-0)
  • Daniels & Kazarian – 2 (1-1)
  • Nagata & Nakanishi – 2 (1-1)
  • Fale & Tonga – 0 (0-2)
  • Honma & Makabe – 0 (0-2)

B Block

  • Evil & Naito – 4 (2-0)
  • Goto & Shibata – 4 (2-0)
  • Kojima and Tenzan – 2 (1-0)
  • Gallows and Anderson – 2 (1-2)
  • Ishii & Nakamura – 0 (0-1)
  • Styles & Takahashi – 0 (0-1)
  • Bennett and Taven – 0 (0-2)

Final thoughts: Serviceable stuff for the most part, particularly considering that all but Day One were effectively house shows, but the two top matches from that first show are worth seeing for sure.

I’ll be back again after the next batch of shows – I hope. See you then.