Saturday, November 21, 2015
NJPW World Tag League 2015 Night One
Earlier today, New Japan started their World Tag League Tournament. This tournament will go on for a few weeks and the winners get an IWGP Tag Team Title shot at Wrestle Kingdom 10. I was able to watch the entire show and I will try to watch the whole tournament but I can’t guarantee that I will have the time to do so. If I can’t, I will do my best to at least watch the tournament matches.
Originally, this was planned to feature the return of BUSHI. For some reason, he didn’t make it here and was replaced by David Finlay. I was okay with this because Finlay is one of the Young Lions and they almost always deliver on these shows. Due to there not being two luchadores on the other side, Dorada kind of seemed like the odd man out. Still, these guys worked very well together and provided a fun short opener. Dorada won for his guys with the Dorada Screwdriver. I wish the other guys won though, since this was a last minute thrown together duo.
Here we had the New Japan debut of the Addiction. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian will be participating in the Tag League, but this was here to establish them as a heel team and give them a win. In that respect, it did the job it had to. Still, it was worst thing on the show. The Addiction did the little heel things you’d expect them to do to garner heat. Juice Robinson did his usual hot tag stuff, which I feel like I’ve seen a thousand times already, even though it’s only been a few times. He ate Celebrity Rehab to end this.
Normally, I hate seeing Ryusuke Taguchi but that was offset by the sight of Maria. She’s pretty much perfect. Looking at this match, there were really only two people that I would say I like, which were KUSHIDA and Michael Bennett. The fact that KUSHIDA isn’t still the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion is a travesty. The dude is fantastic. Captain New Japan came out wearing Taguchi like glasses, which was pretty funny. The match itself was kind of just there. KUSHIDA was the only person on his team to not fall for the charms of Maria, with Captain New Japan even taking off his belt at the sight of her. This led to the Kingdom hitting the Hail Mary for the win.
Outside of AJ Styles, this wasn’t exactly the best unit the Bullet Club could put forth. Well, I do enjoy Tama Tonga. Anyway, this was a pretty basic contest. It was cool to see Jay White team with the veterans of New Japan. There wasn’t much work from AJ Styles, leaving this to the lesser guy. There was a power battle between Bad Luck Fale and Manabu Nakanishi shortly before the finish. Yujiro Takahashi and his newly dyed hair picked up the win for his team in a match was kind of just there.
Coming into the World Tag League Tournament and knowing some of the card for Wrestle Kingdom, I’m expecting Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe to win the whole thing. This looked like it would be a win for them but that damn Toru Yano struck and changed those thoughts. There was some fun back and forth between Kazushi Sakuraba and Honma, where Sakuraba had an answer for everything Honma did. Yano being Yano, he rolled up Honma and stole two points.
EVIL came out with his ridiculous grim reaper gear. Then, we thought Tetsuya Naito was out but the man removed his mask and turned out to be BUSHI, the newest member of Los Ingobernables. EVIL is also sporting a purple streak in his hair. This was a good old fashioned battle of two heel teams. It was cool to see both of them playing the role and trying to outdo each other. BUSHI was kind of just there at ringside for most of the match but got involved in the finish. He spit mist into Doc Gallows’ face, allowing Naito to nail Destino and pick up the win over the IWGP Tag Team Champions. After the match, Naito beat up the official because Los Ingobernables give zero fucks. Overall, this was a solid bout.
I expect to see Shinsuke Nakamura and Tomohiro Ishii pick up a lot of wins during this tournament since they hold the Intercontinental and NEVER Titles. Meiyu Tag won the entire thing last year before winning the belts at Wrestle Kingdom 9. This was pretty great because every interaction delivered. Everyone had good chemistry with each other and there was never a dull moment. Katsuyori Shibata and Ishii have had some of my favorite matches in the last few years, while Ishii and Goto had a great match during the G1 this year. Nakamura has also had great matches with both opponents. There were a lot of good to great spots throughout this and everything done was hard hitting. Ishii hit Shibata with a sick headbutt for a close call before Shibata beat him with the PK. This was tremendous and one of the better tag matches I’ve seen all year.
After his performance during the G1 Climax, Michael Elgin is very over with the Japanese crowd, especially the fans in Korakuen Hall. He started with YOSHI-HASHI and had a fine exchange before tagging Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi put YOSHI in Kazuchika Okada’s corner and demanded Okada come in. That’s so great. It adds to their Wrestle Kingdom match and both men just tore into each other. I don’t know how the build was for some of their other matches, but if the WK10 match ends up being anything like the build, it should be much more physical and personal than the past ones. Okada is a smug dick throughout this, even smirking when Elgin attacks him. This was chaos throughout, pun intended, and Elgin press slammed Tanahashi into High Fly Flow out onto Okada. He then hit a buckle bomb and a spinning powerbomb on YOSHI-HASHI for the victory.
Overall: As is the case with a fair amount of New Japan shows, the first half, outside of the Young Lions, left something to be desired. However, the actual Tag League matches were all pretty good to great. The final two are among the best tag matches I’ve seen all year long and show that there is some serious potential for greatness during this tournament. The main event also did a fantastic job in building towards Wrestle Kingdom 10, which is always appreciated.