NJPW’s World Tag League, Full Preview

This Saturday (11/21), NJPW will kick off its annual World Tag League Tournament with the finals to be held on December 9th. The tournament has pretty much the same rules as the G1 Climax, with 2 blocks of seven teams each. Each team will face every other team in its block once, with 2 points awarded to the victor and 1 point in case of a draw.

This tournament is often a bit overlooked, for the simple reason that while NJPW’s top stars are featured, with Wrestle Kingdom drawing near you know the Tanahashi’s, Okada’s, Nakamura’s and others will not win and will not take too many risks either. That being said, this year, the tournament is pretty open with several teams having a realistic chance of winning. Let’s take a look at this year entrants:

Block A:

Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga:

You could call them the Bullet Club’s B-team, but this pairing is certainly not uninteresting. While Fale has delivered some acceptable performances in recent times, let’s face it, he still sucks as a singles wrestler. Tama Tonga, on the other hand, is one of the most under-rated wrestlers on the NJPW roster. With Tonga carrying the matches and Fale delivering his power moves when needed, this team actually makes a lot of sense. They won’t be winning this year, but I do hope NJPW keeps them together and even pushes them a bit once Gallows and Anderson lose their belts. I mean what else are you gonna do with these two if you’re not gonna push them (anymore in Fale’s case) in the singles ranks?

Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma):

One of the favorites, if not THE favorites, to win this whole thing. It has been quiet around the Great Bash Heel stable in recent times, with Makabe and Honma both going after the NEVER title, but, now that Ishii has beaten both of them, GBH going after the Tag Team titles makes lots of sense. Honma’s popularity is at an all-time high and Makabe is also well liked by the Japanese crowds, so a Bullet Club (Anderson and Gallows) vs GBH match at Wrestle Kingdom would attract a lot of attention. And just imagine the Tokyo Dome reaction if Honma finally wins a title, they would go bat-shit crazy. GBH made it to the semi-finals two years ago, I fully expect them to do better this year.

Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi:

Team of veterans that has absolutely no chances of winning. Nakanishi is barely mobile nowadays but can still be effective in the role of brick wall. It all depends on Nagata here, will he be in the mood to go all out in a competition where he has little to win or lose? Regardless of what happens, expect them to finish at the bottom of this block.

Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS):

As mentioned above, Okada won’t be taking to many risks with his big revenge match against Tanahashi looming on the horizon. So it’s up to YOSHI-HASHI to carry the work load and take the pins. But there is that one match against Tanahashi and Elgin, expect the fireworks to happen there.

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin:

Same observations as with Okada, Tanahashi will let Elgin take the spotlight (and the pins) and only go all out during the Okada/Yoshi-Hashi match. Elgin is an interesting choice as a partner though. NJPW obviously has plans for him (if he doesn’t sign with WWE/NXT next year) so I expect this team to get far. Not all the way, but far. Will be nice to see Elgin mix it up with the japanes crew again, he’s always at his best when he’s in NJPW.

Toru Yano and Kazushi Sakuraba:

Probably the oddest pairing you can get NJPW, Yano’s comedy antics and Sakuraba’s straight MMA style are not really a match made in heaven. But they should provide some entertainment, at least Yano will. No chance of winning.

The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian):

A very interesting addition to this year’s tournament, The Addiction are certainly bringing some much needed excitement and unpredictability to NJPW4s tag team division. Like said above, GBH is the favorite to win this block, but with Daniel and kazarian, you never really know what’s going to happen, which is probably the reason NJPW booked them in the first place. Also, Daniels is hardly an unknown in Japan so expect the crowds to give him a great reaction. The Addiction will be eager to prove themselves in this new environment, after some strange booking in ROH. I’m still saying GBH will win Block A, but I wouldn’t be THAT surprised if The Addiction defies the odd. I certainly looking forward to see them in action.

 

Block B:

Meiyu Tag (Hirooki Goto And Katsuyori Shibata):

Last year’s winners are obviously amongst the favorites to win this tournament for the second time, but that would also mean we would have Anderson and Gallows vs Meiyu Tag for the second time in a row at WK. Not sure NJPW will go for that, especially since Goto and Shibata have gone their separate ways for most of 2015. I won’t dismiss their chances out of hand but there is an additional factor coming into play here, and that is:

Tetsuya Naito and EVIL:

This new Los Ingobernables association makes sense of course, certainly with La Sombra (Who was Naito’s partner last year) now with WWE. They are of course in a war against Shibata and Goto that has only heated up in recent weeks. Something has got to give at some point. There are two possibilities here, either both those teams end up costing each-other the victory in Block B, igniting an all-out war at Wrestle Kingdom 10, or one of those tems wins the tournament and the title at WK 10 to add something to their feud and completely refresh the tag team division. Something tells me it’s gonna be the first option, especially since that particular match is on last, but, just as Shibata and Goto, they won’t be far from the prize.

Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson:

The current tag team champions are in a strange place right now. Obviously favorites, but no-one really expect them to be champions after WK10. The Bullet Club members have had a weird year, starting well with their feud against Meiyu Tag, only to lose all momentum during their disastrous feud against The Kingdom and Maria’s ass. They regained some momentum in recent weeks, thanks partly to a spirited outing against TenKoji, but it’s difficult to see them keep those belts for much longer. I don’t see them winning their block either , since the WK 10 title match would then become a repetition of the final. In recent months, signs of tension were shown between the various BC members. Maybe that will come into play here?

AJ Styles and Yujiro Takahashi:

Same observations as with the Okada and Tanahashi teams, but worse. At least Okada and Tanahashi are teaming up with an exiting partner who will have no problem carrying the work-load. Poor AJ Styles is burdened with the man who probably since has a job only because his on-screen girlfriend is hot. It’s irrelevant in a way, as we all know Styles already has his big match at WK 10, but just imagine if the Phenomenal One was teaming up with Tama Tonga. Ah well…

Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima):

One of the most decorated tag teams in NJPW history, Tenzan and Kojima have also entered a very spirited performance against the champions recently. Can they win? No. Will they be eager to prove they can still go? Oh yes. That makes them a more than viable threat to just about any team in this block.

The Kingom (Matt Taven and Michael Bennett):

I’ve been a bit hard on those two in recent times, not really because I don’t like them, but simply because they don’t really exist in NJPW. The Kingdom has been reduced to maria’s ass. It’s a nice ass, no doubt about it, but if I want t watch asses, I tune in to Brazzers, not NJPW. It will be interesting to see how NJPW decides to book them here, the wrestling gods know more could be done with them, but I don’t have high hopes for the Kingdom to be honest.

Shinsuke Nakamura and Tomohiro Ishii:

I’m always interested in this particular team, if only because these are two of my favorite wrestlers. This is the fourth time in a row Nakamura and Ishii will be teaming up and they’ve come close to winning already, just to stumble on the last obstacle. This year will be no different since Nakamura already has something lined up for WK 10 and Ishii’s opponent for the Tokyo Dome show will undoubtedly be unveiled during his tournament. there is a slightly different dynamic this year though, since both are title holders. So it will be interesting to see who they lose against.

 

Finally are is the full schedule of this year’s tournament, I’ll try to make regular updates and keep you guys posted on how things progress.

11/21; 1:30 AM PST/4:30 AM EST (Live)

1) Mascara Dorada & David Finlay Jr. vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

2) Juice Robinson & Tiger Mask IV vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

3) Captain New Japan, Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA vs. Gedo, Michael Bennett & Matt Taven

4) Jay White, Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & AJ Styles

5) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano

6) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) EVIL & Tetsuya Naito vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

7) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura

8) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI


11/22; 12:00 AM PST/3:00 AM EST (Live)

1) Sho Tanaka, KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask IV vs. Yohei Komatsu, Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi

2) Jay White & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

3) Gedo, Michael Bennett & Matt Taven vs. Cody Hall, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

4) Captain New Japan & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

5) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata

6) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles

7) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) YOSHi-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada vs. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

8) Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura


11/23; 11:00 PM PST/2:00 AM EST

1) Jay White, KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask IV vs. David FInlay Jr., Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi

2) Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

3) Juice Robinson, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Captain New Japan, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata

4) YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, SHinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & AJ Styles

5) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Michael Bennett & Matt Taven vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

6) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

7) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson


11/24; 1:30 AM PST/4:30 AM EST

1) Jay White, David Finlay Jr., KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask IV vs. Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu, Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi 

2) Juice Robinson & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

3) Katsuyori Shibata, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Cody Hall, Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles

4) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels vs. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

5) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Michael Bennett & Matt Taven vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

6) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada

7) Michael Elgin, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Gedo, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura


11/27; 1:30 AM PST/4:30 AM EST (Live)

1) Jay White, David Finlay Jr. & Tiger Mask IV vs. Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu & Ryusuke Taguchi 

2) Juice Robinson, Mascara Dorada, KUSHIDA & Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger vs. Michael Bennett, Matt Taven, Gedo & Toru Yano

3) Captain New Japan, Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

4) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito 

5) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe

6) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

7) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles


11/28; 1:00 AM PST/4:00 AM EST

1) Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu & KUSHIDA vs. David Finlay Jr., Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi

2) Juice Robinson & Captain New Japan vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

3) Michael Bennett, Matt Taven & Toru Yano vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

4) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

5) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

6) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles

7) Tiger Mask IV, Michael Elgin, Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Gedo, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada


11/29; 12:00 AM PST/3:00 AM EST

1) Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu & Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

2) Jay White & KUSHIDA vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

3) Juice Robinson, Tiger Mask IV, Captain New Japan, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Cody Hall, Yujiro Takahashi, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson & AJ Styles

4) Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Gedo, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada

5) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

6) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Michael Bennett & Matt Taven

7) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata


11/30; 2:00 AM PST/5:00 AM EST

1) Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu, KUSHIDA & Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger vs. David Finlay Jr., Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask IV

2) Michael Elgin vs. Jay White

3) Captain New Japan, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale

4) Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

5) Michael Bennett, Matt Taven, YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada vs. Cody Hall, Doc Gallows. Karl Anderson & AJ Styles

6) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano

7) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan

8) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito


12/01; 2:00 AM PST/5:00 AM EST

1) Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. jay White, Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi & KUSHIDA

2) David Finlay Jr. & Michael Elgin vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

3) Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Tiger Mask IV, Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto

4) Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

5) Gedo, Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Cody Hall, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

6) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

7) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Michael Bennett & Matt Taven vs. Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles

8) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano


12/03; 2:00 AM PST/5:00 AM EST

1) Sho Tanaka & Tiger Mask IV vs. Jay White & Mascara Dorada

2) Yohei Komatsu & KUSHIDA vs. David Finlay Jr. & Ryusuke Taguchi

3) Captain New Japan, Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

4) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

5) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Michael Bennett & Matt Taven

6) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) EVIL & Tetsuya Naito vs. Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles

7) Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Michael Elgin, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Gedo, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazuchika Okada


12/04; 2:00 AM PST/5:00 AM EST

1) Jay White, KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask IV vs. David Finlay Jr., Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi

2) Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

3) Captain New Japan & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano

4) Juice Robinson & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

5) Michael Bennett, Matt Taven, Gedo, YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada vs. Cody Hall, Yujiro Takahashi, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson & AJ Styles

6) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

7) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

8) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura


12/05; 1:00 AM PST/4:00 AM EST

1) Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask IV vs. Jay White, David FInlay Jr., Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

2) Tomoaki Honma, Katsuyori Shibata & Togi Makabe vs. Juice Robinson, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata

3) Captain New Japan & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

4) Gedo & Kazuchika Okada vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

5) YOSHi-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

6) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Michael Bennett & Matt Taven

7) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

8) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano


12/06; 11:00 PM PST/2:00 AM EST (Live)

1) Sho Tanaka, Captain New Japan, Tiger Mask IV & Yuji Nagata vs. Yohei Komatsu, Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi & Manabu Nakanishi

2) Jay White & David Finlay Jr. vs. Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels

3) Juice Robinson, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Cody Hall, Yujiro Takahashi & AJ Styles

4) KUSHIDA, Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Gedo, Michael Bennett & Matt Taven

5) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

6) (World Tag League 2015 B Block) Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL & Tetsuya Naito

7) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano vs. Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale

8) (World Tag League 2015 A Block) Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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