World Tag League Update: Night 1

Tetsuya Naito makes successful return, TAKA Michinoku not so much

After best of the Super Jr. got started on November 13 in Korakuen Hall, the very next night saw World Tag League get underway with six tournament matchups. 

The main event saw Tetsuya Naito make his in ring return, teaming with SANADA as they faced CHAOS’ Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI. A high paced opening saw SANADA gain a quick advantage on Goto, with Naito getting quickly into the ring for his first taste of World Tag League action in five years. It was not a great taste for El Ingobernable though, and Naito would be taken down and worked over by Goto. 

SANADA was waiting for support, and a plancha to Goto, but the Fierce Warrior held the key to the Paradise Lock and broke free to bring YOSHI-HASHI back inside. After Naito painfully trolled the Headhunter with a double leg Nelson that he was ‘unable’ to release in the ropes, YOSHI-HASHI was furious on offense and connected with Goto for double team work. The Kumagoroshi would not score though, and as the match broke down, Naito landed a rope swing DDT.

A top rope Frankensteiner followed, and Naito set up for Destino, only to be rocked with a YOSHI-HASHI lariat. The Kumagoroshi scored this time for two, and YOSHI-HASHI followed with the Butterfly Lock as Goto held SANADA down. Naito finally made the ropes, having suffered immense damage, and fell victim to the Violent Flash, before the CHAOS pairing went for Shoto, only for SANADA to make the save. 

SANADA was a ball of energy that almost brought Naito to a jackknife pin victory. Instead YOSHI-HASHI kicked out, but with Cold Skull assisting and then diving to Goto outside, YOSHI-HASHI was alone to take Valentia and then Destino for the three. 

Toru Yano and Hiroshi Tanahashi, certainly the strangest pairing of the World Tag League came out with a unique throwback Japanese tough look (referencing the Toru and Hiroshi characters in the movie Be-Bop High School), but the fun ended at the bell as Yujiro Takahashi took over on the Ace and then Yano would be isolated on the floor.

As Tanahashi made the save, Yano used his own dirty tactics to send Yujiro into exposed steel, and connected with Tanahashi for a unique double turnbuckle pad Dragon Screw, but when Dick Togo cut the lights, EVIL and Yujiro were in control and the referee was missing. Stoill, the ever resourceful Yano was somehow able to land a rare triple low blow on all the HOUSE OF TORTURE members, and rolled up Yujiro for the win. 

Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare represented the United Empire to take on Henare’s one time coach in Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens. The match quickly spilled to the outside before the BULLET CLUB duo isolated O-Khan. After strikes to both opponents, O-Khan was joined by Henare for a double team Sheep Killer on Owens, who would be worked over by the United Empire pairing. 

On getting the tag, Fale used super heavyweight power on Henare, but O-Khan connected well with the Ultimate Weapon to turn the match back to their side. Henare proved too heavy for Henare to land the Streets of Rage though, and after a C-Trigger from Owens, the Grenade Launcher would connect to give BULLET CLUB two points.  

A highly motivated Great Bash Heel started hot and heavy against Tama Tonga, with heavy boots in the GBH corner until Tonga was able to bring the waiting Tanga Loa in. G.o.D effectively isolated Tomoaki Honma who tried to battle his way to Togi Makabe, eventually getting a combo DDT and complete shot to bring the Unchained Gorilla inside. 

Makabe fired off shots to Loa, who responded with a spear to tag in Tonga, but after a Makabe lariat, Honma would come back in to score with a Kokeshi. Happy Honma was decidedly less pleased with a Tongan Twist from Tama but hung on to avoid a Gunstun, and as Makabe came back in, struck with a lariat sandwich. But another double lariat attempt was foiled by Loa, and a Tonga Gunstun scored flush on Honma. 

Tiger mask and Yuji Nagata battled TenCozy in a battle of veterans. While Tiger Mask was isolated early, he used his maneuverability to stay in the ring and put Kojima on the back foot. Nagata kept up the offense with hard kicks, but hard kicks would see Tenzan back inside. As the pace built, Tiger almost fell prey to the TenCozy Cutter before a Tiger Driver got two on Kojima instead, and after Kojima kicked out of a Crucifix, Tiger transitioned into a double arm bar that sent the bread lover to the ropes. With Kojima spaghetti legged, Nagata and Tiger hit a combination double kick, but that only woke Kojima up. Tiger went off the ropes, but was cracked with a lariat for the three.

IWGP Tag Team Champions Dangerous Tekkers got the league officially underway as they faced Minoru Suzuki and the returning TAKA Michinoku in a Suzuki-Gun derby. Taichi would get a jump start on TAKA Michinoku and waffled his estranged friend with a chair on the floor before choking him with a cable and keeping up the pressure inside the ring; even when TAKA was in a position to make a tag, Suzuki refused, demanding that Michinoku work his own way back into the match.

This he did with a running knee that brought the King inside. Suzuki and Sabre would trade hard elbows, and Suzuki would get a rear naked choke before trying for the Gotch Style Piledriver, only for Sabre to counter and land some harsh kicks. After Taichi and Suzuki threw some more stiff strikes, TAKA got back in against a weakened Holy Emperor, only for  Taichi found the upper hand with the Seitei Jujiro.

Michinoku fought back with submission offense of his own; as the match passed 15 minutes, TAKA and Taichi traded enzuigiris before the Holy Emperor scored a series of blistering mid kicks to Michinoku before a Dangerous Backdrop. Suzuki barked at TAKA to find his feet, and when he responded to a ten count from the referee, would be hit with a Black Mephisto, this time unable to respond to the referee and losing via knockout. After the match, a furious Taichi yelled at Suzuki asking why he was brought back to New Japan. Suzuki responded that Taichi was called back because like Zack and Taichi himself, they are brothers, leading to a fist bump of reacceptance.