World Tag League Update: night 4

LIJ lead way after Kawasaki action

Kawasaki saw night four of the World Tag League on November 24, with Tetsuya Naito and SANADA alone at the top of the table after Dangerous Tekkers suffered a shock loss to the United Empire.

The main event on the night saw two undefeated teams face off for a spot at the head of the table, with the ‘Be-Bop High School’ combo of Toru Yano and Hiroshi Tanahashi facing Tetsuya Naito and SANADA. Yano was certainly itching to pick a fight with SANADA at the bell, but would regret his decision, caught in a rolling cradle that got two, and a panicked tag to Tanahashi. The Ace struck effectively against both LIJ opponents, but Naito and SANADA’s teamwork proved more effective, a double team groin stretch doing damage as SANADA tied Yano to the rope with a Paradise Lock. 

Yano had to watch helpless as Tanahashi received a Paradise Lock of his own, a dropkick from SANADA finally freeing both men. A high cross from the Ace though and Yano would come in, bringing a rather different set of tactics. Yano’s attempt to use the corner pad to his advantage did not pay off though, and neither did a hesitant attempt at a plancha. with Tanahashi taking a TKO from SANADA, it seemed as if Be-Bop High School’s chances were waning even as Yano made the save. 

A Skull End attempt was countered with a rollup for two, and then Tanahashi landed Twist and Shout before a Slingblade. A High Fly Flow only found empty canvas, but a SANADA Moonsault only found Yano’s clutches, as Cold Skull was slingshotted into a palm strike. An assisted Dragon Screw caught Naito, and Tanahashi went for the kill, but an O’Connor Roll would see SANADA pick up the pinfall win. 

The IWGP Tag Team Champions Dangerous Tekkers also headed into the night unbeaten, and Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. looked to extend their lead over the United Empire’s Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare. After a match of the tournament contender in the G1, O-Khan and Sabre took to the mat for a grappling exchange in the early moments, but it would be Sabre creating the first opening, targeting O-Khan’s elbow and bringing Taichi inside. 

Henare would hit the ring to help out the Dominator, and when Taichi was held back, the Ultimate Weapon uncorked some devastating body blows that had Taichi gasping for air. A brutal hook kick though, and Taichi was able to end United Empire’s control, and Sabre would unleash an O-Khan like scream as he booted the Dominator off the apron. Stinging strikes from the Briton would have Henare reeling, and ZSJ would go down to the knee of the Ultimate Weapon as the balance of power in the match shifted again. 

After some painful kicks exchanged, Sabre went for a swing DDT out the corner, but got caught with a Maori Drop instead. With O-Khan back in, the Dominator found the Sheep Killer and then an Iron Claw, but in a replay from the G1, the Eliminator was countered with an arm triangle. This time, O-Khan’s power saw a reprieve, and a tag from ZSJ to Taichi who went for the throat of O-Khan before an Ax Bomber led to Taichi’s trousers being removed. The match would break down, Tekkers nearly getting the win with a Taichi Seitiei Jujiro as Henare was held at bay by ZSJ, and when that didn’t pay off, a Dangerous Backdrop was landed, but only got two. 

Now with all four men in ring, the match grew ever more chaotic. A Taichi Black Mephisto was cut off by Henare, and Sabre was planted with the Elimuinator. Ultimately, a body blow to Taichi was the prelude to the Imperial Drop, and the United Empire had defeated the IWGP Tag Team Champions. 

The first four league matches of the evening carried a theme of teams that were yet to get their first points struggling for victory. The winless Minoru Suzuki and TAKA Michinoku set right to work against the Guerrillas of Destiny, with Suzuki taking out Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga, before putting Jado in a rear naked choke to boot, before the match finally settled with Loa and Suzuki legal. Michinoku would have less luck after a tag though, and he would be beaten down by the 2020 league winners outside before getting picked apart in ring. 

As Michinoku struggled to escape the clutches of Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga would fight off a Minoru Suzuki looking to get involved with a chair on the floor, to no avail, as Tonga replied with a cane. Michinoku remained inside, a Jackhammer getting two for Loa before Suzuki finally got into the fight, matching speed with Tonga and surpassing him in viciousness. Suzuki’s efforts would open the door to a Michinoku Driver attempt from its master, but Tonga would escape as the match broke down; Suzuki would taste a Magic Killer, and though Michinoku blocked a Gunstun initially, a second attempt saw a three count. 

Eager for their third win, Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens looked to make a fast start on Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma, but would find themselves on the receiving end of GBH punishment. An attempt from Honma to bodyslam Fale was ill advised at best though, and the tactical misstep would see him in the wrong part of town. Makabe would fire off some clubbing blows when tagged back in, but he too went the ill-advised route of trying to lift Fale, before getting squashed with a corner splash and elbow drop. 

With a tag to Honma, the Kokeshi landed a Bulldog to Owens and the Kokeshi itself for two, before a big suplex. A Kokeshi Rocket would ricochet right off the face of Owens, and Makabe would doggedly protect himself and his partner from the Grenade Launcher. Another Kokeshi Rocket landed for two, but a third attempt at the move would see Owens sidestep Honma before landing the C-Trigger and the Package Piledriver to move the BULLET CLUB side to six points.

EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi have frequently found traditional HOUSE OF TORTURE tactics foiled in this tag league, and that was the case when they tried to jump TenCozy at the start of their match, only for EVIL to be controlled; right up to a rake of the eyes, and a shot to the exposed buckle for Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Kojima would finally get a tag after protracted HOUSE OF TORTURE offense, but he too would have the rug pulled under him until a Cozy Cutter. Despite Yujiro’s best efforts, he tasted a TenCozy Cutter as well, but low blows all the way around with a downed referee and the Big Juice would see Yujiro and EVIL victorious. 

The night’s first league match saw Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata looking for their first win against Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI. A missed Zanmai double team saw YOSHI-HASHI isolated until he fired up in the face of Nagata’s kicks and landed the Headhunter to tag Goto. Both CHAOS members dealt as well as they got, but the veterans dealt impressive offense, with stiff shots and a top rope armdrag from Tiger Mask. Tiger landed a Tiger Driver for two on YOSHI-HASHI, but Shoto  ultimately meant lights out.