Crowded at the top of World tag League with three matches left
World tag League continued in IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi’s home prefecture of Yamanashi on December 4, as teams fought to break out of a crowded mid table and into the top two ranks.
It was a must win situation for both teams in the main event, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toru Yano facing Guerrillas of Destiny in a race to ten points. Yano and Tanahashi connected early and effectively, but it would be the 2020 WTL winners taking control over first Tanahashi and then Yano as the Master Producer’s turnbuckle pad plans backfired. It took a hard yank of the well coiffed Tama Tonga mohawk to bring Tanahashi back inside, but a flipping senton attempt would be broken up by Tanga Loa.
Tanahashi would fire back, and slowed Tama with a Texas Cloverleaf that sent his foe to the ropes, but as the pace quickened, the Good Bad Guy would put the Ace down with a dropkick. A Twist and Shout to Loa, and Yano would be in to follow with a perfect front suplex, but G.o.D would have the edge with slick teamwork; Tanahashi broke up a Magic Killer attempt, but paid for his intervention with a Tongan Twist. Tama would land a Gunstun on Yano, and with Tanahashi now out of the picture, the Magic Killer connected on the second attempt for the much needed win.
At eight points, HOUSE OF TORTURE found themselves in dire need of a win against IWGP Tag team Champuions Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr, but both Yujiro Takahashi and the intervening Dick Togo both found themselves the victims of Sabre’s own brand of torture in the early going, the desperate Takahashi having to bite his way out of trouble before both Dangerous Tekkers members found themselves sent into a conveniently exposed turnbuckle. Taichi would go through the HOUSE OF TORTURE ringer, but after a jumping high, the furious ZSJ tagged in for a quick boot to send EVIL off the apron before setting to work on Yujiro.
With one good arm thanks to Sabre’s submission efforts, it was a well timed Intercollegiate Slam that would see EVIL inside. The King of Darkness quickly resorted to thumbs in the eyes of both tag champions, but Taichi would respond with the powerful Greco Roman throat hold, before actively strangling Togo. A kick would ricochet off the spine of EVIL as Taichi shaped up for an Ax Bomber, but the HOUSE OF TORTURE numbers game would be played to its fullest, getting back into the match with a pull of Taichi’s leg.
The champions would battle back, Taichi holding EVIL for a pair of Dragon Screws, while Yujiro ate an emphatic Ax Bomber. The ‘Ore to Zack’ combination followed, and Sabre was on fire in defusing both EVIL and Yujiro’s attempts at low blows as both HOUSE OF TORTURE members were held in submissions, but when EVIL pulled the referee out of position, Togo would make his entrance with his steel wire. Togo would again get involved to strangle Taichi when EVIL was downed with a Dangerous Backdrop, and EVIL struck to keep H.o.T in the running.
Tetsuya Naito and SANADA looked to join a growing pack at 12 points when they faced the already eliminated TenCozy. SANADA would pop the pecs after a take down on Satoshi Kojima, but the strongest arm was just as powerful, Naito breaking the stalemate with a tag, and some typical antagonism toward Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Two handfuls of mullet, and a combinacion cabron had Naito in full control, but when Tenzan finally fought free, Kojima brought some pent up aggression, and a pair of machine gun clips for his opponents.
Both Naito and SANADA would out pace Kojima, but the Third Generation member had the power, swatting through a SANADA rolling lariat and landing a Cozy Cutter. Tenzan would get back in for some ‘Yamanashi Bashers’ and a picture perfect suplex on SANADA before a Mountain Bomb, and Kojima would hit the ring to complete a TenCozy Cutter on Naito. Just as TenCozy were reaching peak momentum though, an O’Connor Roll out of nowhere would give LIJ the win.
Aaron Henare found himself tying up with a would be mentor and former inspiration as the United Empire took on Great Bash Heel. Hard Henare hits notwithstanding, he couldn’t take Makabe down in the early stages, but Honma would be a different story. The Kokeshi would be stuck in the United Empire corner, but valiantly fought out of O-Khan’s Iron Claw clutches to bring Makabe in, the Unchained Gorilla teeing off on the Dominator before a judo takedown saw a badly needed tag back to Henare.
The Ultimate Weapon mocked Makabe’s corner punches before being cracked with a lariat that brought a recovered Honma back in. Despite some hard shots, he would fall victim to a back breaker variation on the Sheep Killer, but Makabe would see to it that the Imperial Drop would not connect. A sandwich lariat allowed for a Kokeshi on Henare for two, and after a Rocket Kokeshi, Honma went for the hat trick, but only found the canvas. Makabe was taken down with the Subaru Ozora Marine, and though Honma escaped the Imperial Drop again to fire off another Rocket Kokeshi for two, Henare would get wide to block the Kokeshi Otoshi and hit the Imperial Drop on the third try to bring United Empire to 12 points.
Minoru Suzuki and TAKA Michinoku, already out of the running, were simply out to ruin Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI’s night in Yamanashi, and set to doing just that with a jump start to their match, before TAKA was quickly thwarted. Suzuki would look to the hardware to take over on YOSHI-HASHI though, and a chair shot on the floor had the Headhunter screaming in pain as Michinoku targeted the shoulder. Suzuki was just as hard hitting with Goto inside, rocking the fierce warrior with some heavy forearm shivers, but it wasn’t enough to put the CHAOS side away. TAKA would look for the win on YOSHI-HASHI with Just Facelock, but Goto would come in for Shoto and the victory.
Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens were first on the night to find success, defeating Tiger mask and Yuji Nagata. Junior heavyweight Tiger Mask found himself struggling under the boot of super heavyweight Fale, who kept the masked man in place with efficient tags to Owens. Tiger would finally make the tag to Nagata, who teed off with powerful kicks to Fale and allowed for a dive from Tiger to Owens. A Tiger Driver led to a Nagata Lock II, but Fale would halt Tiger Mask’s momentum, sending him into the ring post; a Package Piledriver later and Owens would pin Nagata.