8 teams in one block league to run through to Power Struggle November 3
Every year, the Road to Power Struggle in early November also features the Super Junior Tag League. In the past, the winners of the tournament, whether in league form or single elimination format, have gone on to be part of an IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match in the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom.
This year, eight teams join the fray, an incredible six being new combinations for 2019. Two points for a win and one for a draw are the rules, with the top two points scoring teams competing in EDION Arena on November 3 to decide the overall winner. Who will seize junior tag glory this year?
The Super Junior Tag League kicks off the Road to Power Struggle on October 16 LIVE and in English on NJPW World! Six Road to Power Struggle events will air live and in English in October alone, and all tournament matches will be available on demand!
SHO & YOH
Third entry, third consecutive. 2017, 2018 winners
Roppongi 3K made their debuts under the tutelage of Rocky Romero at King of Pro Wrestling in 2017 and rocketed right to the top, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships in their first match, and winning their debut Junior Tag tournament (then single elimination) the very next month. In 2018, in the league format, they won out again in a crowded and competitive league that necessitated a three way final against El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Shingo Takagi & BUSHI. RPG3K have proven themselves to be competitive with even heavyweight tag team champions Guerrillas of Destiny this year; can they use this experience to score the hat-trick?
Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo
League debut. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions
Having only started teaming in May this year, Ishimori and ELP might be a new team, but they have quickly proven effective. In June on the Kizuna Road tour, the two beat Roppongi 3K to secure the junior tag titles, and defended the belts against Will Ospreay and Robbie Eagles in September in Kagoshima. Ishimori is a former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, and by the time the league starts, ELP could be the cureent title holder; his match with Ospreay at King of Pro Wrestling could add yet another prize to his collection that also includes the RevPro Cruiserweight Championship and Super J-Cup jacket. For all their singles success, Ishimori and ELP make a formidable team to boot, and will be the favourites going in.
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Third entry, third consecutive.
After a jaw injury took him out of the Best of the Super Juniors, El Desperado makes his return at King of Pro Wrestling, and then heads into the Super Junior Tag League hoping to pick up where he left off with partner Kanemaru.
In 2018, they headed into the junior tag league as champions, and came close to seizing the league as well, making it to a three way final at Power Struggle and losing at the final hurdle. Their reign with the junior tag titles from March of 2018 all the way to Wrestle Kingdom 13 was the longest in nearly two decades; this year, they will look to go all the way and reclaim their spot at the top of the junior tag division.
Birds of Prey/CHAOS
Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles
What a difference a year makes. Last year, it was during the Super Junior Tag League that Robbie Eagles made his NJPW debut, and formed an effective combination with Taiji Ishimori. Yet his relationship with BULLET CLUB soured, and in his native Australia this June, he officially left for CHAOS and formed a bond with Will Ospreay.
The new Birds of Prey team made a mark right away by defeating the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Ishimori and ELP in London at Royal Quest, earning a title match in Kagoshima last month. B.O.P fell short, but electrified the crowd with dazzling offense. Robbie Eagles could well come into his own as part of B.O.P, and Ospreay will use the opportunity to make waves in yet another tournament this year, having already been part of the New Japan Cup, BOSJ (where he won), the G1 Climax and Super J-Cup.
Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero
After appeals were made by Taguchi all through the Road to Destruction tour, the dream tag team of coach and coach, Rocky Romero and Ryusuke Taguchi, is finally official. During Best of the Super Juniors, a hotly anticipated coach versus coach match saw Taguchi come out on top, but in the spirit of fair play, the official NJPW coaching duties were split down the middle.
This might be their first time together as a team, but don’t doubt the tag abilities of either man. With then partner Prince Devitt as Apollo 55, Taguchi dominated the junior heavyweight tag division in the 2000s. In the early part of this decade, Romero was successful with a variety of partners, holding the tag belts eight times, and winning the junior tag tournament in 2016 as part of Roppongi Vice. The experience and know-how of both these men will be hard to beat.
Volador Junior & Titan
Representing CMLL in the Super Junior Tag League are Volador Junior and Titan. The combination marks the fourth consecutive time that an all CMLL team has been part of the annual junior tag tournament, with Titan making his third appearance, and Volador Junior his second after last year pairing with Soberano Junior.
CMLL duos were eliminated in the first round of single elimination tournaments in 2016 and 2017, and Volador and Soberano came bottom of the table in 2018’s league. Promotional pride will be strong for Volador Junior and Titan as they attempt to show how effective CMLL tag teams can be.
Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura
For seven years, Tiger Mask has teamed with Jyushin Thunder Liger in the Super Junior Tag League. This year, with Liger’s retirement coming up at the Tokyo Dome, Tiger Mask will have a new partner, and has chosen to take Yuya Uemura under his wing. For Uemura this is an incredible learning opportunity, and he’ll be looking to stay as competitive as possible through the grueling league.
TJP & Clark Connors
Rounding out the field are TJP and Clark Connors. An LA Dojo combination, with Connors representing the new LA Dojo and TJP the original establishment, TJP seemed to take a shine to Connors after their matches in the US during the Super J-Cup and Fighting Spirit Unleashed. This will be a homecoming of sorts for TJP, as he wrestles in Japan for the first time since Best of the Super Juniors in 2011.