By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League & Super Jr. Tag League 2022”
November 26, 2022 in Kanagawa, Japan at Fujisawa City Akibadai Cultural Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
NJPW is running both the Super Junior and World Tag League simultaneously over 17 shows across a 24-day span. These 10 teams will compete in a round-robin format, so each team has nine matches, with the tournament winners earning a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom. Each win is worth two points. This is just the second show for the World Tag League; it is show #5 of 17 in the tournament.
This is a large fieldhouse, and the floor appears fairly full, with seats in the risers fairly empty. I’ll put the crowd in the 600 to 1,000 range, on par with shows Wednesday and Friday in similar venues. We have Japanese only commentary on this event.
1. Togi Makabe, Kosei Fujita, and Oskar Leube defeated Tomoaki Honma, Yuto Nakashima, and Ryohei Oiwa at 9:50. The Young Lions and veterans Honma and Makabe are just rotating teammates at this point. Togi hit a German suplex on Yuto for the pin. The basic action you’ve come to expect here.
2. Master Wato, Jado, Clark Connors, and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated “Bullet Club” Taiji Ishimori, Gedo, Ace Austin, and Chris Bey at 8:43. Again, the main storyline here is the feud between Wato and Ishimori, as they will meet in a four-way at Wrestle Kingdom. Bey and Austin (3-0) are the only undefeated team in the Super Juniors tag tournament. The faces worked over Gedo in the opening minute. Bey and Austin hit a team legdrop-and-moonsault combo on Connors at 2:00.
Taguchi hit his buttbumps in the corner on Bey and Austin. In a nice spot, Wato went for a top rope flying elbow at 7:00, but Ishimori caught him and applied an STF on the mat, in one fluid motion. All eight brawled in the ring. Wato applied his headlock submission hold on Gedo, and Gedo tapped out. A fairly fast-paced match so all eight guys could get in some of their stuff.
3. Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi, and Titan defeated Douki, Taichi, Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru at about 7:00. Again, Desperado and Takahashi are also in the Wrestle Kingdom 4-way, while Takagi and Taichi have been feuding over the KOPW trophy. All eight brawled at the bell, with Taichi and Shingo going to the far wall, away from the ring. Once again, the referee called for the bell at 2:00. I don’t mind the count-outs and disqualifications in this under-card feud, but I’m sure fans on hand are unhappy this was so short.
Shingo spoke on the mic, addressing Taichi, and it appears we are continuing. Shingo Takagi and Taichi immediately traded forearm shots and punches. They brawled to the floor, allowing HIromu and Desperado to trade some quick offense in the ring. The ref focused on Shingo and Taichi, and they both nearly got counted out. They got back in the ring, and suddenly Shingo got a rollup out of nowhere for the pin. This feud will continue!
4. Tetsuya Naito and Sanada (4) defeated Gabriel Kidd and Alex Coughlin (0) in a tournament match at 14:16. Kidd and Naito opened, and Kidd mockingly did the ‘tranquilo pose’ in the middle of the ring. Coughlin and Sanada entered at 2:00 and traded standing reversals. Kidd hit a standing moonsault on Sanada for a nearfall at 6:30. Sanada entered and applied a Figure Four Leglock on Coughlin. Kidd hit dropkicks on each opponent. He hit a hard clothesline on Sanada, and they were both down at 11:00.
Naito and Coughlin made hot tags and traded blows. Coughlin hit a fallaway slam with a bridge for a nearfall. Naito got a jackknife rollup for a believable nearfall Kidd hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Naito, then a Saito Suplex. Coughlin hit a gutwrench suplex on Naito for a believable nearfall. Naito hit a tornado DDT on Coughlin, then the Destino to pin Coughlin. Those last four minutes were really good.
5. “The United Empire” Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare (w/Gideon Grey) (2) defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls (2) in a tournament match at 10:58. Henare and Nicholls started. UE began working over Haste. Henare tied him in the ropes and hit Sheamus-style blows to the chest. Nicholls made the hot tag at 6:30 and he hit a double clothesline, then a DDT on Henare for a nearfall, then a spinebuster. Henare hit a Doctor Bomb and they were both down.
Great-O-Khan entered and hit his Mongolian Chops, and he repeatedly rammed Nicholls’ head into the top turnbuckle. TMDK hit a team neckbreaker move on GOK for a nearfall at 10:00. However, O-Khan hit a running stunner on Nicholls for the pin. Solid match. I am still not into this O-Khan/Henare team, and I wish this were Cobb and O-Khan instead.
6. “Bullet Club” Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens (2) defeated “House of Torture” EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi (w/Sho and Dick Togo) (0) in a tournament match at 8:49. Heel-heel matches are rough. Again, these groups are loosely aligned. They opened with comedy by everyone getting poked in the eyes. They all brawled on the floor. EVIL and Owens tossed a chair back and forth, doing the “Eddie spot,” trying to get the ref to disqualify their opponent. Yujiro and Chase brawled in the ring, and the crowd is unsurprisingly quiet, cheering for nobody.
Fale hit an elbow drop on Yujiro for a nearfall at 6:00. Yujiro shoved the referee into Fale, and the ref was down. Sho hopped in the ring to help beat down Fale. Dick Togo hopped in the ring and choked Fale with his wire. Fale hit a low blow uppercut on EVIL. Fale hit the Grenade/pop-up heart punch on Yujiro for the pin. At least it didn’t overstay its welcome.
7. Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki (4) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toru Yano (0) in a tournament match at 12:43. Archer and Hiroshi started. Yano and Minoru entered at 1:30, and Minoru hit a headbutt and some forearms to immediately take control. Yano playfully slapped Minoru in the back of the head, which ticked Suzuki off. They brawled to the floor, with Suzuki choking Yano. Archer got back in at 4:30 and continued the beatdown on Yano. Minoru applied a cross-armbreaker.
Hiroshi made the hot tag at 7:00, and he hit a second-rope summersault on Suzuki for a nearfall. Suzuki hit a running kick to the chest for a nearfall on Hiroshi. They began trading forearm shots, and Hiromu hit a sling blade clothesline, and they were both down. Archer got Hiroshi up for the Blackout, but Hiroshi escaped and hit a swinging neckbreaker. Yano made the hot tag at 11:00 and he got a schoolboy rollup for a nearfall. Archer hit a running crossbody block on both opponents. Archer then hit the Blackout/modified Razor’s Edge for the pin on Yano. I enjoyed this, and the right team won.
8. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis (w/Gideon Grey) (4) defeated Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi (2) in a tournament match at 15:09. Davis and Yoshi-Hoshi started. Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi worked over Fletcher early on. Davis and Fletcher slammed their opponents’ backs together at 3:00. Davis hit a senton on Goto for a nearfall, and they worked Goto over. Yoshi-Hoshi got in and hit a swinging neckbreaker on Fletcher at 7:00. Fletcher hit a half-nelson suplex on Yoshi-Hoshi. Goto and Davis got back in, and Goto dropped him with a clothesline.
Goto hit a running bulldog for a nearfall at 9:30. Davis hit another senton. Yoshi-Hoshi hit a superkick on Davis, then a Blockbuster on Fletcher, with Goto getting the nearfall. Fletcher nailed a brainbuster on Goto. Fletcher hit a second-rope stunner, with Davis making the cover for a nearfall at 11:30. Goto hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Davis. Davis and Yoshi-Hoshi began trading mid-ring forearm shots.
Davis hit an enzuigiri on Yoshi-Hoshi. UE set up for Korealis, but Goto made the save. Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi set up for Magic Killer, but that also was blocked. UE hit front-and-back clotheslines on Yoshi-Hoshi, then nailed the Korealis spinning slam on Yoshi-Hoshi for the clean pin. That was really good.
* Gideon Grey got on the mic and said there is no one better in the world than Aussie Open.
Final Thoughts: I know we are just two shows in, but it feels like this is a three-team race with the undefeated squads of Aussie Open, Archer and Suzuki, and Naito and Sanada going to pull ahead and separate themselves from the other seven teams. We’ll see if that plays out, but I can envision all three of these teams being 7-2 or better.
Of all the teams that will finish this tournament with a losing record, Coughlin and Kidd will be the most entertaining to watch. They are young and really improving, but both essentially are just new graduates from the Young Lion system.
No rest for the wicked, as Sunday will be one of just two “Supershows” in the tournament, where all 20 teams will be in action.