By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League & Super Jr. Tag League 2022”
November 27, 2022 in Aichi, Japan at Dolphin’s Arena
Streamed live on New Japan World
NJPW is running both tournaments simultaneously over 17 shows across a 24-day span. Each team 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 show #6 of 17, but this is the first event to have all 20 teams from both tournaments.
Once again, we had Japanese commentary. This appears to be a large venue with a really good crowd; this is much higher attendance than the gyms of the past three events.
1. Bushi and Titan (6) defeated Kushida and Kevin Knight (2) in a Super Junior tournament match at 8:13. Knight and Titan opened with some lucha reversals. Kushida got in and they worked over Titan’s left arm. Bushi applied a leglock around Kushida’s head at 4:30. Knight got in and hit Stinger Splashes on each opponent, then a plancha to the floor on Titan. In the ring, Knight his picture-perfect dropkick as Bushi sat on Kushida’s shoulders. Titan hit a springboard dropkick on both opponents, and Bushi nailed a dive through the ropes to the floor at 7:30. Titan hit his doublestomp to Knight’s back as Bushi held Knight in place for the pin. Good opener.
2. “United Empire” Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare (w/Gideon Grey) (4) defeated Alex Coughlin and Gabriel Kidd (0) in a World Tag League match at 9:44. Kidd and O-Khan started. Coughlin entered and hit a delayed vertical suplex. The UE worked over Kidd, with Henare hitting a senton for a nearfall at 4:00. Great-O-Khan hit his Mongolian Chops. Coughlin made the hot tag and traded punches with Henare. O-Khan hit a Tombstone Piledriver. Henare hit his running football tackle on Kidd for a believable nearfall at 9:00, and Henare was shocked it didn’t get the pin. However, Henare hit a fisherman’s brainbuster on Kidd for the pin. While the right team won, I do hope Coughlin and Kidd pick up at least two wins in this tournament.
3. Alex Zayne and El Lindaman (6) vs. “House of Torture” Sho and Dick Togo (0) in a Super Junior tournament match at 7:39. The HoT attacked on the ramp, and Sho nailed a tombstone piledriver at the top of the ramp on Zayne. They dragged LIndaman into the ring and worked him over. Lindaman crawled toward his corner for a tag, but we can see Zayne is still down at the top of the ramp. Sho went for a package piledriver at 4:00, but Lindaman fought out of it. Sho switched to a cross-armbreaker, but Zayne jumped in to break it up.
Sho got his wrench, but Zayne stopped him from using it. Sho clotheslined both himself and Zayne to the floor. Meanwhile, Lindaman hit a T-Bone suplex on Togo. Togo applied a Crippler Crossface. Lindaman hit a German Suplex with a bridge to pin Togo. Great selling by Zayne of that Tombstone Piledriver, who never technically entered the match.
4. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis (6) defeated Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki (4) in a World Tag League match at 13:31. This match should be closer to the main event so I’m on high alert for hijinks. Archer and Davis started; they rolled to the floor and traded shoulder tackles. In the ring, Archer hit a running crossbody block, and Davis immediately tagged out. Suzuki entered at 2:00 to face Fletcher, and they traded loud chops. Suzuki applied a cross-armbreaker in the ropes and Fletcher screamed in pain. All four brawled on the floor.
Back in the ring, Suzuki and Archer continued to beat down Fletcher. Davis made the hot tag at 7:30 and he hit a series of chops in the corner on Archer, then an enzuigiri. In a fun spot, Davis picked up a Young Lion at ringside and slammed him into Archer. In the ring, AO went for the Korealis on Archer, but Suzuki made the save. Suzuki hit a Helluva Kick on Fletcher, and they traded more forearms. Fletcher fought out of a Gotch-style piledrivver attempt at 11:30. Suzuki went for it again, but Davis made the save.
Davis hit a clothesline but Suzuki wouldn’t go down. AO hit front-and-back clotheslines on Suzuki, then they nailed the Korealis swinging faceplant for the pin on Suzuki. This will go down as among my favorite matches of the entire tournament. While they are only 3-0, I just can’t see how Aussie Open isn’t in the finals of this tournament now.
5. “Bullet Club” Chris Bey and Ace Austin (8) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Clark Connors (2) in a Super Junior tournament match at 7:48. Connors and Taguchi carried shopping bags to the ring, and they had beer, which they offered to their opponents, but Austin slapped the can to the mat. Some comedy early as Taguchi and Connors hit some moves while still sipping from their beer cans. Bey hit his flip dive to the floor on Connors, and they worked him over in the ring. Connors nailed his Pounce on Bey at 4:30. Taguchi got the hot tag and traded blows with Ace.
Ace simulated putting his thumb in Taguchi’s butt, and I’m not enjoying this humor, as Austin struggled to pull it back out. Ace nailed the Fosbury Flop to the floor at 7:30. Bey nailed his assisted Clout Cutter, and Austin immediately hit The Fold flipping faceplant on Taguchi for the pin. The Bullet Club remains the last unbeaten, and I’m thrilled that NJPW seems to be moving away from parity booking in this tournament.
6. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toru Yano (2) defeated “Bullet Club” Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale (2) in a World Tag League match at 3:39. The BC attacked Hiroshi at the bell, with Fale standing on Tanahashi’s back. Fale hit a running Stinger Splash at 2:30. All four brawled in the ring. Tanahashi hit a low blow on Fale and rolled him up for the quick pin. I have no problem with this match being so short.
7. Lio Rush and Yoh (6) defeated Douki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (0) in a Super Junior tournament match at 10:08. The heels attacked before the bell. Kanemaru targeted Lio’s left knee, and they dominated the offense. Yoh finally made the hot tag at 4:00. However, Kanemaru tied Yoh in a Figure Four Leglock. Yoh hit a Falcon Arrow, and they were both down, with Yoh now also selling pain in his left knee. Lio tagged back in and he dove through the ropes onto Douki.
Douki hit a top-rope doublestomp to Lio’s chest, then he applied the “Douki chokey” modified Triangle Choke at 8:00, but Yoh made the save. Douki hit a catapult DDT for a believable nearfall on Lio. Kanemaru accidentally sprayed alcohol in Douki’s eyes. Lio hit his stunner from the ropes, then his awesome frogsplash to pin Douki. Yes, another match where NJPW chose to separate the top tier from the bottom tier.
8. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Shane Haste and Mikey Nicholls (4) defeated “House of Torture” EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi (0) in a World Tag League match at 9:38. EVIL and Yujiro came out first. As Haste and Nicholls walked down the ramp, Sho and Dick Togo attacked them from behind. The HoT beat up both opponents on the floor, with EVIL hitting a snap suplex on the ramp. They dragged Haste in the ring, and all four put the boots to him. The ref got in the ring and we finally are back to two-on-two, but the HoT continued to beat down Haste.
Mikey made the hot tag at 6:30 and he hit clotheslines in the corner on Yujiro. EVIL hit a fisherman’s suplex on Nicholls, and they began working him over. However, TMDK hit a modified Team 3D to pin Yujiro out of nowhere. I fully expected HoT to win here, and it is stunning that as a team, they are still winless across both tournaments.
9. “United Empire” TJP and Francesco Akira (w/Gideon Grey) (6) defeated Tiger Mask and Robbie Eagles (4) in a Super Junior tournament match at 9:19. TM and Eagles hit simultaneous dives through the ropes just seconds into the match. UE began working over Eagles in the ring, with TJP hitting his running Facewash in the corner at 3:00. Tiger Mask got in and hit a backbreaker over his knee on TJP. TJP hit the Mamba Splash frogsplash on Tiger Mask, but Eagles made the save.
Akira hit a doublestomp to Eagles’ chest at 5:30. Tiger Mask hit a Tiger Bomb on Akira for a nearfall, then a Tiger Suplex for a nearfall. UE hit their team X-Factor faceplant on Tiger Mask for a believable nearfall. They immediately hit front-and-back knee strikes to Tiger Mask’s head to get the pin.
10. Yoshi-Hoshi and Hirooki Goto (4) defeated Sanada and Tetsuya Naito (4) in a World Tag League match at 21:10. Naito and Goto started. They brawled to the floor at 3:30, with Naito choking Yoshi-Hoshi across a guardrail. In the ring, Sanada and Naito worked over Yoshi-Hoshi. Sanada tied him in the Paradise Lock at 7:30 and he hit the dropkick to the butt. Goto made the hot tag and he hit a spin kick in the corner on Sanada, then a bulldog for a nearfall.
Naito hit a huracanrana on Yoshi-Hoshi at 11:30, then a spinebuster. Naito hit a Blockbuster out of the corner for a nearfall, and they continued to work over Yoshi-Hoshi. Goto made the hot tag at 15:30, but Sanada hit a dropkick and a plancha to the floor on Goto. In the ring, Goto hit his neckbreaker over the knee on Sanada. Yoshi-Hoshi caught Sanada with a superkick, and the crowd was hot. Sanada applied Skull End/Dragon Sleeper on Goto and dropped to the mat. Sanada let go of the hold but he missed a moonsault at 19:00. Goto hit another neckbreaker over his knee, and Goto and Yoshi-Hoshi hit their team slam on Sanada for the clean pin. Really good match.
Final Thoughts: This was a really good show. I anticipated the shorter matches, to fit in 10 matches in about three hours. I’ll go with Aussie Open vs. Archer and Suzuki for best match, with the main event a close second. While there wasn’t a standout match among the juniors, the right teams won each match, and I’m really pleased that NJPW is allowing the top tier to separate from the bottom tier.
The tournament continues on Monday with the Super Juniors in action, before a day off on Tuesday.
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