By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League & Super Jr. Tag League 2022”
December 3, 2022 in Hyogo, Japan at Kakogawa Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
NJPW is running both World Tag League and Super Junior Tag League tournaments simultaneously over 17 shows across a 24-day span. This is 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 overall show #10 of 17 in the tournament, as we have topped the half-way point. At the end of this event, each team will have completed six tournament matches.
We learned Friday morning that Chase Owens has withdrawn from the tournament; he and Bad Luck Fale were 2-2, but will forfeit their remaining matches and finish at 2-7. This is a large gym and the crowd is maybe 800. We have Japanese commentary.
1. Bad Luck Fale defeated Ryohei Oiwa at 3:02. I like that Fale, as well as their scheduled opponents for each show, will still compete each night. The consensus is that Oiwa is the most polished in-ring of the current Young Lions, but Fale just shrugged off his chops and forearms. Oiwa went for a gut-wrench suplex, but of course, couldn’t budge Fale. Fale hit the Grenade/pop-up heart punch for the pin. Exactly what this should have been.
2. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Shane Haste and Mickey Nicholls (10 points) defeated Kosei Fujita and Oskar Leube at 8:59. Haste and Nicholls pick up the Owens/Fale forfeit points and remain tied for first place, and they get a replacement match here with the Young Lions. Oskar easilly scooped un Nicholls for a bodyslam. Nicholls showed some impressive strength by hitting a delayed vertical suplex on the tall, lanky Leube, and TMDK worked over Oskar. Fujita made the hot tag at 7:00 and hit a nice dropkick on Haste, then a belly-to-belly suplex for a nearfall. However Haste hit a nice sit-out powerbomb on Fujita for the pin.
3. Douki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and El Desperado defeated “Bullet Club” Ace Austin, Taiji Ishimori, and Gedo at 7:06. Ace’s teammate Chris Bey gets a day off, as NJPW continues to do an excellent job of rotating roster members in the undercard matches. This is essentially a heel-heel matchup, and they all brawled on the floor early on. Ishimori and Desperado will meet in a four-way at Wrestle Kingdom, and they traded good mid-ring offense, with Ishimori hitting a handspring-back-spin kick at 5:00, and they were both down.
Kanemaru entered and slammed Gedo’s knees, then he applied the Figure Four Leglock, but Ace made the save. Douki hit a top-rope doublestomp to Gedo’s chest, and Kanemaru followed that up with a top-rope moonsault on Gedo for the pin. Decent match that topped expectations. They wisely didn’t build toward a hot tag, as these are heels and don’t generate sympathy.
4. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Titan, Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi, and Shingo Takagi defeated Master Wato, Kushida, Kevin Knight, and Tomoaki Honma at 8:52. Hiromu and Wato are also in the Wrestle Kingdom four-way, and they charged at each other at the bell. LIJ worked over Wato early on. Knight entered at 4:00 and hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee on Titan, then an impressive jump-up Frankensteiner out of the corner, then a plancha to the floor.
Honma entered and hit his Kokeshi falling headbutt on Shingo at 6:00. The LIJ members took turns hitting Honma. Shingo nailed a sliding clothesline on Honma for a nearfall. Titan hit a flip dive to the floor to take out most of the opponents, and Shingo nailed the Pumping Bomber decapitating clothesline on Honma for the pin. Good undercard match. Hiromu and Wato continued to brawl after the bell.
5. “Aussie Open” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher (w/Gideon Grey) (10) defeated Gabriel Kidd and Alex Coughlin (0) in a tournament match at 11:25. The youngsters are really impressing even though they aren’t winning. Kidd nailed a top-rope moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Coughlin hit a gut-wrench suplex on Fletcher for a nearfall. AO ran at each other and slammed their opponents’ backs together at 2:30. Davis hit a senton for a nearfall, and AO grounded Kidd on the mat.
Coughlin made the hot tag and brawled with Davis, and Alex hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Coughlin bodyslammed Fletcher stomach-first to the mat, and they worked over Fletcher. Fletcher hit his assisted stunner on Coughlin for a nearfall at 8:30. AO went for Korealis but Coughlin powered out, and Alex hit a double back suplex on AO, showing off his impressive power. Kidd made the hot tag, and he traded chops with Davis, and the crowd was HOT for this exchange. AO hit front-and-back clotheslines on Kidd, then the Korealis for the pin. For a match where the winner was never in doubt, this was really good and really entertaining.
6. Yoshi-Hoshi and Hirooki Goto (8) defeated “United Empire” Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare (6) in a tournament match at 13:22. Both teams enter at 3-2 and can ill-afford a loss. Goto and O-Khan opened with an intense exchange. GOK hit his Mongolian Chops. Henare entered and hit his Sheamus-style blows to the chest on Goto. UE took turns working over Goto and this is methodical early on. Yoshi-Hoshi finally made the hot tag at 6:30, and he hit a basement dropkick on O-Khan’s head.
O-Khan hit a snap suplex for a nearfall. Goto re-entered and hit a bulldog for a nearfall on Henare at 9:30. UE hit front-and-back kicks to Goto. Goto and YH hit a team Russian Legsweep-clothesline combo for a nearfall. Henare hit his running football tackle for a nearfall. Goto hit his neckbreaker over his knee, and they hit their team slam to pin Henare. Alright match; it felt like it never quite reached that final gear.
7. “House of Torture” EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi (w/Dick Togo & Sho) (2) defeated Lance Archer and Minoru Suzuki (6) in a tournament match at 9:46. They all brawled at the bell, with EVIL and Archer pairing off. In the ring, Yujiro choked Minoru. EVIL hit chops on Minoru and gouged his eye, and they worked him over. Archer made the hot tag at 5:00 and he hit a running crossbody block on EVIL. Yujiro hit a sliding kick on Minoru’s head. The ref got bumped and Togo immediately hopped in the ring to put the boots to Suzuki.
Archer and EVIL brawled on the floor. Suzuki applied a sleeper in the ring and hit a Gotch-style piledriver on Yujiro, but Sho made the save. They all brawled in the ring, with Sho hitting Suzuki with his wrench. EVIL hit the Everything is Evil uranage on Suzuki, and Yujiro made the cover on the prone Suzuki for the tainted pin. The House of Torture finally gets a win.
8. Tetsuya Naito and Sanada (8) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toru Yano (6) in a tournament match at 16:18. Both teams enter at 3-2 and need a win to keep pace with the leaders. Naito and Tanahashi started. Yano entered at 3:00 to face Sanada. Yano tried to tie him in the Paradise Lock but couldn’t figure it out, so he instead took off a corner pad and threw it at Sanada. Hiroshi and Yano hit a team shoulder tackle. Sanada tied both opponents in the Paradise Lock and kicked them in their butts at 6:30.
Sanada hit a dragon screw leg whip on Tanahashi. Yano got a rollup for a nearfall on Naito at 14:00. Yano clipped Naito from behind and got another rollup for a nearfall. Sanada hit a swinging neckbreaker. Naito hit the Destino to pin Yano. OK match, but I never felt like this really got rolling.
Final Thoughts: So, Aussie Open and TMDK remain in first place at 5-1 (ten points), with Naito/Sanada and Goto/Yoshi-Hoshi close behind at 4-2 (eight points). Suzuki/Archer and Tanahashi/Yano and Henare/O-Khan are close to being eliminated at 3-3, being two wins behind with three matches remaining.
Just to add to what I wrote Friday: while TMDK remain tied in first place, I still anticipate that the finals will be Naito and Sanada vs. Aussie Open. That is another reason Naito and Sanada needed that win Friday, because I presume Aussie Open wins the rematch in the finals to earn the title shot against IWGP Tag Champions FTR.
The Super Junior Tag League returns to action Sunday.