By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “World Tag League & Super Jr. Tag League 2022”
December 4, 2022 in Yamaguchi, Japan at Yamaguchi KDDI Ishin Hall
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 #11 of 17 in the tournament. At the end of this event, each team will have completed seven tournament matches.
This appears to be one of their larger venues, but the lights are low so it’s hard to see how many fans are in attendance. We have Japanese commentary. Early on, five junior tag teams emerged as an upper tier, all at 5-1 or 4-2, with no teams at 3-3. The bottom five teams are all 1-5 or 2-4 and have all been eliminated.
1. Ryohei Oiwa and Oskar Leube defeated Kosei Fujita and Yuto Nakashima at 7:01. The Young Lions keep trading partners. Oiwa applied a Boston Crab, dragged Fujita to the middle of the ring, and leaned back for pressure until Kosei finally tapped out. Basic opener.
2. Tomoaki Honma, Master Wato, and Yoshi-Hoshi defeated “Bullet Club” Bad Luck Fale, Gedo, and Taiji Ishimori at 8:32. Fale and Honma started, and Fale easily shoved him to the mat. Fale hit a double shoulder tackle on Honma and Yoshi-Hoshi. The Bullet club worked over Honma. Honma hit a delayed vertical suplex on Ishimori at 4:30. Wato tagged in and hit a springboard flying forearm on nemesis Ishimori.
Ishimori hit a handspring-back-spin kick on Wato. Yoshi-Hoshi entered at 6:30 and traded chops with Gedo. Yoshi-Hoshi hit a standing neckbreaker. Fale hit a running Stinger Splash on Yoshi-Hoshi. Gedo got brass knuckles but Yoshi-Hoshi caught him with a superkick. Honma hit a second-rope Kokeshi on Gedo. Yoshi-Hoshi then applied a submission hold around the head and arms, and Gedo tapped out. Alright action.
3. Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, and Shingo Takagi defeated El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, and Lance Archer at 7:42. They all brawled at the bell, with rivals Desperado and Hiromu fighting onto the floor. In the ring, Suzuki began peppering Hiromu with overhand chops to the chest, and the heels worked Hiromu over in their corner. Shingo made the hot tag at 3:30 and he traded blows with Archer.
Archer nailed a Pounce, but he missed a splash. Archer hit a flying crossbody block on both Naito and Shingo. Naito and Suzuki traded stiff forearms, and this is really good. The heels worked over Naito. Minoru set up for a Gotch-style piledriver, but Naito escaped. Shingo nailed a Pumping Bomber clothesline on Minoru, and Naito jumped on Suzuki for the pin. That was fun.
4. “Bullet Club” Ace Austin and Chris Bey (12) defeated Kushida and Kevin Knight (2) in a tournament match at 10:18. Bey and Knight started with quick reversals and Knight hit a jumping splash for a nearfall. The Bullet Club went to the floor to stall, so Knight and Kushida chased them up the staircase and into the crowd. Back in the ring, the Bullet Club kept working over Knight. Kushida finally made the hot tag at 6:00 and he hit a crossbody block on Ace and a basement dropkick on Bey, and he was fired up.
Kushida applied a cross-armbreaker on Ace. Knight hit a picture-perfect dropkick, then his jump-up Frankensteiner, then a Doomsday dropkick for a nearfall. Ace hit his punt kick to Kushida’s chest from the ring apron. Knight went for a springboard move, but Bey caught him with a stunner! Cool move. They dragged Knight back into the ring, where Ace hit The Fold/flipping faceplant, and Bey covered Knight for the pin. Really entertaining match. The Bullet Club remain the leaders at 6-1.
5. Ryusuke Taguchi and Clark Connors (6) defeated Robbie Eagles and Tiger Mask (4) in a tournament match at 9:15. Both babyface teams are a disappointing 2-4. Connors and Eagles opened with standing reversals. Eagles hit a drop-toe-hold, sending Connors crashing into Taguchi’s butt. Connors nailed his Pounce at 3:30 and he tagged in Taguchi. Eagles and Taguchi traded kicks to the head. More Taguchi juvenile humor where he grinded his butt into his partner’s face, unaware he was doing it.
Tiger Mask hit a Tiger Suplex on Taguchi and he applied a hammerlock, then a backslide for a nearfall at 7:30. Taguchi inexplicitly pulled down his green pants to reveal his red underwear, and he traded rollups with Tiger Mask in more juvenile humor. Taguchi got an assist from Connors to roll up Tiger Mask for the pin. I am not eight years old so I didn’t enjoy this silliness.
6. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Titan and Bushi (10) defeated “House of Torture” Sho and Dick Togo (2) in a tournament match at 12:10. LIJ took control early on. Sho and Togo teased they were about to hit each other, but then they hugged. They brawled into the crowd. In the ring, the HoT worked over Titan, and Togo loosened Titan’s mask. So, Sho began untying Bushi’s mask. Sho hit a hard clothesline in the corner at 6:00 on Titan. Bushi finally made the hot tag and he hit a basement dropkick on Sho’s knee. Bushi hit a hurancanrana on both opponents. Bushi hit a missile dropkick and was fired up.
The heels began working over Bushi. Titan entered and hit a tornado DDT. Titan hit a flip dive to the floor on both opponents at 9:30. Titan set up for his springboard doublestomp, but EVIL and Yujiro suddenly appeared at ringside and yanked Titan off the ring apron. All four members of HoT hopped in the ring and stomped down LIJ. Titan hit a springboard moonsault to teh floor on three guys. Titan then hit the springboard doublestomp to Togo’s back as Bushi held him in place, with Bushi pinning Togo. At 5-2, LIJ remains in the hunt.
7. Lio Rush and Yoh (10) defeated Alex Zayne and El Lindaman (10) in a tournament match at 12:44. I write this before the bell — this should have been the main event. Lio and Zayne opened with quick reversals, and Zayne hit a corkscrew senton for a nearfall. All four brawled to the floor. In the ring, Yoh and Lindaman traded forearm shots at 3:00. Zayne entered and hit a stiff kick to Yoh’s back, and he tied Yoh up on the mat. Yoh hit a standing neckbreaker at 6:00, and they were both down. LIo and Lindaman both tagged back in, with Lio doing his mis-directions, then a spin kick to Zayne’s head.
Lio barreled through the ropes onto Lindaman on the floor. In the ring, Lio hit a spear for a nearfall, but Zayne made the save. LIndaman hit a German Suplex on Lio for a nearfall. Yoh tagged in and hit a missile dropkick, and he traded stiff forearm shots with LIndaman. Yoh hit a Falcon Arrow and a German Suplex. Lindaman nailed an Exploder Suplex into the turnbuckles at 10:00.
Yoh nailed an Air Raid Crash on Lindaman and a plancha to the floor on Zayne. In the ring,, Zayne and Yoh traded rollups. Lindaman hit a German Suplex. Yoh got an O’Connor Roll with a bridge to pin Zayne. Just fantastic. Yoh and Lindaman yelled at each other and shoved each other after the match and had to be separated.
8. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Douki (4) defeated “United Empire” Francesco Akira and TJP (w/Gideon Grey) (10) in a tournament match at 18:33. I really don’t understand having this as the main event, although it shows deference to the tag champions. TJP and Kanemaru started. Francesco entered and hit a deep armdrag on Douki. TJP hit a slingshot senton for a nearfall. In the ring, TJP applied a Muta Lock on Douki. Akira entered and hit a Doomsday senton for a nearfall at 5:30. Kanemaru hit a running kick to Akira’s head, and the heels took control of the offense.
Kanemaru applied a Camel Clutch on Akira. Douki hit a doublestomp to the chest for a nearfall at 7:30. Kanemaru hit a Helluva Kick. TJP made the hot tag and hit a springboard forearm, then a running facewash in the corner and a tornado DDT for a nearfall on Kanemaru at 10:00. However, he missed the Mamba Spalsh frogsplash. Akira hit a dive to the floor on both opponents.
In the ring, Akira hit a German Suplex for a nearfall. Douki entered and hit a missile dropkick. Douki nailed an enziguri on Akira, then a top-rope doublestomp for a nearfall. He applied the “Douki chokey” triangle choke, but Akira reached the ropes at 14:00. Douki and Akira traded mid-ring forearm shots. UE hit their team X-Factor faceplant on Douki for a nearfall. The ref got bumped. Kanemaru got his bottle of whiskey, and he sprayed it on Akira. Kanemaru hit a tornado DDT on TJP. Douki hit a slingshot DDT on Akira for a believable nearfall, then a Dragon Suplex to pin Akira. That was a really good match.
Final Thoughts: I’ll go with Yoh/Lio’s win for best match, with the main event second best. The tournament remains incredibly tight, with Bey/Ace at 6-1 (12 points) but four other teams now at 5-2 (10 points). Everyone has just two matches remaining, and I’m not going to start evaluating tie-breaker scenarios for which teams could reach the finals.
No rest for the wicked, with the World Tag League back in action on Monday.